Venezuelan opposition to participate in elections (Sept. 1, 2021)
Venezuela's main opposition parties will participate in the November regional and municipal elections -- abandoning a three-year boycott stance on elections in response to lack of conditions for free and fair competition. The announcement yesterday marks a major turnaround: opposition leaders emphasized that conditions remain unfair, but that they view participation as a step towards resolving the country's long-standing political crisis.
In addition to questions about potential irregularities in Venezuela's electronic voting system, the government has harassed, detained and sharply limited media access to opposition candidates. Though the Maduro government has invited representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center to observe the November elections, the mandates of foreign observer missions remain unclear.
“We know that these elections will not be fair, conventional elections; the dictatorship has imposed serious obstacles that put the expression of change of the Venezuelan people at risk; however, we understand that it will be a useful field of struggle” toward future presidential and legislative elections, the Unified Platform opposition group's statement said. (Associated Press)
The move comes as President Nicolás Maduro and opposition representatives relaunched talks aimed at a political agreement, this time in Mexico City. Some analysts say the opposition shift reflects Maduro's relative strength compared to recent years, and also the loss of power of Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who for a period of time many countries recognized as the country's legal head. Guaidó was absent when other opposition leaders announced the decision at a Caracas news conference. The decision was also a response to rank-and-file opposition members' demand to end the political stalemate that has left them jobless for years, reports the Washington Post.
Venezuelan opposition leader Freddy Guevara called on Maduro adversaries to seek "coexistence" with the ruling PSUV rather than attempting to force a change in government. His comments mark a shift in tone by the Voluntad Popular party, which has been the hard line of the opposition, reports Reuters. Guevara was released from jail last month, just as talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition parties began in Mexico City. (See Aug. 16's post.)
But other members of the opposition, like María Corina Machado, maintain what was previously the opposition's unified stance: that participating in elections would strengthen Maduro by granting a measure of legitimacy without seriously challenging his grip on power.
Médicos Unidos de Venezuela called on the government to declare a national emergency in response to the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant. (EFE)
ECLAC's new annual report "shows that the structural problems that have limited the region’s economic growth for decades were exacerbated by the pandemic and will limit the recovery in economic activity." The report also documents a pandemic-related sharp decline in labor participation, particularly among women. "With the crisis, female participation reached 46.9% in 2020, which represents a setback to levels seen in 2002."
El Salvador's government-allied lawmakers passed a measure yesterday to remove judges over the age of 60. The reforms, which would also facilitate transfers for judges, would remove 156 judges, a move critics say is a thinly-veiled "purge," reports El Diario de Hoy.
Cristosal warned that the move is unconstitutional, and would affect the ongoing El Mozote massacre trial.
El Salvador's Congress approved a law to create a $150 million fund to facilitate conversions from bitcoin to U.S. dollars ahead of the Central American country's planned adoption of the cryptocurrency as legal tender next week. (Reuters)
Salvadoran police detained Mario Gómez, a digital expert and prominent critic of the government's Bitcoin plan, today. (La Prensa Gráfica)
A Colombian court rejected a move by the attorney general’s office to bring charges against retired General Mario Montoya for his alleged responsibility in 104 extrajudicial killings -- so-called "false positive" killings that took place between 2007 to 2008 -- because it does not have jurisdiction, reports Reuters. The court said that while the attorney general's office can investigate such crimes, Colombia's transitional justice court (JEP) is the only organization that can charge Montoya.
A caravan of some 600 migrants departed from the Mexican municipality of Huixtla, in Chiapas state, yesterday after a violent attack from Mexico’s National Guard, which had stopped an earlier group from heading northwards, reports EFE.
The U.S. Biden administration has initiated talks with the Mexican government to restart the “Remain in Mexico” program and once more send asylum seekers outside U.S. territory while their cases are processed, reports the Washington Post. But early indications suggest the controversial Trump-era policy may not return on a large scale.
Haitian women who had children with U.N. peacekeepers face intricate legal battles to obtain child support -- the vast majority of cases have stalled in Haiti’s courts and lawyers say judges are reluctant to rule against international institutions or countries providing Haiti with vital aid. In the wake of a presidential assassination in July, and a major earthquake in August, calls for the U.N. to dispatch new peacekeepers triggered resentment among the women left to raise children alone, reports Buzzfeed.
Corruption proceedings against Peruvian opposition politician Keiko Fujimori kicked off with a preliminary court hearing, yesterday. (Al Jazeera)
Cuban authorities are starting inoculations with Chinese vaccines, raising questions about the country's nationally developed jabs, reports the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald has also learned that the government started offering the Chinese vaccines to members of the military several weeks prior to a new public program.
Almost 80 years after the U.S. pulled out of Nicaragua, the Central American country is still grappling with the long-term fallout, writes Charles Lane in the Washington Post.
Costa Rican environmental minister Andrea Meza has just a few months to implement an extraordinarily ambitious climate plan that could serve as a roadmap for other countries, reports the Washington Post.
Following on drugs and guns, illegal fishing is the third most lucrative illicit market in the world. El Hilo podcast looks at the oceanic "wild west" off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador.
Argentine stocks are jumping amid growing speculation that President Alberto Fernández's ruling coalition is poised for a poor showing in November's midterm elections, reports Bloomberg.
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