Venezuela Votes Amid International Outcry

Updated with results

By Ronald J. Morgan

In an unusual consensus between the United States and Latin America nations, criticism of Venezuela has been raised to a fever pitch ahead of the May 20th, presidential elections. Except for a few hard-core supporters such as Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, Venezuela is isolated in Latin America and Europe.

Will the current Venezuelan government survive the growing whirlwind of international opposition? President Maduro said he would like to receive 10 million votes in the up coming election to cement his reelection and that he will be getting to work to solve the country’s economic problems as soon as he is reelected. 1.2,3

The candidate for re-election has described the economic problems, which include hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages as well as a growing exodus of Venezuelans as a right-wing conspiracy launched by the Venezuelan opposition and the United States.

Maduro is expected to be re-elected easily. But the vote  is being faulted for a lack of opposition participation. The majority of the opposition groups are boycotting the elections. A boycott of the election was declared Feb. 22, 2018, by the main opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, known as MUD. Nevertheless, three candidates are running in the election in addition to Maduro. 4,5

Henri Falcon, 58, a former Chavez supporter and governor of Lara state,  broke with the MUD opposition and entered the race under the Alianza para Progreso Party. He is running second in the polls and has promised to end hyperinflation by changing the economy to a dollar based currency.

Javier Bertucci, 48, Esperanza por la Cambio Party, is a former evangelical minister. He has called for a general opening of the economy and permitting of humanitarian assistance. He would encourage new investment and be friendly to the United States.

Reinaldo Quijada, 58, has been a spokesman for the PSUV under Hugo Chavez but later broke with Chavismo. He has called for a special economic ministry to find a way out of the economic crisis.

Luis Alejandro Ratti, 39, a fomer Chavez supporter turned opposition, has dropped out of the race and decided to back Henri Falcon.

See: Venezuela Regional Elections: A Major Opposition Defeat

Twelve Latin America nations making up the Lima Group, Canada, the European Community and the United States are rejecting the legitimacy of the May vote. 6.7

The completely polarized situation is expected to worsen in coming months following political changes expected to take place as a result of a new constitution to be completed by the Constitutional Assembly established Oct. 30, 2017.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has accused Nicolas Maduro and the dominant PSUV party of establishing another Cuba-style government. Peruvian Writer Mario Vargas Llosa has gone on CNN and said the only solution to the problems of Venezuela is the “fall of the regime.” 8,9,10,10a,10b

The United States government has also called for Nicolas Maduro to resign.

See: Venezuela Opposition Opts Out of Municipal Elections

Efforts at dialogue, which took place in the Dominican Republic during 2017, failed to ease the crisis.

The upcoming elections and new constitution are culminating a shift in democracy which began last year with a decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court to limit the power of the opposition controlled General Assembly and a move to establish a constitutional convention without first holding a referendum. Protests, which occurred in 2017, lead to 130 deaths. 11

After briefly backing down following an uproar of protest over the Supreme Court granting itself legislating power, the opposition controlled congress was blocked again by the creation of the Constituent Assembly in July. The Assembly has granted itself legislating power.

Another factor causing concern about democracy was the stopping of a 2016, recall election by the Venezuelan Electoral Council in Oct. 2016.

The government is also in the midst of an economic crisis which includes hyperinflation, and shortages of critical foodstuffs and medicines. The U.N. High Commission on Refugees reports that 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving the country every day. Many have decided to reside in the neighboring countries of Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. 12

See: Venezuela Crisis Deepens

The United States, Canada, and the European Union have turned to what are being called targeted economic sanctions against individuals accused of human rights violations to show international outrage at alleged Venezuelan government repression. Human rights violations are increasingly out of control opposition and human rights sources report. A March 6, 2018 report by the U.N. Human Rights Commission has reported hundreds of extrajudicial murders have occurred during protests and police operations. The ONG Foro Penal reports there are 498 political prisoners. Drug trafficking and corruption are also being alleged and prosecuted in several international jurisdictions. 13,14,15,16

How far to go in pressuring Venezuela to return to a more open democracy is under debate. The Lima Group is made up of twelve North and South American Countries (Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Chile Colombia, Paraguay and Peru ) The group. which was  established in August 2017, has called for cancellation of the May 20th vote. But the body has, so far, ruled out supporting an armed intervention. The United States under President Donald Trump has left the option open.

U.S. sanctions, which now include prohibitions which restrict Venezuela’s access to U.S. financial markets, could be expanded to an oil embargo. Venezuela is dependent on oil exports to survive.

A strategy to publicly criticize Venezuela has expanded to include a number of actions to exclude them from activities and organizations in Latin America.

These actions include calls by the United States to expel Venezuela from the Organization of American States,  suspension of Venezuela´s membership rights in the Mercosur trade organization. And refusal to allow Venezuela to participate in the Summit of the Americas.

Six Latin American nations:  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru  have suspended their membership in the left founded UNASUR (Union de Naciones Suramericanas) organization for one year as  result of a dispute over who should lead the organization. UNASUR was originally created to counter U.S. influence in Latin America but many of the nations now have pro U.S. governments. 17

The effort to confront Venezuela over its shortcomings in democracy, human rights, and economic failings began with a series of hearings and reports by Luis Alamagro. Secretary General of the Organization of American States. Recently ,Alamagro came out in favor of tougher oil sanctions against Venezuela and criticized the participation of Henri Falcon in the May 20th vote.

Venezuela will be increasingly isolated after the imposition of petroleum-related economic sanctions. It will have to depend on assistance from Russia and China. Both have already been loaning money and investing in the country. A U.S. Congressional Research Service report estimates  that Russia has provide $11 billion in arms sales and made extensive investments in Venezuela’s energy business. China has provided $62.2 billion in assistance, according to the report.

Control over Venezuela has been increasingly concentrated in the Venezuelan military and a small group of persons in the executive branch. Recently, members of Venezuelan oil industry have been removed on corruption charges. They were replaced by members of the military.

This growing cold war-like effect is bringing calls for coups and even direct military intervention.

Recently, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry announced that the May 20, elections are a choice between two models: “On May 20, Venezuela will choose between two opposite country models: Sovereignty, equality & Homeland Plan vs. IMF, U.S. Dollar & submission to Trump. With Nicolas Maduro the people of Bolivar and Chavez will reaffirm its independence, heading for peace in (the) economy.”

Maduro has said: “We are defending our history and our dignity. We are defending the independence of Venezuela and the right to have a prosperous future which is just, solidary. Together everything is possible.” 18,19,20,21,22,23,24

Maduro has promised an economic revolution if he is reelected. And he has said he is the only one who can tackle the country’s problems. This spring,  Venezuela launched the Petro crypto-currency in an effort to solve Venezuelan exchange and hard currency problems. President Trump has banned the Petro for purchase by Americans inside the U.S. 25, 26, 28

Results of the July 20th vote according to Wikipedia:

Nicolas Maduro, PSUV, 6,244,016 votes, 67.8%. Maduro won in all 23 states.

Henri Falcon, Alianza Para Progreso, 1,927,174 votes, 21.0%. no states won.

Javier Bertucci, Esperanza Para La Cambio, 983,140 votes, 19.8%, no states won.

The number of registered voters totaled: 20,759,809. Votes cast totalled 9,132, 655 for a 46.04% turnout. This number is being questioned by the oppostion who contend it was lower.
1. Venezuela has just announced an election — and it’s terrible news for democracy

2, CRS Report Venezuela March 9, 2018

3. Venezuela’s Presidential Candidates and their Platforms

4. Why Venezuela’s opposition has been unable to effectively challenge Maduro

5. The Tragedy of the Venezuelan Opposition

6. The Lima Group and the US Will Not Recognize Venezuela May 20 Election

7. EU heaps sanctions on Venezuela as isolation grows

8. Mike Pence asegura que EE.UU. “no se quedará de brazos cruzados” ante Venezuela

9. ¿Rumbo a una nueva Cuba?, por Andrés Oppenheimer

10. EEUU pide renuncia del presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro

10a Antonio Ledezma: Crisis de Venezuela se resuelve solo con salida de Maduro

10b. Borges sobre sesión de la OEA: “Vamos a lograr el cambio de Venezuela”

11. Venezuela’s two legislatures

12. 50,000 Venezuelans han llegado a Colombia

13. Human Rights Watch Venezuela Report

14. High Commissioner’s global update of human rights concerns

15. UN Human Rights Council Confronts Venezuela

16. Venezuela Drug Trafficking

17. Six countries suspend membership in UNASUR regional bloc

18. Maduro vows economic change for Venezuela’s ‘rebirth’ before vote

20. Gobierno de Venezuela rechaza declaraciones de Mike Pompeo

22. Nicolás Maduro: Al pueblo venezolano le pertenece el poder

23. Venezuela reconoce crisis pero acusa a la OEA de buscar ‘intervención’ Foreign Office

24. Maduro advierte que tomará armas si llega un Gobierno que “entregue riquezas”

25. Nicolas Maduro´s Accelerating Revolution

26. Venezuela´s Fragile Revolution

27.Venezuela’s Petro Crypto currency

28. Trump Bans Petro


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Paraguay Election Irregularties Cloud Right Wing Win

By Ronald J. Morgan

The ghosts of Paraguay’s 35-year dictatorship are still influencing the country’s political environment.  The son of a top dictatorship official has been declared the winner of the April 22, presidential election.

(ALERT: Discovery of election vote count irregularities remain to be resolved. Left Presidential Candidate Efrain Alegre announced, April 24, that differences were found between the voting table tallies and official reporting system vote count. Head of the Tribunal Superior de Justicia Electoral (TSJE) Luis Salas has denied that there is fraud and said that the irregularites must be taken up with the individual members of the voting table where the mistakes were made. Former President Fernando Lugo, currently president of the Chamber of Deputies, has called for suspension of the vote count.) 1

Mario Abdo Benitez, 46, has lead the Colorado Party to its second five-year term since its loss in 2008, to leftist Fernando Lugo. The victory will keep the country largely under control of soybean and cattle barons.

Abdo Benitez faced strong competition from Efrain Alegre, 55, of the Left GANAR Alliance, a group formed of the Partido Liberal Revolucionario Authentico, the left Frente Guasu and center left Avanza Pais party.

Results with 99% of the count completed showed 46.6%, some 1,205,254 votes for Abdo Benitez versus 42.74%, some 1,109,217 votes for Alegre. the victory was by a margin of 3.86%

Soybeans and cattle raising are pushing the economy ahead sufficiently to usher in better times but the agricultural expansion is based on land holding inequalities that are still stirring social  and armed conflict. In the north of Paraguay well-heeled farmers have to contend with the threat of kidnappings by a small insurgent group seeking revenge for the country’s past and present social inequalities.

The nation of 6.7 milion grew 4.3% in 2017 and is expected to expand 4.3% in 2018. Poverty is  28.8% of the population living on at less than $3. 10 per day with extreme poverty at 5.5%  living on less than $1.90 per day. Still poverty often runs 40% in rural areas. Per capita income has risen from $4,200 in 2008 to $9,800 in 2017. 1a

Adding more historical drama to the election is the fact that the new President Mario (Marito) Abdo Benitez is the son of Gen. Stroessner’s private secretary, who also was named Mario Abdo.

Wikipedia reports that Abdo Benitez, 46, has said he feels Stroessner “did a lot” to help the country but rejects the numerous human rights violations of the period. His Vice Presidential Candidate is Hugo Velazquez, former head of the Chamber of Deputies. The  ABC Color newspaper has questioned the increase in Velazquez’s wealth over recent years.

Abdo Benitez was an opponent of the Cartes reelection effort, During the primary election he ran against Cartes’s handpicked successor Finance Minister Santiago Peña, 35. Abdo Benitez won the December, 2017, Partido Colorado primary with 570,921 votes (51.01%) while Peña garnered 482,615 (43.23%) of the vote, according to Wikipedia.

The Colorado Party remained the dominant electoral force after the fall of the 35-year Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship (1954 – 1989) in 1989, and has ruled the country for 70 years. The only exception has been a brief period from 2008 to 2012 under leftist President Fernando Lugo. Lugo was impeached by congress before finishing his five-year term due to right-wing political opposition.

After the Lugo period, Horacio Cartes was elected in 2013. A well-known business man Cartes returned the country to Colorado party control and focussed on economic projects. An effort to have the Paraguayan congress approve the right to reelection lead to a serious crisis and violence in 2017. Cartes decided to drop his effort after weeks of protests that lead to burning of the congressional building and killings by police. 2,3

The situation damaged Cartes’s image but overall he had better luck than Lugo and was able to preside over a period of historical economic expansion which was caused by the cumulative effect of expanding Paraguayan soy been production which rose to 10 million tons in 2017. A construction boom and an increase in in-bond manufacturing plants (maquilas) also helped. Electricity production from Paraguay’s two hydroelectric dams is providing potential for more economic development. Brazil also has begun to see Paraguay as a more attractive place to invest.4

Cartes adopted a series of neoliberal financial reforms which restricted government spending and increased the efficiency of tax collections. The core of Cartes’s neoliberal roadmap was a public private partnership law passed in 2013 which lead to a proposed 19 infrastructure projects valued at $2.9 billion. In 2015 Paraguay adopted a fiscal responsibility law which keeps government spending to 1.5% of GDP. The government also implemented an inflation targeting approach to monetary policy which kept inflation to 4.5% The improvement in government finances allowed Paraguay to enter the international credit markets and raise $3.5 billion to date. International Reserves are at $8.7 billion.

Alegre of the Partido Liberal Revolucionario Authentico (PLRA) served as former Secretary of Public Works during the Lugo Administration and has a long trajectory in the chamber of deputies and the senate. His vice presidential candidate was Leonardo Rubin, of the Frente Guasu Party. Rubin, 51, is a well known radio journalist and musical event and radio empresario.

This was Alegre’s second run at the presidency. In 2013, he lost to Horacio Cartes. Alegre received 889,451 votes 39.05% to Cartes’ 1,104,169, 48.48%.

Despite economic progress in recent times, Paraguay remains an international crime center. Its two illegal products: marijuana and smuggled cigarettes combine with money laundering and cocaine transit activities. Paraguay also is known for forgery and pirated products.

The 2017 International Narcotics Report noted: “Transnational criminal organizations.operating in these three countries (Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina) are believed to launder the proceeds from narcotics trafficking and other illicit activities through banks and non-bank financial sector entities. Paraguay’s progress in combating money laundering is impeded by widespread corruption, burdensome bureaucracy, and the fear of reprisal against regulatory and supervisory authorities. 5.6

This year´s U.S. State Department Human Rights Report pointed out that: “The most significant human rights issues included isolated reports of unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces; harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; corruption of prosecutors and judges and police involvement in criminal activities; violent intimidation of journalists by organized crime groups and government officials.

The report blamed the problems on “legal impunity and widespread corruption in all branches and all levels of government.”

Social discrimination problems include: “sometimes lethal violence against women and violence against indigenous persons, as well as police violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.”

Paraguay has had to contend with a number of long-term kidnappings by the  Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) Paraguayan Peoples Army. Under Cartes the situation escalated. ABC Color reported the EPP killed 20 civilians, 9 policemen and 11 soldiers. The toll from previous years was 14 civilians and 9 police. Under Cartes there were seven kidnappings versus four kidnappings from earlier periods. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Cartes created a 1,200 man police and military unit known as the  Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta, (Combined Joint Task Force), FTC. which patrols Northern Paraguay. The unit as been accused of various violations against the rights of the local population. Recently, a group of Bishops forming the Clergy of Northern Paraguay have issued a proclamation calling for the elimination of the FTC.

The bishops charged the FTC of using public force in an unmeasured manner, destroying homes and humble processions.” The group also accused the group of making “irregular detentions, torturing, extorting, sexual harassing,” as well as “physicial and psychological mistreatment.” The FTC has denied the charges.

Other parties fielding presidential candidates included:

Pedro Almada, Partido Frente Amplio, 8,491 votws,  0.33%

Jaro Anzoategui, Movimiento Nacional Artistas de Paraguay,  15,335 votes,  0.59€%

Efrain Enriquez Movimiento Politoco Soberania Nacional 7,243 votes, 0.28%

Juan Bautista Ybañez, Partido Verde Paraguayo, 84,601 votes, 3.26%

Ramon Ernesto Benitez, Movimiento Reserva Patriotica, 9,311 votes, 0.36%

Justo German Ortega, Partiod Socialists Herederos, 5,815 votes,  0.22%

Anastasio Galeano, Partido del Movimiento Patriotico Popular, 9,953 votes, 0.38%

Celino Ferreira, Movimiento Político Cívico Nacional Unámonos, 6084 votes, 0.23%

Paraguayans also elected 80 deputies and 45 senators. This site will be update as more results are announced.


1. Efraín denuncia fraude electoral con el TREP

1a. Rise in poverty rate in Paraguay shows farmers hit hardest,

2. Paraguay congress set on fire as election protests turn deadly

3. Election crisis March 2017

4. Why 2018 Is a Pivotal Year for .Paraguay


5. Drug production is booming in Paraguay, and so is drug violence

6. International Narcotics Control Report, 2017

7. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborCountry Reports on Human Rights Practices for 20170

8. Descargar Informe sobre DDHH 2017

9. Cepal Paraguay report

10. PARAGUAY 2016/2017 amnesty international

11. FTC niega abusos denunciados por obispos

12. Proceso de paz con el EPP

13. EPP es la principal mancha del gobierno de H. Cartes  

14. EPP y su agenda de muertes

15. Exigen eliminación de grupo de élite




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Peru: Status Quo Versus Political Reform

By Ronald J. Morgan

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, 79, has left office after serving 20 months of his five-year term.The departure is seen as a major blow to a corrupt elite that has governed Peru since the fall of Alberto Fujimori in 2000.

A judge immediately ordered a ban on Kuczynski leaving the country for 18 months and moved to search his personal homes for evidence of involvement in Olderbrecht-related corruption. 1,2,3

The crumbling of Peru’s political establishment is not over yet. Some are calling for new elections. And the need to end corruption and implement political reforms is now a priority.

Kuczynski was hurt by his involvement in the Olderbrecht bribery scandal investigation and his inability to handle the attacks of Peru’s Fujimori majority in congress.

After being forced into a humiliating Christmas Eve pardon of former Dictator Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) in order to stop a Fujimori lead congressional effort to impeach him, Kuczynski limped along under the pressure of increasing Olderbrecht revelations, until the week before Easter Week when, the Fujimori Fuerza Popular party struck again.

See: Peru Enters Period of Crisis

A recent impeachment effort brought by those upset with the Fujimori pardon and others upset with Olderbrecht corruption, or just upset with the president escaping the first impeachment, caused the president to seek to ensure enough votes to stop the proceedings.

But by acting recklessly, the president and some of his advisers were lured into a convert recording where a Fujimori congressman filmed representatives of the president offering public projects in return for support on the impeachment vote. The revelations made impeachment inevitable. The president resigned on March 23.

The departure of Kuczynski strikes a further blow at a group of high flying  government officals including, four former presidents, two Lima city mayors and a former presidential candidate, who allegedly received illicit contributions from the Brazilian Olderbrecht Corporation.

The crumbling of Peru’s political system has been lead by disruptive behaviour by the Fuerza Popular majority in Congress. The movie-like end to Kuczynski´s career came as a result of covert recordings, known as the Keikovideos. Keiko Fujimori had been determined to force Kuczynski from power. 6.7. 8

Peru’s “El Gringo” Wins By Less Than 1%

Another bizarre move was the decision by Kenji Fuimori to split with his sister Keiko to stop an almost certain impeachment of Kuczynski in December. Kenji convinced the president to pardon his father Alberto in return for support to block the move.

Kenji then formed his own ten member voting bloc.

Kuczynski attempted to govern with new support from Kenji but he now had outraged anti-Fujiomori pardon groups against him. The orignal Keiko Fujimori group also worked to exercise diruptive power against the cabinet, judges and the news media. The activities were damaging to the governability and democracy of Peru and were somewhat reminiscent of tactics used by Alberto Fujimori in the Nineties.

After losing out to Kenji in December, Keiko  recouped her original objective of impeaching Kuczysnki by utilizng  the Keikovideos sting against the president.

The successful force out of Kuczynski leaves the Fujimori congressional bloc as the major political power in the country.

Kuczysnki’s vicepresident, Martin Vizcarra, 55, was sworn in as president March 23. A member of the Alizana Para El Progreso Party (Headed by former Presidential Candidate Cesar Acuña). He will have to find some way to deal with the Fuerza Popular power in congress. Whether Vizcarra will be able to return to Peru to its normal status quo or will become part of a deepening crisis is the main question. 9.10

The issuing of an opinion by the Organization of American States, InterAmerican Court on Human Rights, on the legality of the Fujimori pardon will be the new president’s first test as to where he will stand. He will also have to support independent functioning of the judicial system so it can prosecute numeorus corruption cases.

But for some, the new president can not correct the underlying political impasse and they are advocating a call for new elections. The president would have to resign and then congress would appoint an interim president who would schedule new elections for the end of the year. 11

A recent poll by the GFK Corporation showed 49% of those polled favor calling for new elections. The “Everyone should be thrown out movement” is pushing for a new political atmosphere that includes political and economic reforms.

Left sectors, outraged by the Fujimori pardon, and groups in favor of punishing the numerous acts of corruption by Peruvian government officials see a  need for the government to be replaced by a new vote.

Geronimo Lopez Sevillano, Secretary General of the Confederacion General de Trabajadores DGTP del Peru, called for new elections, establishment of a new social pact and a new constitutional convention.

With all recent presidents facing criminal investigation the need for new political leadership and new ideas is obviously present. But the arrival in the  presidency of  Kenji or Keiko Fujimoria. or another member of Fuerza Popular, is also very possible in the wake of so little political competition.

Vizcarra, theorectically, will be president until 2012. But the force of those backing the throwing out of both the president and all members of congress could still be a factor, especially if backed up by Fujimori congressional votes.

Regional and local elections scheduled for October will be the first test of voter preferences under the new president.


1.PPK: PJ dictó 18 meses de impedimento de salida del país

2. Los presidentes y expresidentes latinoamericanos salpicados por el escándalo Odebrecht

3. How a scandal that started in Brazil is now roiling other Latin American countries

6 PPK renunció a la presidencia de la República tras escándalo por ‘keikovideos’

7. Moisés Mamani: fujimorista que realizó grabaciones protagonizó altercado [VIDEO]

8.  Escándalo en Perú por videos que muestran un supuesto intento de compra de votos para evitar la destitución del presidente Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

9- ¿Cuáles son los retos de Martín Vizcarra tras la renuncia de PPK?

10. Martín Vizcarra: el perfil del nuevo presidente del Perú tras renuncia de PPK

11. En marcha demandan se convoque a elecciones adelantadas



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Colombia Elections Shaping Post-Santos Era

By Ronald J. Morgan

Colombia’s peace agreement implementation will be endangered due to a strong showing by Colombia’s most conservative parties in the March 11, congressional vote. A large four million vote in a right-wing presidential election primary for Ivan Duque, a pro Uribe anti-peace rightist is also of concern.

Some 17,818,185 persons voted for a 48.7% turnout, according to the Wikipedia website. Participation was up 4.7% on an election voting day where there was little or no violence. Nevertheless, during the election campaign mobs disrupted some candidates. More than 200 social activists have been murdered in the last two years. Violence by the left Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional( ELN) and rightist paramilitaries continues to occur, causing death and displacement of civilian populations. 1.

Colombia’s rightist Anti-peace Agreement parties received 43.09% of the vote in the Senate and House of Representatives, a total of 6,832,597 votes. 2,3

Alvaro Uribe’s Centro Democratico, 19 seats senate, 32 House of Representatives (H.R.)  Cambio Radical, 16 seats senate, 30 H.R. and the Conservative Party 15 seats senate, 21 H.R. held the top three spots in the 108 member senate and second, third and fifth spots in the  171 member House of Representatives.

Nevertheless, a small chance of still maintaining a pro-peace majority is possible as a result of president Manuel Santos’ old party, Partido de la U, 14 seats senate, 25 H.R.,  members of the Partido Liberal, 14 seats senate, 35 H.R. and Left parties, such as Lista de la Decencia, 4 seats senate, 2 H.R. Polo Democratico, 5 seats senate, 2 H.R., Farc, 5 seats senate, 5 seats H.R. y Alianza Verde 10 seats senate, 9 H.R. 4

The FARC, known as the  Fuerza Alternative Revolucionaria del Comun Party, received a low 0.5% of the vote. But through the peace agreement the FARC will still have five seats in the Senate and five in the House of representatives. The FARC Presidential Candidate Rodrigo Lodoño has dropped out of the race due to health concerns and campaign disruptions. 5.6

On the left, the Alianza Verde was the big winner, adding five new seats in the senate and three new seats in the House of Representatives. Lista de la Decencia entered the political arena for the first time with four senators and two representatives. The coalition includes Movimiento Colombia Humana, Union Patriotica, Alianza Social Independiente, ASI, Movimiento Alternativa Indigena y Social, MAIS. 7

But the strength of the right is growing, and an anti-peace presidential victory could change the balance. Alvaro Uribe personally polled 875,554 votes in his senate election, by far the largest tally. Ivan Duque won a startling 4 million votes in a right-wing presidential primary called the Gran Consulta Para Colombia.

On the Left, Gustavo Petro won the Consulta Inclusion Social Para La Paz with 2,853,731 votes. Polls taken at the beginning of March, show Leftist Petro virtually tied with Rightist Ivan Duque in preference for president with 23% in the Guarumo poll and 22% in the Cifras y Conceptos poll for Petro and 23,6% Guarumo and 22% Cifras y Conceptos for Duque.

But following the legislative elections and various presidential primaries Ivan Duque has moved into a comanding lead. Two polls have Duque out front with 40% support. A Ivanmer Gallup Poll our March 23, shows Duque with 45-9% followed by Gustavo Petro, 26-7%. Following are: Sergio Fajardo, 10.7%, German Vargas Lleras, 6.3% Humberto de la Calle, 5%, Viviane Morales, 3.5%, Piedad Cordoba, less than 1% and vote in blank, 2.3%

The Gran Encuesta Poll conducted by Yanhass. The poll showed Ivan Duque 40% Gustavo Petro, 24%, Vote in blank, 13%, Sergio Fajardo 9%, German Vargas Lleras, 6%, Not sure 5%, Humberto de la Calle, 2%, Viviane Morales, 1%, Piedad Cordoba, 1%. 7a, 7b

In recent days,  new alliances have been forming that could affect the outcome of the first round election. The Conservative Party and the Partido de la U, which each garnered about 1.9 milion votes in the legislative elections are in the midst of deciding whether to support Cambio Radical’s German Vargas Lleras or Ivan Duque of Centro Democratico. 8,9

The decision by Vargas Lleras to name Juan Carlos Pinzon, a member of the Conservative Party, his vice-president candidate was seen as once such move. Alvaro Uribe has criticized the move as restoring Vargas Lleras to Juan Manuel Santos control. Vargas Lleras was vice president under Santos and  Pinzon was defense chief. But both have criticized the peace agreement. 10

In a contradictory move, members of the President’s Partido de La U are considering supporting Ivan Duque of the Centro Democratico Party.

On the Left, a need is seen to form an alliance between Presidential Candidates Gustavo Petro, Humberto de la Calle and Sergio Farjardo before the May 27 first round vote.

In recent days, presidential candidates have been choosing their running mates. The list of presidential candidates are:

Gustavo Petro, 58, president, Angela Maria Robledo, former congresswoman vicepresident. Partio Movimiento Progresistas.

Ivan Duque Marquez, 41, president Marta Lucia Ramirez, 63, lawyer, vicepresident. Partido Centro Democratico.

German Vargas Lleras, 56, president, Juan Carlos Pinzon,46, former Secretary of Defense, Vicepresident. Movimiento Mejor Vargas Lleras.

Humberto de la Calle, 71, peace negotiator, president, Clara Lopez, 68, lawyer, vicepresident. Partido Liberal.

Sergio Fajardo, 61, president, Claudia Lopez Hernandez, 48, senator, Vicepresident. Movimiento Compromiso Ciudadano.

Piedad Cordoba, 63, president, Jaime Araujo Renteria Constitutional Court Judge, vicepresident. Movimiento Poder Ciudadano.

Vivianne Morales,  57, Vicepresident Jorge Leyva Duran, former Peace Accord Adviser to President Juan Manuel Santos. Somos Region Colombia

Jorge Antonio Trujillo, 50, current senator,  president, Freddy Obando Pinillo, both pastors, Movimiento Todos Somos Colombia.


1.Wikipedia Resultos totales, Elecciones Legislatives de Colombia

3.  Five Takeaways from Colombia’s March 11 ElectionsBY MAT YOUKEE MARCH 12, 2018

4. Los desafíos del nuevo Congreso para que el acuerdo de paz no quede hecho trizas

5. Farc Former Colombian Guerrillas Shunned as Critics of Peace Deal Dominate Elections

6. Colombia election: Farc fails to win support in first national vote

7. ¿Qué significa el regreso de la Unión Patriótica al Congreso?

7a.. Iván Duque lidera intención de voto en nueva encuesta presidencial

7b.. Duque y Petro encabezan intención de voto en la Gran Encuesta

8. Uribe se va en contra de la inminente unión entre Vargas Lleras y Pinzón

9. Conservadores y la U, entre Iván Duque y Germán Vargas Lleras: ¿quién da más?

10. Giro en U: el partido de Santos regresa al uribismo










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Ecuador Faces off over Re-election

UPDATED: Ecuador has approved all proposed consultation questions including limitation of reelection to one period.

Vote Results are:

Question 1. 73.1% yes, no 26.29% Elimination from politics because of corruption conviction.
Question 2. 64.21% yes, 35.79% no. Indefinite election reduced to one term.
Question 3. 63.08 yes, 36.92% no. restructure the Citizens Participation and Social Control Council.
Question 4. 73.45% yes. 24.47% Ends prosecution time limits for child sex crimes.
Question 5. 68.62% yes. 31.38% no. Ban on metal mining in protective  areas.
Question 6. 63.62% yes. 36.9% no. Revokes land speculation law known as Plusvalía.
Question 7. 67.32% yes. 32.68% no. Limits petroluem activities in the Yasuni reserve to less acres.


By Ronald J. Morgan

Less than a year since Ecuador voted to keep the Alianza Pais in power, voters are being called back to the polls. But this time, it is to decide a number of issues which if passed, will move the country away from the policies of former president Rafael Correa (2007-2017) and his Citizen’s Revolution. 1,2,3

President Lenin Moreno of Alianza Pais won the second round vote, April 2, with 51.16% of the votes against 48.84%  for conservative Guillermo Lasso of the CREO Party Lasso.  But shortly after taking office President Lenin Moreno took offense to the former president and the state of affairs found after his inauguration. 4

See: Lenin Moreno to Continue Ecuador’s Citizens Revolution

With a shortfall in government finances and debt reaching 40% of GDP, Moreno was forced to adopt an austerity budget. Moreno also announced a no-holds barred fight against corruption, which was becoming more obvious. Within months his Vice president, Jorge Glas, was tried and sentenced to six years in prison on charges of receiving bribes from the Brazilian Olderbrecht construction corporation. 5

See: Ecuador’s Moreno Announces Austerity Cuts

Moreno has converted his government into the major opposition force and formed friendly ties with groups on the outs with the Citizens Revolution.  Correa has referred to Moreno as a “traitor”.

Moreno  has called for an end to indefinite reelection: “An indefinite reelection becomes a dictatorship disguised in democracy,” he told the Spanish daily El Pais in an interview.

Moreno also stressed a need for “full independence” for the public prosecutors and the justice system.

The Feb. 4, consultation, which allows voters to decide on the issue of indefinite re-election (The Ecuador General Assembly approved indefinite re-election in 2015), is at the heart of the dispute over whether Rafael Correa was becoming overly powerful and could rule for too many years. Correa has called the consultation a  Coup d’Etat aimed at ending his political career. Correa is still young, at age 54.

Whether the political atmosphere has shifted against Correa will determine the outcome. Recent opinion polls show strong support for the consultation. The firm Cedatos reported 70.6% approval for restricting re-election. But  polls have been innaccurate in Ecuador in the past.

Correa  returned to Ecuador from self-exile in Belgium briefly in November, and then again, in January, to fight the Lenin-turn-to-the-right. Correa has called the current situation an already predicted Conservative Restoration.

See: U.S. Backed Coups from the Streets

Groups backing the Moreno consultation include CREO, Alianza Pais (ProMoreno) Unidad Popular, Union Ecuatoriana, Partido Social Cristiano, Centro Democratico, Izquierda Democratica, Adelate Ecuatoriano, Jusiticia Social, Fuerza Ecuador, Fuerza Compromiso Social, SUMA, Pachakutik, Concertacion, Avanza and Partido Socialista.

Other support has come from the indigenous organization, Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas (Conaie) and the Union Group, Frente Unitario de Trabajadores (FUT).

The fight between the pro-Lenin and pro-Correa forces has resulted in a breaking up of the Alianza Pais party. First Correa supporters attempted to oust Moreno from leadership of the party. But a legal decision declared the president head of the party. As a result, Correa and his supporters have left the party and formed the new Revolucion Ciudadana party. The new party has the support of 28 members in congress. Nevertheless, the National Election Council has refused to allow the registration of the party name saying it is a slogan from another party.  The Partido Alianza Pais breakup has also left the congress without an official majority. 6, 7, 8

In recent months other efforts to discredit the Correa years have sprouted. These include an audit to determine the reasons for Ecuador´s high debt. 9

During the consultation campaign Correa has complained that he has been ignored by the local print press — a group he has fought with in the past. The controversial Ley de Medios law, which restricted press freedoms to some extent, is not up for consideration during the vote.

Sporadic Anti-Correa violence has also occurred at various points during the campaign.

The consultation asks voters to consider on seven questions which would:

  1. Ban those convicted of corruption from politics.
  2. Amend the constitution to restrict reelection to one additional period.
  3. Amend the constitution to restructure the Citizens Participation and Social Control council. (The council investigates, monitors and chooses the Procuraduría General del Estado, Defensoria del Pueblo, Defensoría Pública, Fiscalía General del Estado y Contraloría General del Estado, the members of Consejo Nacional Electoral, Tribunal Contencioso Electoral y Consejo de la Judicatura.) The approval would allow removal of the members of the current council  and appointment of a transitory council to assume the duties of evaluating the performance of the proposed justice sector officials. The nominees would then be elected by the public.
  4. Prohibit proscription of punishment for sexual crimes against children leaving the crimes open to prosecution forever, much as in crimes against humanity.
  5. Prohibit metal mining in all levels in protected areas, intangible zones, and urban centers.
  6. Revoke the Plusvalia law known as the Ley Organica Para Evitar Especulation Sobre el Valor de Tierras. This anti land sepculation law is to be lifted to facilitate construction activity.
  7. Increase the ecological untouchable zone of the Yasuni reserve by 50,000 hectares and reduces the  area of petroleum exploration authorized by the General Assembly in the Parque Nacional Yasuni from 1,300 hectares to 300 hectares. 10


1. Alta tensión contra Rafael Correa a una semana de la consulta popular de Ecuador

2. Máxima tensión en Ecuador rumbo a la consulta popular que puede marcar el ocaso de Rafael Correa

3. Gustavo Larrea: Se está jugando la posibilidad de derrotar en las urnas al proyecto autoritario que encabezó Rafael Correa

4. La disputa entre Correa y Moreno se proyecta en 3 escenarios

5. Ecuador: el vicepresidente Jorge Glas, sentenciado a 6 años de prisión en caso Odebrecht

6. Correístas dejan oficialismo de Ecuador y forman partido Revolución Ciudadana

7. El CNE niega el pedido de clave al partido Revolución Ciudadana

8.  Partidos cabildean para tener mayoría en la Asamblea Nacional

9. ¿Rafael Correa en la mira de organismos judiciales?

10.  ¿Sabes cuáles son las siete preguntas de la Consulta Popular y qué dicen? Te lo contamos



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Marred Honduras Election Continues 2009 Crisis


OAS General Secretary Luis Alamagro has told CNN  Feb 12 that the organization still does not recognize the results of the recent Honduran presidential elections.

See Sources: note 5


By Ronald J. Morgan

Once again, the international community has abandoned Hondurans to their fate. The decision to validate recent Honduran elections leaves the country  in a state lacking sufficient legitimacy for many of the nation’s citizens.

The situation began with the 2009  Coup d’état against Manuel “Mel” Zelaya and erupted again with the questioned Supreme Court decision to allow reelection last year, despite it having been restricted by the 1982 Honduran constitution. A voter consultation over reelection was also at the center of the Zelaya coup.

The reelection issue led to the forming of the Alianza de Opposicion Contra la Dictadura (Alliance of the Opposition against the Dictatorship). The election ticket was lead by  Alejandro Nasralla, 64, of the centrist Partido Anticorrupcion (Anti-corruption Party) PAC. Nasralla is a well-known television personality and a political centrist. The Vice Presidential Candidate was Xiomora Castro de Zelaya, 57, of the Left Partido Libertad y Refundación, LIBRE, (the Freedom and Re-Foundation Party), and wife of former president Zelaya.

See: Election Briefing: Opposition Vows to Defeat Re-election of Honduras President Hernandez

The group had predicted election fraud at the start of the election process. And indeed, the recent election Nov. 26, 2017, has been questioned by one and all only to have first the United States then other foreign countries back down leaving the country in a dangerous unstable state. Nasralla was in the lead initially and then after a vote count slow down Hernandez began to move ahead. The United States waited 21 days before signing off on the elections. The United States has built a close relationship with Hernandez on anti-crime and violence matters. 1,2

The last line of support for those outraged by the alleged vote fraud was the Organization of American States. An OAS report had said that election irregularities and the shut down of an election computer made the election questionable and called for new elections. But on, Jan. 22, the OAS dropped the matter and said it would work with Honduras elected officials in the future. 3,4

Protests over the elections have left at least 40 dead and hundreds arrested. 5,6

The presidential election is reinforcing political divisions in Honduras. The National Party  incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez will be sworn in Jan. 27, 2018

According to the official account Hernandez was reelected with 42.95% of the vote some 1,410,888 votes. The election was a one round winner takes all vote.

Salvador Nasralla of the  Alliance Against the Dictatorship received 41.95% of the total vote, some 1, 360, 442 votes. Luis Orlando Zelaya of the Liberal Party finished third with 14.74% some 484,187.

Hernandez also achieved victory in the 128-member Honduran Congress. The opposition coalition Libre Party scored 60 seats, down 7  to the National Party’s 61 up 13.

In one of congress’s first controversial moves it approved an impunity law which halts investigations into 60 lawmakers suspected of corruption and other illegal actions, according to The Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras ( la Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras) known as MACCIH.

Official congressional results as reported by Wikipedia are:

Party Votes % Seats +/–
National Party 61 +13
Liberty and Refoundation 30 –7
Liberal Party 26 –1
Innovation and Unity Party 4 +3
Honduran Patriotic Alliance 4 +4
Democratic Unification Party 1 0
Christian Democratic Party 1 0
Anti-Corruption Party 1 –12
Invalid/blank votes
Total 128 0
Registered voters/turnout
Source: TSE



1. Was There Fraud in Honduras’ Election?

 2. Dirty Elections in Honduras, With Washington’s Blessing

3. 20 Dems ask Tillerson to support new elections in Honduras

4. US recognizes re-election of Honduras president despite fraud allegations

5. Congress: Stop Funding the Murderous Regime in Honduras!

 6. Honduras: human rights abuses on the radar of churches and ecumenical organizations

5.Alamagro says OAS is not recognizing the results of the November Presidencial elections.



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Peru Enters Period of Crisis

By Ronald J. Morgan

The Christmas Eve pardon of former president and dictator Alberto Fujimori has brought Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski a crisis which is expected to destroy his presidency.

The perception that the decision could not have been anything but a corrupt trade-off for sparing Kuczynski a painful  congressional impeachment is tearing up the foundation of the Peruvian post-dictatorship political system. 1,2,3.4.5

Kuczynski  brought himself to the brink of impeachment by issuing conflicting stories about his relationship with two consulting companies which received money from the Brazilian Olderbrecht corporation. 6.7

On Thursday Dec. 21, 2017, congress voted 79 votes in favor of impeachment falling short of the 87 votes needed.

Kenji Fujimori, the son of Alberto, was able to save Kuczynski by holding back 10 votes. The strange turn of events was the culmination of a year where the Fujimori majority in congress had been playing rough with the presidency, the justice system, the interior department and prosecutors.

But the president’s  salvation has caused the government to lose many supporters who had backed him against Keiko Fujimori in the 2016 presidential elections. The tight election required emergency support from the Peruvian Left and other anti-Fujimori groups to win. The president has attempted to put a new spin on the ruins of his administration by calling the pardon a move which will contribute to national reconciliation.

What is likely ahead though, is a convulsive period in which the human rights movement returns to a activism not seen since the end of the 1990s.

The Peruvian human rights organization APRODEH  (Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos) and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty  International, the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) have depicted the pardon as violating human rights law regarding  crimes against humanity. They have also criticized the participation of a Fujimori personal doctor on the board that studied his health problems.

Kuczynski issued two types of executive pardons. One pardons the crimes of Los Barriios Altos and La Cantuta — Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the two cases. He has served 10 years in prison.

The second pardon known as the derecho de gracia forbids further prosecution for the killing of six persons in Patavilca, Chile.

The Inter-american Human Rights Court of the OAS has scheduled a hearing, February 2, to discuss the legality of the pardon. Under international human rights law, pardons and amnesty are not allowed for violations classified as crimes against humanity.

The hearing in Costa Rica will also hear two recent Peruvian requests for restraining orders (medios cautelares).  Both of the other cases involve the Fujimori majority in congress investigating and interfering with legal decisions through actions in the congressional sub-commission on Constitutional Accusations. In one case, four members of the Constitutional Court ask for protection for a decision regarding the 1980s Fronton Prison masacre case in which they classified it as a crime against humanity. The commission is attempting to suspend three judges for 30 days and ban a fourth from public office for life.

In the other case, the National Prosecutor Pablo Sanchez, asks protection from a congressional charge against him of dysfunctional conduct for his actions as the head of the Peruvian investigation into Olderbrecht bribery scandal. 7a,7b

APRODEH has also filed a challenge to the pardons through the Peruvian Constitutional Control Court. Those protesting the presidents pardon are calling for an annulment of the decision. Some also want  the president to resign and for new elections to be called. 8

The investigation into Olderbrecht related corruption, which involves President Kuckzynski, Congresswoman and Presidential Candidate Keiko Fujimori, and former presidents: Alan Garcia, Ollanta Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia. and Alejandro Toledo, is also raising concerns about a need to ensure against impunity in the high level cases. 8a

Saturday, Dec. 30, the El Comercio newspaper published an opinion poll by IPSOS which showed that 56% approved of the Fujimori pardon while 40% opposed it. Some 63% of those polled said the decision was the result of a negotiation to avoid impeachment. Overall approval of the president was up 7 points from two weeks earlier. 9,10,11

The results show a sector of support for the pardon that could encourage the government to ignore human rights law concerns. The new government of national reconciliation could also mark another advance in power for Fujimori forces as they advance toward the presidency in the next election.

Protests are scheduled for January 11 and 17.


1. Peru: UN human rights experts appalled by Fujimori pardon


3. CIDH expresa profunda preocupación y cuestiona el indulto concedido a Alberto Fujimori

4. El lamento de Vargas Llosa por el indulto a Fujimori

5. Derecho de gracia para Alberto Fujimori es inconstitucional

5a. Indulto a Fujimori aprobado por el 56% , mientras el 40% lo rechaza, según Ipsos

6. PPK: sus respuestas generaron más preguntas

7. PPK se queda: Congreso no consigue los votos y el fujimorismo fracasa [VIDEO]

7a. Fiscales realizaron vigilia en respaldo a Pablo Sánchez

7b.  Human Rights Court Blocks Attempt by Congress to Oust Constitutional Justices oust-constitutional-justices/30302/

8. Peru’s jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori pardoned, sparking protests

8a. Odebrecht: lo que dijo de PPK, Keiko, García y Humala

9. Indulto a Fujimori aprobado por el 56% , mientras el 40% lo rechaza, según Ipsos

10. Peru in Uproar After Fujimori, a Rights Violator, Gets Medical Pardon

11. Fujimori condenado cinco veces.

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