- An SUV filled with 10 bodies was left outside the office of Mexico’s Zacatacas state governor. Authorities said the bodies had apparent signs of beating and bruising. Zacatecas has become one of the most violent regions of the country due to turf wars among rival gangs, reports the Guardian.
- Murders have spiked in Mexico’s northern state of Sonora, thanks to the volatile mix of a veteran drug trafficker’s alleged return, internal disputes within the Sinaloa Cartel, and an offensive by the powerful Jalisco Cartel New Generation, reports InSight Crime.
- The Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG), led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, is at the center of national and international security policies due to the extreme violence which has accompanied its expansion in Mexico, where violence has been intricately linked to the groups rapid territorial spread, reports InSight Crime.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s plans to rollback his predecessor’s energy reforms are a grave threat, not only to the economy but also to the rule of law, according to the Economist.
- Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, are replacing corn crops with cannabis in anticipation of marijuana being legalized in the country, reports Axios.
- Mexico’s government has invited Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric to visit the country, with lithium mining likely to feature on the bilateral agenda going forward, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said yesterday after a visit with Boric. (Reuters)
- The Mexican government requested a dispute resolution panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement because it claims the United States is improperly interpreting stricter regional content rules under the pact, reports the Associated Press.
- Mexico formally announced new visa requirements for visitors from Venezuela, as part of efforts to curb a sharp increase in undocumented immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, reports Reuters.
- Two journalists in Haiti were killed yesterday by a gang operating on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince, according to the radio station that employed one of the victims. A third journalist, who was with them at the time, escaped, reports AFP.
- Brazil will stop monitoring deforestation in the Cerrado, the world’s most species-rich savanna, a government researcher has said, citing a lack of funds, days after data showed destruction hitting a 6-year high in 2021, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday’s briefs.)
- Former Brazilian judge Sergio Moro’s supporters hope he can present a viable challenge to President Jair Bolsonaro’s reelection, and to former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s own comeback bid, though polls put the onetime anti-corruption crusader at a distant third. Corruption is Moro’s signature issue, but his actual track record is checkered, writes Mac Margolis in a Washington Post opinion.
- Brazilian businesswoman Luiza Trajano made waves with a company policy limiting her Magazine Luiza executive training program to Black applicants — an effort to combat the country’s structural racism, reports the New York Times. Trajano has made waves far beyond corporate spheres by speaking bluntly about issues like race, inequality, domestic violence and the failings of the political system.
- Video games involving politicians have gone viral in Brazil, reports the Economist, a reflection of polarized politics, but also politics but also the history of video games in the country where Indie games have long been popular, reports the Economist.
- Private covid tests in Brazil show the coronavirus omicron variant is taking off, even if official data is failing to reflect the toll of the new wave, reports Bloomberg. A series of cyberattacks on Brazilian government websites in December compromised the Ministry of Health’s DataSUS platform, which gathers information on COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The platform remains down. (See yesterday’s briefs.)
- Long lines and crowding have overwhelmed Covid-19 testing centers in Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru in recent days. These obstacles mean infections are likely even more underreported than usual, and could have a political knock-on effect, reports the Latin America Brief.
- South America, one of the most unequal regions in the world, managed to become a Covid-19 vaccination leader, due to a combination of factors that include a culture of vaccination, tragic pandemic health tolls, and economic necessity, reports El País.
- The Wilson Center has a new study that examines the environmental impacts of soy and beef production in South America. Author André Vasconcelos argues that current efforts to address deforestation are focused largely on the Amazon region while ignoring other important, highly diverse biomes. He argues that shifting targets to combat deforestation to “specific production regions” offers a “strategic opportunity” for Chinese and European buyers to address the environmental impacts of large-scale beef and soy production.
- Considered the world’s sixth largest illicit economy, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing accounts for around 20 percent of worldwide catch. In Latin America, that figure can be even higher, reaching nearly 50 percent in countries like Mexico, reports InSight Crime in a deep-dive on the spree of illicit fishing across the region in 2021, much of it driven by competition for diminishing catch.
- Venezuela’s Guaidó government eliminated its Centro de Gobierno, an administrative unit run by Voluntad Popular party founder Leopoldo López. It is part of a series of reforms accorded by the 2015 National Assembly, which this week extended interim-president Juan Guaidó’s mandate and its own term by another year, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See Tuesday’s post.)
- The changes are unlikely to have real budgetary or operative impact, reports Crónica Uno.
- Nearly half the female prisoners in Argentina are serving time for drug possession. Photographer Magalí Druscovich portrays some in a Guardian photo essay. They form part of a regional pattern: aggressive drug policies are filling Latin America’s prisons with women, many of whom are forced into the drug business because they have no other alternatives to support their families.
- El Faro reports that there are signs of schisms within El Salvador’s Nuevas Ideas’ legislative bloc. The ruling party hasn’t lost any congressional votes as a result, but the growing internal dissatisfaction relates to budget, lack of press exposure, and fear of U.S. sanctions.
- ExxonMobil said that it made two additional oil discoveries off the coast of Guyana, reports the Associated Press.
- A garlic shortage, and rising prices, hint at larger problems in Cuba, reports the Economist.
- A newly erected statue of a grinning man with an enormous phallus has prompted delight and rage in an archeological hotspot in northern Peru. (Guardian)
Latin America Daily Briefing —