Venezuela detains two military officers (Aug. 15, 2018)
Venezuelan authorities detained 14 people, including two high ranking military officers, in connection to an alleged assassination attempt against President Nicolás Maduro. Attorney general Tarek William Saab said 34 people were involved in the drone attack against a military parade earlier this month, but that many of the alleged participants are in Colombia or the U.S., reports the Wall Street Journal. Venezuela has issued 27 arrest warrants in the case so far, reports the BBC.
Col. Pedro Zambrano and Gen. Alejandro Pérez appeared in court on Monday, said Saab. It wasn't clear whether they had access to their lawyers. A third senior military officer, Gen. Héctor Hernández, was detained late Monday but was not mentioned by Saab, reports the Washington Post. Arrests of members of the armed forces have increased this year, as dissatisfaction linked to the country's economic crisis grows. Soldiers are deserting as food rations become scarce even in the military, reports Reuters.
Opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens was arrested last week in relation to the case. The government circulated a video tape in which the young man appears to confess to participating in the attempt, but it has been widely criticized as coerced. The detention has been criticized by rights groups, and it appears Requesens has suffered torture. (See yesterday's post.)
Yesterday a judge ratified Requesens' detention. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The opposition-led National Assembly convoked a session yesterday to reject Requesens' detention. Lawmaker Gilber Caro, detained himself in the past, stripped to his underwear in solidarity with Requesens. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The U.S. should take a strong stance against militarization of law enforcement in the region, argues Rebecca Bill Chavez in a New York Times op-ed. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is on a trip to South America that includes Brazil, Colombia and Argentina on the itineraries, all countries that have -- to varying degrees -- implemented use of their armed forces for domestic security. It is an "opportunity to declare United States support for police and judicial reform as the best method to fight crime and violence," writes Chavez, who notes that "reliance on the military jeopardizes the protection of human rights and can actually exacerbate citizen insecurity."
In Brazil yesterday, Mattis called for a closer defense partnership with the U.S., including in space research. (Associated Press)
Brazil's homicide rate increased by three percent last year -- and right-wing frontrunner for October's presidential race, Jair Bolsonaro, has called for relaxing gun laws and tougher policing. But punitive approaches have proved expensive failures in the region, argues a Guardian editorial. Instead experts, like the Igarapé Institute point to smarter policing: focusing on hotspots, targeting police corruption, community policing and conflict mediation.
In his presidential platform, Bolsonaro accused human rights groups and left-leaning politicians of permissiveness he blames for the rise in violence and crime. (Associated Press)
30,000 people are expected to protest in Brasilia today in favor of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's candidacy for October. He will register for the election today, though a corruption conviction means the electoral tribunal will likely bar him from running. (Bloomberg)
Brazil’s antitrust watchdog is considering opening an investigation into Google over alleged abuses in its cell phone operating system. (Reuters)
Former Salvadoran president Antonio Saca gave testimony detailing how he and close confidents embezzled $300 million of public funds during his administration. The extensive confession was made in exchange for a lighter sentence, reports Factum. (InSight Crime has the English translation.)
Chilean authorities have raided the headquarters of the Catholic church’s Episcopal Conference, part of an investigation into sex abuse. (Associated Press)
Across the region, vested interests seek to maintain a status quo of unequal landownership, often resorting to legal persecution and human rights violations to do so, reports U.S. News and World Report. Latin America has the most uneven land ownership in the world. "Oxfam and other groups say the problem is now getting worse, often with corporations – whether they are mining or agricultural – occupying ever larger areas of the region."
Parents seeking to flee violence in their home countries face impossible choices: taking their children on perilous journeys or leaving them at home to face impossibly dangerous circumstances as well, writes Reyna Grande in a New York Times op-ed.
A newly elected Mexican Congresswoman, Norma Azucena Rodríguez Zamora, has been kidnapped at gunpoint, reports the BBC.
At least 24 people were killed in a bus crash in a highway near Ecuador's capital yesterday. (Associated Press)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
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