Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Venezuela's electrical crisis (April 24, 2019)

Venezuelan authorities have accused 19 people of "electrical sabotage," and detained five people the government said contributed to nation-wide power outages starting in March, reports Bloomberg.

Venezuela's Maduro administration and Russia maintain that the electrical system's crisis is a result of terrorist attacks, though experts point to chronic lack of investment and brain drain. President Nicolás Maduro said authorities are working on securing the electric grid from cyber and electromagnetic attacks -- an unlikely avenue of resolution, according to Efecto Cocuyo.

In fact, Venezuela's electricity system is on the brink of collapse, according to Colombian El Espectador.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó said he has a plan to stabilize the national electricity system with assistance from the U.S., Japan and Germany, if Maduro is ousted. He also said Colombia could supply electricity while broken equipment in Venezuela is replaced. (Efecto Cocuyo)

In the meantime: EFE chronicles how shortages are afflicting citizens and their electrical appliances, particularly in Maracaibo. And generator sales are booming, reports the BBC.

News Briefs

  • Mexico has detained hundreds of Central American and Cuban migrants in recent days, the asylum seekers were rounded up in the country's south and sent to overcrowded stations near the Guatemalan border. The radical shift in policy is related to pressure from the U.S. Trump administration, reports the Wall Street Journal
  • On Monday 367, mostly Honduran, migrants were detained. The formed part of the tail end of the latest migrant caravan, and it was the largest single raid against one of the large groups of asylum seekers, report AFP and the BBC. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Authorities said yesterday that 11,800 migrants had been deported in the first 22 days of April. That compares with 9,650 for all of April last year. (Reuters and Animal Político)
  • Their efforts are apparently not enough -- U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to close part of the southern border and send more “armed soldiers” to defend it if Mexico fails to block a caravan of migrants crossing the country, reports Reuters.
  • Mexican officials, including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, have said they are restricting migrants movements for their own safety. Despite widespread criticism after coverage of Monday's raid showed security agents targeting women and children, authorities insisted yesterday that the government's humanitarian migration policy remained in place, reports Animal Político.
Regional Relations
  • AMLO told the U.S. to invest in the region if it hopes to stem migration from Central America, reports AFP.
  • The Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee asked U.S. President Donald Trump to reconsider a plan to cut aid to Central America. The move risks increasing Chinese influence in the region, they said in a letter that also marked the risk of increasing migration from affected countries, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs on China and Lat Am.)
  • Mexico's moves to stem fuel theft earlier this year saved the government $635 million said AMLO. (Reuters)
More Venezuela
  • Venezuela's legitimacy crisis is playing out in a physical struggle to control the country's diplomatic posts around the world. (Washington Post)
  • A pioneering grassroots campaign in Honduras seeks to debunk myths about emergency anti-contraceptives. The pills have been outlawed in Honduras since 2009 -- after Catholic and evangelical leadership said they were abortive -- since then teenage pregnancies have risen to one of the highest rates in the region. (Guardian)
  • A former Odebrecht executive said the Brazilian construction giant helped finance former Peruvian president Alan García's 2006 campaign, said Peruvian prosecutors. García killed himself last week when authorities arrive to arrest him in connection to corruption charges. (AFP)
  • Illegal logging on indigenous lands in the Amazon has increased since Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came into office. According conservation group Imazon, deforestation in the Amazon increased 54 percent in January -- the first month Bolsonaro was in office -- as compared with a year earlier, report AFP. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • A Brazilian appeals court reduced former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's 12-year sentence for bribery and money laundering, which could make the popular leader eligible for semi-open prison later this year, reports AFP.
  • About 3.6 million Haitians are affected by food insecurity, including 1.5 million who are in a serious situation, according to a government report. (Prensa Libre)
  • Bolivia released a new banknote, a sign of financial stability said authorities pointing to the country's low inflation rate. (EFE)
  • Chinese surveillance systems are being exported to the world -- oftentimes so is their abuse, according to a New York Times investigation. In Ecuador, security cameras used by police send footage to the the country's feared domestic intelligence agency, for example.
  • CELS's Paula Litvachky emphasized how authorities around the world are utilizing technology to dissuade protesters, as well as use of non-lethal force. Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokónnikova participated as well.
  • Sociologist Pablo Semán warns against simplistic views of an evangelical tidal wave sweeping Latin American politics to the right in Nueva Sociedad, in a piece that looks at how the region's evangelical churches have evolved in recent decades.

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

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