Daniel Noboa, the 35-year-old heir to a banana business empire, won Ecuador’s presidency in yesterday’s runoff election. Noboa, who has promised to crackdown on violent crime and to increase employment, obtained 52% of the vote. His opponent, Luisa González, an establishment leftist politician who obtained 48%, accepted her defeat yesterday and promised her support for the incoming administration. (CNE)
The vote signaled a desire for change in a country increasingly afflicted by violence — the assassination of a presidential candidate, and the subsequent killing of the murder suspects in prison, showcased the country’s security concerns during the campaign.
Noboa is due to be sworn in on 25 November but will only govern for 17 months until 2025 – completing President Guillermo Lasso’s term after he dissolved congress and called snap elections in May, in response to efforts to impeach him.
But Noboa is an outsider with little governing experience, notes the New York Times. The new president will not have a parliamentary majority and could struggle implement his legislative agenda, reports the Guardian.
The results are a slap in the face for former president Rafael Correa, whose candidate González lost. Correistas had done well in February local elections, and many considered the snap elections to be a comeback opportunity given right-wing Lasso’s profound unpopularity, reports El País.
Nonetheless “a narrower-than-expected margin between the two candidates, on top of major gains in recent local and legislative elections, show that, after almost two decades since its first political victories, correísmo remains the strongest political organization in the country,” argues Sebastián Hurtado in Americas Quarterly.
- The U.S. Biden administration and Venezuela’s Maduro government have agreed to a deal in which the U.S. would ease sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in exchange for a competitive, internationally monitored presidential election in Venezuela next year, reports the Washington Post. The sanctions relief is to be announced after Maduro’s government and Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition sign an agreement.
- Last week, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition have resumed talks. (Forbes)
- Russia expects a visit from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as the two oil producers deepen their cooperation and Russian companies seek to invest more in the South American country, reports Reuters.
- U.S. right-wing politicians on the campaign trail are again waving the perennial flag of the Monroe Doctrine. Their “outdated and excessive oratory” is predicated on the construction of a Chinese threat in the region, writes Juan Tokatlian in Clarín. “The particularity of this historical moment is that the United States has fewer “carrots” and more regional rejection of the “stick.” With diminished resources and without sufficient persuasive capacity, Washington wants South America, in particular, to give up the intensification of relations with Beijing in exchange for very little.”
- A Guatemalan appeals court annulled a jail sentence against journalist José Ruben Zamora, and ordered a retrial in a case accusing the editor of elPeriódico of money laundering, reports El País. (See post for June 15.)
- Hackers affiliated with the activist group Anonymous disabled multiple Guatemalan government webpages Saturday, in support of pro-democracy demonstrations led by Indigenous organizations, reports the Associated Press. (See Friday’s briefs.)
- The protests in favor of president-elect Bernardo Arévalo have dwindled since last week, but “created a broader coalition behind Arévalo than the mostly urban one that voted him into office, and demonstrated that he will have the streets on his side if congress or the judiciary continues to obstruct him,” according to Latin America’s Moment.
- Former Venezuelan lawmaker Freddy Superlano withdrew his candidacy in opposition presidential primary, instead pledging support for front-runner Maria Corina Machado just over a week before the vote. The opposition is seeking a unity candidate to run against Maduro, reports Reuters.
- Brazil’s government told agricultural producers to stop setting fire to the rainforest, threatening sanctions if they burn Amazon land, as clouds of dense gray smoke make the air increasingly unbreathable in the northern city of Manaus, reports Reuters.
- Colombia’s Petro administration will spend $4.25 billion to buy some 1.5 million hectares of land for poor farmers or displaced people, as part of a bid to increase agricultural output and boost peace efforts, reports Reuters.
- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his Colombian counterpart Gustavo Petro would attend a regional summit in Mexico that aims to contain a recent jump in migration, reports Reuters.
- A new Migration Policy Institute report “examines how regularization efforts have affected Venezuelans’ labor market integration. It looks closely at the case of Colombia, which has received the most displaced Venezuelans and operated the region’s largest regularization program, as well as at other countries that make up the Quito Process, which has made Venezuelans’ socioeconomic integration a top priority.” (Via Americas Migration Brief)
- “Kenya’s Cabinet on Friday approved the deployment of 1,000 police to lead a multinational peacekeeping mission to Haiti to combat gang violence.The country’s parliament must now sign off on the resolution.” (Associated Press)
- Argentina’s presidential election is on Sunday (though a runoff in November is likely). Libertarian Javier Milei is a frontrunner: “The prospect of a Milei presidency has thrilled millions of supporters and horrified detractors who fear the foul-mouthed populist could wreak further havoc on a nation already reeling from a 40% poverty rate and annual inflation of 138%,” reports the Guardian.
- Milei has a penchant for shocking — denying climate change, proposing an human organ market, and fomenting a run on the country’s currency. The New York Times wonders whether his attack on the Catholic pope, who Milei said “has an affinity for murderous communists” and is violating the Ten Commandments, might be too much.
- Conservative candidate Patricia Bullrich “wants to rethink her nation’s relationship with China, scrap entry into the Brics bloc, probe billions of dollars of recent state loans and prevent Beijing from dominating key sectors of the economy,” reports the Financial Times.
- The International Monetary Fund’s engagement with El Salvador has been “very productive” following a recent visit from a negotiating team, but an agreement is “not there yet” for a new financing program, an IMF official said on Friday — Reuters.
- Shakira’s latest music video, “El Jefe,” “portrays the life of poor immigrants with big dreams, who are stuck working for bad employers who make lots of money that never trickles down,” putting a spotlight on the regions domestic workers, including her own, reports the New York Times.
- “Amphibians are the world’s most endangered vertebrates and are increasingly being pushed towards extinction, a global study published in Nature this month found. Climate breakdown has replaced deforestation as the biggest threat to amphibians, with almost 41% of the world’s frogs, toads, salamanders and newts at risk of disappearing,” reports the Guardian. Can Venezuela’s tepui frog populations survive?
- The rapid extinction of Dominica’s mountain chicken frogs in just two decades — an ecological calamity — demonstrates how quickly wildlife can be destroyed, scientists say. (Guardian)