Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Honduras nears attorney general pick (June 26, 2018)

Honduras has narrowed down its potential nominees for attorney general to five candidates, in a process that will have significant ramifications for the country's fight against corruption and organized crime. (EFE)

Critero predicts that Honduras' new attorney general will most likely be Solicitor General Abraham Alvarenga Urbina, a former Member of Congress and, according to Critero, a "loyal friend" to President Juan Orlando Hernandez. Criterio reports that technically Alvarenga shouldn't even be in the running for the AG position as he is still serving as solicitor general, which goes against the selection process laws.

This is just one example of the various problems that have been identified with Honduras' attorney general selection process. Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers criticized Honduras for not involving civil society in the process. (See last Friday's brief for more context on the importance of Honduras' attorney general nomination process).

Central America
  • Representatives of President Ortega's government refused to discuss the possibility of early elections, said civil society leaders who are currently in dialogue with Nicaragua's government in efforts to end the country's ongoing political unrest. (Confidencial)
  • elPeriodico: Manfredo Marroquín, the head of anti-impunity and transparency group Accion Ciudadana, says that leaders in Guatemala's Congress are pursuing a political vendetta by "baselessly" accusing him of various crimes (see the June 22, 2018 brief). The head of Congress, Alvaro Arzú (one of Guatemala's most powerful politicians, who has been accused of corruption charges [see Oct. 6, 2017 brief]) filed the accusation against Marroquín in Congress' name, even though various Members of Congress said they had not been consulted first. Accion Ciudadana had recently petitioned Congress to take a harder line against political parties that fail to disclose how much money they raise and spend.  
  • recent report published by a Jesuit research group and Oxfam described Honduras' political system as co-opted by political elites who focus on protecting their own special interests. 
Mexico
  • Since Mexico's political campaign season kicked off in September 2017, 46 political candidates have been killed, reports El Pais, citing data from Mexican analysis company Etellekt. The company found that compared to the 2011-2012 campaign season, the number of people killed while aspiring to political office increased by some 4500 percent. The most recent victim is a mayoral candidate who was gunned down in Oaxaca on Monday during an ambush.
  • Mexico's ruling PRI party has arguably politicized the office of the Attorney General and a special court meant to oversee the elections, as part of what some have described as a wider pattern of abusing state institutions for electoral purposes. "Hardball tactics are nothing new in Mexican politics, but the PRI’s abuse of state institutions are a staggering escalation for a party in power," reports the New York Times
  • Today is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture; the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement condemning the widespread use of torture in Mexico criminal investigations.  
  • The WSJ looks at why Central American migration is not an issue in Mexico's elections.  
  • "Widespread voter rejection of the PRI" means the party is poised to see "the worst electoral result since it was created by the country’s rulers in 1929," reports the AP
Colombia
  • According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, coca cultivation in Colombia increased 11 percent between 2016 and 2017 (AP), which the head of the office called "unacceptable" during a press conference (Colombia Reports).  President Juan Manuel Santos told the AP that because coca farmers qualify for subsidies if they commit to a crop substitution plan under the terms of Colombia's historic 2016 peace deal, this "had in some ways created a perverse incentive for peasants to grow more coca."
Brazil
  • recent study by the Federal University of São Paulo sheds light on widespread extrajudicial killings committed by police over a bloody two-week period in 2006 in Sao Paulo. Over 500 civilians were killed during a wave of police and alleged gang violence, which officials have long maintained was instigated by the PCC prison gang. As EFE reports, the study, published in early June, found that based on forensics, most civilian victims had been killed execution-style by police or masked para-police groups. Families of the victims have reported receiving police threats over the years, and as a result, according to one of the study's authors, family members "have never dared to step foot in a police station and speak of the death of their children." 
Venezuela
  • Inconsistent water service is increasingly prompting wealthy Venezuelans to drill their own wells. (AP)
Southern Cone
  • Argentina protested a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), approved by President Mauricio Macri earlier this month, with a 24-hour strike that virtually shut down the country. Many still blame the international lending institution for contributing to Argentina's economic collapse in 2001. (Al Jazeera)
Regional
  • Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Brazil today, as part of his third tour in Latin America. He will also visit Ecuador and Guatemala (WSJ). 
Other
  • Thanks to bold preservation efforts, the world's second-largest coral reef, off the coast of Belize, may be removed from UNESCO's list of threatened World Heritage Sites this week (AFP). 
  • Pope Francis officially confirmed the beatification of Paraguayan nun "Chiquitunga," which was celebrated by 40,000 Paraguayans in an Asunción stadium (EFE). 
Elyssa Pachico

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