Nonetheless, it's not clear how National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó -- considered the country's interim president by a large swathe of the international community -- will push aid supplies past military troops deployed by Maduro to stop entry into the country, reports the New York Times. The reasoning on both sides is that entering the humanitarian supplies will break Maduro's control of the border, and on scarce food and medical supplies, weakening his claim to legitimacy. If the military is swayed, he could be ousted.
"This is a war of optics," said WOLA's Geoff Ramsey told the Wall Street Journal. "If the opposition isn’t able to get aid in…that furthers the narrative of this being a cruel regime that’s denying a humanitarian emergency."
Maduro and allies have called the aid initiative a form of intervention in Venezuela. And Maduro is countering with a promise to distribute 20,000 boxes of government-subsidized food to Cúcuta, Colombia.
Aid isn't the only novel political tool -- dueling concerts will be held on the Venezuela-Colombia on Friday. "Venezuela Aid" organized by Richard Branson in support of Guaidó and to raise funds for humanitarian aid, and a "Megaconcert" called "Hands off Venezuela" organized by Maduro. (New York Times and Washington Post)
The image of the Tienditas bridge across the Venezuela-Colombia border -- blocked by shipping containers and a fuel tanker -- has become emblematic of Maduro's blockade against aid. The thing is, the bridge has never been opened. It was completed in 2016, but has been fenced off for years, explains CBC.
More from Venezuela
- Senator Marco Rubio is considered the force behind the Trump administration's Venezuela policy -- but the hawkish stance doesn't stop there. "Recent moves suggest that Rubio has his eyes on the total reversal of the so-called Pink Tide of left-leaning governments that dominated Latin American politics in the early 2000s. And he’s just getting started," according to The New Republic.
- A few years ago Caracas' poorer neighborhoods were mostly Chavista. Now they're not, but they also don't trust the opposition, write Rebecca Hanson and Francisco Sánchez in Nacla.
- Hyper-inflation is a losing game for everybody, writes Virginia López Glass in a New York Times op-ed.
- Russian Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, reports Reuters.
- A campaign finance scandal forced Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to fire a close associate, Secretary General Gustavo Bebianno, and could complicate his economic reform agenda. The president's Social Liberal Party (PSL) is accused of diverting public campaign funds to candidates who supposedly didn’t run for office, Bebianno was the party's national chairman during last year's general elections. The cabinet change could affect Bolsonaro's ability to pass a controversial pension reform the administration will present in Congress this week. (Reuters, AFP, and Wall Street Journal)
- The scandal is threatening to tarnish Bolsonaro, who ran on an anti-corruption platform, reports AFP.
- Last week Guatemalan lawmakers postponed a debate on an amnesty bill that would pardon crimes against humanity committed during the country's brutal 36-year civil war. They will debate the proposal, which would immediately free 30 military officials convicted of grave crimes and would cease all ongoing and future investigations and prosecutions into such crimes, later this week. (International Justice Monitor)
- Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno will seek to create an international anti-impunity commission for the country, similar to Guatemala's CICIG. (El Periódico)
- The crisis isn't at the U.S. border, but in countries Central American migrants are fleeing, writes Amelia Frank-Vitale in a Washington Post opinion piece detailing violent conditions forcing Hondurans to flee their homes.
- More on migration from Honduras at Cespad.
- A Salvadoran court freed a young woman sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home. (AFP)
- A new Cuban law seeking to control artistic production has generated anxiety among the islands artists and intellectuals. A return to the darker days of the revolution's censorship efforts would be a terrible mistake, argues Rubén Gallo in a New York Times Español op-ed. (See briefs for Dec. 6, 2018.)
- Colombian President Iván Duque unveiled a new coca eradication plan which increases eradication goals by 43 percent, but mostly by forced eradication. That has crop-substitution advocates concerned, reports InSight Crime.
- High cost medications are a challenge for Latin American countries's national health care systems. Thomas Andrew O’Keefe details some of the mechanisms they are attempting to employ to rein in costs. (Aula Blog)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...