Monday, June 21, 2021

Nicaragua detains fifth presidential precandidate (June 21, 2021)

News Briefs

  • Nicaraguan authorities detained journalist Miguel Mora Barberena, the fifth presidential hopeful arrested in a crackdown this month. Like most of the other 18 government opponents detained in June, Mora was detained under the country's so-called "Guillotine Law," which has been used to silence critics in the name of defending Nicaragua's sovereignty. Mora had been previously detained in 2018, and accused of inciting hatred in relation to his denunciations of government repression. The offices of 100% Noticias, which he owns, were confiscated at the time. (Confidencial)
  • Hundreds of people have disappeared since massive anti government protests broke out in Colombia in April. According to the attorney general’s office, 84 remain unaccounted for, human rights groups say they’ve recorded up to 700 cases. Advocates say this is the first time they’ve seen so many disappearances associated with demonstrations, reports the Washington Post.
  • Weeks of unrest in Colombia reflect a frustration with the system and with economic and political elites is becoming more prevalent in Colombia, part of a trend across Latin America, writes Sergio Guzmán in Foreign Policy. Presidential candidates next year "will face a polarized electorate, a dismal fiscal situation, weak and politicized institutions, and an obstructionist Congress. This will increase chances that the next government will be weak and ineffective at addressing growing social demands."
  • Colombia’s economic growth has left millions behind, particularly Black and Indigenous citizens, writes Arturo Chang in Foreign Policy.
  • Two weeks after Peru's presidential runoff election, all the votes have been tallied: Pedro Castillo received 50.125 percent of the vote with a difference of 44,058 ballots, and has declared himself the winner. But his opponent Keiko Fujimori refuses to concede, and has made unsubstantiated claims of large-scale election fraud. Supporters held rival demonstrations in Lima on Saturday. (Al Jazeera, Reuters)
  • Fujimori has legally challenged 200,000 votes, almost all from poor Andean regions which voted overwhelmingly for Castillo, and has hired some of Lima's most expensive law firms to do so. For the Guardian, the move "illustrates the skewed playing field," in an election that has unleashed troubling expressions of racism. Social media and partisan news broadcasters have helped spread fake news stirring up the spectre of totalitarian rule, violence and even mass expropriations if Castillo wins.
  • A group of retired officers has suggested Peru's military should refuse to recognize Castillo if he is declared the winner, reports Reuters.
  • Underlying Fujimori's accusations of irregularities is the fact that Peru's urban elite doesn't recognize Castillo's rural voters as equal citizens, Alberto Vergara told El País. If successful, Fujimori's challenge would put her at the head of a government with extremely limited legitimacy, he also notes.
  • Thousands of Brazilians demonstrated across the country on Saturday against the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The protests promoted by social movements and left-wing opposition parties occurred same day the country's Covid-19 death toll reached 500,000, a tragedy many blame on President Jair Bolsonaro's unscientific health approach. It is the second massive protest against Bolsonaro in less than a month, amid a Congressional inquiry into the administration's Covid-19 policies. (Guardian, El País, Associated Press
  • worsening drought is imperiling Brazil's attempts at economic recovery, and may set the stage for another intensely destructive fire season in the Amazon rainforest, reports the New York Times. The crisis has led to higher electricity prices, the threat of water rationing and a disruption of crop growing cycles.
  • Haiti's government sought to assure the United Nations Security council that the country's "electoral process is following its normal course.” Acting Haiti Prime Minister Claude Joseph asked skeptical members of the international community to ante up $17 million for an elections fund, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Amid worsening socioeconomic conditions, rising criminal gang violence and a resurgence of COVID-19, Haiti’s leaders must commit to good-faith dialogue aimed at ending a longstanding and damaging political impasse, the UN’s senior official in the country told the UN Security Council last week.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration rejected Nicolas Maduro’s call for relief from U.S. sanctions, saying the Venezuelan leader needs to do more toward restoring democracy before penalties would be lifted, reports Bloomberg.
  • "Human rights policies don’t happen in a vacuum; they are one component of a broader bilateral relationship and their effectiveness depends upon that context," writes William LeoGrande, who calls for the U.S. to engage with Cuba in order to further human rights progress on the island. (Responsible Statecraft)
  • Lack of syringes looms as a major challenge for Cuba, which has developed its own coronavirus vaccine candidates and immunized 2 million people on the island. The local vaccines require three doses, making the shortage even more acute, reports the Miami Herald.
  • At least 14 people died in the Mexican border city of Reynosa on Saturday after a convoy of shooters went on a rampage. Authorities said the attackers may be members of a splinter faction of the Gulf Cartel, and that the attacks may have derived from a dispute between rival groups over territorial control of the area, reports the Washington Post.
  • Mexico City schools that had just gone back to in-person classes will be closed again starting today as the capital climbs into a higher tier of coronavirus risk, reports Reuters.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador's move to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender is unlikely to serve as a path for financial inclusion for Salvadorans who are currently excluded from banking systems, and is vulnerable to money laundering and "investment" from criminal groups, warn experts in a Latin America Advisor from last week. 
  • Far from charting a radical path in nationalizing Juneteenth, the United States is late to the party, reports the Washington Post. Many countries in the region, particularly in the Caribbean, already place the memory of slave resistance and emancipation at the heart of their national stories.
  • Heterodox science fiction has become central to Latin America's literature -- "the stories and novels of Latin American authors who fable alternative or future realities have proliferated, almost always with an ironic, political and queer intention," writes Jorge Carrión in New York Times Español.
Latin America Daily Briefing

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