South America

Life Under Gang Rule in El Salvador

Over the last three years, gang violence has killed nearly 20,000 people in El Salvador, propelling tens of thousands northward in search of safety. ICG With U.S. help, the Salvadoran government should try to counter gangs with crime prevention as much as with law enforcement. Nearly 20,000 Salvadorans were killed from 2014 to 2017. That’s more violent deaths than in several countries that were at war during those years, such as Libya, Somalia and Ukraine. The murder rate – an ... Read More »

Glorious rubbish, have we been wasting your energy all along?

Caieiras, Sao Paulo: As Australia debates the need to spend money on renewable energy projects to power our future without destroying the environment, it is worth taking a look at rubbish. Lia Timson WAtoday Is this never-ending resource being used to our advantage? What if, instead of just seeing it as something to get rid of, we put it to work? That is a question environmental engineer Marcelo Camargo, manager of one of the world’s largest biogas electricity generators on the outskirts of ... Read More »

Poet, hero, rapist – outrage over Chilean plan to rename airport after Neruda

Human rights activists argue that the honour is inappropriate for a man who described raping a maid in his memoir The Guardian Pablo Neruda was a Nobel laureate whose poetry chronicled the lives and struggles of ordinary Latin Americans, and whose life was upheld as a symbol of resistance to dictatorship. But a decision to rename Chile’s busiest international airport after him has been met with outrage from human rights activists who argue that the honour is inappropriate for a man ... Read More »

Friendly Fire: Venezuela’s Opposition Turmoil

As Venezuela’s socio-economic woes deepen, so do the fissures in the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro’s government. ICG Bridging these rifts is vital if the country’s crisis is to end through a negotiated transition. Outside powers should back opposition unity and stop hinting at military intervention. What’s new?  The Venezuelan opposition is split into seemingly irreconcilable factions that cannot settle on a strategy for ending their country’s crisis. They disagree over whether, and when, to take part in elections, whether to ... Read More »

A Rising Tide of Murder in Venezuela’s Mineral-rich South

Dead bodies are appearing across the Orinoco river basin of southern Venezuela. Bram Ebus ICG In this Q&A, Crisis Group consultant Bram Ebus explains how the killings are linked by jostling among criminals, guerrillas and soldiers for mineral wealth amid the country’s wider socio-economic meltdown. What happened? A spate of mass killings in southern Venezuela is stirring international concern as the country’s political and economic crisis continues to drive a migrant exodus. On 14 October, at least seven miners were murdered ... Read More »

Democracy is at risk in Latin America and the far right is moving in – here’s how it went wrong for the left

Latin American democracy is in peril, a crisis driven by rising social polarisation and a growing intolerance of dissent. Pia Riggirozzi The Conversation Institutional mistrust is also rising and risks deepening the disconnect between citizens and government. According to the Latin American Economic Outlook 2018, three out of four Latin Americans have very low confidence in institutions and show little or no confidence in their national governments. Likewise, a recent survey published by Intal/Latinbarometro, found that people believe that the most reliable ... Read More »

Mexico mothers search for mass graves after tip-off

A group of Mexican mothers looking for their missing children is digging up a site in the eastern state of Veracruz in search of mass graves. BBC A spokeswoman for the group, called Solecito, said the mothers had received an anonymous tip-off. The mothers fear that more than 400 people could be buried in shallow graves in the area. Hundreds of bodies have already been found in other nearby clandestine graves in the past two years. Solecito was founded two ... Read More »

‘Living corpses’: Why Colombia’s national tree is at risk

“They are essentially living corpses,” says Colombian scientist Rodrigo Bernal of Colombia’s national tree. Lucy Sherriff BBC The ceroxylon quindiuense, a distinct species of palm tree which was declared the country’s national tree in 1985, is on the verge of extinction and most Colombians are not even aware of the problem. That is because it takes decades for the palms to show signs of decay, even when they have already reached the end of their lifespan and scientifically they are dead, explains ... Read More »

The ordinary people making the world more right-wing

Around the world, conservative groups have been gaining influence, bolstering the power of right-wing leaders. It is a trend driven not only by older generations but also by the young. Prof Richard Youngs Carnegie Europe BBC The rapid rise of Brazil’s new far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro may have surprised some observers but it did not come out of thin air. His success follows years of support from powerful social movements. Such groups have increasingly found a voice in countries from ... Read More »

Brazil’s incomplete democratic transition

In 1986, just a year after Brazil shed over two decades of military rule, the famed Império Serrano samba school in Rio de Janeiro brought a new song to the… By Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho The Washington Post “Eu quero, a bem da verdade” (“I want, for the sake of the truth”) immediately enthralled the public, with lyrics that spoke to the basic desires of all Brazilians. “Give me what’s mine / 20 years were taken from us,” rang the chorus, ... Read More »

How Brazil’s left should respond to Bolsonaro

SÃO PAULO — Brazilians have now democratically elected a far-right president who is obsessed with death and torture and brags about his love of firearms. Rosana Pinheiro-Machado The Washington Post The flagship policies of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, involve harsher penalties for criminal offenses and legalizing firearms. “Good citizens,” he argues, must be able to defend themselves against “bandits,” a term he uses loosely. He has called left-wing and liberal activists “red outlaws” who must be “banished ... Read More »

Bolsonaro wins Brazil election, promises to purge leftists from country

After the most polarized and divisive campaign in its modern history, Brazil has elected as its next president a right-wing politician who openly disdains human rights and admires military dictators. Helder Ferreira The Conversation Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old congressman who had strong evangelical backing for his law-and-order stance on policing, support for gun rights and opposition to abortion, won 55.7 percent of votes. Bolsonaro’s leftist competitor, Fernando Haddad, a former education minister and ex-mayor of São Paulo, received 45 percent of the… Bolsonaro’s angry, populist… Bolsonaro wins Brazil… Read More »

UN names Human Rights Prize winners for 2018

Asma Jahangir, Rebeca Gyumi, Joenia Wapichana and Front Line Defenders honoured by the UN for promoting human rights. Al Jazeera The United Nations has hailed the “inspiring” work of four individuals and organisations as it announced the winners of its Human Rights Prize for 2018. The honour was given on Friday to Asma Jahangir, the late Pakistani lawyer and leading human rights defender, along with Tanzanian activist Rebeca Gyumi, Brazil’s first indigenous lawyer Joenia Wapichana and Irish human rights groups Front… UN names Human… Read More »

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is No Friend of Liberty

The prospect of the left-wing Workers’ Party returning to power in Brazil has encouraged many to enthusiastically support the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s far right candidate. Juan Carlos Hidalgo The National Interest ”The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” goes the ancient proverb. In the case of Brazil, the prospect of the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) returning to power has encouraged the markets and some liberty advocates to enthusiastically support the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, a far ... Read More »

Migrants in caravan set sights on Mexico border amid Trump threats

GUATEMALA CITY — As about 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention — and pressure — turned to Mexico Thursday, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop the impromptu caravan. CBS News “I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!,” Trump tweeted. He went on ... Read More »

‘We are not criminals’: The ‘March of the Migrants’ reaches Guatemala

Esquipula, Guatemala: Hundreds of Hondurans hoping to reach the United States bedded down for the night in Esquipula overnight after Guatemala blinked in its attempts to halt their advance. The Canberra Times Reuters, AAP The group estimated at 1600 to 2000 people fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras marched into Guatemala in sweltering heat on Monday, twice pushing past outnumbered police sent to stop them – first at the border and then at a… After those encounters, Mexico’s immigration authority sent out ... Read More »