Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Hondura's vicious cycle of political unrest -- Int'l Crisis Group (July 3, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Honduran protests over the past two months tapped into public discontent with the current government, and are exacerbated by political polarization stemming from the coup ten years ago, according to an International Crisis Group report focused on the ongoing Honduran crisis. "Honduras finds itself in a vicious cycle: the current crisis is partly a response to worsening economic, security and humanitarian conditions, which the unrest could turn still worse. The government is not completely intransigent – it stepped back from some of its most unpopular moves and has shown an openness to dialogue. But it has also been prone to misread the challenges it is facing, branding protests, street blockings and looting as a conspiracy between the opposition and criminal elements to destabilise the country."
  • The 2009 coup "turned Honduras into Hell" said former president Mel Zelaya in an interview with the Grayzone. (See last Friday's post.)
  • The majority of the migrants attempting to enter the U.S. from Mexico are from Central America, yet the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have tended to avoid a strong stance on the issue. Part of the reason is their dependence on remittances from the U.S., reports the Associated Press. (See June 24's briefs for a similar view from Bloomberg.)
  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández met with U.S. acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan on the issue of migration, reports La Prensa. Earlier this week McAleenan met with Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele. (AFP)
  • A 30-year-old migrant from Honduras has died after spending nearly a month in ICE custody. He's the 11th death in U.S. custody since last September, reports Vice News.
  • The viral image of a drowned Salvadoran man and his daughter who attempted to cross the Rio Grande into the U.S. moves the focus of debate from the role of U.S. intervention in Central America that pushes many to migrate, as well as the "the history of impunity within U.S. and Mexican immigration enforcement that make practices like metering a possibility," writes Estefania Casta at NACLA.
  • ProPublica reports on a secret U.S. Border Patrol Facebook group where 9,500 participants share derogatory memes and make jokes about migrant deaths. According to one expert the comments reflect what "seems to be a pervasive culture of cruelty aimed at immigrants within CBP."
  • US border patrol divers are searching for a two-year-old girl who was swept away in the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border as she was crossing into Texas with her mother, reports the Guardian.
  • Dozens of Central Americans who had been returned to the border city of Juárez to await the outcome of their U.S. asylum claims were being bused back to their countries by Mexican authorities yesterday. It's the first for the cohort of "Remain in Mexico" program asylum seekers. It was not clear what impact there could be on the asylum-seekers’ cases in the United States, whether going home meant giving up their claims or whether it would be possible to continue from Central America, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexico tripled the number of migrant detentions in June from a year earlier, in the wake of an agreement with the U.S. to reduce the flow of people crossing the border with the U.S. (Bloomberg)
  • Negotiations between Venezuela's government and opposition were expected to continue this week, but appear to have been derailed by the death of a Navy captain in custody. (See yesterday's post.) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said yesterday he was committed to talks with the opposition to resolve a political crisis, hours after opposition leader Juan Guaido said there would “never” be a good time to negotiate with a “dictatorship," reports Reuters.
  • The international community and Venezuelan public increasingly believe in a negotiated transition for Venezuela's catastrophic ongoing crisis. But Venezuela's government and opposition are deadlocked, and in the thrall of their hardliners, writes the International Crisis Group's Ivan Briscoe in Foreign Affairs
  • Guaidó has called for an anti-government rally on Friday -- ahead of which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised "unwavering" support, reports AFP.
  • Daniel Alarcón delves into the April suicide of former Peruvian president Alan García in the New Yorker. The move threw the country's corruption investigations -- which have implicated most former presidents still alive -- for a loop and leaves the traditional APRA party in disarray. 
  • Alongside Brazil, Peru is the country most affected by Odebrecht graft investigations. The relative success of investigations targeting the country's most politically powerful is a byproduct of a particularly toxic judicial environment, in which infighting and finger-pointing are rife among judges, lawyers, and public prosecutors, argues Laura Bunt-MacRury in the Conversation.
  • Marmalade of Madness: former conservative supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are jumping ship in droves. Bolsonaro's popularity rating plunged since January, and more than half the country says it no longer trusts him, reports the Guardian. The numbers are the worst at this point of the government for any administration since the return of democracy. 
  • Bolsonaro's legislative agenda has been hindered by lack of support, and infighting within the administration further undermines his initiatives, writes Claudia Zilla in Nueva Sociedad.
  • The new version of pension reform presented by Brazil's government in Congress yesterday could save about $245 billion over the next decade. The bill could be approved as soon as today by a special committee, and move to the full lower house for debate and vote. Lawmakers are under pressure to move forward before the July 18 winter recess, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Brazilian police  whether mining company Vale SA's chief financial officer and two former senior executives were aware of structural weaknesses in a mine-waste dam before it ruptured in January, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Mexico desperately needs a government body dedicated to guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities. More than half of Mexico's population with disabilities is poor, and 20 percent are illiterate -- the López Obrador administration must make it a political priority, argues Human Rights Watch investigator Carlos Ríos Espinosa in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Mexico's Senate passed a dignified death bill, guaranteeing access to palliative care for people with terminal illnesses. (Exelsior)
  • Cuba’s government said it's studying the potential use of cryptocurrency as part of a series of measures to boost its economy amid a deepening crisis exacerbated by U.S. sanctions and Venezuela's crisis, reports Reuters.
  • The former FARC leader known as Jesús Santrich disappeared on Sunday and has not been heard from since. His family fears violence, but Colombian President Iván Duque said Santrich is likely trying to elude justice. He is due to appear before the country's supreme court over allegations of drug smuggling within days, reports the BBC.
  • Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he regrets the “polarization and division” in Colombia regarding the 2016 peace deal with the FARC. In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Guterres also expressed “deep concern” that the U.N. mission in Colombia has verified 123 killings of former combatants since the peace deal was signed by the government and the since-disbanded guerrilla force. (Associated Press)
  • Argentine elections tend to run along a peronist-anti-peronist divide. October's elections are set to be an outlier in this sense -- Peronists are part of the three main tickets, including President Mauricio Macri's reelection bid. Instead the candidates will duel over the current economic program, future adjustments, and what the effects will be for the population, writes Facundo Cruz in a broad ranging summary campaign issues in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Honduras declared a national emergency over an outbreak of the dengue virus that has killed 44 people so far this year and infected over 15,400. (EFE)
  • Remember the 2016 panic about the Zika virus and birth defects? It's still a thing, and it's spreading. And scientists still can't explain why and how it impacts some pregnant women. (New York Times)

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

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