Thursday, November 22, 2018

Moïse refuses to step down (Nov. 22, 2018)

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse refused to resign after four days of protests and a strike that have paralyzed the nation, telling demonstrators calling for his ouster that they will have to wait until the next election. The Miami Herald notes his combative rather than conciliatory tone in the pre-recorded speech. 

The opposition has rejected offers to share power with the administration. Moïse also backed down from a plan that would cede many of his responsibilities to recently appointed Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant.

Yesterday a Haitian government car crashed into a group of people, reportedly killing at least six and further inflaming unrest in Port-au-Prince. (Al Jazeera and Associated Press)

News Briefs

  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to continue a process of citizen consultation, and will ask Mexicans to weigh in on a series of questions ranging from whether he should have a council of advisors from the business community, whether former presidents should be investigated for corruption, and the creation of a National Guard, reports Animal Político. (See yesterday's post on the National Guard internal security plan, and Oct. 30's post on AMLO's controversial airport consultation.)
  • The incoming government's modus operandi is challenging long-standing investor assumptions about the country, pushing uncertainty and volatility, writes Carlos Petersen at Americas Quarterly.
  • Tough on crime measures have not been effective in Mexico, but the incoming government's moves to legalize cannabis and pardon thousands of non-violent offenders incarcerated for simple possession of marijuana are promising, write Aram Barra and Zara Snapp for Open Society Foundations' Voices. (See yesterday's post.)
  • In many ways, it seems as if Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is succeeding in undercutting the CICIG. But though Morales has stopped CICIG head Iván Velásquez from reentering the country, his victory is far from complete, writes Ricardo Barrientos at the AULA blog. Morales and key ministers run the risk of being charged with disobeying the Constitutional Court over the case, and the CICIG has continued its anti-impunity work since Velásquez's banning. They key to the dispute lies with Guatemalan voters, who head to the polls next year, argues Barrientos.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro officially starts a new term in January, in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Yet change seems out of grasp, writes Felix Seijas Rodríguez at Americas Quarterly.
  • More than 40 countries are considering cutting diplomatic relations or reducing their ties with Venezuela when Maduro assumes his next term, but Andres Oppenheimer wonders whether the diplomatic move will have any practical effect. (Miami Herald)
  • Venezuelans head to the polls on Dec. 9 to choose municipal councillors. But a call by several opposition parties could further decrease already low participation rates and hinder the potential to challenge the ruling PSUV party at the ballot box, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Pro-government criminal groups have expanded and strengthened their presence in Venezuela's Bolivar state mining region, reports InSight Crime.
  • The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found Venezuela responsible for failing to prevent, investigate or punish extreme violence against Linda Loaiza Lopez Soto, who was kidnaped, raped and tortured in 2001, reports Al Jazeera. The case could set precedent for state responsibility in gender violence, which the court classified as torture in this case.
  • Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's appointment of a pro-Trump foreign minister represents just one of several clashing factions in the incoming government, explains Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly. Others include the military faction and neoliberal economists.
  • U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton will meet with Bolsonaro next week to discuss a regional strategy in confronting Cuba and Venezuela, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Women's political participation is growing rapidly in Bolivia -- but the radical increase has pitted them against harassment and political violence, particularly at the local level, reports NACLA.
  • Tijuana authorities are attempting to manage overflowing migrant shelters with little help from Mexican federal authorities and with a long-term potential: caravan members might have to wait up to six months for appointments with U.S. border patrol. (New York Times)
  • An Arizona jury has acquitted a U.S. border patrol agent of manslaughter in the shooting of a 16-year old Mexican boy through the border fence in 2012. (Guardian)
  • Argentines are gearing up for next week's G-20 meeting, which will have parts of Buenos Aires in a virtual state of siege, reports La Nación. Argentine authorities are wary of potential protests, and said they'd crack down on potential disruptions, reports Reuters.
  • A bombing attempt against a controversial Argentine judge, Claudio Bonadío, was traced to an anarchist group in retaliation for detentions of violent protesters in December of last year. (La Nación)
  • Is Cuba using same-sex marriage to pink-wash repressive political policies? (The Conversation)
  • Chile is actively working to strengthen ties with Asia, a critical factor in the country's economic resilience, said Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow Jorge Heine in Americas Quarterly's Deep South podcast.
  • Half of Latin America and the Caribbean's rural population is poor, according to a new U.N. FAO report. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Organized crime
  • A Brazilian criminal boss incarcerated in Paraguay killed a young woman in his jail cell in an apparent bid to avoid extradition to Brazil. Marcelo “Piloto” Pinheiro was captured in a joint operation by Brazilian, Paraguayan, and U.S. authorities last year, and had admitted to reporters that he'd prefer to stay in Paraguay's notoriously corrupt prison system rather than be returned to his home country to face justice. Facing imminent extradition, he killed an 18-year old woman who visited his jail cell this Saturday -- stabbing her 16 times with a dessert knife. Paraguay’s president, Mario Abdo Benítez, instead ordered Pinheiro’s extradition to Brazil, where he is now being held in solitary confinement in a maximum-security federal prison. (Guardian)
  • The winner of this year's Royal Institute of British Architects prize is the dormitory for a remote rural school in Brazil, designed by two young Brazilian architects. (Guardian)
¡Happy Thanksgiving!

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