February 22, 2019


1. Mexican Senate approves law creating civilian-led National Guard

Senate party leaders unanimously passed a bill creating a National Guard under civilian command, in response to a deteriorating security situation across the country.

Party leaders assured the project will make progress towards peace, and will respect human rights and international treaties.

Excélsior: Acuerdan en Senado, Guardia Nacional con mando civil

2. House of Representatives approves bill to expand use of mandatory pre-trial detention

The Mexican House of Representatives passed a bill that will modify the constitution and allow for an expansion of mandatory pre-trial detention – an initiative backed by Morena, PT, PES, PRI, PAN, PVEM and MC.

The approved bill will require judges to order the detention of anyone under investigation for a range of 16 offenses, including corruption, feminicide, use of social programs for political clientelism, child abuse, disappearances and oil theft.

El Financiero: Diputados aprueban ampliar catálogo de delitos con prisión preventiva de oficio

3President López Obrador’s Chief of Staff to lead Council to Promote Investment, Employment and Economic Development

President López Obrador’s Chief of Staff Alfonso Romo de la Garza will lead the Council to Promote Investment, Employment and Economic Development, with the goal of doubling Mexico’s economic growth rate to 4%. 

The Council aims to link the public administration with the private sector, and will be comprised of the Secretaries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Communications and Transportation, Energy, Finance and Public Credit, Environment and Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Labor, and Tourism.

El Economista: AMLO encarga a Alfonso Romo el consejo para impulsar la inversión y el crecimiento económico

4. 62 NGOs given green light to begin forming national political parties

The National Electoral Institute announced that 62 NGOs were given the green light to begin the process of becoming political parties. 39 NGOs are still under review, four abandoned the process and one was rejected. 

Among the 62 NGOs in the process of becoming political parties are: México Libre, founded by former presidential candidate Margarita Zavala, and  Redes Sociales Progresistas, founded by René Fujiwara and Fernando González, relatives of former education union leader Elba Esther Gordillo.

Zócalo (Réplica de Reforma): Avanzan 62 grupos rumbo a ser partidos

5. President of the Energy Regulatory Commission requests meeting with President López Obrador

Guillermo García Alcocer, President of the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) requested a meeting with President López Obrador to clarify his accusations of conflict of interest made last week. 

President López Obrador accused García Alcocer and the CRE of awarding contracts to family members working in the private sector.

El Universal: Titular de la CRE pide audiencia a AMLO, “para que escuche mi verdad”

1. Bolsonaro presents Retirement Reform proposal to Congress

President Jair Bolsonaro presented his retirement reform proposal to Congress. The proposal, slated for a June vote, will require 308 votes in the Chamber of Deputies and 49 votes in the Senate to ensure passage. Proposed changes include ending pensions purely on the basis of time of employment and a new minimum retirement age (65 years for men and 62 for women). The proposal also establishes transition norms for those about to retire, in addition to new rules regarding the pensions of politicians, rural workers, federal police and teachers. The administration’s proposal follows financial market forecasts, especially relating to potential savings of R$ 1T (USD $267.7B) over ten years. The market is now waiting to find out if the proposal will be approved as is, or how potential changes could impact the economy.

Valor Econômico: Nova Previdência atinge mais os funcionários públicos
Folha de S.Paulo: Proposta deve gerar questionamentos jurídicos
O Globo: Entenda o que pode mudar na aposentadoria

2. Moro’s anticorruption package doesn’t include slush funds

Minister of Justice and Public Security Sergio Moro sent the first part of an anti-corruption proposal to Congress, which notably excludes the criminalization of slush funds. Moro originally planned to present only one bill – instead of three – but relented following pressure from Congress. Moro claims to have omitted slush funds from the proposal due to complaints from politicians that these were not “as serious” as corruption, organized crime or violent crime, opting instead to include them on a future proposal. The minister stated that the difference between slush funds and corruption is a technicality and that “having a slush fund is not corruption.” Moro also said that his decision to split his proposals into three bills “doesn’t change the government’s commitment to criminalizing slush funds.” 

Valor Econômico: Moro exclui criminalização do caixa 2 de pacote anticorrupção
Folha de S.Paulo: Moro diz que foi mal interpretado

3. Accused of fraud, minister leaves administration after 49 days in office

The political crisis that began with the revelation that Bolsonaro’s party had used fake candidates led to the dismissal of Secretary General of the Presidency Gustavo Bebianno from Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, after 49 days in office. This follows a report by the press that stated a number of fraudulent candidacies had been created in order to divert money from public funds to other electoral campaigns. As PSL’s president during the election, Bebianno was responsible for Bolsonaro’s campaign as well as sending money to all party candidates. After being fired, Bebianno shared audio messages he exchanged with the President to prove they had discussed the issue, a claim which had previously been denied by both Bolsonaro and his son, Carlos. Retired General Floriano Peixoto – former Executive Secretary – will replace Bebianno.

Folha de S.Paulo: Bebianno é demitido após revelação de fraude
Veja: Áudios desmentem Bolsonaro: ele falou antes com ministro

4. Maduro closes Brazilian border to deny entry of humanitarian aid

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro closed Venezuela’s border with Brazil to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the country. Brazil and the U.S. established a partnership to send aid to Venezuela. Thousands of Venezuelans are waiting in the border region of Roraima. The humanitarian action is being coordinated by the U.S. government. President Jair Bolsonaro has authorized the American request to utilize Brazilian points of access to transport food and medicine into Venezuela on February 23rd. Maduro said he is also considering closing the border with Colombia, where tons of supplies are being stored in the border city of Cúcuta. By sending humanitarian assistance, countries are showing their support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president a month ago.

Folha de S.Paulo: Maduro fecha a fronteira entre Venezuela e Brasil
O Estado de S. Paulo: EUA exigem ajuda do Brasil a opositores venezuelanos
O Globo: Bloqueio de fronteira aumenta a tensão em Roraima

5. Study reveals characteristics of people that have given up on finding a job

A study based on data from the National Household Sample Survey bythe Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reveals the characteristics of Brazilians who have given up on finding a job. They are mostly women from the Northeastregion who are poor and uneducated. In 2018, the number of people who have given up on finding a job reached 4.4 million – 54.31% of whom are women. From an education standpoint, most people who have given up did not finish high school. The study also reveals that people born in theNortheastregardless of whether they still live in the area, represent 60% of the people no longer searching for a job.

O Globo: Nordestinas e pobres são perfil de quem desiste de procurar trabalho

1. Mauricio Macri concludes Asia trip

President Mauricio Macri concluded a trip to Asia in search of foreign investment. Macri penned an agreement with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to export various products like limes, eggs and flour, providing a new market for regional economies. The two leaders also signed memorandums of understanding in 10 other areas. In Vietnam, the Argentine delegation reached an agreement to multiply trade, incentivize investment and strengthen relations between the two countries.

La Nación: Macri firmó acuerdos con India para exportar limones, huevo y harina

2. Opposition meets to reject emergency decree

The Partido Justicialista convened on Tuesday to reject a “Decree of Necessity and Urgency” dealing with an “expired ownership” law signed by President Macri in January to recuperate assets acquired through corruption. The dissenting opinion will be sent to both legislatures and will nullify the decree if approved by a simple majority.

Perfil: Extinción de dominio: la oposición se unió para rechazar el DNU de Macri

3. The Supreme Court rules in favor of the San Luis province in claim against National Government

The Argentine Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Province of San Luis in its grievances with the Social Security Administration and the Federal Administration of Public Income, stating the agencies were withholding 15% and 1.9% respectively. As a result of the verdict, the government must immediately pay San Luis ARS $15M (USD $382M). It is expected the Supreme Court will also rule in favor of the province of Santa Fe in a similar case – which would result in the government paying Santa Fe ARS $80M (USD $2.04B).

Infobae: El fallo de la Corte Suprema confirma que San Luis tenía razón

4. Unión Cívica Radical to participate in primary elections under Cambiemos coalition

The Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) party plans on challenging Mauricio Macri in an electoral primary within the ruling Cambiemos coalition. Ex-UCR President, Ernesto Sanz, and ex-Argentine ambassador to the U.S., Martín Lousteau, declared their intention to increase the governing coalition’s electoral offering and present their own candidates as alternatives to Macri.

Infobae: Ernesto Sanz también pidió PASO en Cambiemos: “Algunos votantes desencantados pueden encontrar una vía de expresión”

5. U.S. Dollar reaches its highest value in relation to Argentine Peso in four months

The verdict in favor of San Luis and several internal political tumults led to a weakening of the Argentine Peso to ARS $41.45 to the U.S. Dollar – the worst performing emerging market currency over the last two weeks. In order to stabilize the peso, the Central Bank raised interest rates bringing it back down to under ARS $40. The Finance Ministry admitted that January’s inflation numbers (2.9%) exceeded what was expected, provoking even more volatility in the exchange rate, as well as an aversion to investments in ARS.

Clarín: Dólar hoy: tras arrancar en baja, vuelve a subir