Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Chile: Protests Continue As Police Face Off With Demonstrators

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on August 26, 2011

by Latin American News Dispatch, August 24th, 2011.

Chile’s Central Workers Union, an umbrella organization consisting of several labor unions, launched a 2-day national strike Wednesday morning, supported by protesting students and the opposition Concertación coalition.

While the organizers insist the strike and its accompanying public protests are peaceful, fringe groups collided with police on Wednesday shortly after the strike began. Protesters in the capital of Santiago stoned buses and police responded with tear gas and water cannons. At least 18 flaming barricades were set up by protesters in the capital of Santiago and clashes between police and demonstrators occurred in Valparaíso and Concepción.

“We don’t want violence, our fight is not versus the police or to destroy commercial shops … our fight is to recover the right to education, on that we have been emphatic and clear,” said student leader Camila Vallejo.

The protests, which began in May of this year with students asking for educational reforms, have broadened to include demands ranging from a new constitution to a revamped tax system. The 48-hour strike is the first of its kind since the since the fall of a 27-year dictatorship in 1990.

“We’re all worried about the social climate,” said Finance Minister Felipe Larraín, who added that the strike was illegal and said the government would not tolerate roadblocks. (continue reading… )


Mexico’s Congress Considers Changing Security Law To Control Drug War Violence

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on April 28, 2011

by Mari Hayman for Latin America News Dispatch, April 27, 2011.

With the current session of Mexico’s Congress scheduled to expire Friday, members of Mexico’s House of Deputies have less than a week to deliberate over controversial changes to the country’s National Security Law that would give the President the power to deploy Mexico’s Armed Forces against broadly defined internal threats to Mexican national security.

The Mexican Senate has already approved the changes, but members of Mexico’s PRD, PT and Convergencia parties say that the 83-page initiative to change the law constitutes a threat to individual liberties and could create a state of exception in Mexico that would effectively put the country under military control.

The initiative, originally submitted by President Felipe Calderón to the Mexican Senate in April 2009, argues that the current National Security Law, established in 2005, fails to adequately define the role of the Armed Forces in regulating internal security, and says the proposed changes will help resolve ambiguity about the procedures for military intervention in Mexico’s internal affairs. (continue reading… )

Guatemalan First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom Announces Bid For Presidency

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 9, 2011

by Latin America News Dispatch, March 8th, 2011.

Sandra Torres de Colom confirmed that she plans be the candidate for the ruling National Unity for Hope party in elections this September. The announcement was widely expected, but some argue that Torres’ run violates a constitutional clause that makes president’s relatives ineligible to seek the nation’s top office.

“It is an unconstitutional candidacy, but we will have to go through all the processes that the law requires,” said former General Otto Pérez Molina, the candidate for the right wing opposition Patriot Party, according to The BBC.

Torres’ lawyers argue that the ban infringes on the right of all Guatemalans to stand for election and she said that she was responding to “popular clamour” for her. She did not explain how she would resolve the apparent constitutional ban on her candidacy.

“My commitment is to create jobs and progress for all. To seek economic development with social inclusion. To dedicate myself to the fight against crime, drug trafficking, street gangs and organized crime,” Torres said, according to Fox News. (continue reading… )


Calderón Criticizes U.S. On Mexican Drug War Effort; Says Feds Not Doing Enough

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on February 24, 2011

by Latin America News Dispatch, February 24th, 2011.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón criticized U.S. agencies Tuesday for failing to do their part in the fight against powerful drug cartels.

In his comments, from an extensive interview with the Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, Calderón said that the U.S. had failed to curb drug consumption or the flow of weapons into Mexico, even as it is sending $1.4 billion in training, equipment and other aid to help combat Mexico’s drug cartels.

Calderón also said that recently leaked cable from U.S. diplomats have hurt and distorted the relationship between the two nations and that the diplomats ”pour lots of cream on their tacos,” Calderón said, meaning they exaggerate, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Mexican president also said that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the CIA and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tried to outdo each other while all evading responsibility.

“The reality is that they don’t coordinate with each other, they’re rivals,” Calderón said, according to Reuters.

Calderón’s comments also coincided with Mexican marines discovering 72 sticks of commercial synthetic explosives at a camp in the southern state of Guerrero.