Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Haitian PM dodged attack (Jan. 4, 2022)

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was forced to flee the northern city of Gonaïves, this weekend, after a shootout that left one person dead and two injured. Henry and other government officials were attending a New Year’s Day Mass to mark the country’s independence from France when the attack -- characterized as an assassination attempt by the prime minister's office -- occurred. 

Video footage broadcast on social media showed Henry and his entourage scrambling toward their vehicles as an armed group began shooting outside the city's cathedral, reports Reuters. Before the incident, a local gang boss had made threats against Henry in local media.

The shootout underscored the threat posed by violent gangs that control large swaths of the beleaguered Caribbean nation and that have been responsible for a surge in mass abductions for ransom, reports the Washington Post.

The incident is a fresh blow to Henry’s fragile interim regime, which is struggling with deepening poverty and  the surge in gang violence, reports the Associated Press.

More Haiti
  • A suspected member of the group involved in the murder last year of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, has been detained while transiting through Panama after his deportation to his native Colombia by a Jamaican court. He is believed to have been put on a flight to the US, which, like Haiti, has issued an Interpol red notice requesting his arrest, reports Reuters.

  • Though Mario Palacios Palacios is a key suspect in Moïse's assassination the fact that he has not been formally charged may have played a role in Jamaica’s failure to adhere to a request by Haitian authorities to extradite him to Port-au-Prince, reports the Miami Herald.

  • The other 19 Colombian mercenaries detained in Haiti in relation to the assassination also remain in a legal limbo, in jail without access to lawyers, reports El País. Their families say the mercenaries have been tortured and coerced into confessing.
News Briefs
  • Latin America's center right is in crisis, argues Open Society Foundations' Pedro Abramovay in an interview with Afonso Benites. "It is the center right that is running out of electoral space in Latin America. We have seen the emergence of a far right with such force that it’s shifting the debate, causing the left to rearrange itself." The issue is not one of increased polarization between the far right and far left, he argues, but rather a radicalization of the right. "The calculus of the center right has to be: is our commitment to democracy or to defeating the left?"
  • "Political instability, violence and a lack of economic opportunities look likely to worsen during early 2022 and will provoke more displacement of people and migration, mainly northwards to the United States," reports InSight Crime, looking at specific dynamics of Haiti, the Northern Triangle and Venezuela. "The erosion of democracy and the continuing pandemic has also opened the door to criminal governance in many parts of the region."

  • Criminal groups managed to thrive in the pandemic, and will adapt to the post-pandemic as well, notes James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report. "But it’s not the conditions of the pandemic that allow criminal groups to do well; it’s the lack of state capacity."
  • Deforestation last year rose to the highest level since 2015 in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna, a major carbon sink that helps to stave off climate change. Destruction of these trees, grasses and other plants in the Cerrado is a large source of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Guardian.

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was hospitalized yesterday with abdominal pain from an apparent intestinal obstruction, he announced on social media the surgery might be necessary. (Washington PostNew York TimesAssociated Press)
  • The number of people applying for refugee or asylum status in Mexico almost doubled between 2019 and 2021, reaching a historic high of over 130,000, likely related to the toughening of border enforcement and the slowdown in U.S. asylum processing, reports the Associated Press. Most applications came from Haitian and Honduran migrants, reports Reuters.

  • Increasing difficulty in crossing the land border between Mexico and the U.S. has pushed more migrants to seek to cross by sea, reports El País.
  • A new wave of Covid-19 infections is spreading throughout Mexico, driven mainly by the large number of people in high-density tourist areas, reports El País.

  • Mexico's government announced that the country’s central bank will issue its own digital currency by 2024. (Bitcoin.com)
  • Public sector teachers’ unions in Honduras are ready to have their members resume in-person classes this year if the government guarantees them certain conditions and the implementation of health measures to prevent Covid-19 infection, reports EFE.
  • Brigitte Baptiste has a high profile as a transgender Colombian woman and an ecologist – in a country where both are targeted, reports the Guardian. Baptiste is a believer in “green capitalism” – that the free market can promote sustainable development.
  • Four beekeepers were detained after protesting in front of Chile's presidential palace in Santiago yesterday. The beekeepers set around 60 beehives, which contained an estimated 10,000 bees, on the avenue in front of the palace, demanding government help in the midst of a damaging, long-term drought that has hurt honey production. Seven police officers were stung during the demonstrations. (Reuters)
Critter Corner
  • The tequila fish, declared extinct in the wild, has been reintroduced to its native Mexico after being bred in an aquarium at Chester zoo. The project has been cited as an International Union for Conservation of Nature case study for successful reintroductions, reports the Guardian.

  • In Costa Rica, canopy bridges are used to help sloths, monkeys and other wildlife cross roads to combat collisions, dog attacks and electrocutions on power lines. The rope bridges are installed by the Sloth Conservation Foundation in areas where rainforest has been interrupted by human development on the country’s Caribbean coast. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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