Tuesday, August 25, 2020

OAS vs IACHR (Aug. 25, 2020)

 The Organization of American States (OAS) did not renew the mandate of Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) head Paulo Abrão, a move that has caused a rift between the international organization and its independent human rights organ. (AFP)

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said he did not renew Abrão's contract in mid-August due to more than 60 complaints to the IACHR ombudsperson about Abrão's leadership. The complaints received by ombudsperson Neida Pérez, include allegations of "labor harassment" and hiring "manipulation," but the content is confidencial.

But the IACHR countered that Almagro's refusal to ratify the commission's decision to renew Abrão's mandate constitutes "a severe attack against its independence and autonomy." In a strongly-worded press release, the IACHR argues that external actors cannot determine the staff of the inter-American human rights system, "much less the moment of removal from office of such staff."

News Briefs

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called for an investigation into a video that appears to show a Mexican soldier telling his colleagues to kill a survivor of a shootout with suspected cartel gunmen, reports Reuters. The footage, published by El Universal newspaper, shows an incident that the newspaper said came from a shootout in Nuevo Laredo last month, when 12 people who authorities said were drug cartel members were killed.
  • Mexico's school year started yesterday, but not physical classes. Instead authorities implemented a combination of online classes, instruction broadcast on television channels and radio programming in Indigenous languages reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexican health authorities will begin this week to use a broader definition to identify possible coronavirus cases, reports Reuters.
  • Emergency economic aid to Brazil's poor has translated into an unprecedented popularity boost for President Jair Bolsonaro in a voting segment that is traditionally not his base, reports the Washington Post. Aid packages, together with the president's recent moderate tone have worked in Bolsonaro's favor, though experts warn the effect might be temporary: When the payments stop, the population will absorb the full impact of the financial crisis. The problems of the poor, temporarily stalled, will surge back — and then be magnified.
  • Bolsonaro is suffering online backlash after threatening a journalist on Sunday, a startling reversal for the social-media savvy leader, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Coronavirus cases are waning in Manaus -- without interventions, like lockdowns, employed elsewhere. The question of why the Brazilian city, a global symbol of the diseases' devastation, has normalized is part of a broader debate among scientists and public health officials over the mechanics of herd immunity and the level of transmission that must be crossed before the disease starts to recede, reports the Washington Post.
  • Tropical Storm Laura battered Cuba with heavy rain and coastal swells yesterday, but did not cause the kind of catastrophic damage seen in Haiti and the Dominican Republic this weekend, reports the Miami Herald.
El Salvador
  • All businesses are free to reopen in El Salvador, after the country's supreme court ruled that a government decree regulating the reopening in five stages was unconstitutional. (Voice of America)
  • A spate of killings in Colombia has killed more than 35 people, many of them young, reports Al Jazeera.
  • The Colombian Duque administration's moves to reinstate aerial eradication of coca plants with glyphosate "has serious implications for ecosystems and is already showing toxic effects on many species of plants, many of which are endemic (unique) to Colombia, as well as insects necessary for ecological balance," according to the Aula Blog.
  • Chile’s Araucania, an area of conflict between security forces and indigenous Mapuche groups, has seen a spike in attacks on transport trucks and factories in recent months. Truck drivers called for a countrywide strike to begin Thursday if President Sebastian Pinera and Congress do not act immediately to stem a rising tide of attacks, reports Reuters.
  • Chile's constitutional rewrite is an opportunity to recognize the indigenous Mapuche communities that have been the object of constant violence throughout the country's history, argues Patricio Fernández in the New York Times Español.
Regional Relations
  • Foreign creditors are jumpy about investing in Argentina and Ecuador again without macroeconomic reforms and International Monetary Fund support, according to Reuters.
  • Argentina confirmed a record 8,713 new cases of coronavirus yesterday and 381 resulting deaths in just 24 hours. (Reuters)
  • Buenos Aires' emblematic "Caminito" has become a postcard of Argentina's current crisis: instead of restaurants crowded with tourists, unemployed people gather (with social distancing) to get food from soup kitchens, writes Sylvia Colombo in the New York Times Español.

I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.

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