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Elections in Colombia: the big explainer

Elections in Colombia: the big explainer

We explain what's in store, where the country is headed and why the situation is so tense ahead of presidential elections
A Petro supporter at the campaign’s closing event in Bogota (Photo: Daniela Díaz)

Ahoy! It’s been a labor intensive week for the PWS crew as presidential elections near in Colombia, which is what we’re talking about in this week's podcast!

Amy and Paulo are well on the road to recovery after  involuntary Covid vacations. Daniela and Joshua meanwhile are hunkered down in Bogotá hoping that a tense election weekend passes without incident.

This week in the headlines in Latam!

In terrible scenes in Brazil, 26 people were killed on Tuesday in the Rio de Janeiro favela of Vila Cruzeiro during a police operation to capture drug traffickers from the “Comando Vermelho” gang. The group is allegedly responsible for over 80% of shootouts in the city. The authorities claim that the deaths were due to confrontations between the police and criminals. However, the Comptroller’s Office and Human Rights Ombudsman have questioned the official account. “Currently, the legality of the operation is under investigation and the proportionality in the use of force, the high lethality, lead us to suspect that a massacre may have been committed,” the institutions said in a statement. President Jair Bolsonaro congratulated the officers involved, in what Human Rights Watch described as a message of impunity. Black Brazilians are disproportionately likely to be killed by the police.

A 66-year-old Mapuche man has been killed and at least two others suffered bullet wounds after a group of hooded attackers ambushed a bus carrying around 30 forestry workers in southern Chile. This comes a week after the government of Gabriel Boric declared a state of emergency and a military intervention in the region in response to the crime and attacks taking place in the context of a conflict over Indigenous peoples’ legitimate demands. President Boric said: “We will not tolerate violence being imposed as a conflict resolution method.”

On Thursday, Peru’s congress approved a censure motion against the Labour Minister, Betssy Chávez, after questions were raised about how she handled a strike by air traffic controllers during Holy Week. The motion was approved with 71 votes, including not just the right-wing and centrist opposition parties, but also President Pedro Castillo’s ruling Perú Libre party. Chavez, who will have to present her resignation within 72 hours of the vote, is the second of Castillo’s ministers to be censured so far. Over 50 people have passed through his Cabinet in the 10 months since he became president.

What we’re writing:

  • Josh wrote this primer on the Colombian elections for NACLA and this analysis of what the polls mean for the peace process for Preemptive Love. Both are expertly illustrated with Daniela’s photography.

  • Amy submitted her master’s thesis, but you can’t read it yet. Like a true pirate she has to defend it. She’s sharpening her cutlass as we speak.

What we’re reading:

  • This story about a Bolivian student leader who allegedly stayed enrolled at a public university for 32 years so he could keep his state salary of around US$3,000 per month may not be the most profound thing you’ll read this week. But Discworld fans will appreciate the strong Rincewind energy. And it gives Amy comfort to know there’s someone out there taking longer to graduate than her.

Spanish words of the week:

  • sabandijas (fpl): Vermin

  • sangría francesa (f): Because why have a hanging indent on your publication when you could have a FRENCH BLEED? We’re open to reader submissions for the most needlessly dramatic typesetting term, but we don’t think you’re going to beat this

Noticias Españolas

Terrible escenario en Brasil: 25 personas murieron el martes en un complejo de favelas de Río de Janeiro, en medio de una operación policial que pretendía la captura de narcotraficantes del ‘Comando Vermelho’, un importante grupo criminal que sería responsable de más del 80% de enfrentamientos armados en Río de Janeiro. Según las autoridades, las muertes se debieron a los enfrentamientos entre policías y delincuentes. Sin embargo, desde la Contraloría y la Defensoría Pública local han cuestionado el operativo. “Hasta el momento se está investigando la legalidad de la operación y la proporcionalidad en el uso de la fuerza, la alta letalidad levanta la sospecha de que pudo haber sido cometida una matanza”, han expresado ambas instituciones en un comunicado.

El Congreso de Perú aprobó el jueves una moción de censura contra la ministra de Trabajo, Betssy Chávez, a raíz de cuestionamientos sobre el manejo de una huelga de controladores aéreos ocurrida durante la pasada Semana Santa. La censura se aprobó con 71 votos, entre los cuales, además de las bancadas de oposición de derecha y centro, se contaron votos del oficialismo de Perú Libre, el partido del presidente Pedro Castillo. Chávez, que deberá presentar su renuncia en un plazo de 72 horas, es la segunda ministra censurada en lo que va de mandato. Sin embargo, se suma a los más de 50 nombres que han formado parte del Gabinete Ministerial en 10 meses.

 A una semana de que el gobierno de Gabriel Boric decretara un estado de emergencia y una intervención militar acotada en la zona del macrosur en Chile —a causa de los delitos y atentados que ocurren en el contexto de los reclamos legítimos de los pueblos originarios—, se reportó un ataque perpetrado por un grupo de encapuchados contra un autobús en el que viajaban unos 30 trabajadores forestales. El atentado dejó un saldo de tres heridos de bala y un muerto, un trabajador de 66 años de origen mapuche. Sobre este hecho, el presidente Boric señaló: “No vamos a tolerar que la violencia se imponga como método de resolución de conflictos”.

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Original journalism on Latin America, from discussion on current events to deeply human narratives, to crime and drugs