Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Guatemalan lawmakers aim at CC (Nov. 13, 2018)

A group of about 50 Guatemalan lawmakers is angling to dissolve the country's Constitutional Court via popular referendum. The group will present a bill once it has the support of 80 lawmakers, reports El Periódico. They allege the court's decisions have been political and against the constitution. At the heart of the matter is the CC's decision defending the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) against President Jimmy Morales' decision to ban its head Iván Velásquez. (See Sept. 20's post.)

Electoral concerns could also be motivation: If an eventual consultation were to happen, it could coincide with next year's elections. 

Lawmakers are also in the process of approving a bill that would give them oversight over allegations against high level government officials and magistrates.

Last week, Velásquez presented the CICIG's annual report vía teleconference, as he is banned from entering Guatemala. He emphasized that "these are difficult times" and noted attempts to defame the work of the CICIG and paint it as an infringement of sovereignty. (Prensa Libre)

Velásquez suggested judicial reform in order to foment independence and eradicate entrenched corruption networks. (AFP)

More from Guatemala
  • CICIG spokesman Matías Ponce said the Caso Ejecuciones does not have collaborators or plea bargain testimony. (La Hora)
  • A former secretary for the Guatemalan Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) said former Ministro de Gobernación Carlos Vielmann ordered the execution of escaped inmates, reports Nómada. (See Oct. 29's briefs.)
  • Critics say Guatemala's 2019 budget allows loopholes for illicit campaign spending ahead of next year's presidential election. (La Hora)
News Briefs

  • Seizures of marijuana in the U.S. and Mexico have dropped significantly over the past couple of years -- so far this year in Mexico it's been about 90 percent less than three years ago. In part this because of reduced demand due to legalization in several U.S. states. But there may also be other factors, such as law enforcement shifting attention to other issues, reports InSight Crime.
  • Gatopardo analyzes the incoming Mexican administration's proposal to legalize recreational cannabis -- up to 30 grams for personal use, that could be consumed in public and would be sold in authorized establishments. The proposal also allows for self-cultivation and coop cannabis clubs.
  • CELS has a new report on how the war against drugs -- and the shadowy new menaces of "narcoterrorism" -- are militarizing internal security in Latin America. The result in countries like Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala -- where the military has been deployed systematically for internal security -- has been widespread human rights violations.
  • The  thousands of "false positives" executions in Colombia were spurred by a perverse system of incentives that rewarded the armed forces for combat killings, aka "results," according to evidence reviewed by Human Rights Watch. Commanders and soldiers who failed to deliver could lose their posts, while those who reached and surpassed targets for "dead enemy combatants" were rewarded with honors, cash, commissions abroad and passes for time off, writes José Miguel Vivanco at Silla Vacía.
  • In addition to the hundreds of political prisoners, and hundreds of deaths in political repression, there are an estimated 1,303 disappeared people in Nicaragua since April 19, reports La Prensa. (See yesterday's post.)
  • La Prensa also calls attention to the criminalization of political detainees by the official press.
  • Among the many violations denounced in the trial against environmentalist Berta Cáceres' alleged killers is the limitation of press coverage, reports ConexiHon. (See last Tuesday's post.)
  • Venezuela's weak criminal justice system is facilitating organized crime, especially cocaine trafficking, according to a new report from Transparency Venezuela. (InSight Crime)
  • The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that hunger tripled in hunger rate had tripled since 2010. Now, 3.7 million people — 11.7 percent of the population — are malnourished, reports the Miami Herald.
  • An estimated 100,000 Venezuelans have fled to the Caribbean -- just a fraction of the approximately 3 million Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015. But the islands receiving the brunt of migrants -- Curaçao and Trinidad and Tobago -- don't have the infrastructure to deal with the influx, and most have responded by deporting undocumented migrants. There are about 16,000 Venezuelans are living illegally in Curaçao – equivalent to 10 percent of the island’s population. (Guardian)
  • There are many factors pushing Guatemalan children to migrate, but is simple mathematics: coyotes charge less to smuggle them. (El Periódico)
  • The main migrant caravan traveling through Mexico has been on the road for a full month -- they've gone from extreme heat to cold, and are now relying more on hitchhiking which allows them to cover about 185 miles per day. (Guardian) The large group has splinted somewhat, as some migrants hitch rides, others manage to get on buses, and others stay on foot -- but the plan is apparently to regroup in Tijuana, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The migrants aren't criminals, rather they're fleeing criminality and violence. And U.S. President Donald Trump is only making the situation worse by implementing cruel strategies to stop migrants and "buddying up with authoritarian leaders in Central America," argues Victoria Sanford in a New York Times op-ed. She criticizes 
El Salvador
  • Imelda Córtez's trial was postponed yesterday, her lawyers denounced she is being denied justice. The 20-year-old woman is accused of aggravated homicide after she gave birth in a latrine two years ago -- she had been sexually abused by her elderly stepfather since the age of 12 and was unaware of the pregnancy. (Al Jazeera, see yesterday's briefs.)
  • The case's "extremity, horror and breathtaking injustice blows everything else out of the water. ... This is what can, does and will continue to happen when the right to an abortion is removed entirely," writes Chitra Ramaswamy in the Guardian.
  • El Salvador's lawmakers are months behind in the selection of five new magistrates for the Supreme Court. El Faro explains some of the horse trading going on.
  • A photo essay in El Faro portrays three rural communities in El Salvador without access to potable water -- an issue that affects about 600,000 people in the country.
  • Presidential candidate Nayib Bukele positioned himself against same-sex marriage in a speech last week. The position is contrary to his pro-LGBT rights discourse as mayor of San Salvador. The issue has become a rallying point for the political right, which has turned it into a sort of anti-gay campaign, reports El Faro.
  • Evangelical christian voters played a key role in Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's victory last month -- part of a growing trend of evangelical political mobilization in Latin America. In Brazil, many were apparently motivated by a backlash against perceived liberalization of traditional family and gender roles, writes Amy Erica Smith at Americas Quarterly.
  • "Gender ideology" is shaping up to be a key issue in an upcoming battle over education in Brazil, reports El País. A bill in Congress proposes eliminating use of the words "gender" and "sexual orientation" in schools. And Bolsonaro and followers have told students to report their teachers for alleged instances of "leftist indoctrination."
  • Paul Krugman analyzes the Brazil's 2015-16 economic crisis and how its fiscal and monetary policy worsened it. (New York Times)
  • Argentines vote for president next year -- and rumors put Marcelo Tinelli, host of one of the country's most popular TV shows, as a possible political outsider contender. Should he run, it would likely be as a centrist with moderate Peronists, and he would seek to position himself as an alternative to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and current President Mauricio Macri. (Americas Quarterly)
  • Responsibility for the Tlatelolco Massacre is generally ascribed to Mexico's top leadership in 1968. But the killing is linked to a broader web of more obscure political, military and intellectual characters, writes Jacinto Rodríguez Munguía in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • A new report by Mexico's statistics agency found that a third of businesses reported being victims of of crimes, including robbery, shoplifting and extortion last year. (InSight Crime)
  • Mexican prisons, many effectively controlled by criminal organizations, should be at the fore of AMLO's security strategy, argues Saskia Niño de Rivera Cover in El Universal.
  • Whatsapp has been deployed to influence elections with fake news -- but in an episode earlier this year, it also instigated a lynch mob that burned two men to death. They were falsely accused of abducting children, and their killing was live streamed on Facebook, where their relatives watched how they died. (BBC)
  • President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is struggling to sell the presidential plane he promised to offload in a bid for personal austerity. “If you want to buy it, I’ll deliver it personally," he told reporters. (Guardian)

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