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.”

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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Venezuelans Honor Chávez's Legacy

Venezuelans continue to show their attachment to the legacy of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, with activities in his honor that will extend until March 15.

The commemorative activities for the fourth anniversary of the death of the heir to the legacy of the Liberator Simon Bolivar in the Mountain Barracks, located in the parish January 23 of Caracas will continue today.

From 11:00 a.m. local time, attendees will be able to witness the forum Social Compensation of the Latin American Armed Forces, with the participation of Roger Blandino Nerio, Fernando Morales, and Ñilda Díaz.

Other activities will take place in this museum where the remains of Chavez rest, especially in the room Arañero (street vendor), where children can participate in the activities Painting the Commander, Knowing the Arañero and Our Mural of the Arañero.

In this scenario of pilgrimage, Venezuelans and foreigners can tour the facilities of the barracks and see the different rooms of the museum, as well as the exhibition Chávez: un soldado hecho pueblo, which will be open from 09:00 to 16:00 local time.

Last night Caracas mayor Jorge Rodríguez during his weekly program 'Política en el diván' (Politics on the couch) said that President Hugo Chávez appeared in the history of Venezuela and the world to 'transform it forever.'

He stressed that Hugo Chávez observes and guides the revolutionaries and the entire Venezuelan people from the top of the mountain barracks 'before the arbitrary actions of imperialism.'

The memory transcends the Venezuelan borders and these days his name and figure is a source of remembrance in the world, and as noted by the Australian journalist Julian Assange, Chavez had the most important role for the construction of a multipolar world, which people do not forget.

'Chavez played the most important role on the global stage with his untiring efforts to continue advancing regional integration and cooperation and building a multipolar world,' Assange said in a letter sent Monday to the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity, which is meeting in Caracas.

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After Teachers, Now Workers March Against Macri in Argentina

This unified protest is a preview for an upcoming national general strike to protest the Macri government.

As workers take to the streets and teachers strike for the second day in a row Tuesday, the Argentine government is set to deal with another national union strike, as the country's largest trade union has vowed to call for a large protest if President Mauricio Macri's administration fails to resolve outstanding labor disputes.

GALLERY: Mass Teachers Strike in Argentina

Tuesday's union march, organized by the General Confederation of Labor, known as CGT, boasts the support of social movements, leftists political parties, doctors, teachers, transportation unions, universities and other organizations that have expressed their discontent with the Macri administration and its economic policies, as well as the soaring 40 percent inflation rate.

"This is the beginning of the struggle plan so they respect the commitments made," said Carlos Acuña, one of the leaders of the CGT. "There are tests on the table, there is no more time for dialogue, they have to comply, it's the only way this situation can be reversed."

The march is a prelude to a strike the CGT is expected to schedule for the end of March or the beginning of April to ramp up pressure on the government if authorities do not fulfill unions' demands for better working conditions.

The announcement of the impending national strike comes as Argentine teachers entered the second day of a 48-hour national strike that postponed the scheduled beginning of the classes in the country in order to demand better working conditions and salary increases. About 50,000 people attended the protest on its first day.

Macri's chief of staff, Marcos Peña, said that the government "shouldn't be afraid or feel threatened" by the mobilization and called on labor leaders to restart dialogue with the administration.

RELATED: Argentine Soccer Players Strike Over Pay Disputes

"We are not going to anticipate (a strike), the unions also have the right to strike, but we do make a call that we could sit at a table," said Peña.

Peña blamed the CGT for failing to reach an agreement on wages and labor security, saying it has "an enormously fragmented representation."

Several politicians and political parties in opposition to Macri announced they would join the protest and demand that the labor union announce a national strike. 

"We are going for the national strike to break the Macri and his governors' austerity," said the leader of the Labor Party, Nestor Pitrola.

Labor issues were in the spotlight throughout Macri's first year in office, as hundreds of thousands of public and private sector workers lost their jobs, prompting fears of rising levels of poverty in the South American country.

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Polls Divided on Winner in Ecuador's Presidential Runoff Vote

Since returning to democracy, the race for the presidency in Ecuador has been traditionally resolved in a second round.

The first polls after the first round of Ecuador's presidential election show a division between the leftist front-runner Lenin Moreno and the conservative former banker Guillermo Lasso, as two polling organizations place one or the other as the likely winner.

RELATED: 'In 2nd Round, We Will Defeat Them Again': President Correa

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Social Research, known as CIS, ruling Alianza Pais party candidate Moreno holds a significant advantage over Lasso in the second round scenario and was projected in the poll to win with 59 percent of valid votes over 41 percent for his rival.

The survey was conducted in the wake of the Feb. 19 election — from Feb. 22 to 24 — through 2,500 interviews nationwide, and is likely the first of many polls before the April 2 runoff. 

On the other hand, according to the polling company Cedatos, if the election were today Lasso would win 52.1 percent of the valid votes over Moreno's 47.9 percent.

According to the firm, 81 percent of Ecuadoreans have already decided who to vote for, while 19 percent still don't know. The poll was conducted between Thursday and Friday with 2,861 people from 23 cities and has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

RELATED: Backing ‘Ecuadorean Trump,’ Breitbart Spreads Fake News

With 99.93 percent of the counted votes, the National Electoral Council announced front-runner Moreno led the presidential race with 39.36 percent of the vote of more than 13 million voters. In second place is the right-winger Lasso, who trailed more than 10 percent behind with 28.09 percent.

Although he fell short of the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a second round, Moreno received the highest percentage of the vote in the first round than any other president in Ecuador in past 40 years, with the exception of President Rafael Correa.

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Brazil Corrupt Foreign Minister Resigns Over 'Health Problems'

Jose Serra was found to have received US$7.2 million in a corruption scheme revealed by a recent investigation.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Jose Serra, known for inviting Chevron back into the country, resigned from his post Wednesday, citing health reasons.

RELATED: How the Pro-Coup US Is Undermining Brazil's Democracy

Serra said in a letter to President Michel Temer that he leaves "with sadness, but aware of my health problems that prevent me from keeping up with the pace of international travel required by my role as foreign minister."

"To me, it was a source of pride to be part of his team,” wrote Serra. “I will honor my mandate as a senator in Congress, working to approve projects that seek the recovery of Brazil's economy, social development and democratic consolidation."

He gave no details on his health but said doctors told him recovery would take four months.

The Brazilian top diplomat received US$7.2 million in Swiss bank accounts in the mass corruption scandal with state-owned Petrobras known as “Operation Car Wash,” according to Odebrecht, also investigated for bribery.

The money received by Serra was used to finance his presidential campaign in 2010, when he lost to Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached last year in what many considered a parliamentary coup.

According to documents leaked by WikiLeaks, Serra met with the U.S. government during the Olympics, even before he was selected by Temer, who was also implicated in the corruption scandal.

Serra was seen as a U.S. State Department darling when he ran for president, described in cables as having “little patience for — and little in common with — the antics of the ‘resource caudillos’ (Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez) that now lead South America's anti-Washington Left." To add to this, Serra was seen in Washington as having the best shot against President Dilma Rousseff who “might well function as a positive interlocutor for the United States,” if his qualities are “managed carefully.”

He came to political prominence as health minister during Fernando Henrique Cardoso's presidency from 1994 to 2002, when he defied the international pharmaceuticals industry and allowed generic copies of brand-name drugs to be made in Brazil without the permission of the company that owns the patent.

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International Artists to Liven Up Caracas Carnival 2017

Caracas, Feb 22 (Prensa Latina) The mayor of the Libertador municipality of this capital, Jorge Rodríguez, revealed that the International Carnival Caracas 2017 will conclude with concerts of important artists on Monday and Tuesday, at Los Próceres Avenue.

We will count on the special performance of the members of Corazón Llanero, and international singers such as Tito Rojas, Jorge Celedón, Jerry Rivera and Bonny Cepeda, assured the also leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, during the program La Hora de la Salsa, led by President Nicolás Maduro.

Rodríguez said that Caracas schools have already started carnival parties with the production of typical masks, an activity developed until February 24 in the House of First Letters, under the auspices of the government of the Capital District.

Precisely next Friday, he noted, the Carnival Scream is expected with a parade of costumes and floats made by schools, between the Panteón and Bolivar squares.

That same day, in the Catia Theater will be chosen the godmother and the senior adult godfather, a contest in which people of the elderly of the 22 parishes are presented, and that will be the preamble for the beginning of the Salsa Festival with a concert of the Antaños de San José, he reported.

As detailed, on Saturday 25, at the Bolivar Theater, there will be a festival on the carnival of El Callao, in which the attending public can enjoy gastronomy and handicrafts from that area of the Bolivar state; And the queen of Carnival 2017 will also be chosen.

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