Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

This Week in Latin America: Political Crises in Guatemala

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Here are a few of the stories we’re following this week:

Turmoil in Guatemala: Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina (pictured) may face impeachment over his alleged participation in a wide-ranging corruption scandal involving the country’s customs agency. The president denied any connection with the scheme during a televised address on Sunday night, just days after his former vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, was arrested on fraud charges. The scandal may disrupt the first round of a presidential election scheduled for September 6. Pérez Molina is constitutionally prevented from running in that election.

Decision in Ríos Montt Genocide TrialA decision on whether Guatemala’s former president Efraín Ríos Montt is fit to stand trial for genocide is expected on Tuesday. Ríos Montt’s lawyers claim the 89-year-old suffers from dementia and does not understand the charges against him. The ex-general was convicted in 2013 of overseeing the killing of thousands of indigenous Mayans during Guatemala’s civil war, a decision that was later reversed. After a lengthy retrial and appeals process, the court will now decide if they will accept Ríos Montt’s lawyers’ assertions and suspend the trial indefinitely.

State of Exception in Venezuela: Tensions along the Venezuela – Colombia border are running high after Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro declared a 60-day state of exception and began forcibly expelling Colombian nationals from Venezuela’s border provinces on Friday. Maduro claims the measures are necessary to ensure security along the border, citing an attack on Venezuelan forces by Colombian paramilitaries last week. Many in Venezuela’s opposition claim the move is just one of many designed to muddy the waters ahead of parliamentary elections in December.

House Arrest Appeal for Mexico’s Gordillo:  Lawyers for the former head of Mexico’s largest  teachers union are expected to appeal a decision to deny their client house arrest today. Elba Esther Gordillo, once considered the country’s “most powerful woman,” was arrested in 2013 on charges of embezzling nearly $200 million. At the time, her arrest was viewed as a signal of intent from President Enrique Peña Nieto, who entered office promising to take on the country’s entrenched interests. 

Economy In Brief

  • Mexico’s peso crossed a “psychological barrier” of 17 pesos to the dollar on Sunday. The currency has lost over 15 percent of its value since the beginning of the year. 
  • A report from the International Monetary Fund says that Panama’s medium-term GDP growth should stay between 6 percent to 7 percent, thanks in part to a canal expansion project set for completion next year.
  • Uber says it will compensate one of its operators who was attacked by taxi drivers in Costa Rica over the weekend. Costa Rican officials say the ride-sharing service, which launched in the country on Saturday, is operating there illegally.

Tags: This Week in Latin America
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