Drugs & Cartels in Mexico (July 15, 2021)
Drugs & Cartels in Mexico
WOLA this morning began a 6-part webinar series: Decades of Damage Done: The Drug War Catastrophe in Latin America and the Caribbean. 2021 marks five decades since U.S. President Nixon launched a global ‘war on drugs'. The webinars will examine the consequences of prohibition and the drug war for Latin America and the Caribbean and identify alternative approaches consistent with protecting human rights and achieving social justice.
The Mexicans cartels seem to be tightening their grip on politics, according to the Financial Times.
Who is buying weapons and why they are getting them is explored in a column in Crónica authored by Eugenio Weigend (Center for American Progress) and Carlos Pérez (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas). It's a summary of their academic article, Gun acquisition in Mexico 2012-2018: findings from Mexico’s National Crime Victimization Survey.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) led the bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and Guatemala, which focused on narcotics trafficking, the COVID-19 pandemic, unlawful migration, and combating corruption, according to a press release and transcript.
The Mexican Navy offered a "rare apology for its potential role in the abductions of dozens of people" who went missing during operations against drug cartels in 2018, according to Reuters.
Cuba & Haiti
The history and politics of migration to the USA from both countries is compared in the Washington Post and each countries' exile / expat community in Miami is featured in the Wall Street Journal. "What the US really needs to do about Cuba and Haiti," writes Dan Restrepo, Obama's Special Assistant for Western Hemisphere Affairs in an opinion piece in CNN. "The hard, simple truth is the United States is not going to be the primary engine of political change in either Haiti or Cuba. Meaningful, durable political change in both lies in the hands of the populations themselves."
The Cuban government is making concessions to protestors' demands including temporarily lifting restrictions "on the amount of food and medicine travelers could bring into the country," according to the BBC and Reuters. Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said restrictions would be lifted until the end of 2021. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel offered some self-criticism during his televised address last night, acknowledging that "government shortcomings in handling shortages and other problems played a role in this week’s protests," according to the Associated Press. The story indicates several other changes the government is making: "the directors of state-owned enterprises will be allowed to determine salaries beyond the regulations and long-promised rules will be instituted for small- and medium-size enterprises to be formed, a step once unthinkable under the communist government."
Dozens of NGOs and media outlets condemned the crackdown in Cuba and called for a respect for human rights, according to a press release earlier this week. The lawyers’ group Cubalex has counted over 200 detained or missing people; their Twitter feed has highlighted the cases of animal rights activist Yenney Caballero as well as José Hernández y Yoel Romero.
"As internet access began to return on Wednesday, images and videos circulated on social media that purported to show police officers breaking into Cubans’ homes and arresting suspected protesters," according to the Washington Post.
Politico reports on the pressures the Biden White House is facing; how they respond "could have a big political impact in a state where Democrats are reeling."
Cuba still divides Latin America ideologically, reports Reuters. Andres Oppenheimer slams the presidents of Mexico and Argentina "for their shameful response to the peaceful July 11 protests in Cuba," in his column in the Miami Herald. This is all too much a focus on the past for Michael Stott, the Financial Times' Latin America editor. "The tired policies in Havana and Washington fail to address the country’s myriad problems; Cuba needs fresh thinking to prevent further protests."
The Pentagon says that they once trained Colombians implicated in Haiti assassination plot, according to the Washington Post this morning.
Continued investigations on the how and why of the assinnation of President Moïse is reported on by the New York Times and the Miami Herald. One arrested suspect claims that he was not planning for a killing but a forced transition. “I keep asking myself, there must be something wrong with me for being so naïve. I believed a new transitional government was needed in Haiti.”
Dimitri Hérard, the head of security at the presidential palace in Haiti, was arrested yesterday, although "it isn’t clear on what charges, if any, according to the Washington Post. Haiti’s police chief accused a Venezuelan businessman, Antonio Intriago of CTU Security, as part of a plot to assassinate President Jovenel Moïse, according to the Associated Press.
Parts of the Amazon rainforest emit more carbon dioxide than they absorb, according to an article in Nature and reported on by the New York Times and the BBC. This is "a troubling sign for the fight against climate change" where deforestation and an accelerating warming trend have contributed to change in the carbon balance." The area with the most extreme conditions are in the southeastern region in Brazil, "which is around 30% deforested [and] emitted 10 times more carbon then in the west, which is around 11% deforested," said lead author Luciana Gatti, with Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The authors of the Nature article conclude: “We stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.”
Brazil should pay for not halting deforestation due to Bolsonaro’s failed policies, according to a Financial Times editorial.
What will be Honduran environmental activsts Berta Cáceres' legacy now that the army intelligence officer and businessman had been found guilty of collaborating in her murder, asks The Guardian.
Less than two weeks before inauguration day (and five weeks after the election), Pedro Castillo "has yet to begin preparing for the official transfer of power — his path blocked by Fujimori’s claims of electoral fraud," according to the Washington Post. July 28 also marks the nation's bicentennial of independence. The article details how opposition leader (and former candidate) faces "a looming trial for alleged money laundering and the potential for a long jail sentence if she doesn’t acquire presidential immunity" as well as how possible coups are being planned.
President Bolsonaro spent last night in the hospital for an obstructed intestine, according to Reuters. Bolsonaro used social media to suggest that this may have been a result of his 2018 stabbing and wrote, “One more challenge resulting from an assassination attempt. It was a cruel attack not just against me but against our democracy," according to the New York Times and Folha do São Paul and others, recalling his 2018 stabbing. The AP says surgery is likely not needed.
The WHO / PAHO reports that new COVID-19 cases spiked in Central America, the Caribbean and some South America countries last week.
In Peru, almost all new infections are from the coronavirus variant known as Lambda (C.37) "which has largely slid under the radar for the past nine months," according to National Geographic. (Several news reports in Peru are focusing on the Iota variant.) In Chile Lambda accounts for 31% in the last 60 days. "The high case numbers are occurring even though 58.6 percent of Chile’s population is fully vaccinated ... The poor efficacy of the [Chinese CoronaVac] vaccine may be partly to blame."
Frida Ghitis writes: Latin America Needs Vaccines and Money in her column in World Politics Review. "Rich countries are finding it possible to restart their economies safely, while lower- and middle-income countries, whose populations continue to be brutally battered by the pandemic, are struggling with massive public health demands."
Although Mexico reported the largest jump in COVID cases since February, Bloomberg Businessweek reports on how Mexico forgot its COVID crisis. "While other countries essentially paid workers to stay home and supported companies so they could preserve jobs, Mexico’s policies had the effect of keeping people in circulation to earn a living."
The US donated 500,000 vaccines to Haiti through COVAX, according to Reuters. These are the first to reach the island from the USA, according to the Miami Herald.
Latin America’s protest superheroes fight crime and climate change, according to The Conversation, which recalls Superbarrio and updates newer characters like Menganno and Pareman and "Stupid and Sensual Spiderman."
It's Eduardo Romero here filling in for Jordana: let me know if I missed or misinterpreted something or perhaps you have a different take.