Nicaraguan detainees tortured, harassed -- report (Dec. 13, 2019)
Nicaraguan protesters have been tortured in jails, police stations and clandestine detention centers, since an outbreak of massive protests against President Daniel Ortega's government erupted in April of 2018. A new report by Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Nicaragua Nunca+ interviewed 56 former political detainees who spoke of mistreatment under detention, but also ongoing harassment and and official persecution since regaining freedom earlier this year. The report details sexual violations, suffocation with plastic bags, beatings and kicks, electric shocks, cigarette burns, use of “Russian roulette” and sustained verbal abuse. It includes four detailed testimonies of women who suffered serious sexual abuse during their detention. (AFP, La Prensa, Infobae)
“The repression has been monstrous, the resistance immense. Never in peacetime have the people of Nicaragua, their youth, suffered so much criminal repression,” said Gonzalo Carrión, director of the collective.
Experts say the cases, if verified, constitute crimes against humanity. Claudia Paz y Paz, a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' independent group of experts, lauded the new report's contribution to documenting human rights violations.
Nicaragua's Amnesty Law permitted hundreds of political prisoners to be freed earlier this year, but it also blocks investigations into human rights violations committed by security forces and paramilitary groups repressing anti-government protests. Over a dozen former political detainees have been returned to jail since release, accused of committing common crimes. (La Prensa)
Earlier this week human rights activist Vilma Nuñez denounced that the government has restructured its “paramilitary forces and espionage bodies, which act selectively and indicate to the shock forces who they should attack.” (Confidencial)
El País has several profiles of people tortured and jailed by the Ortega government. (Here, and Here and Here)
Nicaraguan riot police beat relatives of political prisoners who held an express protest yesterday. The police also stole the belongings of citizens and journalists as well as their equipment, reports Confidencial.
The U.S. Trump administration imposed sanctions on one of Ortega's sons, for his alleged role on money laundering and corruption, reports the Associated Press. The move is a heavy blow for the Ortega family's finances, according to Confidencial.
Organizations of civil society targeted by government officials last year have resisted, despite harassment, reports el Confidencial.
Latin America is closing the decade with its lowest growth period of the past forty years, reports El País.
The 2010s are starting to be dubbed a “second lost decade” for Latin America, but it's not nearly as bad, according to the Economist.
Former Bolivian president Evo Morales arrived in Argentina yesterday, where he requested refugee status. Argentine authorities welcomed him. (Reuters) The move will likely further complicate tense diplomatic relations between Argentina and Brazil, according to the Guardian.
Argentina's new health minister guaranteed access to abortion in cases where it is legal -- rape or threat to the life or health of the mother -- with a new protocol aimed at reducing hospital discretion over whether to carry out the procedure. Abortion rights advocates say the current law is applied unevenly across the country, where often local authorities deny or delay access to interruption. "Conscientious objection cannot be used as an institutional alibi for not complying with the law,” said minister Ginés González García. Amnesty International issued a statement celebrating the new protocol. (Reuters, El País)
InSight Crime reviews the outgoing Argentine administration's mixed security record.
Mexican authorities should accept U.S. help in battling criminal organizations, say members of the LeBaron family, who lost nine members in a barbaric attack in November. (León Krauze, Washington Post opinion)
Chihuaha state's Mennonite and Mexican communities have created a new Christmas tradition aimed at giving families a safe way to celebrate, amid growing violence, writes Rebecca Janzen in the Conversation.
Mexico has been seeing a staggering rise in attacks on maritime oil infrastructure, reports InSight Crime.
The U.S. Defense Department’s inspector general’s office will audit a $400 million border wall contract that U.S. authorities awarded to a construction company run by a Republican Party donor whom U.S. President Donald Trump advocated for, reports the Washington Post.
Haitians are weathering the worst outbreak in lawlessness in more than a decade, after U.N. peacekeeping troops withdrew in 2017 and national police have focused on dealing with ongoing anti-government protests, reports Reuters. Low-income neighborhoods have become no-go areas where criminal groups fight for territorial control. And politicians across the spectrum are using the gangs to repress or foment dissent, providing them with weapons and impunity, according to human rights advocates and ordinary Haitians.
A local employee of the United States Embassy in Haiti is accused of running a criminal scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash advances to members of the United States Southern Command, known as SouthCom. (Miami Herald)
The rise and fall of the CICIG is one of the past decade's major stories for Americas Quarterly, which looks at how the international anti-impunity commission took on entrenched corruption in Guatemala, and was then ousted.
In a region that is in upheaval, Uruguay's moderation is exceptional -- but president-elect Luis Lacalle Pou will have to work to avoid polarization, writes Sylvia Colombo in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Costa Rica is the other Latin American exception -- but the admired model is due for tweaks, particularly aimed at boosting economic growth, according to El País.
Costa Rican bugs are also victims of wildlife trafficking, along with the better known cases of turtles, reports InSight Crime.
A Brazilian man impersonated his elderly mother for a driving test, after she failed three times in attempts to renew her license. He was arrested for fraudulent misrepresentation, but even if he had remained undetected, his driving was so bad he wouldn't have gotten the license, said the driving instructor who unmasked him. (Guardian)
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