Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day -- and strike (March 8, 2020)

  • Throughout Mexico, thousands of women protested against gender violence and inequality on International Women's Day. Activists hope a massive women's strike planned for tomorrow will be a turning point for a country marked by machismo, reports the Washington Post. “Fight today so we don’t die tomorrow” and “We are the voice of those who are no longer with us," read some of the signs carried today by demonstrators in Mexico City. Reporters said that cans of tear gas were apparently detonated, near the national palace, by by several men in civilian clothes.
  • Feminists in Mexico have been galvanized by two particularly gruesome recent femicides, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's cavalier reaction to their anger. In Mexico, an average of ten women are victims of femicide every day, reports AFP.
  • They are part of "a new culture against silence and machismo taking root in Mexico, a culture in which women are demanding equal treatment," writes Jorge Ramos in a New York Times op-ed.
  • In Chile more than one million people rallied for women's rights and against government repression of protests, reports Al Jazeera. Demonstrators sang what has become an international women's rights battle-hymn, "a rapist in your path," and called for yes votes in the upcoming constitutional plebiscite. (El Mostrador)
  • In Argentina women's rights activists will march tomorrow. Today the Catholic Church held a massive mass against gender violence and against abortion -- a sign of how the country's anti-choice activists are wading into this year's legalization debate. (Infobae
  • In Bogotá protesters also focused on abortion, in the context of a court decision last week that failed to broadly legalize the procedure, but also declined to ban it. (See last Tuesday's post.) The Guardian looks at this and other protests in the region and around the world.

Guayana's electoral crisis

Police killed a protester in Guyana on Friday evening, amid rising protests and tensions over the March 2 election and alleged mismanagement or fraud in the vote count. Today, (Sunday) Guyana’s top court upheld an injunction blocking the elections commission from proclaiming a winner in this month’s presidential election. (See Friday's post.)

The opposition People’s Progressive Party had filed an injunction against the nation’s Elections Commission and has demanded a full vote count. The injunction prevents the elections commission from declaring a winner while the court reviews the case. Chief Justice Roxane George said she will begin a hearing on Tuesday determine whether elections officials will need to resume verifying Region Four votes.

Region 4 votes are at the heart of the dispute: the opposition accuses electoral authorities of releasing results without verifying the votes at more than half of the polling stations, and of tampering with results to put President David Granger ahead of opposition challenger Irfaan Ali.

Protesters belonging to the PPP blocked roads around the country and clashed with police after the electoral authorities announced the government had won the most votes in the March 2 elections, overriding objections from judges, international observers and the opposition. The electoral authority (GECOM) based its announcement last week on unverified results from the capital region — in violation of a court injunction.

Pre-existing political polarization, which is largely against ethnic-lines, has been worsened by an imminent oil bonanza in Guyana, and the push to control revenue.

More from Guyana
  • Guyana's government selected a legal firm that has regularly worked for ExxonMobil to rewrite the country's oil laws -- an enterprise that will be funded with $1.96 million grant from the World Bank. The environment and rights campaign group Urgewald denounced the case, and said "this is ‘good governance’ for the oil companies, not for the people of Guyana or the global climate. The World Bank is causing a conflict of interest, in effect undermining good governance." (Guardian)
News Briefs

  • The IMF is in "wait and see" mode regarding a $229 million zero interest loan to Haiti, after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse unilaterally appointed a new prime minister without an agreement with the political opposition, reports the Miami Herald. Moïse has been ruling by executive order since January, after most lawmakers' terms expired because the country failed to hold legislative elections.
  • Venezuelan authorities detained at least 38 workers from Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela on charges of trafficking fuel -- part of a broader crackdown on Pdvsa employees, reports Reuters. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • Venezuela’s elections council said hat a fire over the weekend destroyed most of the voting machines stored in its Caracas warehouse -- a development that could potentially (further) complicate legislative elections that are supposed to be held this year, reports Reuters.
  • Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called on supporters to demonstrate on Tuesday. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Regional Relations
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, discussed the U.S.-led effort to oust Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro at a dinner on Saturday, reports Bloomberg.
  • Oprah Winfrey leaned into the whole American Dirt thing -- New York Times.
  • Reactions death of poet/revolutionary Ernesto Cárdenas was mixed -- "political polarization doesn't know very well what to do with poetry," notes Alberto Tyszka in the New York Times Español.
Corona Virus
  • Argentine health authorities announced the country's first Covid-19 death this weekend. (Associated Press)
  • There are ten reported cases in Chile and 12 in Argentina. (EFE)
  • For those of you who bug me about podcasts: check out this delightful new one hosted by Brian Winter at Americas Quarterly. He interviews Chilean political scientist Patricio Navia in the first episode, about how a constitutional referendum will not solve the problems that have Chileans on the streets.
The Latin America Daily Briefing is joining in on the Women's Strike of March 9, tomorrow -- it will be back on Tuesday, March 10. Vivas Nos Queremos.

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