Ortega released group of political prisoners (Feb. 27, 2019)
Nicaragua's government released a group of political prisoners early this morning, ahead of scheduled discussions between the Ortega administration and the Alianza Cívica coalition of opponents. It was not immediately clear how many inmates were released, they were transported to their homes in official vans. A source told the Comisión Permanente de Derechos Humanos that the 777 people considered political detainees might be released. Since talks were announced last week, trials of 14 political prisoners have been suspended. Two journalists detained in December, Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, might be transferred to house arrest, reports Confidencial. (See also Associated Press.)
The dialogue process set to start today has raised hopes that Nicaragua's prolonged political crisis might be resolved, but critics fear it will bring oxygen to President Daniel Ortega. (See last Friday's post.) The opposition coalition's primary demands focus on the release of political prisoners, restoration of media freedoms, electoral reform and early presidential elections, and a justice plan for the estimated 325 protesters killed in a government crackdown last year, reports the Associated Press.
The goal for today is to set the framework for talks, as well as the role of mediators and potential international guarantors of the negotiation. (Confidencial)
It's not clear whether Ortega or his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, will participate. The Alianza Cívica delegation includes six businesspeople, two students, two academics, a politician and a feminist lawyer -- but has been criticized for leaving out the farmworkers movement that supported anti-government protests last year. Students and women have not been fairly represented say some.
Sanctions against the Ortega administration and Venezuela's economic implosion have affected the government and pushed it to the negotiating table, according to the Alianza Cívica. (Bloomberg) U.S. sanctions on Nicaraguan-Venezuelan oil company Albanisa could be devastating for the country's economy. (Confidencial, see Jan 29's post and briefs on how the Venezuela sanctions affect Nicaragua.)
The government has jailed 777 people considered political detainees, torture is inflicted regularly, reports el Confidencial.
A U.N. Security Council meeting yesterday on Venezuela became something of a "diplomatic brawl," reports the New York Times, with Russian and U.S. diplomats trading Cold War-style barbs.
About 350 Venezuelan soldiers have defected, most over this weekend, asking for sanctuary in Colombia. But the desertions are a far cry from the mass defections opposition leader Juan Guaidó was hoping would materialize and support his interim presidency claim. (New York Times)
Soldiers leaving Venezuela say lower ranks are suffering the same food and medical deprivations as ordinary Venezuelans, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The OAS said the transition may not be "immediate" or "spectacular," but that it will come about through diplomatic pressure, reports EFE. (See yesterday's post.)
Maduro's VP, Delcy Rodríguez, will meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow today. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Venezuela crisis recap at Al Jazeera.
Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro's potential collapse poses a significant economic threat to Cuba, which depends on an oil-barter scheme, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking of Cold War, Scott Wallace's photographs show the impact of the era's proxy wars in Central America. (New York Times)
Colombia's government appointed at least nine officers credibly implicated in extrajudicial executions and other abuses to key positions of the army said Human Rights Watch yesterday. At least three of the officers are under investigation, and prosecutors are investigating killings by forces under the command of the other six. (See also Associated Press.)
Mexican officials say the López Obrador administration's labor reforms will assuage U.S. lawmakers' concerns over ratifying the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). (The Hill)
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's plan to replace Prospera, a widely lauded conditional cash transfer program, raised concern that the "conditionality" part of the program is in jeopardy, reports Americas Quarterly.
AMLO is taking on independent regulators in Mexico, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Brazil's education minister scrambled back from a controversial directive asking schools to film students saying President Jair Bolsonaro's campaign slogan: "Brazil above everything, God above everyone." Apart from the ideology, school administrators pointed to the difficulty of fulfilling such a request in the midst of severe staffing and infrastructure deficits. (Guardian)
Argentina's chief rabbi was attacked in his Buenos Aires home this week -- raising concerns that the violence is anti-semitism related. (Guardian) A verdict is expected in the AMIA bombing cover-up trial tomorrow. Former president Carlos Menem, former judge Juan José Galeano, and a former intelligence chief are accused of covering up evidence and paying off witnesses in the case of the 1994 Jewish center bombing that killed 85 people. (Infobae)
A group of Guatemalan sex workers are unionizing in hopes of reducing the violence that afflicts the industry. (NACLA)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...