Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Venezuela gov't pressures troops in order to maintain control (Aug. 14, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Venezuela's Maduro administration is increasingly using brutal repression against its own armed forces in a bid to retain control of the military and the country, reports the New York Times. The case of navy captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo, who died in custody after being tortured, is emblematic. There are now 217 active and retired officers being held in Venezuelan jails, including 12 generals. The Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy has documented 250 cases of torture committed by Venezuelan security forces.
  • Venezuelan military tribunal sentenced a union leader to five years in prison on charges of attacking a National Guard officer attempting to detain him. He was judged by the military, despite being a civilian. (Efecto
  • The Migrant Protection Protocols -- the U.S. policy that forces asylum seekers to wait out court proceedings in Mexico -- has "subjected asylum seekers, including those with legitimate claims for humanitarian protection in the United States, to appalling risks and inhumane conditions," writes the Washington Post in an editorial.
  • A new U.S. policy would punish immigrants who legally use public benefits -- such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance -- by making it harder for them to obtain green cards, a key step on the path to citizenship.The change, part of new criteria favoring wealthy, highly educated immigrants, could dramatically affect family-based legal immigration to the United States, particularly from Latin America and Africa. It also could lead to an increase in deportations, warns the Washington Post.
  • Julián Castro, a U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, accused U.S. President Donald Trump of inflaming racist hatred that fueled the El Paso shooter who killed 22 people. In a campaign ad addressed directly to Trump, he said: "As we saw in El Paso, Americans were killed because you stoked the fire of racists." (Associated Press)
  • Americans are slightly more likely now (57%) than in December of last year (51%) to support allowing refugees from Central America into the U.S. (Gallup)
  • There are indications that Mexico's crackdown on migration is deterring would be immigrants from making the journey to the U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times.
  • Guatemala is too poor to carry out a recently signed immigration deal with the U.S. that would require the Central American country to process asylum requests from migrants traveling through on their way to the U.S., argued Guatemala's president-elect Alejandro Giammattei yesterday. "If we do not have the capacity for our own people, just imagine other people." Giammattei also noted that the "safe third country" deal would have to be ratified by lawmakers in both countries before going into effect. (Associated Press)
  • Giammattei has spoken of creating an "economic wall" against migration, and yesterday expressed interest in cooperating with Mexico on development projects along their shared border. (El País)
  • But rule of law -- or lack thereof -- is a major push factor for migration out of Guatemala, and Giammattei is likely to worsen the situation, argues a Washington Post editorial.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is supposedly a champion of poverty reduction, but in reality his policies have cancelled some of the country's most effective social programs, and he has a conflictive relationship with the CONEVAL, an autonomous government agency tasked with interpreting poverty data and evaluating social policy, reports Americas Quarterly.
  • Guyana is unprepared for the "tsunami" of oil windfall on its horizon, reports Bloomberg. Five years after a major oil discovery launched a new era for the country, Guyana still lacks relevant laws and a regulatory body to oversee exploration and production. 
  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández visited Washington, where he said he faces no criminal charges in the U.S. Recently revealed accusations by federal prosecutors linking him to criminal organizations are merely the result of revenge attempts by drug traffickers, he said. (Associated Press)
  • Honduran protesters have been demanding Hernández's ouster for months, but his resignation would not solve the country's underlying problems, according to the Foreign Policy.
El Salvador
  • A rape victim who had a stillborn child as a teen in El Salvador is facing retrial on accusations that she induced an abortion. Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz served 33 months of a 30 year prison sentence in the same case, but obtained a new trial after a judge determined that the evidence did not proof intent to harm the fetus. El Salvador is known for its draconian anti-abortion laws, but this is the first high profile case since President Nayib Bukele assumed office, reports the Guardian.
  • U.S. lawmaker Jim McGovern met with Bukele and lauded his moves to combat crime and corruption. (InformaTVX)
  • Children from Rio de Janeiro's Maré favela sent 1,500 letters and drawings to Rio judges asking them to implement monitoring of police operations in the violence besieged neighborhood. (Globo)
  • Thousands of Brazilian indigenous women protested President Jair Bolsonaro's "genocidal policies," in reference to his weakening of environmental regulations and increased deforestation under his watch. (AFPFolha de S. Paulo)
  • Pension reform is the tip of the economic reform iceberg for Brazil, according to Albert Fishlow who advocates changes to the tax code in Americas Quarterly.
  • Belize's approach to ocean protection has successfully reduced illegal fishing and helping to protect the tiny country's waters from stock depletion, reports the Guardian.
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera deployed troops in an attempt to stop illicit drugs entering through the country's northern border -- but the use of armed forces ignores dangerous regional precedents, according to InSight Crime.
  • Argentina's markets calmed down a bit yesterday, but prolonged financial instability seems likely after Sunday's primaries indicate a likely return to Peronist government, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Testing alternative subheads for briefs, consider it a work in progress ... Thoughts? Let me know ...

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