Nicaragua frees 222 political prisoners
Feb. 9, 2023
Nicaragua’s government released 222 political prisoners this morning. They are being flown on a charter plane to the United States, where they will receive humanitarian parole. The release was negotiated between the U.S. Biden administration and Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega. (El Confidencial)
The Nicaraguan government agreed to release the prisoners, many who have been held in inhuman jail conditions for years, as a unilateral gesture aimed at restarting relations with the United States, according to the New York Times.
Some of the prisoners experienced horrific treatment inside Nicaraguan detention centers, denied treatment for longstanding medical conditions or given little to eat. At least one of them died in captivity.
Journalist and former presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro is among those headed to the U.S.
The Caribbean became the region’s murder hotspot last year, according to InSight Crime’s 2022 Homicide Roundup. Record cocaine production, gang fragmentation and weapons flow across the region contributed to ongoing high murder rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found Bolivia’s government responsible for violating due process and the human rights of Brisa De Angulo, a lawyer and neuropsychologist who as a teenager survived incestuous rape. The ruling could have impact on how courts in the region treat sexual violence cases, reports Axios.
Peru’s government called on citizens to report social media users suspected of supporting or inciting “acts of terrorism.” Human rights groups have objected to the measure in the midst of massive, ongoing anti-government protests that the Boluarte administration has characterized as terrorists. “Terruqueo” is a common practice used to dehumanise protesters with legitimate grievances in Peru, reports the Guardian.
Brazil’s government launched an operation against illegal miners in the country’s largest Indigenous protected territory, this week. Special-forces environmental operatives destroyed aircraft and seized weapons and boats in the Amazon’s Yanomami territory. At least 25,000 miners are estimated to have flocked in to the Yanomami territory near the border with Venezuela during the four years of Bolsonaro’s tenure. (Guardian)
Roman Catholic Cardinal Benjamin Stella said, yesterday in Havana, that a potential amnesty for prisoners jailed in Cuba following anti-government protests in July 2021 was "on the table." (Reuters)
A brief exchange between U.S. President Joe Biden and Senator Bob Menéndez, the Cuban American chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, has caused speculation that the White House might be preparing a shift in its Cuba policy, reports the Miami Herald.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will meet with Biden in Washington tomorrow. Lula’s team highlighted the symbolism of the meeting — a change from the hostile relations between former President Jair Bolsonaro and Biden — and its timing, soon after Lula took office. (AFP)
“With the political stability of the hemisphere at stake, Brazil and the US must build a more solid bond,” argues Eduardo Porter in Bloomberg. “It would be a mistake for Biden to entangle US solidarity with any demands that the Brazilian leader will find impossible to accept.”
It’s important to understand that Brazil approaches diplomatic issues from its own perspective, not that of the U.S. While some have criticized Lula for his lukewarm criticisms of anti-democratic governments in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, “the more relevant question is whether such denouncements accomplish anything,” argues Andre Pagliarini in Responsible Statecraft.
French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, met with Lula yesterday. The visit resets relations between the two countries, following a feud between between leaders in 2019. (Reuters)
The U.S. took custody of Venezuela’s embassy and official residences in Washington and New York this month, after the opposition’s diplomatic mission was closed following the removal of Juan Guaidó as interim president, reports Bloomberg.
U.S. diplomat Todd Robinson visited Haiti this month to see a newly U.S. trained SWAT team in action and deliver much needed policing equipment. The visit coincided with a police riot, and “became a firsthand look at the volatility in Haiti, the increasing fragility of the country’s sole law enforcement institution and the increasing reach of powerful gangs,” reports the Miami Herald.
The Biden administration is negotiating an agreement with Mexico that could allow U.S. authorities to carry out large-scale deportations of non-Mexicans back across the border, an unprecedented move that could be a “game-changer,” reports the Washington Post. Biden officials say record numbers of illegal crossings have been fueled by the U.S.’s inability to return migrants to their home countries.
About 100 people from Haiti arrived this morning in the Florida Keys in an overloaded migrant sailboat. It is the first large migrant group to arrive in weeks, following efforts by U.S. authorities to try to stop boats at sea, reports the Miami Herald.
More than 1,100 garment workers in Haiti are sharing $1m in compensation from the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein after the closure of a factory owned by a U.S. company left them destitute. PVH agreed to pay the sum to cover missed severance pay, pension contributions directly to workers and the government pension fund after involvement by the Worker Rights Consortium lobby group. (Guardian)
Venezuela’s opposition parties are expected to announce plans for presidential primaries next week — but they will have to overcome significant voter apathy to rally supporters, reports Reuters.
Colombian progressive lawmakers, environmental groups, and social movements might soon win a huge legislative victory prohibiting fracking — but deepening struggles over the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas extraction loom, writes Patricia Rodríguez in Nacla.
Improved crime statistics in El Salvador won’t stop migration for a population hit by economic insecurity, writes Eddie Galdamez in Global Voices.
Tourism is a clear achievement of the Bukele government, writes Tim Muth in El Salvador Perspectives.
More than half the endemic birds of the Bahamas are judged in danger of global extinction, reports the Miami Herald.