Top stories this week are likely to include: Enrique Peña Nieto appears set for victory in Mexico; OAS sends a delegation to Paraguay; Vietnam to build trade ties with Latin America; Julian Assange still under consideration for asylum; and Hugo Chávez and Henrique Capriles Radonski officially begin campaigning ahead of October’s election.
Enrique Peña Nieto Claims Victory: The Instituto Federal Electoral (Federal Electoral Institute) quick count gave Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto a nearly 7 percentage point lead when results were announced yesterday at 11:15 pm in Mexico City (12:15 am Eastern). Official results will be announced on Wednesday. Peña Nieto received about 38.2 percent of the vote with second-place candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) candidate of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) winning roughly 31.8 percent. Josefina Vázquez Mota, candidate of the incumbent National Action Party (PAN), received about 25.6 percent of the vote.
Vázquez Mota conceded defeat last night while AMLO said that “the last word still has not been said” but that he would not act irresponsibly—a reference to his protest of the 2006 victory of President Felipe Calderón. “Yesterday's election yet again showed the significant strides that Mexican democracy has made in the last 12 years. The key question for Peña Nieto will be how he works with a Congress where the PRI will likely have the most seats but not a majority to move forward needed labor, financial, fiscal, and energy reforms,” says AQ Senior Editor Jason Marczak.
Insulza Heads to Paraguay: Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza arrived in Paraguay last night to try and resolve the crisis gripping the landlocked South American nation that saw its former president, Fernando Lugo, rapidly impeached by Congress and Lugo’s vice president, Federico Franco, sworn in as his successor. Insulza will meet with both Lugo and Franco today and report back to the OAS Permanent Council later this week. He is being accompanied by the permanent representatives to the OAS of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Haiti, and Honduras. Paraguay was suspended last week by Mercosur but not slapped with economic sanctions by the South American bloc. The U.S. will wait for Insulza’s report before rendering an opinion on the Paraguayan situation. Notes AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini, “After UNASUR and Mercosur have acted, will any OAS action have an impact beyond attempting to get to the bottom of the constitutionality of the impeachment process?”
LatAm-Vietnam Trade: In yet another sign of the growing commercial ties between Latin America and the Far East, a trade and investment forum is taking place on Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, titled, “Vietnam-Latin America: Trade and Investment Partners for Development.” Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Latin America has grown seventeen-fold in the past 10 years. Over 16 Latin American nations plan to send delegations.
Assange Update: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange still remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy to the United Kingdom while Ecuador’s government considers his request for asylum. There may be an update in the coming days—Assange has been confined there for nearly two weeks—although Assange has already refused a police order to leave the embassy.
Venezuela’s Presidential Campaigns Begin: President Hugo Chávez and his main challenger, former Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, officially kicked off their campaigns yesterday for the October 7 election. Chávez already released his first commercial with the hashtag #SoyChávezdeCorazón. Capriles Radonski, on the other hand, campaigned in Venezuela’s southern towns that border Brazil, citing Brazil as a state model he would like to follow. While Chávez leads most polls, Capriles Radonski is counting on Venezuela’s undecided voters—as much as 35 percent of the electorate—to tip the balance in his favor.