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The Nicaraguan regime has a new target. Not content with jailing leading opposition figures, the regime has now taken aim at the Catholic Church. The message, it seems, is that there is room for only one church in this majority-Catholic country: the one that worships President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

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The Lima Group came together in 2017 with the goal of improving human rights and humanitarian conditions in Venezuela. Today, it is clear that the Lima Group failed to achieve its lofty goals. But its experience can offer lessons to Latin America on the challenges similar projects could face in the future.

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads in Spanish “Stop the corrupt ones” outside the National Assembly in Panama City, Panama, March 11, 2018 (AP photo by Arnulfo Franco).

Violence and corruption in Central America, particularly in the Northern Triangle countries, is causing a wave of outward migration. The Trump administration’s restrictive measures and pressure on regional governments did nothing to address the root causes of the problem, which the Biden administration has now pledged to tackle. Meanwhile, efforts at reform across the region face opposition from entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo.

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Recent arrests of priests in Nicaragua would seem to offer a moment for the Catholic Church, which remains influential in Latin America, to galvanize regional governments against the repressive rule of President Daniel Ortega. But while local priests speak out, church leaders have appeared unwilling to do more.

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In July, Guatemalan police arrested Jose Ruben Zamora, one of the country’s most prominent journalists and publisher of El Periodico, a newspaper whose mission is to shine light on corruption. The arrest was an ominous lurch toward authoritarianism in a region where democracy, with its shallow roots, is getting trampled.