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This Week in Latin America: Dilma's Last Days?

A late turn of events leaves question marks over Brazil's impeachment process. Plus: the Dominican Republic votes, El Chapo on the move, and more.
Dilma Rousseff
Photo: Blog do Planalto (Flickr) Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR April 19, 2016

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Rousseff's Trials: The acting speaker of Brazil's lower house this morning annulled last month's impeachment vote against President Dilma Rousseff, throwing into question whether the Senate will vote this Wednesday on the issue, as had been expected. A Senate committee on Friday recommended putting the embattled leader on trial for breaking budgetary laws. The political opposition says it has the simple majority needed to suspend Rousseff in a vote that may allow senators to make speeches of up to 15 minutes apiece, raising the prospect of a 20-hour session that outdoes the lower house's raucous five-hour impeachment vote. If a trial is opened, Vice President Michel Temer will be informed Thursday of his role as acting president; he is expected to move quickly to plug the fiscal gap, and has reportedly already tapped former Central Bank president Henrique Meirelles to take over the Ministry of Finance. 

Dominicans Vote, Haiti Waits: The Dominican Republic goes to the polls Sunday, with President Danilo Medina expected to easily win re-election after Congress last year modified the constitution to allow presidents to serve two consecutive terms. Medina's popularity has soared along with the economy, which averaged 7 percent growth over the past two years and is expected to grow another 5.4 percent in 2016. The election has already set a milestone by including the country's first openly gay congressional candidate. Meanwhile, neighboring Haiti shows few signs of holding a months-delayed presidential vote. A new leader was supposed to take office this Saturday, but the nation has yet to hold a second-round runoff to last October's contested vote, leaving Senate leader Jocelerme Privert as caretaker president for the foreseeable future. 

Panama Papers: A database of the full Panama Papers document leak will be made public at 2 p.m. ET today, despite law firm Mossack Fonseca's efforts to prevent an international consortium of journalists from releasing the information. The massive leak has already implicated dozens of public figures from Latin America and the world in the use of secretive offshore bank accounts to hold - and in some cases hide - their assets. The revelations have prompted Panama to reevaluate its banking laws and consider sharing tax and financial information with Colombia, the U.S. and others. The release is likely to figure heavily at an international anti-corruption summit to be held on May 12 in London; Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos is among those expected to attend. 

El Chapo Packs His Bags: Mexico's foreign secretary has 30 days to authorize Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's extradition to the U.S. after a federal judge on Friday recommended the drug lord's removal to California. Guzmán was on Saturday morning transferred to a prison on the U.S.-Mexico border, though officials said the move had nothing to do with his possible extradition. The Mexican government came under harsh criticism from political opponents and international observers for the decision to move the kingpin unannounced; Guzmán's defense team said the transfer was illegal, adding that he cannot be sent to the U.S. while his extradition case is under appeal. Security officials reportedly told Mexican newspaper El Universal that they expected Guzmán to be sent to the U.S. by July, if not sooner, though a separate court decision announced early today may further complicate matters. 

Economy in Brief

According to an adviser, Peru's Keiko Fujimori would use "strongly countercyclical policies" to raise GDP growth to 5-6 percent if she is elected president in June.

Argentina will allocate around $15 billion to infrastructure projects in an effort to pull its economy out of recession.

Chile's inflation rate fell for the third consecutive month in April on continued weak domestic demand.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: This Week in Latin America, Brazil, Dominican Republic