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LATAM PULSE

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This week, Venezuela’s National Assembly is at the center of the continuing political crisis. In Chile, strains within the governing coalition are in evidence, even if they are ultimately healed. Airport plans are under the spotlight again in Mexico, which also hosts a regional summit that will shine a light on political divisions. Finally, in Peru, campaigning should move up a gear with just under three weeks to go before the extraordinary congressional elections.

Venezuela

Another political showdown is imminent as opposition leader Juan Guaido aims to preside over a session of the National Assembly (AN) on 7 January. Guaido was blocked from entering the legislature yesterday, 5 January, for a vote to renew his position as head of the National Assembly but was sworn in anyway at a makeshift ceremony elsewhere. Meanwhile, Luis Parra, who was until recently part of the opposition, was sworn in by a minority of pro-regime deputies to replace Guaido. The situation is delicate for Guaido, whose presidency of the legislature is the basis for his leadership and pressure campaign against President Nicolas Maduro. Even if the US continues to recognize Guaido’s leadership, his domestic position looks less solid than ever.

Chile

President Sebastian Pinera will aim to shore up the governing Chile Vamos (CV) coalition this week after the emergence of internal disagreements following the serious, countrywide unrest that began last October. The Independent Democratic Union (UDI) on 20 December announced it was “freezing” its participation in the coalition amid disagreements over issues related to the November cross-party agreement to set in motion a new constitution; the UDI objected to measures to ensure gender parity and guaranteed places for indigenous representatives in any body elected to rewrite the constitution. Discussions yesterday, 5 January, appear to have smoothed over the differences, and the UDI should reaffirm its involvement in the CV coalition on 11 January, though the episode underlines how the protests and the forthcoming constitutional process are reshaping domestic politics.

Mexico

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)’s airport plans are under the spotlight again after he defended his controversial 2018 decision to abandon construction of the New Mexico City International Airport (NAIM) at Texcoco on 6 January. AMLO also reiterated his pledge that his substitute plan to expand and upgrade the Santa Lucia airbase would be ready by March 2022 even though the project was deemed to have advanced just 2% in December.

CELAC

A summit of the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) takes place in Mexico on 8 January. The summit is unlikely to yield much in the way of tangible policies or approaches to tackle shared problems. Instead, a diplomatic dispute between Bolivia and the host, Mexico, will be in evidence; the dispute relates to Bolivian accusations that the Mexican embassy is being used to shield former officials from the ousted Evo Morales government. Venezuela will remain a divisive issue, while the summit will mark the debut for Argentina’s new foreign minister Felipe Sola, who will represent President Alberto Fernandez.

Peru

Campaigning should start to intensify from this week ahead of the 26 January extraordinary congressional elections. The campaign has so far been lackluster, partly because in the Peruvian context, congressional and presidential elections are usually simultaneous, with presidential candidates helping boost the congressional vote. There is no presidential vote on this occasion. Polling data is unreliable but most polls show the centrist Popular Action (AP) party leading the vote, followed by Fuerza Popular (FP), which has been dominant in Congress since 2016. The Alliance for Progress (APP) and the recently registered Purple Party (Partido Morado), led by the centrist Julio Guzman, are also seen as performing relatively well, though there is still a high number of undecided voters.

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LATAM PULSE

This week, Venezuela’s National Assembly is at the center of the continuing political crisis. In Chile, strains within the governing coalition are in evidence, even if