Thousands of Argentines took to the streets last week protesting sharp increases in utility prices under President Mauricio Macri. Since taking office, Macri has continued to cut the subsidies implemented by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. As Macri cuts subsidies to lower the budget deficit, inflation has risen sharply. Protesters held candles to symbolize solidarity with the people who can no longer afford to light their homes with electricity.
Amidst the rising violence in Mexico, it was confirmed Monday that three film students were kidnapped, tortured, and killed, with their bodies being dissolved in acid. The confirmation of their death instigated large-scale protests in Guadalajara, bringing more attention to the numerous kidnappings and killings that have occurred in recent years. The three students were kidnapped by gang members fronting as police officers on March 19 while doing schoolwork. This case of mistaken identity is just one more example of the prevalence of violence in the country, which is a main topic in the upcoming election.
Mexico’s lower house of Congress voted last week to change the constitution, taking away immunity from prosecution for all government officials. The resolution still needs approval from the senate and state legislatures, but politicians from all sides have claimed ownership for the bill. Political corruption is a main issue in the upcoming election, but many remain skeptical the resolution will change the country’s political culture.
Following the announcement that President Daniel Ortega plans to overhaul the country’s welfare program, Nicaraguans took to the streets in protests that have ended in violence. Following police crackdown and widespread criticism, Ortega canceled the welfare overhaul initiative on Sunday. Nevertheless, protests continued, with Monday’s being the largest in the previous six days of protest, as students demanded the release of jailed protesters and for Ortega to step down. On Tuesday, the government released imprisoned protesters following protester demands. Those released had shaved heads and some accused police of torture and physical assault while in prison. These protests are the largest popular uprising since the end of the civil war almost 30 years ago.
Mario Abdo Benítez won Paraguay’s presidential election. The former senator and son of the private secretary to former military dictator General Alfredo Stroessner promises to boost agricultural exports and maintain low tax policies. Abdo Benítez has been criticized for defending Stroessner, who is considered to be one Latin America’s most sinister and secretive dictators. Abdo Benítez’s Colorado Party has maintained power over Paraguayan politics for decades. Efrain Alegre, the runner up, called for a vote recount Tuesday, claiming he has evidence of vote fraud. Abdo Benítez is scheduled to be sworn in to the presidency in mid-August.
On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and continue accepting new applications. US District Judge John Bates ruled on the grounds that the government’s decision to end the program was “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful.” Bates is the third judge to rule against the attempt to rescind DACA, but gave the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to better explain its reasoning for canceling the program. DACA currently protects almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation, all of whom were brought to the United States as children.