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Latam Brief: Human Rights Court to rule on ES’s total abortion ban (March 27, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing: Human Rights Court to rule on ES's total abortion ban
Latin America Daily Briefing

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights heard held hearings last week on a challenge to El Salvador’s total abortion ban — the case of a young woman, whose pregnancy was life threatening and whose fetus would not survive outside the womb.

“The case will be the first where the high court could rule on the conventionality of the absolute prohibition of a pregnancy’s voluntary interruption,” said Julissa Mantilla, a commissioner for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Reuters)

Experts say the court’s ruling at the end of the year could have far-reaching implications on reproductive health across the continent. After the two-day hearing, the court is expected to take a month to write their arguments. A final decision is expected by the end of the year. (Guardian)

But feminist organizations fear that the Bukele government will not comply with the court’s ruling, reports El País.

In El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua — the only five countries in the region where abortion is listed in the criminal code — hundreds of women have lost their lives due to anti-abortion legislation, reports El País.

In Barbados, Belize and Jamaica — some abortion-seekers can face life in prison, according to an analysis in BMJ Global Health. (NBC News)

Regional Relations

  • Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has canceled his trip to China after contracting pneumonia. Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro said on Sunday that the Chinese government would decide on a new date for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s visit to the country, adding that the signing of agreements between Beijing and Brasilia has been postponed. (Associated PressReuters)

  • The U.S. Biden administration is shifting its strategy on Haiti away from a proposal for a multilateral armed force to a push at the United Nations for a more traditional peacekeeping mission, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Leaders attending the Ibero-American Summit meeting in the Dominican Republic on Saturday discussed the need to address Haiti’s deepening humanitarian crisis while vowing to cooperate on environmental issues, reports Reuters.


  • Haitian businessman and convicted drug trafficker Rodolphe Jaar pleaded guilty to three charges related to his role in the 2021 assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. Jaar, provided funds to purchase weapons and allowed at least five other men charged in the plot to conduct staging for the operation at a property he owned, according to a plea agreement signed Friday in Florida. Jaar, who is also a Chilean citizen, is the first of 11 defendants charged in the United States to be convicted in the plot. (New York TimesAssociated Press)

  • Jaar who cooperated with U.S. investigators in a major cocaine smuggling probe a decade ago, is hoping that same strategy might help him avoid a potential life sentence for providing “material support” in the assassination, according to the Miami Herald.

  • Nearly half of Haiti’s population is regularly going hungry, according to a World Food Programme report. “These are the worst conditions on record,” said Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP’s Haiti director. “Food insecurity in Haiti has been going downhill and Haiti is sliding into a hunger emergency.” (Guardian)


  • “Better integrating Haiti into the movement for reparations can accelerate the larger movement’s journey toward justice, while also helping Haiti secure sovereignty and democracy,” argue Mario Joseph, Brian Concannon and Irwin Stotzky in a Miami Herald op-ed.

  • A landmark exhibition devoted to the history and impact of slavery by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, now in abridged format at the U.N., “shows the need for an international reckoning,” reports the Washington Post.

  • Laura Trevelyan writes about her family’s reckoning with past profits from slavery, and about restorative justice efforts in Grenada. (Guardian)


  • Voter turnout in Cuba’s National Assembly elections yesterday was stronger than in recent elections — 70% as of yesterday afternoon. Participationwas widely seen by both pro- and anti-government groups as a proxy for gauging support for Cuba’s communist leadership, reports Reuters.


  • Illegal mining has created a humanitarian crisis among Brazil’s Yanomami Indigenous people: The infant mortality rate among the 31,000 Yanomamis is one in 10, compared with about one in 100 in the rest of the country, reports the New York Times. Many of those deaths are avoidable, caused by malnutrition, malaria, pneumonia and other illnesses.

  • Former President Jair Bolsonaro’s planned return to Brazil puts him at risk for multiple criminal inquiries and the possibility of arrest on a wide range of alleged wrongdoing. And his penchant for political polarization could risk Brazil’s tenuous political peace, reports the Washington Post.


  • A plane used for “death flights” under Argentina’s last dictatorship has been located in the U.S. and will be returned to Argentina. It is hoped the plane will return to Argentina by 30 April, the anniversary of the first time the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo marched in front of the presidential palace in 1977, demanding news of their children who had been forcibly disappeared by state forces, reports the Guardian.


  • Colombia’s Petro administration has sharply raised its reforestation target to 750,000 hectares by 2026, reports Reuters.

Flora y Fauna

  • In just one year, the population of monarch butterflies wintering in Michoacán dropped 22 percent, according to a World Wildlife Fund Mexico report released last week. (Washington Post)

  • The story of Mexico City’s Jacaranda trees — by Elda Cantú in New York Times

Jordana Timerman/Latin America Daily Briefing

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