Uruguay's security plebiscite (Oct. 24, 2019)
Thousands of Uruguayan protesters marched against a constitutional reform that would created a militarized national guard for public security. The "Vivir sin miedo" proposal would also make some prison sentences more severe and would legalize night raids, which are currently illegal. The reform will be on the ballot on Sunday, when voters head to the polls to pick a new president. All seats of both chambers of congress are also up for grabs.
Protesters this week said the constitutional reform would only ratify mano dura policies which have failed to stem rising insecurity, reports EFE.
Public frustration with crime is high, and the reform is expected to pass, according to Americas Quarterly. Polls put support at over the 50 percent needed for the plebicite to pass, though opposition is also increasing. (El Pais, El Economista) Interestingly, the proposal came from far-right lawmaker Jorge Larrañaga, but has not been backed by any of the presidential candidates in the running this weekend.
Former Montevideo mayor Daniel Martínez for the governing Frente Amplio coalition is polling first for Sunday's election -- with a double digit lead according to some reports. But candidates need at least 50 percent of votes plus one to win the first round, and he is expected to face-off against conservative Partido Nacional candidate and political scion Luis Lacalle Pou in an eventual second round. (Americas Society/Council of the Americas)
Predictions for the ultimate winner are less clear. Martínez is not expected to add substantially to his support base, while Lacalle Pou will likely seek to unite opposition parties against the Frente Amplio. Frente Amplio has governed for the past 15 years, and has lost some of the broad support it enjoyed previously. (BBC)
EFE has a round-up of all 11 candidates in the running.
Chilean protesters remained unmoved by President Sebastián Piñera's apology and reform promises Tuesday. Yesterday, tens of thousands of protesters maintained barricades and clashed with police. Demonstrators were joined by unions, which called a two-day general strike. (Guardian)
Emilia Schneider, president of the powerful University of Chile Student Federation, said Piñeras proposals were merely cosmetic changes, rather than the structural reform protesters seek. (Reuters)
Increasingly detailed reports show a trend of human rights violations by security forces -- including detention of minors, beatings and sexual violence. The National Human Rights Institute said yesterday that security forces are responsible for five deaths so far. In their report last night they identified 2,410 detainees, including 200 children. (INDH, EFE, Página 12)
The situation is reviving ghosts of Chile's dictatorship for many -- songs by Victor Jara blare out along Alameda Avenue -- and many protesters say they represent a post-authoritarian generational shift. (Los Angeles Time)
The left-wing counter to conspiracies blaming Maduro for Chile's sudden eruption: that Chilean carabineros are responsible for some of the arson incidents that have marked the protests. (Página 12)
Bolivian President Evo Morales declared himself the outright winner of last Sunday's presidential election, reports the Associated Press. He said he has the 10 point lead required to avoid a second round -- though the official electoral authority website has him with a 9.51 point lead as of this morning.
But in the midst of accusations about irregular tallies, and violent protests, the OAS said yesterday that a runoff should be held even if Morales breached the 10-point margin. The difference will be statistically negligible, even if Morales wins, said Manuel González, the head of the OAS election observation team in Bolivia. Second place winner Carlos Mesa called for “permanent protests” until a second-round vote was confirmed, and said he would present evidence of electoral fraud. Analysts expect further upheaval, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post, Nodal)
Mexico's government accused the OAS of violating the principle of neutrality in the Bolivian elections. (Reforma, Red Uno)
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse still has no intention of resigning, though protests demanding his ouster have been ongoing for two months at this point and are spreading to groups well beyond the opposition. Moïse told AFP that he is not "attached to power" but rather "attached to reforms because this country has been suffering for decades."
Ecuadorean indigenous leaders said talks with the Moreno administration are on hold due to government persecution in the wake of violent anti-austerity protests, report Reuters.
While U.S. President Donald Trump still hasn't built a physical border wall along the border with Mexico, his administration's immigration policies have instead forced Mexico to host asylum seekers and deter migrants, reports the Washington Post in a comprehensive roundup on the topic.
The Trump administration is close to implementing an agreement that would allow the U.S. to send some asylum seekers to Guatemala, according to CNN. Advocates say the plan is a disaster in terms of rights: VICE reported earlier this year that Guatemala has just four asylum officers and hasn’t resolved a case in nearly two years.
Russia is considering sending a permanent delegation of economic advisers to Venezuela to help Caracas resolve issues with foreign creditors, reports Reuters.
The New York drug trafficking trial of former Honduran congressman Tony Hernández -- and brother to Honduras' president -- played out like a narco-novela come to life, except on Twitter, writes New York Times journalist Emily Palmer.
Former Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is poised for what seemed like an unlikely comeback at the beginning of the year. Most analysts believe Alberto Fernández and his former boss will win by about 20 points on Sunday's presidential election. Among other things, Cristina's feminism has become a counter point to current President Mauricio Macri's "reflexive sexism," according to the Guardian. In a radio interview last week, Macri said Fernández de Kirchner’s economic policies were like “handing over the administration of the house to your wife, and your wife, instead of paying the bills, uses the credit card, and uses it and uses it, until one day they come to mortgage your house”. As we say here: machirulo!
"In Argentina, this is the season of the Peronista renaissance, built on a coalition of a disillusioned middle class, the left-leaning young and an increasingly angry poor," according to a Washington Post piece that says a Fernández-Fernández win will be further proof that "only the rough-and-tumble, union-backed Peronista machine can truly rule unruly Argentina." Ideology aside, the piece notes that citizens are also voting with their pockets in the midst of a harsh economic crisis.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said a Fernández win could jeopardize the Mercosur trade bloc, reports Reuters.
A team of Zimbabwean experts has been working on clearing landmines in the Falklands/Malvinas since 2006. They are due to finish next year. (Guardian photo essay)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing