Ecuador's President Supports Random Review of Ballot Papers

Quito, Apr 13 (Prensa Latina) Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa supported a proposal by Guayaquil Mayor Jaime Nebot for a random review of ballot papers for the second round of presidential elections held on April 2, but under conditions.

In his Twitter account, the president referred to the idea of Nebot, which he said is similar to a suggestion he made a few days ago.

The initiative, defined by the mayor as a supra-legal solution, establishes that representatives of the academy, the church, political movements and the media, among other factors, randomly choose a group of records and check them publicly.

'We fully support this proposal. We ask the CNE to accept it despite not being covered by the law,' the president stated.

However, he mentioned three conditions for implementing the proposal: to review records of the first round of elections (February 19), when the opposition also spoke of fraud, to accept the results and if these are ratified, CREO-SUMA political organization and the media that supported it should apologize publicly to Ecuadorians and the entire world.

According to Correa, the opposition of this South American state seeks to copy the strategy of the Venezuelan right that is to question results and delegitimize the origin of the administration, keep the streets warm and tear their clothes for a divided country, only to prevent governability.

'The difference: it will not happen here. Let all the ballot papers they want to be publicly open. They will not be able to steal from us the popular victory,' the president concluded.

The initiative recently proposed seeks to put to an end the environment generated by the right, led by CREO-SUMA and Guillermo Lasso-Andrés Páez, who from the same day of ballotage went out to the streets to talk about fraud and to incite their followers to ignore the results.

Official data from the National Electoral Council (CNE) indicate that the second round of elections was won by former vice president and representative of PAIS Alliance, Lenín Moreno, with 51.15 percent, while rival Lasso scored 48.85 percentage points. These estimates were corroborated in the recount carried out recently in five provinces, which recorded the initial figures.

However, the post-election process is at the stage of objection, challenge and appeal, valid reasons to file claims.

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Exaggerated Dangers in Venezuela

Caracas, Apr 10 (Prensa Latina) Exaggerating the dangers that exist today in Venezuela seems to be part of the strategy to root the image of insecurity in order to justify a foreign intervention that will allegedly save the country's stability.

How true or false is the situation they are trying to sell to the large masses who are alarmingly observing the manipulated domestic situation, as part of a scenario that has been described as catastrophic by people like the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro?

A communiqué issued by Almagro refers to 'a killed demonstrator and dozens of wounded and arrested as the initial result of repression (on Friday), aimed at suffocating the demand for free elections, the only solution for a country devastated by the political crisis and looting.'

The peaceful protest and the right to the freedom of peaceful association, he noted, are universal rights that any government, especially the democratic governments, must respect. That shows again that there is no democracy in Venezuela and that human rights are violated regularly, the OAS chief said.

None of this fits reality. First, there is freedom to demonstrate, but authorities have the right to limit the places to prevent clashes between opposite forces, according to observers.

The violent demonstrations, according to what this correspondent has observed, are promoted by groups opposed to the government that are closely linked to 'the democrats of the continent', as Almagro calls those who 'will not accept to pay with Venezuelan blood the debts of democracy, freedoms, prosperity, the Constitution and the rights that its rulers have contracted at the people's expense,' something that these advocates cause and manipulate.

The communiqué, which was issued after Almagro met on Thursday in Washington with the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the opposition leader Julio Borges, shows that the so-called soft coup against President Nicolas Maduro is being cooked in the U.S. capital, with support from local opponents.

Big media organizations have described events that do not match reality, as they are trying to depict an explosive image throughout the country.

For example, here, at the foot of Mountain Avila, there were sporadic expressions of violence in the areas of Altamira and Chacaito, known as the capital's bastions of the country's right-wing opposition and the bourgeoisie, while in other zones in the east, west and south, there is tension, but there is no violence as predicted and announced by media opposed to the government.

That atmosphere of insecurity and violence is fueled by events like this one: 'Venezuelan tennis players had to go to Miami to compete in the Davis Cup against El Salvador. Not a single game will take place in Venezuela, because the International Federation considered that it was dangerous. But no one, either the International Tennis Federation or the IND or Min-Deportes say anything', the commentator Eleazar Diaz Rangel said.

Logically, the manipulation of the situation contributes to the atmosphere of insecurity. Everything can have an interpretation here.

For example, at 08:00 hours, local time, on Sunday, a squad of soldiers wearing the olive green uniforms of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) was deployed at the steps of the Financiero Latino building, in Urdaneta and Avenida Fuerzas Armadas.

Anyone would think that it was a scenario of violence, because the headquarters of the Ombudsman is located nearby, but it was merely a preventive exercise. The danger does not exist.

It does not mean that the country is not in tension, there is tension, ordinary people are concerned about their country and the threats coming from abroad, but so far, it has not gone beyond that, unless foreign forces attack the homeland of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. Then, there will be a dangerous situation.

However, there are still voices like that of UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper, who noted that an explicit electoral program is the best way to solve the political crisis. It was said by someone who participated in the talks between the two parties and who has promoted dialogue.

Likewise, but on the opposite direction, there is howling like that by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who speaks about 'violations of human rights' in Venezuela and calls 'to exert pressure' to cause the explosion of a bomb that can affect the entire Latin America.

In that regard, the interpretation of the dangers may change, everything depends on being at the wrong moment and at the wrong time in the sequence of a situation.

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Brazil Court Launches Trial that Could Boot Temer from Office over Illegal Campaign Funds

If Michel Temer is removed as president, it would mark the second transition of a government in Brazil in less than one year.

A Brazilian court kicked off a trial Tuesday over illegal election campaign financing that could unseat unelected President Michel Temer less than one year after he was installed as head of state through a parliamentary coup against his predecessor Dilma Rousseff.

RELATED: Literally Unelectable: Court Bars Temer from Running for Office

The country's top electoral court, known by its Portuguese acronym TSE, will head the case related to years-old accusations of illicit funding in Temer's campaign when he was Rousseff's running mate in her successful 2014 bid for re-election. 

Temer's right-wing PMDB party was formerly in a coalition with Rousseff's Workers' Party, also known as the PT, before a rupture last year that helped pave the way for the controversial and ill-footed impeachment process, widely condemned as a parliamentary coup. Temer, then Rousseff's vice president, became a key backer in ousting Rousseff, aligning more closely in the process with the conservative PSDB, which lost the 2014 election to Rousseff and is ironically behind the complaints filed with the TSE. 

After the TSE recognized Rousseff and Temer's win in 2014 against PSDB candidate Aecio Neves and his running mate Aloysio Nunes, who is now Temer's foreign minister, the PSDB filed complaints to reopen the legitimacy of the election victory, alleging irregularities in campaign financing linked to the corruption scheme in the state-run oil company Petrobras. 

The outcome of the trail could annul the results of the 2014 election, but justices could also rule to throw out the case since Rousseff is now longer in office. 

Both Temer and Rousseff are involved in the case and deny the allegations. Their defense teams will make their cases in the coming days.

Despite being ousted in a process her rivals painted as a bid to root out government corruption, Rousseff has not been accused of personal enrichment or financial impropriety, but rather was impeached on the basis that she cooked the books with common accounting tricks ahead of her re-election campaign.

Temer, on the other hand, is a target in Brazil's central corruption investigations known as Operation Car Wash and has already been found guilty of breaking election financing laws in a regional election court in São Paulo. As a result of the case, the sitting president has been banned for running for office for eight years — a fact that did not prevent him being installed as president as year. 

It is expected that Temer's defense will attempt to stall the trial as much as possible in attempts of postponing the conclusion until the 2018 presidential election to avoid being booted from office early. His ally Eduardo Cunha — also a member of the PMDB party and former speaker of the lower house of Congress who was the chief architect behind Rousseff's ouster — was notorious for using stall tactics when he faced suspension last year, dragging out the process for months. 

At the beginning of the trial, TSE rapporteur Judge Hernan Benjamin noted that the case has already been pending for about two and a half years and urged the court to "avoid procrastination" and "expedite" the process with this fresh trial. 

"The 2014 election will be known as the longest in Brazilian history, closing the ballot boxes and counting the votes, but the result is being discussed through the judicial process," he said, according to Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo. 

Benjamin has prepared a more than 1,000-page report on the case. Judges can request time to study the report during the proceedings, which could drag out the trial for days or even months. 

TSE Judge Gilmar Mendes said last week that it is not yet clear how long the trial will take. 

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Venezuelans Protest OAS Interference

Caracas, Apr 4 (Prensa Latina) Thousands of militants from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela are leading a march today to reject OAS interference in the internal affairs of the South American nation and to support President Nicolás Maduro's administration.

From 10:00 in the morning, we will gather on the Ombudsman's Office and walk to the corner of San Francisco, near the National Assembly, explained the vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Adán Chávez.

According to Chavez, the objective is to proclaim before the international public opinion the popular decision to face the coup attempt against the Bolivarian Revolution, perpetrated in the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) this Monday.

During a press conference, he said that the call also would repudiate the Parliament's (mainly opposition) purpose of dismissing the Supreme Court Justices (TSJ).

That procedure is typical of a coup attempt, because the National Assembly is in contempt and has no competence to make decisions of this type, he said.

With support from abroad, he said, the Venezuelan ultra-right aims to organize new guarimbas (violent demonstrations) with the aim of creating a suitable scenario for a coup, but the people and the Bolivarian Government will not allow it.

The PSUV march on Tuesday coincides with what was called last Sunday by the Bureau of Democratic Unity (MUD) and other opposition organizations to support Parliament in its claim to remove the TSJ magistrates from their posts for alleged attempt Of coup d'état.

The supporters of the MUD will also be concentrated at 10:00 am, but to the west, in Plaza Venezuela, to head for the seat of the Parliament, in the center of this capital.

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Russia Supports Venezuela Sovereignty, Opposes Foreign Intervention

Unlike other foreign nations, Russia has thrown their support behind Venezuela's government. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry appealed Friday to the international community not to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela and called for increased dialogue amid ongoing attempts to remove the country from the Organization of American states, and cries of a coup for the actions of the country's Supreme Court.

RELATED: Cuba and China Agree to Strengthen Military Cooperation

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said that it is important that political dialogue is comprehensive and structured, arguing “It is very important that logic prevails over confrontation. External forces should not add fuel to fire in the internal situation in Venezuela.”

“We are convinced of the principle of non-interference internal affairs,” she added, while urging that “any decision of the the organs of power, political and social forces, is based on the constitution of the country.”

Zaharova also noted that it was important to maintain a positive dialogue with the “international political authority and regional blocs like UNASUR.

”The Organization of American States, OAS, is also pressing to revoke Venezuela's membership in the organization for alleged "human rights abuses,” claims which Venezuela says amount to an imperialist attack against the nation.

RELATED: US Cries 'Power Grab' After Venezuela Court Ruling Backs Constitution

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has found the National Assembly to be in contempt of the constitution since January 2016 for swearing-in three legislators whose elections were overturned for vote buying.

The legislators have refused to be removed from their positions and therefore the National Assembly cannot legally approve legislation as they are not adhering to the law. The Supreme Court stepped in as part of the country’s constitution to resolve the issues between state powers and to exercise parliamentary powers when needed.

The Venezuelan opposition and foreign governments have falsely labeled the situation as a coup and a sign of government dictatorship, although the ruling from the top court has not changed.

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Ecuador: Final Electoral Stage Shadowed by Dirty Campaign

Quito, Mar 28 (Prensa Latina) The electoral campaign in Ecuador, which will soon hold ballotage on April 2nd, is shadowed by the attacks of the right-wing against the Government and its candidates.

From March 10th to 30th, candidates of the ballotage, former deputy president of the Government Lenin Moreno, from the Movimiento Alianza PAIS, and former banker Guillermo Lasso, from CREO-SUMA, travel across the country to win the support of the voters.

Moreno and supporters defend a project to continue the advances achieved during 10 years of Rafael Correa´s management program, focused on public policies in favor of the population.

Meanwhile, Lasso suggests a program considered by many people as uncertain, proposing a change but not mentioning the mechanisms to improve wellbeing of the population and sowing doubts amid voters on the transparency of the work done by the incumbent management.

The dirty campaign of the opposition has attempted to involve electoral partner of Moreno, Jorge Glas, who runs for deputy president, in corruption actions, and has also spread unfounded rumors on fraud in the first elections, denied by the electoral authority and President Correa.

Despite the dirty campaign, opinion polls agreed on the majority support for Moreno-Glas tandem, considered by many people as the choice of the population for its program 'Toda una vida', which seeks to reduce exclusion and improve life-quality of Ecuadorians, deepening into the work carried out in the recent 10 years.

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Ecuador Denies Entry to Venezuela Opposition Figure Visiting to Campaign for Right Wing

"Change is coming to Ecuador," Tintori said, referencing the campaign slogan of right-wing presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.

Ecuador denied entry Wednesday morning to Venezuelan opposition figure Lilian Tintori, traveling to meet and campaign with right-wing Ecuadorean presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso — an activity that is banned in the country’s immigration law.

IN DEPTH: Ecuador Elections 2017

Tintori, wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, arrived at the airport in Guayaquil from Miami at 1:30 a.m. local time Wednesday morning. On her social media accounts she reported that immigration authorities had retained her passport and denied her entry, a move she claimed amounted to a violation of her "human rights."

An official immigration document circulated online by local journalists showed that Tintori’s entry was denied for her failure to justify her immigration status and explain the reason for her visit. According to Ecuador’s Human Mobility Law, lack of a valid visa when required or failure to justify immigration status will result in “immediate departure of the inadmissible person” from the country “without the need for administrative processing.” It also states that such travelers can return to the country when the reason for which they were denied entry is resolved.

A separate article of the Human Mobility Law on the right to political participation explicitly states: “Temporary visitors in Ecuador will not be able to interfere in matters of internal politics of Ecuador.”

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On social media, Tintori made references to her political motivations for visiting Ecuador, writing on her Facebook account that Ecuadoreans “have an opportunity for change” on April 2, referring to the date of the presidential runoff election between governing party candidate Lenin Moreno and opposition leader Guillermo Lasso. “They are not letting me enter because they know that change is coming to Ecuador,” she said in a video posted on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, referencing the Lasso's campaign slogan. “They are not letting me in because they do not want me to help my Ecuadorean brothers and sisters.”

In response to Tintori being denied entry, Lasso also confirmed that the Venezuelan had planned to enter the country to support his bid for president. “A few weeks ago we agreed that she would come for a few days to accompany Maria de Lourdes and I in this campaign,” Lasso said in a video message, referring to his wife, who stood beside him in the video.

RELATED: Ecuador Indigenous Movement Split as Leader Embraces Right-Wing Presidential Candidate

Tintori, who arrived in Ecuador on an American Airlines flight from Miami, was put on a flight back to Miami at 6:45 a.m. local time Wednesday.

On her Twitter account, Tintori, who frequently describes Venezuela as a “dictatorship,” claimed that she was denied entry to Ecuador because the country is “complicit in (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro’s dictatorship.”

Leopoldo Lopez was jailed in 2013 for his role in violent protests that claimed the lives of 43 Venezuelans. Since then, Tintori and leaders from Lopez's right-wing Popular Will Party have been campaigning around the globe for his release, calling him and others involved in the violent protests "political prisoners."

Lasso, a former banker who came in distant second to frontrunner Moreno in the first round of presidential elections last month, said the denial of Tintori into the country was evidence of “dictatorship.”

“Not allowing the entry of Lilian Tintori, wife of Leopoldo Lopez, confirms the dictatorship Ecuador is living the dictatorship of a political party,” Lasso said in his video message.

Lasso also misleadingly referenced the article of the constitution that allows foreigners to vote — a civil right accorded to foreign residents “as long as they have resided legally in the country for at least five years,” according to the constitution — as well as the principle of “universal citizenship,” which promotes free movement to “transform the unequal relations between countries, especially those between North and South.” While Ecuador’s widely celebrated “no one is illegal” policy — applauded by the U.N. Refugee Agency — offers a framework to decriminalize irregular immigration status, not override other sections of the immigration law barring foreigners from interfering in local politics.

A high-profile case amid opposition protests in 2015 brought similar migration laws to light and offers a precedent for application of Ecuador’s law barring foreigners from participating in local politics. French-Brazilian academic Manuela Picq, living in Ecuador with a cultural exchange visa, was deported in August after participating in opposition protests that at times turned violent. Her visa was revoked, according to then-Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, for “carrying out political activities” not allowed under the cultural exchange immigration status. Picq’s case similarly sparked accusations of human rights violations from the ranks of the opposition, including Lasso’s running mate Andrez Paez, who accompanied Picq at points during the legal process leading up to her deportation.

Despite Lasso’s defense of the legality of Tintori’s planned visit, as the governor of Guayas in 1999 he ordered a foreigner be expelled for less. Months after the 1999 banking crisis — which Lasso is also accused of played a role in — the then-governor called for the deportation of Venezuelan economic analyst, Jose Luis Cordeiro. The Venezuelan analyst had criticized the economic policies of the government of then-President Jamil Mahuad, under whom Lasso went on to serve as minister of finance. Lasso argued at the time that Cordeiro’s statements showed a “lack of respect” against Mahuad, adding that “it is not possible to allow foreigners to threaten the national honor” of Ecuador.

Tintori’s main political activities have also including building relationships with other right-wing figures in the region, including conservative Argentine President Mauricio Macri and more recently, U.S. President Donald Trump.

Just weeks ago, she met Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the White House. After the meeting, she thanked Trump on her Twitter account for “standing with the Venezuelan people.”

Ecuador's Ministry of the Interior has not yet released a statement on Tintori's situation.

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Colombian Senate to Final Debate on Transitional Justice

Bogota, March 13 (Prensa Latina) Colombian senators resume today the analysis of the legislative project that will give life to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), considered the backbone of the agreement between the government and FARC-EP insurgents.

After spiny discussions and other setbacks such as the absence of congressmen, the final debate of this rule will take place in the Senate plenary meeting, one of the most controversial of the package planned to implement the agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC) -EP).

Under the JEP salons and courts will be constituted with the objective of investigating, judging and punishing those responsible for the long conflict with premises such as zero impunity for crimes against humanity but benefits of pardons and amnesties in cases of political and related crimes.

Likewise, the treatment of the military and other agents of the State is contemplated in a special chapter within the project.

Last Saturday President Juan Manuel Santos assured that this is one of the most important decisions that the Capitol will take throughout its history and requested support from representatives of all parties to approve the creation of the JEP.

In the Congress of the Republic we must vote for the model of transitional justice (to move from war to a scenario of relaxation), of special justice, so that we can consolidate peace; I call on the senators to be present, stressed the president.

Meanwhile, the president of the highest legislative body, Mauricio Lizcano, commented that not to approve the JEP would be equal to leave unpunished all the serious crimes that occurred in the context of the confrontation and prevent the victims from knowing the truth.

The agreement reached in Havana and initialed in this capital on November 24 includes a comprehensive system to clarify the truth, to apply justice, to repair the damages caused to the victims of the conflict (totaling almost 8 million) and to give them guarantees of non-repetition.

Some 7,000 FARC-EP guerrillas are concentrated in 19 zones and seven points (smaller than the first ones) of 14 departments where they will leave the armament in their possession.

The validation of the JEP and the application of the amnesty law, previously sanctioned, are two of the demands of the guerrilla, the largest in the country.

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