Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Democracy deteriorating -- world and region (April 6, 2021)

 News Briefs

  • "Brazil matters because of its size, its vast environmental resources, and its political and cultural influence around the world. But it also matters as an example," writes Glenn Greenwald in an in-depth analysis of Brazilian politics for The Nation. "Citizens of currently democratic countries who are tempted to dismiss the dangers when elites flaunt their contempt for ordinary people—or to respond, amid claims that current levels of inequality and widespread immiseration are unsustainable, that such things “can’t happen here”—need only look to Brazil. Because it did happen here. It’s still happening here."
  • Democracy is rapidly deteriorating, globally and in the Americas. Freedom House’s new Freedom in the World 2021 report shows the United States and El Salvador leading the decay among the Americas’ 35 countries, with 13 others following the same downward trend. The COVID-19 pandemic, inequality and violence have all played significant roles in this decline, writes Gerardo Berthin in Americas Quarterly.
  • The social damage wrought by the "shadow pandemic," the disproportionate toll the coronavirus has exacted on women, may be felt for decades to come, according to the World Economic Forum's annual report on the global gender gap. 
  • According to separate surveys conducted by the World Bank, women in Latin America were 44 percent more likely to lose their jobs at the onset of the crisis. Moreover, 21 percent of women who were employed before the pandemic are apparently out of work now. The persistent gender gap in the workforce, concluded the World Bank, could cost countries in Latin America and the Caribbean some 14 percent of the region’s collective GDP per capita over the next three decades.(Washington Post)
  • A total of 62 women were killed in Argentina in the first three months of 2021, the equivalent of a femicide every 35 hours, according to data compiled by Mujeres de la Matria Latinoamericana (Mumalá) -- EFE.
  • There are approximately 1.4 million domestic employees in Argentina, the vast majority are women. The sector, which represents 22 percent of female employment in the country, was one of the worst hit during 2020's Covid crisis. A new study found that most domestic employee's working conditions worsened during the pandemic: informality increased, wages were unpaid, salaries or hours were reduced, people were fired. (Cohete a la Luna)
  • Dozens of Honduran civil society organizations demanded the "immediate" resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernández for having turned the country into a "narco-state." The organization leaders said they were "filled with indignation" in a statement released to "unconditionally demand... the immediate departure of Juan Orlando Hernandez from the government (and) the replacement of the high military command" that supports him, reports AFP.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy to Central America's Northern Triangle, Ricardo Zuñiga, began a two-nation tour aimed at addressing soaring migration. He met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei yesterday, and will travel to El Salvador later this week. He is not scheduled to visit Honduras on this trip, notes Reuters. (See last Tuesday's post on Washington's diplomatic tightrope walk with Honduras and the White House's efforts to tackle the root causes of migration.)
  • The Biden administration has placed around 28,000 radio ads in Latin America as part of a stepped-up campaign to discourage people from journeying to the U.S., reports CNN. But experts say the messaging ignores the horrific situations at home -- including violence and hunger -- that push people to make the risky journey.
  • A sophisticated human trafficking network dismantled in Colombia, illustrates a pattern in how Venezuelan citizens, particularly women, are recruited, reports InSight Crime.
  • Venezuela has created a special military unit for the Apure state area on its border with Colombia that has been the center of clashes between troops and illegal armed groups since last month, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • An InSight Crime investigation about the recruitment of minors in Colombia by criminal groups and insurgents explores where and how it happens in the country. Armed groups in Colombia are recruiting children, a return to a common feature of the country's decades long civil war with guerrillas. (See March 29's briefs.)
  • Peruvian Indigenous communities in the country's central Amazon are experiencing an increase in violence, threats and harassment as drug gangs target their land to grow coca, the plant used to make cocaine. Covid-19 restrictions have made the remote region even more vulnerable, reports the Guardian.
Dominican Republic
  • The Dominican Republic's Alta Gracia garment factory is famed for paying a living wage, but nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, workers were furloughed without pay and the US-based company is struggling to stay afloat. The case raises questions over whether a clothing business can pay a decent wage and still be profitable, reports the Guardian.
  • Increasing swaths of Mexico's economy are controlled by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), a criminal behemoth now considered Mexico’s most indomitable mafia firm, reports the Guardian. The group is notorious for displays of ultraviolence and military might that experts say pose a growing threat to Mexico’s nationalist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
  • Mexico’s government said it reached a deal with union and business leaders on a controversial bill to ban outsourcing in a move that seeks to close tax loopholes, reports Bloomberg.
  • A record virus surge is eroding support for the Chilean government’s Covid-19 policies and tarnishing one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives, reports Bloomberg.
Costa Rica
  • Organized property fraud rings have enlisted corrupt notaries to steal properties in Costa Rica, taking advantage of Covid-19 restrictions that have kept owners of expensive lots away, reports InSight Crime.
-- Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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