Bolivia's presidential election kicks-off (Feb. 4, 2020)
Bolivia's new electoral cycle kicked off yesterday, with the deadline for presidential and legislative candidates to register for the May 3 vote. Former president Evo Morales, ousted last November after a questioned presidential election, registered to run as senator for his MAS party. Morales is barred from seeking another presidential term. The MAS party is leading in preliminary polls, with 26 percent. Morales' party will field former economy minister Luis Arce as its presidential candidate, seconded by former foreign minister David Choquehuanca. (AFP)
A total of eight presidential candidates registered yesterday, reports El Deber. They include interim-president Jeanine Áñez registered to run for president, despite initial promises that she would not do so. She was running fourth in the last opinion poll, with 12 percent. Former president Carlos Mesa, who came in second in October's disputed election, will run again, and is polling second at 17 percent, alongside right-wing candidate Luis Fernando Camacho. Evangelical preacher Chi Hyun Chung and conservative ex-president Jorge Quiroga (2001-2002) have also registered to stand. Analysts note that, once more, Morales opponents failed to create a united front, reports AFP.
Indeed, if Morales opponents truly want a clean election that leads to democratic alternation, their best bet is a broad front aimed a strengthening democratic institutions, argues Sylvia Colombo in a New York Times Español op-ed. Instead, Áñez's participation takes the election in the opposite direction. "In these two months, Áñez has become a figure as authoritarian and radical as her predecessor was in his last years. Calm has been imposed through fear and arms. This scenario makes legitimate and transparent elections urgent, something that will be difficult with Áñez on the ballot."
In the first round of voting, a candidate needs to win an absolute majority or gain at least 40 percent with a minimum 10-point lead over the nearest challenger. If not, there will be a run-off for the top two candidates on June 14.
MAS's electoral efforts are complicated by judicial proceedings against former officials -- which Morales supporters say amount to political persecution. On Sunday, a Bolivian judge ordered six months of preventive detention to Morales's legal representative, former cabinet chief Patricia Hermosa, who was detained last Friday, with all the documentation needed to inscribe Morales. Arce returned from exile last week and was immediately served with a subpoena. He is accused of a breach of duties and embezzlement during his ministerial tenure. (AFP, Página 12, Infobae, La Razón)
A Bolivian veteran of the U.S. army created an application that shared as many as 69 tweets per second to help spread disinformation in support of the coup against Morales, in the aftermath of the election, reported Salon last month.
Israel’s U.N. ambassador met with his Bolivian counterpart in an official meeting, the first of its kind since Bolivia cut ties with Israel in 2009. (Middle East Monitor)
Armed groups are inflicting horrific abuses on residents of Venezuela's Bolivar state, including amputations and executions. Venezuelan groups called “syndicates” in the area and Colombian armed groups operating in the region exercise control over gold mines, and exert strict control over the populations who live and work there, reports Human Rights Watch. People interviewed also said that Venezuelan authorities are aware of the illegal mining activities. "Four residents said that they witnessed members of syndicates amputating or shooting the hands of people accused of stealing. Several other residents said they knew of cases in which syndicate members had cut offenders into pieces with a chainsaw, ax, or machete."
Trinidad and Tobago cancelled a natural gas development agreement with Venezuela's state oil company, Pdvsa, due to U.S. sanctions. (EFE)
Peru is deliberately rejecting Venezuelan people seeking asylum at its border with Ecuador, despite the people appearing to fulfil all the criteria for international protection, reports Amnesty International. Peru is denying entry to vulnerable Venezuelans, including older people and unaccompanied children according to the new report.
A second worker at a famous monarch butterfly sanctuary in Mexico was found murdered this week. Raúl Hernández Romero, 44, was found badly beaten with a sharp object on Saturday, just days after Homero Gómez González, a well-known defender of the monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacan state was recovered last week after a two-week disappearance, reports the Washington Post. The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection, reports the Guardian. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
"The people who make up the first line of defense of Mexico's natural heritage live under constant threat," wrote Homero Aridjis in a New York Times Español op-ed last week. But in addition to protecting land defenders, the Mexican government must dedicate resources to dedicating the environment itself, and desist from large-scale projects with devastating impact, he argues.
Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for reporters, which makes it especially important for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to commit to protecting their work and their lives, writes Jorge Ramos in a New York Times Español op-ed. Instead, AMLO's disparaging attitude towards critics has put the profession in an even more vulnerable position, argues Ramos.
There is a growing sense among Chile's protesters that institutional inertia will overcome the street's transformational energy in the country's upcoming constitutional rewrite process, writes Lina Meruane in the Post Opinión.
El Salvador's FMLN party attempted to sneak measures favorable to war criminals into a victim reconciliation bill in congress. The party's lawmakers sought to reduce prison sentences for war criminals, but were stymied outcry from human rights organizations, reports El Faro.
Three categories of reform could help move Brazilian society toward a consensus-driven economic model that delivers more for everyday people: freeing up fiscal resources; enhancing efficiency; and triggering growth, writes Thomas Trebat at Americas Quarterly.
El País profiles a project by Fundación Kara Solar to connect indigenous villages in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest with solar powered boats.
Aurora Santiago Ortiz writes about anti-colonialist feminists in Puerto Rico at Nueva Sociedad.
Honestly? For, me, not watching the Superbowl is one of the best parts of not living in the U.S. But everybody is talking about the halftime show, so here goes the Atlantic's analysis of the serious message imparted by J-Lo and Shakira: "that Latin identity is bigger than any one performance." The twelve minute extravaganza also included "not-so-subtle" criticisms of U.S. immigration policies, notes the Guardian. "The visuals of children in cages were a clear reference to the inhumane treatment of children on the U.S. boarder. That symbol, combined with the song "Let's Get Loud," made for a powerful moment of protest, demanding Americans do something about the inhumanity at the border," according to Esquire.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing