Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lula registered as PT candidate (Aug. 16, 2018)

Brazil's Workers Party registered former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as its presidential candidate yesterday. Party members filing the papers were accompanied by 10,000-50,000 supporters (depends who you ask) who marched to Brasilia's electoral court. The legal battle began almost immediately, when attorney general Raquel Dodge challenged the candidacy, reports El País. Brazilian law does not permit people people convicted of crimes to hold office, but exceptions have been made in the past, reports the BBC.

Lula has challenged the bribery case against him, and says it is politically motivated to keep him out of the running. "My imprisonment was the latest phase in a slow-motion coup designed to permanently marginalize progressive forces in Brazil," he wrote in a New York Times op-ed published this week. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

Yesterday's registration was itself a challenge to judges. Lula is voters' favorite for the upcoming October elections. And the PT has upped the ante as much as possible by raising Lula's profile as a candidate in recent months, reports El País.

And the legal battle is likely to be prolonged. The PT has until Sept. 17 to replace Lula on its ticket. If Lula is disqualified, the former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad will be the PT's candidate. In the meantime, Haddad is Lula's official running mate. (Associated Press)

Official campaigning in Brazil begins on Friday, and the race remains wide open. Over half the electorate remains undecided, reports the Guardian.

More from Brazil
  • Economists might be Brazilian President Michel Temer's only fans at this point. The outgoing president had 7 percent approval rating in June, but economists say he pulled the country out of a deep recession, tamed inflation, and enacted business-friendly policies that attracted international investors, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • That being said, Brazil’s economy contracted nearly one percent in the second quarter due to a trucker’s strike, the country’s Central Bank announced yesterday. (Associated Press)
  • Indigenous leader Jorginho Guajajara, of the Guajajara people, was killed this weekend -- one of dozens of murders in the community that has clashed with loggers incurring on their land. (Guardian)
  • Brazilian celebrity plastic surgeon, Dr. Bumbum, was charged with murdering one of his patients. He operated without a license in his Rio de Janeiro flat, and used unapproved procedures in the quest to give women more alluring bottoms. (BBC)
News Briefs

  • Mario Abdo Benítez swore in as Paraguay's new president, after winning elections last April. (See April 23's post.) The Colorado party former senator replaced Horacio Cartes of the same party. Benítez has said he wants to distance himself from his family legacy -- his father was a prominent aide to Paraguay's longtime dictator General Alfredo Stroessner. But he attended yesterday's inauguration in a white Chevy favored by Stroessner for military parades, notes the BBC.
  • Cartes attended the handover, but left early. The Associated Press reports the outgoing leader was unhappy that Benítez blocked an attempt to assume a Senate seat, which would have granted Cartes political influence and potentially immunity from prosecution.
Nicaragua and Honduras
  • "Honduras and Nicaragua both exemplify a recent regional trend of suppressing the right to protest and using excessive force against demonstrators. What sets the two situations apart, however, is the U.S. hypocrisy of continuing to support Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández while decrying the human rights violations in neighboring Nicaragua," writes Laura Blume in NACLA. Though JOH and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega are generally considered to inhabit opposite sides of the political spectrum, she points to similar methods the two have used to consolidate autocratic power.
  • The U.S. and Argentinian militaries will pursue closer cooperation on numerous fronts, including military education and training, said U.S. defense secretary Jim Mattis in Buenos Aires yesterday, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to change the country's strategy against drug trafficking -- and is selling a "peace and reconciliation" strategy to communities torn apart by years of homicides and disappearances. The main focus in the new anti-war on drugs strategy would be: sending the army back to its barracks and deploying a newly trained police force for internal security; pardoning non-violent drug offenders and rewriting drug regulations; reparations and support for drug war victims; and increase social programs in drug producing regions, reports Vox. (See Aug. 8's post.)
  • Mexico and the U.S. might not meet an August deadline on bilateral talks related to NAFTA renegotiations, said Mexico's economy minister. (Reuters)
  • The Cuban government appears to be moving towards allowing mobile phones to freely access the internet -- and held a surprise field test on Tuesday, reports the New York Times.
  • Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated a new presidential palace -- a 29 story high-rise in La Paz that critics see as a $34 million vanity project. (Guardian)
  • Colombia’s former anti-corruption chief pleaded guilty in a Miami federal court to charges of a foreign bribery scheme carried out with envelopes full of cash in a local mall, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Antigua announced that it will prohibit the use of plastic bags, utensils and straws. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the third Guatemalan city to enact such an environmentally focused ban. (Deutsche Welle)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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