Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bolsonaro's dangerous policies (Jan. 10, 2019)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pulled out of a U.N. migration pact signed just last month, a potential sign that the incoming government will take a far harsher stance on immigration, reports the New York Times. Immigration was not a major campaign issue in last year's elections, but communities along the Venezuelan border have been increasingly resentful of the influx of Venezuelan's fleeing their country's crisis.

It's just part of what a New York Times editorial called a "fountain of far-right decrees" Bolsonaro has loosed since his inauguration last week: "undermining protections for the environment, indigenous land rights and the L.G.B.T. community, putting nongovernmental organizations under government monitoring and purging government contractors who do not share his ideology. "

The stakes are high for the planet as well as for human rights, warns Eliane Brum in the Guardian, noting that Bolsonaro's policies threaten environmental protections that are vital to combat climate change.

Divisions in the new government are also undermining its position with investors, who are concerned over opposing positions between Bolsonaro's economic and political teams, as well as presidential tweets that contradict senior aides, reports Reuters.


Venezuelan crisis deepens

Though Venezuela has been in a deep crisis that affects all aspects of its citizens' lives, today marks a turning point in the political aspect: Nicolás Maduro will swear in for a second presidential term, a move most observers consider illegitimate as it is based on a May 2018 election marred by significant irregularities. (See New York Times and Associated Press, for example.) El País calls it a "point of no return."

Maduro arrived this morning at the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) to swear in, entering with his wife Cilia Flores on a red carpet, reports Efecto Cocuyo. He was sworn in there instead of at the National Assembly, reports the BBC. (See Monday's post.) 

Moving forward, the opposition-led National Assembly has said it will consider the government illegitimate, setting up a likely collision course with the supra-congressional pro-government National Constituent Assembly, writes David Smilde in the Venezuela Weekly.

Maduro faces increasing international isolation -- from the region, the U.S. and the European Union -- and an intensifying humanitarian crisis that his government refuses to recognize, reports Reuters. Sixty countries deemed last year's May election illegitimate, notes the Wall Street Journal. (See Monday's post.) 

Maduro warned of retaliation against Lima Group countries that criticized his government's legitimacy last week. (Reuters

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Bolivian President Evo Morales were among the foreign leaders who attended this morning's ceremony, reports the Associated Press.

Protesters at various Venezuelan consulates around the world protested Maduro's legitimacy, calling him a usurper, reports Efecto Cocuyo. In Venezuela protests in Lara state were repressed by the Bolivarian National Guard, reports Efecto Cocuyo separately.

Internal divisions inside the government could prove significant: the Washington Post reports that defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, told the Maduro to step down last month, threatening with his resignation if not. The military has been a key pillar of support for the Maduro administration, which cracked down on military personal accused of plotting against the government. A new report by Human Rights Watch and Foro Penal details cases of egregious abuse and torture, part of a systemic practise by Venezuelan security forces. (See yesterday's briefs.)

More from Venezuela
  • Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly said newly announced deals between deals between state-run oil company PDVSA and U.S. and French companies are illegal because they were not ratified by lawmakers. (Reuters)
  • Caracas street children in pictures - Guardian.
News Briefs

  • The CICIG's relevance in Guatemala goes far beyond jailing corrupt politicians -- though that's a pretty big deal. The U.N. backed anti-graft body aims to help Guatemala obtain effective institutions, in a country where half the children are malnourished and rural areas are neglected, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Mexico is scarred by disappearances over the past 12 years -- officially more than 37,000. In Nuevo Laredo last year, 51 people were forcibly disappeared by Mexico's marines, part of a wider pattern of abuses by security forces that have not been investigated, reports The Nation.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador faces his first major challenge: fuel shortages causing mile long lines at gas stations and public transportation shutdowns in certain areas. The shortages have been caused by the government shutdown of certain pipelines, an effort to crack down on rampant fuel theft by criminal gangs. Security experts praised AMLO's commitment to tackling the powerful cartels. (Los Angeles Times and Washington Post)
  • The latest from El Chapo's trial: text messages with his wife and alleged mistress. (Reuters)
  • Colombia's Special Peace Jurisdiction has has opened a half-dozen cases against hundreds of leftist guerrilla and military officers in its the first year of operation and expects to pass its first verdicts this year, reports the Associated Press.
  • The Trump administration's termination of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the U.S. is on trial, and evidence shows the administration was so determined to end the program that it ignored government research demonstrating inadequate conditions in Haiti. (Associated Press)
  • The U.S. administration is examining the Central American Free Trade Agreement for ways to potentially block Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador's access to the U.S. market without disturbing the rest of the agreement, reports McClatchy DC.
  • Carlos Sánchz, who you probably recognize as the face of Juan Valdez coffee died at the age of 83. The New York Times calls him "one of the most recognizable pitchmen in the world."
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... (I'm a bit behind so far in 2019, but I'll catch up over the next few days!)

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