Thursday, December 6, 2018

Peruvians to vote in anti-corruption referendum (Dec. 6, 2018)

Peruvians vote on Sunday in a landmark anti-corruption referendum. Four constitutional amendments are on the ballot: they would prohibit reelection for lawmakers, create a bicameral congress, regulate political party financing, and reform the council of magistrates. Though President Martín Vizcarra announced the referendum in the midst of a corruption scandal rocking the judiciary months ago, since then the vote has not been much focused on in public discourse, according to CNN. (See August 13's briefs.)

The vote comes at a crucial time for Peru -- four of the past five presidents are under investigation in relation to Odebrecht bribes. The proposal to create a bicameral congress is expected to fail because citizens are unwilling to contemplate more political offices, according to the Miami Herald

A sign of what Vizcarra's efforts are up against: A new law passed by lawmakers this week would reduce sentences in relation to illicit party financing. The initiative was backed by members of Fuerza Popular, APRA, and Peruanos por el Kambio, all of whose leadership is under investigation. Several lawmakers as well as Vizcarra criticized the bill's timing, coming just days before a referendum that covers the topic. (El Comercio and El Comercio again)

News Briefs

  • The Chilean government's efforts to settle an ongoing conflict with indigenous Mapuche communities miss the target by failing to recognize the fundamentally territorial nature of the issue, writes Viviana Giacaman in Nueva Sociedad. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Cuban artist Tania Bruguera was arrested in Havana, along with two other artists. The three were planning a protest outside the ministry of culture, against a new law that will require all artists and musicians to apply for government-issued licenses. Instead they have gone on a hunger strike against the law which was described as dystopian by Amnesty International. (Guardian)
  • Cubans will be allowed full internet access on their mobiles starting this week, a novelty in a country where citizens have been restricted to state-run email accounts on their phones, reports the Associated Press.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is in Russia, seeking financial support for his country's collapsing economy. Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support for the Venezuelan government, reports AFP. The Kremlin promised to analyze economic aid and condemned attempts to change the government by force, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See this Al Jazeera piece on background.)
  • Earlier this week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Venezuela, where he said the country has been unfairly hit by international sanctions. (Associated Press)
  • Venezuela is in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis -- 10 percent of its population has fled, and 90 percent of those who remain live in poverty. The Guardian travels across the country, finding deep anger among citizens along with lingering affection for Hugo Chávez.
  • There are municipal elections this Sunday in Venezuela. Felix Seijas of Delphos expects abstention to reach record heights, with no more than 20 percent of the population voting. That being said, most opposition parties don't have to debate whether to participate or boycott, since most have been banned by the National Electoral Council (CNE). In an interview with Efecto Cocuyo, Seijas said the opposition parties' error has been participating or not without a coherent plan.
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold an ex-officio hearing, "Human Rights Situation of the Persons that Make part of the Caravan of Migrants," supported by more than eleven civil society organizations from the United States, Mexico and Central America in the which representatives present the violations of human rights committed against migrants who are part of the exodus from the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It will be live streamed today at 3:45pm US EST.
  • The U.S. should be more aware of its contribution to the conditions pushing thousands of Central Americans to attempt migration to the U.S. writes Michael Deibert in the Guardian.
  • The mass of Central American migrants gathered in Tijuana has put migration high up on the Mexican agenda for the first time, challenging its relationships with Central American governments and the U.S., reports the New York Times.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office with auspicious levels of popular support, but in a regional context dominated by the right. Though his discourse is populist and anti-neoliberal, his proposals are less radical than they might seem, argues Massimo Modonesi in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Five days into the AMLO era, the new president has made several stylistic changes, including daily press briefings and moving around in an old Volkswagen. More substantive change includes the creation of a truth commission to investigate the 2014 disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, and the promise of a proposal for next week that would unravel the last administration's signature education reform. (Washington Post)
  • Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno released a list of candidates to replace the country's vice president who resigned earlier this week in the midst of corruption allegations, reports El Comercio. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping said Panama is a key ally in China's LatAm strategy. (EFE)
  • A Chilean judge convicted 53 former secret police agents from the country’s dictatorship for participating in the kidnapping and disappearance of seven communist leaders and the murder of the former Communist Party chief Victor Diaz, reports the Associated Press.
  • Jamaica is slowly becoming friendlier to its LBGT community, thanks to the painstaking work of activists, reports the Guardian.
  • Some Brazilians are hastening marriage plans out of fear that the incoming Bolsonaro administration will roll back LGBT rights. (EFE)
  • Incoming Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro plans to tackle pension reform with a series of piecemeal proposals that can pass in Congress, starting with an increase in minimum retirement age, reports Reuters.
  • Researchers in Brazil said a woman who received a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a healthy child. (New York Times)
  • Miss Talavera Bruce, a beauty pageant for prison inmates in Brazil, in photographs. (Guardian)

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

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