Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Student activist killed in Colombia's Cauca (Aug. 24, 2021)

Colombian student leader Esteban Mosquera was killed in the country's Cauca department yesterday. Mosquera became an icon of the country's protesters, and their struggles with police repression, after losing an eye in clashes with the police anti-riot squad (ESMAD) in 2018. Mosquera, a music student in the Universidad de Cauca, was also a reporter for Contra Portada, and cast a spotlight on this year's massive anti-government protests with his coverage. 

Authorities have not identified suspects, and Colombian President Iván Duque offered a reward for information.

News Briefs

El Salvador
  • An investigation led by El Salvador's former Attorney General Raúl Melara found that the government of Nayib Bukele held negotiations in maximum-security prisons in 2020 with the country's three main gangs: the Mara Salvatrucha 13, Barrio 18 Revolucionarios, and Barrio 18 Sureños, criminal organizations classified in Salvadoran law as terrorists. In exchange for their commitment to holding the national homicide rate at a historic low, the gangs demanded, among other conditions, improved prison conditions and increased employment opportunities for their members outside of prison, reports El Faro, which reviewed the case file and corroborated findings after Melara was illegally removed from office before pressing charges.
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. Biden administration's promises to tackle corruption in Central America have been sidelined by efforts to control migration, reports the New York Times. Though the Biden administration considers that corruption is a root cause of migration, its efforts on that front have clashed with the immediate need to collaborate with Central American governments to stop migrant flows. "Current and former officials say that the administration’s relative passivity in the face of corruption has cost the United States leverage in the region."
  • The U.S. and Mexico are deporting Central American migrants to a deserted border area in Guatemala, El Ceibo. Up to 600 people arrive each day to the settlement that has no migrant infrastructure nor health protocols to protect against the spread of Covid-19, reports AFP.
  • "Exodus" a photo essay on mass migration and its ripple effects in Latin America, by Nicoló Filippo Rosso in the Washington Post.
  • São Paulo governor João Doria fired a senior military police commander who publicly supported a march in favor of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and attacked rival politicians. (Reuters) Bolsonaro has widespread support among the country's military police, and some experts say he could use security forces in a bid to delegitimize the results of next year's presidential elections.
  • Gang violence that has complicated aid distribution to victims of Haiti's Aug. 14 earthquake is only the latest example of how criminal organizations have aggravated the country's growing humanitarian crisis this year, reports the Miami Herald. In fact, the affected Great South region has been practically cut off from Port-au-Prince for months and violent gangs refused to allow for a humanitarian corridor for ambulances. A surge in violence that started in early June has forced the displacement of more than 16,000 Haitians. Hospitals and doctors have been targeted by gangsters -- the French medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontière closed a health facility after doctors and patients were the target of an armed gang attack. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Haitians are wary of international aid in the wake of the earthquake -- while they desperately need help, international priorities often don't align with local ones, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Haitian Judge Garry Orélien will head the investigation into the killing of President Jovenel Moïse, after the previous judge in charge of the case resigned following the suspicious death of one of his assistants. (Associated Press)
  • Genocide charges against Bolivia's former interim president, Jeanine Áñez will put the country's judicial system to the test -- and evince Bolivia's lasting political polarization, reports the Washington Post. The current Arce administration seeks to pursue justice for rights abuses following the ouster of president Evo Morales in 2019, which include shootings by police that left at least 20 people dead and 98 injured, though opponents claim political persecution and some experts question whether the violations amount to "genocide." (See yesterday's briefs, and last Wednesday's post on the CIDH report of human rights abuses committed under Áñez.) 
  • Chile's Progressive Party leader Marco Enríquez Ominami announced he will run for president this year, a move that could split the country's leftist voters after Senator Yasna Provoste won the center-left Unidad Constituyente coalition primary last weekend. (Reuters)
  • Former Mexican presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya has fled the country, claiming that charges against him are politically motivated, reports the Associated Press. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the charges stem from accusations by a former official that legislators like Anaya were paid off to vote for the country's energy overhaul in 2013 and 2014.
  • Hurricane Grace left at least eight people dead in its passage across Mexico’s Veracruz state, reports the Wall Street Journal.
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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