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Peru's crisis likely to end in court (Oct. 2, 2019)
Peruvian Vice President Mercedes Aráoz -- declared acting president by lawmakers after President Martín Vizcarra dissolved Congress -- resigned last night in hopes of opening the door to new general elections. She cited the Organization of American States’ statement earlier in the day that only the Constitutional Tribunal should settle a dispute over the legality of Vizcarra's move. (Reuters)
Aráoz's resignation ends a day of acute political crisis -- and appears to leave Vizcarra firmly in power. He seems likely to continue governing while opposition challenges go to court. However, the constitutional crisis now threatens to become a lengthy and destabilizing legal battle, reports the Associated Press. The Organization of American States urged Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal to weigh in on the feud (see yesterday's post). But, as the New York Times notes, the Constitutional Tribunal is part of the dispute between Vizcarra and opposition lawmakers who control the majority of Congress. Lawmakers on Monday were moving forward with appointing new judges, several of whom are allegedly linked to corruption or face unresolved criminal accusations themselves.
Peru's presidents have the legal power to dissolve Congress if lawmakers twice refuse to give the cabinet a vote of confidence -- however while that happened in spirit, its not clear that the technical parameters for dissolution were met. That puts Vizcarra on shaky legal ground, though he has popular support and the armed forces stood by his decision. Popular opinion is against Congress. Recent polls have found that more than 70 percent of Peruvians, weary of partisan bickering and endless scandal, favored the president shutting Congress down, reports the Washington Post.
Vizcarra called for new parliamentary elections to take place in January 2020. Should opposition lawmakers succeed in legally challenging that decision, they would be entitled to stay through 2021. The OAS characterized the call for new elections as a "constructive step." OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said Peru's intense political polarization should be resolved at the ballot box, and called on both sides to try to calm waters. Legal expert Diego García Sayán said the statement was a tacit recognition that there has not been a coup in Peru, reports La República.
Despite the intense political chaos, Peru's markets remained relatively stable, as economic policy is expected to remain the same regardless of which political party wins out. Foreign policy is also likely to stay the course.
Peruvian Lava Jato prosecutors are interrogating the former head of Odebrecht's Lima office today. The testimony is expected to shed light on what politicians are referenced by codenames in the Brazilian construction giant's elaborate bribery system. (La República)
IDL Reporteros won a Global Shining Light Award for its investigations into Lava Jato and judicial corruption.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse appeared at the National Palace yesterday -- after disappearing from the public for a week amid intense protests demanding his resignation. The embattled leader insists he will stay, and opponents promised to maintain paralysis in Port-au-Prince today. Possible negotiated solutions moving forward might include Moïse picking a prime minister backed by the opposition or reducing his presidential term, reports the Associated Press.(See yesterday's briefs, and Monday's post.)
Brazil’s Senate approved the main text of a pension reform bill in a first-round vote yesterday. However, because the bill amends the country’s constitution it must pass a second round, and senators from President Jair Bolsonaro's own party have threatened to postpone that vote if the government reneges on promises made to lawmakers in return for their support, reports Reuters.
Illegal land grabs in Brazil's Amazon have increased this year -- as illegal loggers, goldminers, poachers and land-grabbers take Bolsonaro's incendiary rhetoric as tacit permission to invade indigenous territories, reports the Guardian.
Former Brazilian attorney general Rodrigo Janot admitted carrying a gun inside the Supreme Court to kill one of the justices. (BBC)
Amazon fires have rightfully caught global attention -- but deforestation is steadily eating away at South America’s second-largest forest, the Gran Chaco, as well. Cattle ranching and farming are the primary drivers of deforestation in Paraguay’s Gran Chaco, but unexpected products sold globally -- such as charcoal and leather -- also further the problem, writes Joel E. Correia in the Conversation.
Activation of the Rio Treaty (TIAR) does not automatically mean military action regarding Venezuela, but experts fear it could add to an already tense situation, and that a false move could ignite a powder keg, writes Jesse L. Anderson at World Politics Review.
The U.S. State Department eased its travel advisory for El Salvador yesterday. The move comes days after the two countries signed a migration pact that would allow the U.S. to send asylum seekers to El Salvador, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Eggs exported from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to the European Union will only be tariff free if the hens are kept in line with animal welfare requirements -- the first time an EU free trade deal has been made conditional upon particular standards being upheld. (Guardian)
The Nation hails Bolivia's "remarkable socialist success story," but asks how long it will last. The piece delves into President Evo Morales' social and economic development policies, as well as reckless approach to the environment. And analyzes how social protests can serve as a partial check on political power.
The Guatemalan government has destroyed around 1.5 million coca plants with an estimated street value of some $800 million, President Jimmy Morales said earlier this week. (Reuters)
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno announced an end to government subsidies for holding down fuel prices. He said he will send congress a proposal to overhaul taxes and labor rules as a way to revitalize the economy, reports the Associated Press.
Ecuador announced it will leave OPEC in January. (EFE)
Venezuela's oil exports increased last month, but not enough to reduce the country's high inventories which have forced it to scale back output, reports Reuters.
Venezuelan officials are trying to enlist Harvard University in stopping an academic who is also the attorney general for opposition leader Juan Guaidó. (Bloomberg)
Enlaza Venezuela linked fifteen Venezuelan organizations of civil society -- activists, artists, lawyers, educators and journalists -- with potential international allies in a Bogotá event. (El Espectador)
Gravity biking is giving some poor kids in Medellín an escape from their troubles, reports the Guardian.
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