Tuesday, June 16, 2020

OAS calls on Guyana's gov't to start transition (June 16, 2020)

The OAS called on Guyana's electoral authorities to declare the main opposition party, the PPP, the winner of the disputed March 2 elections. In  a statement yesterday, the organization called on "the current administration of Guyana to begin the process of transition, which will allow the legitimately elected government to take its place." 

The OAS is backing the international CARICOM observer mission, which validates the recount process, though it notes “some defects” and “irregularities. “The people of Guyana expressed their will at the ballot box and as a result the CARICOM observer team concludes that the recount results are completely acceptable,” concluded the observer team in its report to Guyana's electoral authorities. (OAS, Miami Herald, Stabroek News)

The report contrasts with that of Guyana's Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, who this weekend said the results of the 33-day recount do not meet the standard of fair and credible elections. (CMC) The OAS said Lowenfield’s contention that it cannot be ascertained, in each of the 10 electoral districts, that the results meet the criteria of free and fair elections, “is astonishing.”

President David Granger has said he would accept the results of the recount, but has since raised questions about its credibility, leading some to believe he may try to stay and challenge the process in the courts, reports the Miami Herald. (See also Stabroek News.)

The election has raised concerns about the country's political stability on the cusp of an oil boom -- in what is increasingly a troubled region. Neighbor Suriname is facing its own contentious election, with results expected tomorrow that could oust longtime leader President Desiré “Dési” Bouterse, who was convicted of murder by a military court last November.

News Briefs

  • Haitian health officials said Covid-19 cases in the country have peaked already as detected cases are dropping. The information might mean the epidemic will hit the country less strongly than feared originally, though low testing rates raise questions about the data, reports AFP.
  • "The health, social and economic crisis generated by Covid-19 is just a prelude to what the planet can face if it does not respond to the climate emergency," warn Rodrigo Echecopar and Mariana Belmont in El País, where they explore what a "green recovery" will look like. Among other things, it would be planted on a foundation of regional cooperation, defense of the communities most affected by climate change, and scientific realism.
  • Even as Latin America is the new global coronavirus epicenter, Brazil seems to be a particularly unique case: despite soaring infection numbers, there was never a national lockdown, nor national testing plan. And as numbers keep climbing, individual cities are lifting their own restrictions on movement, reports the Washington Post. "The inaction has pushed the country onto a path that scientists call uncharted."
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that the country’s military would not obey any order to remove an elected president. In a radio interview yesterday he said the armed forces would not accept "a political judgment to remove a democratically elected president," reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • The federal government excluded 2019 numbers on police violence from its annual human rights report, reports Folha de S. Paulo. In the most recent documents, police violence had increased steadily. The report is considered one of the central thermometers on the violation of human rights and includes violence of any kind, such as against children, adolescents, and the elderly - and police violence.
  • "Is it safe to abandon social isolation and protest during a pandemic? No. But is it safe to be a black person in the United States? In Brazil? It never was and it is not." The latest episode of Novo Normal talks about the anti-racist struggle and the black genocide, and features Monica Cunha and Ligia Batista.
  • The global pandemic has unleashed severe economic pain in Latin America. Experience with previous crises demonstrates that counter-cyclical policies work, but the region's governments have been timid in the best of cases, writes Gustavo A. Flores-Macías in a New York Times Español op-ed. And if attention is not paid to economic needs, the next victims of the crisis could be the region's fragile democratic systems, he warns.
El Salvador
  • Pandemic unemployment in the U.S. have drastically impacted remittances to Central America. From January to April, El Salvador received $1.6 billion in family remittances, which marks a drop of 9.8% compared to the same period in 2019. The largest decrease in shipments was in April, when the total fell to $287 million — 40% less than the same month last year, reports AFP.
  • "The trial of Salvadoran Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, which began last week in Madrid, provides El Salvador a historic opportunity to learn from the past and reduce impunity in the future, but the government and elites appear unlikely to seize it," writes Héctor Silva Ávalos at the Aula Blog. (See June 8's briefs.)
Dominican Republic
  • Race issues are raising tensions in the Dominican Republic, where the global wave of Black Lives Matter protests has arrived just ahead of the July 26 presidential elections. Some predict that the vote could end to 24 years of nearly uninterrupted governance by the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (the Dominican Liberation party, or PLD), reports the Guardian.
  • Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador said on Monday he would sell gasoline to Venezuela for "humanitarian" reasons if asked to, despite U.S. sanctions, reports Reuters. AMLO said he had not received any such request.
  • Chile's new health minister announced Sunday that the country's official death toll will include suspected cases, which could double the current figure. (AFP)
  • Chilean miners unions are questioning the country's "business as usual" approach to the sector in the midst of what they said was an "alarming" increase in coronavirus cases among workers. (Reuters)
  • Peru's economic activity sank 40.49 percent year-on-year in April, its worst-ever percentage drop in output, due to the country's strict coronavirus lockdown, reports Reuters.
  • Lima's archbishop filled his church with more than 5,000 portraits of those who have died in the pandemic for Sunday's mass, and broadcast a homily criticizing a health system he said was “based on egotism and on business and not on mercy and solidarity with the people," reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Google is collaborating with Uruguay's government to develop an application that would give citizens early coronavirus exposure alerts. (El PaisInfobae)
  • Uruguay is a regional standout in many ways, including avoiding the worst of the global pandemic. "The country has long stood out for its vibrant participatory democracy, low inequality and expansive social policies – all attributes that help explain Uruguay’s relative success in the pandemic," writes Jennifer Pribble in the Conversation.
  • The reasons behind Uruguay's startling success involve rapid response by the government, but also a lot of long-term factors, Giovanni Escalante, the WHO representative in Uruguay, told the Latin America Advisor. "Uruguay’s rapid and timely response to the disease has as key ingredients: a national integrated health system of mainly public funding; a unique command from the highest level of government, with the involvement of all social and productive sectors, the support of all key actors, including political parties; and a population with responsible civic behaviors."
  • In a similar vein, also in the Latin America Advisor, Wilson Center researcher Nicolás Saldías, emphasized Uruguay's relatively low poverty rate, and that "comparatively few Uruguayans live in the dense informal settlements that surround other Latin American cities. Uruguay’s urbanized core is surrounded by a sparsely populated interior that acts as a barrier to spread," he said.
Critter Corner
  • Diego, the 100-year-old giant Galápagos tortoise credited with saving his species has been retired from his breeding in captivity duties after decades of hard work. (Guardian)
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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