- If you thought you understood the intricacies of Venezuela's newest institutional schism -- the competing National Assembly leadership situation -- the latest Venezuela Weekly is likely to prove you wrong. Check out David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas incredible review of the details, including how there are more votes than lawmakers in the dual leadership elections held on Sunday, and how the new government-loyal opposition members are not part of the opposition dissident faction that was conducting separate negotiations with the Maduro government last year.
- Maduro hopes to have the new government-loyal faction of the National Assembly approve changes to ownership of some crucial state oil assets, reports Reuters. The move is aimed at making legal investments from allied countries such as Russia. This is one of the reasons analysts believe Maduro has attempted to wrest control of the National Assembly from opposition hands, notes the Venezuela Weekly.
- Earlier this week Twitter Inc. suspended more than a dozen accounts linked to Venezuela's Maduro’s government and the country's armed forces for violating the website’s rules, reports Bloomberg. Venezuela’s Information Ministry called Twitter’s move a “media siege perpetrated by the United States’ government."
- Last year's Norway-facilitated dialogue process between Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition led by Guaidó likely failed because each side had international sponsors that provided them with plausible alternatives to a negotiated agreement, argue David Smilde and Geoff Ramsey in a new working paper published by Fundación Carolina. In the paper they "work through some of the literature on peacemaking processes, develop a sociological understanding of how mediation can successfully reframe and reorganize a conflict." (Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights)
- Bolivia's interim government announced a corruption probe into nearly 600 officials of the former administration, including ex-president Evo Morales, reports AFP. Morales has been granted asylum in Argentina, and a group of around 10 former officials are sheltering inside the Mexican ambassador's residence in La Paz. Authorities said the first results of his anti-corruption inquiry would be made public in April -- elections will be held in May.
- Bolivia's attorney general is is investigating allegations that Spanish officials sought to help the Morales officials in Mexico's embassy, reports Reuters. (See Jan. 2's post.)
- Also, Bolivian authorities said they called on Interpol to arrest Morales to prevent him traveling to Chile where he has been invited to participate in a human rights forum.
- Colombian criminal groups operating extortion schemes in Bolivia have expanded by preying on Venezuelan migrants -- Connectas via InSight Crime.
- "The story of El Salvador’s gang problem is a study in shortsighted thinking – from governments in Washington and San Salvador, on both sides of the political spectrum – that has backfired disastrously," according to a Guardian deep-dive. And the U.S. Trump administration's policies threaten to make it even worst.
- Colombian President Ivan Duque called on the United Nations to prolong its peace verification mission in Colombia until 2022, reports AFP. The UN Security Council decided in September to extend the mission, which is tasked with monitoring the 2016 peace deal with the FARC, until the end of 2020. The former guerrilla group's leadership has denounced delays in the deal's implementation, and lack of security for its demobilized members. The UN said 2019 was the deadliest year for ex-FARC combatants since the peace deal, with 77 former rebels killed over the past 12 months. Eighty percent of the attacks were related to criminal groups and organizations linked to drug trafficking and illegal mining.
- "Colombia's entire peace process is in danger," warns Boaventura de Sousa Santos, an advisor to the country's Truth Commission, in an interview with Acadia. "There is no political will to carry it out. It is an unfulfilled project. Each time I come to Colombia I think we are returning to the nineties. Or worst: before there was peace in times of war, now there is war in times of peace, with the assassination of social leaders in the entire territory, in addition to the assassination of former guerrillas."
- The head of Brazil's Supreme Court permitted Netflix to keep streaming a satirical film that depicts Jesus as gay, reversing a lower court ruling that sought to censor the work, reports the Associated Press. (See yesterday's briefs.) The case highlights the ongoing culture wars in Brazil. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
- In addition to deepening the country's culture wars, in his first year President Jair Bolsonaro has also implemented reforms aimed at stimulating the economy (pension reform!) and pushed the country's diplomacy far to the right, writes Scott MacDonald at Global Americans.
- The number of migrants taken into U.S. custody along its border with Mexico has continued to decrease, as it has monthly since May, but has plateaued since September, according to the latest statistics released yesterday. The number of people apprehended or deemed “inadmissible” by U.S. border authorities along the southern border fell to 40,620 last month, down 72 percent from May, reports the Washington Post.
- A Mexican asylum seeker committed suicide on on a bridge across the Rio Grande after being refused entry to the US, reports the Guardian.
- Radio presenter Fidel Ávila Gómez was found dead, the first journalist killed in Mexico in 2020. Last year, Mexico suffered the second highest number of killings, after war-torn Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. (Guardian)
- Mexico's inflation in 2019 was the lowest of the past four years, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the government would not reopen oil and gas auctions this year, reports Reuters.
- Guyanese President David Granger warned that oil profits will not last forever, and that the country's economy must be prepared to diversify beyond the expected petroleum bonanza, reports Stabroek News.
- As the new oil industry takes shape, government authorities said they hope diaspora oil and gas professionals return home to fill job openings, reports Caribbean Life News.
- The the governing Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD, Dominican Liberation Party), which has held presidential power for eighteen of the past twenty-three years in the Dominican Republic. NACLA looks at how the party has pandered to right-wing leaders, and granted them a platform for expanding right-wing ideology that has normalized "racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism at an alarming rate."
- Ecuador’s Ministry of Defense announced this week it will purchase US$3.6 million worth of non-lethal weapons and riot gear for the Armed Forces. The move comes ahead of new strikes called by various social and Indigenous groups, and raises concerns after repression of protests last year, reports Telesur.
- Argentina's new government seeks to contain inflation through a “social pact” that would encourage companies to raise production rather than prices, and Central Bank authorities promised to further cut interest rates to boost the economy, reports Bloomberg.
- Argentina's new government has a Ministry of Women, Genders and Diversity -- authorities include the country's first trans subsecretary and vocal abortion legalization activists. (Página 12)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...