Interamerican Watch Newsletter – Issue 58

Boletim Informativo Interamerican Watch

Inter-American Watch

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

The Americas

A world away from Ukraine, Russia is courting Latin America

The Ukraine crisis has revived a struggle over Latin America between the U.S. and Russia, as Vladimir Putin seeks greater influence in the region.
The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/world/americas/russia-putin-latin-america-bolsonaro.html

45 arrested in major cocaine network bust in Belgium, Spain, with connection to Latin America

Belgian prosecutors said most of the suspects lived in the Brussels district, and the organization has drop-off points near the Antwerp port, where cocaine arrives from South America.
ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/belgian-police-detain-30-major-drug-trafficking-case-82898170

Former Honduras President detained after a US extradition request

The request said Juan Orlando Hernández, who left office last month, was wanted in connection to a “violent drug-trafficking conspiracy.”
The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/world/americas/honduras-president-juan-orlando-hernandez-detained.html

The emerging gang state in El Salvador

Earlier this month in El Salvador, authorities discovered a clandestine mass grave containing 26 bodies, all apparent victims of the gang MS-13, including three youths age 18-21 who had gone missing in 2021. The gruesome discovery was not, in itself, unique: Other mass graves have been discovered since 2019, including in the municipalities of Ilopango, Colón, and Chalchuapa: the first two also apparent victims of gangs, the latter of a cop-turned-serial killer.
The Global Americans: https://theglobalamericans.org/2022/02/the-emerging-gang-state-in-el-salvador/

Chile vote marks first step in long path to seizing mines

A proposal that opens the door to nationalizing some of the biggest copper and lithium mines in the world was approved in first instance by a committee as part of the drafting of a new constitution in Chile.
Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-01/chile-vote-marks-first-step-in-long-path-to-nationalizing-mines

Venezuelan criminal gang Tren de Aragua arrives in Chile

The Venezuelan criminal gang Tren de Aragua is already operating in Chile and currently has a presence in the far north of the country and in the cities of La Serena, Coquimbo region, and Estación Central, Santiago province, the Chilean television channel Canal 13 reported
https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/venezuelan-criminal-gang-tren-de-aragua-arrives-in-chile/ – .YgwoFO5Olqs

Bolivia

Global cocaine, Colonel Dávila and the Lebanese connection

Why is the US government offering Colonel Maximiliano Dávila a reward equal to the one it offered for “Chapo” Guzmán? Why was one of Dávila’s alleged top lieutenants, former Major Omar Rojas, called the Bolivian “Pablo Escobar” by Colombian investigators? For more than 25 years, the alleged Bolivian drug traffickers have not made enough demerits to achieve such considerations.
Los Tiempos, in Spanish: https://www.lostiempos.com/oh/actualidad/20220214/cocaina-global-coronel-davila-conexion-libanesa

Government of Bolivia rules out the return of the DEA

The Bolivian Government Minister, Eduardo del Castillo, ruled out the return to the country of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for its “terrible” and “repressive” work in the fight against drug trafficking.
Europa Press, in Spanish: https://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-bolivia-descarta-vuelta-dea-pesimo-represivo-trabajo-contra-drogas-20220215172600.html

Bolivia’s opposition ask that the UN rapporteur see the rottenness of Bolivian justice and issue a forceful statement

Two former presidents and the secretary general of the UN urge that the case involving Jeanine Áñez be known. The United Nations delegate began his official visit to the country.
El Deber, in Spanish: https://eldeber.com.bo/pais/opositores-piden-que-relator-vea-la-podredumbre-de-la-justicia-y-emita-un-pronunciamiento-contundent_267579

New charges to be filed against former president Jeanine Áñez in Bolivia

Bolivian judicial sources Monday reported a fourth set of charges could be filed against former interim President Jeanine Áñez for crimes that took place during her spell as acting head of state. Áñez is already on her sixth day of a hunger strike since the even of a trial against her started last week, which was lñater adjourned due to technical dificulties.
Mercopress: https://en.mercopress.com/2022/02/14/new-charges-to-be-filed-against-jeanine-nez-in-bolivia

Bolivian ambassador to Cuba dies

In a concise press release, the Bolivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the news, without adding details about Pardo’s condition and stating that the diplomat had been trying to regain physical stability for several weeks.
Cibercuba, in Spanish: https://www.cibercuba.com/noticias/2022-02-14-u1-e208347-s27061-fallece-embajador-bolivia-cuba

Peru

Financial Times: Peru deserves a fresh political start

New president Pedro Castillo has demonstrated his inability to govern. Fresh scandals break almost daily, mostly allegations of incompetence or petty corruption. The government is paralysed.
Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/6bf19350-4882-4d2f-905b-3230c1b068b0

Pedro Castillo’s approval falls down from 33% to 25% in a month

74% of Peruvians believe that general elections should be called if president Castillo and Vice President Dina Boluarte resign or are successfully impeached, according to the latest survey by Ipsos Peru for America TV.
El Comercio, in Spanish: https://elcomercio.pe/politica/pedro-castillo-aprobacion-del-presidente-cae-de-33-a-25-noticia/

Presidential approval in the center of Peru falls dramatically from 41% to 20% in a month

According to the lates Ipsos Peru poll, approval went down also in the North (from 38 to 26), South (58 to 46), and the East (41 to 35). For political communication specialist Rober Villalva, the disaggregated figures for presidential approval show that “Pedro Castillo’s electoral romance with the center and south (of the country) is beginning to come to an end.”
El Comercio, in Spanish: https://elcomercio.pe/politica/pedro-castillo-su-aprobacion-en-el-centro-del-peru-cayo-21-puntos-porcentuales-en-un-mes-noticia/?ref=ecr

Ecuador

China Sinovac approves project for a vaccine plant in Ecuador

Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac has approved a project to build a vaccine plant in Ecuador, as part of a comprehensive agreement that would include clinical trials and technology transfer, the Andean country’s Ministry of Health said.
Reuters, in Spanish: https://es-us.vida-estilo.yahoo.com/gobierno-ecuador-china-sinovac-aprueba-162503764.html

Authorities seize 7 tons of cocaine in Guayaquil

The drug was hidden in boxes of bananas found in containers in one of the ports of Guayaquil.
The destination of the drug was Belgium. According to Marcelo Cortez, deputy commander of Zone 8, the seizure means that “70 million doses were withdrawn from the streets.”
Primicias, in Spanish: https://www.primicias.ec/noticias/lo-ultimo/decomisan-toneladas-cocaina-puerto-guayaquil/

Ecuador Police investigate discovery of two bodies hanging on a bridge, Mexican style

Police in Ecuador said they are investigating the death of two people whose bodies were hung from a pedestrian bridge in the small coastal town of Durán, a crime that agents say could be linked to a recent drug seizure operation and Mexican cartels.
Reuters, in Spanish: https://es-us.vida-estilo.yahoo.com/policía-ecuador-investiga-hallazgo-cadáveres-202333411.html

Argentina

Alberto Fernandez’s magical odyssey to Russia and China

President Alberto Fernández’s state visit to Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) this month was tragic for Argentina—its national interests, its reputation as a democratic voice in the region, and moderates within Peronism who sincerely believe in the government as a tool for social justice and progress.
The Global Americans: https://theglobalamericans.org/2022/02/alberto-fernandezs-magical-odyssey-to-russia-and-china/

Argentina’s leader goes to court to back vice president

Argentine President Alberto Fernández made an unusual court appearance on Tuesday to defend his vice president -and former chief- calling allegations of corruption during her term as head of state “a sort of fantasy.” Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is accused of arbitrarily funneling money for a provincial highway project to a company linked to a family friend during her presidential term from 2007 to 2015.
https://wtop.com/latin-america/2022/02/argentinas-leader-goes-to-court-to-back-vice-president/

Analysis

Is Russia waging a silent war in Latin America?

While the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) support Ukraine and many Eastern European countries in the region, Russia is obliged to look for counterbalances in areas where it feels it can compete effectively. Latin America is one of those regions
Small Wars Journal: https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/nonlinear-warfare-russia-waging-silent-war-latin-america

Senator Gustavo Petro can win Colombia’s presidency

Although the majority on the right and center of the political spectrum seems to agree that a victory for the former M-19 would be a disastrous scenario, due to his positions on economic nationalism, redistributive populism, and his episodic anti-democratic tendencies, neither the political establishment nor the business sector seems to be willing to make concessions to avoid this outcome.
The Global Americans: https://theglobalamericans.org/2021/03/senator-gustavo-petro-can-win-colombias-presidency/