Americas This Week: March 25, 2023

March 25, 2023

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in the Americas, usually posted on Saturdays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

Ypacarai Lake in Paraguay. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Panoramio (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Cuba Parliamentary Elections: March 24, 2023 (a sham – no opposition allowed)

Jim Wyss, Bloomberg (March 25, 2023): Cuba Holds a Stacked Election Amid the Biggest Population Exodus Since the Revolution

Andrea Rodríguez, AP (March 24, 2023): Cuba holds national elections with no opposition candidates

Paraguay Presidential, Legislative, and Gubernatorial Elections: April 30, 2023

Paraguay’s election could result in yet another country switching its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC. Incumbent president Mario Abdo from the conservative Colorado Party is ineligible to run for another term. Opposition candidate Efrain Alegre from the liberal PRLA has said that if he wins, he’ll recognize Beijing, while Colorado’s candidate, Santiago Pena, has said he will maintain relations with Taiwan.

Colorado has been in power most of the time since the 1950s.

Paraguay returned to democracy in 1989, following the collapse of the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, but a number of issues remain. These elections took place in the context of political violence and attacks on candidates. As a result, it is rated Partly Free by Freedom House.

Catherine Osburn, Foreign Policy (March 24, 2023): Paraguay’s Rare Toss-Up Election: Anti-incumbent and pro-China sentiments are shaking up the country’s usually predictable political landscape.

Daniel Politi, AP (March 23, 2023): Paraguay launches corruption probe of former president

Chase Harrison and Jon Orbach, AS/COA (March 23, 2023): Explainer: Paraguay’s 2023 Elections

Mexico, Some Gubernatorial Elections: June 4, 2023, followed by General Elections: July 2024

Some Mexican states are holding gubernatorial elections this year, but the country’s politicos are all gearing up for the big presidential election in 2024. 

Populist firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often called AMLO) stormed to election in 2018, but he is barred from seeking another term. There had been some talk of him potentially trying to run again anyway, but he now says he will not. But concerns about growing authoritarianism remain, particularly with a package of electoral reforms he is trying to enact.

Valentine Hilaire, Reuters (March 24, 2023): Mexico’s top court freezes electoral reform ahead of lawsuit

Rocio Fabbro, Foreign Policy (March 23, 2023): López Obrador’s Reforms Threaten Mexican Democracy

Guatemala General Elections: June 25, 2023

Guatemala’s last elections, in 2019, took place in a climate of chaos and uncertainty. Incumbent president Jimmy Morales, a comedian and political outsider, ran on an anti-corruption platform in 2015 but since being elected has repeatedly attacked the UN’s anti-corruption body CICIG after it started investigating his family members.

Bnamericas (March 24, 2023): What’s at risk in Guatemala’s general elections

AP (March 20, 2023): Guatemala seeks to remove opposition candidate’s immunity

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22, 2023

Jacob Sugarman, Foreign Policy (March 24, 2023): Why Latin America Will Stay Nonaligned: As Argentina’s president prepares to meet with the U.S. president, the bloc’s consensus on Russia’s war in Ukraine will be put to the test

Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg (March 23, 2023): Why Argentina’s Inflation Is Up Over 100% Again

Bnamericas (March 22, 2023): Oil province Neuquén’s elections – a risk analyst’s overview

Federico Rivas Molina, El País (March 21, 2023): Javier Milei, the libertarian candidate riding Argentina’s rising tide of discontent

Colombia Regional Elections: October 29, 2023

In 2022, Colombia elected its first-ever leftist president, Gustavo Petro. In concurrent legislative elections, however, no party won a majority and centrists did not perform well. Ironically given his name, Petro pledged to end oil exploration.

Colombian politics are polarized and the climate is tense.

Lucas Berti, The Brazilian Report (March 24, 2023): Colombia’s Petro gives up on political reform in setback

El Salvador General Elections: February 4, 2024

El Salvador has seen an increase in authoritarianism under President Nayib Bukele, a populist elected in 2019. Bukele, a millennial in a baseball cap, is not affiliated with either ARENA or the FMLN, El Salvador’s two dominant parties on the right and left respectively. 

In 2021, Bukele’s allies won the legislative elections in a landslide, allowing him to consolidate his hold on the country with a legislative majority. Since then, he has ramped up his attacks on critics and the press. He has announced that he is running for re-election in 2024, following a decision by the country’s Supreme Court to scrap a ban on presidents running for a consecutive second term.

Tamara Taraciuk Broner and Noah Bullock, Americas Quarterly (March 21, 2023): Countering El Salvador’s Democratic Backsliding

David Marcial Pérez, El País (March 20, 2023): Nayib Bukele’s permanent state of emergency: The Salvadoran president’s fierce war on gangs has quelled rampant violence and gained him unprecedented popularity while exacting a heavy toll on rights and freedoms

Canada Federal Elections: Due by October 2025 – snap elections possible (various provincial and local elections due between now and then)

Rob Gillies, AP (March 23, 2023): Canada lawmaker quits Trudeau’s party amid China allegations

Ismail Shakil, Reuters (March 21, 2023): Canada PM Trudeau’s top aide to testify in parliament on Chinese election meddling

Past Americas Elections

Ecuador Regional and Local Elections: February 5, 2023

Ecuador held local and regional elections on February 5, as well as a referendum on constitutional amendments backed by President Guillermo Lasso. Lasso, who is center-right, was elected in a close runoff in 2021 in one of the handful of Latin American elections that resisted the “pink tide.” He is up for re-election in 2025.

The elections dealt a blow to Lasso, with the leftist opposition winning most major cities, including the port of Guayaquil, the country’s biggest city, which the right had controlled since the 90s. Now, some are calling for Lasso’s impeachment and/or early elections.

Armando Quesada Webb, El País (March 22, 2023): María Fernanda Vargas, from OnlyFans star to winner of mayoral race in Ecuador

Bnamericas (March 21, 2023): Attempt to impeach Ecuador’s Lasso moves a step forward

Brazil General Elections: October 2, 2022

Reuters (March 24, 2023): Bolsonaro to return to Brazil on March 30, his party says

Honduras General Elections: November 28, 2021

Honduras held presidential and legislative elections on November 28, 2021, following the March 14 primaries. Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro won the presidential race.

These elections took place in the context of polarization. The 2017 elections, which saw the controversial re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández from the conservative National Party, were turbulent, with at least 30 people dying in protests over allegations of fraud. Hernández defeated Xiomara Castro, the wife of leftist former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009. Some feared post-election turmoil this year, but Nasry Asfura, the National Party’s candidate, conceded.

Cindy Wang and Debby Wu, Bloomberg (March 25, 2023): Taiwan, Honduras to Cut Diplomatic Ties on China Recognition

Peru General Elections: April 11, 2021 (early elections could be set for April or December 2024)

Ryan Dube, Wall Street Journal (March 23, 2023): In Peru, Protests Reveal Deep Social Divide

Will Freeman, Council on Foreign Relations (March 22, 2023): How Peru’s Crisis Could Send Shockwaves Through the Region

Suriname General Elections: May 25, 2020

Suriname held elections on May 25, 2020. Dési Bouterse, a leftist who has been a major figure in Suriname politics since 1980, lost his bid for re-election. He initially came to power in 1980 by helping to lead a sergeant’s coup. In 1982, in response to increased calls for a return to civilian rule, the regime murdered 15 prominent opposition activists – the incident, dubbed the December murders, continues to reverberate, and and in November 2019, he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

Scott B. MacDonald notes: ”On February 17, 2023, a protest against Suriname’s austerity policies and corruption morphed into a full-blown riot and looting. These riots ended with police shots fired, arrests, and considerable damage to the center of the capital city, Paramaribo. Protesters called for the removal of President Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi and Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk.”

Gerold Rozenblad, AP (March 24, 2023): Protesters in Suriname demand president resign

Robert Looney, World Politics Review (March 20, 2023): Suriname’s Debt Crisis Is Putting Santokhi in a Bind

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2023

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbuda Council Election: March 29, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in Neuquén and Río Negro: April 16, 2023

British Virgin Islands Assembly Elections: April 24, 2023

Paraguay Presidential, Legislative, and Gubernatorial Elections: April 30, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in Jujuy, Misiones and La Rioja: May 7, 2023

Chile Constitutional Council Elections: May 7, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in La Pampa, San Juan, Salta, Tucumán and Tierra del Fuego: May 14, 2023

Canada, Alberta Provincial Elections: May 29, 2023

Mexico, Some Gubernatorial Elections: June 4, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Legislative Elections in Corrientes: June 4, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in San Luis: June 11, 2023

Guyana Local Elections: June 12, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in Córdoba: June 18, 2023

Guatemala General Elections: June 25, 2023

Argentina Presidential Primary: August 13, 2023

Guatemala General Election Runoffs: August 27, 2023

Argentina, Provincial Elections in Mendoza and Entre Ríos: September 24, 2023

Canada, Prince Edward Island Provincial Elections: October 2, 2023

Canada, Manitoba Provincial Elections and Northwest Territories Territorial Elections: October 3, 2023

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22, 2023

Venezuela Opposition Presidential Primary: October 22, 2023

Colombia Regional Elections: October 29, 2023

Argentina Presidential Runoff: November 19, 2023

Dominica Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): October 2023 (due)

Chile Constitutional Referendum: November/December 2023 (expected)

Trinidad and Tobago Local Elections: December 20, 2023

Haiti Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, but could happen in 2023 (delayed from November 7, 2021, no new date set)

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