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Latam Brief: Marielle – Five years (March 15, 2023)

Brazilians place offerings on stairs painted in memory of Marielle Franco, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @KarinaNohales
Brazilians place offerings on stairs painted in memory of Marielle Franco, 2023. (Twitter/ @KarinaNohales)

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of the assassination of Black, bisexual Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco, in an attack that also killed her driver, Anderson Gomes.

Supporters gathered to commemorate the date, amid hope that investigations into her death will accelerate under Brazil’s new administration reports the Associated Press.

Five years after the killing of the rising political star, who fought against violence targeting women while defending human rights and social programs, particularly in favelas, the mastermind behind the attacks remains unknown, as do their motives.

Two former police officers, accused of carrying out the double murder, are in jail awaiting trial.

It is believed that she was assassinated by members of one of Rio’s militias, gangs of former and current police officers and soldiers. (Jacobin)

G1 looks at some of the many unanswered questions in the investigation, in which political motives are a main hypothesis. Amnesty International said the case is indicative of broader impunity for such crimes in Brazil. (France 24)

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva asked the Federal Police to open an investigation running parallel to the one conducted by Rio’s state authorities. The case has passed through the hands of several state public prosecutors and several lead detectives. (Brazilian Report)

Anielle Franco, Marielle’s younger sister, is Lula’s minister of Racial Equality, was profiled in El País: “As Black women raised in a favela in Rio, the Francos embody an impending and apparently unstoppable shift in the power structures of Brazil. People such as these women, who have been excluded for centuries, are breaking into the realm of upper-middle class white men.”

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica’s Chaves government is seeking to curb access to therapeutic abortion to protect carriers’ lives and health, reports El Faro English. Leaked draft regulations would require the “name, ID number, and signature of the spouse or father of the nasciturus,” requires increased medical opinions, and stresses “the ethical consideration of saving both lives, always seeking to carry the fetus to extrauterine viability.”

Regional

  • This month the Inter-American Court will hear arguments on whether El Salvador’s total abortion ban “infringed on a woman named Beatriz’s rights, including to life — she died in 2017 from forced pregnancy-related complications.The case will set regional precedent for countries who have signed the American Convention on Human Rights,” reports El Faro English. (See last Wednesday’s post.)

  • Record coca plant eradication in Honduras and Guatemala indicate expansion beyond the traditional Andean growing regions — and likely security challenges for Central America, reports InSight Crime.

  • “Still Life with Bones,” a book by anthropologist Alexa Hagerty, is “an absorbing account of her work with forensic teams as they excavate and identify human remains in mass graves in Guatemala and Argentina,” according to the New York Times. “The book reflects Hagerty’s effort to do justice to the stories that were placed in her charge by urging a wider understanding of the costs of political violence and the conditions that give rise to it.”

Mexico

  • Mexican lawmakers will launch a federal commission to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the country’s military, including the use of spyware technology against a prominent human rights activist, reports the Guardian.

  • Mexican Interior Minister Adán Augusto López Hernández is emphasizing his similarities to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a bid to become the ruling Morena party’s presidential candidate next year. He’s currently third in opinion polls, with 15% support compared with 28% for Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and 22% for Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, but could become the campaign’s dark horse, according to Americas Quarterly.

Venezuela

  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, already considered illegitimate by a large swathe of the international community, said Saturday that he does not care about the global response to a vote scheduled for next year, and that he will seek a third presidential term. (AFP)

  • U.S. clearance to allow Venezuelan opposition politicians to access frozen Venezuelan funds is delayed, preventing a fractured opposition from using the funds for political and humanitarian purposes, reports Reuters.

Regional Relations

  • U.S. officials said the country is not discussing a prisoner exchange as described in a letter and video appeal addressed to President Joe Biden by a U.S. citizen detained in Venezuela, reports Reuters. Eyvin Hernandez was “quite possibly coerced” into appealing to Biden to swap him and seven other U.S. detainees for Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman allied with Nicolás Maduro, according to one official.

  • Honduran President, Xiomara Castro said the country will establish official relations with China, a move that would end its ties with Taiwan. The switch would leave Taiwan with formal diplomatic ties with only 13 countries. (Guardian)

St. Lucia

  • A series of homicides in the town of Vieux Fort in St. Lucia, last week, has put a spotlight on violence in the Eastern Caribbean. St Lucia’s Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre — who is also National Security Minister — has called for help from the Regional Security System, RSS, and has also implemented 24-hour police patrols in response to seven gunshot murders. (See today’s Just Caribbean Updates)

Ecuador

  • Ecuador’s national assembly voted to declassify documents tied to investigations into allegations of corruption at public companies, in a bid to shore up impeachment charges against President Guillermo Lasso, reports Reuters.

Argentina

  • Argentina’s annual inflation rate has hit a three-decade high, surging past 100 per cent for the first time since 1991, reports the Financial Times.

  • Rising prices are hitting residents hard, and affect the ruling Frente de Todos’ coalition’s chances in this year’s general election, reports Reuters.

Jordana Timerman/Latin America Daily Briefing

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