Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Morales calls on communities to defend themselves (Jan. 14, 2020)

A recording of former Bolivian president Evo Morales calling on citizens to form armed groups was broadcast on public radio and later confirmed by the exiled leader. "Before long, if I return to Bolivia, we will have to organize popular armed militias, as Venezuela has done," he told a community radio in belonging to the coca growing union. (AFP)

People have a right to defend themselves against the interim-government's attacks, he told Reuters. "In Bolivia, if the armed forces are shooting the people, killing the people, the people have the right to organize their security," he said. Nonetheless, he clarified that he didn't mean armed with guns, but rather a form of communal guard or citizen defense group. He later tweeted that indigenous peasant movements had defended themselves in the past.

He stressed that such organization is within the constitutional framework and in accordance with local customs, reports Prensa Latina. He also denounced on Twitter, yesterday, how the interim-government that succeeded Morales after his November ouster is using the Armed Forces to massacre and persecute defenseless Bolivians.

Bolivia's military didn't take it very well. "Bolivia's people are hurt and our armed forces outraged," said Defense Minister Luis Fernando Lopez in a press conference yesterday.

Morales has been accused of terrorism and sedition by the interim government and an arrest warrant has been issued against him. Nonetheless, Morales said he plans to return to his country when campaigning for May presidential elections starts, according to AFP.

He said he would prefer to be incarcerated in Bolivia than generating collateral damage to third countries, like Argentina and Mexico, which have granted him refuge since his ouster. (La Razón) His presence has raised diplomatic hackles, and opposition criticisms in both countries, see yesterday's briefs.

(More at Nodal.)

News Briefs

  • The U.S. is shipping out asylum seekers to Guatemala -- but human rights groups say dozens of migrants were misled by U.S. officials into boarding flights, and who were not informed of their asylum rights upon arrival. Those who don’t immediately apply for asylum are told to leave the country in 72 hours. But, of the 143 Hondurans and Salvadorans sent to Guatemala since the program began last month, only five have applied for asylum, reports the Washington Post. And though the U.S. initially suggested that the "safe third country"-style program would only be applied to single men, less than a month after it began, families with young children are arriving on the charter flights.
  • Guatemala will swear in Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative physician opposed to gay marriage and abortion, as its new president today. The Asylum Cooperation Agreement with the U.S. will be one of his first challenges in office. (Reuters, Nodal)
  • The Cuban government is holding thousands of inmates on dubious charges and has the highest incarceration rate in the world, according to a former high-level judge and an antigovernment activist. The revelations by Edel González Jiménez are believed to be the first public challenge to the Cuban government by a top member of the judiciary, reports the New York Times.
  • The Cuban government prohibits critics -- opposition leaders, activists, religious leaders, and independent journalists -- by refusing them permission to leave the island. In part this strategy is aimed at limiting the international recognition of critical voices, writes Abraham Jiménez Enoa, director of El Estornudo in the Post Opinión. (He was among the activists recently prevented from leaving their house by police on Human Rights Day, see post for Dec. 11, 2019)
  • Illegal gold miners, garimpeiros, are destroying Brazil's Yanomami indigenous reserve. The problem has worsened since President Jair Bolsonaro took office a year ago, his ministers have met with garimpeiro leaders, and he has said the reserve is too big for its indigenous population. He introduced a bill in Congress that would legalize wildcat mining, reports the Guardian.
  • Venezuela's crisis is increasingly geographically unequal: Caracas, the capital, is thriving -- by executive fiat -- while the rest of the country is bled even more dry, reports the New York Times. "Across much of the country, basic government functions like policing, road maintenance, health care and public utilities have been abandoned.
  • The U.S. blacklisted seven Venezuelan officials involved in President Nicolás Maduro's attempt to wrest control from the opposition in the National Assembly, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See also Foreign Policy.)
  • The messy fight over the National Assembly is motivated by oil, say analysts in the Wall Street Journal. The Maduro government seeks long-term survival by bringing in Russian, Chinese and other investors to revive the country’s collapsing crude production. (See last Friday's briefs.)
  • U.S. sanctions waivers to U.S. oil companies operating in Venezuela are scheduled to expire on Jan. 22, reports Fox News.
  • Venezuela is experimenting with a new loophole to oil sanctions: allocating cargoes to joint-venture partners including Chevron Corp, which in turn market the oil to customers in Asia and Africa, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Upcoming extraordinary legislative elections in Peru -- to be held Jan 24 -- could be "a big opportunity for Peru’s anti-corruption fight, and could set the stage for presidential elections next year," explains Simon Tegel in Americas Quarterly.
  • The Chilean national institute of human rights is asking for a probe into chemicals allegedly used by police against protesters last Friday, reports Telesur. (See yesterday's post.)
  • The fight against corruption in Latin America has been tainted by indications of over-reach in various countries -- Brazil and Peru, particularly. In Argentina, the plea bargain system implemented in 2016, "ley de arrepentido," has been used in ways that violate the rights of the accused, argues Graciana Peñafort in Cohete a la Luna.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...  


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