Watching the Shadows
Ukraine

Trump’s phone call: the view from Ukraine

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has finally announced an official impeachment inquiry after reports surfaced that Donald Trump called on a foreign power to intervene in the upcoming election. Trump placed a hold on $391 million in aid to Ukraine just over a week before a July phone call in which he apparently urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden—the son of former US Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s likely opponent in next year’s race. This pretty clearly constitutes use of military aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip—or an outright bribe. This is not the first time Ukraine’s internal war has become a football in American politics. (Map via Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Central America

UN protests Nicaragua ‘anti-terrorism’ law

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern for a law approved in Nicaragua, ostensibly aimed at money-laundering, arms-trafficking and terrorism. The statement warned that the definition of "terrorism" under the law is dangerously "vague," and that it could be used to suppress opposition. The law defines as "terrorism" any damage to public or private property, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, anyone found guilty of directly or indirectly financing or aiding so-called "terrorist operations" can also face up to 20 years. The law was introduced in April, just as Nicaragua's political crisis was breaking out. The OHCHR noted that the law was passed by a National Assembly "almost completely controlled" by the ruling Sandinista party. (Poto via Noticiias ONU)

Mexico

Mexico: fugitive narco-governors snared

Javier Duarte, the ex-governor of Mexico's Veracruz state, was detained by Interpol in Guatemala—the latest in a string of fugitive Mexican ex-governors to be arrested abroad.

The Andes

Panama Papers pummel Peru politicians

Four of Peru's presidential candidates, including far-right front-runner Keiko Fujimori, have been implicated in the "Panama Papers" revelations.

Southern Cone

Protests rock Brazil as Lula takes cabinet post

Brazil has seen its biggest protests since the end of the dictatorship as ex-president "Lula" da Silva is appointed to a cabinet post that gives him immunity in a corruption scandal.

The Andes

DEA sees Hezbollah link to Colombian cartel

The DEA claims that Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah is laundering money for the "Oficina de Envigado,"  successor organization to Colombia's legendary Medellín Cartel.

Mexico

Was Chapo’s overture to Hollywood fatal?

Chapo Guzmán was apparently tracked down and apprehended after Mexican authorities intercepted his communications with Sean Penn and other show-biz heavies.