Eta landed in Nicaragua (Nov. 3, 2020)
Hurricane Eta intensified into a Category 4 storm yesterday, and was expected to make landfall in Nicaragua this morning as a Category 5 hurricane. Eta is expected to pummel Central America, and analysts are comparing it to Hurricane Mitch, which claimed 11,000 lives, mostly in Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998. (The Weather Channel)
The government of Nicaragua has already begun evacuating coastal residents in advance of the impending storm. Eta's eye, with maximum winds of 240 km per hour, made landfall in Nicaragua's Bilwi municipality this morning. (Confidencial) Coastal communities have fled to shelters in schools and churches, where social distancing is impossible and masks are scarce. There's also no electricity, and few supplies, reports Confidencial.
Nicaragua’s army moved red-helmeted troops specialized in search and rescue to Bilwi, the main coastal city in an otherwise remote and sparsely populated area. The navy spent yesterday ferrying residents of coastal islands to shelters in Bilwi, also known as Puerto Cabezas, reports the Associated Press.
The slow-moving and rapidly intensifying storm, the latest in an active Atlantic hurricane season, has the lowest pressure of any storm in this season -- a sign of its strength, according to CNN. Eta is the 28th named storm — and the 12th hurricane — in the Atlantic hurricane season, and has tied a record set in 2005 for the most storms that have grown strong enough to be named.
The Hurricane Center is warning of the threat of “catastrophic wind damage” near where the center crosses over the coast, along with a “potentially catastrophic and life-threatening storm surge” as high as 14 to 21 feet above normal tide levels. Flash and river flooding along with landslides are expected in portions of Central America, particularly in Nicaragua and Honduras as well as Guatemala and Belize. “Life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds, flash flooding, and landslides [are] expected across portions of Central America,” the forecast center stated. (Washington Post Capital Weather Gang)
The storm was expected to move over northern Nicaragua through Wednesday night and then across central portions of Honduras on Thursday, losing strength as it leaves the Caribbean behind, the Hurricane Center said. (New York Times)
The world is waiting with baited breath for the results of the U.S. presidential elections today -- but for some non-citizens the vote is of utmost personal importance. Democratic candidate Joe Biden has promised to create a task-force to reunite the families of 545 minors separated from their parents at the U.S. border under the Trump administration's crackdown on migration. The Washington Post profiles one Honduran woman who was separated from her three-year-old in 2018, and is desperately hoping to reunite with him.
Trump’s stance on Central America has been brutish and simple, singularly focused on stopping migration, but would Biden really end the US bullying of the region, as he's promised? El Faro talks with Jon Lee Anderson, who predicts regional conflict and more Trump emulators in Latin America if the current U.S. president wins today's election. A potential Biden administration's policies towards Latin America would "have to be like a post-war administration in which it tries to set this ship that was sinking back up. It's going to have to jettison cargo, it's going to be overburdened with emergency measures, but mostly at righting a ship that was keeling over and sinking."
The U.S. election could also have significant impact in Colombia, where U.S. backed fumigation efforts to eradicate coca plantations are an issue of significant contention, reports Politico.
The U.S. and the OAS have increased pressure on Haitian President Jovenel Moïse to hold long overdue legislative elections, reports the Miami Herald. Moïse has been ruling by decree since January, when Parliament became dysfunctional because of overdue elections. Moïse has been angling for a constitutional referendum, a move experts say violates Haitian law which requires reforms to go through Parliament.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammatei said he will scrap an official agreement allowing US-based family planning group Planned Parenthood to set up an office, denouncing it as a promotor of abortion. “I AM A FAITHFUL DEFENDER OF LIFE and I am emphatic in indicating that in my government I will not endorse the creation, registration or start-up of any organization that goes against life,” he said on Twitter. (AFP)
Xenophobic commentaries about immigrants skyrocketed on Colombian social media after Bogotá mayor Claudia López said some Venezuelans were contributing to crime in the country's capital. (El Espectador)
Three relatives of an assassinated social leader were killed this weekend in Colombia's Cauca department, the latest massacre in a year marked by mass killings. (AFP)
Chile voted to rewrite its dictatorship-era constitution. The next challenge will be making sure the elites don’t dominate the process, argues Juan Pablo Luna in NACLA.
Brazil has mobilized more than 4,000 soldiers to patrol its northern coast near the jungle border with French Guiana for the trafficking of drugs, weapons and gold and for other crimes, reports Reuters.
Carlos Bolsonaro, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's second son, played a key role in blocking an Army ordinance that tightened the rules for tracking and controlling weapons and ammunition in Brazil, reports Veja. (See also Rio Times.)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...