Latin America Daily Briefing
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte faced significant anger at an event this weekend in Ayachucho, where ten people were killed in anti-government protests that occurred under her watch in late 2022.
Boluarte travelled to Ayacucho, despite resistance from families of the victims.
The wife of a man fatally shot during protests evaded Boluarte’s security detail, grabbed the president — who was distributing candies to the public — and shook her. Videos on social media showed people pushing up against security officials, shouting “Dina is a murderer!”
Boluarte has also faced a constitutional complaint and investigation on allegations of “genocide, qualified homicide and serious injuries” — charges she denies.
- Ecuadorean authorities detained 68 alleged gang members who tried to take over a hospital in Guayas province in order to rescue a member of the organization being treated there, reports the Associated Press.
- Police said they also raided a “rehabilitation center” that housed a gang command center and brothel, and where several alleged gang members were hiding, reports France 24.
- “Ecuador’s numerous gangs boast significant territorial presence and a diversity of funding streams that will pose a formidable challenge to the country’s weak institutions in what will likely be a drawn-out conflict between organized crime and the state,” writes Anastasia Austin in InSight Crime.
- Perpetuating “war on drugs” policies is “almost insulting in the face of the gigantic evidence accumulated after decades of failure,” argues Catalina Gil Pinzón in El País.
- Ecuador’s violence “is the result of a large and painful tearing of Ecuador’s social fabrics and a state dissolving into a morass of corruption,” argues Marcos Colón in El País. “Most particularly, however, it is the result of an extractive and export model of development that has been in place for over more than fifty years and has greatly intensified over the past two decades and four governments. This model has corrupted Ecuador’s institutions, which have been captured by special interest groups linked to extraction and exportation.”
- France 24 profiles Ecuador’s attorney general, Diana Salazar, the first Black woman to hold the position. Salazar is a well-known anti-corruption figure in Ecuador, and launched a massive operation against criminal organizations that led to more than 75 raids and 30 arrests in December.
- Andean Community countries, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, agreed to create a security network to share information about transnational crime, reports EFE.
- Colombia and Ecuador intercepted two semi-submersible drug-smuggling vessels loaded with tons of contraband — including 795 kilograms of cocaine — over the weekend, reports Reuters. (See also Associated Press.)
- Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo said the new administration will make extortion a top security policy priority. Interior Minister Francisco Jiménez said Guatemala’s extortion problem, unlike that of neighbors, is largely attributable to gang “imitators,” opportunistic criminals that trade on the violent reputation of the gangs to extract money from people. (Associated Press)
- A caravan of some 500 migrants traveling northwards from Honduras dissolved yesterday after crossing into Guatemala, according to Guatemalan migration authorities. “According to the immigration agency, no force was used and dialogue prevailed. Those who had documents were able to continue on as Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador have free transit among them,” reports the Associated Press.
- “Nicaragua is a country dominated by fear. Effectively converted into a police state,” according to a chronicle of “the catacombs inhabited by those who oppose the regime” published in El País. “Testimonies show an internal opposition that is disjointed, inactive and, above all, fearful… even after having fled the country.”
- Twenty years after a landmark Constitutional Court ruling put Colombian forced displacement in the public eye, there has been an increase in the number of victims, reports El País.
- Six Haitian nuns and two companions were kidnapped at gunpoint Friday in Port-au-Prince, reports the Miami Herald.
- Argentine President Javier Milei extended the extraordinary sessions of Congress in the midst of delays regarding his proposed reforms. (Corta)
- Milei administration officials are negotiating with “dialoguist” opposition parties in an effort to modify an “omnibus” reform bill enough to garner approval this week in House of Deputies. Central sticking points for center-right opposition parties include taxes on regional agricultural exports and elimination of inflation-linked pension increases — both key for the administration’s goal for a zero deficit this year, reports Infobae. (See also Página 12.)
- The government has reportedly agree to at least reduce the part of the proposal that would grant the president broad powers to bypass Congress. (El País)
- Milei insists that there are no negotiations underway, rather Milei friendly opposition parties have become the Argentine equivalent of Brazil’s “centrão,” argues Carlos Pagni. (La Nación)
- Milei declared 2024 to be the “Year of Defense of Life, Liberty and Property,” a slogan that will be referenced on all official government documents for the rest of the year. (Ámbito)
- “After a campaign by environmentalists, Benito the giraffe left Mexico’s northern border and its extreme weather conditions Sunday night and headed for a conservation park in central Mexico, where the climate is more akin to his natural habitat and already a home to other giraffes,” reports the Miami Herald.
- Scientists discovered at least four new species of deep-sea octopus off the Costa Rica coast in 2023, reports the Washington Post.