Cité Soleil under siege
(July 14, 2022)
A deadly gang siege Cité Soleil, an impoverished suburb of Port-au-Prince, continued yesterday. The National Human Rights Defense Network that as of yesterday it had counted 89 deaths, including 21 people who were burned to death, and 16 people have been reported missing. Another 74 people were injured by gunfire or stabbing, and 127 homes were destroyed. The report accused the gang of using government-issued equipment to destroy the homes and dig trenches inside the slum, which has about 300,000 residents, reports the Miami Herald.
Violence between the newly created coalition of armed gangs known as “G-pèp-la,” led by Gabriel Jean Pierre, from Cité Soleil, and the rival G-9 federation, led by Jimmy Chérizier, a former police officer known as Barbecue, threatened to spill over and upend life elsewhere in Haiti’s capital, reports the Miami Herald. The National Human Rights Defense Network said the fight was triggered by a 3 a.m. Thursday attack by the G-9 Family and Allies federation against the Brooklyn neighborhood. Brooklyn is the stronghold of the gang G-pèp-la.
The violence began last week, a day after the first anniversary of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. (See July 7’s post.) Haitian government officials have yet to publicly address the ongoing violence.
Thousands of people are trapped without access to food, drinking water and medical care in an isolated part of the Haitian capital according to Medecins Sans Frontieres. Residents have been unable to leave Brooklyn, while trucks that bring drinking water into the neighborhood have been unable to enter. (Al Jazeera, see today’s Just Caribbean Updates)
The United Nations’ World Food Programme also warned this week that hunger was set to worsen in Haiti as a result of the continuing gang violence. More than one million people in the capital are already food insecure and deliveries of homegrown supplies cannot get there by road because the trucks are at risk of gang violence.
The U.N. Security Council postponed yesterday’s vote on extending the U.N. political mission in Haiti after China called for closed consultations on the proposed resolution. (Associated Press)
Brazilian lawmakers approve spending amendment
Brazilian lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment permitting President Jair Bolsonaro to liberally increase social spending, bypassing long-standing regulations prohibiting new social expenditures in an electoral context.
The funds will be used to increase a cash-transfer program for the country’s poorest families and fuel subsidies for truckers and taxi drivers. Critics say it will give Bolsonaro a valuable boost ahead of October’s presidential election.
(Financial Times, Associated Press)
If former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva succeeds in recapturing Brazil’s highest office, “it will go down as the political comeback of the decade — if not the century,” according to the Financial Times. “Lula promises to bring the country back to the global stage as an environmentally responsible and socially aware major developing power. … A victory this October would hand him the opportunity to define his legacy for posterity.”
Bolsonaro has expanded the armed forces’ presence in the political sphere, a mission creep that endangers democracy, argues Clara Ferreira Marques in Bloomberg.
Former White House national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told CNN he is “somebody who has helped plan coups d’etat — not here but, you know, other places.” It was an off-the-cuff comment that sparked condemnation and speculation in parts of the world where decades of U.S. intervention remain fresh memories, reports the Washington Post. Former Bolivian president Evo Morales, ousted by coup in 2019 tweeted that the remarks showed that the United States was “the worst enemy of democracy and life.”
Later in the interview, Bolton mentioned Venezuela as an example of an unsuccessful coup he had participated in. Journalist Jonathan Katz delves into the relevance of the reference, noting that “throughout the 2019 crisis, Bolton insisted that the Trump administration’s support for pretender Juan Guaidó to replace Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was anything but a coup. He literally stood in front of the White House at the height of the affair and told reporters: ‘This is clearly not a coup!’” (The Racket)
El Salvador appears to have made a turnaround in its reluctance to extradite gang members to the United States, but the policy shift may simply be an attempt to placate US officials, according to InSight Crime.
Argentines face the prospect of 90 percent inflation by year end after the economy minister’s exit triggered overnight price rises and the central bank comes under pressure to let the peso depreciate more rapidly, reports Bloomberg.
Chile's tumbling currency and runaway inflation are testing the country’s economic and financial systems, and complicating President Gabriel Boric's plans finance social programs with a tax reform, reports Reuters.
Mexico’s governing Morena party is looking ahead to the 2024 presidential elections — the major question is who will be the candidate, reports Americas Quarterly.
A group of former Rappi employees who are now entrepreneurs, as well as investors and analysts, say the company has used its unchallenged size and clout in Colombia to enable its alumni to become new founders — a startup mafia, reports Rest of World.