Guaidó battles into National Assembly (Jan. 8, 2020)
Venezuela's dramatic legitimacy wars played out physically in the country's National Assembly building yesterday. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó pushed his way past soldiers in body armor, through tear gas thrown by security forces, to open the 2020 legislative session. When the electricity was cut, lawmakers continued by light of their cellphones. He and supporters quickly fled to the basement as armed government supporters stormed the building. (Efecto Cocuyo, Efecto Cocuyo, Washington Post)
Outside, pro-government militia members (colectivos) attacked and robbed Venezuelan and European journalists, reports the Guardian.
Guaidó's was actually the second session inaugurated yesterday, as the National Assembly head proclaimed by government loyalists earlier this week had already opened sessions before Guaidó forced his way into the building, reports the New York Times. (See also Efecto Cocuyo) Opposition lawmakers vowed to keep up the struggle to control the National Assembly, after Sunday's attempt by Nicolas Maduro to wrest control of the body. They said they would continue to force their way into the chamber on a regular basis to hold sessions, an Guaidó called on supporters to accompany him next Tuesday and for protests tomorrow. (Efecto Cocuyo)
Whatever your views on Guaidó's political talent, we can perhaps all agree that the man pulls off the besuited action hero look admirably. In images from yesterday he is hoisted on the shoulders of supporters and pushing against soldiers, while on Sunday he was attempting to scale a spiked fence around the National Assembly. (Efecto Cocuyo) A video clip of Guaidó-supporters' forced entry on social media generated comparisons with a battle sequence from “Game of Thrones,” notes the Washington Post.
Guaidó later suggested that at least some of the security forces had sided with the opposition by allowing him and other lawmakers ultimately to pass.
The opposition won a significant symbolic victory yesterday, agree most analysts. (Wall Street Journal, Efecto Cocuyo) It is an opportunity for the opposition to reunite in the midst of fragmentation, writes Luz Mely Reyes in the Post Opinión. But, alone, it is not enough to overcome the stalemate between Guaidó and Maduro, warns WOLA's Geoff Ramsey in an interview with the Guardian.
The 2019 protests in Latin America each had specific local contexts but shared methodology, writes Gustavo Gorriti in the Post Opinión. "Intense mobilization, often times tumultuous in the streets, protagonized by citizens for whom the protest was not an end in and of itself, but a vehicle for change."
Culture wars – not free markets – have been the driving force behind Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's foreign policy, according to Guilherme Casarões. (Americas Quarterly)
In fact, culture war issues in general have been the focus of Bolsonaro's first year in office, and have alienated many voters, according to Latin America Risk Report. "Instead of consolidating control over a political party and expanding it, Bolsonaro left his own party and is slowly creating a new one. Bolsonaro brings the combative nature of a populist leader without the political organizational skills that other populists of his style usually bring to the table, harming his ability to govern and placing his ability to win future elections is at risk."
Bolivia's political crisis has masked an increasingly complicated economy strained by high deficits, low reserves and an over-dependence on primary commodity exports, argues Juan Antonio Morales in Americas Quarterly.
University entrance exams to be taken by 300,000 students around Chile were disrupted in some cities on Monday by fresh protests over inequality and elitism, with some students blocking access to test sites and burning exam papers, reports Reuters.
A year into Andrés Manuel López Obrador's presidency, there "a growing sense of unease that his administration cannot deliver the changes that Mexicans so desperately need," write Humberto Beck, Carlos Bravo Regidor and Patrick Iber in Dissent.
Argentina's Fernández administration began implementing a new anti-hunger program this week -- the initiative was launched in the province of Chaco, where 66,499 food cards were distributed to poor families. (Telesur)
Puerto Rico was hit by a series of earthquakes including one of magnitude 6.4 yesterday. Governor Wanda Vázquez, declared a state of emergency and activated the national guard. (Guardian, New York Times)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...