Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New peace deal approved by Colombian senate (Nov. 30, 2016)

The Colombian Senate approved the new peace accord with the FARC late last night. The Lower Chamber is expected to vote likewise today, reports la Silla Vacía.

The marathon session lasted 13 hours, and senators voted 75 in favor and none against, though Álvaro Uribe's Centro Democrático left the session. La Silla Vacía has specific details such as constitutional challenges and how the new timeframe for implementation could work.

News Briefs
  • Losing factions of Haiti's latest presidential election 10 days ago quickly questioned preliminary results anointing Jovenel Moïse the winner against 26 candidates, reports the Associated Press. Second place finisher Jude Célestin, along with the candidates that came in third and fourth, rejected the results and said they'd file challenges. Despite "tepid" protests against Moïse, the country remained calm, notes the Miami Herald. And the OAS issued a statement supporting the outcome. Célestin came in second to Moïse in last year's elections, which were scrapped after major allegations of fraud and irregularities. Marysse Narcisse came in fourth, with 8.9 percent. Supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas party, founded by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have insisted that only "massive fraud" would keep Narcisse from the presidency and have protested repeatedly over the past few days. Reuters notes that three of the nine members of the Provisional Electoral Council did not sign off on the results. Voter turnout was low and 10 percent of the sheets tallying votes were thrown out because of irregularities. Up to 80 percent of the electorate chose not to participate Jake Johnston, a Haiti expert with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington told the Wall Street Journal. But the Herald emphasizes that authorities "defended the results and went to great lengths to detail how the votes were tallied." Haiti has been run by an interim government for almost a year. 
  • The U.S. government will not send a formal delegation to Cuba for Castro's funereal. Top White House aide, and key interlocutor in negotiating the détente, Ben Rhodes will attend, along with the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, reports the New York Times.
  • A procession carrying Castro's ashes has set out from Havana, eastward towards Santiago de Cuba where he will be interred on Sunday morning, reports Reuters. Last night hundreds of thousands of Cubans and foreign dignitaries from allied countries gathered for a commemoration service. But the absence of heads of state from around the world was notable, according to the Wall Street Journal. The U.S., Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Russian heads of states all were absent. The Guardian has a video of Raúl Castro's eulogy. He spoke dressed in military uniform, and his words emphasized the polarizing influence of his iconic brother, according to the Guardian. He gave few hints as to how Cuban policy will proceed from here, reports the Los Angeles Times, though the elder Castro stepped down a decade ago.
  • President Raúl Castro has promised to step down in 15 months, and attention will now likely focus on his heir apparent: Miguel Díaz Canel, who has made press and internet freedom his signature concerns. At 56 he is a relative youngster by Communist Party standards and has kept a low profile, even with regards to the economic reforms implemented by the younger Castro brother, reports Reuters.
  • Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was paid $4.3 million in 2002 to consult for the government and police force of Mexico City, then led by up-and-coming politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador. That could be a problem now that Giuliani is a possible nominee for secretary of state and López Obrador is likely to run for president in 2018 -- on an anti-Trump, Mexico first platform, reports the Washington Post. The alliance between the two was always curious, considering their ideologies are at odds, and there's still debate over whether Giuliani's "broken windows" approach helped or hurt the situation. Some petty crime numbers went down after the city implemented a large number of his recommendations, but violent crime either stayed the same or rose slightly over the following five years.
  • Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hear its first case related to a forced disappearance in Mexico in the context of the "drug war," reports InSight Crime. The case, submitted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights relates to the 2009 disappearance of cousins Rocío Irene Alvarado Reyes, Nitza Paola Alvarado Espinoza and José Ángel Alvarado Herrera at the hands of military agents. The case comes as Mexico faces intense international scrutiny regarding its spotty human rights record, especially the issue of forced disappearances.
  • Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto submitted a constitutional change to Congress, that would modify a recent judicial reform to have the Senate appoint the country's first independent prosecutor. The proposal seeks to address criticism that a presidential appointee would undermine the office's autonomy and shield the current president from corruption investigations moving forward, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See Nov. 2's briefs.)
  • Confused over all the Trump promises to deport millions of immigrants and what crimes they've committed? The New York Times has a cool infographic that explains the numbers and notes that the last time the U.S. carried out mass deportations was under Eisenhower, and the military-style roundups of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans was controversial then too.
  • Thousands of demonstrators in Brasilia yesterday protested President Michel Temer's austerity proposals, as the Senate was gearing up to approve a constitutional amendment to cap government spending for the next 20 years. Protesters turned over cars and attempted to enter the Senate, and were met by tear gas and what appeared be rubber bullets, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • Cocaine smuggling through Peruvian ports has risen in recent years, as criminal organizations make inroads among dockworkers, according to the country's new anti-narcotics agency, reports Reuters.s
  • Thousands packed into Chapecó's church and stadium to mourn the death of 71 people in a plane crash, including 19 members of the Brazilian city's soccer club, reports the Associated Press.

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