Latin America Daily Briefing (Oct. 15, 2021)
The U.S. State Department said that the upcoming Nov. 7 presidential elections in Nicaragua “have lost all credibility” because of President Daniel Ortega’s arrests of critics and seven potential challengers. The country’s main opposition coalitions said last week that Ortega’s moves have “ended any vestige of real electoral competition," reports the Associated Press.
The Nicaraguan government's crackdown on political opponents ahead of elections has strained the country's regional and international ties. "To date, neither punitive measures from Western governments nor the more diplomatic approaches of left-leaning Latin American states like Mexico and Argentina have made inroads with Ortega, who has reacted furiously to what he perceives as interference," notes an International Crisis Group report. Ortega's nearly certain win will create conditions for "further instability, humanitarian crisis and emigration, and setting a dangerous precedent for a region seeing increasing movement toward greater authoritarianism."
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo is facing a governance challenge from his own allies: Perú Libre leader Vladimir Cerrón said the party's lawmakers won't support the president's new cabinet nominees. This means Castillo must obtain 66 votes from other parties in order to ratify his new team of ministers, reports the Associated Press. (See Oct. 7's post.)
A Brazilian congressional inquiry into the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to wrap up next week, with recommendations to indict more than 40 Brazilian politicians and officials, including President Jair Bolsonaro, reports the Financial Times.
The gigantic Itaipu hydroelectric dam straddling the Brazil-Paraguay border is feeling the heat of Brazil’s worst drought in nine decades, reports the Associated Press.
Poorly placed studs, clear design flaws and deficient welding led to a collapse in Mexico City's metro system that killed 26 people earlier this year, according to the results of the official investigation. (New York Times)
The United States needs to invest more heavily in Central America if it hopes to slow record levels of northbound migration, Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this week. (Reuters)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will meet U.S. climate adviser John Kerry next week near Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, reports Reuters. They are expected to discuss a major tree planting program championed by the Mexican leader.
InSight Crime has an in-depth investigation into fighting between Colombian guerrillas and Venezuelan security forces in Apure earlier this year. "The fighting made one thing clear: The Venezuelan state can no longer control the criminal forces it has so long tolerated."
For decades, Venezuela has berated Colombia, as its civil conflict drove hundreds of thousands of desperate Colombians into the neighboring country. Yet today, the flow of criminality and displacement is moving in the other direction. And while in Colombia, the war was the product of generations of complex social, political, economic, and criminal factors, in Venezuela, the government had invited the warring factions into the country.
The killing of two Venezuelan boys in Colombia is rapidly escalating into a diplomatic row with neighboring Venezuela, reports CNN. (See Wednesday's briefs.) Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez cited the deaths as evidence of xenophobia and deadly persecution of Venezuelan migrants.
The U.S. State Department called for an independent examination to determine the true cause of death of former Venezuelan defense minister and retired general Raul Baduel, considered a political prisoner by the opposition, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
There is a window of opportunity to organize a free and fair presidential election in Venezuela, opposition leader Freddy Guevara told Axios. He said the opposition recognizes that the upcoming November regional elections will be fraudulent, but believes they offer an opportunity to mobilize the Venezuelan population against Maduro.
The European Union's decision to send an observer mission to Venezuela's November election puts it on a potential diplomatic collision course with the U.S., reports CNN. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
A record number of children crossed on foot the treacherous stretch of jungle between Colombia and Panama known as the Darien Gap this year: 19,000, half of whom were under 5 years old, according to UNICEF. (CNN)
The Curaçaoan and Dutch authorities have violated the rights of Venezuelans seeking international protection in Curaçao, Amnesty International said in a new report.
A multi-media Washington Post feature details how vaccination teams in Colombia are trekking to remote areas to inoculate communities against Covid-19.
Colombia will hold presidential elections in May of next year -- with over 60 candidates currently in play, the country's "electoral season is better understood as a relay with four different legs, as opposed to a single event ending in a runoff election," writes Sergio Guzmán in Global Americans.
The governor of Colombia's central department of Meta has survived back-to-back assassination attempts, a rare case of a continued targeted assault against a senior public official by Colombian guerrillas, reports InSight Crime.
WOLA details attacks against social leaders in Colombia in recent months, as well as other human rights issues of concern.
"We’re doing old-fashioned human rights work again," writes Adam Isacson in a blogpost on Colombia. "For several years—from the latter moments of the FARC peace negotiations until quite recently—we had the luxury of advocating “state presence,” “crop substitution,” “rural reform,” “land restitution,” “restorative justice” and similar proposals typical of a country leaving a bitter history behind. Not anymore. There are too many new victims: victims of violence at the hands of state actors, displaced and confined communities. Too many people left unprotected."
COVID-19 has caused such extreme unemployment and poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean that a “statistical rebound” in economic growth this year will not be enough to overcome the pandemic's social and public health crises, according to a new ECLAC report. (Reuters)
Inflation accelerated in Argentina, prices increased 3.5 percent in September over August, and inter-annual inflation reached 52.5 percent, reports Bloomberg.
Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso's center-right government faces the challenge of Pandora Papers revelations and a hostile legislature. (Americas Quarterly, Economist)
Black Brazilian jazz artists are using music to stake a claim for their heritage in a culture that often sidelines it -- Guardian.
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