Guatemala's court crisis (July 10, 2020)
Guatemalan ruling coalition lawmakers failed to gather enough votes to strip four judges from the Constitutional Court of immunity this week, but the country remains in the throws of a judicial crisis that concerns experts. The effort to strip Constitutional Court judges of immunity is part of a broader struggle over the selection process of judges to two Guatemalan high courts that experts say bodes ill for the country's already faltering push against corruption and impunity. (Prensa Libre, Insight Crime)
The conflict stems from a move by the Constitutional Court last year, that suspended the ongoing selection process for new Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges, citing alleged corruption within the commissions charged with nominating candidates, explains Will Freeman at Global Americans. Findings by the Attorney General’s Office anti-impunity unit (FECI) detailed a vast scheme to capture the judiciary through these nominating commissions. A May report found that a political operator jailed for corruption had sought to influence the process of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and the Chambers of Appeals. (Transparency International)
On June 24, Congress met in a marathon, overnight session that kicked off the current crisis. The deputies decided to ignore the Constitutional Court and Attorney General and consider the dubious nominees anyway. Subsequently, the Supreme Court and Congress began investigating the case against four Constitutional Court judges accused of interfering in judicial appointments.
The crisis is part of a broader pattern of attacks against "Guatemala's already frail justice system" in the wake of the CICIG's dismantling, notes InSight Crime.
Lawmakers are currently scheduled to meet next week to select the justices for the Supreme Court and the Appellate Court, reports Prensa Libre.
(For more detail, check out this Plaza Publica report on the candidates for the Supreme Court.)
Bolivian interim-president Jeannine Áñez tested positive for Covid-19. This could complicate Bolivia's already tense political situation as Áñez has no clearly identified deputy who could assume her functions if she becomes seriously ill, reports the New York Times.
Venezuelan PSUV head, Diosdado Cabello -- the second most powerful official in the Maduro administration -- announced he has tested positive for Covid-19, reports the Associated Press.
Medical aid -- "mask diplomacy" -- is a factor in Latin America's international relationships right now, as countries vie to obtain supplies on the one hand and extend their influence on the other. Some countries that recognize Taiwan, rather than China, are concerned that this means forgoing significant Chinese aid. Recently Paraguay's Senate debated whether to switch recognition to China, writes Lucy Hale in the Wilson Center's Weekly Asado.
Spain could be strong ally for countries in the region, but has failed to follow through on its potential, reports the Economist.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's social media war with the press has real world security implications for journalists, reports Slate.
Brazil's longstanding no-contact policy for isolated indigenous peoples -- aimed at protecting them -- is under threat from Bolsonaro, proselytizing allies and business interests in developing the Amazon territory these communities inhabit, reports the Economist. "Missionaries deny that they are trying to contact isolated tribes. Their actions suggest otherwise."
President-elect Luis Abinader's main challenge will be containing the pandemic, which is linked to his second most important priority, seeking economic growth, Cynthia Arnson told Deutsche Welle. In the same vein, the Economist said Abinader "has a solid mandate, but the pandemic and a severe recession will hobble him." (See Monday's post.)
Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno's government is drawing to a disappointing close, writes Soraya Constante in New York Times Español. The country is in the throws of economic pain that adds to the significant pandemic toll. She notes particularly Moreno's failure to move past lip service to anti-corruption efforts and his cozying up to economic elites at the cost of a social agenda.
The CAF awarded Argentina a $300 million credit to strengthen the country's food distribution program within the coronavirus pandemic context, reports Infobae.
The basis for Uruguay's success in Americas Quarterly's anti-corruption index is its politics: "Uruguay has been able to build a very competitive political landscape, based on strong parties and a policy consensus that favored the strengthening of the rule of law, government transparency and democracy itself."
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra called a general election for April 11 of next year when he will step down as his country’s leader, reports AFP.
Chile’s lChamber of Deputies, approved a bill allowing early withdrawals of up to 10 percent from private pension funds during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports AFP.
Political experts have been debating why Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would travel to Washington, under present circumstances, to cozy up to his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump. (See Wednesday's post.) Jon Lee Anderson explores a lot of the hypotheses in the New Yorker, including diplomatic intimidation, local popularity ratings, and economic calculation.
AMLO was mostly lauded for avoiding humiliation in his encounter with Trump, though he also won praise for voicing support for Mexican migrants in the U.S., reports the Guardian.
Drug cartels are among the winners of the coronavirus pandemic, warns Ioan Grillo in the New York Times.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.Latin America Daily Briefing