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Venezuelan ANC declares itself supreme legislative body

On 18 August, Venezuela’s constituent assembly (ANC) stripped the national assembly – controlled by opposition parties – of its powers to legislate on matters of domestic order, national security, human rights, and socioeconomic and financial matters. With the national assembly thus neutralised, the ANC is now officially the most powerful legislative body in Venezuela.

Argentina’s Macri buoyant as PJ fiefdoms tumble

The headline news in Argentina after the primary elections (Paso) on 13 August was that President Mauricio Macri had won a key victory over his predecessor Cristina Fernández (2007-2015) in Buenos Aires, by far the country’s most populous province. The Paso might be little more than a trial run for the real thing in October but the result will give a huge impetus to Macri’s ruling centre-right Cambiemos coalition. The media and market fear (privately shared by the government) that disenchantment with economic growth not filtering through to the populace at large would provide rich pickings for Fernández was not realised. More important than the showdown in Buenos Aires for Argentine politics in the long-term, however, were the defeats inflicted by Cambiemos on governors, primarily but not exclusively under the banner of the Partido Justicialista (PJ, Peronists), running provinces as dynastic fiefdoms for decades.

NAFTA negotiations: less traumatic than feared?

In mid-July, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) published its formal objectives for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada. The latter two countries appear to have been relieved to discover that something was left out: there was no reference to any re-imposition of a system of tariffs on trade flows between the three countries.

New data on Caribbean crime rates

A number of Caribbean countries suffer from high crime rates, but there are gaps and inconsistencies in the statistical data, more often than not based on police records that are compiled using various different reporting standards. A new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report however, uses a five-country Caribbean Crime Victimisation Survey (CCVS) to draw a detailed and internationally comparable picture of crime in the region. It suggests that the struggle against crime should be re-directed in favour of evidence-based interventions, and more closely focused on specific geographical areas and high-risk segments of the population.

Cartes takes principled stance against subsidising farmers’ debts

Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes has exercised his presidential veto against a congressionally approved bill partly subsidising the debts held by subsistence farmers. The move has not gone down well with the thousands of members of the Coordinadora Nacional Intersectorial (CNI) umbrella peasant farmers’ organisation who have been staging highly disruptive public protests in the country’s capital, Asunción, since last month, demanding the full condonation of their debts [RBS-17-07]. However, Cartes has taken a principled stance on the issue, insisting that he simply cannot approve a measure that would have negative consequences for the national financial system and the entire domestic economy.

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