Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Colombian massacres are territorial control tools (Sept. 30, 2020)

News Briefs

  • This year, so far, is Colombia's This year, so far, has been Colombia's most massacre filled on record since 2013 -- there have been 60 massacres that killed 246 civilians, and an additional 215 attacks against social leaders. Armed groups have historically used massacres as a form of territorial control, though the characteristic is particularly characteristic of the paramilitary groups, write Olga Behar and Carolina Ardila Behar in the Post Opinión.
  • Polarized views on accusations against former president Álvaro Uribe indicate a potential path towards fanaticism in Colombia. Instead institutions must credibly investigate allegations of witness tampering, argue Pedro Pizano and Andrés Manosalva in the New York Times Español.
  • Angry protesters in Venezuela are flouting lockdown rules to demand an end to worsening shortages of everything from electricity and water to fuel and household supplies, reports the Guardian. Since Sunday, more than 100 protests have broken out in at least 17 of the country’s 23 states, sometimes resulting in skirmishes with riot police.
Regional Relations
  • Many Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. will support Donald Trump's reelection bid because of his Venezuela policies -- though his style is reminiscent of what pushed them to flee their home country, reports the Washington Post.
  • A Canadian mining company used intimidation tactics and paid off Guatemalan government officials at the highest level to evict indigenous communities from a swathe of land the company had no legal right to, reports The Intercept based on Canadian court documents. The campaign culminated in two waves of evictions targeting several Indigenous villages on January 8, 9, and 17, 2007. Eleven women from Lote Ocho were allegedly gang-raped by police officers, soldiers, with dire, ongoing consequences to their health and wellbeing. They are suing the mining company, a case that could set a precedent, making it easier to hold multinational corporations accountable in their home countries for wrongdoing abroad.
  • Construction crews are adding as much as two miles per day to the U.S. Trump administration's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, in a race to advance ahead of the November presidential election. (Washington Post)
  • A new report by AS/COA Anti-Corruption Working Group looks at three case studies in the region. Chile's bold reforms, which were still insufficient to regain citizen trust in politicians; corruption at the local level in Peru's Amazon, which has had devastating environmental impact; and the civil society-driven anti-corruption push in Mexico during the Enrique Peña Nieto administration, which the government was ultimately able to undermine.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has proposed a referendum to ask citizens on whether to indict former presidents if there is evidence of crimes that did grave harm during their administrations. While critics said the move is a distraction ploy, Ioan Grillo argues "a referendum could give citizen support to what may become very politically divisive cases ... Justice could help deter future leaders from succumbing to temptation, while acting as a catalyst in cleaning up the system, and pushing Mexico to finally live up to its great potential." (New York Times)
  • Mexico upped its “estimated” COVID-19 deaths to 89,612 on Monday, and boosted estimates of its total number of cases to 870,699, almost 137,000 more than it previously recognized -- Associated Press.
  • Brazilian state prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro on Monday brought charges against the president’s son, Flavio Bolsonaro, for alleged embezzlement, laundering and running a criminal organization, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian authorities are targeting the country's leading gangs' finances -- a far less violent alternative to direct confrontation in favelas, but one that will likely only produce short-term gains, according to InSight Crime.
  • Data from Brazil shows that coronavirus impact on taste and smell can be long-lasting -- and that this is more relevant than it might seem initially. (Washington Post)
  • Gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot to death Honduran journalist Luis Almendares. Still alive, Almendares began taping the scene of the attack with his cellphone. He died later at a hospital in Tegucigalpa, the capital, reports the Associated Press. Known for his hard-hitting style, he frequently accused the police and the government of wrongdoing.
  • Panama's gendered lockdown rules -- that dictated days people could leave their houses based on their sex -- negatively impacted non-binary individuals. Trans activists recorded dozens of instances of discrimination and abuse by police and businesses. (Guardian)
  • Peru is pushing forward with reopenings -- international flights to countries in the region coming soon, if coronavirus cases continue to fall, reports Reuters.
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced the launch of $2 billion in subsidies aimed at creating new jobs or recovering those lost during months of coronavirus lockdown, reports Reuters
  • The Guernica land grab in Argentina's Buenos Aires province is the largest (about 2,000 families) of a trend that has intensified in the Buenos Aires metropolitan region in the pandemic months. Families face imminent eviction, but criminal justice is the wrong response for a knot that requires a political response that takes into account human rights. María Florencia Alcaraz writes about the issue from a feminist perspective, and notes that many women in Guernica were forced to choose between paying rent or buying food for their children, while others are escaping situations of gender violence. (Post Opinión)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. 


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