Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cuban gov't thwarts protests (Nov. 16, 2021)

 Cuban authorities preemptively quashed protests calling for civil liberties, and thwarted mass rallies scheduled for yesterday from occurring. Instead the streets where protesters planned to march in Havana were largely empty, except for police and military vehicles.The government prevented an estimated 50 protest leaders from leaving their homes and detained activists who tried to rally despite official prohibition. At least 40 people were arrested. (See yesterday's post.)

Uniformed police officers, plainclothes state security agents and government supporters holding picket signs surrounded the homes of dissidents for days before the planned march -- a habitual strategy Cuba's government uses to thwart activists. Government officials also delegitimized protest movement organizers, accusing them of acting at the behest of the United States. Activists say family members have been harassed by security agents, another common intimidation strategy. Government supporters also heckled activists who sought to dissent from home, by hanging white sheets in their windows.

Friends and family members said those detained included opposition figure Manuel Cuesta Morua, 58, the leader of the Ladies in White rights movement Berta Soler, and her husband Angel Moya -- a former political prisoner.

“I think there’s a strategy of total suppression — not even repression,” Human Rights Watch's Juan Pappier told the New York Times. Anyone caught participating would have faced a year in prison, while anyone accused of throwing a rock — even without evidence — could be sentenced to 10 years, he said. (See yesterday's post.)

More Cuba
  • El Estornudo talks with Archipiélago movement leaders on their goals to democratize Cuba.
News Briefs

  • Turkish authorities have arrested Samir Handal, considered a suspect of “great interest” in the assassination in July of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse. More than 40 suspects have been arrested so far in relation to Moïse’s murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers. (GuardianMiami Herald)

  • The Haitian G9 gang coalition eased a blockade on fuel deliveries that has caused crippling shortages in the country for nearly a month, reports Reuters

  • But the relief is temporary, reports the Associated Press. Gang federation leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier held a news conference Friday to announce a seven-day reprieve for hospitals, schools and gas stations to send trucks to the Port-au-Prince port refueling station. He warned the blockade would resume if Prime Minister Ariel Henry did not resign.
Regional Relations
  • The U.S., Britain and Canada slapped sanctions on nine Nicaraguan officials and the Public Ministry of Nicaragua, citing “sham national elections orchestrated by President Daniel Ortega” and his Vice President Rosario Murillo. (ReutersAl Jazeera)

  • Positioning on the recent Nicaraguan elections has become something of an ideological litmus test for political groups across Latin America, notes Americas Quarterly.
  • Former Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva is in Europe, where he has secured several high-profile meetings that contrast with current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's isolation on a trip earlier this month, reports Bloomberg.
  • Irma Galindo Barrios an Indigenous Mexican environmental campaigner, has been declared missing, a week after a savage attack on indigenous villagers displaced from the lands she was defending against illegal logging. Galindo’s disappearance is part of a broader trend of attacks on Mexican enviromental campaigners, who are frequently targeted for murder, reports the Guardian.

  • Recent assassinations of journalists in Mexico -- one of the deadliest places in the world for the profession -- have a pattern, reports Vice. "At least four posted on Facebook in the immediate hours before their murders with personal updates or live news feeds showing their location. All but one worked on their own or for small news outlets that relied almost entirely on Facebook to disseminate their stories."
  • Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has agreed to a license-sharing deal that would allow its experimental Covid-19 drug to be manufactured more widely around the globe, a move the company said could give more than half of the world’s population access to the treatment. Pfizer continues to reject calls to grant poorer countries access to its coronavirus vaccine formula, notes the Washington Post.

  • Hundreds of Venezuelans have been traveling to Colombia recently for coronavirus vaccines, as Venezuela struggles to get enough doses, reports the Associated Press.
  • The International Criminal Court announced an investigation into crimes against humanity committed during Venezuelan opposition protests in 2017. But it remains unclear how the enquiry will proceed, according to Crisis Group expert Mariano de Alba. (See Nov. 4's post.)

  • A handful of gangs dominate Caracas' micro trafficking, often because they can stay ahead of or make deals with security forces, reports InSight Crime.

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

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