Thursday, August 1, 2019

Nicaragua's negotiations still stalled (Aug. 1, 2019)

Nicaragua's Civic Alliance called for a return to negotiations with the government in search for an exit to the country's political crisis, but received no answer from the Ortega administration. Yesterday opposition leaders staged a return to the actual negotiating table in order, though it was known beforehand they would have no counterpart to continue discussions with. The Alianza Cívica said their goal was to demonstrate their willingness to negotiate to the government and the international community. 

The opposition coalition of social groups withdrew from negotiations with Nicaragua's government earlier this year in demand that political prisoners be released. Advocates say 124 political prisoners remain in detention, after the government released hundreds from jail in recent months.

Opposition leaders said they have called on the OAS Permanent Council to select a commission to participate in negotiations with the Nicaraguan government.

News Briefs

More Nicaragua
  • Six years after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced work was starting on a $50 billion Chinese-financed inter-oceanic canal, the controversial project has failed to advance at all, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Dengue fever has killed at least eight people this year in Nicaragua and is suspected of sickening some 55,000 -- the government issued an epidemiological alert, reports the Associated Press
  • Four Brazilian prison inmates died of asphyxiation while being transferred to a safer facility in the wake of a riot in which 58 prisoners were killed Monday. (See Tuesday's briefs.) The prisoners being transferred were suspected of involvement in the Altamira prison clashes, reports the Associated Press.
  • At least 16 people were decapitated in the macabre gang fight. But the clash was a tragedy foretold: experts have warned about heavily overcrowded facilities that increasingly powerful rival gangs use as recruiting centers and operational hubs, reports the New York Times.
  • Amazon deforestation is at its highest rate yet -- but environmental groups say the Brazilian government is focused on casting doubts on official satellite data rather than cracking down on illegal activities. A special high level meeting of officials yesterday focused on potential alternative monitoring, though scientists say the existing system is one of the best in the world, reports the Guardian.
  • Dozens of rights groups signed a statement in support of journalist Glenn Greenwald, after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro branded him a "militant." Bolsonaro suggested the journalist, who has reported on apparent improprieties in the Lava Jato corruption investigation, could serve jail time in Brazil. Thousands of journalists, artists and activists gathered in Rio de Janeiro in a public show of support for Greenwald. (AFP)
  • The scandal plagued leader of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, is the unlikely architect of July's landmark vote to cut pensions -- a longtime ambition of recent governments seeking to court investors. The bill is expected to pass a Senate vote later this year, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Brazilian economy minister Paulo Guedes confirmed that the country is in trade talks with the U.S., reports the Wall Street Journal. U.S. President Donald Trump said, earlier this week, that the U.S. would work on a free-trade agreement with Brazil.
  • Trump officially designated Brazil as a major non-NATO ally yesterday. The move makes it easier for the South American country to purchase U.S. weapons and defense equipment, reports The Hill.
  • Haitian senator has been linked to kidnappings by infamous gang leader Arnel Joseph who was arrested last week, reports the Miami Herald.
  • The acting head of U.S. Homeland Security held private discussions with Guatemalan officials yesterday regarding an agreement that would force many Central American migrants to request humanitarian asylum in Guatemala rather than the U.S., reports the Associated Press. Both of the finalist presidential candidates who will face off in run-off elections this month -- Sandra Torres and Alejandro Giammattei -- criticized the safe third-country agreement signed last week by Guatemala and the U.S. 
  • It is not clear how Guatemala's institutions would be able to cope with a potential influx of asylum seekers, reports Reuters.
  • The safe third-country agreement between Guatemala and the U.S. will likely change the region's migration dynamics -- reducing the flow of asylum seeking families at the U.S. border but increasing attempts by single migrants (mostly men) to illicitly enter the U.S., reports the Wall Street Journal. Few people expect Salvadoran and Honduran migrants to actually file for asylum in Guatemala, as the country is ill-equipped to meet their needs. But the agreement could increase pressure on Mexico's asylum system, which is already dealing with massive increases in applicants.
  • Costa Rica and Panamanian officials arrested 49 people earlier this week in a joint crackdown on an international network suspected of smuggling migrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean through Central America and toward the United States, reports Reuters.
  • Two U.S. Marines were arrested on migrant smuggling charges -- raising the possibility that criminal groups are recruiting troops in human trafficking, reports InSight Crime.
  • Rising sea levels -- as much as a meter per year -- are destroying Honduran costal towns. Conflicts over natural resources have contributed to the Central American migration crisis. In most cases, the issues are made worst by corporate expansion and climate change, reports the Guardian.
  • Norway mediated talks between Venezuela's government and the political opposition resumed Monday in Barbados, according to tweets from both sides. (AFP, see yesterday's briefs.)
  • Venezuela will need an immediate capital infusion once opposition leader Juan Guaidó takes power, said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He promised U.S. support for pro-market reforms and privatizations in Venezuela with credit and investment, reports Reuters.
  • A Mexican journalist was found dead in the trunk of a car Tuesday, the seventh journalist killed this year in what is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters. (AFP)
  • A recent Canadian court ruling determined that Canadian embassy officials are under no legal obligation to protect human rights defenders in other countries, a set back for the family of Mariano Abarca, who was murdered in 2009 in relation to his opposition to a Canadian mining company project in Chiapas, Mexico. (NACLA)
  • There are less than 20 vaquita porpoises left in Mexico's Gulf of California, according to latest estimates. (Guardian)
  • Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez promised to fight an impeachment call related to a Brazilian energy deal scandal, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

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


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