Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Guaidó's mandate extended (Jan. 5, 2022)

Venezuelan opposition parties extended the mandate of Juan Guaidó, the person they recognize as the nation’s legitimate leader, in a vote late Monday. But the opposition delegates curbed Guaidó's powers amid criticism of his management of overseas assets and his failure to make headway in his campaign to oust the government of Nicolás Maduro. (EFE)

The changes reflect increasing disagreement among opposition parties and a power struggle among them. (Cronica Uno

Guaidó now faces restrictions on the use of money from foreign assets and greatly reducing his diplomatic corps. Many figures in the opposition saw the moves as a sign of widening divisions in the opposition that will ultimately strengthen Maduro, reports the Wall Street Journal

Guaidó will still be able to appoint ambassadors to countries that recognize him, but they will have to be approved by a commission of lawmakers. The commission will name representatives to countries and multilateral organizations that do not recognize Guaidó, reports Efecto Cocuyo. The reform also eliminates the Centro de Gobierno coordinated by Leopoldo López.

Guaidó was declared interim-president by the opposition-dominated National Assembly in 2019, and received broad international recognition. But the opposition did not participate in highly questioned 2020 legislative elections, and the National Assembly sworn in a year ago is dominated by Maduro loyalists. A faction of opposition lawmakers declared a parallel assembly, which has now extended its own mandate for another year. (Efecto Cocuyo)

While Guaidó has lost much of his initial international recognition, the U.S. ratified it's support for his leadership and that of the opposition national assembly, yesterday. (State Department) The European Union stopped calling Guaidó “interim president,” last year, and now considers him “a privileged interlocutor” for negotiations regarding Venezuela.

"Guaidó’s claim is tenuous both legally and politically. He has never won a national election, his term as legislator expired more than a year ago, and his poll numbers are as low as Maduro’s," argues Francisco Rodríguez in a call for the U.S. to change its Venezuela policy. (Just Security)

The Biden policy towards Venezuela seems to be on auto-pilot, argues Geoff Ramsey in a Washington Post op-ed a few weeks ago. There are many questions over how the U.S.'s ongoing recognition of Guaidó will advance democracy in Venezuela—or how the White House plans on advancing a political solution, he argues.

"U.S. economic sanctions toward Venezuela – which, in contrast to those of other nations, block the country’s access to export and financial markets – have played a crucial role in limiting the country’s access to foreign exchange, contributing to a collapse of 72 percent in the country’s per capita income – the equivalent of four Great Depressions and the largest contraction ever documented in Latin America," according to Rodríguez.

More Venezuela
  • In the midst of Venezuela's economic collapse, casinos—and the dollar—are king again, writes William Neuman in The Atlantic.
News Briefs

  • Latin America is shifting leftwards, fueled by indignation over economic suffering, widening inequality, fervent anti-incumbent sentiment and mismanagement of Covid-19. Elections in Colombia and Brazil seem likely to confirm the trend -- if polls are correct, the left and center-left would be in power in the six largest economies in the region by the end of the year, reports the New York Times.

  • The shift comes as the region has collectively lost faith in democracy, in part due to lasting inequalities, writes Asier Hernando Malax-Echevarría in El País. The shift towards greater state involvement faces structural challenges that will make progressive promises difficult to fulfill, he writes.

  • The Latin America Risk Report argues that the shift is part of an ongoing anti-incumbency push, rather than an ideological swing leftwards. "The polling for upcoming elections and results from recent elections underscore that Latin American voters are voting against the status quo more so than for staunch leftism. Outsider candidates on the right have made significant strides too," writes James Bosworth.
  • The United States charged Mario Antonio Palacios, a retired Colombian commando, with taking part in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti. He is the first suspect to face U.S. prosecution in the crime, reports the New York Times. (See yesterday's briefs.)

  • A criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida in November and unsealed yesterday said that Palacios gave “voluntary statements” to U.S. law enforcement officials during an October interview in Jamaica, where he was detained after fleeing Haiti. The complaint alleges that Palacios was part of a group of some 20 Colombian ex-military personnel, several Haiti-based Haitian Americans and others who participated in the plot to kill Moïse, reports the Washington Post.

  • Palacios has admitted in a media interview being in Moïse’s bedroom during the assault in which the president died, but has denied being involved in the killing, reports the Guardian.
  • Legal  lawsuits and administrative complaints filed against the U.S. government by migrants who say their children were separated from them by the Trump administration are putting the Biden administration in a bind, reports the Washington Post.
  • Twenty-five years after the end of Guatemala's thirty-six-year-long civil war, the lack of hope—resulting from an economic crisis and government inaction—is driving tens of thousands of people to migrate in search of opportunity, writes Jeff Abbott in the Progressive
  • Chilean Constitutional Convention delegates failed to select new leaders in a marathon session yesterday, convention president Elisa Loncón said voting will resume today. Delegates carried out eight rounds of voting yesterday, but no candidate obtained the 78 votes required to replace Loncón who was elected last year for a six-month period. (EFE, see Monday's briefs.)
  • Five years after Colombia's peace accord with the FARC, the country is still struggling to resolve a displacement crisis that is only worsening, reports the Washington Post. Colombia has nearly 5 million internally displaced people, that includes at least 82,846 who were forcibly displaced between January and November 2021, a 169 percent increase from the previous year.
  • More than 90 percent of Cuba's population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of the country's nationally developed vaccines, while 83 percent have been fully inoculated, reports the Guardian. Of countries with populations of over a million, only the United Arab Emirates has a stronger vaccination record.
  • Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been discharged from hospital, two days after being admitted with an intestinal obstruction, his latest health complication from a 2018 stabbing, reports Reuters. (See yesterday's briefs.)

  • São Paulo priest Júlio Lancellotti is an outspoken champion of homeless people – a cause that makes him unpopular with Brazil’s authorities, reports the Guardian.
  • Environmentalists say construction of Paraguay's Bioceanic Corridor is a nightmare, that will accelerate destruction of the Chaco – the fastest-vanishing forest on Earth – and piling deadly pressure on its native inhabitants, including some who shun the outside world, reports the Guardian.
  • Argentina’s national intelligence agency presented a judicial accusation against former Buenos Aires province officials, accusing them of leading a secret scheme to "eliminate trade unions." The claim relates to a leaked video in which former labor minister, Marcelo Villegas, who served in Maria Eugenia Vidal's government, affirmed to businessmen: "If I could have a Gestapo, a shock force to finish off all the trade unions, I’d go ahead." (Buenos Aires Times)

  • Argentine President Alberto Fernández has called on the judiciary to "investigate without delay" allegations of alleged espionage during the government of his predecessor Mauricio Macri. (Buenos Aires Times)
  • Tensions within Argentina's ruling Frente de Todos coalition eased after last year's November's midterm elections, though it is unclear how ongoing government negotiations with the International Monetary Fund could affect the detente, writes Nick Burns in Americas Quarterly.

  • Thousands of people protested yesterday along the beaches of Mar del Plata in Argentina to protest an oil exploration project off the Atlantic coast, reports AFP.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... 

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