Monday, December 17, 2018

Nicaraguan police beat journalists (Dec. 17, 2018)

Nicaraguan police beat at least seven journalists with batons on Saturday. The victims included Carlos Fernando Chamorro, one of the country's best known journalists and editor of Confidencial, a newspaper critical of the government. Journalists had gathered outside the Managua police headquarters to demand information about the confiscation of the newspaper's headquarters and material. Reuters reports that journalists were attacked by baton-wielding police, chased, and threatened with confiscation of cell phones and equipment. The group included journalists from Confidencial, Esta Semana, and other independent outlets, at least four were badly hurt, reports Artículo 66.

Chamorro denounced that Confidencial's offices were occupied by security forces who refused to let him in. (Confidencial and Associated Press) "They have taken our newsroom … They are physically closing down our offices by taking them militarily," Chamorro told the Guardian.

The move comes after they were raided last week, along with the offices of several organizations of civil society. On Friday, Nicaraguan authorities said they seized the assets of 10 blacklisted organizations, including that of Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), one of the country's most prominent human rights groups, reports Reuters. (See last Friday's post, and Thursday's.)

No papers have yet been presented to justify the occupation, reports Confidencial.

The attacks against rights groups and el Confidencial represent a deepening Nicaragua's "state of exception," according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Confidencial) The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on the Ortega administration to cease aggressions against organizations of civil society and independent media. (Artículo 66)

José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch’s Americas director, said that by attacking such well-known organisations Nicaragua’s president was making clear his intention "to rule by terror and intimidation." (Guardian)

More from Nicaragua
  • Hundreds of Nicaraguan dissidents set off in a caravan from Costa Rica's capital to protest against Ortega. (ReutersArtículo 66 reports that the group includes 500 leaders of the civil resistance and over a thousand supporters.
News Briefs

  • Lack of U.S. engagement in Latin America will strengthen the hand of China and Russia in the region, argues former U.S. vice president Joe Biden in Americas Quarterly. The Trump administration has needlessly undermined U.S. efforts in the region, including vital efforts to shore up democracy and reduce violence, he writes.
  • Mexico has been a particular target of U.S. President Donald Trump's rhetorical rage, yet Trump and his new counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, have an oddly friendly relationship, despite their ideological distance, reports the Washington Post
  • AMLO's first budget proposal came as a positive surprise to investors, according to Reuters.
  • "It is hard to overstate the singular importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Mexican identity", according to the New York Times, which reports on the annual pilgrimage to her shrine in Mexico City.  
  • Emma Coronel, the beauty queen married to Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán appears to be a devoted wife and mother, though some critics think her popular social media accounts (which she says she doesn't run) are being used as a distraction from the drug lord's New York trial. (Guardian)
  • Mexico is increasingly Plan B for Central American migrants stalled at the U.S. border, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The case of a young Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody last week has been seized on by both critics and supporters of the Trump administration's anti-immigration policies, reports the Guardian. (See Friday's briefs.) U.S. authorities say the girl was severely dehydrated when they took her into custody in New Mexico, but her family has disputed that, saying she was healthy, reports the Washington Post.
  • Political violence in Honduras is largely overlooked, though it's a contributing factor to the migration crisis on the U.S. border, reports Reuters.
  • The U.N. expected at least 2 million more Venezuelans to leave their country next year -- meaning about 5.4 million Venezuelans will be living abroad by the end of 2019. On Friday the U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration launched a new program aimed at coordinating 95 organizations in 16 countries to provide aid to the migrants. They are also asking for $738 million in financing. (Miami Herald)
  • Some U.S. lawmakers are seeking to protect Venezuelans living in the U.S. from deportation by granting them Temporary Protected Status. (Miami Herald)
  • Venezuela's El Nacional newspaper abandoned its print edition on Friday, after 75 years of uninterrupted publication. The editors say they are victims of government pressures against free media, reports the Miami Herald. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • A German freelance reporter is being held by the Venezuelan intelligence police, Sebin, in the infamous Helicoide prison in Caracas. He is accused of espionage, rebellion and violation of security zones. (New York Times)
El Salvador
  • A Salvadoran court declared that the 1981 El Mozote massacre was a crime against humanity. The landmark ruling means perpetrators cannot benefit from amnesty or other measures protecting them from justice, reports EFE. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
  • Murder rates in El Salvador are down, but disappearances are up, indicating that the government's celebration of a successful crackdown on crime is not very accurate, reports InSight Crime. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
Costa Rica
  • Homicides are increasing even in relatively peaceful Costa Rica, but unlike neighboring countries, the government there has implemented a security strategy focusing on citizen participation, modeled on Medellín's public security program, reports InSight Crime.
  • Recent changes to Colombia’s Public Order Law will further undermine the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC and hinder efforts to reach a deal with the ELN, according to InSight Crime.
  • Colombian authorities promised to spend an additional $1.42 billion over the next four years in a bid to soothe a student strike that has lasted 10 weeks. (Reuters)
  • Colombia's foreign minister said Friday that bilateral ties with China are fundamental for the country’s growth in diverse fields, especially in food export, according to EFE. (See above Diplomacy section.)
  • Brazilian drug gang violence is spilling over the border to Paraguay, where Brazilian organized crime groups are exploiting their neighbors lax gun laws, weak justice system, and police corruption, reports the New York Times.
  • Brazil's relationship with Venezuela is definitely entering a more tense stage: incoming foreign minister Ernesto Araújo called on the international community to "liberate" Venezuela, and said President Nicolás Maduro will not be invited to president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration next month. The Maduro camp has retaliated saying they were invited, but didn't want to go anyway, and accuse Bolsonaro allies of plotting a coup. (Guardian)
  • Bolsonaro, has promised to extradite a former guerrilla, who is wanted in Italy for four murders committed in the 1970's. Bolsonaro said the extradition would be his "present" to Rome and would demonstrate his commitment to fighting terrorism, reports the Guardian. An arrest warrant has been issued for Cesare Battisti, who said he faces torture if sent back to Italy, reports the BBC.
  • Bolsonaro is just one of a wave of politicians around the world who has proved adept at using social media to bypass traditional media outlets, reports the Guardian.
  • And Brazilian activists are increasingly turning to anti-Trump strategies in their struggle to contain Bolsonaro's authoritarian tendencies, according to Americas Quarterly.
Climate change
  • Brazil took a recalcitrant stance in the latest round of U.N. climate change talks, that concluded this weekend in Poland, posing one of several problems that were postponed until next year's annual conference, reports the Guardian.
  • Costa Rica's cloud forest is one of the ecosystems under immediate threat from climate change. (Guardian)
  • #MiraComoNosPonemos: a young actresses account of how she was raped nine years ago by an older actor has gripped Argentina and launched a national reckoning akin to the MeToo movement elsewhere. Thousands of women shared their own stories of abuse on social media, and authorities say calls to abuse hotlines have soared since the story became public a week ago. Though activism for women's rights has been prominent in Argentina in recent years, this is the first time organizations have tackled the issue of sexual abuse in this way. (New York Times)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...


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