Wednesday, May 8, 2019

U.S. lifts sanctions against former Venezuelan intelligence chief (May 8, 2019)

The United States lifted sanctions against the Venezuelan intelligence chief who supported last week's failed attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro. The U.S. removed Gen Manuel Cristopher Figuera -- who fled Venezuela last week -- from a sanctions list “in recognition of his recent actions in support of democracy and the rule of law." (See last Wednesday's post.)

The move is aimed at encouraging high level defections from the Maduro government. Yesterday U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the administration would consider lifting sanctions against other officials who switch sides in Venezuela's political crisis. (GuardianNew York TimesEfecto CocuyoWall Street Journal)

Increasingly the opposition and foreign backers are considering offering senior government and military officials in the Maduro government the chance to join a transitional government, reports the Washington Post.

Yesterday Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court top court opened a criminal investigation against six opposition lawmakers suspected of “betraying the homeland” and “instigating an insurrection,” among other charges. Those facing accusations include prominent figures in the Venezuelan opposition such as Henry Ramos Allup and Luis Germán Florido. (Associated PressEfecto Cocuyo) One of the lawmakers accused, Mariela Magallanes took refuge in Italy's embassy in Caracas last night. (Efecto Cocuyo)

Additionally, the government announced that it was taking control of three private airports.

More from Venezuela
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Russia next week, and Venezuela will be a top agenda item. (EFE)
  • Spanish journalist  Joan Guirado was expelled by the Maduro government, after a few hours of detention by the feared Sebin intelligence agency. (EFE) The government denied expelling Guirado. (Efecto Cocuyo)
News Briefs

  • Guatemalan prosecutors have launched an investigation into a presidential candidate, six lawmakers and a cabinet minister on suspicion of corruption, the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) announced Monday. They are accused of overseeing the approval and distribution of bribes worth $7.5 million for 62 deputies between 2012-2015 during the administration of former President Otto Perez, reports Reuters.
  • Guatemala's justice system has hypocritically focused on minor allegations against would-be candidate Thelma Aldana, which appear geared towards maintaining the anti-corruption crusader out of the running, reports El País.
  • Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador called for the U.S. to end security assistance to his country and instead channel funding into economic development for Mexico and Central America. He said yesterday he would reject any support provided by the U.S. under a plan known as the Merida Initiative, which has provided $3 billion in security assistance to Mexico since 2008. (AFP and Wall Street Journal)
  • A U.S. federal court of appeals said the Trump administration can continue to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are evaluated. (New York Times)
  • Cuban government cancelled the country's 12th annual march against homophobia. In a Facebook post, the state-run National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) blamed "new tensions in the international and regional context" for the cancellation, but activists questioned the government's motives, reports the BBC.
  • Former Peruvian president Ollanta Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, were charged with money laundering in connection with the receipt of illegal campaign contributions from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. (EFE)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree to ease restrictions on gun imports and increase the amount of ammunition a person can buy, reports Reuters.
  • Brazil has a long and tangled relationship with the United States confederacy -- starting with the migration of about 10,000 Confederate soldiers and their families after the civil war ended in 1865. Their descendants hold an annual party celebrating their legacy, which black activists say glorifies a tradition that represents racism and bloodshed. (Conversation)
  • Logistical costs in Latin America are double those of advanced countries in the OECD -- strategic and effective infrastructure investment is urgently needed to boost economic growth, argues Eric Parrado in Americas Quarterly.
  • Visually impaired women are deploying their improved tactile sensitivity to detect breast cancer earlier in Cali. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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