Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mexico's lower chamber approves National Guard bill (Jan. 17, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Mexico's lower chamber of Congress approved the government's National Guard proposal, which would create a new 60,000-member security force aimed at combating organized crime and widespread violence. Critics say President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's proposal doubles down on failed militarized security strategies. (ReutersAnimal Político, and see post for Nov. 21, 2018.)
  • Allegations that Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto caused little ruckus at home, where citizens were more concerned about an ongoing gas shortage, notes the New York Times. (See yesterday's post and briefs.)
  • El Chapo's New York trial -- along with the latest season of Netflix's Narcos, set in Mexico -- feeds into a narrative that the country's ills stem from organized crime. Rather, Mexico's narcos should be understood  as "the catalyzer that accelerates the functioning of a corrupt and impune system of a profoundly unequal country," writes José Luis Pardo Veiras in a New York Times Español op-ed.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador has presidential elections on Feb. 3 -- and the young charismatic former mayor of San Salvador, Nayib Bukele is in the lead. But Bukele's maverick persona seems to have backfired against him, and election results might be closer than polls indicate, argues Lucas Perelló in Global Americans.
  • Last year was an election super-year in Latin America, but this year has a fair amount of votes coming up. AS/COA previews upcoming elections in El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia.
  • Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó's brief detention last Sunday might be an indication of conflict within the country's Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) -- known for rights violations and criminal activity, reports InSight Crime. (See Monday's post.)
  • This week the opposition-led National Assembly declared President Nicolás Maduro illegitimate, but Guaidó has stopped short of declaring himself the head of an interim government. Some governments in the region have gone ahead and done so though. The U.S., which is reportedly considering such a move, could prove pivotal in this latest phase of the Venezuelan crisis, argues Frida Ghitis in World Politics Review. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Andres Oppenheimer argues similarly, calling on regional governments to recognize Guaidó in order to oust Maduro. (Miami Herald)
  • Economist Manuel Sutherland compares Venezuela's political opposition's divisions to that of Cuba's during the "special period." (Nueva Sociedad)
  • But Venezuela is no Cuba, and President Nicolás Maduro is no Castro, warns Juan Gabriel Tokatlian arguing against using the same failed Cold War measures applied against the island, also in Nueva Sociedad.
  • Honduras' Supreme Court confirmed a 2016 10-year defamation sentence for journalist David Romero Ellner. (See yesterday's briefs.) There have been at least 41 such cases in Honduran tribunals since 2013  -- 13 against journalists, denounced C-Libre and Ciprodeh yesterday. (Criterio)
  • Brazil's environmental minister suspended all partnerships and agreements with non-governmental organizations for 90 days. Organizations of civil society characterized the move as "a war on NGOs." (Guardian)
Regional Relations
  • Bolsonaro met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri yesterday in Brasilia, where the two smiled and promised to work together on trade issues and fighting crime, reports Bloomberg.
  • Indeed, Macri's government is increasingly in-tune with the regional shift towards tough on crime politics. A December decree allowing security officials to shoot without warning suspects goes into effect in six months, reports La Nación.
  • The shift has been criticized by rights groups, and across the political spectrum. But Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, the face of the administration's manodurismo, is proving popular -- to the point where she she's a rumored potential running mate for Macri's reelection campaign this year, write Benjamin Gedan and Nicolás Saldías in Americas Quarterly.
  • Another potential presidential candidate, Alfredo Olmedo, has been a fringe anti-establishment right-winger for years. But has gained notoriety as an "Argentine Bolsonaro," reports Americas Quarterly. His ultra-conservative views pushed him to be the only vote against a December bill aimed at reducing gender violence.
  • Another femicide in Argentina -- this time a 17-year-old leaving a night club -- has drawn attention to the dangers women face heading home at night. The hashtag AmigaLlegué is making rounds, an allusion to the common practise among women of checking to see if their friends have arrived safely home before going to sleep. (La Nación)
Gender Ideology
  • It's ludicrous that this argument even needs to be made, but Andrés Gil Domínguez compares those who oppose sexual education for children, arguing they are being indoctrinated with "gender ideology," to those who would oppose teaching them that race has no impact on their juridical status. (Clarín)

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

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