Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fujimori's pardon reversed (Oct. 4, 2018)

Peru's Supreme Court ordered former president Alberto Fujimori to return to prison. The judges annulled a presidential humanitarian pardon from last December, which got Fujimori out of a 25-year jail sentence for human rights abuses. It's the latest twist in a drama that contributed to former President Pablo Kuczynski's ousting this year. The pardon was widely criticized as a quid pro quo in exchange for legislative support from Fujimori's son.

Human rights activists hailed the reversal of the pardon, which some experts considered to violate international treaties. (New York Times)

Wednesday's ruling said the pardon lacked legal foundation and was pushed through too quickly. The pardon was appealed by the families of the 25 victims of two death squad massacres for which Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2009. (Guardian

But the decision could create political difficulties President Martín Vizcarra, who assumed office in March after Kuczynski resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal fanned by Fujimori's powerful legislator daughter, Keiko. (See March 22's post.)

The Fujimori-dominated congress was set to vote today on judicial reform measures advocated by Vizcarra as a response to high-level corruption scandals in the country's courts. Lawmakers are also expected to vote to remove Supreme Court justice Cesar Hinostroza from office. He is under investigation for heading a judicial corruption network. (El País)

Alberto Fujimori was rushed to a Lima hospital yesterday after the court's announcement. The elderly politician has been in poor health for years, and December's pardon was supposedly based on medical reasons. (Al Jazeera and BBC)

News Briefs

  • The latest Datafolha poll shows far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro pulling further ahead of his likely opponent for a run-off election. Bolsonaro is predicted to obtain 44 percent in an eventual second-round, while Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad would get 42 percent. Fourteen percent of voters are undecided or plan a blank or spoiled ballot. Brazilians vote on Sunday. The poll  found that Bolsonaro had 32 percent voter approval, while Haddad has 21 percent. (Reuters)
  • Brazil's record homicide rates -- 63,880 murders last year -- has fueled support for Bolsonaro, who advocates a hardline response to crime, including looser gun laws. (Guardian)
  • Many Brazilian woman oppose Bolsonaro for his mysogynist stances, but others are willing to overlook that in order to stave off the alternative leading candidate from the Workers' Party, reports Reuters. (See Monday's post.)
  • Markets are also pushing for Bolsonaro in order to oppose the PT, though Bolsonaro has opposed market-friendly policies in the past, notes the Huffington Post. Brazilian markets soared yesterday after polls showed Bolsonaro increasing his lead ahead of Sunday's vote, reports Reuters.
  • Corruption is the other major factor pushing voters towards Bolsonaro in this election, notes the Guardian in an explainer of the general election panorama.
  • But the scale should tip the other way, argues Carol Pires who says voters should band against Bolsonaro, even if the Workers' Party doesn't necessarily deserve to return to power so soon. In a New York Times Español op-ed she rehashes Bolsonaro's anti-democratic tendencies and slurs against women and minorities. The key for the PT is credibly promising to fight against corruption, she writes.
  • Brazilian law requires political parties to nominate at least 30 percent women -- and this year about 13 percent of the 9,204 women running for office are Afro-Brazilian. They are driven in part by sexism and racism, writes Kia Lilly Caldwell in the Conversation. (See Monday's post.)
  • Many of Brazil's leftist parties are fielding a new type of candidate in these elections: academics with large social media presence. NACLA reports.
  • Venezuelan migrants are winding up in cities around South America, but international policy has been slow to recognize the changing face of displacement -- in part because countries seek to limit refugee movement to urban areas, writes Robert Muggah in City Lab.
El Salvador
  • U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate a former army colonel to serve as ambassador to El Salvador. Ronald Douglass is currently the Central Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Liaison to the United States Special Operations Command. Though the U.S. embassy in El Salvador emphasized the nomination is part of the usual diplomatic cycle, La Prensa Gráfica notes that it occurs just after the U.S. voiced concern over the country's diplomatic recognition of China instead of Taiwan. (See Monday's briefs.) This week the U.S. said it cancelled some Salvadoran officials' U.S. travel visas due to corruption allegations, and the current ambassador warned against negotiations with China, reports La Prensa Gráfica separately.
  • El Salvador's homicide rate last month was down 57 percent over the same month last year. It was the first month to close with under 200 murders since a controversial gang truce ended in 2014. It's not clear why the homicide rate dropped, but InSight Crime analyzes some possibilities, including increasing criminal sophistication, upcoming elections, and the government's mano dura policies.
  • Honduran Carlos Zelaya was sentenced to 46 months in a U.S. jail after pleading guilty to helping launder more than $1 million in bribes for his brother, who headed the Honduran social services agency. Mario Zelaya is accused of embezelling more than $300 million from the IHSS. (New Orleans Advocate and La Tribuna.)
  • Former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli will run for office next year -- despite being in jail on corruption charges. Martinelli was extradited from the US in June after he fled to Miami in 2015 to avoid arrest. In July prosecutors sought a 21-year sentence at a pre-trial hearing. (AFP)
  • Moderate Peronists in Argentina are hoping to challenge President Mauricio Macri in next year's election and disrupt the long-time binary rivalry between the current president and his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, writes Brendan O'Boyle at Americas Quarterly.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador by phone. Trump said they will work well together and the White House said the conversation focused on the new Mexico-U.S.-Canada trade agreement. (See Monday's briefs.) AMLO said they discussed boosting economic development in Mexico and Central America in order to stem illegal migration. (EFE and Reuters)
  • Lack of quality data on homicides is preventing Mexican authorities from effectively tackling the country's violence problem according to a new study by the Institute for Economics and Peace. (InSight Crime)
Tlatelolco anniversary
  • Fifty years after the Tlatelolco massacre, Mexico City government decided to remove bronze plaques at about five subway stops that commemorate former President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz who allegedly ordered the army to fire on student protesters. (Associated Press)
  • In honor of the Tlatelolco anniversary, NACLA published a 2002 interview with Raúl Álvarez Garín, a survivor of the 1968 student massacre.

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