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This Week in Latin America: Polls Close in Peru

A tight race to become Peru's next president. Plus: Brazil's impeachment battle, rebuilding Ecuador, and more.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski appears close to winning Peru's presidential election.
Diario La Primera (WikiCommons) April 7, 2016

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Peru Votes: With over 90 percent of votes counted as of publication, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski holds a slim lead in Peru's run-off presidential election thanks to a late surge against his rival Keiko Fujimori. The 77-year-old Kuczynski, who would be the country's oldest president at the time of taking office, positioned himself as the anti-corruption candidate in contrast to memories of Fujimori's father, who is currently in prison for corruption and human rights abuses committed while he was president. Kuczynski's late-race comeback was credited in part to qualified support from Verónika Mendoza, a left-leaning congresswoman who finished third in the first round of voting in April and is popular with youths and the LGBT community. Fujimori could still prevail, as votes have not been counted from Peruvians living abroad. Election officials said the final results would not be available until the weekend. 

Brazil's Impeachment Battle: Brazil's Supreme Court is expected to rule in coming days whether the Senate can accelerate the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff. A majority of the Senate's impeachment committee voted June 2 to speed up the process, but a lack of consensus in the full chamber held up the proposal, which must ultimately be approved by the Supreme Court's chief justice. Rousseff's attorney said he will also appeal the Senate's decision not to allow into the impeachment trial new plea bargaining evidence that appears to show interim President Michel Temer's newly-appointed cabinet plotting to subvert a corruption investigation - revelations that have already forced out two ministers and caused second-guessing among some senators on whether to impeach Rousseff. 

Venezuela Protests: Venezuela's opposition coalition says it will mobilizeon Tuesday in an effort to push the country's elections body to validate signatures needed to initiate a recall process against President Nicolás Maduro. After weeks of delays, National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena last week postponed a scheduled meeting with MUD officials regarding the signature campaign, citing "force majeure." Maduro, for his part, spent much of this weekend's gathering of the Association of Caribbean States attempting to rally support against Venezuela's suspension from the OAS, calling on his Latin American counterparts not to submit to "brutal pressure" from the United States. Argentina, Peru and others are weighing whether to approve activation of the OAS' Democratic Charter against Venezuela.

Corruption Investigations: Guatemala's former President Otto Pérez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti will appear before a judge today to face charges that they oversaw a massive bribery scheme stretching back to 2011. Guatemala's Attorney General Thelma Aldana on Thursday accused Pérez and Baldetti of leading a "criminal structure that had co-opted power," andissued arrest warrants for at least 50 people involved in the scheme. The former leaders have been imprisoned since 2015 pending trial on corruption charges related to kickbacks at Guatemala's customs agency. They were also both indicted in April on separate money laundering charges. Pérez and Baldetti have previously denied allegations against them. 

Economy in Brief

Chile's state oil firm ENAP will seek external financing to fund an $800 million investment plan for 2016.  

Rebuilding from April's 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador could cost more than $3.3 billion, according to government sources. 

A survey of private analysts predicts Mexico's peso to close the year at 17.94/dollar, a slight increase from earlier estimates.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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