Abortion on Argentina's horizon (Dec. 11, 2020)
Argentina's lower chamber of congress passed a bill that would legalize elective abortion up to 14 weeks after conception. Green masked masses spent the night waiting outside of Argentina's congress as lawmakers debated the bill for 21 hours. The bill now passes to Argentina's Senate, where it is not clear advocates have enough support for it to pass.
Lawmakers modified the bill sent by President Alberto Fernández, in hopes of winning more votes they introduced last minute changes allowing institutional conscientious objection to abortion, which would permit private clinics to refuse to carry out the procedure, though they would have to refer women to another facility where they could terminate their pregnancies. (Associated Press)
The legalization bill is an opportunity for Argentina to meet international human rights obligations, and respond to a grave public health crisis, argued Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco in Clarín. The debate this time around builds on a consensus established during the 2018 abortion discussions: penalization does not stop women from aborting, but criminalization does force them to carry out the procedure in unsafe circumstances.
Among the more stirring moments of the debate was lawmaker Blanca Osuna's speech in favor of abortion, given from a hospital bed where she is being treated for Covid-19. (Ambito) Another lawmaker, Alicia Aparicio, dedicated her vote to her grandmother, who died at 22 as a result of a clandestine abortion. (Infobae) Last week lawmaker Cecilia Moreau revealed she had an illicit abortion at age 16, an episode her father, lawmaker Leopoldo Moreau, also recalled with visible emotion with the press. (Infobae)
Lawmakers are now debating a bill that would extend social programs to cover the pregnant women and children until the third year of their life. The move has been portrayed as a conciliatory nod to anti-abortion activists who argued that women should be supported to avoid terminations due to economic necessity. But advocates reject the characterization of the measure as a flip-side to abortion, and rather portray it as a further expansion of rights that provide women with support for their choices regarding pregnancy.
In the aftermath of Venezuela's widely-questioned legislative elections last weekend, a major question is what will happen with opposition leader Juan Guaidó -- whose claim to the interim-presidency stems from his post as head of the National Assembly. The outlook for the opposition in Venezuela is bleak, and Nicolás Maduro will likely ramp up political persecution and repression of political dissidents in the coming months, writes Kristen Martinez-Gugerli in Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. Already most of Guaidó's cabinet is in exile, and Martínez-Guglieri argues that the opposition coalition's focus on international support has distanced it from the everyday struggles of Venezuelans trying to survive a humanitarian crisis.
Guaidó has vowed to stay in Venezuela, and said it was time to revise U.S. economic sanctions. (Associated Press)
This week opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for the dissolution of Guaidó's parallel interim-government. (Reuters)
A Brazilian court sentenced President Jair Bolsonaro to a compensation for moral damages to journalist Bianca Santana, who he falsely accused of spreading fake news earlier this year. (Folha de S. Paulo, see her Guardian opinion piece on the case from June.)
Brazil's government will seek international sponsorship to protect the Amazon from deforestation, reports Bloomberg. Brazil seeks $10 billion a year to meet its Paris climate agreement commitments to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate illegal deforestation. Environmental groups have poured scorn on the proposal, reports the Financial Times.
Bolsonaro’s government is looking for a legal way to exclude Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei from 5G networks in Brazil, reports Reuters.
The incoming U.S. Biden administration's likely crackdown on corruption in Central America could create short-term tensions, according to the Latin America Risk Report.
A new report by the U.S. Congress recommends sweeping changes to the country's drug policy in the Americas. It advocates for increased international coordination, a more holistic approach to policymaking and a review of antiquated punishments for countries not doing enough to meet annual goals, reports InSight Crime.
Covid-19 has fueled growing conflict and displacement in Colombia, reports the New Humanitarian.
Mexico hasn't followed through on its commitment to train military forces in human rights, according to a new civil society report. (Animal Político, see yesterday's briefs.)
Mexico's coronavirus czar is increasingly under fire as the country's Covid-19 deaths soar -- Science.
Mexican Maya leader Leydy Pech was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize this week for her defense of the melipona beecheii bee and it's native habitat in Yucatan. She is billed at they "Lady of the Honey" and stopped planting of Monsanto genetically modified soy in Southern Mexico. (EFE and BBC)
Another of this year's Goldman prize winners, Kristal Ambrose, had to overcome prejudice about class and race in her campaign against plastic waste in the Bahamas. Ambrose started her campaign close to home and among the young, before branching out to address the structural and political causes of the plastic problem, reports the Guardian. Ambrose helped draft the Bahamas' ban on single-use plastic that came into place this year.
An Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) delegation met with Fujimori-era victims of forced sterilization in Peru to support their struggle for justice. (Telesur)
Eduardo Romero will be covering the Briefing next week again, I leave you in his capable hands.