Thursday, December 10, 2020

Cuba's possible protest movement (Dec. 10, 2020)

 Swiftly mobilized protests in support of Cuban artists are "a stark example of how having widespread access to the internet through cellphones is testing the power balance between the communist regime and its citizens," according to the New York Times. Protesters reacted quickly to videos of rapper Denis Solís' detention, and then later to recordings of San Isidro Movement demonstrators last month. (See Nov. 27's post.)

Protesters' focus is shifting from limits on artistic expression to pushing for more fundamental political freedoms, though it's not yet clear whether this incipient movement will gather momentum. "The Cuban regime no longer seems so impervious to criticism," writes journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez, who was detained last month as part of the San Isidro Movement crackdown, in a New York Times op-ed.

A new report by Human Rights Watch details how Cuba's government has used Covid-19 concerns to crack down on dissent, including the San Isidro Movement.

More Cuba
  • Thousands of Cubans have started to join other migrants in caravans heading for the U.S. southern border to apply for political asylum, reports the Miami Herald. Nearly 500 Cuban migrants, including children and pregnant women, are stranded in Suriname due to coronavirus border closures. Guyana suspended ferry service with Suriname to block access to Cubans seeking to transit through the country. (See yesterday's Caribbean News Updates.)
  • Cuba said it had attracted $1.9 billion worth of foreign investment over the past year despite tighter U.S. sanctions, reports Reuters.
News Briefs

  • Latin America, led by Brazil, is heading into a second wave of Covid-19 infections that experts predict will be even more lethal than previous peaks earlier this year. And, as elsewhere in the world, the current situation comes as populations are exhausted from restrictions over the course of 2020, and unwilling to maintain social-distancing measures, reports the Guardian.
  • Vaccine resistance will be another front in coming months, led by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who follows a long tradition of vaccine skepticism in Brazil, reports the Conversation.
  • Nonetheless, Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said that the government plans to vaccine the country's entire population against COVID-19 in 2021. (Reuters)
  • Argentina could become the largest Latin American country to legalize elective abortion -- a bill presented by President Alberto Fernández is expected to pass the lower chamber of Congress today but faces a bitter battle in the Senate. (Washington Post, see yesterday's briefs)
  • Venezuela's ruling PSUV party swept up 91% of the incoming National Assembly's seats with the 67% percent of the vote garnered in Sunday's elections, widely criticized for being neither free nor fair. (Reuters, see Monday's post.)
  • Venezuela's outlook is bleak: the opposition-led National Assembly's mandate is ending, and negotiations for free and fair elections have foundered. The political opposition faces an uphill battle to reconstruct legitimacy and create change in a country where the government has consolidated power significantly -- which will not help the country with regards to its humanitarian crisis, writes Luz Mely Reyes in a Post Opinión op-ed.
El Salvador
  • An audit of pandemic spending by El Salvador’s Court of Accounts found that hotels seized from accused Salvadoran drug kingpin Chepe Diablo were awarded lucrative government contracts to serve as quarantine centers. The report could serve as the basis for cases against officials accused of misusing funds, reports InSight Crime. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Military actions in El Salvador this year show the country still hasn’t escaped the legacy of its brutal civil war, reports Slate.
  • Since 2000, almost three-quarters of the 119 journalists murdered in Mexico were killed by firearms, most of which were imported – and Mexico’s laws and culture make tracing them impossible, reports the Guardian as part of Forbidden Stories' "Cartel Project."

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

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