Monday, April 11, 2016

Fujimori to face off against Kyczynski (April 11, 2016)

Keiko Fujimori will face off against Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in the second round of voting to pick Peru's next president. The daughter and former first lady of the disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori obtained nearly 40 percent of the vote in yesterday's election, according to preliminary results from last night, reports La República.

Reports throughout the day had the second place tied between former prime minister Kucynski (PPK) and leftist Veronika Morales. Results from yesterday show PPK with 24.25 percent and Morales with nearly 17 percent.
La Mula reports predicted final results of 39 percent for Fujimori, 21 for PPK and 18 percent for Mendoza.

Final results are expected later today, reports the Associated Press. The face-off between Fujimori and PPK means Peru will likely maintain pro-business policies.
In Congress the Fujimorista "Fuerza Popular" party took the most seats, obtaining nearly a majority. Should Fujimori win the presidency, she would govern with legislative accompaniment, a situation that led to parliamentary weakness when her father ruled in the 1990's, warns La República.

Together with PPK's seats that would mean a Congress with a clear right-wing majority, according to La República. (All of the Congress' 130 seats were up for grabs, reports the Los Angeles Times, and it looks like Fuerza Popular and PPK could have over 80 of them.)

Critics fear that a Fujimori win could mean a return to the authoritarian legacy of her father, which has become a central campaign topic, reports the New York Times. (See last Thursday's briefs.) While he is credited for dismantling the Shining Path guerrilla group and setting Peru's economy on a path of steady growth, he is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses that include running death squads that carried out extrajudicial executions. He shut down Congress during his tenure as president and suspended the Constitution.

The NYTimes piece quotes WOLA's Jo-Marie Burt, who notes that the Fujimori legacy is a double-edged sword for his daughter. "It brings her a steady stream of votes, but it brings her a steady rejection. There are people who will never vote for her."

Fujimori will face a tough second-round election, and could lose if opposition to her consolidates support for her rival. Half of Peruvians surveyed recently said they would never vote for her, and thousands took to the streets last week to protest her on the anniversary of her father's coup 24 years ago, reports the Associated Press. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)

An Ipsos poll after last week's anti-Fujimori protests predicted An Ipsos opinion poll afterward showed she would probably lose to Kuczynski by seven points if they faced each other in a run-off, reports Reuters.

The Shining Path rebels carried out the worst attack in years on Saturday, killing eight soldiers and two civilians who were traveling in a caravan to a remote village to provide security during the vote, reports the Associated Press.

Fujimori told supporters late Sunday that the vote highlighted how Peruvians want reconciliation more than 15 years after her father fled office and his government collapsed, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Fujimori portrays herself as the only tough-on-crime candidate, reports Reuters.
Fujimori dominated in the country's north, jungle areas and parts of the center, reports La República. PPK only took one district, Arequipa, reports La Mula.

Though Mendoza failed to reach the second round (see last Monday's post), she demonstrated a rebirth of the left and seems to have obtained a decent parliamentary representation, according to La República's analysis.

The AP notes that the rightward electoral swing in Peru mirrors that taking place across the region, with voters rejecting leftist options.

Losers of the day included former presidents Alan García and Alejandro Toledo with paltry results near the bottom of the slate of candidates.

The heated campaign was affected by the elimination of two leading candidates last month, which led the OAS to warn that yesterday's polls were "semi-democratic," notes Reuters. (See March 16's post.)

News Briefs
  • The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) of the Organization of American States (OAS) will assist with investigations into the murders of environmentalist Berta Cáceres in March, and anti-drug official Julian Aristides Gónzalez in 2009, reports the Latin American Herald Tribune. (See last Wednesday's post and Thursday's briefs.)
  • Lab results found no trace of Mexico's missing 43 students in an analysis of remains from a trash dump authorities say their bodies were burned in 2014, reports the Guardian. The results further discredit the government's questioned version of events regarding the missing Ayotzinapa students.
  • Brazil's lower chamber is scheduled to vote on the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff next week. But in the meantime a new poll shows that most of the Brazilian public favors another option, new presidential elections, reports the Wall Street Journal. Based on the same Datafolha poll, Reuters notes that a smaller majority of Brazilians now favor impeachment compared to last month. And now, more than half want her VP and potential successor to be impeached too.
  • A senior construction executive testified that the Belo Monte dam in Brazil was used to generate $41.4m in donations to the ruling coalition, reports the Guardian.
  • Glen Greenwald at the Intercept has an interview with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Among other things, the politician explains why the Workers' Party portrays the impeachment proceedings as a coup: "It is a coup because while the Brazilian Constitution allows for an impeachment it is necessary for the person to have committed what we call high crimes and misdemeanors. And President Dilma did not commit a high crime or a misdemeanor. Therefore what is happening is an attempt by some to take power by disrespecting the popular vote." (See March 25's post.)
  • Brazil's political process is under threat from a “perniciously” partisan press, according to some leading journalists, reports the Independent.
  • A sliver of good news out of Brazil (how very unusual!), a record soybean crop is expected this year and a close to record corn one, reports the Wall Street Journal. Coffee and sugar cane crops are also expected to be good and cattle, chicken and hog exports will be excellent. Agriculture was the only sector of Brazil's economy which expanded last year.
  • The fragile Costa Rica-Panama border is again the site of a migration crisis, reports the Miami Herald. Whereas the previous one late last year focused on the plight of stranded Cuban migrants headed to the U.S., the majority of Cuban migrants are now joined by undocumented African and Asian migrants coming from Brazil and seeking to enter the United States. Thousands of Cubans in Panama are attempting to cross over to Costa Rica to continue their journey north. (See post for Nov. 25, 2015, for example.)
  • Argentina is embroiled in corruption scandals as revelations of current President Mauricio Macri's offshore accounts in the Panama Papers (see last Monday's briefs) are compounded by further transfers from his holdings to one of his father's Panamanian companies, reports Página 12. But the media seems more taken by a parallel investigation into former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was accused by a financier last week of involvement in money laundering of funds siphoned off of government contracts, reports the New York Times. This weekend a prosecutor she be investigated as part of the probe into the case, reports the Wall Street Journal. Her supporters are crying foul, saying the latter scandal is being pumped up to distract from the first. Página 12 columnist Eduardo Aliverti on that viewpoint.
  • The Centro de Estudios Legales y y Sociales (CELS) of Argentina presented in the InterAmerican Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) on Friday, as part of a case against a reform to Argentina's media law carried out by the current government. CELS president Horacio Verbitsky said the new regulations replace a "multisectorial, participative scheme with on of purely state regulation and management, which excludes civil society from the application authorities and federal councils, whose members were removed without following the appropriate legal proceedings." He also criticized that the reform "sustains that everybody can compete in the market, overlooking the differences of scale that without state regulation, derive in the law of the strongest." (More detail in his Página 12 Sunday column.)
  • Verifying votes in Haiti's much maligned elections from last year is key to avoiding a deeper political crisis, according to he Antiguan diplomat who led an Organization of American States’ special mission to the country, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Puerto Rico released a proposal today, seeking to restructure part of its $70 billion debt, reports the Associated Press.
  • An Associated Press feature profiles the Haitian collective of scrap sculptors Atis Rezistans who use recycled junk to "give a raw, physical shape to the spiritual world of Voodoo, or Vodou as the religion is known by Haitians, and weigh in on the country's chronic political and economic troubles."

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