Thursday, November 29, 2018

Honduran police repress anti-gov't protest (Nov. 29, 2018)

Honduran police repressed hundreds of protesters demanding the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernández, earlier this week. They were marking the one year anniversary of his controversial reelection, when they were countered with an "avalanche" of tear gas, reports AFP. A journalist for television channel critical of the government was hospitalized with an apparent wound to his arm while transmitting live, and some activists said police fired weapons at the crowd.

A year after the Honduran security forces began their repression of those involved in mass post-election protests, Amnesty International called for investigations into cases of unnecessary or excessive use of force by Honduran authorities, including killings, arbitrary detentions and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Calls for JOH's resignation have intensified after his brother was detained by U.S. federal agents on drug and weapons charges earlier this month. (See Tuesday's briefs.) Radio Progreso argues that the level of the allegations against Tony Hernández mean JOH is either complicit in his illicit activities or negligently naive. Indeed, the opposition LIBRE party called for a congressional investigation into JOH's role in relation to the accusations against his brother. (Tiempo)

The Liberal and LIBRE parties called on JOH to resign and call for early elections, in order to establish credibility nationally and internationally. LIBRE also questioned why Tony Hernández, a former lawmaker, was targeted by U.S. justice rather than Honduran prosecutors. (La Prensa and Criterio)

Among the charges against Tony Hernández, are allegations he received $50,000 from the former Los Cachiros leader Devis Rivera Maradiaga. The two met in 2014, coordinated by a former member of the Honduran national police, according to prosecutors' documents. (El Heraldo)

(Hat tip to Daniel Langmeier's Honduras Daily.)

More from Honduras
  • A verdict is expected later today in the trial against environmentalist Berta Cáceres' alleged killers. The five week trial has been riddled with allegations of irregularities, negligence and cover-ups. Her family has denounced that the trial may end in the conviction of Cáceres' material killers, but fails to address the high-level conspiracy behind her assassination. The Guardian looks at some of the trial's details, including the blocked offer to testify by the only witness to the murder, Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Shocking levels of violence are pushing migrants out of Honduras, but deteriorating economic and political conditions are also major factors reports Univisión.
Argentine prosecutor advances against Prince Mohammed bin Salman

An Argentine prosecutor accepted a request to press charges against Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is in Buenos Aires for this week's G-20 summit. The case is in response to a writ by Human Rights Watch that argued Argentine authorities should invoke universal jurisdiction laws to seek prosecution of the prince for mass civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen, and for the torture of Saudi citizens – including Jamal Khashoggi. (Guardian)

Federal prosecutor Ramiro González asked investigating judge Ariel Lijo to request information from the Saudi and Yemeni governments about whether they are investigating the allegations. The Argentine foreign ministry was asked to provide information about the crown prince’s diplomatic status, reports Human Rights Watch.

Though it is unlikely the prosecution could advance before Prince Mohammed leaves, "the Argentine judiciary has sent a clear message that even powerful officials like Mohammed bin Salman are not above the law and will be scrutinized if implicated in grave international crimes," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "A cloud of suspicion will loom over the crown prince as he tries to rebuild his shattered reputation at the G20, and world leaders would do well to think twice before posing for pictures next to someone who may come under investigation for war crimes and torture."

News Briefs

  • U.S. President Donald Trump will make his first Latin America visit this week, at the Buenos Aires G-20 meeting -- though some say it doesn't count as a trip to the region as the location is coincidental. Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are the only Latin American members of the group, and some diplomats are concerned the countries will not reflect well on the rest of the region, reports McClatchy. Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro will not be present, but U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton met with him in Brazil this morning, reports Reuters. (See below for more on Bolsonaro.)
  • Argentina is pushing natural gas as a climate friendly "bridge fuel," but the reality is that Argentina’s shale drilling has already violated the rights of workers and indigenous people and raised household energy costs, argues Fernando Cabrera at Project Syndicate.
  • Argentine civil society organizations have kicked off a counter summit, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Bolton's characterization of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela as Latin America's “troika of tyranny,” is an indication of the Trump administration's misguided Cold War-style strategy towards the region, argues Christopher Sabbatini in a New York Times op-ed. The result is potentially polarizing and "ignores, at Washington’s peril, the domestic concerns of elected leaders in Latin America’s democracies. And we already see troubling signs that in pursuing this narrow focus on leftist autocrats, the Trump administration is embracing far-right-wing populist leaders."
  • Panama has become the latest flashpoint in the region for the growing dispute between China and the U.S., reports the Guardian.
  • Bolsonaro will appoint military engineer Tarcisio Freitas to head his infrastructure ministry -- the sixth member of his incoming cabinet with a strong military background, reports Reuters.
  • Former general Augusto Heleno has been tapped to be Bolsonaro's top national security advisor. Heleno led a polemic operation in Haiti to bring down a gangster in a Port-au-Prince slum. Human rights groups called the U.N. peacekeepers' seven-hour gun battle in Cite Soleil a "massacre," and said dozens of onlookers were killed in crossfire. Reuters reports that the Bolsonaro administration is hoping to employ tactics from Haitian slums to pacify Brazilian favelas. Several of the other military men appointed to the incoming cabinet also had experience in the Haiti peacekeeping mission.
  • This week Brazil pulled out of hosting next year’s United Nations global summit meeting on climate change, a move that signals the incoming administration's lack of interest in the environment and threatens to mar Brazil’s’ reputation as a leading actor on environmental sustainability, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has squandered a historic opportunity to pacify the country and hold meaningful dialogue regarding the proper role of the country's armed forces, argues Alejandro Madrazo Lajous in a New York Times Español op-ed. AMLO's plan to create a national guard will only deepen the role of the military in internal security, contrary to his electoral promises that garnered him a landslide vote earlier this year. (See Nov. 21's post.)
  • A possible reason for AMLO's security policy u-turn is the realization that Mexico's problems are more intractable than he portrayed them during the campaign, according to InSight Crime. But a new proposal to grant immunity to corrupt official who promise to behave in the future is a worrisome sign of unpredictability, argues the piece.
  • President Enrique Peña Nieto's mandate ends Saturday. His legacy of turmoil, from a dramatic spike in violence to institutional failures and corruption -- InSight Crime.
  • A total of 946,000 people participated in AMLO's latest citizen consultation, held last weekend. That's about 1 in 90 Mexican voters, who overwhelmingly approved 10 projects, including a train connecting the Yucatan Peninsula's main tourist attractions. (Associated Press)
  • Titillating details in the El Chapo trial are not focusing on the ill effects of the U.S. backed "war on drugs" in Mexico. On the contrary, "it’s a last-gasp effort to salvage the reputation of a failing war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives—a war that has been justified through a series of dissimulations, half-truths, and outright lies about how drugs are trafficked, why violence has skyrocketed, and who does the “organizing” of organized crime," writes Christy Thornton at NACLA.
  • Its not clear that the U.S. acted legally when it fired tear gas into a group of migrants on the Mexican side of the border, reports the New York Times. (See Monday's post.)
  • Venezuelan Vice President Diosdado Cabello said all “Chavistas” were “hurt” by revelations that a former national treasurer took more than $1 billion in bribes. But he sought to distance the government from Alejandro Andrade's money laundering and corruption sentence this week, report Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Figures sent by Venezuelan officials to the IMF admit 860 percent inflation last year and a 15.7 percent contraction of the country's economy, reports Bloomberg.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque has failed to articulate a credible vision for his four year term, writes an anonymous Colombia expert in an AULA blog post criticizing the administration's struggles with economic development policies, financial strategies and promises to reduce corruption.
  • Chilean President Sebastián Piñera signed a transgender identity law yesterday, but said only cultural change can fully solve painful discriminatory experiences against transgender people. (Associated Press)
  • Odebrecht said it's close to reaching a leniency accord with Argentine authorities, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's briefs on a potential deal between Odebrecht and Peruvian authorities.)
  • Wondering where you can pick up Pinochet admiring swag to put under your favorite fascist's Christmas tree? Like t-shirts alluding to the Chilean dictatorship's death flights reading "Pinochet is my copilot"? The answer is Amazon, with free shipping and returns in some cases! (Think Progress)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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