Venezuelans flood into Ecuador (Aug. 13, 2018)
More than half a million Venezuelans escaped to Ecuador since the beginning of this year said the United Nations on Friday. The exodus intensified in recent weeks -- reaching about 4,200 entries per day and prompting Ecuador's government to declare an emergency in provinces along the border. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
Ecuador will deploy doctors and humanitarian workers during the state of emergency to help process those entering the country, reports the New York Times. Many arrive after weeks of journeying on foot, reports AFP.
Entries to Ecuador are at 10 times the number of migrants and refugees who attempted to enter Europe via the Mediterranean, reports the Guardian. Most are expected to continue south towards Peru and Chile.
The Rumichaca bridge between Colombia and Ecuador has become the latest focal point of a migration crisis that has pushed over a million Venezuelans to move to Colombia and has Brazil's Roraima state seeking to close the border with Venezuela.
Health workers are increasingly concerned over the potential spread of a measles outbreak originating in Venezuela. (Relief Web)
The New York Times analyzes the recent drone attack against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, piecing together material from official broadcasts and social media to reconstruct the alleged assassination attempt.
The amateurish attack was rapidly latched on by the government to justify ongoing crackdowns against the political opposition and to strengthen the myth of a nation under attack by outside interests, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a New York Times Español op-ed.
It is unclear how long Maduro will succeed in clinging to power, but the episode is a warning to international actors that "to achieve an orderly, democratic and nonviolent solution to the Venezuelan crisis, international pressure must be complemented by constructive engagement of both the government and opposition," writes David Smilde in a New York Times op-ed. Engagement from friendly countries in the region -- such as Uruguay, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and, potentially, Mexico's new government -- should be seen as a compliment to international pressure. "Such engagement should include discussion of mechanisms of transitional justice that could ensure officials they can change course without being the object of persecution."
Corruption in ...
Guatemala's attorney general and the country's U.N. backed anti-corruption commission requested congress lift President Jimmy Morales' immunity from prosecution so he can be investigated for alleged illicit campaign financing. It is the third time the attorney general's office, with the CICIG, have sought to lift Morales' immunity. Attorney General Consuelo Porras -- who was appointed by Morales in May -- said new evidence had surfaced in the case regarding about $1 million in undeclared campaign financing Morales managed as secretary general of the conservative National Convergence Front (FCN). (Reuters) Should the Supreme Court approve the request, two-thirds of Congress would have to support lifting Morales' immunity, a request that most rejected last year, notes Nómada. (See post for Sept. 12, 2017.)
Porras and the CICIG also requested to strip lawmaker Nineth Montenegro of immunity, in order to investigate alleged illicit financing of her Encuentro por Guatemala (EG) party. The move is significant because the small party could be fielding former attorney general Thelma Aldana's potential presidential run next year, report El Periódico and Nómada. (See July 24's briefs.)
A proposed judicial and political reform by popular referendum in Peru -- the government's response to a corruption scandal engulfing the country's top judges -- could be a once in a lifetime chance to tackle entrenched graft and restore Peruvians' faith in institutions, reports the Washington Post. The referendum would have to be approved by Congress, but is lauded as a clever solution to the deadlock created by a hostile legislature against a weak executive. Voters would theoretically be asked to approve strict political financing regulations, prohibit reelection of members of Congress, reform the council of magistrates that appoints judges and prosecutors, and create a senate as a check on Peru's unicameral legislature. Some experts suggest the Fujimorista dominated Congress will be pressured to accede to the referendum. (See last week's InSight Crime piece analyzing the scandal.)
At IDL Reporteros, Gustavo Gorriti details how reporters investigated audios detailing high level judicial corruption that kicked off the latest round of scandals.
Argentina's construction sector could be hard hit by the expanding "Cuadernos de las Coimas" investigation into corruption under the Kirchner governments, writes Horacio Verbitsky in Cohete a la Luna. The economic impact could be drastic, as could the eventual political impact if the case takes on Lava Jato proportions. Verbitsky analyzes the economic impact of Judge Sergio Moro's investigation in Brazil, and Italy's Mani Pulite in the 1990s, which paved the way for Silvio Berlusconni's rise, he writes.
Businessmen implicated in the case have been angling for plea bargains -- though most claimed to have been extorted by Kirchner government officials for campaign contributions, the former president of the construction industry association allegedly testified that the sector's business leaders determined among themselves who would win public works bids -- and at what price -- and then paid bribes to the head of the public works ministry. (Página 12)
Former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner presented her response to allegations of corruption in relation to public works, accusing Judge Claudio Bonadio of political bias, reports Página 12. Bonadio is expected to order preventive detention for Fernández in the case, a move which would require the Senate to lift her parliamentary immunity, reports Página 12 separately. In Cohete a la Luna Graciana Peñafort details how the Cuadernos case arrived in Bonadio's hands, what is locally known as "forum shopping."
More from Argentina
Javier Corrales analyzes how Argentina's feminists effectively created a broad pro-abortion movement, effectively bridging broad ideological and class divides. (New York Times)
After last week's stinging defeat of an abortion legalization bill in Argentina's Senate, activists must move to make the issue central in next year's election cycle, argues journalist Luciana Peker in a New York Times Español op-ed.
A new government PR campaign urges tourists to return to Nicaragua, despite a still unresolved political crisis, reports the Guardian.
Data from the Brazilian Forum of Public Security shows the murder rate in the country was 30.8 per 100,000 people last year -- most of the victims are young, black, male and poor. Many were killed by police officers, and most lived in urban centers. (New York Times)
A multi-racial coalition Guyana citizens voted in three years ago was supposed to usher in a period of change, but political rifts are resurfacing and the Granger administration has failed to bridge divides between Indo and Afro Guyanese, reports the New York Times. The 2020 election will coincide with Guyana's first oil production, which is expected to provide the country with an enormous windfall.
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Latin America Daily Briefing