Wednesday, April 20, 2022

ES groups file suit against penal code reform (April 20, 2022)

 El Salvadoran organizations of civil society asked the judiciary to declare unconstitutional a new anti-gang measure that journalists warn effectively criminalizes reporting on gangs. Cristosal and the Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES) filed the suit with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

The reform to the penal code, passed on April 6, approves prison sentences of up to 15 years for reproducing and transmitting information from gangs "that could generate anxiety and panic among the general population." (See April 6's post.)

"The reforms are imposing an absolute limitation of rights, particularly on journalism. This means that journalists can be prosecuted for reporting," Ruth Elenora Lopez, a representative for the human rights organization Cristosal, told a press conference. (AFP)

Days after the passage of a law to criminalize media using gang sources, officials and even President Nayib Bukele are smearing and threatening journalists with criminal investigations, reports El Faro

More El Salvador
  • The judge formerly in charge of the El Mozote massacre case denounced an episode of harassment outside his home, reports El Faro.
News Briefs

  • More than five years after Colombia's historic peace accords with the FARC, a power vacuum is fueling the rise of new armed groups. In exchange for peace, the government was supposed to flood conflict zones with job opportunities, alleviating the poverty and inequality that had started the war. Officials didn't follow through, and now many parts of rural Colombia have seen a return to the killings, displacement and violence that, in some regions, is now as bad, or worse, than before the accord, reports the New York Times.
Regional Relations
  • Venezuela is poised to benefit from the U.S. sanctions against Russian oil that come into effect on Friday. While the U.S. administration might be angling for a detente with Venezuela for both economic and diplomatic reasons, "many observers are sceptical that the United States can both buy oil and make Mr Maduro change his dictatorial ways," according to the Economist.

  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández flummoxed pretty much everybody when he said that Venezuela's human rights problems were "dissipating" earlier this week. (See yesterday's briefs.) But his plan to reestablish diplomatic relations with the Maduro government is likely also guided by economic concerns as well as an effort to revitalize discussions aimed putting Venezuela back on a democratic path, reports El Cronista.

  • The U.S. Biden administration will use the upcoming Summit of the Americas to address some of the most pressing challenges in the region, including migration, threats to democracy and economic recovery from the pandemic, White House special advisor Debbie Mucarsel-Powell told the Miami Herald.

  • Mexico has disbanded a select anti-narcotics unit that for a quarter of a century worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to tackle organized crime, a major blow to bilateral security cooperation, reports Reuters.
  • At least eight Mexican journalists have been killed this year, prompting an outpouring of anguish and anger that has been exacerbated by a politically charged feud with Mexico’s media-bashing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reports the Guardian

  • Rosario Ibarra, whose decades-long struggle to uncover the fate of her disappeared son led her to become one of Mexico’s leading human rights activists and the country’s first female presidential candidate, died at age 95. (Washington Post)

  • A judge in Mexico has ordered the temporary suspension of works on a stretch of the Maya train project in the Yucatán peninsula, citing a lack of environmental permits. (BBC)
  • A 22-year high in apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border in March was partly fueled by record arrivals of migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Colombia and Ukraine, according to new U.S. government figures. U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed migrants 221,303 times along the southern border in March, a 33% jump from February and the highest tally since 2000, reports CBS. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • About 800 migrants who spent months waiting on the Guatemalan border to be issued documents allowing them to cross México en route to the United States aborted a planned caravan to México City on Saturday after the Mexican authorities promised to provide transit permits. reports EFE.
  • Coca farms and cocaine production camps are proliferating in Honduras. While just a fraction of what’s seen in Andean countries, cultivating coca and refining cocaine in Honduras cuts costs, shortens supply chains, and reduces risks of shipments being seized in transit – all advantages to traffickers, reports InSight Crime.
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s violent, early-morning murder "embodied and exacerbated the two challenges that most stubbornly torment Haiti: a broken political system and the deep connections between politicians and criminals," writes Renata Segura in Foreign Affairs. "In addition to highlighting the country’s political dysfunction, the assassination reflected the murky dealings and webs of impunity that unite Haiti’s visible world of politics and business with its underworld of heavily armed gangs, crooked police officers, and criminal syndicates."

  • The extradition earlier this month for the second time of a notorious Haitian cocaine smuggler to the United States serves as a reminder of Haiti's little-known status as a drug trafficking transit point, reports InSight Crime.
  • Despite concern that sanctions against Russia would cause a shortfall of fertilizer in Brazil, preliminary shipping data shows orders being fulfilled and vessels heading for Brazil, potentially allowing a normal grain planting season, reports Reuters.

  • Brazilian presidential frontrunner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wants to recruit a former governor or other seasoned politician to run economic policy if he wins, reports Reuters.
  • Peruvians demonstrated against inflation in Cusco yesterday, part of a wave of protests nationally against rising food prices. Hundreds of foreign tourists have been stranded by a union strike in Cusco that started Monday and shut down transportation services and blocking roads around the region, reports Reuters.

  • As today, about a fifth of Peru's copper output will be off-line due to mounting community protests, reports Bloomberg

  • Ana María Estrada, a 45-year-old writer, poet and psychologist with a progressive muscular disease, is fighting for the right to die by euthanasia in Peru. (Washington Post)
  • Conde Nast Traveler reports on how Argentina and Chile’s rewilded areas are ushering in a new era of eco-travel.
  • Rio de Janeiro will hold its famed carnival this weekend for the first time since Covid-19 hit Brazil, promising a giant, glittering spectacle of pandemic catharsis. Canceled last year as the pandemic death toll surged in hard-hit Brazil, then postponed by two months this year over fears of another wave, the carnival show is now set to go on at last, with all-night parades Friday and Saturday nights, reports AFP.
--Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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