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Latinamerica Press
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Agentina, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Venezuela

On Aug. 13, 24 million voters (72 percent of the 31 million registered voters) in Argentina cast their ballots in the Open, Simultaneous, Mandatory Primaries (PASO) to have each party or alliance determine its list of candidates to the 127 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 24 seats in the Senate, who will participate in the upcoming legislative elections on Oct. 22. The primaries for Deputies were held in 24 electoral districts, while the ones for the Senate took place in eight districts. The groups that received 1.5 percent or more of the valid vote are now eligible to participate in the legislative elections. The Cambiemos (Let’s Change) ruling party coalition, of President Mauricio Macri, and the opposition alliance Unidad Ciudadana (Citizen Unity), headed by ex-President Cristina Fernández (2007-2015), who is vying for a seat in the Senate, received the highest number of votes at the national level. In the Province of Buenos Aires, where 38 percent of the electoral roll is concentrated, Cambiemos and Unidad Ciudadana tied with 34 percent of the vote.

On Aug. 13, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, enacted Law 266 that removes the intangibility of the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), allowing for the construction of a 360 km highway that will join the departments of Beni and Cochabamba and that will cross this protected natural area. In October 2011, hundreds of Amazonian indigenous people marched from Beni to La Paz, obtaining the adoption of Law 180 that established the intangibility of the TIPNIS. In 2012 the government held a prior and informed consultation among the Mojeño-Trinitarias, Chimanes and Yuracarés indigenous communities to decide the intangibility of the TIPNIS. The government informed that 58 out of 69 communities had been consulted, all of which voted in favor of the highway and the repeal of Law 180. Environmental groups predict that the deforestation of the TIPNIS will eventually reach 600,000 Ha, half its total area.

The Constitutional Court (CC) of Chile confirmed on Aug.  21 the law that decriminalizes abortion in three circumstances: when the fetus is not viable, the life of the mother is in danger, and when the pregnancy is the result of rape. On Aug. 2, the Chamber of Deputies approved the initiative and the Senate did the same only hours later. However, a group of conservative legislators filed an appeal with the CC to stop the enactment of the law, arguing that the Constitution “protects the life of the unborn”, but the CC gave it the green light asserting its constitutionality. The initiative, which was championed by President Michelle Bachelet during her presidential campaign in 2013, represents “an important victory for human rights and for the protection of the life and health of the women and young girls of Chile,” stated Amnesty International. With this measure, Chile is no longer part of the group of countries in which abortion is prohibited under any circumstance, a group that includes El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname and the Dominican Republic.

The government of Guatemala informed on Aug. 23 that it is currently evaluating bringing back the death penalty, provided for in the Constitution, and that has not been applied since 2000 when two kidnappers were executed by lethal injection. The spokesperson for the presidency, Heinz Heinmann, mentioned in a press conference the possibility of bringing back the death penalty, following the shooting at a hospital by gang members on Aug. 16, killing seven people and leaving 11 wounded. Heinmann said that the situation of extreme violence that is taking place in the country and the need to guarantee the governability and the comprehensive security of the population, has prompted authorities to evaluate the application of the capital punishment to prevent “terrorist acts.” Besides Guatemala, the death penalty in Latin America and the Caribbean is in effect in Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname  and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Constitutional National Assembly (ANC) of Venezuela was installed on Aug. 4 under the presidency of Delcy Rodríguez. The ANC, in which only government party candidates participated, was elected on July 30 by some 8 million voters, amid violent protests. President Nicolás Maduro called for this election on May 1 that was rejected by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition party who set in motion a referendum that took place on July 14 in which approximately 7.2 million people voted in favor of not recognizing the ANC. On Aug.18, the ANC dissolved the National Assembly (Parliament), elected in December 2015 and controlled by MUD, and decided by means of a decree to assume the legislative duties. The ANC will have two years to draft the new Constitution that is to replace the one approved by referendum in December 1999, during the mandate of former President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013).

Latinamerica Press / Noticias Aliadas
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