Tuesday, August 13, 2019

CICIES on the horizon? (Aug. 13, 2019)

Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele promised to launch an independent international anti-impunity commission by next month. During his campaign he promised to create the International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), modeled on the Guatemalan U.N. backed commission that will be dissolved in September (see below). Last week Bukele -- as usual, via Twitter -- vowed to carry out the plan within his first 100 days in office, but gave few other details. 

Vice President Felix Ulloa, appointed to lead the project, has said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would be a “strategic ally,” without providing further details. Ulloa also met with CICIG head Iván Vásquez last month. (ReutersLa Prensa LibreLa Hora) In a social media video, Ulloa said the CICIES will form part of the government's strategy to fight corruption that saps funding from security and social policies.

Today attorney general Raúl Melara said he had not been consulted regarding the project, but said the fight against corruption is a primordial task for his office. (La Prensa Gráfica) Experts in El Salvador emphasized that the proposed commission would need to be autonomous from the executive power in order to function, reports El Diario de Hoy.

News Briefs

Graft wins Guatemala's election
  • Alejandro Giammattei, Guatemala's new president elect, has no plan to pursue Guatemala's endemic corruption, with grave consequences for the country's rule of law, writes Due Process of Law Foundation board president Naomi Roht-Arriaza in the Conversation. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Giammattei won more due to voter apathy than popularity, and has never held an elected post. He was director of the national penitentiary system, where his tenure was tainted by an extrajudicial execution scandal, though he was eventually acquitted. (Washington Post)
Venezuela cracks down on opposition
  • Venezuela's controversial supra-congressional national constituent assembly stripped four opposition lawmakers of immunity.  That makes a total of 18 opposition politicians vulnerable to criminal prosecution so far this year, reports the Associated Press. (See also Efecto Cocuyo.) Many have sought refuge in foreign embassies or fled the country, fearing for their safety. Edgar Zambrano, vice president of the National Assembly, remains jailed in relation to a failed April 30 attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro. 
  • Though pro-Maduro National Constituent Assembly did not move to dissolve the opposition-led congress, yesterday, it did start discussions on moving up legislative elections. Such a move could allow the government to regain control of the only opposition-dominated branch of government. (Efecto CocuyoReuters, see yesterday's briefs.)
  • Abroad: Exiled Venezuelan prosecutor Pedro Lupera is keeping up his fight against corruption from abroad, where he is collaborating with U.S. agencies and sharing information he found about illicit payments by Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht S.A. and the Venezuelan state oil company known as PDVSA. (Miami Herald)
Argentina reeling
  • Markets panicked after voters resoundingly backed a leftist opposition coalition headed by Alberto Fernández and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Argentina's peso dropped 30 percent against the dollar yesterday and stocks suffered their steepest fall in decades. The meltdown will make it difficult for incumbent Mauricio Macri to improve the economy ahead of October's general election, making a comeback difficult say analysts. However, he might be successful in convincing voters that this panic is a taste of things to come if they elect Fernández. (GuardianWall Street Journal) (See yesterday's post.)
  • Argentina's primary election served to show just how unpopular President Mauricio Macri has gotten in the midst of a deep recession and soaring inflation, reports the New York Times
Drought and migration
  • The World Food Program says it’s planning to nearly quadruple the number of people that the U.N. agency helps in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The agency aims to provide food assistance to 700,000 people in these Central American countries affected by drought, which is pushing people in the region to migrate. (Associated Press)
Inside a U.S. migrant processing center
  • The Washington Post visits the U.S. Border Patrol’s largest holding facility, in Texas, where about 1,300 migrants await their next step: release, transfer or deportation.
U.S. grades foreign drug policies
  • U.S. President Donald Trump certified Colombia's anti-drug efforts, and called on the government to resume controversial aerial coca fumigation efforts. Bolivia and Venezuela were decertified and Mexico was urged to intensify its efforts against narcotics, reports El País.
Colombian drugs
  • New strains of "creepy" marijuana in Colombia contain extraordinarily high concentrations of THC and are fueling a boom in the Cauca region, where they are being grown in vast quantities by farmers, sold by local gangs, and trafficked by powerful criminal groups, reports InSight Crime.
Duque Y2
  • Colombian President Iván Duque starts the second year of his mandate on shaky ground -- he's struggled to fulfill campaign promises, in part due to a difficult relationship with lawmakers that his hindered by his Centro Democrático party, and in part because his cabinet of outsiders is committing too many mistakes, write Sandra Borda and Álvaro Gómez in Americas Quarterly
Fact-checking in Bolivia
  • A new data verification project in Bolivia, Bolivia Verifica, is tackling fake news ahead of the October 20 presidential election. Trained by Argentina's Chequeado staff, Bolivia Verifica is working with a group of journalism students from the country's universities, reports the Knight Center.
  • Terrorism: Brazil promised to cooperate with U.S. authorities seeking to interrogate a suspected Al Qaeda operative who arrived in the country last year. (New York Times)
  • Nepotism: Brazilian federal prosecutors filed a court injunction yesterday seeking to bar the appointment of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo as ambassador to the United States due to his lack of experience as a diplomat, reports Reuters.
Mexico extortion
  • Mexican public transport workers and their passengers are on the frontlines of extortion-related violence in the country, reports InSight Crime.
Youth against Climate Change
  • Delegates at the International Congress of Youth Voices share their fight against climate change. (Guardian)
Testing alternative subheads for briefs, consider it a work in progress ... Thoughts? Let me know ...

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