ICC closes Colombia case (Oct. 29, 2021)
The International Criminal Court said it would close a 17-year preliminary examination into Colombia for war crimes and crimes against humanity in recognition of efforts to combat impunity and guarantee justice for victims. The preliminary examination, opened in 2004, was the longest in the court's history, reports Reuters.
The ICC can only officially step in if a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute war crimes in its jurisdiction. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan cited the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) transitional justice tribunal, created as part of the 2016 peace accord with teh FARC, as evidence that Colombia has stepped up to its international obligations. He said a new cooperation agreement between the government and the ICC would ensure the JEP, which is trying ex-rebels and military officials for crimes related to the conflict, could function without political interference.
But Human Right Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco criticized the ICC prosecutor's decision, saying it is "premature, misinformed, and detrimental to justice. The country’s transitional justice system may now be an easier target for attacks against its independence." Vivanco detailed the judicial reasoning behind his position in a recent letter to Khan, noting that "despite the recent progress, or precisely because of it, the transitional justice process itself remains fragile."
"New documents in the case against accused paramilitary drug lord Guillermo León Acevedo, alias “Memo Fantasma,” reveal that former top Colombian paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso spoke to prosecutors about Acevedo, and that convicted traffickers transferred properties worth millions to him," reports InSight Crime.
The U.S. Biden administration is working with international partners to prepare new sanctions that could be levied in response to Nicaragua’s Nov. 7 election, that President Daniel Ortega is expected to win after imprisoning all of his likely opponents and dozens of critics. (Reuters)
Violence against Indigenous people in Brazil surged by more than 60 percent last year, according to the Catholic Church’s Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), a rights group faulted increased land invasions of Indigenous territories and the government failure to provide protection. There were 182 murders of Indigenous people in 2020, compared with 113 murders in 2019, and 263 reported land invasions of Indigenous territories, an increase of 137 percent over the previous year. (Al Jazeera)
The mostly Mayan Indigenous inhabitants of El Estor, in eastern Guatemala, are living under a "state of siege", watched over by armed soldiers after police clashed with protesters demonstrating against a nickel mine they say is polluting the country's largest lake, reports AFP. (See Tuesday's briefs.)
Ecuador's largest indigenous group, the CONAIE, temporarily suspended protests against fuel price rises, yesterday, after President Guillermo Lasso offered to meet with leaders in two weeks. (Reuters, see yesterday's briefs.)
Countries in the hemisphere are failing to provide international protection and safety for Haitians on the move, exposing them to a range of human rights violations, including detentions and illegal pushbacks by authorities; extortion; anti-Black racial discrimination; abuses by armed groups, including gender-based violence; and lack of access to adequate housing, healthcare, and employment, said Amnesty International and Haitian Bridge Alliance in a new briefing. (El País)
"With migration increasing throughout the Americas, border policy is no longer a sufficient means to control immigration," writes Andrew Selee in a New York Times guest essay. "The United States must enlist other countries in the hemisphere to become partners in measures to prevent recurrent political and humanitarian crises that force people to flee their homelands."
European Union election observers began their mission in Venezuela yesterday, as campaigning kicked off for regional elections on Nov. 21. It is the first time in 15 years the EU has sent observers to Venezuela. Opposition parties are participating after boycotting elections in 2018 and 2020. (Reuters)
Over 80 percent of U.S. Agency for International Development programs in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala experienced adverse effects due to the suspension of aid to the region in March 2019 under former President Donald Trump, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released this week. (Devex)
If you thought Operation Gideon couldn't get weirder, VICE delves into the backstory and proves that it can: "What has emerged is a portrait of a mercenary mission more ramshackle than even the original reporting of it indicated, the half-baked brainchild of a variety of truly powerful people urging it along or declining to do anything about it for their own reasons."
China is now Colombia’s second most important trading partner, and an expected surge in Chinese investment may bring Bogotá even closer to Beijing, writes Luis Fernando Mejia in Americas Quarterly.
A Wilson Center report by Detlef Nolte examines rising trade tensions between the European Union and Mercosur related to Brazil's controversial environmental policies.
The Salvadoran government acquired 420 more bitcoin this week, President Nayib Bukele announced on social media. The latest purchase of bitcoin, worth nearly $25 million at current prices, marks the first government acquisition of the cryptocurrency since Sept. 20, when Bukele said it had bought 150 bitcoins. (Reuters)
El Salvador’s digital Bitcoin wallet Chivo removed a pricing feature that allowed users to make rapid profits on trades as it steps up efforts to crack down on speculation involving the cryptocurrency recently adopted as legal tender in the country, reports Bloomberg.
Former Argentina president Mauricio Macri briefly appeared before a judge yesterday in an investigation into claims his government spied on relatives of 44 sailors who died in the 2017 sinking of a navy submarine the ARA San Juan. Family of the crew told investigators they were followed and wiretapped, filmed and intimidated into abandoning any claims related to the incident. Macri is accused of ordering the espionage, reports AFP.
Twitter has suspended a hacker who allegedly stole all of the data from Argentina's database holding the IDs and information of all 45 million citizens of the country. (ZDNet)
The Economist slams Argentina's price control policy aimed at containing inflation.
The Mapuche leader of Chile's constitutional convention, Elisa Loncón, wants the new document to reflect Indigenous thinking on how to coexist with the natural world. “There’s a development model that’s based on seeing nature as a resource for humans—especially men—to exploit and dominate,” she told TIME. “But Indigenous people have always had the philosophy that humans are interdependent with nature and must conserve nature as a mother.”
The convention, convened as an answer to popular unrest, is unlikely to help, according to the Economist.
Yachts have become a favored modus operandi to move cocaine between Latin America and lucrative European markets, reports InSight Crime.
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed millions of Latin Americans back into poverty. Reversing this pattern requires addressing the region’s vulnerability to economic shocks and strengthening countries’ resilience, argue Carlos Jaramillo, Otaviano Canuto, and Pepe Zhang at Project Syndicate.
Latin America's socioeconomic disparities have been exacerbated by coronavirus and pressure is growing on elites to share more of their wealth and open up greater opportunities to marginalised groups — or risk social unrest, reports the Financial Times.
Peru’s government is seeking to increase taxes on top salaries and stock market profits, Finance Minister Pedro Francke said yesterday. (Bloomberg)
Netflix's "Maid" series shows Latin American viewers the sorry state of the U.S. social safety net. (Americas Quarterly)
A documentary by Alonso Ruizpalacios, Una película de policías, delves into Mexico City's police force, showing corruption, but also the human face of officers -- El País
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