Friday, April 22, 2022

JOH's linked to notorious drug traffickers (April 22, 2022)

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents extradited the Honduran former president Juan Orlando Hernández to New York, where he will face federal drug trafficking and weapons charges. Honduran national police delivered a handcuffed Hernández to DEA agents at the Tegucigalpa airport, yesterday. (Guardian, see yesterday's post)

A federal indictment unsealed late Thursday in Manhattan charged that over nearly the last two decades, Hernández “participated in a corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of tons of cocaine into the United States.” The indictment charged that Hernández received millions of dollars from numerous drug trafficking organizations in Honduras, Mexico and elsewhere, including from the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo. (New York Times)

"The indictment against Hernández provides not only new details of his alleged ties to the drug trade but shows that his suspected contacts with traffickers go back decades and include some of the most notorious figures in the region," explains InSight Crime. The allegations date back to the early 2000s, long before Hernández became president, and outline a two-decade stint in which 500 tons of cocaine were moved to the United States.

The precipitous fall of Hernández, who was president from 2014 until January, has stunned Hondurans, reports the Washington Post.

News Briefs

  • Peruvian President Pedro Castillo mobilized the army against demonstrations at the country's Cuajone mine, which has been shut by protesters for nearly two months. He declared a state of emergency on Wednesday that suspended the right to protest at the mine, a sharp tactical shift from a previous conciliatory approach, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said yesterday that he would pardon Daniel Silveira, an allied federal congressman who was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison by the Supreme Court this week for encouraging undemocratic acts and attacks on judges and institutions such as the Supreme Court. Bolsonaro's move is likely to further increase tensions between Brazil's executive and judiciary ahead of October's presidential election, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
El Salvador
  • At least 13,000 people have been detained as part of El Salvador's mass crackdown on gangs. Many relatives are frantically searching for the whereabouts of their arrested family members who have vanished, a grim iteration of the country's history of disappearances during the civil war and later due to gang violence, reports the Washington Post.
  • The current wave of attacks against independent justice operators in Guatemala, under attorney general María Consuelo Porras, is part of a ramped up effort to facilitate a complete take over of Guatemala’s institutions. But it is both rooted in and facilitated by the country’s long tradition of cooptation of the state that dates back to the internal armed conflict (1960-1996), explain Ana María Méndez Dardón and Julia Aikman Cifuentes in a WOLA commentary.
  • The U.S. and Cuba held direct migration talks yesterday for the first time in four years. The U.S. Biden administration seeks to stop an overwhelming surge of migrants at the southern border, in which Cubans have become the second-largest group of those seeking unauthorized entry through Mexico, reports the Washington Post.

  • Nearly 130,000 Venezuelans have migrated to the U.S. in the 11 months from April 2021 through this past February. Many come from other countries in Latin America, where they fled to originally, and are now leaving due to the Covid-19 pandemic's economic impact, coupled with unemployment, xenophobia and increasing political instability in several countries in the region, reports the Wall Street Journal.

  • Mexican migration to the United States has been beneficial for the host country, but also for Mexico, reports the Economist. But immigration policies have made life difficult for migrants who seek to integrate in the U.S., and also fail to recognize that many don't want to settle permanently, but would prefer to be able to circulate back and forth between countries, if they could do so legally.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s efforts to reshape the country's electricity sector to favor the state-owned power company have spurred hundreds of lawsuits and sown a level of uncertainty that businesspeople say is costing jobs and private investment, reports the Associated Press.

  • "Mexico's current foreign policy is, at the very least, cacophonous, if not frankly schizophrenic," writes Erika Ruiz Sandoval for the Wilson Center.
  • Under the title Retaking Brazil: demarcate the territories and indigenise the politics, the 18th Free Land Camp saw 8,000 Indigenous people in Brasília give voice to the ongoing fight to save their culture and way of life, reports the Guardian.
  • Squabbles between the left and right within Chile's Constitutional Convention are wasting precious time rather than moving the draft magna carta into the important “harmonization” phase for reviewing the whole text to ensure its coherence and internal consistency, according to Carlos Cruz Infante and Miguel Zlosilo at the AULA blog.

  • "The leftist or left-leaning leaders of the Constitutional Convention seem to be underestimating the need to use their document as originally intended by the 2020 plebiscite directing the drafting of a new Constitution: to heal deep splits within Chilean society and build a new consensus based on the highest common ideals of the nation," they write. (AULA blog)
  • Helping Haiti create conditions for elections and bringing improvements to its beleaguered police force remain key priorities for the international community, Brian A. Nichols, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said yesterday. (Miami Herald)

  • A Jamaican court cleared the way for the extradition of former Haitian senator John Joël Joseph, a key suspect  in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Joseph had waived an extradition court hearing in order to be brought to the United States, where he will most likely be charged in connection with the still unsolved assassination. He would be the third suspect charged in Miami, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Haiti’s civil aviation authority has grounded all private planes as it investigates what may have caused a single-engine airplane to crash this week, killing all the occupants aboard, including the pilot, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Venezuela faces three serious simultaneous crises: the brutal attack against opponents, the humanitarian emergency and the massive exodus of Venezuelans, Human Rights Watch's Tamara Taraciuk told El Nacional.

  • Some U.S. oilfield firms whose Venezuelan operations were frozen by sanctions are joining an appeal to Washington for authorizations to restart oil drilling in the country, reports Reuters. If they are allowed to resume work, Venezuela could quickly ramp up production capacity beyond 1 million barrels per day according to analysts.
  • Southern Caribbean energy producers are on the frontline of a global geopolitical realignment. "In the decade ahead, the Southern Caribbean is likely to play a much more prominent role on the global energy map, something local leaders will have to weigh carefully," write Georges A. Fauriol and Scott B. MacDonald in Global Americans.

  • "Latin America is a relative newcomer in China’s discourse power strategy. ... However, as with other regions in the Global South, the exposure of Latin American countries to China has dramatically increased over the past decade as Beijing’s discourse power operations have expanded," according to a new Atlantic Council report.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... And Happy Friday!

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