Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Xiomara poised to win Honduras election (Nov. 30, 2021)

News Briefs

  • The vote count in Honduras is stalled at just over half the ballots cast -- opposition candidate Xiomara Castro is leading by 20 points over ruling party candidate Nasry Asfura and appears poised to become the country's first female president. Though the final result is expected to be tighter when rural votes, which tend to favor the National party, are counted, "the tide in favour of Castro, a leftist who represents a coalition of opposition parties, appears unstoppable," according to the Guardian.

  • Asfura has not conceded, in fact, his party declared him the winner on Sunday. But third place candidate Yani Rosenthal conceded to Castro, and said the Liberal Party's goal of ousting the government had been met. (Contracorriente)

  • Former Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, chief of the Organization of American States' observer mission in the country, said yesterday he saw nothing untoward in the vote-count delay and expected the electoral council would clear up matters soon. (Reuters)

  • The European Union's electoral observer mission pointed to an increase in social security payments before the vote and violent discourse against candidates. (Contracorriente)

  • "The congressional elections remain a fight. The National Party probably can’t steal the presidency at this point, but they can steal a few seats in Congress," writes James Bosworth at the Latin American Risk Report. Castro's running mate, Salvador Nasralla has denounced irregularities in the congressional vote count. (El Heraldo)

  • Nasralla said that the presumptive president-elect's call for dialogue does not mean impunity for corruption and drug ties in the current government. The country's justice is currently "in the hands of organized crime," he said in an interview with El Faro, emphasizing that the incoming Congress will select Supreme Court judges and a new attorney general.

  • The results of Honduras' vote this weekend appeared to show "a stunning repudiation of the National Party’s 12-year rule, which was shaped by pervasive corruption, dismantling of democratic institutions and accusations of links with drug cartels," reports the New York Times.

  • Castro's major challenges include corruption, migration, drug trafficking and the relationship with China and the U.S., reports El Heraldo.

  • The vote was carried out peacefully, with the highest participation rate in 12 years and broke with the country's long-standing bipartisanism, reports Contracorriente.

  • But the election season was violent: The National Autonomous University of Honduras’ Violence Observatory counted 20 murdered politicians between last Dec. 15 and Sept. 15 of this year. This month, there have been four murdered politicians, all from the Liberal party. (Associated Press)
  • Barbados officially became a republic today -- with a midnight swearing in of President Sandra Mason in a Bridgetown ceremony. “Republic Barbados has set sail on her maiden voyage,” Mason said in her inauguration speech as the first president of the country, recognising the “complex, fractured and turbulent world” it would need to navigate. Barbadian singer Rihanna also attended the ceremony and was declared a national hero. "The republic is part of a wider agenda building steam across the Caribbean to forge a future outside a British framework," reports the Guardian. (See also New York Times.)
  • A number of large fashion brands are at risk of contributing to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, based on their connections to tanneries and other companies involved in the production of leather and leather goods, according to a new report by Stand.earth, a supply chain research firm. More than 50 brands, including H&M, Zara, Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Teva and UGG, have multiple connections to an industry that props up Amazon deforestation, reports the Guardian.

  •  São Paulo Governor João Doria won the primary election this weekend to become the PSDB candidate for president in Brazil's 2022 elections. Doria was formerly an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, but became a vocal critic during the coronavirus pandemic. “Bolsonaro sold a dream and delivered a nightmare,” Doria said in his victory speech Saturday. (Bloomberg)

  • Doria told CNN that an alliance with former justice minister Sergio Moro, who has sought to portray himself as a third-way candidate, is possible.
  • The U.S. began deporting a record number of Nicaraguan migrants this year, reports Reuters, though people are fleeing the country to escape a crackdown against dissent by President Daniel Ortega, head of a government Washington has accused of civil rights abuses, corruption and holding sham elections.
Regional Relations
  • The United States revoked its designation of Colombia's FARC as a foreign terrorist organization, today. Removing the terrorist designation will make it easier for the United States to support the implementation of the 2016 peace accord between Colombia and the then-guerrilla group, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Reuters, see yesterday's briefs.)

  • U.S. officials say removing the former rebel group from the terrorist list five years after Colombia's historic peace accord allows it to focus on current terrorist groups, including FARC dissident groups that were designated terrorist organizations today. "“If a guerrilla group through an accord disarms and demobilizes and gets involved politically, that’s ultimately what you want to happen and what you want to encourage, and it sends a signal that these processes can produce an outcome that can lead toward peace," Juan S. González, the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, told the Associated Press.
  • Chile's parliament is set to approve a long-awaited bill to legalize same-sex marriage today. (AFP
  • The president of the U.N. Committee on Enforced Disappearances said there is an "almost total, structural" lack of punishment in Mexico for the crime of abducting and disappearing people. (Associated Press)

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the deployment of the National Guard to Zacatecas last week. But the move will do little to stem worsening cartel violence in the state, according to the Latin America Risk Report
  • Communities in Peru's Ayacucho region say they will resume protests against the mining sector if the Castillo administration breaches what they call a signed agreement to shutter mines, reports Reuters.

  • A team of experts has found a mummy estimated to be at least 800 years old in Peru, inside an underground structure found on the outskirts of Lima. (Reuters)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing