Thursday, May 9, 2019

Venezuelan lawmaker detained (May 9, 2019)

Venezuelan National Assembly vice president Edgar Zambrano was detained by masked intelligence agents last night, after leaving the opposition party Acción Democrática headquarters in Caracas. He refused to leave his car, and was towed away to the Helicoide prison by security agents. Zambrano live tweeted his own detention. (Efecto CocuyoWashington Post)

The pro-government supra congressional National Constituent Assembly stripped Zambrano and nine other lawmakers of parliamentary immunity, yesterday, in response to their support of an uprising against President Nicolás Maduro last week. (See yesterday's post.) They are accused of treason, conspiracy, instigating insurrection and civil rebellion, reports the Guardian.

Maduro has thus far refrained from arresting Juan Guaidó, recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader by over 50 countries. But Zambrano is the latest member of opposition leader's inner circle to be detained or forced to flee the country, reports the New York Times. He is the first senior opposition official taken into custody by the government since the attempted uprising, a move that could potentially signal a broader crackdown, notes the Washington Post.

Though last week's ouster plot against Maduro failed, many experts believe it has not yet fully played out, reports the Guardian. In the meantime, the government is reportedly frantically searching for potential traitors within its ranks.

The U.S., the European Union, and the regional Lima Group all protested the detention and called for Zambano's release. In turn Maduro ally Diosdado Cabello hinted that three more lawmakers would be detained imminently. (Efecto Cocuyo)

Guaidó called Zambrano’s arrest a kidnapping and warned the international community that the pro-government judiciary is paving the way to dissolve the opposition-dominated National Assembly. (Wall Street Journal)

Two of the lawmakers who lost immunity yesterday have already taken refuge in embassies in Caracas, reports Efecto Cocuyo.

More from Venezuela
  • Earlier this week the European Union-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela said it could send a political mission to Caracas in support of a political solution to the crisis -- emphasizing the need to call new elections. (Reuters) The ICG said it would ask Maduro to “free political prisoners” and loosen his stranglehold on government institutions as a show of good will, reports the Miami Herald
  • After the failed uprising, diplomacy is Venezuela's best chance at exiting its crisis, according to the Economist.
  • The prolonged Venezuela crisis is frustrating U.S. President Donald Trump, who increasingly questions his close advisors' aggressive strategy in seeking to oust Maduro, reports the Washington Post. The administration's threats to invade Venezuela in support of Guaidó have split U.S. Republican lawmakers over whether Trump needs Congressional approval for such a move, reports Politico.
  • Prospects of a military invasion raise alarm bells in Latin America, even among the anti-Maduro Lima Group, reports the Washington Post.
  • Nearly half of Colombia's ELN guerrillas -- about 1,100 fighters -- have taken refuge across the border in Venezuela, according to Colombia's military. (AFP)
News Briefs

  • Hondurans protested against energy price increases in communities around the country that have been affected by blackouts for the past two weeks -- part of a still unexplained energy crisis, reports Criterio. Videos circulating on social media appear to show security forces shooting and injuring several protesters in San Pedro Sula on Tuesday night, according to Honduras Solidarity.
  • Recent protests against education and health reforms in Honduras "tapped into a powerful undercurrent of frustration with President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s administration," according to Christine Wade in World Politics Review. (See April 30's post.)
  • Panama and China have deepened trade relations since President Juan Carlos Varela unexpectedly ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 2017. Now Panama could become a key point of contention in a potential U.S.-China trade war, reports Foreign Policy.
  • At least five people have been killed in Jamaica since March last year after being deported from the UK, reports the Guardian. Other returnees say the publicity around their cases has put them in danger from gangs, reports the Guardian separately.
  • A Colombian soldier killed a former FARC fighter in a reintegration camp -- part of 130 similar killings that are dimming the prospect of peaceful demobilization for the guerrillas, reports InSight Crime.
  • Pension reform delays are undermining market faith in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Eight former environmental ministers -- from a across the political spectrum -- accused Bolsonaro of systematically attempting to dismantle Brazil's environmental protection policies, reports the Guardian.
  • Brazilian prosecutors accused three Banco Paulista executives of involvement in the laundering of about $12.2 million between 2009 and 2015, part of an investigation into Odebrecht corruption. (Associated Press)
  • Argentina's economic crisis is undermining President Mauricio Macri's chances of reelection in October, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Regional Relations
  • Mexican officials said the country’s tomato growers face more than $350 million a year in losses from U.S. anti-dumping duties on their exports after the U.S. Commerce Department terminated an agreement that had suspended the duties since 1996, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Chilean feminists have drawn attention to violence and harassment within universities, but remain vulnerable to backlash after speaking out, reports NACLA.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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