Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Porras kept off Guatemalan court (April 14, 2021)

Guatemala’s Congress refused to swear in Judge Gloria Porras to the country's Constitutional Court, apparently in retaliation for her rulings on corruption. Porras won re-election for another five-year term on Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, and said the last minute impugnation of her naming is yet another example of the harassment she faces regularly. (El País, Associated Press)

Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote that Congress's move against Porras “undermines Guatemala’s commitment to an independent judiciary and addressing systemic corruption.” (Associated Press)

Porras was, in fact, slated to be the Constitutional Court's only independent judge. The other four sworn in yesterday have connections to corrupt interests and were appointed under heavy pressure from the president, wrote Álvaro Montenegro in El Faro recently. "The country’s legal framework is designed in such a way that all cases involving questions of constitutionality, whether they’re of the public interest or not, end up at the court. This is why in legal circles, it is known as “the celestial court.” There is a significant risk that the new court, loyal to the corrupt, will undo more than a decade of transformative work to advance the cause of justice in Guatemala."

News Briefs

  • Haitian Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe resigned early this morning, in the wake of a crime surge that has pushed the country deeper into a political quagmire that has become a constitutional crisis, reports the Miami Herald. President Jovenel Moïse appointed Foreign Minister Claude Joseph as acting interim prime minister -- the sixth since 2017. Moïse has been ruling by executive fiat since January 2020, after the terms of most members of Parliament expired.
  • Guatemala denied reports that it had signed an agreement with the U.S. to increase security at their border, reports The Hill. The statement came a day after the White House announced a U.S. deal with Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras to increase security forces at their borders in order to stem migration. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Human rights activists voiced concern over the plan to deploy security forces -- noting systematic abuse by military and police officers of migrants in Central American countries. (See, for example, Paolo Luers in El Diario de Hoy, and José Miguel Vivanco on Twitter.)
  • Analysts say Mexico’s deployment of security forces to the southern border is yet another example of the US government outsourcing immigration enforcement to its neighbor, reports the Guardian. Previous enforcement efforts temporarily reduced migrant numbers, but mostly forced migrants to take riskier routes through remote regions and exposing them to a heightened risk of robbery, rape, abduction and death.
  • Climate change impacts -- extreme weather events such as hurricanes along with years of recurring droughts and storms -- will combine with Covid-19 economic fallout in Central America to create potential migrant surges, according to the newly released annual U.S. intelligence "threat assessment" report. (New York Times)
  • Calls to impeach Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and accusations of crimes against humanity, are mounting -- but, realistically, attempts to oust the controversial leader are unlikely to succeed ahead of next year's presidential elections, reports the Washington Post. Bolsonaro is shielded by his enduring popularity in his base, about 30 percent of voters. Fewer than half of the population supports impeachment proceedings — too little to spur a case.
  • The Brazilian Supreme Court's ruling that former Judge Sergio Moro was biased in his conviction of former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva is the final nail in Lava Jato's coffin -- "after more than seven years of proceedings, the very heart of the Brazilian justice system has just disavowed the form and substance, opening up an abyss of questions about its methods, its means and its choices," according to Le Monde's post-mortem deep-dive into the landmark corruption investigation's life-cycle.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque took another step towards resuming the country's controversial aerial coca eradication policy, with a decree regulating rules for aerial spraying of glyphosate. Fumigations with the herbicide were suspended in 2015, due to concerns about its health and environmental impacts. (El País)
El Salvador
  • El Faro said the Salvadoran government has fabricated a tax evasion case against the newspaper, part of an ongoing pattern of government persecution of critical media, particularly El Faro.
Regional Relations
  • Bolivia launched an international campaign for the patent release of Covid-19 vaccines to ensure equitable access to the jabs globally, reports Telesur.
  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández met with U.S. envoy Juan González yesterday -- Argentina's debt renegotiations with the IMF and the U.S.'s upcoming Leaders Summit on Climate were on the agenda. Argentina's government asked the Biden administration to free up Covid-19 vaccines stockpiled in the U.S. Fernández also assured González that China will not be building a military base in Argentina, in response to U.S. concerns. (Perfil, Infobae, Clarín)
  • An Argentine court dismissed a case that accused former president Cristina Fernández de Kircher and former government officials of criminal wrongdoing in economic policies. The judges said that no crime had been committed -- transactions were carried out through regulated markets, and former Kirchner officials didn't obtain personal profits -- and pointed to the case as an example of political persecution carried out through Argentina's judicial system. (Página 12)
  • Panama's Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office summoned 50 people to trial in connection to the Odebrecht bribes case, reports Telesur.
  • What had been a simmering conflict between the Mapuche and the Chilean state over inequality, land ownership, discrimination and cultural identity since the end of the 1800s has today exploded into a full-blown confrontation -- Al Jazeera delves into the history of Chile's conflictive relationship with Indigenous Mapuche communities, and the impact on the Araucanía region, which some say has become a "Wild West" scenario. The piece includes an interview with Hector Llaitul, the leader of CAM, a main Mapuche resistance group.
  • Guillermo Lasso's electoral victory in Ecuador on Sunday is a "setback for a strange form of strongman politics" that has become common in Latin America where "it has become normal for former presidents to promote surrogate candidates. This is a bizarre form of caudillismo, or strongman politics, combined with continuismo, or lineage continuity, intended to keep rivals at bay," argues Javier Corrales in a New York Times op-ed.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

No comments:

Post a Comment