Posted on

Trump, Lopez Obrador agree to take action to stem flow of weapons to Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s foreign minister said on Saturday that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had agreed to take swift action to stem the flow of illegal weapons from the United States into Mexico, where a drug war is raging.

Police officers keep watch on a street a day after cartel gunmen clashed with federal forces, resulting in the release of Ovidio Guzman from detention, the son of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in Culiacan, in Sinaloa state, Mexico October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Lopez Obrador told Trump on a phone call that he proposed “both countries use technology to close the border, to freeze the traffic of arms that is killing people in Mexico,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters.

“And Trump responded that he thought it was a good idea that this could be done using technology,” Ebrard said, adding that the idea is to install at all border crossings advanced lasers, X-rays and metal detectors, capable of even detecting chemical products.

Not only could that staunch the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico, but also the trafficked drugs into the United States, said Ebrard.

Increasing the number of Mexican intelligence agents in the United States is another proposal that is on the table.

Lopez Obrador told Trump “he was very concerned” that gang members used .50 caliber, armor-piercing rifles during the breakout of violence in the northwestern city of Culiacan over the attempted arrest of Ovidio Guzman, a son of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Mexico estimates that upwards of 80% of the weapons used by criminals in Mexico enter from the United States, and has long lobbied U.S. officials to take gun trafficking more seriously, arguing that the number of guns in the country make it much harder to clamp down on drug traffickers.

Ebrard assured there was no need to change laws in the United States in order to stop the illegal flow of weapons into Mexico.

Gun control of any kind is a hot button issue in the United States ahead of 2020 elections and could face resistance from the gun lobby, especially the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group which has strongly resisted restrictions after recent U.S. mass shootings.

The two leaders agreed that U.S. and Mexican officials would meet in the next few days to discuss options, and would announce actions to “freeze” illegal imports of weapons into Mexico through U.S. border crossings.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. authorities.

The discussion came in the wake of the bungled arrest attempt. Cartel gunmen surrounded about 35 police and national guard on Thursday in the capital of Sinaloa state and made them free Ovidio Guzman. His brief detention had set off widespread gun battles and a jailbreak that stunned the country.

“If the order would have been given to continue with the operation in Culiacan we estimate that more than 200 people, mostly civilians, would have been killed,” said Ebrard, adding that so-called collateral damage was unacceptable to the Mexican government.

The chaos in Culiacan, a bastion of the elder Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel, has turned up pressure on Lopez Obrador, who took office in December promising to pacify a country weary of more than a decade of gang violence.

Admitting that the cartel’s response was faster than what authorities expected, Ebrard said valuable lessons were learned from the failed attempt to capture the Guzman son.

Ebrard said Mexico’s armed forces need better training and technology, underscoring that there is still an “outstanding arrest warrant for Ovidio Guzman and other people and the corresponding authorities have to do what is necessary” to carry out the arrests.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Alistair Bell

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Trump, Lopez Obrador agree to take action to stem flow of weapons to Mexico

Posted on

Canada’s Trudeau, main rival trade attacks as campaign grinds to conclusion

HAMILTON, Ontario (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing the loss of his Parliamentary majority in an election next week, traded attacks with his main rival on Saturday as a bad-tempered campaign entered its last few days.

Liberal leader and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigns for the upcoming election in the Hamilton Fire Department in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Trudeau came to power in 2015 promising “sunny ways” and a new way of doing politics but saw his popularity drop earlier this year amid an ethics scandal. Images of him in blackface emerged last month, further hurting his Liberal Party ahead of the Oct. 21 election.

The 47-year-old prime minister, his voice increasingly hoarse, said Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer would slash spending and rip up Liberal plans to fight climate change.

Polls show the Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat, with neither able to capture a majority of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. That would leave the party winning the most seats seeking support of smaller parties to govern.

“I know Canadians want a strong progressive government that would stop Conservative cuts,” Trudeau told a rally in a fire station in the Ontario city of Hamilton, west of Toronto.

In the absence of an overriding narrative, dirty tactics and awkward moments have characterized the campaign.

Another example of that was on display on Saturday when People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier said his party was considering legal action against the Conservatives after the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the latter had hired a consultant to “seek and destroy” the PPC party and try to get Bernier barred from televised leaders’ debates.

‘DIRTY POLITICS’

Bernier, a former Conservative cabinet minister, lost the Conservative leadership race to Scheer in 2017 and started his own right-leaning party. Lagging far behind in polls, the PPC could still split some of the Conservative vote.

“This is the kind of dirty politics that confuse Canadians’ faith in politics,” Bernier said at a press conference in Sainte-Marie, Quebec. “He (Scheer) is ready to steal the election with lies and manipulations.

“We have already filed a complaint with Elections Canada with our concerns about what the conservative party did. We are considering other (legal) avenues.”

Scheer, speaking in Toronto, repeatedly refused to answer questions about the report, saying only: “We don’t make comments on vendors that we may or may not have engaged with.”

Asked about the story, Trudeau said: “Conservatives have had to use the politics of fear and division and they just make stuff up.”

A Nanos Research poll for the Globe and Mail and CTV released on Saturday put the Liberals at 32.6% public support and the Conservatives at 30.3%. The left-leaning New Democrats, who compete for the same voters as the Liberals, were at 18.4%.

Trudeau sidestepped questions about his plans if he did not win a majority. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than two and a half years.

Scheer, speaking in Toronto, said Trudeau would spend his first 100 days negotiating a coalition with the New Democrats that would impose tax hikes.

“Justin Trudeau has made it clear he will pay any price to stay in power, and he will use your money to do it,” he told reporters.

Slideshow (5 Images)

There has only been one coalition in Canadian history, in 1917 during World War One.

Trudeau and Scheer made multiple trips to Ontario, which accounts for 108 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. The Liberals hold 76 of those seats.

Trudeau was scheduled to make four stops in Ontario before flying later on Saturday to the western provinces of Manitoba and Alberta, where anger against the Liberals is rising over government environmental measures that critics complain will hobble the energy industry.

Reporting by David Ljunggren in Hamilton, Ontario; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Daniel Wallis

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Canada’s Trudeau, main rival trade attacks as campaign grinds to conclusion

Posted on

UK PM sends unsigned letter to EU asking for Brexit delay

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday requesting a delay to Brexit but he also sent another message in which he stated he did not want the extension, a government source said.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to head for the House of Commons as parliament discusses Brexit, sitting on a Saturday for the first time since the 1982 Falklands War, in London, Britain, October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Johnson was compelled by a law, passed by opponents last month, to ask the bloc for an extension to the current Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 until Jan. 31 after lawmakers thwarted his attempt to pass his EU divorce deal earlier on Saturday.

The government source said Johnson sent a total of three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council: a photocopy of the text that the law, known as the Benn Act, forced him to write; a cover note from Britain’s EU envoy; and a third letter in which he said he did not want an extension.

“I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister and made clear to parliament again today, my view, and the Government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said in the third letter, published on Twitter by the Financial Times’ Brussels correspondent.

Johnson said he was confident that the process of getting the Brexit legislation through Britain’s parliament would be completed before Oct. 31, according to the letter.

Tusk said he had received the request from Johnson.

“I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” he said on Twitter.

Johnson had hoped that Saturday would see recalcitrant lawmakers finally back the divorce deal he agreed with EU leaders this week and end three years of political deadlock since the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.

Instead, lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment that turned Johnson’s planned finale on its head by obliging him to ask the EU for a delay, and increasing the opportunity for opponents to frustrate Brexit.

Johnson has previously promised that he would take the country out of the bloc on Oct. 31, and would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for any extension without explaining how he would do this while also complying with the Benn Act.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by William Schomberg

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading UK PM sends unsigned letter to EU asking for Brexit delay

Posted on

Text of Brexit delay letter Johnson had to send to EU

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday requesting a Brexit delay alongside a separate note saying that he did not want an extension, a British government source said.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks ahead of a vote on his renegotiated Brexit deal, on what has been dubbed “Super Saturday”, in the House of Commons in London, Britain October 19, 2019. ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

Under the “Benn Act”, passed by lawmakers last month, Johnson had to ask for a Brexit deadline extension from Oct. 31 until the end of January if he failed to get lawmakers’ backing for a Brexit deal by Saturday, or their support for leaving without a deal.

Instead of voting on his divorce deal, lawmakers voted to back an amendment which delayed a final decision until formal ratification legislation has passed.

The source said a third document was also sent to Brussels, signed by Britain’s top envoy to the European Union.

Here is a text of the unsigned letter that Johnson was required to send under the Benn Act.

“Dear Mr President,

The UK Parliament has passed the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. Its provisions now require Her Majesty’s Government to seek an extension of the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, currently due to expire at 11 p.m. GMT on 31 October 2019, until 11 p.m. GMT on 31 January 2020.

I am writing therefore to inform the European Council that the United Kingdom is seeking a further extension to the period provided under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union, including as applied by Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty. The United Kingdom proposes that this period should end at 11 p.m. GMT on 31 January 2020. If the parties are able to ratify before this date, the Government proposes that the period should be terminated early.

Yours sincerely,

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alistair Bell

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Text of Brexit delay letter Johnson had to send to EU

Posted on

Environmentalist Greens set for gains as Swiss elect parliament

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss voters’ concerns about climate change look set to give the environmentalist Greens strong gains in a parliamentary election on Sunday that could dilute the center-right’s grip on power.

A solid showing by the Greens could vault them and allies into the mix for a seat in the grand coalition that has governed the conservative nation for decades. Changing just one member of the seven-seat cabinet would be a political sensation.

A Sotomo poll this month for broadcaster SRF showed the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which won record seats in 2015 amid Europe’s refugee crisis, will dip 2.1 points to 27.3% while the Green Party’s share will rise more than 3 points to 10.7% of the vote.

The smaller, more centrist Green Liberal Party (GLP) is also expected to advance, bringing their combined strength to a theoretical 18%.

That would place them collectively third behind the SVP and the center-left Socialists (SP), ahead of the center-right Liberals (FDP), who all have two of the seats on the Federal Council that is Switzerland’s government.

Cabinet seats have been divvied up among the SVP, SP, FDP and Christian People’s Party (CVP) in nearly the same way since 1959.

In December, the two parliamentary chambers will elect the government, but in the past it has taken more than one national election cycle for that selection procedure to change the cabinet lineup to more closely reflect the results.

The Greens’ success could hit all major parties, including the SVP, whose President Albert Roesti has called climate change a “eco-socialist scam against the middle class”.

Analysts caution against expecting too radical a shift after a campaign that was light on typical hot button issues such as migration and Swiss ties with the European Union.

Green parties do not have a monopoly on ecological issues and many voters in the rural SVP heartland are loyal.

GLP founder Martin Baeumle told the Schweiz am Wochenende paper it was an “illusion” to think the Greens and GLP could mount a joint effort to seize a cabinet set. He noted differences in the two parties’ economic and social policy, scant representation in the upper house of parliament, and the difficulty of ejecting a sitting member of government.

Polls close at midday (1000 GMT), with initial projections, including from the many postal votes, due soon thereafter.

Additional reporting by Emma Farge, Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse; Editing by Christina Fincher

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Environmentalist Greens set for gains as Swiss elect parliament

Posted on

Boris Johnson requests Brexit delay after British lawmakers postpone key vote

CLOSE

Brexit may cause a smoldering conflict to flare up especially if there are renewed customs and passport controls along the now-invisible border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland after Britain leaves the European Union. (Oct. 16)
AP, AP

LONDON – In a surprise move, opposition and rebel British lawmakers voted Saturday to postpone an important Brexit vote, legally forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request a delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

A reluctant Johnson sent a letter requesting the delay late Saturday night, but he also made clear that he personally opposed delaying the U.K.’s exit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

The letter was not signed. It was accompanied by a second letter, signed by Johnson, arguing that delay would “damage the interests if the U.K. and our EU partners.”

Earlier Saturday, Johnson said he would not negotiate a delay. 

The outcome, and Johnson’s response, injects new confusion and uncertainty into the Brexit process and piles pressure on Britain’s leader just three months into his tenure. Johnson has repeatedly vowed not to delay Britain’s EU exit beyond Oct. 31.

His government argued that any delay increases the likelihood of a “no deal” Brexit, which experts warn could harm Britain’s economy and lead to border chaos. 

“I will not negotiate a delay, nor does the law force me to,” Johnson said, reacting to the 322-306 vote, which he lost by 16 votes. He said he was “undaunted” by the defeat and would try to introduce legislation next week to implement his EU exit deal.

That could happen as early as Monday.

It was an important moment in the prolonged bid to end the Brexit stalemate and one that could have far-reaching consequences for Brexit, Johnson and the trajectory of the country more than three years after Britain narrowly voted to leave the bloc.

It’s not clear what happens next. 

Acrimony, divisions, frustration: UK’s 3-year Brexit battle nears end but it’s not over

Lawmakers were scheduled to vote Saturday on a new withdrawal deal Johnson negotiated with the EU. The day had been dubbed “Super Saturday.” But a last-minute motion tabled by opposition and rebel lawmakers closed down that vote. 

The law says Johnson must now ask the EU for a delay to Brexit by 11 p.m. London time (6 p.m. ET). Johnson said his policy remains “unchanged.”

Jeremy Corbyn, head of the opposition Labour Party, urged Johnson to comply with the law and said Saturday’s defeat was an “emphatic” rejection of Johnson’s plan.

“I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I’ve told everyone in the last 88 days that I’ve served as prime minister: that further delay would be bad for this country, bad for the European Union and bad for democracy,” Johnson said. 

Anand Menon, a professor of politics and Brexit specialist at King’s College London, was asked in an interview on BBC television whether Johnson’s refusal to ask for an extension was just bluster.

“I would have to assume so, given the fact that I can’t think of an alternative that wouldn’t be in breach of a very, very clear law,” he replied. 

‘Bewildering, disastrous’:: Queen has a Brexit escape plan, but how bad will it be?

Britain’s leader, a close ally of President Donald Trump, had hoped to win a vote on his deal that would have allowed him to claim victory over a Brexit process that has led to the resignation of his predecessors David Cameron and Theresa May; bitterly divided British households; and caused deep anxiety among the nation’s business community, as well as among millions of EU nationals living in Britain and Britons living in EU nations on the continent. Saturday’s surprise outcome upends that plan. 

Johnson now faces the humiliation of Brexit unraveling after repeatedly promising to get it done by Oct 31. Earlier this year, Parliament passed separate legislation that compels the prime minister to ask the EU for a Brexit extension to avert a “no deal” Brexit. Johnson has been non-committal about his willingness to abide by that law, too.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Johnson could be forced out of office. He could resign. An election might be triggered. 

Meanwhile, the EU has not fully committed to granting another extension if Johnson requests it, even as it wants to avoid a “no deal” Brexit because the EU’s economy, security arrangements and other key infrastructure are linked to Britain’s. 

“It will be for the UK government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible,”  EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Twitter. Andreeva said the Commission, the EU’s executive branch, was not advising a course of action.

As the vote was taking place in London, thousands of people gathered on the streets to call for a “final say” on Johnson’s deal.

“It’s our future, we deserve to have a vote on something that will impact our lives,” said Jen Thomas, 20, a college student, who was protesting for a “people’s” vote on the terms Johnson negotiated with the EU. 

May, who is backing Johnson’s withdrawal deal with the EU, told lawmakers she had a “distinct sense of deja vu” as Parliament debated whether to back her successor’s agreement with the 28-nation bloc. The former prime minister reluctantly stepped down in July after Parliament repeatedly threw out her Brexit deal.

The fate of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is also to an extent tied to Brexit, if it happens. 

Scotland’s top government official Nicola Sturgeon, who strongly opposes Brexit, told the Scottish National Party’s annual conference this week that the U.K.’s central government in London has “shattered the case for the union.” A 2014 Scottish independence vote failed to pass but polls show support has been rising as a result of Brexit and the Institute of Government, a think tank, published a report that concluded that a “no-deal” Brexit could bring the 300-year-old union to “breaking point.”

Still, the dirty little secret is that Brexit is not complete even if it happens by Oct. 31. In fact, even if Britain leaves the EU at the end of this month from a legal perspective, the process of Brexit does not end there. Really in some sense it’s just beginning.

The agreement that Britain and the EU are trying to get done before Oct. 31 establishes only the broad rules for a transition period as the two parties negotiate a new relationship on trade, consumer protections, security and more.

Some of the complication related to Brexit is about the status of EU-member Ireland’s land border with Northern Ireland, which currently enjoys frictionless trade.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for example, has threatened to block a free trade deal Britain is hoping to sign with the United States if Britain’s EU withdrawal undermines the Good Friday Agreement that ended Northern Ireland’s violent conflict.

Johnson’s deal is about limiting disruptions while those negotiations take place. The transition period would run to the end of December 2020.

Further muddying the waters: Polls show average support for staying in the EU among the British public is now almost exactly the opposite of where it was three years ago: 53% to 47% favor the “Remain” side. “Leave” won the 2016 vote 52% to 48%.  

Contributing: The Associated Press

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/10/19/brexit-britains-parliament-vote-boris-johnsons-eu-withdrawal-deal/4021403002/

Source: GANNETT Syndication Service
Continue reading Boris Johnson requests Brexit delay after British lawmakers postpone key vote

Posted on

Pompeo says U.S. committed to Afghan peace after deadly explosions

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday Washington remained committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan as police searched for bodies in the rubble of a mosque in eastern Nangarhar province where bomb blasts killed at least 69 people.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs media at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2019. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The explosives that went off during Friday prayers were placed inside the mosque in the Jawdara area of the Haska Mena district. On Friday, local officials had reported the number of dead at 62 and around 50 wounded.

“The United States remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan, and will continue to fight against terrorism,” Pompeo said in a statement. “We stand by the people of Afghanistan who only want peace and a future free from these abhorrent acts of violence.”

Sohrab Qaderi, a member of Nangarhar’s provincial council, said the mosque, with a capacity of more than 150 worshippers at a time, was full of people when the bombs exploded.

“Bodies of 69 people, including children and elders, have been handed to their relatives,” Qaderi said, adding that more bodies could be lying under the rubble.

No group has claimed responsibility but the government blamed Taliban insurgents, who are fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after they were ousted from power in 2001 by U.S.-led forces.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied the group was responsible. In a tweet, he said that witnesses to the attack said it was a mortar attack by government forces.

One of the wounded, Gulabistan, 45, said the mosque was full when the explosion happened.

“Mullah already started prayers and reciting verses of holy Koran, when a huge boom happened, then all around me it got dark, the only thing I remember is females’ voices and then I found myself in the hospital,” Gulabistan said.

He said he had been told his son was among the dead while his brother and two nephews had been wounded and were in hospital.

A Reuters reporter saw 67 freshly excavated graves for the victims in Jawdara village.

The European Union said the attack aimed to undermine hopes for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The Taliban and Islamic State fighters are actively operating in parts of Nangarhar, which shares a border with Pakistan in the east.

A United Nations report this week said 4,313 civilians were killed and wounded in Afghanistan’s war between July and September.

Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul and Ahmad Sultan in Nangarhar; additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry and Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Pompeo says U.S. committed to Afghan peace after deadly explosions

Posted on

Evo or not, Bolivia faces unchartered waters ahead

LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivian President Evo Morales has steered South America’s poorest country through an unprecedented period of political stability and economic prosperity since sweeping to power in 2006. Things might be about to get a bit more bumpy.

FILE PHOTO: Bolivia’s President and current presidential candidate for the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party Evo Morales speaks during a closing campaign rally in El Alto, Bolivia October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Manuel Claure/File Photo

Morales has defied term limits and the results of a national referendum to pursue a fourth consecutive term in an era-defining vote on Sunday that will determine if he extends his administration to 19 years, a move that has fueled protests and charges of creeping authoritarianism that he denies.

“What’s at stake this year, more than a political party that leans left or right, is our democracy,” said Mariela Arana, a 25-year-old university student who says she worries Morales might never leave office if given another term.

Thanks in part to Bolivia’s divided opposition, recent polls show Morales will likely win the election, but with his weakest mandate yet. He is seen securing support that hovers between 30% to 40% of the ballot, well below the more than 60% he won in the previous two elections.

That means he will likely fail to deliver a majority in Congress for his Movement to Socialism party for the first time. That would force him to govern with opposition parties which have railed against him as a would-be dictator in a divisive race that has sparked clashes at two of his recent rallies.

Though less likely, he may even be forced into a riskier run-off vote with his closest rival in December, potentially ending his experiment in “indigenous socialism” that a large part of the country has embraced and may resist losing.

Morales needs at least 40% of votes with a 10-point lead in Sunday’s election to win outright.

Known widely as just “Evo” in this country of 11 million people, Morales, the son of a llama shepherd and an Aymara Indian, has used the proceeds of the country’s commodity-driven economic boom to fund welfare programs, public work projects and education, fueling one of the region’s strongest economic growth rates and helping to cut the poverty rate by nearly half.

Even if he wins, Morales might have to make tough choices as economic growth slows on slumping natural gas exports and a fiscal deficit that has swollen to 8% of gross domestic product.

No new natural gas reserves have been found since he has taken office and his efforts to turn Bolivia into a global lithium producer have faced repeated delays and resistance from some local communities.

(Graphic: Bolivia economy – here)

‘FORGOTTEN ABOUT US’

Morales has outlasted other leftist South American leaders who swept to power earlier this century, in part by courting private investment and minding inflation.

In the capital La Paz, migrants from crisis-stricken Venezuela now beg for coins on streets that bustle with young Bolivian professionals, civil servants and a flourishing class of small business entrepreneurs.

But despite Bolivia’s economic boom under Morales, many of his former supporters have soured on him as he has turned from a revolutionary force into the status quo.

Juan Carlos Quispe, a 44-year-old business administrator who voted for Morales in the last three elections, said he is still not convinced he should vote for him a fourth time. He worries about what he sees as growing corruption and populist measures that he says aim to distract from economic troubles.

The restlessness of many voters may be in part a side-effect of Morales’ success – a result of raised expectations from a growing middle class that wants more progress, and faster.

“Bolivia has changed, and we want a different president, too,” Quispe said.

Others blame Morales for not doing enough to help those left behind by Bolivia’s robust economic growth over the past decade.

“He’s pretty much forgotten about us,” said Alicia Ramos, a street vendor in La Paz who complained that Morales focused too much on rural areas and not enough on the urban poor like her.

‘LOSE EVERYTHING’

The eight opposition candidates who are running against Morales have, however, largely failed to capitalize on growing dissatisfaction with his government.

“There’s been no strategy by the opposition to capture the popular vote,” Bolivian political analyst Marcelo Arequipa said. “They could have expanded their base, but they haven’t.”

Morales’ chief rival is Carlos Mesa, a former vice president-turned-president who resigned in 2005 as part of the political fallout from deadly clashes over government plans for gas exports.

Mesa has only given a handful of media interviews and has campaigned on a platform of strengthening democratic institutions and fighting graft – a sign of how popular Morales’ economic model is. Mesa has vowed not to impose austerity measures, and his government plan calls for a gradual reduction of the fiscal deficit starting in 2025, when his term would end.

“They’re offering the same thing that Evo has done all these years,” Lisette Gemio, a 50-year-old agricultural engineer, said of Mesa’s campaign. “Now that they see the country growing, they want to come in and take control and leave everything the way it was before.”

As she waited for her kids to emerge from a school in La Paz, Gemio ticked off a list of benefits Morales had brought to her life – affordable loans that helped her buy a new car for the first time, support for an agricultural sector that gave the consulting company she works for more business, and more job opportunities for the non-white majority.

“We’d lose everything we’ve gained.”

(Graphic: Bolivia heads to the polls – here)

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Paul Simao

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Evo or not, Bolivia faces unchartered waters ahead

Posted on

Women gather in Paris to protest against deadly domestic violence

People stage a “die-in” at Place de la Republique during a demonstration against femicide and violence against women in Paris, France, October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) – Hundreds of women took part in so-called “die-in” protests in central Paris on Saturday, hoping to draw attention to domestic violence against women.

More than 120 women are believed to have been killed as a direct result of domestic violence in France so far this year according to local associations.

Demonstrators held up signs with the names of French victims and fell to the ground, before getting up and chanting, “Not one more.”

Sandrine Bouchait, who heads a victims’ association and whose sister was burned to death in 2017 by her partner in front of her seven year-old daughter, told Reuters Television the death toll was unacceptable.

(The story is refiled to fix typo in last paragraph)

Reporting by Reuters Television ; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Women gather in Paris to protest against deadly domestic violence

Posted on

Trump, Lopez Obrador agree to take action to freeze flow of weapons to Mexico

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters in Dallas, Texas, U.S. October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s foreign minister said on Saturday that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump had agreed to take swift action to stem the flow of illegal weapons from the United States into Mexico.

Lopez Obrador told Trump on a phone call that technology could be used to halt the weapons entering Mexico, to which Trump responded that it was a “good idea,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters.

The two leaders agreed that U.S. and Mexican officials would meet in the next few days to discuss options, and would announce actions to “freeze” illegal imports of weapons into Mexico through U.S. border crossings.

The discussion came in the wake of Mexican authorities’ bungled attempt to arrest a drug kingpin’s son, which prompted a wave of violence in the northwestern city of Culiacan.

Cartel gunmen surrounded about 35 police and national guard on Thursday in the capital of Sinaloa state and made them free Ovidio Guzman, one of jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s dozen or so children. Ovidio Guzman’s brief detention had set off widespread gun battles and a jailbreak that stunned the country.

“If the order would have been given to continue with the operation in Culiacan we estimate that more than 200 people, mostly civilians, would have been killed,” said Ebrard, adding that so-called “collateral damage” was unacceptable to the Mexican government.

The chaos in Culiacan, a bastion of the elder Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel, has turned up pressure on Lopez Obrador, who took office in December promising to pacify a country weary of more than a decade of gang violence.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Rosalba O’Brien

Source: Reuters: World News
Continue reading Trump, Lopez Obrador agree to take action to freeze flow of weapons to Mexico