News Dump Sunday: Latin America's Sinister Turn
President Donald Trump announced that he will designate Mexican drug cartels as “terrorists”, paving the way for a potentially massive increase in American military involvement directly south of its border. “They will be designated,” Trump told ex-Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly during an interview, revealing that he asked the Mexican government for permission to put soldiers on the ground: “let us go in and clean it out,” Trump said, revealing that they have “so far has rejected the offer. But at some point, something has to be done.”
Mexico’s left-wing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly referred to by his initials, AMLO, hit back Friday, insisting that his country had not been invaded for more than a century and that he would not permit an invasion under his watch, revealing exactly how he understood Trump’s offer.
Everybody in Latin America knows what happens to leftist heads of state who challenge the power of the local elites and of the U.S. government. The list of overthrown or assassinated presidents is virtually endless: Jacobo Arbenz (Guatemala), Cheddi Jagan (Guyana), Joao Goulart (Brazil), Salvador Allende (Chile), Omar Torrijos (Panama), Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Haiti), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) and Dilma Rousseff (Brazil) are just a few.
AMLO is very open about the possibility of his own impending death, discussing it on Twitter last month. He argued that the hawks who dream of overthrowing him have not taken into account his large social base who will protect him and “not allow another coup d’état.
The U.S. government has used the terrorist designation in Latin America before to justify an increased military presence. Overnight Colombian narco-traffickers became “narco-terrorists,” as the Bush administration used the extant war on terror legislation to push through an expanded military role in supporting the local government which was waging war on its own population, a program called “Plan Colombia.”
Colombia’s President Ivan Duque and his chief negotiator said Friday they won’t accept demands from strike leaders who have been at the forefront of anti-government protests.
Duque and his emissary, Diego Molano, said the government is willing to “listen,” but without demands.
Both effectively confirmed strike leaders who said on Saturday that the government “doesn’t want to negotiate.”
If Colombia’s President Ivan Duque doesn’t respond to native Colombians’ concerns before Saturday, 30,000 of them will travel to Bogota and “take” the presidential palace, a representative said Thursday.
The indigenous ultimatum is the latest escalation of pressure on Duque, who has been confronted with the biggest anti-government protests in more than four decades.
Bolivia’s interim government wants Israel to help local authorities fight “terrorism” in the South American country, the interior minister told Reuters on Friday, alleging plots by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other leftists to destabilize regional governments.
Without providing details, Arturo Murillo said Bolivian police were investigating radical leftists allegedly linked to Maduro and drug-traffickers whom the government say had instigated deadly unrest in the country after former President Evo Morales resigned last month.
...She has strengthened the standing of the religious right, resumed strong ties with the United States and Israel, and sent hundreds of Cuban doctors and Venezuelan diplomats home.
Her government has also set up police units to conduct counter-terrorism operations. TV footage broadcast on local media have showed police in face masks with guns in training sessions.
But it has hit a menacing new level after last week’s police raid on an Amazonian NGO and the arrest of four volunteer firefighters who are accused of setting alight the forest they risked their lives to protect.
Even by the standards of the past 11 months, the detentions in Alter do Chão, and the confiscation of equipment at the headquarters of Saúde e Alegria, or the Health and Happiness Project, in Santarém have proved shocking for those involved – and those who fear they may be next.
Until recently, Brazilian NGOs’ greatest fear was being publicly smeared by a president who has baselessly accused Greenpeace of creating oil slicks, environmentalists of starting forest fires and Leonardo DiCaprio of bankrolling the arson.
Now activists worry the powers of the state are being used to criminalise their activities.