Castillo's rocky start (Aug. 9, 2021)
Peruvian Prime Minister Guido Bellido told Reuters that the state plans to participate in key industries, including natural gas and new hydroelectric projects, under the new Castillo administration. "Our feeling is that strategic sectors need to be in the hands of the government," he said. He specified, however, that the country's mining sector would ultimately be left in the control of private enterprise.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo's cabinet picks, particularly Bellido, have caused early political tension for his administration, and threaten to maintain the country's political volatility, reports Al Jazeera. A significant minority of Peruvians are already demanding Congress impeach Castillo.
“Castillo’s silence on policy matters and the general orientation of his government is disconcerting. Peruvians want to know where the country is heading,” Jo-Marie Burt told the Christian Science Monitor.
Nicaragua’s electoral council disqualified the country’s main opposition party, the Citizens Alliance for Liberty (CXL), on Friday. It is the latest in a crackdown against opponents, in which authorities have jailed most of President Daniel Ortega's potential challengers in November's presidential election. (AFP, Confidencial)
Human rights groups and international organizations say the move confirms the breakdown of rule of law in Nicaragua, reports Confidencial.
The move demonstrates that Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have a “desire to remain in power at all costs," said U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “The United States views the regime’s latest undemocratic, authoritarian actions – driven by Ortega’s fear of an electoral loss – as the final blow against Nicaragua’s prospects for a free and fair election later this year.” (Al Jazeera)
Hundreds of Cubans arrested for protesting against the government in mid July remain in detention, reports the Miami Herald. Cubalex, an organization tracking the arrests, estimates that at least 555 people are still in detention, including prominent dissidents. “Forty-five are disappeared. Their families still have no information of their whereabouts,” said Human Rights Watch executive director Jose Miguel Vivanco.
Cuba's government says protesters are spurred by U.S. embargo-caused hardships on the island -- a claim echoed by some progressives outside the country. "While the embargo has proved to be a failed policy, we do not agree that it is the country’s only problem, or that its unconditional elimination would guarantee the changes that Cubans are demanding," write Armando Chaguaceda and Coco Fusco in a New York Times opinion piece. "Lifting the embargo will not stop the Cuban government’s repression of its people. Its violation of fundamental human rights to assembly, free expression and due process has nothing to do with the U.S. trade embargo."
Venezuela's government will sit down with the political opposition to renew negotiations in Mexico this week, mediated by the Norwegian government. But most Venezuelans don't view this development with hope. "It's been too many years of wear," writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in the New York Times Español. While it's clear what each side wants -- the government wants to be rid of sanctions while the opposition seeks political space -- it is not clear who really represents citizens, he writes.
Haiti's investigation into President Jovenel Moïse's assassination is murky and riddled with irregularities. Now many Haitians believe authorities are also using the investigation as cover to crack down on political foes, reports the Washington Post.
One of a "growing cast of shadowy characters swept up in the investigation," the head of a Miami-based security company, spoke out "to deny any intentional involvement in the killing," reports the Miami Herald. Antonio Intriago, who hired Colombian mercenaries accused of killing Moïse, said he was working with a former Haitian Supreme Court judge to help arrest the Haitian president and not to assassinate him, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, in Colombia, the arrest of 18 army veterans in Port-au-Prince "has torn open a debate over the way the nation treats its ex-soldiers, who are the products of a civil conflict that has lasted 73 years and created the second largest military in Latin America," reports the New York Times.
Loosening of Covid travel restrictions and growing unrest, poverty and violence across the region have combined to create a migration bottleneck in the Colombian city of Necoclí, which is struggling to accommodate around 10,000 new arrivals who are trying to cross to Panama in order to continue their journeys north. (Guardian)
Panama and Colombia agreed Friday to facilitate the controlled transit of undocumented migrants seeking to reach the United States, in an attempt to slow the surge of people and protect them from organized crime, reports AFP.
Mexico's lawsuit against U.S. gunmakers is not just a legal battle, it's also about highlighting the issue of arms trafficking in conversations with the United States, reports NPR. (See last Wednesday's post.)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called Supreme Court Justice Luis Barroso a "son of a whore," ratcheting up an already high-stakes faceoff between the country's executive and judicial branches. Last week the Supreme Court approved an investigation into the president's unfounded accusations about voter fraud. (Reuters, see last Tuesday's post)
If that finds that the president abused his position to spread misinformation, Bolsonaro could be barred from running for office for eight years, affecting his plans to run for reelection next year, reports CNN.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly warned Bolsonaro, in a meeting last week, not to undermine confidence in Brazil's electoral process, especially given no evidence of fraud in previous elections has been presented. (Reuters)
Global Americans published the first in a series of working papers on the U.S.-Ecuador trade relationship, focusing on Indigenous rights. The authors argue that "Indigenous territorial and cultural interests must be a principal consideration in trade negotiations."
Cannabis sold legally in California is heading south illegally, dominating a booming boutique market across Mexico, reports the Washington Post
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