Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Colombian protesters return to streets (Sept. 22, 2020)

 Colombian protesters returned to the streets, resuming demonstrations that started last year and were dampened by coronavirus lockdowns that started in March. Protests in Bogotá yesterday were called by the Comité Nacional de Paro, an umbrella group that organized protests against the Duque administration's social and economic policies last year. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, a noteworthy point after 13 people were killed and 200 wounded when security forces clashed with protesters earlier this month.

Demonstrators were also galvanized by the killing of Javier Órdoñez by police in Bogotá earlier this month, and the violent repression by security forces of ensuing protests. A sign in Bogotá yesterday asked: "Who ordered the massacre of Bogotá's youth," in reference to the protest deaths.

Bogotá mayor Claudia López compared Órdoñez's murder to that of George Floyd, and said it exemplifie "systematic police abuse." (Semana)

Colombians also mobilized to demand urgent action to stop rural violence -- so far there have been more than 60 massacres this year. (See this Nacla piece for more on the massacres.)

"All the bloodshed and instability underscore the urgent need to overhaul Colombia’s security policies," argues Human Rights Watch researcher Juan Pappier in Americas Quarterly. "The country needs a stronger civilian police force that reports to the Interior Ministry instead of the Defense Ministry, and less reliance on the military as the main representative of the Colombian state in rural areas."

News Briefs

  • A year after Evo Morales' ouster in Bolivia, his MAS party is leading in opinion polls and his successor is under fire for politically persecuting opponents. Ahead of an electoral re-do scheduled for October, the dominant international narrative about electoral fraud has come under scrutiny, reports the Washington Post. More than two dozen U.S. Democratic lawmakers urged the Trump administration “to use its voice at the OAS to advocate for a thorough, independent assessment of the OAS’s statements and reports regarding Bolivia’s 2019 elections,” not least because the OAS draws much of its funding from the United States and is also “poised to make a determination of the freedom, fairness, and integrity of the upcoming elections.”
  • MAS party youth said they were tear gassed at an event in El Alto, yesterday. Separately, MAS party canvassers said they were attacked by a shock group in Cochabamba this weekend. (Nodal, Telesur)
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse appointed a provisional electoral council tasked with preparing a constitutional referendum and organizing local, municipal, legislative and presidential elections in the country. He has been governing since January without a parliament, and last week the U.S. called on Moïse and the political opposition to work together towards a solution to the country’s political crisis. (Reuters, Miami Herald)
  • Venezuela's Chavista governments have always been dexterous at narrative. But the horrific human rights abuses documented by a U.N. report last week (see last Thursday's post) leave no room for manipulation, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in the New York Times Español.
  • The U.S. slapped new sanctions on Iran's defense ministry and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro under a contested U.N. authority, yesterday, and demanded that Europe follow suit. U.S. officials said Maduro was included in the sanctions for his role in aiding Tehran’s weapons programs. (AFP, CNBC, Reuters)
  • The protracted struggle to control Venezuela has only exacerbated the country's political and humanitarian crises. Now the country's political opposition is at a dead end ahead of December's legislative elections that promise to be neither free nor fair, writes Benjamin Wilhelm at World Politics Review
  • Homicide rates in Venezuela are among the highest in the hemisphere, driven in part by security force abuses. Organized violence in the country has also increased as criminal groups -- the ELN and FARC dissidents -- expanded into Venezuelan territory. Violence due to repression by security forces and clashes among criminal groups and regime forces may increase as the December elections and January power struggle occur, predicts the Latin America Risk Report.  
  • Brazilian former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, barred from elected office due to corruption convictions, said he is open to backing any candidate who can beat current President Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 elections, reports Reuters.
  • Brazil’s central bank launched a new “sustainability agenda” that will incorporate into its policies efforts to protect the environment. The plan features initiatives such as the creation of a sustainable liquidity financing line for banks, including ones in the private sector. (Latin America Advisor)
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised to meet the country's water transfer obligations to the U.S., despite determined opposition from local communities, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico's pre-existing obesity epidemic has exacerbated the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, reports Al Jazeera.
  • A patriarchal obsession with female appearances -- "ugly" is a common disqualifier -- has real and harmful economic effects for women, writes Viri Rios in the New York Times Español. As Mexico battles high rates of gender violence, disarming "physical misogyny" is urgent, she argues.
  • Honduras hopes to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by the end of 2020,  announced Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
  • British Black Lives Matter activists are shining a strong light on British history and the choices made about how to remember it -- with relevant impacts for the Caribbean. (Guardian)
 hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. 


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