Brazil's runoff elections have piqued the interest of on-lookers in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte in the past week. Both cities are hubs for business and travel in Brazil, with major extractive industries and tech sector companies based there, as well as being the second and fourth richest (GDP) cities in Brazil, respectively.
Rio's security situation took a turn for the worse this year as the state government’s funding ran out. However, the situation improved visibly in July, as federal forces began to enter the city and state coffers got an infusion of federal funds. The money temporarily saved the state government, which used it to pay police salaries. From Marines to Federal Highway Police, patrols and reconnaissance began around 15 July 2016. Additionally, the Military Police and organized criminal groups arrived at an unspoken agreement to stop violence in return for allowing drugs sales to go unmolested by law enforcement. As it is, the city will never be as safe as it will be in the next month and a half during the Olympic Games. The city and country will likely surprise observers with how well they pull off the high profile event.
After a large initial field has been culled, voters are unhappy with their choices. This is Peru, where voters will cast a second-round ballot for President on 5 June 2016.
Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, is running against technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK). So far, Keiko is running about 5 points ahead in the last May 2016 poll by Ipsos, despite ongoing investigations into money laundering and ties to drug trafficking organizations. On 19 May, Joaquín Ramírez, the Secretary General of Fujimori’s party, Fuerza Popular, stepped down amid revelations that he is being investigated for laundering money on behalf of Keiko.
After leaked tapes and now a potential arrest order, Brazil Senate leader Renan Calheiros might be forced out of his job before the impeachment vote on President Rousseff can occur. Calheiros was instrumental in directing the Senate’s impeachment proceedings in an apparently impartial way, without the theatrics of the Lower House. As such, Calheiros has pushed back against speeding up Senate proceedings and limited Senators arguments on impeachment to pertinent matters. It is questionable whether this is good for Dilma Rousseff.
Twelve states in Mexico are holding gubernatorial elections on 5 June 2016, include the state of Tlaxcala, where the three main political parties are fighting against each other to win the governorship.
Brazil’s Senate is likely, but not certain, to accept the impeachment vote by the Lower House, leading to a 180 day suspension from office for President Dilma Rousseff. However, Brazil’s Senate President Renan Calheiros is among the Senators hoping to manage this process in a more civilized and organized manner.
Keiko Fujimori’s campaign was prepared and eager to take on Veronica Mendoza in a second round battle. Mendoza’s candidacy would have allowed Fujimori to use the same playbook that helped Garcia to defeat Humala in 2006, with a network of activists both in Peru and abroad already starting to link her to Venezuela’s PSUV and Hugo Chavez. Whether true or not, Mendoza’s candidacy in the second round would have shifted the narrative of the election.
The PMDB is expected to break from the Rousseff government today in Brazil. Whether or not President Rousseff is impeached, one key issue to watch moving forward will be PMDB unity, which would be a historical first. Vice President Michel Temer appears to be making a play for the presidency, but in spite of his high rank, he's a weak person to hold the coalition together. Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha broke away from the government several months ago, creating a rift in the party. Several PMDB politicians in Congress will feel pressure to protect Rousseff on impeachment. Some members of Congress will likely sit on the sidelines and wait to join the winning side when it becomes apparent. And, of course, the party has a large number of its own corruption scandals that could further test its cohesiveness as Lava Jato investigations progress.
Keiko Fujimori, the daughter and honorary first lady of former President Alberto Fujimori (who overthrew Congress in the 1992 self-coup, approved documented human rights abuses in the conflict against the Shining Path for which he is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence, allowed the head of his intelligence service to entangle several sectors of Peruvian civil society in a massive corruption scheme, and operated a forced sterilization program in the provinces (1)) is the comfortable frontrunner in the current Peruvian presidential electoral cycle, although her eventual victory is by no means a given.
There is a growing realization within the Venezuelan MUD that they are stuck. The government is losing ground in terms of public opinion and general ability to run the country, but Maduro’s opponents still do not have a clear path forward. The decision last week for an “all of the above” strategy to push for Maduro’s ouster came with the unspoken acknowledgement that all of the routes that the opposition controls have little chance of succeeding independently due to the government’s control of other institutions including the military and the courts. Ultimately, the goal of these routes is to convince the Chavistas that their best option is to push Maduro out. Meanwhile, the opposition is simply trying to use its ongoing National Assembly efforts to position itself as a legitimate alternative to voters.