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Latinamerica Press
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Central America, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala and Honduras.

On Nov. 25, thousands of women took to the streets in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In 2016, the persistent violence has claimed the lives of 1,831 women in the region, so warned United Nations in the report “From Commitment to Action: Policies to End Violence against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean,” presented on Nov. 15. The study also indicates that 29.8 percent of the women in the region have been victims of violence at the hands of their partners, and 10.7 percent of them have suffered sexual violence at the hands of others. In Central America, 2 out of 3 women are murdered for being women, and in 1 out of 2 cases the murderer is their partner or former partner, with Honduras being the country with the highest femicide rate in the world, with more than 10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Recommendations made to governments include the implementation of plans and policies with a multi-dimensional approach, strengthening reparations actions for the victims and working with the men, particularly young men, to join them in the fight to combat violence against women.

Former Vice President of Argentina Amado Boudou was arrested on Nov. 3 on charges of illegal association and money laundering. Boudou, a trusted person of former President Cristina Fernández (2007-2015), was the Minister of Economy between 2009 and 2011 and Vice President between 2011 and 2015. According to the judicial investigation, Boudou has not provided proof of income of US$80,000 in his 2002 affidavit, and inconsistencies were found in the examination of 111 financial statements for the period 2002-2012. In addition, he is being tried for the alleged crime of bribery and negotiations incompatible with public service for attempting to purchase in 2010, through a front man, when he was Minister of Economy, a printing company dedicated to the manufacture of public documents and paper money. The printing company was statized after the scandal broke out. Fernández, an elected senator, is accused of allegedly awarding US$2.2 billion worth of public works to a single businessman in the province of Santa Cruz.

Sebastián Piñera, former President of Chile (2010-2014) and candidate for the center-right coalition Chile Vamos, won the first round of the presidential elections held on Nov. 19 with 36.7 percent of the votes, but will have to compete in a second round on Dec. 17 against Alejandro Guillier, representative of the center-left ruling group New Majority, who obtained 22.7 percent of the votes. The big surprise was Beatriz Sánchez, from the leftist Broad Front, who came in third place with 20.3 percent of the votes. The ultra-conservative Antonio Kast came in fourth with 7.9 percent of the votes, followed by Carolina Goic (5.9 percent), of the Christian Democratic Party, and Marco Enríquez Ominami (5.7 percent), of the Progressive Party; the other two candidates did not top 0.5 percent. Also elected were 155 deputies and 23 of the 38 senators. Chile Vamos will hold a majority in both chambers. Although Piñera is favored to win in the second round, the sum of the votes cast by the progressive sectors could favor Guillier.

Amnesty International (AI) welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to eliminate the use of the death penalty for ordinary crimes. On Nov. 8, went into effect the ruling that declared unconstitutional several articles of the Penal Code and the Law against Drug-Related Activity that allowed the use of the death penalty for the crimes of parricide, extrajudicial execution, kidnapping or abduction, forced disappearance and for the death of the president or vice president of the Republic. The decision finds that the articles violated the principle of legality and the right to life enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights. In a statement, AI noted that “as a result of the decision, from today the death penalty can no longer be imposed for crimes charged under ordinary laws in Guatemala — a step forward for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and a major milestone in its journey towards abolition.” The death penalty can still be handed down in accordance with the Military Code for a number of violations to that legislation.

The assassination in March 2016 of Berta Cáceres, the renowned environmentalist and defender of the Lenca indigenous people in Honduras, was ordered by executives of Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA), the company in charge of constructing the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, located on the Gualcarque River, considered sacred by the Lenca indigenous people. According to the report “Dam Violence: The plan that killed Berta Cáceres”, presented on Nov. 1 by the International Expert Advisory Panel (GAIPE), created in November 2016, the crime of Cáceres “was the product of a plan structured by senior executives of DESA, who involved employees of the company in monitoring and surveillance activity” of the environmentalist. At present, there are eight people arrested for the crime, who allegedly received US$22,000 for the execution. According to GAIPE, the investigation carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office “has been insufficient and incomplete”, since “all those responsible for the assassination have yet to be identified”.

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