Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Venezuela to hold legislative elections in Dec (July 1, 2020)

Venezuela's electoral authority announced legislative elections to be held in December. The vote will renew the National Assembly, currently the only opposition-dominated government institution in Venezuela. The main opposition parties led by Juan Guaidó has already said they will not participate in any "electoral farce" mounted by Nicolás Maduro's government. (AFP)

Indira Alfonzo, who was named chief of the National Electoral Council (CNE) by the Maduro-friendly Supreme Court earlier this month, also said seats in the National Assembly will increase from 167 to 277, reports Al Jazeera. Alfonzo said 87 political organizations have been approved to participate in the electoral process: 28 on a national level, 52 regional parties, and six representing indigenous groups, reports Efecto Cocuyo

The elections were constitutionally mandated for this year, but represent yet another complication in Venezuela's protracted political crisis as the political opposition must decide whether to compete in elections that will be rife with irregularities, or whether to boycott and lose control of the legislature. A further issue is that opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as the country's interim leader by 60 countries, derives his claim from his position as head of the National Assembly. (See last Thursday's briefs, and last Wednesday's briefs.)

Supreme Court decisions in June undermined negotiations with the political opposition aimed at creating a trustworthy electoral process -- judges appointed new electoral authorities and intervened in the main opposition parties. (See Venezuela Weekly for June 17.)


Guatemala restricts deportations

Guatemala's government has capped the number of deportees the U.S. can send per week, amid ongoing concerns over coronavirus contagion. Guatemalan officials said they implemented a restriction of two weekly flights with 50 passengers each three weeks ago. Guatemalan officials said the move responds to the fact that detainees have continued testing positive once arriving in Guatemala despite having U.S. documentation showing they had tested negative for COVID-19.

The new measures are in stark contrast to how many deportees the country was accepting monthly before the pandemic, which was about 4,000, notes the Miami Herald. And the restrictions have created an overwhelming backlog of Guatemalan nationals stuck in ICE detention who are waiting to be deported.

News Briefs

More Migration
  • Three asylum seekers have tested positive for coronavirus in Mexico's Matamoros camp, where an estimated 2,000 migrants live in tents on the banks of the Rio Grande river. For month advocates have been sounding the alarm about the disproportionate pandemic risks faced by under-resourced migrant encampments and shelters, reports the Guardian.
  • The new North America trade deal takes effect today. But the jailing of Mexican labor lawyer and independent union leader Susana Prieto highlights concerns over how Mexico will meet the labor rights provisions reports Reuters.
  • Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said yesterday that prosecutors had requested 46 arrest warrants for municipal officials in the state in relation to the 43 students who disappeared in the country's Guerrero state in 2014. (Associated Press)
  • Brazil's Bolsonaro administration has used the COVID-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to undo environmental regulations and undermine the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and traditional Afro-Brazilian communities in the Amazon, according to Elielson Pereira da Silva and Diana Cordoba in the Conversation.
  • Brazilian labor groups slammed the country's safety guidelines for working during the pandemic, saying they amounted  to criminal disregard for workers' and public health, reports Reuters.
  • It is time for Venezuela's opposition and its international supporters to recognise that a different approach is required, writes Michael Penfold in the Financial Times. "What is clear is that US policy has failed to produce regime change. The international isolation it has fostered has, meanwhile, led the regime to cement relationships with authoritarian states such as Iran, Turkey and Russia. It has also pushed the Maduro government to deepen links with illegal organisations that help supplant the oil revenues lost since the country’s energy sector collapsed. An alternative way forward is to resume the so-called Oslo process that seeks a negotiated democratic settlement."
  • Colombian soldiers were accused of raping a 15-year-old indigenous girl -- the second such case to come to light in recent days. (See Friday's briefs.) Protesters ignored the country’s lockdown to demonstrate outside military barracks in Bogotá, while many took to social media to express outrage, reports the Guardian.
  • These are just the latest in a long list of recent human rights violations attributed to Colombia's armed forces. "Yet the United States is only deepening its relationship with the Colombian military," writes Thomas Power in Nacla.
  • The Caribbean economy is expected to contract by 3 percent in 2020 (excluding Guyana), according to the World Bank. As the region reopens to international travelers, it faces not just the challenge of the pandemic, but the financial blow dealt by the absence of cruising and the onset of hurricane season, reports the New York Times.
  • Racial justice -- particularly reparations -- are increasingly on the agenda. There is no more clear-cut case for reparations than that of Haiti, according to Marlene Daut in the Conversation.
  • Ecuador has faded from the headlines ever since the Guayaquil Covid-19 crisis receded -- but the rest of the country remains in a dire situation, both due to the pandemic and the economic situation, writes Roque Sevilla in Americas Quarterly.
  • Health brigades in Guayaquil's hardest hit neighborhoods were key to turning around the pandemic situation in the city, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Two major Argentine creditor groups said yesterday that there had been "no meaningful engagement" with the country's government since mid-June, reports Reuters.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.



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