Six people were killed and ten kidnapped when 80 armed men attacked the Mayangna indigenous community on Nicaragua's northern Caribbean coast. The attackers then set fire to the community's houses, reports Confidencial. Local leaders said the attack in the Bosawas biosphere reserve was carried out by illicit settlers, who invade autonomous indigenous territories to illegally log their forests and convert them into pastures and fields, reports the Associated Press.
Police officially announced two deaths, the reason for the difference in the toll is unclear. (BBC)
Animosity has grown in recent years between indigenous groups and the settlers, reports Reuters. The Mayangna have been complaining since 2014 about living under siege from armed groups who are seizing their lands, and last year their leader said his people are facing an existential risk.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned the attack and said the government failed to protect the indigenous peoples and their territory. It noted such attacks had been occurring for years. Rights groups said there had been other attacks by settlers on Mayangna and Miskito peoples in the Caribbean coastal area and in another biosphere reserve near the Costa Rica border.
Some rights groups denounce systematic assassination of indigenous community members, that are carried out with complicity from Nicaraguan security forces, reports Confidencial.
- The U.S. Trump administration is sending Brazilian migrants arriving at the southern border back to Mexico to wait for decisions on their asylum applications in the U.S. The move is an expansion of the existing, and controversial, Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), informally dubbed Remain in Mexico, reports Vox. The number of Brazilian nationals apprehended at the Southwest border increased by more than eleven fold from FY2018 to FY2019, said the Department of Homeland Security this week. Immigrant advocates had initially believed that only Spanish-speaking migrants would be subject to MPP, but DHS clarified that it is not the case.
- A year into MPP, "migrant and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the policy," reports The Intercept. "Fewer than five percent of people subject to the MPP had access to legal representation. Children, LGBTQ asylum-seekers, and people with disabilities have all been sent back to some of the most dangerous cities in Mexico."
- The wall the U.S. Trump administration is building along the border with Mexico will likely need hundreds of storm gates left open to resist flash-floods during summer months. In places where such gates are already in operation, they have already have allowed for the easy entry of smugglers and migrants into the United States, reports the Washington Post.(See yesterday's briefs.)
- Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM) temporarily suspended access by all religious associations and NGOs to the country’s migration detention centers this week, though government officials later denied the announcement. Amnesty International denounced that the "arbitrary decision ... hinders the fundamental work of legal assistance and verification of the situation of migrants and asylum seekers, and increases the vulnerability of these people."
- The U.S.M.C.A. has the potential to become a powerful lever for Mexico's long-awaited modernization, but at a cost, warns Jorge Castañeda in a New York Times op-ed.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's excellent symbolic strikes against economic neoliberalism have proved poor economic policy, writes Carlos Loret de Mola A. in the Post Opinión.
- A half-million dollar fine against a well-known Mexican academic for slander -- commentary on a politician detained on massive corruption charges -- has press freedom advocates concerned about expression in Mexico, reports the Washington Post. A draft of an expected new judicial reform package obtained by journalists this month included a proposal that would make defamation a criminal offense. (See Wednesday's post.)
- The leaked judicial reform drafts have outraged legal experts, who said the changes would effectively backtrack hard-fought due process guarantees and human rights protections, reports the New York Times. “It’s a complete reversal,” said María Novoa, director of the justice program at México Evalúa. “It’s a counter-reform.”(See Wednesday's post.)
- U.S. President Donald Trump's transactional approach to foreign policy has weakened anti-corruption measures in the region, argue Michael Camilleri and Catharine Christie in Americas Quarterly.
- InSight Crime's annual Homicide Round-up is out: Venezuela continues to lead the national pack in terms of homicide rates, though it dropped nearly 25 percent last year. Jamaica is second, and authorities have been unable to continue improvements that reduced murders in 2017. Chile has the lowest homicide rate of those surveyed by InSight Crime, followed by Argentina.
- A fringe religious party's surprisingly strong showing in Peru's legislative elections (see yesterday's briefs), is part of a conservative creep in Latin American politics -- often not enough to win outright majorities, evangelical parties are increasingly influential, often through parliamentary pressure on specific policy sectors, argues Jonathan Castro Cajahuanca in a New York Times Español op-ed.
- "The noun Venezuela, the adjective Venezuelan, have been transformed, lately, into much more than mere description. They have lost, in many ways, their sense, and have gained others: condemnation, disqualification, fear," writes Martín Caparrós in a New York Times Español op-ed that captures how debates about Venezuela have become a proxy for a host of other issues.
- Latin American governments will need to adapt regulatory environments in order to fully take advantage of fintech potential, argues Otaviano Canuto in Americas Quarterly.
- Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, but the country's disappointing ranking in Transparency International's corruption perception index demonstrates the emptiness of his promises. "The result ... reiterates a lesson as simple as it is fundamental," writes TI Brazil's executive director, Bruno Brandão in Folha de S. Paulo. "Corruption is fought with better laws, better institutions, and better behavior."
- Argentine President Alberto Fernández met with Catholic Pope Francis this morning. (Associated Press)
- Colombia rejected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's proposal that the two countries resume diplomatic relations, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
- Colombia’s Supreme Court appointed Francisco Barbosa, a lawyer with close ties to President Iván Duque, as the country’s new attorney general, reports Reuters.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...