Thursday, April 7, 2016

Briefs ahead of Peru's election this Sunday (April 7, 2016)

Peru election briefs ahead of Sunday's presidential election: 
  • The disgraced Fujimori family is poised for a comeback in Peru's presidential elections this weekend, reports the Washington Post, which focuses on the fine line front-runner Keiko Fujimori is toeing as she attempts to distance herself from her jailed authoritarian father's offenses, while taking credit for his accomplishments.

  • The Associated Press has a feature on the varied memories Peruvians have of her father, Alberto Fujimori's government. On the one hand he was successful in crushing Shining Path guerrillas, but on the other, he used the army to shut down Congress, reorganized the country's judiciary and created a new constitution that permitted him to stay in power. While half of the population says they will never vote for his daughter, rural voters feel the country needs a strong hand to keep violence at bay, according to the piece.
  • It's not that Keiko is being unfairly blamed for her fathers' sins. A piece in Americas Quarterly notes that she served as First Lady during the elder Fujimori's government tenure. Sixteen years and one failed presidential bid, she appears to have finally struck the right balance between history and the future, writes Robert Kozak. The piece reviews the Fujimori era and the general situation leading up to the election. La República has an article remembering Fujimori's "self coup" in 1992 and the forced sterilization of indigenous women in that period.
  • Despite her successful campaign, Keiko Fujimori will likely fall shy of the 50 percent needed to win outright, and will head to a second round on June 5. An Ipsos poll from last weekend gave her a 40.8 percent intent of the vote, reports Reuters.
  • Her nearest competitors are investment darling, 77-year-old center-right former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and a 35-year-old left-wing member of Congress, Verónika Mendoza. (See Monday's post.) PPK could still (!) be eliminated for engaging in illegal vote buying. (See below on the war of attrition against leading candidates by the electoral court.)
  • La Mula has the roundup on the candidate's final campaign promises and scandals.
  • More than 30,000 people took to the streets of Lima earlier this week (see yesterday's briefs), and in demonstrations around the country and in cities around the world, against Fujimori's candidacy. (Check out La Mula's roundup of "Keikonova".) The street is a new front in the Peruvian election, according to political scientist Carmen Ilizarbe, interviewed in El País. She points to youth protests against Fujimori over the weekend and on Tuesday as a form of expression in a political arena with limited room for debate.
  • Foreign Affairs has a piece on how the relatively last minute elimination of leading candidates in this election "has already exposed cracks in the positive façade that Peru has tried to present to the outside world. In particular, the (electoral court's) intervention raises the specter of political capture of the judiciary." (See March 16's post.) OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro criticized the expulsion of candidates ahead of the election, reports the Global Post
News Briefs
  • Slain Honduran environmental leader Berta Cáceres' family and fellow activists accompanied by Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional, met with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, and emphasized their demand for an independent, international and interdisciplinary investigation into her death last month. They also noted that the newly instituted Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras (MACCIH) is not an appropriate body to carry out such an investigation, as it's focus is corruption and it lacks appropriate faculties.
  • Her daughter Bertha Isabel Zuniga Cáceres also  met with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Honduran officials in Washington DC to call for an independent investigation into her mother’s killing, reports the Guardian. The killing of Cáceres and a fellow activist, Nelson García two weeks later, has increased pressure on the Honduran government to fulfill commitments to strengthen protection for activists and indigenous rights. (See March 4's and March 17's posts.) The Guardian piece quotes WOLA's Adriana Beltrán who says the assassinations show the fragility of the country. "It’s a test not only of capacity but the will of the Honduran government and authorities to investigate these types of attacks and killings against environmental and other human rights defenders." 
  • CICIG teaser: The head of Guatemala's U.N. led corruption commission, Ivan Velásquez has promised that the CICIG, together with the country's public ministry, have advanced in new investigations which could come to light in upcoming weeks, reports Soy 52.
  • The Dominican LGBT community is striding forward on a country where gays have bene expected to lead double lives. This year there are openly gay candidates for the first time, and last month, the American Embassy helped start a L.G.B.T. chamber of commerce. A national conversation about prejudice and tolerance has been spurred by the U.S. ambassador Wally Brewster who took up his post in 2013, accompanied by his husband, and has supported gay rights groups, writes Ernesto Londoño in a New York Times op-ed.
  • A report presented in Brazil's Congress yesterday supports the case for impeaching President Dilma Rousseff who is accused of using loans from state banks to plug a massive budget hole in violation of the nation’s financial responsibility laws, reports the Wall Street Journal. She denies the allegations. The report, by Jovair Arantes, the commission's special investigator and close ally of Rousseff enemy house Speaker Eduardo Cunha, was widely anticipated, reports the Associated Press. It will now be evaluated by a 65-member special committee of the lower chamber, likely on Monday. Their recommendation will then go to the full Chamber of Deputies, who are expected to hold a final vote on whether to send the case to the Senate for trial on April 17. At the heart of the matter is whether the crime is sufficient for impeachment (as her opponents say) or merely a subterfuge to get rid of Rousseff (as her supporters say). 
  • Panama backstory: thNew York Times has a front-page piece on Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the dynamic duo of lawyers leading the firm at the heart of the world-wide scandal stemming from 11.5 million leaked documents that show how world leaders and the rich and famous have used shell companies to stow away cash. The leak has brought unwelcome scrutiny on Panama, just as the country has been attempting to shed it's reputation as a haven for the corrupt.
  • In his first in-depth interview since the reports on the leaked documents started coming out last wekeend, Jürgen Mossack said his firm did nothing wrong by selling some 240,000 shell companies registered in low- or no-tax territories around the world, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The latest energy saving measure in Venezuela: long weekends for public employees, who will have Fridays off for the next two months, reports the Associated Press. President Nicolás Maduro said he hopes to save 20 percent on electricity consumption. Venezuela depends on hydropower for more than half of its electricity, and has been affected by a severe drought this year, along with what critics say is a lack of investment and maintenance in energy infrastructure, reports Reuters.
  • History buffs will enjoy a Miami Herald piece on a set of revolutionary hero Simón Bolivar's guns, that will go on auction next week. They are believed to be a gift from the Marquis d Lafayette, and the piece also notes the admiration of the Washington family for the younger Latin American revolutionary.a

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