International Women's Day (March 8, 2019)
Happy International Women's Day -- around the world women are marching for their rights, including holding the third annual Women's Strike!
Among the top issues facing women in the region is the femicide epidemic -- more women are killed for their gender in Latin America and the Caribbean than anywhere else in the world. Most of these deaths go unpunished. Official data from 23 countries in the region indicates that at 2,795 women killed by femicide in 2017, according to ECLAC. Data for 2016 and 2017 show that El Salvador (10.2 per 100,000), Honduras (5.8), Belize (4.8), Trinidad and Tobago (3.0), Guatemala (2.6) and the Dominican Republic (2.2) are the countries with the highest prevalence of femicides in the region. Brazil concentrates the highest number of total femicides in the region, with 40 percent of the total. So far this year, 4 women have been killed each day, reports EFE.
Overall the trend is bad, reports Foreign Policy, noting poor indicators for reproductive rights and the rise around the region of socially conservative political movements. They are countered, however, by vibrant and extremely active women's rights movements.
Ni Una Menos: Activists have taken on the issue head on -- and have succeeded in changing laws in 20 countries to recognize femicide as a specific crime, reports AFP.
Last week more than 30 female world leaders including current and former heads of state launched a campaign against the erosion of women's rights. Former Argentine foreign minister Susana Malcorra said pushback against women’s rights was "crystal clear" in several countries around the world, particularly those where populist "macho-type" strongmen have risen to power, such as Brazil. (Guardian)
Three Salvadoran women imprisoned for alleged abortions were freed by the Supreme Court. The court found that the women, who had each served about a decade of prison time for obstetric complications, were victims of social and economic circumstances and ruled that the original sentences were unreasonable, reports the Guardian.
Mexico's government presented a plan to combat gender violence and admitted the country has failed to do enough to protect women and girls. (Associated Press, and see Open Democracy for more on the issue)
In Brazil's Carnival, women campaigned for their rights amid fancy dress festivities parodying right-wing criticisms, reports the Guardian. Marielle Franco -- a Rio de Janeiro councillor assassinated last year -- featured prominently. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Many people don't get it: a Chilean union leader hazarded that female activists would probably be happier if their loved ones gave them flowers and chocolates today. "I'm sorry you're not given chocolate" he responded to women who objected. (El Dinamo)
Nicaraguan negotiators agree on roadmap
Nicaragua's government and the opposition Alianza Civil agreed on a roadmap for negotiations. The two sides have been locked in conflict since anti-government protests were brutally repressed starting in April, 2018. After five days of negotiation representatives for President Daniel Ortega and the civic alliance uniting opposition to the government agreed to end talks by March 28. They invited papal representative Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN) and the pastor Ulises Rivera, coordinator of Evangelical priests, to act as “witnesses and national escorts.” Brenes said he will respond today. (AFP)
International guarantors will be defined moving forward, an issue that raised eyebrows among commentators. Confidencial reports that negotiators hope to reach partial agreements on issues like early elections, and define guarantors to oversee those accords. The International Crisis Group reports that the government is opposed to naming international organizations, such as the OAS, to serve as guarantor. Mexico, Uruguay or the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA) could be acceptable for Ortega, according to EFE.
Nicaragua has been in crisis since last year, when at least 325 people were killed by police and parapolice groups in response to anti-government protests. The talks were announced last month, and are a response by the Ortega administration to falling approval ratings, a sinking economy, international opprobrium, and Venezuela's crisis -- according to a new International Crisis Group report.
The Ortega administration said yesterday it will allow the International Red Cross to visit jails, where an estimated 650 political prisoners are being held, reports Confidencial. Last week, 112 political detainees were released to house arrest, ahead of negotiations with the Alianza Civil. (See Feb. 27's post.)
More from Nicaragua
Arms used by paramilitary forces against protesters and opposition activists came from police arsenals, reports Confidencial.
A massive blackout has affected 19 Venezuelan states, including Caracas. Though power outages have become common in recent years, this one -- starting last night -- was more severe, and government officials blamed it on sabotage. The problems apparently stemmed from the Guri dam plant. Schools were shut down today and workers were given the day off in response to the blackout. Activists say the outages would be deadly for patients in hospitals and vulnerable populations. (New York Times, Guardian, Reuters, BBC, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)
The massive outage is creating an information blackout, warns NetBlocks, which said much of the country's internet is down. (Miami Herald)
Russia has positioned itself as legitimacy-challenged President Nicolás Maduro's strongest international ally. In part because of economic interests, but largely due to geopolitical strategy. Increasingly, however, some among Russia's political and economic elites feel the Kremlin should exert its influence to help negotiate a transition and ensure its interests are represented in post-Maduro scenarios, reports the New York Times.
The U.S. revoked visas of 77 individuals allied with Maduro, including government officials and relatives. It's a total of 250 visas revoked, the latest in a series of sanctions aimed at choking off the administration's economic resources, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Experts warn that the Maduro administration's expulsion of Germany's ambassador is only likely to further polarize the international community, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Haiti is running out of fuel again, in what has become a constant issue in the year since Venezuela stopped providing cheap oil to the country, reports the Miami Herald.
The creation of a new, functional National Prosecutor’s Office is central to Mexico’s fight against impunity, argue WOLA and DPLF in a new report.
An academic group dubbed "Team Populism" discovered a striking correlation between populist leaders and a decline in economic inequality -- true for a series of Latin American leaders, but particularly Bolivian President Evo Morales, reports the Guardian. Poverty in Bolivia fell from 59.9 percent in 2006, when Morales first came to power, to 34.6 percent in 2017, with extreme poverty more than halving over the same period, according to government figures.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...