The Latin American Report # 224

in #hive-122315last month


Haiti now has a presidential council, but governability is not guaranteed

The Presidential Transitional Council was finally installed by a decree published yesterday, Friday, after much to-ing and fro-ing amidst bullets, blood, legal wrangling, and political stumbling blocks. This council is an ad hoc mechanism promoted by a regional organization—Caricom—, the UN, and countries such as the United States and France. It will exercise the powers provided for the President of the Republic in the Haitian constitution, and its "mandate" will extend until the inauguration of the next Haitian president, which is expected to occur before February 7, 2026. This period seems to me too long for a country that is thirsty for peace but also for sound democracy. Incidentally, the gangs that have mortally battered Haitian institutionality, to the point of preventing Ariel Henry—the controversial prime minister—from returning to the country, are not about to accept the authority of the presidential council. In any case, the decree still leaves doubts, starting from the fact that it does not specify the representatives of the political forces included in the council, among other informative gaps.

Port-au-Prince "burned" (source).

The toll of the onslaught of organized crime in Haiti is unspeakable, so it was said that Port-au-Prince was an open-air prison. The anomie we discover when we continue to learn what has happened cannot be measured. This AP cable refers to several examples, such as that of an 80-year-old patient who was executed in an operating room, and also that of a couple who were decapitated as they were closing their small business on a bloody sunset. There are also the cases of a 7-year-old boy and a sports reporter who were hit by stray bullets. A projectile found the latter in his own home. At any given moment the confrontation between the decimated police and criminal groups overshadows the tenuous peace that at times Haitians may experience, who either flee or—as I have seen in several photographs—even smile as they seek cover in some way in the streets or throw themselves to the ground. It is reported that in one hospital pregnant women must prove that they have purchased fuel to ensure their care, while in the first trimester, more than 60 gang rapes were reported.

20 suspected Haitian migrants found dead on boat in Brazil: police#Haiti #Brazil https://t.co/9eWnjPSJZw

— The Peninsula Qatar (@PeninsulaQatar) April 13, 2024

Alleged Cuban spy sentenced in Miami

Victor Rocha, a former U.S. diplomat who became ambassador to Bolivia—where according to some conspiracy theory contributed to raising the political profile of Evo Morales—, but who also went through strategic positions in other diplomatic legations such as the Interests Section that between 1977 and 2015 operated like the U.S. embassy in Cuba, was sentenced to 15 years in a federal prison yesterday, Friday, after admitting that he acted as an agent in the service of Cuban intelligence agencies. Rocha also served within the National Security Council, and even after his departure from Foggy Bottom was a consultant to the U.S. Southern Command, the division of the U.S. Army charged with overseeing Pentagon interests in Latin America, except for Mexico. The Justice Department has listed his infiltration as one of the most hurtful ever recorded in the government apparatus.

Rocha's covert activity reportedly began at an undetermined time in 1981. "Today's plea brings an end to more than four decades of betrayal and deceit by Mr. Rocha," a senior official at the U.S. Justice Department said yesterday in Miami. "For most of his life, Mr. Rocha lived a lie." The Cuban government has neither denied nor confirmed its relationship with the alleged agent, something assumed—albeit with some mute—in the case of Ana Belén Montes, a former senior analyst for the little-known Defense Intelligence Agency, who otherwise specialized in Cuba. Belén Montes was released from prison in January of last year to finish serving her 25-year sentence. In Rocha's case, I am suspicious of the simple way in which an FBI agent—pretending to be a Cuban security asset—managed to entrap him after making contact with him via WhatsApp.

Cubans in Miami demanding the maximum possible penalty against Rocha (source).

"What we have done...it's enormous. More than a grand slam," Rocha reportedly told the undercover agent about the quality and quantity of his services on behalf of Havana. An agent of his supposed caliber would not have been so careless and vocal in his first exchanges with his Cuban handlers after years of supposed inactivity. Perhaps his 73 years weigh here? The agreement he reached with the prosecutors—which U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom criticized—provides for another three years of supervised release, a fine of half a million dollars, and disclosure of the details of his interactions with Cuban intelligence agencies. However, Washington acknowledges that they will never know the extent of his cooperation with the Island. A representation of the influential "Cuban exile" in Miami charged against Rocha outside the court, as civil complaints against him were introduced.

The investigation of the murder of a Venezuelan military dissident in Chile adds fuel to the diplomatic crisis

I recently commented on the growing tension between Chile and Venezuela about assessing how much the criminal organization known as the Aragua Train—of which Caracas speaks in past tense—is influencing crime rates in Chile and other countries in the region such as Colombia and Perú. Now the prosecutor investigating the kidnapping and murder of a Venezuelan military dissident who escaped in 2017 from prison and ended up a refugee in Chile, is alleging—yet without evidence—that the facts point to a political motivation behind the crime, that everything was forged in Venezuela, and that the Aragua Train executed the operation last February. "[We are] talking about a victim who participated in actions against the Venezuelan government.... [He was] detained for nine months in Venezuela, escaped while detained [there], and [had] political asylum in Chile," said the agent of the Chilean Public Prosecutor's Office. In a non-friendly tone, the Minister of the Interior of Gabriel Boric's government expressed that the Palacio de la Moneda "will demand that Venezuela fulfills its responsibilities". For the time being, the Attorney General in Caracas has said that, although he did not like the nuance of the demands made by Chile, they will respond to them ASAP, while they have already proceeded to "the location of the subjects indicated as allegedly involved in said crime, for their immediate arrest if they are in our territory".

And this is all for our report today. I have referenced the sources dynamically in the text, and remember you can learn how and where to follow the LATAM trail news by reading my work here. Have a nice day.



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"This period seems to me too long..."

And to portend too little to restore some order in the storm of violence that has overwhelmed Haiti. However, that seems par for the course that has been served the Haitian people, who are battered at every port they seek shelter from that storm in. The predation they are subjected to by the institutions and polities that claim to be helping but exacerbates the indigenous brutality that emerges from the chaos endemic there, apparently inherent to a revolution as barbaric and so without regard to the felicity of that hapless people.

Thanks!

The latest reports coming out of Haiti suggest that the council may not even be well grounded yet, as there would be a delaying strategy from the outgoing "government" of Ariel Henry. More fuel for despair. A tragic joke. I will wait for more elements to emerge to update the situation perhaps tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your always sound feedback.