Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Latin America Daily Briefing (March. 1, 2022)

 News Briefs

  • The damage from global heating is already hitting hard, according to a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The comprehensive IPCC assessment documents “widespread and pervasive” impacts on people and the natural world from increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, storms and floods. Some impacts are now irreversible, reports the Guardian.
  • The United States and the European Union decision to sanction Russian banks could also end up punishing Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, who are dependent on the Russian financial system to bypass their own U.S. sanctions, reports the Miami Herald. Venezuela will likely be hit particularly hard, and will also be affected by the ruble's devaluation.

  • Russia does not need to deploy troops to exert influence in Latin America, writes Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's representative to the United States, Carlos Vecchio in the Miami Herald. The Kremlin has instead used "espionage, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, military assistance and even enabling irregular channels to launder illicit financial assets" as strategic tools of influence in the region, particularly in Venezuela to stabilize Maduro's hold on power. 

  • Brazil imports more fertilizers from Russia than any other country -- both mineral and chemical, they account for 69% of Brazil’s fertilizer imports, reports Quartz. (See yesterday's post.)

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that Mexico will not take any economic sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, and he criticized alleged censorship of Russian state-sponsored media by social media companies. (Reuters)
  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is closing arms deals with Russia. He is also the only Central American leader vocally supporting the Kremlin’s offensive against Ukraine, reports El Faro. And Ortega’s stance on the international crisis suggests that a window for the negotiated release of political prisoners or other government concessions may be a long way off.
  • Guatemala's ongoing -- and recently intensified -- crackdown on corruption prosecutors has left the country's democracy hanging by a thread, write Tyler Mattiace and Juan Pappier in Americas Quarterly. President Alejandro Giammattei and lawmakers will appoint three key figures this year: the attorney general, the human rights ombudsperson, and the comptroller general. "These appointments may shape the political landscape, installing administration allies in important positions ahead of the presidential election in June 2023."
  • Honduran President Xiomara Castro asked the United Nations to create an anti-corruption commission for the country, modeled on similar internationally backed investigation units in Central America. She is aiming to target Honduras' deeply entrenched corruption and state capture by organized crime, linked to her political opponents in the National Party. But an eventual commission will likely also eventually scrutinize Castro and others in her circle, and will face backlash from the governing party and other powerful groups in Honduras, according to the Latin America Risk Report.
  • A Mexican cartel massacre in Michoacán was caught on video, but prosecutors say they cannot determine how many people were killed because attackers cleaned up the scene and removed any bodies. Investigators found only a bag full of brains and shell casings, reports the Associated Press.

  • The U.S. is reliant on Mexico for avocados, a product with such big profit margins that it's been dubbed "green gold" and violence and extortion has escalated in Michoacán as various cartels have vied for control of the avocado industry, reports the Conversation.
  • A wall the Dominican Republic is building along its border with Haiti could increase conflicts, according to organizations working in both countries, reports the Haitian Times.

  • The true motives underlying Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader's border crackdown are political, writes Garry Pierre-Pierre in the Haitian Times. "Bashing of Haitians has been a tried-and-true tactic among Dominican officials for decades, and President Abinader is pulling out that ace to win reelection."
  • Ecuador has become a hotspot for low to mid-level Albanian traffickers, many facing criminal charges and looking to restart their careers outside Europe, reports InSight Crime.
  • A group of leftist protesters clashed with security forces in Bogotá, outside a meeting of the Vox-backed, far-right Madrid Forum. (EFE)
Critter Corner
  • Scientists in Argentina have unearthed the remains of a previously unknown species of meat-eating dinosaur that lived about 70m years ago that had puny arms and may have used its powerful head to ram its prey, reports Reuters.

  • Environmental initiatives in Panama's Azuero Peninsula offer hope for the future of the orange-tinted Azuero spider monkeys, a critically endangered subspecies. (New York Times)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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