Mexicans hold mid-term recall vote (April 8, 2022)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has championed a novel mid-term recall election that on Sunday will ask voters whether the leader “should have his mandate revoked due to loss of confidence,” or “continue in the presidency of the Republic until his term ends.” AMLO has high approval ratings of nearly 60 percent, and is very likely to win the vote. The opposition has not sought to end his mandate early.
AMLO has claimed the referendum is a way to hold the executive accountable to the people and prevent government corruption. But the people who are most interested in voting are his supporters. Opponents have called on electors to boycott the vote, and it might fail to reach the 40 percent participation rate required for it to be legally binding. Polls show more than half of the Mexican electorate believes the vote to be unnecessary.
(AFP, Guardian, New York Times)
The choice is easier for pro-government constituents, and "the opposition lacks a defined strategy to maximize its participation's (or abstention's) impact," according to the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute. Regardless of the outcome, if less than 40% of voters participate, Mexico's electoral authority could suffer more attacks for failing to promote and carry out the referendum successfully, further threatening this pillar of democracy’s integrity.
The referendum "would be ludicrous if it weren’t sinister," writes León Krauze in a Washington Post opinion piece that argues the referendum's real goal is "to weaken the legitimacy of Mexico’s electoral institutions." AMLO seeks to reform Mexico's electoral authority, and could use the results to that end, according to Krauze.
Peru's government declared a one-month state of emergency that will allow the military to supervise its highways. President Pedro Castillo's administration has been rocked over the past few weeks by nationwide protests over rising fuel and food prices that have morphed into calls for his resignation, reports Al Jazeera.
Castillo’s mismanagement of protests driven by rising food prices has only worsened the situation, notes the Latin America Risk Report. "Castillo’s missteps place his government at a greater instability risk, possibly provoking another impeachment attempt in the near future."
Peru’s prime minister cited Adolf Hitler as a model in infrastructure development who turned Germany into a “leading economic power in the world." The comment that drew outrage, particularly in Peru's current context of political upheaval, reports the Washington Post.
Peru raised interest rates to a 13-year high yesterday. The half a percentage point increase, the central bank's ninth straight hike, is aimed at reducing soaring inflation linked to mass protests over the past two weeks. (Bloomberg)
Brazilian incumbent Jair Bolsonaro has made strong gains in opinion polls ahead of October's presidential election, though rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva remains firmly in the lead. If the election were held today, Lula would get 45% of the votes versus 31% for Bolsonaro in the first round, according to the Genial/Quaest poll. Bolsonaro has apparently been favored by losses among potential third-way challengers, particularly former judge Sergio Moro, reports Reuters.
Facebook owner Meta Platforms has removed a network of social media accounts with ties to the Brazilian military that posed as fake organizations of civil society to play down the dangers of deforestation, reports Reuters. Although the individuals involved in the network were active military personnel, Meta’s investigation did not find enough evidence to establish if they were following orders or acting independently, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric announced an economic recovery plan worth $3.7 billion that envisages the creation of half a million jobs. He also promised a freeze on public transport ticket prices, which in 2019 triggered massive social protests, reports AFP.
Nine months after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, Haiti’s investigation into the crime has stalled, while U.S. efforts to unravel the killing are advancing, reports the Washington Post.
Vanda Felbab-Brown outlines the way Mexico's two largest cartels — the Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel Jalisco Nueva -Generación (CJNG) — as well as smaller criminal groups take over and rule local people, economies, and territories. (Brookings Institution)
Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that a controversial energy reform pushed by AMLO is constitutional. The law took effect in March 2021, but a number of private energy companies sought injunctions blocking enforcement, reports the Associated Press.
A Colombian armed forces operation against alleged FARC rebels resulted in 11 civilian deaths in Puerto Leguizamo, according to rights groups. According to multiple survivors who spoke with Al Jazeera, the victims included 16-year-old Brayan Santiago Pama and local Indigenous leader Pablo Panduro Coquinche. Witnesses said some of the civilians were portrayed as guerrillas by the army in order to cover up a mass murder.
Thousands of Ukrainians who have made their way to the U.S. border with Mexico pose a new challenge for U.S. migration authorities, reports the New York Times.
World Health Organization officials expressed concerns that some countries in the Americas were prematurely scaling back policies to control the coronavirus. Pan American Health Organization director Dr. Carissa Etienne said that while coronavirus cases had fallen in the Americas, they were increasing in some places, including the Caribbean. (New York Times)
"The Global South’s failure to uncritically accept Northern narratives about the war in Ukraine is vastly significant, as it may herald a geopolitical reconfiguration that has echoes of the Cold War’s non-aligned movement," argues Bryan Pitts in NACLA.
Caribbean countries should facilitate the creative and orange economies as a response to the region's pandemic-related economic woes, argue Bruce Zagaris and Alexander Mostaghimi in Global Americans.
Record volumes of fuel oil from Latin America landed in the United States in March ahead of Washington's April 22 deadline to end U.S. imports of Russian oil, reports Reuters.
Argentina and Bolivia reached a deal to import 14 million cubic meters of natural gas per day, a volume that could increase during the winter to avoid fuel shortages, reports Reuters.
The IMF’s decision to approve another loan to Argentina puts "geopolitical considerations over its own economic principles—setting a dangerous precedent that the fund might come to rue," argues Martin Mühleisen in the New Atlanticist.
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