Interim President Jeanine Áñez has been accused of using the pandemic to try to hold onto power. (Photo by Noticias Al Día via Wikimedia Commons)
This Week in Latin America

Former Bolivian President Áñez charged with genocide

August 22, 2021 By Staff

THIS WEEK IN LATIN AMERICA

BOLIVIA: Bolivian prosecutors charged jailed former President Jeannine Áñez with crimes including genocide for the events following the 2019 coup which left her as interim president of the country on Friday. The charges relate to actions taken by Áñez shortly after being declared president, when she issued a decree giving the military responsibility for public security. In the next week, security forces shot 20 people to death and injured dozens of others in two clashes in Cochabamba and El Alto.

Early Saturday morning, Áñez apparently attempted suicide by cutting her wrists, according to her lawyers and government officials. The former president sustained injuries from the attempt but is not in danger. Jail officials are performing an evaluation to determine why Áñez, who suffers from hypertension and anxiety, decided to try to take her life. Meanwhile, the European Union and the United States issued statements asking the Bolivian government to guarantee the safety and health of the country’s former president.

SOUTHERN CONE

CHILE/ITALY: Italy has requested the extradition of three former Chilean army officers for the 1973 killings of two Italian citizens in the aftermath of the military coup that began the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The three officers, Rafael Ahumada Valderrama, Orlando Moreno Vásquez and brigadier Manuel Vásquez Chahuán, had previously been convicted of the killings by an Italian court, and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.

The victims were the Italian citizens Juan José Montiglio, a student who volunteered as a bodyguard of President Salvador Allende, and Omar Venturelli, a priest who worked with indigenous Mapuche communities.

BRAZIL: President Jair Bolsonaro requested on Friday that the Brazilian Senate exercise its power of impeachment to remove Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, a judge who has clashed with the president over the perceived security of the country’s electronic voting system.

The request comes after Justice Moraes opened an investigation earlier this month into social media posts made by Bolsonaro that reveal information from a secret police report on hacking. In his request for Moraes’ impeachment, President Bolsonaro alleges that the justice broke the law when he opened the investigation without the involvement of prosecutors.

Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco has said that while the Senate will consider the request, he sees no reason the judge should be impeached. An association representing Brazilian prosecutors condemned Bolsonaro’s request, calling it an attempt to intimidate the judiciary and a threat to democracy in the country.

ANDES

COLOMBIA: Two members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a leftist guerrilla organization in Colombia, were extradited to face drug charges in the United States last week. Henry Trigos Celón and Yamit Picón Rodríguez, both members of the ELN, landed in Houston, Texas on Thursday, and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Sam Sheldon. U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of Texas say that Picón Rodríguez was a liaison between the ELN and the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, and that Trigos oversaw the export of cocaine from Colombia to the United States. These extraditions are the first time that Colombia has extradited members of the ELN to the United States to face prosecution.

CARIBBEAN 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC/VENEZUELA: The government of the Dominican Republic is once again the sole owner of an oil refinery on Dominican territory after buying out the shares of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. The refinery, known as Refidosma, was originally built as a partnership between the Dominican government and Royal Dutch Shell, and was briefly fully owned by the government between 2008 and 2010, before PDVSA bought a 49% share of the refinery for $131 million in 2010—considerably more than the $88 million the DR paid for those same shares last week. Refidomsa is the only refinery in the Dominican Republic, and has the capacity to process 34,000 of crude a day.

JAMAICA: Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced on Thursday that Jamaica will impose new tough restrictions on movement to slow down the spread of the coronavirus on the island. Residents will be prohibited from leaving their homes for two three-day periods separated by a week, followed by one day of lockdown on September 5. With the lockdowns, the government hopes to contain a new wave of contagions that is stressing the country’s health system. In response to Holness’ announcement, some business leaders have expressed discontent with imposing lockdowns during the week, which they fear will suppress commerce. Over 1,300 people have died of COVID-19 in Jamaica, and less than 5% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated.

CENTRAL AMERICA

NICARAGUA: Nicaragua’s Ministry of the Interior (Migob) has revoked operating permits for six non-profit organizations from the United States and Europe, including the British group Oxfam. According to Migob, the organizations failed to file required reports of their resources and income. However, the organizations say that Migob has not been available to receive such documents since 2018, and characterize the revocation of permits as political repression. Other organizations affected include the United States-based National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, as well as NGOs from Denmark, Sweden and Spain.

HONDURAS: A raffle set up by the National Election Commission (CNE) on Saturday to determine the order political parties will appear on ballots in Honduras’ upcoming elections this November was postponed after violence broke out between the representatives of different political parties. The conflict started when representatives from smaller parties objected to the preference given to the three largest parties (the Liberal Party, the National Party and LIBRE) to choose their placement on ballots. The disagreement led to shouting, shoving and fisticuffs, forcing the CNE to postpone the raffle to the following day. LIBRE candidate Jorge Aldana fainted during the incident and needed to be removed on a stretcher to receive medical attention. A rescheduled raffle took place on Sunday without incident. 

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO: Former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya announced last week that he is leaving the country to avoid what he says is politically motivated prosecution for corruption. Anaya said that federal prosecutors plan to bring charges against him based on statements made by Emilio Lozoya, the jailed former CEO of Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company. Lozoya told investigators in 2020 that he had given funds to Anaya to support the latter’s political aspirations. Anaya said that the accusations are baseless and are part of a campaign to prevent him from running in the 2024 presidential election. Meanwhile, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he is not involved in any investigations into Anaya, and called on his former opponent to remain in the country

MEXICO: Workers at a General Motors factory in Silao, Guanajuato, voted to reject a collective contract agreed upon by the company and the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), one of the largest labor unions in Mexico. The rejection of the contract means that the CTM no longer has the exclusive rights to represent workers at the GM plant, and that other unions may now attempt to secure the support of workers and negotiate collective contracts. The vote was a test of the rapid response mechanism, created by the USMCA trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada, which allows workers to be consulted about collective contracts.

The cancellation of the collective contract could be a precedent for other workplaces in Mexico, including two plants owned by the Japanese carmaker Nissan in the state of Aguascalientes, which produce the March, Kicks, Versa models as well as other products. The GM plant in Silao produces the Chevrolet Silverado, the Chevrolet Cheyenne and the GMC Sierra.

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