Brazilian culture minister resigns, Nazi reference scandal (Jan. 17, 2020)
Brazilian culture minister Roberto Alvim was forced to resign today amid heavy backlash due to apparent Nazi references -- a similarity to a speech by Joseph Goebbels and Wagner playing in the background -- in an announcement about a new initiative, reports the Guardian. Alvim is one of the government's most militant cultural warriors, an extremely relevant category for President Jair Bolsonaro's political movement, reports the Washington Post. (See last Friday's post.) He had previously criticized for suggesting rock music encourages abortion and Satanism. It's the latest flashpoint in a broader debate over freedom of speech and culture in the Bolsonaro era, reports the New York Times.
Brazil's government is pushing abstinence-based sex education to counter teen pregnancies, and is also censoring sex education sections of a health booklet for teenage girls following criticisms Bolsonaro, reports the Guardian. Multiple studies have shown that these approaches are not effective.
Guatemalan police accompanied by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents bused hundreds of migrants traveling through the country in a group back to Honduran border to comply with registration requirements, reports the Guardian. The move, reportedly paid for by the U.S., aimed to break up a migrant caravan that set out this week from Honduras towards the United States. (See yesterday's post.)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the caravan of approximately 3,000 migrants would not be turned back at Mexico's southern border (when they eventually make it there) but will instead be offered jobs, reports Bloomberg.
AMLO announced a broad judicial reform proposal, this week. The most relevant changes include being named and overseen by the Senate, and the possibility of criminal trials in specialized tribunals for judges accused of corruption, reports El País.
AMLO uses communication as a tool to distract Mexicans from the crushing policy problems his government is not addressing, argues Carlos Loret de Mola A. in the Post Opinión.
AMLO is increasingly desperate to offload the presidential private jet, which has been on sale for a year without success. Today he suggested raffling it off by selling six million raffle tickets at $25 apiece. (Guardian)
Aiming for "republican austerity," AMLO has slashed public spending, but makes an exception for baseball, repots the Economist.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, yesterday. (Washington Post)
Government attacks against Venezuelan opposition lawmakers attempting to reach the National Assembly building this week suggest Nicolás Maduro will not pull back from his attempt to control congress, write David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas in the Venezuela Weekly. Instead there is "multi-faceted push" aimed at consolidating government control. (See yesterday's post.)
The Venezuelan National Assembly has had an opposition party majority since 2015, but the configuration has changed in ensuing years due to judiciary harassment or coercion from the Maduro government, reports the Caracas Chronicles. The opposition majority has been further eaten away at the recruitment of deputies who arrived at the AN as opposition, and now favor the interests of chavismo.
It was unacceptable for Bolivian President Evo Morales to resign in November due to pressure from the country's military, said Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco in an interview with Carmen Aristegui. (CNN)
A legislative election originally scheduled for last October in Haiti was never held. As a result there is no functioning legislature and President Jovenel Moïse will rule by decree -- an "ominous" prospect, according to the Economist.
The bodies of six children and a pregnant women were found in a new grave in Panama, and authorities believe they could be sacrificial victims of a religious sect's ritual, reports the New York Times.
Accountability advocates are concerned that, under Guatemala's new government, new forms of criminal activity, cooptation of the state, and attacks against human rights defenders will supplant hard-won gains in the battle against corruption and impunity, write Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada at the International Justice Monitor. Issues they look at include alleged ties to clandestine security groups and military veterans who opposed the CICIG and the peace process. (See Wednesday's post.)
"In Honduras, doing independent journalism means constantly running into a wall," writes Jennifer Ávila in El Faro. "This wall is built by mafia-run institutions that have silenced and terrorized whole communities ... Fear and distrust are the strongest enemies of Honduran journalism right now."
Revelations that Colombia's military has spied on opposition politicians, reporters and judges bolster arguments that its time to strengthen the country's still-immature democracy, argues Sinar Alvarado in a New York Times Español op-ed.
The Caribbean is heading to an electoral super-year: voters are set to head to the polls in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, reports Global Americans. The economy is a central concern for most of these countries, according to the piece, though the focus is on how to manage a relatively positive economic outlook -- particularly positive in the cases of Guyana and Suriname.
Guyana's oil windfall, and how to manage an expected economic expansion of over 80 percent this year, will dominate the country's March 2 election between current President David Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change (APNU-AFC) and the opposition candidate Irfaan Ali, running under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), according to the same Global Americans piece.
Environmental conservation is a key part of Guyana's future, and a critical policy question for the next government, argues Anna Correia De Sá in Fair Observer.
Trinidadian authorities said Venezuelan migrants who were given registration cards will receive “an automatic six-month extension” at the end of the expiry period. (Stabroek News)
A light-skinned Peruvian legislative candidate ended a debate with his darker-skinned opponent by handing him two bars of soap -- one for his clothes and one for his face. The racist gesture, inspired in school bullying tactics, is part of a deep-seated prejudice about skin color Latin America, writes Marco Áviles in Post Opinión.
The Guaraní indigenous tribe in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil are losing their habitat and, therefore, the source of their nutrition and subsistence. This has resulted in physical and mental health problems and a sharp increase in suicides, reports Eichhorn-Weiss.
Cuba leads Latin America in diabetes control, reports Cuba Debate.
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