Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Cuba's clampdown against artists -- HRW (June 30, 2021)

News Briefs

  • The Cuban government is committing systematic human rights abuses against independent artists and journalists, said Human Rights Watch, with a new video detailing how, in recent months, Cuban authorities have jailed and prosecuted several artists and journalists who are critical of the government. "These abuses are not isolated incidents, but rather appear to be part of a plan to selectively silence critical voices," said José Miguel Vivanco, HRW's Americas director.
  • Journalist Mauricio Madrigal was interrogated for over an hour yesterday by Nicaraguan prosecutors regarding the workings of Canal 10, one of the country's few independent television channels, reports Confidencial. He was not cited as a witness or implicated in a case, but rather the attorney general's office said they were obtaining information about how the press operates.
  • Nicaraguan police have detained more than 20 political opponents and critical journalists over the past weeks, with heavy-handed raids against family members designed to sow fear, reports the Associated Press. Police often arrive at night, with overwhelming force, and  insult their targets and their families, break windows and doors. They confiscate electronics and detainees are not permitted access to lawyers, their families are often unaware of their location.
Regional Relations
  • A new book published by the Wilson Center's Latin American Program, Venezuela’s Authoritarian Allies: The Ties That Bind? explores the international dimensions of regime survival in Venezuela. Specifically, the book examines the ways that international allies of Nicolás Maduro’s government -- Russia, China, Cuba, India, Turkey, and Iran -- have assisted it in surviving a calamitous period of economic decline, punishing U.S. economic sanctions, and internal pressures for political change.
  • Tackling out Central American corruption requires that the U.S. "take on not just the symptoms but the political and economic systems that force hundreds of thousands to leave their homelands," argues Council on Foreign Relations' Shannon O'Neil in Bloomberg. "This thorny task means confronting the U.S.’s ostensible partners, the region’s governments, who are more of a problem than a solution."
  • Brazil will suspend a $324 million Indian Covid-19 vaccine contract that whistleblowers have signaled as irregular, accusations that implicate President Jair Bolsonaro, reports the Guardian. A former health ministry employee told prosecutors that he was pressured to sign a contract that would increase the average price of doses by 1,000 percent -- and that he had told the president. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Brazil’s worst water crisis in nearly a century is fueling inflation, yet another economic challenge for the embattled Bolsonaro administration, reports Bloomberg.
  • Chileans elected an anti-elite and largely independent Constitutional Assembly, which means the country's new charter will follow a different path from that of other Latin American constitutional assemblies, in which populist — often authoritarian — rulers controlled most of the seats, according to the Washington Post's Monkey Cage.
  • Chilean Indigenous leader Alberto Curamil, a  Goldman Environmental Prize recipient, seriously injured by police, who chased his truck and opened fire after a protest against an arson attack on a Mapuche home on contested land in southern Chile. Other Goldman recipients, together with Amnesty International and Curamil's lawyer, launched an appeal for Curamil’s safety. Curamil’s shooting comes 18 months after Chilean authorities sought to jail him for 50 years for armed robbery in 2019, despite no physical evidence linking him to the crime, reports the Guardian.
  • Forest protection carbon offsets that may have no benefit to the climate have been used by polluters to avoid paying carbon taxes in Colombia, according to a report by Carbon Market Watch. Their analysis of large-scale forest protection schemes in the Colombian Amazon claims that they may be dramatically overstating their impact on preventing deforestation, reports the Guardian.
  • Guillermo León Acevedo Giraldo, alias “Memo Fantasma,” a former paramilitary leader and longtime drug trafficker who escaped prosecution for decades by living behind a façade of legitimate business dealings, was captured last week by Colombian authorities, reports InSight Crime.
  • The Colombian government's chief negotiator rebuffed accusations from protest leaders that President Ivan Duque's administration was not committed to talks with activists who have led two months of demonstrations in the country. Last week, a senior protest leader warned that demonstrations - which have been rumbling for two months - would step up a gear in the second half of the year if neither the government nor Congress meet protesters' demands, reports Reuters.
  • Prisoners in Haiti often spend years in inhumane conditions subjected to ill-treatment and torture and in many cases while still awaiting trial, according to a new UN report. More than 80 percent of inmates in Haiti are in pre-trial detention, notes the report, and most prisons suffer extreme overcrowding.
  • Mexico's Tamaulipas state governor is touting the timely arrests of those allegedly responsible for a grizzly massacre in Reynosa but doubts remain as to who may truly be behind the killings, reports InSight Crime.
  • The cost to the global economy of the tourism freeze caused by Covid-19 could reach $4 trillion by the end of this year, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The varying pace of vaccine rollouts are expected to particularly affect developing nations and tourist centers. Ecuador’s GDP is projected to fall by 9% in the worst-case scenario and 7.5% at best. (Guardian)
  • Over the past decade, Latin America has stood out for its recognition of LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality. However LGBTQ+ activists face backlash from social and religious conservatives, and some leaders, including Presidents Nayib Bukele of El Salvador and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, are openly hostile to LGBTQ+ rights -- Wilson Center Weekly Asado
Los Topos
  • Mexico's volunteer rescuers -- Los Topos -- has been involved in virtually every major natural disaster in Mexico and many others around the world since starting in 1985. This week a group arrived in Miami to help local experts search for life in the rubble of a collapsed condominium building. (Washington Post)
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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