The News Roundup is a regular section of the blog, featuring news articles from various sources around the web, with the goal of providing an overview of the weekly conversation about the countries where MCC works in the region. Quotes in italics are drawn directly from sources and do not necessarily reflect the position of MCC.
For a country’s citizens to abandon their habitual parties en masse, studies show, three factors must be in place: a huge corruption scandal involving a mainstream party; an electorate alienated by politics as usual; and a social crisis that diminishes support for the ruling government. Mexico has all of these puzzle pieces in place. Under president Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI has been plagued by corruption and scandal. Now, the Oderbrecht bribery scheme – which has caused chaos in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru – is hitting Mexico, too. Additionally, polling shows that voter identification with all three major parties has eroded markedly over the past decade. And as for a profound social crisis, how about the 32,000 missing people who’ve “disappeared” during the country’s decade-long drug war?
The arrival of a new U.S. Ambassador may be contributing to a momentary drop in open political warfare between reformers and corrupt politicians. Compared to former Ambassador Robinson, incoming Ambassador Luis Arreaga has kept a low profile on the issue. During his confirmation hearing last July, he restated “a commitment by both governments to fight corruption and build upon the successful efforts by President Morales, CICIG, and the Attorney General to end impunity.” Since presenting his credentials in Guatemala last month, he has held familiarization meetings with a broad array of Guatemalan leaders in the executive, legislative and judicial branches, emphasizing the themes of friendship and partnership. Meeting with Velásquez and Aldana together, he confirmed the “U.S. commitment to their efforts to fight corruption and impunity,” according to the Embassy’s website. Arreaga’s honeymoon – during which he has the luxury of being friends to both reformers and their corrupt targets – will endure only until CICIG uncovers more blockbuster evidence of corruption or Morales, sensing his political support sinking with his credibility, tries to capture the hearts of other vulnerable politicians to further hem in the meddlesome reformers.
The greatest struggle is our effort to work across national boundaries with our neighbors Guatemala and Honduras. The struggle to preserve our water supply and environment cannot be accomplished with only a victory in one country alone. Rivers know no national boundaries and thus one nation’s enlightened environmental policies will not suffice to protect the water and land from polluters across national borders. MESA believes that with our first goal accomplished this can now give us the force and mandate needed to win our next fight, that of asking our neighbor governments to follow El Salvador’s example in outlawing all metal mining in perpetuity. In this struggle, MESA is in contact with organizations in resistance to mining efforts in Guatemala and Honduras to try to agree on tactics as a united Central American coalition. Some of the challenges we face in creating these cross-border alliances are the lack of economic resources found in these developing nations. Still, we continue to move forward with what we can do, which by all accounts is quite a lot, given MESA’s massive victory in El Salvador.
The conversations reveal, the lawyers said, that the orders to threaten Copinh and sabotage its protests came from Desa executives who were exercising control over security forces in the area, issuing instructions and paying for police units’ food, lodging and radio equipment. “There was this criminal structure comprised of company executives and employees, state agents and criminal gangs that used violence, threats and intimidation,” said Roxanna Altholz, the associate director of the Human Rights Law Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the lawyers’ group.
An observer mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) said occasional irregularities, such as people voting outside their area of residence, did not substantially alter the election result. The main opposition Coalition for National Democracy (CND) party did not participate in the elections after being excluded from last year’s controversial presidential poll.
So far, DHS has postponed a decision on TPS with regard to Hondurans, and the one concerning Salvadorans is pending. Should the US government decide to lift TPS for nationals of these two countries, nearly 260,000 individuals would either be at risk of being deported back to their violent home countries, or would be living in the United States without authorization. Such a development could have considerable impacts on security and organized crime throughout the region. InSight Crime looks at five of these potential crime and insecurity ripple effects.
A few hours after polls closed, officials from the indigenous political party Yatama, (Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka/Children of the Mother Earth) calculated having nearly 3,000 more votes than the opposition FSLN party. While Yatama officials awaited the arrival of ballot boxes from their loyal communities, the FSLN claimed victory and celebrated shortly after 10:00 PM. The following day, Yatama officials denounced the FSLN for lack of transparency in the election; they also claimed to have documented electoral fraud and voter suppression, through the manipulation of voter data, multiple voting by FSLN sympathizers (by using removable ink on their thumbs); and the purchasing of votes.
Earlier this fall, as the United Nations’ blue-helmet peacekeepers began their withdrawal from Haiti, many of their countries rushed to the beleaguered nation’s aid, turning over millions of dollars in unspent peacekeeping dollars to help eliminate a deadly cholera epidemic. Some countries, faced with roadblocks in their parliaments, reprogrammed dollars. Others, like Norway, added an additional $465,000 to its $335,000 refund. But the United States, which had already stated its opposition to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres’ request over reassigning $11 million in unspent Haiti peacekeeping money, is refusing even though the Senate Appropriations Committee gave it the green light in September. The Senate provision allows the Trump administration to use the unspent peacekeeping dollars for Haiti’s cholera plan.
Córdoba’s words hint at another, bigger criticism of the system: that Colombians have adopted it as a tool for classifying people, not buildings. The government’s website agrees with Córdoba – arguing that stratification does not “generate such differences” in class, but merely records them. But Manuel Riaño, an urban economist and professor at the University of Rosario in Bogotá, believes it has deepened the rifts between social classes and contributed to the stigmatisation of the poor.
Such a situation would lead to a failure on the part of the government to deliver what it promised in the peace deal, and the impact of that failure on the Colombian underworld could be dramatic and dangerous. The FARC would be left in a highly vulnerable limbo with no confidence in the guarantees for their judicial situation, security, reintegration into civilian life and political participation. Under these circumstances, the likelihood of dissident groups forming or of ex-fighters returning to the underworld would be severely heightened.
The government says it narrowly lost last year’s referendum because of an illegal defamatory campaign against Mr Morales. Allegations surfaced shortly before the referendum accusing Mr Morales of using his influence to favour a Chinese construction firm in Bolivia, which he denied. Mr Morales initially said he would respect the outcome of the poll. But he later appealed to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule in December on whether to allow him to stand again.