Thursday, February 3, 2022

Peruvian PM accused of domestic abuse (Feb. 3, 2022)

Peruvian press revealed that the country's newly named prime minister, Héctor Valer, was accused by family members of domestic abuse. (La República) Calls from lawmakers, feminist groups and opinion makers have called for Valer, appointed on Tuesday, to step down. His wife and daughter reported to police, in 2016, that he hit and kicked them in the face and other parts of the body. A judge ordered protection measures for Valer's wife in the wake of the reports. A group of neighbors sought to evict Valer from his building, at the time, due to screaming coming from his apartment, reports El País.

The news comes in the midst of political uncertainty in Peru, where President Pedro Castillo just named the third cabinet in what has been barely six months in office. The latest reshuffle happened after Castillo’s prime minister, Mirtha Vásquez, announced her resignation on Monday in relation to a corruption scandal, prompting the dissolution of the entire cabinet. "The cabinet shuffle rattled Peruvians, who had considered the moderate Vásquez as a buffer between Castillo and his more radical Perú Libre party," writes Andrea Moncada in Americas Quarterly.

Valer was elected as a conservative lawmaker in July, and is allegedly a member of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei, but Castillo's appointment doesn't necessarily reflect a right-ward shift, argues Moncada: "What Castillo’s new team reflects is more of the same lack of leadership. Peru’s president is still struggling to formulate overarching goals or objectives."

Castillo's new cabinet still needs to be confirmed by Congress within the next month, notes Reuters. Lack of support from hard opposition groups, particularly Fuerza Perú, was expected, but more moderate parties, such as Avanza País, and even allies, like Juntos por el Perú, have rejected ratifying Valer, reports Infobae.

On the other hand, members of the new cabinet downplayed the significance of the allegations against Valer. Defense Minister José Luis Gavidia called the accusations of domestic violence "personal affairs." (Gestión)

News Briefs

  • At least 20 people died in Argentina, and dozens were hospitalized, after consuming apparently adulterated cocaine. Experts were still analyzing the drug to determine what was in it that caused the deaths, but some judicial authorities said it could be part of a settling of scores between traffickers. Authorities called on people who may have bought the laced cocaine to discard the drug, an example some drug experts lauded as "harm reduction." (ReutersAssociated Press)

  • The IMF deal with Argentina needs tougher conditions, argues a Financial Times editorial that says the multilateral lender "is keen to put behind it the embarrassing failure of its biggest-ever bailout, avoid the spectre of Argentina falling into arrears and show sensitivity to the need for stronger social policies as countries rebuild post-pandemic." (See yesterday's brief's and Monday's.)

  • But FT also notes the complicated panorama for Argentina's Fernández administration: "The roots of the latest crisis run deep. The Peronist government inherited a mess when it took office in 2019. The economy was mired in recession and the mountain of foreign debt run up by the previous president, Mauricio Macri, was unpayable."
Regional Relations
  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández  began an official international tour to Russia, China, and Barbados today, where he will seek to strengthen bilateral relations with those countries. (Telesur)
  • The U.S. has started turning-back Venezuelan asylum seekers who have resided in Colombia who reach the U.S.-Mexico border. It is only the most recent sign that the path to the United States is disappearing for Venezuelans, reports the Miami Herald.

  • Brazilian police are investigating the killing of a 24-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who, according to his family, was beaten to death after he demanded overdue wages from his boss in Rio de Janeiro, reports Al Jazeera. Moise Kabagambe was seen in a video from the Tropikalia beach kiosk's security cameras being attacked by a group of men who beat him repeatedly with a club and a baseball bat, according to police. (CNN)
  • Former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's lead over far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro has tightened somewhat, to 11 percentage points from 14 two weeks ago, according to a new PoderData poll. (Reuters)
  • The Indigenous survivors of what has become known as Guatemala's Silent Holocaust, a genocidal campaign waged against the Mayan population during Guatemala's civil war, have received little official recognition. But a trial has put a spotlighton the systematic sexual violence inflicted on thousands of Indigenous women in Guatemala during the country's 36-year civil war, reports Time Magazine. (See Jan. 25's briefs.)
  • In the Colombian town of El Carmen de Bolívar, LGBTQ+ people want the history of their brutal persecution by police and paramilitaries to be told, but the sense of safety is fragile and many still face prejudice, reports the Guardian.
  • Technology to hide a ship’s location previously available only to the world’s militaries is spreading fast through the global maritime industry as governments from Iran to Venezuela — and the rogue shipping companies they depend on to move their petroleum products — look for stealthier ways to circumvent U.S. sanctions, reports the Associated Press.

  • Trinidadian Colin Granderson, one of the Caribbean region’s most recognizable diplomats, is retiring after a decades-long career. "Considered one of the Caribbean’s foremost Haiti experts, Granderson is known for his calm and quiet demeanor during turbulent diplomatic times: when the community has butted heads with the U.S. over Haiti and Cuba policies, navigated dissent within its temperamental ranks over the escalating crisis in Venezuela and faced criticism that it hasn’t moved quickly enough to foster regional integration," writes Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald.
  • The Honduran island of Roatán is focusing on balancing the return of tourism (and divers) with the fragility of the marine reef environment -- New York Times.

  • "The race to save the world’s reefs from the climate crisis" – in pictures in 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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