Networked Notes - 12 May 2016

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.

Networked Notes - 4 May 2016

Mexico’s Congress failed to act on proposed anti-corruption legislation and Mexico’s President Peña Nieto has largely ignored the issue. Delays in anti-corruption initiatives pushed civil society to collect over a half million signatures in favor of the Ley 3x3, which would have legally obligated Mexican politicians to publicly disclose assets, possible conflicts of interest, and tax payments. The fact Mexico’s Congress isn’t acting on anti-corruption legislation, with the PRI refusing to even attend debates on the issue, shows the basic challenges confronting these sorts of laws.

Networked Notes - 24 February 2016

The arrest of João Santana in Brazil has brought the Lava Jato scandal much closer to President Dilma Rousseff and her campaign team. While investigators have yet to pin corruption specifically to Rousseff, the news that third party payments passed to Santana during recent campaigns could be reason to invalidate her election. This specific scandal also hits former President Lula da Silva, highlight corruption of a key ally and knocking down an important element of his potential 2018 campaign machine. More important this year, Santana’s arrest could hurt the PT’s chances in key mayoral races, particularly São Paulo.

Corruption Continues to Plague Honduran Government

In September, Insight Crime reported Honduras is now “one of the most corrupt and mistrusted [countries] in Latin America.” Transparency International’s latest corruption perception index gives Honduras a score of 29, coming in at 126th place. In fact, corruption has so profoundly dominated the current administration that any report on the current political situation in Honduras is really just an analysis of corruption within the government and the public’s resulting distrust. 

Controversy Surrounding the Changes to Minimum Wages in Honduras

During the final weeks of 2013, the Honduran federal government and private sector businesses came to an agreement on minimum wages for the following three years. In 2014, the minimum wage was to be 7.5 percent and 8 percent in 2015 and 2016. However, under this arrangement, these rates were not permanent, but rather subject to inflation. The minimum salary rates would be revised if inflation exceeded 8 percent or fell below 4 percent. While the law appears simple enough and rather concrete, issues are bound to arise if official inflation rates differ from the black market rates. Should minimum wages be revised according to where the Central Bank’s inflation rates fall or according to the black market’s inflation numbers?

Honduran President Assures Authorities Will Go After Extortionists’ Assets - But Will It Work?

As 2015 came to a close, La Prensa reported Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández’s praise of the country’s security achievements, especially the 20 point reduction in Honduras’s homicide rate in two years. Hernández also announced the implementation of a new security strategy in January 2016; assets seizures for extortion ring leaders. Tiempo detailed the Fuerza Nacional Antiextorsión (FNA), the Fuerza de Seguridad Institucional Nacional (Fusina), and a newly created cadre of anti-extortion judges with national jurisdiction will work closely to implement this new strategy. Hernández cited the impact of assets seizures on drug traffickers, money launderers, and in relation to corruption as the primary reason for implementing the same strategy against extortionists. According to La Tribuna, the President also called on the public to report extortion more frequently.