Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Haiti postpones elections indefinitely (Sept. 29, 2021)

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he plans to hold a referendum to modify the country’s constitution by February, and he hopes to organize presidential and legislative elections early next year. The referendum is a priority, Henry told the Associated Press, because the current constitution is rejected by a majority of political figures and civil society leaders. 

Haiti's government issued a decree firing its entire Electoral Council -- the group responsible for conducting elections -- on Monday. Henry told CNN that the Election Council members were fired because they "cannot organize elections," and the process to replace them was underway.

The decision was questioned by members of the council, who said Henry violated Haitian law because only a president has the power to dismiss them. The council added that it will continue to work on organizing the upcoming elections. (Associated Press)

News Briefs

  • At least 24 inmates were killed and dozens more injured in Guayaquil yesterday, the third in a series of deadly prison riots in Ecuador this year prompted by feuds between rival drug gangs, reports the Washington Post.
  • Serious gaps remain in the hemispheric response to Venezuelan migrants and refugees. But governments across the Americas are coming under increasing pressure to adopt humane policies that respond to the basic needs of fleeing Venezuelans and broaden access to regular status. Through #StandFor6Million, WOLA is featuring the work of civil society organizations on these issues. (Venezuela Politics and Human Rights)

  • Record numbers of migrants coming into the United States from Nicaragua have been recorded in recent months, according to Customs and Border Protection data, a major increase as political repression increases under President Daniel Ortega, reports Newsweek. Since October 1, officials have stopped Nicaraguan migrants more than 19,300 times at the southern border.
  • The families of Nicaragua's political prisoners are often also subject to restrictions and inhumane treatment, reports El Confidencial.
Regional Relations
  • Four top U.S. Democratic Party senators warned that the U.S. relationship with Brazil would be at risk if President Jair Bolsonaro does not respect democratic norms in the October 2022 elections. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, they said that disruption in Brazil's democracy "would jeopardize the very foundation" of relations between the Western Hemisphere's two most populous nations. (AFP)
  • A Brazilian hospital chain tested unproven drugs on elderly COVID-19 patients without their knowledge as part of an effort to validate President Jair Bolsonaro's preferred 'miracle cure,' a lawyer for whistleblowing doctors told senators this week. (Reuters, see last Thursday's briefs.)

  • The Amazon in Flames, an interactive experience with a chatbot, puts the user on a mission to reverse a dystopian future as a result of climate change -- National Geographic.

  • Authorities have made Brazil's largest ever-seizure of ecstasy, the latest example of how the production of the synthetic drug is spreading rapidly in the country, reports InSight Crime.
  • Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida, whom Cuba’s state security held prisoner since June, was released this weekend but forced into exile with his partner, writer Katherine Bisquet, another prominent leader of the island artists’ pro-democracy movement, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Another 500-plus Cubans are still under detention in connection with the widespread anti-government protests that shook the Caribbean nation on July 11, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Cuba has begun commercial exports of its homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, sending shipments of the three-dose Abdala vaccine to Vietnam and Venezuela, reports the Associated Press.
  • Accused paramilitary drug lord “Memo Fantasma,” has petitioned a judge to be let out of prison while he awaits trial. Worth millions of dollars and with contacts across the globe, Guillermo León Acevedo, is the definition of a flight risk, reports InSight Crime's Jeremy McDermott, whose journalistic investigations form the basis of the arrest warrant and case presented by the Colombian Attorney General’s office against Acevedo this year.
  • Guatemalan authorities began efforts to recover the bodies of dozens of Indigenous children believed to have been massacred and buried clandestinely at a former military garrison in the 1980s during the country’s civil war. (Reuters)
  • Mexico celebrated 200 years of independence from Spain on Monday, the anniversary of the victory of the 1810-1821 independence movement, though the country has traditionally marked the anniversary of the start of the battle for independence, Sept. 16, 1810. (Associated Press)

  • Pope Francis sent a message to Mexico bishops marking the occasion, saying it “necessarily includes a process of purifying memory, that is, to recognize the very painful errors committed in the past.” (Associated Press)
  • Chilean authorities announced the end of a state of emergency in force since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, on Monday. (Reuters)

  • Chile’s lower house of Congress approved a plan to debate a bill that would expand women’s access to legal abortions, a “first step” that could see the country join a small but growing list of Latin American countries that are easing restrictions on the procedure, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Thousands marched for abortion rights across the region yestserday,  International Safe Abortion Day, holding placards and banners that read "It is my right to decide" and "legal abortion for health and life," as they demanded reproductive freedoms in a region known for some of the world's strictest anti-abortion laws. (CNN)
  • Feminist journalists have among their many missions to "visibilize and denounce structural inequalities and listen to the narrative of victims and survivors of violence concealed for so long by the complicit silence among men called patriarchal pact," writes Gabriela Wiener in New York Times Español

  • Daniel Alarcón, host of NPR's Radio Ambulante podcast, has been named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow and recipient of a prestigious MacArthur "Genius Grant," awarded annually to talented individuals who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits. (NPR)

  • A new book by U.S. writer Gayl Jones, Palmares, takes place in of a community of “maroons,” or fugitives from slavery, in the 17th-century Portuguese colony of Brazil. In the novel "the utopian vision of maroon community is discarded in favor of a philosophical contemplation regarding the elusiveness of freedom in a brutal land," writes Imani Perry in the New York Times Magazine.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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