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Ceara police strike (Feb. 24, 2020)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dispatched army troops to quell unrest in Ceará state on Friday, in the midst of a police strike that has caused a security crisis. The decision came after a senator, Cid Gomes, was shot while driving a digger towards a picket line. At least 122 people were murdered in four days of the Ceará strike. Masked officers forced businesses to close, occupied barracks and damaged police vehicles -- causing panic ahead of Carnival festivities this weekend.
In 2017, more than 3,000 troops were deployed in Espirito Santo state to quell unrest after a police strike produced a wave of violence, looting and burning of buses.
Such strikes, which are illegal in Brazil. Critics say officers were emboldened by Bolsonaro's harsh policing rhetoric, and growing prominence of politicians with police backgrounds. Indeed, Bolsonaro refrained from condemning the Ceará mutiny, and, last week, defended an amnesty that would shield officers who participated in the strike. Government officials, and Bolsonaro's son Senator Flavio Bolsonaro defended police shooting of Gomes as self-defense.
“The governor has made a lot of empty promises to the military police. At some point, that bomb can explode,” lawmaker Davi Maia told the Associated Press.
Analysts note that police unrest is most radical in states led by opposition governors, including Ceará, which is governed by the opposition Workers' Party. An editorial in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper called the Ceará strike “armed blackmail” that should be “contained” before it spilled over to other states.
In Minas Gerais, police obtained a 42 percent salary increase this year after threatening to strike, despite the state's dismal public finances.
“However legitimate the public security officers' salary demands are, it is unacceptable that bad policemen spread fear and panic among the population,” said the Brazil Forum of Public Security, last week.
(Folha de S. Paulo, El País, Folha de S. Paulo, Guardian, Associated Press, Associated Press)
The Tom Maior samba school in Rio de Janeiro paid tribute to Marielle Franco in its performance this weekend. (Reuters)
The Mangueira samba school parade was titled "The truth will set you free" and featured a female Jesus. (Globo)
Carnival in pictures. (Guardian)
Haitian police and soldiers shot at each other outside the country's national palace yesterday -- as officers demanded higher salaries and better working conditions. The episode, in which at least three police officers were wounded, pushed Haiti's government to cancel Carnival festivities in Port-au-Prince, "to avoid a bloodbath." Police protesters and their backers had burned dozens of Carnival floats and stands at recent protests. Police officers timed the protest for the first day of Carnival to criticize the government’s spending priorities. (Associated Press, Reuters)
Bolivia's interim government objected to two members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expert group that will investigation of acts of violence and human rights violations that occurred in the lead up and aftermath of former president Evo Morales' ouster, last November. The interim-government said two Argentine members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) lack objectivity in the case because they have referred to the episode as a coup d'etat. (Página 12, La Razón)
An unlikely truce between Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro and the country's leading businessman, Lorenzo Mendoza, is the cornerstone of Venezuela's recent transformation into a country "ruled by an autocrat willing to allow de facto capitalism in order to stave off collapse and assure his continued grip on power," reports the New York Times.
Nicaragua's Ortega government has shielded illegal landgrabbers who invade indigenous territory, reports El País.
The greatest risk for democracy in Central America's Northern Triangle is the "paradoxical combination of governments elected through democratic proceedings, but lacking legitimacy (supposing that legitimacy doesn't come only from votes) and the existence of powerful armed forces..." write Otto Argueta y Knut Walter in an extensive Contracorriente piece on military incursions on democracy in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
The U.S. Migrant Protection Protocols have exemptions for migrants who could establish a sufficient fear of torture or persecution or had known physical or mental health issues. But the exemptions were mostly ignored by authorities who returned 60,000 migrants to wait for asylum proceedings in Mexico, where there are few resources to care for asylum seekers with grave medical conditions, reports the New York Times.
Sonia Nazario shares her own family's experiences as refugees across generations to call for "an immigration policy that is both sane and humane," in the New York Times.
Brazilian authorities are reporting an increase in unaccompanied Venezuelan minors at the border. (Guardian)
Colombian and Venezuelan nationals are the top asylum seekers in Spain, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
El País profiles Ricardo Calderón, a Colombian journalist who flies under the radar but has carried out hard-hitting investigations into military corruption.
Women's rights activists are optimistic that 2020 is the year Argentine lawmakers could legalize abortion -- and they're pouring on pressure on the streets to help convince senators who are still on the fence, reports the New York Times.
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