Friday, April 1, 2022

Bolsonaro cabinet members resign to run for office (April 1, 2022)

 Ten members of Bolsonaro's cabinet resigned yesterday in order to run for office -- congressional seats or governorships. The move will also permit them to stump for Bolsonaro on the campaign trail, reports the Associated Press. Most outgoing officials have joined the Liberal Party that Bolsonaro joined in November. Defence Minister Walter Braga Netto stepped down and was made a special adviser to the president. He is seen as a top contender to become Bolsonaro’s running mate.

Yesterday was the deadline in Brazil for prospective political candidates to join the parties they would compete for in October’s elections, and to resign from their current political office if they plan to run for another position. They have until August to formally declare their candidacies.

Though Lula is firmly in the lead in opinion polls -- he's at 43% to Bolsonaro's 26% -- the final result is likely to be far closer, and a lot will depend on economic performance, reports The Economist.

São Paulo Governor João Doria, who had been planning to run for the PSDB party said yesterday he would not run, and then later retracted his retraction. The possibility of a viable third-way candidate remains elusive. Former Judge Sergio Moro announced yesterday he would end his presidential bid. He also said he would be leaving the centrist Podemos party to join center-right União Brasil. Moro said his move aims to "facilitate negotiations between political forces of the democratic center in search of a single presidential candidacy." (Globo, Reuters)

There’s an increasingly visible generation gap in Brazil’s upcoming presidential election. Among Brazilians aged 60 and older, however, 39% said they would vote for Lula and 29% supported Bolsonaro—only a 10-point margin. Among voters aged 16 to 24, the disparity is the highest: 51% for Lula and 22% for Bolsonaro, a 29-point margin, reports Americas Quarterly.

More Brazil
  • March 31 marks the anniversary of the last military coup in Brazil. The Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces celebrated the date in a statement signed by the commanders of the three Forces and Braga Netto, which says the years following 1964 were of "stability, security, economic growth and political maturation," which led to peace in the country, and criticizes efforts to “revise” history without “proper contextualization.” (Folha de S. Paulo)

  • Bolsonaro is pushing five bills in Congress that will strip away Indigenous rights, open up the Amazon to rampant profiteering and bring untold damage to the planet. "It’s hard to choose the worst of the suite of bills, which activists call the Destruction Package," writes Vanessa Barbaro in a New York Times guest essay. "Takentogether, these bills will significantly accelerate the destruction of the Amazon."
News Briefs

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to establish a group of human rights experts on Nicaragua with a mandate to “conduct thorough and independent investigations into all alleged human rights violations” in the country since April 2018, including their structural root causes. (Human Rights Watch)

  • The adoption of this resolution follows an appeal by over 20 Nicaraguan, regional and international human rights organizations. (Amnesty International)

  • Political detainees organized a protest in Nicaragua's El Chipote prison on Monday, reports El Confidencial.
El Salvador
  • Between July 2021 and February 2022, the government of President Nayib Bukele released four top leaders of the MS13 in El Salvador, all of whom were facing extradition to the United States, according to prison and court documents accessed by InSight Crime.

  • It is currently impossible to verify whether they remain free or have returned to jail, since Justice Ministry authorities have refused to provide information, reports La Prensa Gráfica. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Costa Rica
  • Costa Ricans will decide their next president in a runoff vote on Sunday that pits conservative economist Rodrigo Chaves against centrist former president Jose Maria Figueres.  Chaves, who was a surprise qualifier for Sunday's run-off, having polled fourth ahead of February's first round, is the favorite in the most recent polls. (AFP)

  • Chavez was reprimanded by the World Bank for what was shown to be a pattern of sexual misconduct against junior employees -- activists say his potential victory threatens to undermine progress in Central America’s most liberal and egalitarian nation, reports the New York Times.
  • The International Criminal Court will open an office in Caracas, amid a preliminary investigation into alleged human rights violations by Venezuelan officials, said prosecutor Karim Khan yesterday during a visit to the Venezuelan capital Caracas. (Reuters)

  • Venezuela's state-run energy firm PDVSA is in talks to buy and lease several oil tankers amid a possible expansion in exports, reports Reuters, a sign the country expects U.S. sanctions on its petroleum sector to be eased.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is poised for victory in a recall referendum this month that could fortify his authority during the final stretch of his administration even as critics dismiss the vote as a sideshow, reports Reuters.

  • AMLO has not only failed to keep a campaign promise to demilitarize the government's security strategy, he's actually expanded the armed forces' role to include a host of government functions not related to security. "Some recent studies show how this strategy could have a detrimental effect on the armed forces themselves, eroding the public’s relationship with what has long been one of Mexico’s most trusted institutions," writes Catalina Pérez Correa in Americas Quarterly.

  • Mexican and American officials met yesterday amid disagreements about an electrical power reform that seeks to limit foreign-built renewable energy plants and grant a majority market share to Mexico’s state-owned power utility, reports the Associated Press.
  • Haiti registered 225 kidnappings during the first quarter of 2022, representing a 58% jump from the same period a year ago, reports Bloomberg. (See Wednesday's post.)
  • The A’i Cofan community’s Indigenous guard in Ecuador has started patrolling its territory in the Amazon against miners --  backed by the Constitutional Court, which in February ruled indigenous communities have the right to give prior consent to major extractive projects which take place in their territories or which could affect their way of life. They can veto both major mining and oil projects and small-scale informal production. (Reuters)
  • Discontent with education has led to some of the biggest protests in Chile’s history -- a fact President Gabriel Boric and much of his cabinet are very aware of, as their political careers started as student protest leaders. The new president has promised to reform education, particularly to forgive student debt and eliminate some standardized testing, reports the Economist.
  • This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the start of the misguided Malvinas/Falklands war, which claimed over 1,000 lives in a tragic effort to distract from Argentina's foundering military dictatorship. The conflict also marked the beginning of the end for the country's last de facto government, and a period of strong commitment to resolving territorial disputes through diplomatic channels. The Guardian and Página 12 both have interesting coverage, as does Cenital
  • Indigenous midwives are the frontline soldiers in the battle to reduce maternal and infant deaths in Guatemala, parts of Central America and southern Mexico, reports National Geographic.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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