Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Latin America responds to Russia at UNGA (March 2, 2022)

The United Nations General Assembly is set to vote on a non-binding resolution that condemns Russia for the violence in Ukraine and demands an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.  By the end of Tuesday, 94 U.N. member countries had cosponsored the resolution.

Among the dozens of countries that decried Russia's actions in the rare emergency General Assembly meeting, Colombia called for economic sanctions, and said totalitarian regimes require strong action against them. 

Several countries, including Argentina, Suriname and Caricom countries, emphasized the defense of national sovereignty in their critiques of Russian aggression. 

Others, like Paraguay, also emphasized that the crisis demonstrates the urgent need for Security Council reform.

While most of the region is aligning against Russia, several of Putin's allies in Latin America have sought to blame the United States and NATO for stoking tensions in Ukraine. Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela, in official statements, have called for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, but have not voiced direct support for Russia's incursion, reports the New York Times.

Yesterday at the U.N. Cuba's representative said it defends international law and will unambiguously support Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace. He noted, however, that it is impossible to rigorously and honestly analyze the situation in Ukraine without considering factors that led to the use of force. 

Yesterday Ukraine’s government blasted Cuba’s support for the Russian invasion, in response to the U.N. position and the arrest of a Cuban activist who left flowers at the Ukrainian Embassy in Havana as a sign of solidarity. Cuba has blamed the United States for the current conflict and the island's state media has hidden the true extent of the attack, reports the Miami Herald.

More on Russia in the Region
  • Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro assured Russian leader Vladimir Putin of his "strong support" in a telephone call, according to a Kremlin statement. In the call initiated by Caracas, the Venezuelan leader also condemned "destabilizing actions of the United States and NATO" and spoke out against a Western campaign of "lies and disinformation," it said. (AFP)

  • Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Putin refer to their partnership as a “strategic alliance.” And as their countries become internationally sanctioned global outcasts, the two dictators have had to lean on each other more than usual in recent weeks, reports El Confidencial's Dispatch.

  • Nicaragua’s role in the current tense situation between Moscow and Washington is merely to be an instrument of “provocation” towards US power, Russian foreign policy expert Ivan Ulises Kentros told Confidencial. “Moscow has for several years seen its allies in Latin America as a mirror image of the United States presence in eastern Europe. The geographical proximity of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela to U.S. territory has given Moscow the idea that these countries can function as a platform for a confrontational policy closer to United States territory.”

  • The region's diplomatic positions won't impact the conflict itself, but "longer term, we are seeing a potential realignment in Latin America where countries like Brazil and Venezuela appear to stand on the side of Russia while countries like Chile and Paraguay stand firmly on the side of Ukraine," argues James Bosworth in the Latin America Risk Report. "Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to shake up global politics for months to come and the implications for Latin America aren’t clear at the moment."
News Briefs
  • Latin American countries again recorded the highest number of killings of human rights defenders in the world last year, according to the new annual report compiled by Front Line Defenders. Colombia, where activists are routinely targeted by armed groups, remained the most dangerous country to be a human rights defender, with 138 deaths recorded. The second deadliest country was Mexico, with 42 deaths, followed by Brazil. The report emphasized that many of these deaths could have been prevented, as they were preceded by threats and calls for protection. (Guardian)
Climate Change
  • Storms blew debris from wildfires raging in Argentina into Paraguay, creating a massive, fast-moving cloud of ash hundreds of metres tall and several kilometres wide, reports the Guardian. The colossal bank of smog enveloped Asunción late Monday. 

  • Massive fires have been raging across Argentina for almost two months. Nearly a million hectares in Corrientes have been burned, an area the size of Puerto Rico or Cyprus. Blazes continue to burn in nine of Argentina’s 23 provinces. (Guardian)
  • The U.S. Coast Guard stopped an overloaded sailboat with 179 Haitian migrants crammed on its deck off the Bahamas, on Sunday, reports the Miami Herald
  • The United States' request for extradition of former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández is bittersweet for Hondurans hoping for justice -- it could mean accountability for a leader accused of colluding with international drug cartels, but it also means justice for high-profile criminals is hard to obtain within Honduran borders, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
More Colombia
  • Colombian presidential front-runner Gustavo Petro said he’ll declare an “economic emergency” that would allow him to bypass the normal workings of congress if he wins this year’s presidential election. He said the “social catastrophe” of widespread hunger in Colombia justifies such a move. (Bloomberg)

  • Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that people should be able to have their gender registered as non-binary, rather than male or female, on official identity documents. (AFP)
  • The "Casa Gris" scandal implicating Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's son in potential corruption has taken a toll on the leader's popularity. AMLO had his worst month so far in terms of citizen support in February, with 54 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval, according to an El Financiero poll.

  • Employees at a U.S.-operated border assembly plant in Mexico's Matamoros city have overwhelmingly voted to have an independent union represent them. It is the second victory over undemocratic, old-guard unions that had long kept the country's wages at rock-bottom levels, reports the Associated Press.
  • Argentina's government will, this week, send an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to delay debt repayments to Congress for approval, President Alberto Fernández said in his inauguration of the legislative year yesterday. Fernández needs lawmakers to approve the details of the deal, with pressure rising ahead of repayments to the IMF of over $2.8 billion due mid-March. The deal will also need to be approved by the IMF's board, reports Reuters.
Costa Rica
  • Former finance minister Rodrigo Chaves is emerging as the favorite in Costa Rica's April presidential runoff, according to a new University of Costa Rica poll. Chaves, who has carved out an anti-establishment reputation, garnered support from 46.5% of voters surveyed, ahead of former Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres, with 35.9%. (Reuters)

  • Costa Rican lawmakers legalized marijuana for medical purposes and will allow its cultivation for industrial use. President Carlos Alvarado is expected to sign the bill within days, reports the BBC.

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