Colombia exhumes false positives graves (Dec. 18, 2019)
Colombian authorities are exhuming dozens of graves as part of an investigation into thousands of extrajudicial executions of civilians by security forces, who passed the dead off as combat kills between 1998 and 2014. Thousands of civilians were allegedly killed and portrayed as FARC guerrilla fighters in what Colombians have dubbed the "False Positives" scandal, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Already 162 members of the military have given testimony to the special transitional justice tribunal examining the case, and another 40 have provided written testimony. In addition to facts about the crimes, they tell about ongoing intimidation, and say they feel at risk, even under protection in military barracks, reports Caracol. Authorities have moved to provide protection for witnesses and their families. Victims have asked for high level commanders linked to the false positives to be removed from their posts. (W Radio)
Claudia López married her partner in a civil ceremony this week. She will become the country's first openly lesbian mayor, as well as Bogotá's first female mayor, reports the Associated Press.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is providing an extra 2,200 metric tons of emergency food aid for Haiti, that will reach approximately 100,000 people. It is also donating an additional $1 million to the U.N. World Food Program to support its ongoing humanitarian operations, reports the Miami Herald. Last month, early warning systems showed that a growing number of Haitians, 3.47 million, were facing either a food crisis or emergency.
A year after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó claimed the country's interim presidency, to international acclaim, his promise seems to have largely fizzled, reports the Washington Post. Venezuela's legitimacy-challenged President Nicolás Maduro remains firmly ensconced in power, and people have lost faith in Guaidó and his potential to oust Maduro's government.
In an extensive interview with El País, Guaidó said he is seeking to extend his base of allies, through conversations with other opposition parties. The solution lies with a renewed electoral authority he said, rejecting a formal military intervention.
Maduro has also backed the proposal to renew electoral authorities. (Ultimas Noticias)
Economic policy changes in Venezuela -- liberalization and dollarization -- have prompted a small recovery that alleviates some people, but has left others even worst off, according to the latest Venezuela Weekly.
Part of the economic change is coming from attempts to resurrect Venezuela's oil industry (also see the Venezuela Weekly), which involves covert international transactions to evade sanctions. InSight Crime reports on some of the strategies being employed, including "invisible" tankers to export oil.
"If you land in Rio these days, you won’t find tanks on the streets, nor will you hear about journalists being arrested. But don’t be fooled," writes film-maker Petra Costa in the Guardian. "The Brazilian far right, with the aid of the government itself, is executing a well-planned strategy to shrink the liberal democratic sphere. NGOs and civil society groups have been marginalized from policymaking. The rule of law faces death by a thousand cuts."
Two teenage McDonald's employees were electrocuted by a loose cable over the weekend in Lima, raising questions about the Peruvian franchise's safety. But it also spurred protests and anger over working conditions in the wider economy, which are viewed as exploitative and sometimes dangerous. Close to 70% of Peru’s workforce labours in unregulated conditions. (New York Times, Guardian)
Argentina's new security minister wants to focus efforts on complex, organized crime, rather than small-scale drug trafficking and consumption -- Página 12.
An Airbnb tour promising tourists the chance to live Chile's protests -- a bottle of water and protective eye goggles was included in the 19 pound cost -- was pulled after prompting outrage. (Guardian)
The best Spanish-language books of 2019 were written by women, according to Jorge Carrión in a New York Times Español op-ed.
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