NY trial confirms Honduran's negative view of gov't (Oct. 4, 2019)
Accusations that Mexican drug lord El Chapo destined $1 million for Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández caused outrage at home, but tempered with resignation: "The news that American prosecutors say their president is complicit in drug trafficking only confirmed what many Hondurans already believed about their political leaders," reports the New York Times. The New York trial against Hernández's brother, former lawmaker Tony, "has only strengthened the belief of many that their government is venal and does not have their interests in mind."
Prosecutors yesterday presented a "drug ledger" with 350 pages of notes about alleged drug shipments. Compiled from 11 notebooks, they detail numerous cocaine shipments in the hundreds of kilos that were allegedly received by Tony Hernández, and also detail payments to someone identified as “JOH,” which are the initials widely associated in Honduras with Juan Orlando Hernandez, as well as his “employees," reports Univisión. (See yesterday's post.)
Hernández denies the allegations made against him thus far in the trial (see yesterday's post) and said he never intervened to protect friends and family accused of crimes. (Reuters)
"The first days of trial against former Honduran congressman Hernández were explosive, but it’s likely just the beginning of what is bound to be a growing list of accusations describing intimate ties between government officials and organized crime," according to InSight Crime.
A new migration agreement that would permit the U.S. to send asylum seekers to Honduras, announced just last week, has also given many Honduras the impression that the United States is more concerned with stopping migration than with drug trafficking, according to the NYT.
Anger at Haitian President Jovenel Moïse spurred increasingly intense protests this year -- but revelations of widespread corruption in Parliament has pushed more generalized frustration with all the country's political class, reports the Miami Herald. Critics say the Haitian constitution has been bastardized by lawmakers who abuse it in order to obtain kick-backs and other illicit privileges.
The key to resolving Venezuela's crisis is exchanging the chaos of conflicting powers that nullifies state action for a "transition agreement" that includes both the government and the opposition, argues a former top Maduro aide, Temir Porras in El País. He makes a key point that an accord that would permit both Maduro and Guaidó to preserve their dignity would shield the process from face-saving obstacles to reasonable agreements.
Diosdado Cabello is considered one of Venezuela's most powerful Chavistas, second only to Maduro by some accounts. Nueva Sociedad delves into the track record of the powerful politician who represents the PSUV's right-wing faction, and how Cabello and Maduro have kept their potential disagreements under wraps.
Venezuela’s state-run oil company and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) this week halted oil blending at their joint venture, Petrosinovensa, because of an accumulation of crude stocks arising from U.S. sanctions, reports Reuters.
A person arrested this week in connection with Rio councillor Marielle Franco's assassination had posted social media photos posing with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. It's the second time photos have surfaced of Bolsonaro with people implicated in the 2018 murder, reports the Guardian. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a friend of Franco, tweeted: “None of this means Bolsonaro was involved in Marielle’s assassination. That is unlikely. But it shows how intertwined, multi-pronged & close are the Bolsonaro Family’s ties to militias.”
In a bizarre twist -- corruption prosecutors in Brazil are now seeking to release Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to house arrest, while the former president refuses these efforts, insisting on pursuing a full exoneration instead. Prosecutors are unlikely to have humanitarian concerns, but rather seem to be attempting to salvage the Lava Jato investigation legacy in the wake of revelations about prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in the case, reports The Intercept.
It's not easy to follow the rants of Bolsonaro ideologues, Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araújo y "intellectual guru" Olavo de Carvalho -- but this Nueva Sociedad piece certainly does an admirable job of dissecting the conspiracy theories that link environmental activists to the Frankfurt School and plans to indoctrinate school-children with "gender ideology." It would be anecdotal, were it not for the fact that they do not "only act in the Brazilian circuit of delusional conspiracy theories, post-truth and fake news. They seek international allies," writes Andy Robinson.
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra announced a new cabinet that includes a 34-year-old Harvard trained economy minister, a reshuffle in response to this week's constitutional crisis after he dissolved Congress, reports EFE. (See Wednesday's and Tuesday's posts.)
"What is not clear is whether this constitutional crackup will break the political deadlock or damage Peru’s democracy," according to the Economist.
Some think this crisis might be the start of a final, bleak chapter for the country’s most prominent political dynasty, the Fujimori's, reports the Associated Press.
Mexican Supreme Court magistrate Eduardo Medina Mora, who is being investigated by Mexico’s financial intelligence unit for transfers to bank accounts in the U.S. and U.K., resigned yesterday, reports Bloomberg. (See also Milenio and El Universal)
Mexican authorities thwarted attempts to sabotage a march commemorating the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. A group of 12,000 white-clad volunteers formed a “peace barrier," deployed to protect historic buildings, businesses and government institutions from vandalism, reports EFE.
Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno declared a state of emergency, after protesters blocked roads in the capital, Quito, and in smaller cities across the nation, in response to his decision to revoke fuel subsidies. (New York Times, and see yesterday's briefs.)
Members of Nicaraguan opposition groups met with an OAS special commission, which assured them that electoral reforms must be reached by consensus. (Confidencial)
If Bolivian President Evo Morales stands a chance for reelection on Oct. 20, despite political deterioration, it will be largely due to his government's economic success, argues Fernando Molina in Nueva Sociedad. (See Wednesday's briefs for The Nation's take on Bolivia's "remarkable socialist success story.")
It's assumed by most that Alberto Fernández will win Argentina's Oct. 27 presidential elections. "The big question is what sort of government would emerge. Some fear the worst, with hyperination and the expropriation of savings. But Mr Fernández is a pragmatist and a skilled political operator. He has been sounding increasingly moderate," according to the Economist.
"Argentina has a growth problem that will take years of good policies – not just macroeconomic ones – to work through," writes economist Eduardo Levy-Yeyati in an Americas Quarterly piece that paints a fairly grim picture of Argentina's short-term future. "The benign outlook is a moderate government muddling through transition years to rekindle investor's broken confidence and trust without losing political support."
This week Argentina used money disbursed by the IMF to pay off maturing debts, reports Reuters.
Mexican activists are pushing for the national government to decriminalize abortion, the latest in the "green wave" of campaigns in Latin America, which has some of the world’s harshest abortion laws, reports the Washington Post.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...