Betancourt announces candidacy (Jan. 19, 2022)
Ingrid Betancourt said she will run for Colombia's presidency in elections later this year, billing herself as a centrist focused on tackling corruption and unemployment. The decision surprised her colleagues in the Coalición Centro Esperanza centrist alliance, reports La Silla Vacía -- her candidacy strengthens the group's bid, but also means there will be a broad primary in which Betancourt will face off against Alejandro Gaviria, a former health minister and university director, and Sergio Fajardo, a mathematician and former governor who has also previously run for president, as well as other pre-candidates.
The former congresswoman was kidnapped by the FARC 20 years ago while campaigning for the same post, and held hostage for over six years by the guerrillas. She came to symbolize both the brutality of Colombia’s long war and the country’s efforts at reconciliation, reports the New York Times. Despite the horrors she endured — at times being deprived of food and chained by the neck — Betancourt supported Colombia’s 2016 peace deal with the FARC, notes the Washington Post.
Betancourt's speech yesterday focused on corruption, violence and injustice, which she said have held Colombians hostage. She presents her candidacy as an alternative to the current right-wing government, and leftist Gustavo Petro who is ahead in polls for this year's vote. (AFP)
But she faces an uphill battle, political risk analyst Sergio Guzmán told the Guardian. "She represents reconciliation" and other issues that were important during previous elections, like the need for Colombia’s government to make peace with armed groups, Guzmán said. But those are not the main issues that voters are concerned with in this election, according to polls.
Social leader assassinations are common in Colombia -- one is killed, on average, every 60 hours, according to the latest figures. But the killing of 14-year-old environmental activist Breiner David Cucuñame last week, shot dead while on patrol with the Indigenous Guard, an unarmed group which seeks to protect indigenous lands from incursions by the country’s many armed groups, has been particularly shocking, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
The mass trials against July 11 protesters in Cuba continued this week, despite local and international outcries, reports the Miami Herald. At least 45 protesters will be tried this week in Havana and nearby Mayabeque province, according to information verified by the activist group Justicia 11J. (See Monday's post.)
Haitian Judge Garry Orelien, who is overseeing the inquiry into President Jovenel Moïse’s July assassination is being removed from the case after failing to meet a legal deadline on bringing formal charges. The move comes amid doubts about Haiti’s ability — or even its desire — to prosecute those responsible for the brazen crime, according to the Miami Herald.
Youth movements, women and international cooperation offer rays of hope for Central American democracies, which have generally failed to establish solid public institutions capable of withstanding the demands of increasingly impatient and angry societies, writes Luis Guillermo Solís in Americas Quarterly.
MS13 has taken over aspects of the trash recycling sector in Honduras -- a new InSight Crime investigation explores this and the connections between the gang and the highest rungs of Honduran politics and business. It is the first article in a three-part series into how the MS13 grew from humble beginning to become an investment powerhouse, into numerous businesses, both legal and illegal, across the Northern Triangle.
The hyper-fragmentation of the Brazilian party system is unparalleled -- due in part to incentives that lead politicians to prefer to be high-ranking members of small parties rather than low-ranking members of large parties, explains the Brazil Research Initiative.
South American countries are being hammered by the Omicron coronavirus variant, which has left hospitals understaffed due to employee illness, reports the Associated Press.
Limited take up of Covid-19 vaccines has been an ongoing issue hampering the response to the pandemic
across the Eastern Caribbean subregion as elsewhere -- a new UNICEF survey examines vaccine hesitancy in Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing