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Catch up on the news with Open Americas! 

This week: a shift to the right in Brazil, Óscar Romero canonized, another devastating earthquake hits Haiti, & Peru's Fujimori arrested for money laundering. Read on for more.

Following the elections on Sunday, Brazil saw the most extensive political shift in a single election since its current democracy was established in 1985. Over 53% of the Chamber of Deputies turned over seats, and only eight of the 33 incumbent senators were re-elected. A record number of parties were elected to the Senate and Chamber with 21 and 30 in each, respectively. Presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro’s party became the second largest party in the legislature, increasing its seats from eight to 52. The presidential race proved to be no different, with Bolsonaro winning 46% of the vote. Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad trailed with 29% of the vote, sending the two candidates into a second-round vote set for October 28. Polls show Bolsonaro winning the runoff election with 58% of votes, compared to Haddad’s 42%.

Bolsonaro announced that he will not attend the first televised debate against Haddad, claiming he is still recovering from being stabbed at a political rally last month. Haddad responded by offering to bring the debate to the hospital if Bolsonaro wished. Bolsonaro’s campaign has been centered on anti-corruption and anti-violence platforms, but it was announced Wednesday that Bolsonaro’s top economic advisor, Paulo Guedes, is being investigated for corruption. Even though this accusation has the ability to hurt Bolsonaro’s campaign, Guedes remains the candidate’s economic advisor and denies all allegations against him.

El Salvador
The late Archbishop Óscar Romero, known as “Saint Romero of the Americas” to many Salvadorans, is being declared a saint by Pope Francis in a canonization ceremony in Rome this weekend. Romero was killed while holding a mass in a hospital chapel almost 40 years ago, just before the nation’s 12-year civil war began. Throughout his life, Romero championed for social justice for the poor by speaking against oppression and violence against civilians. Just days before his murder, Romero called on the military to end killings against innocent Salvadorans and received numerous death threats. At his funeral, the army opened fire into the crowd of over 100,000 and killed dozens of mourners. Romero is already considered a saint by many in El Salvador who look to him for protection.

On Tuesday, former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti was sentenced to 15 years and 6 months in jail when she was found guilty of for illegal association, fraud, and trafficking influence in a state contract with an Israeli firm to decontaminate Lake Amatitlan. Baldetti - along with 12 other people including her brother and the Israeli company’s representative - devised an $18 million contract for a clean-up potion that ended up simply being a mixture of water, salt, and chlorine. The investigation was backed by the UN International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), despite President Jimmy Morales’s efforts to stifle the commission. Baldetti is the highest-ranking political official sentenced so far by the commission, but former President Otto Peréz Molina awaits his trial in jail. Baldetti is also wanted in the United States for cocaine trafficking, but she will not be extradited to the US until she serves her time in Guatemala.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti’s northern region on last Saturday, and was followed by a 5.2-magnitude aftershock the next day. The earthquake damaged over 2,000 buildings, destroyed at least 168 houses, left more than 7,700 families in need of urgent assistance, injured over 300 people, and killed 17. The northwestern city of Port-de-Paix was hit hardest, with at least 8 killed and over 180 injured. Port-de-Paix’s main hospital, Immaculate Conception Hospital, was overwhelmed with patients following the initial earthquake, but was quickly abandoned when the aftershock exposed the fragility of the building. Doctors set up tents around the hospital to try to treat the wounded, but lack supplies and electricity. Haitians remain terrified to return to their homes because of building damages and many remain on the streets.

Only a week after her father was ordered back to jail by the Supreme Court, Keiko Fujimori was arrested in a money laundering investigation. Fujimori, the opposition leader of the Popular Force party, was considered at risk of flight and sentenced to 10 days in prison while investigators look into campaign finance violations and links to Brazil’s construction giant Odebrecht. Around 100 Fujimori supporters gathered at the courthouse in protest of her arrest, and Fujimori’s lawyer called the detention “abusive and arbitrary.” Fujimori has supported corruption investigations into other politicians, but is seeing her authority fade as she and 19 others were ordered to be detained in the investigation.

Opposition activist and councilman Fernando Albán died Tuesday after throwing himself out of a 10th-story window of a police building, authorities say. Albán was in police custody after he was arrested last week when he returned from a New York trip for alleged involvement in the drone explosion at the military parade and speaking out against Maduro internationally. Witness accounts from government officials differ, causing many close to Albán to question the cause of the councilman’s death. An autopsy report has not yet been released, but one of Albán’s lawyers stated there were signs of significant trauma to the skull, hips, and chest in addition to signs of the fall. The United Nations, United States, and European Union have all publicly called for a thorough and independent investigation into Albán’s death.

Open Americas (OA) is a platform for sharing content that engages with contemporary social issues issues facing the Western Hemisphere. We advocate a diversity of thought through research, literature, reviews, and photographs. OA does not strictly adhere to any political or religious doctrine and encourages open, respectful debate and critical thought. Visit us at and check out our new look! 
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