Chile legislates marriage equality (Dec. 8, 2021)
Chilean lawmakers legalized gay marriage yesterday, putting same-sex unions on par with others. The move comes two-weeks ahead of a presidential runoff election in which Chileans will choose a new leader in the most polarized race in the country's recent history.
Analysts say the move is a blow to conservative candidate José Antonio Kast's traditionalist agenda. Kast has said that “society works best with heterosexual couples”; his presidential program offers subsidies to married heterosexual families with children, deliberately excluding same-sex couples. Yesterday he said he opposed the new legislation: “We respect democracy, but that doesn’t mean we change our convictions,” he said. “For us, marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Same-sex civil unions have been legal in Chile since 2015, but did not recognize adoption rights for gay partners. The country’s new law undoes existing legal discrimination against same-sex couples in parentage, joint adoption, and assisted reproductive technology, among others. It also scraps the requirement that married transgender people divorce if they want to have their gender legally recognized. (Human Rights Watch)
The marriage equality legislation was presented four years ago, by former president Michelle Bachelet, but stalled until June, when it received a surprise endorsement from current President Sebastián Piñera, who previously opposed recognizing same-sex marriage. He said “life” and “meeting people” had led him to change his mind. “The time has come for marriage equality in our country,” he said at the time. “Today, I think we need to reflect on the value of freedom, including the freedom to love and build a family with a loved one.”
Chile forms part of a growing wave of marriage equality in the region: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Uruguay have legalized same-sex marriage, and Mexico’s Supreme Court has declared bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
(Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times)
The Cuban government should immediately stop its abuses against Cuban artists, over 300 prominent figures from the art world said today in a statement co-signed by PEN International, the Artists at Risk Connection of PEN America, and Human Rights Watch. The Cuban government should respect freedom of expression, release arbitrarily detained artists, drop abusive criminal charges, and allow those in exile to return to their country, they said.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told the OAS that corruption is not endangering his country's democracy, and said Guatemala is advancing in graft-fighting measures, reports AFP. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Guatemala to prioritize the fight against corruption, earlier this year, and pointed to harassment of judges and prosecutors for investigating criminal structures linked to economic and political power.
Giammattei is in Washington this week, a trip that overlaps with the U.S. hosted "Summit on Democracy," which Guatemala was not invited to attend, reports AFP. (See yesterday's post.)
Giammattei said Guatemala is a "stable democracy" that guarantees human rights, reports Reuters. U.S. State Department official Uzra Zeya last week expressed concern over reporters, corruption fighters and activists in Guatemala who have recently come under fire from the government.
As Guatemala's tax chief Juan Francisco Solorzano Foppa prosecuted powerful countrymen for millions in unpaid taxes. While many celebrated him for tackling elites long used to getting away with evading taxes, he was soon fired, arrested and charged with serious crimes -- part of an ongoing backlash against some of the leaders of an anti-corruption movement that for a time pioneered efforts to end graft and impunity for powerful elites in Central America, reports Reuters.
"The Biden administration’s Summit for Democracy this week would be the ideal moment for the United States to spearhead a ... “democrat’s playbook.” But to make it effective—and not just an exercise in platitudes and self-congratulation—the heads of state and officials gathered must be prepared to scrutinize their own domestic politics and societies just as much as they do those of autocrats," write Christopher Sabatini and Ryan C. Berg in Foreign Policy. "Doing so will require understanding and responding to the common forces that are giving rise to disillusionment, polarization, and democratic decay around the world today." (See yesterday's post.)
"Biden’s Summit for Democracy can also lay the groundwork for the creation of an ambitious new club for liberal democracies," they argue. "Membership in this club must come with both financial and political benefits that outweigh what competing authoritarian regimes are offering. Such perks should include development assistance through the aforementioned global democracy fund."
A proposal for the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual-property rights on pandemic-related pharmaceuticals is still languishing, but a public-health bill in Brazil points the way to a promising bottom-up solution, writes Joseph Stiglitz at Project Syndicate. The bill sought to establish a permanent provision for overriding IP monopolies on essential technologies needed to address health emergencies and would provide for the transfer of vaccine know-how to alternative pharmaceutical manufacturers.
It's time for the Venezuelan opposition to switch tack in the struggle against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, opposition leader Julio Borges told the Financial Times. The quick-fix, regime-change agenda for Venezuela spearheaded by Juan Guaidó has failed, said Borges who resigned as Guaidó's foreign envoy this week. (See Monday's briefs.)
Guaidó's mandate as interim president expires on Jan. 5, and Borges' statements are part of maneuvering within the opposition ahead of that date, Geoff Ramsey, WOLA's Venezuela Director, told FT.
"Despite U.S. sanctions, the country's worst economic crisis in history and dismal job-approval ratings, Maduro, who has been president since 2013, has actually tightened his grip on power," according to NPR.
Colombian media has reported that top ex-FARC commanders El Paisa and Romaña have been shot dead in Venezuela. If confirmed, the killings would be a crippling blow to the Second Marquetalia, whose commanders announced the formation of the dissident group more than two years ago with a new call to arms, reports InSight Crime.
The brewer of Corona beer for U.S. consumers, has agreed to build a brewery in southeastern Mexico, almost two years after the López Obrador administration ordered the closure of a nearly completed $1.4 billion plant near the U.S.-Mexico border. The brewery’s relocation culminates protracted negotiations between top executives of the third-largest U.S. beer producer, senior Mexican officials and local authorities in Mexico’s impoverished southeast region, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Salvadoran journalist Óscar Martínez's new book, "Los muertos y el periodista," grapples with his journalistic career covering intense violence in Central America -- El País.
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