Thursday, February 22, 2018

Venezuela's opposition coalition will boycott elections (Feb. 22, 2018)

Venezuela's opposition alliance formally decided to boycott the upcoming presidential elections in April, saying the system is rigged in favor of President Nicolás Maduro. The MUD coalition has been split over whether it is better to challenge the ruling Socialist party, despite an uneven playing field, or to sit out the vote. 

In a statement yesterday the group said the election was “premature” and lacked “proper conditions,” and called it “a show by the government to give an impression of legitimacy that it does not have in the midst of Venezuelans’ agony and suffering," reports the New York Times. The MUD left open the possibility to reconsider its position if elections are moved to a later date, the country's electoral commission (accused of bias) is renewed, and international observers monitor the vote.

The decision comes as the government is pushing to hold congressional elections three years early, and tossing municipal and state elections into the mix as well, reports the BBC. (See yesterday's post.) Should the opposition choose to boycott that as well, it would leave the ruling party in control of most of the country's elected offices, notes the NYT. The "mega-election" proposal would eliminate the last opposition-dominated institution in the country. Though the National Assembly has been stripped of most of its power in the past two years, its the last bastion of opposition influence in the government, reports the Miami Herald. It also runs afoul of a prohibition of grouping local and national elections, notes Efecto Cocuyo.

Former Lara state governor Henri Falcón affirmed his intention to run against Maduro, yesterday, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, with a checkered past and accusations of contrabanding, is also in the running, reports Efecto Cocuyo separately.

The latest quality of life poll by Universidad Católica Andrés Bello found 87 percent of the country is considered poor, meaning their income does not cover basic neccesities, including food, reports Efecto Cocuyo

In his Miami Herald column, Andrés Oppenheimer warns against allowing Maduro to crash the upcoming Summit of the Americas meeting in Peru, as he has threatened to do.

And OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called for harsher sanctions against the government, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's briefs for David Smilde's take on what makes sanctions effective.)

At Americas Quarterly, Francisco Rodríguez argues Venezuela should consider dollarization, looking at the successful case of Ecuador.

News Briefs
  • There have been numerous reports of nighttime raids by Honduran security forces in recent months, in the midst of crackdowns against protests in the wake of President Juan Orlando Hernández's questioned reelection in November. Residents tell of illegitimate procedures carried out by an elite U.S. trained special force squadron, reports The Intercept. "TIGRES special forces have been controversial since their founding in 2013, and their short history has been dogged by allegations of theft and corruption involving drug traffickers. Trained in Honduras and in the United States by Green Berets from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the TIGRES receive substantial support from the U.S. State Department. And they have been active participants in government repression during the current political crisis in Honduras."
  • A federal judge has ruled that the former president of Bolivia and his minister of defense must face trial in the United States in a civil case alleging that the Bolivian military massacred more than 50 of its own citizens during a period of civil unrest in 2003.  It will be the first time that a former head of state will sit before his accusers in a civil human rights trial in a U.S. court, reports the Center for Constitutional Justice.
  • Mexico's ruling PRI party is hoping to attract disenchanted voters with an outsider candidate who portrays himself as a "common" man in a country where the political class tends towards opulence. But the efforts seem to be falling flat, and citizens are not buying José Antonio Meade's technocratic talk, reports the Guardian.
  • At least 44 people were killed in Peru after a bus veered off a road and down a ravine, reports the BBC. The second such accident in a short period of time has caused anger among citizens who say the government is not doing enough to prevent highway bus accidents, reports the New York Times.
  • Bolivia's Cholitas can do anything! The Guardian has a photoessay showing the women in traditional garb doing everything from driving buses, wrestling and politicking.


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