Networked Notes - 12 May 2016

By Southern Pulse Staff & Network

Even before taking Brazil’s presidency, Michel Temer is making an unforced error. In recent days, Temer announced likely cabinet positions should Dilma Rousseff be suspended from office, as she was this morning. However, as pointed out by many journalists, Temer’s proposed cabinet appointments are all white males. Under social media shame, Temer had an opportunity to fix the issue before he officially named his cabinet and failed to do so. The lack of diversity will be a powerful weapon for Temer’s opponents to show how out of touch he and his government are from day one. Those opponents include the now suspended president. Perhaps more important, the lack of diversity is also a window into the insular mindset of Temer, who has been so wrapped up in an “old-boys network” for decades that he may fail to understand the reality of Brazil.

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Speaking of unforced errors, Venezuela’s MUD planned a march to demand the government validate their recall referendum petitions. The march in several states had very poor turnout, meaning the government could have sat back and done nothing, with little repercussion and perhaps even damage to the opposition leadership. Instead, President Maduro and the military ordered a rather harsh repression of the protesters. Images of the MUD leader Henrique Capriles being teargassed made international headlines. The one protester who successfully made it to a government building and raised a sign was publicly arrested and detained for hours. The repression of protesters who were only exercising their legitimate rights will play into the debate at the OAS, UNASUR, and Mercosur over whether Venezuela has violated the democracy rules in each organization. And with a new interim president in Brazil, they do not have the defenders they once had.

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Still speaking of unforced errors, Honduran President Hernandez is facing criticism for renting an expensive private jet to fly to Europe for a conference. He did the same for a recent trip to Washington, DC. Honduras’s president has an official airplane, which officials claim is under maintenance, though few details are available. Hernandez could also have flown commercial, which perhaps would be a better use of government funds in one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries.