Ecuador will partially recount votes (Feb. 15, 2021)
Ecuador’s election authority said on Friday it will conduct a recount in most of the country to ensure the transparency of the Feb. 7 presidential election. At stake is the second-place slot, to compete against first-place winner Andrés Araúz in a runoff vote in April. Environmental leader Yaku Pérez demanded a full recount after saying the vote had been manipulated, without presenting evidence of fraud, reports Reuters. Pérez and Guillermo Lasso, who holds a razor-thin lead according to the current vote count, agreed to the recount in a meeting that included observers from the Organization of American States.
The National Elections Council (CNE) said that a recount will be carried out in the province of Guayas, home to the largest city Guayaquil and where Pérez had strongly questioned the outcome. In addition, 50 percent of the vote in 16 other provinces will be reviewed. A methodology will be established today, and the CNE estimates that 6 million votes (45 percent of total votes) will be recounted, reports El Comercio.
The results would lead to dramatically different second-rounds, notes Roberta Rice in Nacla. If Pérez wins, the runoff vote will be a showdown between two Leftist visions -- Araúz is the young protegee of former president Rafael Correa, while Pérez is an activist who is angling to be the country's first indigenous president. If Lasso makes it to the second round, it will be a more traditional face-off between Correismo and anti-Correismo.
At least one person died in clashes between protesters and police yesterday in Port-au-Prince. Thousands of demonstrators marched in Haiti yesterday, demanding the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse and questioning and foreign backing for his holding office, in the midst of disputes over when his legal mandate ends. Sunday’s protest was billed as a peaceful demonstration for democracy by civil society and opposition groups, and everyday Haitians as well as notable personalities in the field of human rights and journalism, reports the Miami Herald. (See also Al Jazeera.)
Twenty-nine women have been killed so far this year in Honduras, which has a population of about 9 million. Human rights groups are demanding accountability amid the alarming escalation of deadly violence against women. Protesters demanding truth and justice for a recent victim -- a university student who died in police custody last weekend after being detained for breaching a coronavirus curfew -- were tear gassed by security forces last week. (Guardian)
The victim, Keyla Martínez, was beaten and asphyxiated by police officers, according to agent testimony. The head of the police station in question was allegedly present at the time, reports El Heraldo.
The United States provided training to a troubled Mexican police unit — several of whose members were charged in a January massacre of 19 people near the US-Mexico border, reports InSight Crime. The newly-formed Grupo de Operaciones Especiales unit was already under scrutiny for human rights abuses in the weeks before the migrant killings. (See Feb. 4's post.)
The U.S. Biden administration announced plans for tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting in Mexico for their next immigration court hearings to be allowed into the United States while their cases proceed. It is a major step towards dismantling the Trump administration's controversial "Remain in Mexico" program. The first of an estimated 25,000 asylum seekers in Mexico with active cases will be allowed in the United States on Feb. 19, reports the Associated Press.
"In many ways, Biden’s objectives on everything from immigration reform to restoring Venezuelan democracy will first require reversing his predecessor’s legacy," Stephania Taladrid wrote in the New Yorker last week.
Robert D Kaplan’s book profiling Bob Gersony makes a strong case for U.S. engagement based on human rights and helping refugees -- Guardian. "This is also the story of another era of US foreign policy, one in which realism and humanitarianism combined to include human rights in the national interest, against the backdrop of the cold war, so often hot in the developing world. Human rights and grand strategy complemented each other."
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele sought meetings with U.S. officials during a recent unofficial visit to Washington. He was rebuffed by the Biden administration, said former Obama aide Dan Restrepo, confirming media reports from last week. (Teleprensa, see last Tuesday's briefs.)
Venezuela's crumbling opposition is struggling to define how to move forward. While opposition leader Juan Guaidó insists a political solution is near, many of the remaining opposition leaders in Venezuela speak privately of a movement at its lowest ebb, mired in fear, recrimination and dwindling morale, reports the New York Times.
InSight Crime has an in-depth investigation into the future of the cocaine trade to Europe: The drug's flow "may have suffered along with most licit businesses due to the Covid-19 crisis, but few believe the damage to the drug trade will be permanent. The pandemic has accelerated certain aspects of the evolution of cocaine smuggling that will shape its future."
Mexico’s freedom of information system, created in 2002, is often ranked among the world’s most effective, according to the Washington Post. But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to rein in the National Institute for Access to Information, or INAI, the independent body that runs the system, saying it’s expensive and has failed to end corruption.
As the climate crisis worsens, AMLO plans to buy nearly 2 million tons of thermal coal from small producers -- and curtailing clean energy initiatives as part of his "energy sovereignty" vision, reports the Guardian.
Three of the biggest U.S. grocery chains sell Brazilian beef produced by JBS, the world's largest meat company, which has been linked to deforestation, reports the Guardian.
Brazilian doctors -- and politicians -- are prescribing a host of pills that supposedly mitigate the effects of Covid-19. The Washington Post is dubious of Sudaca pill-popping ways -- "Doctors across the region are finding it difficult to find patients who haven’t taken ivermectin."
A research institute's plan to vaccinate the entire adult population of a small Brazilian city has sparked a coronavirus-fuelled real estate rush to rent or buy properties in Serrana, reports the Guardian.
Peruvian foreign minister Elizabeth Astete resigned amid uproar over government officials being secretly vaccinated against coronavirus before the country recently received 1 million doses for health workers, reports the Associated Press.
Chile has become an unlikely winner in the global coronavirus vaccine procurement race. The government has successfully leveraged social and economic distress to pay less for vaccines than more developed countries, and also adopted a strategy to pursue a highly diverse portfolio of vaccines, reports the Conversation.
Cuba's government expanded the list of economic activities that are open to private enterprise. But the government has kept the most powerful and productive sectors under the dominion of the state, reports the New York Times, including those employing many of the most highly educated and highly trained professionals, such as medicine and health care, education, media and construction-related trades like architecture and engineering.
The New York Times looks at the vast array of workers — from inspectors and fumigators to truck drivers and pipe layers — that works to ensure fresh water supplies in Cuba.
Former Argentine president Carlos Menem -- the Peronist who turned his back on the party's pro-labor, big-government orthodoxy and implemented neoliberal reforms in the 1990s -- died yesterday at age 90. He left office charged with corruption and conducting illegal arms deals in 1991 and 1995 with Croatia and Ecuador. Yesterday the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (DAIA) criticized that he was never held responsible for using government institutions to cover-up terrorist attacks on the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center that occurred under his watch in the 90s. (Washington Post, Reuters, Perfil)
Negrito: The case of a Uruguayan football star who was fined by the English Football Association for using a common South American term of endearment on social media "shows how America’s racial debates are being globalized via the export of a radical form of antiracist ideology that sees appeals to context or cross-cultural understanding as excuse-making for bigots," writes Dariela Sosa (Soy Arepita) at Persuasion.
Rio de Janeiro cancelled its carnival celebrations for the first time since the official samba parades started in 1932. The decision was made in October due to the pandemic, and Rio’s terrible death toll, has scuttled hopes of simply holding the celebrations later this year, reports the Guardian.
Some groups have moved the party online, streaming music and dances via YouTube and other social media platforms, reports the Associated Press.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing