In Brazil, a congressional bill that would roll back gun control measures will be voted on in a committee hearing today. Three OSF grantees wrote an op-ed in yesterday's O Globo questioning the proposal, saying that the current law has saved 160 000 lives. Among the suggested changes: lowering the the minimum age for the purchase of weapons from 25 to 21; increasing the number of weapons you can purchase from 6 to 9 and the number ammunition from 300 to 5,400 per year. Also: loosening the rules on advertising for the sale of weapons and ammunition, currently restricted to specialized publications. The op-ed was written by leaders at Instituto Igarapé, the Instituto Sou da Paz) and at Viva Rio. (On a technological note: the Brazilian Congressman who is sponsoring the bill had a public video chat on his legislation earlier this week.)
El Salvador's Supreme Court declared street gangs, like Marasalvatrucha (MS-13) and those who finance them would be deemed "terrorist groups," according to the Associated Press and Diario La Página. "It defined terrorism as the organized and systematic exercise of violence" and found that "telephone wiretaps and the freezing of funds belonging to third parties tied to terrorist groups are constitutional."
Mexican NGOs Desarma México and the Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos report that armed violence has claimed the lives of 80 thousand people in the last five years, according to Proceso. As Mexico is hosting the Arms Trade Treaty in Cancun, they are pushing for the Mexican government "to provide all end-user data to exporters" in order to "prevent arms and ammunition imported legally be diverted into the hands of criminals." Read more about the Arms Trade Treaty conference on Desarma Mexico's page.
- Guatemala's President Pérez Molina gets his own NYTimes editorial this morning as he is "on the cusp" of being brought down, with a lot of credit going to CICIG. "In a region where judicial institutions are notoriously weak, politicized and corrupt, the transformation of Guatemala’s rule of law sector is a rare success story." While the Times thinks Pérez Molina is heading to jail, an essay in Insight Crime is skeptical. Separately: a story on Public Radio International debates whether there is a Central American Spring or not.
- Leaders in El Salvador's GANA and PCN parties do not want a CICIG counterpart - they say their own anti-corruption institutions work just fine, according to El Mundo. ARENA put forth a proposal for such a possibility.
- Tomorrow (Friday) the event 'El Futuro de la Política de Drogas en Chile' (see program) will be held in Congress and will include UNASUR's president (and former Colombian President) Ernesto Samper. It is convened by 'Diálogos Suramericanos Sobre Drogas' a multi-country conference that will also convene evensats in Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia, according to El Espectador. On Monday, Samper will be in Montevideo for the 'II Reunión Extraordinaria del Consejo Suramericano sobre el Problema Mundial de las Drogas', according to Uruguay's El Pais.
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime announced last week that Bolivia had reduced the amount of land planted with coca for the fourth year running, according to Mac Margolis' oped in Bloomberg who suggests that the steep retreat in Bolivia "was achieved far from the gimlet eye of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency." Pres. Morales kicked out the DEA in 2008. However, Bolivia focuses on the reduction of coca leaf and not on how much is being converted to cocaine.
- Former Brazilian opposition presidential candidate Aecio Neves (runner up in 2014) took bribes from a corruption scheme, according to an accusation by convicted Brazilian money launderer Alberto Youssef at a congressional hearing, reports Reuters. For her part, Pres. Rousseff was given 15 more days by Brazil's highest accounting court "to respond to accusations she doctored the government accounts last year to hide the deterioration of the country's finances," according to Reuters. Separately, the president's Chief of Staff is now under investigation for bribery, also according to Reuters.
- Brazil's Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, denies there was a secret deal to shield some suspects in graft scandal, according to UOL. Janot is overseeing the investigation into the Lava Jato scandal but his term ends on Sept 17. However, he seems more likely than not to be re-confirmed, according to the Wall St Journal who quotes David Fleischer saying, "having Mr. Janot confirmed will keep the investigation going on at the current speed. ... If he is confirmed, he will be there until September of 2017, when many say the Lava Jato investigations will be over. His second mandate will tend to be more difficult than the first."
- Argentina's opposition parties are pushing for transparency measures in October's presidential elections, according to EFE. Meanwhile, the top presidential candidates have "exchanged accusations after protests over alleged vote fraud in a northern province were broken up with tear gas and rubber bullets, reports the Associated Press. With 81% of the vote, he candidate of President Fernandez’s Front for Victory winning by a substantial margin, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune. Separately, Andres Oppenheimer interviews government candidate Daniel Scioli who is leading in the polls; Oppenheimer pessimistically predicts what will happen in a post-Christina Argentina, in his column in the Miami Herald.
- Colombia's and Venezuela's Foreign Ministers met yesterday and promised to ease tensions caused at their shared border, according to the Associated Press. Venezuela's Foreign Minister suggested that Colombia's media was obscuring the truth, according to her press conference yesterday. There was, however, no decision to re-open the border crossing or end the deportations from Venezuela, reports Semana. Among the challenges: smugglers in the border town of Cucuta "purchase gasoline in Venezuela at less than a penny a gallon and resell it for huge profits in Colombia," says the AP. (El Espectador goes deeper on the gasoline issue.)
- The BBC reports that Colombian Pres. Santos has visited the border region, a place that Semana describes as "hell." A photo-essay in The Guardian affirms this characterization. The BBC piece is accompanied by a helpful map of the area. Separately, UNASUR has offered to mediate the crisis, according to El Universal. Even during all of this, Venezuela's border dispute with Guyana has not yet simmered down, reminds a COHA backgrounder.
- Several Colombian political parties are moving forward to ending obligatory military service, according to El Espectador.
- What would be worse than a Bloomberg article showing that Ecuador is pumping oil at a loss? Another Bloomberg headline saying,"Everything Is Going Wrong In Ecuador."
- Mexican Musical Chairs: Agustín Basave Benítez, who recently switched parties from the PRI to the left-of-center PRD is angling for party leadership, according to profiles in Milenio and Proceso. Meanwhile, ex-PAN leader Manuel Espino Barrientos and former supporter of PRI president Peña Nieto is now a federal deputy for the Movimiento Ciudadano (MC), according to Proceso.