Moro fleshes out allegations of Bolsonaro police interference (May 6, 2020)
Former justice minister Sérgio Moro accused Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of interfering in federal police investigations. In testimony made public yesterday, Moro said Bolsonaro specifically sought control of Rio de Janeiro's police, the district investigating several of his sons, reports the Wall Street Journal. “You have 27 police districts, I just want one, Rio de Janeiro,” the president allegedly told Moro in a WhatsApp message.
After Bolsonaro's first choice to head the federal police, Alexandre Ramagem, was blocked by a Supreme Court justice-- due close ties to the Bolsonaro family -- on Monday the president named Ramagem’s righthand man Rolando Souza, to the post. Souza’s first act in office was to replace the superintendent of the Federal Police in Rio de Janeiro, lending credence to Moro’s accusations, reports The Intercept.
Bolsonaro is increasingly colliding with the country's judiciary, which has some fearing a constitutional crisis in Brazil's near future, reports the Associated Press.
Brazil's Supreme Court is investigating who is behind protests in favor of overthrowing the legislature and undermining the Supreme Court. Bolsonaro insists they are “spontaneous movements” by average supporters, but multiple members of Congress aligned with the president are suspected of organizing the events, including Bolsonaro’s sons, reports The Intercept.
Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele announced even stricter coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday -- shopping trips will be limited to twice a week, regulated by people's identity document numbers, and will have to be conducted within residents' own municipality. El Salvador has 14 recorded Covid-19 deaths, and one of the region's strictest lockdowns. (Reuters)
Bukele swept into office promising a new chapter in the country, an alternative to the two party system that dominated since the El Salvador's return to democracy nearly three decades ago. But critics -- national and international -- increasingly feel he is undermining the country's still fragile democracy, reports the New York Times. (See Monday's post.)
Bukele obtained legislative approval for security forces -- police and military -- to detain people suspected of violating the quarantine. The bill regulates detentions that were carried out by executive decree until now, but does not specify what criteria will be used to determine whether people have to go to containment centers or return to their homes, and does not address concerns about documented rights violations that have been carried out by security forces in this time, reports El Faro.
El Salvador's overcrowded jails were a concern before the coronavirus pandemic -- but Bukele's harsh gang crackdown and detentions in response to quarantine violations are a recipe for contagion disaster, reports the Conversation.
Coronavirus has swept Latin America with disparate political effects, María Victoria Murillo reviews the distinct patterns across the region in detail for the Columbia University's Institute for Latin America Studies. In Chile and Bolivia votes were postponed, delaying "measures seeking institutionalized solutions to the political crisis that had deeply affected both countries at the end of 2019." Presidents who took decisive Covid-19 measures -- Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay, for example -- benefited from "rally around the flag" effects, while "presidents who dragged their feet in establishing measures for social distancing, such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico" were negatively affected. "Policy responses varied across the region without following a clear pattern in terms of regime type or even ideology with regards to the restrictive nature of quarantines and border closures."
The global pandemic has exposed national inequalities, but also "he gulf between the world’s wealthy nations and poorer ones," writes Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post. "That gap will only be exacerbated as the virus spreads deeper into the Global South."
Migration has come to a virtual standstill due to coronavirus restrictions (see yesterday's briefs), but the U.S. Trump administration concerned that the situation in region might deteriorate and drive migration north as cases in the region increase, reports CNN.
The latest thwarted attempt to forcibly oust Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro is like a contemporary Bay of Pigs plot, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's post.) The alleged "invasion" plan remained shrouded in mystery yesterday -- the U.S. and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó deny involvement, reports the Washington Post separately. Nonetheless "questions were swirling around the true nature of the amphibious landing," yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal. (See Luz Mely Reyes' questions about Guaidó's denial.)
Twenty-three prisoners were released from Venezuela's Helicoide prison this morning -- the detainees include political and common prisoners, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
Countries in the region seem to increasingly be debating whether its better to die of Covid-19 or hunger. For Haitians who make their living in the informal economy the dichotomy is particularly stark, reports AFP.
Among the deportees the U.S. will be sending to Haiti next week is Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a former death squad leader who has been in a New York state prison for the past 12 years on grand larceny and mortgage fraud charges, reports CEPR.
Colombian prosecutors said they will interrogate retired Gen. Nicacio Martinez, the chief of the country’s armed forces between 2018-2019, in relation to revelations that military intelligence officials spied on journalists, opposition politicians and human rights activists, reports EFE. (See Monday's post.)
Colombian social leaders -- already targets for paramilitary groups -- have become more vulnerable during the country's coronavirus lockdown. Uenseslao Guerrero, killed last week was the 84th killed this year. According to a report from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), more than 710 social leaders have been killed in Colombia, after the signing of the peace agreement in November 2016. (Telesur)
Bodies are no longer piling up on the streets of Guayaquil, instead they're lost by bureaucracy, reports BuzzFeed
Dozens of members of Ecuador's Siekopai nation have fled into the rainforest to shelter from coronavirus, in the midst of fears that the disease could wipe out the community that only has about 740 members, reports Reuters.
Peruvian opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was released from a 15-month pre-trial detention after three months, due to coronavirus contagion concerns, reports AFP. She is accused of accepting $1.2 million in illicit party funding from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht for her unsuccessful 2011 presidential election campaign.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on the U.S. to investigate “all” officials, including members of elite U.S. law enforcement agencies, with ties to former Mexican security minister Genaro Garcia Luna, who is accused of taking bribes from a top drug gang, reports Reuters.
Argentina's authorities are trying to harness the potential of big data for Covid-19. (Página 12)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share.