Thursday, July 30, 2020

Argentine gov't presents judicial reform (July 30, 2020)

Argentine President Alberto Fernández launched a judicial reform proposal yesterday. The bill the executive will send to congress this week would increase the number of federal courts from 12 to 46, a move aimed at diluting the power of federal judges who are widely perceived to wield their power with political motivation. Corruption investigations into former government officials are tainted by accusations of political persecution.

"Never again a Justice to settle political discussions," said Fernández, who framed the reform as an attempt to “overcome the crises that affect [the judicial system's] credibility.” He will also seek to implement the so-called ‘accusatorial’ (or adversarial) legal system, a move already approved by lawmakers that was blocked by former president Mauricio Macri. (Buenos Aires Times, Ambito)

But the proposal was received along heavily partisan lines: members of the governing coalition widely applauded it while the main opposition coalition, Cambiemos, said the move aims to get political allies out of ongoing corruption investigations. 

The government rejected the claims.

"We have heard the claims that this reform suits the government or the vice president's bids for impunity. Nothing is further from reality. Those currently in the system will continue to have their cases tried by the same judges," Justice Minister Marcela Losardo told Reuters.

More Argentina
  • Argentina's government is considering pushing back a deadline for creditors to respond to its foreign debt restructuring proposal until mid-to-late August, according to Reuters.
News Briefs

  • Cuban authorities committed numerous rights violations in June against people organizing a protest over police violence, effectively suppressing the demonstration, according to a new Human Rights Watch report. (See July 2's briefs.)
  • Colombia’s Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez has withdrawn a criminal complaint alleging InSight Crime Co-director Jeremy McDermott defamed her character in a series about a drug trafficker known as Memo el Fantasma. The decision came after widespread national and international outcry concerning the criminal complaint.
  • The region's coronavirus exacerbated economic crisis has more than 11 million people in Latin America "marching towards the brink of starvation," according to U.N. food agency chief David Beasley. (CBS News)
  • A new Inter-American Development Bank report marks that the coronavirus economic crisis in the Caribbean is unprecedented, and that its economic impact is likely to be severe for The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago. Some Caribbean economies are among the most tourism -dependent in the world, notes the report.
Regional Relations
  • The Trump administration is readying a new initiative that would use financial incentives to encourage U.S. firms to move production facilities out of Asia and into the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, White House advisor Mauricio Claver-Carone told Reuters. He said the project could bring $30 billion to $50 billion in U.S. investment back to the Americas.
  • Claver-Carone is the U.S. candidate to head the IADB. If he is elected it will be a break with the institution's unbroken tradition of a Latin American head, which "would undermine its fundamental mission in a new inter-American system," argue Roberta Jacobson and Dan Restrepo in Americas Quarterly. "U.S. engagement and support for the bank is critical. It provides important leverage for U.S. taxpayer dollars devoted to economic and social development in countries that have a profound impact on the well-being and interests of the United States. But to be effective, to be an instrument of partnership in which each country carries its respective burden – and not be an antiquated instrument of implicit U.S. hemispheric ownership – the IDB cannot be reduced to a mere tool of U.S. policy."
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that former Haitian paramilitary leader Emmanuel "Toto" Constant, who was deported from the U.S. last month, must be held accountable for the gross human rights violations committed in the 1990s. Recent statements by judicial officials raised concerns that he might be released and evade justice. Constant was convicted in absentia in 2000 and sentenced to life imprisonment over his involvement in the 1994 Raboteau massacre when military and paramilitary forces attacked the Raboteau neighbourhood in Gonaïves. (OHCHR)
  • Bolivia's police are collecting corpses of people who have died in their homes or public spaces, as the country's health systems are overwhelmed by coronavirus. in La Paz and El Alto have collected since April more than 3,300 bodies of people who died at home or in public places, about 80 percent of whom are suspected of having been infected with Covid-19, reports Reuters.
  • Coca cultivation jumped 10 percent in Bolivia in 2019, the final year of President Evo Morales' government, partly because of reduced eradication efforts amid rising social and political conflicts, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (Associated Press)
  • Guatemalan hospitals have had to bury dozens of unidentified Covid-19 victims -- many who arrived too ill to give personal details -- though they are taking steps to create records in hopes that relatives will eventually come forward, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexico's Supreme Court rejected an injunction that would have effectively decriminalised termination in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, reports the BBC. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Chile's government ruled out the privatization of state-owned mining giant Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, reports Reuters.


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