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DR seals border with Haiti
Sept. 15, 2023
The Dominican Republic sealed its border with Haiti this morning, in the midst of a dispute over access to water from a shared river between the two countries, after last minute negotiations this week failed. (See yesterday’s post.)
Hundreds of Haitians returned from the Dominican Republic yesterday after DR President Luis Abinader announced the border shutdown, which authorities say will last "as long as necessary.” (Reuters)
Ida Sawyer, crisis and conflict director at Human Rights Watch, said shutting the border “would essentially lock Haitians within their country amid extreme levels of violence, including large-scale killings, kidnappings and rapes… with much of the population struggling to feed their families or access clean water and health care.” (Washington Post)
Haiti is deeply reliant on trade with the Dominican Republic, and “the decision is likely to deepen the economic turmoil in Haiti, where nearly half of the population is at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations,” notes the New York Times.
“The dispute has raised concerns among U.S. officials, who are closely monitoring the situation. They are concerned not only about the economic effects on the two countries, but how the shutdown might further aggravate the hunger crisis in Haiti, where nearly half of the population doesn’t have enough to eat,” reports the Miami Herald.
Haitian officials say the canal project is not in violation of a treaty between the two countries, and “critics of the closure charge that nationalist politicians in the Dominican Republic are seeking to capitalize on anti-Haitian sentiment to drum up support ahead of next year’s elections,” reports the Washington Post.
Brazil’s Supreme Court sentenced two participants in the Jan. 8 Brasília riots to heavy jail terms, the first verdicts in an emblematic case started yesterday. In both cases, eight of the court's 11 judges ruled to convict on all five charges the defendants faced: violent uprising against the rule of law, attempted coup, armed criminal conspiracy, damaging a national heritage site and aggravated property destruction. (AFP)
Approval of Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's government remained stable in September, although his rejection rate increased, according to the latest Datafolha poll. (Reuters)
Brazilian federal police are investigating Walter Braga Netto, a close ally of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, for alleged equipment procurement irregularities while he led an intervention in Rio de Janeiro state. (Reuters)
Amazonas State authorities declared an environmental emergency in the midst of severe forest fires affecting the world’s largest rainforest. (Bloomberg)
The United States government has granted asylum to Juan Francisco Sandoval, Guatemala’s former lead anti-corruption prosecutor, two years after he was fired and fled the country under threat of arrest. “Granting me political asylum is additional proof of the political persecution of which I am a victim for having participated in the investigation of illegal political-economic networks that are embedded in the state,” Sandoval told the Associated Press.
Guatemalan electoral authorities manifested dissatisfaction with the return of ballot boxes raided and opened by prosecutors this week — an action that has been objected to by Guatemalan president-elect Bernardo Arévalo and members of the international community. (Soy 502, see yesterday’s post.)
“Five months before the Salvadoran elections, the diplomatic corps has gone silent regarding presidential reelection. The U.S., which two years ago condemned consecutive periods, now takes cover behind voters’ ‘right to determine their own future.’ ‘That ship [reelection] has already sailed,’ a Biden official told El Faro English. Bukele’s popularity, in El Salvador and the U.S. diaspora, factored into the decision to tone down public hostilities with San Salvador.”
Presidential reelection is prohibited in El Salvador, “a constitutional tradition informed by concrete experiences and painful lessons from the country’s two centuries of independence,” reports El Faro. ”The interpretation of Bukele’s handpicked Constitutional Chamber is using semantics” in “an attempt to change El Salvador’s constitutional history.”
Even as national authorities have vowed to crack down on migration through the dangerous Darién Gap, local leaders are running a flourishing travel business that manages the entire route through the Colombian side of the border to Panama, reports the New York Times.
“The foundation has hired more than 2,000 local guides and backpack carriers, organized in teams with numbered T-shirts of varying colors — lime green, butter yellow, sky blue — like members of an amateur soccer league. Migrants pay for tiers of what the foundation calls “services,” including the basic $170 guide and security package to the border. Then a migration “adviser” wraps two bracelets around their wrists as proof of payment.”
Mexico is on track to receive a record number of asylum applications this year, reports the Associated Press. The demand has been so much that the national migration agency in Tapachula requested crowd control assistance from the National Guard this week.
The G77+China, a group of developing and emerging countries representing 80 percent of the global population, is meeting in Cuba. UN Secretary General António Guterres is in attendance. A draft of the closing statement underlines the many obstacles facing developing nations, and includes "a call for the establishment of a new economic world order,” reports AFP.
Lula and U.S. President Joe Biden, will launch a global initiative for “decent work” in the 21st century at next week’s UN General Assembly meeting. (EFE)
There is a growing body of work against unilateral sanctions against Venezuela ”on the one hand, experts and academics are questioning their effectiveness as policy and on the other, they are studying sanctions’ devastating effects,” writes Elias Ferrer in Le Monde Diplomatique.
NPR correspondent Eyder Peralta visited Nicaragua, the first foreign journalist to make it into the country in more than a year — “He found a country suffocating in fear.” (Via Latin America Risk Report)
“Lawmakers in Honduras are deadlocked over the selection of a new attorney general, underscoring the political obstacles to constructing an effective approach to fighting organized crime and corruption,” reports InSight Crime.
Argentina shows the limits of BRICS de-dollarization hopes, argues James Bosworth in World Politics Review.
The growing number of people who justify the 1973 coup in Chile can be tied to dissatisfaction with present day politics: “History is always viewed from the present,” University of Chile political scientist Claudia Heiss told the El Hilo podcast. “And I think that today we are looking at Chile’s history … through the prism of the [2019 protests], the constitutional rewrite process, and contemporary debates.” (Latin America Brief)
Colombia’s recognized the trade union movement as a recepient of collective reparation, yesterday and announced the creation of a high-level commission to draw up a plan for truth, reparation and non repetition. Between 1971 and 2023, 3,323 trade unionists were murdered, 449 survived murder attempts and 254 were victims of forced disappearance. According to the Ministry of Labor, 63% of the cases of trade unionists murdered in the world during this period occurred in Colombia. (EFE)
Colombia's government is considering revising rules to make majority state-run energy company Ecopetrol an obligatory partner in every offshore wind project, reports Reuters.
Colombian artist Fernando Botero “whose voluptuous pictures and sculptures of overstuffed generals, bishops, prostitutes, housewives and other products of his magic-realist imagination made him one of the world’s best-known artists” died today at age 91. (New York Times)