Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Int'l community against Venezuela military intervention (Feb. 26, 2019)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced further sanctions against Venezuelan officials on Monday. Pence met with Venezuela's self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó -- who is recognized as the country's legitimate leader by a chunk of the international community -- in Colombia, and attended a meeting of the Lima Group. (New York Times)

It amounted to a relatively moderate response, in the midst of mounting support among the Venezuelan opposition for a military intervention, reports the Miami Herald. Internationally however there is little support for armed intervention in Venezuela, notes the Guardian. Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru among others ruled out supporting any sort of invasion yesterday, as did Spain, Germany, and the European Union. (See yesterday's post.)

The Lima Group meeting in Bogotá yesterday said it would take Venezuela's legitimacy challenged President Nicolás Maduro to the International Criminal Court, but stopped short of announcing further steps or alternatives to diplomatic pressure, report the Miami Herald and the Wall Street Journal.

"The unlikelihood of a military intervention at this stage likely leads the Maduro government to take the threat less seriously, lessening its impact," writes Felix Seijas Rodríguez in Americas Quarterly.

A group of leading human rights organizations from Venezuela and the region urged Lima Group countries to commit to protections for Venezuelan migrants, and to abstain from using aid "for anything other than humanitarian purposes." The particularly called to reject the criminalization of humanitarian workers in Venezuela. The organizations also called for "a peaceful solution to the crisis, by rejecting the use of force in favor of coordinated multilateral diplomacy."

Pence also announced an additional $56 million in aid to the Venezuelan opposition, and said there is no possible neutral ground when it comes to the Venezuela political crisis. The U.S. is playing a key role in the standoff against Maduro, but the Trump administration's belligerent approach has become divisive within U.S. politics, report the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Univisión news anchor Jorge Ramos was detained yesterday while conducting an interview with Maduro. He and his crew were released after two hours. They were deported today, reports Efecto Cocuyo. The government confiscated their equipment, including the memory cards with the interview. Ramos said he was showing Maduro images of children eating out of a dumpster when the leader left the interview. Ramos' detention was rapidly criticized by Human Rights Watch. The Mexican foreign ministry condemned the crew’s detention after their release on Monday night. (New York TimesGuardian)

A notable absence in the Venezuelan crisis is "the people," notes Keymer Ávila in Nueva Sociedad. The crisis is playing out on a geopolitical level, and Venezuela's opposition is more adept at looking outward for assistance than mobilizing masses. "The hawks want war and, paradoxically, the government does too," he writes, saying it would give Maduro officials the cover of martyrdom.

  • The New York Times and the Washington Post have good roundups of the confrontations on Saturday at different points of Venezuela's border with Colombia and Brazil, as opposition volunteers clashed with security forces that stopped them from binging in foreign donations of humanitarian supplies.
  • And the Washington Post reviews the crisis itself -- the legitimacy battle, what different international players say, and what the economic issues are.
News Briefs

  • Cuba's new constitution was approved by nearly 87 percent of voters -- but 700,000 negative votes, together with the 15 percent of the electorate who stayed home, constitute a rare show of opposition to the Cuban government, a sign of growing strength among diverse groups, report the New York Times and the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Reforms included in the new constitution recognize private property and encourage foreign investment, but they are geared towards maintaining the communist status quo, reports Americas Quarterly
  • The vote is the first more or less democratic exercise on the island in half a century, writes Rafael Rojas in a New York Times Español op-ed from last week. It's a symbol of how the Cuban alternative has lost relevance in the region where it was once a beacon, he argues.
  • What is changing is not the government, but Cubans who are pushing forward and demanding civil rights and defying the tradition of self-censorship, writes artist Tatiana Bruguera in another New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Plaza Pública interviewed U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, Luis Arreaga, who emphasized the importance of fighting corruption.
Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica launched a plan to "decarbonize" its economy by 2050. (Guardian)
  • A dead baby humpback whale was found washed ashore a remote, forested island in the Amazon River, a long way away from Antartica where the species migrates this time of year. (New York Times)

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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