265 stories of Haitian children abandoned by UN fathers - The Conversation (Dec. 19, 2019)
U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti fathered hundreds of children, and then left the mothers to raise them alone. A new study by The Conversation interviewed 2,500 Haitians about the experiences of women and girls living in communities that host peace support operations. Of those, 265 told stories that featured children fathered by UN personnel. A frequency of ten percent in the study shows how common the experiences are.
A telling factor is that interviewers did not directly ask about sexual relations with peacekeepers or children born through those relations. The interviewees brought those issues up on their own, said researchers led by Sabine Lee, a history professor at the University of Birmingham, and Susan Bartels, a clinician scientist at Queen’s University in Ontario. The resulting children are known as “petits minustahs," a reference to the French acronym for the U.N. peacekeeping force, notes the New York Times.
Interviews show how girls as young as 11 were sexually abused and impregnated by peacekeepers. They were then often abandoned because the fathers were repatriated once the pregnancy became known. "They put a few coins in your hands to drop a baby in you," said one interview subject. Though there are reports of sexual abuse, towards men and boys as well as women and girls, accounts of transactional sex are the most common, according to the report. Sometimes transactions involved small amounts of money, other times food, which highlights the context of extreme poverty the encounters took place in.
"Our research has underlined what is implied in much of the academic literature on peacekeeping economies – namely that poverty is a key underlying factor contributing to sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeeping forces."
In response to the report, the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations said it took the allegations seriously. The United Nations says it has received 116 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse since 2007, all of which concern Haiti peacekeepers, reports the Washington Post.
The United Nations has previously acknowledged that more than 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers deployed to Haiti exploited nine children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007, and the men were sent home, but were not punished.
118 Venezuelan political prisoners require urgent medical attention, have judicial delays, or have a release order that hasn't yet been carried out, according to a new United Nations human rights office tally. They require an urgent response, said U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet yesterday. She also said that U.N. representatives have been able to interview 70 political detainees in private in recent months. She said they have continued to document reports of extrajudicial executions by security forces, and noted with concern the deaths of children in hospitals and critically urgent medical needs. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Existing sanctions have pushed Maduro to loosen economic regulations, but not his stranglehold on power, according to the Economist. The retreat from economic regulation increases the chasm between those who have access to dollars -- via savings or remittances -- and those who do not. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Senior U.S. officials met with Venezuelan opposition leaders in Washington to discuss plans to increase pressure on Maduro in 2020, reports McClatchy. The State Department hosted four of Venezuela’s largest opposition parties, starting with one-on-one sessions that began earlier this week before all the parties gathered together on yesterday. Options include stronger, more complex sanctions that will further isolate Maduro.
Nonetheless, it's a strategy that has run its course, WOLA expert David Smilde told the Latin America Advisor. "After almost a year of trying to push out Nicolas Maduro through a campaign of maximum pressure, it seems readily apparent that Maduro will maintain a solid grip on power over the coming year."
National Assembly lawmakers moved to allow absent members -- exiled due to concerns for their physical safety -- to vote in absentia vía internet. They are angling to ensure quorum on Jan. 5, when opposition leader Juan Guaidó will seek ratification as leader of the National Assembly. The post is what grants him claim to the interim presidency. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The move was immediately challenged before the Maduro-loyal Supreme Court, not by chavistas, but by splinter opposition groups, reports El Pitazo. Several of the opposition lawmakers opposed to the move are accused of corruption.
Wondering why there is so much coverage of legislative wrangling in a country that much of the world considers an authoritarian regime? That's because "Venezuelan politics runs at two levels," according to the Latin America Risk Report. "There is a ‘model UN’ level in which politicians debate nuances of constitutional law as if the country is a quasi-normal democracy facing an institutional battle. And there is a brutal reality level in which Maduro retains authoritarian control through violent repression while Venezuelan citizens starve."
In the meantime, a generation of children is growing up hungry and stunted in Venezuela, reports Reuters.
Venezuelan intelligence agents raided the offices of media outlet Venepress yesterday. (Infobae)
Brazilian authorities are investigating whether Senator Flávio Bolsonaro -- a son of President Jair Bolsonaro -- oversaw a corruption racket during his 15 years as a Rio congressman, with the collaboration of a close friend of the president, Fabrício Queiroz. Yesterday, investigators raided Queiroz' home, as well as as well as addresses linked to Bolsonaro’s son and the president's ex-wife. Queiroz is being investigated on suspicion of helping skim phantom employees’ salaries, the Rio state prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Reports in the Brazilian press have also linked Flávio Bolsonaro to members of a notorious death squad. But critical voices note the long delay in the investigation, after reports of alleged wrongdoing broke a year ago. (Guardian, Reuters)
Cuba’s government accused the U.S. Trump administration of orchestrating the end of the island’s medical missions to several Latin American countries in order to cut one of the country’s main revenue sources. (Associated Press)
Mexico is about to become an economic lab test regarding the job impact of raising the minimum wage, reports Bloomberg.
Peruvian political leader Keiko Fujimori said she'd take a break from politics, a month after her release from pre-trial detention and in the midst of a massive corruption investigation. (AFP)
Argentina's new government is already battling the political opposition, over a series of emergency economic measures that would raise taxes in order to finance social spending -- several modifications are already being analyzed in order to obtain lower chamber approval today and a Senate vote tomorrow. (El País, Ambito, Reuters)
Bolivian prosecutors issued an arrest warrant against former president Evo Morales, accusing him of sedition and terrorism. The interior minister, Arturo Murillo, recently brought charges against Morales, alleging he promoted violent clashes that led to 35 deaths during disturbances before and after he left office. Morales, who was granted asylum in Argentina this month, called the arrest warrant 'unfair, illegal and unconstitutional'. (Guardian, Al Jazeera)
Bolivian interim president Jeanine Áñez handed out toys to children dressed as Santa Claus. (Publimetro)
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