Monday, June 25, 2018

Mexico's presidential race enters final phase (June 25, 2018)

Mexico's candidates have one week left to make their case before undecided voters. The latest polls show leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with support from about 38 percent of potential voters, with his closest rival Ricardo Anaya stuck at 20 percent (Reuters) and hoping that those who haven't yet made up their minds will swing his way (AP). 

Should AMLO go on to win the July 1 elections as has been widely predicted, it can best be interpreted as a sign that "Mexicans are fed up," says the Economist. The fact that a "happier, more relaxed, less angry" AMLO is now close to winning the presidency after two failed runs highlights how much better his message is resonating among voters tired of corruption and drug violence, writes Ioan Grillo in the New York Times

What are some of the possible implications of an AMLO presidency? A sure bet is educational reform, reports the AP. There will also likely be a battle with the U.S. over immigration and trade issues (Financial Times). Another question is what will happen to the uneasy coalition that AMLO has forged with more socially conservative factions, which has sparked some concerns in Mexico's LGBT community (Reuters). On the issue of organized crime and violence, AMLO's proposals to give some criminals amnesty and to host daily, early morning security meetings is no more "detailed and convincing" than the plans put forth by rival candidates, says the Guardian

Nicaragua 

A report released Friday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said there have been 212 people killed 1,337 injured, and 507 arbitrary detentions since the outbreak of political unrest in Nicaragua on April 19. Following the report's release, OAS member countries condemned violence in the country, while the OAS secretary general said—echoing Church leadersthat elections should be held by March 2019 and no later than August 2019. A government spokesperson called the IACHR report "subjective, prejudiced and entirely biased." Amnesty International called the government's response "shameful." 

Civil society leaders told Reuters that there are still some internal disagreements among negotiators over the best way forward: "They have yet to agree on whether Ortega should leave office immediately or stay until early elections, and whether to pursue more aggressive strategies to force the government to halt the repression, members said."

A technical team from the IACHR is supposed to meet with government, Church, and civil society leaders today in order to support dialogue efforts. Without a negotiated peace, Nicaragua could face "a turn toward mob rule that could easily run out of control," says John Perry in The Nation.

Although a planned Father's Day March on Saturday was called off, incidents of violence continue to be reported around the country, with the city of Masaya holding on to its status as a center of resistance, as profiled by the Washington Post

Colombia
  • A new law, approved by Congress on June 20, which allows armed groups to negotiate a collective surrender with the government in exchange for reduced sentences is unlikely to work as intended: InSight Crime
  • La Silla Vacia looks at the "techies," the "Uribista" traditionalists, and others who make up President-elect Ivan Duque's inner circle.
Brazil
  • Protesters demanding legal abortion marched in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, in anticipation of a debate coming up in the lower house of Congress in August (AP).  
  • In an interview with Americas Quarterly, leftist presidential candidate Ciro Gomes discusses his stance on economic policy and foreign investment. 
  • Analysis by BBC Brazil asks why reforming the country's political system is so difficult. 
  • Calls for a return to military rule in Brazil have become much more mainstream, with some polls showing declining support for democracy, and increased support for having the military step in to "clean up" a government widely perceived as corrupt (AP). 
Venezuela
  • The European Union has issued sanctions against the country's new vice president and 10 other government officials (Reuters). 
Central America

  • An investigation by elPeriodico looks at the numerous family relatives of President Jimmy Morales and Vice President Jafeth Cabrera who are being paid the approximate equivalent of $2.9 million per year in salaries for various government jobs. 
  • El Faro with more details on the approximately $351 million in government funds misappropriated by the Mauricio Funes presidency. 

Regional
  • Are the elections in Colombia and Mexico evidence that populism is making a comeback in Latin America? "These movements may not kill democracy, as some critics contend, but they will strain democratic institutions," says a New York Times op-ed.  

Other
  • Tomorrow is Argentina's last chance to save its World Cup hopes (AP). In contrast, Mexico's soccer fans are very happy with their team's performance, as are Colombia's.
Elyssa Pachico

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