Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó arrived by surprise in Colombia today, a day ahead of an international summit organized by Colombian President Gustavo Petro aimed at fostering negotiations between Venezuela’s Maduro government and the political opposition. Formal negotiations between both sides guided by Norwegian diplomats and hosted by Mexico stalled at the end of last year. (Associated Press, El País, Bloomberg, Efecto Cocuyo)
Guaidó, who has been prohibited from leaving Venezuela by the country’s Supreme Court since 2019, said he crossed the border on foot, amid increasing threats from the government.
Guaidó led an opposition parallel government starting in 2019, when the National Assembly recognized him as interim president following the end of President Nicolás Maduro’s last internationally recognized mandate. He was removed from the post by opposition lawmakers last December, part of a push to unite a fractured opposition. The decision was also a recognition that Guaidó’s presidency was largely fictional. (See Jan. 2’s post.)
More on the Summit
Petro’s summit gained momentum after he met with U.S. President Joe Biden last week, and discussed Venezuela’s challenges among other topics, reports the Associated Press. Petro told reporters that his proposal to the White House included developing an electoral schedule, with guarantees, and the gradual lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S. with the objective that “the people decide freely without sanctions, without pressure, his own destiny.” (See Friday’s post.)
Representatives of Venezuela’s Unitary Platform coalition met Saturday with Petro and backed the summit, reports AFP.
“Petro has called for ‘more democracy [and] zero sanctions.’ But ‘more democracy’ is an understatement: The goal is to have democracy in Venezuela, period,” writes exiled Venezuelan politician David Smolansky in Americas Quarterly.
Toledo arrested in Peru
Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was extradited to Lima, yesterday, where he is accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. Toledo surrendered himself Friday, after a U.S. appeals court dismissed his last appeal, after a four year legal battle. (The Guardian)
La República reviews the Interoceánica Sur case and accusations against Toledo.
Toledo was arrested hours after arriving, and is due to remain in detention while awaiting trial in 18 months. He joins former President Alberto Fujimori, convicted of human rights violations, and former President Pedro Castillo, accused of illegally trying to dissolve Congress, both in the Barbadillo prison, reports AFP. (See also La República)
Four other former Peruvian presidents, Ollanta Humana, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Martín Vizcarra, and Castillo also face corruption investigations. Another, Alejandro García, killed himself in 2019 as police prepared to arrest him in connection to the Odebrecht case.
Toledo’s detention comes at a fraught time for Peru’s perennially tumultuous politics: Castillo’s ouster in December was followed by months of violently repressed protests, and Congress has failed to agree on a timeline for early elections, reports New York Times.
President Dina Boluarte swore in four new cabinet members yesterday, a surprise move on the same day Toledo was returned from the U.S. (Reuters, La República)
Iván Lanegra, director of Asociación Civil Transparencia criticized the government’s insufficient response to human rights violations against protesters. Massive social unrest occurred because a portion of Peruvian citizens identified with Castillo’s administration, and lashed out against political actors who took his vacancy as "a kind of triumph.” (La República)
Community mining in the Peruvian Andes, which particularly took off in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, is neither large-scale, nor artisanal. The activity “is developed within the framework of local regulations, developed by communities and/or municipalities. This regulation may not fully conform to the legal framework, but it is recognized by all stakeholders as valid,” writes Raúl Asensio in El Comercio.
Brazilian activist Alessandra Korap Munduruku is one of this year’s Goldman environmental prize winners. She organized community efforts to stop the British mining company Anglo American from encroaching on Indigenous lands in the Amazon by exposing the corporations plotting to take advantage of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s rollback of environmental and Indigenous rights protections, reports the Guardian.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said on Saturday he did not want to "please anyone" with his views about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Speaking in Lisbon, Lula said his aim was to "build a way to bring both of them (Russia and Ukraine) to the table,” reports Reuters. (See Friday’s briefs and last Thursday’s and Tuesday’s post.)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Mexico to help make the case in Latin America for his peace plan for Ukraine. Mexico's government has said it wants to remain neutral in Ukraine's war with Russia, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has criticized European arms shipments to Kyiv. But Mexico voted with the United States and other Western countries on a number of major U.N. resolutions criticizing Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, reports Reuters.
India’s foreign affairs minister is on a 10-day tour of Guyana, Panama, Colombia and Dominican Republic. (EFE)
Argentina has sought to accelerate the country’s entry into the New BRICS Bank, reports the Buenos Aires Herald.
Amy Booth on Argentina’s crazy dollar rollercoaster at Pirate Wire Services.
Uruguay cute borrowing costs last week, cutting the key rate a quarter point to 11.25, Latin America’s first inflation-targeting country to do so, reports Bloomberg.
A new IDB and UNDP report explores how to address xenophobia through a series of experiments in Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago; finding that emotional and, particularly, informational videos generally improved viewers’ attitudes towards immigrants, although Chile and Trinidad and Tobago stood out as exceptions, with little impact from the videos. — Americas Migration Brief
Narratives about migration from the Global North neglect “the experiences of people displaced within the region, ensuring we are overlooked,” writes “Laura” a Colombian refugee living in Ecuador in The New Humanitarian. — Americas Migration Brief
An intense wave of kidnapping carried out by Haiti’s criminal gangs against broad swathes of the population means that “many people who could help lead Haiti out of its crisis and then work to better the country should peace be reestablished have either left Haiti or have been killed,” writes Amy Wilentz in The Nation. “Many others have been kidnapped and are still sitting in captivity in the shantytowns and elsewhere, awaiting their fate. Because of this violent brain drain, there are fewer and fewer left to pull the country out of the churning vortex into which it is disappearing. The kidnap victims almost constitute a government in internal exile.”
Ecuador’s criminal gangs, vying for lucrative cocaine trafficking routes, have unleashed a wave of violence on the country, even as political infighting paralyzes the political system, reports the Guardian.
The Israeli magazine 7 Days published an extraordinary and exclusive interview with Tomás Zerón, the former Mexican official accused of orchestrating the cover-up of one of the country’s most infamous human rights violations. The interview “is a masterstroke of public relations. It also appears to be his strongest bid yet to rid himself of the legal troubles facing him in his home country,” according to the National Security Archive.
Mexico finally sold the country’s unwanted presidential jet — after trying for almost 4.5 years — to the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. (Associated Press)
Scientists identified a microscopic, single-cell parasite responsible for a mass die-off of long-spined sea urchins from the U.S. to the Caribbean, reports the Guardian.
This newsletter (sadly, really) keeps me up to the minute with Latin American politics and issues. Thank you for this compendium that allows me to stay in touch. Soy una panamena and naturalized American citizen living in the US.