site banner

Transnational Thursdays 25

This is a weekly thread for people to discuss international news, foreign policy or IR history. I usually start off with coverage of some current events from a mix of countries I follow personally and countries I think the forum lives in or might be interested in. Feel free as well to drop in with coverage of countries you’re interested in, talk about ongoing dynamics like the wars in Israel or Ukraine, or even just whatever you’re reading.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.


The Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has resigned as of Tuesday following a corruption investigation into lithium ion business deals (not his first scandal either).

The prosecutor's office said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that five people had been detained as part of the investigation, including Vitor Escaria, Costa's chief of staff, whose offices had been searched along with several government buildings.

It also said Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba and the president of the environment agency APA, Nuno Lacasta, were formal suspects and will appear before a judge… Prosecutors are investigating alleged corruption and influence peddling in the Barroso and Monatelgre lithium exploration concessions in northern Portugal, a project for a hydrogen plant in the port of Sines and a mega data centre investment there. They said they had become aware that the suspects used Costa's name and authority to "unblock procedures" related to the deals and the Supreme Court would look into Costa's possible role in the deals.

Currently his (actually center left) Socialist Party still has a majority in Congress and apparently doesn’t have to call new elections, though it would probably be the democratic thing to do. There’s also apparently a major budget bill due next month that they may say would be irresponsible if the government was thrown into electoral chaos while it needed to be passed (and they may be right). If they do hold elections, parties to watch out for are their traditional center right ally the Social Democrats1 and the far right Chega, which has shot forward in popularity in recent years.

1You might remember a Scott post on how, apparently as a relic of their right wing dictatorship, basically every party in Portugal is named some variety of socialist/social, including the free market, conservative ones.

Anyone know how impactful this in general on the functioning of their government? Specifically, I'm wondering if this could cause the NHR tax benefits ( vote (supposedly part of their budget vote Nov 29?) to be delayed


Chinese President Xi Jinping has spent the past month meeting delegates from the American government, including Governor Gavin Newsom and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. All this has been building towards his current visit to the United States, ostensibly for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group meeting, but during which he will also hopefully meet President Biden. In the meantime, Secretary Janet Yellen will fly out this week to San Francisco, where the Chinese delegation is currently residing, to meet with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who roughly counts as her counterpart given that he is (among other things) the top economic official in the government. Ideally they want to mend relations and find points of common agreement, though this is of course challenging due to current tensions:

The Biden administration’s policy toward China is geared toward defending and securing national security while stressing that the US isn’t trying to hold China back economically — a message that Chinese officials have criticized, given US export controls enacted last year that are designed to deprive China of key technologies.

While the Biden approach is less combative than the Trump administration’s trade wars, it nevertheless marks a stark departure from the prior two decades of more-open economic relations. In fact, the Biden administration has kept President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, and there’s no indication they’re easing anytime soon.

The US has said it doesn’t seek to decouple from China, though it has been looking to “de-risk” and diversify, partly through strengthening economic ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific region, a strategy that will be a key theme for the Biden administration during the upcoming APEC summit.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has also asked to meet with the top Chinese defense official but right now there, well, isn’t one, since the last guy got ousted. Issues of focus would likely include China’s recent moves towards opening a military base in Oman, historically neutral but also partnered militarily with the US.

Xi is also visiting some tech executives in SF, crawling pathetically back to the Californian trough after Governor Gavin Newsom restored American prestige by handily dispatching his Chinese competitor in a game of basketball.

If Biden gives Xi Jinping anything, I will consider him a total failure as a president. The rise in hostile actions from China came entirely during Xi's regime, and they came amid reassurances that they wouldn't happen.

He is crawling back now because China is in a position of weakness, but things will go back to the way they were the moment he feels confident.

To be clear the crawling back thing was a facetious joke about the video of Newsom knocking down that kid; visitng tech leaders during an international conference of Asian countries seems like normal business. I'd be pretty surprised if anything super concrete came of any particular meetings, but hopefully having some normal diplomatic interface will keep our countries farther from conflict.

I didn't take your comment as serious, but I very much think that Xi is coming from a position of weakness hoping to get Biden to back off with some vague promises. China has enough systemic economic problems right now without the US making things significantly harder.

El Salvador

President Nayim Bukele announced a few months ago that he will run again for President, despite this being against the constitutional single term limits. In unsurprising news, every lever of institutional power in the country ruled that this is actually totally chill:

Members of the electoral tribunal are elected by Congress, which is controlled by the president's New Ideas party. Of the five members of the tribunal, four ruled in favor of Bukele's re-election bid, while one abstained.

While critics question Bukele's ability to seek a second term, citing a constitutional prohibition, the country's top court ruled he could run in 2021. The judges on that court were also appointed by Congress.

In January of this year, Congress approved a reform that punished those who prevented the registration of candidates for elections with up to 15 years in prison.

Remember this is also the guy who brought soldiers into Congress the last time they had some funny ideas about not supporting his bills. Independent media is also increasingly not a thing, so not much counterbalance there.

El Salvador’s traditional establishment parties and longstanding rivals, the right wing Arena and the left wing FMLN (political descendant of the former rebel group), have thus far held together their extremely awkward Never-Bukele coalition, though it’s anyone’s guess what a power sharing agreement between them would look like. The election will likely not be free or fair, but even if it was Bukele’s popularity remains high and it is unlikely he could be beaten.

As always, it sometimes helps to review the text that media coverage gestures towards. Regarding the El Salvador Constitution, english translation linked here-

When media refer to the Constitution in a 'the Constitution prohibits re-election', they're generally referring to Article 152-

Article 152 [The following] shall not be candidates for the President of the Republic:

1st.—He who has filled the Presidency of the Republic for more than six months, consecutive or not, during the period immediately prior to or within the last six months prior to the beginning of the presidential period;

2nd. —The spouse and relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity or second of affinity of any of the persons who have exercised the Presidency in the cases [included in] the preceding ordinal;

3rd.—He who has been President of the Legislative Assembly or President of the Supreme Court of Justice during the year prior to the day that initiates the presidential period;

4th.—He who has been Minister, Vice Minister of State, or President of any Official Autonomous Institution, and the General Director of the National Civil Police, within the last year of the immediately previous presidential term;[28]

5th.—Professional military persons (militares) who were in active service or who have been so within the three years prior to the day of the beginning of the presidential period;

6th.—The Vice President or the Designate who when legally called to exercise the Presidency in the immediately preceding period, refused to fill it without just cause, meaning that this exists when the Vice President or the Designate manifests his intention to be a candidate to the Presidency of the Republic within the six months prior to the beginning of the presidential period;

7th.—The persons included in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th ordinals of Article 123 of this Constitution.

Article 154 is really, explicitly clear that a President cannot spend more than their full term-

Article 154 The presidential period shall be of five years, and shall begin and end on the first of June, without the person who exercised the Presidency being able to continue in his functions one day more.

Article 131 adds an obligation in ordinal 16,

Article 131 16th.—To obligatorily disavow the President of the Republic or his substitute if, when his constitutional term has ended, he continues in the exercise of his post. In this case, if no person has been legally summoned for the exercise of the Presidency, a Provisional President shall be designated;

HOWEVER... there is a certain... trifling... Article 155

Article 155 In default of the President of the Republic, due to death, resignation, removal or other cause, the Vice President shall substitute him; lacking the latter, one of the Designates in the order of their nomination, and if all these are lacking for any legal cause, the Assembly shall designate the person who shall substitute him. If the cause that incapacitates the President for the exercise of his position endures for more than six months, the person who substitutes him in conformance with the preceding paragraph, shall complete the presidential period.

Some rules lawyers may be recognizing why that might be important. Rest assured, Article 156 is quick to spot one potential loophole-

Article 156 The positions of the President and Vice President of the Republic and of the Designates are only resignable for a duly substantiated grave cause that shall be approved by the Assembly.

And later on, it's very, very clear that that on the constitutional amendment front, the framers were very clear that the most relevant principle can not be amended.

Article 248 Reformation of this Constitution may be decided by the Legislative Assembly, with the vote of one-half plus one of the elected Deputies.

For this amendment to be decreed, it must be ratified by the following Legislative Assembly by a vote of two-thirds of the elected Deputies. Thus ratified, the corresponding decree shall be issued and shall be published in the Official Gazette. Amendments may only be proposed by elected Deputies, by a number no less than ten.

**Under no circumstances, may the articles of this Constitution, which refer to the form and system of government, to the territory of the Republic, and to the principle that a President cannot succeed himself (alternabilidad), be amended. **


Did you catch that? One of the key points of discrepancy in the coverage? Something previously referenced, but kind of relevant?

The El Salvador Constitution doesn't prohibit the election of former presidents. The El Salvador Constitution prohibits self-succession.

To quote-

Article 88 The principle that a President cannot succeed himself (alternabilidad) is indispensable for the maintenance of the established form of government and political system. Violation of this norm makes insurrection an obligation.

This is where we remind you that Bukele announced his intended resignation by the end of this year about half a year ago.

This is where the Constitutional rules-lawyering begins, which has not, shall we say, been an area where the Western media has been particularly clear on positions or, or weaknesses of, those involved.

The Constitutional principle involved for arguments against re-election is not that not actually about re-electing a former president. There are a half-dozen restrictions on who can run for President, but being a former president- or even a future former president- isn't one of them. There is only time frame defined derives from Ordinal 1 of Article 152, which is where the prohibitions on self-succession defines as-

1st.—He who has filled the Presidency of the Republic for more than six months, consecutive or not, during the period immediately prior to or within the last six months prior to the beginning of the presidential period;

The core of the Constitutional argument against Bukele boils down to claiming that being President 7-12 months before the presidential period- but not 0-6 months before- constitutes 'the period immediately prior to the beginning of the presidential period.'

The weakness of those who want to take that position is without an actual ban on former Presidents running for election, trying to claim 'more than half a year ago' is 'immediate' and not long enough obligates a standard on how long out of office would be enough. And the issue here is that the only hard number the Constitution provides in this context is... the 6-month window.

Bukele's maneuverings- and his supporting Constitutional argument- is that he will resign from being president more than 6 months out. It will not be his Presidential Period anymore- it will be whoever actually ends up replacing him as the interim, who will complete the Presidential Period (Article 155).

Article 156 does stipulate that a Presidential resignation should be accepted for a 'duly substantiated grave clause'- but there is no definition of what that would be, and the power to accept that is explicitly left to the Assembly. 'Duly substantiated grave clause' is in the same undefined space as the American 'impeachment-worthy' category, which is to say- whatever the Legislature wants it to be. And, of course, whether they accept it is not really in question.

At which point, once resignation is accepted, some of the key constitutional objections give way.

Is Bukele succeeding himself, the criteria for which insurrection is obligatory? Clearly not- he will have resigned.

Will Bukele be succeeding someone for whom he is too closely related to be a candidate again? Also no- the constitutional barriers are on familial relationship, not political relations.

Will Bukele's succeeding president be unconstitutional? Not if the Bukele's resignation is accepted by the appropriate constitutional body.

Should the Bukele's resignation be accepted? I would agree they should not. However, the judgement falls to the Assembly.

Will the Assembly's acceptance of the resignation unconstitutional? This isn't the case being made- and there is no standard for what they can / cannot accept.

And this is where we get into the space that Americans will be more familiar with, the sort of open-ended 'what is an Impeachable offense' standard where a Legislature has the ability to choose, but no obligation or enforcement arm to have a standard. In the U.S. American political context, this has generally been recognized as 'let the voters reward or punish,' where the worthiness of an Impeachment is based on whether voters reward or punish at the ballot box.

It's very hard to emphasize enough the point that Bukele is truly, genuinely popular in El Salvador. He is not going to need to cheat to win the election. This is not a case of 'unpopular minority incumbent corruptly rigs courts to steal votes,' or even 'incumbants use state of emergency to change voting laws to favor themselves by improving partisan constituent turnout.' Bukele is a wildly popular incumbant who is popular because he made major, discernable changes in people's quality of life through addressing real threats. The unpopular minority parties in this context are the ones trying to prevent the most popular candidate from running.

None of this is intended to imply that Bukele's ambitions for another term are good or just or appropriate, or even that you need to accept his position's Constitutional framing. The principle of self-succession was adopted for many, many good reasons.

But rule of law implies rules by the laws as written, not the rules as you wanted them to be, and conflating the two simply undermines the claimed sanctity of the former. Bukele is a classic letter-of-the-law versus spirit-of-the-law dispute, where the spirit and the letter are not the same thing, and 'Bukele packed the courts' isn't the only reason he could win that argument.

Thanks for the added details on the case, quite the loophole there with self-succession.

It's very hard to emphasize enough the point that Bukele is truly, genuinely popular in El Salvador. He is not going to need to cheat to win the election. This is not a case of 'unpopular minority incumbent corruptly rigs courts to steal votes,' or even 'incumbants use state of emergency to change voting laws to favor themselves by improving partisan constituent turnout.' Bukele is a wildly popular incumbant who is popular because he made major, discernable changes in people's quality of life through addressing real threats. The unpopular minority parties in this context are the ones trying to prevent the most popular candidate from running.

I think I pointed out as much:

The election will likely not be free or fair, but even if it was Bukele’s popularity remains high and it is unlikely he could be beaten.

Him emphasizing something is not him saying that you didn't mention it.

Sure, just clarifying.


There has been scattered fighting between the Israelis and the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah, but so far a serious general war has been avoided. Hezbollah leader Hassa Nasrallah last Friday gave a much awaited and heavily attended speech endorsing the Palestinian side of the conflict, reiterated that they had nothing to do with it and giving a bellicose but indirect response to the question of whether he planned to escalate: “Some claim that we are about to engage in the war. I am telling you, we have been engaged in this battle since October 8”.

Following a recent Israeli missile strike that killed several Lebanese civilians, tensions are high, with one Hezbollah lawmaker threatening to respond “double over” against any Israeli attacks.

The violence along the Lebanese border has killed more than 60 Hezbollah fighters and 10 civilians, Lebanese security officials say. At least seven Israeli soldiers and one civilian have been killed.

France, which has been so pro-Israel they banned anti-Israeli marches, has still found themselves calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, and has now offered to send armored vehicles to the Lebanese army to “beef up the Lebanese national army so that it could coordinate well with the United Nations peacekeeping force as tensions mount between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in southern Lebanon”.

Hamas has also now claimed that it too is operating within Southern Lebanon and “had launched 16 rockets targeting the northern Israeli city of Nahariya and the southern outskirts of the city of Haifa.”

So I take it from the French response that Hezbollah’s involvement in the Israel war would be expected to trigger a declaration of war on them by the rest of Lebanon? I know a prominent Christian leader had said it would be taken as an aggressive act, but thought Hezbollah was the main remaining military force in Lebanon.

You're 100% correct that Hezbollah is the only meaningful fighting force in Lebanon but they do actually retain a military still, which sounds funny to even say lol. It's hard to say what would happen (and hopefully cooler heads prevail) but yeah I would definitely say arming the actual armed forces is at the least a sign that Hezbollah should expect internal politics to not give them a blank check in the conflict. The last Christian President Aoun actually had a tacit alliance with Hezollah, but there's no President now and no alliance to paper over demographic divisions, and the Christian population of Lebanon has often looked to France as a possible protector.

Alternatively, the French response hasn't been a warning to the Israeli's, it's been a warning to Iran- in the sense of 'if Hezbollah gets involved, these APCs go to the other side of a potential Lebanese civil war.'

While the OP's framing is that the French position is a response to Israel, a lot of maneuverings going on in the region right now have been aimed at Iran, who reportedly was preparing to try and arrange basically a regional intifada that was supposed to have been called for by Hezbollah as the relevant proxy. There's been quite a bit of shuttle diplomacy in the region in the region, and depending on who you believe, there were direct threats that if other Iranian proxies got involved in earnest, it would be considered a formal act of war by Iran by the US. This allegedly occured right before Hezbollah did a significant announcement speach that had some potential groundwork for being the referenced call to arms, but ended up being an underwhelming 'we're staying out of it, mostly' and restriction to token efforts.

If you believe those framings- and I wouldn't discount them entirely- the French action isn't 'we will help Lebanese national army against Israel'- for which APCs would do little to no good- but 'we will help the Lebanese national army against Hezbollah,' in which the APCs would be directly relevant.


Spain’s Sánchez waits for Puigdemont

The Spanish election is a gift that keeps on giving, both the left and right incapable of mounting a majority and forced to beg for third party votes. The Catalan independence party Junts hasn’t budged on their demand that if left wing PM Pedro Sannchez wants their support, amnesty is needed for their leader Carles Puigdemont, a wanted man due to the illegal Catalan independence referendum. For a long time Sanchez held equally strong on this not being a possibility, but lately has seemingly relented. Politico assures us that a deal is nearly in the making…

The talks appeared to be going well last week, so much so that Socialist lawmakers told the press that a deal was “imminent,” especially after they sealed a pact with Catalonia’s other separatist party, the Republican Left of Catalonia. That group agreed to back Sánchez in exchange for the cancellation of €15 billion in regional debt and the control of the Catalan railway network.

But Puigdemont appears determined to make Sánchez sweat for a bit longer before handing over his votes. Despite repeated meetings with the Spanish Socialists’ organizational head, Santos Cerdán, and what is rumored to be a definitive agreement on a blanket amnesty for everyone involved in the failed 2017 Catalan independence referendum, a deal remains elusive…

The potential amnesty remains controversial in Spain. Throughout the weekend spontaneous protests against the measure took place in cities like Madrid and Burgos, and historic Socialist leaders like former Prime Minister Felipe González have slammed the amnesty. But Sánchez’s militants are backing their leader, and on Saturday nearly 90 percent of Socialist Party members ratified their support for his deals in an inner-party consultation.

If the fail to make a coalition then there will be another election, in which the socialists will do worse, ironically because of the very politicking they’re doing right now to win the last election.

The Spanish right-wing seems to be in a continuous state of terminal rage over the fact that separatist movements even exist, and this then leads them to lose again and again to the Spanish left which, while not supporting separatism, at least is able to tactically deal with the fact that these movements exist and have some power within the Spanish electoral system.

This is certainly true at least with regards to Vox, whose existence is a reaction to the Catalonia referendum and whom most third parties have promised not to work with. Vox even promised shortly after the election that they'd support a coalition where they didn't get any ministerships in the government in a desperate attempt to get other parties to hold their nose and back the conservatives.

Aren't Catalonian separatists uber-woke lefties, much like the Scottish ones? Seems unlikely they'd ally themselves with anyone right-of-center no matter how nice they're being treated.


Ostensibly the revolutionary group ELN is in a ceasefire with the government and in negotiations for a peace treaty. However, last month put some doubt as to the progress of the talks:

At least 40% of fighters from Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels could reject a potential peace deal being negotiated with the government, three high-level security sources told Reuters, citing reluctance to surrender profits from drug smuggling and illegal mining.

Recently their attacks have flared back up, most noticeably by kidnapping the father of Liverpool footballer Luis Díaz, creating a hideous PR situation for President Gustavo Petro.

Unfortunately, in the same week the leftist revolutionary group EMC, a splinter of the more famous FARC, has now ended its peace talks with the Petro Administration. The reasons why are a little unclear:

The negotiation, which began on October 16 in the city of Tibu in the country's northeast, was suspended because, according to the guerrillas, "the State has totally failed to comply" with its commitments. However, the holdouts did not specify what these pledges were.

All this is a shame because negotiating an end to the conflicts with revolutionary groups has been one of the few areas Petro has been having significant success in. The EMC have at least said they will honor the standing ceasefire until it ends in the new year.


The Netherlands will hold elections on November 22nd. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the center right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), resigned in July after his party was unable to agree on immigration reforms. He’s been governing in a caretaker role since, but his party is running without him under the Minister of Justice and Safety Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius (say that five times fast). Their main opposition is establishment politician Pieter Omtzigt of the Christian Democrats under his newly formed New Social Contract (NSC). Currently they are still neck and neck in the polls, and trailed by a bazillion smaller parties. The possibilities for coalitions are complicated to this distant observer:

Omtzigt has publicly rejected any cooperation with Geert Wilders’ far-right PVV and the “Nexit” propagating Forum for Democracy (FvD). This lowers the previous prospect of a center-right government tolerated by some of these more rightist forces and/or the anti-green Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) who have also been losing ground in the polls. Instead, the likely strength of NSC moves the center of gravity to the middle. Whether with Omtzigt as PM or as kingmaker, this may open the door for cooperation with the newly combined list of the Social Democrats and the Green Left, led by former European Commission executive vice president Frans Timmermans, currently third in the polls…this overall political camp is currently expected to win around 90 out of a total of 150 seats.

This is one of those elections where hopefully our locals will come in to shed some more light for me.

For people unfamiliar with Dutch politics, it might be interesting to compare these polls with the political compass (the horizontal axis denotes economic left/right policy, vertical axis socially progressive/conservative policy).

(For the logos: the butterfly represents the Animal Rights Party (PvdD), the seagul Geert Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV), and the Greek building Thierry Baudet's Forum for Democracy (FvD)).

The current elections are interesting because a large number of party leaders stepped down before the elections and have been replaced with “fresh” faces. Meanwhile, the political landscape has not shifted all that much.

As you mentioned, the historically important Christian Democrat party, which was in decline for a while, has now been almost completely replaced by two new parties: New Social Contract (NSC) lead by Pieter Omtzigt (himself a former Christian Democrat) and the Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB) lead by political outsider Caroline van der Plas (whose party was at one time leading in the polls, but has gradually declined almost to insignificance for reasons that aren't quite clear to me).

Meanwhile, the Labour party (PvdA) and Green party (GL) have merged into a single moderately progressive/leftwing party (uninspiringly named PvdA/GL) lead by former Labour-party Foreign Affairs Minister and European Commissioner Frans Timmermans.

The key to understanding current Dutch politics lies with the VVD, the quintessential (neo)liberal party that supports globalism, open borders, low taxes, minimal environmental protections and less regulations for businesses. Their voters consist mainly of the “haves“ in society: wealthy people, high earners, business owners, home owners, pensioners; people who are happy with their lives, do not favor income or wealth distribution, and do not feel especially threatened by globalization or immigration.

The VVD has been part of the government for the past 13 years. The main reason for this is that despite being economically right-wing, they are quite flexible when it comes to social issues, which has allowed the party to form coalitions both with conservative Christians and with progressive liberal parties.

In terms of coalition building, based on the current polls, there is an obvious three-party coalition of PvdA/GL + NSC + VVD. While these parties cover a broad part of the spectrum, the combination isn't as far-fetched as it might seem: PvdA and VVD have governed together in the not-too-distant past (two cabinets between 1994 and 2002). Adding a third party would seem to complicate things, but on paper, Omtzigt's NSC is ideologically somewhere in between the two, so it feels like it should be possible to include them as well, though much depends on how flexible Omtzigt turns out to be: if Omtzigt insists on social conservatism, and the VVD insists on economic rightwing policy, then together they have nothing to offer PvdA/GL: the VVD's past success has hinged on yielding progressive topics to their left-wing coalition partner to secure the economic right-wing policy they really care about.

It's worth noting that historically, a coalition between PvdA and VVD has hurt PvdA much more than VVD. So it's unclear if they will dare to go for it again this time.

No other coalition seems immediately viable. It's probably best to wait for the election to see where the chips fall.

Thanks for the breakdown, that was super helpful.


Brazil has now joined the ranks of Latin American countries using the military to crack down upon organized crime.

Thousands of troops have taken up position in the ports and airports of Rio and São Paulo and along Brazil’s western border as part of efforts to “asphyxiate” organized crime amid an upsurge in bloodshed and violence.

The military intervention – ordered last Friday by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – will last until next May and is reportedly designed to cut off the drug and gun smuggling routes on which trafficking and mafia groups depend…

This is a major operation and one done in response to extreme public outcry over deteriorating public safety conditions. This is unfortunate, as Brazilian homicide rates had been trending down for much of the previous decade but, like Ecuador, organized gangs seem to have gained a significant amount of ground in a very short window of time.

Late last month, paramilitary gangs known as “milícias” (militias) brought much of west Rio to a standstill, setting fire to dozens of buses and a train in order to stop one of the city’s most wanted mafia bosses being arrested. In early October, three doctors were shot dead outside a five-star beach hotel after assassins seemingly confused one of the group with a crime boss they wanted to kill….

More than 1,000 members of the navy will operate in the container ports of Rio and Itaguaí in Rio state and Santos in São Paulo state from which Brazilian prosecutors say huge quantities of South American cocaine are shipped to Europe each month.

Two thousand army troops, meanwhile, will step up their activities along Brazil’s western borders with Paraguay and Bolivia, across which much of the marijuana, cocaine and weaponry that illegally enters Brazil flows.

They’re also cracking down on the rising issue of, uh, neo-nazis? I guess those confederate enclaves finally got some gumption.

Data on the size of Brazil’s neo-Nazi movement is sparse, but most researchers agree that it has been growing. One researcher tracking neo-Nazi groups, Adriana Dias, an anthropologist at the State University of Campinas, estimated that the number of groups increased from the hundreds in 2019 to more than 1,000 last year.


Followers here have heard the evolving story of how Bernardo Arévalo, son of Guatemala’s first democratically elected President, rose up as an underdog candidate to commandingly win an upset against an establishment opponent. Guatemala’s traditional powerbrokers has tried every dirty trick in the book to keep him from coming to power, including raiding their offices and suing to invalidate his candidacy. This week they have finally officially suspended his party, Movimiento Semilla (Seed Movement). However, the Supreme Court has said they cannot stop Arevalo from actually becoming President, or reverse the 23 seats his party won, which leaves the legal status of…everything, basically, a little unclear. Protests have been going on for weeks against this crackdown and now look poised to increase significantly.

The legal actions of Porras and Orellana have triggered mass protests and road blockades, with demonstrators demanding their resignation and a clean-up of the justice system. Indigenous movements have been leading the popular mobilizations and the national strike. On Wednesday, Indigenous leaders said that they will continue to “resist” the Prosecutor’s Office.

The organizations announced that they will hold several marches on November 3 and 4 in the center of Guatemala City, while maintaining the sit-in that they have been carrying out since October 2 in front of the Prosecutor’s Office.


In response to Uganda’s draconian anti-gay legislation, international consequences has finally come to appear:

President Joe Biden last week ended Uganda’s preferential access to American markets under an accord that benefits more than 30 African nations. As far as US foreign policy is concerned, Uganda is now in the same basket as Niger, Gabon and the Central African Republic — pariah states that have either suffered military coups or invited in Russia’s Wagner mercenaries.

This week, a much-anticipated initial public offering of Airtel Uganda flopped, with investors taking up just 55% of the shares offered. The World Bank froze new loans to the country in August and the finance ministry has estimated that international budget support may plummet 99% next year…

The country had total trade of $432 million with the US last year, and the cocoa, coffee and base metals it exports can easily be found elsewhere.