Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: AQ’s Top Expected Stories for the Week of May 21

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Top stories this week are likely to include: Dominican Republic presidential results; Raúl Castro’s daughter travels to the U.S.; Honduran uproar over counternarcotics operation; Colombia responds to last week’s assassination attempt; and Brazil’s economy slows. 

Medina Leads in Election Returns: With over three-fourths of the vote counted in yesterday’s presidential election in the Dominican Republic, ruling party candidate Danilo Medina leads challenger—and former president—Hipólito Mejía. The tally has Medina ahead of Mejía by 51 percent to 47 percent, according to the BBC, which would cross the majority threshold to avoid a runoff. However, more votes remains to be counted; the Dominican expatriate community could play a deciding factor. Stay tuned for the announcement of a winner.

Mariela Castro to Visit the U.S.
: The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and outspoken gay rights activist, Mariela Castro, will begin a weeklong visit to the United States this week after being granted an entry visa by the U.S. government last week. She will make stops in San Francisco and New York City. In San Francisco, she will chair a panel on sexual diversity at the forthcoming congress of the Latin American Studies Association. Ms. Castro will also give a talk at the New York Public Library next Tuesday, May 29. What does this mean for the future of U.S.-Cuba exchanges? AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini comments, “While the decision to grant Raúl Castro’s daughter a visa likely indicates a shift in U.S. visa policy, the decision not to grant visas to well-known academics like Rafael Hernandez and others is odd and unfortunate.” 

Honduras-DEA Fallout: After a Honduran counternarcotics operation last week involving the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ended in the death of four innocent civilians, local Honduran civil society groups are demanding an end to U.S. presence in their country with a consortium of five Indigenous groups declaring the DEA agents “persona non grata.” Residents burned down government offices last week in protest and U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Howard Berman called for a review of U.S. assistance to Honduras. AQ Senior Editor Jason Marczak points out that “the Hondurans and the U.S. government are both saying that no shots were fired by DEA agents. But still, this incident will likely force a re-evaluation of what should be the exact terms of the U.S. support role.”

Bogotá Bombing Aftermath: After a bomb last week in uptown Bogotá failed to assassinate former Colombian Interior Minister Fernando Londoño but did kill two and wound 39, some observers worry about a return to violence that the Colombian capital has not witnessed in years. While President Juan Manuel Santos has been firm in his counterterrorism efforts against the FARC rebels, his predecessor Álvaro Uribe has lashed out via Twitter against Santos’ relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez—whom Uribe accuses of being an accomplice to the FARC. During Uribe’s presidency (2002-2010), relations with Venezuela plummeted dramatically, and Santos has sought rapprochement with his Venezuelan counterpart. On the method of Uribe’s criticism, Sabatini notes that “it’s remarkable how quickly the relationship between Santos and Uribe has soured and how the latter is using modern technology to engage in the classic strategy of disgruntled populists: a smear campaign.”

Dilma to Introduce Stimulus Measures: President Dilma Rousseff plans to issue stimuli this week such as an interest rate cut, extending cheaper credit for construction materials and tax breaks on consumer loans, according to the Folha do São Paulo. This comes after Brazil’s economy slowed for a third consecutive month. Whether these measures will reverse the trend of slowing growth remains to be seen.

Tags: Bombing, Colombia, Cuba, Dilma Rousseff, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Raul Castro
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