Tuesday, January 30, 2018

O fim da liberdade de manifestação na América Latina?

Under a cloud: Tear gas, violence and new laws are all being used to frighten Latin American protesters into giving up, por Duncan Tucker:

IT’S NOT JUST the clouds of tear gas, the ping of rubber bullets or the prospect of arrest under draconian new laws that Latin Americans have to consider when they take to the streets.

With freedom of expression increasingly under threat, demonstrating in Caracas’ packed plazas, Rio de Janeiro’s hillside slums or Mexico’s rural towns can mean risking one’s life at the hands of oppressive, and largely unrestrained, security forces. (...)

These trends are particularly pronounced in Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico – three of the region’s most politically and economically influential countries – where rampant violence, corruption and inequality are set to shape their respective elections in 2018.

As opposition to Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, has hardened this year, so too has the state response. Faced with mounting public anger over severe inflation, insecurity, political repression and desperate shortages of food and medicine, Maduro’s government has passed several laws to criminalise protesters.

Recent legislation has limited the movement of protesters and justified force against those who block traffic or hold demonstrations without prior permission. Other new laws allow armed forces to establish order during demonstrations, even permitting use of deadly force if soldiers feel at risk. (...)

Brazil has recently experienced major protests over government corruption and the handling of global sporting events. The right-leaning Michel Temer administration has responded aggressively to the protests, with security forces using truncheons, tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons against demonstrators and journalists.

The government has defended the deployment of soldiers to “restore order” during demonstrations, but the CELS report notes that security forces are inadequately trained for this work. Military police are often accused of extrajudicial executions and unnecessary use of force, but rarely face charges.
Activists have denounced police surveillance of social networks and the phone tapping of protesters, who risk conspiracy charges over the mere possibility that they could commit violent acts. Other common charges include contempt, threat, resistance or disobedience for resisting or verbally denouncing violent or illegal police behaviour. (...)

In Mexico, the centrist Enrique Peña Nieto administration has taken significant flak over corruption scandals, a stagnant economy, record levels of drug-related violence and the disappearance of 43 student activists in 2014. The state has sought to limit dissent through stringent regulations and faces accusations of using violent intimidation tactics.

Mexican authorities have passed or submitted at least 17 local and federal initiatives to regulate demonstrations in the past three years, including legislation that gives authorities broad powers to break up protests, restrict the movement of participants and demand advance notice of demonstrations.

In parts of Mexico, the lines between the state and organised crime are so blurred that journalists and activists are at almost equal risk from corrupt security forces and drug cartels. In extreme cases, demonstrators have suffered torture, sexual violence, forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution.

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