Brazil's Supreme Court authorized corruption investigations into 74 of the country's most powerful politicians -- including one third of the current cabinet, the leaders of both chambers of Congress and nearly a third of the current Senate. The ruling by Justice Luiz Edson Fachin authorizes prosecutors to start new inquiries into eight cabinet ministers, more than 60 senators and deputies, three state governors and four ex-presidents, according to the Financial Times.
The decision puts President Michel Temer's government under stress at a particularly delicate time, as it struggles to push an unpopular pension reform bill through Congress, notes the Wall Street Journal. Temer faces rock bottom approval ratings, and will now face a race against time to push through economic reforms before his most important advisors are charged.
The investigations, which occur as part of the sprawling Operation Car Wash investigation into corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras, implicate the chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha, Secretary-General of the Presidency Wellington Moreira Franco, and foreign minister, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira.
Many of the allegations, coming from "end of the world" plea-bargain testimony from Odebrecht SA executives, had already been filtered to news media, reports the New York Times. (See March 16's post, for example.)
Yet the very length of the list of investigations authorized somewhat shields the government, according to WSJ sources. Politicians of all political stripes are represented, and, in fact, analysts say it drastically reduces options for next year's presidential elections. (See yesterday's briefs on "scandal fatigue.)
On that note, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he's ready to run again next year, despite Odebrecht testimony linking him to corruption, reports EFE. (Lula maintains his innocence.)
Other plea-bargain evidence apparently alleges Temer's involvement in corruption, according to Fachin, but the president has temporary immunity from being investigated for acts committed outside of his current mandate, which lasts through next year, explains the NYT. He does however face a potential impeachment over illegal financing of the Rousseff-Temer 2014 presidential campaign. Already the Temer administration has lost seven cabinet members to corruption allegations, in just nine months of governance, notes El País.
- Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had to duck out of a public ceremony under a hail of eggs and blunt objects thrown at him, yesterday evening, reports El País. The event, held in Bolivar state in southern Venezuela, a traditional chavista bastion, was being broadcast live on state channels and transmission was suddenly cut off as bodyguards scrambled to deflect projectiles. (See yesterday's and Monday's posts.)
- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights urged Venezuela's government to respect its citizens’ rights to peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression, and appealed to all parties concerned to renounce violence, reports EFE. Venezuela's government called on the OAS to condemn violent acts by anti-government protesters, after seven Ombudsman offices were attacked by violent groups yesterday, reports TeleSUR.(See yesterday's and Monday's posts.)
- The latest spate of opposition street protests is the most intense since a series of demonstrations in 2014 led to more than 40 deaths, notes the Washington Post.
- Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he will not accept a government decision prohibiting his participation in politics for 15 years, saying the charges are trumped up in order to sideline him. The governor of Miranda state promised the opposition will intensify protests against the Maduro administration, reports the Wall Street Journal. Capriles was considered a front runner for general elections Constitutionally mandated for next year -- in February he had a 49 percent approval rating. (See Monday's post.)
- A Colombian army chief removed from his post in relation to thousands of extrajudicial killings has spent the past year and a half working in Colombia's U.S. embassy as defense attaché, reports the Miami Herald. Army Commander Gen. Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was named in a damning Human Rights Watch report in 2015 on the so-called "false positives" case, in which thousands of civilians were lured away from their homes, executed and passed off as guerrilla fighters. The U.S. government was apparently aware of the Lasprilla's posting.
- The U.N. Security Council favors a proposal by Secretary General Antonio Guterres to withdraw peacekeeper from Haiti after a 13 year presence and focus efforts towards police, human rights and justice, reports the Miami Herald. But the move comes as Haitian lawmakers seek to replace key police officers and replace them with government loyalists. The head of the judicial police who led the operation that nabbed accused drugt rafficker Guy Philippe is reportedly among those targeted. The head of Philippe’s political party, Jeantel Joseph, was sworn in as the head of public security, last week.
- The peacekeeping mission in Haiti has left a mixed record -- an Associated Press investigation found numerous cases of sexual abuse of Haitian women and children by peacekeepers from various countries, but little to no judicial followup for victims.
- Argentine society is again horrified by yet another femicide -- this time that of a young feminist activist, Micaela García, who was found strangled after disappearing in Entre Ríos province. Thousands of demonstrators came to Plaza de Mayo yesterday demanding an end to femicide, reports EFE. The man accused of killing her is on parole from a jail sentence for two previous rapes, leading sectors of society -- including President Mauricio Macri -- to criticize paroling policy. But NiUnaMenos, the collective formed two years ago that has spearheaded the struggle against femicides over the past two years, says it is more important to focus on prevention and non-punitive measures, reports El País.
- In Colombia a 40-year-old woman was killed by her ex in a major Bogotá shopping mall, despite having reported his threats to the police and moving cities in an attempt to escape him, reports El País. Colombians have mobilized on social media using the hashtag #todossomosClaudia.
- How to struggle against machismo so entrenched among Brazilian elites that this year the president praised women's unique economic knowledge of supermarket prices and a well-known television star thought sexual harassment of an employee was perfectly acceptable, asks Carol Pires in a New York Times Español op-ed. Leading figures forced to backtrack -- though the president hasn't -- point to changing social mores (that is to say, harassment isn't bad, it's just socially less acceptable). A key effector of change has been mobilization of women -- physically and in social media campaigns, explains Pires.
- Peru is proposing to loosen air quality regulations in some parts of the country, a bid to attract bids for for a nearly century-old polymetallic smelter, reports Reuters.
- A Peruvian judge ordered 18 months of preventative prison for a sitting governor accused of accepting a $4 million bribe from Odebrecht, reports Reuters.