News Dump Monday: South of the border edition
Colombia is the Florida Man of Latin America.
In an interview with a storyteller of the Wayuu nation that inhabits the most northern part of Colombia, radio host Fabio Zuleta caused indignation when he inquired what a woman from the indigenous would cost him.
Additionally, Zuleta felt no scruples to publicly announce “I would keep her locked up so she doesn’t run away.”
The Zuleta family owes their prominence largely to them entertaining drug traffickers since the so-called Marijuana Bonanza in the 1970’s and are currently implicated in an investigation into a plot to rig the 2018 election with President Ivan Duque‘s Democratic Center party and the mafia.
That news might not be the strangest Colombian story.
However, this may be my favorite headline.
Colombia’s ICT minister fired an official after an “on/off”‘ switch proved too technologically advanced for him, leaving his racist tirade against native Colombians on record.
Now-former ICT Ministry official Alejandro Plata, who apparently doesn’t know how to work a switch and broke the golden rule never to go on a racist tirade with the microphone on.
Then there is this depressing story.
In its latest report on armed conflict, Fundacion Ideas de la Paz (FIP) said the killing of human rights defenders and community leaders increased 53%.
Homicides in general dropped 16%, according to the conflict monitor. According to the Defense Ministry, this drop is almost entirely due a drop in homicides during a lockdown that has been in place since March 25.
The coronavirus pandemic that triggered the lockdown has not increased the safety of the social leaders, but allowed illegal armed groups who are using the emergency situation to increase their territorial control, according to both the FLIP and Indepaz.
It isn't just Colombia where right-wing death squads are using the lockdown.
The coup regime has focused particularly on leaders from Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, who are being criminalised and face various charges. The regime reportedly has a list of nearly 600 officials from the MAS government whom it has in its sights.
Having seized power, the regime has begun to unpick the economic and political reforms made during Morales’ tenure in office. Central to this has been to overturn Morales’s strategy of reversing neoliberal policies and retaking control of key parts of the country’s economy from foreign corporations.
State-owned companies are being privatised or handed over corruptly to coup supporters who are taking full advantage of the opportunity.
...Protests are being held in every area of the country, with calls for Anez’s resignation growing stronger during the daily “cacerolazos” pots-and-pans-banging protests.
The authorities’ response is to step up repression, conduct airforce flyovers of areas of unrest and issue harsh fines.
It's been a bad few days for Brazil's Bolsonaro.
First this happened.
Brazil's Supreme Court has released a video showing President Jair Bolsonaro expressing frustration that he was unable to change security officials and vowing to protect his family.
The video forms part of an investigation into allegations that the president attempted to replace senior members of the federal police.
Then Trump turned on him.
President Trump is barring the entry of most non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil within the past 14 days, the White House announced on Sunday, citing concerns over Brazil's rapidly worsening coronavirus crisis.
Brazil has the world's second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections, behind only the United States, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. As of Sunday, the country had reported more than 347,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 22,000 deaths.
Now finally, FINALLY Brazil does the right thing.
Brazil has rehired 157 Cuban doctors to help fight a surge in coronavirus cases, a year and a half after Havana ended a medical assistance programme over a dispute with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
The doctors, who had opted to stay in Brazil after the Cuban government pulled the plug on the programme, received new medical licenses on Monday from the Brazilian health ministry, which sought to round up reinforcements for the overstretched healthcare system.
Cuba has sent more than 2,000 doctors and nurses to 23 countries since the crisis broke.
They join the 28,000 Cuban health professionals who were working in 59 countries prior to Covid-19.
No other country has sent large numbers of doctors abroad during the pandemic. The radical intellectual Noam Chomsky last month described the island as the only country to have shown “genuine internationalism” during the crisis, and the women-led anti-war organization Code Pink is now leading calls for the island’s emergency medical response teams to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But these medical brigades have received little media attention in the United States.
Trump is about to do something irresponsible to Haiti.
Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, who won a brief reprieve from deportation from the United States earlier this month when his removal was canceled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, could be back in Haiti as early as next week.
One of Haiti’s most notorious human rights violators, Constant’s name — and that of the brutal paramilitary force he led in the 1990s — have long been synonymous with terror and death in Haiti.
A close friend of Raoul Cedras, the Haitian army general who led the 1991 coup against a newly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Constant founded the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti while on the CIA’s payroll. The force, known by the acronym FRAPH, has been linked to the murders of at least 3,000 Aristide militants, previous Haitian authorities have said.
Washington loves Honduras.
A news investigation has linked the head of Honduras’ congress to a major drug clan, exposing further connections between the country’s top government officials and its underworld.
The report, published by Central American magazine Expediente Público, details how Mauricio Oliva Herrera, president of the National Congress, allegedly acquired a series of properties in Tegucigalpa from a business associate at Inversiones Acrópolis, a company linked to a notorious Honduran drug trafficking family known as the Cachiros.
It's even worse than that.
For months, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan has been signaling that the ultimate objective of years of investigation and methodically built cases could be President Juan Orlando Hernández.
“The noose is definitely tightening given the information that is coming out,” said Eric Olson, a global fellow at The Wilson Center’s Latin America program. “I thought that the statement from the U.S. attorney made an even more direct link to the president.”
The president’s brother, Tony Hernández, has already been convicted and is awaiting sentencing next month.