Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Diplomatic wrangling on Venezuela at U.N. Human Rights Council (Oct. 7, 2020)

News Briefs

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council approved two similar sounding but disparate resolutions on Venezuela yesterday. One extended by two years the mandate of investigators who have documented executions, disappearances and torture in Venezuela. Venezuela opposed the resolution, which had the support of the U.S. and Lima Group countries. The other resolution was brought by Iran and Syria and will continue U.N. technical cooperation with Venezuela on human rights. (NodalReuters
  • Argentina's support of the first resolution, and decision to abstain from the vote on the second, caused a rift within the country's governing coalition. President Alberto Fernández is expected to reach out to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro to express commitment to a democratic transition in Venezuela and rejection of U.S. sanctions against the government. (Infobae)
  • The European Union decided not to send observers to Venezuela’s parliamentary elections in December. It warned today that Maduro’s decision to call them at short notice had worsened the political crisis in the country, reports Reuters.
  • Venezuela's oil sector has come to a near halt, with production reduced to a trickle by years of gross mismanagement and U.S. sanctions, reports the New York Times. And it's not clear the industry can ever fully recover, even if Maduro is ousted and sanctions are lifted. Analysts say Venezuelan oil industry is unlikely to attract the required level of investment, in an era of stagnating global demand, weak prices and growing environmental concerns.
  • Top U.S. justice department officials, including then-attorney general Jeff Sessions, were “a driving force” behind the U.S.'s ignominious 2018 child separation policy, according to a draft investigation report by the department’s inspector general. The report found that Sessions and other top law enforcement officials understood that “zero tolerance” meant that migrant families would be separated and wanted that to happen because they believed it would deter future illegal immigration, reports the New York Times.
  • The failed "war on drugs," which has engendered spreading conflicts, "is a U.S.-Mexican co-production. Mexico's normal "has come to mean a state of perpetual conflict, which accounts for a large portion of the country’s steady death toll of more than 35,000 homicides per year," writes Falko Ernst at the International Crisis Group. But the U.S. policy towards Mexico is dominated by inertia, and policy makers continue to support the militarised "war on drugs." Instead they should pivot towards solutions tailored to local realities, argues Ernst.
  • Women in Mexico are angry, and they have cause: Ten women die on average each day as a result of violence, with 1,932 victims last year alone, up 4.9% from 2018. And that's just the tip of an iceberg of widespread abuse. "Mexico’s feminists have become the one true thorn in AMLO’s side: a singular political movement that he does not seem to understand, cannot control and will be unable to suppress," writes Denise Dresser in Americas Quarterly.
  • Colombians are incensed at police violence. The recent killing of Javier Ordóñez by officers in the country's capital struck a national nerve, but it is hardly a unique case. But Bogotá-based human rights group Temblores has documented 40,481 cases of physical violence, 639 homicides and 241 cases of sexual abuse committed by the police since 2017, reports the Washington Post.
  • Bolivia's interim-president Jeanine Áñez dropped out of the presidential race last month, but has yet to endorse a candidate for October's presidential election redo. Her supporters appear to be splitting between centrist former President Carlos Mesa and right-wing Catholic civic leader Luis Fernando Camacho, according to a AS/COAS poll analysis
  • Bolivian presidential candidate Luis Arce, warned the international community that the interim-government is destabilizing the electoral process, with threats and potential militarized responses. (Telesur, Nodal)
  • Candidates held a presidential debate on Saturday, but analysts said the exchanges were lackluster and mostly entailed repetition of campaign platforms. (Reuters)
  • Brazil's government has framed it's privatization program as an environmental protection initiative, reports Bloomberg.
  • Hurricane Delta, exploded into a major, Category 4 storm in the northwest Caribbean on yesterday morning, and lessened to Category 2 this morning when it lashed Puerto Morelos in México, reports the Wall Street Journal. Hurricane rapid intensification is more likely in a warming world, and Delta is the sixth 2020 storm to experience such a leap in strength, reports the Washington Post.
  • DNA barcoding is revealing secrets of thousands of species, even as the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth gathers pace. And nowhere is more barcoded than Costa Rica, where the BioAlfa project is attempting to catalogue the biodiversity of the Guanacaste conservation area World Heritage site, report the Guardian. Alongside conservation and sustainability, sharing the benefits from genetic resources is the third and often ignored pillar of the UN convention on biological diversity which will hopefully produce the “Paris agreement for nature” in 2021, notes the piece.
Costa Rica
  • Hundreds of public sector workers marched through the capital of Costa Rica yesterday in support of the movement of road blockades that began a week ago in rejection of a proposed agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (Tico Times)
  • Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado has already announced he would withdraw a contentious austerity proposal aimed at helping the government secure a major loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following days of street protests. (Reuters)
  • IMF negotiators are not currently asking Argentina to implement austerity measures. Two negotiators who arrived yesterday in Buenos Aires for in-person, negotiations to renegotiate $44 billion Argentina owes to the international lending organization. (Bloomberg)
  • Chileans will likely approve an initiative to rewrite the country's constitution, in a referendum to be held later this month. While complicated, the process is set to change the country for the better, writes María Jaraquemada in Americas Quarterly. (See Monday's post.)
  • But the timing for the referendum is particularly problematic, and there is a real risk that Chileans will wind up with a document that promises far more than Chile's government can effectively deliver, warns Patricio Navia, also in Americas Quarterly. (See Monday's post.)
  • The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean must continue to ratchet up stimulus to beat back the devastating economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new ECLAC report. The agency said that a full recovery hinged on the region´s nations maintaining “expansionary fiscal and monetary policies,” to boost demand and stave off shocks to the exchange rates and capital flows. (Reuters)
  • Many economists say the coronavirus crisis has exposed long-standing weaknesses in Latin America: reliance on low-productivity sectors such as mining and agriculture, failure to bring more workers into formal jobs, and lack of effective tax systems to redistribute wealth concentrated among a small elite -- 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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