Friday, January 8, 2021

Haitians to vote constitutional reform in April (Jan. 8, 2021)

 Haiti's electoral commission -- unilaterally appointed by President Jovenel Moïse -- set an electoral calendar for this year that includes long overdue parliamentary elections in September, as well as a controversial constitutional referendum in April. Presidential elections will be held in September, and the second round will be in November, with local elections. Definitive results for the presidential election are not expected until January of next year based on this schedule, reports the Miami Herald.

Moïse has been ruling by decree for a year, after announcing parliament’s partial closure due to delayed elections. He does not intend to step down next month, when some legal scholars and opponents say his legal mandate ends.

The full proposal of the constitutional reform is not public yet, but is likely to include the elimination of the post of prime minister and the Haitian Senate, and the introduction of governors for each region, according to the Miami Herald. The reform itself, by referendum, lacks consensus and legal basis. A referendum would violate the constitution currently in force, which stipulates that “any popular consultation to modify the constitution by referendum is strictly forbidden," reports AFP.

Anti-government demonstrations are called for Sunday.

News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • The angry mob that invaded the U.S. Congress on Wednesday does represent the U.S. that Latin Americans have dealt with since manifest destiny became a thing in the 19th century, argues Ernesto Semán in the Post Opinión. Many rushed to compare the scenes of chaos in Washington with Latin America, but missed the core lesson the region gleaned in the wake of dictatorships in the 80s: "the defeat of the radicalized right is only possible with truth and justice programs for crimes committed in the immediate past, the expansion of political rights, and the redistribution of economic resources in key areas such as health and education."
  • The events should serve to humble U.S. observers of Latin America, writes James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report. "... Authoritarianism, populism, democratic decline, disinformation and strategic corruption are not Latin American problems that the US can fix. Instead, we share a common problem."
  • Under the incoming Biden administration the "United States has a historic opportunity to regain its image as a country of immigrants," writes Jorge Ramos in a New York Times op-ed.
  • Many Brazil's race-switching politicians -- who changed their self-identified race between the 2016 and 2020 elections -- were likely angling to gain access to new campaign financing earmarked for Black candidates. It is an unintended effect of efforts to improve racial equality, writes Andrew Janusz in The Conversation.
  • At least nine people were killed as gunmen opened fire at a wake in Mexico's Guanajuato State yesterday. The region is at the center of a turf war between rival criminal groups, reports the New York Times.
  • Mexicans sent record amounts of remittances from the U.S. last year, a surprising surge that provided a lifeline for many poorer Mexicans in the midst of the country’s biggest economic slump in decades, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • At least 185 people were victims of rights violations committed by the Mexican Navy between 2012 and 2020 -- but despite official recognition, less than half of them have been compensated accordingly, reports Animal Politico.
  • The former head of security at Fenix, Central America’s largest nickel mine, pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an Indigenous leader in 2009. A Guatemalan judge found Mynor Padilla guilty of homicide for killing Adolfo Ich, a Maya Q’eqchi’ teacher and community leader who opposed the mine. It is a rare conviction over human rights violations allegedly linked to Canadian-owned mining companies in the region, reports the Guardian.
  • China’s Sinovac vaccine has shown to be 78% effective against Covid-19 in Brazilian late-stage trials. Though that is less than other vaccines, it offers total protection against severe cases of the disease. Because it can be kept in a standard refrigerator, the CoronaVac could be a viable option for the developing world, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Argentina are the first countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to begin COVID-19 vaccinations -- Aviso LatAm.
  • Argentina is edging out of the classic middle-income trap towards a new, self-reinforcing, equilibrium: one that is entirely Argentine, writes Eduardo Levy-Yeyati in Americas Quarterly. Politics is a major stumbling block to the pension, fiscal and labor reforms the country desperately needs, he argues.
  • Rights activists are hoping that Argentina's abortion legalization has a domino effect in the region, a so-called marea verde. But the landmark move could also provide opponents with a cautionary tale that could help Catholic and Evangelical leaders elsewhere beat back similar strategies, warns the Wilson Center's Weekly Asado. In the podcast "Two the Point" Benjamin Gedan discusses with Daniel Politi how pro-choice campaigners pulled it off the win just two years after lawmakers rejected similar legislation and whether activists can replicate their success elsewhere in the region.
Film corner
  • The Mexico City house featured in Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma" is on sale -- Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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