Thursday, August 5, 2021

Venezuela negotiations to start (Aug. 5, 2021)

 A new round of talks between Venezuela's government and the country's political opposition is scheduled to start next week in Mexico, mediated by Norway. The negotiations will be aimed at ending a political standoff in order for all political forces to take part in nationwide gubernatorial and mayoral elections on Nov. 21, according to Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg National Assembly leader Jorge Rodríguez and Miranda state Governor Héctor Rodríguez will negotiate on behalf of President Nicolás Maduro while the opposition will send former legislator and mayor of Baruta Gerardo Blyde along with a representative from each of the main parties.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that the talks would likely begin on August 13. It was not clear where in Mexico the talks would be held

"What we're looking for is that there's dialogue and agreements between the parties," said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the first confirmation of negotiations by a Mexican official. The country was selected because it is seen as a neutral venue, according to Bloomberg. Delegations from Russia and France will help negotiate for Maduro and the opposition led by Juan Guaido, respectively, three of the people said. Argentina and the Netherlands have also been invited, according to its sources.

Previous attempts at dialogue in 2019 in Oslo and Barbados failed to bring the sides to agreement, notes the Associated Press.

Ortega's ongoing electoral crackdown

The detention of Nicaraguan vice presidential candidate Berenice Quezada was broadly criticized nationally and internationally yesterday. She is the eighth candidate detained in a crackdown against opponents of President Daniel Ortega, who has jailed 32 critics since June. (See yesterday's post.) Analysts say the move demonstrates that Ortega has not only sought to control the November presidential election, but also the discourse and topics under debate. Quezada was accused of inciting terrorism in relation statements about 2018 anti-government protests, reports Confidencial.

Electoral authorities previously barred two opposition parties from running any candidate at all, reports Deutsche Welle.

The elections scheduled for Nov. 7  "will take place while the country is in the midst of a serious human rights crisis, which began in April 2018 and has intensified in recent months," notes Amnesty International in a statement this week. In addition to the detentions of political opponents "state agents continue to harass human rights defenders, journalists and the media. As a result, local organisations report that more human rights defenders and media workers have been forced to leave the country to protect their freedom and safety, adding to the more than 100,000 people who have already had to leave the country to protect their lives."

News Briefs

  • Latin America and the Caribbean "Indigenous communities are more vulnerable to Covid infections,” warned  Dr. Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, yesterday. She pointed to prevalent patterns among Indigenous people who work in urban centers and travel home to visit their communities, as well as "invisible barriers" to care, such as language and poverty. Yet reliable data on Covid’s impact on Indigenous people is itself in short supply, said Etienne, calling on countries to collect better information. (New York Times)
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. embargo on Cuba is "a big distraction," that impedes the multilateral action that the Cuban people so desperately need, Human Rights Watch's Juan Pappier told NPR.
  • "Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele is taking advantage of superpower competition between the United States and China to get vaccines for his country and boost his domestic image as a strong, independent national leader," write  Jeffrey Hallock and Christopher Kambhu at the AULA blog.
  • Meager pensions and a rough economy push Colombia's to risky, often illegal jobs, with potentially disastrous consequences, as occurred in the recent assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, writes Adam Isacson in a New York Times opinion piece that calls for Colombian leaders to "address the lack of opportunity that has tempted some veterans to take illegal work or leave the country to be mercenaries."
  • Two former leaders of armed groups on opposite sides of Colombia's internal conflict -- paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso and FARC commander Rodrigo Londoño, appeared together before the country’s truth commission to ask victims for forgiveness and recognize mistakes they made during the war, reports Reuters.
  • Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes approved an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro's unfounded accusations that Brazil's electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud, reports Reuters. Bolsonaro has raged against the investigation into his conduct and threatened to respond outside the limits of the constitution. (See Tuesday's post.)
  • Hundreds of Brazilian business leaders, representing large banks and companies, published a letter titled “Elections will be respected," today. The move is an apparent rebuke of President Jair Bolsonaro’s recent threats against the 2022 elections, though it does not cite the president by name, reports Reuters. (See Tuesday's post.)
  • Brazil's polarized politics has created "a bitter split within Brazil’s Catholic and Protestant communities, pitting many millions of worshipers who remain loyal to the country’s ultra-conservative leader against progressive Christians who are appalled at Bolsonaro’s claim to be a defender of their faith," reports the Guardian.
El Salvador
  • Salvadoran attorney general Rodolfo Delgado,who was put in place when the current Bukele-controlled congress deposed his predecessor in May, was an employee of Alba Petróleos in 2019, according to a report by Infobae. Alba, a company which is part of Venezuelan state oil conglomerate PDVSA being investigated for money laundering by the US and by El Salvador. (El Salvador Perspectives)

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