Binding environmental rights pact will help protect activists (March 7, 2018)
Earlier this week, officials from 24 countries in the region signed a legally binding environmental rights pact containing measures to protect land defenders, reports the Guardian.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is battling a new impeachment attempt in Congress. A multi-party coalition will likely present charges against the president today in Congress in relation to allegations of improper relations with Odebrecht, reports TeleSUR. In the wake of testimony from a former Odebrecht executive, 63 percent of Peruvians believe the president should resign, reports La Republica. Last night opposition leader Keiko Fujimori called for him to step down, reports La Republica. (IDL-Reporteros analyzes the full scope of the Odebrecht testimony, which implicates Fujimori as well.)
Brazil's top appeals court denied a request from former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that he not be sent to jail while appealing a corruption conviction. It means the popular leader could be forced to begin serving out his 12-year sentence in a matter of weeks, while he takes the case to higher courts, reports Reuters. He can still appeal yesterday's decision, however, reports the Associated Press. Yesterday's ruling is yet another hurdle the former president would have to clear in order to run in October's elections -- though he is the voters' favorite, he's technically barred from running due to his conviction, reports El País.
El Salvador's legislative and municipal elections largely went smoothly on Sunday. But on Monday several lawmakers denounced that the official vote count in San Salvador did not match up to the ballot box tally sheets -- apparently a programing problem with the Smartmatic vote counting technology, reports Factum. The issue was due to human error and incorrectly counted voter preferences within parties. After correcting the error, the overall distribution of seats per party did not change, but several candidates who had previously been left out of the final tally made the final cut, according to EFE. The attorney general's office has already announced an investigation into the count, reports El Diario de Hoy.
Smartmatic announced that it would be shutting down operations in Venezuela, after denouncing irregularities in elections last year, reports EFE. (See post for Aug. 2, 2017.)
Opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón defended his decision to participate in an electoral process critics say is rigged. In a New York Times op-ed, he admits the concerns are legitimate, "but we can’t give up and let Mr. Maduro get away with six more years in power. Choosing to fight under unfair rules does not legitimize the rules: it affirms our willingness to defend our rights." He goes on to argue that electoral boycotts rarely work, while confronting authoritarian regimes at the ballot box has historically been more successful. And, overwhelmingly, Venezuelans want to vote, and many opposition voters say they would do so despite a boycott call by the main opposition coalition.
Venezuela allies in the region are insisting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro be invited to participate in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Peru, reports El País.
The U.S. Trump administration is making plans to assist Latin American and Caribbean countries that have been dependent on Venezuelan oil assistance, reports the Miami Herald. Venezuela's subsidized oil program has been a key foreign policy tool for the country, and in the midst of Venezuela's collapse, the U.S. is seeing an opportunity.
U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in Mexico today, where he will meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, reports El País. Kushner, who holds no official government post, arrives as a special envoy, along with State Department and National Security Council officials.
Mexico's ruling PRI party lawmakers blocked an investigation into alleged irregularities committed by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in relation to state oil company Pemex contracts, reports El País.
At least 7.7 million Brazilians have been forced to leave their homes since 2000. Of these the majority, 6.4 million, were displaced by large-scale flooding, droughts and other natural disasters, while 1.2 million were forced out by large-scale construction projects like dams, according the Igarapé Institute's Forced Migration Observatory. Many more people have likely been displaced by crime, but there is little data on that phenomenon, reports the Guardian.
The European Union's electoral observer mission in Honduras urged a series of reforms in the wake of last year's disputed presidential election. The changes include recommendations to eliminate a system that lets private media companies clear their government debts by running propaganda and also end criminal charges for cases of defamation and libel, reports the Associated Press.
Human rights groups have denounced that Honduran activists remain at risk from the official crackdown on protesters after the November election. Personal information about activists has been disseminated online, accusing them of links to organized crime, and there are reports of security forces detaining and threatening activists. "Human rights organizations say this is all part of a broader campaign, coordinated with Honduran state intelligence, aimed at discrediting anti-government activists and criminalizing their movements," writes Heather Gies in World Politics Review.
Outgoing Chilean President Michelle Bachelet presented a bill for a constitutional reform -- wrapping up a key campaign promise. She assured citizens that the proposal, which aims to replace the 1980 constitution passed by authoritarian General Augusto Pinochet, is not a drastic revision. Rather, it seeks to guarantee rights such as access to health, education, equality, and non discrimination, reports El País. The project will not pass before incoming President Sebastian Piñera assumes next week, but could force him to contemplate the aspirations of leftist and progressive lawmakers, reports Reuters.
Americas Quarterly analyzes the political backstory to Argentine President Mauricio Macri's surprising support for abortion debate (though not for abortion itself). (See yesterday's briefs.) Abortion is increasingly supported by young Argentines, and the issue divides the opposition and distracts from issues such as labor reform which have harmed the president politically, writes Lucia He.
Pope Francis announced that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero could be canonized next year, after a miracle was attributed to the human rights champion assassinated in 1980, reports the Guardian.
Health authorities in the Guatemalan municipality of San Carlos Sija are hoping to catch more cases of gender violence through a mental health survey administered to women in prenatal exams, reports the Guardian. Guatemala has the third highest rate of femicide in the world. Between 2014 and 2016, there were 2,264 violent deaths of women in Guatemala, of which 611 were formally reported as femicide.