Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Bukele faces significant challenges in ES (Feb. 5, 2019)

El Salvador's new president-elect likes to call him self "anti-system." (Correction: Media reports have incorrectly said El Salvador's president-elect Nayib Bukele calls himself anti-system, he instead opposes the country's two main parties, not the system.)  

Nayib Bukele's victory at the polls on Sunday ends thirty years of two-party rule in El Salvador. But will he be able to tackle entrenched corruption in a country where the last three presidents have been indicted and violence pushes citizens to leave however they can, asks El País. (See yesterday's post.)

Bukele has promised to focus on violence prevention with community outreach, public spaces, and job creation for youths -- distancing himself from previous government's iron-fist policies. (See yesterday's post.) The proposals are in line with his tenure as San Salvador's mayor, but critics are concerned they are too superficial to effect real change, reports Foreign Policy.

InSight Crime analyzes Bukele's proposals more in-depth, including plans to use technology to improve the capacity of security forces. The piece also notes the relevance of Bukele's anti-corruption proposals -- especially an international anti-graft commission -- for security.

Governability will be another major issue, notes Reuters. Legislative elections are not until 2021, and Bukele has few allies in Congress. 

More from El Salvador
  • New York Times video on how extreme gang violence in El Salvador is fueling illegal migration to the U.S.
  • El Diario de Hoy analyzes ARENA and FLMN's losses even in their traditional strongholds.
  • El Salvador's attorney general's office has increasingly used protected witnesses over the past 11 years -- but without much success in prosecuting gang members, report El Intercambio and InSight Crime.
News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • Bukele will mean a swing in El Salvador's regional alliances -- he's promised to make human rights concerns central to the country's stance on Venezuela and Nicaragua. But he's also called Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández a dictator, saying authoritarian governments on the left and the right deserve the moniker. (El Diario de Hoy and see yesterday's post.)
  • Guatemalan anti-corruption crusader, and potential presidential candidate, Thelma Aldana was with Bukele on Sunday -- and emphasized the two countries' common problems with graft and impunity, reports Plaza Pública.
  • Cuban foreign policy over the past sixty years has focused on strengthening "revolutions" in the region -- currently shoring up Ortega's government in Nicaragua and Maduro's in Venezuela, writes Jorge Castañeda in a New York Times op-ed. These efforts have delayed the modernization of Latin America's left and its electoral potential, he argues.
Political Parties
  • A wave of dissatisfaction with El Salvador's political parties pushed Bukele to victory on Sunday. But trust in political parties is at an all-time low all over the region, a weakness that is one of the greatest threats facing Latin American democracy, writes Kevin Casas in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • An average of four women have been killed per day in Brazil so far in 2019 -- a rate of gender-based murders the IACHR called "alarming." (Reuters) Forty percent of the region's female homicides occur in Brazil. The IACHR warns that in many of these cases the aggressors were or had been partners of the victims, that almost half of the homicides of women in Brazil are committed by firearms and that, in most cases, they occur in their own homes. (See Jan 28's briefs on how President Jair Bolsonaro's loosening of gun laws could worsen the problem.)
  • The recent Brumadinho dam disaster -- in which 333 people are dead or missing -- is shaking Brazilians' faith in the mining industry, and also the government's ability to regulate it, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Addressing the dangers posed around the world by tailings dams will require a more comprehensive reexamination of mining practices, argues a New York Times editorial.
  • Bolsonaro called on Congress to pass pension reform -- an overhaul long-desired by investors that lawmakers have repeatedly avoided in recent years. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Bulgaria became the latest country to join self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó's camp. (Efecto Cocuyo) Turkey accused European countries of seeking to overthrow Nicolás Maduro's government. (Efecto Cocuyo) And Russia said the situation was becoming "alarming." (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • The increasingly pitched diplomatic battle over Venezuela's legitimate leadership has real world implications. The International Red Cross said it cannot participate in distributing humanitarian aid coming in from Colombia without an agreement between the two countries, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Guaidó is coordinating aid with the United States. (See last Friday's post.) Yesterday the Lima Group called on Venezuelan armed forces to allow humanitarian aid to enter.
  • The polarized battle over who is Venezuela's legitimate leader is counterproductive, writes former Maduro chief of staff Temir Porras Ponceleon in the Guardian, urging the international community to focus on national dialogue rather than sanctions. (See yesterday's post.)
  • The word of the month is "legitimacy," at least when it comes to Venezuela. But what does that mean anyway? Like "privacy," it's largely in the eye of the beholder, according to this New York Times Interpreter column.
  • Reports of about 100 Russian mercenaries sent to protect Maduro have raised alarm bells in Venezuela and internationally -- and the potential for military intervention, reported InSight Crime last week.
El Chapo
  • Over the past three months the New York trial of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has given cruel insight into the bloody and corrupt mechanisms of Mexico's drug traffickers, as well as providing the city with a whole new morbid tourist attraction. The Guardian sums up some of the more interesting revelations -- from Guzmán's joke about arming his toddler with an AK-47 to allegations that he bribed former President Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • Note: In yesterday's briefing I called the details of court testimony in the Guzmán trial "mesmerizing." A reader questioned my use of the word in the same paragraph detailing his practice of raping young girls. It's not technically incorrect, but she's right that the tone of the brief was too lighthearted given the horrific theme. She also took issue that I said the testimony would provide "fodder for a new generation of Netflix series." Unfortunately, it almost definitely will.
  • Colombian authorities say they killed a dissident FARC leader in the southern Caqueta region. (BBC)
  • Gang violence is up in Medellín again. Increasing homicides can be traced to the now fragmented powerful Oficina de Envigado, reports InSight Crime.
Environmental corner
  • Visiting the Galapagos is easier than ever, but that's not a good thing for environmentalists. (New York Times)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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