Tuesday, October 5, 2021

UN Security Council pushes for Haiti elections (Oct. 5, 2021)

Members of the United Nations Security Council are pressing for elections in Haiti. The council met yesterday for the first time since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July, and a devastating August earthquake. Security Council members placed emphasis on a political accord being pursued by acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry, while barely acknowledging the concerns of a coalition of Haitian civil society organizations pressing for a delay in the polls in order to address some of the root causes of Haiti’s dysfunction, reports the Miami Herald.

“The U.S. is not clear,” Emmanuela Douyon, a grassroots activist, said after addressing the Security Council as a member of Haitian civil society and listening to the statements. “We have the impression that there is a rush to take shortcuts and extend support to the people that the majority don’t trust to lay foundations for a return to democracy. The key word is ‘rupture.’ We want to break with the old practices that led us to crisis, but we are not witnessing any effort toward it.” (Miami Herald)

Haitian foreign minister Claude Joseph asked the Security Council for help tackling gang violence and crime, saying the existing UN political mission needs to pivot toward strengthening security and law enforcement institutions in the crisis-wracked country, reports the Associated Press. The UN's Haiti mission's mandate, which is up for renewal this month, currently includes promoting police professionalism and supporting a national strategy to reduce violence.

Haiti is currently undergoing “one of the most fraught periods of its recent history”, the head of the UN office in the country told the Security Council yesterday.

News Briefs

More Haiti
  • Over a month after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, about 70 per cent of all schools in the Southwestern part of the country are still either damaged or destroyed, UNICEF said.  

  • Haiti's former justice minister, Rockefeller Vincent, called on Henry to resign after the investigation into Moïse's murder raised questions about alleged calls between the acting prime minister and the suspected killer. Henry fired Vincent and the investigation's lead prosecutor after he called Henry in for questioning. (CNN, see Sept. 15's post.)
  • A senior legal adviser in the U.S. State Department has accused the Biden administration of deporting Haitians illegally through the use of a public health law. The letter reflects widespread unease in the state department at the recent treatment of Haitian migrants, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)

  • Chilean police have dismantled a crime ring that helped smuggle hundreds of children of Haitian migrants, sometimes without their parents, from Chile north to Mexico and the United States, reports Reuters

  • Thousands of migrants are stuck in Matamorros. They receive little help from the Mexican authorities. Instead they are often assisted by residents who let migrants stay on porches or lawns or turn churches into makeshift refugee camps, reports the New York Times.
  • Indigenous communities in Mexico are pushing back against national guard barracks planned on their lands. Indigenous activists say community consultation was flawed or inexistent, and point to historic problems with security force deployment in Indigenous communities, reports the Guardian. More broadly, the planned construction of hundreds of barracks is part of a debate about whether the deployment of the national guard confirms what critics see as the de facto militarisation of Mexico.

  • An execution video and the arson of a famous nightclub highlight systemic organized crime challenges in Mexico's Guerrero state -- Latin America Risk Report.

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked the Israeli government asking for the extradition of a former top security official, Tomás Zerón. Zerón was the head of the federal investigation agency at the time of the abduction of 43 students in southern Mexico in 2014. He is being sought on charges of torture and covering up those disappearances, reports the Associated Press.

  • A community of 3-D printed homes in Mexico is providing housing solutions for a poor village, and testing the durability of the novel construction method, reports the New York Times.
Pandora Papers
  • Venezuela's government launched a new currency with six fewer zeros in response to years of the world’s worst inflation. (Associated Press)

  • Venezuela announced the reopening of its land borders with Colombia, more than two years after they were closed amid a diplomatic crisis between the neighbors, reports AFP.

  • Pragmatic adjustments have abated Venezuela’s economic collapse, but the bigger picture remains a bleak one, argues Asdrúbal Oliveros in Americas Quarterly.
  • Peruvian President Pedro Castillo launched a major reform of the agricultural sector in a bid to help the poorest farmers in the country. Castillo said the reform "does not seek to expropriate land or affect property rights of anyone," but to "to end the exploitation and inequality" over farmers, reports the Associated Press.

  • Former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori is in "delicate" condition, after suffering heart issues. (CNN)
  • A court in Argentina considering a criminal case against Myanmar officials for mass atrocity crimes committed against Rohingya in Myanmar should proceed, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Fortify Rights said in an amicus curiae. If accepted by the Federal Court in Argentina, the case would be the first universal jurisdiction case related to the situation of the Rohingya. (See Aug. 18's briefs.)
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. Biden administration announced a $150 million loan to support women-owned businesses in Ecuador, a step the White House sees as a model for the kind of projects the U.S. plans to support as it kicks off a new initiative to compete with China's Belt and Road global investment and lending program, reports NPR. (See Friday's briefs.)

  • The United States outpaces China in its donations of COVID-19 vaccines to Latin America and the Caribbean, with Colombia and Mexico topping the list. The region has received roughly 52 percent of all US COVID-19 vaccine donations -- Aviso LatAm.
  • A global Facebook outage yesterday, which also affected apps such as Whatsapp, demonstrated how much Latin America depends on the company's technology on a daily basis -- for everything from arranging social services, medical care, education and political campaigns, reports the New York Times

  • WhatsApp has become popular in Latin American countries as it offers free Wi-Fi messaging to others on the app -- mobile phone tariffs in Latin America are some of the highest in the world. (Newsweek)

  • The key takeaway: an initial problem was made much more complicated by the fact that “Facebook runs EVERYTHING through Facebook,” reports the Guardian.
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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