Guatemala Supreme Court paves way for runoff election
Amid a context of dubious voter fraud claims after Guatemala’s first round presidential election (see LADB 7/3/23 and 6/27/23), Guatemala’s Supreme Court yesterday endorsed the Supreme Electoral Tribunal ruling that had affirmed the election results last week. Although the first round election results have not yet been officialized by the Supreme Electoral Tribune, the decision paves the way for the August 20th runoff election, which pits conservative Sandra Torres against center-left, reformist Bernardo Arévalo. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Guatemalan president Alejandro Giammattei “took the unusual step of publishing an open letter Monday saying he has no intention of staying in power beyond his term,” reports AP, although analyst Tiziano Breda argues that “(Giammattei) and his party are the ‘architects’ of the judicial intervention that is delaying the certification of the results.”
“It's been nearly a year since prominent Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora, the founder of the independent investigative newspaper El Periódico, was imprisoned in his homeland in connection with a case decried by human rights activists and groups as a political persecution seeking to undermine democracy and freedom of expression,” reports NBC, exploring the Zamora family’s fight for his freedom.
Google is planning on building a data center that will use millions of liters of water per day, sparking outrage amongst citizens who are suffering from the country’s lack of water, says The Guardian.
A “mobile water treatment plant, supplies, and personnel” were all parts of an offering by Argentine President Alberto Fernández to Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou to help Uruguay mitigate the impacts of the country’s worst drought in 74 years, says MercoPress
An "unusual increase" in Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases in Peru have led president Dina Boluarte to declare a 90-day health emergency and to pledge $3.27 million towards mitigating the crisis, reports Economic Times.
A new International Crisis Group report explores citizen security in Honduras, arguing, “Rather than allowing law enforcement needs to crowd out reform, the government should address both issues. It should focus on strengthening police, combating impunity and investing in gang-affected communities – and not rely on the present emergency measures. Donors should work with the government where possible, notwithstanding frustration with Castro’s foreign policy.”
“In Honduras, agricultural workers, making up 39 percent of the population, are made vulnerable by the increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and hurricanes, while rural migrants to cities must contend with organized gangs and high rates of urban violence,” according to a new USIP report comparing climate change-related internal displacement in Honduras, Jordan, and Pakistan.” (via Americas Migration Brief)
NACLA published a series of articles on the Amazon, highlighting the forgotten urbanized cities within the jungle, the key role of Amazon restoration in the fight against climate change, and the connection between environmental crime and the fight for democracy in Brazil.
Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley “is an effective communicator who has captured the Western media’s attention with her forthright and powerful speeches at global forum over the past few years… Mottley has provided a model of real leadership, successfully advocating for her country and improving global governance in the process. It is a testament to her savvy and skill, but there is also a broader dynamic at play, one that reflects a different approach to influencing global politics. Unlike Lula and Petro, Mottley has backed up her rhetorical sorties with the hard work of developing innovative and compelling policy initiatives. And she then hit the road to sell her ideas where it matters,” writes James Bosworth at WPR.
Nexo profiles Bertha Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz, a part-indigenous senator of the PAN opposition party rising in popularity in recent weeks, particularly on social media. She has been floated as a potential opposition presidential candidate for next year, with current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador “breaking a longstanding tradition of Mexican presidents keeping out of the race to succeed them” by “vowing to continue campaigning” and criticizing Gálvez on multiple occasions in the last week, according to AP.
Considering the Maduro government’s bans of opposition candidates, Caracas Chronicles explores potential strategies for the opposition, highlighting the importance of developing a succession plan in case the winner of the opposition primary has been banned from the general election.
A dissident faction of the FARC guerilla group, which did not accept the terms of the 2016 peace agreement with the government, is set to begin new negotiations with the Petro administration, reports Reuters.
The death of former FARC commander Iván Márquez, who was also the chief negotiator in the 2016 peace discussions, may help advance Petro’s Total Peace plan, according to InSight Crime. Following Márquez’s death, Iván Mordisco, who was the first FARC commander to oppose the 2016 peace plan, became the guerrilla’s most powerful dissident.
A new floating solar power system has launched in Colombia, the first of its kind in the region. “The project aims to demonstrate that hydroelectric dams dealing with fluctuating water levels can pair with floating solar generation to boost energy reliability and increase production.” (Power Technology)
“At least 250 South American immigrants have been “duped by job and visa scams” to go to New Zealand. “Most migrant workers borrowed between $10,000 to $15,000 to come here, and fear for the safety of their families if they were to speak up against their employers or the agents,” reports NZHerald.” (via Americas Migration Brief)
“Emmanuela Douyon at Migration Information Source explores growing Haitian emigration, explaining, “There are also those from the middle and upper classes who have lost hope of leading a normal life in their native land; their collective departure represents not only the movement of individuals but also a brain drain that could further erode the country’s prospects and a symbol of declining optimism for the future.”” (via Americas Migration Brief)
If Argentina is able to harness production and exportation of its shale and oil deposits in Vaca Muerta, it could credibly aim to become energy self-sufficient and gain much-needed foreign reserves, says Bloomberg.
“Nearly a sixth of the inmates in Ecuador's prisons have not been sentenced, a national census showed on Monday, as President Guillermo Lasso urged the judicial system to be speedier to help ease the burden on overcrowded jails,” reports Reuters.