Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Royal visit fans protests in Caribbean (March 23, 2022)

A weeklong visit to Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas by UK Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton -- aimed at boosting royal relations with the remaining Caribbean Commonwealth countries -- has instead stirred up protests and debate about colonialism, reparations and an apology for slavery in some corners of the countries they are touring, reports the Miami Herald. (See Monday's briefs.)

Republican sentiment has long brewed in the Caribbean Commonwealth, but it has recently gained momentum amid worldwide protests against racism and police violence against Black people and calls for Britain to atone for the ugly legacy of colonialism, including by paying reparations for the slave trade, reports the Washington Post.

Yesterday, in Jamaica, protesters welcomed them with a list of 60 reasons why they should apologize for slavery and begin a process of reparations. Jamaican campaigners have accused British Queen Elizabeth of perpetuating slavery, and, in a letter, urged the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to atone for colonialism during their ongoing Caribbean tour, reports the Guardian. (See also Petchary's Blog)  

News Briefs

  • Colombia's ruling Democratic Center has pushed for a ballot recount of votes in March 13's legislative elections, after the leftist Pacto Histórico garnered a few hundred thousand more Senate votes in the final tally than it had in the rapid count on election day. Most political parties and experts say the request has no legal basis and risks delegitimizing the electoral process ahead of the May presidential election. (El PaísBloomberg)
  • Guatemala’s Supreme Court of Justice said it has suspended Judge Pablo Xitumul, who is known for his fight against corruption and handling high-profile cases against the military and former government officials, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's post on the Guatemalan government's increasing attacks on anti-corruption judicial officials.)
  • YouTube said it would remove videos with unfounded accusations of fraud in Brazil's 2018 elections, reports AFP. President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly claimed (without evidence) that his margin of victory would have been bigger that year  if not for widespread fraud in Brazil's electronic voting system. Political analysts have warned that Bolsonaro could challenge an electoral defeat later this year with allegations of vote rigging.

  • Mining companies are joining environmental groups and members of the public in opposing a bill backed by Bolsonaro that would permit mining on protected Indigenous territories in the Amazon. Yesterday, iron ore giant ​Vale SA called for free, prior and informed consent by local communities. (Bloomberg)

  • Brazilian center-right politician Geraldo Alckmin is joining the Brazilian Socialist Party in a step that puts him closer to becoming the running mate of his ex political rival,  former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in this year’s elections, reports Bloomberg. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Regional Relations
  • Venezuela's opposition is pushing the U.S. to condition any easing of oil sanctions on political concessions, reports Reuters.

  • UK officials are discussing how to implement sanctions against Russian oligarchs in the British Virgin Islands, reports the Guardian. The talks follow reports that a succession of oligarchs appeared to have hidden their assets in trusts based in the BVI in a bid to put them beyond reach of UK sanctions.

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the United States for its swift action to approve aid to Ukraine even as investment in Central America is stalled over "bureaucracy," reports Reuters. He also said Mexico will get an investment boost on the back of the Ukraine war. (Reuters)
  • Femicides and other cases of gender-based violence have been on the rise in Mexico in recent years. Government figures for 2021 recorded 969 cases of femicide last year, but human rights activists say there were more, with estimates of an average of 10 femicides per day in Mexico. The Latin America Advisor explores the government's (insufficient) response.

  • AMLO inaugurated a new airport serving Mexico City, more than three years after he scrapped a separate partly built multibillion-dollar construction project by the previous government that he said was a symbol of corruption. (Al Jazeera)
  • Haitian authorities want to cremate the bodies of three former Colombian soldiers killed shortly after the slaying of President Jovenel Moïse, nine months ago. But, other detained former Colombian soldiers say the men who were killed were executed by Haitian police after they launched a nationwide manhunt for Moïse’s assassins, and that the corpses are evidence that should be preserved, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Chile’s new President Gabriel Boric signed onto the United Nations Escazu Agreement, overturning the policy of the previous Chilean government that had held back from supporting the environmental treaty, reports Al Jazeera.
  • A top Colombian drug trafficker walked out of a maximum-security prison in Bogotá without ever being challenged, last week. The case exposes deep-seated corruption and threatening important criminal cases, according to InSight Crime.
  • Landmine deployment now appears a routine tactic for Colombian guerrilla groups operating in Venezuela, especially in border zones. Political turmoil and the ever-growing presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela will make it tough to reverse the spread of landmines, creating a problem with grim long-term implications, reports InSight Crime.

  • Geoff Ramsey and Kristen Martinez-Gugerli interview Francisco Monaldi in the Venezuela Briefing, and discuss the state of Venezuela’s oil sector, the recent visit of U.S. officials to Caracas, and the potential return to negotiations in Venezuela.

  • Venezuela remains on a shrinking list of South American countries that do not allow same-sex marriages, reports the Associated Press. This despite the fact that Venezuela’s highest court has had seven years to rule on a key case and President Nicolás Maduro has asked lawmakers to consider the matter.
  • Rampant piracy along Ecuador’s coastal provinces is forcing hundreds of fishermen to leave their profession and the sea out of fear for their lives, reports InSight Crime.
Critter Corner
  • An angry mob chased after sharks -- protected species -- in Colombia's San Andrés island after an attack killed an Italian tourist last week. Animal protection groups say the approach is misguided -- and illegal -- but also point to problematic tourist practices like diving groups that feed sharks meat in order to generate photo-ops. (El País)

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

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