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Weekly Roundup: Bolivia's Vote, Venezuela's Hidden Devaluation, Brazil's Runoff Race

October 10, 2014

Bolivia’s Morales Eyes Third Term

This week, Bolivia’s presidential candidates concluded their campaigns ahead of the October 12 election, which President Evo Morales is expected to win in his bid for a third term. According to the latest Mori poll, the incumbent enjoys the support of 59 percent of voters, a 41-point lead over his closest challenger— businessman Samuel Doria Medina—trailing at 18 percent. On October 5, The Washington Post chronicled Morales’ expansion and consolidation of support during his first two terms, including his coalition’s progress at building trust among the country’s business community.

Get 10 facts about Bolivia’s upcoming election.

Polls Show Dead Heat in Brazil’s Runoff Race

On October 5, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came in first in the country’s presidential election but will face an October 26 runoff against Senator Aécio Neves. An Ibope poll and a Datafolha poll both released October 9 show the same result: a statistical tie. With a 2-point margin of error, Neves leads with 46 percent, compared to Rousseff at 44 percent. 

After Sunday’s vote, BBC Brasil mapped the country’s overseas vote by country, showing Neves winning 49 percent of votes cast by expats. Rousseff won 18 percent, and Marina Silva won 26 percent.

Understand why calls for change didn’t register at the ballot box in a Quartz piece by AS/COA’s Rachel Glickhouse.

In Mexico, Questions Grow over Missing Students in Guerrero

Authorities uncovered four new mass graves yesterday near Iguala, Guerrero, where 43 students went missing last month in what is feared to have been a massacre carried out by police and under the mandate of the city’s mayor. Last week, 28 bodies were found in six graves in the same area; the remains have yet to be identified. The town’s mayor, thought to have ties to organized crime, has gone into hiding, while Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called what happened “an act of barbarism” that causes indignation, “not only among Mexicans, but in different parts of the world.” The president urged his cabinet to accelerate the investigation and find those responsible; at least 30 people, mostly police, have been arrested so far. Peña Nieto’s statements came a day after Human Rights Watch said that, when it comes to solving thousands of disappearances across the country, “the administration’s efforts have been plagued by inexplicable delays and contradictory public statements.” Last week, the UN also urged the Mexican government to resolve the 43 disappearances. In addition to the case in Iguala, the federal government faces criticism for presenting shifting accounts of what occurred during the June killing of 22 people by members of the armed forces in Estado de México.

The Daily Beast offers a backgrounder on what happened in Iguala, as well as on the school attended by the 43 disappeared students. Animal Politico is publishing a series of profiles of those who have gone missing.

An Americas Quarterly article from the Winter 2014 issue explores Latin American efforts to move away from military-led anticrime strategies to methods such as community policing.

Venezuela’s Stealth Devaluation: Auction Dollar Price up 61 Percent

Bloomberg reported this week that the Venezuelan government is charging companies 61 percent more for dollars in government auctions than it did a year ago. The publication called the move “the world’s steepest currency devaluation.” According to Barclays estimates, companies are paying the government an average of 17.3 bolivars per dollar, compared to 6.7 last year. “It’s a stealth devaluation,” said Alejandro Grisanti, a Latin American economist at Barclays.

Read what experts predicted was in store for Venezuela’s economy in 2014 during an AS/COA event earlier this year.

Peruvians Elect Former Lima Mayor and an Imprisoned Governor

On October 5, Peruvians elected regional presidents and district and provincial mayors. Former Lima Mayor Luis Castañeda will return to the position after defeating incumbent Susan Villarán with just over 50 percent of the vote. In Cajamarca, a region with ongoing mining conflicts, voters reelected current Regional President Gregorio Santos Guerrero, who has been in prison since June on corruption charges.

Get the background on Peru’s elections from AS/COA Online’s 2014 election blog.

Former Dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier Dies in Haiti before Potential Prosecution

On October 4, Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former Haitian ruler known as Baby Doc, died of a heart attack at the age of the 63. Since his return to Haiti in 2011—following a 25-year exile in France—human rights advocates had been preparing to take the deposed leader to international court to be tried for crimes against humanity during his regime. One of the lawyers working on the case, Human Rights Watch lawyer Reed Brody, told The New Yorker: “Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history.”

Watch an exclusive AS/COA Online video Q&A with President Michel Martelly on Haiti’s future.

CentAm Coffee Production Could Provide Alternative Energy Source

This week, the Guardian looks at how waste water from coffee production can be used to generate biogas in Central America. Since Latin America produces 70 percent of the world’s coffee and contains 31 percent of the world’s freshwater resources, the practice could bring environmental benefits. However, high investment costs limit widespread implementation of the practice.

Read about access to biofuels in an Americas Quarterly feature.

Smartphone Apps Help Users Fight Corruption in LatAm

This week, Newsweek looked at efforts to fight corruption using smartphone apps throughout Latin America. For example, an anti-corruption commission in Peru recently launched an app showing the criminal backgrounds of candidates ahead of the October 5 elections. “Created by government, civil societies and international organizations, the apps are promoting grassroots citizen engagement in a region where social rank has historically rendered large portions of the population mute in the face of abuses,” the article says.

Listen to AS/COA Online’s LatAm Minute on digital entrepreneurship in Latin America.