Thursday, September 5, 2019

Guatemala declares state of emergency in north (Sept. 5, 2019)

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales declared a state of emergency in 22 northern municipalities after three members of a military patrol were killed by suspected gang members on Tuesday.

Authorities will send more military and police personnel to Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa provinces, a drug-trafficking corridor that runs from the Honduran to Mexican borders. The measure suspends the rights of assembly, transit, the right to carry arms and constitutional guarantees against arrest without a warrant for a month. Rights groups said the government's response was excessive. (Prensa LibreAssociated PressReuters and El País)

The killings, which took place in Izabal, were particularly violent, a fact the government emphasized in its declaration. Nine soldiers sent to detain an aircraft allegedly transporting drugs were ambushed, according to authorities. One victim was scalped, another's face was blown off. Two soldiers remain missing. (EFE)

Morales posited an "asymetrical fight between the State and drug traffickers." He also alleged that certain communities use women and children as "human barricades" to keep security forces from clandestine air strips.

Nómada, however, questions the justification for the scope of the measure in light of existing conflict trends and lack of information about the confrontation. 

Congress must ratify the state of emergency, which is already effective. Lawmakers are likely to support the move, which they urged the government to take yesterday. (Prensa Libre)

Bahamas devastated

The Hurricane Dorian death toll in the Bahamas is over 20, and likely to keep climbing. The country's prime minister spoke of "generational devastation" in Gran Bahama and Abaco islands. "A catastrophe unlike anything seen in this part of the world," according to the Washington Post.

Large areas remain inaccessible to rescue crews, which means the full scale of destruction remains to be assessed. The Washington Post's photo-essay illustrates the havoc caused by the storm, which hovered over the Bahamas for three days in some areas. (See yesterday's briefs.)

The U.N. estimates that around 70,000 people are in need of lifesaving aid on the affected islands. Nearly half of the homes on the two islands were either destroyed or severely damaged, according to some aid groups.

News Briefs

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro taunted the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, after she criticized the increase in police killings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. “She is defending the human rights of vagabonds,” the Brazilian president told reporters on Wednesday. “Senhora Michelle Bachelet, if Pinochet’s people had not defeated the left in 73 – among them your father – Chile would be a Cuba today.” Bachelet's father was imprisoned and tortured for opposing the 1973 military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, and died of a heart attack in prison. Bachelet and her mother were also imprisoned by the regime. (Guardian)
  • The fires devastating Bolivia's Amazon are not only imperiling President Evo Morales' run for a fourth term, they are also evincing his lack of interest in the environment, argues Raúl Peñaranda U. in a New York Times Español op-ed.

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green and Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan announced more than $120 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for countries in the region struggling with Venezuela's outpouring of refugees. (The Hill)
  • Colombian authorities asked Ecuadorean counterparts to reconsider visa requirements for Venezuelan refugees. (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • U.S. First Daughter Ivanka Trump visited a Colombian shelter for Venezuelan migrants, reports McClatchy. She also met with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. She called on female leaders in Venezuela to take a leading role in resolving the crisis there.
  • Influencers and satirists Joanna Hausmann y Ricardo O’Farrill joined forces in a new YouTube miniseries promoting Venezuelan unity and identity in support of "Alimenta la Solidaridad," a network of soup kitchens that feeds more than 8,000 Venezuelan children. (Su Noticiero)
  • Your cellphone could contain illegally mined gold from Colombia, where the precious metal has replaced cocaine as the main source of income for organized crime, reports the New York Times.
  • Marita Lorenz, the "patron saint of conspiracy buffs" who had affairs with Fidel Castro and Marcos Pérez Jiménez, died at the age of 80 -- New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing


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