Friday, June 21, 2019

Honduras deploys troops in midst of anti-gov't protests (June 21, 2019)

Honduras deployed its military across the country after anti-government protests left two dead. Protests have been growing in intensity in recent weeks, and were fueled by anti-riot police who chose to remain in their barracks starting Tuesday. Roads around the country were blocked with burning tires, and there were reports of looting and government buildings attacked in Tegucigalpa. (BBC)

Unrest continued yesterday, even after the government reached a deal with cargo transportation workers, whose strike affected fuel distribution. Today thousands of Hondurans blocked roads around the country, and were removed by police, reports La Prensa.

President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose resignation is demanded by protesters, vowed to guarantee freedom of movement and private property. But opponents say the decision to deploy troops is a sign of weakened legitimacy of a leader whose reelection in 2017 was widely questioned. (El País)

News Briefs

  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele met with his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in southern Mexico, where tens of thousands of Central American migrants have crossed the border fleeing violence and poverty. The two countries signed a cooperation agreement that includes a $30 million Mexican donation for reforestation in El Salvador. AMLO said creating opportunities is key to stemming migration -- a key concern after the U.S. threatened significant tariffs if migrant numbers at its southern border do not go down. (Associated Press)
  • AMLO accidentally hit Bukele's face while planting a tree together -- Bukele joked on social media that it was in response to a gibe about AMLO's age. (Milenio)
  • The program is the first step in a Mexican investment of $100 million in Central America, also part of its approach to reduce migrants, reports Animal Político. But the absence of Guatemala and Honduras in the Bukele-AMLO meeting raised questions and hackles.  (NotimexCNN)
  • A migrant woman from Honduras was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after federal police agents in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez abducted her and handed her over to a criminal group. The woman had applied for humanitarian asylum in the U.S. and was sent to Mexico to await her U.S. court hearings under the controversial "Remain in Mexico" program. The case highlights the dangers of the U.S. policy aimed at keeping migrants from de facto U.S. residence while they await asylum proceedings, reports InSight Crime.
  • Currently 14,000 asylum seekers are in Mexico awaiting U.S. court hearings said Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. (Animal Político)
  • The Trump tariff threat was narrowly averted, but remains on the table. U.S. policies on migration -- the tariff threat and the economic cost of other impositions for Mexicans to reduce flows of Central American asylum seekers -- affects Mexico's economic stability and could, perversely, fuel more migration to the U.S. write María Fernanda Pérez Arguello and Nicolás Albertoni in a New York Times op-ed.
  • The U.S.-Mexico agreement is not a long-term strategy for migrant reduction, however, argues Andrew Selee in Americas Quarterly
  • Mexican researchers have confirmed the existence of 1,606 secret graves containing 2,489 bodies from 2006 to 2017 -- but that is likely just the tip of the iceberg. University investigators worked alongside local human rights’ groups to conduct the study that they say shows the “deterioration of security” in Mexico, reports the Associated Press.
  • Guatemala will hold a total vote recount after allegations of fraud in last Sunday's general election. Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) head Julio Solorzano ordered a recount of certified returns from each ballot box to "clarify disagreements" after the leftist Movement for the Liberation of Peoples - whose candidate Thelma Cabrera came fifth in the presidential race - denounced "evident electoral fraud." Multiple demonstrations yesterday protested against results in local elections. The OAS electoral observation mission rejected fraud but welcomed the TSE's decision in the name of transparency. (Prensa LibreAl JazeeraAFP)
  • Cabrera wound up representing the anti-system vote in Guatemala after former Guatemalan attorney general Thelma Aldana was blocked from participating in last Sunday's presidential election. Both the front runners for the August run-off -- center-left Sandra Torres and ultra conservative Alejandro Giammattei -- represent "authoritarian" visions, ensuring the likelihood that Guatemala's "democratic winter" will continue, according to Nómada's Martín Rodríguez Pellecer. The congressional results were more mixed however, he notes. Parties that participated in the so-called corruption pact -- measures aimed at shielding politicians from graft investigations -- were punished at the ballot box, though their replacements won't necessarily be much better. A small group of "reformists," who will likely favor the CICIG, adds up to about 23 percent of the new congress.
  • Aldana told Democracy Now that the country is "captured" by corruption. Democracy Now also interviewed Lucrecia Hernández Mack, one of the new reformers elected to Guatemala's congress in the election.
  • The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy will publish its annual report soon, and there's a real risk that U.S. President Donald Trump will follow through on threats to “decertify” Colombia as a partner in the war on drugs. The move would go against State Department recommendations, and would force the U.S. to end most economic aid to its closest Latin American ally, reports Bloomberg.
  • Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for trade union members, reports IPS.
  • The latest Lava Jato leaks report from The Intercept shows how then-Judge Sergio Moro and prosecutors analyzed the political convenience of pursuing corruption allegations against former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
  • President Jair Bolsonaro thanked Evangelicals for their support at the "March for Jesus." Bolsonaro is the first president to attend the annual Sao Paulo event. (EFE)
  • Peru's crackdown on illegal mining could fuel other illicit activity, including violent crime, coca cultivation, and illegal logging, reports InSight Crime.
  • Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled against a request to require community consultations for a planned Australian owned mining project, reports Reuters.
  • A court in Ecuador freed a Ola Bini, a Swedish programmer close to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after more than two months in jail on suspicion of hacking, reports the Associated Press.
  • Petra Costa's new documentary "The Edge of Democracy" documents "a crisis erupting in slow motion at the heart of Brazilian politics," according to the Guardian.
  • A new drama-documentary focuses on Trinidadian Ulric Cross, an RAF pilot and diplomat who was a go-between in several African countries’ independence struggles, reports the Guardian.
  • A 1950's recording unearthed in the National Sound Library of Mexico may or may not have been Frida Kahlo. (GuardianNew York Times)

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

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