Guaidó says Cuba could be part of the solution (Jan. 28, 2020)
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and backed Canada's efforts to work with Cuba towards a negotiated solution to Venezuela's crisis, reports El País. However Guaidó emphasized that up until now Havana has only supported Nicolás Maduro's government. (Also EFE)
Guaidó's international tour to drum up support is risky: it's not clear he will be able to return to Venezuela, note David Smilde and Dimitris Pantoulas in the last Venezuela Weekly.
Swedish oil refiner Nynas, which is owned by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA and Finland’s Neste Oil, said it planned to reorganize its business in an attempt to disentangle itself from U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela, reports Reuters.
Maduro's government has proposed selling majority shares and control of its oil industry to big international corporations, a move that would forsake decades of state monopoly, but could give the embattled administration a measure of financial relief, reports Bloomberg. (Also Business Insider)
A rum distiller launched Venezuela’s first public share offering in 11 years this week, and some optimists are hoping for an economic transition along the lines of China or the Soviet Union, reports Reuters.
Venezuelan socialism has become a bogeyman for voters around the region, who are scared that the wrong choice at the ballot box could bring their countries to the brink of destruction. But "the deeper driver of Venezuela’s implosion isn’t Maduro’s doctrinaire adherence to socialism but, rather, the country’s slide into kleptocracy," write Moisés Naím and Francisco Toro in Foreign Affairs. "To focus on Venezuela as a failure of socialism is to miss the real story: the collapse of the Venezuelan state and the takeover of its resources by a confederation of ruthless criminals from both inside and outside the country."
Venezuelan special forces captured a fugitive former Colombian senator, Aída Merlano, in Maracaibo. (BBC) Her escape from jail last October, where she was serving a 15-year sentence for vote buying was an embarrassment for Colombian authorities.
In a strange twist, Colombia's government said it will ask Guaidó's parallel government to extradite Merlano -- which means the chances of actually obtaining her return are slim, and the potential for diplomatic controversy are great, according to Semana.
Colombia's government refuses to face up to the gravity of the systematic murder of social leaders that has occurred in the wake of the FARC's cease-fire, writes Andrés Páramo Izquierdo in the Post Opinión.
More than 30,000 people have been displaced by heavy rains in south-east Brazil (states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro)that have killed 54 people and left 18 missing -- Associated Press. At least 11 people are missing from the town of Brumadinho, where residents had gathered for the first anniversary of a dam break that left up to 270 dead, reports the New York Times.
Police in Rio de Janeiro state killed an average of five people each day last year -- 1,810 people, the highest number since official records began in 1998, reports the BBC.
The former Brazilian culture minister who caused a scandal by paraphrasing Joseph Goebbels in an official announcement is part of a broader trend of extremist tactics favored by the U.S. “alt-right” who are often referenced by powerful members of President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
An abstinence campaign led by Brazil's minister of human rights, family and women was developed in close consultation with evangelical pastors, and blurs the line between state and church, according to critics. (New York Times)
In another chapter of Brazil's ongoing culture wars, one of the country’s most celebrated research institutes announced plans to host a Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan week later this year. The Rui Barbosa House Foundation, which receives government funding, will host a string of exhibitions and lectures about the rightwing 1980s icons, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Indigenous activists have vowed to sue Bolsonaro for racism, after he said “indigenous are increasingly becoming human beings just like us,” in a Facebook Live broadcast last week. (Guardian)
A new cacao agriculture project in the Yanomami indigenous territory seeks to provide an economic alternative to illegal gold mining in Brazil's largest reserve. (Guardian)
The dismantling of international anti-corruption commissions in Guatemala and Honduras has been a setback for Central American institutions, but citizens in both countries must stand firm and defend gains against impunity, argues Cespad director Gustavo Irías in a New York Times Español op-ed.
"The essential question that confronts Chile is one that many other nations are grappling with today: Can the demands of a radicalized and disaffected movement of citizens, most of whom are young, impatient and social media-savvy, be channeled and resolved by a political elite that has shown itself, until now, blind to the needs of the great majority of its populace?" asks Ariel Dorfman in a New York Times op-ed.
More than 1,300 LGBTI people were violently killed in Latin America and the Caribbean over the past five years. That's an average of 4 LGBTI people assassinated per day in the region, according to a new report by Colombia Diversa.
A Guatemalan judge dismissed war crimes charges against Juan Alecio Samayoa Cabrera, a feared former military commissioner. She then ordered Samayoa’s immediate release, even though he had been a figutive of justice for 25 years and was only brought to trial after a lengthy deportation proceeding in the United States, and ordered prosecutors to continue investigating the crimes, report Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada in the International Justice Monitor.
A retired Salvadoran general acknowledged for the first time, last week, that the armed forces were responsible for the notorious 1981 El Mozote massacre of more than 1,000 people during the country's civil war. (Reuters)
The U.S. prosecution of Genaro García Luna, formerly a top Mexican security official, exposes the façade of the war on drugs, reports The Intercept.
A caravan of Central American migrants stopped from entering Mexico by the country's National Guard has exposed the contradictions between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's rhetoric and his policies -- and the "extreme ideological promiscuity of Mexican politics," according to the Guardian. (See yesterday's briefs.)
Impunity for human rights crimes, gender violence and crimes against migrants is nearly absolute in Mexico, reports Animal Político.
A Guatemalan seven-year-old has become the longest detained child migrant in the U.S., after seven months in a controversial detention center, reports the Guardian.
MAS party candidate Luis Arce said he will return to Bolivia today in order to run for president in May, though he denounced that members of former president Evo Morales' party are victims of political persecution that casts doubt on the election's legitimacy. (EFE)
Cuba's post-Castro era is "an opportunity to finally integrate black people into Cuban society and address the deep racial and economic inequality that persists today," argues Jean François Fogel in a New York Times op-ed.
Ecuadorean authorities should restore radio station Pichincha Universal’s broadcast license and should not penalize news outlets for their political coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said last week.
Déjà vu: A vulture fund lawyer who worked with Paul Singer is building up an Argentina bondholder group that now totals about 20 funds. They could potentially veto a restructuring deal, complicating Argentina's efforts to resolve its current debt crisis, reports Bloomberg.
Two major trade agreements in the region -- United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the EU-MERCOSUR Association Agreement --have recently struck blows against the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to keep drug prices high by limiting competition from generic medications, explains Thomas Andrew O’Keefe at the Aula Blog.
The brouhaha about "American Dirt" is, in part, due to "an extraordinary convergence of forces: Industry hype meets charges of cultural appropriation meets one of the most combustible political issues in America today, immigration," reports the New York Times.
New York Times Travel takes us on a tour of Costa Rica's coffee plantations. Cheers.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing