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This Week in Latin America: Peru Votes

Reading Time: 2 minutesPlus: Dilma’s last stand, the “Panama Papers” make the rounds, and more.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Photo: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores Peru (flickr), March 22, 2016

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Peru Election: Peruvians go to the polls on April 10 to elect their next president from a shrinking pool of candidates. Investor favorite Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who is polling second behind center-right front-runner Keiko Fujimori, is the latest to face potential disqualification because of accusations of giving improper handouts; this may help the political fortunes of leftist lawmaker Veronika Mendoza, who is polling a close third on promises of “radical change.” A survey published over the weekend by Ipsos projects the election to proceed to a second round run-off scenario in which Fujimori would either defeat Mendoza or lose to Kuczynski. With half of all contenders banned from or abandoning the race amid strict new electoral laws, the Organization of American States is questioning the entire election’s credibility. 

Dilma’s Defense: Today Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s lawyers will present final arguments against impeachment to an investigatory congressional committee, which is scheduled to make its recommendation April 11. This will set the stage for a vote in the lower house of Congress on April 17.According to the latest tally from O Estado de S. Paulo, not enough lawmakers support impeachment for it to proceed to trial in the Senate – a scenario that would force Rousseff’s suspension, with executive powers passing to Vice President Michel Temer. Key for Rousseff will be the coalition-building efforts of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose future as Rousseff’s chief of staff will also be decided this week by the Supreme Court. 

Oil Glut: Oil ministers from Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia are expected to meet on April 8 to discuss a freeze in crude production, assustained low oil prices take a toll on the countries’ economies. Ecuador’s Oil Minister Carlos Pareja traveled to Mexico and Colombia last week in an effort to finalize arrangements for the meeting, which was previously delayed. The potential for a freeze – to which Venezuela and Ecuador have already agreed –comes as OPEC considers steps to stabilize world oil markets. Pareja says he hopes to have an agreement with his Latin American counterparts in place before an April 17 meeting among OPEC member and non-member states. 

El Salvador’s Gang War: Some observers fear a spike in gang-related violence in El Salvador after the country’s legislature approved on Friday a package of emergency measures designed to curtail gang activity in its overcrowded prisons. Officials say that prisoners continue to engage in criminal activity even from behind bars. The measures, which among other things will make it easier for officials to isolate locked-up gang leaders, come as El Salvador struggles to contain perhaps the highest levels of violence of any country in the world that isn’t officially at war. El Salvador’s two largest gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, had offered to take steps to reduce violence in exchange for the emergency measures being put on hold; the government refused, and the decree was approved by 83 of the country’s 84 legislators. 

Economy in Brief

massive leak of documents (dubbed the “Panama Papers”) from a law firm in Panama implicated scores of public figures in tax evasion practices.

Argentina will raise natural gas prices by up to 300 percent, as the government cuts back on energy subsidies.

Airbus says the number of aircraft needed to handle growing air traffic in Latin America will double in the next decade.

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