Friday, September 28, 2018

Venezuela Briefs (Sept. 28, 2018)

Venezuela Briefs
  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet was welcome to visit. (Reuters) He spoke in New York yesterday, after the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution expressing serious concern about alleged human rights violations in Venezuela. (See yesterday's post.) Bachelet said a visit would be necessary to produce an impartial report on the situation in Venezuela. 
  • The latest round of U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials reached top officials and Maduro's wife. (See Tuesday's briefs.) The the list of Maduro government and military officials under US sanctions now totals 66 people, Maduro himself, reports InSight Crime.
  • The decision to sanction Jorge Rodriguez, Delcy Rodriguez, and Vladimir Padrino López seems to indicate that the US has given up on trying to fracture the highest levels of government, writes David Smilde in the Venezuelan Weekly.
  • This week was dominated by international discussion over what should be done regarding the Venezuela crisis. Smilde has more on that. (See also most of this week's posts.)
  • Yesterday OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro insisted on the international community's obligation to protect Venezuelans, and said the international community must exert maximum pressure to push for a transition. (Efecto Cocuyo)
  • Smilde also analyzes human rights violations allegations against the Special Actions Forces (FAES) of the National Bolivarian Police (PNB), including the charge that they act as an “extermination group.”
  • A new Amnesty International report charged Venezuela with violating hundreds citizens' right to life and physical integrity. On one level by failing to "guarantee the right to life in a context of violence between private individuals. And secondly, the state has implemented repressive measures, adopting military methods, in responding to crime, that have led to serious human rights violations, in particular extrajudicial executions. In addition, Amnesty International was able to identify how the repressive policies adopted by the Venezuelan authorities have resulted in the social criminalization of poverty."
  • Efecto Cocuyo reports on the "social trial" of a woman was evicted from her apartment on a public housing estate and lost her job for allegedly making anti-Maduro comments.
  • Maduro and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel addressed sympathizers in New York, but only after removing journalists from the gathering. (Miami Herald)
News Briefs

  • Several countries in the region -- including several with a generally good relationship with the U.S. -- refused to sign onto President Donald Trump's “Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem," suggesting a decline in the country's role as a global drug policy leader. (InSight Crime)
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the Nicaraguan government to stop illegal detentions and "reconsider" accusations of terrorism against anti-government protesters. (Confidencial)
  • The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the “Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act” (NICA) yesterday. If the bill passes it will serve to pressure the Ortega government, reports Confidencial.
  • Speaking at the U.N., Costa Rican vice president Epsy Campbell Barr warned that the Nicaraguan crisis could have a direct impact on Central American stability. (AFP)
  • Nineteen U.S. lawmakers urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to support the CICIG's work against corruption. (El Periódico)
  • A draught in Guatemala has put 300,000 families in danger of starvation, reports El Periódico. The government blames delays on procuring supplies for them on a law requiring open bidding for public contracts.
  • Nómada reports on allegations of corruption against Evangelical church leaders.
  • Anti-corruption crusaders aren't the only ones not allowed in Guatemala -- Congress voted to ban a Swedish "black metal" band. The band is pretty unsavory, and has been criticized for pro-Nazi messages. Lawmakers appealed to Christian values to keep them out, but were challenged by Guatemala's human rights prosecutor who noted nobody would be forced to attend the concert. (El País)
  • Guerrero state security won't be much helped by a proposal to replace municipal police forces with a single unit, explains InSight Crime. Earlier this week Mexican authorities seized control of Acapulco's security in response to concerns that the resort city's police police force was infiltrated by organized crime. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
  • The Economist writes about Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra's efforts at judicial reform -- and how they have earned an "accidental" president popular support.
  • Presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro represents a real threat to Brazilian democracy. He seems to be paving the way, directly or indirectly, for potential military intervention in Brazil's government, writes Rodrigo Zeidan in Americas Quarterly.
  • Bolsonaro's running mate, retired General Hamilton Mourão probably won't help the ticket with its low female support with his explanation that women just take longer to make up their minds when it comes to voting. "You know, a man goes into a shop and buys, and that’s it. A woman takes time to buy. It’s the same logic," he said. (Reuters)
  • A devastating fire in Brazil's National Museum caused extensive soul searching over government spending priorities. (Washington Post)
  • A projected anual inflation rate of 34 percent for this year, rapid devaluation of the peso, and government austerity measures are hitting Argentina hard. (Washington Post)
Humble fliers
  • Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made opposition to the presidential jet a central promise to voters. But he's not alone in a region where presidents increasingly fly commercial, or risk the wrath of voters. (Economist)
Archaeology corner
  • Aerial laser scans of Guatemalan jungle revealed the ruins of 61,480 structures that upend previous theories about ancient Mayan civilization. (Washington Post)
  • A new museum planned for Espiritú Pampa, the capital of a holdout Inca state that resisted conquistadores for decades, is bringing new attention to long-forgotten ancient city. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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