Friday, May 13, 2022

Hunger in LatAm (May 13, 2022)

News Briefs

  • El País has a deep-dive on hunger in Latin America: of 660 million people in the region, more than 60 million suffer hunger. Another 220 million don't know if they'll eat tomorrow.

  • Indian investment in Latin America is tiny compared to China's, but has particular benefits for the region. India has an edge over China in value-added sectors in Latin America, specifically in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology (IT) and services. Its impact is felt through employment generation and the diversification of the economy to value-added sectors, particularly in services, writes Hari Seshasayee in Americas Quarterly.
El Salvador
  • The Salvadoran government claims to have jailed almost 27 thousand people in an unprecedented, six-week crackdown on gangs. 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.
  • Guyanese environmentalists say ExxonMobil  indifferent to the dangers of an oil spill off the country's coast, while Guyanese politicians have accused Exxon of fleecing the country of billions of dollars by bouncing an ill-experienced government into a contract that pays far less than other countries earn from their oil, reports the Guardian.
Regional Relations
  • A growing chorus of discontent in Latin America and the Caribbean over the upcoming Summit of the Americas to be held in the U.S. -- the invites still haven't been sent out -- underscores the challenges facing the U.S. Biden administration in advancing its interests in the region, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's post.)

  • While the U.S. Biden administration recently announced that it is resuming “limited” consular functions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, it still appears unlikely to restart the normalization process. The Biden administration has placed electoral politics ahead of U.S. interests and appears unlikely to do more, write Fulton Armstrong and Philip Brenner at the AULA blog.

  • Russia’s disinformation machinery has been particularly successful in Latin America, particularly Actualidad RT, Russia Today’s Spanish-language subsidiary, which effectively pushes Russia’s preferred narratives in region, stoking anti-Americanism and praising authoritarian regimes, all under the veil of a supposedly objective platform, writes León Krauze in the Washington Post.
  • At least 11 people died after a makeshift boat overloaded with migrants capsized between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. (Washington Post)
  • Tomorrow will be the last day Chile's Constitutional Convention votes on norms to be included in the country's draft magna carta, which on Monday will be handed over to the Harmonization Commission which will create a final text for voters to approve or reject in a September plebiscite. (LaBot Constituyente)

  • The latest additions to the proposed constitution include the rights to decent work, memory, food, and informational self-determination (the right to protection of personal data). (LaBot Constituyente)
  • The multi-day "armed strike" imposed by Colombia's Gulf Clan last week in over 100 municipalities over a wide geographic area shows that the criminal group is on par with the ELN in terms of personnel, logistics, coordination and willingness to act in defiance of the national government, writes James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report. (See Monday's post.)

  • Colombia’s presidential candidates commented on the paro armado, offering a preview of how each would approach security policy if elected, writes Catherine Osborn in Foreign Policy's Latin America Brief. "Conservative Federico Gutiérrez tweeted he would “arrive with authority” in gang-controlled areas, consistent with his hard-line tough-on-crime stance," while leftist Gustavo "Petro said he would focus on rooting out the social causes of crime—such as a lack of decently paying jobs—rather than addressing it with military force."

  • Petro is polling nearly double the support of his closest rival, Gutierrez, and would beat him in a runoff, according to a YanHaas poll released this week. (Reuters)

  • Petro not only faces rival candidates, but also mounting death threats. "If he were to be killed it would be a moral indictment of Colombian democracy that would risk a downward spiral into violence," argues the Economist's Bello column.
  • Unidentified suspects broke into one of Haiti’s main courthouses, ransacked judges’ offices and stole items including cell phones, reports the Associated Press. Government officials said evidence and documents linked to cases including the July 7 presidential slaying of Jovenel Moïse and the August 2020 killing of Monferrier Dorval, head of the bar association of Port-au-Prince, were not taken because they’re in a secure location elsewhere.
  • Venezuela's gradual shift to the U.S. dollar is widening inequality between its public and private sector workers, as those paid in foreign currency enjoy greater purchasing power while others face prohibitive prices, reports Reuters.

  • A group of 18 progressive U.S. Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to lift all sanctions against Venezuela that “exacerbate the humanitarian situation” in the country. (The Hill)
  • Will former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's alliance with the center -- epitomized by his careful phrasing in a campaign launch speech last weekend -- bolster his bid to return to the presidency, or sully his leftist credentials, asks Osborn in the Latin America Brief.

  • Evangelical or born again Christians make up around a third of Brazil’s electorate -- in 2018 they overwhelmingly voted for President Jair Bolsonaro, and one poll found that 52% of evangelicals would vote for Bolsonaro in the first round in October, compared with 30% for Lula. (Economist)

  • Brazilian First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro, is emerging as a powerful weapon in Bolsonaro's reelection bid -- targeting the female voters the president is particularly unpopular with. (AFP)
  • Organized crime in Paraguay has become more sophisticated in recent years due to the country's increasing role as a major hub for cocaine and marijuana trafficking -- and the assassination of its leading anti-crime prosecutor in a foreign country marks a startling escalation in the reach of organized crime, reports InSight Crime.
  • Honduran lawmakers' decision to repeal a law permitting private city-states within the country has left the existing zones — known as ZEDEs or Zones for Employment and Economic Development — in legal limbo, reports Rest of World.
  • Mexico's groundbreaking natural art gallery, SFER IK Uh May, is part building, part tropical grove, and aspires to be a new kind of museum, at harmony with its surroundings and open to the kinds of art that would never make their way into MoMA or Tate, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing

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