Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Haitians protest insecurity (March 30, 2022)

Thousands of Haitians took to the streets yesterday to denounce crime, inflation, and political paralysis in the largest episode of unrest since President Jovenel Moïse's assasination last year. Demonstrators protested against rising insecurity and called for an end to kidnappings

The Port-au-Prince demonstration was largely peaceful, but one person died after being shot by police in Les Cayes, reports EFE.

Domestic and charter airline operators temporarily halted local flight service in Haiti after protesters in Les Cayes tore apart and then burned a plane used by a Florida-based charity, reports the Miami Herald.


El Salvador's gang crackdown criticized by rights groups, families

Security forces intensified operations against El Salvador’s street gangs yesterday with mass arrests, the cordoning off of neighborhoods and house-by-house searches under a state of emergency, reports the Associated Press. Family members have denounced arbitrarities in the detention of alleged gang members, and say relatives were wrongfully arrested, reports El Diario de Hoy.

The state of emergency measure has raised concerns that it could enable human rights abuses, but President Nayib Bukele has doubled down, and yesterday said that he had asked lawmakers to give him more legal tools to take on gangs. (See yesterday's post and Monday's.)

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the government should confront gang violence, but while respecting rights. “Instead of protecting Salvadorans, this broad state of emergency is a recipe for disaster that puts their rights at risk,” the organization said. And the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned measures that keep incarcerated gang members inside their cells 24 hours a day and reduce their food to two meals a day. (See yesterday's post and Monday's.)

News Briefs

  • Mexico’s armed forces knew that 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa who disappeared in 2014 were being kidnapped by criminals, then hid evidence that could have helped locate them, according to a report by independent international experts released on Monday, reports the Guardian.

  • The group of independent experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  found evidence that authorities withheld or falsified evidence from the start of the search. (See yesterday's post.)
  • The number of people crossing the Darien Gap, one of the most dangerous and impassable regions of Latin America, has almost tripled compared to the same period last year, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said, yesterday. The total number of people crossing the lawless stretch of mountainous jungle between Colombia and Panama went from 2,928 in the first two months of 2021 to 8,456 in the same period of 2022. (Reuters)
Regional Relations
  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will host Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the White House today as part of an effort to improve the United States’ relationship with Caribbean nations, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Cuba’s government is seeking to rally support for a new family code that would open the door to gay marriage and boost women’s rights. But support among the population is tepid, and an an upcoming referendum vote may not back the government's reform plans, reports Reuters.
  • Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou and Peruvian President Pedro Castillo both obtained narrow political victories this week -- the first in a referendum on Sunday (see Monday's briefs) and the second in an impeachment motion on Monday (see yesterday's briefs and Monday's). James Bosworth analyzes shared lessons that can be gleaned from both cases. (Latin America Risk Report)
  • A Guatemalan court sentenced eight people to long prison sentences for the 2019 murder of three soldiers in an indigenous community after the soldiers arrived to investigate drug trafficking, reports Reuters.

  • A trove of internal documents related to the Fenix mine in Guatemala reveals bribery, pollution, and troubling efforts to repress dissent, reports The Intercept. Subsidiaries of the international company that owns Fenix failed to report pollution and used a host of troubling methods to exert influence over local politics and repress dissent, according to an investigation by international media companies.
  • Victims of Bolivia's dictatorships are aging -- most are now in their 70s and 80s -- but they seem no closer to obtaining justice for human rights crimes committed between 1964 and 1982, reports the Guardian.
  • Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso said on Tuesday he would implement economic policies by decrees, referendums and other tools in response to lawmakers' rejection of his proposals. The national assembly last week voted down an investment bill which Lasso’s opponents decried as privatization of public assets, reports Reuters.
  • Mexico’s Supreme Court dealt a sharp rebuff to the country’s attorney general, ruling that his efforts to lock up his in-laws were unconstitutional. (Associated Press)
  • Colombia's environmental regulator gave the green light for state-run oil company Ecopetrol to advance with an exploratory pilot project using hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - despite resistance from environmentalists, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said that a privatisation of oil giant Petrobras was not on the agenda after the government said it would appoint a market-friendly consultant as new chief executive, reports Reuters.
  • If you ever enjoyed any classic sci-fi lit (not that I ever spent recesses devouring Asimov), you'll like reading about these domes in Argentina's La Rioja province that will simulate conditions on Mars for future space missions -- Primera Mañana.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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