Monday, May 27, 2019

Venezuela talks continue in Oslo (May 27, 2019)

Norway is hosting a second round of talks with representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The delegations travelled Saturday. They are expected to meet face to face for the first time in Oslo, after an exploratory round in which Norwegian diplomats acted as go-betweens, reports Deutsche Welle. It is an indication that the negotiation track is gaining momentum after months of escalating tension between the two sides, according to the Associated Press.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Héctor Rodríguez, the governor of Miranda state -- both of whom participated in the earlier round of Oslo talks -- willlead the government delegation. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza will also join. Maduro thanked Norway for its efforts. (Efecto Cocuyo)

The opposition delegation is being led by Stalin González, a senior member of the opposition-controlled congress, former Caracas area Mayor Gerardo Blyde and former Transport Minister Fernando Martínez Mottola. (Efecto Cocuyo)

The opposition has been wary of entering negotiations -- which the government has used as a dilatory tactic in the past. "This is not negotiation. This is not dialogue," Guaidó said yesterday. He emphasized that only solutions that lead to Maduro stepping down and new elections are acceptable. (ReutersEfecto Cocuyo)

More from Venezuela
  • At least 30 inmates died on Friday and 26 people were wounded in the midst of clashes between armed prisoners and guards Portuguesa state. Nineteen of those wounded were guards, according to the Venezuelan Prison Observatory. They were wounded with inmate detonated grenades. The disturbances began when the inmates -- who more than double the facility's capacity -- refused to let guards enter for fear of robbery. Authorities said the inmates were attempting to escape. (Efecto CocuyoAssociated PressReuters)
News Briefs

  • Colombian President Iván Duque said he'd appoint an independent commission to investigate the army's orders, manuals and operational documents. The focus of the commission, to be composed of prominent Colombian jurists, will be to ensure that the military’s orders conform to human rights law, said Duque. (New York Times) The announcement comes in the wake of a New York Times report on orders aimed at boosting kill rates that could lead to summary executions. (See last Monday's post.)
  • "People sometimes ask me why I like doing stories that are often violent and cruel, and the answer is that of course I don’t. This is not what I expected to do with my life," writes Alma Guillermoprieto in the New York Review of Books. "But I couldn’t stop writing just because the stories that turned up weren’t the stories that I wanted to write."
  • Rio de Janeiro police kill an average of five people per day -- a record breaking 558 people during the first four months of the year. State governor William Witzel was elected last year on a campaign platform promising heavy handed policing. This year he deployed covert snipers to "neutralize" armed suspects. But some local lawmakers and activists say officers are routinely carrying out extrajudicial killings, reports the New York Times. State representative Renata Souza called on the United Nations and the Organization of American States to investigate.
  • True crime footage is Brazilian television's latest sensation, in the midst of the national spike in violence, reports the Washington Post.
  • Pro-Bolsonaro rallies were reported yesterday in more than 300 towns and cities, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasília, though many appeared small, reports the Guardian. (See Friday's briefs.)
  • A San Pedro Sula community fighting street gang domination has been put at risk by a recent New York Times report, according to Revista Factum. Residents who banded together to confront the powerful MS-13 say their names and pictures were published without consent, and put their lives in greater danger than before. (See May 7's briefs on the original piece.)
El Salvador
  • An in-depth investigation by El Faro shows how former Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes and his wife, Vanda Pignato, diverted public money to fund a lavish lifestyle -- including luxury brands, flights in private jets, and support for an unacknowledged daughter.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's pragmatism -- albeit with admirable goals -- could put the country's institutional stability at risk, argues Luis Pérez de Acha in a New York Times Español op-ed
  • Over a dozen collectives in Mexico who search for their disappeared family members gathered to pool their knowledge and establish methodologies to cover ground where their loved-ones might be buried. (Pié de Página)
Regional Relations
  • Bolivian President Evo Morales and former Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner are making bids for new terms this year -- but the regional context has shifted significantly since the Pink Tide heyday, raising questions over how their administrations will relate to conservative governments in the region, writes Juan Pablo Tovar for Connectas.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted 50 Haitian migrants on an overloaded boat and sent them back to the island, reports the Miami Herald.
  • On the same day, another crew intercepted 10 Cuban migrants and two suspected smugglers 12 miles off of Villa Clara Province, Cuba, also Miami Herald.
El Chapo
  • Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's lawyers say he is showing signs of psychological scarring from over two years of solitary confinement, but U.S. federal prosecutors are concerned its part of an escape ploy, reports the Washington Post.
  • Hand sewn traditional dresses are a symbol of resistance for Mexican Rarámuri indigenous women who are pushing back against assimilation, reports the New York Times.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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