Friday, January 21, 2022

Boric's feminist cabinet (Jan. 21, 2022)

News Briefs

  • Chilean president-elect Gabriel Boric announced his cabinet picks -- it will be the country's first female-dominated cabinet, with 14 women heading ministries, out of 24. Prominent names include Izkia Siches in the Ministry of Interior, and Camila Vallejo in the Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno. (Cooperativa) The incoming president placated markets with a moderate pick of current central bank head Mario Marcel to head the finance ministry, reports Reuters.

  • Chilean Constitutional Convention commissions are piecing together proposals -- sometimes wildly divergent ones -- on how the government should be structured under a new magna carta, though there appears to be broad support for watering down the current "hyperpresidencialist" system. While the Frente Amplio's bid for a parliamentary democracy garnered little support, other options include strengthening the role of the vice president or creating a government ministry, who would lead efforts to create legislative coalitions. (LaBot Constituyente)
  • Colombia's Constitutional Court stopped government plans to resume aerial fumigation of coca crops, ruling that the Duque administration failed to consult local communities that would be affected. Rights groups and politicians in Colombia welcomed the decision, reports Al Jazeera.

  • The ruling has important implications not only for drug policy in Colombia but also for environmental and Indigenous rights, according to the Latin America Brief. Many other consultations in the region related to government projects occur simply as rubber-stamp processes rather than being democratic or binding.
  • U.N. agencies estimate that 400 people walk everyday from the Venezuelan border with Colombia towards Bogotá and other Colombian cities -- with very limited exceptions, including for families with children under 12 and pregnant women, no one provides Venezuelan walkers with transportation, notes Human Rights Watch in a call for Venezuelan exiles get to their final destination by bus.
  • Remittances to Guatemala reached record levels last year: Guatemalans living abroad sent more than $15 billion, an increase of 35% on the previous year, reports the Guardian. The country's dependence on remittances makes politicians loath to actually tackle the underlying causes of migration, a situation that favors the elite's status quo, argue some experts.

  • Guatemalan judge Erika Lorena Aifán Dávila says she is being attacked by the country’s Attorney General’s Office over her work on high-profile corruption cases, reports InSight Crime. "With many anti-corruption prosecutors now out of the picture, Aifán stands out as the first top-level judge targeted by forces within the Attorney General’s Office."
Regional Relations
  • Exclusive focus on Chinese motivations for engaging Latin America and the Caribbean discounts the agency and influence regional leaders exhibit, particularly in crisis situations, argue Wazim Mowla & Pepe Zhang in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, LAC leaders leveraged their asymmetrical relationships with China and other global actors to shape international discussions on inequitable vaccine access or to procure development assistance."

  • For example, critics of Barbados' recent transition into a republic "have given undue emphasis to the role of China, demonising Beijing while simultaneously belittling Barbados’s agency – in other words, an ugly cocktail of fearmongering and geopolitical mansplaining," argues Sebastian Shehadi in Investment Monitor.
  • Barbados PM Mia Mottley, who won a landslide second term this week, is just one of a raft of strong women across the Caribbean and South America tackling society’s most pressing issues, argues Mandeep Rai in the Guardian. She "has changed the face of democracy in the country. ... It is difficult to overstate what her commitment to collaboration across the region and internationally has done for Barbados ... Countries like Barbados are often not the protagonist, yet Mottley put issues such as the climate crisis and international development to the front on the world stage.
  • Covid-19 infections are reaching new peaks in the Americas with 7.2 million new cases and more than 15,000 COVID-related deaths in the last week, the Pan American Health Organization said this week. (Reuters)

  • U.S. companies are pillaging Latin America’s tech talent, reports Rest of World.
  • Argentine authorities asked Moscow to detain Iranian official Mohsen Rezai, one of six Iranians accused in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. (La Nación)

  • Last week Rezai attended the inauguration of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, prompting condemnation from Argentina's foreign ministry. Argentina's Fernández administration came under fire from the political opposition, however, for sending a diplomatic representative to the event. (Buenos Aires Times)

  • This week Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and after the two countries asked the Organisation of American States to reactivate red alerts in all its member states in the Americas so that Interpol can take action against the six Iranians accused of the AMIA bombing. (Buenos Aires Times)
  • Honduran lawmakers are wrangling over who will head Congress during the next term, with a deep schism within the Libre party of president-elect Xiomara Castro. (La Tribuna)
  • Venezuela’s government is making a fresh attempt to open channels with international investors, reports Bloomberg. Advisers, led by top economic aide Patricio Rivera, held an hour-long call this week with at least two dozen bondholders and fund managers, presenting potential deals in the oil and tourism sectors and talking up new economic growth data.
  • Shortages of medical drugs in Mexico are the fault of the López Obrador administration's policies, according to the Economist.
  • Wildcat miners returned in droves to protected Indigenous lands in Brazil's Roraima state, just months after authorities shut down the illegal site, reports the Associated Press.

  • Amazon fishers in Brazil are cashing in on a booming yellow croaker maw industry fuelled by Chinese demand, but the threat of overfishing looms, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Elza Soares, one of the greatest Brazilian singers of all time, died at her beachside home in Rio at the age of 91. There was an immediate outpouring of tributes to the 91-year-old samba singer, who died of natural causes and had been preparing to release a new album and perform a series of shows, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing

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