Thursday, February 10, 2022

Guapinol activists found guilty in Honduras (Feb. 10, 2022)

Six Honduran environmentalists have been found guilty of crimes against an iron oxide mining company whose operations polluted rivers relied upon by thousands of people. The activists, from the small community of Guapinol, have been held in pre-trial detention for two and a half years, after opposing an open pit mine owned by one of the country’s most powerful couples. The case has been widely condemned by legal and human rights experts, reports the Guardian.

Amnesty International called the verdict “outrageous" and the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said she was "appalled." In November 2020, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that the eight defenders’ detention was arbitrary and called for their immediate release.

Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists following a 2009 coup, since then, hundreds of defenders have been killed, harassed and jailed on trumped-up criminal charges. Already in January of this year three environmental defenders were assassinated, notes El País.

News Briefs

El Salvador
  • El Salvador has released another woman imprisoned for aggravated homicide who detained under the country's draconian abortion laws after suffering an obstetric emergency. "Elsy" had served more than a decade of a 30-year sentence. She was the fifth woman released before completion of her sentence since late December of last year, reports the Guardian.
  • Many thousands of Black migrants from Africa and the Caribbean attempt to trek across the Americas towards the U.S. --though they have received little attention, they face racist policies and practices everywhere they go, writes Kovie Biakolo in The Nation.
  • Brazil's Senate will soon vote on a divisive bill -- backed by President Jair Bolsonaro -- that would loosen the country’s gun control measures, and thus effectively increase civilian firearm ownership. Approval would be a watershed moment for Brazil, as it would legally formalize years of presidential decrees making guns more accessible, reports Foreign Policy.
  • A landmark agreement banning Amazon deforestation for growing soya worked to stop farmers for clearing land for that specific crop. But a new investigation shows that farmers in Mato Grosso state were clearing land to grow commodities other than soya, with 450 sq miles of rainforest felled between 2009 and 2019. (Guardian)
Costa Rica
  • Outgoing Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado’s party got less than one percent of the votes cast Sunday, according to the latest preliminary results from the Supreme Elections Tribunal. The party didn’t even earn one of the 57 seats in the Legislative Assembly, the latest victim of anti-incumbent sentiment in Latin America, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Multiple law enforcement sources allege that Haitian interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry was involved in President Jovenel Moïse's assassination last July and that he has been central to the subsequent cover-up, reports CNN.
Regional Relations
  • Nicaragua and El Salvador are accusing each other of violating their maritime territory in the Gulf of Fonseca, reports the Associated Press.
  • Lithium fever has pushed many politicians in Latin America to discuss nationalizing "white gold" resources, and there is talk of creating a OPEC-style organization for regional producers, reports El País.
  • Mexico City officials face a backlash over a program last year that distributed the anti-parasitic ivermectin to coronavirus patients. The drug has not been approved for use against coronavirus in Mexico (or anywhere else), but Mexico City officials later reported the intervention was successful at reducing hospitalization rates, prompting critics to compare the program to the infamous Tuskegee study, reports the Washington Post.
  • A new report by Amnesty International found that politically motivated arrests in Venezuela were often preceded by stigmatization and smear campaigns launched by pro-government media. Hundreds of people remain detained without trial in Venezuela, as the Maduro government has clamped down on enemies perceived and real in the midst of growing discontent, reports the Guardian.

  • A powerful Caracas gang has imposed a curfew after police raids left a dozen people dead – another example of how attempts to root out the gang have led to escalating violence and put residents in danger, reports InSight Crime.
  • Fifteen people have died and four are missing following a landslide in Colombia yesterday. (CNN)

  • Liquid cocaine has bounced back as an increasingly popular drug smuggling method in Colombia, reports InSight Crime.
Floor is Lava
  • Wolf Volcano erupted last month in Ecuador, creating a lava trail that extended for miles in an orange line so bright that it was visible from space -- photography in the New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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