Thursday, October 14, 2021

Honduran opposition parties unite (Oct. 14, 2021)

Former Honduran presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla has endorsed Xiomara Castro de Zelaya for the November presidential elections, a union of the country's top opposition parties that presents a serious challenge to the ruling National Party, which has been in power since 2009. 

Nasralla narrowly lost to President Juan Orlando Hernández in 2017, an election marked by irregularities. Castro is the wife of former president Mel Zelaya, whose ouster in a 2009 coup was a watershed moment for Honduran politics.

A CID-Gallup poll last month showed that Castro and Nasralla had received 18% support. Nasry Asfura, mayor of the capital Tegucigalpa and candidate of the ruling National Party, led with 21%.

Castro has proposed some big changes for the crisis-stricken country, reports Brendan O'Boyle in an Americas Quarterly profile, including a referendum to propose rewriting the constitution, switching diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China, and the creation of a UN-backed anti-corruption commission similar to Guatemala’s once successful CICIG.

But she is unlikely to advance with sweeping change, and has instead focused on a big-tent political model for her campaign, writes O'Boyle. Castro has been meeting with business groups, promising collaboration if elected and better conditions for job creation and investment. “I want a social pact with every sector, the productive sectors, with business, with workers, with teachers, with farmers and campesinos, with the informal economy and small and medium-sized businesses,” Castro said when launching her campaign platform.

More Honduras
  • Libre party lawmaker Olivia Zúniga -- daughter of the assassinated Indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres -- was attacked in her home this weekend by four men who beat her. A Libre mayoral candidate, Nery Reyes, was killed on Friday. (ProcesoEl HeraldoDemocracy Now)
News Briefs

  • The United Nations human rights office urged Venezuela to conduct an “independent investigation” into the death of Raul Baduel, a prominent jailed dissident who was considered a political prisoner by the country’s opposition. Venezuela's government said Baduel, who served as defense minister under Hugo Chávez, died due to the coronavirus. (Al Jazeera)
  • Although the numbers of Covid cases in much of Latin America and the Caribbean are declining, several islands in the Caribbean are seeing increases. Many Caribbean countries are grappling with unequal distribution of doses and vaccine hesitancy, World Health Organization officials warned yesterday. An “important challenge that the Caribbean is facing — English-speaking countries and French- speaking countries and territories — is vaccine hesitancy,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, the Covid-19 incident manager at the Pan American Health Organization. (New York Times)

  • Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the World Health Organization should certify COVID-19 vaccines in public use, after the United States said it would only allow people inoculated by WHO-approved vaccines to enter its borders. Millions of people in Mexico, and the region, have been vaccinated with Russian and Chinese shots that do not fulfill that criteria, reports Reuters.

  • AMLO hailed a U.S. decision to open their shared border in November after more than 18 months of pandemic restrictions, though Mexicans inoculated with Chinese and Russian vaccines face being shut out, reports Reuters.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic and associated economic costs have pushed taxation to the forefront of national political agendas in Latin America, but recent experiences have shown that passing progressive tax initiatives can be tricky. "Programs that provide tangible benefits naturally draw greater interest and support from popular sectors than taxes targeting economic elites," writes Tasha Fairfield at the AULA blog.

  • Throughout the region, Evangelical participation in politics is growing. Though churches have generally aligned with right-wing parties, now many are aligning with the left despite their more conservative beliefs, reports Nacla.

  • Miami has witnessed a boom in real estate purchased by Latin Americans over the past year and a half -- unlike past investment booms, this time some of the region's wealthiest residents are actually moving there, reports El País.
  • Eight Brazilian soldiers were sentenced to 28 years in prison yesterday for the murder of two civilians in 2019, an emblematic case in which troops opened fire on a car carrying a family, riddling the vehicle with 80 rifle bullets. Musician Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, whose son, wife and father-in-law were in the car as well, was killed, as was Luciano Macedo, a pedestrian who tried to help. (Estadao

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has again doubled down on his anti Covid-19 vaccine stance. He announced this week that he will decline to be vaccinated, saying “it makes no sense” for him to do so because he has antibodies from a past infection. Experts say the opinion has little scientific basis, but that Bolsonaro's stance doesn't seem to be denting Brazilians' vaccine commitment: More than 72% of Brazilians, 154 million people, have received at least one shot and 47% have been fully vaccinated. (Guardian)

  • Time Magazine profiles Erika Hilton, the first trans woman elected to the city council in São Paulo. Hilton’s arrival on the front line of politics has coincided with a dangerous time for her community in Brazil. In 2020, murders of trans women surged by 45%, with Black women making up two-thirds of the victims.

  • Brazilian telecommunications regulator, Anatel, announced 5G spectrum tendering rules for the country’s highly anticipated November 4 auction -- Latin America Risk Report analyzes.
  • Cuba's government has launched a propaganda campaign on state news outlets and social media to portray the anti-government activists as agents in the service of the U.S. The move comes after officials denied the activists a permit to protest next month, reports the Miami Herald. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Migrants deported to Haiti in recent months often left a decade ago, and find themselves in the midst of a country on the brink of civil war due to gang violence, reports the Guardian.
  • A Colombian police captain who oversaw a unit that worked closely with U.S. anti-narcotics agents has pleaded guilty to charges that he sought to betray the Drug Enforcement Administration to the same traffickers they were jointly fighting, reports the Associated Press.
  • Argentina wants to tie up a new deal with the International Monetary Fund as soon as conditions allow, President Alberto Fernández said yesterday. (Reuters, see yesterday's briefs.)

  • Care work is not represented in most economic models, though it's an important part of any country's production sectors. The pandemic has exposed this shortcoming, and the task now for economists and policymakers is to devise ways to value this labor appropriately and support it adequately, write Mercedes D'Alessandro and María Floro at Project Syndicate.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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