Protester killed in Managua (Sept. 24, 2018)
A 16-year-old boy was killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and armed pro-Ortega paramilitaries in Managua yesterday. Though government officials characterized the clash as crossfire between security forces and "terrorists," witnesses said the demonstration was harassed and violently attacked by armed pro-government parapolice. (Confidencial, El Nuevo Diario, Reuters and El País)
Videos circulating on social media show men on motorcycles firing on protesters. At least seven people were wounded -- three of them reporters. One Nicaraguan journalist received a bullet wound in his arm. Protest organizers said at least 23 people were illegally detained by security forces in relation to the march, as of yesterday afternoon.
More from Nicaragua
Thousands of Nicaraguans have fled political repression in their home country, crossing illegally into Costa Rica to avoid security forces on the border. Their asylum requests have overwhelmed Costa Rica's migration bureaucracy and pose a significant challenge for the government, as well as the country's traditional narrative of hospitality and positivity, reports the New York Times.
The U.S. Trump administration's silence regarding Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' slow motion self-coup is essentially support for transnational crime that takes advantage of the country's endemic corruption, writes Francisco Goldman in a New York Times op-ed.
Trump and Morales spoke informally this morning at a U.S. organized drug event, held ahead of the U.N. General Assembly this week, reports La República. (See last Thursday's briefs on the controversial event itself.)
Morales will be speaking about corruption in his address to the U.N. El Periódico reports that it's not yet clear whether he will meet with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Guatemalan Human Rights Prosecutor Jordan Rodas said Juana Ramirez Santiago was shot to death Friday -- the 21st human rights activist to be slain this year in Guatemala. (Associated Press)
Thelma Aldana and Iván Velásquez won the Swedish 2018 Rights Livelihood Prize -- dubbed the "alternative Nobel prize" -- today. (AFP and El Periódico)
The United States is preparing a “series of actions” in the coming days to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Friday. (Reuters)
U.S. officials are working with Mexico, Panama, and Colombia to target Venezuelan officials believed to be embezzling millions of dollars from a public food program. (Associated Press)
Spain will file a diplomatic protest with the OAS; after the organization's secretary general, Luis Almagro, criticized former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's Venezuela mediation efforts. Though the Spanish government emphasized that Zapatero's diplomatic work with Venezuela is carried out on a personal basis, officials took issue with Almagro's advice to the former leader to "don't be an idiot." (EFE)
Trump will meet with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera for talks on "efforts to restore democracy" in Venezuela. (AFP)
New York Times Español op-ed columnist Alberto Barrera Tyszka argues against a military option, but says new forms of pressure must be deployed to oust the Maduro government.
A Chinese hospital ship has docked in Venezuela where it will provide care to local patients for a week. (BBC)
Armed conflicts will increasingly involve criminal organizations -- from drug cartels to terrorists -- rather than national security forces. These wars defy existing international conventions, write Robert Muggah and John P Sullivan in Foreign Policy. "Situated at the intersection of organized crime and outright war, they raise tricky legal, operational, and ethical questions about how to intervene, who should be involved, and the requisite safeguards to protect civilians."
Mexican journalist Mario Gomez Sanchez was killed Friday, the ninth reporter killed thus far this year in the country. (Los Angeles Times)
Esquire profiles Javier Valdéz, a journalist murdered last year who was known for his coverage of the Sinaloa cartel's internal power struggles.
For austerity's sake, Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to sell the presidential jet and fly commercial. And he's sticking to the promise -- using a three hour delay on the tarmac last week to sell citizens aboard a low-cost flight on his views regarding humility for the politically powerful. (Guardian and New York Times)
AMLO and Trump are on a likely collision course on the issue of immigration enforcement, reports the Washington Post. The incoming government has rejected a U.S. offer to help fund deportations of undocumented Central American migrants, and plans to focus efforts on human rights rather than detention.
The far right frontrunner for Brazil's upcoming presidential election -- Jair Bolsonaro -- would be "a menace to Brazil and to Latin America," warns the Economist. It's latest cover piece makes reference to his "worrying admiration for dictatorship."
But Brazilians desperate for change will find difficulty not only in the slate of presidential candidates, but also in a twisted political system that gives legislators little incentive to take care of their constituencies and can hold a government hostage to strange alliances, notes the Economist separately.
Polls point to a likely run-off between Bolsonaro and Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad. The PT's continued popularity is definitive proof that attempts to route out the party by the Brazilian elite have failed, crows The Nation.
A Brazilian social network aimed at connecting black people is giving black candidates more visibility ahead of October's general election, and also emphasizing anti-racism initiatives. (AFP)
While the exact numbers of Colombia's coca cultivation are always disputed, increases in leaf and cocaine production recent years have fueled violence displacing Valle de Cauca communities from their ancestral lands, reports the Guardian. (See Friday's briefs.) Beyond drugs, illicit groups are battling for lucrative territories left by the now demobilized FARC. Guardian photo essay.
While Colombia focuses on the effects of Venezuela's crisis, Venezuela has urged Colombia work harder to combat cocaine production and assume the costs for the damage drug trafficking has caused in neighboring countries. (El Espectador)
A quarter decade after Pablo Escobar was killed, Medellín is still grappling with his legacy and dark allure. (New York Times)
Gustavo Petro -- who came in second Colombia's presidential elections this year -- is working to turn his political movement, Colombia Humana, into a political party. (El Espectador and Silla Vacía)
Peru's attorney general opened a preliminary investigation into former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and current vice president, Mercedes Araoz, for alleged vote buying to avoid impeachment. (Bloomberg)
A Paraguayan lawmaker and political ally of President Mario Abdo Benítez will face drug trafficking charges from behind bars. (EFE)
British Virgin Islands
Hurricane season is back in the Caribbean, but many islands are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and Irene battering last year. The British Virgin Islands suffered more than $3.6 billion in damages, or almost four times its gross domestic product. (New York Times)
Singer Rihanna will take on an ambassadorial role in her native Barbados, aimed promote education, tourism and investment in her home country. (Guardian)
Fraught local elections
Hitler vs Lenin: Peruvian style. A mayoral election in Peru is between two contenders with historical baggage carrying names -- though neither of the two hews at all to their eponyms' politics. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
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