Thursday, January 30, 2020

Peru's fractured congress -- with a twist (Jan. 30, 2020)

News Briefs


  • The official tally for Peru's legislative elections still isn't final, but the rapid count indicates that nine parties met the threshold to obtain seats in the unicameral congress, in what promises to be "the most pluralistic Peruvian legislature of the post-Fujimori era," reports Nacla. The Fujimorista Fuerza Popular was the clear loser of the election, but center-right neoliberal parties remained the default option for most voters -- with relevant wins by nationalist and evangelical parties.

  • The most unexpected twist was the success of the Agricultural People’s Front of Peru (Frepap), won the second largest share of the quick count vote, 8.9 percent, giving them one of largest blocs of lawmakers in Peru’s fragmented new congress, reports the Guardian. Frepap is the political party of the Israelites of the New Universal Pact, and their fundamentalist views have prompted concerns. A colorful detail: they dress like cast-members in a nativity play: the men with long hair and beards and the women in headscarves and robes.
  • Brazilian lawmaker David Miranda and his husband, journalist Glenn Greenwald, have endured vitriolic and escalating threats in recent years, but promise to maintain their mutual commitment to Brazilian democracy. "It is sometimes hard for citizens of centuries-old western democracies to appreciate how much easier it is for a young democracy like Brazil to easily slip back into full-scale tyranny, or to be violently brought back to it," they write in the Guardian. "That Brazil now has a president and is dominated by a political movement that openly seeks such a regression makes the threat all the more acute."

  • In the midst of heavy rains, people living near Brazil's mining dams are terrified, after a collapse last year killed 270. To make matters worst, Brazil’s mining regulator, ANM says its underfunded and understaffed, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See yesterday's briefs.)

  • Former soap opera star Regina Duarte is Brazil's new culture minister. (Associated Press) In the midst of the country's increasingly heated culture war, President Jair Bolsonaro insists he is "curating" rather than "censoring," according to Latin America Reports.
  • Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is scheduled to appear in Miami on Saturday -- it's not clear whether he will head to Washington DC before. Guaidó needs to show he still has the Trump administration's support, in order to maintain his position, notes the Venezuela Weekly.

  • Guaidó is supposed to return to Caracas after Miami -- though he broke a judicial travel prohibition by leaving Venezuela, President of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello, said that nothing would happen when Guaidó comes back to Venezuela. (Venezuela Weekly)

  • Venezuela's opposition-run National Assembly said it had set aside $20 million held in accounts in the United States to pay for litigation abroad as part of efforts to protect the country’s offshore assets from lawsuits by creditors, reports Reuters.

  • U.S. Senator Rick Scott irately announced he won’t take any meetings with lobbyists at the law and lobbying firm Foley & Lardner as long as the firm represents the Venezuelan Maduro government. (Politico)

  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is slowly relaxing the government's iron grip on the private sector in an attempt to stave off economic collapse, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

  • Venezuela's oil exports have steadily risen in recent months, an unexpected lifeline for Maduro, reports Reuters.

  • Maduro said he was willing to re-establish consular relations with Colombia, in the midst of a standoff between the two countries about a fugitive Colombian former senator, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

  • U.S. authorities discovered a 1.3 kilometer tunnel stretching from Tijuana in Mexico to San Diego in the U.S. It is the longest smuggling tunnel ever discovered on the south-west border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Guardian) "For all the talk about a wall between the United States and Mexico, the proliferation of such subterranean passageways demonstrates that the problem with border security is as much below ground as above," notes the New York Times.

  • Speaking of which, a section of the controversial wall the U.S. Trump administration is building on the country's border with Mexico reportedly blew over onto the Mexican side due to high winds, reports the Guardian. Beyond the potential security implications, it feels like there might be a larger, biblical message in this news byte.
  • Homero Gómez González, a former logger who became one of central Mexico's most prominent defenders of the region's monarch butterfly population, was found dead yesterday, reports the Washington Post.

  • The Mexican López Obrador administration seems determined to block requests for official information, belying lip service to transparency, writes Daniel Lizárraga, of Mexicanos contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad in the Post Opinión.

  • Mexico's Senate is gearing up to discuss cannabis regulation next week. The government must comply with Supreme Court rulings decriminalizing cannabis by May, reports Infobae. A draft bill reportedly includes free distribution of the drug for medical use. But the majority Morena party is reportedly also interested in the enormous business potential of the cannabis industry, according to Salvador García Soto in El Universal.

  • European weapons makers are quietly supplying firearms to Mexico's drug wars, along with the illegal flow of guns from the U.S., reports Vice News.
  • A landmark U.N. ruling that governments cannot return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by climate change is a potential game-changer, writes Yvonne Su at the Conversation.

  • Criminal activity is destroying mangrove ecosystems on Guatemala's Caribbean coast -- which has a knock-on effect on those of Honduras, Belize and Mexico. Now, governments and environmental organizations from these countries seek to communicate, like their ecosystems, through a Regional Strategy for Conservation and Restoration of Mesoamerican Reef Mangroves, reports Nómada.
  • Reporting on the 1981 El Mozote massacre, and the U.S. government's response at the time, has relevant lessons for press today, reports the Intercept.
  • Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is touring the island and meeting residents face-to-face, in an attempt to overcome his lack of name recognition, reports EFE.
  • Argentina's lower house of Congress approved a bill that would enable the government to handle a massive debt restructuring of bonds issued in foreign currency that it needs to negotiate with creditors. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate next week, reports Reuters.

  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández is set to meet up with Pope Francis tomorrow -- and hopes are high that the pontiff will help his home country out of its latest debt imbroglio. "It is improbable that the pope can perform the miracle of turning creditors’ cash gluttony into altruism overnight, but Argentina’s debt recidivism can nonetheless use the moral patina of Francis’ progressive economic language, especially as Mr. Fernández tries to garner support for the country’s case at the I.M.F. board," argues Marcelo J. García in a New York Times op-ed.

  • Its always hard for Peronists to explain themselves to international populist skeptics, but Ernesto Semán masterfully explains the party's perennial appeal in Argentina. "Each attempt at undoing the rights and policies that extended equality and freedom to the vast majority of Argentine society after World War II has been followed by a renewed allegiance of workers and the poor to the movement that materialized those ideals," he writes in Nacla. "The latest revival has little to do with the Peronist party itself or the bureaucracies that turned it into an efficient political machine. Rather, it reflects a vision engrained in social life, which considers that important parts of people’s lives belong to a non-commodifiable realm: health, education, housing, and even basic sustenance. At its core, the Peronist credo is not that different from the beliefs embraced today by democratic socialists in the United States."
  • Latin America's radical feminism -- and its demand for inclusion in politics -- is spreading, argues Vanessa Barbara in a New York Times op-ed.

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



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