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ELN’s ‘crazy attack’ a serious brake on Colombia peace talks

On 27 April, the Colombian government’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) insurgent guerrillas, Juan Camilo Restrepo, condemned as “crazy” the group’s latest attack on the Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline and said it made it “very difficult” to proceed with the dialogue process.

Trouble in Santa Cruz puts Kirchneristas on back foot

Violent protests outside the home of Santa Cruz governor Alicia Kirchner in the far south of Argentina on 21 April have triggered an angry set of accusations and counter-accusations between the Frente para la Victoria (FPV, Kirchneristas) faction of the Main opposition Partido Justicialista (PJ, Peronist) and Cambiemos, the ruling centre-right coalition that backs President Mauricio Macri.

Acute dollar shortage at the heart of Venezuela’s latest political crisis

The latest political crisis in Venezuela, in which the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) officially took over the functions of the opposition-controlled National Assembly (AN), only to shed these extra powers in the face of an intense domestic and international backlash, has been driven primarily by economic concerns. Some US$2.2bn in bond debt repayments fall due on 12 April, with renewed concerns about the government’s capacity to make the payment.

Controversial penal code reforms approved despite strong opposition

The conservative ruling Partido Nacional (PN) has managed to squeeze through congress a package of highly contentious reforms to the country’s penal code which, among other things, widen the definition of terrorism to potentially include public protests, and sharply increase legal protections for security forces (police and military). The reforms went through despite being rejected outright by the political opposition and local civil society groups. The day after the 22 February congressional vote, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed serious concerns about the impact of the reforms. This matters, as US congressional scrutiny of the government led by President Juan Orlando Hernández has intensified in the past 18 months.

Presidential re-election drive tips Paraguay into crisis

The attempt by a group of legislators to surreptitiously push through the national congress a constitutional amendment bill introducing presidential re-election has engulfed Paraguay in a major political crisis. Paraguay’s 1992 constitution expressly prohibits presidential re-election and is clear that introducing it cannot be done via an amendment but only via a comprehensive constitutional reform (the drafting of a new constitution). This fact has led those opposed to presidential re-election to accuse those pushing the constitutional amendment bill of attempting to breach the constitutional order in their efforts to change the constitution this year to allow President Horacio Cartes to seek re-election in next year’s general elections. The anti-re-election camp organised mass demonstrations outside the national congress which descended into deadly violence and heightened political tensions.

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