Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Un día sin nosotras (March 10, 2020)

Mexico's women stayed home yesterday, in a striking protest against gender violence and the government's failure to take action on femicides. Women were mostly absent from public spaces yesterday in Mexico City, and offices and business around the country were half empty or closed, reports the Washington Post

Most schools and universities suspended classes, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Mexico City metro had a 40 percent reduction in users yesterday, reports Animal Político. Women in diverse areas of government, national and local, also stayed home in protest. Many left signs at their places of work, explaining their absence, which was meant to illustrate the femicide death toll. “By the end of the day, ten women will have been murdered. Stop killing us,” read one sign at an empty desk yesterday. (Animal Político reports on how the protest played out around the country.) Citibanamex estimated the overall loss could be about $2 billion, or half of one day’s economic output.

The strike, together with March 8 protests, could be a watershed moment in Mexico, according to the New York Times.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who galvanized anger last month by his apparently cavalier attitude towards femicides, said he supported the protest yesterday. But he also maintained that the issue has been abused by some conservatives seeking to undermine his government, a continuation of the prevarication that spurred protesters in the first place. (Guardian)

  • Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel explains how unpaid women's work allows the government to ignore its care obligations, in the New York Times Español.
News Briefs

  • The Colombian National Police, in a number of instances, abused the mostly peaceful demonstrators protesting throughout the country in late 2019, according to a new Human Rights Watch report. In several cases, In several cases, the police used excessive force against protesters, including beatings and improper use of “less-than-lethal” weapons during crowd-control operations. Efforts to ensure accountability have been limited, notes the organization.
  • Jorge Macana, a social leader in Cauca, was killed this weekend, the 54th local leader killed so far in 2020, reports Telesur.
  • Colombian President Ivan Duque is just a year and a half into his four year term, but he's already a lame-duck, argues Fernando Rojas at the AULA blog, pointing to a string of defections from the governing team and street protests that show Duque's weakness.
  • Guyana's Supreme Court is set to review election results starting today -- it is unclear how much longer the process will take, and more protests are expected this week, according to the Latin America Risk Report. Guayana's main opposition party and international observers criticized President David Granger's claim to have won reeleection without a final count for Region 4. It is far from clear that he won, as the opposition People’s Progressive Party was leading in results without Region 4. (See Sunday's post.)
  • However the immediate crisis plays out, Guyana faces the threat of parliamentary deadlock and perceived illegitimacy by the losing bloc, warns James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report.
  • Indeed, victory in these circumstances would be pyrrhic, argue Moses Bhagwan and Eusi Kwayana, who call for a government of national unity. "In such a deeply-divided nation, it remains possible for the leaders of the major parties to de-escalate the situation by finding a mutually-agreeable solution. ... If nothing else, the events of the past week have underlined forcefully that regardless of who wins under this current winner-takes-all system, Guyana as a whole loses," they write in Demerara Waves.
  • U.S. officials have made several references to the Guyana crisis in recent days -- yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that he had discussed the issue of "democratic transition" in the country with Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, reports Stabroek News.
  • The OAS isn't responsible for former Bolivian president Evo Morales' ouster last November, but the organization's "actions were undoubtedly important in creating a climate within which a coup could not only succeed, but be applauded as a necessary step toward restoring Bolivian democracy," writes Gabriel Hetland in the Washington Post. Hetland defends a study by MIT researchers contracted by CEPR, who say their statistical analysis refutes part of the OAS accusations of electoral fraud. (See March 2's post.) "The OAS is entirely unjustified in its declarations that it has proved the existence of fraud and intentional manipulation of the vote," writes Hetland, who says "the OAS acted in an unjustified and reckless manner in Bolivia, helping to undermine, not restore, democracy."
  • Bolivia's interim government has engaged in political persecution to quash opposition -- and the U.S. has remained largely silent on the issue, reports the Washington Post. Analysts point to a distinct divide in the Trump administration's stance on violations committed by governments it considers friendly -- Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, as well as Bolivia -- and those it considers hostile -- Venezuela and Cuba, for example. "Perhaps no country exemplifies the double standard better than Bolivia."
Regional Relations
  • U.S. President Donald Trump hosted his Brazilian counterpart at a festive dinner on Saturday, but refused to rule out steel and iron tariffs down the line, reports the New York Times.
  • On the same trip, Bolsonaro also visited U.S. Southern Command headquarters to discuss regional security and witness the signing of an accord expanding military cooperation between the two countries, reports EFE.

  • A union representing federal asylum officers said that a U.S. Trump administration immigration agreement with Guatemala violates international treaty obligations by deporting migrants to a country where they are likely to face persecution, reports the Washington Post.
  • In the meantime, Guatemala's new government is scrambling to limit the number of asylum seekers the U.S. sends under the agreement, reported Reuters on Friday. Officials emphasize the country's "very limited" capacity to process foreign migrants. Data released by the Guatemalan Immigration Institute, a government agency, show that through March 3 a total of 789 people have been returned, including 311 children.
  • Last week the Trump administration announced it set aside 10,000 H2-B temporary non-agricultural work visas for Guatemalans, El Salvadorans and Hondurans, as part of a broader expansion of such visas. Reuters notes that the nationality-specific set-aside is unusual for such programs, and appeared to be in recognition of the migration deals signed by these countries with the U.S.
  • Lawyers for three senior Guatemalan military commanders accused of human rights violations asked to switch the court in which the case is being heard. Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez will decide today whether to proceed with the case, in which the accused are charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and forced disappearance against the Maya Ixil population during the government of General Fernando Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982). (Nómada, International Justice Monitor)
El Salvador
  • Three Salvadoran police officers are accused of killing Camila Díaz Córdova -- the first time authorities in El Salvador have prosecuted the assassination of a transgender woman, according to La Sexta. Activists have hailed the treatment of the case as a hate crime, but emphasize that LGBTQ citizens continue to face discrimination and abuse, reports Foreign Policy.
  • The Clinic published a video that shows two Chilean police beating an elderly man despite the impassioned cries of women at the March 8 protest begging them to stop. The episode apparently occurred Sunday in the environs of Plaza Dignidad in Santiago. "It will be impossible for Carabineros to recover citizen legitimacy with repugnant acts like this," tweeted Human Rights Watch Americas Division Director José Miguel Vivanco.
  • At least seven armed men stole $14 million in cash from a security van at the Santiago airport, part of a growing spate of crime in the midst of Chile's ongoing unrest, reports the Guardian.
  • Eight indigenous children have died so far of malnutrition this year in Argentina's northern Salta province, reports AFP.
  • Residents of Brazil's Amazon Pará state are skeptical of the purported economic benefits a bridge project will bring to their region. Instead, they are concerned about the environmental impact with regards to the plan backed by President Jair Bolsonaro, part of a broader trans-Amazon highway project, reports the Guardian.
  • A study of dung beetle health indicates that forest fires and drought are far more damaging to Amazon rainforest ecological health than previously thought -- Conversation.
  • Corona virus hasn't struck big in Latin America -- yet -- but could potentially have several very negative impacts, beyond public health issues, writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly. He analyzes the potential for increased protests against inequality, economic impact, an increased receptivity to militarization, and increased discrimination against migrants.

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


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