International Roundup

By Agencies

A Roman Catholic bishop who has criticized the Nicaraguan government will stand trial on charges of conspiracy and spreading false information, a court ruled Tuesday.

Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez, shown seated and dressed as a civilian at Tuesday’s hearing, will remain under house arrest, according to the government outlet El 19 Digital.

Álvarez was arrested along with several other clergy last August in a pre-dawn raid at his church residence.

President Daniel Ortega’s government has moved systematically to silence voices of dissent, arresting dozens of opposition leaders in 2021, including seven potential challengers for the presidency. The crackdown continued last year after he won a fourth consecutive term.

Álvarez had been a key religious voice in discussions of Nicaragua’s future since 2018, when Ortega initiated the crackdown in response to a wave of protests against his government.


Colombia’s Vice President said on Tuesday that her security team found more than seven kilos of explosives buried next to a rural road that leads to her home in the southwestern province of Cauca. She described the incident as an assassination attempt.

Francia Marquez shared a police report on her Twitter account which says a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the bomb, which was made of ammonium nitrate, powdered aluminum and shrapnel, and that anti-explosives officers blew it up in a controlled explosion on Monday.

The vice president, who has previously faced death threats, described it as a new assassination attempt that won’t stop her advocacy for peace and equality.

Marquez is Colombia’s first Black vice president. She was elected last September along with President Gustavo Petro, an economist and former guerilla fighter, who is attempting to raise taxes on the wealthy, increase government spending and start peace talks with the nation’s remaining rebel groups.

efore she entered politics, Marquez led protests against mining companies and illegal miners operating in Cauca and was forced to leave her home village of Suarez, due to death threats.

The environmental activist rose to fame last year when she participated in presidential primaries, and helped President Petro secure votes in the nation’s Afro Colombian communities and also among women and young people inspired by her life story. Marquez currently heads the Ministry of Equality, a new agency that seeks to ensure women and ethnic minorities have equal access to the government’s social programs.

“We will not stop working day by day to achieve the total peace that Colombia dreams of and requires” she wrote on Twitter.


“No amnesty! No amnesty! No amnesty!”

The chant reverberated off the walls of the jam-packed hall at the University of Sao Paulo’s law college on Monday afternoon. 

Within hours, it was the rallying cry for thousands of Brazilians who streamed into the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, penned on protest posters and banners.

The words are a demand for retribution against the supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed Brazil’s capital Sunday, and those who enabled the rampage.

“These people need to be punished, the people who ordered it need to be punished, those who gave money for it need to be punished,” Bety Amin, a 61-year-old therapist, said on Sao Paulo’s main boulevard. 

The word “DEMOCRACY” stretched across the back of her shirt. “They don’t represent Brazil. We represent Brazil.”

Protesters’ push for accountability evokes memories of an amnesty law that for decades has protected military members accused of abuse and murder during the country’s 1964-85 dictatorship. 

A 2014 Truth Commission report sparked debate over how Brazil has grappled with the regime’s legacy.

Declining to mete out punishment “can avoid tensions at the moment, but perpetuates instability,” Luis Felipe Miguel, a professor of political science at the University of Brasilia, wrote in a column entitled “No Amnesty” published Monday evening. 

“That is the lesson we should have learned from the end of the military dictatorship, when Brazil opted not to punish the regime’s killers and torturers.”

Brazilian police on Monday had already rounded up roughly 1,500 rioters, some were caught in the act of trashing Brazil’s Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace. 

Most were detained the following morning at an encampment in Brasilia and many were held in a gymnasium throughout the day, and video shared on pro-Bolsonaro social media channels showed some complaining about poor treatment in the crowded space.

Almost 600 who were elderly, sick, homeless or mothers with their children were released Tuesday after being questioned and having their phones inspected, the Federal Police said in a statement. 

Its press office previously told The AP that the force plans to indict at least 1,000 people..

The administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva says jailing the rioters is only the start.

Justice minister Flávio Dino vowed to prosecute those who acted behind the scenes to summon supporters on social media and finance their transport on charges involving organized crime, staging a coup, and violent abolition of the democratic rule of law. Authorities also are investigating allegations that local security personnel allowed the destruction to proceed unabated.

“We cannot and will not compromise in fulfilling our legal duties,” Dino said. “This fulfillment is essential so such events do not repeat themselves.”

Lula signed a decree, now approved by both houses of Congress, ordering the federal government to assume control of security in the capital.

Far-right elements have refused to accept Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat. Since his Oct. 30 loss, they have camped outside military barracks in Brasilia, pleading for intervention to allow Bolsonaro to remain in power and oust Lula. When no coup materialized, they rose up themselves.


Russian forces are escalating their onslaught against Ukrainian positions around the wrecked city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian officials said, bringing new levels of death and devastation in the grinding, monthslong battle for control of eastern Ukraine that is part of Moscow’s wider war.

“Everything is completely destroyed. There is almost no life left,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday of the scene around Bakhmut and the nearby Donetsk province city of Soledar.

“The whole land near Soledar is covered with the corpses of the occupiers and scars from the strikes.This is what madness looks like,” Zelenskyy said.

The Kremlin, whose invasion of its neighbor 10 1/2 months ago has suffered numerous reversals, is hungry for victories. 

Russia illegally annexed Donetsk and three other Ukrainian provinces in September, but its troops have struggled to advance.

After Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson in November, the battle heated up around Bakhmut.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Malyar, said Russia has thrown “a large number of storm groups” into the fight for the city. 

“The enemy is advancing literally on the bodies of their own soldiers and is massively using artillery, rocket launchers and mortars, hitting their own troops,” she said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk region’s Kyiv-appointed governor, on Tuesday described the Russian attacks on Soledar and Bakhmut as relentless.

“The Russian army is reducing Ukrainian cities to rubble using all kinds of weapons in their scorched-earth tactics,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “Russia is waging a war without rules, resulting in civilian deaths and suffering.”

Wounded soldiers arrive around the clock for emergency treatment at a Ukrainian medical stabilization center near the front line around Bakhmut. Medics fought for 30 minutes Monday to save a soldier, but his injuries were too severe.

Another soldier suffered a head injury after a fragment pierced his helmet. Medics quickly stabilized him enough to transfer him to a military hospital.

“We fight to the end to save a life,” Kostyantyn Vasylkevich, a surgeon and the center’s coordinator, told The Associated Press. “Of course, it hurts when it is not possible to save them.”

The Moscow-backed leader of the occupied areas of Donetsk said Tuesday that Russia’s forces were “very close” to taking over Soledar. But the gains were coming “at a very high price,” Denis Pushilin told Russian state TV.

Control over the city would create “good prospects” for taking over Bakhmut, as well as Siversk, a town further north where Ukrainian fortifications “are also quite serious,” Pushilin said.

The U.K. Defense Ministry concurred with that appraisal of the battle developments. Russian troops alongside soldiers from the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor, have advanced in Soledar and “are likely in control of most of the settlement,” the ministry tweeted Tuesday.

It said that taking Soledar, 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Bakhmut, was likely Moscow’s immediate military objective and part of a strategy to encircle Bakhmut. But it added that “Ukrainian forces maintain stable defensive lines in depth and control over supply routes” in the area.