Friday, May 10, 2019

News Briefs (May 10, 2019)

News Briefs

  • Military cooperation would not be a foreign intervention, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó said in an interview. Such a move would be authorized by the National Assembly, meaning it would not constitute a military intervention, he said. (Efecto Cocuyo, see yesterday's briefs on military intervention.)
  • Opposition lawmakers are increasingly targets of repression, in what amounts to a slow dissolution of the opposition-led National Assembly, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Early this morning National Assembly vice president Edgardo Zambrano, who was detained earlier this week, was formally arrested early this morning without lawyers, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • What happened on April 30 in Venezuela? David Smilde exhaustively reviews the available evidence regarding Guaidó's failed attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro. What is known suggest that "indeed there was a conspiracy and that there had been meetings in Bogotá, Panamá and the Dominican Republic. The agreement would have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Maikel Moreno emitting a ruling that would give the National Assembly executive powers, eliminate the National Constituent Assembly, release political prisoners, and call for elections within one year. Maduro would leave the country." The events have given parties working towards a negotiated solution an added sense of urgency. Smilde notes that there appears to be considerable contact between Venezuela's political factions, but that they are unlikely to reach a workable solution on their own. (Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights)
  • International cooperation is urgent -- but must be focused on helping free elections happen as quickly as possible, argues CEPAZ director Beatriz Borges in Americas Quarterly.
  • In the wake of the failed uprising, social conflict has grown more complicated. "This continued descent into state-sponsored anarchy has only favored armed and criminal groups who act with increasing impunity," reports InSight Crime.
  • Gunmen attacked an Argentine lawmaker and his close associate outside of the national Congress. Héctor Olivares, the representative of La Rioja province in Argentina’s lower house of congress, was gravely injured and his close friend and aide Miguel Marcelo Yadón was killed. Argentine authorities said the attack was aimed at Yadón, and was not a political crime. Political violence is extremely rare in Argentina. (Guardian and Washington Post)
  • Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presented her best-selling memoir (300,000 copies in less than a month) last night, with a conciliatory speech that called for a "social contract of responsible citizenry" with concrete, quantifiable goals to generate economic growth. (Página 12 and Página 12)
  • Economic misery under President Mauricio Macri's government could push Argentina back towards populism represented by Kirchner, reports the New York Times. The implications go beyond Argentina, and could impact other countries in the region that have looked towards Macri's prescription of market reforms tempered by social programs. (The Wall Street Journal took a similar line in an article yesterday.)
  • In a normal country, Macri's potential reelection would be dead-on-arrival. But in Argentina he still has a fighting chance, fueled in large part by the hatred Kirchner inspires among a sector of voters, writes Martín Caparrós in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Complex illicit networks in Guatemala's legislative branch have distorted the country's democracy and have influenced institutionalism nationally, according to a report by the Myrna Mack Foundation, with Nómada and the CICIG.
  • Guatemalan's faith in democracy is constant -- though low -- at 48.9 percent according to the latest LAPOP poll. One fifth of Guatemalan's polled did not plan to vote in June's presidential elections, and one third planned to cast blank ballots or nullify their vote.
  • Who is in jail and who isn't? It's hard to keep track of all the former presidents who have been accused of corruption since leaving office. Americas Quarterly has a tally.
  • Forgetting is also a form of corruption, one that Peruvians can ill afford, writes Marco Avilés in a New York Times Español op-ed spurred by former Peruvian president Alan García's suicide as he was being arrested on graft charges.
  • InSight Crime reports from Pucallpa, the hub of Peru's illegal timber market, which is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the country's wood sales.
  • A new generation of progressive politicians and political movements emerging in Brazil is closely connected to grassroots groups, has a good relationship with new technologies and seeks political innovation -- both online and off, reports "Ocupa Política, is a coalition that brings together politicians and movements from multiple parties. The initiative is managed independently, rather than by partisan structures – allowing it to operate with autonomy.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's rejection of U.S. crime fighting aid -- this week he said he'd prefer the money be channeled towards development initiatives -- creates a new uncertainty in what have been cordial relations between AMLO's administration and the U.S. up until now, reports the Washington Post. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
  • AMLO promised a revolution, but five months into his new government, the country he's building looks a lot like the one he promised to leave behind, according to the New York Times. The piece points to lack of progress with corruption, direct adjudication of contracts, and the key role the military will play in AMLO's security policy.
  • The National Guard has already been deployed in several states, but is currently composed of exclusively military troops -- the marines and the federal police have refused to transfer teams due to lack of a legal framework. (Animal Político)
  • AMLO said the state-owned energy company -- Pemex -- and the Energy Ministry will take charge of building a new $8 billion refinery, after international firms said the project could not be completed within Mexico's budgetary and time constraints. (New York Times)
  • It's Mother's Day in Mexico -- celebrating maternity should involve ensuring that it's a condition taken on freely, supported but not forced by the state, and with social celebration of women who balance maternal obligations with self-realization, argues Guadalupe Nettel in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • About 2,800 people have been confined to the town of Bojayá in Colombia, in the midst of an escalating conflict between the Urabeños and the ELN, reports InSight Crime.
  • Bogotá will deploy a new crime data analyzing artificial intelligence system to pinpoint hotspots, identify patterns, and predict where crimes are likely to occur. Though it has the potential to be a game changer, there are some important caveats to take into account when using algorithms to fight crime, reports InSight Crime.

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

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