Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Nicaragua's government undermines electoral freedom (June 1, 2021)

 Nicaraguan presidential candidate Cristina Chamorro accused authorities of a series of violations after they detained two people who work closely with her, reports EFE. Walter Gómez y Marco Fletes were accused by Nicaraguan authorities of money laundering, but have been denied basic rights, said Chamorro. The accusations she said are aimed at preventing her from running in November's election. (See May 21's post.)

Yesterday was the OAS's deadline for the government to pass electoral reform -- instead over the past year President Daniel Ortega has consolidated control over electoral authorities and has undermined the freedom and fairness of the electoral process, reports Confidencial.

United Nations human rights officials warn a new electoral law passed by Nicaragua’s National Assembly early this month undermines prospects that November’s presidential and parliamentary elections will be free and fair. In recent weeks, Nicaraguan authorities have used the so-called reforms under the new law to dissolve two political parties. The criminal investigation of Cristiana Chamorro is based on a controversial 2018 law against money laundering, terrorist financing that critics say could be used to silence dissent. (Voice of America)

There have been 279 episodes of election-context violence in Nicaragua over six weeks from April to May, according to Urnas Abiertas, a local civil society organization. The police were involved in most of the episodes. (ConfidencialEFE)

News Briefs

  • Two Guyanese citizens are legally challenging ExxonMobil offshore drilling on climate grounds. They claim Guyana’s approval of oil exploration licences violates the government’s legal duty to protect their right and the right of future generations to a healthy environment. It is the first constitutional climate case in the Caribbean to challenge fossil fuel production on climate and human rights grounds, reports the Guardian.
  • Mexico has suffered an especially bloody and violent campaign season ahead of Sunday's midterm elections: At least 34 candidates have been murdered since campaigning started two months ago, while dozens more have been targeted and attacked. Mexican authorities have logged 398 threats or attacks on candidates, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian protests this weekend against Jair Bolsonaro were the largest public mobilization against the president since the beginning of the pandemic. The New York Times reports that political analysts said they could signal a new phase of political instability as a deeply polarized electorate starts gearing up for next year’s presidential election. Anger over the government's handling of the pandemic has grown in recent days due to revelations of missteps in testimony before a congressional inquiry commission.
  • The shift in the streets is notable, because Bolsonaro supporters have been far more prone to demonstrate in person over the past year, notes El País.
  • The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) has announced Brazil as the new hosts of the upcoming Copa América, with Argentina replaced just 13 days before the tournament is due to begin. (Reuters) The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Colombia and Argentina, but had to be moved due to protest and coronavirus concerns. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Copa América is taking on a bit of a pandemic NIMBY status: Conmebol announced that the move was a done deal after an emergency meeting yesterday. However, following widespread criticism and calls to bring officials before Brazil's Supreme Court, Brazilian officials now say the public can expect a final decision today. (NPR)
  • The Workers' Party and several state governors have sought to block Brazil from hosting the soccer tournament. (Infobae, Infobae)
  • The coronavirus pandemic pushed 12 million Latin Americans out of the middle class last year, knocking the region from its perch as a middle-class society, according to a World Bank study to be published next month. The pandemic has exposed the fragility of the region’s lauded poverty-busting years, reports the Washington Post.
  • Severe acute childhood malnutrition is set to more than double this year in Haiti, warns UNICEF. More than 86,000 children under the age of 5 could be affected, compared with 41,000 reported last year, reports the Associated Press.
  • Peru almost tripled its official Covid-19 death toll to 180,764, following a government review, making it the country with the worst death rate per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University data. (Reuters) Among Latin American countries, only Brazil and Mexico have reported higher death tolls from the disease. (Associated Press)
  • Guatemalan lawmakers ratified the appointment of a judge implicated by a judicial corruption probe to the country's top court, reports Reuters. The move comes just days ahead of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to the country, in the midst of a U.S. push to combat corruption, and other root causes of migration, in Central America. Nester Vásquez, who was confirmed to the Constitutional Court, has been accused of illegally lobbying officials and lawmakers to obtain his judge's seat in 2014.
El Salvador
  • A Salvadoran court ordered the release of Sara Rogel, a young woman sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide following the death of her unborn child in 2012, reports Reuters.
  • Polarization clouds Venezuela's attempts to negotiate a political solution to the country's protracted crisis with irrelevant moralistic assessments, argues Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español guest essay. "A negotiation table is not a party ... the only way to do politics is impurity."
  • Predatory behaviors have long been evident in Venezuela's world-renowned youth orchestra program, El Sistema, according to a wave of revelations that forms part of Venezuela's #MeToo moment: #YoTeCreoVzla. (Washington Post)
  • A report revealed systemic sexual abuse of children in 18 Mexican schools over the past 20 years. (El País)
  • The notoriously violent Jalisco cartel kidnapped several members of an elite police force in the state of Guanajuato, tortured them to obtain names and addresses of fellow officers and is now hunting down and killing police at their homes, on their days off, in front of their families, reports the Associated Press.
  • Bolivia's controversial former interior minister, Arturo Murillo, and his chief of staff have both been arrested in the United States on charges that they secured a multimillion-dollar contract for a group of Florida businessmen in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, reports InSight Crime. Murillo served under interim-president Jeanine Áñez, and fled Bolivia earlier this year after the Attorney General's Office issued arrest warrants for him and several other former officials on terrorism, sedition and conspiracy charges.
  • Colombian authorities are investigating 10 police officers who allowed civilians to shoot at demonstrators in Cali, while the attorney general's office linked three more deaths to protests, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Several demobilized members of the AUC, a notorious right-wing paramilitary group in Colombia, passed themselves off as a new self-defense force to extort locals, highlighting how these armed actors continue to terrorize the country long after having agreed to lay down their weapons, reports InSight Crime.
  • Argentina's dominant narrative is focused on its European heritage, but that view is being vehemently disputed as not only outdated but also factually untrue by a generation of young Afro-descendant researchers and activists who wish to rewrite the accepted version of the country's history, reports the Guardian.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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