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Latam Brief: Ortega backtracks on canal plan

A protester against the construction of the Atlantic-Pacific canal in Nicaragua. Photograph: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters
A protester against the construction of the Atlantic-Pacific canal in Nicaragua. Photograph: Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

Latin America Daily Briefing

Nicaragua’s congress cancelled a concession for a controversial canal project that would link the country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Ortega government touted it as an economic juggernaut, while critics said it would displace rural communities along the canal’s projected path and create massive environmental damage. (Associated Press)

The project was announced in 2013, and the concession was granted to a Hong Kong company owned by Chinese businessman Wang Jing, but construction never started — though there was a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony a decade ago.

Anger over the plan was an early factor in growing public dissatisfaction with the Ortega government, which led to mass protests in 2018 that resulted in violent repression by authorities, reports the Guardian.

The government about face on the project is a defeat for Ortega, and responds to the ongoing pressure from activists, but also recognition that the stalled project has not advanced in any concrete way, reports Confidencial.


  • Haiti’s new transitional council will be presided over in five-month rotations by four veteran politicians who form part of the 9-member group. The council’s new rules establish that five votes, rather than four, are a majority for the group’s seven voting members, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday’s briefs.)

  • The other three members of the council “are now threatening to withdraw,” reports DÈYÈ MÒN ENFO. “Negotiations over the allocation of the various cabinet ministries in the next government appear to be at the heart of the exchanges. This points to a return to the usual political practices and backroom negotiations for the allocation of projects and “chantiers” that are highly lucrative for the individuals involved.”

  • “Civilian contractors have arrived in Haiti to build living quarters for a Kenyan-led international security force meant to counter gang violence in the Caribbean nation, the U.S. military’s Southern Command said.” — Reuters

  • Eight people have been charged in the 2019 killing of Néhémie Joseph, a Haitian journalist — including former senator Rony Célestin and Lochard Laguere, the acting mayor of the city where the body was found. Haiti ranks among the world’s third-worst offenders on the list of countries where the murders of journalists go unpunished, reports the Miami Herald.


  • Morena party candidate Claudia Sheinbaum remains firmly in the lead ahead of next month’s presidential election in Mexico, according to El Pais’ poll aggregator, which has her at 56 percent, well ahead of her conservative rival Xóchitl Gálvez with 36%.


  • Panamanian president-elect, Jose Raul Mulino, said he will urge lawmakers to approve a law enabling the Panama Canal to build large water reservoirs to respond to an unprecedented drought that has undermined transit across the waterway, reports Reuters.


  • Guilherme Boulos is running for mayor of São Paulo — if he wins Brazil’s biggest city in October’s election, the leftist be well placed to inherit President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s spot on the national stage, reports Americas Quarterly.


  • Two out of nine magistrates in Colombia’s National Electoral Council requested an investigation be opened into Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s 2022 campaign over alleged spending violations, reports Reuters.


  • A mass general strike against the Argentine Milei administration’s austerity policies led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and halted key bus, rail and subway lines today. It’s the second nation-wide union strike in the government’s five months. (Associated Press)


  • A media investigation alleges that Peruvian President Dina Boluarte dropped her duties for two weeks in order to get plastic surgery last year, and that she avoided informing Congress and delegating her functions while she was away, technically leaving the presidency without a leader. (El Pais)


  • Mexico’s national migration institute said is seeking diplomatic arrangements for Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to accept migrant return flights. The institute said it has registered more than 1.5 million foreigners entering the country irregularly this year, reports Reuters. (See yesterday’s briefs.)

  • Associated Press photographers Ivan Valencia, Eduardo Verdugo, Felix Marquez, Marco Ugarte Fernando Llano, Eric Gay, Gregory Bull and Christian Chavez have been awarded a Pulitzer prize for their poignant photographs chronicling migrants and asylum seekers in their arduous journey from central and South America to the US border — Guardian

Haitians wade through a river as they cross the Darien Gap from Colombia to Panama. Photograph: Iván Valencia/AP

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing
latinamericadailybriefing.blogspot 05 09 2024

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