Venezuela looks for blackout scapegoats (March 13)
Electricity has been restored in Caracas, but much of western Venezuela is in the sixth day of a massive blackout that has left residents desperate for food and water. Watchdog groups say 19 dialysis patients have died since power went out last Thursday, and an additional 24 hospital patients died from complications related to the outage. Looters ransacked businesses in Maracaibo, reports the Wall Street Journal.
And the embattled Maduro administration announced that it is investigating National Assembly leader and presidential challenger Juan Guaidó for alleged sabotage of the power grid. He is unlikely to be detained, say analysts, instead the Maduro administration may be making a play for time. He is also accused of instigating looting during the blackout. (New York Times, Guardian and Washington Post.)
Maduro announced a special technical commission, backed by Russia, China and Iran, to investigate the causes of the blackout. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Journalist Luis Carlos Díaz -- also accused of playing a role in the blackout -- was released after more than a day of detention by the country's feared intelligence agency -- on the condition he not speak publicly about his case. He was charged with inciting violence, reports the Guardian. It's part of a growing crackdown on the press -- more than 35 journalists, locals and foreigners, have been detained by security forces this year. Most of them were later released or deported, reports the Washington Post.
Independent journalists have struggled to report on the country's crisis, in the midst of harassment and attacks, writes Efecto Cocuyo's Luz Mely Reyes in a New York Times Español op-ed that calls for more international support for their efforts, in order to raise the political costs of interfering in freedom of the press.
More from Venezuela
Where might Maduro go if he eventually relinquishes power? Americas Quarterly analyzes possible havens, including Cuba, Turkey and Russia ... and even staying in Venezuela with an amnesty.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with El Salvador's president-elect, Nayib Bukele, yesterday. Bukele spoke in support of AMLO's proposal to counter migration with significant development plans for Central America and southern Mexico. Bukele said the U.S. is a natural partner in such efforts. Though Mexico has maintained neutrality on the Venezuelan legitimacy crisis, Bukele characterized Nicolás Maduro as a dictator. (Aristegui Noticias, Reforma, La Hoguera)
AMLO triumphantly celebrated his first 100 days in office (see yesterday's briefs), but some of his self-proclaimed successes are a little off. Animal Político particularly points to his statement that threatened citizens and journalists are being protected. Since AMLO took office on Dec. 1, three journalists have been assassinated in relation to their work, and 11 activists -- rates comparable to those of the previous administration.
AMLO is concentrating power in an already top-heavy executive system argues Shannon O'Neil in a Bloomberg piece accusing him undermining Mexican democracy.
An army of bots, semibots, trolls and fans attack AMLO's critics on social media. A new report by Signa_Lab ITESO identifies their strategies. (Animal Político)
Mexican senators elected Yasmín Esquivel Mossa to the Supreme Court. The new justice is anti-abortion, but said her personal beliefs won't interfere with the application of the law. She also questioned whether gay couples should be allowed to adopt. And civil society groups marked a potential conflict of interest -- her husband is a businessman with close ties to AMLO. (Animal Político)
Critics of a new anti-impunity law Guatemalan lawmakers are considering say it will undo years of fighting impunity in the country, writes Jo-Marie Burt in Americas Quarterly. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Should the law pass, it will put Guatemala in disobedience of numerous Inter-American Court of Human Rights rulings, reports Nómada.
A Constitutional Court decision yesterday blocks Zury Ríos' presidential candidacy, literally interpreting a constitutional clause blocking dictators' offspring from running -- she vowed to push forward anyway. (Nómada)
Eco-traffickers are thriving in the poorly defined border area between Guatemala and Belize, reports InSight Crime.
Carnival music in Haiti is an exercise in political commentary -- but festivities were cancelled this year, leaving artists without a platform, reports PRI. The theme of most of this year's releases? Petrocaribe corruption.
At least nine people -- including five children -- were killed in a school shooting in São Paulo today. (Reuters)
A year after Marielle Franco’s assassination, a personal reflection on her life and legacy from Ana Paula Lisboa in Americas Quarterly. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Civil society, in heated debate over constitutional reform, marked a new chapter in Cuba last year, according to a new Inter-Press Service report.
Chinese investment in Latin America has evolved from an initial focus on extractive industries to a broader focus on services, reports Americas Quarterly.
Costa Rica's Limón port is increasingly used by cocaine smugglers transporting wares to Europe, reports InSight Crime.
Costa Rica's first lady wants to wean the country off fossil fuels by 2050 -- a plan that would prove small countries can be leaders in solving major world problems. (New York Times)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing