Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mexico's Maduro kerfuffle (Nov. 8, 2018)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was invited to the upcoming Mexican presidential inauguration -- causing controversy at home and internationally. (See Oct. 30's briefs.) The case is proving an early test for president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador's promise to return Mexico to a non-interventionist foreign policy. 

More than 75,000 Mexicans already have signed a petition asking López Obrador to withdraw his invitation to Maduro. And yesterday conservative PAN lawmakers clashed with AMLO's Morena party over the issue. (Televisa) The invitation risks undermining the Lima Group's attempts to diplomatically isolate Venezuela, write Andrés Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald and n in Global Americans. Eighteen former heads of state from Latin America and Spain signed a petition asking AMLO to retract the invitation, and reviewing Lima Group objectives. (ADN Político)

AMLO has said Mexico will be friendly to all nations, but the openness towards Maduro is itself a lack of respect for Venezuelans suffering the country's crisis, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in a recent New York Times Español op-ed.

But AMLO's stance, though contrary to the Lima Group, could promote further engagement with Venezuela, which could be productive wrote Geoff Ramsey at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights in July (long before this issue came up).

News Briefs

More diplomacy
  • The European Union has extended its sanctions against Venezuela until November 2019. (Al Jazeera)
  • Latin American diplomats fear that the U.S. Trump administration's policy towards the region will only become more complicated after the mid-term elections this week that gave the opposition Democratic party majority in the House of Representatives. On the one hand, Democrats are expected to fight cuts in aid to Central America, and undercutting of the CICIG in Guatemala and elimination of TPS for vulnerable populations. But on the other hand, it could further complicate efforts to establish dialogue with an already difficult government. (Miami Herald)
  • Mexico’s incoming interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, plans to submit a bill regulating medical marijuana and permitting recreational just of cannabis. She told Reuters the bill would be presented this week in Congress. (See Oct. 25's briefs.) The plan follows a Supreme Court ruling last week that permitted two individuals to use marijuana recreationally. (See Nov. 1's briefs.)
  • Mexican organizations of civil society accused the government of abandoning victims of violence and failing to improve the country's dismal human rights record. (Animal Político)
  • A group of Mexican mothers searching for their missing children, Solecito, is digging up a Veracruz site they fear could hold the remains of more than 400 people. (BBC)
  • Protest has been outlawed in Nicaragua -- churches have become one of the last places where citizens can freely express themselves, reports the Guardian.
  • A growing number of artists are concerned about the potential impact of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's loyalty to evangelical and conservative voters. (Guardian)
  • Bolsonaro is pressuring Congress to pass pension reform ahead of his January inauguration. (Reuters)
  • The main migrant caravan of Central Americans has gathered in Mexico City, where the approximately 5,000 people are expected to make a joint decision over what path to take towards the U.S. Mexican authorities say most have rejected offers to apply for asylum in Mexico. (Animal Político)
  • Earlier this week Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said that approximately 80 people who entered the country with the caravan of Central American migrants bound for the United States have gone missing. (EFE)
  • Stories numbering migrants in the thousands moving across thousands of miles often elide the agonizingly difficult individual journeys. This Washington Post piece looks at one single mother dealing with two toddlers tired of walking.
  • Peruvian police dismantled a human trafficking ring suspected of selling children taken from vulnerable women, reports the New York Times. Among the 14 people detained on Tuesday was the former head of the national police service, General Raúl Becerra Velarde. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Cuba extradited a U.S. lawyer accused of murdering his girlfriend. It is the second time in recent months that Cuba has returned an American fugitive wanted in the United States, reports the Miami Herald.
  • Haiti's National Police force is offering a $27,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of alleged gang leader Arnel Joseph, who is accused of terrorizing the population in the capital, Port-au-Prince. (Voice of America)
  • Lawmakers from Colombian President Ivan Duque’s party oppose the government's plan to  tax food staples. (Bloomberg)
  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán will be tried before a jury of 12 New Yorkers, who will be kept anonymous during the trial on US drug trafficking charges that begins next week. (Guardian) His lawyer asked the judge to permit the former Sinaloa Cartel leader to hug his wife at the trial as a "humanitarian gesture." (Animal Político)
  • Ecuador's government is being sued for giving mining companies exploration rights to a protected forest in one of the country’s most biodiverse regions without local consultation, reports Reuters.
  • The Colombian city of Manizales, with a population of about 400,000 has had unparalleled exposure to natural disasters. But in response it has developed globally recognized disaster-risk reduction policies, reports the Guardian.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...Latin America Daily Briefing

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