Friday, September 11, 2020

Claver-Carone headed for IDB victory (Sept. 11, 2020)

 Mauricio Claver-Carone, the controversial U.S. candidate to head the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is headed to a likely win in this weekend's election. Though the nomination of a U.S. candidate to head the multilateral lending organization ruffled diplomatic feathers, and several countries angled to challenge Claver-Carone's candidacy or postpone the vote until next year, ultimately Claver-Carone has the support of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Bahamas, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Suriname and Venezuela (represented by opposition leader Juan Guaidó). (Infobae)

Argentina withdrew its candidate, Gustavo Béliz, last night, but will abstain from voting in the election. Mexico, which had originally led efforts to move the election to a later date -- after the U.S. election -- decided to pass on a boycott of this weekend's IDB vote. (Buenos Aires Times) Since the U.S. candidate had enough votes to win, a group of countries led by Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica had been angling to block the election, but fall short of the 25 percent vote needed for that move. (Reuters) Argentina said holding the vote tomorrow runs the risk of "deepening the division" in the region. (Reuters)

It will be the first time in the IDB's 60-year history that it is led by somebody from the U.S., an upset in the traditional distribution of leadership in international lending organizations. But Claver-Carone's hawkish history, particularly towards Cuba and Venezuela, have raised additional concerns in the region about what his leadership would look like. Experts say his nomination is a bid by the U.S. to counter growing Chinese economic influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. (See June 17's post.) But Trump's imposition of a U.S. candidate could spur distrust and anti-Americanism distrust and anti-Americanism in the region, warns Leandro Dario in Foreign Policy, thus undermining U.S. interests. "Controlling wallets seems to be more important than winning hearts and minds."

There is also concern that a change in the U.S. government in November could leave Claver-Carone out of step with a new administration, in addition to his potential for polarizing the IDB with his stance on politics in the region.

News Briefs

Bolivia
  • The interim government of Bolivia is abusing the justice system to persecute associates and supporters of former president Evo Morales, who himself faces terrorism charges that appear to be politically motivated, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The report, “Justice as a Weapon: Political Persecution in Bolivia,” documents instances of baseless or disproportionate charges, due process violations, infringement of freedom of expression, and excessive and arbitrary use of pretrial detention in cases pursued by the interim government. The report documents examples of abuse of the justice system against Morales opponents during the Morales administration.
  • Bolivia is creeping towards a military regime, argues Diego von Vacano. "In each instance since Evo Morales was overthrown last November, interim-president Jeanine Áñez has decided to adopt an authoritarian stance instead of a conciliatory tone," he writes in a New York Times Español op-ed in which he argues that MAS party presidential candidate Luis Arce is the best bet for stability in Bolivia.
  • A new poll has Arce leading voter intent ahead of October's election, with 26 percent, followed by Carlos Mesa with 17 percent, and interim-president Jeanine Áñez with 10 percent. At least 30% remain undecided or refuse to respond. In a hypothetical second-round, according to the Ciesmori poll, Arce would beat Áñez, but Mesa would beat Arce. (Latin America Risk Report)
Guyana
  • The gruesome murder of two Black teenagers, their mutilated corpses were discovered in a predominantly Indo-Guyanese area, has ignited simmering racial tensions in the country. Groups representing Black Guyanese immediately labeled the killings a hate crime and called on supporters to protest. Then, on Wednesday, two Indo-Guyanese people were killed by protesters. President Irfaan Ali, who took office in August after a monthslong standoff over the election results, said he would call on Britain and Caribbean nations to help investigate the killings to ensure impartiality, reports the New York Times. (Stabroek News, Stabroek News)
  • Exxon Mobil announced its eighteenth offshore oil discovery in Guyana -- experts say that the oil bonanza has helped fuel racial tension. (Reuters)
Regional
  • As of September 7, PAHO/WHO reported 7,797,853 COVID-19 cases (28 percent of the world) and 290,167 deaths (30 percent of the world) in Latin America and the Caribbean.​ ​​​​(Aviso COVID-19)
  • The UN and humanitarian partners released a Tri-National Action Plan to support government responses to the urgent needs in the border area between Colombia, Peru and Brazil – home to nearly 209,000 people, of which 57 percent are indigenous. This triple border region is currently witnessing the highest COVID-19 mortality rates per 100,000 people in the world. (Aviso COVID-19)
  • The pandemic has added to pre-existing woes in Latin America's education system, reports the Economist.
Mexico
  • A woman was killed, and her husband gravely injured, in a clash between protesters and National Guard troops in Mexico's Chihuahua state. Hundreds of farmers had faced off with National Guardsmen Tuesday at the La Boquilla dam. The troops eventually withdrew and the protesters closed the valves that were releasing water from the reservoir. Mexico has fallen behind in the amount of water it must send to the United States from its dams under a 1944 treaty, and time is running out to make up the shortfall by the Oct. 24 deadline, reports the Associated Press.
  • The U.N. human rights office called on Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate the killing of LGBT rights activist Mireya Rodríguez Lemus in Mexico's Chihuahua state. (Associated Press)
  • Journalist Julio Valdivia, a crime reporter in Mexico's Veracruz state, was found dead and decapitated. He covered gang warfare in a rural area near Oaxaca state, reports Deutsche Welle. He is at least the fifth journalist killed in Mexico this year, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
Chile
  • Racial justice is a headline issue these days in Chile, particularly with regard to the country's much discriminated indigenous groups, but also migrants from Venezuela and Haiti. The upcoming plebiscite on whether and how to reform the country's constitution is seen by many as a way to create fairer conditions for Chile's native people, as well as the rising number of immigrants, two wider groups who together make up almost 20 percent of the population, reports NBC.
Venezuela
  • Turnout was low at a demonstration called by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, yesterday. Sparse participation is indicative of the challenges the once popular leader faces moving forward, but also of the controversy over mobilizing in the midst of a pandemic, reports the Washington Post.
Brazil
  • Coronavirus outbreaks in Brazil's meatpacking plants have helped fuel the pandemic in the country, reports Reuters.
  • The number of transgender people killed in Brazil this year has risen by 70 percent over last year. The 129 trans people murdered since January already exceeds the total killings in 2019, according to a report by the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (ANTRA). The number of trans people - 16 - who died by suicide in the first six months of 2020 is a third higher than last year as well, ANTRA said. (Reuters)
  • A top expert on isolated Amazon tribes in Brazil was killed by an arrow that struck him in the chest as he approached an un-contacted indigenous group. Activists say the Bolsonaro government has defunded the country's indigenous affairs agency, the Funai, and left it without staff needed for security at its isolated posts just as increasing land invasions increase the risk of violent clashes, reports Reuters.
  • The office of Brazil’s top prosecutor has decided to keep the country’s Car Wash anti-corruption task force active through Jan. 31, a temporary victory for the group of prosecutors, reports Reuters.
Guatemala
  • The International Land Coalition denounced that four rural community leaders have been murdered this year in Guatemala, and another one is missing. The organization also denounced the extrajudicial eviction of indigenous communities. (Telesur)
  • Norway urged Guatemala to investigate forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and attacks on human rights defenders. (EFE)
Argentina
  • Argentina formally exited its ninth sovereign debt default this week -- a success for the Fernández administration. But in addition to the significant macro-finance hurdles the country now faces, "there is a deepening “dual society” that explains not only its persistent poverty and inequality but also, most notably, the volatile and stagnant output that prevents the country from eluding its decades-long middle-income trap," writes Eduardo Levy-Yeyati in Americas Quarterly.
  • Buenos Aires provincial governor Axel Kicillof announced a significant wage hike for provincial police, who responded by lifting protests that had stretched out over three days. (Página 12) Police demonstrations reached the presidential residence earlier this week, raising hackles. President Alberto Fernández emphasized that the demands were legitimate, but that protests carried out with official weapons and equipment are not. (Página 12
El Salvador
  • A former Salvadoran army colonel who served as a government security minister has been sentenced to 133 years in prison after being found guilty of the murder of five Spanish Jesuits who died in one of the infamous atrocities of the El Salvador’s 12-year civil war, reports the Guardian. (See Monday's briefs.)
Paraguay
  • Paraguay's traditional geographic weakness -- it is landlocked -- has become a strength in the coronavirus pandemic world, Martín Burt of Fundación Paraguaya told the Wilson Center. (Weekly Asado)
¡Feliz Viernes! I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. 

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