Friday, March 6, 2020

Guyana results delayed, fraud allegations (March 6, 2020)

Both of Guayana's main political parties declared victory in Monday's elections, causing political upheaval as the country awaits official final results today. President David Granger urged his supporters to be "patient" while waiting for election officials to reveal the results of the 2 March vote. Former president Bharrat Jagdeo, also of the PPP, has accused the election authority of committing fraud. (BBC) Anti-Granger protesters burned tires at demonstrations against the alleged vote rigging, reports Stabroek News.

At the heart of the dispute are the votes from Region 4 -- Stabroek reports on a variety of interruptions to the tally that have raised questions of the count legitimacy.

Today the international observer missions from the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and The Carter Center insisted that the tabulation of results in Region 4 was interrupted and must be conducted correctly in order to establish national results. (Stabroek News)

"When all of the bewildering events of yesterday at the office of the Region Four Returning Officer are taken into account, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Gecom and its staffers are working in the interest of APNU+AFC and  rigging the 2020 general elections right before our eyes," argues a scathing Stabroek News editorial, that accuses the electoral authorities of blatant wrongdoing.

An imminent oil bonanza in Guyana has exacerbated historical political tensions, reports the New York Times. And some fear the upheaval this week around the elections is a sign of troubles that will worsen in the near future. In the days since the election, "public debate has descended into a cycle of historical grievances. Both parties fear that if they concede, the opposing party would use the oil wealth to shut them out of government for years to come — and deprive their constituents of their fair share of revenue," explains the NYT.

Though the economic decisions taken by the next government will determine whether and how Guyana can harness the country's oil wealth for development. But neither major party has offered a concrete plan.

News Briefs

International Women's Day
  • Many Latin American countries treat gender-based murders differently than regular homicides -- the Economist looks at arguments for and against femicide laws.
  • Many of Mexico's 21 million registered female workers are expected to stay home on Monday to protest gender violence. The women's strike could be the boldest women's rights action since Me Too, according to the Washington Post. (See post for Feb. 27.) Many public offices and private companies have given women the liberty to join, and economic losses in the capital could be $300 million, according to one estimate.
  • The fight against gender violence is led by feminist groups, the first big social movement to form during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's presidency, reports the Economist.
  • "Women have become the protagonists of thousands upon thousands of stories of violence and impunity at the hands of men who, in public and in private, feel they have a right to decide over our lives and our bodies," write three lawmakers from different Mexican parties in support for the strike and the social movements who have convened it. (Americas Quarterly)
  • The country's young feminist activists have shaken the government with their varied actions in protest of gender violence, including some forms of violent or illegal actions -- painting public buildings, taking over academic establishments and attempting to burn certain public buildings -- reminiscent of the British suffragettes. "Their bellicosity is proportional to the violence to which they are exposed," writes Laura Castellanos in the Post Opinión.
  • More than a million women are preparing to join a massive protest in Chile on Sunday, to mark International Women's Day. The march is expected to reignite the wave of demonstrations and unrest, ahead of April's plebiscite on whether to reform the constitution, reports the Guardian
  • "Time is running out to avert a disaster" in Chile, warns Patricio Navas in an Americas Quarterly piece. He argues against a constitutional rewrite as a solution to deep economic and social frustration felt by many Chileans. If Chilean's approve the April referendum, they "will embark on a two-year long process to write a new Constitution that will be full of uncertainty, put a great deal of normal life (including economic activity and investment) on hold, and likely yield a document that is not substantially different in content from our current charter. ... The outcome of this process may well be the opposite of what its supporters intend: A country that is less stable, less equal, and more closely resembles some of our less stable Latin American peers."
Regional Relations
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump tomorrow at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to Reuters.
  • Brazil is moving to downgrade its diplomatic relationship with Venezuela, and removed five diplomats and 11 members of consular staff in Caracas, yesterday. (Al Jazeera)
  • Venezuela has swapped millions of barrels of crude for supplies of corn and water trucks under an oil-for-food deal struck with a Mexican firm, Libre Abordo. The exchange of food aid in exchange for oil, rather than cash, means the company is, apparently, not affected by U.S. sanctions, reports Reuters.
  • Venezuela's Maduro government accused opposition leader Juan Guaidó of hiring a criminal to point a gun at his head during a recent rally. (See Monday's briefs.) The opposition rejects the allegations, and say a criminal's confession is trumped up, reports the Associated Press.
  • Venezuelan authorities arrested the head of PDVSA's lubricants division this week, on corruption allegations. Intelligence police also raided the properties of other PDVSA executives, reports Reuters. Last week, authorities detained two managers in PDVSA’s supply and trading division, later accusing them of collaborating with Washington.
  • Bolivia's MAS party retains a significant following and could well win a spot in run-off elections in May's presidential election redo. But the party of ousted President Evo Morales faces an uphill battle in the midst of "a right-wing “transition” government dedicated to demolishing his legacy," reports Jacobin.
  • Interim-president Jeanine Áñez's candidacy in the elections only adds fodder to the narrative that Morales was the victim of a coup, and could push further political instability in Bolivia, reports the Economist.
  • A three day forced strike by Colombia's ELN earlier this month shows the guerrilla force's power, reports InSight Crime. Entire rural communities were left paralyzed due to the fear of reprisals for not abiding by the group’s orders.
  • Demands for better social services by hundreds of thousands of protesters mean that Colombian taxes must increase to pay for programs, finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla explained to the Financial Times.
  • Peruvian diplomat Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, former United Nations Secretary General, died at the age of 100 in Lima this week. He led the U.N. "through bitter confrontation with the U.S. Congress during the Reagan administration to a period of unprecedented peacemaking that coincided with the end of the Cold War," according to the Washington Post.
Fake docs
  • Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho and his brother won't be charged by Paraguayan authorities for using fake passports to enter the country yesterday -- but it's not immediately clear why they did so in the first place, reports the Washington Post.

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