(Reuters, 23.Dec.2022) — The latest in Latin American politics today: ex-ministers in Peru recount Castillo’s dramatic final day, U.S. court rejects Maduro ally’s bid to dismiss charges, CEO of Brazil’s Petrobras to resign before end of April, and Panama aims to reach ‘fair’ deal with miner First Quantum.
Argentine president says will ignore Supreme Court ruling
BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Alberto Fernandez sparked a battle with the country’s top court after he said he would reject its ruling to give a larger proportion of state funds to the city of Buenos Aires.
Argentina has a system to regulate how state funds are distributed between the country’s regions, including the capital city, which is controlled by a conservative mayor and had been pushing for a larger slice.
The Supreme Court Wednesday ruled the level should be raised from 1.4% of total funds to 2.95%, after it was cut during the pandemic. Fernandez said the ruling was unjustified and pledged to ignore it.
Ex-ministers in Peru recount Castillo’s dramatic final day
LIMA – Cabinet members under former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo say he was planning his impeachment trial defense and appeared confident he would win – right up until his explosive speech trying to dissolve Congress sparked his dramatic ouster.
Castillo was facing his third impeachment trial in just over 16 months in office when he went on the airwaves just before noon on Dec. 7 trying to wrest control of the legislature.
The speech came as a surprise, two members of his cabinet told Reuters. They initially expected him to survive the vote, calculating Congress had only 73 votes, below the 87 needed to approve his removal.
For former Culture Minister Alejandro Salas, the speech was the final nail in Castillo’s political coffin. “Pedro Castillo committed suicide with a message,” he said.
U.S. court rejects Maduro ally’s bid to dismiss charges
A U.S. judge dealt a blow to Alex Saab Moran, a Colombia-born businessman accused in a corruption scheme involving Venezuela’s ruling Socialists, by rejecting his assertion of diplomatic immunity.
Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, is being held in a Miami jail awaiting trial on charges of money laundering in the case.
“The evidence suggests that the Maduro regime and its accomplices have fabricated documents to cloak Saab Moran in a diplomatic dress that does not befit him, all in an effort to exploit the law of diplomatic immunities and prevent his extradition to the United States,” the court ruled.
Petrobras chief to resign before the end of April term
Caio Paes de Andrade, the chief executive of Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras, will resign before his term ends in April, but has not yet set a date for his departure, six sources told Reuters.
Andrade’s early exit would provide a pathway for leftist President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to quickly install his own choice to lead the company. Lula, a leftist former president, takes office on Jan. 1.
Panama aims to reach ‘fair’ deal with miner First Quantum
PANAMA CITY – Panama’s government is in talks with Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals over the conditions under which it operates its flagship copper mine, said top revenue official Publio De Gracia.
The official said the government was looking for a “fair” deal in which the company complied with its obligations, after the firm missed a deadline to finalize a deal that would have increased annual tax payments.
A key asset for both parties, the Cobre Panama mine accounts for roughly 3.5% of the Central American country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures, and according to a financial analyst generates around half of First Quantum’s core earnings.
Mexican leader backs inquiry into judge’s alleged plagiarism
MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said authorities should resolve a case of alleged plagiarism by a Supreme Court justice he nominated who had been in the running to take the helm of the country’s top tribunal.
Justice Yasmin Esquivel was this week accused of plagiarizing her 1987 university undergraduate thesis, prompting calls for her to step down. Mexican news outlet Latinus carried the story.
Esquivel rejected the claims and on Twitter posted letters of support from academics who supervised her thesis.
Compiled by Sarah Morland and Isabel Woodford; Editing by Frances Kerry and Bradley Perrett