5 things to know from Latin America & the Caribbean this week: Deaths in Salvadoran prisons, U-20 Men’s World Cup moves to knockout stages

Report: At least 153 people arrested under special powers have died in Salvadoran prisons 

Human rights group Cristosal released a report Monday which said that at least 153 people have died in state custody since March 2022 when El Salvador instituted emergency powers for a gang crackdown, the AP reported.

The report found that none of those who died had been convicted of a crime they were accused of at the time of their arrest. 

The report also found the deaths were the result of torture and systematic and serious injuries. Nearly half of the victims suffered violent deaths. Some of the deaths showed signs they resulted from deliberate denial of medical assistance, medicine and food, including some deaths resulting from malnutrition.

The deaths in the report revealed punitive policies carried out by guards and prison officials. The report stated that such actions would have required authorization and backing by the highest level security officials.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apelsalvadorprisons

Brazil president hosts regional summit, proposes restarting alliance

Brazil’s new leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called a South America Summit in Brasilia on Tuesday that drew all but one of the region’s presidents, the AP reported. All the region’s leaders are men, with the exception of Peru’s President Dina Boluarte, a woman who has recently been the subject of heated protests.

In his opening speech, Lula said the group should discuss creating a currency to challenge the hegemony of the U.S. dollar, as well as a common energy market and integration of the region’s defense and security. He also proposed restarting a defunct alliance now that the region has a greater number of leftist and centrist leaders. 

The Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, was launched in 2008 to boost cooperation, but became largely defunct about a decade later in disputes over leadership. Countries with right-leaning leaders at the time — including Brazil — saw the bloc as having a leftist bent and objected especially to the inclusion of Venezuela’s authoritarian leftist President Nicolás Maduro.

Political analysts say Lula sensed an opportunity for integration because of the political affinities of the region’s current governments, but they say it will be a challenge to have the bloc survive the region’s political shifts and instability.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apbrazilunasur2

Money laundering trial begins against former Panama President 

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli was among some 20 people who went to trial Tuesday on money laundering charges as he tries to mount a political comeback ahead of next year’s national elections, the AP reported.

The case, known locally as “New Business,” dates back to 2017 and concerns the purchase of a publishing company that owns national newspapers. Prosecutors maintain that companies which had won lucrative government contracts during Martinelli’s presidency used a complex series of foreign money transfers to funnel $43 million to “New Business,” a front company that was then used to purchase the publisher.

The former president has denied wrongdoing and is expected to participate in his party’s primaries in July. He is also expected to go to trial later this year in a case related to massive bribes paid by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to win government contracts.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/appanamanewbusiness

U-20 Men’s World Cup moves to knockout stages 

The 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup selected its teams for the knockout round of the tournament over the weekend. Although all the Latino teams from Central America and the Caribbean have been knocked out, the tournament still has strong Latino representation from South American teams still in the running: Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

The United States team continues to win, dominating a knockout match with New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon. After winning 4-0, the United States will continue on to a quarter-final match next Sunday. Another favorite is the national team from Ecuador. After routing Fiji with a historic 9-0 on Friday, Ecuador will face off against the Republic of Korea late Thursday afternoon for a knockout game.

Despite some excitement about the Dominican Republic’s debut at a FIFA tournament, the team performed poorly. The team lost 6-0 to Brazil on Wednesday afternoon and was eliminated at the bottom of their group with no wins, 11 goals against and only one goal in favor.

To find out more, visit: https://fifa.fans/3BPIGGa

August date set for new Ecuador elections

Ecuador’s National Electoral Council announced on Tuesday that early presidential elections would be held on Aug. 20 after President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree last week and brought forward the vote scheduled for 2025.

Lasso’s decision to dissolve the opposition-led legislature came as lawmakers tried to impeach him for not stopping a deal between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company, accusations he denies.

After the president dissolves Congress, the Ecuadorian constitution mandates that special elections for both the assembly and presidency have to be called within three months. Additionally, the winners of the special election would serve out the remainder of the terms of the ousted officials. If there is no outright winner, a runoff vote will be held in October.

Both Lasso and the National Assembly can choose to run in the August elections. In the meantime, Lasso can rule by decree for up to six months –with oversight from Ecuador’s Constitutional Court.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apecuadorelections


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