Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Nicaragua talks breakdown (March 19, 2019)

Talks between the Nicaraguan government and an opposition civil society alliance are on hold -- and each side accused the other of undermining negotiations aimed at resolving the political crisis that's afflicted the country for nearly a year. The Alianza Cívica condemned violent repression of an anti-government protest this weekend, while the Ortega administration criticized the group's participation in a march demanding freedom for political prisoners on Saturday. (Associated PressEFE)

Saturday's anti-government protests was the first since November, when the government banned street protests. Demonstrators demanding freedom for political prisoners were beaten by police and 107 were arrested, reports ReutersAFP reports use of tear gas against demonstrators and journalists.

The government said detainees were released within hours. The opposition said at least 165 people were detained, and the release was secured by the Vatican's Nicaragua representative and due to popular pressure on social media, reports El País.

The Civic Alliance said talks with Ortega's government can only continue with the presence of the OAS and papal representative Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag. (Confidencial) But, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said the organization will only participate in negotiations if the government frees all political prisoners -- estimated at 760 people. (ConfidencialEl País) Ahead of talks that started nearly a month ago, the government released about 50 political detainees to house arrest -- a sign of little compromise with negotiations said Alianza Cívica representatives.

Sommertag defended himself from accusations of government partiality yesterday -- affirming his "impartial" stance. Sommertag negotiated the release of people detained in Saturday's protest, but was reportedly jeered at by a group of protesters while doing so. (Confidencial)

The U.S. and Spain condemned excessive use of force, and the European Union called on the government to urgently disband paramilitary forces used to repress anti-government activists. (Confidencial)

News Briefs

  • Haitian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to oust Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant and his government yesterday -- just six months after taking office. They will remain in place as a care-taker government until President Jovenel Moïse names a new prime minister and obtains parliamentary approval. The deepening political crisis will have immediate ramifications for Haiti's tanking economy and the distribution of millions of dollars of much needed international aid, reports the Miami Herald.
  • United States Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov are due to meet in Rome this week to discuss the situation in Venezuela. (Reuters)
  • A byproduct of Venezuela's crisis is a strengthening of Colombian rebels on both sides of the border, say U.S. military sources. (Reuters)
  • Thousands of protesters marched against Colombian President Iván Duque's attempt to modify the transitional justice system that forms the backbone of the country's 2016 peace accord with the FARC. Critics say Duque's move strengthens dissident fighters who object to laying down arms. (EFELa Silla VacíaAl JazeeraBBC) Though the numbers were not as strong as on previous occasions, protesters sent a strong message in favor of peace, according to Semana
  • A group of indigenous protesters from the Cauca region has blocked the Panamerican highway since March 11 -- activists accuse the government of acting against indigenous community interests. (AFP)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro toured the CIA headquarters as part of his official visit to Washington DC. (Associated Press)
  • Bolsonaro will have lunch with U.S. President Donald Trump today -- the U.S. is focused on Venezuela, while Brazil hopes for economic accords, reports The Intercept. The two presidents will sign a technology deal to open up an underused Brazilian satellite base, according to the Guardian. Bolsonaro and Trump have a lot in common, see this New York Times video on why it might be bro-love at first sight. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Ahead of the meeting Bolsonaro said he backs Trump's immigration agenda, including the hugely controversial border wall plan. (Guardian)
  • Leonardo Gabriel Hernandez, a journalist critical of Honduras' government was killed Sunday, said C-Libre. Spokesman for the National Commissioner of Human Rights, Julio Velasquez, said 77 journalists, broadcasters, owners and employees of media have been murdered in Honduras since 2001. Ninety-two percent of the crimes go unpunished and are not investigated, he said. (AFP)
  • Mexico’s government plans to investigate critical coverage of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his 2018 presidential campaign, on suspicion of illicit funding from his adversaries, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico's lower house approve a bill that would allow referendums to cut short the country's six-year presidential terms. (Reuters)
  • A group of indigenous protesters of the Qhara Qhara Nation arrived in La Paz after a 41 day march from Sucre -- they demand the Bolivian government recognize the tribe's communal ownership of lands in the Potosi and Chuquisaca regions. (EFE)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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