Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bolivia's Evo Morales Launches Re-Election Bid

Bolivian President Evo Morales has officially registered his candidacy for a third presidential run ahead of October 12 elections, despite a constitutional ban on more than two terms in office.

Morales’ bid was supported by a unanimous Constitutional Court ruling in 2013, which found that because the constitution was changed by a national referendum before he was re-elected in 2009, another five-year term in office would technically only be his second under the new charter.

While the opposition has criticized this decision as biased and unfounded, it remains sharply divided and unable to present a single unified candidate. As La Razon reports, Morales faces four challengers ahead of the October vote, with the most formidable being cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina of the centrist Unidad Nacional (UN) party, followed by Juan del Granado of the center-left Movimiento Sin Miedo (MSM).

The Associated Press points out that Doria Medina failed to win more than 10 percent of the vote in each of the previous three elections. However, an April Tal Cual poll suggested he had support of 14 percent of the electorate, compared to 38 percent for Morales (down from 46 points in January). What’s more, late last month Doria Medina gained the endorsement of Santa Cruz governor Ruben Costas, whose support from 9 percent of the electorate may boost the UN candidate’s chances significantly.

Ultimately, while Morales’ reelection is still the most likely outcome, Costas’ support means that the odds of the vote gong to a second round are growing, as The Economist’s Intelligence Unit has noted.

News Briefs
  • In the face of the surge in undocumented immigration of unaccompanied minors along the U.S.-Mexico border, Washington’s answer to the problem has focused on allocating more resources to speed up deportation proceedings.  In an interview with San Diego’s KPBS FM, however, Ev Meade of the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute points to the overwhelming evidence that this plan will have no deterrent effect on immigration.
  • Today’s Wall Street Journal features a column by Middlebury College Professor David Stoll, who argues that immigration to the U.S. from Central America has a negative impact on the region, claiming that it breaks up family structures and that remittances fuel inflation in migrant-sending communities. And because living costs in the United States are so high, he asserts that those traveling north for family reunification are largely condemned to poverty, with youth facing “a high risk of being sucked into gangs” in the U.S.
  • In an interview with Mexican paper Excelsior yesterday, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez blamed the rise in child migrants on major U.S.-funded crackdowns on drug trafficking in Mexico and Colombia, which he argued have pushed traffickers into Central America. Reuters notes that he argued for a major U.S. security assistance program on the scale of those seen in these two countries.
  • United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Haiti yesterday to launch a new sanitation program meant to aid in the country’s fight against the cholera epidemic that has killed over 8,000 people since 2010. The Miami Herald reports that while he described his visit as “a necessary pilgrimage,” and previously discussed the UN’s “moral responsibility” to help eradicate cholera, he gave no apology or acknowledgement of the role that UN peacekeeping forces played in introducing the disease to the country.
  • The New York Times profiles the recent sale of Venezuela’s leading opposition-leaning newspaper El Universal to a mysterious Spanish company, which critics suspect of being a straw buyer for pro-government elements.
  • Over at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights, David Smilde has translated Datanalisis pollster Luis Vicente Leon’s Sunday column in El Universal, in which he shows that U.S. sanctions are opposed by a majority of Venezuelans of all political stripes, and would only serve the interests of extremists on both the Chavista and opposition sides.
  • Paraguayan lawmakers have voted in favor of creating a new civilian intelligence agency,  ABC Digital reports.   InSight Crime notes that the measure, which is awaiting the approval of President Horacio Cartes, was supported by his predecessor Fernando Lugo, and is being billed as a step towards cracking down on Paraguay’s small but persistent EPP insurgency.
  • In the L.A Times, Robert Muggah uses the example of disappeared Rio de Janeiro bricklayer Amarildo de Souza to argue in favor of police around the world adopting body-mounted security cameras. Meanwhile, Brazil’s O Dia has a heartbreaking update on the Amarildo case. According to the paper, Amarildo’s widow has finally been found after going missing herself for ten days. Relatives say she had turned to alcohol to manage her severe depression, and was in a state of confusion, saying she was looking for her deceased husband.