Thursday, March 18, 2021

U.S. and Lat Am Covid recovery -- Atlantic Council (March 18, 2021)

News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • "A Latin America and the Caribbean region that is secure, economically prosperous, and democratic provides stability and opportunities for the United States in its own hemisphere." How to carry out partnerships with the region in order to further these goals is a key challenge for the U.S. Biden administration -- a new report from the Atlantic Council delves in-depth into how to help the region recover from Covid-19 devastation. The Covid-19 "crisis is projected to set back Latin America and the Caribbean by at least another decade in its development. The cost of inaction for the United States could be critical, with reverberations in some countries including inequality, instability, migration, corruption, authoritarianism, social unrest, and loss of human capital."
  • Mexico’s foreign ministry has criticised the Organization of American States for what it described as interference in the internal affairs of Bolivia, after the OAS called for “credible and impartial trials” and stressed what it described as worsening political interference and corruption in Bolivia’s judicial system, reports Al Jazeera. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Environmental concerns are not high on Latin American political radars, a marked contrast from the U.S. and Europe where center-left leaders prioritize the fight against climate change, writes Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly. In Latin America, where more environmental activists are killed than anywhere in the world, traditional left-wing parties across the region have often been the subject of fierce criticism by environmentalists. But, at local levels, a growing number of green senators and mayors, however, now points to the emergence of more progressive leadership in the fight against climate change.
  • Biden’s administration has yet to take a stance on the controversial issue of aerial spraying in Colombia, but the White House will soon have to make its position clear amid contradicting views within the U.S. government, reports InSight Crime.
  • Two of Colombia's most notorious warlords will appear together before a truth commission today. Former FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timochenko, and Salvatore Mancuso, who led a rightwing death squad, will appear via video link before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Though the hearing is expected to be the first of many, with victims of the two men set to appear at a later date, the encounter is likely to take on extra significance owing to the notoriety of the two men and possibility that they can shed light on crimes they are likely to have witnessed and ordered, reports the Guardian.
  • A dissident FARC group has announced the revival of one of its most formidable blocs in northern Colombia. In practice, it means the revival of the Caribbean Bloc, which was demobilized following the 2016 peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government, reports InSight Crime.
  • Mexico is preparing to significantly reinforce efforts to detain U.S.-bound migrants who illegally cross its border with Guatemala, in response to a surge in people, mostly from Central America, attempting to enter the U.S. Mexico's National Guard militarized police would be at the fore of the containment drive, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's post.)
  • The massacre of 16 Guatemalan migrants in Mexico last month, allegedly killed by police near the U.S. border, rocked the small village of Comitancillo, where they hailed from. A Washington Post photo-essay portrays the grief of their families, but captures the myriad reasons pushing people to attempt the dangerous trek north. 
El Salvador
  • Government attacks on El Salvador's free press may increase, warns Human Rights Watch's José Miguel Vivanco in Nuevo Heraldo. President Nayib "Bukele is likely to portray the victory as a sign of approval by the Salvadoran people of his repeated attacks on the media. And his majority in the Assembly could allow him to pursue changes in the law limiting the work of the media and undermining the independence of a Supreme Court that has helped keep the government in check."
  • Six executives of U.S. refiner Citgo have been jailed in Caracas on graft charges since 2017, but court documents seen by Reuters show that top Venezuelan officials were made aware of the deal that the country’s top prosecutor accused the six executives of signing in secret.
  • Venezuela is rolling out larger-denomination bills -- worth 200,000 and 500,000 bolivars -- in response to hyperinflation. They are worth just 10 and 27 U.S. cents. Venezuela's central bank said this month it also planned to roll a bill worth 1 million bolivars --  50 U.S. cents. (Reuters)
  • Venezuela's Communist Party has been a traditional ally of Chavismo, but it has broken with the Maduro government, which it accuses of authoritarianism. The country's economic crisis, loss of workers' rights, and persecution of social leaders, in addition to public opinion, have contributed to the schism, reports Nueva Sociedad.
  • Peru is suffering from a "shadow pandemic," the surge in violence against women and girls across the world during Covid lockdowns. A total of 138 femicides were reported by the authorities in Peru in 2020, but, according to figures compiled by the Mujeres Desaparecidas, 11,828 women and girls were registered as disappeared in 2020 based on police reports. About two-thirds were aged under 18. (Guardian)
  • Activists are decrying a horrific pattern of brutal sexual violence inflicted on indigenous children and women in northern Argentina by non-indigenous men, often in groups -- and demand that the practise be made a specific hate crime, doubly aggravated on the grounds of race and gender, reports the Guardian.
Correction: In yesterday's briefing I incorrectly said Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele will have a supermajority of 84 allies in the incoming National Assembly. His allies amount to more than two-thirds of the total 84 of lawmakers in the National Assembly.

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

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