Friday, May 21, 2021

Nicaraguan police raid independent media offices (May 21, 2021)

 Nicaraguan police targeted two prominent opponents in raids yesterday, siblings Carlos and Cristiana Chamorro, children of former president Violeta Chamorro.

Nicaraguan police raided the offices of independent television programs -- Esta Semana and Esta Noche, directed by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro. The staff had temporarily settled in the Invercasa corporate center, after the raid and confiscation of their offices, as well as that of Confidencial, in December 2018. (ConfidencialConfidencial)

Cameraperson Leonel Gutiérrez was detained for seven hours yesterday as part of the raid, and AFP photographer, Luis Sequiera, was also temporarily detained by the police, while he was trying to cover the assault.

During a live broadcast of the Confidencial program on Radio Corporacion, Carlos Chamorro stressed that “they are not going to silence us, they can steal other television cameras, other equipment, they can occupy a room where we had made some productions, but we will continue to inform, they will not silence our journalists,” he stressed. (Confidencial)

Police also surrounded the offices of a the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy, and the foundation's former director, Cristiana Chamorro was accused of money laundering, yesterday. Cristiana Chamorro has publicly announced her intention to run against Ortega, who is trying for a fourth consecutive term in November, the charges could disqualify her candidacy, reports NPR.

“It seems to me that it is a macabre accusation, part of the monstrosity that this regime mounts to prevent citizens from working for Nicaragua and ultimately to prevent us from voting freely in November,” Cristiana Chamorro told journalists outside the Interior Ministry. (Reuters)

News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • Though far from revelatory, a new list of officials the United States government suspects of corruption and drug trafficking in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras may further roil Washington’s relationships in Central America, reports InSight Crime. The list, which was prepared by the State Department, names 12 current or former senior officials in Guatemala and Honduras, and the other names five from El Salvador. (See Tuesday's briefs.)
  • Already, the U.S. focus on targeting corruption in Central America is pushing El Salvador's government closer to China, reports El Faro. The day after media reported the U.S. list of corrupt officials, which includes Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele's chief of staff, Bukele-loyal legislators approved a cooperation deal with China for investments worth about $62 million. (See yesterday's briefs and Tuesday's.)
El Salvador
  • Peruvian history -- specifically Alberto Fujimori's 1992 self-coup -- could be a cautionary tale for El Salvador, argue Manuel Meléndez-Sánchez and Steven Levitsky in the Washington Post's Monkey Cage.
  • Authorities in El Salvador are excavating a clandestine cemetery at the house of a former detective which is believed to contain as many as 40 bodies – most of them thought to be women. (Guardian)
  • Haiti's long-running political crisis is hitting a boiling point: The latest concern is President Jovenel Moïse’s call for a controversial constitutional referendum, scheduled for June 27. Haitian legal experts and critics call it illegal and few have confidence the vote can be pulled off democratically, reports Americas Quarterly.
  • A Washington Post analysis of video evidence in four cases of protester deaths in Colombia shows the extent to which police appear to have overstepped their rules of engagement. Dozens of deaths, including those of a police officer and 14 civilians whose killings Human Rights Watch investigators have linked to excessive police force, are putting the nation’s militarized security forces under a global microscope.
  • Will Social Unrest in Latin America Lead to Populism, asks yesterday's Latin America Advisor. That depends on what government's do moving forward. “Latin America is in a crisis in which ‘fiscally responsible’ reforms are both bad politics and bad policy," argues Latin America Risk Report's James Bosworth.
  • The uneven vaccine rollout in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean is fueling a budding vaccine tourism industry where the privileged with access to U.S. visas and money for airfare are flying thousands of miles for jabs, reports the Miami Herald.
  • If there is a Covid silver lining, it is that the pandemic has highlighted the transformative power of technology for Latin America and the Caribbean, and accelerated its digital transformation, not only in leading start-up markets like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, but throughout the entire region, according to Global Americans.
  • Amazonian urban areas and their people, mainly Indigenous people and Afro-Descendants, are critical to preserving the rainforest, argues Iago Hairon in Open Society Foundations' Voices. These groups are increasingly emphatic that "it is necessary to implement new ways of development for the region, promoting climate and social justice, and scaling green jobs and the “bioeconomy.”" (The latest issue of Americas Quarterly makes the case for sustainable development in the Amazon.)
  • In an interview with the Guardian, Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stopped short of explicitly confirming he would run. But he said he had the experience and desire to lead Brazil’s “recovery” after the damage inflicted by current President Jair Bolsonaro’s incompetence, and would do so, if his party and voters wished.
  • Venezuelan companies that are holding cash in dollars to protect themselves from hyperinflation have started paying as much as 7 percent to have those funds transferred into overseas bank accounts, reports Reuters.
  • Chile's constitution will be drafted largely by political newcomers, according to an analysis by Jennifer Piscopo and Peter Siavelis for Americas Quarterly. "The overall newness of the delegates lends the constitutional process legitimacy in the eyes of those seeking a more inclusive Chile. And for the delegates, the hard work of earning voters’ trust is just beginning." (See Tuesday's post.)

The Latin America Daily Briefing will take a break next week. I'll be back on May 31. Hope you are all well and staying safe and healthy. -- Latin America Daily Briefing

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