Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Moreno won Ecuador's run-off, opposition alleges fraud (April 4, 2017)

Ecuador's electoral council still has not officially proclaimed a winner in Sunday's presidential run-off. But with 99 percent of the vote counted, Lenín Moreno seems to have won with 51 percent of the votes. Yesterday the incumbent party candidate received calls from foreign leaders, and appeared in a government act in which assured citizens that he would "be a president for everybody," but especially the country's poor, reports El Universo.

Nonetheless, supporters of conservative Guillermo Lasso, who obtained 49 percent of the vote on Sunday, have protested outside electoral offices calling foul and demanding a recount, reports La Hora. In a press conference yesterday Lasso said his CREO-SUMA alliance had won 51 percent.

OAS observers found no evidence of fraud in Sunday's vote, congratulated Moreno and urged Lasso to take his appeals to electoral authorities, reports the Wall Street Journal. The presidents of Peru, Chile and Argentina have already called Moreno to congratulate him, as well as the OAS’s secretary-general.

Though Moreno represents a remnant of the regional pink-tide, U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 marked him as open to seeking common ground with American interests, according to the Miami Herald.

Indeed, he is seen as a leftist who will seek to bridge angry divisions. Yet he might not have the luxury of following a moderate path if the standoff with Lasso prolongs and obliges him to seek support from a more radical base, according to the Washington Post.

The Herald emphasizes the divided nature of the country Moreno would inherit and a potentially large budget shortfall according to some analysts.

A piece in Americas Quarterly from last week looks at how the indigenous community turned away from the ruling Alianza País party, an example of some of the legacy Moreno inherits.

News Briefs
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange taunted Lasso -- who had pledged to evict him from Ecuador's London embassy within a month. “I cordially invite Lasso to leave Ecuador within 30 days (with or without his tax haven millions),” he tweeted, in reference to allegations the banker has money in offshore accounts, reports the Guardian. Assange, has been holed up in the embassy for five years, since being granted asylum by the current president, Rafael Correa. He is apparently making overtures towards the winner, and posted two secret US diplomatic cables on Moreno that describe the politician in flattering terms yesterday.

  • Bodies are piling up in decomposing in the understaffed morgue in Mocoa, Colombia, after a flood of water and debris killed over 272 people over the weekend, reports the New York Times. The mudslides might have particularly affected children, who were in bed asleep at the time the disaster struck, reports the Guardian. One school alone, the Educational Institute of Mocoa City, lost 60 students, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The OAS Permanent Council called on Venezuela yesterday to restore the full authority of the National Assembly and to restore democratic order by exercising democracy and the rule of law under the constitution, reports Reuters. The session was called after Venezuela's Supreme Court effectively took power from the legislative branch last week, and apparently reversed its decision over the weekend. (See yesterday's post.)
  • A very interesting piece by Antigua and Barbuda's OAS ambassador calling for a "long overdue" revision of the organization's charter and procedural rules which are promoting dysfunction. "The Permanent Council meeting of March 28 was held in conditions that set its failure even before it started. In no other diplomatic circumstances has any country been discussed with a view to negotiating resolution of a crisis, in the full glare of the media and on live television. There was no opportunity for frank and confidential discussion or for negotiation and compromise. Consequently, the slanging match ensued, blinkered and deafened. The OAS is an ailing organization. Its charter is not relevant to its time; its procedures are ill defined and the lines of authority, particularly between the Permanent Council and the secretary-general are unclear; and it is starved of the financial resources it needs."
  • Venezuela's money supply increased by over 200 percent over the past year, putting it on track for the world's highest inflation, reports Reuters.
  • Thousands of people gathered outside of Paraguay's Congress yesterday to protest a constitutional amendment that would allow presidential reelection, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Since assuming office two months ago, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's administration has sent signals that it will not bow down to the international community, reports the Miami Herald. The strongest message was last week in the OAS, where accused hemispheric diplomats of orchestrating a “cosmetically disguised” coup in Venezuela by trying to suspend the country from the OAS, counter to the U.S. position. But the government also refused to renew the mandate of the U.N.'s independent human rights expert and also appointed the president of a political party linked to alleged drug trafficker Guy Phillipe to head the country's public security. The results could be a strain between Haiti's relationship with the U.S. and others in the region, according to the Herald.
  • The latest in the perennial search to identify the world's most violent zones: 43 of the 50 most murderous cities in the world last year, and eight of the top ten countries, are in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports the Economist based on data from Igarapé Institute. Though El Salvador and its capital continue to top the rankings, their homicide rates have improved somewhat. "However, spikes in violence in neighbouring countries suggest that anti-gang policies are merely redistributing murders geographically rather than preventing them."
  • The death of a school girl in crossfire between police and gang members in a Rio de Janeiro favela has once more raised questions about military-style police operations. Killings as a result of “opposition to police intervention” have risen across the state and officers frequently escape punishment, reports the New York Times.
  • Two former congressmen and an ex-mayor have been arrested in Guatemala for allegedly using illicit funds to finance a political party, reports the Associated Press. The three are linked to the Lider party, and are under investigation by the Public Ministry and CICIG, according to Soy 502. The former legislators are Manuel Barquín y Jaime Martínez Lohayza. Investigators estimate the ring laundered about $33 million through about 200 fictitious companies.
  • CICIG is among the most trusted institutions in Guatemala, along with the Public Ministry, and followed by the Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches, according to a new poll, reports Nómada. In the meantime, the armed forces and the private sector have little confidence from the public.
  • Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt will be sent to trial for the case of the Las Dos Erres massacre -- the second  time he will be charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, reports Jo-Marie Burt in the International Justice Monitor. The massacre in question "took place over three days in early December 1982 and was carried out by a counterinsurgency unit known as the Kaibiles. At the time, Rios Montt was de facto president and commander-in-chief of the army. Over 200 residents of Las Dos Erres, a newly settled community in Peten, were killed in the massacre. Soldiers raped girls and women before killing them. They bludgeoned villagers, including children, to death and tossed many into a community well."
  • U.S. President Donald Trump has offered Peru aid in the wake of devastating flooding that killed over 100 people so far, reports EFE.
  • Mexico's economy in the Trump era is far less catastrophic than initial panicked predictions would have led one to believe, according to Bloomberg.
  • The Guardian has an account of the insanely unsafe flight supplying illegal miners in Brazil's Amazon Basin. 

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