Mexico
madres

Mothers of the disappeared march in Mexico

On Mexico’s Day of the Mother, thousands of mothers and other family members of the disappeared held a March for National Dignity in the capital, calling for action on their missing loved ones. The march, which filled the main avenues of Mexico City, was organized by a coalition of 60 regional collectives of survivors of the disappeared from around the country. In the days before the march, a group camped out at the National Palace, demanding a dialogue with President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador. (Photo via Twitter)

Central America
Archipelago of San Andr茅s

Win for Nicaragua in maritime dispute with Colombia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague聽ruled that Colombia must end its “interference” in parts of the Caribbean off the coast of Nicaragua, and bring under control fishing and other activities in the zone. This culminates a long conflict between Nicaragua and Colombia. In two rulings in 2007 and 2012, the ICJ recognized the sovereignty of Colombia in the islands constituting the Archipelago of San Andr茅s. However, the rulings also recognized the jurisdiction of Nicaragua in the surrounding waters. Colombia continued its activities in those waters, prompting Nicaragua to file a new complaint with the Court in 2013. Colombia argued that its actions were necessary to fight drug trafficking and secure environmental protection of the waters. In its new ruling, the ICJ found that these waters are within the exclusive economic zone of Nicaragua, and the “intervention” of another state is contrary to international law. (Map: Wikipedia)

Central America
salvador

El Salvador: state of emergency over gang violence

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly approved a state of emergency at the request of President Nayib Bukele, in response to a sharp increase in the number of killings by criminal gangs. The emergency regimen seeks to dismantle criminal structures by prohibiting associations and disrupting聽their communications. It also extends the “administrative detention” period, and suspends certain constitutional freedoms.聽The declaration invokes Article 29 of El Salvador’s Constitution, which allows for the suspension of constitutional guarantees in times of “serious disturbance of public order.” This includes the right to freedom of association and presumption of innocence. The state of emergency will remain in effect for 30 days, in conformity with Article 30, after which it may be renewed. (Map: University of Texas)

Mexico
nuevo laredo

Mexico: gunfire, explosions rock Nuevo Laredo

Gunfire and explosions were reported from the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo following the arrest of a local gang leader by federal police and army troops. Juan Gerardo Trevi帽o, AKA聽“El Huevo” (The Egg), is said be leader of the Tropas del Infierno (Troops of Hell), paramilitary arm of the Cartel del Noreste (Northeast Cartel), an offshoot of the notorious Zetas. Facing charges both sides of the border, he was nonetheless turned over to US authorities, apparently because he is a US citizen. He was handed over at a border bridge in Tijuana, far to the west of Nuevo Laredo, presumably to avoid attempts to free him. In the outburst of violence that greeted his arrest in Nuevo Laredo, the city’s US consulate was hit with gunfire.聽Gang members also closed off streets with burning vehicles, attacked army outposts, and lobbed grenades at buildings. (Photo: social media via聽Laredo Morning Times)

Mexico
Pemex

Control of oil behind Mexico-Spain tensions

Mexico’s President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador聽called for a “pause” in relations with Spain, in a speech that explicitly invoked the legacy of colonialism going back to the Conquest. But the speech was aimed principally at Spanish oil company Repsol, which had been favored during the presidential term of Felipe Calder贸n. Specifically, L贸pez Obrador questioned the granting of聽gas contracts in the Burgos Basin, in Mexico’s northeast. He charged that Repsol operated the fields less productively than the state company Pemex had. “In the end, less gas was extracted than Pemex extracted” before the contracts, he charged. Repsol is meanwhile under investigation by Spanish prosecutors on charges of graft related to the company’s efforts to fend聽off a take-over bid by Pemex.聽(Photo via Digital Journal)

North America
Fort Bliss

SCOTUS hears cases on indefinite migrant detention

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right聽of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order. The cases re-examine the聽2001聽Zadvydas v. Davis, in whichthe Supreme Court ruled that pre-removal detention may not be extended beyond six months unless there is a realistic chance that the non-citizen could be removed. The US Constitution forbids imprisonment without due process of law and guarantees the right of habeas corpus. (Photo via Border Report)

Mexico
narco-fosa

Mexico approaches 100,000 ‘disappeared’

A year-end report by Mexico’s government registered a figure of 95,000 missing persons nationwide, with an estimated 52,000 unidentified bodies buried in mass graves. The report by the Comisi贸n Nacional de B煤squeda de Personas (National Missing Persons Search Commission) found that the great majority of the disappearances have taken place since 2007, when Mexico began a military crackdown on the drug cartels. Alejandro Encinas, the assistant interior secretary for human rights, said that there are 9,400 unidentified bodies in cold-storage rooms in the country, and pledged to form a National Center for Human Identification tasked with forensic work on these remains. He admitted to a “forensic crisis that has lead to a situation where we don’t have the ability to guarantee the identification of people and return [of remains] to their families.” (Photo via openDemocracy)

The Andes
arauca

Anti-war protests in northeast Colombia

Rural communities in Colombia’s northeastern Arauca department held anti-war protests amid inter-factional guerilla violence that has been terrorizing the region. Demanding attention from the government and international human rights organizations, some 1,200 marched in the hamlets of聽Puerto Jordan and Botal贸n.聽Recent days had seen an outbreak of fighting in the area between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and “dissident” factions of the demobilized FARC guerillas that have refused to lay down arms, in defiance of a 2016 peace agreement. At least 23 were killed in the clashes, which were said to be over control of smuggling routes across the nearby Venezuelan border. About a dozen local families were also forced to flee their homes. (Photo:聽Arauca Online聽via聽Colombia Reports)

Central America

Honduras transition in the New Cold War

Hondurans elected self-proclaimed聽“democratic socialist”聽Xiomara Castro to be the country’s first woman president. The wife of Manuel Zelaya, the populist president who was removed in a coup in 2009, Castro pledges to revive his program鈥攁nd take it much further, instating far-reaching reforms. Castro also announced that she will “open diplomatic and commercial relations with continental China,” which was widely taken as meaning a switch of diplomatic recognition. Honduras is currently one of only 14 countries that recognize Taipei rather than Beijing.聽 It is tragic to see the Central American republics, in their struggle to break free of Washington’s orbit, acquiesce in Beijing’s design to incorporate Taiwan into its own orbit鈥攐r, more ambitiously, its national territory. 聽(Map:聽Perry-Casta帽eda Library)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia: inactive guerillas join active paras off US terror list

The US State Department announced that Colombia’s disbanded FARC guerilla army has been removed from the list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” The聽statement acknowledged that the FARC “no longer exists as a unified organization.” In fact, the de-listing came on the fifth anniversary of the peace agreement under which the FARC agreed to demobilize. However, the right-wing paramilitary groups now active across the country are still not listed by the State Department. These paramilitary forces are overwhelmingly behind the ongoing campaign of assassinations of social leaders across Colombia.聽 (Photo via Contagio Radio)

The Andes
Quito police

Ecuador: president extends state of emergency

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso聽extended the country’s state of emergency by a second 30 days. The decree is ostensibly an attempt to combat the insecurity generated by drug-related crime聽and re-establish public order. It provides for the mobilization of military forces to assist the functions of the National Police in several provinces. The emergency was originally declared last month for a period of 60 days, but the duration was reduced to 30 days by Ecuador鈥檚 Constitutional Court. The renewed state of emergency will be enacted in nine of the 24 provinces in the country. (Photo via Wikipedia)

The Andes
paramilitaries

Colombia’s most wanted para boss arrested

Colombia’s most wanted fugitive, the notorious paramilitary commander Dairo Antonio 脷suga AKA “Otoniel,” was arrested by security forces following a years-long manhunt, the government announced. The chief of the outlawed Gaitanista Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) was apprehended in a joint operation by the army and National Police in Necocli, a municipality of Urab谩 region on the Caribbean coast. The raid on Necocli involved hundreds of troops and some 20 helicopters. The US government considers the AGC Colombia’s largest drug trafficking organization, and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Otoniel in 2017, eight years after he was indicted by a federal court in New York. It is unclear if the Colombian government intends to extradite. (Photo: Colombia Reports)