Monday, April 29, 2019

Guaidó's diplomats angle for Russia, China and Cuba (April 29, 2019)

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó's appointed diplomats -- supported by the Lima Group -- are scheming to win over the Venezuelan government's international allies, namely Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey. Diplomats met in Colombia this weekend, and will seek to support Guaidó's call for a massive May 1 march against President Nicolás Maduro. (Miami Herald and Efecto Cocuyo)

The U.S. Trump administration announced new sanctions against Venezuela's foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, on Friday. The U.S. government has already imposed sanctions on more than 150 Maduro administration officials and revoked visas from hundreds of Venezuelan officials, reports the Miami Herald.

Guaidó said government forces prevented him from reaching Barquisimeto in Lara State, where he had planned to attend mass at the city's cathedral yesterday and lead an anti-Maduro march. Allies said he was stopped by armed groups. (Efecto Cocuyo and Efecto Cocuyo)

More from Venezuela
  • There is lots of evidence of large-scale corruption involving PDVSA, the question is what the global impact will be in a post-Maduro scenario, argue Roberto Simon and Emilie Sweigart in Americas Quarterly.

News Briefs

  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised, during his campaign last year, to protect journalists who work in one of the world's deadliest countries for reporters. But he's been confrontational with media outlets -- a situation that has heightened their vulnerability. After AMLO complained about a Reforma article, the newspaper's editor Juan Pardinas was threatened and harassed, reports the Guardian. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • AMLO's unorthodox governing style, combined with strong congressional majorities, is a definite danger for Mexico's fragile democratic institutions, argues Shannon O'Neil in Bloomberg.
  • Mexico has become the U.S.'s number one trade partner, despite Trump's disparagement of the country, reports the Washington Post.
  • In the midst of panic about Central American migration to the U.S., dramatic drops in Mexican migration over the past two decades indicate a reassuring historical trend, reports the Washington Post. Experts emphasize that drops in migration respond to greater economic development at home, which gives residents increased opportunities and lessens the relative benefits of leaving.
  • A Honduran transgender woman asylum seeker was detained again by U.S. immigration authorities -- less than a week after she was released following a year of incarceration in immigration centers. She was granted asylum in October of last year, but US Immigration and Customs Enforcement refused to release her and appealed the case, arguing there were inconsistencies in her narrative of death threats, sexual assault and attempted murder linked to her gender identity at home. (Guardian, see last Tuesday's briefs.)
  • Brazil's Supreme Court sought to block an article about corruption that named one of its judges recently. The court quickly backtracked in the midst of a strong backlash (see last last Monday's post), but the episode raises concerns about the judicial credibility and ability to function as a check on the Bolsonaro government, reports the New York Times.
  • Residents in 1,400 towns in Brazil have worrying levels of pesticide in their drinking water. A new report by Repórter Brasil and Agência Publica journalists, with Swiss non-profit group Public Eye, found that eleven of the pesticides it found traces of are prohibited in Brazil and 21 of them banned in the European Union. The data comes from public tests conducted by municipal authorities, released to investigators following a request under Brazil’s information access law. (Guardian)
  • Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão is in a vicious turf war with the Bolsonaro administration's more extreme ideologues, which include President Jair Bolsonaro's sons. The battle has played out on social media recently, with the presidential family hitting hard against Mourão, a retired general who has unexpectedly come to represent the government's more moderate voices, reports the Guardian. 
  • Brazil is being governed by “a bunch of lunatics” and United States “lackeys” said former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in his first media interview since his arrest last year. Lula is serving a corruption sentence, and the interview was granted after a lengthly media battle, reports the Guardian. (See last Monday's post.) Speaking with two Brazilian journalists for Folha de S. Paulo and El País, Lula lamented the deterioration of Brazil's international leadership. He remains unbowed by his time in jail, reports El País, and is "obsessed" with proving his innocence.
  • The OAS is moving towards applying the Inter-American Democratic Charter to Nicaragua, in response to the Ortega administration's illegal infringements of citizen rights, report Confidencial and La Prensa.
  • The political trial of journalists Miguel Mora y Lucía Pineda Ubau begins today. The two have been in detention for 129 days without evidence presented in support of government accusations that they incited terrorism and hatred, reports Confidencial.
  • The FARC peace process could still fail, argues Jeremy McDermott in a Semana opinion piece. (Republished by InSight Crime.) "The government’s perceived lack of commitment in fully implementing the peace accords, and challenges to the agreement’s judicial framework, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz- JEP), have undermined faith in the process for many former guerrillas, who are returning to what they know."
  • Cuba's economic reforms have created a series of discriminatory labor practices that must addressed in order to guarantee inclusion for Afro-Cubans, argues Alejandro de la Fuente in a New York Times Español op-ed.
  • Americas Quarterly interviewed Argentine fact-checking site Chequeado's executive director Laura Zommer. Argentina is polarized and heading into a heated presidential election campaign. "In this context, fake news goes viral more quickly," said Zommer. 
  • Times Insider column details how the New York Times gained access to the Ecuadorean Intelligence Agency's surveillance bunker. (See last Wednesday's briefs for the piece on how Chinese surveillance systems are used for domestic spying.)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...


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