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Open Americas Newsletter

In the headlines: Argentina turns to the IMF, Chile's bishops resign, fatal airplane crash in Cuba, investigation into Nicaraguan protests, Paraguay & Guatemala move Israeli embassy, Venezuelan elections


Argentina's President Mauricio Macri is seeking financial aid from the International Monetary Fund after a collapse of the nation's currency and rising interest rates. The recent currency devaluation was caused by investors rapidly pulling out of Argentine bonds. Argentina's last major economic collapse was in 2001 when IMF-backed economic policies fell through. Since then, Argentina has avoided interacting with the IMF, but Macri believes the IMF is the easiest way for the country to get back on track.

All of Chile’s active bishops offered their resignation to the Pope following a covered up sex abuse scandal in which they were accused on “grave negligence” in investigating the abuse. The Pope holds the decision to accept, reject, or delay deciding on the bishops’ resignation, and has invited all 34 to the Vatican. Until the Pope accepts the resignation, the bishops remain doing their “pastoral work.” This act is the first known time that a country’s entire bishops conference has offered the step down over a scandal. The resignation comes after the bishops were presented with a Vatican report detailing the scandal and accusing the bishops of destroying evidence and preventing an investigation into the accusations. The bishops’ resignation is fully supported by the victims of sexual abuse along with many Chileans.

The death toll of the airplane crash in Cuba Friday rose to 111 people after one of the three survivors died of her injuries on Monday. The plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana and is one of nation’s worst air disasters. On Monday, Mexico’s civil air authority suspended operations of Aerolíneas Damojh, the charter company that leased the plane to Cuba’s airline Cubana de Aviación. The plane has had multiple complaints reported against it in the past for poor maintenance, dropping off the radar, and overpacking. There are still two survivors of the crash and they are both in critical condition due to severe burns and trauma.

Following pressure from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, President Daniel Ortega is allowing an independent investigation into the killings of protesters in anti-government protests that started in April. The independent investigation will be conducted by the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the United Nations human rights office has requested to conduct their own investigation as well. Ortega also agreed to begin dialogue between protesters and the government. However, as Ortega spoke at an event, students yelled “murderer” and called for his resignation. Many demonstrators are not interested in engaging with the government's proposal for talks, claiming that what has been committed by the government is “genocide.”

Paraguay & Guatemala
Following the United States’s controversial action to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, Guatemala and Paraguay followed suit. Guatemala was the first to move its embassy after the US and opened their embassy last Wednesday. Paraguay opened its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. The Palestinian Liberation Organization has condemned the embassy move as “defying international law and the achievement of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

President Nicolás Maduro was elected to his second presidential term on Sunday despite a low turnout of 46% of voters. Maduro won 68% of the the vote, and his next term will start at the end of this year and last six years. The United States denounced the election before it occurred and implemented further sanctions on the country. Before the official vote count was in, opposition opponent Henri Falcón declared he would not accept the election results and accused Maduro’s party of pressuring voters. Electoral authorities banned the main opposition parties and key politicians from participating in the election. Due to this barring and the quickness of the election, pushed up from its original November date, the opposition called for a vote boycott. Along with the United States, the 14-nation “Lima Group” and some European countries stated they would not recognize the election results. Following Maduro’s win, the President expelled the top US diplomat and his deputy from Venezuela. The opposition claims its boycott was successful and calls for new elections, but its future actions remain unknown.
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