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Growing concern about Farc members’ safety in Colombia

On 20 April, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc), Colombia’s main insurgent guerrilla group, condemned the murder of one its members amnestied by the government under the recently signed bilateral peace deal agreement, and it called on the government to guarantee the protection of all its members in order to ensure the success of the peace process.  

Permanent protest in Venezuela

“Same time, same place. If we were millions today, tomorrow we’ll be more,” Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski declared after hundreds of thousands of people poured onto streets all over the country on 19 April, the anniversary of the launch of Venezuela’s campaign for independence from Spain in 1810.

Acute dollar shortage at the heart of Venezuela’s latest political crisis

The latest political crisis in Venezuela, in which the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) officially took over the functions of the opposition-controlled National Assembly (AN), only to shed these extra powers in the face of an intense domestic and international backlash, has been driven primarily by economic concerns. Some US$2.2bn in bond debt repayments fall due on 12 April, with renewed concerns about the government’s capacity to make the payment.

Controversial penal code reforms approved despite strong opposition

The conservative ruling Partido Nacional (PN) has managed to squeeze through congress a package of highly contentious reforms to the country’s penal code which, among other things, widen the definition of terrorism to potentially include public protests, and sharply increase legal protections for security forces (police and military). The reforms went through despite being rejected outright by the political opposition and local civil society groups. The day after the 22 February congressional vote, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed serious concerns about the impact of the reforms. This matters, as US congressional scrutiny of the government led by President Juan Orlando Hernández has intensified in the past 18 months.

Green light for Haiti’s Lafontant

In what is a major boost for Haiti’s new president, Jovenel Moïse, who took office in February [RC-17-02], the national legislature last month ratified his choice for prime minister, Dr Jack Guy Lafontant. While the ruling Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK) party of former president Michel Martelly (2011-2016) has a majority in both the lower chamber and the senate, doubts had persisted as to whether Lafontant – a gastroenterologist with little political experience – would muster the necessary votes given his weak support in the legislature. The ratification by both houses of the prime minister and his government plan (traditionally a tortuous process in Haiti) is thus a major step forward in addressing the multiple challenges facing the country, the most immediate of which stem from the damage wreaked by Hurricane Matthew which struck in October last year, causing US$2.7bn in losses.

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