Thursday, February 20, 2020

DR protests after botched election (Feb. 20, 2020)

News Briefs

Dominican Republic
  • Protests are building in the Dominican Republic after electronic voting system glitches forced authorities to cancel municipal elections last Sunday, reports the Miami Herald. Yesterday hundreds of people demanded the resignation of electoral board members, and on Tuesday police broke up a protest with tear gas. Authorities have already scheduled a new, manual vote for March 15. 
  • But questions regarding the veracity of the voting system -- there have been allegations of sabotage as well -- bode ill ahead of May's presidential election, which polls indicate will be a tight race, notes the Latin America Risk Report.
  • Mexican law-enforcement officers are investigating former President Enrique Peña Nieto. The probe is part of the broader case against his close ally, Emilio Lozoya, the former head of state-run oil company Petróleos Mexicanos. It's one of the highest-profile corruption cases the country has seen in years, reports the Wall Street Journal. (See last Thursday's briefs.) Government investigators say that Odebrecht paid Lozoya $9 million in exchange for Pemex contracts, while Lozoya was a top campaign official for Peña Nieto's 2012 presidential run.
  • Femicides and popular anger about them are fueling a major leadership test for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- and he's mostly failing, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Kidnappers prey on migrants in Mexico with nearly total impunity, according a new MSF report that found that 80% of migrants waiting have been abducted by the mafia and 45% have suffered violence or violation. (Guardian)
  • Colombia has made herculean efforts to absorb the record flows of migration from Venezuela -- in part responding to an old debt of hospitality to a country that received Colombian migrants in the past. "Various generations of foreigners integrated into the Venezuelan scene and made contributions in diverse disciplines. This recent past offers a mirror for Colombia to look in," writes Sinar Alvarado, who migrated from Colombia to Venezuela and back again. "A certain xenophobe discourse says that attending migrants means postponing local needs. False." (New York Times Español)
  • Four Guatemalan media outlets joined to create GuatemalaLeaks -- a platform aimed at promoting transparency and accountability through sharing information of public interest. Agencia Ocote, Plaza Pública, El Intercambio, and Ojoconmipisto, are collaborating with Poder and Red Ciudadana on the new project which follows on similar experiences in Chile, Perú and Mexico. (Agencia Ocote)
Regional Relations
  • Eight Democratic party candidates are vying to to take on U.S. President Donald Trump in this year's election -- and they have a range of visions on what Latin America policy should be -- from Guaidó and elections in Venezuela to prioritizing trade or anti-corruption policies. Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren answered an Americas Quarterly questionnaire. One thing they do agree on: aid to Central America should not be tied to the countries' government's slowing migration. 
  • The Coronavirus has economic impact on several aspects of Latin America's economy -- Americas Quarterly.
  • Bolivia's public prosecutor has opened an investigation into "electoral fraud" against former president Evo Morales and some of his closest allies. (AFP)
  • Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which has been completely renewed since Morales' ouster last November, said it has not yet determined whether Morales is qualified to run for senator in May's election. The statement yesterday was in response to press pieces saying Morales was barred from participating. (AFPTelesur)
  • The International Monetary Fund said that Argentina’s debt was unsustainable and private creditors would need to make a “meaningful contribution” to help end the country's financial crisis -- meaning take a significant hit. However earlier this week, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said the fund expected to be paid back in full on a $44 billion bailout plan. (Financial Times, Wall Street Journal)
  • Argentine activists -- from several generations -- demonstrated, yesterday, in Buenos Aires and around the country in favor of legalizing abortion. (Al Jazeera)
  • Rival marches for and against abortion took place yesterday in Colombia, where the Constitutional Court will debate whether to allow the practice in the first three months of a pregnancy. Colombian President Iván Duque questioned whether his country was ready to fully legalize abortion. (AFP)
  • Colombian military leadership systematically abuse intelligence information in order to intimidate dissident officials, according to an explosive allegation made by an army colonel. Lieutenant Colonel Álvaro Amórtegui said he and his family have been harassed in response to his denunciations of irregularities. (Semana)
  • Venezuela's embattled leader Nicolás Maduro tapped Vice President for the Economy Tareck El Aissami to head a new presidential commission to restructure the country's oil industry. The move followed the U.S. decision to sanction Russian energy company Rosneft, a further hit to Venezuela's ability to raise cash. (See yesterday's briefs.) Maduro declared an “energy emergency,” and set a goal for Venezuela to raise crude output to 2 million barrels per day this year, more than double current levels, reports Reuters.
  • A Brazilian senator, Cid Gomes, has been injured after shots were fired at him during a stand-off with police. (BBC)
  • More than half of Brazil's population is of African descent, but black people are severely underrepresented in the country's corporate ranks, a statistic that is even worst for black women. (Americas Quarterly)

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


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