Thursday, June 11, 2020

Fireman detained in Marielle case (June 11, 2020)

News Briefs

  • Authorities detained a Rio de Janeiro fireman in relation to the 2018 assassination of councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes. Maxwell Simoes Correa was the owner of a vehicle where the murder weapon is believed to have been stashed before being thrown in the ocean. He is a friend and associate of Ronnie Lessa, who is accused of carrying out the murders. (UOL, EFE, see also last Thursday's post)
  • Pushed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, police officers could be a vector of "democratic rupture," warned Renato Sérgio Lima, head of Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública, in an interview with the BBC. (See yesterday's briefs and last Thursday's post.)
  • Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting black people in Brazil, the result of structural racism that dates back to slavery. Data collected in May shows that 55% of Afro-Brazilian patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 died, compared to 34% of white COVID-19 patients. Health researchers Edna Maria de Araújo and Kia Lilly Caldwell found that "structural racism – in the form of high-risk working conditions, unequal access to health and worse housing conditions – is a major factor shaping Brazil’s COVID-19 pandemic." (Conversation)
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele again lashed out at the country's constitutional court this week, after judges ruled his government’s obligatory stay-at-home decree unconstitutional. (Associated Press) Miguel Ponce, president of the National Assembly, said lawmakers will push back against the executive branch's usurpation of its faculties. (El Faro)
  • The pandemic has postponed key elections in Chile and Bolivia, and could likely add to discontent that led to massive protests in both countries last year. But even in other countries in the region, coronavirus disruption of electoral calendars could further undermine weak trust in democratic institutions, reports Americas Quarterly.
  • Amid concern about "pandemic backsliding," there is also the possibility of "forthsliding": that a mishandling of the COVID-19 emergency will foster resistance to power rather than a concentration of it, a resistance that leads citizens to demand more, rather than less, accountability in the medium term. In other words, a pro-democracy backlash," write Eduardo Levy Yeyati and Andrés Malamud in Americas Quarterly.
  • "A recent history of natural disasters and its longstanding dependence on tourism have left the Caribbean extremely ill-prepared to address the economic effects of COVID-19," writes Robert Looney in World Politics Review. "And if it hasn’t already, the sharp drop in tourism stemming from the pandemic will undoubtedly plunge most Caribbean countries into severe recessions, with few resources at their disposal to cushion their populations from the fallout."
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hoped for "a quick and credible conclusion to the vote recount in Guyana," in a statement yesterday. He called for a “quick and credible conclusion” to the final recount of the votes cast on March 2 at Guyana’s General and Regional Elections, after the ruling party challenged preliminary results that gave victory to the main opposition party. (Stabroek, Kaieteur, see Tuesday's post.)
  • A US teenager has been shot dead by local police in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The case comes on the heels of national indignation at police violence, reports the Guardian. Last week Giovanni López, a construction worker in western Jalisco state, was forcibly detained by municipal police for not wearing a mask and found dead the next day by his family. Last weekend police then detained dozens of demonstrators who participated in protests against police brutality. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Workers at Mexican factories say companies are resisting closing plants to protect employees amid the pandemic. Workers and families say that many of the maquiladoras, as the border-city factories are known, aren’t being forthcoming about workers who have been infected and are resisting shutting down plants, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • A prominent Mexican labor lawyer, Susana Prieto Terrazas, was arrested on charges of inciting violence -- but family members and colleagues said the move is retribution for advising wildcat strikers at US-owned factories, reports the Guardian. filmed her own arrest in the city of Matamoros on Monday. “I knew that sooner or later the state governor would do this. I am being arrested,” she said.
  • The possibilities for broadly accepted legislative elections in Venezuela this year are increasingly grim, according to the Venzuela Weekly. A supreme court ruling last week ruled that the opposition-led National Assembly had failed to name new rectors to the National Electoral Council (CNE). (See yesterday's briefs.) It is expected that the Maduro-friendly court will attempt to name its own rectors to the CNE now, thus undermining efforts to create a credible electoral authority. However, "there is still time and space for a political agreement," write David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas. They report possible ongoing conversations between the Guaidó-led opposition and PSUV legislators.
  • The Spanish government announced that it had transferred frozen Venezuelan funds in Spain to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), after an agreement between the Maduro administration and the Guaidó-led opposition regarding Covid-19 efforts. The Venezuelan opposition also said that it had sent $ 10 million to PAHO.  (Venezuela Weekly, see last Thursday's post.)
  • But government authorities must move quickly in order for humanitarian organizations to be able to take action, writes Sergio Ferrero Febrel in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Organized crime is largely responsible for forest fires in Guatemala, officials told InSight Crime.
  • The basic details of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres' 2016 murder are relatively well known, but a new book by Nina Lakhani delves into the less documented details of how the killing was conceived, planned and carried out -- Americas Quarterly.
  • Virus Tropical, an animated film adapted from graphic novelist Power Paola’s memoir, "is simultaneously a domestic saga (maybe influenced by the telenovelas to which it makes the odd ironic nod), portrait of an artist as a put-upon youngest child and a chronicle of a maturing South America." -- Guardian

I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share. 



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