Monday, December 13, 2021

Moïse had drug-trafficker dossier -- NYT (Dec. 13, 2021)

 Before being assassinated in July, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse had been working on a list of powerful politicians and business people involved in Haiti’s drug trade, reports the New York Times. He planned to hand the dossier over to the U.S. government. The attackers who killed Moïse ransacked his bedroom, and in interrogations, some of the captured hit men confessed that retrieving the list was a top priority.

The investigation into Moïse’s killing has stalled, and many "fear it will add to the mountain of impunity in the country, further emboldening the criminal networks that have captured the state," reports NYT, which delves into Moïse's own political rise and history with the country's elites.

News Briefs

Honduras
  • Outgoing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández's mandate ends next month, and he will immediately be vulnerable to indictment in the U.S., where federal prosecutors say he turned Honduras into a ‘narco-state,’ overseeing a system of "state-sponsored drug trafficking.” It's somewhat ironic that Hernández could face extradition to the U.S. under the terms of a treaty he himself negotiated in 2012, reports Univisión. But JOH will likely battle the charges from Honduras, and could move to a country with no extradition treaty with the U.S. -- Nicaragua and Taiwan are likely options, according to experts.

  • U.S. Under Secretary Uzra Zeya arrived in Honduras yesterday, and met with president-elect Xiomara Castro. (Proceso) "The U.S. will continue its partnership with Honduras under the new administration to fight corrupt, increase transparency, address migration, promote human rights & achieve economic growth for all," she tweeted

  • Castro previously spoke with U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris by phone. Castro tweeted: "Vice President Harris, thank you for your call and your words about the urgency to combat corruption in Honduras, and support for Democracy. I trust that our governments will work in defense of human rights and women's rights. A fraternal embrace."
Migration
  • U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris announced new investment commitments from an array of private companies to help address the root causes of migration from Central America, today. Companies including PepsiCo, Mastercard and Cargill, have now committed to invest $1.2 billion in the poverty-stricken and violent region since she issued a “call to action” for private-sector help in May, she said. (Washington Post)

  • At least  55 people were killed and 106 hospitalized in a vehicle crash last week in Mexico, involving a speeding tractor-trailer crammed with 150 migrants. The majority of the victims were from Guatemala. Some injured survivors fled the scene of the crash, scared of being detained by authorities. The accident, the deadliest single-day disaster in many years to befall Central American migrants, casts in stark relief the increasingly perilous journey people from Latin America undertake for a stab at reaching the U.S. border, reports the New York Times

  • The U.S. has increasingly pressured Mexican authorities to detain migrants before they reach the U.S. border, and in recent months, the number of migrant apprehensions in Mexico has risen to record levels. Thousands of migrants transit through Mexico hidden in tractor-trailers like the one that crashed to avoid checkpoints set up by Mexico’s national guard and immigration agency, reports the Washington Post
Mexico
  • Americas Quarterly profiles Julia Tagüeña Parga, a septuagenarian physics eminence who Mexico's government hopes to put in jail, part of a protracted battle between the López Obrador administration and the country's science and technology council (CONACYT) -- and a broader debate over the purpose and limits of scientific inquiry in López Obrador’s Mexico, writes Brendan O'Boyle.
Colombia
  • Colombia’s national police were responsible for the deaths of 11 people during two days of protests against police brutality last year, according to an independent investigation requested by the mayor of Bogotá and supported by the United Nations. The killings amounted to a “massacre,” former national ombudsman Carlos Negret wrote in a scathing 177-page report -- Washington Post.
Brazil
  • São Paulo has dubbed itself the world's vaccine capital, after fully inoculating its entire adult population for Covid-19. The achievement is all the more notable given the city's support for President Jair Bolsonaro, a vehement vaccine skeptic, reports the Washington Post. São Paulo’s vaccination campaign success means the city will essentially be a large-scale experiment on how the omicron variante behaves in a massive urban environment where virtually everyone has been vaccinated.

  • A Brazilian Supreme Court judge ruled that foreign travelers must show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus to enter the country, a blow to Bolsonaro's refusal to impose a vaccination requirement for tourists, reports the Washington Post. (See last Thursday's briefs.)

  • Two Amazonian politicians duked out a disagreement over a water park in a boxing ring this weekend -- feeding concerns that Brazilian politics are increasingly antagonistic, reports the Guardian.
Regional Relations
  • A former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison last week, after he pleaded guilty to taking part in a wide-ranging conspiracy that used cash seized in undercover drug operations to buy jewelry, cars and a house in Colombia, reports the New York Times.
Venezuela
  • Venezuela’s newest superhero, "Súper Bigote," is tall and muscular, flies over Caracas in red tights and a blue cape, and destroys enemies with an iron fist -- he also bears a stunning resemblance to President Nicolás Maduro, reports the Washington Post. The cartoon appears at a fraught moment for the government, which seeks to burnish a very tarnished image in the midst of a long humanitarian crisis.
Chile
  • Chile's presidential candidates are battling for moderate votes ahead of this weekend's runoff election -- both leftist Gabriel Boric and ultraconservative José Antonio Kast have also sought to physically court rural and marginalized areas they weren’t able to reach via social media, reports the Guardian.

  • The mainstream narrative of Chile's runoff is one of two extremes pitted against each other: left and right. But painting Boric as an extreme leftist is inaccurate, argues Robert Funk in Americas Quarterly. In fact, the former student leader is representative of a new kind of left in Chile: he is critical of the center-left Frente Amplio, but he has also "frequently opposed positions that the Communist Party supports (or vice versa) – from his opposition to the Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan regimes, to his support for the November 2019 cross-party agreement that set in motion Chile’s current constitutional process."
Colombia
  • The power vacuum created in Colombia's Amazon after the FARC demobilized has had detrimental impact on the rainforest, reports Bloomberg.
Peru
  • Vaccinators in Peru's Amazon are challenged by religion, rivers and a special tea, reports NPR.
Arts
  • Colombian-born painter Oscar Murillof considers it an “infiltration” when his class-conscious canvases wind up on the walls of collectors, reports the New York Times.

  • Vicente Fernández, known as "El Rey," the king of Mexican ranchera music, died at age 81. He started out singing for tips on the streets of Guadalajara, a cradle of mariachi music, and rose to become one of Mexico’s most popular musicians, recording dozens of albums that sold an estimated 50 million copies. (Washington Post)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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