Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IACHR criticizes Nicaragua's protest crackdown (Oct. 3, 2018)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) held a hearing yesterday on the human rights situation in Nicaragua. (Nuevo Diario and EFE) The Nicaraguan government did not attend -- as it has not for the past three years -- though it had previously requested the hearing be closed. (See yesterday's briefs)

Commission head Paulo Abrão said human rights violations in Nicaragua show a "very grave" reality, in which alterations to the rule of law have been normalized and which could lead the country to a state of exception. He referenced with concern the judicial persecution of government opponents. (Nuevo Diario)

Abrão said the violence is "clearly" aimed at repressing dissidence and political opposition. "It is not rational nor logical to imagine the protesters are attacking themselves." (AFP) He also made special reference to "changes in customs" and the "normalization of exceptions," such as a recent decree making it illegal to organize protests against Ortega. (Confidencial)

Journalists testified before the commission regarding cases of rape, threats, detentions, and measures of repression and violence against the press and anti-government protesters. They said outright harassment by police and paramilitary forces aims to impede independent reporting, and that they felt fear exercising their profession in the country. (Voice of America and Confidencial)

The IACHR has registered at least 325 deaths since protests began on April 18. The victims include 21 police officers and 24 minors. Additionally, at least 300 health professionals have been fired for attending protesters wounded in crackdowns and 40 university professionals have lost their jobs for supporting student protests.

Yesterday the IACHR rapporteur for Nicaragua said the criminalization of the protest and human rights defenders "are two of the most urgent situations and the ones that most concern us." And the special rapporteur for freedom of expression indicated a pattern of deportation of foreign reporters.

Yesterday the European Union urged Nicaragua's government to stop the use of "disproportionate" force against protesters and to free detained pacific protesters. (Nuevo Diario)

More from Nicaragua
  • Police arrested and later freed Miriam Socorro Matus, an emblematic 78-year-old protester known as "Doña Coquito." She was participating in a Managua protest on Sunday, days after the government declared protests illegal, reports Confidencial. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Nahomy Urbina, a Nicaraguan anti-opposition protest leader, fled to Costa Rica after death threats and a police raid on her Managua, in which her mother and grandmother were seized. (Guardian)
  • A U.S.-Austrian documentarian David Goette-Luciak was forcibly deported by police who took him from his home to the airport Monday. He had covered this year's political unrest for international outlets, including the Guardian and the Washington Post. (Confidencial and Guardian)
  • Former Nicaraguan president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro suffered a stroke on Monday. She is in delicate health and hospitalized. (Confidencial and Reuters)
News Briefs

  • Agência Pública found archival evidence that a right wing paramilitary group carried out terrorist acts between December 1967 to August 1968 aimed at justifying repression by the military government that ruled Brazil at the time. The revelations added to other reports of state-sponsored, rightwing terrorism attacks during the military regime which ran Brazil from 1964 to 1985, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian presidential candidates are making promises on how to respond to increasing violence and what to do about the country's public healthcare system -- but they aren't focusing on the underlying problem, which is lack of cash to do any of that, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Elections on Sunday pose difficulty for Brazilians seeking to combine ideology and strategy, writes Vanessa Barbara in a New York Times op-ed. At Americas Quarterly, Oliver Stuenkel also argues for a strategic vote for Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad.
  • Noam Chomsky visited former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in jail, where he is serving a corruption sentence supporters consider politically motivated. He denounced that the popular leader "has been sentenced to virtual life imprisonment, in solitary confinement, with no access to press or journals and with limited visits one day a week." Chomsky writes in The Intercept and analyzes in depth Brazilian politics, its international role, and corruption.
  • FARC leaders Iván Márquez and Oscar Montero wrote an open letter to Colombia's congress, accusing the government of not fulfilling the 2016 peace agreement with their guerrilla force. Both men are in hiding, and say the government betrayed obligations to help former fighters reintegrate into civilian life. They accused the Attorney General, the United States ambassador, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of sabotaging peace by imprisoning Jesus Santrich, a former FARC commander taken into custody on Apr. 9 after the DEA requested his extradition on charges of drug trafficking. (AFP and TeleSUR)
  • Colombian President Iván Duque signed a decree on Monday enabling police to search people and confiscate any drugs they have on them. The measure contradicts court rulings permitting small amounts of marijuana and cocaine. Duque said the decree targets small-scale traffickers, but critics say it infringes on personal liberties, reports the Associated Press. Nonetheless, Duque's cabinet does not have a uniform policy regarding drugs, notes Silla Vacía.
  • The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) said Monday that Guatemala’s Foreign Affairs Ministry continues to retain the passports of 26 CICIG workers since Aug. 28, when they requested visas. (TeleSUR)
  • CICIG representatives spoke before a congressional commission evaluating a corruption investigation against Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. They rejected allegations that the allegations against Morales are politically motivated. (El PeriódicoPrensa LibrePublinews, and see yesterday's post.)
  • The UNHCR estimates that 5,000 people leave Venezuela daily -- the largest population movement in the region's recent history. The UN agency called for a “non-political” response to the exodus on Monday. (AFP)
  • A former army general accused of murdering a journalist 25 years ago, Daniel Urresti, is leading Lima's mayoral race. Urresti denies connection with the 1988 killing of Hugo Bustios. Judges will decide on the case tomorrow. Urresti served as Peru’s interior minister between 2014 and 2015 and is known for his tough on crime stance. (Associated Press)
  • Cuba's new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, used his first U.N. General Assembly speech to assure the audience that he is not a reformer. But in other venues on his U.S. visit he showed a more engaged and charismatic style, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Mexico City's Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968. The repression of student protesters is a human rights rallying point in a country unaccustomed to historical memory, writes Humberto Beck in a New York Times Español op-ed. In another New York Times Español piece, Guadalupe Nettel analyzes the goals and successes of the student protest movement. (See yesterday's and Monday's briefs for more on Tlatelolco.) 
  • Mexico Between Life and Death - photo essay by Harvey Stein in the Guardian.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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