Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: Argentina, Iran Negotiate – U.S. Campaigns Enter Homestretch – Stephen Harper to India – and more

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Top stories this week are likely to include: Argentina and Iran attempt to repair relations; U.S. presidential campaigns enter final week; reactions to the municipal elections in Chile; Harper begins trip to India; and Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead.

Argentine- Iranian Negotiations: Delegations from Argentina and Iran are meeting today in Geneva to discuss the 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentine–Israeli Mutual Association—AMIA) in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and over 300 injured. Iran and its proxies have long been suspected of orchestrating the attack, but have never claimed responsibility for it—and the Islamic Republic’s diplomatic relations with Argentina have been hampered since, particularly because Argentina is home to South America’s largest Jewish community. Today’s dialogue builds on the meeting that Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman held with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Final Week of U.S. Pre-Election Campaigning: Although early voting has begun in select U.S. states, most U.S. citizens will cast their ballots on Tuesday, November 6 for the presidential election and additional elections at the congressional, state and local levels. However, the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have had to alter their schedules given the expected high winds, flooding and power outages that Hurricane Sandy is expected to produce along the eastern seaboard. Power could be out in some places for up to 10 days, meaning that polling stations may be affected. While Obama will spend the first part of this week in Washington DC to make emergency preparations on behalf of the federal government, Romney will take his message to Ohio and other swing states in the Midwest.

Dissecting the Results in Chile: Opposing parties to President Sebastián Piñera made gains in yesterday’s nationwide municipal elections in Chile; beyond the results, however, one big takeaway was the low voter turnout. Only 40.9 percent of Chileans turned out to vote in this first election where voting was optional. Piñera cast this low turnout as a “warning sign” for democracy in Chile. A government spokesperson has already hinted that Piñera will make changes at the ministerial level in response to the disapproval of his coalition.

Harper to India: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper departs for his six-day state visit to India on Saturday, where he will seek to deepen bilateral ties through meetings with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and other national leaders. Harper is expected to visit New Delhi, Agra, Chandigarh, and Bangalore—and will address the World Economic Forum in Guragon. In advance of the trip, Harper said, “India is a growing economy with enormous potential, and expanding our trade and investment links with India will create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity here in Canada.”

Day of the Dead: This Mexican holiday will be celebrated on November 1 and 2 to remember family members and friends who have died. This Indigenous Aztec tradition was moved by Spanish conquistadores to coincide with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Celebrations will occur throughout Mexico and other communities with Mexican influence such as select cities in Texas and Arizona.

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