Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arrest warrant for Lozoya in Mexico (May 29, 2019)

A Mexican federal judge issued an arrest warrant yesterday for former Mexican state-oil company head, Emilio Lozoya, on corruption charges, though it was temporarily suspended today. (NotimexAnimal Político) Federal authorities said they detected bank account movements that could indicate attempts to hide illicit funds, reports Animal Político. The head of Mexico's largest steelmaker was arrested in Spain on related charges, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this week authorities froze Lozoya's bank accounts. And last week he was barred from public office for ten years in relation to false wealth declarations. (See yesterday's briefs and Friday's.)

It is the López Obrador administration's boldest move against systemic corruption in his predecessor's government, reports the Washington Post. Lozoya was a prominent member of former President Enrique Peña Nieto's inner circle. It's also a step towards fulfilling one of AMLO's central campaign promises: to tackle Pemex corruption, reports the New York Times.

He is suspected of receiving about $10 million in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht and there have been allegations that he attempted to thwart the investigation int the case. (See post for Oct. 23, 2017) Yesterday a federal court denied Lozoya's request that the Odebrecht bribery investigation be kept in reserve. The prosecutor general's office will release public versions of the investigation today, reports Animal Político.

Authorities are investigating Lozoya's purchase of a luxury Mexico City home in 2012, possibly with funds from Odebrecht bribes. Authorities raided the home last night. (Animal PolíticoInfobaeReuters)

More from Mexico
  • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's Morena party will likely perform well in gubernatorial elections in several states this weekend, reports Reuters.
  • AMLO's travel around the country on low-budget airlines has exposed him to citizen love and wrath, reports the Guardian.
News Briefs

El Salvador
  • A vote is expected on a controversial amnesty law in El Salvador that would shield former guerrilla fighters and military troops who committed human rights violations during the country's civil war. (See Friday's post.) The move has brought together a strange alliance of the left and right -- the political parties that stemmed from the guerrilla FMLN and the far-right Arena which had its own death squads -- writes Raymond Bonner in a New York Times op-ed.
  • A report by the U.N. Human Rights Office finds human rights defenders, minorities and indigenous people in Guatemala are subject to wide-scale, wanton attacks by state and non-state actors, reports Voice of America.
  • Venezuela’s central bank reported a sharp contraction of third-quarter gross domestic product, yesterday. The official 2018 inflation rate was 130,060%, reports Efecto Cocuyo. It was its first release of economic data in nearly four years, reports Reuters.
  • The European Union backed International Contact Group on Venezuela will meet in New York next week with representatives of the Lima Group. (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said he will deploy militias to supervise government subsidized food boxes -- in defense of the internationally questioned CLAP program he said. (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • "US policy towards Venezuela is not motivated by a concern for democracy or human rights. And its arrogant intervention is making the country's humanitarian crisis even worse," writes Gabriel Hetland in Jacobin.
  • U.S. border control policies have specifically pushed migrants to take more dangerous routes in their attempts to enter the country -- the idea was to deter migrants, but instead it has caused thousands of deaths, write Leah Varjacques and Jessia Ma in an interactive New York Times op-ed.
  • Four Latin American women -- from Nicaragua, Ecuador and Guatemala -- filed cases against their governments before the UN human rights committee. They were raped as young girls and denied abortions, they accused the governments of failing to provide appropriate healthcare and denying them abortions, even when it was their legal right to have one. (Guardian)
  • Argentine activists and lawmakers relaunched a bill to legalize abortion with a massive demonstration yesterday. The proposal, backed by lawmakers from across the political spectrum, failed to pass the Senate last year. (AFP)
  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's unilateral moves towards releasing prisoners and electoral reform, in the midst of a dialogue breakdown with the Civic Alliance, suggests the government is seeking to circumvent the opposition altogether, writes Fulton Armstrong at the AULA blog. "Ortega seems to think he can end-run a negotiated settlement and undermine his opponents at home and abroad."
  • Brazilian peacekeepers working with the U.N. mission in Haiti lacked clear human rights directives, reports Folha de S. Paulo based on confidential government and U.N. documents.
  • Brutal prison killings in Brazil -- 55 inmates were murdered earlier this week -- are part of a turf war within the country's third largest gang, the Familia do Norte, reports InSight Crime. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Brazil's economic woes are pushing income inequality, which has reached its highest level in recent years, reports the Associated Press.
  • Brazil is suing Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco over the financial toll of smoking, reports CNBC.
  • Two Chilean lawmakers proposed labor regulations for app workers -- more than 120,000 people in Chile make a living this way. (Social Geek)

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

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