INTL Latin America and the Islands: Politics, Economics, Military- July 2022

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Ecuador government, Indigenous activists reach deal to end protests
The agreement ends over a week of nationwide strikes over the cost of living that paralyzed the country.



Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza, left, shakes hands with Government Minister Francisco Jimenez after reaching an agreement with mediation by the church at the Episcopal Conference headquarters in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
Ecuadorean minister Francisco Jimenez (right) and Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza shook hands on clinching the accord in the capital Quito

Representatives of Ecuador's government and Indigenous groups on Thursday signed an agreement to end 18 days of protests against soaring food and fuel prices.

The talks, mediated by the Catholic Church, reached a deal to decrease the price of fuel, among other concessions.

Minister of Government and Policy Management Francisco Jimenez and Indigenous CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza were among the signatories to the accord, as was negotiator Monsignor Luis Cabrera, the head of the Episcopal Conference in Ecuador.
Indigenous protesters gather outside the Episcopal Conference headquarters where Indigenous leaders dialogue with the government in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
Indigenous protesters gathered outside the site of the talks on Thursday

The nationwide protests erupted on June 13, with an estimated 14,000 Ecuadorans taking part in a major show of discontent against deepening hardship, as the country's economy was reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and global inflation.

The protest movement was organized by indigenous organization CONAIE, which opposed high fuel prices and plans for further expansion of the mining and oil industries.
The prolonged protests caused food and medicine shortages across Ecuador, while also severely impacting the oil industry, roughly halving daily production and costing the country some $213 million, according to Energy Ministry figures.

What's in the agreement?
The compromise foresees a reduction in the prices of both gasoline/petrol and diesel, sets limits to the expansion of oil exploration areas and prohibits mining in protected areas, national parks and water sources.

"We cannot allow violence to take over Ecuador and our differences to deepen. Today is not the end, it is the first day of a great dream for national reconciliation," Jimenez said at the signing in Quito.
Government representative Francisco Jimenez holds up the agreement made with Indigenous leaders, Eustaquio Toala, third from left, and Leonidas Iza, third from left, as they stand with Catholic Church representatives who served as mediators at the Episcopal Conference headquarters in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, June 30, 2022.
The deal could soften days of sometimes violent strikes and protests over rising prices of fuel in particular, funding some of the pledges may prove challenging however

The accord provides the government with 90 days to deliver solutions to the demands of the indigenous groups.

"We have achieved the supreme value to which we all aspire: peace in our country," President Guillermo Lasso, an ex-banker who took power 13 months ago, said on Twitter announcing the deal. "The strike is over. Now we begin together the task of transforming this peace into progress, well-being, and opportunities for all."

Among the other concessions made, Lasso increased monthly aid for Ecuador's poorest inhabitants from the equivalent of roughly $50 to $55.

Minister of foreign affairs says toppling government was real goal
Speaking to DW in Quito after the deal was struck, Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Holguin warned against overstating the importance of fuel prices in the protests. He argued that the real goal of opposition groups, which ultimately failed, was to prompt a change of government.

"The cause of these protests was not the price of fuel. That was a legitimate need of Ecuador's Indigenous population for a long time. But it was a bad analysis: Ecuador has some of the cheapest fuels in the region and perhaps the world," Holguin told DW. "However, these protests coincided with an attempt by a political group to generate a social crisis in the country, to overthrow the president. And that was reflected in the failed impeachment process organized in the national assembly."

Lasso on Tuesday survived an impeachment vote in parliament brought by opposition politicians blaming him for the "serious political crisis and internal commotion" caused by the strikes and protests.

The protest instigator CONAIE is credited with unseating three presidents between 1997 and 2005.
"Only the struggle has allowed us to secure rights!" CONAIE wrote on Twitter on Thursday. "We have ... achieved measures to alleviate the economic situation, health and education of vulnerable rural and urban families."

More than a quarter of Ecuardorans live in poverty according to 2021 data, with price pressures on basic goods therefore a major issue for much of the population.
msh/jcg (AFP, AP, dpa)
 
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https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-elections-caribbean-presidential-brazil-5aaa7aabd92e62130c284aa6aa379aba#

Brazil’s da Silva hints at 1-term presidency if elected
By DÉBORA ÁLVARESyesterday


Brazil's former president who is running for reelection, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, looks on during the launch of his plan for the federal government, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Brazil goes to the polls to elect a new president in October. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Brazil's former president who is running for reelection, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, looks on during the launch of his plan for the federal government, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Brazil goes to the polls to elect a new president in October. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Friday that he would likely serve only one term if he wins back Brazil’s presidency in October’s election.

“I’m not going to be a president of the republic who is thinking about his reelection,” he said in an interview with Metropole Radio in the northeastern state of Bahia. “I’m going to be a president who is going to be thinking about governing this country for four years and leaving it looking great.”

Da Silva, who would turn 77 before taking office if elected, said he would have “four years in which I want to dedicate every minute to see if we can do in four years more than I did in eight.”

He added later: “I dream that when we get to December 31, 2026, when we hand over the mandate to someone else, this country will be thriving, growing.”

The leftist leader served two terms from 2003 to 2010, and he leads current President Jair Bolsonaro in all opinion polls heading into the election. Some indicate he might gain a first-round victory, avoiding the need for a runoff between the top two finishers.


Bolsonaro often insists the polls are wrong, significantly understating his true strength.
Da Silva was elected in 2002 and, despite repeatedly speaking against reelection bids, he secured another term four years later. In 2010, he refused to seek a third term despite pressure from many lawmakers who wanted to change Brazil’s constitution to give him that opportunity.

https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-politics-police-arrests-0143f62b750c51b20d14c9bcedeec12d
While campaigning in 2018, Bolsonaro also hinted he would serve only one term, saying he opposed reelection. Speaking to Fox News in an interview aired Thursday night, the far-right leader said the left “will never leave power” if da Silva wins in October.

“And then this country will follow the footsteps of Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Colombia,” Bolsonaro said, listing South American nations where leftist candidates have won the presidency recently. “Brazil could become another wagon in that train.”

Da Silva also spoke about the role of the country’s military in the elections, which has become an issue since Bolsonaro hinted he might not accept results if he loses. Military leaders close to the president have insisted without offering proof that there are flaws in the nation’s electronic voting system.

The leftist presidential hopeful said questioning elections is not a military task. “It is the electoral authority that takes care of the electronic voting system. It is our society that oversees it,” said da Silva, who has mostly avoided voicing opinions that could displease military leaders during the campaign.

Da Silva compared Bolsonaro’s statements on Brazil’s voting system to also unfounde
d questioning by then U.S. President Donald Trump after the 2020 elections. “He wants to create confusion. He wants to do the same thing Trump did. That is, a lie told a thousand times can look like the truth,” da Silva said.
 

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Argentina Economy Minister Martin Guzman steps down
The resignation comes at a time when the nation’s economy is staring at multiple challenges, from soaring inflation to critical shortages of items like diesel and fertilizers.



Argentina Economy Minister Martin Guzman
Guzman urged the president to mend internal divisions so that 'the next minister does not suffer' the same difficulties he did

Argentia's Economy Minister Martin Guzman stepped down from his post on Saturday, publishing his resignation letter on Twitter.

Addressing President Alberto Fernandez, Guzman said: "I am writing to you to present my resignation as economy minister... which has been my honor since December 10, 2019."
He called on the president to mend internal divisions so that "the next minister does not suffer" the same difficulties he did.

As economy minister, Guzman was in charge of renegotiating a $44 billion (€42.19 billion) debt with the International Monetary Fund that Argentina insisted it could not afford to repay.

Despite internal divisions within the government, perhaps most notably opposition from Vice President and two-time head of state Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who leads the far-left wing of the ruling coalition, Guzman managed to secure a deal and save the country from defaulting.

Argentina struggling badly with inflation and currency woes
The resignation comes at a time when the nation's economy is staring at multiple challenges, from soaring inflation and a depreciating currency to critical shortages of items like diesel and fertilizers.

The Latin American country, which has the region's third-biggest economy, currently has the second-highest inflation among major economies behind Turkey, at about 60%.
Authorities forecast that it will hit 70% by the end of the year.



Watch video02:01
Millions in Argentina rely on food aid
Meanwhile, pressure on its peso currency is rising and a high energy import bill is stopping it building up vital dollar reserves.

The situation has placed the nation's central bank in a tough spot. If it tightens monetary policy hard to stem price rises and support the currency, it will likely risk economic growth.
The interest rate has already climbed to 52% in a bid to avert investors dumping peso assets.
In a further sign that investors believe another Argentine default is likely, the returns on government bonds are among the highest in the world.

Farm sector under strain
The country's key agriculture sector is also under strain due to critical shortages of items like diesel and fertilizers.

Major farm groups have called for a trade strike in two weeks in a bid to pressure the government of leftist President Alberto Fernandez to do more to boost supplies.
The groups announced that the nationwide halt to farm exports will begin on July 13 and last 24 hours, according to sector officials and a statement from the Mesa de Enlace which includes the country's four main rural associations.

Argentina is the world's second-biggest corn exporter, the No. 1 exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, as well as a major wheat and beef supplier. The country has been hit by economic crises, defaults and rampant inflation for decades.
sri/msh (AFP, Reuters)
 

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Argentina: Silvina Batakis appointed economy minister after abrupt departure of Guzman
Silvina Batakis comes in at a time when the Argentine economy is in full-blown crisis mode, with inflation above 60%, a high fiscal deficit, and fears rising about debt defaults.



Silvina Batakis, Argentina's new economy minister, speaks in this handout photo taken on April 30, 2015
Batakis was economy minister for Argentina's biggest and wealthiest province, Buenos Aires, from 2011 to 2015

Argentina appointed Silvina Batakis as its new economy minister on Sunday after theabrupt weekend resignation of her predecessor, Martin Guzman.

President Alberto Fernandez appointed the 53-year-old Batakis, who was economy minister for Argentina's biggest and wealthiest province, Buenos Aires, from 2011 to 2015. The appointment was announced on Twitter.

Guzman, the architect of a $44-billion debt restructuring deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), unexpectedly stepped down on Saturday. This followed his constant clashes with the militant wing of the ruling coalition loyal to Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who disapproved of his tighter fiscal policy.

Economy in crisis
Batakis comes in at a time when the Argentine economy is in full-blown crisis mode, with inflation above 60%, a high fiscal deficit, fears rising about debt defaults and people losing faith in the peso currency and anticipating a devaluation.

She is seen as more aligned with the ruling Peronist coalition's militant wing, that wants more public spending to help alleviate high poverty levels in Argentina. "There is no dignified poverty," she wrote in a pinned post on her Twitter account. "It is just poverty, and we must fight it."

This is in direct contrast of the stipulations of the deal with the IMF to bring down the fiscal deficit, increase reserves and lower central bank financing.

Her critics remain skeptical of the appointment. Matias Carugati, an economist from Consultora Seido, pointed out the lack of information regarding Batakis' policy vision. "Now we have a minister," he said, "But we do not yet have an economic plan."

How it got here
The political turmoil comes at a time when Argentina is undergoing some tumultuous times economically. The agricultural powerhouse has been battling inflation of more than 60 percent in the last 12 months. The economy also has been disrupted by trucker strikes over shortages of diesel.

Guzman's abrupt departure also leaves the country in the lurch as he was expected to travel to France for talks this week to renegotiate a $2 billion debt deal with the Paris Club group of sovereign lenders.

The original debt of $57 billion to Argentina was the largest ever issued by the IMF. The last tranche of the deal was refused by President Alberto Fernandez after taking office from his liberal predecessor Mauricio Macri.

With soaring inflation and bleeding of foreign currency reserves due to high energy import costs, investors are questioning Argentina's ability to meet its debt commitments. Returns on government bonds are among the highest in the world, demonstrating investors' lack of confidence in them being honored.

Argentina has defaulted on its debt nine times since its 1816 independence from Spain, and three times this century, with the largest default taking place in late 2001.


Watch video03:03
How Argentina's richest became richer through the pandemic
ss/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)
 

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Argentina peso drops as left-leaning economy minister named
By DANIEL POLITIyesterday


President Alberto Fernandez embraces his new Economy Minister Silvina Batakis at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, July 4, 2022. Batakis will replace Martín Guzmán who quit unexpectedly Saturday, posting a seven-page resignation letter on Twitter. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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President Alberto Fernandez embraces his new Economy Minister Silvina Batakis at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, July 4, 2022. Batakis will replace Martín Guzmán who quit unexpectedly Saturday, posting a seven-page resignation letter on Twitter. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s peso fell and stock prices dipped Monday after left-leaning Silvina Batakis was named economy minister following the surprise resignation of her more moderate predecessor over the weekend as the country struggles with economic woes.

Batakis was named late Sunday to take over from Martín Guzmán, who was largely seen as a moderate voice within President Alberto Fernández’s Cabinet. Guzmán had been the target of strong criticism from more left-leaning elements of the governing coalition, including Vice President Cristina Fernández, who is not related to the president.

The peso’s value was down 18% at one point in the informal market Monday, reaching 280 per dollar, before recovering some late in the day. Prices for government bonds plunged as much as 10%, signaling fears of worsening inflation, while stocks also saw declines.

The historic volatility of the peso means Argentines largely save in U.S. dollars and the exchange rate is closely followed as a general barometer for the economy.


Some analysts cautioned it was too early to say if the peso is at a new low because trading activity was very light Monday, indicating that many people might be taking a wait-and-see attitude.

https://apnews.com/article/inflation-texas-small-business-13507cfbfcc49d2a3aab485ddcb45a3d
“These are prices that must be taken with a grain of salt today,” said Gustavo Ber, an economist who heads local consultancy Estudio Ber.

But others said it was a signal that after serveral economic crashes in recent decades, Argentines are worried that inflation already running at an annual rate of 60% will worsen under Batakis, who was sworn in late Monday afternoon.

“This is what we expected, a pretty strong reaction from the markets,” said Marcos Buscaglia, an economist who is a partner at local consulting firm Alberdi Partners.

Argentines crowded into stores over the weekend to buy big ticket items like refrigerators and ovens.

“More inflation is on the way,” Buscaglia predicted, saying the appointment of Batakis indicates that the policy preferences of the left-leaning vice president are predominating in the government.

Fernández, who herself was Argentina’s president in 2007-2015 and continues to hold a strong base of support, has publicly criticized austerity efforts meant to try to tame inflation.
Guzmán, who was seen as a close ally of the president, resigned Saturday with a seven-page letter posted on Twitter at a time of tension in the governing coalition about how to deal with the economic problems gripping the country.

In addition to inflation, Batakis will have to deal with an economy in which about four of every 10 Argentines are poor and the Central Bank is running perilously low on hard currency reserves.

Batakis has a long history of public service and was the economy minister of Buenos Aires province, the country’s most populous district, in 2011-2015 under then Gov. Daniel Scioli, who was recently named the federal production minister.

A big question mark involves the future of the country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund to restructure $44 billion in debt.


Many left-leaning members of the governing coalition have publicly opposed the IMF agreement, saying it involves too many concessions to the multilateral institution that will hamper growth.

While the country waits for Batakis to lay out her plan for the future, some analysts caution her path forward is difficult.

“One would expect the new minister would try to calm the financial market first, and then order the macro (economy),” said Matias Carugati, an economist with Consultora Seido. “But it really is difficult to know today whether that will happen, considering we do not have a lot of information about the government plan. They’re assuring continuity with respect to what Guzmán was doing, but it was precisely that plan that led to his resignation.”
 

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https://apnews.com/article/elections-mexico-caribbean-riots-presidential-43aa759e485f70b47d921edc8ed624cf#

Nicaragua government takes over five opposition-held towns
July 4, 2022


FILE - The Spanish word for Murderer covers a mural of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, as part of anti-government protests demanding his resignation in Managua, Nicaragua, May 26, 2018. Four months before scheduled 2022 municipal elections, Nicaraguan riot police have taken over the city halls of five municipalities that had been in the hands of an opposition party. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)

FILE - The Spanish word for "Murderer" covers a mural of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, as part of anti-government protests demanding his resignation in Managua, Nicaragua, May 26, 2018. Four months before scheduled 2022 municipal elections, Nicaraguan riot police have taken over the city halls of five municipalities that had been in the hands of an opposition party. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Four months before scheduled municipal elections, Nicaraguan riot police have taken over the city halls of five municipalities that had been in the hands of an opposition party.

Kitty Monterrey, president of Citizens for Freedom, a political party disallowed by the Nicaraguan government before presidential elections last year, confirmed the police occupations in San Sebastian de Yali, El Cua, Murra and El Almendro.

Oscar Gadea Tinoco, mayor of Pantasma and member of Citizens for Freedom, also said that police occupied his town Saturday.

“All mayor’s offices legitimately elected under the flag of Citizens for Freedom, have been taken by the regime,” Monterrey said Monday via Twitter. She demanded that President Daniel Ortega respect the well-being of the officials and mayors who were removed from office.

Citizens for Freedom had won each of those town halls in the 2017 elections. But headed into last year’s presidential election, President Daniel Ortega showed little tolerance for the opposition. Authorities locked up seven leading opposition figures who could have challenged Ortega for the presidency.


Instead, Ortega coasted to a fourth consecutive term in elections the United States and European Union dismissed as a farce and the opposition figures remain in detention.
The Nicaraguan government had not commented on the takeovers.

Noel Moreno, the deposed mayor of San Sebastian de Yali in northwest Nicaragua, said some 50 heavily armed riot police and members of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front entered town offices early Monday.

“The seat remains under control of riot police,” said Moreno, adding that he was not there when the police arrived. He was not sure if town staff remained inside or had been moved.
He said Sandinista town council members had “already named themselves mayor and vice-mayor” and raised the Sandinista flag. The takeovers appeared to have been similar in the other municipalities.

In Pantasma, Gadea Tinoco said that Sandinista councilwoman Carmen Obando was named as his replacement. The argument was that Citizens for Freedom was no longer a recognized entity because Nicaraguan electoral authorities had canceled its status last year.

After the party was canceled, Monterrey was also stripped of her Nicaraguan nationality and accused of being in the country illegally. She fled into exile in Costa Rica.

Of Nicaragua’s 153 municipalities, Ortega’s Sandinista Front now controls 140. Two allied parties control the other 13.

The opposition organization Open Ballot Boxes, a citizen election monitoring network, denounced “the absence of democratic conditions.” They demanded that municipal workers’ well-being be respected.

“They don’t want anyone to participate in these elections,” Moreno said.
In a statement, Monterrey called the takeovers “a very serious attack against popular will and municipal autonomy.”

“With these actions the regime is confirming that it has no interest in rehabilitating the electoral path or even trying to maintain an appearance of legality in the next municipal elections,” she said.
 

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https://apnews.com/article/caribbean-arrests-port-au-prince-haiti-5a8917d2caa9f174ac94d7f40a5fa5c2#

Haiti’s struggle worsened in year since slaying of president
By EVENS SANON and DÁNICA COTOtoday


FILE - Barbecue, the leader of the G9 and Family gang, stands next to garbage to call attention to the conditions people live in as he leads a march against kidnapping through La Saline neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. The group said they were also protesting poverty and for justice in the slaying of President Jovenel Moise. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)
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FILE - Barbecue, the leader of the "G9 and Family" gang, stands next to garbage to call attention to the conditions people live in as he leads a march against kidnapping through La Saline neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. The group said they were also protesting poverty and for justice in the slaying of President Jovenel Moise. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A year has passed since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his private home where an elite security team was supposed to protect him. Not only have authorities failed to identify and arrest all those who masterminded and financed the killing, but Haiti has gone into a freefall as violence soars and the economy tumbles.

Many have fled Haiti in the past year, making potentially deadly voyages aboard rickety boats filled with hundreds of Haitians that have repeatedly turned up on the shores of nearby nations. They chose to face that risk rather than go hungry and fear for their lives, as do many people who have stayed behind.

“Every day is a fight. It’s a fight to stay alive. It’s a fight to eat. It’s a fight to survive,” said Hector Duval, a plumber who now drives a motorcycle taxi to make more money since Haitians are afraid to board slow-moving buses and chance being killed by warring gangs.


Killings have soared and thousands of families have been driven from their homes by gangs battling over territory ever since Moïse was shot to death shot last July 7 at his home near the capital, Port-au-Prince.

An overwhelmed government is struggling to crack down on the gangs and reduce a spike in kidnappings linked to them. At the same time, attempts to form a coalition government have faltered in recent weeks and efforts to hold general elections have stalled, leaving many wondering where Haiti is headed.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to create a new provisional electoral council, which is responsible for organizing general elections, but that hasn’t happened. There hasn’t been a Parliament because the government failed to organize elections in 2019, and Moïse dismissed most lawmakers in early 2020 and ruled by decree for more than a year before he was killed.

Meanwhile, hopes for a trial for those arrested in the killing of the president have been derailed by the resignation of four judges appointed to oversee the investigation, with some saying they feared for their lives.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry himself has recognized the uncertainty hovering over the case. Last month, he tweeted: “I have the unpleasant feeling that those who conceived and financed this macabre plan are still running the streets and are still escaping our judicial system.”

More than 40 people have been arrested in Haiti, including high-ranking police officers and a group of former Colombian soldiers. At least two of three suspects detained outside Haiti were extradited to the U.S., where they face charges including conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the United States.

Many of the soldiers’ relatives in Colombia are demanding a proper judicial process and an improvement in dire prison conditions.

“A lot of time there is no food, no potable water,” Nataly Andrade, wife of retired Col. Giovanny Guerrero, told The Associated Press. She visited him in prison in May and was alarmed at how much weight he had lost. In recent weeks, at least eight inmates in southern Haiti, not connected to the Moïse case, have died from heat and malnutrition.


Moïse’s widow, Martine, continues to demand justice. She issued a statement this month saying she would not attend any of Thursday’s commemorations organized by the Haitian state, “whose head of government is the subject of serious suspicions of (involvement in) the assassination of the President of the Republic.”

Henry has brushed away those allegations, firing a chief prosecutor last year who asked a judge to charge the prime minister in the killing and bar him from leaving the country. The prosecutor had noted that Henry spoke twice with a key suspect hours after the killing.
Henry’s office has said the prime minister is unable to identify everyone who called him that day or determine the nature of the conversations since he couldn’t take all the calls. The suspect remains at large.

Henry is urging Haitians to focus on turning around their country.
“It is imperative that Haitians work together to reconcile segments of our society that are too divided,” he said. “This is a must if we want to restore security, deal with armed gangs and their sponsors, create a climate conducive to the holding of elections with a high turnout, in order to rebuild our democratic institutions.”



But a growing number of Haitians blame Henry for the growing insecurity.
The United Nations says that almost seven kidnappings are reported a day and that in May alone more than 200 killings and 198 abductions were reported in the country of more than 11 million people. Those kidnappings included two busloads of children and three U.N. employees and their dependents. In addition, one gang recently seized control of part of Haiti’s Court of First Instance, looting and burning case files and evidence.

“Even though we have a prime minister, no one is governing the country right now,” Ralf Jean-Pierre, a businessman from Les Cayes who lives in Port-au-Prince, said as he scanned the street while talking, fearful he might be kidnapped at any moment.

He said life for him and his family has become extremely difficult because he can’t ferry goods such as bananas, yams and tomatoes that grow in southern Haiti to the capital since warring gangs have taken over the main road connecting the two regions.

The lack of access also means that not enough aid is reaching those affected by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the south almost a year ago, killing more than 2,200 people and destroying or damaging hundreds of thousands of homes and other buildings.


Thousand have fled Haiti. The largest single incident came in late May, when 842 Haitians were stranded on the Cuban coast after their captain abandoned the boat. Hundreds of others have landed in Florida, while dozens have died at sea in recent months.

Claudia Julmiste, a nursing student, said she is trying to make ends meet by reselling underwear, bras and wigs that she buys in the neighboring Dominican Republic, although Haiti’s double-digit inflation has hit her and many others hard.

“I’m trying to make the best of it here,” she said. “I don’t want to be one of those kids getting on a boat at sea to die, but Haiti is not offering anything.”
___
Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writer Astrid Suárez in Bogota, Colombia, contributed to this report.



 

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Texas governor authorizes state to return migrants to border

Texas governor authorizes state to return migrants to border
By PAUL J. WEBERtoday


FILE - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference on March 10, 2022, in Weslaco, Texas. TTexas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, July 7, 2022, authorized state forces to apprehend and transport migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border, claiming the enforcement powers of federal agents and pushing the legal boundaries of the Republican's escalating efforts to curb the rising number of crossings.. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP, File)

FILE - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference on March 10, 2022, in Weslaco, Texas. TTexas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, July 7, 2022, authorized state forces to apprehend and transport migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border, claiming the enforcement powers of federal agents and pushing the legal boundaries of the Republican's escalating efforts to curb the rising number of crossings.. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday authorized state forces to apprehend migrants and return them to the U.S.-Mexico border, pushing the boundaries of their enforcement powers and the Republican’s escalating efforts to curb the rising number of crossings.

The federal government is responsible for enforcement of immigration. The White House criticized the move and one immigrant rights group called for swift intervention from the Justice Department.

For more than a year, Texas has patrolled the border with an increasingly heavy hand. Abbott stopped short Wednesday of authorizing Texas troopers and National Guard members — who he has already deployed to the border by the thousands — to take migrants across the ports of entry and into Mexico, disappointing former Trump administration officials who have urged him to do so.

The impact of the order was unclear, including how widely it would be used and under what circumstances. But the authority described by Abbott would amount to a significant and untested expansion of the normal powers of the National Guard and state police, who until now have turned migrants over to Border Patrol agents, and in some cases, made arrests on state trespassing charges.


Among the questions the move raises is the training state forces have to detain and transport migrants. Legal experts expected the move to to invite court challenges.
Crossings are at or near the highest in about two decades. On the Texas border, U.S. authorities stopped migrants from crossing illegally 523,000 times between January and May, up from 417,000 over the same span a year ago.

Abbott has blamed the Biden administration and spent more than $3 billion in state funds on a massive border security apparatus. But the state operation has not stemmed the flow of migrants.

“As the challenges on the border continue to increase, Texas will continue to take action to address those challenges caused by the Biden Administration.” Abbott said.

The White House responded by criticizing the results of Abbott’s massive border mission, known as Operation Lone Star, including a week in April when additional commercial truck inspections gridlocked Texas;′ 1,200-mile border with Mexico for a week. “Governor Abbott’s record on immigration doesn’t give us confidence in what he has cooked up now,” spokesman Abdullah Hasan said.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said in a statement it “rejects” Abbot’s move, saying immigration policy was a federal — not state — matter and that the decision was a purely political gambit.

“This action can only be understood as part of the Texas state electoral campaigns,” the department said.

Laurence Benenson, of the National Immigration Forum, said he expects legal challenges to Texas trying to set its own immigration enforcement policy, which conflicts with longstanding legal precedence that that is the responsibility of the federal government.

He also said it’s unclear how Texas troopers would pick up people solely for being out of legal status and not having committed a crime. Attempts to broaden state powers in enforcing immigration policy have failed in the past, including Arizona’s “papers, please” law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2012 when Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “the state may not pursue policies that undermined federal law.”

The Supreme Court recently struck down a Republican-led Texas and Missouri lawsuit to prevent the Biden administration from ending a Trump-era policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their request is considered. That ruling, Benenson said, affirmed the federal government’s role in enforcing immigration law.

“There is a recognition that we don’t want to open the flood gates to having states set 50 different immigration enforcement policies,” Benenson said.

Abbott announced the order in a statement and his office did not immediately respond to questions about how it would be implemented.

The announcement comes two days after former Trump administration officials and sheriffs in several South Texas called on Abbott to declare what they have called an “invasion” and use extraordinary powers normally reserved for war. Their plan involves a novel interpretation of the U.S. Constitution to have the National Guard or state police forcibly send migrants to Mexico, without regard to immigration laws and law enforcement procedures.


The idea has existed on the right fringes of the GOP for years but has gained traction among conservatives since Biden took office.

The Center for Renewing America, a conservative policy think tank led by former Trump administration officials, has been driving the effort and criticized Abbott’s order since it does not call for expelling migrants.

“That is critical. Otherwise this is still catch and release,” the group said in a statement.
U.S. border authorities are stopping migrants more often on the southern border than at any time in at least two decades. Migrants were stopped nearly 240,000 times in May, up by one-third from a year ago.

Comparisons to pre-pandemic levels are complicated because migrants expelled under a public health authority known as Title 42 face no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. Authorities say 25% of encounters in May were with people who had been stopped at least once in the previous year.

The advocacy group RAICES, which provides legal services to immigrant families and refugees, called Abbott’s move an overreach of power and urged the Biden administration to step in.
___
Associated Press reporter Julie Watson in San Diego and Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.
US judge orders Mexican cartel to pay billions for killings

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Green Co.

EAS Admin
_______________
Overnight 20% Price Jump Supercharges Argentine Inflation Crisis

On Sunday morning, Argentines woke up early and rushed to the grocery store, the bakery, the liquor store, the mall, wherever they could go to stock up fast.

The night before a political bombshell had dropped: the economy minister, Martin Guzman, had suddenly resigned. And Argentines, long accustomed to financial chaos, knew the current crisis was about to get a lot worse. So before the peso could plunge when markets reopened, and before retailers could jack up prices, they wanted to buy the essentials as soon as possible.

It became a race against inflation in a country that already had one of the highest rates anywhere -- an annual 60% as of May. Argentina’s parallel exchange rate, untethered from the government’s strict currency controls, has fallen 17% so far this week, prompting Buenos Aires shop owners to post signs announcing a 20% mark-up on all listed prices.

Prices on mattresses and bicycles jumped 18% in just one week, while TVs now cost 13% more and price tags on cell phones swelled 8%, according to high-frequency data analyzed by Buenos Aires-based consulting firm Ecolatina.

What A Difference A Week Makes
Even by Argentine standards, prices soared after Guzman resigned Saturday

Source: Ecolatina Consulting Firm

“Nobody has a strategy, we’re just living in the moment,” Maximiliano Martinez, manager of a small appliance store on a commercial strip in Buenos Aires, said Thursday afternoon. Like others, Martinez raised prices on all items in his store -- coffee machines, toasters, blenders, headphones -- by 20%. He says his suppliers immediately jacked up their prices by 35%. He’s looking to buy digital price tags, he said, because it’s becoming difficult to keep up with constantly rising prices. “I can’t get around to changing all the price tags.”

Even in a global economy suddenly roiled by inflation, this is extreme. And it raises the specter that the perennial inflation spiral here is entering a breakneck new phase that will heap more pressure on embattled President Alberto Fernandez and more pain on a population that’s been losing purchasing power for years.

Guzman, while no favorite of Wall Street, was seen as the guarantor of the government’s tenuous, and crucial, financing pact with the International Monetary Fund. The country’s hard currency reserves are dwindling; its foreign bonds, which were just restructured in 2020 after a third default this century, are trading at a mere 20 cents on the dollar; and the gap between the parallel exchange rate -- 295 pesos per dollar -- and the official exchange rate -- 127 per dollar -- has blown out to levels not seen since the last devaluation panic in 2020.

To make matters worse, Fernandez is locked in a turf war with his powerful vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Guzman got caught in the middle. His replacement, a little-known economist named Silvina Batakis, is seen as more aligned with Kirchner, a former president herself and the leader of the more radical and populist wing of the ruling coalition.

Do’s and Don’ts
You don’t want to be on Kirchner’s bad side, especially on prices. Just ask Federico Braun. The president of Argentina’s La Anonima supermarket chain joked at a business conference in June that he’s “marking up prices everyday” due to high inflation. That day, Kirchner and lawmakers loyal to her lashed out against him, sparking a public relations nightmare.

It’s not just big names. Even small businesses fear customer backlash for hiking prices. One Buenos Aires bakery manager was raising prices once every two months last year. Now he’s looking to raise almost weekly. The manager, who asked not to be named for fear of losing customers, says so far this year his inputs have soared with butter prices up 80%, milk almost 100% and wheat 120%.

The manager reported that customers rushed Sunday and Monday to buy bags of imported coffee beans, stocking up before prices spiked or shortages emerged. Business owners themselves are stocking up, too. Victor Natasi, owner of the Autre Monde wine shop in Buenos Aires, is doubling down on his strategy with his suppliers.
“The first thing is to buy high-end wines that gain value over time and have good shelf life before the price goes up,” says Natasi. If you don’t stock up fast, “there could be a sudden mark up of 20% to 30% from one day to the next.”

 

Plain Jane

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https://apnews.com/article/mexico-texas-immigration-del-rio-border-patrols-12379b2959ecf20224a4a7bee05cb8ea#

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Report finds ‘unnecessary’ force by agents at Rio Grande
By WILL WEISSERTyesterday


FILE - Mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sept. 19, 2021. Border Patrol agents on horseback engaged in unnecessary use of force against non-threatening Haitian immigrants but didn't whip any with their reins, according to a federal investigation of chaotic scenes along the Texas-Mexico border last fall. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez, File)
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FILE - Mounted U.S. Border Patrol agents attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, into Del Rio, Texas, Sept. 19, 2021. Border Patrol agents on horseback engaged in "unnecessary use of force" against non-threatening Haitian immigrants but didn't whip any with their reins, according to a federal investigation of chaotic scenes along the Texas-Mexico border last fall. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback engaged in “unnecessary use of force” against non-threatening Haitian immigrants but didn’t whip any with their reins “intentionally or otherwise,” according to a federal investigation of chaotic scenes along the Texas-Mexico border last fall that sparked widespread condemnation.

In a 511-page report released Friday, Customs and Border Protection blamed a “lack of command control and communication” for mounted agents using their horses to forcibly block and move migrants during an influx of Haitians arriving last September at the U.S. border outside Del Rio, Texas.

“We’re gonna learn from this incident and we’ll find a way to do better,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said during a news conference announcing the report. “Not everyone’s going to like all the findings but the investigation was comprehensive and fair.”

Video and photos of the incident made it appear agents were whipping Haitians, which caused outrage among advocacy groups and civil rights leaders. The Biden administration promised a full investigation after many in the president’s own party objected that such tactics with racial overtones were the kinds of policies the U.S. was supposed to be moving away from after years of hardline immigration tactics under President Donald Trump.


A former police chief, Magnus took over the nation’s largest law enforcement agency in December and is being watched closely for shepherding the ongoing investigation. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday that “the organizational failures of policy, procedures, and training that the investigation identified were a disservice to the agents and the public they serve.”

Last fall, Biden called images of what occurred “horrible” and “outrageous.”

“I promise you, those people will pay,” the president said then. “There is an investigation underway right now and there will be consequences.”

Asked if the politically charged environment marred the investigation, Magnus said “it was inevitable, certainly not surprising, that there was going to be a reaction to that from the community, from those in the media from elected officials, from different advocacy groups.”
But he said he instructed investigators “that all of these things were to be put aside, to be disregarded.”

“I was counting on them to do a fair, through, comprehensive investigation with no attention to this outside influence,” Magnus said.

By September 19, 2021, around 15,000 Haitian migrants had crossed from Mexico into the United States and were concentrated in an encampment underneath the international bridge.

Magnus said the investigation began the day after the incident and included testimony from more than 30 people, among them witnesses and journalists. Investigators said they were unable to locate Haitian migrants involved to get their accounts — but used statements and court documents that some provided as part of lawsuits they filed against U.S. au
thorities.


Magnus said four Border Patrol personnel have been recommended for disciplinary action for their conduct, though he declined to discuss exactly what each had done to warrant possible punishment, or elaborate on what sanctions they could face. That comes after prosecutors in April declined to pursue criminal charges, he said.

Disciplinary actions are separate from Friday’s findings and won’t be announced until later. All four CBP officials have been on administrative duty since the investigation began, according to senior agency officials who briefed reporters before Friday’s report was released.

Mark Morgan, a former acting CBP commissioner under Trump, dismissed the entire investigation as politically motivated since no Haitians were actually whipped.

“From the start, these agents have been smeared, lied about, and vilified by nearly everyone on the left,” Morgan said in a statement.

Federal investigators said no migrant was struck with a whip, forced to return to Mexico or denied entry into the U.S. during the approximately 15 minutes that they were forcibly blocked and moved by mounted agents. One agent yelled inappropriate comments about a migrant’s national origin including, “You use your women” while also narrowly missing crashing his horse into a child walking nearby while pursuing a migrant.


Agents acted with the permission of their supervisor, who was unable to get guidance from higher up the Border Patrol chain of command, the report said. Communication occurred on a radio channel that wasn’t recorded, further complicating investigation into the incident.
The use of force drove migrants back into the Rio Grande, despite their having been well within U.S. territory and not presenting threats — which was counter to CBP’s mission, the report found.

It also said the incident began after authorities from a state agency also working in the area at the time, the Texas Department of Public Safety, requested help from federal authorities.
That conclusion follows Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week authorizing state forces to apprehend migrants and return them to the U.S.-Mexico border — raising questions about his state’s enforcement powers as top GOP leaders have slammed the Biden administration for failing to curb the rising number of crossings.

Magnus said Friday that his agency has “a shared interest with Texas” in “maintaining a safe, orderly, humane immigration process,” and that federal officials “stand ready to work with Texas to achieve these goals.”

“But the challenge is, when any state, such as Texas, takes unilateral action, that just makes it harder for us to do this,” he added.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/crime-venezuela-caribbean-ohio-owens-illinois-inc-38334be6280d24b26b15d7c4a1ba9a75#

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Venezuela charges 12 in murder of former guerrilla leader
today


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan authorities on Saturday charged 12 people in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a longtime government supporter who was behind the high-profile abduction of an American industrialist in the 1970s.

Among those charged was the wife of the slain man, Carlos Lanz. Authorities said she conspired with a boyfriend to pay hit men $8,000 to murder her husband in 2020.

Lanz led a cadre of guerrillas who in 1976 kidnapped William Niehous, who ran the Venezuela operations of Toledo, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois Inc. Niehous was rescued three years later and Lanz spent nearly a decade in jail for the crime.

When leftist Hugo Chavez won the presidency in 1999, he put Lanz in charge of initiatives to create farm cooperatives. Later, Lanz took up teaching and wrote on topics such as “non-conventional warfare,” by the U.S., cultural insurgency and agricultural development.


In 2020, the 74-year-old Lanz disappeared near his home in Aragua state. His body was later found at a ranch in a nearby state with two bullets to the head — a crime that shocked many inside Nicolas Maduro’s government who revered the aging Marxist scholar and thought his slaying might have been carried out by foreign mercenaries.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Attorney General Tarek William Saab said in a press conference earlier in the week announcing a breakthrough in the case. “I don’t rule out there could be more arrests.”
 

Plain Jane

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https://apnews.com/article/covid-health-caribbean-social-media-50d104fb0e905aa8bc1c09fc499e24f0#

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A year after protests, Cuba struggles to emerge from crisis
By ANDREA RODRÍGUEZtoday


A woman who sells plastic shopping bags, waits for customers in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 9, 2022. A year after the largest protests in decades shook Cuba's single-party government, the economic and political factors that caused them largely remain. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
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A woman who sells plastic shopping bags, waits for customers in Havana, Cuba, Saturday, July 9, 2022. A year after the largest protests in decades shook Cuba's single-party government, the economic and political factors that caused them largely remain. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

HAVANA (AP) — A year after the largest protests in decades shook Cuba’s single-party government, hundreds of people who participated are in prison and the economic and political factors that caused the demonstrations largely remain.

Streets and public squares filled with protesters on July 11 and 12, 2021, some answering social media appeals, others joining spontaneously to express frustration with shortages, long lines and a lack of political options.

Since then, a few things have changed: The Communist Party government has made its most expansive — if still limited — opening in six decades to private enterprise, authorizing small and medium sized companies. And the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed a gradual revival of the critical tourism industry.

But the overall economy remains dire, with long lines and rapidly rising prices for limited goods. That has fed a huge increase in migration, principally to the United States.


And the economy remains squeezed by U.S. sanctions. While U.S. President Joe Biden has eased some, such as allowing U.S. residents to send more money to Cuban relatives and processing some visas in Cuba, he has been slow to implement his campaign promises to turn back many of the other restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump. That commitment may have been further delayed by the Cuban government’s crackdown on the protests, which soured the atmosphere for any seeming concessions from Washington.

https://apnews.com/article/covid-science-health-india-united-states-e461b0c0db39707aab884378c24292ae
The protests changed everything, however, for the Román family of Havana’s La Guinera neighborhood.

Three of the family’s members were arrested during the protests and two remain imprisoned.

“They haven’t committed a crime so serious that it warrants that punishment,” said Emilio Román, 51, whose 26-year-old son Yosney, a construction worker, and 24-year-old daughter Mackyanis, a housewife, were sentenced to 10 years in prison on sedition charges in March. His youngest daughter, 18-year-old Emiyoslan, was given conditional release because she was a minor when arrested.

Three cousins were arrested as well — two of them now imprisoned for 10 years as well.
Officials haven’t said how many people were arrested during the protests that occurred in dozens of places across the country, but an independent organization formed to track the cases, Justice 11J, has counted more than 1,400.

The national prosecutor’s office said in June that courts had imposed 488 sentences on protesters, ranging up to 25 years in prison.

“The government has demonstrated its authoritarian nature,” said Giselle Morfi, a Cuban attorney now based in Mexico who works with Cubalex, a legal aid group focused on human rights in Cuba. “The state criminalizes the exercise of fundamental rights that should be protected within any democratic society, such as freedom of expression, and it stigmatizes protest.”
In
She said the crackdown is meant to dissuade Cubans from any new wave of protests.
One who did call for more demonstrations — unsuccessfully — last November, playwright Yunior García, wound up leaving the country.
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Authorities insist those arrested are not political prisoners but people who have violated laws against public disorder, vandalism or sedition, often at the instigation of U.S. based opposition groups using social media to attack the socialist state.

Following a massive inoculation campaign using vaccines developed in Cuba itself, authorities say they have seen no COVID-19 deaths in more than a month. Hotels and air routes closed for more than a year have been reopening — something crucial for a country that depends heavily on foreign tourism for the hard currency needed to import food and other crucial goods.

Cuba recorded only 573,000 foreign visitors last year, down from 4.2 million in 2019.
But long lines remain for fuel and food and power outages are common following the pandemic-induced economic fall of 11% in 2020 and a weak 2% rebound in 2021.

“Those Cuban officials refuse to accept the three most simple economic keys to the crisis: breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Domingo Amuchástegui, a former Cuban diplomat. He argues that the opening to small private business is still too limited.

“The great lesson of China and Vietnam is being ignored,” he said, referring to Communist-led nations that have made much more sweeping openings to private enterprise.


Still, Cuba’s Economy Ministry announced in mid-June that 3,980 small and medium sized private enterprises had been approved since September, creating 66,300 jobs.

The once-mighty sugar industry managed to produce only 480,000 metric tons in the most recent harvest, just over half of the planned output and not enough to meet foreign contracts.

But perhaps the hardest blow for most Cubans is the inflation that followed elimination of the country’s old dual-currency system — a long-discussed reform that finally arrived in the midst of other crises.

While the newly unified peso officially trades at 24 to the dollar, prices on the street run at 100 to 1.

One of the most visible consequences of the economic crisis — and to a smaller extent the crackdown — is the sharp rise in emigration.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol recorded encountering some 140,000 Cubans at U.S. land borders from the start of the fiscal year in October through May — a figure exceeding even the dramatic Mariel exodus of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans reached the U.S.

And the U.S. Coast Guard has reported intercepting 2,464 Cuban migrants at sea — also a leap from recent years.

“There are ever fewer young people ready to make a life in the country,” said Cuban-born lawyer and political analyst Luis Carlos Battista, who said the loss is economically damaging for a small nation with an aging population trying to cope with U.S. economic sanctions.

“It easily could be that that 1.5% of the Cuban population has left in just 10 months,” he said.
___
This story has been corrected to show that the Román family members were arrested on July 12, 2021.



 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-elections-shootings-presidential-f31341a807b8d824e54a14588cc9b816#

Fear up for Brazil’s heated election as party official slain
By DIANE JEANTET and MAURICIO SAVARESEtoday


The coffin of Marcelo Arruda, a local official from the leftist Workers' Party, arrives to the Jardim Sao Paulo cemetery in Foz do Iguacu, Parana state, Brazil, Monday, July 11, 2022. Federal prison guard Jorge Jose da Rocha killed Arruda in the Brazilian state of Parana, according to state police. (AP Photo/Alexander Moschkowich)
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The coffin of Marcelo Arruda, a local official from the leftist Workers' Party, arrives to the Jardim Sao Paulo cemetery in Foz do Iguacu, Parana state, Brazil, Monday, July 11, 2022. Federal prison guard Jorge Jose da Rocha killed Arruda in the Brazilian state of Parana, according to state police. (AP Photo/Alexander Moschkowich)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The killing of a leftist party official allegedly by a supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro is raising fears of an increasingly violent campaign ahead of October’s highly polarized elections in Brazil.

Police said federal prison guard Jorge José da Rocha turned up uninvited Saturday night at the leftist-themed birthday party of Marcelo Arruda, a local Workers’ Party official in the city of Foz do Iguaçu. Witnesses said Da Rocha shot Arruda after shouting his support for Bolsonaro.

The mortally wounded Arruda, also a municipal guard and a staunch supporter of the candidacy of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, fired back and wounded his attacker, who is now in a hospital, authorities said.

The incident shocked many Brazilians, while politicians worried about the risks of violence involving supporters of both the far-fight Bolsonaro and the leftist da Silva, who was president in 2003-2010 and leads opinion polls for the presidential race. Bolsonaro himself was nearly killed by a would-be assassin during the 2018 presidential contest.



The National Bishops’ Conference, Brazil’s main Roman Catholic organization for the clergy, said in a statement that “the insanity that transforms a birthday party into a scene of violence and death should not be a reference.”

https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-politics-caribbean-arrests-brazil-f3ca7401fb849d826f9f8720677176bc
RAPS, a non-partisan group for political action, decried “the rising political violence” in Brazil and called on “leaders to act immediately.”
“We need to alert democratic institutions and public opinion about the need for more civic dialogue actions in this country. Political violence can no longer be tolerated in Brazil,” the RAPS statement said.

The president of Brazil’s Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, said the killing was “a pure expression of this moment of a lot of political hatred, a lot of intolerance.” He urged Bolsonaro and da Silva to calm their supporters down.

The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, made a similar plea.
The singer Anitta, one of Brazil’s most popular entertainers and a frequent critic of Bolsonaro’s since he took office in 2019, surprised many by saying Arruda’s killing had convinced her to vote for da Silva, who is called Lula by most Brazilians. Many of her young fans expressed a similar opinion on social media.

“I do not support the Workers’ Party, I never did. But this year I will be with Lula,” Anitta said on Twitter. “If there were not a death in this case of the Lula supporter being killed by a Bolsonaro supporter I would say these people’s stupidity is funny. It is not. It is scary.”
Da Silva said on Twitter on Monday that Brazil needs “to regain normalcy” and blamed Bolsonaro’s anti-left rhetoric for the incident.

Bolsonaro said he opposes any act of violence, though he did not discuss the alleged involvement of his supporter in Arruda’s slaying. He has repeatedly accused the left of stoking political violence

Gleisi Hoffmann, leader of the Workers’ Party, struck out at those on the right by lamenting “a tragedy resulting from the intolerance of those people.” He shared several photos of Arruda, a father of four, at his birthday party wearing a black T-shirt with an image of da Silva. Many other tributes followed on social media.


Carlos Melo, a Sao Paulo-based political science professor at Insper University, said Arruda’s killing has a chance to cool political vehemence and quell political violence, but he warned it could make violence the new normal in the current presidential campaign.

Melo said he thinks the slaying will hurt Bolsonaro, who has rallied his supporters by painting his campaign as a fight of good vs. evil but ultimately cannot control their actions.

“This violence in Brazilian politics didn’t start on Saturday. Lula’s bus was fired at in 2018, Bolsonaro was stabbed that year, other smaller incidents have taken place since,” Melo said in a phone interview.

“What is different now is that this is a killing, and Bolsonaro will be watched more closely so we know whether he can control his radicals or not. That is an open question now.”
___ Savarese reported from Sao Paulo.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

1
Gang violence traps thousands in Haitian town
Thousands of people have been trapped in the Cite Soleil neighborhood outside Haiti's capital after bloody turf wars between rival gangs. Residents don't have adequate drinking water, food or medical care.



A man on a motorcycle passes burning barricades
Turf wars between rival gangs has trapped thousands in Cite Soleil

Thousands of people were trapped in the Haitian town of Cite Soleil following gang violence, international aid group Doctors Without Borders said.

Local officials said dozens of people died in four days of gang battles in Cite Soleil's Brooklyn neighborhood. Cite Soleil lies on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and has a population of around 250,000.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), warned in a statement that those trapped in Brooklyn do not have access to drinking water, food or medical care.

What is happening in Cite Soleil?
"Since July 8, when fighting broke out in Cite Soleil, residents have been unable to leave Brooklyn amid the clashes, and trucks of drinking water, which residents depend on, have been unable to enter," MSF said.

"Along the only road into Brooklyn, we have encountered corpses that are decomposing or being burned," MSF head of mission Mumuza Muhindo said. "They could be people killed during the clashes or people trying to leave who were shot — it is a real battlefield. It is not possible to estimate how many people have been killed."

Muhindo urged the gangs to spare civilians and allow for the delivery of aid.
Pastor Jean Enock Joseph said residents have not been able to leave the area since fighting broke out.

"People can't get through. Food can't get through," Joseph was cited by Reuters as saying. "We are in a serious situation from a humanitarian standpoint."

Soaring gang violence
Gang violence has soared since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last year, and turf wars between rival gangs have become more frequent.
The mayor of Cite Soleil said more than 50 people have been killed since Friday. On Tuesday, the United Nations said violence is forcing it to move food aid and workers out of Port-au-Prince.

The World Food Program (WFP) said on Tuesday that it set up a ferry service that carries food aid from Port-au-Prince to other parts of the country and is also using short flights for its workers.
sdi/sms (AP, Reuters)
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

News > Nicaragua
Nicaragua and China Speed Up Implementation of Free Trade Deal


Nicaraguan and Chinese diplomats sign trade agreements, Managua, Nicaragua, July 11, 2022.

Nicaraguan and Chinese diplomats sign trade agreements, Managua, Nicaragua, July 11, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @Plomo19792
Published 12 July 2022

The Early Harvest Agreement's objective is to facilitate the bilateral exchange of agriculture-related goods by establishing preferential tariffs.

On Monday, Nicaragua's Trade and Industry Minister Jose Bermudez announced that President Daniel Ortega's administration is promoting actions to implement the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.

This Central American country signed the "Early Harvest Agreement" (EHA), a trade instrument whose objective is to facilitate the bilateral exchange of agriculture-related goods by establishing preferential tariffs.

Among other things, this agreement favors trade in harnesses for vehicles, textiles, beef and bovine meat, seafood, vegetables, rum, plants and flowers, garlic, sweet corn, tuna, pasta, bakery products, truck tires, and raw materials.

"Nicaraguan exports to China could increase by some US$100 million in tariff-free goods. Chinese demand will force us to increase our production," lawmaker Wilfredo Navarro said, adding that the EHA "contemplates investments from Chinese companies to Nicaragua.”

Recently, Nicaragua and China also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the Joint Commission for Economic, Trade, and Investment Cooperation.

This instrument is designed to facilitate the participation of the Central American country in China's new "silk road", which implies multimodal interconnection between countries on several continents.

Between January and May of this year, Nicaraguan exports to China reached US$3.1 billion, which represents a year-on-year increase of 19.1 percent.
 

Intestinal Fortitude

encouraging others

Haiti's struggle worsened in year since slaying of president

Haiti’s struggle worsened in year since slaying of president
By EVENS SANON and DÁNICA COTOtoday


FILE - Barbecue, the leader of the G9 and Family gang, stands next to garbage to call attention to the conditions people live in as he leads a march against kidnapping through La Saline neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. The group said they were also protesting poverty and for justice in the slaying of President Jovenel Moise. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph, File)
why is he wearing a scarf . . . . in Haiti? It's gotta be at least 86 degrees!
 

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Brazil's Lula da Silva asks for calm after ally's killing

Brazil’s Lula da Silva asks for calm after ally’s killing
By MAURICIO SAVARESE and DIANE JEANTETyesterday


Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is running for reelection, speaks during a campaign rally in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Under tight security da Silva attended a political rally where he appealed to his backers to remain calm and avoid confrontations with adversaries.  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
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Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is running for reelection, speaks during a campaign rally in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Under tight security da Silva attended a political rally where he appealed to his backers to remain calm and avoid confrontations with adversaries. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)


SAO PAULO (AP) — Under tight security and wearing a bulletproof vest, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attended a political rally in the capital city of Brasilia. After passing through a metal detector, hundreds of Workers’ Party backers gathered near the stage, where da Silva called for them to remain peaceful and avoid confrontations with adversaries.

Da Silva’s plea this week reflects growing concerns among politicians, authorities and voters about Brazil’s presidential campaign and October election. The leftist leads all polls to return to the office he held between 2003-2010, but far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has suggested he may not accept the results, while urging his allies to arm themselves.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin, the chairman of the country’s electoral court, warned in a Washington, D.C., presentation that incidents worse than the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol could happen in Brazil this year. Last July, CIA Director William Burns told two Bolsonaro ministers that the president should stop attacking the electoral system.


Electoral tensions rose again on Saturday night, when Marcelo Arruda, a da Silva backer and Workers’ Party official, was shot dead by a man who, witnesses told the police, had shouted support for Bolsonaro before pulling the trigger. The investigation is ongoing, but the killing reignited fears of political violence on the campaign trail, which officially begins in August.

Brazil’s da Silva hints at 1-term presidency if elected

“We don’t need to fight. Our weapon is our calmness, the love we have inside of us, our thirst of making people’s lives better,” da Silva said at the rally. “We don’t have to react to (Bolsonaro’s supporters’) provocations. If anyone teases you, tell them to go bite themselves. Go home and take care of your families. That’s the lesson we need to teach.”

Members of da Silva’s campaign and Bolsonaro’s presidency told The Associated Press they will not discuss security details with the media.

Bolsonaro, who was severely injured when he was stabbed in the abdomen at a campaign event in 2018, has presidential security at all times, including military personnel and local police.

Da Silva can only count on private security until his bid is validated by a party convention, which can take place until Aug. 5. After that, Brazil’s federal police will protect him.
The federal police said in a statement that 300 officers will be among those protecting candidates.

The Workers’ Party has taken several measures to avoid conflicts between supporters, and to ensure the former president’s security. Before the rally in Brasilia, party leadership published guidelines asking supporters to move in groups, bring an extra shirt of neutral color and avoid conflict with adversaries.

“Don’t argue or attack any provocateur. Heroic actions might cause unnecessary risks to you and to your fellow supporters,” the party said.

Two members of the da Silva campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the matter publicly, confirmed to the AP that the leftist leader has been wearing bulletproof vests in public events since the beginning of July.



Da Silva supporters were thoroughly searched at the entrance of the pavilion where the event took place. But the long lines were a small concern for people like artisan Alessandra Melo, 50. She believes the former president’s life is at risk, and that supporters like her could also be targeted.

“I fear a lot for Lula’s security. He likes to be close to the people. I worry for him, being out there amid all this violence,” Melo said.

Smaller incidents against da Silva supporters have been reported in recent weeks. On June 15, drones dropped liquid with a pungent smell on leftists attending an event in Uberlandia, in the state of Minas Gerais. Last week, a man threw a rudimentary explosive made with small-scale fireworks at a da Silva rally in Rio de Janeiro.

No injuries resulted from either incident, and police have made arrests in both cases.
Da Silva was arrested in the sprawling Car Wash corruption probe as he led polls to win the 2018 presidential elections. His conviction also barred him from running. But the cases against him were quashed after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that judge Sergio Moro was biased against the leftist, and he was freed from jail.
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Political violence is no stranger to Brazilian politics. In 2018, Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver were shot to death in their car while driving downtown.

Bolsonaro, under pressure to condemn Arruda’s killing last weekend and any political violence, said on Tuesday there is no justification for the murder. He has also called members of Arruda’s family. In his recorded phone call, he suggested they tell the media he shouldn’t be blamed for the murder.

“Since almost all of the press is on the left, they are basically putting this guy’s actions on my back,” the president told two of Arruda’s brothers. “The left has made this a political issue.”
Arruda’s killing occurred in the southern state of Parana, a Bolsonaro stronghold. Since then, many authorities have expressed worries about the risks of violence involving supporters of both candidates.

Melina Risso, a program director at the Rio-based security think tank Igarape Institute, said candidates will only stop worrying about their own safety if Bolsonaro openly condemns those committing violent actions.

“Bolsonaro sometimes takes some steps back when these incidents appear, but that is only until the news cycle is over,” Risso said. “The risks are very real, and there is no sign that will change until the election is over.”
——
Jeantet reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP journalist Eraldo Peres contributed to this report from Brasilia.
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

Brazil: To Buy “As Much as We Can” Russian Diesel


  • Brazilian Foreign Minister said that the country seeks to buy as much diesel as possible from Russia. Jul. 13, 2022.

    Brazilian Foreign Minister said that the country seeks to buy as much diesel as possible from Russia. Jul. 13, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/@ktinfl
Published 13 July 2022 (18 hours 37 minutes ago)


The Brazilian government has confirmed that it plans to buy as much diesel as possible from Russia at a time when it is facing refining problems.


"Russia is a strategic partner of Brazil [...] We rely heavily on the export of fertilizers from Russia," Brazil's Foreign Minister Carlos Alberto Franco Franca said Tuesday, later acknowledging that the Eurasian country is considered a major supplier of oil and gas globally.

During a visit to the United Nations, the Brazilian foreign minister confirmed that Brasilia is looking for "safe and reliable" diesel suppliers, as the South American country has refining problems.

"Of course, Russia is a big supplier of oil and gas. You can ask Germany about that; you can ask Europe about that," he said. Similarly, he explained that the Brazilian government seeks to buy "as much as we can" Russian diesel.

In turn, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also stated on Monday that he has "almost closed" a deal to buy cheaper diesel from Russia, while high fuel prices and inflation have been the main economic challenges for Bolsonaro in his quest for re-election next October's elections.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/inflation-caribbean-global-trade-buenos-aires-18b10ad39fd80a4cc3367866f7a689e2#

Argentina: Import blocks usher in fears of looming shortages
By DANIEL POLITI and DEBORA REYtoday


Daniel Rosato, President of Rosato Paper Mill, poses at the factory floor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday, July 8, 2022. Business leaders like Rosato are scrambling, trying to deal with a fresh rash of import restrictions making it difficult to buy products from abroad, complicating life for companies trying to keep supplies stocked at a time when the government is trying to hold onto precious few hard currency reserves. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
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Daniel Rosato, President of Rosato Paper Mill, poses at the factory floor in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday, July 8, 2022. Business leaders like Rosato are scrambling, trying to deal with a fresh rash of import restrictions making it difficult to buy products from abroad, complicating life for companies trying to keep supplies stocked at a time when the government is trying to hold onto precious few hard currency reserves. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Raul Amil has been in the auto parts business in Argentina for more than 25 years. He has lived through numerous economic crises in a country infamous for its seemingly constant crashes. But he says that what Argentina is living through now is unprecedented.
Amil is hardly alone.

Business leaders across Argentina are scrambling, trying to deal with a fresh rash of import restrictions at a time when the government is trying to hold onto precious few hard currency reserves. The government is making it difficult to buy products from abroad and

complicating life for companies trying to keep supplies stocked, which some warn could lead to shortages.

“Seeing the problems that exist today, you don’t have to be a genius to realize that sooner or later there will be issues,” Amil, who heads Ventalum, a manufacturer of aluminum auto parts that has 180 employees.

Juan Pablo Ravazzano, who heads the Argentine Chamber of Animal Nutrition Companies (CAENA), is one of the many business leaders in Argentina counting down the days until he says shortages will start becoming a reality.



“If it continues this way, in 45 to 60 days we will have shortages of raw materials,” including amino acids, vitamins and minerals needed to manufacture animal feed and pet food, Ravazzano warned.

https://apnews.com/article/health-joe-manchin-congress-government-and-politics-29a6a2cca519d402a54652d12881787f
Import restrictions are nothing new in Argentina, a country that has long suffered from a chronic shortage of hard currency, which has only worsened in recent months as pressure on the local peso currency rises amid high inflation and soaring energy import costs.

Yet the government of President Alberto Fernández has tightened the screws on imports even further recently as it struggles to meet Central Bank reserve requirements that are part of a recent deal with the International Monetary Fund to restructure $44 billion in debt.
The increased controls on imports was one of the last official acts of Martín Guzmán before he resigned as economy minister on July 2 as tensions within the governing alliance burst out in the open.

His successor, Silvina Batakis, has vowed to continue with the government’s economic plan as she faces numerous challenges, including trying to tame one of the world’s highest inflation rates that is running at more than 60 percent, while the peso continues to depreciate in the financial market amid stringent capital controls.

“The Central Bank doesn’t have dollars. It doesn’t have them now because it has an exchange rate system that is unsustainable,” Marcelo Elizondo, an economic analyst who specializes in international trade and runs the DNI consultancy, said.

Argentines are so distrustful of their currency that they save in dollars but the government has placed strict restrictions on access to the U.S. currency. The official exchange rate is running at around half of what it costs to obtain dollars through operations in the financial market.

“The restrictions are basically a way to prevent the increase in the exchange rate so that it does not affect the inflation rate,” Elizondo said. “Clearly, the economy is very affected.”


That means companies must rely on the Central Bank to obtain permission to buy supplies that are critical to their operation.

“The Central Bank has the power to decide who will import and who will not … and that isn’t normal,” said Daniel Rosato, the president of Rosato, which manufactures toilet paper and paper towels in Buenos Aires province. “If that isn’t resolved quickly it will generate shortages, problems with productivity, companies that will have to stop because of a lack of supplies.”

The government has vehemently denied shortages are a widespread problem even as it recognized that there may be cases where some products are difficult to obtain.

“There may be isolated cases of products missing from some shelves,” Gabriela Cerruti, the presidential spokeswoman, said Thursday in a news conference. “But there are no huge situations of missing products anywhere nor any circumstance that would lead us to think ... of shortages.”

Business leaders often find the import blocks particularly frustrating because they can prevent manufacturers from operating at full capacity and generating just the kind of dollars and jobs that the country needs.

“The manufacturing sector exited the pandemic in a good position, with a growth of 10%. But these restrictive measures due to a lack of hard currency can lead to a decline in growth,” said Alejandro Bartalini, the owner of Metalcrom, which manufactures parts for the farm and oil sectors. “Today we’re operating at 80, 90% of our productive capacity.”



Amil, who runs the autoparts company, says that “the sad thing about this situation is that demand exists” and the sector exports a majority of its production.

“This year we thought we were going to grow 20%, but now there is a large question mark due to these restrictions,” he said. “This is a crisis of supply, not demand.”

Martín Cabrales, vice president of coffee company Cabrales, says he has never seen this level of restrictions on imports in the more than 20 years he has been involved in the family business that has long relied on buying material from abroad because Argentina is not a coffee producer.
“The serious thing here is that they are limiting the raw material, coffee is a raw material,” he said. “We think the government needs to prioritize raw materials so manufacturing does not stop.”
Cabrales says that with its restrictions, the government fails to take into account global dynamics in the market because it provides quotas to access the official dollar market based on what a company imported last year in dollar terms. But the international price of coffee more than doubled in the last year and a half.



Cabrales is optimistic the issue “will be resolved” eventually “but in the meantime there could be shortages.”

Amid the worries about supplies, some are trying to see the positive side of the restrictions.
Sergio Asato, who owns the Japanese restaurant Social Sushi Izkaya, said that with prices of imported salmon, which is by far the most popular fish for sushi here, almost doubling recently, it is the perfect opportunity for Argentines to expand their palates.

“We’re trying to help people get to know all the varieties that we have in the Argentine sea,” Asato said. “This is an opportunity, if there’s no salmon we can start to work on publicizing other species.”



 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/peru-caribbean-lima-cfed206f87b1d45d686e472b0ba44cc2#




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Bathroom dispute threatens top OAS meeting in Peru
By FRANLIN BRICEÑOyesterday


LIMA, Peru (AP) — A dispute over a gender-neutral bathroom has endangered Peru’s plan to host the next gathering of the Organization of American States’ top decision-making body.
Peru’s congress, dominated by social conservatives, voted Thursday night to deny

authorization for the scheduled Oct. 5-7 General Assembly of foreign ministers from across the hemisphere. Its theme is supposed to be: “Together against inequality and discrimination.”

The OAS had requested at least one gender-neutral bathroom be available and Peru did permit bathrooms open to people of any sex during the 2018 Summit of the Americas in Lima.
Peru’s Foreign Minister César Landa issued an appeal on Twitter Friday urging lawmakers to reconsider. “This seriously damages the international image of Peru,” he said, and argued that the request would not create “future international obligations.”

But Congressman Ernesto Bustamante of the conservative Popular Front party — who heads the Foreign Relations Commission — said allowing a gender-neutral bathroom would inevitably “introduce the existence of trans bathrooms and neutral bathrooms and common bathrooms in Peru’s internal law.”

“If they want to go to the bathroom here, they will go the the bathroom that corresponds to their sex as it is: woman and man,” said Tania Ramírez, another Popular Front legislator.
Marxist Congressman Guido Bellido — a former prime minister under President Pedro Castillo — also chimed in. “The OAS worrying itself about bathrooms? What have we come to? This is a joke,” he said. “Peru is a country with sovereignty; whoever wants to come to Peru comes under our conditions. If not, no.”

The controversy struck gay lawmaker Susel Paredes as “a complete absurd
ity.” A gender-neutral bathroom is just “another bathroom that has a toilet, nothing more.”
 

Plain Jane

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https://apnews.com/article/mexican-drug-kingpin-rafael-caro-quintero-captured-e02091ec46d817e4d727a23025a771ce#

Mexico’s capture of drug kingpin could be signal to US
By MARÍA VERZA and MARK STEVENSONyesterday


FILE - This image released by the FBI shows the wanted poster for Rafael Caro-Quintero, who was behind the killing of a U.S. DEA agent in 1985. Caro-Quintero has been captured by Mexican forces nearly a decade after walking out of a Mexican prison and returning to drug trafficking, an official with Mexico's navy confirmed Friday, July 15, 2022. (FBI via AP, File)
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FILE - This image released by the FBI shows the wanted poster for Rafael Caro-Quintero, who was behind the killing of a U.S. DEA agent in 1985. Caro-Quintero has been captured by Mexican forces nearly a decade after walking out of a Mexican prison and returning to drug trafficking, an official with Mexico's navy confirmed Friday, July 15, 2022. (FBI via AP, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The United States’ motivation to find infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero was never in doubt — hence the $20 million reward for information leading to his capture — there was less certainty about the commitment of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had made clear his lack of interest in pursuing drug lords.

Yet on Friday, three days after López Obrador and U.S. President Joe Biden met in the White House, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted target was in Mexican custody.

The man allegedly responsible for the murder of a DEA agent more than three decades ago was rousted from the undergrowth by a bloodhound as Mexican marines closed in deep in the mountains of his native state of Sinaloa.

The arrest came at a heavy cost: Fourteen Mexican marines died and another was injured when a navy Blackhawk helicopter crashed during the operation. The navy said it appeared to have been an accident, with the cause under investigation.



Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement late Friday that Caro Quintero was arrested for extradition to the U.S. and would be held at the maximum security Altiplano prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City.

https://apnews.com/article/biden-sports-donald-trump-discrimination-gender-identity-bc841e715c2d93b2c2da2e10470aba13
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram celebrated the capture of a man especially despised by U.S. officials for the torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. “Our incredible DEA team in Mexico worked in partnership with Mexican authorities to capture and arrest Rafael Caro Quintero”, she said in a message to the agency late Friday. “Today’s arrest is the result of years of your blood, sweat, and tears.”

Cooperation between the DEA and Mexico’s marines had led to some of the highest-profile captures during previous administrations, but not under López Obrador, noted security analyst David Saucedo.

“It seems to me that in the private talks between President Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) they surely agreed to turning over high-profile drug traffickers again, which had been suspended,” Saucedo said.

Both presidents face domestic pressure to do more against drug traffickers. With Caro Quintero’s arrest, “Narcos are being captured again and I believe that clearly it was what was in fact needed,” Saucedo said.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said in a statement Saturday that no U.S. personnel participated directly in the tactical operation that led to the capture of the drug lord. “The apprehension of Caro Quintero was exclusively conducted by the Mexican government.”
Samuel González, who founded the organized crime office in Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office and now is a security analyst, said the capture may not have a major effect on the map of organized crime in Mexico, as Caro Quintero was not as powerful as decades ago, and it might even generate more violence in territories such as Sonora, at the US border.
But he said that to López Obrador’s benefit, the arrest “shows evidence that there’s no protection of capos” by his administration.


González believes Caro Quintero has long been a thorn in the bilateral relationship, but said that “without doubt” his capture was fruit of the recent negotiations in Washington.
“The Americans never stopped pressing for his arrest,” González said.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Salazar expressed gratitude for Mexico’s capture of the man blamed for killing Camarena — a case that brought a low point in U.S.-Mexico relations.

“This achievement is a testament to Mexico’s determination to bring to justice someone who terrorized and destabilized Mexico during his time in the Guadalajara Cartel; and is implicated in the kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena,” Salazar said in a statement late Friday.

Garland said the U.S. government would seek his immediate extradition.
“My hope is that with the capture of Caro Quintero, that that will mend a lot of tensions between the DEA and Mexico”, said Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of international operations.

Mexico’s navy and Attorney’s General Office led the operation deep in the mountains that straddle the border between Sinaloa and Chihuahua states, many miles from any paved road. They found Caro Quintero, with help of “Max,” hiding in brush in a place in Sinaloa called San Simon.


López Obrador said that the helicopter that crashed in the coastal city of Los Mochis had been supporting the operation against Caro Quintero. U.S. officials expressed condolences for the marines who died.

Caro Quintero came from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, the same township as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which formed later. Caro Quintero was one of the founders of the Guadalajara cartel and according to the DEA was one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Caro Quintero had blamed Camarena for a raid on a huge marijuana plantation in 1984. The next year, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on orders from Caro Quintero. His tortured body was found a month later.

Caro Quintero was captured in Costa Rica in 1985 and was serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico when an appeals court overturned his verdict in 2013. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, but it was too late — Caro Quintero had been spirited off in a waiting vehicle.
Caro Quintero was added to FBI’s 10 most wanted list in 2018 with a $20 million reward for his capture.

López Obrador had previously seemed ambivalent about his case.
Last year, the president said the legal appeal that led to Caro Quintero’s release was “justified” because supposedly no verdict had been handed down against the drug lord after 27 years in jail. López Obrador also depicted a later warrant for his re-arrest as an example of U.S. pressure.


“Once he was out, they had to look for him again, because the United States demanded he shouldn’t have been released, but legally the appeal was justified,” López Obrador said.
Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez said at the time, “The president was just saying that it was a legal aberration that the judge had not issued a verdict on Mr. Caro Quintero after 27 years ... but he was not defending his release.”

Mexican reporter Anabel Hernandez twice interviewed the fugitive Caro Quintero in the mountains of northern Mexico without revealing the location. Caro Quintero claimed in those interviews that he was no longer involved in the drug trade.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/mexico-crime-caribbean-city-extradition-ad166aec82d0e915a2607b420f709027#

Extradition process begins for Mexico drug lord wanted in US
By MARÍA VERZAyesterday


In this government handout photo provided by Mexico's Secretariat of the Navy, agents escort drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero, in Sinaloa state, Mexico, Friday, July 15, 2022, captured deep in the mountains of his home state. It was a 6-year-old bloodhound named “Max” who rousted Caro Quintero from the undergrowth. (Mexico's Secretariat of the Navy via AP)

In this government handout photo provided by Mexico's Secretariat of the Navy, agents escort drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero, in Sinaloa state, Mexico, Friday, July 15, 2022, captured deep in the mountains of his home state. It was a 6-year-old bloodhound named “Max” who rousted Caro Quintero from the undergrowth. (Mexico's Secretariat of the Navy via AP)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, captured by Mexican forces, was notified this weekend that a process to extradite him to the United States for crimes including the murder of a DEA agent in 1985 has begun.

A Mexican federal official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to make statements confirmed Sunday to The Associated Press that the notification was made Saturday and took place virtually.

A judge based in a Mexico City informed Caro Quintero, wanted in the United States for the torture and killing of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985, of the accusations against him. He is being held in a high-security prison 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the capital.
Caro Quintero was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives since he was released from a Mexican jail in 2013 on a technicality after being imprisoned for nearly three decades for the murder of Camarena and a Mexican pilot.

Saturday’s notification was the first step in the legal process to extradite him to the United States. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that “immediate extradition” would be sought.


Now the U.S. government has 60 days to file a formal extradition request and provide evidence to support it. Then the judge handling the case will determine whether or not it proceeds.

During this period, Caro Quintero’s lawyers will probably file appeals to try to delay the extradition process.

Extradition processes tend to be lengthy, although their speed depends a lot on the political will of the countries.

Caro Quintero, 69, was captured on Friday in the mountains of his home state of Sinaloa in a joint operation by the Mexican Navy and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. Fourteen marines who were involved in the operation died when the Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed. Causes of the incident are still under investigation.

The drug trafficker was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel and, according to the DEA, one of the main suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

He blamed Camarena for a raid on a marijuana plantation in 1984. In 1985, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on orders from Caro Quintero. His tortured body was found a month later. Caro Quintero was first captured in Costa Rica in 1985.
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

Venezuela Gas Pipeline Tract Explodes
  • July, 18, 2022 - 15:11
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A tract of a gas pipeline in eastern Venezuela suffered an explosion on Saturday afternoon, according to a report from state oil company PDVSA, an incident the country's oil minister blamed on an attack.
The explosion at the 36-inch pipeline providing natural gas to the Pigap II gas reinjection plant in northern Monagas state prompted PDVSA to temporarily shut the plant in order to halt the flames and evaluate the damages to the pipeline, according to the report.

Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami in a brief statement on state television late on Saturday called the incident a "terrorist attack," without providing details about who was responsible or about the impact on the plant and pipeline, Reuters reported.
OPEC-member Venezuela is home to massive crude and natural gas reserves.
Officials have in the past blamed explosions at pipelines and refineries, as well as blackouts and other infrastructure failings, on attacks aimed at sabotaging the country's economy.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

Ecuador: 13 killed in prison riots
Ecuador's prison agency said 13 inmates had been killed and 2 injured in the latest incident of violence at the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo. Another such incident at the prison killed 44 in May this year.



Soldiers outside the Bellavista prison during an incident in May.
Another such incident of prison violence had taken place in the same prison in May
An incident of deadly violence in an Ecuadorian prison killed thirteen prisoners on Monday, Ecuador's prison agency said.

"Unfortunately, central command reports 13 (inmates) dead and two injured," Ecuador's prison agency SNAI said on Twitter. The agency said that the country's police and armed forces were taking back control of the penitentiary.

The incident took place at the same Bellavista prison in the town of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, about 80 kilometers from Quito, where 44 inmates were killed in a bloody brawl in May.

About 220 prisoners had escaped after the riot in May, but most of them have been recaptured.

Prison riots common in the country
Prison riots are common in the Andean country, with President Guillermo Lasso attributing prison violence to fights between gangs over control of territory and drug trafficking routes.
In the past year alone, 316 prisoners have lost their lives to prison violence across the country.

Prisons in Ecuador are home to about 33,900 inmates and the jails are 12.5% beyond maximum capacity, according to official figures.

There is a shortage of guards, and rampant corruption has resulted in prisoners having access to firearms and explosives.

Lack of a comprehensive policy on prisons, poor living conditions for prisoners, as well as a lack of attention by the state, is responsible for prison violence, says the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
tg/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)
 

Plain Jane

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https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-elections-caribbean-voting-brazil-8acf78e1e58650424b1dec4ecfc35ce4#

Brazil’s Bolsonaro meets diplomats to sow doubts on election
By MAURICIO SAVARESEyesterday


Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for a second term and his running-mate General Braga Neto, walks after a meeting with ambassadors at the official residence of Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, July 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for a second term and his running-mate General Braga Neto, walks after a meeting with ambassadors at the official residence of Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, July 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday invited dozens of diplomats to the presidential palace to present claims regarding supposed vulnerabilities of the country’s electronic voting system, which electoral authorities have already debunked repeatedly.

Once again, the far-right leader didn’t present any evidence for his claims, which have drawn criticism from the members of the electoral authority and analysts who fear he is laying the groundwork to reject election results.

Bolsonaro faces an uphill battle to win a second term, with all polls showing him trailing well behind former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who governed Brazil between 2003-2010.
Bolsonaro’s address to diplomats was aired on the state television channel for almost one hour. During that time, he cited a Federal Police report on an alleged hacking into electronic voting machines. Brazil’s electoral authority said in August 2021 that investigators have never relayed to it any indication of fraud.



Brazil has voted with an electronic system since 1996, and authorities have never found any evidence of widespread fraud. Bolsonaro has claimed he was denied outright victory in the first round of the 2018 presidential vote without need for a runoff and, at times, said he possessed proof -- which he has never presented.

https://apnews.com/article/jair-bolsonaro-covid-health-caribbean-gun-politics-902f7837c7433bd4dbf041ded9546f04
“An electronic system cannot give 100% guarantee of security (for voters),” said Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro also argued that Brazil’s electoral authority should heed advice from the military on potential improvements for the voting system.

“The armed forces, whose commander-in-chief is me... no one wants more stability in our country than us,” Brazil’s president said.

Bolsonaro also reiterated critiques of Supreme Court justices, some of whom are also members of the nation’s electoral authority, suggesting they will favor da Silva.
“People who owe favors to them (da Silva and his Workers’ Party) do not want a transparent electoral system,” Bolsonaro told the assembled diplomats at the meeting in capital Brasilia. “They insist all the time that after the election results are announced your heads-of-state need to recognize them.”

Brazil’s presidential palace didn’t provide information regarding how many diplomats attended the gathering. Brazilian media said about 70 diplomats, including dozens of ambassadors, attended.

Shortly after the encounter finished, Brazil’s electoral authority issued a statement to once more debunk several falsehoods about the country’s elections — including many that Bolsonaro mentions.

Rodrigo Pacheco, the president of Brazil’s Senate, said after Bolsonaro’s meeting that the country’s Congress, “whose members were elected with the current and modern electoral system, is obligated to tell the population that the electronic voting machines will give the nation a trustworthy result.”

“The safety of the electronic machines and the fairness of the electoral process can no longer be put in doubt. There is no just cause and no reason for that. That questioning is bad for Brazil in every respect,” Pacheco added.
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Pacheco was elected for the job with Bolsonaro’s support, but last week met with his adversary da Silva in Brasilia.

Non-profit Human Rights Watch said the meeting is yet more evidence that Bolsonaro “continues his dangerous disinformation campaign about the electoral system.”

“The international community should make it clear that any attempt to undermine the democratic system and the rule of law is unacceptable,” it said on Twitter.

In a separate event, the Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin, who currently heads Brazil’s electoral authority, said at the local bar association of Parana state that “there is unacceptable electoral denialism by one public figure.”

Fachin added the person is making “very serious allegations of fraud without any evidence.”
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane
https://apnews.com/article/latin-america-colombia-caribbean-blockades-5a232cb3aca56fc202b2b20cdf176ed7#

Click to copy
3 weeks of protests in Panama cause food, fuel shortages
By KATHIA MARTÍNEZyesterday


Commuters walk along the Pan American Highway due to roadblocks set up by protesters demonstrating against inflation, especially surging fuel prices, in Pacora, Panama, early Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
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Commuters walk along the Pan American Highway due to roadblocks set up by protesters demonstrating against inflation, especially surging fuel prices, in Pacora, Panama, early Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Three weeks of continuous demonstrations and road blockades to protest high fuel and food costs in Panama have begun to cause shortages of some food products, fuel and medicine.

The closures, including of the Pan-American Highway, have forced the national electric company to ration electricity in Darien province, which borders Colombia. Tankers carrying gas to run the power generation plant cannot arrive. Some 7,000 families have been affected by the reduction of electricity to 11 hours daily.

In Panama’s main wholesale market that supplies both supermarkets and individual consumers, there was little foot traffic Wednesday. Display tables usually stacked high with produce had far less on offer. Some vegetables like lettuce and tomatos, in particular, were in short supply.

“This stand was always full. Now I don’t have many products,” said Victor Palacios. “Yesterday (Tuesday) there wasn’t much merchandise.”


He said his produce comes from the highlands in the western province of Chirique. “What little has arrived from there is expensive and damaged,” Palacios said
Chiriqui province is Panama’s primary supplier of produce. The Indigenous Ngobe-Bugle who live there have blocked important stretches of the Pan-American Highway, holding up trucks trying to get produce to the capital. The blockades are also affecting shipments coming from elsewhere in Central America.

Groups representing agricultural producers have said the protests have caused losses of more than $130 million so far.

Kevin Vigil, director of the wholesale market known as Merca Panama, said the situation had improved somewhat. Protesters had cleared some roadblocks on the Pan-American Highway and he was awaiting a convoy of 30 trucks loaded with food from Chiriqui.

He said what food came in was selling rapidly, leaving some stands with sparse offerings.
“As the cargo enters, the stands restock, that is what we’re trying to do today, to get 80% stocked,” he said.

Oxygen had also grown scarce in hospitals in Chiriqui, but the Health Ministry said the company responsible for supplying it had inventory in its warehouse in the provincial capital and was able to resupply the hospitals.
 

Plain Jane

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Staff of Nicaragua newspaper La Prensa newspaper flee abroad
La Prensa — one of Nicaragua's leading newspapers — says its staff have been forced to flee the country amid a targeted crackdown by President Daniel Ortega's government. However, the paper said its work would continue.



A journalist holds up a copy of La Prensa independent newspaper with a headline that reads in Spanish; Customs authorizes release of printing paper
Printing materials for La Prensa were routinely blocked, ultimately forcing the paper to shelve its printed edition

The online edition of Nicaragua's oldest newspaper La Prensa on Thursday said its journalists, photographers and other staff had left the country for fear of being jailed.
It follows a pre-election clampdown that saw dozens arrested last year, including La Prensa director Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro and seven would-be presidential candidates.
President Daniel Ortega's government has repeatedly moved against independent press outlets that are critical of the administration. It has also shut down more than 1,000 civil society organizations in the Central American nation.

What did La Prensa say?
La Prensa says the relocation was decided after Nicaraguan authorities arrested two of its employees working as drivers earlier this month. That followed raids on the homes of several journalists from the newspaper.

"The persecution by the Daniel Ortega regime intensified this month against the personnel of La Prensa newspaper and forced the outlet's personnel to flee the country," the newspaper wrote.

"Reporters, editors, photographers and other personnel were obliged to flee Nicaragua in an irregular manner in the past two weeks for their safety and freedom."

"This situation forced La Prensa to put its staff under guard and then take them out of the country," adding that the staff would continue to produce the digital version of the newspaper from exile.

Although members of the newspaper's staff were not in their homes over recent days, La Prensa said police and civilians had arrived repeatedly and harassed their families.

The paper said staff had to sneak across the border because they feared they would be arrested at formal border crossings. It did not say how many of its employees had left Nicaragua.

Forced to cease print edition
Founded in 1926, La Prensa is Nicaragua's oldest newspaper. After the government repeatedly held shipments of printing supplies, it was forced to stop publishing a print edition last year.

The paper's two drivers who were arrested earlier this month were reportedly taken to the infamous El Chipote prison, where many political and media figures are detained.

In April, a court sentenced La Prensa director Holmann Chamorro to nine years in prison for alleged money laundering. Defense lawyers say the charges were politically-motivated and that there is no evidence against their client.

Two of Holmann Chamorro's cousins, La Prensa directors Cristiana Chamorro — a political opponent of Ortega — and Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Barrios, are also imprisoned.

Since its crackdown, which began in 2018, Nicaragua's government has imprisoned nearly 190 people who human rights groups and the US State Department say are political prisoners.

Ortega's government claims his detained critics have conspired against the administration with backing from the United States.

Former Marxist guerilla Ortega won his fourth consecutive term in November in an election that US President Joe Biden dismissed as a sham.
rc/aw (AFP, AP)
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

Cuba announces same-sex marriage referendum
Cuba's parliament has announced a new family law which will be put to a referendum on September 25. It would legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, as well as allow same-sex couples to adopt children.



A cheerleader dances with a rainbow flag in Cuba
Cuba is set to hold a referendum on its new family law in September

Cuba's parliament announced on Friday that the country will hold a referendum on the legalization of same-sex marriage and surrogate parenthood.

The referendum on the new family law is scheduled to be held on September 25.

Decision 'left in the hands of the people'

"The final decision will be left in the hands of the people," the National Assembly's secretary said.
"We are convinced that in due time, the majority of the Cuban people will endorse this revolutionary, inclusive and democratic code."

The new family code was debated on in community meetings earlier this year. Organizers said 62% of participants expressed support.

When Cuba's constitution was revised in 2019, LGBTQ activists pushed to include same-sex marriage in the new version of the document. This was ultimately withdrawn due to opposition from conservative and religious group

In Latin America, seven countries currently allow same-sex marriage: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and Chile. Chile legalized same-sex marriage in March of this year.

What do we know about the law?
The new law would also offer increased protections for children, the elderly and other family members as well as greater women's rights.

Furthermore, it would allow prenuptial agreements, adoption of children by same-sex couples and surrogate pregnancies, though not for profit. It will promote the equal sharing of domestic responsibilities.

According to the new family code, parents will have "responsibility" rather than "custody" of children. They will also be required to be "respectful of the dignity and physical and mental integrity of children and adolescents."
sdi/sri (AFP, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/religion-violence-caribbean-haiti-gangs-439f0338c8ba56273b84bf238cf22751#


Click to copy
315 kids, adults shelter at school to escape Haiti gang war
By EVENS SANONyesterday


Children sleep on the floor of a school turned into a shelter after they were forced to leave their homes in Cite Soleil due to clashes between armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)
1 of 9
Children sleep on the floor of a school turned into a shelter after they were forced to leave their homes in Cite Soleil due to clashes between armed gangs, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, July 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hundreds of children and adults sheltered at a high school in Haiti’s capital Saturday after fleeing shooting in a neighborhood where fighting between two rival gangs in recent weeks has caused dozens of deaths and destroyed homes.

Francisco Seriphin, general coordinator for the religious community group Kizito, said 315 people had taken refuge in the Saint-Louis de Gonzague school, which is in the Delmas district neighboring the violence-wracked Cite Soleil neighborhood.

Classes are out for summer vacation, and classrooms at the high school have been converted into dormitories, where some of the teenagers, children and toddlers sleep on small mattresses provided by the nonprofit group. Others must sleep on the floor without mattresses.

Young people chatted and joked in the schoolyard Saturday, while others played soccer and basketball or jumped rope.

Seriphin said many of the children sheltering at the school came without their parents. Some youngsters stood in line waiting to give information about fathers and mothers, some who are missing and others who the gangs prevented from leaving Cite Soleil.
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“We need a lot of help,” said Jean Michelet, a 16-year-old who said he was wounded on the day that the gang battles erupted in early July.

“I was home on the day the war started. It was a lot of shooting. A bullet went through the roof and it hit me in the head,” he said.

He said a nun took him to a hospital to have the injury treated.

Michelet said a lot of people had been killed during the gunbattles. “The situation is really bad,” he said.

A year after the unsolved assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, gang violence has grown worse in Haiti and many people have tried to flee a country that seems to be in economic and social freefall. Attempts to form a coalition government have faltered, and efforts to hold general elections have stalled.

A week ago, the U.N. humanitarian affairs office reported that 99 people had been reported killed in the fighting in Cite Soleil up to that point.

U.N. humanitarian agencies have said it is too dangerous for them to get help to people trapped in the neighborhood.

Jeremy Laurence, spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Council, said most of the victims “were not directly involved in gangs” but were targeted by them.

The U.N. agencies said some gangs even deny access to drinking water and food in order to control the population, aggravating malnutrition.








 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

Boat carrying Haitian migrants capsizes off Bahamas, 17 dead
The bodies of 17 people — including an infant — were recovered after a boat carrying migrants from Haiti keeled over off the coast of the Bahamas.



Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized perch on the overturned vessel off the coast of New Providence island.
Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized perch on the overturned vessel off the coast of New Providence island

A boat carrying dozens of Haitian migrants sank off the coast of the Bahamas on Sunday, leaving at least 17 people dead, authorities said.

"Rescue teams recovered 17 bodies from the water," a statement tweeted by Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said.

According to the statement, 15 women, one man and one infant were among the dead in the incident that occurred about seven miles (11.3 kilometers) from New Providence.

Twenty-five people have been rescued and are being attended by health officials, the statement added.

It was not immediately clear how many people were missing.

Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said nearly 60 people may have been on board.

Investigation launched
Prime Minister Davis told a press conference that the authorities believe the migrants were on a speedboat heading for Miami, Florida.

"It is believed that the vessel capsized in rough seas," he said.

A multi-agency probe that involves the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defense Force has begun "to determine the full circumstances surrounding a suspected human smuggling operation which has resulted in" the deaths, the statement from Davis said.

Two people — both from the Bahamas — have been taken into custody over the suspected human smuggling operation, authorities said.

Dangerous voyage
The Bahamas is frequently used by human smugglers as a transit route for the potentially dangerous sea journey for Haitians seeking to reach the United States.




Watch video02:22
Several thousand migrants journey north to US border
Treacherous sea voyages in rickety boats have become increasingly common in the past year as Haitians flee poverty and growing gang violence.
"This new tragedy saddens the entire nation," Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said in a tweet after the incident.

"I call once again for national reconciliation to solve the problems that make our brothers, sisters and children flee from our land," he added.
dvv/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane


6 dead in shooting attack on Mexico drug rehab center
yesterday


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Gunmen shot to death five men and one woman at a privately-run drug rehabilitation center in wester Mexico, authorities said Monday.

The prosecutors’ office in the western state of Jalisco said the attack occurred around midnight in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of the state capital, Guadalajara. Jalisco is home to the drug cartel of the same name, and has been plagued for years by violence between rival factions of the cartel in Guadalajara.

The office said that several people were involved in the attack, but did not offer information on a motive.

Drug gangs in Mexico have attacked rehab centers in the past, usually to kill drug users or dealers allied with rival gangs. In 2020, in the neighboring state of Guanajuato, gunmen killed 27 people at a rehab center.

Mexico has long had problems with rehab centers because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts. The government spends relatively little money on rehabilitation, often making the unregistered centers the only option available for poor families.

In addition, addicts and dealers who face attacks from rivals on the streets sometimes take refuge at the rehab clinics, making the clinics themselves targets for attack.



 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

New Argentine Ambassador welcomed in Caracas as full ties resumed
Tuesday, July 26th 2022 - 10:20 UTC


The Maduro administration hailed President Fernández's decision to appoint Laborde as full ambassador to Caracas

The Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro Monday welcomed Argentina's new ambassador Oscar Laborde, as full diplomatic ties between the two countries were resumed following a decision by the administration of former President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) to join the so-called Lima Group which recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim head of state.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández had decided in April 2022 to re-establish full relations with Venezuela, which had been lowered to chargés d'affaires level, and called on other nations in the region to review their stance regarding the Chavist regime.

Upon welcoming Laborde at the Miraflores Palace, Caracas highlighted President Fernándezz's “timely call.” Maduro also received the credentials of new ambassadors from South Africa, Türkiye, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Laborde's appointment had been made official through a decree signed July 19 after the candidate got the Senate's consent, as did those chosen to head Argentine embassies in Ecuador and Honduras.

Argentina is reportedly banking on an increase in bilateral trade following this decision. Venezuela is believed to be an interesting market for the sale of food in exchange for hydrocarbons when energy is a scarce commodity.

Laborde has been in Caracas since Thursday, July 21, when he was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Rander Peña Ramírez. But before leaving for Venezuela, Laborde was instrumental in judiciary measures taken recently regarding the Venezuelan-Iranian Boeing 747-300 seized by Argentine authorities at the Ezeiza International Airport.

The new Ambassador is a former mayor of Avellaneda in the Greater Buenos Aires area and a Parlasur Deputy.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/colombia-violence-caribbean-united-nations-revolutionary-armed-forces-of-0a347381ccd2457408bb901ba6dcef64#


Click to copy
UN: Violence rising in rural Colombia despite peace deal
By MANUEL RUEDAyesterday


FILE - Children look at an armored vehicle in Toribio, southwest Colombia, Oct. 30, 2019. A report published Tuesday, July 26, 2022, by the United Nations Human Rights Office said that violence is increasing in many rural areas of Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal between the government and the country's largest guerrilla group.n killed in crimes that remain largely unsolved. (AP Photo/Christian Escobar Mora, File)

FILE - Children look at an armored vehicle in Toribio, southwest Colombia, Oct. 30, 2019. A report published Tuesday, July 26, 2022, by the United Nations Human Rights Office said that violence is increasing in many rural areas of Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal between the government and the country's largest guerrilla group.n killed in crimes that remain largely unsolved. (AP Photo/Christian Escobar Mora, File)

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Violence is increasing in many rural areas of Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla group, the United Nations Human Rights Office said in a report. It called on the government to boost rural development and take steps to encourage members of Colombia’s remaining illegal groups to demobilize.

The report, published Tuesday, said homicides decreased after the Colombian government signed the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which ended five decades of war and generated hope in rural communities.

But it noted that in the past two years violence has increased significantly in remote areas where smaller armed groups are fighting over drug trafficking routes and territory that was once controlled by the FARC.

According to the U.N., 100 human rights defenders were killed across the country in 2021, compared to 61 in 2016, the year the peace deal with the FARC was signed. The organization also noted that forced displacement increased in 2021, and that currently more then 54,000 people in the western province of Choco are trapped by armed groups who will not allow them to leave their villages.


Juliette de Rivero, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights’ representative in Colombia, said in some pockets of southwestern Colombia rebel groups and drug trafficking
organizations have such great control over their territory that they are issuing ID cards locals must carry to move between villages. She added that in some communities militias are also also asking visitors to present lab tests that show they don’t have any sexually transmitted diseases.

De Rivero said Colombia’s government has relied mostly on military operations to improve security in rural areas, but that this strategy has failed to stop the expansion of illegal groups.

“The success of the state must be measured in a reduction of human rights violations, and not in terms of how many members of armed groups are captured or killed,” De Rivero said. “The state’s security strategy must focus on protecting the civilian population and on prevention by tackling the structural causes of violence.”

The U.N. is recommending that Colombia’s government boost implementation of a land reform program that is part of the 2016 peace deal with the FARC. The report also says that the government needs to re-launch development programs that will encourage farmers to stop growing coca and move into legal crops.

President Ivan Duque’s government has mostly fought cocaine production through the forced eradication of crops by Colombia’s military,. Duque will soon finish his four-year term.
Earlier this year, Colombians elected leftist Gustavo Petro to the presidency. Petro, who was formerly a member of a rebel group, will be inaugurated in August and has promised to boost investment in rural areas as a way to reduce drug related violence.
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

Nicaragua: Opposition leader Suazo jailed over alleged conspiracy, fake news
A court in Managua has sentenced Suazo to 10 years in prison on charges which include spreading fake news. But his NGO says the case is politically motivated.



Yubrank Suazo behind microphones
Yubrank Suazo was a prominent figure in anti-government protests in 2018

A Nicaraguan court on Wednesday handed a 10-year prison sentence to opposition leader Yubrank Suazo, provoking outrage from human rights groups that say he is innocent of any crime.

Suazo was sentenced to five years in jail for "conspiring to undermine national integrity" and another five years for spreading fake news, according to the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, where he served as director.

In a statement, the group said he was "prosecuted and sentenced without having committed any crime, or having any link with criminal structures."

Who is Yubrank Suazo?
Suazo, 31, participated in 2018 protests in his home town of Masaya against the government of President Daniel Ortega, part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations in which 355 died at the hands of security forces.

Masaya had declared itself a "dictator-free territory," referring to Ortega, an ex-guerilla who has ruled the country since 2007.

Suazo was arrested at the time but freed in 2019 as part of an agreement with the government mediated by the Catholic Church.

However, he was arrested again in May this year and put on trial.

Strongman rule
A Nicaraguan NGO campaigning for political prisoners says about 190 opposition figures have been detained for political reasons. Some 45 of them were given jail sentences last year of up to 13 years for allegedly undermining national security.

Ortega was reelected in November after jailing several potential rivals. He accuses the US of aiding his opponents to try and oust him. Washington has sanctioned him and many in his inner circle.

More than 200,000 Nicaraguans have fled the country as civil liberties there decrease.
tj/dj (AFP, EFE)
 

Plain Jane

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Colombia's new leftist president to repair ties with Venezuela
After years of strained relations, the neighboring countries will reopen their embassies and appoint new ambassadors for the first time since 2019.



People crossing the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the border between Venezuela and Colombia.
The Simon Bolivar International Bridge is a key artery between Venezuela and Colombia
Colombia's new left-wing President Gustavo Petro will reestablish diplomatic relations with Venezuela when he takes office on August 7.

On Thursday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Carlos Faria and the foreign minister-elect of Colombia, Alvaro Leyva, made a joint declaration in the Venezuelan border city of San Cristobal.

Leyva said both sides wanted to see "the gradual normalization of bilateral relations from August 7 by naming ambassadors and diplomatic and consular officials."

Faria confirmed one item on the agenda was the "gradual opening" of the border.

Colombia and Venezuela share a long, porous border that has long been a haven for armed groups like the ELN and FARC.

The security situation has lead to concerns over smuggling and kidnapping.

Repairing a relationship

The relationship between Colombia and Venezuela broke down during the 2015 migrant crisis.

In 2019, Colombia's outgoing President Ivan Duque cut off ties with Caracas altogether when he refused to recognize the election of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Embassies and consulates in both countries were closed, while flights between the two countries were also grounded. The border itself remained shut between 2019 and late 2021.



Watch video02:51
Venezuelan returnees: Fleeing from crisis to crisis
Maduro regularly accused Duque of being part of supposed plans to topple him, while the conservative president claimed his Venezuelan counterpart harbored Colombian rebels.
As the two foreign ministers met on Thursday, Colombia's police force claimed a former guerrilla hiding in Venezuela had offered more than $1.5 million (€1.4 million) as a reward for the assassination of outgoing President Duque.
zc/wd (Reuters, AFP)
 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

https://apnews.com/article/caribbean-economy-south-america-buenos-aires-ff5cb5b46e4b7d89d66528f5e2f00e04#

Argentina: Markets cheer new minister, but for how long?
By DANIEL POLITIyesterday


President of the Chamber of Deputies Sergio Massa arrives to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Argentina´s new Economy Minister Silvina Batakis at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, July 4, 2022. The government announced on Thursday, July 28, 2022, the appointment of Masa as an economic “super minister” only a few weeks after the left-leaning Batakis was tapped as economy minister, as the country struggles with high inflation and a slumping currency. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

President of the Chamber of Deputies Sergio Massa arrives to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Argentina´s new Economy Minister Silvina Batakis at the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, July 4, 2022. The government announced on Thursday, July 28, 2022, the appointment of Masa as an economic “super minister” only a few weeks after the left-leaning Batakis was tapped as economy minister, as the country struggles with high inflation and a slumping currency. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — The markets are cheering the arrival of Sergio Massa as Argentina’s third economy minister in less than a month, but analysts caution that more details are needed about his plans to get the South American country out of its dire economic straits.
The local currency, the peso, strengthened sharply in the financial market on Friday while government bonds saw gains a day after President Alberto Fernández’s government
unveiled the appointment of Massa as an economic “super minister” that combines the current Economy, Productive Development and Agriculture ministries.

The increases registered on Friday continued a trend that started earlier this week amid rumors that Massa, the head of Congress’ lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, would be joining the administration.

“The market reaction reflects relief that someone with political skills and a strong constituency in the party has taken this key role,” said Benjamin Gedan, acting director of the Latin America program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. “He’s someone who can’t easily be dismissed, and the idea is that there will be some consistency in policy.”


Massa’s appointment came a little more than three weeks after left-leaning Silvina Batakis was named to replace the more moderate Martín Guzmán, who abruptly quit amid complaints that he did not have the full support of the governing coalition that has been split among factions loyal to the president on the one hand and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a former president who continues to hold a strong base of support.
The naming of Batakis was followed by a sharp depreciation of the peso amid stringent capital controls, reflecting uncertainty over whether she had the necessary authority to impose the types of reforms needed to turn around an economy that is suffering from one of the world’s highest inflation rates that is running at more than 60% annually.

“Argentina has an urgent need to restore confidence in the economy and the merry-go-round of finance ministers has the opposite effect,” Gedan said.

Fernández tacitly acknowledged Friday a strong figure was needed to lead the government’s economic program.

“What we’ve lived through as a country and society over the last few months, and in particular the last few weeks, forces us to have better coordination,” Fernández wrote on Twitter.

Massa, a former mayor who has long had presidential ambitions and enjoys good relations with the country’s business elite, has his own political base of support so is seen as someone who should presumably be able to impose his own agenda.

“He isn’t pro-market, he’s pro-capitalism,” said Fausto Spotorno, chief economist at Orlando J. Ferreres & Associates, a consulting firm in Buenos Aires. “He isn’t a leftist.”

Massa told journalists Friday that he would name his team Monday and unveil new economic measures Wednesday. He still has to formally resign his seat in Congress before he can officially take on the ministerial role.

Despite the lack of concrete steps, market analysts are feeling confident they know which way Massa will go, considering his team has been talking to key players all week.


“The measures they’ve been discussing are pretty reasonable,” Spotorno said.
For now though, “the optimism seems slightly overblown,” warned Gedan. “It’s true that Martín Guzmán had been living outside country and didn’t necessarily have the ability to navigate the snake pit of this coalition, but the fundamental problems are both hard to solve and politically treacherous.”

One of the main questions for the country involves the future of the country’s recent deal with the International Monetary Fund to restructure some $44 billion in debt.

Cristina Fernández and her left-leaning allies in the coalition have publicly opposed the agreement, claiming it demands a level of austerity that will hurt workers and the poor while also hampering growth.

Batakis was replaced on the same day as she returned from a whirlwind tour of Washington, where she met with investors as well as officials at the IMF, the World Bank and U.S. treasury.
Even though the market seems to be welcoming Massa with open arms, it isn’t clear Argentines as a whole feel the same way.

“What the market needs and what public opinion needs are two very different things,” said Jorge Giacobbe, a political analyst who runs local pollster Giacobbe & Associates. “They’re both angry, yes, but Massa arrives in this new role having only 9% of positive image and 70% negative.”


When asked to describe Massa in one word, most choose the word “pancake,” Giacobbe said, a word that is colloquially used to describe someone who changes opinions frequently.

The low approval rating means Massa “is a man who has nothing to lose,” Giacobbe added.
Massa was Cabinet chief for almost one year during the first term of Cristina Fernández’s 2007-2015 presidency. He then went on to become highly critical of his former boss as he pursued his own presidential ambitions only to later join the coalition that ended up electing Alberto Fernández, another former ally of Cristina Fernández who later became a critic.
Handing so much power over to someone who has shown a willingness to shift alliances quickly reflects the administration’s desperation, some argue.

“This is the last bullet for the government,” Spotorno said. “If Massa leaves, who’s left? There’s no one.”



 

Plain Jane

Just Plain Jane

Argentina’s Government Collapsing, People Refuse To Work Amid Major Subsidy Cuts
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SATURDAY, JUL 30, 2022 - 08:30 PM
Authored by Autumn Spreadermann via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Protests have erupted in Buenos Aires over the past 90 days and continue to build inside the capital as residents battle with their center-left government over sizeable amendments to social programs.
Members of social and trade union organizations protesting on July 20, 2022, in Buenos Aires, in demand of a universal basic income. The impoverished South American country struggles to repay its US$44 billion dollar debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) amid rampant inflation and social unrest. (Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images)

Other subsidies, including the country’s notorious welfare program, are also on the chopping block, triggering thousands of angry residents to take to the streets.

State-sponsored aid for civilians has soared in the past 20 years, leaving 22 million Argentinians dependent on some form of government assistance.

In the first quarter of 2022, the national employment rate was 43 percent, according to government figures.

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez is pictured during a meeting in Germany at Elmau Castle, on June 27, 2022. (Markus Schreiber/AFP via Getty Images)
The country’s state funded programs extend to nearly every aspect of the economy, from wages to utilities, education, and health care.

Argentina already spends an estimated 800 million pesos per day—a sum of more than US$6 million—on state benefit programs.


Concurrently, inflation in the South American nation hit 58 percent in May and soared above 60 percent in July. By comparison, national inflation was just over 14 percent in 2015.

Harry Lorenzo, chief finance officer of Income Based Research, told The Epoch Times the spending habits of Argentina’s government are at the root of the escalating problem.

“The Argentine government has been grappling with a collapsing economy for some time now. The main reason for this is the government’s unsustainable spending, which has been funded in part by generous welfare programs,” Lorenzo explained.

Deeper Into Economic Chaos
Cries for more state money, freedom from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and for President Alberto Fernandez to step down echoed within the angry crowds gathered near the president’s office—Casa Rosada —during the nation’s independence day celebration on July 9.

Since then, scheduled demonstrations have continued, led by professional protest organizers or “piqueteros” demanding the abolition of the proposed subsidy cuts and a wage increase.

“This is madness. What the piqueteros are asking for is madness,” Alvaro Gomez told The Epoch Times.


Gomez has lived and worked in Buenos Aires for more than 15 years and currently is a taxi driver. As the years have passed, he’s watched his country dive deeper into economic chaos.

“I’ve seen five presidents come and go in that time; nothing has improved. Half of our country doesn’t want a job, and the ones that do, don’t want to pay the taxes for the others,” he said.

Read more here...
 
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