Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Venezuelans take to the streets, again (Feb. 12, 2019)

Venezuelans have been called to the streets today -- by Venezuelan National Assembly leader and self-declared interim president, Juan Guaidó, as well as legitimacy-challenged president Nicolás Maduro. Efecto Cocuyo has live coverage on the latest day of protests in the country's legitimacy crisis.

Guaidó said he had a first shipment of humanitarian aid to distribute to health centers yesterday. (Efecto Cocuyo) He did not say from where or whom they came, reports Reuters. Humanitarian aid has become a flashpoint in the dispute between Maduro and Guaidó. An operation to bring in shipments at the Colombian border could provoke confrontation between the opposition and the armed forces, or fizzle and strengthen Maduro's hand, reports the Associated Press.

Maduro, told the BBC that the humanitarian aid opposition leaders are attempting to bring into the country is a way for the U.S. to justify intervention, and called Donald Trump's government a "gang of extremists."


A post-Maduro Venezuela will not necessarily be one that completely rejects Chavismo and socialism. Among the Venezuelans who oppose the current government are a portion that remain loyal to Chavismo but feel that Maduro's government has failed spectacularly, reports the Washington Post. In the midst of Venezuela's acute humanitarian crisis, Chavistas are vased with the dilemma of rescuing the political movement by abandoning Maduro, or sinking with him, reports the Guardian.

Not all should be welcome, according to Aquiles Estes, who argues that it would be dangerous to move forward in a transition that hasn't fully vanquished chavista ideology in a New York Times Español op-ed.


A delegation representing Guaidó met with Vatican officials yesterday, reports the Associated Press. Last week Maduro asked Pope Francis to mediate talks between the two sides. Guaidó also appealed to the Holy See, though the two parts have used different terms and Guaidó rejects dialogue without preconditions. (See last Thursday's post.) The Vatican said most sides must request external mediation. 

But previous efforts at Vatican mediation were not positive, and there are indications  that the local Church hierarchy is "deeply skeptical of possible mediation efforts by the Vatican," writes Hugo Pérez Hernáiz at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.

More from Venezuela
  • The U.S. has circulated a draft resolution in the U.N. calling for international aid to be delivered in Venezuela and for a presidential vote to take place. It would likely be blocked by Russia which supports Maduro. (Agencies)

  • U.S. officials say they have direct contact with members of the military and are urging them to defect to Guaidó's side. (Reuters)
  • Venezuela's embattled Maduro government might seek to barter oil for medicines and other products from India, as a work around to crippling U.S. oil sanctions. (Reuters)
News Briefs

  • U.S. “response to Venezuelan refugees and migrants has been overshadowed by this administration’s deep xenophobia," writes Geoff Ramsey in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor. "... it has been woefully silent on Venezuelans’ need for access to legal status in the countries they are fleeing to, which includes the United States."
  • As the U.S. administration makes it increasingly difficult to apply for humanitarian asylum, Al Otro Lado, provides council to migrants gathering on the Mexican side of the border, reports the Guardian. (U.S. attorneys with the organization were targeted with heightened U.S. law enforcement scrutiny, and one who lives in Mexico was denied entry back into the country. See The Intercept story in yesterday's briefs.)
  • Chiapas radio journalist Bersaín Gálvez Ramírez was shot in the head yesterday -- so far this year at least two journalists have been killed in Mexico. Last year 12 journalists were killed in Mexico, now considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters. (Animal Político, and Animal Político) On Saturday a Tabasco radio journalist, Jesus Eugenio Ramos, was shot dead. (Reuters) See Paula Mónaco Felipe's New York Times Español op-ed for more on the lethal violence journalists face in Mexico.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador received death threats from two separate criminal organizations recently -- an alarming sign that cartels will seek to confront the new administration, according to InSight Crime.
  • AMLO's national guard proposal violates international human rights standards and emulates authoritarian or dictatorial security models, said experts and the U.N. human rights office in a Senate public audience on the project. (Animal Político, see last Friday's briefs.)
  • Mexico's disappeared number in the tens of thousands -- and, faced with government indifference, desperate families of victims have struck out searching for bodies on their own. (Animal Político)
  • AMLO wants to revise natural-gas pipeline contracts with private companies that force the state-owned electric utility to pay even when it doesn't receive fuel, reports the Wall Street Journal. The government will seek voluntary agreements with private companies to avoid legal battles he said.
El Salvador
  • Political outsider Nayib Bukele's electoral victory earlier this month is partly due to his popularity among El Salvador's urban poor who coexist with the country's strong gangs, reports Roberto Valencia in El Faro.
  • Police operations focusing on extortion and related crimes have pushed up the female incarceration rate in Guatemala -- and the country's justice system more easily targets women, reports InSight Crime with El Intercambio.
  • Hondura's attorney general is investigating former president Porfirio Lobo for corruption. The Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción accused him of misappropriating as much as $1 million in government funds, reports InSight Crime.
  • Brazilian evangelicals, represented in part by President Jair Bolsonaro, are critical of LGBT rights. They are confronted by a small but determined group of politicians, reports Reuters.
  • With Bolsonaro on sick-leave, his cabinet is increasingly fractured, reports Bloomberg.
  • Brazilian police killed at least 13 suspected drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro shootout last week. (Associated Press)
  • The peso and inflation seem to be relatively calm at the moment -- but the Macri administration faces low consumer confidence, sliding industrial output and a tumbling popularity rate. (Reuters)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...


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