Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The "Summit for Democracy" (Dec. 7, 2021)

 A U.S. convened, two-day “Summit for Democracy” starts Thursday, with the goal of rallying the nations of the world against the forces of authoritarianism. The White House is also inviting activist and business groups, and officials have been engaging nongovernmental organizations for roughly six months, reports the Washington Post.

Though there have been questions regarding the invite list, as well as the U.S.'s suitability for hosting such an event. The Economist argues that the Biden administration prioritized geopolitics over objective measures of democracy.

While the White House has been emphatic that invitations to the summit don't mean the government's in question are "good," there is a significant risk that backsliding democracies that have been invited -- like Brazil -- could use inclusion as a stamp of geopolitical approval, warn James Goldgeier and Bruce Jentleson in Politico. " Given the United States' disturbing record of supporting anti-democratic forces in Brazil during the Cold War, it is especially crucial that the Biden administration be clear that its commitment to a “long-term” strategic partnership” with Brazil doesn’t mean the U.S. will ignore the state of Brazilian democracy."

The summit could be more relevant than skeptics believe, argues Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly. He argues the "gatherings should focus, above all, on the domestic sources of the global crisis of democracy. In the Americas, five stand out: worsening inequality, bad public services, polarization, the spread of fake news, and, in part as a consequence of the first two, the militarization of politics."

News Briefs

  • Twitter announced it removed accounts connected to state-linked information operations from six countries, including Venezuela and Mexico. "These operations from Venezuela and Mexico illustrate different techniques for propagating inauthentic information online for antidemocratic purposes," according to the Latin America Risk Report. " These operations are particularly concerning due to their clear connection with the governments in each country."
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights office raised an internal warning to immigration and border officials that deporting Haitians to their volatile home country risked violating U.S. civil and human rights obligations and advised them against the practice in late August, according to an internal document obtained by BuzzFeed News.

  • The Dominican Republic deported more than 31,000 people to Haiti this year, more than 12,000 of them in just the past three months, reports the Associated Press. The huge spike is part of a crackdown on migrants -- many who have lived in the Dominican Republic for most of their lives -- that human rights activists say hasn’t been seen in decades. They link the Dominican Republic's increasing mistreatment of Haitians to Luis Abinader's government, starting in August 2020.
  • Three more hostages from a group of 17 missionaries and their children kidnapped in Haiti have been released. The group was abducted by an armed gang near Port-au-Prince in October, and two hostages were freed due to medical concerns last month, reports the New York Times. Haiti has been overwhelmed in recent months by a terrifying wave of mass kidnappings by armed gangs that control large sections of the capital, reports the Washington Post.
  • The incoming government of Xiomara Castro in Honduras "won’t have it easy: Corrupt networks have been entrenched for decades and permeate every branch of government," reports The Nation.
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei called his country a U.S. ally that backs Taiwan over China, emphasizing his government’s alignment with U.S. policy, reports Reuters.
  • Forty years after Brazil returned to democracy, an Army elite troop training exercise involved a simulation against a fictitious armed dissident faction of the Workers' Party, reports The Intercept. The documents describing the exercise, which took place last year, demonstrate that "the largest of the three Armed Forces not only continues to see left-wing social and political movements as enemies – it also is being trained to fight them."

  • Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's strategy to unseat President Jair Bolsonaro is based on the appeal of his personality and his ability to negotiate with Brazilian politics’ kingmakers, according to France 24.
  • Colombia’s national police has deployed 100 criminal intelligence and investigation officers in a strategy to tackle environmental crimes, the government said , citing illegal mining and animal trafficking among the gravest threats. (Reuters)
  • Venezuela's government estimates income from crude exports will finance 61% of its national budget next year, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico’s energy reform has been delayed until next year amid a lack of support for its passage by members of the opposition parties, reports Bloomberg.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 


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