Thursday, November 21, 2019

Funereal march protest in El Alto today (Nov. 21, 2019)

At least eight Bolivians were killed in El Alto on Tuesday, when security forces opened fire on protesters blockading a gasoline plant. Bolivia's defense minister maintained that "not one bullet" had been fired by the military at Senkata -- but his account was contradicted by dozens of witnesses, reports the New York Times.

The victims' community decided -- in a cabildo townhall meeting -- to march in protest against Bolivia's interim government today. They will be dressed in mourning and carrying the coffins of the victims. Their main demand will be the resignation of provisional president Jeanine Áñez. (La RazónGuardian)

Bolivian lawmakers are scrambling to find a legal solution to the country's turmoil by calling new elections. Former president Evo Morales' MAS party holds a majority in congress, and the Senate yesterday passed a bill that would annul the questioned Oct. 20 vote, appoint a new election commission and fast-track a new electoral process. But the path out of conflict is unclear: yesterday Áñez said she would send her own bill to Congress, also aimed at annulling the last election, appointing new authorities, and speeding up a new vote, but with greater control by her own cabinet, reports El País.

Ongoing protests have led to shortages of basic goods in La Paz and El Alto, including meat, chicken, gas and fuel.

More Bolivia
  • Morales' tenure is controversial, but it was also a rare period of political continuity for Bolivia -- a country historically marked by chronic instability, writes Jon Lee Anderson in the New Yorker.
  • Discussions of the Bolivian crisis are mostly based on oversimplifications, according to the Washington Post's Monkey Cage. It wasn't just the military that ousted Morales, nor are Bolivia's indigenous citizens a monolithic bloc. 
  • Rarely is a Bible just a book, and its prominent reappearance in Bolivian politics is part of a counter-revolution to Morales' secularization of the state and valorization of the country's indigenous traditions, writes Matthew Peter Casey in the Conversation.
News Briefs

  • Rio de Janeiro's official homicide rate dipped to its lowest point in 12 years, last month. (Globo, Rio Times) But the reduction comes with an important caveat: it doesn't include police killings, which are at a 20 year high in the state. (GloboEconomist)
  • A police officer fired a shot that killed an eight-year-old girl in a Rio de Janeiro favela in Sept, said authorities this week. It is a rare case of official recognition of police wrongdoing, and the finding strengthens claims from activists and human rights groups that point to unacceptable collateral damage from the government's crackdown on crime. (Associated Press, El País)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosonaro's movement wants and encourages violence and disorder because "it is what they will use to justify a restoration of the repressive measures of the military regime," writes lawmaker David Miranda in the Guardian.
  • A Brazilian judge issued an arrest warrant for former Paraguayan president Horacio Cartés. The move is part of a new phase of the “Car Wash” probe –Patrón, targeting black-market money dealers. (EFE)
  • Colombia is braced for what is expected to be the country's largest national strike in years, today. Riot police and soldiers have been deployed, and border crossings have also been closed to prevent foreigners from joining in the anti-government protests, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Bogota storefronts seem prepared for a riot, and already public transportation has been affected by the stoppage, reports Semana.
  • La Silla Vacía has a massive "man on the street" as to why people are taking to the streets today, or not.
  • More broadly, the protests are a thermometer of President Iván Duque's early weathering, reports El País.
  • The image of a bandaged eye is now so common it has become a rallying symbol for the protesters in Chile, reports the New York Times. This week Chilean police suspended the use of birdshot rubber pellets during street protests amid an outcry over eye injuries suffered by more than 200 protesters, reports Al Jazeera.
  • The Trump administration should create an 'oil-for-aid' program for Venezuela, argues U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy at Univisión.
  • The opposition anti-government demonstration last Saturday was bigger than they have been in months, but not as massive as previous gatherings. The "march can be characterized neither as a failure nor a clear success," according to David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas. "It showed the opposition is still active and can rally its people, but only underlined the necessity of a political strategy beyond street mobilization." (Venezuela Weekly)
  • Other Venezuela Weekly tidbits: Mexico, Uruguay, and representatives of the Caribbean Community issued a statement calling all Venezuelan political actors to resume dialogue efforts -- Maduro has said he would be willing, but Guaidó said protests are the way forward now. 
  • Haiti's anti-government protesters are inspired by the revolutionary who freed the country from colonial rule in 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines -- The Conversation.
  • Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma, attacked the country’s best-known political prisoner, José Daniel Ferrer, and the U.S. Embassy in Havana in an editorial yesterday. The move is unusual, explains the Miami Herald, because Cuban state media generally avoids naming dissidents in an attempt to deprive them of visibility. The Granma editorial is a response to an intense international campaign for Ferrer's liberation.
Climate Change
  • For the Caribbean's small island states, climate change is a real and current danger, not a future eventuality, warned Dominica foreign minister Francine Baron at a CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development meeting. (Kaietur News)
  • The IMF said it would continue to work with Ecuador, after lawmakers rejected President Lenín Moreno's economic reforms. (Reuters)
  • Vogue featured a Mexican indigenous transgender woman -- known as muxe -- on the cover o fits Mexico and British December editions. (Guardian)
  • A proposed Mexico City law would allow children and adolescents to change the gender listed on their birth certificates, reports the Associated Press.
  • Uber will allow passengers and drivers in Brazil and Mexico to record audio of their rides as it attempts to improve its safety record and image, reports the Associated Press.

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


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