Thursday, August 2, 2018

Uribe takes back Senate resignation (Aug. 2, 2018)

Senator Álvaro Uribe retracted his recent resignation from Colombia's congress yesterday. The influential former president did so 36 hours after the Supreme Court announced it was suspending a call for Uribe to testify in an investigation into whether he participated in witness tampering and bribery. The court will process a recusal request from Uribe before proceeding with the investigation, reports la Silla Vacía(See July 25's post.)

The move means he will retain parliamentary legal privileges, which mean he will be judged by a newly created court specifically for that purpose, reports Semana.

Both supporters and opponents of Uribe had opposed his resignation -- the latter because they argued it was aimed at removing the case from the Supreme Court to a more favorable court, reports the Associated Press.

More from Colombia
  • Colombia's outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, will leave without ending peace negotiations with the ELN. Incoming president Iván Duque will have to determine how to continue discussions. Government and guerrilla negotiators said yesterday that advances were made in a sixth round of talks in Havana toward a ceasefire but "others needed to make more effective its implementation and verification were left pending." (El País and Reuters)
  • Colombian voters are disenchanted with Santos, but history will judge him kindly for the landmark 2016 peace deal with the FARC, argues the Economist.
  • "JuanMa" is relaxing as his exit comes near, and charmed Colombians with a YouTube debut. (Semana)
News Briefs

  • The latest CPDH report puts the number of dead in Nicaragua's uprising at 300, with more than 2,500 wounded and 120 people charged in relation to protests. The government disputes those estimates, saying the number is lower. (Confidencial)
  • The OAS is set to vote today to create a special commission to follow the Nicaraguan crisis, reports Confidencial.
  • About 23,000 Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica to escape political violence in their country, reports the Huffington Post. (See Monday's briefs.)
  • Several doctors treating wounded protesters have been branded terrorists and forced to flee the country, reports the Miami Herald.
  • In the midst Venezuela's hyperinflation the greenback is king -- and Venezuelans are increasingly divided between those who have access to dollars and those who don't -- reports the Washington Post.
  • Venezeula's worsening crisis is particularly intensifying the breakdown of security in its remote eastern region, where it disputes ownership of the Essequibo region with Guyana, reports the Guardian.
  • Surging violence is spurring many of the country's wealthiest elite to emigrate. Unlike the migration waves to the U.S. from Central America, Brazil's drain is mostly from its elite, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • New data shows the intense mental toll of living with extreme chronic violence in Mexico's Chihuahua state: a rapidly rising suicide rate. (Conversation)
  • President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he will condone about $2,300 million in debts to the federal electricity commission, and that new progressive rates will be implemented. (El País)
  • AMLO promised to increase public health spending in order to improve care, reports the Associated Press.
  • Western cocaine users should accept their actions contribute to violent crime besieging Latin America, argues Iman Amrani in the Guardian.
  • A week of transportation strikes in Honduras ended with a decision to raise user rates and decrease gas prices, reports TeleSUR.
  • Cuban authorities plan to hold 135,000 meetings to obtain public feedback on a draft constitution slated for referendum early next year, reports the Miami Herald. (See July 23's post.)
  • Economist Richard Feinberg sees the new regulations that will govern Cuba’s private sector starting this December as "the revenge of the bureaucrat," reports the Miami Herald.
Systemic failure
  • Across the region, from Brazil to Nicaragua, countries seem to be doing worst, writes Oxfam's regional director Simon Ticehurst. He points to "the capture of the State by economic and political elites," which allows them to "unduly co-opt, corrupt and divert the democratic process, and influence the role of the State, perpetuating measures that reinforce privilege on the one hand and inequality and exclusion on the other."
  • An Argentine judge asked former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to testify in an investigation into alleged corruption regarding public works contracts. The case is based on an investigation by reporters for La Nación newspaper, and involves extensive diaries allegedly kept by a driver who said he transported bags of cash to government offices and the Kirchners' private residence. Judge Claudio Bonadío ordered the detention of a dozen people yesterday, including former government officials and businessmen. The former CEO of a construction company owned by President Mauricio Macri's cousin is implicated as well. (Associated PressEl PaísLa Nación and La Nación again)
  • Argentina's senate will vote on a bill legalizing abortion next week. Yesterday opponents of the bill successfully blocked a positive commission ruling on the bill, which has divided the senate almost in half, report La Nación and Clarín.
  • Quino asked social media users to remove an image portraying his iconic Mafalda character as an abortion opponent. (El País)
  • A new military reform seeks to deploy soldiers against drug traffickers in Argentina. Similar policies have proved problematic and ineffective around the region. But, in addition, the move is a poor choice politically considering the country's bloody history with repression, and continued sensitivity regarding potential human rights violations by the armed forces, I argue in a New York Times Español op-ed.

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