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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
7/26/2016
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Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Paraguay, Uruguay

Accused of corruption for hiding the existence of foreign bank accounts, the president of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, Eduardo Cunha, resigned from his position on July 7.  In early May, the judge of the Federal Supreme Tribunal (STF) Teori Zavascki initiated a dismissal process against Cunha, who promoted the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. In a press conference, Cunha affirmed his innocence and that the process against him was persecution for having pushed for the political judgment against the President. The still-legislator faces various charges before the STF for having allegedly received millions of dollars in bribes as part of  the Lava Jato case.

The government of Cuba announced on July 13 that the Minister of the Economy, Marino Murillo, will leave his post to assume leadership of a commission to guide reforms to update the Cuban economic model. President Raúl Castro had declared the previous week that “difficult times” will come due to the lack of liquidity and the reduced petroleum supply from Venezuela. Governmental sources stated that the growth of the Cuban economy — 2.8 percent on average in the last five years — “did not correspond to the needs of economic development required by the country” and that “it did not have a significant impact on the domestic economy.”  Although in 2010, the government authorized 201 self-employment activities to reduce the financial burden on government, still two-thirds of the Cuban labor force are public employees.

On July 13, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador declared the General Amnesty Law for the Consolidation of  Peace unconstitutional. This law was approved in 1993 after the end of the civil war between the Salvadoran Armed Forces and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN), occurred between 1979 and 1992. It granted a reprieve to those who committed serious violations of human rights during the armed conflict. The court decision establishes that the law is “contrary to the right of access to Justice, judicial protection and the protection of fundamental rights” and infringe the “right of integral reparation of the victims of crimes against humanity and crimes of war that constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

On July 18, a court in Paraguay condemned 11 peasants for the massacre of Curuguaty, in the eastern department of Canindeyú, occurred in 2012, in which 11 peasants and six police died in a confrontation during a land eviction on an estate which was being occupied by peasants to protest the shortage of farm land. The peasants were condemned to prison terms between six and 18 years for the occupation of property and criminal association. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed his concern for the irregularities that were committed during the trial and that procedural safeguards were not respected. The case was the cause of impeachment against then-President Fernando Lugo (2008-2012), which culminated in his removal from office.

On July 8, after more than six years, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the arbitration tribunal of the World Bank, ruled in favor of Uruguay in a judicial process initiated by the multinational tobacco company Philip Morris International in 2010. The company, that had accused the South American country of violating a bilateral investment treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland by doing a health promotion campaign that obligated, among other things, that warning messages take up 80 percent of the cigarettes package, was obligated to pay US$7 million to Uruguay and pay the expenses incurred by the tribunal.


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