Monday, August 31, 2020

IACHR calls for resolution (Aug. 31, 2020)

 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called for a quick resolution to the rift that opened last week with the Organization of American States (OAS). At issue is OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s unilateral rejection of the candidate the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) appointed as its executive secretary, Paulo Abrão. (See last Friday's briefs and last Tuesday's post.) 

A growing international chorus has criticized Almagro's move. The OAS refusal to renew Abrão's contract undermines the IACHR's autonomy and "undercuts the commission’s credibility as an independent body, endangering its critical role in protecting fundamental rights and freedoms in the Americas without political interference,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch

United Nations human rights head, Michelle Bachelet, said the disagreement risks undermining the IACHR's "proven efficacy" as well as the OAS's reputation. (See last Friday's briefs.)

Infobae reports on anonymous allegations against Abrão by IACHR employees -- Almagro said Friday that Abrão has more than 61 complaints of against him related to alleged work mistreatment. But, in a press release, the IACHR said the allegations surfaced last month and that "the Commission immediately indicated to the Secretary General that it has the greatest interest in having the corresponding administrative investigations carried out by the competent body, in full compliance with the guarantees and inter-American standards of presumption of innocence, due process, duty to investigate and due diligence."

News Briefs

  • Covid-19 has laid bare and exacerbated structural inequalities and institutional weaknesses in Latin America, suggesting last year's protests will re-emerge eventually, with even greater force, writes Cynthia Arnson in Latin Trade. "As the region heads into the next super-cycle of presidential and legislative elections, chances are high that the public will opt for leaders pledging to address the broad economic pain, regardless of those leaders’ democratic credentials, or even how realistic their promises might be."
  • The Atlantic Center's "Aviso LatAm" reviews the latest Covid-19 data, and reviews how Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico continued their reopening plans last week, while Argentina and Bolivia maintained restrictive measures.
  • Coronavirus quarantines expose the region's class divide, reports EFE.
  • U.S. pandemic migration policy -- shut-doors to would be asylum applicants -- has sent Nicaraguans, many political protesters fleeing violent government persecution, straight back to their country this year, reports the Washington Post.
  • A prominent Haitian lawyer, Monferrier Dorval, was gunned down Friday night in Port-au-Prince, just hours after he called for “another kind of country, another state” during a radio interview, reports the Miami Herald. It was the fourth murder in 48 hours, and drew public attention to the armed gangs testing Haiti's rule of law.
  • Rio de Janeiro state governor Wilson Witzel was suspended from office Friday by a Brazilian court as part of a corruption probe into alleged kickbacks. Prosecutors charge that Witzel was at the “top of the pyramid” of a corrupt scheme of bribes and kickbacks for government contracts that included projects aimed at combating the coronavirus in Brazil, reports the Washington Post.
  • Expanding corruption investigations into Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his family are testing the independence and strength of the country's justice system, reports the New York Times. (See last Monday's post.)
  • Bolsonaro's “Green Brazil 2” operation, which put the army in charge of protecting the rainforest, has virtually halted investigation and prosecution of rainforest destruction. There have been no major raids against illegal activity since Bolsonaro required military approval for them in May, reports the Associated Press. Instead, the Brazilian army appears to be focusing on dozens of small road-and-bridge-building projects that allow exports to flow faster to ports and ease access to protected areas, opening the rainforest to further exploitation.
  • Venezuelan authorities released opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens to house arrest, two years after he was detained on accusations he was involved in an alleged drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro. Foro Penal reported that by the end of July, 382 people opposition leaders it considers political prisoners were being detained in Venezuela. They include other lawmakers and military officials, the group says. (Reuters, Associated Press, El País)
  • Maduro promised a series of decrees aimed at "national reconciliation" this week, ahead of the Dec. 6 legislative elections that the political opposition currently plans to boycott, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See last Venezuela Weekly.)
  • More than 100,000 Venezuelans -- of the five million who have fled their country since 2014 -- have returned since coronavirus lockdowns destroyed the tenuous lives they were building in Colombia, Peru and other countries in the region, reports the Wall Street Journal. "What awaits in Venezuela is more hardship—state-run quarantine centers for returning migrants and, once released, the daily struggle to secure food in a country widely considered a humanitarian disaster."
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused several environmental groups of being paid by foreign foundations to oppose his controversial "Maya Train" project in the Yucatan peninsula. One group demanded he apologize, claiming the president was “criminalizing” environmentalists, reports the Associated Press.
  • Colombia's coronavirus quarantine has made children, particularly in remote parts of the country, more vulnerable to predatory recruitment into the Colombia's armed groups, reports InSight Crime.
Organized Crime
  • The U.S. and U.K. officially refuse to make concessions to kidnappers -- a Guardian Long Read asks whether it's time to rethink that policy.  
  • Fernando de Noronha, Brazil's island eco-tourist paradise, is reopening for business -- for visitors who have already had Covid-19. (Guardian)
  • Cabo San Lucas in Mexico -- where 80 percent of the economy depends on tourism -- is also trying to lure back visitors, with warnings to practice safety precautions, reports the Washington Post.
  • Regenerative travel, 2020's answer to sustainable travel -- or a way to fantasize about vacationing, ever again. (New York Times)
  • Illegal logging brought Covid-19 to Ecuador's Amazon indigenous Achuar people -- now they are asking the international community for much-needed aid, medical supplies, training and transport, reports the Guardian.
  • Ayahuasca, a substance people in the Amazon rainforest have imbibed for centuries, draws thousands of people each year — including former soldiers — to jungle retreats that have become an unlicensed and unregulated mental health marketplace, reports the New York Times.
  • An Ecuadorean man and wife are the world's oldest married couple -- Associated Press.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible (¿anybody else suffering insomnia?), given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.

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