- Last night the Senate approved the 2008 supplemental appropriations bill. (Best recorded vote title ever: “Motion To Concur In House Amendments To Senate Amendment To House Amendment To Senate Amendment To H.R. 2642.”)
The final bill, now on its way to the President, includes $400 million for Mexico, “of which not less than $73,500,000 shall be used for judicial reform, institution building, anti-corruption, and rule of law activities.” An additional $65 million will go to Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Human rights conditions over aid to Mexico were softened significantly, changed to be less stringent than either the House’s or Senate’s versions of the bill. The final bill does nonetheless require that human rights cases be investigated and tried by civilian prosecutors “in accordance with Mexican and international law.” The earlier language had triggered a “violation of sovereignty” outcry from the Mexican government. This morning, though, the Mexican government said that it found the final bill’s human-rights conditions acceptable.
- In Colombia, President Uribe called a press conference at 11:15 PM last night. He was reacting to a decision by Colombia’s Supreme Court: a guilty verdict against Yidis Medina, a former congresswoman who had cast the decisive vote on constitutional reform legislation that made it possible for Uribe to run for a second term in 2006. It turns out that Medina cast her vote in exchange for promises of political favors, and will now spend 3 1/2 years under house arrest for accepting bribes. In the text of its decision, the Court seriously called into question the legitimacy of the process that led to Uribe’s re-election. Uribe’s reaction last night was extreme.
I have wanted to fight for a safe, prosperous and equitable country. The trap of the power of terrorism in its death agony – to which justices of the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice have lent themselves – does not appear to have a judicial solution.
After saying on national television that the justices who questioned the re-election amendment process are doing the bidding of terrorists, Uribe called on Colombia’s Congress to schedule a national referendum to repeat the 2006 elections.
- Against this backdrop, John McCain has provided more details about his planned visit to Colombia next week. He will be in Cartagena on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- The Mexican polling firm Mitofsky has compiled a useful compendium [PDF] of recent poll results in the region. The approval ratings of 16 presidents in the hemisphere are as follows:
- 84% Ãlvaro Uribe, Colombia (3/08)
- 61% Felipe CalderÃ³n, Mexico (5/08)
- 55% Antonio Saca, El Salvador (5/08)
- 55% Evo Morales, Bolivia (5/08)
- 55% Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil (3/08)
- 54% Hugo ChÃ¡vez, Venezuela (4/08)
- 53% Rafael Correa, Ecuador (6/08)
- 51% MartÃn Torrijos, Panama (4/08)
- 49% Ãlvaro Colom, Guatemala (3/08)
- 45% TabarÃ© VÃ¡zquez, Uruguay (3/08)
- 44% Oscar Arias, Costa Rica (4/08)
- 44% Michelle Bachelet, Chile (6/08)
- 38% Manuel Zelaya, Honduras (2/08)
- 34% Stephen Harper, Canada (3/08)
- 32% Alan GarcÃa, Peru (6/08)
- 30% George W. Bush, United States (6/08)
- 26% Cristina FernÃ¡ndez, Argentina (5/08)
- 21% Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua (2/08)
- 5% Nicanor Duarte, Paraguay (3/08)
- Colombia’s El Tiempo reported yesterday that VÃctor PatÃÃ±o FÃ³meque, a former top Cali Cartel figure extradited to the United States, will serve only six years in prison. After that, he and his family will be given new identities in the U.S. federal witness protection program. A source in Colombia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office (FiscalÃa) told El Tiempo that at least two of the top paramilitary leaders extradited in May are interested in getting this deal for themselves. “Diego Murillo, ‘Don Berna’ and Francisco Javier Zuluaga, ‘Gordolindo’, are aiming for a similar arrangement.”