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Latam Brief: Boluarte calls for early elections (December 12)

Latin America Daily Briefing

Massive protests across Peru, calling for President Dina Boluarte to resign and the release of former president Pedro Castillo, turned deadly this weekend. Two teenagers were killed in police clashes with demonstrators in the remote Andean region of Andahuaylas.

Past midnight, Boluarte announced a proposal to move up Peru’s next general elections by two years, to 2024. It was unclear whether the plan would calm protesters. Rural unions and organizations representing Indigenous peoples called for an “indefinite strike” beginning tomorrow in support of Castillo, who was impeached and arrested last week after an attempted self-coup. Many protesters are also calling for the suspension of Congress and a new constitution, in addition to early elections. “Que se vayan todos.”

Boluarte said the proposed 2024 elections would be accompanied by a series of proposed reforms, aimed at improving the political system ahead of the vote. She also announced a state of emergency in the Apurímac, Arequipa and Ica regions in response to the protests.

Congress suspended an emergency session yesterday after physical altercations broke out in the chamber.

(El Comercio, La República, El Comercio, La República, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, Reuters)

Several analysts emphasize that while last week’s flurry of events demonstrated the resiliency of Peru’s democracy, the country’s succession of political crises in recent years ultimately points to the need for deep reforms to the country’s constitution and political system if democracy is to flourish.

“Castillo’s Presidency may be over, but its failure only underscores the gravity of the political crisis of the past decade,” writes Daniel Alarcón in the New Yorker.

And the Financial Times: “Progress is unlikely without far-reaching political reform.”

More Peru

  • IDL Reporteros has a deep-dive into the minute-by-minute of Castillo’s “political suicide” last week, in which he responded to a potential impeachment with a self-coup.

  • Castillo’s election last year was celebrated as a victory for Peru’s rural poor. Instead, over the past 17 months, the former president’s supporters have seen him face the same racism and discrimination they often experience, reports the Associated Press.

  • A pilot-project in Peru’s seeks to recover pre-Incan irrigation dikes to alleviate pressure on Lima’s dwindling water supply. (Washington Post)

Brazil

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro broke his long post-election silence with an ambiguous message to supporters asking for a military intervention: “Who decides where I go are you. Who decides which way the armed forces go are you,” Bolsonaro said on Friday. Bolsonaro did not endorse their call for a military intervention, but said the armed forces would respect Brazil’s Constitution, reports Reuters.

  • Brazil’s Economy Ministry rejected assertions by president-elect Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s transition team that the outgoing administration was leaving government finances “bankrupted.” (Reuters)

Cuba

  • Deepening poverty and hopelessness — spurred by tightened U.S. sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic — have set off the largest exodus from the Cuba in decades. Over the last year, nearly 250,000 Cubans, more than 2 percent of the island’s 11 million population, have migrated to the United States, most of them arriving at the southern border by land, reports the New York Times.

Haiti

  • Eight reporters have been killed in Haiti this year. Haitian journalists attempting to report on their country’s “spiralling violence, the worst hunger crisis in recent history and the return of cholera … are increasingly finding themselves in the line of fire,” reports the Guardian.

Guatemala

  • The landmark corruption conviction against former Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina and his former VP, Roxana Baldetti, last week “ illustrated why the most emblematic case of the country’s effort to reform its justice system over the past decade is still dividing Guatemala,” writes Stephen Dudley in InSight Crime.

Mexico

  • Archaeologists are now racing ahead of construction crews on the Tren Maya project in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. They have been asked to rank undiscovered ruins, knowing that many will be destroyed by the development project. The losses so far include millennia-old Maya homes and temples, reports the Washington Post.

Panama A Panamanian judge summoned the country’s former president, Ricardo Martinelli, to stand trial for money laundering, reports Reuters.

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing
http://latinamericadailybriefing.blogspot

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