What will Jimmy do? (Sept. 17, 2018)
Guatemala's constitutional court ordered that the head of the U.N. anti-graft commission be allowed back into the country. The decision is a stern rebuke of President Jimmy Morales, who banned the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) head Iván Velásquez from reentering Guatemala two weeks ago. The court's five magistrates ruled unanimously yesterday, the second time in the past year that the court backed Velásquez against Morales' attempts to oust him from the CICIG. (Associated Press and El Periódico)
In its ruling, the court emphasized that the decision must be obeyed and cannot be appealed. The magistrates ordered Morales to follow appropriate channels with the U.N. to resolve conflict. (La Hora) Last week Morales said he was not bound by "illegal rulings." The court also noted that members of the Council of Security, which was invoked in the banning, who do not obey the ruling will be immediately dismissed. (Nómada)
The full ruling here.
The U.N. maintained Velásquez in his post, and he has been working from outside the country for the past two weeks. The CICIG welcomed yesterday's ruling and noted that the commission is continuing work within the framework of its mandate. (El Periódico and see Friday's post.)
The U.S. maintained its support of Morales however -- the U.S. Ambassador ratified the country's support for a "reformed" CICIG. (See Sept. 7's post.) An official U.S. salutation last week for Guatemala's independence day made no mention of the CICIG dispute.
More from Guatemala
Journalists covering last night's court decision denounced the presence of an apparent government agent spying on their work. (Nómada)
Plaza Pública and @_ojoconmipisto won the European Union's CivicTech4Democracy prize.
The trial against Berta Cáceres' alleged killers starts today. The eight men who are accused of murdering the environmentalist and indigenous activist in 2016 all deny the charges. Cáceres' family and Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras -- which she co-founded -- have questioned the trial's fairness and say the prosecution has not shared key evidence with them. The trial will be monitored by an international group of lawyers from the U.S., Spain, Guatemala, France and Canada, reports the Guardian. Cáceres' family and colleagues say the investigation hasn't focused on finding the intellectual authors of the killing, and has covered up broad involvement by state officials and a private dam opposed by Copinh, reports the Guardian separately.
Thousands of Nicaraguan's marched yesterday in Managua, demanding President Daniel Ortega's resignation and freedom of political prisoners. The demonstrators were forced to change their route due to police blockades and endured harassment from anti-riot officers. Some protesters danced near the police, and in other sections they called them murderers. Two people were attacked by parapolice after the protest, and two key opposition protest organizers were detained by the national police. Cenidh classifies them as political prisoners. (Confidencial, Nuevo Diario, Nuevo Diario again, and AFP)
At least 24 youths are being charged with terrorism in relation to the protest movement that started in April, and could receive up to 30 year sentences, reports el Nuevo Diario.
At least three people were wounded in a parapolice attack against a protest on Friday. (Confidencial)
A Nicaraguan surgeon gives testimony regarding the brutal torture of protesters by the Ortega administration. (Confidencial)
Most of the 14 Lima Group countries rejected the possibility of a military intervention against Venezuela's government. Eleven countries signed a declaration supporting a peaceful resolution of the migration crisis affecting the region. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, however, refused to rule out a military intervention in a Friday press conference, putting him at odds with most of the regional leadership. (Al Jazeera) Colombia is among the countries that did not sign the declaration rejecting military intervention, but said later that it was against violence and in favor of diplomatic and political solutions. (EFE)
The military option would be a disaster, writes Shannon O'Neil in Bloomberg: more like Iraq than Panama.
Former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero linked the Venezuela migration crisis to U.S. economic sanctions. (EFE)
Venezuela gave China another stake in the OPEC nation’s oil industry and signed energy sector deals, but there was no announcement of new funding for Caracas at the conclusion of Maduro's visit to Beijing. (Reuters)
Venezuela is expected to reach an inflation rate of a million percent by the end of the year, and businesses must scramble to stay afloat. Already, there are signs that the Maduro administration's recently implemented economic reforms have failed to ease the situation, reports the Washington Post.
Haitian lawmakers overwhelmingly backed Jean Henry Céant to be the country's prime minister yesterday. Céant is a well-known public notary who has twice lost presidential bids. He will replace Jack Guy Lafontant, who resigned in July after fuel price increases spurred deadly protests, reports the Miami Herald. (See July 18's briefs.)
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra asked Congress for a vote of confidence in his cabinet, a way of gauging support for judicial reform bills he is championing. (Reuters) If the opposition-led congress does dissolves the cabinet, Vizcarro can close Congress and call legislative elections. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
Verificado 2018 -- a collaborative election reporting initiative to debunk viral and potentially harmful misinformation around the 2018 elections in Mexico -- won an Online Journalism Award for "Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships."
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's campaign promised austerity for government officials -- including selling the country's presidential jet. He has a potential buyer lined up -- though the U.S. businessman is, oddly enough, a fierce supporter of President Donald Trump and his controversial border wall proposal. (Washington Post)
Five people were killed and eight more injured in a shooting in Mexico City. It was apparently carried out by hitmen dressed as mariachis, in Plaza Garibaldi, hub of the city's mariachi scene. Media reports link the shooting to a gang turf war. (Reuters and Los Angeles Times)
Evangelical voters will have a major impact in Brazil's upcoming presidential election -- and could tip the vote in a a race mostly marked by uncertainty, reports the Associated Press.
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who will likely win on Oct. 7 and pass to second round of voting, alleged the Workers' Party would be willing to resort to fraud to win. He spoke from a hospital bed after a knife attack ten days ago, and seemed weak, according to Reuters.
Bolsonaro maintained his lead in a Friday poll, with 26 percent. But Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad jumped up 4 points, to 13 percent. (Reuters)
Brazil's National Museum, which went up in flames earlier this month, was never a big tourism attraction, but for Rio de Janeiro locals it looms large. And along with the thousands of artifacts that were lost to the fire, is part of the narrative of who Brazilians are, writes the New York Times' architecture critic.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel officially backed gay marriage, part of a goal of eliminating discrimination in society. (BBC) The Conversation goes in depth on the battle over gay rights in Cuba.
Speaking of discrimination: A new constitution that will likely be approved in Cuba later this year expands the principle of non-discrimination. But it is not enough to ban discrimination, argues Julio César Guanche in Nacla, in a piece focusing on racial discrimination. The new constitution must also establish more proactive measures to recognize diversity and advance equality, he argues.
El Salvador's attorney general asked a judge to approve the extradition of former President Mauricio Funes, who is currently in Nicaragua. Funes, who governed between 2009 and 2014 is accused of embezzlement and money laundering involving $351 million. (Reuters) The request comes a few days after his predecesor, Antonio Saca, was jailed for ten years on corruption charges. (See last Thursday's post.)
El Faro obtained access to the checks used in Saca's embezzlement scheme, and said the evidence points to far more payments than what was discussed in the trial, including payments to Catholic bishops, funds paid to Saca's wife's NGO, and payments to a business owned by a friend of Saca's.
The Argentine inflation rate climed to 3.9 percent in August from July, and prices last month were 34 percent higher than in the same period last year. (Bloomberg)
Bolivia approved the massive production of bioethanol to replace the importation of additives for gasoline and diesel fuel. (EFE)
Brazilian authorities seized more than $16 million in cash and luxury watches in the luggage of a delegation accompanying the son of the Equatorial Guinea's long-time president. (AFP)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...