Honduran police strike, protests turn violent (June 20, 2019)
Anti-government protests in Honduras turned violent last night, TeleSUR reports at least one death and 15 wounded in in clashes after a group of Honduran National Police officers called for a strike. Riot police decided to stay in their barracks in demand of better benefits, liberating Tegucigalpa in the midst of ongoing protests, reports Reuters. Highways around the country have been blocked with burning tires and police and military contingents have sought to clear the barricades dispersing protesters with tear gas, reports El Heraldo.
Police officers on strike said their rights were violated by orders to repress protesters, and that they support education and health sector workers have been protesting for over a month. (Agencies) They were joined this week by transportation workers demanding social improvements. Protesting police in two barracks last night deployed tear gas against leadership who sought to engage in dialogue. EFE reports burning tire barricades around the country. Concerned residents stocked up on supermarket necessities and fuel, after the cargo transportation strike provoked shortages.
(See June 4's post on the education and health sector protests, and, for recent historical context, the post for Dec. 5, 2017, when Honduran police also chose to remain in their barracks in the midst of anti-government protests.)
Mexico's Senate approved USMCA
Mexico's Senate overwhelmingly approved the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, the first of the three countries to ratify the revamped NAFTA deal signed last year by the countries' leaders, reports the Wall Street Journal. The ratification path is rougher in the U.S., and, to an extent, in Canada.
But in Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has touted the agreement as a guarantee for economic stability, a surprising turnaround for a longtime opponent of free trade, reports the New York Times.
Passage of the treaty was never in doubt in Mexico, but clashes with Washington over migration have left business and political leaders uneasy over the strength the trade relationship between the two countries, reports the Washington Post. In fact, frustration with U.S. President Donald Trump's practise of using Mexico as a piñata is pushing Mexico to question its dependence on the U.S. market, reports Bloomberg.
The U.S. Trump administration's revival of the Monroe doctrine has Latin Americans uneasy -- and not just the leftists, according to Al Jazeera.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection urgently needs funding to prevent more migrant children from dying in custody CBP's acting commissioner John Sanders said in an interview with the Associated Press. At least seven migrant children have died in US custody since late 2018.
Migration experts say a potential U.S.-Guatemala safe-third-country deal is ludicrous. An agreement under discussion would require migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America to apply for asylum in Guatemala, which is on their route to the U.S. But the Trump administration plan ignores high levels of violence, persecution and corruption that make Guatemala unsafe for its own citizens as well as those of neighboring countries, WOLA migrant-rights program head Maureen Meyer told the Wall Street Journal.
Guatemalan experts are also concerned about the viability of a safe-third-country deal, particularly in light of the conditions pushing many Guatemalans themselves to migrate. "Those making requests in Guatemalan territory need to have conditions for subsistence - conditions that Guatemala has not been able to provide for its own citizens," Jordan Rodas, Guatemala's human rights ombudsman, told Al Jazeera.
A Guardian series, Green Blood, has several pieces Guatemala's Fenix mine and violations associated with the European-owned mine. One examines the case of Carlos Choc, a Guatemalan journalist who had to flee after seeing the violent repression of a protest at the Fenix mine. Another looks at how the nickel mine is threatening nearby Mayan villages. A third examines the low royalty rates the company pays to the Guatemalan state.
An OAS fact-finding mission to Haiti yesterday concluded with harsh words for President Jovenel Moïse and opponents demanding his resignation. (See yesterday's briefs.) OAS officials told protesters to seek Moïse's ouster via the ballot box, not resignation. And the mission, led by U.S. OAS Ambassador Carlos Trujillo told Moïse to start governing, according to the Miami Herald. The mission was in Haiti for five hours yesterday, and critics noted members did not meet with the grassroots anti-corruption movement, Nou Pap Domi, that has rallied people to protests in recent months. Protesters view the OAS visit as further external interference, reports Voice of America. Embezzled funds from a Venezuelan development program, PetroCaribe, are at the heart of the current crisis. The delegation offered to create an OAS-sanctioned commission made up of international financial experts to help Haitian government auditors determine how much was stolen from the PetroCaribe aid fund, and who should be prosecuted. Moïse reportedly agreed to the proposal. (Miami Herald, Haiti Libre)
Nicaragua's government blocked access to Esta Noche television program last night, which is broadcast digitally. The digital media outlet, along with Confidencial and Esta Semana has been producing content despite having offices and newsroom occupied militarily last December. Carlos F Chamorro said this week's censorship was ostensibly because the show used a 10 second clip from a news channel owned by President Daniel Ortega's family. The underlying problem is that independent media is not granted access to trials, said Chamorro. The immediate goal was censorship of the that has more than 143,000 subscribers on YouTube. (Confidencial)
Anti-government protesters have been subjected to abuse that amounted to torture in some cases said Human Rights Watch in a new report that calls on foreign governments to to impose sanctions on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and at least five high-level security officials for a crackdown on protests that began in April 2018. (Associated Press, see yesterday's post.)
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele promised to create an international commission against impunity in his country -- along the lines of the CICIG in Guatemala and MACCIH in Honduras. It would be the first time such a commission comes from executive initiative rather than civil society pressure, but there is much to be gleaned from neighboring countries' experiences, according to a new working paper by Charles Call at the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS). The Guatemala and Honduras cases show that "a strong investigative mandate, close partnership with vetted national prosecutors, strong international backing, and transparent accountability will increase the chances of success of any such mission." However, Call emphasizes the need to adapt any potential project to the specific context of El Salvador. "Salvadoran officials and social actors should reflect carefully on the country’s greatest needs and creatively forge a mandate that responds to those contextualized problems." (Summary of findings at the AULA blog.)
Cuban security forces are harassing dissidents and their families, part of government pressure to force opponents into exile, according to a new report by Cuban Prisoners Defenders. The NGO documented several cases where activists were escorted to the airport by state security and forced into exile -- with a plane ticket to Guyana and money for the first month, reports Reuters.
Venezuela's protracted political stalemate -- which shows no signs of ending soon -- has frustrated U.S. President Donald Trump, who now has little interest and patience for the issue, reports the Washington Post.
U.S. sanctions in Venezuela could force Chevron to leave, an exit that would only push the country's oil industry closer to collapse, reports CNN.
Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro said a criminal organization leaked private messages he sent as a federal judge. The chats, reported on by The Intercept, appear to show improper collusion between Moro and prosecutors in the Lava Jato anti-corruption investigation he presided over. The stories have some calling for Moro's resignation -- but he said organized crime hackers are seeking to undermine anti-corruption investigations, reports Reuters.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro put indigenous land claims under the authority of the Agricultural Ministry -- weeks after Congress rejected the move. The decree is effective immediately, but must be ratified by lawmakers within 120 days in order to avoid expiration. The move removes decisions on the demarcation of reservation lands from the National Indigenous Affairs agency Funai, and instead puts them under the aegis of a ministry influenced by agribusiness lobby, reports Reuters.
Faced with police inaction an Ecuadorean mother singlehandedly investigated her youngest daughter's 2018 murder in Quito. (Guardian)
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