Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Acosta Arévalo's body released for "controlled burial" (July 10, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Navy captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo's body was released by the Venezuelan government for a "controlled burial," 12 days after he died in custody. The burial is determined by the state, which has refused to allow independent autopsies of Acosta, who was last seen with significant torture traumas. The Bello Monte morgue was guarded by the Special Actions Force (FAES) of the police, and advocates said U.N. human rights representatives were not permitted access to the corpse. (Efecto CocuyoEfecto Cocuyo)
  • The third round of Norway-mediated discussions between Venezuela's government and political opposition started Monday in Barbados, though little is known. Efecto Cocuyo reports that the agenda includes: presidential elections with a new electoral authority; the termination of the National Constituent Assembly; the return of Chavista representatives to the National Assembly; Nicolás Maduro's participation as presidential candidate; the lifting of economic sanctions against government officials and associates. Voice of America reports that internal tensions might bring the process to a close today rather than at the end of the week.
  • Venezuelan civil society hailed the U.N. human rights report issued last week by Michelle Bachelet. 190 organizations signed a declaration that support the report, its conclusions and recommendations and highlight  the importance of the UNHCHR having a permanent presence in the country, reports the Venezuela Weekly.
  • Venezuela has resorted to selling oil to little-known buyers in order to avoid U.S. sanctions, including a tiny Turkish company with no refineries, reports Reuters.
  • Guatemala is on the verge of wiping out more than a decade of efforts to strengthen its criminal justice system and access to justice as a result of recent actions by the country’s highest authorities, Amnesty International warned in a new report released yesterday. Faced with the imminent end of the U.N. backed international anti-impunity commission, "Attorney General Consuelo Porras does not seem to have taken sufficiently clear or timely measures to guarantee the continuity of the work of the prosecutor’s offices that collaborate with CICIG, such as the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI), thus endangering the investigations opened in more than 70 joint cases."
  • Mexico's finance minister resigned yesterday, with a scathing letter of resignation posted on Twitter, accusing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's administration of discrepancies in economic policies. Carlos Urzúa's exit could affect Mexico's economy -- he served to reassure investors of the leftist government's fiscal discipline. Urzúa accused the administration of implementing policies with insufficient evidence, and of placing unqualified people in the finance ministry. López Obrador named a U.S.-educated technocrat, Arturo Herrera, as Urzúa’s replacement. (New York TimesWashington Post)
  • Mexico's government is in discussions with national and U.S. business leaders to create a "Marshall Plan" of massive investment in the country aimed at increasing development and reducing migration push factors. (El Universal)
  • The U.S. has started to implement the Migrant Protection Protocols for asylum seekers crossing the border in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico's most dangerous states. The program sends asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their asylum hearings -- but rights groups are concerned about the potential danger for migrants, who this week were dismissed from the Nuevo Laredo immigration office without any transportation or assistance, reports the Washington Post.
  • The number of people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border dropped 28 percent in June. The reduction exceeds usual seasonal shifts, and responds to Mexico's crackdown on undocumented migrants, according to authorities. (Washington Post)
  • With entry to the U.S. evermore complicated, Latin American migrants -- Venezuelan and Central American -- are increasingly attempting to move to Europe, reports the Guardian.
  • Human trafficking rings prey on women desperate to leave Venezuela and transport them in frail fishing boats to Trinidad. Over 60 people drowned in recent accidents in recent months, reports the New York Times.
El Salvador
  • Tough policing measures in El Salvador come with a dark side: deaths from reported clashes between gangs and police are often covered up extrajudicial executions or related to other misconduct, reports Foreign Policy.
  • Honduras has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the region. Activists are demanding a long delayed national protocol for victims and survivors of sexual violence -- it's been paralyzed by a debate over access to emergency contraception, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Argentina has historically swung between two competing paradigms: that of a working class that seeks strong, protected national industries, and that of upper classes focused on agricultural export based wealth, writes José Natanson in a New York Times Español op-ed. Neither vision has succeeded in displacing the other, and the pendulum between the two has proven economically disastrous. But there are indications that voters have tired of this extreme polarization and that leading candidates in October's presidential election are listening.
  • Leftist Frente de Todos presidential candidate Alberto Fernández is in the midst of a delicate campaign balancing act -- maintaining his running mate's significant voter base while also emphasizing his independence in order to court voters alienated by former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, writes Brendan O'Boyle in Americas Quarterly.
Operación Condor
  • An Italian court has sentenced 24 people to life in prison for their involvement in Operation Condor, in which the dictatorships of six South American countries conspired to kidnap and assassinate political opponents in each other’s territories, reports the Guardian.
  • A cohort of 34 Brazilian lawmakers -- nearly half serving their first term -- are part of an innovative experiment that seeks to promote renewal by sponsoring and educating political outsiders with public service goals, reports El País. Programs such as RenovaBR don't have an ideological focus, rather candidates must pass an ethics test, show capacity for overcoming challenges, and undergo an intensive six month public policy course.
  • Brazil's lower chamber of Congress is expected to vote on pension reform today, markets are optimistic, report Reuters.
  • New legislation in Brazil's Para state relaxes requirements for occupiers to claim lands, a move that critics say will make it easier for speculators to invade public land and impact Amazon preservation. (Al Jazeera)
  • Norway has expressed alarm over accelerating destruction of the Amazon and concern for the future of a Brazilian rainforest protection fund it has given $1.2 billion to in the last decade, reports Reuters.
  • A Brazilian judge ordered mining giant Vale SA to pay compensation for all damages caused by the collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam in January. (BBC)
  • Home security is increasing high tech in São Paulo -- and digital security is crowding out the tradition doormen that have been gatekeepers for the city's wealthiest, reports the Washington Post.
  • Colombia's government wants to resume aerial fumigation of coca crops -- but the approach is opposed by rural residents who point to collateral damage and health impacts. And experts say the move, carried out before crop substitution programs are implemented, would be another setback for the faltering peace process, reports the Washington Post.
  • Colombia's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the former FARC guerrilla leader known as Jesús Santrich, after he failed to appear in court on drug trafficking charges, reports AFP. (See May 30's briefs on the judicial tug-of-war over Santrich.) He has been missing since June 30. (See July 3's briefs.)
  • A Colombian bishop will exorcise the entire city of Buenaventura this weekend -- sprinkling holy water from an army-provided helicopter. The city is one of Colombia's most violent, reports the Guardian.

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