Latin America Daily Briefing
Nov. 30, 2022
Peru opposition legislators presented their third impeachment motion against President Pedro Castillo, calling him morally unfit for office. It the latest in a series of escalating tensions between Peru’s legislative and executive branches, reports Reuters.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro’s newly declared state of exception to fight rampant gang extortion in the country has raised concerns she is following in the footsteps of El Salvador’s controversial, but popular, gang crackdown, reports InSight Crime.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele hired internet trolls, directly overseen by government officials, tasked with manipulating the country’s political discourse, reports Reuters. The social media worker’s are key to Bukele’s powerful communication operation: they wield “ hundreds of anonymous accounts and bots, a megaphone used to amplify the president’s messaging and deride opponents and journalists perceived as hostile to his administration.”
El Salvador’s government announced that it will make a second buyback of its sovereign debt bonds maturing in 2023 and 2025, part of efforts to calm concerns that it could default on its debt, reports the Associated Press.
Mexico’s Supreme Court upheld, yesterday, a constitutional change that allows the military to continue in law enforcement duties until 2028, reports the Associated Press.
The U.S. Biden administration is planning to send two top advisors — National security adviser Jake Sullivan and Latin America adviser Juan González — to Brazil to meet President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva next week, reports Reuters.
Lula is asking Britain, France, the United States, Switzerland and Canada to donate to an international fund to protect the Amazon rainforest, a move aimed at would giving Lula resources to take immediate action on the environment when he swears in on Jan. 1. (Reuters)
“European consumption contributes to the destruction of our forests and is a part of the violence committed against Indigenous people,” writes Brazilian Indigenous communicator and activist Kuaimbú. He calls for the EU to preventing products linked to violence and displacement of Indigenous communities from entering its market. (Al Jazeera)
Brazil’s incoming government is seeking to exempt the equivalent of $32.6 billion per year from the country’s fiscal cap to spend it on social programs through 2026, according to a constitutional reform proposal filed this week. (Bloomberg)
Lula is expected to tap former S. Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad to head his finance portfolio, reports Reuters.
The U.S. jury trial against Claudia Díaz, a former Venezuelan treasurer and nurse to late President Hugo Chávez, “is a critical test of federal prosecutors’ ability to hold accountable so-called Venezuelan kleptocrats for fleecing the oil rich nation,” according to the Associated Press. “If found not guilty, her case could encourage other defendants — many of whom remain fugitives — to put forward their own fight, undermining a decadelong effort by the U.S. Justice Department to investigate crimes that largely took place overseas.”
Venezuela is exporting oil, despite international sanctions, using false documents to conceal the cargoes origin, reports Reuters.
Chevron aims to start receiving cargoes of Venezuelan oil as early as December after the oil company last week received a U.S. license to do so, but Caracas may not be as eager because U.S. sanctions restrict payments, reports Reuters.
Even if the U.S. continues to lift sanctions against Venezuela’s oil sector, severe degradation means output will only increase to 1.7 billion barrels in the next year — under the most optimistic scenario, according to the Latin America Risk Report.
Haiti still needs a multinational rapid action armed force to combat criminal gangs, even though Haitian police have ended a two-month blockade of a fuel terminal, Haiti's ambassador to the United States said on Monday. (Reuters, see yesterday’s briefs.)
Migrant smugglers are marooning large groups of Haitians and others on small, uninhabited islands between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, it is a calculated strategy aimed at avoiding detection and minimizing the likelihood of being apprehended, reports InSight Crime.
Colombia’s government wants the U.S. to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to aid migrants by hosting 2 million Venezuelans who fled their home country, reports the Associated Press.
Lake Titicaca, on the border between Bolivia and Peru is a criminal crossroads for varied illicit economies, from cocaine shipments to trafficking the frogs that live along its banks, reports InSight Crime.
“Cheering on Argentina’s team this year is a welcome moment of national unity in a country of deep political polarization. It is perhaps our most unanimous area of agreement,” I write in an Americas Quarterly article. “But, once you delve past the match shut-downs and the deep-seated fanaticism, it is clear that Argentina’s problems cannot be masked by a victory, which would only have a short-term (albeit euphoric) political impact.”