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Latam Brief: Engel List sanctions impact Guatemala — El Faro( 07 21 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing: Engel List sanctions impact Guatemala
Latin America Daily Briefing

Guatemala’s electoral authority filed an injunction before the Constitutional Court yesterday against the chief magistrate of the Supreme Court, attorney general, solicitor general, ministers of defense, finance, and governance, and director of the National Civil Police for “the true, future, and imminent threat that [these] authorities violate the democratic rule of law by not guaranteeing the work of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.” (El Faro)

The injunction asks the officials to abstain from rulings regarding the validity of the June 25 presidential election, reports Prensa Libre.

It is an initial impact of the new U.S. sanctions announced this week against nearly a dozen Guatemalan officials, including many in the judicial branch, according to El Faro. (See yesterday’s briefs.)

“It’s striking that the sanctions most forcefully hit Guatemala’s Judicial Branch, where corrupt prosecutors have pushed the country to the brink of an electoral coup. It’s the country where in 2021, when the Engel List was first released, the U.S. thought it had better odds of a productive relationship than with the other three,” reports El Faro.

The inclusions and omissions on the list “demonstrate a reordering of priorities in the U.S. strategy in Central America, a region pierced by attacks against the electoral systems and led by presidents hostile to Western sanctions,” reports El Faro.


  • Jamaica’s reported refusal to accredit the same-sex spouse of a U.S. diplomat — granting the person diplomatic immunity — could spark a spat between the two countries. Radio Jamaica News reports a senior Jamaican official said the request put Jamaica’s government in a bind, accreditation would would be akin to recognizing recognize a same-sex marriage, which is illegal in the country. (See today’s Just Caribbean Updates.)

  • The case has put a spotlight on Jamaica’s hostile stance towards LGBTQ rights, writes Emma Lewis in Global Voices. The island’s archaic anti-sodomy laws remain on the books despite a 2020 report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calling for the repeal. (See today’s Just Caribbean Updates.)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

  • A new Human Rights Watch report focuses on St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ colonial era gay sex ban, and highlights how LGBT individuals are subjected to bullying and various forms of violence and harassment, reports the Miami Herald. The report notes that while it’s unusual for the organization to focus such attention on a small country like St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the level of homophobia in the country and continued effect of its archaic law on rights of LGBT individuals warranted scrutiny.

Regional Relations

  • Chile’s Boric administration recently announced its commitment to a “feminist foreign policy,” which it described as the first of its kind in South America — among other things, it means applying a gender lens to the country’s international agreements and treaties — everything from trade agreements to climate, Gloria de la Fuente, an undersecretary at Chile’s foreign ministry told Americas Quarterly.


  • Since 2015, more than 1,500 Venezuelans have vanished in Colombia — Al Jazeera

  • The story of a Guatemalan mother and daughter reunited five years after being separated at the U.S. border sheds light on the ongoing trauma inflicted by the Trump administration’s policy of family separation — Washington Post


  • Many Caribbean leaders and financial experts say that international safeguards against money laundering and tax evasion unfairly afflict Caribbean countries “creating a possible double standard that causes them to suffer disproportionate harm to their economies and reputations,” reports Americas Quarterly.


  • Sexual violence against women in Brazil increased disturbingly last year. Reported rapes increased 8.2%, while rape cases among minors grew 15.3%, according to new report by the Brazilian Public Security Forum. Females make up 88.7% of rape victims, and a staggering 61.4% are children aged 13 or younger. (Guardian)

  • Brazil’s unveiled its first ever official translation of the national constitution into an Indigenous language. Brazilian authorities and Indigenous leaders participated in the presentation of the Nheengatu translation in in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, a town deep in the Amazon. (Guardian)


  • Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado is not planning to step aside from the presidential race — despite being disqualified by the Maduro government. In an interview with The Washington Post, she said she will aim to build so much support among Venezuelans that Maduro is forced to let her enter the presidential race.


  • The Honduran government’s plan to build an island prison for 2,000 gang members has been opposed by environmental and community leaders who say it would affect Islas del Cisne marine reserve. (La Prensa, see last Wednesday’s post.)


  • The latest edition of Latinobarómetro shows a worrisome trend on democratic preferences in the region, reports the Economist: Younger Latin Americans, with no memory of the region’s murderous military dictatorships of the 1970s, are the least likely to agree that “democracy is preferable to any other form of government.”

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