Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Piñera to face Senate trial (Nov. 10, 2021)

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera will face trial in the country's senate over allegations he favored the sale of a family property while in office. The lower chamber of congress voted to impeach him yesterday. The vote to impeach passed with the bare minimum of 78 votes needed to pass, after a marathon 20-hour session. (See yesterday's briefs.)

Piñera is unlikely to be removed by the 43-member upper house, where the opposition has only 24 of the 29 votes needed to oust a president, reports the Associated Press. The motion, known as a “constitutional accusation,” requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass.

The allegations against Piñera stem from the Pandora Papers investigation, that showed a mining company owned in part by Piñera’s children was sold for $152 million to a close friend of the president, in December 2010, almost nine months into Piñera’s first term as president. The last payment in the deal was contingent on the government’s declining to impose environmental protections on the mining area, a clause blasted by opposition politicians as a “serious” conflict of interest, reports the Washington Post.

Piñera has denied wrongdoing, and said that he was absolved of the charges in a 2017 investigation. If found guilty, Piñera could be jailed for up to five years. (AFP) His term ends in March 2022, and he is prohibited from seeking reelection due to term limits. But the issue is likely to impact the presidential election later this month. (See Friday's post.)

News Briefs

  • Mexican authorities made their first arrest in the global spy scandal surrounding the malware Pegasus, reports the Washington Post. A technician who worked for a private firm was detained on allegations he was involved in illegally tapping the phone of a broadcast journalist.

  • The arrest comes months after a consortium of media outlets published reports detailing how the phone numbers of thousands of Mexicans appeared on a leaked list of numbers selected by government clients of the Israeli spyware company for possible surveillance, reports the Guardian. (The U.S. Biden administration placed NSO Group on a blacklist, see last Thursday's briefs.)
  • The U.S. reiterated that it will limit how far it gets involved in Haiti, as the security situation continues to deteriorate. “At the end of the day, it’s not going to be the international community that comes to Haiti’s rescue. It’s going to be Haitians, it’s going to be Haitian authorities and the Haitian National Police that’s responsible for the security in the country,” said Todd Robinson, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, in Port-au-Prince. (Miami Herald)

  • The Biden administration is urging U.S. citizens in Haiti “to strongly consider returning to the United States” amid a gang-aggravated fuel shortage and a deteriorating security climate, reports the Miami Herald.

  • A fuel shortage brought about by gangs blocking the access roads to distribution terminals is causing shortages of drinking water in Port-au-Prince, reports the BBC.

  • Nicaragua's fraudulent election is part of a broader trend of democratic backsliding across the region, say U.S. officials and political analysts. Ortega demonstrates the limits of international pressure. The shift is also linked to the growth of organized criminal groups in the region, Inter-American Dialogue president Michael Shifter told Wall Street Journal. (See Monday's briefs on how U.S. accomodation of corruption in Central America has backfired.)

  • The economic impact of climate change for vulnerable countries -- particularly Small Island Developing States like those in the Caribbean -- along with the need to finance adaptation measures, is a major issue at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. "Islands have contributed little to global emissions yet stand to suffer disproportionately from climate change. Now, they are demanding more funding to protect themselves," reports The Nation. (See this week's Just Caribbean Updates)
  • Belize finalized the world's biggest debt-for-nature conservation deal last week: a commitment to protect the northern Hemisphere’s biggest barrier reef in exchange for aid to buy back its $533 million "superbond" at a discount. (See Sept. 21's Just Caribbean Updates) It's a pioneering "blue bond" deal, in which Belize promises to to spend $4 million a year and fund a $23 million marine conservation trust, reports Reuters. (See this week's Just Caribbean Updates)
  • Guyana is at existential risk from climate change, Georgetown could be submerged by rising sea levels. But the country has also bet its future on producing oil, the very fossil fuels that accelerate climate change, reports NPR.
  • Bolivian authorities granted permission for an 11-year-old girl to terminate her pregnancy this weekend. The case reignited debate about the legality of abortion in the country, reports the Washington Post. (See Nov. 1's briefs.)

  • Anti-deportation activists in the UK blocked a road in front of a detention center, in an attempt to prevent people slated for deportation to Jamaica. Many of the people came to the UK as children, and efforts to send them back to Jamaica, where they haven't been in decades have been controversial.(Guardian and Guardian)


  1. May want to take note of this law proposed in ES yesterday:

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