OAS report found Bolivian vote rigging (Dec. 6, 2019)
The final OAS report on Bolivia's Oct. 20 presidential election described “deliberate” and “malicious” steps to rig the vote in favor of incumbent Evo Morales. The 100 page report, released yesterday, builds on the Nov. 10 preliminary report that indicated irregularities.
It described “a series of malicious operations," including the use of a hidden computer server designed to tilt the vote toward Morales. Deliberate wrongdoing by election officials, combined with a series of errors and irregularities in the vote count, made it impossible to validate the results, according to the OAS's 36 auditors. They accused Bolivia’s election officials of setting up a “parallel technological scheme” of hidden servers, which permitted the alteration of results and forging of signatures of electoral observers.
(Reuters, New York Times, see yesterday's briefing by Eduardo Romero.)
The newly appointed Bolivian electoral tribunal said it would use the OAS report to carry out adjustments and corrections to the electoral system ahead of next year's presidential election -- for which no date has yet been set, reports La Razón.
Bolivia's interim government is supposed to be a caretaker administration until new elections are held. But interim-president Jeanine Áñez has been reluctant to circumscribe her role, and has undertaken significant foreign policy shifts. International backers, who purport to be concerned about democracy in Bolivia, should push for a more targeted focus, argues a Guardian editorial.
Former Bolivian economy minister Luis Arce Catacora joined the ranks of MAS party exiles in Mexico. He asked for political asylum in light of harassment and political persecution under the interim-government and in order to continue health treatments in Brazil in a timely fashion after delays in granting him permission to travel. (La Razón)
Evo Morales will be moving to Argentina, to be closer to Bolivia, reports El País.
Bolivia is tensely calm, reports Al Jazeera. After weeks of violently repressed protests, people are now awaiting the new electoral process in the midst of a political limbo.
Bolivian lawmakers passed a bill guaranteeing full exercise of constitutional rights -- but the interim government promised to veto it, saying it could encourage protesters back onto the streets, reports La Razón.
Brazilian activists are justifiably concerned that the government seeks to criminalize their activities, reports the Guardian. The fears come in the wake of the arrest of four volunteer firefighters, and a related raid on an Amazonian environmental NGO's offices, last week.
The attacks come as environmental defenders, particularly indigenous activists, are increasingly targets of violent attacks perpetrated by loggers, farmers and land-grabbers. A new Igarapé Institute study, documented 2,540 separate violent incidents targeting environmental defenders in Brazil's so-called Legal Amazon. (Americas Quarterly)
Brazil recognized 21,432 Venezuelans as refugees yesterday, a record number that doubles the amount of asylums granted since 1997, reports El País.
A populist is a populist, regardless of ideological leanings, for the Economist, which draws parallels between Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro -- their styles and the difficulties they face after a year in office.
U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr met with AMLO yesterday -- the high-level meeting occurred in the middle of intense disagreement between the two countries over a U.S. proposal to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations. But both sides downplayed the issue after yesterday's meeting, reports the Washington Post. But even if the Trump administration doesn't follow through with the terrorist organization designation, AMLO will likely have to accept greater U.S. involvement in Mexican security affairs, according to experts.
Drug cartels aren't the only criminal organization in Mexico -- a little discussed Cartel del Mar trades in the endangered totoaba fishes' swim bladder, worth more per kilo than cocaine. The cost of ignoring the illegal trade, which threatens to finish off the vaquita porpoise, could have significant economic costs for Mexican fishers, argues Carlos Loret de Mola A. in the Post Opinión.
Three key facts salient to the migration debate in the U.S. have received insufficient attention, according to Michael Clemens and Jimmy Graham at the Center for Global Development. Demographic shifts will ease pressure from Northern Triangle migrants within a decade, they write. But, in the meantime, work visas are a powerful -- and underused -- tool for border enforcement. And aid can help mitigate migration drivers, but is, by no means, a quick fix, they warn.
U.S. detentions of pregnant women for immigration violations increased 52 percent last year. Approximately 2,100 pregnant women were detained, after federal officials terminated an Obama administration order to release most expectant mothers because of health concerns. (Washington Post)
Barriers (to avoid the whole wall polemic) being built along the U.S.-Mexico border will do little to stop humans from crossing, but will be devastating to wildlife and local ecosystems, warns former Border Patrol agent Francisco Cantú in a New York Times op-ed.
Gangs influence every facet of life in El Salvador, one of the deadliest places in the world outside of a war zone, according to Foreign Policy. Though the murder rate dropped significantly this year, violence remains a key migration push factor.
Surinamese President Desi Bouterse's recent conviction for murdering 15 political foes in 1982 is unlikely to thwart the leader's hold on power, reports the Economist. (See Monday's briefs.)
Human Rights Watch strongly defended its recent report on Chilean police violence against protesters, after the Carabineros questioned the group's findings.
It's been nearly a decade since a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti and killed an estimated 316,000 people. But the effects of the episode continue affect the country, and underly the causes of the current political crisis, reports Americas Quarterly.
Argentine president-elect Alberto Fernández announced his incoming cabinet for next week. A 37-year-old disciple of Joseph Stiglitz, Martín Guzmán, will be the head of an economic ministry tasked with renegotiating a massive IFM debt, reports El País.
A young feminist activist in Argentina played an outsize role in pushing gender neutral Spanish, which has become increasingly institutionalized in the country, despite strong backlash from language purists, reports the Washington Post.
Argentina's judiciary is fatally skewed towards whoever holds the government -- outgoing President Mauricio Macri will likely face a slew of court cases involving him and former government ministers. Incoming president Alberto Fernández could break the vicious cycle with a comprehensive reform, but a revamped justice would have to show impartiality by investigating across the political board, writes Hugo Alconada Mon in a New York Times Español op-ed. Timing is, apparently, everything.
Pola Oloixarac critiques former Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's personal brand of Evita-flavored feminism in a New York Times op-ed.
Human Rights -- symbolically
A mural in Miami by Brazilian artist Panmela Castro depicting Rio de Janeiro police abusing a protester was painted over after local police complained that it was offensive. (Guardian)
Amazon has come under fire for selling T-shirts glorifying the “death flights” of Chile’s military dictatorship -- again. (Guardian)
A Chilean protest song -- A Rapist in Your Path -- has become a viral feminist anthem around the world, reports the Guardian. The song was written by Latesis, a feminist theatre group based in the city of Valparaíso, who credited Chile’s women protesters for helping spread the work around the world. (Video for those who want to join in.)
Today is an evening edition due to work-related travel -- hours back to normal next week. Thank you to Eduardo Romero for his excellent work with the briefing in my absence!