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LANR [November 13, 2023]: Argentina’s Presidential Candidates Clash Ahead of Vote

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Argentina’s Presidential Candidates Clash Ahead of Vote

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Argentina’s Presidential Candidates Clash Ahead of Vote alt_text LATIN AMERICA NEWS ROUND-UP ARGENTINA’S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CLASH AHEAD OF VOTE CEPR has launched two newsletters in recent weeks, one on Haiti and one on Ecuador. You can sign-up for future editions as well as other newsletters here. Brazil and Southern Cone Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Falls to a Five-Year Low. New York Times . Reuters Economists warn electing far-right Milei would spell ‘devastation’ for Argentina. The Guardian Argentina’s presidential candidates clash ahead of pivotal poll. Financial Times Argentina pollsters read tea leaves with presidential election 'wide open'. Reuters Chile president calls for referendum on new constitution proposal drafted by conservative councilors. AP Northern Andean Region With elections coming and relaxed sanctions, Venezuela is set to raise social spending. Reuters Colombia passes ambitious ‘junk food law’ to tackle lifestyle diseases. The Guardian Western Andean Region Peru Minister Quits After Failing to Deliver Biden-Boluarte Meeting. Bloomberg Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean In Mexico, Surveillance Orders That Read Like a Political Power List. New York Times Thousands in Honduras march in anti-government protest. Reuters More Bukele critics join effort seeking to nullify El Salvador leader's candidacy for reelection. AP Why ordinarily quiet Panama has erupted in deadly protests. Washington Post Kenya says it won't deploy police to fight gangs in Haiti until they receive training and funding. AP President Biden isn’t listening to Haitians. He should before it’s too late. Miami Herald Region: Trade, Security, Economy and Integration LatAm, Caribbean progress in fighting hunger, though COVID-19 impacts remain -UN. Reuters BRAZIL AND SOUTHERN CONE [CONTENTS] Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon Falls to a Five-Year Low Manuela Andreoni. New York Times. November 9, 2023 Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil fell to a five-year low, the country’s National Institute of Space Research announced on Thursday, a sign that Brazil, which has the biggest share of tropical forest in the world, was making progress on its pledge to halt all deforestation by the end of the decade. The institute reported that 3,500 square miles had been clear-cut between August 2022 and July 2023, a 22.3 percent decrease from the same period a year earlier. The decline in tree loss is estimated to have reduced the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 percent. Brazil is the world’s sixth largest emitter, by some measures. “Behind this was a political decision,” Marina Silva, Brazil’s environment minister, said on Thursday at a news conference. “We are changing the image of the country when we change this reality.” The announcement was an encouraging sign that local policies could change the trajectory of global forest loss. The world lost 10.2 million acres of primary forest in 2022, a 10 percent increase from the year before, according to an annual survey by the World Resources Institute. Brazil accounted for more than 40 percent of the destruction recorded. The results were announced almost a year after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in January. He said in his October 2022 victory speech that Brazil was “ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis.” Two-thirds of the deforestation happened before Mr. Lula came into office, the government said. Under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation rates climbed to a 15-year high as Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration loosened environmental protection policies. Environmental fines in the Amazon more than doubled under Mr. Lula, the government reported, as his administration sought to rebuild the forest’s protection policies. Almost all of the deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is illegal, mostly the result of land grabbing and farmers’ replacing trees with pasture. Brazil isn’t the only country making progress in the region. Colombia, which has a tenth of the Amazon rainforest, announced on Tuesday that deforestation rates there had fallen by 70 percent in the first nine months of the year. But El Niño, the climate pattern that has helped cause a historic drought fueling major wildfires in the region, may jeopardize some of the progress in the region, the environment ministers of both countries acknowledged. Wildfires have consumed more than 18,000 square miles of the Brazilian Amazon in the first nine months of the year, an area twice the size of Vermont. More than a third of fires raging in the Brazilian Amazon are destroying old-growth forests, Ms. Silva said. “It’s a demonstration that the climate change is already impacting the forest,” she added. _______________________________ Lisandra Paraguassu. Reuters. November 10, 2023 BRASILIA, Nov 10 (Reuters) - A plan to recover degraded pastures in farm powerhouse Brazil will be officially announced as government policy and presented at the COP-28 climate summit in Dubai by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, an official said. The plan, which is being devised by the Agriculture Ministry, has been submitted to Lula for approval, Carlos Augustin, special advisor to Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro, told Reuters. Lula is expected to formally announce it on Nov. 22, ahead of the summit in the following week. The timing coincides with efforts by Brazil, also the largest global producer and exporter of sugar, coffee and orange juice, and a top supplier of chicken, to improve its environment record as the country braces for new EU regulations banning deforestation-linked commodities. The new policy aims at giving farmers financial incentives to buy or lease degraded land, most of which is currently used for low-tech cattle ranching, Augustin said. As part of the initiative, development bank BNDES could set up a fund to attract foreign capital, which in turn could be directed to land recovery efforts. "We have millions of hectares of land that are degraded, unproductive, that we can recover," Lula said during a meeting with soybean crusher lobby Abiove this week. Soybean and beef production in Brazil, the world's biggest supplier of both, is frequently associated with deforestation in endangered biomes like the Amazon and the Cerrado. According to Augustin, Brazil has 200 million hectares of land dedicated to livestock farming, and 200 million head of cattle, a low average. While some livestock farming is more productive, much of this land is practically unused. "If you double this average, you have 100 million hectares for farming with the same livestock production," he said. The government's proposal should bolster overall land productivity in the country, avoiding the need to expand land use and allowing Brazil to produce more food on the already available areas. According to Augustin, the administration wants farmers to invest in soil recovery, use of biological inputs, promote no-till farming and other sustainable techniques to be eligible for subsidized loans under the policy. As Brazilian food importers, Japan, South Korea, China and Saudi Arabia have shown interest backing investments of this type. "It's also a question of food security. The world is interested in increasing food production." _______________________________ Economists warn electing far-right Milei would spell ‘devastation’ for Argentina Uki Goñi and Tom Phillips. The Guardian. November 8, 2023 The election of the radical rightwing economist Javier Milei as president of Argentina would probably inflict further economic “devastation” and social chaos on the South American country, a group of more than 100 leading economists has warned. In an open letter, published ahead of Argentina’s crunch 19 November election, the economists said they understood the “deep-seated desire for economic stability” among voters, given Argentina’s frequent financial crises and recurring bouts of very high inflation. Four in 10 citizens currently live in poverty and annual inflation is close to 140% – a crisis Milei has vowed to fix by defeating his rival, Argentina’s finance minister, Sergio Massa, and taking dramatic measures such abolishing the central bank and dollarizing the economy. “However, while apparently simple solutions may be appealing, they are likely to cause more devastation in the real world in the short run, while severely reducing policy space in the long run,” warned the letter, whose signatories include influential economists such as France’s Thomas Piketty, India’s Jayati Ghosh, the Serbian-American Branko Milanović and Colombia’s former finance minister José Antonio Ocampo. The letter said Milei’s proposals – while presented as “a radical departure from traditional economic thinking” – were actually “rooted in laissez-faire economics” and “fraught with risks that make them potentially very harmful for the Argentine economy and the Argentine people”. On the campaign trail, Milei – a self-described anarcho-capitalist – has brandished a chainsaw to symbolize his desire to slash subsidies and drastically reduce state expenditure on social programmes. He has also repeatedly claimed “taxes are theft” and called the “social justice” programmes they finance an “aberration”. “The state was invented by the devil, God’s system is the free market,” he has said. But in their letter the economists warned that “a major reduction in government spending would increase already high levels of poverty and inequality, and could result in significantly increased social tensions and conflict.” “Javier Milei’s dollarization and fiscal austerity proposals overlook the complexities of modern economies, ignore lessons from historical crises, and open the door for accentuating already severe inequalities,” they wrote. Ghosh, a development economist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said she and the letter’s other two co-authors, Piketty and Milanović, worried Milei’s policies “would be deeply damaging for Argentina and very unfortunate for the entire continent”. “This is not just the social chaos that could be generated by extreme right positions but also the economic chaos that would ensue from a decline in both public revenues and public spending,” Ghosh added. “Argentinians are going to vote in an election where there are these very tough choices. But a libertarian solution that vilifies the public sector will only add to the suffering.” With less than a fortnight until one of the most important elections in Argentina’s recent history, the election looks too close to call. Milei was widely considered the frontrunner before last month’s first round, although he unexpectedly finished second with 29.9% of votes to Massa’s 36.6%. Since then, however, the eccentric economist has been endorsed by two prominent conservatives: the third-placed candidate, Patricia Bullrich, and the former president Mauricio Macri. Fuel shortages have also undermined Massa’s campaign. Juan Cruz Díaz, the managing director of the Buenos Aires-based consulting firm Cefeidas Group, said that as they entered the final straight the two candidates needed to spin the election in different directions. Milei needed to focus the debate on the economic failings of his opponent’s Peronist movement which has held power for 16 of the past 20 years. Massa meanwhile needed to concentrate on Milei’s volatile character and convince voters not to support an “extravagant, angry, crazy” loose cannon such as his rival. “He will try to show him as emotionally unstable and a violent and aggressive and extremely polarizing and divisive figure,” said Díaz, who was not sure such efforts would be enough given Argentina’s economic woes. “If you ask me, Milei has an edge.” Milei, who bursts into uncontrollable fits of rage at the mere mention of the 20th-century English philosopher and economist John Maynard Keynes, is unlikely to be impressed by the open letter. Milei considers Keynes, who challenged the idea that free markets could provide full employment and economic growth, a Marxist. A new podcast by the Spanish newspaper El País interviewed one of Milei’s former neighbours who, in an attempt to make small talk, mentioned Keynes in the lift. “But you are a communist piece of shit,” Milei reputedly shouted at the woman all the way up to the 10th floor. Milei has also attacked Piketty in the past, calling him a “turd” and “a criminal disguised as an intellectual”. _______________________________ Argentina’s presidential candidates clash ahead of pivotal poll Michael Stott. Financial Times. November 12, 2023 Argentina’s two presidential candidates presented starkly different visions for the struggling South American nation during a combative final debate that could prove decisive before a run-off election next Sunday. Peronist economy minister Sergio Massa pledged to form a national unity government and build bridges to tackle Argentina’s high levels of poverty and inflation rate, which has hit 138 per cent, while libertarian outsider Javier Milei focused on attacking his rival’s performance in office and reiterated his promise to abolish the central bank as “the origin of inflation”. With polls showing the candidates almost neck-and-neck, the televised debate offered a final chance to swing voters before an election that will decide whether the nationalist, state-centric Peronists remain in power or give way to a populist outsider with virtually no political or administrative experience who has pledged to adopt the US dollar as Argentina’s currency. Milei, an economist and television pundit who won elected office less than two years ago, said he knew how to make an economy grow and create jobs and denied that he would slash pensions and push state workers out of their jobs as he cut spending. “A different Argentina is impossible with the same people as always,” he said, repeating his campaign attacks on the country’s political class. “We have come to offer you the model of freedom. We want you to have a ray of hope.” While Milei frequently went on the offensive and at times appeared nervous and uncomfortable, Massa opted for a more measured stance, emphasising his long political career and stressing his desire to build consensus and respect different points of view. “I’m going to give you some advice: don’t get aggressive because what people expect is answers,” Massa told his opponent in the opening section of the debate, stressing that he would retain social safety nets, protect pensions and ensure education and health remained publicly funded. Massa also sought to associate Milei with the unpopular centre-right presidency of Mauricio Macri from 2015 to 2019, suggesting that Milei’s programme was similar, and reminded the audience that Milei had worked for more than a decade for one of the country’s most powerful business people, billionaire airport operator Eduardo Eurnekian. Milei was unsparing in his response. “With you as economy minister, you destroyed our incomes,” he told Massa. “I am going to end the central bank, which is the . . . way in which you rob us. In fact, the delinquent government in which you participate is robbing us of $90bn. Whose life do you want to carry on screwing up?” Milei sent shockwaves through Argentine politics by placing first in August’s nationwide primaries with an upstart campaign that pledged to take a chainsaw to the state. But Massa edged past him in last month’s first-round election, although not by a strong enough of a margin to win the presidency outright. Patricia Bullrich, the mainstream centre-right candidate who was eliminated last month, and Macri have both backed Milei. But Massa taunted Milei that neither of his two newfound political allies turned up to support him at the debate, which was held at the University of Buenos Aires. _______________________________ Argentina pollsters read tea leaves with presidential election 'wide open' Nicolás Misculin and Horacio Soria. Reuters. November 10, 2023 BUENOS AIRES, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Argentina's pollsters say the Nov. 19 presidential run-off between radical outsider Javier Milei and government economy chief Sergio Massa could go either way, although Milei has a slight advantage. But they are cautious about making hard predictions on the back of two bruising election surprises. The election to decide the next president of Argentina, one of the most consequential in a generation, pits Milei, a libertarian economist proposing to dollarize the economy and slash state spending, against the candidate for the Peronists who have dominated politics for decades but are being blamed for triple-digit inflation and a looming recession. Most of the latest polls show Milei with a slight edge over Massa. However, pollsters Reuters spoke to said it was a "wide open" race and that either candidate could triumph. "If the elections were today, Milei would win," predicted Shila Vilker, director of consultancy Trespuntozero, whose analysis shows the far-right candidate ahead by a narrow margin. "But one has to consider what happened in the primary election and in the general election: movements of four or five points in the last week, or even in the last three to four days." In the first-round vote last month, Massa overturned pre-election estimates to beat Milei by almost seven points. However, Milei has since won the backing of third-place finisher Patricia Bullrich, while a painful shortage of petrol and diesel in early November may weigh on Massa. A recent poll from Aresco shows Milei with a four-point lead, while another from the University of San Andres showed the libertarian with 40% compared to 34% for Massa. One by Atlas Intel poll also gave Milei a narrow lead. Local pollster Analogias showed Massa ahead - but by less than three points, cut in half from his predicted lead by the same pollster a week earlier. Key will be winning over middle-ground voters from the first-round losers, especially those of conservative Bullrich, who has publicly backed Milei, but whose coalition is deeply divided. She won nearly 24% of the vote in the first round. Lautaro Díaz, 35, who intends to vote for Milei, said Bullrich's backing had made the "possibility of (Milei) winning more real." Massa, meanwhile, has looked to win over voters by pledging to protect the generous social welfare schemes that form the backbone of Peronist policymaking. Milei's "chainsaw" plan to cut back the state would put these at jeopardy at a time when many rely on them, he has warned. "I am going to vote for Massa because I believe that he is today the one with a vision for the country that seems coherent and that responds to the needs of the people," said 21-year-old Matteo Bettini. Federico Aurelio, head of pollster Aresco, said the race was wide open, with plenty of time for skeptical voters to change their minds. "There is a very significant proportion of the electorate that is going to look for what they consider the 'lesser evil'," he said, adding that the key would be if voters focused on Milei's volatility or Massa's perceived failure with the economy. "Whoever can make the vote a referendum on the other one will win," he said. "That is the paradox of this election.". _______________________________ Chile president calls for referendum on new constitution proposal drafted by conservative councilors EVA VERGARA AND DANIEL POLITI. AP. November 7, 2023 SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chilean President Gabriel Boric on Tuesday received the new constitution draft and called for a national plebiscite next month so citizens can decide whether the new charter will replace the country’s dictatorship-era constitution. Chileans, who in September of last year resoundingly rejected a proposed constitution that had been written by a left-leaning convention, will decide on Dec. 17 whether to accept the new document that was largely written by conservative councilors. “The definitive time for citizens has begun, and now it is their voice and their decision that truly matter,” Boric said during a formal ceremony in Congress to formally deliver the document and sign the decree that calls for the vote. After Chileans rejected the proposal for what many characterized as one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, they must now decide whether to vote for a document that some warn goes to the other extreme. One of the most controversial articles in the proposed new document says that “the law protects the life of the unborn,” with a slight change in wording from the current document that some have warned could make abortion fully illegal in the South American country. Chilean law currently allows the interruption of pregnancies for three reasons: rape, if the fetus is unable to survive and risk to the life of the mother. Another article in the proposed document that has sparked controversy says prisoners who suffer a terminal illness and aren’t deemed to be a danger to society at large can be granted house arrest. Members of the left-wing opposition have said the measure could end up benefiting those who have been convicted of crimes against humanity during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). The new proposed document, which says Chile is a social and democratic state that “promotes the progressive development of social rights” through state and private institutions, is also being opposed by many local leaders who say it scraps tax on houses that are primary residences, a vital source of state revenue that is paid by the wealthiest. Boric’s government has vowed to remain neutral in the debate over the new proposed text although several of the administration’s allies have already said they oppose the new document. The Constitutional Council approved the proposed document, which has 17 chapters and 216 articles, in a 33-17 vote late last month. Boric called on citizens Tuesday to weigh whether the new draft addresses the country’s major issues and challenges and to “decide if this is a proposal that unites us.” Boric said Tuesday that if the document is accepted, his government will work on its implementation and if rejected, it will focus on “continuing to work and govern for the well-being of the people.” Polls have suggested the new document has little chance of being approved, although as much as a third of the population appears to be undecided. If the new charter is rejected, the Pinochet-era constitution will remain in effect. The president of the Constitutional Council, right-wing Beatriz Hevia, delivered the document to Boric Tuesday and expressed optimism that “we can close the constitutional chapter” and start working on building “a more prosperous and united Chile” on Dec. 18. Chileans will head to the polls a little more than a year after 62% voted to reject a proposed constitution that characterized Chile as a plurinational state, established autonomous Indigenous territories and prioritized the environment and gender parity. NORTHERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS]  With elections coming and relaxed sanctions, Venezuela is set to raise social spending Mayela Armas and Deisy Buitrago. Reuters. November 9, 2023 CARACAS, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The Venezuelan government will be in a strong position to increase social spending to woo voters in 2024 as relief from some U.S. sanctions allows more oil income to flow into government coffers, analysts say. The United States in October temporarily rolled back some oil industry sanctions and lifted a ban on bond trading sanctions in exchange for an electoral deal between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela's opposition. Washington has conditioned an extension of the relief on the release of political prisoners and what it says are "wrongfully detained" Americans, as well as the lifting of public office bans on people including the winner of the opposition's primary nominating contest. The relaxed sanctions could lead to $1.4 billion in additional income for Venezuela over the next six months, analyst firm Sintesis Financiera said in a report. The additional oil income is expected to arrive gradually, partly though the redirection of exports. One oil industry source told Reuters they expect export income to grow by 40% per month. Under the previous sanctions, state-run oil company PDVSA had to sell to Asian markets via intermediaries, a strategy that cut into government profits. "The increase in income will be gradual," said Jose Vielma, a ruling party lawmaker and member of the finance committee for the government-allied national assembly. "The contribution will go to social spending and services." The communications ministry and ruling party PSUV did not respond to requests for further comment on spending plans. The increased income will almost certainly lead to greater financial laxity "given the need to improve popular support for the government ahead of elections in the second half of 2024," said Sintesis Financiera. The government has traditionally increased social spending, public sector salaries, food distribution and housing construction projects ahead of elections, though national income has been limited over the last five years because of the sanctions and problems at PDVSA. SALARY INCREASES? If the sanctions relaxations continue next year and oil production goes up, the additional income could reach $7 billion in 2024, consulting firm Ecoanalitica said. "In electoral periods clientelist spending increases, and it's possible we'll see workers getting bonuses or improvements in the distribution of food," said Venezuelan political consultant and analyst Oswaldo Ramirez. "The challenge for the government is to convert that into votes... The ruling party has lost votes in part because of delays in salary increases and pensions," he said. The government has already this year launched new social programs - which it calls "missions" - for young people and women, the first since 2017. Such social programs distribute food, houses and even goods like motorcycle parts, cellphones and computer tablets. Opposition figures have criticized the missions for more than a decade, saying they are a poor response to the destruction of Venezuela's economy by the ruling party, amount to "extortion by hunger," and that public funds could be better employed raising public sector salaries and pensions. Economist Jose Guerra, a former opposition lawmaker and head of the non-governmental Venezuelan Finance Observatory, said public sector raises may still be too costly a prospect. "The government will spend but not at the levels it did before," he said. More income may also allow Maduro to revisit orthodox but insufficient inflation-fighting policies that have led to lower spending and less availability of credit, even as annual inflation reaches more than 300%. Public spending has fallen to 15% of gross domestic product from 40% a decade ago, according to economic analysts. That has led teachers, nurses and other public workers to march for higher salaries as their wages shrink. Some 2 million public workers earn between $45 and $60 per month, while private sector salaries are often more than $200, according to the Venezuelan Finance Observatory. The central bank should mint fewer bolivares if there is higher oil income, several analysts said, estimating prices could fall in what remains of the year and take inflation down to 250% year-on-year. _______________________________ Colombia passes ambitious ‘junk food law’ to tackle lifestyle diseases Weronika Strzyżyńska. The Guardian. November 9, 2023 A new law in Colombia making it one of the first countries in the world to explicitly tax ultra-processed food has been hailed by campaigners and health experts who say it could set an example for other countries. After years of campaigning, the “junk food law” came into force this month and a levy will be introduced gradually. An additional tax on affected foods will begin at 10% immediately, rising to 15% next year and reaching 20% in 2025. “Countries around the world have been implementing health taxes, for example by taxing tobacco or sugary drinks, but few have extended them to processed foods,” said Franco Sassi, international health policy and economics professor at London’s Imperial College Business School. “Colombia’s model is more expansive than what we have seen before and could serve as an example to other countries.” The tax targets ultra-processed products defined as industrially manufactured ready-to-eat foods, as well as those high in salt and saturated fat, such as chocolates or crisps. Sassi said some compromises had been made with the food industry, such as excluding certain processed foods, for example sausages, from the tax. The Colombian diet is high in sodium, which has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart failure, which account for almost a quarter of deaths annually. The average Colombian consumes 12g of salt a day – the highest rate in Latin America and among the highest in the world. Nearly a third of adults in the country have high blood pressure. Other non-communicable diseases linked to diet and obesity, such as diabetes, are also problematic, with more than a third of deaths attributed to diabetes occurring among the under-70s. Non-communicable diseases account for an estimated 76% of all deaths in Colombia. “We want to avoid following the path of rich industrialised nations like the United States, where diet-linked diseases are a big problem,” said Beatriz Champagne, executive director of the Coalition for Americas’ Health, a Latin American advocacy group. “In terms of policies, Latin America is ahead of the curve.” Sassi said: “What is remarkable about Colombia is that the tax policy is aligned with front-of-packaging labels.” The country, following its neighbours Ecuador and Peru, is introducing mandatory health warnings on foods with high content of unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar or saturated fat. “The tax is applied to the same products that have the health warning label,” said Sassi. “This creates an information and a financial incentive for the consumer to avoid these products.” Campaigners say they met robust opposition from the food and beverage industries in the years leading up to the law being enacted. Esperanza Cerón Villaquirán from Educar Consumidores, an organisation which has been campaigning for health tax and product labelling since 2015, said: “Our team suffered all kinds of attacks and censorship prohibited in our country. “The effort we invested was not only institutional but personal. We never let our guard down and we persisted.” Cerón Villaquirán described the years of hard work leading up to the law being enacted as similar to a “difficult birth”. Critics of the new tax said it will worsen Colombia’s struggle with inflation. “The cost of living crisis and the major contribution that food prices make to inflation mean it’s very difficult in most countries to talk about introducing new taxes,” Sassi said. “But it’s possible to work within the framework of existing taxes to create incentives, for example by reducing VAT on healthier foods to subsidise increased tax on unhealthier options.” “Ultimately, the objective of industrialised food production is not nutrition but making money,” said Champagne. “It means that producers don’t care if consumers eat food that will make them ill or make them die.” WESTERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS] Peru Minister Quits After Failing to Deliver Biden-Boluarte Meeting Marcelo Rochabrun. Bloomberg. November 6, 2023 Peru’s foreign minister resigned after President Dina Boluarte failed to secure a private meeting with her US counterpart during a trip to Washington. Boluarte obtained permission to travel to the US capital last week in part to hold bilateral talks with President Joe Biden. The meeting, however, never appeared on the White House schedule and the Peruvian foreign ministry only released photos of the two leaders walking hand-in-hand. The foreign ministry said in a statement Friday the meeting with Biden didn’t take place because “time was short.” Ana Cecilia Gervasi stepped down as foreign minister on Monday, according to local radio outlet RPP News. Prime Minister Alberto Otarola officially announced Gervasi’s resignation after the report. Peruvian presidents need congressional approval to travel abroad. Boluarte recently visited the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis and Germany to meet with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The latter trip raised questions in Lima about why she didn’t meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is her peer as head of government. MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN [CONTENTS] In Mexico, Surveillance Orders That Read Like a Political Power List Maria Abi-Habib, Natalie Kitroeff and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega. New York Times. November 10, 2023 A leading presidential candidate. The head of the country’s customs agency. At least three borough mayors in the capital. It’s a list that includes powerful members of Mexico’s government. And, court records show, they were all recently under surveillance by the Mexico City attorney general’s office. At least 14 written orders reviewed by The New York Times show that the attorney general directed Mexico’s largest telecommunications company to hand over the phone and text records, as well as location data, of more than a dozen prominent Mexican officials and politicians. Telcel, the telecommunications company, acknowledged in a court filing reviewed by The Times that it had received the orders and handed over the records, which spanned from 2021 until earlier this year. The surveillance included both opponents of the governing Morena party and its allies. The orders from the Mexico City attorney general’s office say the information was being sought in connection with investigations into kidnappings and disappearances. Yet the attorney general’s office says it has no such criminal investigations on file, and it “categorically denies” demanding the phone records of the officials and politicians named in the orders. “This institution does not spy on political figures or any person,” the attorney general’s office said. “On the contrary, it investigates exclusively for legal purposes.” Despite the denials, a federal judge said this year that the Mexico City attorney general’s office had indeed requested that Telcel hand over the records. The judge’s assessment came in a lawsuit against the attorney general brought by a Mexico City borough mayor who had been named in all 14 written orders. Many of the people named in the orders say the real reason they were singled out was because they are political targets — victims of a larger, systemic abuse of power. But his administration has employed some of the same tactics it condemned. Under Mr. López Obrador’s tenure, the country’s military has repeatedly used the notorious spyware known as Pegasus to spy on journalists, human rights advocates and even senior members of his own administration. “The justice system is being used to target politicians,” said Santiago Taboada Cortina, the borough mayor who filed the lawsuit. A member of the political opposition, Mr. Taboada has announced plans to run for mayor in elections next year. “What is not normal is that these things happen, that as a result of your aspirations, you have the government breathing down your neck,” he said. In emergency cases where a life is endangered — such as kidnappings — Mexican law allows investigators to immediately obtain phone records without a warrant. However, prosecutors are still required to get a warrant from a federal judge within 48 hours of approaching telecommunications companies, which the attorney general’s office did not do. In the court filings, lawyers for Telcel said they never received a warrant from a federal judge for any of the requested phone records. Telcel did not respond to requests for comment. “The president pledged that no one would be spied upon in this government,” said Higinio Martínez Miranda, a senior senator from the governing Morena party who represents Mexico State. His cellphone data from October 2021 to January 2022 was obtained by the Mexico City attorney general’s office, according to Telcel’s court filings. “It is regrettable, condemnable,” he said. Mr. Martínez denied any wrongdoing and said he had no idea he was under investigation until he was informed by journalists for The Times. Mr. Taboada, the borough mayor, was monitored in 2021, but it was more than a year later when he was first tipped off to the surveillance after a friend in the Mexico City attorney general’s office told him that they were investigating him, he said. Alarmed by the news, Mr. Taboada filed a lawsuit to force the Mexico City’s attorney general and Telcel to respond to the accusation. In court filings related to the lawsuit, Telcel acknowledged that it had provided Mr. Taboada’s phone records to the Mexico City attorney general in response to 14 orders tied to kidnappings, and to the attorney general in Colima state for one order. Tens of other phone numbers were also listed in the orders, Telcel said, including those for powerful figures within Morena, the governing party, and some of its opponents. In court filings, Colima’s attorney general said it had requested Mr. Taboada’s phone records from Telcel after an anonymous person submitted his phone number, and others, in connection to a local kidnapping case. The Colima prosecutors said that line of inquiry had not turned up anything relevant and they had since destroyed the phone records. In the same lawsuit, the Mexico City attorney general denied that it had requested Mr. Taboada’s phone records. Mr. Taboada denied any involvement in the kidnappings. The actions of the Mexico City attorney general’s office were illegal, according to two legal scholars. Another expert said they may not necessarily be illegal but were a clear abuse of power. “The system is easily gamed. Prosecutors can either invent investigative files or they can use open investigative files to obtain data from anyone they want without any judicial oversight,” said Luis Fernando García Muñoz, the executive director of R3D, a Mexican digital rights group. “It’s definitely a system that is designed for abuse and that is being abused.” Telecommunications companies are legally expected to collaborate with the authorities, “but they also have the ability to push back on abusive requests,” said Mr. García. But these companies rely on licenses from the government and often comply more than they should, perhaps fearing repercussions, he said. It is not the first time an attorney general’s office may have misused its power. In 2016, Mexico’s federal attorney general’s office secretly requested the phone records for a human rights lawyer, an investigative journalist and a forensic anthropologist while they were investigating the massacre of 193 people, arguing that the women were linked to a kidnapping probe. The monitoring ordered by prosecutors “sends the message that they can use the criminal justice system against defenders, against journalists, against independent experts, against opponents,” said Ana Lorena Delgadillo, the lawyer who was targeted in 2016. “It sends the message that they can do it — and nothing is going to happen to them.” In the more recent case, Telcel also handed over the phone data of Horacio Duarte, a Morena ally who led Mexico’s customs agency at the time in 2022. The conservative senator Lilly Téllez, until recently a leading presidential candidate for the opposition, and Alessandra Rojo de la Vega, a former congresswoman and a vocal opponent of Claudia Sheinbaum, a former mayor of Mexico City and the governing party’s candidate in next year’s presidential election, were also monitored, according to the written orders and court filings reviewed by The Times. The Mexico City attorney general accused Ms. Rojo de la Vega of electoral crimes last year, which Ms. Rojo de la Vega said was political retaliation for opposing Ms. Sheinbaum’s policies. A judge later dismissed the case. A spokesman for Ms. Sheinbaum, who was mayor during the time that the phone records were requested, declined to comment. Ms. Rojo de la Vega, angered about the monitoring, said such surveillance should instead be used to investigate real criminals. “That should be the job of the prosecutor’s office, but they are busy persecuting people who make them uncomfortable,” she said. Ms. Téllez and Ms. Rojo de la Vega, whose cellphone data was requested seven times each in 2021 and 2022, denied any involvement in any kidnapping cases. Prosecutors also ordered the phone data of Dolores Igareda, a senior official within the Supreme Court, and Ricardo Amezcua, a member of Mexico City’s judicial council, the court filings and orders show. They did not respond to requests for comment. Ernestina Godoy Ramos, the Mexico City attorney general, is expected to be reappointed sometime later this year. _______________________________ Thousands in Honduras march in anti-government protest Gustavo Palencia. Reuters. November 11, 2023 TEGUCIGALPA, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Thousands of people took to the streets of the Honduran capital on Saturday in anti-government protests against leftist President Xiomara Castro, angered by attempts to engineer what they say is an unconstitutional power grab. In a demonstration sponsored by opposition parties, protesters in the Central American country accused the Castro government of seeking to transform Honduras by hand picking public officials. "We are here in defense of democracy because we do not want a dictatorship in Honduras like those in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, which is what the leftist government of President Xiomara Castro is leading us to," David Chávez, president of the right-wing National Party told reporters on Saturday. Roughly 10,000 people gathered in Tegucigalpa, the capital, according to a Reuters eyewitness, in a march that ended without incident. An official estimate from the Honduran authorities was not immediately provided. The opposition protest was sparked after the ruling party elected a new interim chief prosecutor on November 1, without holding a congressional vote. Lawmakers with Castro's Liberty and Refoundation Party (Libre) used a committee vote where their members make up a majority to secure the nomination, even though they represent a minority in the Congress overall. The opposition claims the move was unconstitutional. The Honduran constitution stipulates that 86 votes from the 128-member unicameral legislature are needed to elect the attorney general, but it also gives the committee the power to pick an interim chief prosecutor if the post is vacant. Castro, who was sworn in as Honduras' first woman president in January 2022 and describes herself as a democratic socialist, has sought to strengthen diplomatic relations with the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. _______________________________ More Bukele critics join effort seeking to nullify El Salvador leader's candidacy for reelection YOLANDA MAGAÑA. AP. November 7, 2023 SAN SALVADOR -- As President Nayib Bukele seeks reelection, a growing number of voices are urging electoral authorities to reverse their acceptance of the popular leader's candidacy, arguing it is a clear violation of El Salvador's constitution. Bukele has gained the unwavering support of many in this Central American nation of 6.5 million people after his fierce crackdown on the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs halted what had been near-constant terror in their day-to-day lives. But many experts and international watchdog groups say that security has come at the expense of human rights and say Bukele's heavy-handed moves have slowly eaten away at the nation's already delicate democracy. They are calling for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to annul Bukele's candidacy in the February election, though the body already accepted him and have given no indication they might change course. Two lawyers, a citizen and another political party on Tuesday were the latest to ask for Bukele's candidacy to be annulled, joining similar petitions already filed by parties like the conservative Republican National Alliance. The appeals to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal argue that reelection is prohibited by the country's constitution. “It’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional,” said Salvador Enrique Anaya, among the lawyers to question Bukele’s candidacy. “At least seven constitutional provisions prohibit the immediate reelection of a president.” Despite clear term limits, a set of Supreme Court judges put in place by Bukele’s supporters in congress said in 2021 that it would be legal for the leader to seek reelection and ordered the electoral tribunal to allow it. For Bukele's many supporters it was welcome news, and “Bukele 2024” T-shirts and hats began popping up in markets in the capital, San Salvador. The president's critics say it was just the latest in a series of moves to consolidate his power and underlined the lack of effective checks and balances. Since taking office in 2019, Bukele has suspended constitutional rights indefinitely to fight gangs, imprisoning tens of thousands in a “mega-prison.” His government has gone after political opponents, activists, critics and journalists and heavily controlled messaging has been bolstered by an army of social media accounts reproducing government propaganda. While Bukele's critics are sounding alarms, the Biden administration has said little on the upcoming election. “There has to be a broad debate about the legality and legitimacy of the election, but it is a debate for Salvadorans,” Brian Nichols, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said ahead of a meeting with Bukele last month. Last week, in a 4-0 vote, with one abstention, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal approved Bukele's bid for the presidency, saying he and his vice presidential running mate, Félix Ulloa, met “the legal requirements” to run. Bukele celebrated the decision on X, formerly Twitter, writing: “Legally registered! And without any votes against.” On Monday, the four judges of the tribunal who voted to approve Bukele's candidacy reiterated that they will obey the 2021 Supreme Court resolution. _______________________________ Why ordinarily quiet Panama has erupted in deadly protests Andrea Salcedo. New York Times. November 8, 2023 PANAMA CITY — On the surface, the protests that have shaken Panama the past two weeks are about a government contract that allows a Canadian company to expand its copper mining operations here. But what’s at stake, all sides say, is a much larger question: What kind of country is this Central American isthmus going to be — one that preserves its natural riches or develops them? And if the answer is development, another question: Should a country that owes its existence to U.S. exploitation — Theodore Roosevelt broke it off from Colombia in 1903 so the United States could finish and control the Panama Canal — continue in 2023 to surrender its natural advantages to foreign investors? Two more protesters were killed Tuesday, authorities said, bringing the total during the demonstrations to at least four. The two, identified on social media as teachers, were at a barricade placed by “peaceful” protesters on the Pan-American Highway in Chame, some 50 miles southwest of the capital, police said, when a man stepped out of a car, produced a gun and opened fire. A suspect was taken into custody, police said. Authorities have not released the suspect’s name, but police said he’s an attorney who teaches at several universities. Supporters say the deal with Toronto-based First Quantum Minerals will fund thousands of jobs while paying the government at least $375 million per year — a boon for this country of 4.4 million, where the per capita GDP is less than $19,000. Mining engineer Roberto Cuevas, president of the Mining Chamber of Panama, an industry group, says it addresses a basic problem: The country has an abundance of mineral resources but lacks the investment to provide jobs to thousands of Panamanians. “It’s a resource that can bring a lot of good to the country if it’s well exploited,” he said. “It’s a resource that Panama needs.” Protesters disagree. Panama’s constitution declares all mineral deposits the property of the state, to be extracted only by concession. The contract, negotiated without the public’s knowledge, gives First Quantum the right to mine copper across a 32,000-acre expanse in the Donoso district on the country’s Caribbean coast for at least 20 years. “We have to eliminate mining from Panama at the root,” lawyer Cherly Santana said Sunday at a gathering on the Cinta Costera, an oceanside walkway a mile or so from the canal. “Our main resource is nature.” First Quantum Minerals did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Bonita To, its director of investor relations, said last week that the company was proud to contribute 8,000 jobs to the Panamanian economy and was committed to operating the mine in an “environmentally safe manner.” She called the Cobre Panama mine the largest private investment in the country’s history, and said it now accounts for nearly 5 percent of Panama’s GDP, makes up 75 percent of the country’s export goods and has created at least 40,000 jobs. “We believe in this project and its potential and welcome the opportunity to have constructive dialogue with the people of Panama about its future,” she said in a statement. The result? The largest protests here since the National Civic Crusade of 1987, when Panamanians put on white, took to the streets and banged pots and pans to protest the military dictatorship of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. Demonstrators now have shut down streets and vandalized businesses. Hundreds have been detained in clashes with police. At the height of the unrest, the Ministry of Education suspended school. Events celebrating The Fiestas Patrias, a three-day run of national holidays from Nov. 3 to 5, were postponed. President Laurentino Cortizo, whose government negotiated the contract, describes it as a problem he inherited. “When I took over the government in 2019,” he told Panamanians last month, First Quantum “was operating in our country exploiting copper and its associated minerals.” When the country’s Supreme Court in 2021 ruled the contract unconstitutional, he said, he had a choice: Close the mine and jeopardize jobs and the economy, or negotiate a new deal. “We made the right decision,” he said in a televised national address. “It wasn’t the easiest.” After “difficult and complex bargaining” over two years, he said, the sides reached an agreement that gives Panama “way better terms and conditions.” Those terms, he said, include 9,387 direct jobs, an annual payroll of $357 million and social security contributions of $161 million. Anti-corruption candidate wins Guatemala's presidency. Will he make it to his inauguration? When the contract was presented to the National Assembly in August, lawmaker Juan Diego Vasquez pushed for more debate. “For the first time, it became a space where the arguments were making it to national TV,” said longtime environmental activist Raisa Banfield, a former vice mayor of Panama City. “And when a lot of people listened to the environmental, climate, economic, judicial [and] technical arguments, they woke up.” Cuevas, of the mining chamber, says First Quantum has been working in Panama for 10 years, but it’s only now that the public has learned of its operations. “What this means,” he said, “is that this project hasn’t caused any negative effect.” The assembly approved the deal, and Cortizo signed it. “That was like the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Banfield said. “People are in the streets because they want a Panama without mining. We can’t give way like we’ve always done to international interests that want to control our resources.” Opponents aren’t interested in Cortizo’s better contract. Among its provisions, it allows First Quantum to make offers on land it deems necessary for its operations. If the owner declines the offer, the contract states, the company can ask the government to seize it on its behalf. “Throughout the entire contract you become aware that it’s redacted with a lot of protections and strengths for the company and many weaknesses and uncertainties for the Panamanian state,” Banfield said. “How could a government negotiate something like this?” 'Press freedom here' jailed; anti-corruption newspaper shuts down “Panamanians felt completely mocked,” said Conzuelo Hooker, a 24-year-old law student. Hooker is a member of Sal de las Redes — loosely, “Get off Social Media” — an organization founded by young activists to promote civic engagement in real life. It has helped organize protests. Now people of all ages and backgrounds, summoned by the children of those who stood up to Noriega in the 1980s, are jamming the streets of the capital and sea fences in Donoso. Their message: “Panamá vale más sin mineria” — “Panama is worth more without mining.” Protesters say the government should instead be promoting industries such as sustainable agriculture, fishing and tourism. A march to the National Assembly had the feel of a block party, with costumes — a pig, a rat — vendors selling shaved ice and participants swaying to “Patria” by Panama’s own Rubén Blades. “Panama’s gold is green,” read one sign. “Panama can’t be sold,” read another. A woman held a red umbrella bearing a hand-painted message: “To remove thieves from the streets, first we have to take them out of the government.” “This is a collective awakening because we went from being behind a screen complaining to going out and taking action,” said Serena Vamvas, 32. “It’s a historic moment.” Cortizo, hoping to appease the protesters, signed a moratorium last week on new mining concessions. It applies to 13 pending applications, but not to First Quantum, which already has its deal. Protesters are not appeased. It’s a “Band-Aid,” said Santana, the lawyer at the Cinta Costera. “It doesn’t solve anything.” Costa Rica, laid-back land of ‘pura vida,’ succumbing to drug violence The First Quantum contract is now before the Supreme Court, which could rule on its constitutionality as soon as next month. “If the court declares that the entire contract is unconstitutional,” former Supreme Court magistrate Jerónimo Mejía said, “First Quantum is left without a contract. I don’t think it will be easy for them to win in an international arbitration court.” One woman at the Cinta Costera is looking forward to a resolution. “I turn 40 today!” her sign read. “My wish is that the court rules.” _______________________________ Kenya says it won't deploy police to fight gangs in Haiti until they receive training and funding EMMANUEL IGUNZA and DÁNICA COTO. AP. November 9, 2023 NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenya’s government said Thursday that its police officers will not be deployed to Haiti until all conditions on training and funding are met in line with last month’s approval from the U.N Security Council to give the eastern African country command of a multinational mission to combat violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean country. Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security that “unless all resources are mobilized and availed, our troops will not leave the country.” He said U.N. member states are securing resources and have identified how funds will be mobilized and made available to Kenya for the mission. However, it was not immediately clear when the forces would be fully trained and funded to allow for deployment. Meanwhile, Haiti is reporting a fresh round of gang-related killings and kidnappings as it awaits help. On Wednesday, Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes said five of its employees were kidnapped in the capital, Port-au-Prince, forcing the agency to temporarily postpone all hearings. “The court hopes that the civil servants, who do not receive a salary that allows them to meet the financial demands of the kidnappers, will be quickly released,” it said in a statement. Also this week, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration said that nearly 2,500 people in the coastal town of Mariani located west of the capital were displaced by violence as gangs inltrate previously peaceful communities. Nearly 200,000 Haitians have now lost their homes to gangs who pillage neighborhoods operated by rivals in their quest to control more territory. Many of the displaced are now sleeping outside or in makeshift settlements that are crowded and extremely unsanitary. “In a country where security is not a priority for the government, each time you go out, you don’t know if you’re going to be shot at,” said Mario Volcy, a 40-year-old construction worker as he waited for a bus in Port-au-Prince. “These guys have machine guns in their hands. They could surprise you by doing something crazy and dumb.” Volcy travels from his hometown of Les Cayes, west of Port-au-Prince, to the capital on public transportation amid fears that he could be killed or kidnapped. He said bus fares have spiked because drivers now must pay gangs a “toll” for safe passage. More than 1,230 killings and 701 kidnappings were reported across Haiti from July 1 to Sept. 30, more than double the figure reported during the same period last year, according to the U.N. Gangs continue to overwhelm Haiti’s National Police, which remains understaffed and underfunded despite the international community supplying training and resources. In late October, two more police officers were killed, according to a police union, with a total of 32 officers slain so far this year. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry first requested the immediate deployment of foreign armed forces more than a year ago, but it wasn’t until early October that the U.N. Security Council voted to send a non-U.N. multinational force to Haiti that would be funded by voluntary contributions. But even if the Kenyan forces arrive, it won’t change much, said Pierre Espérance, executive director of the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network. “The biggest problem right now in Haiti is the absence of the government and rule of law, and also all key state institutions have collapsed, even the police,” he said. “How will the force be able to operate in Haiti if we don’t have a functional government?” Espérance also noted Haiti’s government has long been linked to gangs, compounding the problem. A spokesperson for the prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s not clear when exactly Kenya’s police would be deployed. In addition to waiting for training and funding, Kenya’s government is awaiting resolution of a local court case blocking the deployment. A judge was expected to rule Thursday on a petition filed by former presidential candidate, Ekuru Aukot, who argued the deployment is unconstitutional. However, the case was pushed back for the second time in less than a month because the judge is attending a training. The case is now scheduled to be heard on Nov. 16. Kenya’s Parliament also has to approve of the deployment. The country’s National Security Council petitioned Parliament on Oct. 25 to approve the deployment. The petition is currently with the Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security. It will be presented to the House later this month. _______________________________ President Biden isn’t listening to Haitians. He should before it’s too late CHARNETTE FREDERIC AND MARLEINE BASTIEN. Miami Herald. November 9, 2023 Haitian Americans in South Florida and throughout the country have been telling President Biden how he can best stop our home country’s horrible downward spiral. He has not listened — yet — but he should before it is too late. Friends and family in Haiti face conditions usually seen in war zones. Armed gangs control 80% of Port-au-Prince. Going to work or school is a potentially deadly activity. Children face hunger, while inflation runs over 25%. There is not a single elected official in office. Haiti’s corrupt and repressive government has persistently dismantled the country’s democratic structures for more than 10 years. The government has refused to hold elections, enlisted gangs to attack opposition neighborhoods and diverted vast sums to its supporters’ bank accounts. For a decade, this dangerous government, known to be in cahoots with the gangs, has received support from the United States, which has insulated the government from the efforts of a broad spectrum of political parties, business groups, churches and other civic organizations that insist on a return to democracy. On Sept. 22, the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network (NHAEON) and FANM in Action, in a letter, told the president that if “the U.S. is genuinely interested in stabilizing the political situation to avoid a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Haiti, it will start by ceasing to prop up the corrupt government.” Six weeks later, the administration has not responded or reduced support for the repressive regime. In fact, the administration gave NHAEON what feels like a slap when it championed the U.N. Security Council’s Oct. 2 vote authorizing a Kenyan-led intervention in Haiti. Kenya was chosen when Haiti’s Caribbean neighbors declined to lead the mission precisely because it would prop up the hated government. NHAEON’s more than 70 elected officials, and many more former elected officials in 18 states, represent Haitian Americans at the neighborhood, city and state levels. We hear every day from constituents who are terrified about conditions in Haiti and outraged that their tax dollars support the repression. NHAEON members listened, and 76% of the voting members voted in favor of the letter. Most NHAEON members are Democrats. Many of us, for decades, have spent weekends and evenings registering voters in our communities and organizing them to support Democratic candidates. Consequently, we were reluctant to publicly criticize a Democratic administration, especially ahead of a consequential presidential election. But leaders concluded that we needed to warn Biden, for the sake of democracy in Haiti and the United States. Our Haitian-American constituents traditionally are a reliable and important Democratic voting bloc in Florida, and an emerging bloc in highly contested Georgia. But when we encourage them to vote in next year’s election, they will think about the phone calls they have with terrified friends and family in Haiti. They will ask how they can continue to vote for a party that is encouraging so much unnecessary harm in Haiti — a party that has taken Haitian-American votes for granted. We fear that the administration finally will hear Haitians Nov. 5, 2024, through the silence of loyal Democratic voters who stayed home on Election Day, depriving the president and his party of otherwise attainable victories. That will be too late for the Democrats, of course, and may also be too late for Haiti, as the repressive government will have had another year to entrench itself. But November 2023 is not too late for either. As NHAEON and FANM wrote to Biden, Haitians “across the spectrum have gathered, often putting long-running political disagreements aside, to agree on practical, promising plans for a transitional government.” Removing the U.S.’ unconditional support from the current government will allow this pro-democracy movement to force its government to make meaningful concessions that will return Haiti to a democratic path. And it will give Haitian Americans in the United States a reason to vote enthusiastically for pro-democracy candidates here. Charnette Frederic is chairwoman of the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network and councilwoman-at-large in Irvington, New Jersey. Marleine Bastien represents District 2 on the Miami-Dade County Commission and is a NHAEON’s member-at-large. REGION: TRADE, SECURITY, ECONOMY AND INTEGRATION [CONTENTS] LatAm, Caribbean progress in fighting hunger, though COVID-19 impacts remain -UN Juana Casas. Reuters. November 9, 2023 SANTIAGO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Latin America and the Caribbean have made progress in their fight to eradicate hunger, though the region still has the highest rate of food insecurity worldwide and has yet to recover from setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by five United Nations agencies published on Thursday. Some 43.2 million people went hungry in the region last year, or about 6.5% of the population, the U.N. agencies said. That's down from the 7% who faced hunger in 2021. "Progress was made in Latin America and the Caribbean in the fight against hunger and food insecurity, driven by improvements in South America," the agencies said. South America saw hunger drop due to improvements in the labor market and fresh social protection policies, with increased energy input prices boosting the region's exporting nations. Despite the progress, the rate of hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is still nearly a full percentage point above the 2019 level, before the COVID-19 pandemic, which aggravated structural issues such as inequality, labor informality, poverty and lack of social benefits. Meanwhile, moderate or severe food insecurity "was higher in the region compared to the world estimate," the agencies said, with 37.5% of the region affected versus 29.6% globally. Food insecurity is calculated by estimating the proportion of the population which faces limitations in obtaining sufficient food throughout the year. "Persistent inequalities in the region have a significant impact on the food security of the most vulnerable," the report said, highlighting discrepancies in access between men and women and between rural and urban communities, with women and people living in rural areas worse off. The gender gap widened considerably during the pandemic, the U.N. said, though it narrowed in 2022 to 9.1 percentage points. In rural versus urban communities, the gap in food insecurity was 8.3 percentage points. alt_text The Latin America News Round-up is a daily email digest featuring a free compilation of articles with the latest English language news on economic and political developments in Latin America. The newsletter is produced by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and is aimed at educating people on current trends and what policies will best improve the quality of life for Latin Americans. You can subscribe to the Latin America News Round-up and other CEPR updates here. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR was co-founded by economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot in 1999. CEPR's Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University. CONNECT WITH US TwitterFacebookFacebook 1611 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20009 (202) 293-5380 [email protected] If this email was forwarded to you, subscribe to CEPR's email lists here. If you believe you received this message in error or wish to update your subscription, click here:
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