Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sept. 19-21: Venezuela Joins MERCOSUR; El Salvador Parties Plan Early for Election; Split in Mexican Left

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SourceMex, September 19, 2012

On Sept. 10, less than two weeks after the electoral court (Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación, TEPJF) ratified the victory of Enrique Peña Nieto in the July 1 presidential election, opposition candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that he was separating himself from the three center-left parties to concentrate on building a citizen movement that he launched in 2011 called the Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (Morena). López Obrador made the announcement before thousands of supporters in Mexico City’s expansive central square, El Zócalo. The break is primarily with the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), since members of the two other parties—the Partido del Trabajo (PT) and Movimiento Ciudadano (MC)—are expected to work closely with López Obrador in building Morena.

The US State Department has agreed to recommend immunity for ex-President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000), who is the target of a lawsuit in a US court over the massacre of 45 Tzotzil Indians near the village of Acteal in Chiapas in December 1997. With the likelihood that the federal District Court in Connecticut will accept the State Department’s recommendation, members of Las Abejas and their supporters are looking to bring legal action against Zedillo in other venues. One possibility is the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), an organ of the Organization of American States (OAS).

NotiCen, September 20, 2012

El Salvador’s two principal political parties--the rightist Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA) and left-wing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN)--have decided to show their cards early, naming their respective candidates more than a year and a half before the next presidential election. ARENA is pinning its hopes on Norman Quijano, a party veteran who spent 15 years in the Asamblea Legislativa (AL) before being elected in 2009 as mayor of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital and largest city. The governing FMLN lifted back the curtain on its presidential hopeful earlier still, announcing in June that it will support current Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former teacher who until recently doubled as President Mauricio Funes’ education minister.

Panama is one of the richest countries in Central America, with 3.5 million inhabitants and a per capita income of US$13,343 per annum, according to the latest report published by the UN Development Programme (UNDP). This figure is obtained by adding the country’s profits in goods and services produced and dividing that among the country’s inhabitants. However, although every Panamanian ought to have an annual income of more than US$1,112 a month, four of every ten Panamanians live in poverty (36.8% of the population) and 16.6% live in extreme poverty.

NotiSur, September 21, 2012

When Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay welcomed Venezuela as a full member of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) on July 31, they were not merely receiving another trade ally, they were taking a geopolitical step toward creating a new hemispheric order. Venezuela, which had sought MERCOSUR membership since 2006, counted from the beginning on favorable votes from those three countries, but, in the intervening six years, the Senate of Paraguay--the fourth founding member of the customs union--systematically refused to approve it. On June 22, after that same Senate staged a legislative coup to remove constitutional President Fernando Lugo, the regional bloc used its Carta Democrática (Democratic Charter) to suspend the de facto government in Asunción and opened its doors, at last, to Venezuela.

On Oct. 7, more than 140 million Brazilians will vote in municipal elections to choose mayors and city councilors in 5,564 municipalities. These are the first elections since President Dilma Rousseff took office and will be an important test of her administration's popularity. The municipal elections could also be an indicator of new directions for party politics in Brazil. Evaluations of the Rousseff administration have been generally positive. More than 70% of respondents in recent polls say that it is doing a good job, despite signs that Brazil's economy is in a period of cooling off, a cause of concern for the government, the productive sector, and workers.

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