Friday, September 18, 2020

Añez drops out of Bolivia's presidential race (Sept. 18, 2020)

 Bolivia's interim-president Jeanine Añez dropped out of the running for Oct. 18's presidential election. She said the move is aimed at uniting the opposition to the MAS party candidate, Luis Arce, who is leading in the polls. She called for unity to prevent a return of "dictatorship," in reference to her predecessor, Evo Morales, who was ousted last year. "If we don’t unite, Morales will return. If we don’t unite, democracy loses," Añez said yesterday, though she did not back any of the other candidates running against Arce. (EFE)

The October vote is technically a re-do of contested elections last year -- questioned results were followed by protests and military support for Morales' ouster. Añez initially promised quick elections, in which she would not be a candidate, but has repeatedly postponed the vote and angled to stay in power. The Añez government has judicially persecuted members of the former government, and charged Morales with terrorism in a case that international human rights groups called politically motivated and lacking in evidence, reports the New York Times.

The large-scale Jubileo Foundation poll, carried out by universities and media organizations, found 40.3% of Bolivians would vote in the Oct. 18 general election in favor of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), whose presidential candidate is Arce, reports Reuters. But, Añez's withdrawal from the race (a poll put her in fourth place) could help consolidate the anti MAS party vote and push the election into a second round, reports Reuters separately.

More Bolivia
  • Mark Weisbrot calls for more attention to the role of international organizations -- particularly the Organization of American States -- in fomenting unrest following last year's election, that ultimately led to Morales' ouster. (Guardian)
News Briefs

  • Young climate activists are organizing to a new wave of climate change strikes around the world. Today they will be mobilizing on social media with the #LatinoaméricaEnLlamas in reference to fires affecting wetlands in Brazil and Argentina and forest fires in Brazil's Amazon and Bolivia's forests. (Infobae)
  • Fires in Brazil are set to be the worst on record, part of a global trend scientists relate to climate change, reports Vox.
  • Preliminary figures from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, based on satellite images, indicate that nearly 5,800 square miles (1.5 million hectares) have burned in the Pantanal region since the start of August, reported the Associated Press last week.
  • This NASA report details how the dry season combined with man-made fires to create massive destruction in Brazil's Pantanal wetlands.
  • This Guardian photo-essay illustrates the detail of the Pantanal fires. 
  • The Bolivian government declared a "national emergency" in at least three regions of the country due to forest fires (Associated Press)
  • Conspiracies have a long history of impact on Brazilian politics -- now President Jair Bolsonaro is exploiting anti-communist paranoia and digital tools to great effect, reports the Atlantic.
  • The Latin American loss of control of the Inter-American Development Bank is a sign of the region's disintegration, for which the "hubris of the Latin American left when in power a decade ago is partly to blame," according to the Economist. U.S. citizen Mauricio Claver-Carone's leadership will likely make the IDB a tool of U.S. foreign policy, to the detriment of the region's own priorities.
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who has governed without a parliament since January, should use his executive power to name a Provisional Electoral Council and hold legislative elections as soon as possible, urged the U.S. State Department. The U.S. has avoided blaming Moïse for the current irregular state of affairs, and has instead pointed fingers at civil society sectors -- churches and human rights groups included -- who have categorically refused to participate, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Chilean President Sebastián Piñera extended the country's state of emergency -- which has been in force since March 18 --for another 90 days. El Mostrador notes that this means the campaign and plebiscite vote on reforming the constitution will take place under the state of emergency, which will also encompass the one year anniversary of violently repressed social protests last year.
  • The possible constitutional rewrite is an opportunity for Chile's indigenous communities to obtain official recognition. The vote next month occurs as conflict between the Mapuche and the government has increased in recent months. There is increasing support in Chile for indigenous causes.  Activists hope the constitutional reform is an opportunity to recognize indigenous rights, land claims, and even establish seats in Congress for indigenous people, reports the New York Times.
  • Guafo, an island sacred for the Mapuche and a marine diversity hotspot -- dubbed the Chilean Galapagos -- is on sale for $20 million. The case has frustrated environmental and indigenous activists who want to see the spot returned to indigenous communities for conservation. (Guardian)
  • The police killing of a citizen in Bogotá last week is an indication that it is time to reform Colombia's militarized police, argues the Economist.
  • The Mexican government said it has requested information from the United States about claims that migrants were subjected to hysterectomies at a detention center in Georgia and that a migrant allegedly suffered sexual abuse at a facility in Texas, reports the Associated Press.
  • Mexican feminist activists occupied the national human rights commission last week in anger at the government's failure to respond to growing gender violence in the country. They vow to stay there until President Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes decisive action to stop the relentless toll of rape, murder and forced disappearance -- and then they say they will turn the building into a shelter for victims of gender violence, reports the Guardian.
  • Barbados has promised to to dump the Queen as head of state, but creating a republic is trickier than it seems, warns the Economist. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Shana Tova and happy weekend

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