Thursday, July 22, 2021

Mexico: Impacts from Pegasus; Movement in Chiapas (July 22, 2021)

Mexico and the Pegasus Project

Mexico continues to reverberate from the findings in the Pegasus investigations, the spyware on the phones of journalists and civic activists. 
  • The Washington Post has a lengthy report from the D.F. that has the government affirming that the Peña Nieto administration (2012-2018) used Pegasus, "but only, officials said, to fight criminals. ...  The Justice Ministry told a government watchdog agency in 2019 that it had uninstalled the spyware licensed by the Israeli-based NSO Group — but it had no records of how or when, or what happened to any data collected." The EFE news agency says that the earlier Felipe Calderón administration had already been using Pegasus. 
  • El Espectador reports that the investment exceeded US$30 million; meanwhile  El País reports on the contracts between the Mexican military and KBH Tracking and possible financial shenanigans. Amnistía Internacional México's Edith Olivares explained the potential implications in an 8-minute interview with Televisa.  There is a good round up on Pegasus in Mexico by IFEX.

Chiapas Response to Crime
  • In northern Chiapas, an "auto-defense" group called 'El Machete' marched to "beat back the organized crime gangs plaguing their communities," according to Reuters and a set of photos from El País. (Though their use of hoods makes for an easy comparison with the Zapatistas, this doesn't seem to be the case; many are carrying more than machetes.) 
  • These demonstrations have been going on for a couple of weeks, according to El Universal and Agence France Press.) Over 80 indigenous communities have expressed their support, according to Proceso. Though their use of hoods makes for an easy comparison with the Zapatistas, this doesn't seem to be the case. Freelance journalist Laura Castellanos puts the protests in context emphasizing the failure of the State to provide security, in a Wash Post Opinión piece
  • In his daily press briefing yesterday, President López Obrador called for Julian Assange to be set free, according to TeleSur.

  • Biden plans to impose sanctions on Cuba government officials, according to a call he had Wednesday night with Democratic Cuban-American activists in Miami, reports to Politico. There are other provisions to be implemented but the White House seems to be "bucking the progressive voices." A draft statement by the Organization of American States seems to follow this line of thinking, according to Newsweek.
  • The role Cuban-American exiles have played in the last two weeks is explored in Counterpunch. According to Ailynn Torres Santana, "if the government resorts to old dogmas, it will effectively blow up bridges and make the political rage of at least a sector of the population unintelligible," in her essay in NACLA
  • Cuba's Johana Tablada (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) defended her government saying  that “there is a Walt Disney narrative of a bad government and people fighting for their freedom — stereotypes that scare anyone who has never set foot in Cuba," in an interview with the Associated Press. Tablada acknowledged that "there are no current U.S. military movements aimed at Cuba, there are signs of extreme aggressiveness, such as those that led to interventions in Libya and Iraq." A column in neighboring Antigua Observer writes that "the governments and people of the Caribbean and the Americas must recognize that if the monopolist Capitalist powers succeed in overthrowing the legitimate government of Cuba."
  • Earlier this week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in support of the Cuban people, on the island and elsewhere, emphasizing "mutual listening" and reconciliation, according to a summary in Vatican News
  • Exiled Cuban historian Rafael Rojas calls for the end to the embargo, but only as a first step, in Nueva Sociedad. Conversely, an essay in The Atlantic takes on Black Lives Matter's call to lift the embargo.

  • This morning Daniel Foote was named Special Envoy by the United States to help coordinate U.S. assistance in Haiti, according to Reuters

  • The New York Times investigates the Haitian politicians and officials hiring consultants and professional lobbyists in Washington to influence U.S. policy toward the island country. The reports includes texts from group chats before the assassination and that continued afterward, showing officials "strategizing about countering American critics and potential rivals for the presidency and looking for ways to cast blame for the killing.” Separately, "Haitians Should Be at the Center of Rebuilding Their Country", writes Oliver Stunkel over at  the Carnegie Endowment
    • There is a continued drip-drip on information about the Haiti assassination. Four of the Colombians implicated have now been tied to training at Fort Benning in Georgia, according to the Miami Herald.
    • The Miami Herald reports on preparations for Friday's funeral for Jovenel MoiseReuters and the AP report on protests and violence in northern Haiti, where the assassinated leader was from. The New York Times follows Martine Moïse, widow of the slain President, in her actions and discourse in Haiti.
    • Annette Gordon-Reed gives a historic context on what is happening in Haiti in an op-ed in the New York Times. "It is a nation whose revolutionary fight for freedom helped make the United States the country that it is today."

    • YouTube removed videos from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's channel for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, including claims about hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, according to the New York Times and Reuters. The Times writes that YouTube played an important role in Mr. Bolsonaro’s election, and says "it is more widely watched in Brazil than all but one television channel." The BBC says about 15 videos were taken down.
    • Brazil's Secretary of Defense seems to be threatening a coup d'etat as the CPI congressional investigations into corruption start implicating the armed forces, reports O Estadão and Congresso Emfoco.
    • "Hunger has returned to Brazil,” said the former president Dilma Rousseff, and reported on by The Guardian. And the country continues to experience a brain drain, says The Economist.

    • The Chilean Senate approved the marriage equality bill and now moves on to the lower house of parliament, according to France 24 and the Washington Blade.
    • Voting results in Chile and Peru are compared in a World Politics Review essay. "Chile surprised the experts and the pollsters, lining up behind the more moderate candidates for the Nov. 21 first-round election" while Peru's first-round presidential election "catapulted the far-right and far-left candidates into a tense runoff, followed by a perilous period of uncertainty."

    • On Tuesday, Richard Barreto, the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Caracas, read a letter from the Vatican to a prominent chamber of commerce (Fedécamaras) asking the government of Nicolás Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition for a "serious negotiation" and "limited in time", according to Efecto Cocuyo. Yesterday, Maduro called the letter a "compendium of hatred" and "poison," according to Reuters (watch Maduro's response on Monitoreamos). Vice-president Delcy Rodríguez, who was at the event, later responded by saying that the Catholic church should communicate directly with the Venezuelan government.

    • A conversation about the protests in Colombia between April and June where "dozens of Colombians were killed and even more disappeared by authorities," is featured on WOLA's Adam Isaacson's podcast.

    It's Eduardo Romero here filling in for Jordana: let me know if I missed or misinterpreted something or perhaps you have a different take. 

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