Friday, August 30, 2019

OAS announced anti-corruption mission for El Salvador (Aug. 30, 2019)

The Organization of American States (OAS) will back the creation of an international anti-impunity commission in El Salvador. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro announced via Twitter today that a technical mission will be sent to El Salvador next week, in order to advance towards the creation of the International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES). (Última HoraLa Prensa Gráfica)

Almagro met with vice president Félix Ulloa and foreign minister Alexandra Hill, but there is little information about what the commission will consist of or how the technical mission will proceed, reports El Diario de Hoy. President Nayib Bukele campaigned on the promise of creating a commission modeled on Guatemala's recently dismantled CICIG -- a an international commission with power to investigate and collaborate with national prosecutors on corruption cases. He also recently promised to create an international commission before Sept. 9, though he did not give more details. (See Aug. 13's post.)

Organizations of civil society note that a CICIG-style commission would necessarily require legislative approval, meaning Bukele would likely only succeed in announcing a plan by his self-imposed deadline. (El Diario de Hoy) La Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo (FUNDE), the local branch of Transparency International, said the backing of an international organization is critical for the project, but that a CICIES would be better served by an alliance with the U.N. than the OAS, due to concerns regarding the latter's independence. (La Prensa Gráfica)

News Briefs

  • Colombian President Iván Duque said he will send a specially created army unit to track down a FARC dissident group that announced it was taking up arms again, reports Al Jazeera. Duque said there would be a $882,000 reward for the arrest of guerrilla leaders who appeared in a video relaunching the guerrilla group's struggle against the Colombian government. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Duque characterized the threat as a band of criminals, rather than a new insurgency. But there is danger that the FARC dissidents could unite other armed groups, including the ELN and FARC splinters. (Washington Post)
  • The FARC guerrilla forces' relaunching is not a complete surprise -- and for now appears to be more of a political than military move, explains La Silla Vacía. (And La Silla Vacía again.)
  • Nonetheless, the remobilization comes at a dangerous time in the region, particularly along Colombia's border with Venezuela, warns Alexander L. Fattal in a New York Times op-ed.
  • The rearming "is a wake-up call to the majority of Colombians and the international community who want peace: now is the critical moment to redouble efforts to ensure the full implementation of the peace accords," according to WOLA.
  • Dissident FARC leaders' return to arms is a wake up call for Colombia to rapidly patch up its faltering peace process, former Colombian president Ernesto Samper said in an interview with NODAL
  • "How did Colombia’s fragile peace unravel?" The Conversation gathers together a series of articles on the long process since the 2016 pact was signed in the first place. 
  • Collective land ownership is holding back Colombia's Pacific Coast, according to the Economist.
More El Salvador
  • El Salvador and the U.S. promised to cooperate in combatting irregular migration and transnational criminal organizations. Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele met with acting U.S. homeland security secretary Kevin McAleenan in San Salvador on Wednesday, part of a U.S. diplomatic push for Latin American countries to slow migration flows. (Associated Press)
  • At least 25 people were arrested across El Salvador, yesterday. The detained include businesspeople, lawyers and a former police officer, as part of an operation to break up an alleged migrant smuggling network, reports the Associated Press. Authorities said the alleged smugglers charged migrants $8,000 to $12,000 to take them to the United States, though many were abandoned en route.
Climate Change
  • Central America is grappling with its worst outbreak of dengue fever in decades -- and the mosquito-borne disease could become a bigger problem as climate change fuels outbreaks, reports Reuters
  • The Amazon rainforest could soon reach a tipping point of deforestation, at which point it will self-destruct. Some scientists warn that this nightmare scenario is imminent, reports the New York Times. If this happens, the rainforest would start emitting greenhouse gases rather than absorb them.
  • Fires have been reported in indigenous protected territory of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and activists fear those areas were specifically targeted by loggers and land grabbers, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazil banned most legal fires for land-clearing for 60 days in an attempt to stop the blazes decimating parts of the Amazon, reports the Associated Press. Yesterday's move coincides with the remainder of the dry period, when the rainforest is most at risk.
  • Despite the Brazilian government's recent moves to contain the environmental disaster represented by the fires, President Jair Bolsonaro has a long history of undermining environmental regulations, writes Carol Pires in the New Yorker.
  • And Brazil is facing increasing financial pressure to get the fires, and Bolsonaro's fiery rhetoric, under control -- Guardian.
  • The world is correct in worrying about the Amazon, but must show finesse in dealing with Brazil, according to the Economist.
  • The Intercept reports on links between a top Trump donor -- Blackstone -- and two Brazilian firms the U.S. investment company owns, which are drivers of Amazon deforestation.
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse is determined to finish out his mandate -- despite corruption allegations that have spurred massive protests demanding his resignation, rising violence, and dismal economic indicators. He also promised to respect the findings of a commission investigating the corruption allegations in an interview with the Associated Press.
  • Confidencial was nominated for a Reporters without Borders press freedom award: The independent weekly has made a name for itself with its investigative research and in-depth analysis of the political system - but also many enemies. After several death threats, editor Carlos Fernando Chamorro fled to Costa Rica to work from there.
  • Mexican feminists call out mainstream media for focusing more on material damages caused by their recent protests than the gender violence that spurred them on in the first place -- NACLA.
  • S&P Global Ratings downgrading Argentina’s debt to selective default yesterday, after the Macri administration moved to renegotiate debt. Presidential front-runner Alberto Fernández told the Wall Street Journal that he will eventually aim for a balanced budget, but first plans an ambitious program to restore purchasing power by increasing wages and government pensions, while containing inflationary pressures with a broad-ranging pact with employers.
  • It would be misguided to expect Alberto Fernández to be Nestor Kirchner 2.0. Not because of ideology, but because Fernández -- if he wins the October general election -- will inherit a drastically different economic and political landscape than the one Kirchner faced in 2003, writes Nicolás Saldías in Americas Quarterly.
  • If any conclusions are to be drawn from Argentina's recent primaries "the main would be that millions of voters have lost hope in the mandate for change of Cambiemos,but their faith in Peronism has hardly wavered," according to the New Yorker.
  • In the meantime, with nearly two months before October's general election, the Catholic Church urged President Mauricio Macri to declare a food and nutritional emergency, in light of the severe increase in poverty and the indiscriminate increases in food prices. (Página 12)

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

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