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Latam Brief: Brazil criticizes Ortega, seeks dialogue (March7, 2023)

 Latin America Daily Briefing
Latin America Daily Briefing

Brazil expressed concern regarding human rights violations carried out by the authoritarian Ortega government in Nicaragua. Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council today, the country’s ambassador Tovar da Silva Nunes said Brazil’s Lula administration views with concern “the serious violations of human rights and restrictions on the democratic space, especially summary executions, arbitrary arrests and torture against political dissidents” carried out in Nicaragua. (Poder 360)

“Brazil looks forward to exploring ways in which this situation can be constructively addressed with the government of Nicaragua and other relevant authorities ,” he said.

The statement comes Brazil was criticized last week for not joining a declaration signed by 55 countries that sharply criticized Daniel Ortega and for not even speaking out during the council meeting. Brazilian diplomats took part in the negotiation of the declaration criticizing Nicaragua, but chose not to endorse it because it did not leave a door open for negotiations, reports Reuters.

A U.N. investigation published last week found that widespread human rights violations that amount to crimes against humanity are being committed against civilians by Nicaragua’s government for political reasons. (See last Friday’s post.)

More Nicaragua in the U.N.

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council should renew the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua and the reporting mandate on Nicaragua of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for two years, said Human Rights Watch ahead of today’s meeting.

Mexico

  • Mexico’s armed forces spied on a human rights defender and journalists who were investigating allegations that soldiers had gunned down innocent people. A leaked Defense Ministry document provides clear evidence of longstanding allegations that the military illegally used of surveillance tools against civilians, reports the New York Times.

  • The twin rise of the digital media economy and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have conspired against Mexico’s long tradition of public intellectuals — at precisely the moment “Mexico needs people to guide discussion away from everyday politicking and into the more serious territory of discussing in good faith the flaws and merits of institutions, like the National Electoral Institute (INE), and how best to reform them without burning the democratic house down,” argues Alex González Ormerod in Americas Quarterly. (See Feb. 27’s post.)

  • Four U.S. citizens were kidnapped by armed men in Mexico on Friday. They had reportedly crossed the border to to get stomach tuck surgery — though earlier reports indicate they crossed to buy medication — and got caught in a shootout that killed at least one Mexican citizen. (Washington PostAssociated Press)

  • The focus on the U.S. citizen involvement belies the every day terror that has prevailed for years in Matamoros, where warring factions of the Gulf Clan regularly clash, notes the New York Times.

Regional

  • If Haiti’s deteriorating cascading crises are left unchecked, they will further destabilize and could spill over into other countries in the region, warned the U.N. in a new report. The report concludes that if the situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate and its security and development institutions disintegrate, “a significant international response will be required, including large-scale relief assistance and a stabilization or peace support operation.” (Miami Herald, see yesterday’s briefs.)

  • The regional response to La Soufriere’s 2021 eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which was recognized internationally, “stands as a textbook example of how early warning and community engagement minimized loss of property and lives — no one died in the aftermath of the eruption. But it is also a cautionary tale about the challenges disaster specialists everywhere face in the race to save lives as natural disasters become more frequent and more powerful,” reports the Miami Herald.

  • Weak institutions are the Achilles’ heel of democracy across Latin America, writes Nathan Gardels in Noema Magazine. “Liberal democracy must show it can deliver for the constituencies of populism that would undermine it.”

Regional Relations

  • The foremost opportunity for bipartisan cooperation in U.S. foreign policy “may be in Venezuela, where presidential elections next year offer the best chance in years for a democratic opening,” argue Mark Feierstein and Juan Cruz — Trump and Obama administration Security Council appointees — in Americas Quarterly. “Today, there is near-unanimity among the opposition on a political way forward: to hold a primary in October to select a standard bearer for next year’s presidential election, and to negotiate with the regime for better electoral conditions.”

Venezuela

  • Resurgent inflation is devouring the income of Venezuelans – even the relatively privileged ones who have access to U.S. dollars, reports Reuters.

Peru

  • Continuing violence against political protesters in Peru must stop, said U.N.-appointed independent experts yesterday, amid ongoing allegations of repression and arbitrary killings by security forces. “People have the right to protest and raise their concerns about political changes that affect their lives and livelihoods,” the experts said, before warning that Peru’s democracy was “facing a credibility crisis”.

  • Six Peruvian soldiers drowned while trying to swim across a river in the Andes to reach a town where anti-government protests turned violent, reports the Associated Press.

  • Thousands of sea lions have died in Peru amid an outbreak of bird flu. (CNN)

Colombia

  • “The murder of a high-level commander of Colombia’s Gaitanistas at the hands of his own group reveals discord within the criminal organization as it prepares to negotiate with the Colombian government as part of the “Total Peace” strategy,” reports InSight Crime.

Brazil

  • The son of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro added to debate over when, and whether, his father would return from self-imposed exile in Florida. Senator Flavio Bolsonaro tweeted that his father would return next week but then deleted the tweet a few minutes later. (Reuters)

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica’s highly successful program to protect its rainforest is conflicting with new efforts to reduce use of fossil fuels — that’s because funds used to pay landowners not to cut down trees come from fuel tax revenue, reports the Associated Press.

Chile

  • Chile launched its second attempt to rewrite its constitution, yesterday. The new proposal, which will be drafted by a politically appointed commission of experts and later finalized by a popularly elected Constitutional Council, is expected to be more moderate than one rejected by referendum last year, reports Reuters. (See last week’s Chile Constitutional Updates.)

  • Chile launched a program to protect the huemul, an endangered southern deer, by creating a biological corridor that includes an area recently donated by Rewilding Chile. (Reuters)

  • The Rewilding Chile Foundation donated an extensive 93,492-hectare piece of land in Punta Arenas, for the creation of a new National Park in the Magallanes Region. The Boric administration expressed interest in exploring the option of adding a “mirror” marine protected area to the terrestrial park. (Futuro 360)

Jordana Timerman/Latin America Daily Briefing

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