A protest against the Chilean government in November 2019. Photo courtesy of cameramemories via Flickr.
Today in Latin America

Chilean Police Accused of 1,000s of Human Rights Abuses

July 16, 2020 By Staff

TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA

CHILE: Police and armed forces have been accused of more than 8,500 instances of human rights violations during nationwide protests. 800 of these accusations have been filed as official complaints. The complaints relate to the nationwide protests from October 2019 to January 2020 after years of rising economic inequality and increased  cost of living. Other complaints stems from demonstrations in May calling for more aid from the government during the pandemic.

Prosecutors are currently investigating 466 officers. The violations include police hitting protestors with tear gas bombs, violent attacks against minors, and sexual assault of protestors in custody. There are currently more than 1,000 reported cases of protestors suffering serious injuries at the hands of police during the demonstrations.

497 people who have been accused of committing crimes during the demonstrations against the government are still in custody or facing legal charges. In total, the government has taken legal action against 3,274 people since October of last year. Of the civilians detained, the majority are being charged with “public disorder” or mistreatment of police officers. Around half of the protestors were released in April, but more than 150 demonstrators remain in maximum security prisons.

Headlines from the western hemisphere

SOUTHERN CONE

ARGENTINA: The capital Buenos Aires will move forward with Phase 3 of reopening, despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases. Local businesses, clothing stores, and other shops will open throughout the week. Recreational outings will only be allowed during certain times of day, with civilians being divided by the number on their IDs. Argentina reached a record-high number of cases yesterday, with 4,250 daily cases and 82 deaths.

BRAZIL: President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus a second time after announcing his initial test results last week. Bolsonaro has been in self-isolation since testing positive, and has shown no significant symptoms of the virus. The president is being treated for the virus with the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine. Brazil continues to be one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 2 million people infected and more than 70,000 dead. 

ANDES

COLOMBIA: Human Rights Watch reports that several armed groups have been threatening civilians to comply with their own quarantine measures to combat COVID-19. Nine people have been killed for defying the measures or opposing them. The paramilitary groups have imposed their own lockdown measure in 11 of Colombia’s 32 states. Residents reported not being allowed to leave their homes even if they are sick. Human rights activists are calling for action against the violent groups.

PERU: Since lockdown measures began, 2,457 women have gone missing in Peru, including 1,720 minors. However, the Women and Vulnerable Populations Minister, Gloria Montenegro, said in a press conference that many have already returned home. The Ministry has been working alongside the 400 local women’s emergency centers in the country to try and find the women. Peru is one of the many Latin American countries where lockdown measures are expected to increase violence against women.

CARIBBEAN

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The government announced it will increase the public health system’s capacity to combat the pandemic. Three more hospitals will soon be built, and the amount of money spent on protective equipment for healthcare workers will increase to RD $247 million. A new laboratory will also be built to increase access to COVID-19 testing. Government officials and police will monitor businesses to ensure that they are taking precautions such as enforcing mask wearing and social distancing. The Dominican Republic currently has 47,671 confirmed cases.

CENTRAL AMERICA

GUATEMALA: Only nine doctors are currently on call to attend to the 26,000 people incarcerated in Guatemala’s 22 prisons. Before the coronavirus shutdown began, 16 doctors were on staff, but several have been staying home because they are at high-risk for COVID-19.  The director of the country’s penitentiary system says that there is a budget to hire more doctors, but they have received little interest from health professionals. The director of the office of human rights said that each prison should have at least one doctor available. 35 inmates at one prison are currently awaiting COVID-19 test results, with at least one testing positive so far. 

NICARAGUA: President Daniel Ortega has not appeared in public for 35 days, breaking his previous record of 34 days earlier this year. Ortega was last seen on June 10, when he participated in a virtual conference on the pandemic’s effects on the economy. The government has downplayed the coronavirus, and has been accused of under-reporting the number of cases in the country. The Ministry of Health has reported 1,507 cases and 55 deaths, with the actual numbers expected to be much higher.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: The family members of 170 people who have disappeared in Guanajuato are requesting to meet with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his visit to the state. The families requested the meeting through local human rights organizations. AMLO will visit Guanajuato, Colima and Jalisco, states with high rates of violence, including murders and disappearances. Families of the disappeared say they have not received support at the national level.

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