Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Haiti Announces Cabinet Shake-Up

The government of Haitian President Michel Martelly on Tuesday evening announced the third cabinet reshuffle of his administration thus far, which is the second round of changes to the cabinet in the past five months. The move came just hours after President Martelly left the country for a “complete medical check-up” in Miami, after which he is slated to attend this weekend’s Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) meeting in Chile.

In his stead, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe first announced the reshuffle via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, tweeting, “After the resignation of several government ministers, the Head of State and I will announce a reshuffle of the ministerial Cabinet tonight.” A total of seven cabinet ministers were named following their predecessors’ resignation, although the positions of secretary of state for foreign affairs and communications minister have apparently been left open.

According to the Miami Herald, many in the country have questioned the government’s logic behind dismissing some cabinet officials and keeping others. Ralph Theano, for instance, who was widely criticized last week for comparing opposition lawmakers to “suicide bombers” after they heckled the prime minister at a parliamentary meeting, will stay on as the minister responsible for overseeing relations between the parliament and the executive branch.

The Herald also notes that the shake-up comes after months of speculation about the stability of the Haitian government. Protests over rising food prices and corruption have become increasingly common in recent months, and many Haitians believe President Martelly is spending too much time abroad and not focusing enough on domestic issues.

The government has also come under fire from the international community. As noted in Monday’s Post, the government’s failure to hold long-overdue elections for local politicians and a third of its Senate have been criticized by the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country. While Martelly and lawmakers have agreed to charge a semi-permanent council with overseeing the elections, the council has yet to be established.



News Briefs

  • Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) took responsibility for the recent kidnapping five foreign mining employees yesterday, but in a statement on its website the guerrilla group justified the move by saying they were acting to “defend natural resources” from foreign companies. The statement was promptly criticized by the Colombian government, which is working towards rescuing the hostages, Caracol Radio reports.
  • Meanwhile, the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released proposals for land redistribution and rural development projects yesterday, two issues which are currently being discussed in peace talks with the government. Among the guerrillas’ proposals, which are available on the FARC’s peace process blog, is the creation of a national fund for land redistribution, which would take land from armed groups or drug traffickers and turn it over to small farmers, with a particular emphasis on minorities and women.
  • On the Hugo Chavez health front, the government continues to say that he is improving despite not providing many details. The AP reports that Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said yesterday that officials had received a "very encouraging" update on the president’s recovery from Jorge Arreaza, Chavez's son-in-law and the country’s science minister. In a speech before Congress, Bolivian President Evo Morales said that he spoke with Chavez over the phone, and that his Venezuelan counterpart is doing well and is “undergoing physiotherapy in order to return to his country.”
  • Venezuelan human rights NGOs Provea and Homo Et Natura have received court summonses for their involvement in a series of protests in June 2010 by Yukpa indigenous people in front of the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Both NGOs endorsed the protesters’ demands that they be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to enforce tribal justice on their land, and issued press releases supporting the cause. Because some protesters brought their children with them, according to Provea’s press release, the NGOs are being tried as accomplices to a violation of children’s rights.  As Provea director Marino Alvarado points out, this sets a dangerous precedent in the country, as working -- and protesting -- as a family is a fundamental part of Yukpa and other indigenous cultures in Venezuela.
  • In his state of the union address yesterday Bolivian President Evo Morales laid out 13 goals for his country to meet ahead of its bicentennial on August 6, 2025. According to La Razon, these include the eradication of extreme poverty, expanding and access to health and education, and improving economic growth.
  • The AP reports that local Bolivian lawmaker Domingo Alcibia has been arrested after video emerged which appeared to show the man having nonconsensual sex with an inebriated service employee in the capital building of Sucre, in Chuquisaca province. After the scandal surfaced last week, was kicked out of President Morales’ ruling MAS party.
  • Rio Real Blog’s Julia Michaels highlights a recent investigation published in Piauí magazine which reveals delays and a lack of transparency about the relocation process in Rio de Janeiro as the city prepares for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Although the Piauí article is subscription only, Michales pulls out its most interesting findings, including that many favela residents are being forced to leave their homes while government-provided replacement residences have not yet been built, and have no information about when they will be finished.
  • Although an investigation into six Mexican military officers for allegedly working with the Beltran Leyva Cartel has gained a high media profile in recent months, internal court documents obtained by the Mexican press suggest that prosecutors believe they do not have enough information to back the initial charges, Excelsior and the LA Times report.
  • Chile's El Mostrador reports that Santiago's water supply is being restored after contamination caused by flash flooding along the Maipo River left millions in the capital city without water yesterday.
  • The Americas Quarterly blog has an interesting post on Brazil’s evolving relationship with Cuba. According to Eduardo J. Gomez, Brazil is fast replacing Venezuela as the island’s main foreign benefactor.