Friday, August 31, 2018

Peña Nieto defends "historical truth," despite lack of evidence (Aug. 31, 2018)

Mexico's outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, publicly defended the government version of how the 43 Ayotzinapa students disappeared in 2014. There is clear evidence a criminal gang incinerated their bodies in a garbage dump, he said in a video promoting his administration's successes.

The thing is, that version of events is hotly contested by the families of the students, national and international human rights groups, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights independent group of experts that reviewed the case. They determined the government investigation was rife with violations, including torture and botched evidence.

The group concluded it wasn't possible to incinerate 43 bodies in accordance with the government's hypothesis. And the Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez notes that no evidence has been presented in court in support of the Cocula dump theory. (Animal Político) The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) said that 18 months of investigation yielded no evidence in support of the government theory, called the "historical truth."

Amnesty International criticized the message as another example of the political decision of Peña Nieto’s government to dedicate all available resources to hiding the facts rather than to guaranteeing truth, justice and reparation for the victims and their families."

The messaging this week confirmed Peña Nieto's distance from the Ayotzinapa case, emblematic of the country's massive enforced disappearances problem, according to El País. Peña Nieto never went to visit the families of the students who disappeared in Iguala, and now he leaves office chiding them for disbelieving the "historical truth" version of events.

More on Ayotzinapa

  • This week police detained an alleged participant in the deaths, Juan Miguel "N" in Coahuila. (Animal Político
  • And the National Human Rights Commission denounced that a teacher has been unfairly detained for 171 days in relation to the case. (Televisa)
News Briefs

  • Migrant children have permission to immigration court cases in the U.S., but no right to free council. Children who cannot speak are expected to defend themselves against government lawyers, writes Jennifer Anzardo Valdes in a New York Times op-ed.
  • The Guardian has a photo-essay following a Venezuelan family en route to Peru.
  • A February referendum gave Ecuador's congress power to appoint a new Citizens’ Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS). The council was created by former President Rafael Correa, with the power to appoint key agency leadership, including attorney general and and the judicial council. Now President Lenín Moreno is employing it to unravel Correa's institutional legacy. Controversially, last week voted to remove the nine constitutional-court judges, a potential overreach even for those who advocate full housecleaning, reports the Economist.
  • Internal security is a key issue in the upcoming Brazilian elections. In Americas Quarterly's Deep South podcast, Igarapé Institute executive director Ilona Szabo suggests the country is at a crossroads.
  • But none of the candidates have a good plan to handle the issue, according to InSight Crime, which analyzes the main contenders' platforms.
  • A group coffee farm workers, victims of degrading labor conditions, formally accused McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Nestlé of failing to ensure that their Brazilian sourced coffee beans were free of slave labor. The complaint to the OECD asks that coffee companies be held responsible for their suppliers’ labor violations, reports the Washington Post
  • Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega might weaken due to economic decline, according to the Economist.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque's biggest challenge to governing from the center and by consensus may be his own Democratic Unity party, writes Wesley Tomaselli at World Politics Review.
  • Yesterday Duque demonstrated his cross-party ambition hosting leadership from across the political spectrum with the goal of creating a "national pact" against corruption, reports La Silla Vacía. (See Monday's post.)
  • A bill in Guatemala's congress would criminalize of abortion and could subject women who have miscarriages to prosecution, denounced Human Rights Watch. The new proposal defines abortion as the “natural or provoked death” of an embryo or fetus and establishes prison sentences of up to four years for women who have an “abortion by negligence.”  It also criminalizes the "promotion of abortion." The proposed “Life and Family Protection” also includes definitions of “family” and “sexual diversity” that are openly discriminatory and run counter to basic rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
  • A number of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' international flights have no recorded payment. A Nómada investigation into a trip he made last year to New York, to lobby agains the CICIG at the U.N., found no use of public funds or army resources to travel. And an investigation in May found Morales travelled to Israel on the private plane of Israeli-American Sheldon Adelson. (InSight Crime has the English translation.)
El Salvador
  • Former San Salvador mayor Nayib Bukele is the voter favorite for next year's presidential elections in El Salvador according to a new La Prensa Gráfica Datos poll. He was favored by nearly 22 percent of respondents, followed by 17.6 percent for the Arena party and 8.6 percent for the ruling FMLN party. 
  • Dominica was badly battered in last year's hurricane season, the Economist reports on its difficult road to recovery and aims to become a "climate-resiliant" nation.
  • Argentina is stumbling its way to a new financial crisis -- yesterday the Central Bank hiked inerest rates to 60 percent in an attempt to stop the peso's free fall. (Guardian) But the local causes of instability are more political than economic, argues Sergio Berensztein in La Nación. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • The U.S. Trump administration is expected to name a Cuba hardliner as the new senior director of the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Affairs, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Condoms are cheap in Cuba, part of a government focus on family planning and sexual health. But ingenuous Cubans have found a variety of other uses for rubbers, reports the Economist.
  • U.S. jail sentences for corrupt LatAm Fifa officials probably won't rid the institution of corruption, argues InSight Crime.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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