Thursday, January 6, 2022

Brazil's election polarized (Jan. 6, 2022)

News Briefs

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva have polarized this year's presidential race in Brazil, leaving little room for alternative candidates, reports Americas Quarterly in a "Meet the Candidates."

  • "Bolsonaro’s years of misrule have left a yearning for stability" in Brazil. "Even conservative elites are adjusting to the idea of the Workers’ Party leader as president again," writes Vincent Bevins in the New York Review of Books. But it's not just popularity, he warns, "in weighing whether Lula might return to govern in 2022, it is crucial to understand how and why Brazil’s varied institutional forces—where power actually resides in moments of crisis—might be willing to let him."

  • In the meantime, Brazilian generals have emerged as key power brokers, amid fears Bolsonaro may try to prevent a peaceful transition if he loses his reelection bid, writes Oliver Stuenkel in Americas Quarterly. The specifics of the electoral results will likely matter a lot: generals would likely stay out of a landslide Lula win, but coup-mongers could be emboldened if Lula's margin of victory is narrow.

  • "The potential for political violence later in the year will be preceded by mass disinformation all year long," warns the Latin America Risk Report.

  • Brazil's political polarization has spilled over into the pub and pizzeria scenes -- Guardian.

  • Rio de Janeiro’s renowned Carnival parade will be held this year, but the city will cancel its street parties. Other major cities such as Olinda, São Luís and Florianópolis also canceled their Carnival events. (New York Times)
  • Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, who is accused of participating in the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, sought to escape back to his native Colombia, where his lawyers said he planned to get in touch with the American Embassy to “bring clarity” to his role in the killing, reports the Miami Herald. Palacios was detained by U.S. authorities en route to Colombia, and accused of conspiracy to commit murder or kidnap outside the United States, and providing material support resulting in death. (See yesterday's briefs.)

  • An unidentified person paid a ransom that freed three missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti under an agreement that was supposed to have led to the release of all 15 remaining captives early in December, reports the Associated Press.
  • A cyberattack that hit government websites in Brazil, including a Covid-19 health data platform, has stoked concerns about a surge in ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure in Latin American countries, reports InSight Crime.
  • Guatemalan Indigenous authorities have become increasingly influential in the construction of broad-based political movements connecting Indigenous communities and campesino cooperatives with urban middle-class progressives, particularly given the country's fractured civil society, reports El Faro English.
  • Peru's attorney general opened a preliminary investigation against President Pedro Castillo on Monday on allegations of collusion and influence peddling in cases related to government public works contracts, reports Reuters. Castillo said the allegations are politically motivated and untrue.
El Salvador
  • El Salvador’s Supreme Court ordered the re-opening of an investigation into the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests. Attempts within El Salvador to investigate and prosecute the masterminds of the killings during the country’s civil war have been deflected by legal maneuvers for years, reports the Associated Press.
  • The trial has begun in Guatemala of five former paramilitary soldiers accused of raping 36 indigenous Mayan women during the 1980s, reports the BBC.
  • Chilean Constitutional Convention delegates chose epidemiologist María Elisa Quinteros as the body's new head, after nine rounds of voting. (See yesterday's briefs.) She is an environmental epidemiologist, and was selected as part of the Asamblea Popular por la Dignidad y Movimientos Sociales Constituyentes. She will be seconded by rural medic and gay activist Gaspar Domínguez. (Al Jazeera, CNN, CNN)
  • Historian Joshua Frens-String spoke to Jacobin on how the Chilean working-class dream of “wine and empanadas” became the basis for a political revolution, and how that dream can be revived amid a left-wing resurgence in the country today. His new book Hungry for Revolution: The Politics of Food and the Making of Modern Chile, shows that underlying the Allende government's drive for agrarian reform and consumer protections was a vision of working-class abundance  that had deep roots in Chile’s century-old socialist movement.
Correction: Yesterday I said that opposition parties did not participate in Venezuela's 2020 legislative elections. I should have said the country's principal opposition parties boycotted the process, which was marked by significant irregularities, including government intervention in the leadership of several main opposition parties. Maduro's allies won 91 percent of seats in that election, which was widely considered fraudulent.

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

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