Monday, November 4, 2019

Bolivian protesters call for new vote (Nov. 4, 2019)

Protests in Bolivia are increasingly dominated by anti-government factions demanding the resignation of President Evo Morales, rather than the political opposition that had originally sought a second-round presidential election, reports El País. Protests have calmed down, but rhetoric on all sides heated up this weekend, reports Reuters.

Yesterday second-place presidential candidate, Carlos Mesa, called few a new election and the resignation of the entire electoral tribunal, who he accused of fraudulently favoring the incumbent in Oct. 27's elections. (Infobae) "We believe... that the best solution to this crisis in the current circumstances is a new election, administered by an impartial new (electoral body) and with rigorous observation of the international community," Mesa said yesterday.

On Saturday a conservative opposition leader in the eastern Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, threatened decisive action by tonight against Morales' government. Though he didn't elaborate, Camacho's supporters have previously taken over public buildings, reports Al Jazeera. Camacho called on the military to "be on the side of the people."

Morales retorted that rivals seek violence: "They want people to be killed by the police and the military," he said in a televised interview. And government officials warned of a "coup plot." (Deutsche Welle)

More Bolivia
  • The Bolivian government canceled a joint partnership with Germany's privately owned ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) to develop a massive lithium project that was opposed by local communities who said they would not benefit. (Deutsche Welle, Reuters)
News Briefs

  • Peruvian prosecutors appear to have engaged in dubious methodology in their investigation of Odebrecht corruption in the country, in some ways paralleling illicit tactics carried out in Brazil's Operation Car Wash. The Intercept and Ojo Público report that, according to audios obtained from an anonymous source, Peruvian prosecutors asked a defendant to doctor his reports about connections to other suspects under investigation. The prosecutors wanted help in investigations targeting former President Ollanta Humala and another local politician.
  • Ongoing anti-government protests in Chile have taken on a pattern: peaceful by day and violent by night, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Mesa de Unidad Social, which gathers more than 100 social organizations, has called for a "Super Monday" day of protests today. And the constitutional commission of the Chamber of Deputies will debate what mechanisms exist to replace the current constitution, reports Infobae.
  • The world may be shocked at the protests that have rocked the country for three weeks, but Chileans aren't, according to the New York Times. "In the chaos, they see a reckoning."
  • And reports of torture and abuses by security forces are, simply, "a gross violation of human rights," writes Daniel Borzutzky in a New York Times op-ed. "No significant changes will occur as long as there is still repression in the streets."
  • Illegal loggers killed Brazilian indigenous land defender Paulo Paulino Guajajara inside the Araribóia indigenous territory in Maranhão state. Another tribesman, Laércio Guajajara, was also shot and hospitalised and a logger has been reported missing. The tribesmen were part of an indigenous forest guard called Guardians of the Forest, which formed in 2012 to ward off logging gangs pillaging their rare, hardwood-rich reserve, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro -- President Jair Bolsonaro's son -- drew widespread criticism for suggesting employing military dictatorship-era tactics against leftist foes. The younger Bolsonaro, who is the regional representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right group “"he Movement," claimed – without offering evidence – that the recent wave of Latin American protests and the left’s return to power in Argentina were part of a Cuba-funded conspiracy to bring “revolution” to Latin America. (Guardian)
  • Twenty months after Marielle Franco's assassination, the killing's masterminds remain a mystery -- the case came back into prominence last week when a witness mentioned President Jair Bolsonaro, but remains plagued by inconsistencies and uncertainties, reports El País. (See last Wednesday's post.)
  • Brazilian investigators have identified a Greek-flagged ship as the main suspect behind the mysterious oil spill that appears to be one of the largest ever to afflict the country's beaches. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rainforest fires have been a disaster for almost everyone who lives and works in the Amazon -- but for a select group of cattle ranchers, they are a business boon, reports the New York Times.
  • Conectas Human Rights has been advocating for the rights of Venezuelan migrants and refugees and working to combat rising xenophobia in Brazil. According to WOLA, "their work has been a model of 21st Century human rights advocacy that no longer just writes reports or publishes denunciations, but works  through traditional media and social media to impact public opinion in ways that are conducive to the guarantee of human rights."
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development will distribute 2,000 metric tons of emergency food — rice, green peas and cooking oil — in Haiti. USAID recognizes the humanitarian impact of two months of anti-government protests, which have limited aid deliveries and increased hunger, reports the Miami Herald. The distributions will be made by the United Nations’ World Food Program.
  • Guatemala is known for high levels of violence -- but food shortages, worsened by climate change, undermines the development of half the country's children, reports El País. Acute malnutrition has shot up in Guatemla's "dry corridor," years of crops have been destroyed by drought. Nearly a quarter of the country's population doesn't have the minimum required to cover a basic food basket. (El País photo-essay.)
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has betrayed most of his security promises: to return the army to its barracks, to establish a new system of transitional justice and guarantee the end of impunity, writes Jorge Volpi in the Guardian. Writing about the country's war on drugs, he says: "We Mexicans live in a cemetery full of bodies with no story, and stories with no body."
  • Indeed, though AMLO promised to tackle the social roots of Mexico's violence epidemic, a year later there is little progress, reports the Guardian separately. "The country reels from a series of humiliating high-profile attacks and murder statistics surge to levels not seen even during the darkest days of Felipe Calderón’s 2006-2012 “war on drugs”."
  • Mexico's failed attempt to arrest a Sinaloa cartel leader, Ovidio Guzmán was related to US efforts to curb the opioid fentanyl, according to Mexico's security minister. Guzmán, the son of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, is wanted on allegations of smuggling fentanyl. (Reuters)
  • Mexican prosecutors charged the mother of former Pemex executive Emilio Lozoya. She is accused of money laundering and illicit association in relation to alleged Odebrecht bribes paid to her son. (El País)
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele gave Venezuela's diplomatic corps 48 hours to leave the country, in keeping with his government's position that Nicolás Maduro's government is no longer legitimate. (BBC, La Prensa Gráfica)
Regional Relations
  • Argentine president-elect Alberto Fernández is in Mexico City, and will meet with AMLO today. The two are seen as potential allies for a potential left-wing diplomatic alliance in Latin America, reports El País.
  • However, nobody should expect a revival of the pink-tide regional alliance of leftist governments -- AMLO has been more inclined to stay out regional diplomacy, and Fernández is expected to balance between ideological inclinations and pragmatism, reports the Associated Press.
  • Recent local elections in Colombia upended the national political map -- voters rejected former president Álvaro Uribe's right-wing candidates. Progressive candidate wins put President Iván Duque in a difficult position, he must mediate between urban voters hungry for change and his right-wing Centro Democrático party. The answer is dialogue and coordination, according to an El País editorial.
  • "Coral gardeners" are part of Jamaica's grassroots efforts -- more than a dozen nurseries and fish sanctuaries run with small grants -- to bring its reefs back from the brink of destruction, reports the Guardian.
  • The photography series "Las cuidadoras de Caracas," by Mariana Mendoza, shows the invisibilized care-givers of Venezuela's capital -- the vast majority are women, and whether they are paid or caring for family, their work is immense and undervalued. (Prodavinci)

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


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