Brazilians set to pick Bolsonaro (Oct. 26, 2018)
Brazilian election briefs
Brazilians head to the polls on Sunday in a run-off election to pick the next president. Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro is expected to win, though the latest poll published yesterday shows his lead over Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad is closing: Bolsonaro had 56 percent of voter support, compared to Haddad’s 44 percent. A week ago, the same Datafolha poll had Bolsonaro with 59 percent and Haddad with 41 percent. (Reuters)
Voters are attracted to Bolsonaro for a number of reasons: many want quick answers for record levels of violence and are expressing anger at the Workers' Party. Evangelicals, business leaders, and the farm lobby are hoping for policies favorable to their sectors. (BBC)
The very disenchantment that will likely propel Bolsonaro to victory could also serve as a limit to his power once in office, argues the Eurasia Group’s Chris Garman in Americas Quarterly's Deep South Podcast.
Human rights groups -- including Human Rights Watch, Article 19, and Conectas -- called on candidates to denounce threats against journalists. The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) has documented 141 cases of threats and violence against reporters covering the elections. Most of them were allegedly carried out by Bolsonaro supporters. This week Folha de S. Paulo denounced threats against journalist Patrícia Campos Mello, who last week reported on a business group that allegedly financed a Whatsapp fake news blitz.
Hate crimes in general have increased during the campaign, critics say fueled by Bolsonaro's discourse. "In Brazil, which saw a record 64,000 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro’s words will serve to pour gasoline on a fire that is already burning out of control," writes Will Carless in a Washington Post opinion piece that says Bolsonaro makes Trump look like Mr. Rogers.
Bolsonaro promised to keep Brazil in the Paris Climate Agreement, despite reservations about the deal. (TIME)
A Bolsonaro victory will likely affect Brazil's relations with African countries, which were a foreign policy priority under the Workers' Party governments. (The Conversation)
Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado was assaulted in Bolívar state by a mob of nearly 80 people on Wednesday. She blames the attack on the government. Former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana said she became a target because of her ongoing opposition to political negotiations between some factions of the opposition and President Nicolás Maduro's administration. (Miami Herald and Univisión)
"Venezuela is a poor country and a failed and criminalized state run by an autocrat beholden to a foreign power," writes Moises Naím and Francisco Toro in Foreign Affairs. Though there is no simple solution, they urge Washington to increase pressure on Cuba, and further isolate Venezuelan officials. "Yet the prospects of such a strategy succeeding are dim."
A record surge in suicides is pushed by and compounding Venezuela's woes, reports Bloomberg.
Venezuelan history shows that the welcoming migrants and refugees allows the to contribute to local economies and communities more quickly. Recognizing fleeing Venezuelans as refugees is one way to do so that recognizes the magnitude of the current crisis, argues Dany Bahar in Foreign Affairs.
The migrants caravan is pushing on through Mexico, but nervousness, exhaustion, and illness are taking a huge toll on the people walking towards the U.S. border, reports the New York Times. At the current rate it might take two months for them to reach the border, a difficult proposition, reports the Washington Post. (And video here.)
The U.S. is deploying 800 troops to the border, but they're preparing for a humanitarian crisis rather than an invasion, reports the Washington Post.
U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to cut aid to Central America because of migration show "a fundamental misunderstanding of the underlying drivers of the migration," writes Fulton Armstrong at the AULA blog. He criticizes the minor reforms carried out by Central American governments. "The caravan’s provocations and Trump’s reactions could blow up the game that has allowed both sides to pretend the problem will go away with token programs, intimidation, and a wall."
Rumors aside, migrants travel in groups for a simple reason: safety, writes Karen Jacobsen at the Conversation.
The work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has contributed to an annual five percent reduction in homicides, according to a study by the International Crisis Group. The study says the commission -- which will be terminated next year by President Jimmy Morales -- has played a key role in improving Guatemala's security.
Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador launched a four day referendum yesterday, asking citizens whether they wish to continue construction of a new $13.3 billion airport near of Mexico City. Critics say the project, which is about a third completed already, will have a significant environmental and economic toll. Markets are watching closely, and say a negative outcome for the airport would mean a poor start for AMLO's new government, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Already there are reports of irregularities in the polls, but AMLO says they won't affect the final results. (Animal Político)
The U.N. and the E.U. condemned the assassination of Gabriel Soriano, the tenth journalist killed this year in Mexico. (El País)
Ciudad Juárez is on track to having the deadliest year since 2011. Homicides were particularly high in June, July, and August, but dipped in September -- gang fragmentation is likely behind the increase, and a tenuous truce explains the sudden decrease last month, explains InSight Crime.
An international commission is considering creating vast marine reserves to protect Antartica's ecosystem. (New York Times op-ed)
Soy is the backbone of Argentina's fragile economy, but its cultivation is destroying the country's portion of the Gran Chaco forest, home to the indigenous Wichí people. (Guardian)
Conspiracy theory of the day
Angelina Jolie's recent Peru visit with Venezuelan refugees in her role as a UNHCR special envoy was a cover for her role as a CIA operative, alleged Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. (EFE) (See yesterday's briefs.)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing