Haiti's earthquake victims desperate for aid (Aug. 17, 2021)
The official death toll from the 7.2 magnitude that struck Haiti on Saturday rose to 1,419 yesterday, and at least 6,900 were injured. Rescue workers raced to pull people from the rubble in the country's south west as tropical depression Grace descended on the area last night, dumping heavy rain on earthquake destruction. (CNN)
The rollout of aid has been slow, partly reflecting the Haitian government’s own inabilities to oversee and coordinate it, an echo of the problems following the 2010 quake, reports the New York Times. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry publicly promised to speed up relief efforts, but privately expressed anger at the government's failure to do so.
Humanitarian groups are adamant that immediate and long-term help must be implemented differently this time, compared with the aftermath of a devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, reports the Miami Herald. "Many in the humanitarian sector say they are committed to improving coordination across an array of non-governmental organizations to meet" victims' needs.
Conditions were already dire before Grace, which brings the risk of flash floods and landslides. Many people in the area are sleeping outside in the storm, as the earthquake either destroyed their homes or made them unsafe to stay in. The homes of as many as 1.5 million Haitians across the southern peninsula are structurally damaged.
In the town of Pestel “every house was destroyed, there’s nowhere to live, we need shelters, medical help and especially water. We’ve had nothing for three days and injured victims are starting to die,” Mayor Marie-Helene L’Esperance told a Haitian radio. She said the prospect of heavy rain had “spread fear through residents who had nothing left but to pray.” (Washington Post)
Hospitals in heavily damaged towns were overwhelmed, with patients lying outside because of a lack of space. One doctor in Les Cayes, one of the worst-hit towns, told the Guardian that: “The emergency room is full and the yard is full."
But the destruction of churches across the southern peninsula may be the biggest blow to longer term support for Haitians in the affected area, reports the New York Times. "For many Haitians, their only source of aid throughout their lives, in the absence of strong government institutions, has been the church."
Haitian Judge Mathieu Chanlatte, resigned from his position overseeing the investigation into President Jovenel Moïse's assassination in July. He quit Friday, just four days after taking charge of the probe, and two days after one of his court clerks was found dead in a local hospital under circumstances that remain unclear, reports the Miami Herald.
In the aftermath of Colombia's social unrest earlier this year, authorities are carrying out a mass crackdown on Cali's Primera Línea protesters, reports Al Jazeera. At least 178 have been detained. Many face a variety of criminal charges, including “terrorism”, that could leave them behind bars for decades.
The U.S. Biden administration appealed a federal judge's order to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols, a controversial immigration program that forced tens of thousands of migrants to wait in Mexico for the resolution of their U.S. asylum cases, reports Reuters.
Mexico has been quietly flying thousands of undocumented migrants from the country's north to its south, part of an effort to expedite their departure and aid the U.S.'s immigration policies, reports Reuters.
Migrants are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally at an unprecedented rate. They reflect a changed demographic: now Brazilians, Cubans, Haitians and Venezuelans have joined the more traditional populations of Mexican and Central American migrants at the U.S. border, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Latin Americans are consistently voting against incumbents, pushed not by ideological shifts left or right, but, rather, discontent with government responses to the pandemic and worries about economic downturns, argues Patricio Navia in Americas Quarterly. "People want to punish incumbents and they want new faces that can bring about new hopes."
Latin America Risk Report delves into extortion in the region, which, along with other kinds of crime, is on the rise this year.
The capture of a top Anti-Bala gang member in Paraguay threatens to weaken a key criminal alliance in Brazil's southern border state of Rio Grande Do Sul, reports InSight Crime.
Rio de Janeiro has become a cautionary tale on police violence, writes Human Rights Watch's César Muñoz Acebes in the New York Times. "Black Brazilians are almost three times as likely to be killed by the police as white Brazilians are ... Police violence in Brazil is so stark that it was highlighted in a recent United Nations report that urged countries to take steps toward eradicating systemic racism against people of African descent."
Washington DC has become the capital of Guatemala's judiciary-in-exile, reports El País, which interviews prominent judges and prosecutors forced to leave Guatemala for safety, after threats in response to their anti-corruption work.
The Salvadoran government published its proposed constitutional reform last week. (See last Thursday's briefs.) Among other proposals, it increases the presidential term to six-years. But "many changes are remarkably progressive," writes Tim Muth at El Salvador Perspectives.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given the country's military prominent -- and diverse -- roles to carry out, from distributing vaccines to building bank offices. (Associated Press)
Astrid Roemer, the Surinamese winner of the Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren, came under fire after showing support for former president Dési Bouterse, who was convicted of murder, reports the Guardian.
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