Thursday, November 10, 2016

JOH seeking reelection, Venezuelan opposition demands results (Nov. 10, 2016)

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández announced his intention to run for reelection, yesterday. The polemic decision is based on a Supreme Court ruling last year that voided a constitutional ban on presidential reelection, reports the Associated Press.

He promised however it would be for only one more term, reports La Prensa.

The opposition says the court does not have the power to modify the constitution and said the move is illegal, reports La Prensa.

The issue of reelection is particularly fraught in Honduras, where a 2009 coup ousted President Mel Zelaya for supposedly planning to reform the constitution to permit second terms.

In general, reelection has been poorly looked upon in Central America after a long period of authoritarian governments, and opposition to the practise was adopted by several countries in the region after a 1923 Pact of Treaty and Friendship. Permitting reelection, which is not in and of itself a bad policy, must decided by the Honduran people via referendum, argues Joaquín A. Mejía Rivera in an New York Times Español op-ed from last month. 

Zelaya, who now leads an opposition party, called for a constituent assembly, reports El Heraldo.

Students protesting outside the National Autonomous University were targeted with tear gas by police, and responded by throwing rocks, burning tires and barricading streets, according to the AP.

News Briefs
  • Latin American leaders cautiously congratulated U.S. president-elect Donald Trump yesterday, urged him to maintain cooperation with the region, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Though it's not clear what strategy Trump will pursue towards Mexico, Animal Político has rounded up a complete list of his inflamatory campaign promises that include the famous wall between the two countries, conditioning remittances to payment of said wall, scrapping NAFTA, pushing U.S. companies to stop manufacturing in Mexico, tariffs on Mexican exports to the U.S., and massive deportation of undocumented migrants. 
  • Of course, it's worth noting, the wall between the two countries already exists along vast stretches of the border. "When the history of the physical barriers constructed along the Mexican-American border is read in these terms, it is preposterous to pretend that the wall-building techniques used by the Chinese in the eighth century to control their borders will still be useful in the 21st century. Borders are meant to be crossed by people who do not necessarily have the resources to pay a visa. Nobody leaves his homeland without a reason. If Mexicans and Latin Americans could find the same economic opportunities they search for in the US in their countries, they would probably not leave," writes Luis Gómez Romero in the Conversation. But he also points to the dangers other migrants face as they cross Mexico, and shames Mexican authorities for inflicting the harms they denounce are done to their citizens who cross into the U.S.
  • Two Mexican congressional committees rejected a presidential bid to legalize gay marriage in the country. In May, President Enrique Peña Nieto asked Congress to guarantee all adults the right to marry, irrespective of gender or sexual preference, reports Reuters. The lower chamber's human rights committee said such legislation is a state issue, and that while the government is required to protect human rights, "this can have its nuances," according to Animal Político. The issue had sparked widespread demonstrations both in favor and against. Mexico's Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages, but that still means each individual couple must sue, except in a few states where its permitted, reports the Associated Press.
  • Human Rights Watch denounced that the Colombian government is planning to promote army officers implicated in the "false positives" scandal, in which the armed forces systematically executed civilians and passed them off as combatant casualties between 2002 and 2008. "Given the gravity of the ‘false positive’ cases and the evidence against these officers, promoting them before criminal proceedings are completed would only convey that Colombian authorities are not serious about ensuring justice for these atrocity crimes," said Americas director José Miguel Vivanco.
  • The Trump election also casts doubt on the U.S. relationship with Venezuela, which has been strained for years, but has shown recent potential for improvement, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Trump hardly mentioned Venezuela in the campaign, though he hinted he supported opposition efforts. However he has voiced support for Russia, a key Venezuela ally, which could possibly harken a softer stance towards the country say some. (See Adam Isacson's blog post yesterday, though he says its an unlikely scenario.)
  • The Venezuelan opposition on the other hand likened Trump to Chavista leadership and suggested that his election could drive U.S. institutions to problems such as those faced in Venezuela. "We come from this disaster - the fantasy of politics driven by a single leader, these hegemonic and totalitarian projects," said Jesus Torrealba, spokesman for the MUD coalition, reports Reuters. "(Now) others appear to be heading toward that cliff," he said, adding that U.S. institutions "will be put to the test."
  • The second meeting between the Venezuelan government and opposition, mediated by the Vatican, is set for tomorrow. Opposition leader Henrique Carpiles said the government must respond to MUD requests, including a humanitarian channel to alleviate food and medicine shortages, reports EFE. They are also demanding freedom for jailed dissidents and the establishment of an electoral calendar that either revives the recall referendum or early general elections. Capriles is under pressure to show concrete results from other members of the coalition who say Maduro is playing for time, according to the Financial Times.
  • Of the electoral options, reviving the referendum is best, because the mechanism to call it has already been put in motion and it wouldn't require a constitutional amendment, as would an early general election, say experts consulted by Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Among the many groups whose lives have been made harder in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew, expectant mothers face even more difficult conditions due to damaged health infrastructure and medical shortages. Already the country had one of the highest maternal mortality ratio in the Western Hemisphere, reports the Associated Press. Now advances that have helped reduce that rate over the past decade are threatened.
  • A CIA secret report on the Bay of Pigs invasion documents the agency's internal conflict to assign blame for the U.S. failure, reports the Miami Herald.
  • The Los Angeles Times has a piece on Uruguay's marijuana legalization process: pot clubs that distribute to members are flourishing, though cannabis can't be purchased on the street yet.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Ecuador, Peru and Chile next week, reports Xinhua.
  • The IMF trusts Argentina's statistics again, reports Reuters. The bad news: Predicted yearly inflation of 20 percent.

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