Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Brazilian election briefs (Oct. 10, 2018)

  • Though far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro fell shy of winning Brazil's presidency outright on Sunday, the scope of his first-round victory is stunning, according to The Intercept. Even more shocking, the pre-election polls completely failed to predict the magnitude of the country's rightward swing. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Voter anger at the political establishment was significant: Only eight senators were re-elected and more than half of the deputies will be first-timers. The Congress will move significantly to the right, following a tidal wave of support for Bolsonaro's allies. (The Intercept)
  • Candidates coming from the military made their mark on Sunday's election in Brazil -- over 70 were elected, most of them to legislative posts. In three states, including Rio de Janeiro, a military candidate reached the second-round of voting for the governor's post, reports EFE.
  • What to expect if Bolsonaro does eventually win on Oct. 28? An increase in violence, a pro-business economic policy, and near total alignment with the Trump administration, predicts Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly.
  • Brazil's election is far from over. Experts say accurate coverage of the campaign is being being covered up by the sheer volume of fake news spread on social media. On Monday, Brazil’s electoral court ordered Facebook to remove links to 33 fake news stories targeting Manuela D’Ávila, a communist party politician and the vice-presidential candidate for Fernando Haddad of the Workers’ Party (PT), reports the Guardian. But it's a losing battle. 
  • And "fake news" is not agnostic. Vox reports on how false messages circulated through Brazil’s Pentecostal and evangelical social networks sought to turn those voters in favor of Bolsonaro by "emphasizing the core issues of Brazil’s culture wars: gender, sexuality, and the role of parents and the state in children’s education."
  • A Bolsonaro victory would significantly expand the conservative influence of the "guns, bible, and oxen" block of Brazil's congress. But anti-progressive forces are expanding across the region, threatening the advance of the democratic advances of recent decades, argues Pablo Stefanoni in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Brazil faces significant economic challenges that the next government will have to address, but neither of the two remaining candidates has outlined a clear strategy in a campaign more focused on corruption and violence, writes Monica de Bolle in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • The Temer administration hopes to pass it's controversial and oft-delayed pension reform before handing over the reins in January, but Bolsonaro hopes for a delay in order to rework the bill before a vote, reports Reuters.
News Briefs

  • The chairman of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee said he envisioned alternative ways forward with Venezuela, after a visit to Caracas in which he met with President Nicolás Maduro, government officials, and representatives of opposition groups. Bob Corker also met with members of the Boston Group, a network of U.S. and Venezuelan legislators that has maintained relations between Caracas’ government and opposition since 2000, notes Reuters.
  • A prominent crop-substitution leader in Colombia was murdered last weekend, along with two of his sons, one of whom worked with him. Jaime Rivera, was coordinator of the substitution committee of the Coordinadora Nacional de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana, Coccam in Las Minas, in the conflictive Cauca region. (El Espectador and El Tiempo)
  • La Silla Vacía reports on the municipal acceptance of Colombian President Iván Duque's move to allow police to search citizens and confiscate small amount of drugs. (See last Wednesday's briefs.) Separately, La Silla Vacía critiques complacent media coverage of the measure.
  • Thousands of students are expected to march today to ask the government for higher education funding. (La Silla Vacía)
El Salvador
  • El Salvador has a historic opportunity to address internal displacement, write Elizabeth Ferris and Walter Kalin in a piece on a draft law that would develop an institutional mechanism to protect the rights of IDPs. (News Deeply)
  • Equal Eyes denounces growing violence against LGBT people in Honduras.
  • Extreme violence marked Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's time in government -- but also a stunning dearth of information regarding thousands of murders that have occurred as part of the war on drugs, writes Human Rights Watch's Daniel Wilkinson in El Universal, part of a series evaluating the Peña Nieto administration's human rights record.
  • President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is into consulting the public, reports the Washington Post. The latest? A Twitter poll to pick a Spanish name for NAFTA's replacement, the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” or USMCA in English.
  • The new agreement continues to benefit the agro-export industry, and will leave family farmers in Mexico unprotected, warns IPS.
  • Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel mixes resistance with adaptation, writes historian Rafael Rojas in El País. He points to the new leader's search for a middle-of-the-road path between Fidel and Raúl' brand of governance, between reinforcing state control of the economy and courting foreign investment.
  • Nikki Haley's sudden resignation as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has raised concerns over U.S. policy towards Lat Am, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said he'd be willing to negotiate with Bolivia over a long-running border dispute, if Bolivia gives up its demand for access to the Pacific through Chilean territory. (Reuters)
  • Former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori's prison sentence for human rights violations was reinstated, but his appalling legacy of forced sterilizations of over 200,000 indigenous women, remains missing from the conversation, reports The New Republic.
  • Uruguay is the most progressive country in the region when it comes to reproductive rights -- it's the only one to allow abortions within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, an outlier among countries that have trended towards more prohibitive laws. The change made significant health improvements, and Uruguay now has the second lowest maternity rate in the Americas, behind Canada. But women say they must still battle a significant social stigma that can complicate obtaining a termination. (Guardian)
  • Uruguay tends to be an exception in the region -- but rising rates of drug trafficking violence threaten the so-called "Switzerland" of South America, writes Sylvia Colombo in a New York Times Español op-ed. President Tabaré Vásquez must double down on the marijuana legalization law that has not been fully implemented yet, she argues.

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

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