Latin America

Displaying items by tag: Latin America

Friday, 13 May 2022 09:12

Mexico: eleven journalists killed in 2022

Yessenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana Garcia were shot on 9 May, raising the death toll of journalists this year to eleven. Mexico is the most dangerous country for media workers outside of war zones. Authorities are searching for a motive for their murder. Media rights group Reporters Without Borders are investigating the incident. Mexico’s federal government has been criticised for neither preventing the killing of journalists nor investigating them sufficiently. Although organised crime is often blamed for attacks on media workers, small-town officials and politicians with political or criminal motivations are often suspects in these crimes. Crimes against freedom of expression occur daily. It is not clear if Mollinedo or Garcia were enrolled in a federal protection programme for journalists and human rights defenders. Several of the journalists killed this year had made contact with the programme at some point. Although President Obrador promises a ‘zero impunity’ policy when investigating such slayings, he continues his regular verbal attacks against journalists critical of his administration.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 05 May 2022 23:50

Costa Rica: Church needs prayer

Evangelicals in Costa Rica grew to 15% of the population, and established one of Latin America’s most effective mission movements. But the Church needs prayer. Most churches are good at winning converts, but fail to disciple them well. Pastors survive on minimal incomes with little help and struggle to provide consistent pastoral care. Christians often fall away in difficult times. Pray for effective and sustainable models of doing church and making disciples. The Roman Catholic Church is deeply impacted by charismatic renewal. Some have a living, personal faith in Christ, which has strengthened them. Although 73% of the nation is Catholic, this percentage declines every year, and most Catholics are quite nominal in their faith. Pray for charismatic renewal. Two-thirds of Costa Ricans are under 30. Alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and immorality are rife.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 21 April 2022 20:36

Mexico: Christians are persecuted

Christians are the majority of Mexico’s total population, but they are targeted by unlawful gangs for speaking out against criminal operations and violence. Cartels violently try to silence them. In rural indigenous communities, anyone turning away from traditional religious beliefs faces rejection and punishment in the form of fines, imprisonment, and forced displacement. Non-discrimination laws mean that any links between Christian faith and politics are placed under very strict legal scrutiny. In areas controlled by criminals or drug cartels, young Christian men are exposed to forced enrolment. Those who do not accept it face threats, potential abduction, and even death. Families are bribed and intimidated to force their children to obey the gangs. Church leaders are victims of blackmail because they have access to church funds. Mexico also has the highest rate of human trafficking in the world. Women are easy targets.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 10 March 2022 20:23

Venezuela: USA meets Maduro

With fears that the war in Ukraine could push global energy prices even higher, Washington recently met Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to discuss conditions for repealing the crippling US sanctions in place against his country. Washington, which broke off relations in 2019 over Maduro’s rigged elections and crackdowns on opposition protests, is reportedly demanding free and fair presidential elections and extensive reforms to the Venezuelan oil sector. Maduro, for his part, wants an end to the sanctions and to be readmitted to the SWIFT global financial platform. Venezuela is a close ally and partner of Russia. Some members of Congress have criticised any effort to rekindle relations, saying that efforts to isolate Putin should not boost other authoritarian leaders. Aside from the political whiplash of resuming oil trade, Venezuela’s oil fields have long suffered from mismanagement. Some industry analysts say it could be slow to increase supply. See

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A court in Nicaragua has found seven critics of the government of Daniel Ortega guilty of conspiracy in what human rights groups have denounced as a ‘political trial’. Among those convicted are three opposition leaders who had planned to run in the 2021 election. Dozens of government critics were detained in the run-up to the poll, in which Mr Ortega won a fifth term. In a trial held at El Chipote prison behind closed doors, the judges found the seven guilty of ‘conspiracy to undermine national integrity’. The prosecution has asked for sentences ranging between eight and 13 years. This is the latest in a wave of trials against opponents of Ortega. Earlier in February, two of his most outspoken critics - Dora Téllez and Lesther Alemán - were also found guilty of conspiracy in trials dismissed by rights groups as a ‘sham’. Recently, another jailed opposition leader, Hugo Torres, died while awaiting trial.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:40

Brazil: violence against women surges

The Brumadinho dam disaster in 2019 killed 270 people and caused extensive environmental damage that affected the livelihoods of 944,000 people. Men were brought in to carry out repairs, and violence against women increased at home and outside the home. This was attributed partly to the influx of the new workers and partly to households under pressure when livelihoods collapsed. On the third anniversary of the disaster, women have described the effects on them when drinking-water supplies were destroyed, as well as fisheries and other sources of income. They said that their livelihoods, particularly in agriculture and fishing, had been ‘extinguished’ because of contamination, shortages of water and lack of investment in production. Christian Aid said, ‘Families have been torn apart and the community remains devastated three years on. It is chilling to understand countless women have been subjected to the horrors of gender-based violence.’

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:35

Ecuador: deadly landslides

Landslides triggered by heavy rain and flooding have sent mud waves three metres high across Quito, killing at least 24 and seriously injuring 48; many more are missing. Residents could not save anything as mud carried away motorcycles, cars, trees, telegraph poles and anything not bolted down. It was the worst landslide in almost twenty years. Government rescue workers, hearing cries for help from people trapped below the mud, called for everyone to keep quiet so they could hear survivors. The rescue operations remain dangerous as smaller mud waves continue to cascade from the mountains. Pray for residents and rescue workers in danger of being buried as soil from the mountain continues to shift. Authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility of another major landslide in the area. Most of Quito’s 2.7 million people have been taken to shelters, some suffering from hypothermia. Authorities have called for three days of mourning to remember the victims.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 03 February 2022 20:21

Mexico: four journalists killed in a month

A fourth journalist has been killed in Mexico in a month, drawing condemnation from freedom-of-the-press groups. Roberto Toledo, a 55-year-old lawyer, was gunned down by three men in a parking area by the law office where he worked. Three other journalists have been killed so far this year. ‘His death underscores the incredibly dangerous situation that journalists across Mexico are having to contend with as they try to go about their daily work.’ said Natalie Southwick, programme coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group condemned the attack on social media and urged Mexican authorities to investigate. Mexico has offered bodyguards and bulletproof vests to vulnerable journalists in the past, but it hasn’t been enough. Tourist drug demand is bringing cartel violence to Mexico’s most popular resorts.

Published in Worldwide
Thursday, 27 January 2022 20:07

Peru: oil spill an ecological disaster

The Peruvian government has asked for international support after 6,000 barrels of crude oil washed onto beaches in the ‘worst ecological disaster’ in recent history. Tonga’s volcano eruption caused unusual waves to disrupt an oil tanker unloading crude oil at Repsol oil refinery, and an underwater pipeline ruptured during the process. Twenty-one beaches are ‘a serious risk to health’, and the oil slick is the size of 320 football fields. Hundreds of fishermen are without work; two protected marine reserves for sea otters, Humboldt penguins and red-legged cormorants have been destroyed. A marine biologist said, ‘We are watching the destruction of the Peruvian marine ecosystem and the livelihoods of those who depend on it, because neither Repsol nor the state has the capacity to respond.’ The oil will be in the sea for months, affecting fauna, food and health. Dead seals, fish and birds are washing up on oil-covered beaches.

Published in Worldwide

Amnesty International, in a new report called They Are Girls Not Mothers, found draconian abortion laws and systemic failure to tackle child sexual violence have forced girls as young as ten years old to carry out full-term pregnancies. The report focuses on sexual violence against children - specifically girls under the age of 14 - who become pregnant and are forced to carry the pregnancy to term. It also analyses the failures of the system in Paraguay to address cases of sexual violence against children and teenagers. Amnesty International said Paraguay is turning its back on girls and teenagers facing unimaginable abuses. Although on paper there is a legal framework to support survivors of sexual violence, in practice they are at the mercy of a chaotic system that does not listen to them or prioritise their well-being. Forcing someone to continue with a pregnancy, particularly when it is the result of rape, can be considered torture.

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