Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Guyana's ongoing election crisis (July 7, 2020)

News Briefs

  • Five months after Guyana's March 2 general election, the country remains in a prolonged political paralysis. The bulk of the international community said the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won, after a lengthy recount process monitored by Caricom. But incumbent David Granger latched onto a national report indicating a large number of votes that should be invalidated, and has taken the issue the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice. “Guyana is not a rogue state,” Granger told the Washington Post. “We are on a path, albeit a slow one.” The international community is pushing Guyana to move forward. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week urged the Guyanese to “get on with it” and threatened potential punitive measures on Guyana or its leading officials if the country’s democracy remains deadlocked.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is headed to Washington this week -- his first trip out of the country in the 19 months since he took office. The visit -- in the midst of the U.S. election campaign and in the midst of a pandemic, with the added ingredient that he's flying commercial -- has surprised and angered politicians on both sides of the border, reports the Washington Post. The two presidents come from opposite ends of the political spectrum and initially had strong rhetoric against each other, but they now regularly laud each other as “friends,” and their governments have collaborated closely on diverse thorny issues, including immigration, cross-border crime and bilateral trade, notes the Los Angeles Times.
  • More than half of Mexico's population labors under the false impression that they are part of the middle class -- whereas in reality just 12 percent of the country can be thus categorized. The discrepancy means most voter fail to understand the policies they really need, writes Viri Rios in a New York Times Español op-ed. The issue is not just income, but other factors such as social security, or access to health and education.
  • Spain's National Administrative Tribunal agreed on Monday to extradite Emilio Lozoya, former chief executive of oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, to Mexico -- Reuters.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has forced an impossible choice on asylum seekers in U.S.: risk infection in detention centers, or return to death threats at home -- Reuters.
  • Brazilians are on edge awaiting the results of President Jair Bolsonaro's latest coronavirus test -- due later today, reports the New York Times. The president went to the hospital for a lung scan, yesterday, after developing Covid-19 symptoms, including a fever. He has been an extremely vocal critic of social distancing measures, and has refused to wear a mask even as Brazil became a global Covid-19 hotspot. Bolsonaro attended a luncheon on Saturday hosted by the American ambassador in Brazil to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, without a mask, of course. (Guardian)
  • A 21-year-old man was shot dead in Santiago de Chile by the police during demonstrations against President Sebastian Piñera's economic policies in the pandemic context on Friday evening. Police claim the man, who was from Haiti, was killed by shots fired by protesters towards police agents. Clashes in several neighborhoods in the capital featured tear gas and molotov cocktails. (EfeTelesur)
  • Protesters last week were also commemorating the historic protests of July 2 and 3 in 1986 against the Pinochet regime. (Nodal)
  • Piñera announced a new $1.5 billion package of stimulus measures aimed at the country's middle class -- including access to zero-interest loans, subsidized rent and the ability to defer mortgage loan payments for up to six months, reports Reuters.
  • Haitian police fired tear gas to disperse a protest over violent crime in Port-au-Prince, yesterday. Police fired shots in the air to disperse the gathering of around 200 people in front of the Justice Ministry, reports AFP.
  • Is Haiti's justice system up to the challenge of Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, who led a paramilitary organization that raped, tortured and murdered in the 1990's, asks as a Washington Post editorial. "Haitian authorities, including President Jovenel Moïse, must be on notice that the world is watching. Haiti’s judicial system is fragile at best, and Mr. Moïse’s own commitment to human rights and justice is highly suspect." (See June 26's briefs.)
  • Hurricane-prone countries in the Caribbean -- like the Bahamas -- find themselves at a unique and dangerous crossroads this year, reports the New York Times: "the dramatic convergence of a devastating pandemic and an Atlantic hurricane season that is expected to be more active than normal." The situation comes even as many countries are still trying to rebuild from last year's hurricanes. “Are we prepared for this hurricane season?” said Ronald Sanders, ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and to the Organization of American States. “The answer is: no. And I don’t care who tells you we are. We haven’t been able to dedicate any funds toward hurricane preparedness this year.”
  • Two incidents of gang rape of indigenous girls by Colombian soldiers have shocked the country, but sexual abuse of indigenous women is unfortunately common, reports Deutsche Welle. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
  • Coronavirus cases and deaths are surging along Colombia’s Caribbean coast as the region becomes the epicenter of the pandemic in the Andean country, with doctors warning many deaths are going undetected, reports Reuters.
  • At least seven people have burned to death after an overturned petrol tanker exploded in northern Colombia, yesterday, reports the BBC.
  • A small tailings dam in Ecuador's south collapsed last week. Though nobody was injured, about 50 tons of mining waste fell into the Tenguel river, reports Reuters.
  • Ecuador reached a preliminary agreement with some of its largest bondholders to restructure $17.4 billion in outstanding debt, reports Bloomberg.
  • Argentina's latest debt restructuring offer -- which increased creditors’ payments, shortened their wait time and changed key legal clauses that had become a source of tension -- got tentative approval from two creditors blocs yesterday, though the largest group that includes BlackRock could still torpedo the deal, reports Reuters.
  • Argentina’s economy is now expected to shrink around 12 percent this year, which will push millions into poverty and leave almost six out of every 10 children and adolescents below the poverty line, reports Reuters.



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