Wednesday, April 27, 2022

El Salvador's ongoing emergency (April 27, 2022)

In addition to extending El Salvador's state of emergency on Sunday, lawmakers also seized the moment to temporarily exempt security spending from legal oversight, reports El Faro English. (See Monday's briefs.) And, despite widespread flak from human rights groups as evidence accumulates of police abuses and arbitrary detentions, President Nayib Bukele’s party passed legislation to allow for government land expropriation to build more prisons. 

While the original excuse for the state of emergency was a surge in gang violence, the trend dramatically reversed after a few days, notes El Faro. Bukele renewed the state of exception despite the fact that from April 1 through last Sunday the country registered just 0.8 homicides per day, far below last year’s average of 3.1.

El Salvador's defense minister said the emergency measures are having a "positive" effect in the battle against rampant gang violence and that more than 17,000 suspected gang members had been arrested since the state of emergency was declared a month ago. (BBC)

News Briefs

  • The head of Haiti's disarmament commission narrowly escaped harm when his car was hit with a spray of gunfire yesterday, and a United Nations helicopter was reportedly hit with a bullet while parked on a runway in Port-au-Prince. It is part of growing violence in the country due to armed clashes between warring violent gangs, reports the Miami Herald.

  • “Haiti is blocked,” said Pierre Espérance, of the National Human Rights Defense Network. “We are in a situation where the only thing you can think about is your security. Not schooling, not anything else. There is no living here. The insecurity situation has paralyzed the country. ... If you don’t have a need to go out in Haiti, you don’t go out.” (Miami Herald)
  • Elon Musk isn't particularly focused on Latin America, but his acquisition of Twitter could have far-ranging impact on the region, where the social media network is the platform that defines the region’s political narrative, writes James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report. " It is a primary communications and political battlefield at the moment and is likely to remain so for at least the next few years."

  • Over the past two decades, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean lost the equivalent of 1.7% of a year’s GDP due to climate-related disasters and up to 5.8 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in the region by 2030, according to a World Bank report published this month. (Independent)
  • At least 52 women have been reported missing in Mexico's Nuevo León state this year, the majority in or around the capital, Monterrey. The latest was 18-year-old Debanhi Susana Escobar Bazaldúa, whose disappearance and apparent murder have rekindled devastating memories of a wave of killings in the border city of Ciudad Juárez two decades ago, reports the Guardian. (See Monday's briefs.)

  • Escobar’s body was found last Thursday night in an abandoned underground water tank on the grounds of a motel in northern Mexico, which authorities had already searched four different times. The case has sparked outrage and protests over femicides and disappearances of women in Mexico, reports the New York Times.
  • A Brazilian federal court upheld the suspension of an environmental license for what would be the largest open-pit gold mine in the nation’s Amazon rainforest. The ruling is a blow for Canadian Belo Sun Mining Corp., which was appealing a 2017 ruling, which found that the company’s consultation with local Indigenous peoples and study on the project’s socio-environmental impacts didn’t meet the criteria required by the National Indian Foundation. (Associated Press)
  • Ten retired members of Colombia’s military implicated in the false-positives scandal began testifying to a special tribunal yesterday. They confessed to victims’ families their roles in the assassination of 120 civilians that were later presented as rebels killed in combat, reports AFP.
  • The family of Emil Bustamante López, a Guatemalan activist who was arrested and disappeared in 1982, filed a case with the UN human rights committee. It is the first time the committee has been asked to look into a case of enforced disappearance in Guatemala, reports the Guardian.
More El Salvador
  • Most people in El Salvador who downloaded the state-run bitcoin wallet last year don't engage significantly with the app, according to a report published by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research. (Coindesk)
  • Food security in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean has been significantly affected by Covid-19 pandemic, and will be worsened by the impact of the war in Ukraine, according to a newly released report by the United Nations World Food Program and Caricom. (Miami Herald)

  • Government support for citizens over the past two years has, in many cases, resulted in increased national debt. According to the report, governments' ability to sustain this support is under threat, and requires innovative financing solutions to navigate the compounded impacts of the pandemic, the climate crisis, economic hardship, and most recently, reverberating global impacts of the war in Ukraine -- Miami Herald.

  • Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen lost to incumbent Emanuel Macron this weekend, but finished far ahead in some of France’s overseas territories. Analysts say the polls demonstrate protest against Macron, but also a sustained drive for votes by the far-right party in the overseas territories, where social deprivation is significantly higher than on the mainland, reports the Guardian.
  • Dollarization proposals are flourishing once more in Argentina as a “disruptive” shortcut to put an end to inflation -- and will likely have electoral impact in next year's presidential race, though economically the plans leave much to be desired, argue Eduardo Levy Yeyati and Marina dal Poggetto in Americas Quarterly.
  • Authorities in Chile are sounding the alarm over repeated seizures of small quantities of arms being trafficked through Argentina, reports InSight Crime.
  • The U.S. Biden administration's plan to lift the Title 42 policy will likely swell the border with migrants who view it as easier to come to the United States and claim asylum -- the Washington Post analyzes potential consequences.
Human Rights
  • Kenneth Roth will step down from Human Rights Watch, after nearly three decades of leading the organization. "Roth has been an unrelenting irritant to authoritarian governments, exposing human rights abuses with documented research reports that have become the group’s specialty," reports the New York Times.
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