Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Ortega's grip on media (Nov. 24, 2020)

 News Briefs

  • A Reuters investigation details how President Daniel Ortega's family's media empire strengthens his regime and lines their pockets with state funds. Documents reviewed by Reuters show millions in state advertising at family broadcasters even as those channels dodge taxes. The Ortegas also deploy budget and tax laws to squeeze rival media and tighten their own grip on power by silencing dissent.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador authorities have launched a criminal investigation into the government’s coronavirus pandemic spending. It is the severest legal action to date taken against the administration of President Nayib Bukele, according to InSight Crime.
  • Police attempted to block prosecutors' raids on ministries earlier this month in relation to the investigation, the latest example of a political crisis that has been evolving during Bukele's presidency, argues El Faro in an editorial. "The government's efforts to hide irregularities in its purchases and contracting during the pandemic, which ascend to hundreds of thousands of dollars, are demonstrating its disposition to pervert all of the State's institutionality in order to shield itself."
  • Bukele has increased army operations along the country’s northern border with Honduras to combat transnational drug trafficking but this measure appears to overlook the primary entry points for cocaine, reports InSight Crime.
  • New evidence indicates most of the 24 inmates killed during a March riot in Bogotá's La Modelo prison were shot to death intentionally, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Autopsy reports HRW commissioned from independent forensic experts concluded that none of the dead were shot in a way that indicates whoever fired only wanted to injure them. (Associated Press)
  • U.S. president-elect Joe Biden tapped Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a choice that thrilled immigrant advocates, reports the Washington Post. Biden has pledged to reverse many — if not most — of President Donald Trump’s executive actions on immigration, and Mayorkas’s nomination signaled that the president-elect is looking for someone experienced in both immigration policy and politics.
  • The devastation of Eta and Iota's one-two punch in Central America will be long term. Otras Miradas gathers reports from independent journalists in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
  • Nicaragua Investiga documents the total destruction wrought in Bilwi area communities. Confidencial reports that Nicaragua's Ortega government abandoned opposition-led localities in the lead-up and aftermath of Iota.
  • Honduran coffee growers lost more than 5,000 blocks (manzanas) of crops in November's hurricanes, reports Criterio.
  • Olancho, a documentary about an Honduran musician forced to flee home when he writes a song that angers a local drug cartel, highlights the corruption and violence that plagues Honduras. Watch it through www.filmsforrelief.com to raise funds for hurricane victims.
  • Housing rights activist Guilherme Boulos of the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) won second place in São Paulo's mayoral elections on Nov. 15. His victory pushed this weekend's runoff election sharply towards the left, according to Jacobin.
  • Brazil has gathered enough infection data from a late-stage trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech and expects to have interim results on its efficiency in early December, reports Reuters.
  • After lawmakers ouster former Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra, earlier this month, Peruvian protesters "reclaimed Vizcarra’s mandate and articulated it as their own desire for a reckoning of the political system," writes Néstor David Pastor at Nacla. (See Nov. 16's post.) "Similar to Vizcarra’s lack of party affiliation, this decentralized, inclusive movement, led primarily by youth, is untethered to a particular ideology or political party. At least initially, it aims to guarantee a transition of power to the people through the ballot."
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said his government will legally challenge a bill in congress that would allow citizens to draw down a second installment from their privately held pensions, reports Reuters.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s approval rating has risen to its highest level in a year, reports Reuters. The latest poll shows the president has the support of 64% of the population just six months ahead of legislative elections. 
  • Mexican authorities have recovered 113 bodies and additional human remains from a secret grave outside the western city of Guadalajara, reports the Associated Press.
Cayman Islands
  • A new report by the Tax Justice Network claims that globally countries are losing $427 billion each year to international corporate tax abuse and private tax evasion. According to the advocacy group’s analysis of country-by-country earnings reported by multinationals, the Cayman Islands tops the list by being responsible for 16.5% of global tax losses or more than $70 billion. (Cayman Compass)
  • InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was spearheaded by Co-director Jeremy McDermott.
  • Latin America has a strong shot to become a world leader in hydrogen production, a key pivot to clean fuel, argues Mauricio Cárdenas in Americas Quarterly.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 


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