Dexter Boniface

Latin America’s Elections in 2010

In Elections on February 1, 2010 at 10:35 am

There were a variety of important elections in Latin America in 2010:

Costa Rica (Feb. 7, 2010). The winner of Costa Rica’s presidential election is the ridiculously named but no nonsense former VP Laura Chinchilla (picture below). She defeated rivals Otto Guevara and Otton Solis.

Colombia (May 30 and June 20, 2010): Uribism without Uribe? Manuel Zelaya’s attempts to remold the Honduran constitution appear amateurish when contrasted with President Alvaro Uribe’s drive to (again) amend the constitution and seek a third consecutive term. However, in a surprising development, Colombia’s Constitutional Court rejected Uribe’s bid to hold a constitutional referendum, leaving Colombia’s presidential elections wide open. Former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos, an Uribe ally, quickly emerged as the front-runner – though he faced a challenge from Green Party nominee Antanas Mockus. Santos easily won the run-off on June 20 garnering 69% of the vote.

Venezuela (Sept. 26, 2010). What’s remaining of Venezuela’s “democracy” was on display during legislative elections in September. Before the election even occurred, Chavez sycophants such as actor Sean Penn and analyst Mark Weisbrot were already upset that the international media would use the occasion to highlight the government’s lack of democratic legitimacy. As Chavez’s support at home continued to dwindle, others worried he would seek to cancel the elections altogether. In the end, Chavez’s party lost the popular vote but maintained a majority of the legislative seats through gerrymandering.

Brazil (Oct. 3 and Oct. 31, 2010). Who will replace Brazil’s beloved Lula? The contenders included Lula’s chief of staff Dilma Rousseff, former Sao Paulo state governor Jose Serra, and environmentalist Sen. Marina Silva. In the first round of voting, Rousseff claimed 47% of the vote, compared to 33% for Serra and 19% for Marina Silva. A run-off election pitting Rousseff and Serra took place on October 31st; Rousseff won 56% of the vote. She was inaugurated as Brazil’s first female president on January 1st, 2011.

Haiti (Nov. 28, 2010). In light of the devastation caused by the 2010 earthquake (what remains of the country’s electoral council headquarters is pictured below), Haiti’s legislative elections (originally scheduled for February 28th) were postponed until November 28th (also the date of the country’s presidential elections). Prior to the earthquake, the legislative elections were already generating controversy after the country’s presidentially-appointed electoral council banned more than a dozen parties (including ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas) from participating. Critics alleged that election officials were stacking the deck in favor of President Preval’s newly created Unity party in a bid to change the constitution and boost executive power.

In 2011, Haitians (March 20),  Peruvians (April 20), Guatemalans (September), Argentines (October 23), and Nicaraguans (November 6) will head to the polls to pick new presidents.


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