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19 Colombian soldiers charged for “false positive” murders
July 26, 2022
Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) charged 19 soldiers, an intelligence agent, and two civilians with war crimes and crimes against humanity yesterday (JEP). The soldiers, part of the 16th Brigade, murdered 303 people, mostly civilians, between 2002-2008. The brigade, a “criminal organization,” labeled the murders as “false positives.” In these cases, the military claimed that the civilians they killed were actually guerillas taking innocent lives in an effort to improve their impact statistics in their fight against armed rebel groups (RPP). In return, the soldiers received promotions obtained through “permits, special food, holiday plans, training classes abroad and recognition,” reports Al Jazeera. Among the victims were nine women, one LGBT+ individual, children, and persons with disabilities (Página 12). Most of the victims were men between the ages of 18-25.
More than 6,400 civilians were killed and then labeled as guerilla fighters between 2002-2008 during right-wing Álvaro Uribe’s presidency, states NPR. The JEP, a special tribunal set up as part of the 2016 peace accords, has a 15-year mandate to prosecute the crimes of both the military and the guerilla fighters during the country’s decades-long conflict.
President-elect Gustavo Petro named Iván Velázquez as his administration’s new defense minister. Velázquez signals a break from previous ministers in the position, having previously headed the CICIG UN anti-corruption team in Guatemala. (WSJ, Reuters)
The Financial Times reports on the widening gap between Argentina’s currency-controlled rate and its black dollar rate, which has increased over 150 percent.
Gun registrations have grown greatly over the course of the Bolsonaro administration, with the increase disproportionately among states which the president won in the second round of the 2018 presidential election. (Folha)
In response to Bolsonaro’s campaign to discredit the upcoming election, prominent bankers, lawyers, businessmen, artists, and celebrities have signed a document in support of the defense of democracy in Brazil, notes Folha.
Lula “is luring allies from Brazil's powerhouse farm sector to his presidential campaign, looking to fracture his rival's base in a move that risks tensions with his own environmentalist supporters,” reports Reuters.
The US has named Benjamin Ziff as the head of the embassy in Havana. Ziff is a migration expert, notes AP.
Illegal gold mining—and the massive sinkholes it produces—have taken over the town of Zaruma in southern Ecuador, reports Bloomberg.
President Alejandro Giammattei became the first Latin American president to meet with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. Guatemala is one of the few countries to announce explicit support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, reports EuroNews.
“2022 is on pace to be the least violent year of AMLO’s term, but homicides are still far higher than six years ago,” write James Bosworth and Lucy Hale in Latin America Risk Report.
US state legislators traveled to Mexico on an organized trip to learn how Mexican activists influenced the legalization of abortion through grassroots and progressive policy actions, reports NBC.
The prominent role of social media in Latin America has brought influencers a certain degree of power. Politicians, in turn, seek to harness this for their campaigns, although often do so “ineptly,” according to The Economist.
“Relatives of people deprived of their liberty describe three stages they go through when a family member is detained: the detention itself, the sentence, and when their loved one comes out of prison. They say part of the problem is that they usually experience each without any kind of support from the State.” Women often disproportionately take on the burden associated with these struggles, although organizations such as The Civil Association of Families of Individuals Detained in Federal Prisons (Asociación Civil para Familiares de Detenidos en Cárceles Federales, ACIFAD) work to provide support, write Isabella Oliver and Josefina Salomón in a WOLA commentary.
“Two protesters blocking a segment of the Panamericana highway in western Panama were hospitalized Saturday after being run over by a pick-up truck carrying produce,” reports La Prensa Latina.