Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bolivia prison riots demand doctors, tests (July 28, 2020)

Prison inmates rioted in four of Bolivia's most populated Cochabamba region prisons over access to medical care, after an inmate suspected of having Covid-19 died. Local media showed images of inmates climbing to the roofs of the prisons, calling for medicine and access to doctors, reports Reuters.  Inmates held up banners calling attention to their plight, including one banner that read, “We want COVID-19 tests," reports Voice of America.

Authorities have reported more than 60 deaths due to the coronavirus in Bolivia's prison system, which is overcrowded at more than 240% capacity.

More Bolivia
  • Several MAS party associated social organizations organized protests against the postponement of September's presidential election, reports Nodal. (See Friday's briefs.)
News Briefs

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of "crimes against humanity" in The Hague's International Criminal Court over his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. A complaint filed on Sunday, the Brazilian Union Network UNISaúde, which represents tens of thousands of health workers in the country, accused Bolsonaro of "serious and deadly failures" in his leadership on tackling the pandemic, reports Newsweek.
  • Bloodshed in Brazil's favelas has continued despite a Supreme Court order last month that banned police raids in the favelas during the coronavirus pandemic, “except in absolutely exceptional cases,” writes Eliana Souza Silva in Foreign Policy.
  • The investment arm of northern Europe’s largest financial services group has dropped JBS, the world’s biggest meat processer, from its portfolio, over lack of commitment to sustainability issues, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazil's illegal wildlife trade is not taken seriously enough, with grave consequences for biodiversity, reports the Guardian.
  • Nicolás Maduro may have sidelined Diosdado Cabello, one of his biggest internal rivals within Chavismo, explains Geoff Ramsey at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. Maduro's decision to allow Cabello's entire military cohort, Cabello included, to retire, may be one of several signs that Maduro has quietly boxed Cabello out of power, according to experts.
  • U.N. investigators monitoring compliance with sanctions on North Korea are looking into a possible military and technology deal between Pyongyang and Venezuela and have warned Caracas that it could be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, reports Reuters. In its latest annual report, on March 2, the panel said it had started probing a possible military and technological cooperation deal signed by Cabello, though Reuters could not verify whether a military and technological deal between North Korea and Venezuela exists.
Regional Relations
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó wants to set up an embassy in Jerusalem, reports the Jerusalem Post. In the meantime, he plans to launch a website next week that is meant to serve as a virtual embassy to Israel.
  • US policy towards Latin America should prioritize cooperation, rule of law and climate change, among other considerations, writes Juan S. González in Americas Quarterly.
  • The Asociación Campesina del Catatumbo organization —the small-scale farmer association of Catatumbo known as Ascamcat— announced the massacre of eight people on July 18 by the paramilitary group “Los Rastrojos” in the Municipality of Tibú, verified by the Ombudsman’s office the following day. (Latino Rebels)
  • Over 900 women and girls are missing and feared dead in Peru since the coronavirus confinement began, according to the National Ombudsman's office, reports the AFP.
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei declared martial law in the northeastern provinces of Izabal and Alta Verapaz — both part of a major overland drug smuggling route that stretches from Honduras to Guatemala’s border with Mexico. But the limitation of civil rights hasn't been justified with concrete reasons, and some suspect the move is aimed at quashing local protests, reports InSight Crime.
  • Guatemala began reopening its economy yesterday, easing restrictions imposed four months ago to curb the coronavirus, although cases are still on the rise in much of the country, reports Reuters.
  • An initial court hearing into corruption charges against Emilio Lozoya, the former boss of Mexican state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos, is scheduled for today, reports Reuters.
  • Post-pandemic university education must glean lessons from the good and the bad of the distance learning experience, argues Chilean professor Roberto Herrscher in a New York Times Español op-ed. Specifically, he appreciates how digital learning has broken down some barriers between teachers and students, while he decries how the loss of physical classrooms has heightened the impact socio-economic inequalities for students. 
  • Latin America will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with higher poverty rates as efforts to control the virus lead to spikes in unemployment and indebtedness, Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno told Reuters.
  • Assessing how close Argentina is to exploding again is practically an amateur sport, both in Argentina and for experts abroad. But though the current situation is grim, the country is resisting another "2001," as we call it. In part this is because of significant cash transfer policies enacted after the 2001 crisis -- and sustained by governments of different ideological stripes. But it's also because of our potent political polarization -- we don't want all the politicians to leave, as we did then, just the ones from the other side of the "grieta." But this won't work forever, I argue in a New York Times Español op-ed written with Marcelo J. Garcia. Avoiding another explosion of the sort that made us infamous will require that "incipient attempts to transform our sectarian politics towards forms of greater cooperation be successful."
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.-- 


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