Friday, November 16, 2018

Mexico's Supreme Court strikes down internal security law (Nov. 16, 2018)

Mexico's Supreme Court struck down a controversial internal security law passed last year by Congress. The "Ley de Seguridad Interior" ratified the military's role in public security, and was strongly criticized by local and international rights groups. (See Wednesday's post.) Nine of the court's 11 justices voted that the law was unconstitutional, saying lawmakers had overstepped their authority and that internal security cannot be considered a branch of national security.

Several justices objected to the fact that the law normalized using soldiers as police officers. But their decision comes just a day after president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced a security plan that will also depend heavily on the military. AMLO said federal police are ill prepared to take on Mexico's significant public security challenges, and will create a National Guard within three years. (See yesterday's post.)

More from Mexico
  • Mexico City mayor-elect Claudia Sheinbaum said her security strategy will focus on disarming the city. (Aristegui Noticias)
News Briefs

  • Migrant caravans are provoking a small but growing backlash in Mexico, where social media groups call for their deportation or worst, reports Buzzfeed. In Tijuana, where migrants are gathering to try to cross to the U.S., some locals have protested using racist phrases, and authorities are worried the city might not be able to cope with the influx of people, reports the Guardian. About 5,000 people are expected to arrive over the next few days, reports the New York Times.
  • The pushback isn't homogenous. A recent poll shows that 51 percent of Mexicans support the caravan. Thirty-three percent of respondents, many of them affluent members of Mexico’s urban middle class, want the migrants to go back to Central America, writes Luis Gómez Romero in the Conversation.
  • The caravan sought safety in numbers, but the plan isn't bulletproof -- earlier this month two trucks containing about 65 migrants disappeared in Veracruz, and one person who escaped said the people were sold by the drivers. (Conversation)
  • Aristegui Noticias reports that 900 migrant children were left by the side of the road in Jalisco.
  • Migrants from the caravan have started the process to obtain asylum application appointments with U.S. officials, reports the New York Times.
  • Central American migrants attempting to enter the U.S. are increasingly coming with their families, part of a concrete strategy, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado called for a multinational effort targeting Nicaragua's political crisis. (AFP)
  • Last week's meeting of Nicaraguan opposition leaders in Washington DC helped set goals and strategies for fighting the Ortega administration, but black and indigenous rights campaigners say they are struggling to be recognized by the movement. (UPI)
  • A dramatic recording appears to show Nestor Martínez, Colombia's chief prosecutor, attempting to cover up Odebrecht bribery payments. The audio from 2015 has a dialogue between Martínez, then legal council to a major banking group -- Grupo Aval -- and an internal auditor who reported finding likely bribe payments in a $2 billion highway project. The audio was released this week after the auditor, Jorge Enrique Pizano died. Though forensics initially said the cause was a heart attack, his son died three days later after drinking cyanide poisoned water from a bottle on his father's desk, raising questions about foul play. (Associated Press and Economist)
  • Several lawmakers have responded to the scandal asking for Martínez's resignation. (El Espectador)
  • Colombian President Iván Duque is walking a fine line with the FARC peace accord negotiated by his predecessor: he is not tearing up the agreement, but nor will he pursue the transformations it sought for Colombian politics and rural areas, according to La Silla Vacía.
  • Venezuela's controversial new smart-card ID is needed by citizens to access vital government subsidies. Critics believe it can be used by the government to monitor the population and allocate scarce resources to loyalists. A report by Reuters details how Chinese telecom giant ZTE was hired to develop the "Fatherland Card" database and create a mobile payment system for use with the card. In the Venezuelan Weekly, David Smilde notes that government officials often state (falsely) that they know how people voted, an assertion that is undermining faith in secrecy of the vote.
  • The most recent Venezuela Weekly also highlights a slew of other articles detailing varied threats to freedom of information in Venezuela.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador is in the midst of a grave water crisis,  more than 600,000 people have no access to drinking water, and hundreds of thousands more experience limited or intermittent access, reports National Geographic. More than 90 percent of surface water sources in the country are contaminated.
  • Tim Muth comments on a potential water law stuck in El Salvador's legislature and criticized as privatization by organizations of civil society. (El Salvador Perspectives)
  • The trial against Berta Cáceres' alleged killers is riddled with irregularities, and represents a lost opportunity for justice in Honduras, reports NACLA.
Costa Rica
  • Latin American governments must not only reduce costs, they must also improve how public money is spent, argues the Economist, focusing on Costa Rica's attempts at fiscal reform.
  • Octogenarian celebrity media mogul Silvio Santos set of a firestorm when he made inappropriate sexual remarks to one of Brazil's most famous singers on his live television show. Santos told Claudia Leitte her appearance was arousing, visibly discomfiting her. Reactions have been strong, and Leitte herself posted on social media that its an example of the machismo harassment many Brazilian women face every day. President-elect Bolsonaro has not commented on the incident, but later phoned into the telethon, telling Santos he was a fan. (Guardian)
  • Bolsonaro appointed Ernesto Araújo -- a die-hard Trump supporter -- to head the incoming government's foreign policy. (Buzzfeed) Some experts fear the Itamaraty appointment could lead to potential tensions with China, reports El País.
  • Brazil's incoming foreign minister believes climate change is part of a "cultural marxist" plot "used to justify increasing the regulatory power of states over the economy and the power of international institutions on the nation states and their populations, as well as to stifle economic growth in democratic capitalist countries and to promote the growth of China." Araújo's appointment likely bodes ill for Brazil's leadership on the issue. (Guardian)
  • Saragassum has swept onto Caribbean beaches in larger quantities than ever. The foul-smelling seaweed has significantly affected tourism, and the problem is only likely to get worst with climate change, warn environmentalists. (Guardian)
  • Grand Cayman is overrun by green iguanas, an invasive species -- the Economist reports on culling and potential economic opportunity.
  • Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez is navigating a complicated domestic political situation with regards to crime and corruption. With regards to international relations, the country has historic ties to Washington, but is being wooed by China, Russia and several Middle Eastern countries, writes Evan Ellis in an extensive analysis at Global Americans.
  • Argentina's Senate passed an austerity budget this week, despite strong union opposition, and in accordance with IMF loan conditions, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Over 1,500 indigenous protesters asked Ecuador's government to stop mining projects on or near their Amazon territories. (Al Jazeera)
  • Victims of Chile's dictatorship protested that a general involved in covering up "Caravan of Death" murders received a sentence of three years probation. (EFE)
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera participated in the leaders’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore. (EFE)
  • A delegation of Rapa Nui islanders are traveling to London to ask the British Museum to return a moai, the giant statues the indigenous tribe considers to be living incarnations of their ancestors. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...


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