Peruvian voters back anti-corruption referendum (Dec. 10, 2018)
Peruvian voters resoundingly backed most of President Martín Vizcarra's anti-corruption proposals in a citizen referendum yesterday. About 78 percent of voters (preliminary count, final numbers later today) approved three of the proposals, rejecting the fourth which would have established a bicameral congress. Participation was mandatory, and Vizcarra hailed a win for the entire country. The vote was held on international anti corruption day.
The other proposals will reform the council of magistrates that controls the judiciary, permit constitutional reform of political financing regulations, and prohibit the immediate reelection of lawmakers, reports La República.
In an editorial La República lauds the strong backing of the anti-corruption measures as a response to graft scandals affecting all of the country's major political parties and the judiciary. The exercise allows Vizcarra to consolidate power in the midst of a corruption crisis affecting the highest levels of government, including the last four presidents. Experts say the vote has given the "accidental" president the political capital he needs to actually start governing. The proposal has proved popular, and Vizcarra's approval ratings climbed from 35 percent in July when he announced the consultation, to 65 percent last month. (El Comercio and Associated Press)
It will be a forcible breath of fresh air in the National Assembly, which has been dominated by the opposition Popular Force party and has complicated governance. None of the 130 lawmakers currently in the National Assembly will be able to run for reelection, some will be leaving after serving for nearly 20 years, reports El Comercio.
Vizcarra did not back the final referendum question, which would have created a second chamber of congress, saying it had been hijacked by lawmakers seeking to limit executive power, reports Reuters.
Extremely low turnout in Venezuela's municipal elections
Venezuelan municipal elections yesterday were marked by a very high abstention rate -- over 72 percent. Voters who did participate backed the ruling PSUV party, which won in 142 of 156 jurisdictions in play. The results were largely predictable. Experts pointed to widespread mistrust and exhaustion among citizens. And the four main opposition parties were banned from participating after they boycotted this year's May presidential elections, which they considered fraudulent. (AFP)
Efecto Cocuyo has more specific stats and also reports of irregularities, such as distribution of CLAP boxes in certain localities.
Though low, turnout was not as bad as some experts had predicted, and voters have not been enthusiastic about past municipal only elections, notes David Smilde at the Venezuela Weekly.
Despite the low turnout, government officials voiced satisfaction with the election, and lauded civic commitment. President Nicolás Maduro spoke on television and denounced an alleged U.S. plot to overthrow him. (Reuters)
More from Venezuela
Venezuela is in the midst of one of the worst human rights crises in the region, warns Amnesty International's Carolina Jiménez, calling on neighboring countries to grant Venezuelan migrants international protection. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF) is considering a $500 million loan to Venezuela. Critics say the move will undercut international sanctions aimed at isolating the Maduro administration. But most of the funds will be used to pay back debts Venezuela has with the CAF, and the Wall Street Journal reports the development bank is seeking to avoid having to declare Venezuela in default.
Haitian police dispersed an anti-corruption protests yesterday in Port-au-Prince, reports EFE.
Attacks against social activists in Colombia have continued -- two indigenous leaders were killed on Saturday and a third was targeted by an attack, reports AFP.
Justicia por mano propia
"Lynching is Latin America’s dark secret," reports the Wall Street Journal in a piece on the citizen mobs that increasingly kill and mutilate suspected criminals on the street.
Nicaragua's independent journalists have been the targets of harassment and police abuse in retaliation for their coverage of government and parapolice repression of protests, reports the Guardian.
Thousands of Central American migrants are coming to terms with a lengthy and uncertain process to apply for asylum in the U.S., and contemplating alternatives in Mexico, reports the Guardian.
Most of the caravan migrants have gathered in Tijuana, where many residents lives intersect and cross the border, reports the New York Times.
Chile joined the U.S. in pulling out of the U.N.'s migration pact, part of an increasingly hardline stance, reports Reuters.
Two new political parties in Guatemala are having trouble obtaining official status. Libre has pointed to bureaucratic obstacles in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). UNE challenged Movimiento Semilla's inscription, saying its logo is similar to that of another party. Though the TSE rejected the argument, it still delayed Semilla's inscription in order to give UNE time to appeal. Both of the new parties are up against firm deadlines to receive recognition and elect internal authorities in order to participate in next year's elections. (El Periódico, Prensa Libre, and Publinews)
UNE's attack on Semilla falls into a wider pattern of legal challenges Guatemalan parties often throw at each other ahead of elections, explains Nómada. It will only get more intense as parties define candidates over the next couple months and compete for voters and financing.
A former Kaibile soldier who participated in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre was sentenced to 5,000 years on jail, based in part on the testimony of his adoptive son, whose family he helped kill, reports the BBC. (See Nov. 23's briefs.)
Cuba will gradually phase in a polemic law requiring government approval for artists, and will put off enforcement until regulations are made clearer, reports the Miami Herald. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
In an apparent nod to entrepreneurs, Cuba's government softened some tough new restrictions that were set to go into effect on Friday, reports Al Jazeera. (See last Friday's briefs.)
Linda Loaiza writes in the Guardian about her long struggle to obtain justice in a case of kidnapping and brutal sexual abuse. After failing to obtain justice in Venezuela, she took her case to the Inter-American court of human rights. In November the court found the Venezuelan state guilty of negligence in the face of the torture and sexual violence against Loaiza, and for its inability to investigate the case. The case could set precedent for state responsibility in gender violence, which the court classified as torture in this case. (See Nov. 22's briefs.)
Bolivian President Evo Morales has governed for 12 years, and plans to seek a fourth reelection next year. But many of his indigenous supporters are now questioning whether their interests remain aligned, reports the New York Times.
Brazilian president-elect Jair Bolsonaro decided to abolish the country's human rights ministry. Instead he announced the creation of a new ministry, headed by a conservative evangelical pastor, which will oversee women, family and human rights – and also the country’s 900,000 indigenous people. The new minister, Damares Alves, opposes abortion and believes women are meant to be mothers, reports the Guardian.
Bolsonaro picked lawyer Ricardo de Aquino Salles to head his ministry of economy. Brazilian industry and agriculture groups had announced their support for Salles, reports Reuters.
Bolsonaro promised to fight communism in the region, reports EFE.
At least 14 people, including two children, were killed in a shootout between police and bank robbers in Brazil's Ceará state. (Guardian)
"... For all the greatness of its individual players, Argentinian football has increasingly become a metaphor for everything that is dysfunctional about Argentina," writes David Reiff in the Guardian.
Former Colombian president Belisario Betancur died at age 95. "In reality he was not a government leader who loved poetry," Gabriel García Márquez, once said of him. "He was a poet on whom fate imposed the penance of power." (New York Times and Guardian)
A new map reveals the scale of illegal artisanal mining in the Amazon rainforest -- identifying 2,312 sites in 245 areas across six Amazon countries. The operations are highly damaging to the environment, and indigenous and local populations who live or work near mine sites. The map was produced by a network of non-government, environmental groups in six Amazon countries – FAN in Bolivia, Gaia in Colombia, IBC in Peru, Ecociência in Ecuador, Provita and Wataniba in Venezuela, and Imazon and the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) in Brazil, reports the Guardian.
Visit Chile's Pali Aike National Park with the New York Times.
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