Friday, August 21, 2020

U.S. to finance Guaidó payouts (Aug. 21, 2020)

News Briefs

  • The U.S. Trump administration will use frozen Venezuelan government funds to strengthen efforts to oppose Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. Though the U.S. has not allowed presidential challenger Juan Guaidó to freely access the approximately $300 in frozen funds, it is moving to provide two years of back pay to federal lawmakers whose salaries Maduro suspended in 2016. Additionally about $20 million will be used to send pandemic relief supplies to Venezuela via international health organizations, and payments to 65,000 front-line health workers, reports the Washington Post.
  • This morning there are reports that the Maduro government has blocked access to the site that would be used to pay the bonus to front-line health workers. (Infobae)
  • The United States is considering an October deadline for ending exemptions to Venezuelan sanctions that allow some companies and refiners to still receive the South American producer’s oil, reports Reuters.
  • With the December National Assembly elections looming, the question of whether the opposition should participate is increasingly fraught, reports the Venezuela Weekly. While the elections don't meet anybody's definition of "free and fair" an abstention strategy by itself is not enough, said Venezuela’s Episcopal Conference earlier this month.
  • Testimony by former Pemex head Emilio Lozoya accused three former Mexican presidents of corrupt acts, along with a laundry list of high level aides and lawmakers. The allegations against Enrique Peña Nieto, Felipe Calderón and Carlos Salinas appear in a leaked 63-page deposition that appears to be genuine. But critics say current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is using the investigation to eliminate powerful political opponents and bolster his corruption-fighting credentials, reports the Guardian.
  • AMLO's statements on the case have violated the most essential rules of due process, argue Juan Jesús Garza Onofre and Javier Martín Reyes in the Post Opinión.
  • The case against the alleged mastermind of Berta Cáceres' assassination is at a key moment, and faces concerning setbacks, warns WOLA.  Roberto David Castillo is accused of planning the environmental activists' 2016 murder, but dilatory measures have delayed the trial and are running the clock on Castillo's preventive detention.
  • The Caribbean's fight against the coronavirus has been helped by the islands' ability to seal themselves off from outsiders, but that hasn't shielded countries in the region from the pandemic's economic impact, reports the Economist. Most of the countries in the Caribbean depend on tourism, putting them at an agonizing policy crossroads.
  • Guyana's Environmental Protection Agency said it will take ExxonMobil to court over the oil giant's refusal to pay two fines related to minor spills of hydraulic fluid in recent months. Exxon said the spills had no environmental impact, and involved tiny amounts,2.5 liters in one instance. But the EPA is angling for a zero tolerance approach, reports Staebroek News.
  • The Brazilian government has not allowed Médecins Sans Frontières to provide assistance to prevent and detect suspected cases of COVID-19 in seven villages of the Terena indigenous tribe in southern Brazil, reports Reuters.
  • The ordeal of a 10-year-old girl who terminated a pregnancy resulting from rape (after years of abuse from her uncle) is sadly common in Brazil, reports Human Rights Watch: Studies estimate that every hour, 4 Brazilian girls aged up to 13 are raped. In most cases, the perpetrator is a relative. Even though they are entitled to a legal abortion, it can be nearly impossible to access one.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque insisted that the U.S. extradite notorious paramilitary warlord Salvatore Mancuso, who was convicted in Colombia of more than 1,500 murders and forced disappearances, reports the Guardian.
  • United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Diego García-Sayán emphasized that the case against former president Álvaro Uribe, currently in pretrial detention as part of an investigation into witness tampering, must be decided exclusively by Colombia's judges, not political and media influence. (El País)
  • Ecuador said that dozens of vessels from a predominantly Chinese fishing fleet that is operating near the Galapagos Islands have turned off tracking systems to prevent monitoring of their activities -- Reuters.
  • The U.S. and Panama will collaborate on a new anti-money laundering task force that will involve training for Panamanian prosecutors and regulators by personnel from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reports Reuters.
  • Across Latin America, the pandemic has not stopped social movements from demanding justice for human rights abuses, writes Diana Ramos Gutiérrez in Nacla.
  • Social infantilization is behind the ongoing popularity of Latin America's badboy leaders in Brazil, Mexico and El Salvador -- despite their negative track record during the pandemic, argues Diego Fonseca in the New York Times Español.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.


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