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Escalating protests in Haiti, new governance structure reportedly to be announced
Protests in Haiti, initially sparked by a reduction in fuel subsidies, have escalated over the last week, transforming “into a general, visceral rejection of Haiti’s dire living conditions, characterized by widespread hunger, a lack of basic services, omnipresent gang violence, runaway inflation and the weak rule of a caretaker prime minister, Ariel Henry,” writes The New York Times. The country faces generalized violence, with gangs effectively asserting control in large swaths of territory, particularly around the capital of Port-au-Prince, reports The Guardian.
Henry came to power as acting prime minister after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated last year. He has faced opposition from traditional opposition members, as well as some sectors of civil society, the international community, and even gangs. The New York Times notes, “A prominent gang leader, Jimmy Chérizier, known as Barbecue, said Haiti’s poor must depose Mr. Henry at a demonstration he held in his stronghold in Port-au-Prince on Thursday… Officials from two countries that monitor Haiti closely say politicians and businessmen financing the gangs may be exacerbating the unrest, tapping into the general outrage to force Mr. Henry to roll back economic measures that hurt their revenues.”
Henry is reportedly largely unpopular in Haiti and viewed as illegitimate due to his lack of democratic election, but he has received support from the US Biden administration. Last week, over 100 faith and advocacy groups signed a letter to the administration calling for an end to support for Henry, which has also received support from some members of Congress, reports The Hill. Many advocates have called for the United States to back the Montana Accord. The Accord, signed by “over six hundred fifty Haitian organizations and individual signatories from a diverse array of actors, including most of the major political parties, Catholic and Protestant churches, women’s and youth organizations, labor unions, chambers of commerce, human rights groups, the media, and even many of Haitian businesses and social elites,” establishes a timeline and clear transition for transparent, democratic elections in the country (Council on Foreign Relations). The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Haiti recently noted that the UN presence in Haiti will not be there for “forever,” calling for a path towards elections, reports CNN.
On Saturday night, the president of the Haitian senate “told the nation that a new governance structure will be in place within the next 48 hours,” reportedly including “a High Council for the 20 month transition; a new government; a transition control body and a strengthening of the judiciary which will have to complete the Court of Cassation in order to allow the formation of a new Provisional Electoral Council and pave the way for the next elections” (The Gleaner).
The President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, described Haiti’s current situation as “a low-intensity civil war” last week, calling for action from the international community. Abinader has sent the military to the border and is currently working to construct a wall between the two countries for “national security” (The New York Times, France24).
“The killing of journalists Frantzsen Charles and Tayson Lartigue has led to calls to better prepare and protect journalists in Haiti,” reports The Haitian Times.
Plans for a new green hydrogen project in the southern province of Rio Negro could spur Argentina’s energy transition and create thousands of jobs, but the project’s effects on the environment and the lack of government consultation with Indigenous communities have raised red flags, reports Al Jazeera.
Despite discussion of increasing representation of Afro-descendant and women candidates in Brazil’s upcoming national elections, “LGBTQIA+ candidates remain invisible,” writes Cleyton Feitosa at Washington Brazil Office.
While in London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, Bolsonaro said in an interview that if he doesn’t win reelection in the first round with at least 60% of votes, “something abnormal” at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) will be at fault, reports Estadão. Polling consistently shows Bolsonaro winning around 35% of the vote, trailing frontrunner and former president Lula by around double digits.
BrazilReports interviews Altair Algayer of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), the man responsible for monitoring “Man of the Hole,” “an isolated indigenous man in Brazil’s Amazon” who died last month.
The Biden administration’s intended policies towards Central America—aimed at curbing migration, improving rule of law, and rooting out corruption—have largely failed, says the New York Times. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua have all faced significant democratic backsliding in the past year, while migration levels to the US are at an all-time high.
The Chilean government is extending free healthcare to about 6 million residents through a new policy to abolish copayments, reports The Lancet.
“Today’s left is focused on the issues of social and environmental justice and a commitment to uphold democracy, which follows suit with Petro’s agenda,” write Sergio Guzmán and Karis Williams for Global Americans, although they explain that “Petro starts his term with a grand vision of Latin American unity that will likely face significant political, social, economic, and geopolitical obstacles.”
Venezuela’s largest criminal group, the Tren de Aragua, deals with illegal mining and narcotrafficking, according to RCN Radio. Their habit of leaving cadavers in bags has begun to cross borders, most recently crossing the Colombian border and reaching Bogotá.
Cubans will vote on a Family Code Referendum on September 25, a proposed law that would expand LGBTQ+ rights and codify domestic violence penalties, among other changes. Critics say the government is merely using the referendum as a way to improve its international image while it continues to repress political dissent, explains Yery M. García at Americas Quarterly.
The Bukele government shut down an anti-corruption unit’s investigation into their negotiations with the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs in 2019 aimed “to reduce murder rates and help the ruling New Ideas party win legislative elections,” reports Reuters.
Earlier this year, five former Guatemalan paramilitaries were convicted of sexual violence against five Maya Achi indigenous women, a “historic achievement for human rights in Guatemala,” despite the perpetrators still needing to face the courts and for full implementation of reparations, says WOLA.
The PAN and PRD have indicated that they are open to returning to their Va por México alliance with the PRI, but not if Alejandro "Alito" Moreno continues as the party’s leader, reports Reforma.
Tomás Zerón de Lucio, head of the former Criminal Investigative Agency (AIC), is thought to be one of the key orchestrators of the government’s cover-up of the Ayotzinapa case, where 43 students were forcibly disappeared in 2014. Zerón currently finds himself in Israel, in an effort to evade Mexican extradition attempts, reports NACLA.
The Pudding has “an audio/visual story exploring the sounds of Mexico City’s streets,” with a focus on informal street vendors.
Latin American and Caribbean drug traffickers have begun introducing an increased level of synthetic drugs into the market, challenging law enforcement efforts as they seek to improve their detection and seizure efforts of synthetic drugs, reports Insight Crime.
US Republican Senator Rick Scott is delaying eight of President Biden’s nominees for ambassador positions in Latin America and the Caribbean over the Biden administration’s reversal of certain policies towards Cuba, including the lifting of specific travel benefits and increasing remittance amounts that can be sent from the US, reports NBC. President Biden has yet to nominate ambassadors to Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
A new report by the Inter-American Dialogue addresses the impacts of connectivity gaps across the region, particularly on education, and offers solutions for how to expand technological access to more complex areas.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of the drug market in Uruguay, reports Insight Crime. As of yet, there is no concrete plan presented by the government to combat cross-border trafficking or other drug-related activity.
The rate of deforestation in Venezuela has increased dramatically, with the country’s forest losing an amount of land coverage comparable to “three Caracas” in a single year, reports El País.
Adriana Boersner Herrera at Global Americans analyzes Nicolás Maduro’s foreign policy wins and setbacks since becoming president in 2013, providing additional context surrounding his 6 years as Foreign Minister under Hugo Chávez.
Héctor Rodríguez at Global Americans reports that Venezuelan journalists who cover emergency news are at risk for developing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), leading to higher levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.