Monday, August 15, 2011

22 Years Later, Justice in El Salvador?


Almost 22 years ago, a group of Salvadoran military officers attacked and massacred six priests, an employee and her daughter at the University of Central America. El Salvador’s Supreme Court is now considering whether to extradite a group of retired militaries responsible for the massacre or try them at home.

Nine retired generals voluntarily turned themselves in last week at a military garrison in San Salvador and the case was immediately turned over to a civilian court. The case has become a source of hot debate in the country, as some Salvadorans argue that these are wounds of the past and should not be reopened. Retired military officers and their families protested the decision to hear the case in front of the Spanish embassy, arguing that respect should be given to the ex-militaries and the Court should consider what is best for the nation as a whole.

The case has extended to Spain, where Supreme Court justice Velasco solicited the capture of several Spanish militaries also involved in the massacre. The international nature of this case has opened up an unresolved debate of broader implications about universal justice and national rights. At what point must we put our national communities aside in order to achieve justice?

According to the Miami Herald, several perpetrators involved in the massacre remain unscathed in various locations across the U.S. Following President Obama’s recent ban on entry visas to anyone having committed serious violations, the editorial urged that the policy be extended to those already living within the U.S, allowing for justice to be served.

News Briefs

  • Due to various corruption scandals, Brazil President Rousseff was forced to fire her minister of defense, Nelson Jobim last week. In a controversial decision, he will be replaced by Celso Amorim, a ‘seasoned political veteran’ and leftist ally of the President. According to Southern Pulse, the appointment could lead to both positive and negative effects on military cooperation in the region.
  • As Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos faces upcoming local elections in October, he is also facing several ongoing security challenges which could have a direct impact on the election outcome. Southern Pulse reports on the various internal and external factors Santos must monitor as he enters his second year in office.
  • Mexico’s official National Human Rights Commission issued a complaint on Friday accusing Mexican security forces of illegal searches, planting evidence, and stealing people’s possessions, reports the NY Times. According to the recommendation by the Commission, violations have sharply increased in the last year and sometimes include the use of force and violence against victims. IPS covers the extensive dangers against human rights activists and defenders by Mexican security forces.
  • InSight Crime and a McClathy Mexico Blog analyze the White House decision to single out Los Zetas as one of the four criminal groups which pose a threat to ‘the stability of international and economic systems.’ Both articles question whether the Sinoaloa Cartel is actually the driving force behind rising destabilization and violence in Mexico.
  • As the global economy continues to weaken, Brazil may present an alternative for foreigners looking for a place to relocate and invest, according to an intriguing NY Times piece. American, British, and other European educated professionals are flocking to the region with a ‘gold-rush mindset’ looking to start new enterprises. Brazil bounced back remarkably well from the 2008 recession with a 7.5 percent growth rate last year and about 4 percent this year.
  • According to BN Americas, Latin America’s judicial system is lacking in its ability to tackle increasing cybercrime in the region. While laws exist in some countries, their implementation and quality do not meet the standards necessary to monitor cybercrime.
  • As a central piece of her re-election campaign, leftist President Cristina Kirchner is touting Argentina’s relative economic success and growth in contrast to the faltering global economy. Political opponents and economic analysts argue that Argentina’s economy may not be as strong as Kirchner says it is, due to inflation, loose monetary policy, and high government spending. Regardless, the NY Times reported last night that Kirchner came out far ahead of her opponents in the first national primary, winning 49 percent of the vote.
  • In response to conservative criticisms of the Washington Post’s coverage of the issue, Patrick Pexton provides a complete timeline of links to the publication’s coverage of the ATF’s Fast and Furious program.
  • Along with the Inter-American Development Bank and the University of Chile, the Open Society Institute announced a call for proposals promoting the ‘design and implementation of effective crime prevention practices in Latin America and the Caribbean,’ opening on August 15th and ending September 16th. Details here.
  • Brazilian judge Patricia Acioli was shot dead on Friday in the city of Niteroi by two unidentified men on motorbikes, reports BBC and la Veja. Acioli was known for her work against organized crime, corrupt police officers, and vigilante gangs.