Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Falcón will run against Maduro, MUD rejects candidacy (Feb. 28, 2018)

Venezuelan opposition leader Henri Falcón is defying an opposition call to boycott upcoming April snap presidential elections. He announced his candidacy against President Nicolás Maduro yesterday, saying he is operating independently of the MUD opposition coalition, reports Reuters

The MUD yesterday expelled Falcon and called the vote a farce, saying his candidacy would validate a fraudulent system, reports the BBC. (See last Thursday's post.)

In his speech yesterday Falcón asked the national electoral council (CNE) to postpone the elections and meet a series of conditions very similar to those demanded by MUD negotiators in failed internationally mediated talks, reports Efecto Cocuyo. He particularly urged the participation of international observers, from the U.N. or regional organizations.

Falcón is a former Chavista who defected from the Socialist Party in 2010, and is viewed with suspicion both by government supporters and opposition leaders. He is the former governor of Lara State.

The opposition has pushed for a boycott of the election which lacks guarantees of transparency and freedom.

The national electoral council extended the deadline for registering candidacy for April's election by two days, in response to civil society concerns regarding lack of time, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See yesterday's briefs.)

News Briefs
  • Congressional Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution condemning the Venezuelan government’s proposed presidential contest in April as a “sham election” and calling for the vote to be postponed until minimal electoral standards are met, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Though the U.S. is pressuring Venezuela's government to restore democratic order, it is not opening up to the increasing numbers of refugees fleeing the country, writes Council on Foreign Relations fellow Shannon O'Neil in Bloomberg.  According to the United Nations, 5,000 Venezuelans have fled to Curacao, 20,000 to Aruba, 30,000 to Brazil, 40,000 to Trinidad and Tobago, and more than 600,000 to Colombia.

  • Latin American countries could approve the world's first legally binding agreement to protect environmental defenders in an upcoming Costa Rica meeting of the UN's Economic commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Eclac). The agreement comes as record numbers of environmental activists have been killed in the region -- last year more than two nature protectors murdered every week, reports the Guardian. Though the agreement is expected to pass, diplomats told the Guardian that it's not clear yet how Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil will vote. 
  • A group of U.S. Democratic lawmakers, called on the Inspectors General of the Departments of Justice and State urging them to open an investigation into operations carried out by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-trained and funded vetted units in Mexico in 2010 and 2011. These operations led to the deaths of between 60 and 300 Mexicans, the vast majority of whom were civilians. (See post for June 13, 2017 and briefs for Dec. 21, 2017.)
  • El Salvador's military leaders, including Defense Minister David Munguía Payés, lashed out against an investigation by the country's attorney general's office into three military chiefs accused of covering up the torture of two youths in 2016, at hands of eight members of the army. Munguía Payés said the probe was arbitrary and an abuse of power, reports La Prensa Gráfica. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions responded asking Munguía Payés to respect judicial independence, reports La Prensa Gráfica separately.
  • Haiti recalled its ambassador to the U.N., after the special representative and chief of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) voiced support for a corruption investigation into how  $2 billion in oil loans from Venezuela was spent by former Haitian government officials, reports the Miami Herald. The Haitian government argues that Susan D. Page overstepped her boundaries in voicing support for the investigation and also called on authorities to look into two separate incidents involving alleged police brutality and shootings.
  • In the midst of scandals about foreign aid workers hiring sex workers or exchanging supplies for sex, women in Haiti recall that foreign organization staff would pay far higher prices than locals, reports the Guardian.
  • At least one LGBT person is killed or commits suicide each day in Brazil, according to the NGO Grupo Gay. LGBT homicides rose to 445 in 2017, reports EFE.
  • The standoff between a Panamanian hotel owner and the Trump Organization running the property continued to escalate yesterday -- local police detained a Trump Organization security guard who denied officers access to hotel offices, reports the Washington Post. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Leaders of massive Chilean student protests six years ago, now elected politicians, sent a letter of support to young U.S. activists pushing for gun reform, reports the Guardian. (See last Friday's briefs for an Americas Quarterly piece drawing parallels between the Chilean and U.S. student activism movements.)
  • A Bogotá urbanism initiative in one of the city's poorest districts focuses on children (specifically people under 95 cm) aiming to make the streets more kid friendly and encourage better use of public space, reports the Guardian.

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