Friday, September 21, 2018

Nicaragua blocks IACHR prison visit (Sept. 21, 2018)

Nicaragua's government blocked jail visits for an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights commissioner. Joel Hernández, sought to visit prisons where political detainees are being held, but was prevented by the Ortega administration. The government said 204 people have been detained in relation to protests since April 18, but rights groups say over 400 people have been arrested for political reasons. (Confidencial)

Families of detainees have denounced legal irregularities and lack of access to medication. Several families also said that photographs shown by government officials of detainees visiting with family members have been misrepresented: they are not regularly allowed to visit the detainees. (Confidencial)

More from Nicaragua
  • Two estimates calculate a heavy economic toll from Nicaragua's unrest. One says about 347,000 jobs have been lost since April's protests started. (Confidencial) And a tourism association says the turmoil has cost the country about $400 million in tourism revenue. It will be the first time in 28 years that the sector will have no growth.(EFE and Confidencial)
News Briefs

  • Thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets yesterday, protesting President Jimmy Morales' fight against the CICIG and demanding his resignation. (See yesterday's post.) University students who organized a march were joined by campesino and women's organizations, and called for Morales to be taken to court. Demonstrators took out their ire against piñatas of Morales and cabinet members. (La HoraEl Periódico and Al Jazeera)
  • CICIG commissioner Iván Velásquez and former Guatemalan attorney general Thelma Aldana were awarded WOLA Human Rights Awards yesterday in recognition of their efforts in the struggle against corruption and impunity. (El Periódico)
  • U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated the possibility of naming a deputy commissioner for the CICIG, a potential way out of the impasse with the Guatemalan government, reports El Periódico.
  • Americas Quarterly recaps Morales' varied efforts to oust the CICIG over the past year -- from doubtful decrees to Washington lobbyists. 
  • The Berta Cáceres postponed trial is unlikely to expose the links between Honduras' most powerful families and criminal networks, reports InSight Crime. (See Tuesday's and Monday's briefs.)
  • As noted yesterday, the latest UNODC report shows that Colombian land dedicated to coca production expanded 17 percent between 2017 and 2016. Not only that though, the plants themselves are a third more productive than in 2012. The figures show that the Colombian government failed to gain control of the former FARC territories after the 2016 peace treaty, according to the New York Times. The upward production trend since 2013 can partially be explained by difficulties implementing crop substitution programs, explains InSight Crime, which delves into specific localities' issues.
  • Former FARC rebel commander and Colombian senator Victoria Sandino traveled to Geneva to warn U.N. officials that the peace deal is in danger of derailment, and emphasized the need for more resources to integrate former fighters into civilian life. (AFP)
  • Colombia’s Cerro Matoso nickel mine will not be required to pay damages to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities after winning an appeal in Colombia’s constitutional court. (Reuters)
  • OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro made waves last week when he said no option -- including military response -- should be off the table when it comes to resolving Venezuela's crisis. In an interview with Americas Quarterly, he qualified that assertion, but repeated his view that the international community "shouldn’t discard any option." Though he emphasized diplomatic means for the international community, he also spoke of preventing genocides and cited the historical examples of Rwanda and Cambodia. He also characterized Venezuela's actions as a sort of aggression against regional neighbors.
  • Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that 34 supermarket managers had been jailed on charges of hiding food and gouging prices. (Reuters)
  • Pasión Petare is a group of community soccer schools offering training and meals for more than 2,000 children in one of the roughest parts of Caracas. (Miami Herald)
  • Brazilian women are mobilizing against the frontrunner for October's presidential elections, Jair Bolsonaro. A Facebook campaign opposing the far-right wing candidate with a history of denigrating women and minorities has attracted more than 2.5 million women in less than a month. Over the past week various female celebrities have joined the effort, posting on social media using the hashtag #EleNao (#NotHim). (Guardian and BBC)
Drug trafficking
  • Militarized crackdowns on criminal organizations tend to exacerbate violence, case in point, Mexico. But a new book profiled by InSight Crime, University of Chicago professor Benjamin Lessing's "Making Peace in Drug Wars," argues for targeting repression on more violent groups.
  • Were you wondering what Maradona is doing in Mexico? The Washington Post has the lowdown on the futbol legend's latest bizarre reinvention as a soccer coach for a Sinaloa state second-division team.
  • Musing how to get a major drug shipment across international borders this Friday morning? From ambulances to cyclists, InSight Crime covers some of the creative ways Latin American smugglers avoid authorities.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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