Friday, June 18, 2021

Nicaragua escalates media attacks (June 18, 2021)

News Briefs

  • New York Times journalist Anatoly Kurmanaev was denied entry into Nicaragua yesterday. The move appears to be an escalation of government attacks on independent media, according to the New York Times. October, the government passed a “Cybercrimes Law,” which allows the authorities to jail any journalist for publishing what they consider “fake news.” (See Monday's post.)
  • A group of more than 40 political prisoners in Nicaragua have been carrying out rebellious actions to demand their freedom since May 31, which include not signing documents issued by the authorities, not to attending medical consultations, refusing the “chupeta” (food provided by the prison) and not allowing officials to take photographs of them, reports Confidencial.
  • Sanctions on their own, particularly harsh ones, are unlikely to change Ortega's behavior, but could cause significant economic hardship for Nicaraguans. Instead, the international community should push for a fluid diplomatic exchange with Ortega to try to yield concessions before, and potentially alongside, any sanctions, the International Crisis Group’s Ivan Briscoe told the Latin America Brief.
  • June 6's presidential election has left divisions between Peru’s wealthier, whiter and more urban coastal areas and its poorer, more indigenous, rural highlands are now an abyss, Cynthia McClintock told the Wilson Center's Weekly Asado. "To many Peruvians in the highlands, Fujimori’s allegations of fraud signify that Lima’s elites will not recognize the victory of a mestizo candidate from what they condescendingly call 'the provinces.'"
  • Peru's tendency to impeach presidents will serve as a check on Pedro Castillo's more radical tendencies, McClintock said. "If Castillo were not to continue to moderate, the threat of impeachment would be severe."
  • The number of children suffering from “severe acute” childhood malnutrition in Haiti has more than doubled, increasing from 41,000 last year to an estimated 86,000 children this year, according to UNICEF. (Miami Herald)
  • Two transgender women and a gay man were murdered in less than a week in Guatemala -- the violence has made pride month one of mourning, and spurred calls for LGBTQ+ rights laws, reports the Guardian.
  • Two journalists were killed this week in Mexico -- one of the world's most dangerous places for reporters. (Associated Press)
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's most consequential reforms may be behind him, writes Vanesa Rubio in Americas Quarterly. Moving forward his priorities include increasing tariffs for energy producers, changes to the electoral system in the legislature, and the absorption of the Mexican National Guard by the Defense Ministry. 
  • AMLO's presented a proposal to militarize the National Guard this week, a move that would undermine the pretence of civilian control that justified the force's creation two years ago. (See Wednesday's briefs.) It is a dangerous and erroneous bet, argues Arturo Angel in the New York Times Español. First because the reform would leave Mexico without a civilian police force, and secondly because the National Guard has been bad at reducing violence.
  • Paraguay, Suriname, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil and Peru are suffering – in that order – a silent decimation by Covid-19 unlike that anywhere else in the world, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.) 
  • Although Chile has vaccinated 58 percent of its population, infection rates continue to rise, reaching record levels. -- Aviso LatAm
  • Mexico donated 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Belize and 150,000 doses to Bolivia and Paraguay. Mexico received 1.35 million doses of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines donated by the United States, which will be used to vaccinate anyone over 18 in four cities along the U.S. border: Tijuana, Mexicali, Ciudad Juárez and Reynosa. Mexico has said the goal is to boost vaccination rates there to levels similar to the U.S. cities they adjoin, and lift travel restrictions along the border. (Associated Press)
  • Guyana’s government refused to suspend use of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine this week, despite opposition warnings that doses could be fake and acquired through third party suppliers at higher than normal prices, reports the Associated Press.
  • Latin America has been especially hard hit by Covid-19. In addition to the health and economic impacts, is the heavy toll it has had on children and families: Latin America’s schools have stayed shut for longer than those in any other region. The effects will be felt long after the pandemic is over and economies have recovered, reports the Economist.
  • Brazil's government has failed to address the huge impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education, leaving millions of children with little or no access to school, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch and Todos pela Educação.
  • El Salvador hit an important Covid-19 milestone this week, reports El Salvador Perspectives, as more than one million people are now fully vaccinated, mostly with two doses of the Chinese Coronavac vaccine. 
  • La Silla Vacía's Juanita León does an "autopsy" of Colombia's strike movement, which has called of weekly protests after six weeks of massive demonstrations that were met with brutal repression. The National Strike Committee failed to capitalize on protesters' advances, and negotiated poorly with the Colombian government, she writes.
  • Colombia's Urabeños criminal group is turning dirty money into adulterated gold, reports InSight Crime.
El Salvador
  • At a loss for how Bitcoin implementation would look on the ground in El Salvador, press has been flocking to the coastal town of El Zonte -- where philanthropic efforts have helped establish the cryptocurrency as local tender. El Faro explores some of the ins and outs of what it looks like to pay for pupusas in satochis, and how much gets lost in exchange fees.
  • A new comic book, Ana, tells the story of a girl who flees from Honduras to save her and her family’s life. Together they embark on the painful path of forced migration to the United States, in a story created by Save the Children, with writer, screenwriter, and film director Guillermo Arriaga and comic book artist Humberto Ramos.
  • The cheap netbooks Argentina's government distributed to public school students in the mid 2010s sparked the rise of a budding generation of rappers, trappers, and freestylers -- a musical renaissance, reports Rest of World.
  • The upcoming Summit of the Americas is the perfect time for a hemispheric environmental treaty, argues the Wilson Center's Benjamin Gedan. (Foreign Policy, Latin Trade)  
  • Agroforestree coffee beans are cultivated by intercropping native trees with coffee in the Amazon rainforest. The method improves soil fertility and provides shade for coffee bushes, improving productivity and profits. -- Americas Quarterly.
  • At 17, Juliane Diller was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Amazon. Fifty years later the biologist still runs Panguana, a research station founded by her parents in Peru. -- New York Times
Critter Corner
  • Cuba's new wildlife trafficking law shows the country's illegal animal trade has become enough of an issue to warrant a response, reports InSight Crime.
  • Researchers in the misty mountains of the Ecuadorian Andes have discovered a new species of terrestrial frog and named it after the pioneering British rock band Led Zeppelin, reports the Guardian.
Happy Juneteenth!

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