Guaidó presents "unitary pact" (Sept. 8, 2020)
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó presented a "unitary pact" yesterday, backed by 37 political parties and 15 social organizations who will boycott December's legislative elections due to lack of guarantees to ensure a fair outcome. The coalition will seek to hold a popular referendum on whether to extend Guaidó's mandate as interim-president. His claim stems from his position as head of the National Assembly, but his mandate as a lawmaker expires in January of next year.
Guaidó called on the military and the international community to back his proposal, reports Efecto Cocuyo. (See also AFP and Reuters.)
The opposition is not, however, unified behind the move. Henrique Capriles of the Primero Justicia party said, last week, that it is better to participate in December's elections, even if circumstances are not ideal. And another prominent opposition leader, María Corina Machado, rejected Guaidó's popular referendum proposal.
Capriles confirmed yesterday that the Fuerza del Cambio party -- which he used for his 2012 presidential run -- to sign up placeholder candidates before last week's deadline to participate in December's election. (Efecto Cocyo) Capriles has suggested that the pandemic context be a reason to postpone the vote.
In an interview with El País, Capriles said they are seeking to exploit any remaining slivers of democracy in Venezuela. He said negotiations with sectors of Chavismo who are willing to bend must necessarily be kept secret in order to advance. That Maduro remains in power, a year and a half after Guaidó declared himself interim-president, is a sign that it's time to change strategies, according to Capriles.
Venezuela demonstrates "that declining oil fortunes can be both a cause and a consequence of hardening authoritarianism," writes Javier Corrales in a New York Times op-ed. "The lesson is clear. Political accountability, human rights and environmental sustainability constitute a modern-day trifecta. Lose the former, and the rest disappears as well."
Venezuelan health workers have started receiving $100 monthly payments financed by funds that the United States seized from the Maduro government, according to Guaidó. (Reuters)
El Faro's report on secret negotiations between El Salvador's government and the MS-13 casts light on how the country really deals with its violent street gangs, writes Stephen Dudley at InSight Crime. (See yesterday's briefs and Friday's post.) He notes that President Nayib Bukele has a history of talks with gangs, dating from his leadership in San Salvador. But, though outrage is likely to be capitalized by opposition parties, it is also true that representatives from the country's main political parties have also previously sat down with gang leaders. In large measure, this is because the gangs themselves are a political and social force to be reckoned with, notes Dudley.
"One additional risk coming out of this report is that Bukele will double down on his authoritarian tendencies," writes James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report. "Bukele is already targeting media outlets and journalists who are attempting to report facts about his administration that he is attempting to cover up. The additional coverage of Bukele’s covert negotiation strategy will likely cause the president to be increasingly intolerant to oversight and transparency."
A Bolivian court determined former president Evo Morales is ineligible to run for a senate seat because he doesn't meet residency requirements. Morales fled Bolivia to Mexico and then later Argentina when he was ousted from office in November. Authorities with the interim-government issued an arrest warrant for the former president in December. (Reuters, AFP)
Colombia's criminal landscape has shifted significantly under five months of coronavirus quarantine. Armed groups have not only sought to exert their power by substituting the state -- as with violently enforced lockdown measures -- but have also taken advantage of the pandemic to play out longstanding criminal disputes, reports InSight Crime.
Haiti is struggling through one of its worst power outages in over a decade: generation at the country's hydroelectric and diesel and heavy fuel oil-powered thermal plants was half the installed capacity last month, reports Reuters. The lack of power depresses living standards and is one of the main obstacles to economic development, according to experts.
Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez approved a decree stating that at least one percent of public sector jobs must be for transsexuals, transvestites, and transgender people. (Telesur)
COVID-19 could mean another “lost decade” for the region, according to ECLAC head Alicia Bárcena. In an interview with Foreign Policy she voiced particular concern for the impact on indigenous communities and how the increase in poverty will feed into existing inequalities. She makes a call for "a basic emergency income for the entire population living in poverty—231 million people—for six months" a proposal that would cost around 2 percent of GDP.
In the interview Bárcena also highlights the pandemic impact on food importing countries in the Caribbean, whose vulnerability will increase with the projected economic impact. An ECLAC initiative for highly indebted Caribbean countries is Debt Relief for Resilience, "in which what we are suggesting is a debt swap for climate adaptation and debt relief."
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.
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