Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Regional leaders reacting to Trump's proposals (Jan. 25, 2016)

U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed protectionist policies are uniting Latin American leaders, who called for mechanisms to shield their economies. The issue dominated a Community of Latin American and Caribbean States meeting in the Dominican Republic yesterday, reports the Associated Press.

Peru's government called for an alternative free trade agreement with China and other Pacific countries after Trump pulled out of the key TPP accord earlier this week, reports AFP. This week Mexico's president also pledged to seek agreements with TPP countries. (See yesterday's post.)

Trump's promises to renegotiate NAFTA growing number of Mexican officials and businesspeople leaning towards opting out of the agreement altogether to avoid years of negotiations, reports the New York Times. Both the Economy and Foreign Relations ministers yesterday indicated that the country would abandon NAFTA, reports the Associated Press.

Trump is expected to sign an executive order today to start work on a wall on the country's border with Mexico, reports the Associated Press. The actions include plans for hiring 5,000 more U.S. border agents and a call for local law enforcement to work with federal immigration authorities, according to Reuters.

Trump's policies threaten to throw Latin American economies back into recession, just as they were starting to climb out, argues Colombia professor José Antonio Ocampo in a piece on Project Syndicate.

Curiously, the region's populist leadership is more inclined to embrace Trump, though the motivation might be more pragmatic than ideological, reports Americas Quarterly.

News Briefs
  • Just two weeks before swearing in, Haiti's president-elect Jovenel Moïse is already under investigation for money-laundering, reports the Miami Herald. A Haitian judge is investigating a report by the government's financial crimes unit indicating that the incoming president may have laundered millions of dollars through a local bank. Moïse, whose campaign advocated strengthening anti-corruption mechanisms, has dismissed the suspicions.
  • No sign of mechanical issues in the plane crash that killed Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki last week, fueling already intense speculation over what happened to the judge overseeing a landmark corruption case against dozens of prominent politicians, reports the Guardian. Last week, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights urged Brazil to conduct an “especially careful and timely investigation” due to Zavascki’s position. The accident occurred just before Zavascki was due to rule on the eligibility of testimony from Odebrecht executives thought likely to implicate some of the country's most powerful politicians. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Brazil's top labor prosecutor said President Michel Temer's proposals to relax labor regulations are unconstitutional and break international labor conventions, reports Reuters. A bill sent by Temer to Congress would double the limit on temporary work contracts from three to six months. It would also allow longer workdays though keep the 44-hour week. Temer's administration argues that the modifications are necessary to reduce business costs and help pull the country out of recession.
  • Temer invited the U.S. military to use an Amazon missile launch base to launch satellites, reports TeleSUR.
  • Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández said a police reform commission will continue working until next year, reports InSight Crime. The Comisión Especial para el Proceso de Depuración y Transformación de la Policía Nacional began work in April of last year, after media reports indicated high level police involvement in the 2009 assassination of the country's "drug czar." (See post for April 6, 2016.) The reform has thus far led to the firing of 2,500 police officers, which amounts to almost 18 percent of the entire police force. Twenty-eight percent of the agents who were fired held high-ranking positions, reports InSight.
  • A wave of immigration from Haiti and Venezuela has pushed anti-immigration sentiments into Chile's presidential election reports Reuters. The views, similar to those espoused by Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen are a rarity in Latin American elections. Leading candidates Sebastian Pinera and Alejandro Guillier have both called for a more selective entry policy.
  • Colombia's second largest guerrilla force, the ELN, says its ready for a bilateral ceasefire with the goverment, reports Reuters.
  • In a visit to Colombia, French President François Hollande praised the country's peace process with the FARC, calling it an example for the world, reports EFE. He pledged to continue aid for the process, in the same week that the U.S. Secretary of State nominee promised to review the landmark peace deal in order to determine whether to continue U.S. funding. (See Monday's post.)
  • Ecuador's ruling party presidential candidate is leading in polls for the upcoming presidential election, but is unlikely to win outright in the first round of voting. Polls predict Lenin Moreno, the government candidate, would lose in a second round of voting, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Panamanian prosecutors have filed money laundering charges against 17 people linked to the bribery scandal involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, reports EFE.
  • Looking for the perfect tan? Check out this Associated Press piece on the Brazilian solution involving electrical tape. (And no, your dermatologist will not support you on the quest.)

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