South America News


Bolivian opposition senator Jeanine Áñez has declared herself interim president of the South American country following Evo Morales’ resignation.

Ms Áñez said she was next in line under the constitution and vowed to hold elections soon.

Her appointment was endorsed by Bolivia’s Constitutional Court.

Lawmakers from Mr Morales’ party boycotted the session, and the former president branded Ms Áñez “a coup-mongering right-wing senator”.

Mr Morales has fled to Mexico, saying he asked for asylum there because his life was in danger.

He resigned on Sunday after weeks of protests over a disputed presidential election result. He has said he had been forced to stand down but had done so willingly “so there would be no more bloodshed”.

How did the senator become interim president?

Ms Áñez, 52, is a qualified lawyer and a fierce critic of Mr Morales. She was previously director of the Totalvision TV station, and has been a senator since 2010, representing the region of Beni in the National Assembly.

As the deputy Senate leader, Ms Áñez took temporary control of the body on Tuesday after Bolivia’s vice-president and the leaders of the senate and lower house resigned.

That put her next in line for the presidency under the constitution.

The parliamentary session to appoint Ms Áñez was boycotted by lawmakers from Mr Morales’ leftist Movement for Socialism party, who said it was illegitimate.

“Before the definitive absence of the president and vice president… as the president of the Chamber of Senators, I immediately assume the presidency as foreseen in the constitutional order,” Ms Áñez said to applause from opposition lawmakers.

Bolivia’s highest constitutional court backed her assumption of power.

Writing on Twitter from Mexico, Mr Morales condemned the “sneakiest, most nefarious coup in history”.

How did we get here?

Mr Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006, the country’s first leader from the indigenous community.

He won plaudits for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia’s economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional limits to run for a fourth term in October’s election.

Pressure had been growing on him since contested election results suggested he had won outright in the first round. The result was called into question by the Organization of American States, a regional body, which had found “clear manipulation” and called for the result to be annulled.

In response, Mr Morales agreed to hold fresh elections. But his main rival, Carlos Mesa – who came second in the vote – said Mr Morales should not stand in any new vote.

The chief of the armed forces, Gen Williams Kaliman, then urged Mr Morales to step down in the interests of peace and stability.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Morales said he had taken the decision in order to stop fellow socialist leaders from being “harassed, persecuted and threatened”.

He fled to Mexico as unrest erupted on the streets of the Bolivian administrative capital, La Paz, with angry supporters of the socialist leader clashing with security forces.

After arriving in Mexico City on Tuesday, he thanked Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whom he credited with saving his life.

“While I have life I’ll stay in politics, the fight continues. All the people of the world have the right to free themselves from discrimination and humiliation,” he said.

Source: BBC

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a contribution of US$4.5 million from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which will support rural women in areas affected by the conflict in Colombia.

The funds will help to promote rural women’s economic independence and boost crop productivity. In collaboration with the Colombian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, WFP will support 45 associations of smallholder farmers affected by the internal conflict. WFP aims to assist 1,860 families or 7,440 people in the departments of Cauca, Chocó, Nariño and Valle del Cauca.

“The Republic of Korea’s support will have a positive and transformative impact on the lives of women, helping them to achieve food security in a sustainable manner,” said WFP Country Director in Colombia, Carlo Scaramella. “Korea is a key partner of WFP’s work on the triple nexus of humanitarian assistance, development and peacebuilding.”

The project contributes to the broader implementation of the Peace Agreement, which prioritizes sustainable rural reform. It is aligned with WFP’s Strategic Plan, supporting the Colombian Government’s development and peacebuilding efforts by assisting those most vulnerable.

In Colombia, family and community agriculture accounts for 74 percent of rural workers, generates 50 percent of agricultural employment and produces 70 percent of the national agricultural output.

In 2018, WFP carried out technical assistance activities among 105 farmers associations, linking more than 11,000 smallholder farmers to markets in eight departments.

Source: relief web

Not long ago, in 2014, Latin America had four female presidents: Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Michelle Bachelet in Chile. Today, there are none, and leaders in the region are pushing for more women to secure top leadership positions so that gains in the political arena are not lost.

Three female Latin American leaders — Peruvian Vice President Mercedes Aráoz, Honduran Vice President Olga Alvarado and Bogota Councilwoman Angela Garzón — spoke on the issue Friday at Ana. G. Mendez University in Miami. They shared their experiences as women in politics and analyzed advances and setbacks of gender in leadership roles throughout international organizations, and national and local governments.

Though there are currently no female heads of state in Latin America, there are several vice presidents and there is an increase of women in parliamentary bodies.

“The empowerment of women must be permanent. It is everyone’s responsibility to achieve that true equity that our peoples are claiming, because that hope is required in Latin America and women have come to stay and mark a different story, bring hope,” Alvarado said.

Aráoz and Garzón highlighted the need for more women leaders so that gains in the political arena are not lost.

“There is a setback, but I think there is also a process of reform of political systems, because political systems exclude women a lot. There has also been a contamination by corruption issues. We have to work on a paradigmatic change in the political structures and in how the political parties participate so that they help train women in politics, representing society,” Aráoz said.

“Women should educate themselves as leaders, this is how we will avoid setbacks. Participation must continue to grow, we must continue to break paradigms,” Garzón added.

Over the past two decades there has been the implementation of policies in the region that has influenced a growing support and acceptance of women in leadership positions.

“Women entered national congresses thanks to gender quotas. Quotas have stimulated an increase of women’s participation in national leadership. I think there this is a good mechanism, although adjustments have to be done in order to get more participation and gender equality,” Aráoz said.

Aráoz explained that the region has developed laws and social policies to address vulnerable sectors of the population which include women. She sees an improvement in some areas but recognizes that the gender gap persists.

“Women’s progress still needs more mechanisms to sustain and expand female representation. There is still a significant gap in terms of salary and responsibilities. Today a woman has access to better jobs, but because there is inequality in the domestic front, in terms of housework and taking care of the children, now she has much more to do, like two jobs,”Aráoz said.

Garzón said there must be an increase in women’s role in politics and their success in seeking leadership positions at the highest levels.

“In Colombia, we have already many good laws. It is necessary to take action. Women are struggling to conquer and advance to achieve parity. In terms of laws, we have made progress, but moving from paper to reality is a challenge at this time”, said Garzón, who also aspires to the be the first female mayor of Bogota.

Garzón highlighted the importance of equal education for boys and girls as a way to transform the region.

“It worries how some girls in our region do not go to school, they are taught to do housework since they are very little. Empowerment starts from when you are a child, you must become familiar with concepts of respect and equality from a young age”, the councilwoman said.

Political Crisis in Venezuela

Aráoz said Venezuelan women play an important role in the struggle for democracy in their country.

“María Corina Machado and Lilian Tintori, are examples of very brave women. There are also many Venezuelan women leaders in our countries, leading movements and marches of Venezuelans. I believe that women have played an important role, many have seen their partners taken as prisoners and have taken the lead. That equates men and women in the struggle for freedom and democracy. It is a very great legacy that these women are going to leave to the future Venezuelan generations,” she said.

She reiterated Peru’s support for National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, an opposition leader who declared himself president of Venezuela in place of President Nicolas Maduro.

“We have recognized President Guaidó. We support him in his efforts to restore democracy in that country. In Venezuela there is a humanitarian catastrophe. In just one year, Peru received 600,000 Venezuelans escaping from a situation where there is hunger, lack of medicines and huge inflation,” Aráoz said.

“We support the restoration of true democracy. Not to a usurper as is the case of Mr. Maduro. He has made fraudulent elections, without observers, without clear mechanisms, ” she added.

Garzón also opted for the reestablishment of democracy in Venezuela.

“Colombia has received thousands and thousands of Venezuelans. We have been in solidarity with them and we will continue to be, but the first thing is to fight for the restoration of democracy in that country. We recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president in charge of Venezuela and we will continue to support him.

Source: UPI

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today signed a collaboration agreement to strengthen their cooperation in response to the humanitarian needs of children, adolescents, mothers and pregnant women in Venezuela.

In the past months, both United Nations agencies have been scaling up their humanitarian aid and development programs in Venezuela. Through this agreement, UNICEF and UNFPA will share information and technical resources in essential areas such as health, nutrition, child protection, water, hygiene and gender-based violence (GBV). Their strengthened collaboration will help meet the needs of children, adolescents and women more effectively.

“The situation in Venezuela urgently requires United Nations agencies to increase their cooperation in a coordinated and effective manner,” said Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This agreement will allow UNICEF and UNFPA to work together to reach more children and pregnant women with coordinated and integrated responses, taking into consideration the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”

“Working together to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelan children, adolescents and women in vulnerable situations is crucial to guarantee a timely response,” said Esteban Caballero, UNFPA’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This way, we can ensure the health, safety and well-being of the families and their communities.”

Both UN agencies will join efforts to develop strategies and implement priority actions that will:

Provide greater access to health services and guarantee the continuity of priority programs such as prevention of adolescent pregnancy and improvement of maternal and child health, with particular attention to newborns, adolescent pregnancy and teen mothers.

Expand interventions aimed at preventing nutritional deterioration, reducing the risk of increasing infant and maternal mortality, and improving the nutritional status of pregnant adolescents.

Strengthen protection networks and deliver assistance to children, adolescents and women with specific needs in departure, transit and hosting communities in Venezuela and neighboring countries, including risk of trafficking, abuse and sexual exploitation.

Improve water and sanitation services, as well as the promotion of appropriate hygiene practices, essential for the survival and development of boys and girls, with emphasis on menstrual hygiene.

Increase prevention and attention to gender-based violence cases against women, girls, children, adolescents and LGBTI persons in all collaborative sectors.

In 2019, UNICEF and its implementing partners in Venezuela have provided micro-nutrient supplements to nearly 12,000 children under 5, as well as pregnant and lactating women. In addition, around 29,000 people have had access to drinking water and hygiene items; about 20,000 children and pregnant women received treatment for malaria; more than 4,100 mothers gave birth safely thanks to the midwifery kits distributed by UNICEF; and more than 32,500 schoolchildren received educational and recreational materials.

In recent years, UNFPA has been working with the Government and civil society in Venezuela to ensure the delivery of dignity kits (feminine hygiene) to more than 18,000 women. Several primary health centers have been equipped with sexual and reproductive health supplies, including more than 10 million condoms, 75,000 intrauterine devices and 545,000 doses of contraceptive methods. UNFPA has trained more than 1,200 health officers to attend gender-based violence cases, who have managed to sensitize at least 3,500 migrant persons in the Venezuelan states bordering Colombia and Brazil.

Source: UNICEF

Olympus Corporation of the Americas (OCA) announced today a new partnership with Bentley University’s Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business (CWB) to address issues affecting workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) and to identify actionable solutions. As a member of the CWB Executive Working Group, Olympus will engage with topical experts and practitioners to explore policies, processes, and programs that drive real change.

“Our participation in the CWB reflects Olympus’ continued commitment to developing a more diverse workforce and fostering a climate of inclusion,” said Nacho Abia, President and CEO, Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “Benchmarking with other CWB partner companies will help further these important goals.”

Olympus has aligned its organizational mission, core values, goals, practices and objectives to support growth and development in D&I. Enhancements to the company’s benefits portfolio demonstrate this commitment. The Dave Thomas Foundation named Olympus among the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces in the U.S. in recognition of Olympus’ adoption credit and improved parental leave benefits. Establishing employee-led affinity groups, called Colleague Affinity Networks (CAN), has allowed employees the time and space they need to foster communities that support a diverse, inclusive workplace. Moreover, through the CANs, employees have been able to inform human resource policies. 

“Research clearly shows that organizations with greater diversity of all kinds are more innovative and more profitable,” said CWB Executive Director Deb Pine. “We are excited to work with Olympus and other forward-looking companies to build a broad understanding of the critical issues limiting progress and the inclusive best practices advancing change.”

“Olympus understands the business imperative for diversity,” said Kelly Pettis, Manager for Diversity and Inclusion at Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “Our new partnership with the CWB demonstrates Olympus’ ongoing commitment to building a more inclusive organization.”

The tools and training provided by the CWB include curated research reports that synthesize current literature, practical research, and solutions, roundtable and panel discussions focused on timely issues, and custom programs addressing the unique D&I goals of the organization. By considering topics such as intersectionality, allyship, the corporate talent pipeline, mentorship/sponsorship, and workplace flex, the partnership will help drive changes that improve diversity and foster a culture of inclusion.

Source: Olympus

Andrea Werner is the mother of a 10-year-old autistic child. It was because of Theo that she became an activist for the rights of special-needs children and created a blog for them and their families. 

As her name grew in popularity, two political parties invited her to run for office this year. Andrea accept and will run as a left-wing Liberty and Socialism Party (PSOL) candidate—trying to win a seat in Brazil’s male-dominated Parliament. 

“It’s a battle but it’s ok. I am prepared and I am not afraid. More women should do this because the men there are not thinking about problems in our daily lives”, said Andrea. “When you see some countries that have more women working in the Congress, they worry more about health and education.” 

In 1997 Brazil enacted a law determining that the parties’ candidates list had to have at least 30 percent of women. However, the new rule did little to increase female presence in Congress. 

It’s not easy for newcomers to make a name in politics. But in Brazil, there are signs that a growing number of women are willing to accept that challenge. Andrea Werner is one of those few women that has taken up that challenge.

By Paulo Cebral