Monday, February 10, 2020

Bukele's postponed self-coup (Feb. 10, 2020)

El Salvador's political opposition says President Nayib Bukele carried out a "self coup" yesterday when he briefly occupied the National Assembly building with armed military troops. Bukele countered in an interview with El País that if he were a dictator, he would have taken control of "everything." (See the full analysis of El Salvador's constitutional crisis in the post from earlier today.)

The situation puts El Salvador's lawmakers in a tough spot: if they reject the security loan Bukele is demanding, he will have justification for overriding them, at the same time, they likely feel obligated to push back against Bukele in some way after yesterday's show of force, writes James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report.

News Briefs

  • A notorious hitman was gunned down by Brazilian police yesterday. The death of Adriano da Nóbrega leaves important questions unanswered in relation to the assassination of Rio councillor Marielle Franco -- his gang of contract killers is suspected of involvement in the 2018 murder. Franco’s leftist PSOL party said Nóbrega was a “key piece” in discovering who ordered Franco’s killing and called for a full investigation. Police said Nóbrega had opened fire on officers when they attempted to apprehend him. (Guardian)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro filmed himself watching -- and commenting on -- U.S. President Donald Trump's entire speech celebrating his Senate impeachment acquittal. It's only the latest example of a habit of celebrating the North American leader that critics say is obsequious, but also serve as a symbolic message to the Bolsonaro base, reports the Guardian.
  • The recent deaths of two butterfly conservationists in Mexico has drawn attention to a troubling tangle of disputes, resentments and occasional bouts of harrowing violence that has lingered over the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, reports the Guardian.
  •  President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is bringing Mexico's marines back into the country's war on drugs, a return to the discredited kingpin strategy, in response to U.S. pressure, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Is the child vigilante group of the Ayahualtempa community a media stunt or an actual security strategy? In any case, the violence they face in Mexico's Guerrero state is far too real -- Washington Post.
  • Mexico will not actually raffle off its unwanted presidential jet, after social media lampooned López Obrador's plan to do so. "We did not want to award a prize that would be a problem,” López Obrador said. “You know, the memes – ‘Where would I park it?'" (Guardian)
  • Nicaraguan authorities lifted their 18-month blockade of newsprint to La Prensa, a measure that had threatened to strangle the country's best known daily publication. La Prensa’s editors had protested that newsprint and other imported supplies had been held up in customs in retaliation for its coverage of anti-government demonstrations in 2018, reports the Washington Post.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to propose $4.8 trillion budget that will include billions of additional dollars for his wall along the southern border, today. (New York Times)
  • Up to 50 people are due to be forcibly returned to Jamaica on a flight leaving tomorrow from the U.K. Dozens are mounting last-minute legal challenges to try to halt their deportation, reports the Guardian.
Climate Change
  • Latin America is already experiencing the dire consequences of climate change -- including the displacement of millions of people. But the region has been slow to share the information needed for comprehensive strategies, write Fernanda de Salles Cavedon-Capdeville and Erika Pires Ramos at the AULA blog.
  • Russia has maintained warm ties with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, in juxtaposition to the U.S. embrace of his rival, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, reports El País.
  • Venezuela's embattled Maduro government is surrendering control of its oil industry to foreign companies, a last-ditch attempt to keep the country's tattered economy afloat -- essentially a stealth privatization, reports the New York Times.
  • Argentina is the clearest and longest example of the "middle-income trap" -- a term that describes the difficulty countries have in attaining "developed" status after successfully graduating from the "low-income" category, writes Eduardo Levy-Yeyati in Americas Quarterly.
  • Argentina’s new government heads into do-or-die talks this week with the IMF, the country's largest sovereign debt creditor. (Reuters)
  • Economic crises punctuate Argentine decades, and their accumulation has left us with a sort of national post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the feeling of being trapped in an eternal recurrence, I argue in a New York Times Español op-ed. President Alberto Fernández has proposed a social pact, that seeks broad cooperation to avoid yet another meltdown. Economic measures aimed at slowing down inflation, like price accords monitored by cell phone-armed retirees, also serve a psychological function: an active defense from the ever-looming crisis. We're standing on the edge of the abyss, but it might just work.

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


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