Merino is Peru's newest president (Nov. 11, 2020)
Peruvian lawmaker Manuel Merino swore in as the country's new president yesterday, hours after Congress voted to impeach president Martín Vizcarra. (See yesterday's post.) Vizcarra's impeachment has been widely criticized as illegitimate, and analysts say lawmakers' vote has more to do with opposition to anti-corruption and education reforms than the actual accusations of graft against Vizcarra. (Guardian)
Merino took office in the Congress building, surrounded by protesting Vizcarra supporters who clashed with police in riot gear. Protests and clashes also erupted in several other cities. Merino takes office under a cloud of illegitimacy and a dearth of public support while most polls show Vizcarra still has more than 50% approval. Vizcarra's ouster has undermined the last vestiges of legitimacy of the country's tattered political system, according to the New York Times.
Legitimate or not, the move should be considered a power grab by Merino, according to the Latin America Risk Report. Merino is unpopular and governing will be a challenge. Presidential elections were already scheduled for April, but there are rumors that Merino could try to use the pandemic as an excuse to postpone them.
Political upheaval is par for the course in Perú: nearly every president since 1990 has resigned, been indicted or been jailed amid clouds of corruption. One former president killed himself. But Vizcarra's ouster on still-unproven bribery allegations is fundamentally different, according to the Washington Post.
For the Financial Times, the ouster indicates resurgent populism in the region, and spells trouble for pragmatist leaders.
Mexican police opened fire on a femicide protest in Cancún Monday night. Four journalists were injured, including two who suffered bullet wounds. Protesters were demonstrating after the dismembered body of 20-year-old Bianca “Alexis” Lorenzana, was found, days after she disappeared -- the latest in a string of grisly crimes against women in Quintana Roo state. Feminists are incensed by high rates of gender violence in Mexico -- an average of 10 women are murdered per day -- and the government's apparent inability to stop it. Monday’s violence was also the latest incident in which feminist protests have been met with police violence, notes the Guardian.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denounced the heavy-handed police response to the protesters and called for an investigation to identify those responsible. (EFE)
Hurricane Eta's human toll in Honduras might never be known: hundreds of thousands of Hondurans have lost everything in floods that also left tens of thousands trapped for days on rooftops without food or water. Economists believe the loss could be greater even than that inflicted in 1998 by Hurricane Mitch, reports the Guardian. The response by the Honduran government to the threat of Hurricane Eta – and later the destruction left in its wake – has been harshly criticized.
A significant number of Hondurans migrated to the U.S. in the wake of Hurricane Mitch's destruction in 1998, and were permitted to stay under the aegis of a provisional residency program. Guatemala has announced that it will request Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for its citizens in the U.S. due to the damage caused by Eta, and it’s expected that Honduras, which was hit much harder than its neighbour, will follow suit, reports the Guardian. Eta, along with the pandemic, have heightened pre-existing conditions that already push people to migrate from Central America.
Responding to climate change migration presents particular complex challenges, including defining target populations. "Attributing human mobility to actual or perceived changes in the environment is difficult, as migration responds to many dynamics, not just climatic drivers. Taking the example of Central America, much has been written about the effects of climate change on the livelihoods of local communities, but these drivers also interact with structural problems of poverty, unemployment, inequality and violence, which play a crucial role in migration decisions," writes Pablo Escribano of the International Organization for Migration for the Lawfare Blog.
Covid-19 has stalled the education of over 137 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean. A new report by UNICEF warns of a "generational catastrophe": 97 percent of the students in the region have missed out on an average of 174 days of learning and are at risk of losing an entire school year. More than 3 million children may never return to school.
Critics say Brazil's suspension this week of a late-stage trial of a Chinese vaccine is based on politics rather than science, reports the New York Times. President Jair Bolsonaro has opposed inoculations in general, and the Chinese vaccine in particular. (See Nov. 2's post.) The vaccine in question is being tested in São Paulo state, whose governor, João Doria, is a political rival of Bolsonaro.
Thousands of outraged Haitians have poured into the streets to protest the death of Port-au-Prince high school student and kidnapped victim Evelyne Sincère. She was tortured and killed, her lifeless body was then dumped on a heap of trash on the side of a road. Some activists see murder as more than an indication of Haiti’s worsening climate of violence, but part of the systematic abuse of women and girls that feminists in the country say is aimed at suppressing women. (Miami Herald)
Colombian coal mine Cerrejon has reached a preliminary agreement with a Wayuu indigenous community to comply with environmental and health requirements in its operations, according to the mining company. But community leaders denied reaching an accord, reports Reuters.
Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood New Progressive Party won a majority of votes to become the U.S. territory’s next governor. He received nearly 33% of votes compared with nearly 32% obtained by Carlos Delgado of the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the current territorial status. It is the first time that Puerto Rico's two main parties fail to reach 40% of votes. (Associated Press)
Puerto Rico’s elections commission said yesterday that it has discovered more than 100 briefcases containing uncounted ballots a week after the U.S. territory held its general election, drawing criticism and scorn from voters who now question the validity of the outcomes of certain races. (Associated Press)
Chilean lawmakers passed by a large majority a bill allowing citizens to withdraw a second 10% tranche from their privately held pensions. (Reuters)
In a Wilson Center podcast, Guadalupe Correa, discusses the misconception between human trafficking and human smuggling, the differences between gang violence and cartel organizations when it comes to gender-based violence, and explains how these comprehensive networks take advantage of women’s vulnerability as transit governments do not provide a comprehensive network of support and protection for them.