Monday, February 11, 2019

Four killed in Haiti protests (Feb. 11, 2019)

At least four people have been killed and dozens injured in four days of anti-government protests in Haiti. Thousands of people have taken to the streets, demanding President Jovenel Moïse's resignation in relation to corruption allegations. At least one of the dead appears to have been killed by police in Port-au-Prince demonstration. The Haitian National Police (PNH) said a number of its officers had been hurt at the demonstration. A Senator said two more, including an 18-year-old, were killed by police in a Gonaives city protest.

Protests started last Thursday, which marked the fall of the Duvalier family dictatorship 33 years ago. Unlike last year's anti-corruption protests, these demonstrations focused more broadly on the country's economic malaise. Protesters fixated on symbols of wealth, specifically luxury cars which have been targeted by demonstrators. And angry protesters threw stones at Moise's house.

The mayors of Port-au-Prince and Petionville cancelled pre-carnival celebrations scheduled for yesterday due to the unrest. And mayors in several cities say they will cancel carnival festivities due in early March. In the midst of economic difficulties that include inflation at 15 percent annually and a deficit of $89.6 million in the nation’s budget for this year, many argue that the country can't afford to celebrate Kanaval.

News Briefs

  • Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's push to oust legitimacy challenged Chavista leader Nicolás Maduro is entering its fourth week. Guaidó, who is considered the country's interim president by a significant portion of the international community, called on citizens to continue protesting against the government, reports the Guardian.
  • Further protests are scheduled for tomorrow, specifically calling for the armed forces to permit entry of humanitarian aid, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See last Wednesday's post.) The military continues to block a road that might be used for aid delivery -- one alternative envisioned by the opposition is a swarm of citizens pushing past authorities to gather goods on the Colombian side of the border, reports the Miami Herald.
  • But lack of a broad military defection from Maduro means that the outcome remains highly uncertain, reports the Guardian. One possibility is that Maduro may fall but be replaced by somebody from the Chavista ranks, note experts. (See Friday's post.)
  • Indeed, as popular support for Maduro lessens, Chavistas face a dilemma: go down with him or keep the political movment alive, according to the Guardian.
  • Guaidó is an accidental leader, the story of his "rise involves stealthy travel, diplomatic maneuvers in Washington, Canada and South America, and months of strategizing by Venezuelan activists," reports the Washington Post. (Last week there were several reports on how established opposition leaders engineered his ascent -- see Friday's post and Thursday's briefs.)
  • Foot traffic and hair selling on the Simón Bolivar bridge connecting Venezuela and Colombia -- Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Maduro's collapse in Venezuela could drag Cuba into an economic crisis, reports the Miami Herald.
Women's Rights
  • Nine women have accused former Costa Rican president Óscar Arias of sexual harassment over the past week, in what has shaped up to be the most significant #MeToo case in Latin America. But the victims must overcome important social and political barriers that make it hard for them to exercise their rights, reports the New York Times.
  • #MeToo is capable of toppling the world's most powerful men, but has had little effect on the massive problem of quotidian gender violence among Latin America's general population. "... The #MeToo movement has not managed to show consensus that abusers in all walks of life ought to be held accountable for misconduct. Instead, it seems to have generated common knowledge only that perpetrators should be kept out of extremely high-status roles," according to the New York Times Interpreter column.
  • Journalists in Mexico work in extreme danger, under increasingly lethal danger writes Paula Mónaco Felipe in a New York Times Español op-ed with harrowing details.
  • Journalists, lawyers, and activists working on the U.S.-Mexico border have been subjected to heightened U.S. law enforcement scrutiny. The Intercept reports that actions range from barring journalists and immigrant lawyers from Mexico, to temporary detention for immigrant rights activists. Members of the press have been interrogated and forced to turn over their notes, cameras, and phones.
  • The U.S. administration's clampdown on asylum has put stress on Mexican border towns, which have been forced to deal with a massive influx of migrants who must wait for months in order to apply for humanitarian asylum in the U.S. (Guardian)
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran president-elect Nayib Bukele trounced the country's most powerful political parties in his electoral victory earlier this month. He did so despite a low voter turnout and taking votes from both the FMLN and the conservative Arena parties, writes Christine Wade at World Politics Review. Bukele faces significant challenges governing without major congressional support, and extremely high expectations. His most immediate task is assembling a cabinet with appropriate technical expertise she argues.
  • El Faro reports on international advisors on Bukele's team, some of which collaborate with the Venezuelan political opposition, though their potential future impact is unclear.
  • Though Arena and the FMLN dominate congress, the parties are doomed to electoral failure if they attempt to block Bukele's agenda, argues GANA lawmaker Osiris Luna. (Diario La Huella)
El Chapo
  • The jury is still out in the landmark New York trial of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. An acquittal doesn't mean the narco legend would go free however, as he faces multiple charges in Illinois, California, Texas and Florida, reports the Guardian.
  • A fire in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro Flamengo fútbol club's training center dorm killed at least 10 youths. The city said that the area burned was registered for parking, and that an investigation into the licensing process was underway. (New York Times and Guardian)
  • The Brumadinho tailings waste dam, which killed over 300 people when it collapsed in January, barely deserves the name -- it was really a "bare-bones reservoir of mining waste" contained by walls of sand and silt. There are 88 more dams like that in Brazil, and at least 28 sit directly uphill from towns or cities, reports the New York Times.
  • More than 2,000 Cuban doctors appealed to U.S. lawmakers for help. The doctors say Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reneged on promises to provide them with asylum and jobs after they broke with Havana last year. (Miami Herald)
  • Argentine prosecutor Carlos Stornelli is accused of extorting agriculture businessman Pablo Etchebest in order to shield him from a corruption investigation implicating high level Kirchner administration officials and a broad circle of Argentina's business leaders. The accusation threatens to (further?) tarnish the Cuadernos de la Corrupción investigation, which some have hailed as a potential Argentine Lavajato. (Cohete a la LunaPágina 12)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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