Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Guyana's ruling party to challenge recount (June 9, 2020)

Guyana's opposition PPP party has a lead in the recount of votes from the March 2 general election. If the recount is sustained, opposition candidate Irfaan Ali will be sworn in as the country's next president. However, the ruling APNU+AFC coalition that has been in power since 2015 rejected the recount, yesterday, and said it would and said it would go to court to prevent the elections commission from declaring a winner. President David Granger's ruling coalition has accused the PPP of fraud, allegations the opposition party has rejected.

The disputed election, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, has paralyzed the country since March. The Finance Ministry warned it’s unable to access funds amid the coronavirus pandemic because there is no functioning Parliament, which was dissolved in December, reports the Associated Press.

The disputed vote may fuel long-simmering tensions between two country's two main ethnic groups, Afro-Guyanese and those of Indian descent, each of which has grown suspicious that the other is seeking control over revenues from oil production, reports Reuters.

News Briefs

  • A Brazilian supreme court justice ordered the country's health ministry to resume reporting cumulative, as well as daily, Covid-19 data. (Globo) National officials had suddenly expunged the information from the official site, citing methodological issues, a move critics say is aimed at covering up the true impact of the pandemic in Brazil. Some drew parallels with the suppression of information in authoritarian countries such as North Korea and Venezuela while others recalled how Brazil’s own military regime had covered up a meningitis epidemic in the 1970s, with devastating consequences, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Lawmakers and health experts were particularly withering about the Bolsonaro administration's decision -- and were more broadly critical of the government's ongoing downplaying of the coronavirus threat, reports the New York Times.
  • The coronavirus is exposing Brazil's deep racial inequalities, reports the Guardian. As is occurring in other countries in the world, more black people are dying, proportionally, of Covid-19. Researchers, doctors and health specialists believe factors including poverty, poor access to health services, overcrowded housing and high rates of health issues such as hypertension are some of the reasons in Brazil.
  • Raucous "Covid-19" parties taking place in Brazil are a symptom of the country's fractured pandemic response, reports the Guardian.
  • Former Brazilian justice minister Sergio Moro is anxious to recover his position as the country's justice crusader, but in doing so conveniently forgets his own role in undermining the country's rule of law, writes Gaspard Estrada in a New York Times Español op-ed.
El Salvador
  • Three of Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele's brothers are among the administration's most influential power brokers, though they do not hold official posts, reports El Faro. The president's grip on power is helped by other members of the clan who control other key sectors, including several cousins, childhood friends, and Bukele's wife, according to the report.
  • It has been a year since the U.S. and Mexico committed to a migration agreement -- involving the deployment of Mexico's national guard to the country's southern border with Guatemala, and the implementation of "Remain in Mexico -- that has since made the humanitarian disaster at the U.S.-Mexico border and in southern Mexico much worse, write Elyssa Pachico and Maureen Meyerat WOLA. "Moving forward, these harmful and chaotic policies are likely to endure under the false pretext that they’re needed to contain further spread of the COVID-19 virus and to prevent mass migration to the United States."
  • Female Venezuelan migrants face a specific set of challenges that make them more vulnerable to exploitation and violence, writes Kristen Martinez-Gugerli at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. "As the crisis has deepened, the demographics of Venezuelan migrants and refugees has shifted, with more women and families of a lower socioeconomic status leaving. These women not only have greater difficulty finding formal employment in their host countries, but also face a heightened threat of sex trafficking, sexual slavery, and other forms of exploitation by criminal groups."
  • Venezuela's new dual-price gasoline system failed to end epic lines -- this weekend hundreds of Venezuelans queued up for subsidized fuel, reports Reuters.
  • The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald gives a bit of context regarding a report that the OAS's analysis of Bolivia's election last year was flawed. (See yesterday's post.) "It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance of the OAS accusations in driving Morales from his own country and, with no democratic mandate, shifting power in lithium-rich Bolivia to the white, Christian, U.S.-subservient right."
  • "The Colombian department of Norte de Santander ... has the highest rate of forced disappearances in the entire country – increasing as implementation of the historic peace accord signed in 2016 has faltered," write Jessica Spanswick and Javier Ochoa at the Aula Blog.
  • A new Honduran law targeting drug planes will afford the country's government improved access to US counternarcotics intelligence, even as U.S. prosecutors have repeatedly alleged the Honduran president has links to the drug trade. "When it comes to curbing drug trafficking, the relationship between the United States and Honduras is beginning to appear schizophrenic," according to InSight Crime.
  • Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra has managed to retain a high approval rating, bucking both Peruvian and regional trends, notes the Latin America Risk Report.
  • Argentina's government will take over an bankrupt soy giant Vicentin. The company is an iconic brand in national food production, and the move is aimed at defending jobs and the country's food exporting sector, said President Alberto Fernández, yesterday. Critics say the expropriation move is ideological, while government supporters note questionable public loans made under the last administration shortly before Vicentin declared itself insolvent in December. (Reuters, Buenos Aires Times, BAE Negocios)
  • An Argentine judicial investigation has uncovered an illicit surveillance network that targeted politicians, among others under the government of former president Mauricio Macri. Vice president (and former president) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was among the targets, as was Buenos Aires city mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (of Macri's party). (Página 12)
  • Separately, an audit of Argentina's intelligence agency uncovered a list of 400 journalists with data on their political leanings, from 2017 and 2018, and included reporters for international media. The information was apparently gathered in relation to international summits held in Buenos Aires those years, and also includes profiles of 28 academics, 58 businesspeople, prominent figures from civil society and socialist party leaders. The foreign correspondents association hit out at Macri for the "inadmissible" investigations, while two Argentine press unions also blasted the former administration.  (Associated Press, AFP, Buenos Aires Times)
  • Pandemic realities have brought home the relevance of the care economy, Argentina's Director of Economy, Equality, and Gender told me for an article in Americas Quarterly. She notes that the lockdown has heightened the importance of work that is often minimized, underpaid (or unpaid) and carried out largely by women, including domestic work, childcare and education. Feminist economics is relevant for all of the region's gender struggles, she explained. Issues like femicides and abortion have a strong economic component. "The inequality of machista violence also has its base in economic inequality, in women’s lack of economic autonomy," she said.
  • Latin American history has an important lesson to impart to the region's neighbor to the north: using military force to quell protesters erodes democracy, writes Kristina Mani in the Conversation.
  • Social media radicalization is one of the worst reactions to governments that aren't respecting democracy, argues Leo Felipe Campos in a New York Times Español op-ed.
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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