Monday, September 21, 2020

Vizcarra survives impeachment vote (Sept. 21, 2020)

 News Briefs

  • Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra handily survived an impeachment vote Friday. Just 32 of Peru's 130 lawmakers supported the motion, which required two-thirds majority to remove the president. (See last Thursday's briefs.) Vizcarra's mandate ends next July, and he does not intend to seek another term in office. Opposition lawmakers accused Vizcarra of corruption in relation to a government contract with a singer, allegations the president denies. The episode has allowed a divided field of presidential hopefuls for next year to portray the traditional political class as distant from real problems as Peru battles a twin health and economic crisis, reports the New York Times.
  • Four Indigenous leaders in Peru’s Amazon have been murdered since the government declared a state of emergency over Covid-19. The cases demonstrate how activists opposed illegal logging, mining and drug trafficking are exposed to criminal groups, reports InSight Crime.
  • Latin American cities are rushing to reopen, pushed by quarantine fatigue and economic malaise. But Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina are all in the top 10 worst-hit countries in the world. The World Health Organisation warned that countries across Latin America, are rushing back to normality prematurely – a mistake that could prove catastrophic in a region that already accounts for a third of global pandemic deaths. Other experts note the false dichotomy between public health and the economy. "In the long term, there is no conflict between aggressive public health measures and economic recovery," Benjamin Gedan, deputy director at the Wilson Center’s Latin American program told the Guarrdian. "The region’s tourism industry, for example, will never recover if travelers do not see Latin American destinations as safe to visit." (BloombergGuardian)
Regional Relations
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Venezuelan neighbors -- Guyana, Brazil's border region, Suriname and Colombia -- part of a whirlwind tour aimed at building support for efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. In Guyana, on Friday, Pompeo and President Irfaan Ali signed agreements to strengthen U.S. investment and cooperation on energy and infrastructure while vowing to deepen cooperation on maritime security and drug trafficking interdiction, reports the Associated Press
  • In Brazil's Boa Vista, Pompeo said the U.S. was providing an additional $348 million to help Venezuelan refugees, including $30 million for those in Brazil, bringing total contribution to more than $1.2 billion. (Reuters)
  • In a bid to maintain Brazil's diplomatic standing with the U.S. Trump administration, President Jair Bolsonaro sidelined his own country's nominee to head the Inter-American Development Bank, reports El País.
  • A Trump defeat in November would be a disaster for Bolsonaro, argues Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly.
  • Mexico's government will avoid confrontation with the U.S. over a recent drug report indicating that Mexico must step up efforts to control drug trafficking, reports the Associated Press.
  • The New Yorker delves into the serious allegations about a U.S. Georgia state immigration center, including accusations that a  doctor who contracted privately with the facility had been performing hysterectomies on immigrant patients without their consent.
  • Colombian authorities arrested two police officers accused of killing an unarmed man they detained in Bogotá. The death of Javier Ordóñez, who was repeatedly tasered while pleading for mercy, sparked protests and repression around the country earlier this month. (Al Jazeera)
  • Lines at Cuba's new government run dollar stores can be hours long and prices are exorbitant. The government's emergency strategy, aimed at obtaining hard currency from citizens who have saving or get remittances, could also exacerbate social inequalities as the economy is hard hit by U.S. sanctions, Venezuela's crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic, reports the New York Times.
  • Uruguay has long been hailed as South America's "Switzerland." Now, in the pandemic world, it's "New Zealand" and wealthy Argentines are flocking to their smaller neighbor. About 15,000 to 20,000 Argentines are estimated to have moved to Uruguay since the pandemic began in March – a number equivalent to about 0.6% of Uruguay’s population of 3.5 million, reports the Guardian.
  • Argentina's proposed 2021 budget dedicates an unprecedented amount of funding to programs with "gender perspective" -- 3.4 percent of the GDP. The funding, which spans several different areas, far outstrips defense spending. The Economy Ministry's Director for Economy, Equality and Gender, Mercedes D'Alessandro, notes that it is an important step to rectifying significant economic disparities that correlate to gender. (Infobae)
  • Argentina's LGBTQI community hailed a new hiring quota that requires that 1.0 percent of all public sector jobs be set aside for transgender people. (AFP)
  • The Argentine government wants a one-time wealth tax to be extended to its millionaire citizens living outside the country, reports Bloomberg.
  • Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Friday he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.
  • Former Costa Rican first lady Henrietta Boggs is credited with pushing her husband, José Figueres Ferrer, to grant women and Black Costa Ricans the right to vote in the 1940s. (New York Times)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always. Latin America Daily Briefing



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