Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal certified the first round of the presidential election yesterday (see LADB 7/11/23), teeing up the August 20th runoff election between conservative Sandra Torres and center-left reformist Bernardo Arévalo.
The outcome of the certification has been put in doubt, however, by a nearly simultaneous announcement from Prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche that he would pursue and move to suspend Arévalo’s Semilla party for “irregularities in the registration of more than 5,000 members of the center-left party.” Curruchiche reportedly has a history of attacking anti-corruption actors in the country and has been placed on the US State Department’s “Engel List” for “corrupt and undemocratic” actors.
AP notes, however, “Guatemala’s electoral law prohibits the suspension of political parties between when an election is called and when it is held. With a second round of voting required because no candidate exceeded 50% of the vote, it appeared that (Semilla) could not be suspended.” And one constitutional law expert told the New York Times that the suspension was “‘absolutely illegal’ since a criminal judge cannot suspend a party’s registration under Guatemalan election laws.” Semilla can appeal the suspension, with a final decision potentially up to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court.
Hundreds mobilized to protest Curruchiche’s announcement last night but were ultimately dispersed by heavy rains. Members of the international community, including the United States, have expressed concern and criticized Curruchice’s move, as has the important Guatemalan business lobby CACIF, among others.
- Venezuela’s opposition candidates, who are “often divided,” joined together last night for the first opposition debate since 2011, says Reuters, agreeing “that they must present a united front against the ruling party and work to boost the economy by attracting private investment.
- The Venezuelan government’s ban on holding public office for longtime opposition figure Maria Corina Machado “has helped rally the fractured opposition and focus much-needed attention on their effort to hold an independent presidential primary.” (AP)
- The next debate, scheduled for October 22, will cover various economic topics including private investment and free market ideals, according to Crónica Uno.
- A criminal complaint filed by the Clooney Foundation for Justice about potential crimes against humanity in Venezuela has prompted Argentine federal prosecutor Carlos Stornelli to launch an investigation, says ABC News. “The foundation chose Argentina to file its complaint because the country’s justice system has already applied the principle of universal jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in Spain and Myanmar.”
- In Costa Rica, the capital city of San José “is aiming to achieve full decarbonization by 2050, as well as 100% clean energy by 2030,” according to QCostaRica.
- “To mark the second anniversary of protests that spread through the island on July 11, 2021, the chairmen of the Senate and House committees dealing with foreign affairs, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), introduced a bipartisan resolution “condemning the ongoing acts of repression and human rights violations against the Cuban people by the Cuban regime, and calling for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens.”” (Miami Herald)
- Salvadoran author Michelle Recinos wrote a disturbing satirical novel criticizing the Bukele administration’s “War on Gangs,” which was set to be featured in a Guatemalan book fair on Salvadoran literature. Following pressure from the Salvadoran Embassy, Recinos’ appearance at the fair was canceled, reports The Guardian.
- Deforestation in Colombia fell 29% last year, reports The Guardian.
- The New York Times profiles Colombia’s love for cycling, noting that “main reasons cycling blossomed in Colombia, according to cyclists, officials and coaches, are the nation’s socioeconomics, history and topography (large swaths of the country are at higher elevations, such as Medellín, at 4,900 feet, or the capital, Bogotá, at 8,600).”
- Ecuador and Argentina have agreed to restore diplomatic relations and will send ambassadors back to their respective posts. This followed a cease in relations caused by former Ecuadorian minister María de los Ángeles Duarte’s 1.5 year stay in Argentina’s Embassy in Quito to avoid serving an 8-year prison sentence for bribery, says SwissInfo.
- A new poll released Wednesday showed that market players’ perception of economic recovery has increased from 13% in May to 53% in July, according to Reuters. Finance Minister Fernando Haddad’s approval rating also rose dramatically.
- Dust from the Saharan Desert is affecting air quality in the Caribbean, reports Loop.
- “Four police officers and two civilians have been killed by bombs planted in a road in western Mexico that officials said were an ambush set by a drug cartel. The attack late on Tuesday appeared to mark the first time that Mexican criminals have successfully targeted law-enforcement personnel with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs,” reports The Guardian.
- “An unaccompanied migrant girl from Guatemala with a pre-existing medical condition died in U.S. custody earlier this week after crossing the southern border in May,” the fourth such case this year, notes CBS.
- Argentina’s parallel exchange rate, colloquially referred to as the “blue dollar,” reached a record-high of $500 on Wednesday, reports MercoPress.
- “Peru extended a state of emergency for another 30 days along the country’s main roadways, including a key mining corridor, as a new round of protests is expected to kick off next week,” reports Reuters.