Six killed in Bolivian protests (Nov. 20, 2019)
At least six people were killed yesterday in Bolivia, and 22 more wounded, when security forces opened fire on protesters blockading the a gasoline plant in El Alto. (La Razón) The Senkata plant has become a battleground in the fight between supporters of the interim-government and those of former president Evo Morales, reports the New York Times. The armed forces said they were responding to protesters who breached the walls of the plant with dynamite, but at least two of the victims were simply walking to work when they were shot, according to their families.
Activists and human rights groups have objected to a decree from last week by the interim government shielding security forces from criminal prosecution when maintaining public order -- since then nine people were killed in clashes with security forces on Friday in Cochabamba, and 122 were wounded, in addition to yesterday's deaths. “We are extremely concerned by measures taken by Bolivian authorities that appear to prioritize brutally cracking down on opponents and critics and give the armed forces a blank check to commit abuses instead of working to restore the rule of law in the country,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced a work visit to the country for later this week. (Página 12)
In the midst of the violence, Morales suggested a compromise position in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: that he be allowed to finish out his term, and, together with the opposition, name a new electoral authority to oversee a en election to pick his successor. But analysts say such a solution is unlikely to fly.
Yesterday the government gave Bolivian lawmakers two days to evaluate a call for fresh elections, reports EFE. Congressional leadership of Morales' MAS party suspended sessions yesterday in order to strengthen a dialogue process mediated by the U.N. and the Catholic Church -- though no concrete advances were announced. Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a session today. (La Razón)
In the meantime, regardless of how she arrived in the office, Bolivian interim-president Jeanine Áñez "is turning Bolivia into a far-right military dictatorship," writes Gabriel Hetland in a Washington Post opinion piece. The regime’s vindictiveness, fomentation of racist speech and action, repression of political opponents, willingness to kill peaceful protesters, and flagrant dismantling of accountability mechanisms that protect human life and basic freedoms are deeply disturbing."
Five people were killed this week in anti-government protests that have been ongoing for two months in Haiti. Police clashed with protesters in Port-au-Prince, and three of the victims were allegedly shot by them, reports the Associated Press.
A new Trump administration rule will allow the U.S. to send asylum seekers to Guatemala -- and eventually to El Salvador and Honduras -- under agreements brokered earlier this year with the Central American countries. The joint interim final rule by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice goes into effect next month, reports Vox, and will establish a new screening process to determine whether the US or Guatemala will process migrants’ claims for protection. It will apply both to immigrants who show up at US ports of entry at the southern border and those who try to enter the country without authorization between ports of entry.
The agreements are aimed at reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S., and requires people seeking protection to first apply for asylum in transit countries between their home and the U.S. Though DHS originally said only migrants who travelled through other countries on their way to the U.S. would be eligible, the new rule governing the Guatemala deal opens the door to virtually any migrant crossing the border—other than a Guatemalan national, or an unaccompanied child—to be sent to Guatemala instead, reports the Wall Street Journal. This change would mostly affect Mexican migrants.
Buzzfeed reports that the first asylum seekers were scheduled to be sent to Guatemala yesterday, but that DHS officials were still scrambling to figure out critical details, including how those seeking protection would obtain shelter, food, and access to orientation services there.
Evolving populations of asylum seekers at the U.S. border -- from Central American families, to rural Mexicans, to Brazilian and Chinese migrants -- reflect the tactics of international criminal organizations responding to policy changes, according to Border Report.
A group of mothers on hunger strike in Managua's cathedral were evacuated by the Red Cross, due to concerns of attacks by pro-government supporters. (Confidencial, Washington Post, see yesterday's post.) The group of Masaya hunger strikers remains in the besieged San Miguel Arcángel church, reports Confidencial separately.
Human rights violations and the overall situation in Nicaragua since April 2018 have upset the "constitutional order" in the country, said an OAS commission this week that a recommended a General Assembly extraordinary session to address the issue. (Confidencial, Reuters)
Yesterday the U.N.human rights office has called on Nicaragua to end its "persistent repression of dissent," reports Reuters.
Colombia will close its borders tomorrow, part of a series of measures aimed at containing mass protests planned for Thursday, reports the Guardian. Schools will be closed, and squadrons of anti-riot police were already stationed outside Bogotá universities. (See yesterday's post.)
Guatemalan attorney general Consuelo Porras asked for Government Minister Enrique Degenhart to be ousted for disobeying a Constitutional Court order to transfer the budget for a national justice commission. The case is significant because it could set precedent for action against other government officials, including President Jimmy Morales, for disobeying Constitutional Court orders, reports Nómada.
High rates of impunity for sexual crimes in Honduras is a documented problem -- organizations of civil society are themselves struggling to respond to reports of harassment by leaders. (Contra Corriente)
Repeated clashes between two criminal gangs in Paraguayan prisons this year has demonstrated how the country’s crack consumption challenges local penitentiary authorities. (InSight Crime)
Motor vehicle deaths in Jamaica are increased, and experts point to a complicated set of factors behind "road madness," reports Global Voices.