Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Aid for Venezuela (April 10, 2019)

Red Cross chief Peter Maurer met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and members of the opposition dominated National Assembly in order to coordinate imminent deployment of humanitarian aid. The first shipment will bring in equipment needed to support 12 hospitals, including electrical equipment and surgical kits. (Efecto Cocuyo and Efecto Cocuyo)

Maduro's government has, up till now, denied a humanitarian crisis in the country, but blames poor conditions on U.S. sanctions. He emphasized after the meeting that collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should respect "the Venezuelan legal order." (Al Jazeera)

According to the United Nations, nearly a quarter of the 30 million Venezuelans need urgent help, reports AFP.

United Nations aid chief Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council today that there is a "very real humanitarian problem" in Venezuela and that the world body is ready to do more if it gets more help and support from all parties, reports Reuters.

More from Venezuela
  • A new blackout yesterday in Venezuela affected at least 17 states, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • The OAS recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó's envoy as Venezuela's official representative until new elections are held. (Al Jazeera) The vote demonstrates the region's polarization over the Venezuela crisis, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
  • The international pressure campaign against Venezuela's Maduro government is, if anything, further polarizing the two sides in the country's political crisis, writes the International Crisis Group's Iván Briscoe. In order for negotiations to begin in earnest, the opposition demands some sort of grand gesture indicating the government is willing to cede power, while chavistas want indications of fair treatment at the end of the process, he writes. "Distrust and dogmatism make it extraordinarily hard for either side to give what the other wants in order to commence negotiations in earnest. Meanwhile, until talks begin, the campaign of economic pressure will persist and the most vulnerable Venezuelans will feel it most acutely."
  • Venezuela said its oil output sank to a new long-term low last month due to U.S. sanctions and blackouts. (Reuters)
News Briefs

  • A U.S. court ruling on Monday struck down a new U.S. government policy forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. The preliminary injunction will take effect Friday and be effective nationwide, reports Reuters. However it's not clear what that means for the 1,000 people who were already sent to Mexico to await their court asylum hearings, reports Reuters.
  • The U.S. government is still reviewing what to do with about $1 billion in already approved aid for Central America's northern triangle countries -- two weeks after President Donald Trump said he would cut assistance in retaliation for Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala's perceived lack of action regarding migration. Congress must agree to any reprogramming of funding it has already appropriated, reports the Washington Post.
Regional Relations
  • Prosur, the latest regional alliance, is not a tool for integration, but rather an ideological franchise representing current right-wing governments in the region, argues Juan Herrera in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Salvadoran president-elect Nayib Bukele said the presidents of Honduras, Venezuela, and Nicaragua won't be invited to his June 1 inauguration. He called the three -- Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua -- illegitimate rulers, reports Reuters. He has previously been critical of those governments. In January he tweeted that a dictator is a dictator -- from the right or the left. 
  • The U.S. State Department list of Northern Triangle officials suspected of corruption has only individuals already convicted -- which raises concerns of leniency, reports InSight Crime.
  • Belizeans are divided ahead of a referendum vote today over whether the country should go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve Guatemala’s longstanding claim on Belizean territory and waters, writes Chatham House's  Victor Bulmer-Thomas at the LSE Latin America and Caribbean Center blog. Guatemala already voted strongly in favor of going to the ICJ, but in Belize the results are less clear.
  • Guatemala's supreme court accepted to hear a challenge to the electoral tribunal's decision not to inscribe Movimiento Semilla's presidential candidate, Thelma Aldana. (El Periódico)
  • Guatemala's public ministry carried out 22 corruption raids around the country yesterday -- an effort by attorney general Consuelo Porras to prove that she can carry out graft investigations without the Fiscalía Especial Contra la Impunidad (FECI) led by prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval , according to Nómada. (See yesterday's post.)
  • Colombian President Iván Duque travelled to the country's Cauca region, where indigenous groups have been protesting for over a month. But he did not meet with social leaders who asked he meet them in a public plaza, alleging security risks. (Semana and El Espectador, see yesterday's briefs.)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's outspoken support for paramilitary groups is only more troubling in light of their role in killing Rio de Janeiro councillor Marielle Franco last year, writes Vanessa Barbara in a New York Times op-ed.
  • Spanish police mounted a sting operation against a group selling surveillance material of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange living in Ecuador's London embassy. Wikileaks said the spying operation was part of an extortion attempt, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs, and Monday's.)
  • U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet compared criminal violence in Mexico to dictatorship-era atrocities in Chile. On a five-day visit to Mexico she met with families of victims, "it was like returning to a part of my own history," she said. (Reuters)
  • Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata was killed a hundred years ago, but his legacy remains revered and debated to this day. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has invoked Zapata's spirit, but in Zapata's home region of Morelos, critics say the government is betraying the revolutionary's ideals. (Guardian)
  • Moderate Peronist Roberto Lavagna will have to construct a broad coalition in order to fulfill hopes of breaking Argentina's destructive political polarization, argues José Natanson in a New York Times Español op-ed. The former economy minister has a chance of presenting a successful alternative to current President Mauricio Macri and former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but only if he can attract moderate and independent voters.
  • Peru's Fuerabamba indigenous community voted to lift a roadblock to the Chinese owned Las Bambas copper mine for two days, until government officials visit the region and take parts in talks, reports Reuters.
  • The U.S. government successfully pressured Peru to backtrack on a decision that could have weakened its forestry regulator, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's team is considering a drastic change to the country's national environmental council, and activists fear it could lead to more deforestation and less oversight, reports the Associated Press.
  • Scientists are studying how Colombia's "páramos" act as a giant natural sponge, and ensure a water supply for the region's residents -- of course, under threat. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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