Tag Archive | "president"

Latin America News Roundup: 27th January 2014

The map shows the proposed boundaries (in red and blue) and the final boundary as established by the ICJ (in black). Courtesy of ICJ.

The map shows the proposed boundaries (in red and blue) and the final boundary as established by the ICJ (in black). (Image courtesy of ICJ)

Chile and Peru: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague issued a ruling today on a long standing maritime border dispute between Chile and Peru. The ruling considered both positions in establishing a new maritime boundary, which extends along the line proposed by Chile -parallel to the Equator- for the first 80 nautical miles, and continues along the equidistance line proposed by Peru from there on. The dispute between the two countries, brought before the ICJ by Peru in 2008, concerned a triangle of around 38,000km2 rich in fishing resources, especially anchovies. The fishing industry in this area produces revenue for an estimated US$200m yearly, and the places most affected by the decision will be the Chilean town of Arica and the Peruvian town of Tacna. Whilst both governments have pledged to abide by the ruling, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said that “this transfer constitutes an unfortunate loss for our country.” Peruvian President Ollanta Humala celebrated that the ICJ “recognised the validity of the Peruvian position” and that his country “has won over 70% of the lawsuit.” Alvaro García Linera, Vice-president of Bolivia, said that the ruling “offers a very important precedent” and that President Evo Morales will refer to the matter tomorrow at the Celac summit in Cuba. The landlocked country is also involved in territorial disputes with Chile.

Honduras: Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in as President of Honduras today. The ceremony took place at 9.50am local time in Tegucigalpa, and was attended by foreign dignitaries from around 80 countries. During his opening speech, Hernández promised to create 100,000 new jobs and to improve the quality of life of the 800,000 Honduran families that earn less than US$1 per month. He also pledged to improve the social security system, education, and to fight against corruption. Hernández was elected president on 24th November for a four-year term, amidst allegations of fraud by rival party LIBRE. Members of LIBRE organised a demonstration in Tegucigalpa to coincide with the ceremony, in protest against the “fraudulent” electoral process.

Ecuador: A man has been sentenced to six months in prison for killing a condor. Manuel Damián Damián, 61, confessed to the crime after pictures started circulating on social networks in April 2013 showing him with a dead female condor. Since he was arrested in November 2013, he will have to complete another four months in prison, pay a US$5,333 fine, and upon his release he will have to complete a series of environmental remediation tasks imposed by the tribunal. The condor is an endangered species -according to Ecuador’s Environment Ministry, there are fewer than 50 left in the wild, and 19 in captivity, in the country.

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Chile: Michelle Bachelet Wins Presidential Election

President Elect Michelle Bachelet (Photo: AFP/Martín Bernetti/Télam/cf)

President Elect Michelle Bachelet (Photo: AFP/Martín Bernetti/Télam/cf)

Former president Michelle Bachelet has taken victory in the second and final round of Chilean elections to become president once again. Bachelet beat opponent Evelyn Matthei with 62.16% of the vote against 37.83% in yesterday’s election.

In her victory speech last night, she said, “I am proud to be your president elect. I am proud of the country we have and more of the country that we are going to build. The way the country moves forward depends on us all. Thank you very much, viva Chile!”

She was particularly thankful to young Chileans: “Thank you, especially to the young people who have shown the longing to build a free and quality public education system.”

Chilean constitution requires 50% of votes for presidential election but in the first round Bachelet garnered 47%, meaning both candidates entered a second round. In yesterday’s election, a record high of  58.21% of the Chilean registered to vote abstained.

Former director of the gender equality agency UN Women, Bachelet was also president of Chile between 2006 and 2010. As the Chilean constitution states that presidents cannot run for two consecutive terms in office, she did not seek reelection despite leaving office with very high approval ratings. She will be the first president since General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorial government, between 1973 and 1990, to serve two terms in office and will replace current president Sebastian Piñera in March 2014.

Bachelet’s manifesto included a range of constitutional, educational, and social reforms. Chile has in the last few year seen increased protests in disagreement with governmental policy. The current constitution was drawn up under General Pinochet 1980.


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Colombia: President Announces He Will Run for Re-Election

Juan Manuel Santos Colombian President (Photo: Facebook official account)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
(Photo: Facebook official account)

Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, confirmed his plans to run for re-election in next year’s presidential race. In a televised speech yesterday, he expressed his commitment to undertake a second term in order to “complete the job” he began, and stated that “we cannot leave halfway through our work in security and economic issues.” Santos took office in August 2010.

After a few years in which Santos’ popularity dropped, recent actions taken by his government have seen his image rise. In particular, his re-initiation of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in order to end years of armed conflict. An opinion poll carried out by Gallup showed that the president’s popularity had risen from 21% in August 2013 to 29% in November of the same year.

During his speech, Santos spoke about continuing the peace talks in order to provide safety and security for all citizens. Admitting he had hoped the negotiations with FARC, held in Cuba, would move along more rapidly, he stated: “Big transformations are not achieved in a short amount of time. I want to conserve peace and prosperity for this country. All Colombians want peace… However, we have certainly made important progress… the guerrilla group has accepted to adhere to democratic rules. We cannot lose all that we have done until now.”

Santos also discussed the steps taken to improve quality of life and alleviate thousands of Colombians from poverty through job creation: “We have created over 2 million job positions, more than any other country in Latin America. But there are still a vast number of unemployed individuals that remain.”

Admitting he had made mistakes during his term, he stated: “I am far from perfect, but I am convinced that the way to face problems is not with fire and blood… we must complete our job.”

Presidential elections will take place on 25th May 2014. Santos’ main opponent is Óscar Iván Zuluaga, supported by former president Álvaro Uribe, who is part of the Social Party of National Unity. His candidacy was announced by the former president a few months in advance in order to increase his popularity with the public and solidify his position as main opponent.

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Chile: Municipal Worker Strike Continues Into Final Week Before Elections

President Piñera speaks at official ceremony. This week, the president hopes to resolve municipal strikes which have lasted for three weeks. (photo courtesy of Chilean government)

President Piñera speaks at official ceremony. This week, Piñera hopes to resolve municipal strikes which have continued for over three weeks. (Photo courtesy of Chilean government)

Municipal workers, led by mayors across the country, continue their strike ahead of Chile’s presidential, congressional, and regional council elections on 17th November.

The Chilean Association of Municipalities (ACM), the main umbrella organisation for the country’s mayors, has affirmed that the elections will take place normally in line with the municipalities’ constitutional and legal responsibilities.

“Our municipal officials are democratic, they understand that this is a matter of the nation and that there is a responsibility of the municipalities and mayors to make sure these elections are conducted successfully,” the president of the mayor’s guild, Santiago Rebolledo, said in a statement released Sunday.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, President Sebastián Piñera called the strikes, now in their fourth week, “unjustified”. Piñera, who hopes protests will not define the end of his term the way they have much of the rest of it, called it “unacceptable to fill the cities with garbage, to deny the distribution of water to the most vulnerable sectors of the population, or to commit acts of violence or occupations.”

Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections will be the first to be voluntary, making it even more vital for municipal logistics to be sorted out in time. While authorities are unsure of levels of voter participation, Gonzalo Müller, a political scientist at the Universidad de Desarollo, told news site Emol that he expects a turnout of 50-53%.

“If the centre-right or independent bases do not show up to vote on Sunday, it will be easier for Bachelet to win in the first round,” said Müller, referring to the absolute majority frontrunner Michelle Bachelet needs to avoid a runoff.

Bachelet warned supporters Sunday against letting their guard down in the final days before the election. Chile’s first female president, is running for her second term on a platform of tax and education reform and the proposition of a new constitution.

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President Expected to Be Given All-Clear After Evaluation

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (courtesy of Wikipedia)

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Casa Rosada has reported that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will undergo neurological tests and scans Friday night, the results of which will be available to the public as of Saturday morning. The president is expected to receive the all-clear from doctors to return to her presidential duties this weekend.

Friday marked the one-month mark since the president underwent a last-minute operation to remove a subdural hematoma. She has been resting since then and has not been seen in public. Vice-president Amado Boudou has been working as the acting president since the operation.

According to latest reports, President Fernández will return to work in a progressive manner, initially based in the official residency in Olivos and in a limited capacity, without public events or air travel until further notice.

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Honduras: Polls Predict Tight Presidential Election Race

Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro (photo via official Facebook page)

Presidential candidate Xiomara Castro (photo via official Facebook page)

With the Honduran elections less than one month away, the wife of deposed former president, Xiomara Castro, is running neck-and-neck against the ruling party candidate Juan Orlando Hernández.

Ahead of the 24th November election, Reuters reports that Libre party candidate Xiomara Castro has a slight lead over Hernández the Partido Nacional candidate according to the latest polls.

Security and corruption are at the centre of the Honduran presidential campaign, unsurprisingly for a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, with 86.5 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2012.

During a recent presidential forum Castro, whose husband Manuel Zelaya was elected in 2006 before being forced out in 2009 after a coup d’etat, reinitiated her position to tackle the violence with a community police force.

Hernández who is currently president of the National Congress is in the process of installing a new military police force to operate alongside the army.

Last week three US Congressmen wrote a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry to urge him to speak forcefully against attacks targeting human rights activists and opposition candidates.

They are concerned over a lack of democratic conditions to guarantee a free and fair election process.

“State security forces are taking on an increasingly central and ominous role in context of the election. We are particularly alarmed to learn that the ruling party, and its presidential candidate Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández, now dominates all the key institutions of the government, including the country’s electoral authority and the military, which distributes the ballots – leaving scarce recourse for Honduran citizens should fraud be committed in the electoral process, or human rights violations continue to threaten open debate. This is particularly troubling given the long history of electoral fraud in Honduras.”

The Honduran President, Porfirio Lobo, said that accusations of attacks and the lack of transparency in the electoral process are part of an international campaign against him and his government.

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President Recuperating ‘Normally’ Since Surgery

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Photo courtesy of Presidencia de la República del Ecuador)

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Photo courtesy of Presidencia de la República del Ecuador)

The Casa Rosada has issued a press release detailing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s medical condition and progress since her operation on 8th October to remove a subdural hematoma.

President Fernandez de Kirchner yesterday underwent a brain scan at the Favaloro Foundation as part of a routine check up.

Spokesman of the presidency, Alfredo Scoccimarro later assured the public that “she is very well, recuperating, all the checks have been done”.  The scan showed “normal recovery for the amount of time that has elapsed since the surgery”.

He indicated that since the operation to remove a hematoma, the president has continued to recover normally with daily checks from neurosurgeon Dr Facundo Manes and cardiologist Francisco Klein y Ramiro Sánchez under the supervision of doctors Luis Bouonomo and Marcelo Ballesteros from the Presidential Medical Unit.

Scoccimarro added: “In the presidential residency, Cristina’s stiches were removed and yesterday the president visited the University Hospital of the Favoloro Foundation in order to have a brain scan.”

It was stated that checks will continue to be made each day until 30 days have lapsed since the original surgery. New assessment is to be carried out after that date. The medical advice concluded stating that she can go on short walks but must not engage in activities or exercise that require a large physical effort, anything that could stress her must be avoided.

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President Will Undergo Surgery Tuesday Morning

Vice-president Amado Boudou on his first day as acting president (photo: Paula Ribas/Télam/ef)

Vice-president Amado Boudou on his first day as acting president (photo: Paula Ribas/Télam/ef)

Doctors will operate on President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner Tuesday morning to remove a subdural haematoma.

Just after 1pm Monday, President Fernández reported to the Favaloro Foundation complaining of a “tingling” sensation in her left arm, prompting doctors to hospitalise her and schedule an operation.

A statement released by Favaloro Foundation confirmed that the president had been hospitalised and is undergoing tests in preparation for tomorrow morning’s surgery.

The hospital stated that the operation “consists of the surgical removal of the president’s haematoma,” which was the result of a head trauma she suffered on 12th August.

After some uncertainty over what his role would be during the president’s medical leave, vice-president Amado Boudou officially signed an act Monday morning granting him the executive power until President Fernández’s recovery.

Boudou also stepped in for President Fernández at the inauguration of a fleet of ambulances earlier in the day at the Casa Rosada.

Speaking at the event, which took place before news broke of the president’s impending operation, Boudou assured the public that they “would soon be eagerly listening to the President,” but that in the meantime matters of business would continue as planned.

“We will continue with full force to keep the management of the government on track,” Boudou told the crowd.

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Paraguay: Horacio Cartes Takes Power

President-elect Horacio Cartes (Photo courtesy of Horacio Cartes FB)

Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes (Photo courtesy of Horacio Cartes FB)

Paraguay saw the inauguration of new president Horacio Cartes this morning, in a ceremony that was attended by hundreds of citizens, local authorities, and foreign delegations. The presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Taiwan were there to see Cartes’ swearing in.

Cartes was elected April as the Partido Colorado (PC) candidate, seeing the PC return to power after a five-year period as opposition.


After his inauguration, Cartes made a 30-minute speech in the López Palace, talking about the difficult social and economic context the country finds itself in.

“I’m doing politics to serve my people. I’m here to improve the future of the new generations,” he said.

“It is incredible to see the amount of money supposedly used to fight against poverty, but without results. We are not here to keep failing … Our objective is to win every battle of the war we declare today against poverty.”

These declarations come in a period of social movements. For two weeks, more than 15,000 teachers have been demonstrating in demand of a change in the retirement law. Doctors and nurses have also not been paid for the past four months.

As Paraguay is now facing the biggest deficit in its history, the new government will not able to pay the medical personal’s wages this month. The government also owes US$264m to Venezuela for oil that the country provided to Petroleos de Paraguay. The enterprise has also declared that it couldn’t pay the debt at the moment.

Opposition party El Frente Guasu (FG), as well as other coalitions of left-wing parties and Paraguayan social organisations have stated that with Cartes as president, the country will face “coups d’êtat and large-scale looting”. Cartes himself is a multi-millionaire who belongs to a business group that is director, owner, or shareholder of more than 26 companies. Before the 2008 elections which ousted the PC, the right-wing party had ruled for an unbroken 61-year period.

According to WikiLeaks, in January 2010, Cartes was “the head of an organisation for money laundering” at the frontiers of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

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Menem Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Illegal Arms Trading

Carlos Menem during his presidency (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Former President of Argentina Carlos Menem has been sentenced to seven years in prison for illegal arms trading to Ecuador and Croatia during his time in office. He is also disqualified from holding public office for the next 16 years.

Menem was found to be a leading figure in the smuggling of weapons during his 1989-1999 presidency, whilst former defence minister Oscar Camilión received a sentence of five years and six months.

The sentencing began at 3pm in Argentina’s Economic Court 3, although Menem, 82, was not present after a medical certificate was presented to the court stating that he was “suffering bloody pressure problems and diabetes”.

Today marked the official sentencing of the former president for smuggling arms between 1991 and 1995 to the two countries. Menem has now become the first democratically-elected president to be convicted by the courts in Argentina.

The former head of state was tried after 18 years of research into arms shipments to Ecuador and Croatia that totalled to over 6,000 tonnes.

The sentencing comes after Menem and 17 other defendants in the trial were acquitted in 2011 when it was deemed the arms deals were not an illegal activity but a “foreign policy decision and a non punishable political act”. This decision was subsequently overturned this year on 8th March by an appeals court, followed by the recommendation by Prosecutor Marcelo Agüero Vera that Menem receive a sentence of eight years.

The other defendants being tried received the following sentences: five years for Diego Palleros; four years and six months for Manuel Cornejo Torino, Haroldo Fusari and Carlos Nuñez; four years and three months for Jorge Corneto Torino; and four years for Julio Sabra, Edberto Gonzalez de la Vega, Luis Sarlenga, Carlos Franke, and Teresa Irañeta de Canterito.

It is expected that Menem will appeal the sentence at the Supreme Court and may request house arrest due to his age. The Senate will also have to decide whether to vote Menem out of office thereby removing his immunity as the elected senator of La Rioja province.

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