Monday, February 14, 2022

Haitian PM meets opposition coalition (Feb. 14, 2022)

 News Briefs

  • Haitian interim-prime minister Ariel Henry invited members of an opposition coalition to join his election push, rather than continue their efforts to replace him with a two-year transitional government aimed at creating better conditions for free and fair elections, reports the Miami Herald. Supporters of the Commission to Search for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which drafted the Montana Accord, have vacillated between having Henry join their proposed power-sharing agreement and calling for his removal from office. 

  • Henry met Montana Accord representatives on Friday and the two sides said they are working on a negotiation process aimed at finding a consensual path out of the country's prolonged political crisis. (Press Lakay)

  • Henry told the Miami Herald he would support sending suspects in the assassination of Haiti’s president to Miami to face murder conspiracy charges if U.S. authorities ask. In the interview, he denied reports as “fake news” that he was involved in the assassination of the president and was protecting a key suspect, Joseph Félix Badio, who has been on the lam.
  • Nicaraguan opposition leader Hugo Torres died Friday, eight months after his arrest by Daniel Ortega's government in a bid to prevent his presidential run. The 73-year-old former general was part of a group of dozens of opponents arrested in the lead up to November's presidential elections and held in deplorable conditions. Torres, was considered a hero in the Sandinista's guerrilla struggle against dictator Anastasio Somoza, and once led a raid to free Ortega, who was then a political prisoner himself. Torres later broke with Ortega to found a dissident Sandinista party. (Confidencial, Associated Press, Reuters, Wall Street Journal
  • Leidy Indira Santizo Rodas, a Guatemalan lawyer who previously represented a United Nations-backed anti-corruption mission in court proceedings, was arrested last week in what some observers said was retribution against those who helped the highly effective anti-corruption effort. The European Union and the United States expressed concern Friday about the Guatemalan government’s legal actions against independent judges, lawyers and prosecutors, many of whom participated in past anti-corruption cases, reports the Associated Press. (See Friday's briefs.)
Regional Relations
  • U.S. national spending on infrastructure could indirectly fuel a Central American economic boom -- as building projects in the U.S. could create work for migrants, who then send remittances home, where those dollars go a long way, reports Foreign Policy.

  • Russia and China's recent statement heralding a "new era" is a challenge to a U.S.-led world order that "crystallizes a process of immense geopolitical significance," writes former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim in Carta Capital. It remains to be seen whether the new international diplomatic map "will fully meet the desires for justice and balance held by many." For Latin America, the challenge will be finding a place in a changing geopolitical reality, he writes.
  • A major Brazilian podcaster sparked outrage when he suggested on air that Brazil should have a Nazi party and that people have a “right” to be anti-Jewish. Bruno Aiub was fired, and prosecutors say he may face charges for "the alleged offense of apologizing for Nazism." The firestorm is part of a national debate over free speech that mirrors that ocurring in the U.S. and elsewhere, reports the New York Times

  • Eight people were killed in a police raid in a Rio de Janeiro favela. Police authorities claimed the dead are drug traffickers believed to have fled there from nearby Jacarezinho, where authorities have mounted a major anti-drug trafficking operation, reports AFP. (See Jan. 25's post.)

  • The key to making Rio de Janeiro safer are police forces that respect the law and protocols, argues Pedro Abramovay in an interview with O Globo.  He praised new Supreme Court restrictions on operations in favelas, which could limit incursions that kill inhabitants. Brazil's Supreme Court last week ordered the Rio state government to present a plan within 90 days to reduce the violence of often deadly police raids in the favelas. (AFP)

  • Brazil recorded the most deforestation ever in the Amazon rainforest for the month of January, according to new government data, as the destruction continues to worsen despite the government’s recent pledges to bring it under control, reports Al Jazeera.

  • A new generation of Black authors have jolted Brazil’s literary establishment in recent years with imaginative and searing works that have found commercial success and critical acclaim, reports the New York Times. Many of the literary boom writers are members of a generation of Black Brazilians who became the first in their families to get a college degree, taking advantage of programs enacted by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
  • British shadow foreign secretary David Lammy asked the government to pardon 70 abolitionists convicted for their role in the historic 1823 Demerara rebellion by enslaved people against British colonialists in the Caribbean. The revolt in part of present-day Guyana involved 10,000 enslaved people and was brutally crushed by the colonial militia. Granting a pardon would be “a significant step in Britain’s acknowledgment of its role in the history of slavery," wrote Lammy. (Guardian)
  • Honduran school-children have not had in-person teaching for two years due to Covid-19. This year's planned return to classrooms has been postponed again, and teachers insist the government advance in pediatric vaccination before returning to in-person teaching, reports Proceso
  • Despite regional Covid-19 vaccination rates reaching almost two thirds of the population, fourteen countries have yet to reach the 40 percent coverage threshold, reports the Atlantic Center's Aviso LatAm.
  • Colombia's army fired General Jorge Herrera after reports linking him to drug trafficking. (El Tiempo)
  • Aggressive price-fixing by criminal groups has sent lime prices soaring in Mexico, reports the Guardian. Though weather conditions and exports have also contributed to the price hikes, cartels have played a key role. In places, cartels have reportedly limited picking to just a few days a week to more easily manipulate prices.

  • Restorations on Michoacán’s centuries-old chapels raise questions about how architectural conservation should work — and whom such projects are really for -- New York Times.
  • Chile’s next cabinet will not only be notable for the number of women, but also the positions they will hold -- including generally male dominated posts such as foreign minister and defense minister. (Wilson Center Weekly Asado)
  • The Gladys Palmera collection is the largest private archive of Latin American music in the world. Though it currently lives near Madrid, owner and broadcaster Alejandra Fierro Eleta is considering moving across the Atlantic, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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