Monday, July 16, 2018
Monday, July 9, 2018
To call it a landslide would be an understatement.
After two previous failed presidential bids, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, dominated Mexico’s July 1 elections, securing 53 percent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Institute which certified the vote Sunday.
Not only that but his five-year-old political party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), now controls both houses of Congress and at least five governorships.
Post-victory, AMLO faces a laundry list of challenges to bring campaign promises to fruition – ones that will not only impact Mexico’s future, but also that of the entire region.
The question on everybody’s mind is Mexico’s relationship with the United States, particularly regarding immigration and renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), wrote the Hill.
Lopez Obrador was an opponent of NAFTA back in the 1990s when it went into effect, and some worry that his hard-left ideology will influence the tenor of negotiations.
“We’re very concerned about having a situation like Venezuela just south of the border,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Hill.
But others say Lopez Obrador is a pragmatist and will work to save the deal without compromising Mexico’s standing on the global stage, wrote Jonah Shepp for New York magazine. After all, three-quarters of Mexico’s exports are to the US, though only about half that total is covered by NAFTA, Bloomberg reported.
On the immigration front, AMLO is under pressure to halt the flow of migrants from Central and South America through Mexico toward the US, wrote Vox. Tough border controls and family separation at the American border have placed Lopez Obrador in an adversarial position with US President Donald Trump over the issue.
Instead of bending to the Trump administration, Lopez Obrador has said he’ll turn inward to fight corruption, rampant violence and migration, and invest heavily in local infrastructure and social programs.
He says he’ll be able to do so without busting the budget by trimming government salaries and recovering money lost to corruption, but details of those plans remain unclear, Vanda Felbab-Brown wrote for the Brookings Institution.
There are signs, however, that AMLO isn’t just another fast-talking populist.
On Friday, he announced a plan for negotiating peace in the nation’s drug war, including amnesty or reduced jail time for foot soldiers who admit guilt and reparations for some victims, Reuters reported. AMLO hopes the plan will help provide paths to employment for youth caught up in the drug trade, stemming violence and migration in the process.
He reportedly also had a cordial phone call with President Trump after the election, and said he’s determined not to rock the boat: “We are not going to get into fights,” he told Mexico’s Televisa TV network, according to Vox.
With his broad electoral mandate, AMLO will have some flexibility to experiment with policies and his relationships with other leaders, and “might still prove to be a transformational figure,” Leon Krauze wrote for the Washington Post.
But, he added, “the question persists: Where will Mexico turn next if its new president fails to work his magic?”
Thursday, July 5, 2018
The Law’s Long Arm
A Chilean court found eight retired soldiers guilty of murdering popular folk singer Victor Jara more than 40 years after his killing in 1973.
A ninth person was convicted as an accessory to the crime, the BBC reported.
The eight former military officers were sentenced to 15 years each on the murder charges and three more years for kidnapping, while the ninth officer received a sentence of five years.
Famous for his protest songs and a member of Chile’s communist party, Jara was arrested and tortured the day after General Augusto Pinochet ousted socialist President Salvador Allende in a military coup.
Because he was arrested along with some 5,000 others, there were many survivors who witnessed his interrogation and torture at the sports stadium in Santiago.
His body was found riddled with 44 bullets a few days later.
After decades of foot-dragging, Chile has been racing to address the crimes of Pinochet’s dictatorship before the deaths of witnesses, victims, and the accused makes doing so impossible, Reuters noted.
Monday, July 2, 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Revising the Future
Right-wing candidate Iván Duque trounced his leftist rival to win the runoff vote in Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday.
Colombia’s election authority said Duque won 54 percent of the popular vote, while former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro won 41.8 percent, NBC News reported. Another 4.2 percent of voters cast blank ballots, a popular form of political protest in Colombia.
In an election that pitted hard-right against hard-left, Duque had campaigned on a pro-business platform promising lower taxes and a stronger military – and vowed to amend the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that won his predecessor the Nobel Peace Prize.
With the support of many Colombians, Duque argued that the peace deal wrongly allows the former rebels to avoid prosecution for alleged war crimes. Others say tampering with the deal, which has already shown signs of fraying, could result in a resumption of fighting.
Though he won’t become president, Petro was the first leftist candidate to reach the runoff stage in Colombia’s modern history, NBC noted.
Saturday, June 16, 2018