Nicaragua fails to release over 80 political prisoners (June 19, 2019)
Nicaragua's Ortega administration failed to release over 80 political detainees by yesterday, a deadline imposed in negotiations with opponents. (See yesterday's briefs.) Family members of detainees started gathering this morning outside the La Modelo jail demanding their release, reports Confidencial. President Daniel Ortega's embattled government released hundreds of political prisoners in recent months, but refuses to recognize many of those remaining political detainees. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
Governments in the Americas and Europe should impose targeted sanctions against top Nicaraguan authorities implicated in egregious abuses and explore avenues to press for accountability, Human Rights Watch said in a report that documents what happened to many of the hundreds of people arrested by police or abducted by armed pro-government groups after the crackdown on protesters that began in April 2018.
Many were subjected to abuse that in some cases amounted to torture, according to HRW. Some who were injured were reportedly denied medical care in public health centers, and doctors who provided care said they suffered retaliation. Detainees have been prosecuted in cases marred by serious due process violations.
Political persecution persists in Nicaragua, said the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a new report that tallies 326 confirmed victims of the country's political crisis since April of last year. (Confidencial)
A high-level delegation from the Organization of American States is traveling to Haiti today, in response to a government request for mediation assistance with protesters demanding President Jovenel Moïse's resignation. Violent anti-corruption protests have been ongoing and target Moïse who is implicated in alleged misappropriation of funds from a Venezuelan development program, Petrocaribe. The Haitian government's request comes after a month of refusing to bring the issue to the attention of the OAS council. The OAS now seeks to "lower the political temperature ...and lay out parameters for dialogue," as well as give reassurances of OAS electoral observation during the next election, reports the Miami Herald.
BBC explainer video on the anti-corruption protests.
Guatemala has not yet accepted a "safe third country" agreement with the U.S., said Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart. Instead he emphasized that the two countries are in discussion over how to collaborate on the issue of migration, reports Reuters. Degenhart's comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that Guatemala "is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement," which would obligate migrants passing through the country on their way to the U.S. to apply for humanitarian asylum there instead. (See Monday's post and yesterday's briefs.)
The Trump administration enabled an election that "is a manifestation of the disrespect for fundamental democratic values, institutions and the rule of law, and of a contempt for international initiatives," writes Francisco Goldman in a New York Times op-ed. Anti-corruption crusader Thelma Aldana was kept out of the running in last Sunday's presidential election in a series of judicial maneuvers angled specifically at ensuring continued impunity for the political establishment.
Sandra Torre's running mate Carlos Raúl Morales said they would referendum the future of Guatemala's popular, United Nations-backed international anti-impunity commission -- the CICIG, reports La Hora. (See Monday's post and yesterday's briefs.)
The election was chaotic, but after the Aug. 11 run-off, whoever wins will face a host of challenges -- migration, security, economy, and, of course, corruption -- at a time when public frustration with politicians is high, writes Brendan O'Boyle at Americas Quarterly.
The OAS electoral observation mission in Guatemala rejected the MLP party's accusations of fraud in last Sunday's elections. (EFE)
At least 285 human rights defenders have been killed in Colombia since January 2016. The government is using tricky statistics to downplay the ongoing wave of murders, denounced Human Rights Watch. The organization reviewed the Duque administration's claim that social leaders' homicides went down by 32 percent over the past year, and found that those numbers leave out 43 murder cases that are still being verified by the U.N. "The government of Colombia should be redoubling its efforts to address this crisis, not finding ways to downplay it," writes HRW's Americas Director, José Miguel Vivanco in a Semana column.
Former FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño called on Colombian President Iván Duque to stop the "systematic" killings of former guerrilla fighters. The recent murders of two former FARC guerrillas highlights the lack of protection for demobilized fighters, he said. (BBC)
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele promised to comply with Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered reparations for relatives of the victims of the 1981 El Mozote massacre. The court condemned the Salvadoran state for the massacre in 2012, and ordered reparations. But victims’ relatives say the reparations have, at best, been partially fulfilled. (Associated Press)
Bukele was elected on an anti-corruption platform that promised to create a Salvadoran CICIG -- a CICIES. Corruption isn't El Salvador's main concern, violence is. But there is compelling evidence that reductions in corruption in Guatemala helped reduce violent crime, argues Melissa Vida in World Politics Review. "Given its poorly funded prosecutorial office—one of many weak links in the country’s judicial system—El Salvador needs the kinds of additional reforms that could come with a U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission."
U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet starts a three day visit to Venezuela today. She will meet with actors from the opposition, the government, economic leaders, members of civil society, as well as with victims of human rights violations and their relatives. A former pink-tide president herself, Bachelet was invited by Maduro, and the visit has potential to alter Venezuela's political stalemate, write David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
The Venezuela Weekly also looks at how the Boston Group successfully pushed for opposition lawmaker Gilbert Caro's release from prison this week, and a prison visit by Edgar Zambrano’s wife.
U.S. vice president Mike Pence renewed the Trump administration's "firm" commitment to Venezuela’s “legitimate” president, Juan Guaidó, and thanked other Latin American countries for their "generosity" in helping defend the cause of freedom in Venezuela. (EFE)
Efecto Cocuyo's Luz Mely Reyes interviewed WOLA's Geoff Ramsey on the Washington perspective on Venezuela's crisis. Ramsey stressed that there is increasing coordination between diplomatic responses to Venezuela with the Lima Group, International Contact Group, and Norwegian mediation efforts all seemingly increasingly aligned towards a shared goal of a peaceful return to democracy. (Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights)
Accusations that two opposition activists pilfered tens of thousands of dollars aimed at helping Venezuelan soldiers who defected are threatening to discredit the opposition alliance headed by National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Private Brazilian companies hired a Spanish marketing agency last year to massively promote then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, according to a Folha de S. Paulo investigation. Donations from companies to electoral campaigns is prohibited in Brazil. There is no indication that Bolsonaro, now president of Brazil, or his campaign team knew that the company was hired to send out messages.
Bolsonaro suggested that Brazil should permit life prison sentences -- the current maximum is 30 years. (Associated Press)
Petra Costa’s documentary, "Edge of Democracy," chronicles the impeachment of one president, the imprisonment of another and the triumph of authoritarian politics in Brazil, reports the New York Times.
Dani, an LGBT activist who campaigns to protect Brazil's Amazon, is the protagonist of the second chapter of "Rainforest Defenders," a portrait of five territorial leaders. (El País)
Mexican authorities are investigating reports that police in Veracruz opened fire on a group of Salvadoran migrants, killing a 19-year-old woman and wounding two men. (Washington Post)
Former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto is under investigation in relation to an alleged bribe in the sale of a Petroleos Mexicanos company in 2015. (Animal Político)
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra's threat to dissolve Congress succeeded in shoring up his government earlier this month and was popular among citizens. (See June 6's briefs.) Fuerza Popular has come out of the last few months weakened, leaving the Vizcarra administration with a larger opening to push through its legislative agenda. Vizcarra's popularity moving forward depends on whether he will be able to effectively convince lawmakers to pass anti-corruption reforms, writes Nestor David Pastor at Nacla.
Latin American and Caribbean exports fell 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019 due to the global trade conflict – the first decline after two years of uninterrupted expansion according to the Inter-American Development Bank. (EFE)
Cuba announced new rationing of food and basic cleaning and hygiene products, in the midst of pressure from U.S. sanctions and Venezuela's economic crisis. (CNN)
Chile’s government will step-up a $4 billion infrastructure program this year in order to reinvigorate the country’s slow-growing economy, President Sebastián Piñera announced yesterday. (Reuters)
A 17-year-old girl died in Argentina's Santiago del Estero province yesterday after allegedly being shot in the head by a police officer who was arresting a robbery suspect last weekend. (EFE)
Argentina's ongoing recession is pushing the population down the social ladder, reports AFP.
Argentina's electoral chess match continues -- Sergio Massa, considered an independent, moderate Peronist, will head the list of lawmaker candidates for the Province of Buenos Aires on the Fernández-Fernández ticket. His alliance with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and presidential candidate Alberto Fernández is likely to make them more popular with more centrist voters, reports Reuters.
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