Thursday, September 3, 2020

Capriles breaks with Guaidó (Sept. 3, 2020)

 Henrique Capriles, a popular Venezuelan opposition politician and two-time presidential candidate, said it's time to play (electoral) ball. He said yesterday that the opposition should fight to create fair conditions in December's legislative elections, a significant break with the boycott supported by the main opposition leader Juan Guaidó. (See yesterday's briefs.)

“We can’t keep playing at government on the internet,” Capriles said in an internet broadcast that swiped at Guaidó, who is recognized as the country's legitimate leader by a chunk of the international community. “Either you’re government, or you’re opposition. You can’t be both.”

The move is a major fissure among the opposition, which, while traditionally fractious, has been fairly united behind Guaidó for the past year and a half. Yesterday Capriles criticized what he called blunders under the Guaidó leadership that have undermined confidence in the opposition, reports the Wall Street Journal. They included a botched raid by a mercenary force in May and a failed military uprising in April 2019.

Guaidó said, yesterday, that opposition to Maduro requires unity and putting national interests above personal concerns. (Efecto Cocuyo)

The crux of the question is whether the opposition should participate in elections that will renew the country's National Assembly in December. National and international observers say conditions are inadequate for free and fair elections, but others are concerned that a boycott means relinquishing a chance to challenge the Maduro government. While the elections don't meet anybody's definition of "free and fair" an abstention strategy by itself is not enough, said Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference, last month. (See Aug. 21's briefs.)

Capriles and legislator Stalin Gonzalez have been in talks with the government over possible participation in the upcoming congressional election, reports Reuters. Capriles himself is banned from participating, and it's unclear how he would field candidates or what his decision to break with the boycott will concretely imply, notes the Associated Press.

The Maduro government is anxious to attract enough candidates to provide at least a veneer of legitimacy to the elections, and earlier this week pardoned dozens of political opponents. Capriles is credited with behind the scenes negotiations for those pardons. (See Tuesday's post.)

News Briefs

  • A Brazilian Supreme Court judge asked the justice ministry to disclose whether there was collaboration with the U.S. FBI in accusations against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (Globo)
  • A U.S. State Department contract to provide riot gear for Haiti's police awarded to X-International shows how "continued diplomatic and financial support from the Trump administration is likely to only harden the corrupt networks that perpetuate insecurity" in Haiti, according to a new CEPR report.
  • Peruvian hospital workers are demanding bribes from relatives to confirm deceased victims’ identities and arrange illegal funerals, reports InSight Crime.
  • The 14th and 15th named tropical storms of the year formed Tuesday in the Caribbean. Nana and Omar are the earliest "N" and "O" storms on record, in hurricane season that is already 40 percent more active than average, reports the Washington Post. Forecasters say there could be up to 25 named storms in 2020.
  • Post-pandemic "normal" will be very different for island economies, writes James Ellsworth in a call for Caribbean countries to take advantage of labor paradigm shifts, like working from home. (Jamaica Gleaner)
  • Images from Havana's 15-day coronavirus lockdown -- Guardian.
  • Borderland Beat analyzes the complex issue of extortion -- derecho/cobro de piso -- and its effect on Mexico’s private sector. (Vía InSight Crime.)
  • Chilean truckers lifted a seven-day strike after reaching a deal with the government to increase protection in the Araucania province. (Reuters)
  • A gay teen comes of age in a desperate situation in Brazilian-American film-maker Alexandre Moratto's "audacious and elegant" debut, Socrates -- Guardian
  • The Mole Agent is a film noir documentary about an octogenarian spy in a Chilean nursing home, the Guardian calls it "aching meditation on isolation and loneliness."
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. 

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