Friday, October 1, 2021

Chile's CC approves procedural rules (Oct. 1, 2021)

 Chile's Constitutional Convention approved its general procedural rules this week, and advanced in approving commission rules. Delegates approved a rule that requires two-thirds approval for constitutional norms, which will force factions to reach agreements in order to pass constitutional norms, as no group has a supra majority.

However, next week delegates will decide whether to include a bylaw that would permit Chileans to weigh in -- vía plebiscite -- on measures that don't reach that threshold, but obtain more than three-fifths support. 

As delegates embark on the meat of their task, the convention is starting to become more moderate, according to The Economist, which highlights "a broad dealmaking nucleus that is starting to emerge. They are likely to become increasingly influential as the convention grapples with the big issues." Among these issues is likely to be a list of constitutional rights that include pensions and housing; a possible move to a semi-parliamentary system; and, likely, stricter environmental standards. 

Delegates approved a list of topics that commissions must cover moving forward, an important indicator of the new constitution's likely priorities, reports La Bot Constituyente. They include: plurinationality and free determination of Indigenous peoples, approval and recall referendums, right to reparation for victims of human rights violations committed by government agents, right to sport, right to water and the constitutional statute of water, digital rights, good life, glaciar and cryosphere statute, and the right to participate in cultural life, among others.

News Briefs

  • The factors underlying Ecuador's horrific prison massacre this week (see yesterday's post) could well be replicated in other countries across the region where prison overpopulation and growing gang influence behind bars set the stage, warns InSight Crime.
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. Biden administration is considering a U.S.-led competitor for China’s Belt and Road international trade and public works program in Latin America, reports Bloomberg. Officials seek to engage in projects with higher environmental and labor standards than those China is funding, with full transparency for the financial terms. (See Tuesday's briefs.)

  • The interest comes after years of warning Latin American governments against receiving Chinese investment, notes the Latin America Brief, but, "overall, Washington has failed to offer the region true economic alternatives to Chinese funding for infrastructure projects."

  • A $12.7 million order of critical medicines and medical supplies, placed by Venezuela’s development bank with the Pan American Health Organization, has been held up for more than two months as an indirect result of U.S. sanctions, reports the Intercept.

  • About 1,900 fighters belonging to Colombian rebel and crime groups are operating from Venezuela, where they plan attacks and participate in drug trafficking, according to Colombia's military. (Reuters)
  • Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry's decision to dissolve the country's electoral council was welcome to some -- the members had been appointed controversially by the late President Jovenel Moïse -- but also deepens Haiti's intractable and prolonged political crisis. (See yesterday's briefs and Wednesday's post.) 

  • "International backing for prosecuting high-level crimes, police reform and support for a broad-based representative and inclusive interim government stand a better chance than a rush to elections of helping restore stability," argues a new Crisis Group report.

  • "The electoral system is a mess and any election held today would be strongly influenced by gangs mobilizing voters for various factions. Still, Henry’s postponement appears self-serving, an attempt to consolidate power and hold on for extra time while he and his supporters can benefit from the system," writes James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report.
  • "Growing insecurity is also driving instability and increased migrant flows within and outside" of Haiti, notes the Crisis Group report.

  • The events in Del Rio last month (see Sept. 23's post) underscore the need for a hemisphere-wide approach to migration, which must be managed and mitigated using tools that stretch well beyond border-centric, deterrence-dependent approaches, writes Dan Restrepo on Twitter. "To lead a hemispheric approach--in particular in South America--the Biden Administration will have to overcome skepticism born of Trump’s legacy as the region shouldered, nearly alone, the enormous burden of 5+ million displaced Venezuelans."
  • Nicaragua's increasingly authoritarian government has grabbed few headlines in the U.S. -- a sign of how "elite fixations often determine press coverage" writes Eric Alterman in The Nation.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's attacks against the country's Supreme Court and electoral system signal "desperation not conviction," argues Mac Margolis in the Washington Post. Rather than an actual coup, the "more credible threat is the damage Bolsonaro might wreak on the way down."

  • Indeed, Bolsonaro is increasingly isolated (though he retains a die-hard base) and has alienated many former supporters, reports the Economist.

  • Anti-Bolsonaro protesters are planning demonstrations for tomorrow -- they hope to challenge the spirit of a 1984 rally that hastened the end of Brazil’s dictatorship, reports the Guardian.
  • Indigenous groups protested against a law that increases punishment for land invasions in Paraguay. Protesters clashed with security forces outside Congress before the lower chamber voted on Wednesday.  Indigenous groups often invade properties to press their demands that land be given to poor farmers, reports the Associated Press

  • Leftist lawmakers, who left the chamber in protest, say the measure criminalizes struggles for land rights, and note the historical context of the Stroessner dictatorship's reform that distributed land to allies and cronies, reports EFE. The measure was passed with 47 votes, mostly from the governing Partido Colorado, and 27 absences.
  • A search for the remains of indigenous children believed killed in a massacre and buried clandestinely in a former military garrison during Ecuador's civil war in the 1980s was suspended indefinitely due to insecurity, reports the Associated Press.
  • Bolivia's coca farmers are battling for control of the leaf's main market in the highland city of La Paz, a conflict which has seen producers and police clash in the streets with slingshots and tear gas, and even a building set on fire, reports Reuters.

  • A group of Bolivian Indigenous people who, more than a month ago, began a march from the city of Trinidad, in the Amazon region, are nearing their final destination, Santa Cruz, to demand that the state respect their territories and customs, reports EFE.

  • A group of Bolivian women have responded to public safety concerns in the highland city of El Alto by launching the “Lilac Line,” a transportation service aimed at ensuring that women, children and the elderly can safely reach their destinations. (EFE)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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