Friday, June 5, 2020

Bolivia's protracted political crisis (June 5, 2020)

News Briefs

  • This week Bolivia's electoral tribunal announced that elections would be held by Sept. 6 (see Wednesday's briefs). Pandemic has prolonged Bolivia's political crisis -- delaying a redo vote originally scheduled for march and throwing in an extra element of uncertainty, reports Brendan O'Boyle in Americas Quarterly. Key issues that could define the results include when the vote actually happens -- interim president Jeanne Áñez has questioned the electoral tribunal's announcement and critics say she is using the pandemic to extend her grip on power. Other factors to keep in mind are how bad the pandemic gets and whether anti-MAS voters can unify behind a single candidate, the only way they can effectively challenge former president Evo Morales' still-popular party.
  • Ánez's popularity has increased as a result of her pandemic response, meaning she might well get into a second round with MAS candidate Luis Arce. However, growing tension between Áñez and other anti-MAS candidates could complicate her victory and chances to beat MAS, notes Latin America Risk Report. "With the top two scenarios coming out of this election being an Añez or Arce victory, the chances for a polarized and difficult post-election environment are high."
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's controversial governance style in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is fueling widespread pro-democracy movements calling for his impeachment, reports the Miami Herald. (See yesterday's post and Monday's.)
  • Former justice minister Sergio Moro quit in April after accusing Bolsonaro of seeking to interfere in federal police investigations involving family members. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Moro said Bolsonaro abandoned his election promise to fight corruption.
  • Brazil has overtaken Italy as the country with the third-highest Covid-19 death toll after a daily record of 1,473 fatalities took its total tally to more than 34,000. (Guardian) As Folha de S. Paulo put it on its cover today, that is a death a minute, at exactly 100 days since the first case was diagnosed in Brazil on Feb. 25.
  • Meanwhile, Mexico reported 816 deaths yesterday, the second consecutive daily record there, while total deaths surpassed 12,000, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Mexico is reopening gradually, even as medical experts fear it will lead to further Covid-19 infections, reports the New York Times.
  • Even as Mexico reopens, crematoriums and funeral homes are overwhelmed, and mortality data shows the death toll is far higher than official numbers, reports the New York Times.
  • Mexico seems unable to seize "a unique opportunity to entice greater regionalization of supply chains and investments away from China" in the pandemic context, said Arturo Sarukhan in today's Latin America Advisor.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has asked contractors for proposals to shore up the border wall that the Trump administration sold as "impenetrable," reports the Washington Post.
  • Iran's success in sending five oil tankers to Venezuela, despite U.S. sanctions and threats to desist, mark a shift towards an offensive approach, reports the Financial Times.
  • Javier Corrales explores 20 years of voting irregularities in Venezuela and how they contributed to democratic backsliding, in an article for the European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. "Electoral irregularities served two goals: to provide double insurance for the ruling party, and to encourage abstentionism (and divisions) across the opposition. They also increased every time the ruling party felt more electorally threatened."
Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Voters in Saint Kitts and Nevis head to the polls today, in a general election. (St. Kitts Nevis Observer) Team Unity coalition led by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris is seeking a second term in office, while the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) is led by former Prime Minister  Dr. Denzil Douglas. (St. Kitts Nevis Observer) A three member CARICOM observer mission arrived in the country this week and will stay through the weekend.
  • Nicaraguan infectologist Carlos Quant said he was forced out of  his post in a public hospital due to his public criticism of the Nicaraguan government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis, reports Confidencial. A health system lawyer accused Quant of absenteeism, a charge the doctor said was false.
  • Nicaragua's Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) called for the government to take stronger measures to contain Covid-19 contagion, and urged Nicaraguans to stay home of their own volition, reports Confidencial.
  • Guayana's vote recount is nearly done, and the opposition PPP/C has a lead over the incumbent APNU+AFC, reports Stabroek News. There is concern over whether President David Granger will accept the result of the March 2 general election, reports Stabroek News.
  • Peru's generally strong Covid-19 response has failed in the country's Amazon region, where indigenous groups are struggling to prevent what they call an ethnocide, reports Nacla.
  • Latin America's geographic contours make air travel especially relevant to connecting the region -- which makes the Covid-19 airline crisis particularly worrisome for governments, according to the Economist.
El Salvador
  • Remittances to El Salvador dropped 40 percent in April from the same month last year, due to job losses in the U.S. Experts think the drop could be about 20 percent year-over-year in May and will exacerbate already difficult economic times for millions—and fuel further waves of immigration in coming years, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Medellín's mayor Daniel Quintero acted fast with coronavirus, and deployed a program that gathers vast amounts of data that helps the city predict outbreaks and help people stay home. The city's track record has been excellent: just three people have died and eight are in the hospital, reports the Economist.
  • Racial discrimination takes many forms in the region -- Morgan Miller explores how the Dominican Republic's anti-immigration laws related to racism. (Americas Quarterly)
Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica's recent legalization of same-sex marriage "is the kind of civil rights victory that can be expected when a country adopts a goverment model that fuses social inclusion with liberal institutions and rejects populism in favor of rule of law," writes Javier Corrales in a New York Times Español.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share. 

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