Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Trump lambasts Venezuela (Sept. 25, 2018)

The U.S. sanctioned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduros' wife, Cilia Flores today. Several top Venezuelan officials, including Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino were also targeted in the Trump administration's escalation of efforts agains the Venezuelan government. U.S. President Donald Trump said more sanctions were being considered "very strongly." (Bloomberg)
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Trump said the U.S. was calling for "the restoration of democracy in Venezuela." He denounced Maduro's "socialist" government and called on the world to “resist socialism and the misery it brings to everyone.” (Washington Post and Reuters)

A former senior Trump administration official, speaking at a Wilson Center event in Washington, said the White House National Security Council drafted a step-by-step “program of escalation” for Venezuela after Trump took office, including the grounds for military intervention, reports Axios.
Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Paraguay said they will ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela’s government for crimes against humanity, a request that could be joined by Canada, reports the Financial Times. It would be the first time a country is referred to the ICC by another state, and the request builds on a dossier of alleged human rights abuses already submitted by the OAS and a report by the U.N. human rights commission. (EFE)
U.S. lawmakers were expected to unveil a comprehensive a $58 million plan aimed at further pressuring and isolating the Venezuelan government, reported McClatchy DC, which compares it to the landmark Helms-Burton Act.
More from Venezuela
  • Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno used his U.N. General Assembly speech to highlight the plight of Venezuelan migrants, many of whom arrive in Ecuador with significant health issues, he said. (EFE)
  • Venezuela accused embassy staff from Colombia, Chile and Mexico working in Caracas of potentially playing a role in an alleged assassination attempt against Maduro, and demanded the governments in question investigate. (Associated Press)
  • Venezuela's new digital fuel payment system got off to a slow start yesterday. (Reuters)
News Briefs
  • NACLA piece byJames Phillips explores some of the complexities of the Nicaraguan crisis narrative -- mooting the potential of U.S. influence among the anti-government protesters, or criminal gang involvement alongside student rebels. The piece also criticizes international human rights organizations for failing to explore alleged incidents of anti-government violence, or the potential for U.S. interests in regime change.
  • Speaking of regime change, Bolivian President Evo Morales told RT that the U.S. now attacks ideological opponents in the region through lawfare rather than military coups. Washington's "extensive political campaign" in Latina America is headed by US Vice President Mike Pence, he said.
  • Mexico's homicide rate has increased in recent years and broke records last year. And Mexico City is no exception in a country where violence is increasingly normalized, according to a new investigation by México Evalua, that analyzes the approximately 5,000 homicides in the city between 2009 and 2016. Working with media outlets, the report geolocalizes murders down to the street level to create a geography of crime. (El País)
  • Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo said his prohibitionist drug policy was the wrong course of action, and lamented not focusing on regulating narcotics instead. He spoke at a Mexico City Global Commission on Drug Policy event. Former Colombian president César Gaviria also participated, and said regulation of certain drugs, rather than prohibition, would limit drug traffickers power in Mexico and permit authorities to reduce violence and corruption. (EFE and EFE)
  • The War on Drugs has come at an intense human toll: in the 12 years since Mexico launched its militarized war on drugs, more than 200,000 people have died and another 35,000 gone missing. The recent discovery that Jalisco state put hundreds of corpses that didn't fit in its overflowing morgue into trailers parked in suburbs is a testament to the magnitude of the crisis, reports the Guardian.
  • A man was detained in relation to the murder of a Mexican reporter last week. A Chiapas prosecutor said the detainee worked for a local drug gang, and three people involved in the gang are suspected of having ordered the killing, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.) 
  • With less than two weeks until Brazilians head to the polls, alarm bells about far-right wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro's strong lead are increasingly strong. Critics, from the Economist to Caetano Veloso are pointing to his admiration for authoritarian rule and derogatory statements about minorities and women. A manifesto launched yesterday by 150 prominent artists and thinkers, "Democracia Sim" has attracted more than 180,000 signatures. (Guardian) Separately, 2.9 million women signed up for a “Women United Against Bolsonaro” Facebook group. And #EleNão (#NotHim) is being used on social media by women mobilizing against him. High profile female pop stars have joined the movement, and Women against Bolsonaro marches are being planned. (New York Times)
  • The latest Ibope poll shows Bolsonaro maintaining his 28 percent voter support. But Workers' Party candidate Fernando Haddad gained three percentage points since last week, reaching 22 percent. (Reuters)
  • Speaking with CNN, businessman Luis von Ahn emphasized the CICIG's popularity in Guatemala and its importance in fighting corruption. (El Periódico)
El Salvador
  • Interpol will not issue a red notice for the capture of fugitive ex-President Mauricio Funes and three family members because they were granted political asylum in Nicaragua, reports the Associated Press. (See Sept. 17's briefs.)
  • Salvadoran activists say lawmakers are taking steps to privatize the country's scarce water supplies. (Guardian)
  • Semana's cover argues that military intervention in Venezuela would be catastrophic, and argues that Colombia must categorically oppose such action.
  • Argentina's biggest unions are on strike today, bringing the country to virtual standstill. (EFE and Reuters
  • The protest against austerity measures comes as the government is angling for an agreement for IMF financing, Reuters. The peso tumbled this morning when Argentina's central bank director resigned. (Reuters)
  • Corruption accusations against presidents are nothing new in Argentina, but the recent "notebooks" scandal has several first-time developments that make it unique, reports InSight Crime.
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced an $8 billion development plan for the southern region of Araucania, home to the indigenous Mapuche people. (Deutsche Welle)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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