Guaidó back in Venezuela (Feb. 12, 2020)
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó returned to his home country after a three week international tour in defiance of a Supreme Court imposed travel ban. Security officials permitted his reentry at the Simón Bolívar International Airport, where he was greeted by rival groups of supporters and opponents in the arrivals hall, reports the Washington Post. He was harassed by government supporters armed with sticks, water and stones, reports Efecto Cocuyo. National and foreign reporters covering the event were also caught in the scuffle.
Video footage posted on social media showed Guaidó being called a traitor by a state employee as he stood at passport control, reports the Wall Street Journal. She then showered him with liquid, repeatedly shouting, “Fatherland, Fatherland!”
Amid rumors of Guaidó's arrival, opposition lawmakers cancelled a scheduled parliamentary session in order to greet him. A group of the convoy -- three buses -- were stopped by security officials who closed off the high-way connecting Caracas to the airport. Many lawmakers continued on foot. The ones who reached the airport faced off against government supporters, who were abetted by security officials, according to Efecto Cocuyo.
Guaidó later spoke at a rally in the opposition stronghold neighborhood of Chacao, where he urged opposition unity to oust Nicolás Maduro. (Miami Herald)
Guaidó is unlikely to be arrested due to the potential international repercussion, argues Dimitris Pantoulas in the Washington Post. “It is in the best interest of Maduro that Guaidó remains either in Venezuela without doing much or out of the country,” he said. “But not imprisoned, because that would mean more sanctions against his government.”
Venezuela has designated its civilian militia as part of the country's military, reports Reuters. The move will vastly expand the armed forces, at least on paper.
Venezuelan doctors are seeing a rise in infant mortality rates due to malnutrition, reports the Guardian.
More than two-thirds of the migrants fleeing Central America’s northern triangle countries – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – experienced the murder, disappearance or kidnapping of a relative before their departure, according to a new Doctors Without Borders (MSF) study. The study -- once again -- showed the despair driving migrants to abandon some the hemisphere’s poorest, most violent and most corrupt countries, reports the Guardian. “In many cases, it’s clear that migration is the only possible way out. Staying put is not an option,” Sergio Martín, MSF general coordinator in Mexico.
The militarization of El Salvador's National Assembly on Sunday has been widely condemned, nationally and internationally. (See yesterday's post, and Monday's.) Thirty organizations of civil society said the moved undermined democracy in El Salvador and called on President Nayib Bukele to respect the separation of powers and comply with a Supreme Court ruling yesterday ordering him to abstain from acts that could incite violence and put at risk El Salvador's institutional stability. The signing organizations include Cristosal, Tracoda, FUNDE, Acción Ciudadana, NIMD, FUSADES and ANEP. (El Diario de Hoy)
Bukele's militarization was likely never a real coup attempt, rather a dramatic gesture, writes Roberto Valencia in the Post Opinión. But relief is mixed with anxiety he writes, noting the far-reaching effects of the "fake coup" for the country's international standing, the evidence that Bukele's advisory team is either bad or scared to contradict the president, and that both the Armed Forces and the National Civil Police (PNC) were willing to play along with Bukele, setting a dangerous precedent.
The episode has seriously tarnished the country's international image, said Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco. (El Diario de Hoy)
Business leaders said the episode will damage the country's investment potential. (La Prensa Gráfica)
Security forces were on the brink of using a locksmith to force their way into El Salvador's legislative chamber on Sunday, but ultimately were persuaded to wait for the caretaker with the keys, reports El Diario de Hoy.
It's relevant to note, that last week attorney general Raúl Melara accused several high-ranking members of El Salvador’s two major political parties of conspiracy and electoral fraud for negotiating with the country's notorious street gangs in order to swing the 2014 presidential election. (InSight Crime and also Post Opinión)
Military troops on the streets in Latin America are always reminiscent of the region's troublesome -- and not-so-distant -- past. Bukele's take-over of El Salvador's National Assembly "has fueled an outcry over the increasingly visible role of the military in Latin America’s nascent and, in some cases, fragile democracies," reports the Washington Post. While analysts doubt a return to the military dictatorships of the 60s and 70s, Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, said there remains a risk that some democracies could weaken to the point where “armed forces keep the civilians on a very short leash.”
In December, Americas Quarterly focused an entire issue on the region's militaries in the 21st century. "At a time of spreading social unrest, stagnant economies and unpopular governments, several of the region’s militaries are again assuming a more visible role in domestic security and politics." And in an era when support for democracy is at a historic low, "there are clear reasons for concern."
Colombia has put its armed forces on maximum alert following the announcement of a nationwide three-day "armed strike" by ELN guerrillas, the government said earlier this week. (AFP)
Colombian think tanks disagree on the real threat presented by the ELN -- Fundación Ideas para la Paz believes the guerrilla force is stronger than before, in terms of fighters and territorial presence. Centro de Recursos para Análisis de Conflictos, instead analyzes violent actions committed to conclude that the ELN is weaker than before. (RCN)
The number of people killed or wounded by landmines in Colombia increased by 56 percent last year -- a sign that the issue is far from resolved in the country, reports InSight Crime.
Aerial fumigation of coca with glyphosate has been judicially banned in Colombia since 2015. But this week the Colombian government said it planned to eradicate 130,000 hectares of coca this year, using techniques that will possibly include the spraying of herbicides from aircraft. (See yesterday's briefs.) But even with new protections in place aimed at curbing excesses, "aerial herbicide spraying is a counter-drug strategy that carries few benefits—none of them long-lasting—and several serious risks and harms," explains WOLA's Adam Isacson.
Honduran authorities arrested the head of the national police, Leonel Luciano Sauceda, accusing him and his wife of money laundering, reports the Associated Press.
The Brazilian federal prosecutor's office filed a lawsuit seeking to suspend the appointment of a former missionary as head of the government's indigenous affairs office, reports the Associated Press. (See last Thursday's post.)
Mexico's ruling party has scaled back a planned judicial reform that had raised alarm among human rights experts, reports Reuters. (See briefs for Jan. 31 and Jan. 29.) It was not immediately clear if the new proposal will still include new rules on wire taps that would allow private communications to be used as evidence and limits to legal challenges that can lead to extradition delays.
Anti-Morales protesters feel let-down by anti-MAS party politicians who have failed to gather behind a single candidate for the upcoming May elections. The fractured political scene favors the candidate of Morales' MAS party, reports AFP.
Trinidad and Tobago is among the top carbon dioxide producers per head in the world, according to the World Bank’s Global Carbon Project 2019. (Trinidad and Tobago Guardian)
The 1980 Chilean constitution passed under the Pinochet dictatorship aimed to perpetuate the authoritarian government's political and economic domination, according to María Olivia Mönckeberg in an interview with Página 12. The academic helped form part of the Partido Dignidad, which will participate in the upcoming April plebiscite on whether to rewrite the national charter.
Chile's drastic anti-obesity measures cut sugary drink sales by 23 percent, a significant success in a country that consumed more sugary drinks per head than any other country in the world when the ban came into effect in 2016. (Guardian)
Latin America has long been the U.S.'s backyard -- and China is angling to compete. But it would be better for the region to take its destiny into its own hands, particularly in the defense of democracy, Latin America's greatest achievement in the past 40 years, writes Gaspard Estrada in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...