Today in Latin America
Top Story — Haiti’s ruling party said that its disputed presidential candidate Jude Célestin is being withdrawn from the second-round election, even though he is resisting his party’s decision.
There has been a great deal of pressure on Célestin to withdraw after monitors found the first round elections were rigged in his favor, The BBC reports. The Organization of American States (OAS) recommended that Célestin be removed in favor of musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, who had 22.2 percent to Célestin’s 21.9 percent.
“Because Unity does not want the people to suffer even more, we chose not to provoke the international community over the election,” the party said in a statement, according to Al Jazeera.
Célestin wants his day in court where his lawyers are working to prove that he does have a right to advance into the runoff, despite the OAS findings. His lawyers argue that the OAS report is flawed.
“Everyone sees the hands of the international community in these elections,” Joseph Lambert, head of the Inité (Unity) coalition, according to The Miami Herald. “They have law, but we don’t have laws? We are not a country anymore?”
Analysts predict that Célestin won’t be able to hold out for long without his own party’s support.
“Even if we’re certain that Jude Célestin obtained the quantity of votes necessary to go the second round, Inite agrees to withdraw itself from the presidential candidacy,” said a statement of the ruling coalition party delivered to Radio Métropole in the Haitian capital, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A car in northern Mexico drove off the side of a highway north of the border city of Tijuana and vaulted over the border fence, landing 40 yards inside the United States.
- California Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly introduced a measure into the state legislature for a bill similar to Arizona’s controversial immigration law.
- Venezuela’s health minister confirmed Wednesday 21 cases of cholera brought back to the country from a family gathering in the Dominican Republic, according to state run media.
- More than 3,900 Haitians have died of cholera since the outbreak began in mid-October, health officials in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation said on Tuesday.
- Unemployment, low wages and domestic violence are the problems that Honduran women suffer, according to data released on International Women’s Day in that country.
- U.S. President Barack Obama should push for quick approval of free trade deals with Colombia and Panama, a top White House ally in the U.S. Senate said Wednesday.
- President Hugo Chávez threatened to expropriate a Spanish-owned bank on Wednesday, arguing that its managers have refused to grant loans to cash-strapped Venezuelans seeking to purchase homes amid a nationwide housing deficit.
- Venezuela’s top security official and Colombia’s defence minister signed an accord Wednesday to strengthen co-operation in the fight against drug trafficking along the extensive border separating the South American neighbours.
- An explosion at a small underground coal mine in northeast Colombia killed 20 workers on Wednesday, officials said, in the latest accident to hit Latin America’s mining industry.
- Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to work with the U.S. Congress to approve a long-delayed bilateral trade deal this year.
- Indigenous activists in Bolivia have been holding a mass coca-chewing protest as part of campaign to end an international ban on the practice imposed by the United Nations.
- Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to raise funds for the new United Nations agency promoting gender equality.
- Argentina agreed to repay nearly $9 billion in defaulted debt to the Paris Club, which is way above what the country initially said it owed the major creditor nations.
- The credit card company Visa has shed a 10-percent stake in a Brazil-based card issuer to Banco do Brasil and Bradesco.
Image: OEA-OAS @ Flickr.