El Salvador authorities claim to have made over 30,000 arrests since roundups began March 27, the day El Salvador’s legislature approved emergency powers that loosened rules on arrests and curtailed civil liberties. The mass arrests are likely to strain El Salvador’s overstretched prisons and affect gang dynamics, though exactly how is difficult to discern from past crackdowns, reports InSight Crime.
Thus far the offensive has resulted in overloaded prisons and courts and sent a shockwave of apparent human rights violations, uncertainty, and financial strain through the country’s lowest-income communities, reports El Faro. Human rights monitors and the press have documented the cases of at least five individuals who died in custody, one of them with signs of possible torture.
The mass arrests have left families reeling, with mothers massed outside the country's jails looking for their detained relatives. "But while the women searching for their sons in Salvadoran prisons are by no means an organized political group, their anger should not be underestimated," reports the New York Times. While mano dura was popular when the crackdown on gangs started, "the ubiquity of seemingly wrongful detentions is going to fray popular support for [President Nayib] Bukele," according to the Latin America Risk Report.
- Nearly 150 people have been killed and scores wounded during gunfights between warring gangs in Haiti in recent weeks. Médecins Sans Frontières said that it had treated more than 96 people with gunshot wounds in its medical facilities in Port-au-Prince since 24 April. (Guardian)
- Cuban lawmakers approved a new penal code on Sunday. Some rights groups have criticized the reform, arguing its clause on foreign funding could be used to stifle dissent and independent journalism. The government said the new code is in line with the country's new constitution approved by referendum in 2019, as well as international treaties. (Reuters)
- Colombia's last remaining recognized rebel group announced a 10-day ceasefire to allow presidential elections on May 29 to pass off peacefully. The ELN said it had taken the decision in its own interests to generate a "better atmosphere... so that we can see who could be the winning candidate." (AFP)
- Chile joined a growing chorus of regional voices calling for Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to be included in the upcoming Summit of the Americas hosted by the U.S. "Exclusion has not produced results in terms of human rights" in recent years, said foreign minister Antonia Urrejola. (Deutsche Welle, see last Thursday's post and Friday's briefs.)
- Latin America's Pink Tide 2.0 is far greener than that headed by the original "resource nationalist" set of leftist leaders. Colombian presidential front-runner Gustavo Petro fits the mold of the new wave of environmentally-minded leaders, along the lines of Chile's Gabriel Boric, while Brazilian front-runner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remains more of a wild card, according to Reuters.
- After 10 months of fraught negotiations, Chile's Constitutional Convention finalized the draft of a new magna carta that could replace the country's current dictatorship-era charter. María Elisa Quinteros, the president of the gender-equal, 154-member assembly will formally present the draft at a ceremony in the port city of Antofagasta today. "This is an ecological and equal constitution with social rights at its very core," she said in an interview with the Guardian.
- Chilean Constitutional Convention delegates rejected multiple variations of a proposal that would have given the state exclusive mining rights over lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons and a majority stake in copper mines. A separate clause, article 25, which states that miners must set aside “resources to repair damage” to the environment and harmful effects where mining takes place, did get a supermajority on Saturday and will be in the draft constitution. (Reuters)
- Many Brazilian agribusiness giants, who support President Jair Bolsonaro's October reelection bid, have rallied behind his proposal to mine Amazon potassium reserves in order to make up for potential fertilizer shortcomes related to the Ukraine conflict, reports Al Jazeera. (Though it's important to note that so far, the shortages have not materialized, see last Monday's briefs.)
- Dazzling oratory has always been one of Lula's political strengths, but he has made a series of uncharacteristic gaffes in recent weeks, leading some to wonder if he's lost his touch, according to the Washington Post.
- Brazil's access to information law (LAI) is a decade old today, and has taken root, despite significant challenges, write Gregory Michener and Francisco Gaetani in Folha de S. Paulo. Defending the law is more relevant than ever, they argue, as "never before has the LAI suffered assaults such as those undertaken during the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro." (In English at Brazil Research Initiative.)
- Lifting U.S. and European sanctions against Venezuela's Maduro administration would strengthen the country's autocratic government and, by extension, Russia, according to a delegation of Venezuelan opposition politicians currently touring Europe. Lifting sanctions must be tied to clear advances in negotiations for free and fair elections, they argue. (Guardian)
- Nearly three-quarters of transactions in Venezuela are carried out in dollars -- what some have dubbed "improvised dollarization." Most purchases are made in cash, but increasingly buyers use electronic alternatives (such as wire transfers and Zelle), reports Forbes.
- Honduran police captured Herlinda Bobadilla, accused of leading the Montes drug trafficking clan with four of her sons, after a shoot-out. Authorities said they received many tip-offs after the U.S. State Department offered the multi-million dollar reward two weeks ago, reports the BBC.
- The identity of Mexico's Indigenous Seri people is integrally tied to their natural environment, which in recent years has been susceptible to an increasing number of existential threats, reports the New York Times.
- Female-led projects are helping Mexican communities face an ongoing drought exacerbated by the climate crisis, reports the Guardian.