Eliminalia in Lat Am
Feb. 21, 2023
The Spanish company Eliminalia has earned millions of euros in the last decade for cleaning up the online reputation of hundreds of clients who were convicted and investigated in 54 countries for corruption, money laundering, sexual abuse and drug trafficking, reports El País. The report is based on a Forbidden Stories investigation based on a cache of 50,000 internal company files. Forbidden Stories is a French nonprofit whose mission is to pursue the work of assassinated, threatened or jailed reporters.
Eliminalia deployed unethical or deceptive methods to scrub unwanted and damaging content from the internet, including use of the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” and the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, reports the Guardian.
The investigation by international media outlets found that the firm employs elaborate, deceptive tactics to remove or drown out unflattering news stories and other content, reports the Washington Post.
The company’s client list in Latin America includes more than 400 citizens and companies. Mexico (159 users), Colombia (73), Argentina (51) and Peru (32) top the list. Clients range from ex-governors gripped by corruption such as Javier Duarte, the former governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz who was once affiliated with the PRI party; to doctors with a dark past linked to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s repressive DINA force, such as as Hernán Horacio Taricco Lavin. There are also relatives of Venezuelan Chavista leaders who were allegedly bribed by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. And there are businessmen accused of laundering money for the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, such as Miguel Ángel Colorado Cessa.
Eliminalia's internal files show how the company has made a lucrative business out of the "right to be forgotten,” as powerful figures allegedly tied to corruption, human rights violations and high impact crimes have sought to “launder” their reputations, Leopoldo Maldonado, general director of Article 19 in Mexico told Proceso.
In one case in Mexico’s Campeche state, Haaretz reports how Eliminalia deployed a false copyright claim to force investigative journalist, Daniel Sánchez to remove a piece on a company linked to cases of corruption and tax fraud.
Protesters storm Suriname parliament
Hundreds of demonstrators stormed Suriname's parliament, broke windows and looted nearby businesses Friday. Initially peaceful anti-government protests, triggered by austerity measures imposed by the government of President Chan Santokhi, descended into chaos as protesters forced their way into the building and others clashed with police on the streets. (Associated Press and Miami Herald)
Demonstrators demanded Santokhi’s resignation, in response to his termination of state subsidies for fuel and electricity on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund. Inflation also fueled demonstrations: Suriname had a 54.6% inflation rate last year.
Santokhi’s government condemned the violence, saying in a statement it had set up a task force to track down those responsible for attacking parliament. (Reuters)
Caribbean Community leaders and the U.S. condemned the storming of Suriname’s parliament.
Network data confirm the restriction of social media and messaging platforms Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger in Suriname on government-owned internet operator Telesur on Friday. (Netblocks)
Rescue work continued in southeastern Brazil yesterday, after floods killed at least 36 people on Sunday. During a visit to the badly affected coastal city of São Sebastião, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said the disaster underlined the need to stop building homes in areas at risk of landslides and major floods. (Guardian)
Some of the hardest-hit cities canceled their Carnival festivities. (Associated Press)
Carnival’s atmosphere is lighter this year, after rage and resistance fueled political statements during the far-right Bolsonaro government and Covid-19 restricted festivities, reports the Guardian.
Chile is pushing to create a new marine protected area in international waters of its coast and those of Peru. It hopes seal the deal during an upcoming UN summit, reports AFP.
The deployment of foreign troops to help Haiti address its ongoing gang violence is not currently the focus of the Caribbean Community, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said during the closing press conference of the 44th regular meeting of Caricom “The path to bringing peace and stability to Haiti at the moment does not include boots on the ground, but rather building up the security mechanism that is in place.” (Miami Herald)
U.S. officials are preparing to announce a new rule that will penalize asylum seekers who cross into the United States illegally or do not apply for protection in countries they transit en route to the U.S. southern border, reports the Washington Post.
The measure will instruct asylum seekers to use a Customs application to request an appointment at an official U.S. port of entry. But the Biden administration’s expanding use of the app has triggered criticism across the political spectrum. Immigrant advocates say it disadvantages vulnerable migrants, reports the Washington Post.
A bus carrying migrants from Venezuela, Colombia and Central America crashed in central Mexico, killing 17 people. (Reuters)
New Guatemalan regulations aimed at cracking down on human smugglers could could criminalize work carried out by faith-based groups and volunteers to aid migrants, reports Al Jazeera.
La Fundación para la Salud Integral de los Guatemaltecos, or FunSalud for short, is part health clinic, part grade-A laboratory. In rural Guatemala, it is doing what's called active surveillance — with studies aimed at going out into the community to look for emerging diseases with pandemic potential, reports NPR’s Goats and Soda.
Ecuadorian authorities captured an alleged drug kingpin, Wilder Emilio Sánchez Farfán, who bridged the gap between Ecuador’s local gangs and the international drug trafficking trade. Known as “Gato Farfán,” he helped establish the country as a cocaine hub and usher in a period of devastating gang violence, reports InSight Crime.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signed a decree handing over responsibility for lithium reserves to the energy ministry, after nationalizing lithium deposits last April. (Reuters)
The risks posed by Bitcoin to El Salvador have not materialized because of the country’s thus-far limited use of the cryptocurrency, according to the IMF. (Coin Telegraph)