Top stories this week are likely to include: Strong chavista performance in Venezuelan regional elections; Mayan peoples celebrate the thirteenth b’ak’tun; Argentina faces international fiscal isolation; and Peru and Chile sign a pact to remove mines from their shared border.
Impact of Venezuela Regional Elections: Although Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ health remains uncertain after a surgical operation in Cuba last week, his influence could not be ignored as Venezuelans went to the polls to elect state governors and legislators. Chávez-allied candidates dominated yesterday, winning 20 of 23 states; the opposition won only the states of Amazonas, Lara and Miranda. The Miranda victor was Henrique Capriles Radonski, who formerly held the governorship before resigning it to contest Chávez unsuccessfully during the 2012 presidential election in October. What will this mean for Venezuela? Observes AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini: “While Capriles’ win in Miranda reinforces his leadership of the opposition, this was clearly a victory at the state level for the chavista PSUV party—expanding their control over patronage and state offices which may come in handy if the country has to hold new presidential elections.”
Mayans Prepare for End of the Thirteenth B’ak’tun: Friday, December 21, marks the end of the current b’ak’tun in the Mayan calendar. Each b’ak’tun lasts approximately 394.3 solar years, but this Friday is especially noteworthy since it also marks the end of the Great Cycle—a period of 13 b’ak’tuns that began in 3114 BC. Given the importance of this date, some eschatologists believe the world will experience cataclysmic events; Mayas in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula are approaching the date with “calm and equanimity,” according to the Associated Press. Later this week, AQ contributing blogger Nic Wirtz will report from Guatemala on the preparations being undertaken there for the historic event.
Argentina Faces International Fiscal Isolation: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will issue a report today on the failure of the Argentine government “to provide accurate data on inflation and growth to the Fund as members are required” within a three-month timeline, reports MercoPress. In September, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned that she would give the Argentine government a “red card” if it did not produce accurate inflation statistics. “Argentine officials report the country’s inflation rate at about 10 percent, but independent analysts have the number somewhere between 25 to 30 percent,” says Business Insider. If the IMF report is condemnatory, Argentina faces the prospect of expulsion from the Fund as well as the G-20 group of industrial nations.
Peru, Chile Demine Shared Border: The two Pacific countries are expected to announce on Thursday that approximately 300 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines have been cleared along their shared border. The mines date back to the contentious Peruvian-Chilean bilateral relations during their respective military dictatorships several decades ago. This action was agreed upon this past September by both foreign ministers at the UN General Assembly, and has been facilitated by the Norwegian People’s Aid.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
San Salvador, El Salvador
Julio Rank Wright
Christian Gómez, Jr.
Johanna Mendelson Forman