Maduro's second term denounced as illegitimate (Jan. 11, 2019)
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro assumed his second term yesterday -- blaming the U.S. for the country's woes, but also expressing a desire for "a new beginning." He also lashed out against the European Union, as well as Colombian and Brazilian leaders. (Guardian)
The inauguration marked a turning point in Venezuela's protracted crisis. (See yesterday's post.) The new administration was immediately labeled as illegitimate by the opposition-led National Assembly and the OAS. New National Assembly president Juan Guaidó said the congress was Venezuela's only remaining legitimate power, and that it would work with foreign powers towards a transitional government in Venezuela. He called for an open meeting today in the Caracas U.N. office, to discuss a transition law, reports Efecto Cocuyo. Guaidó's combative stance could rapidly escalate political tensions. Maduro has threatened to dissolve the National Assembly altogether. And Venezuela's political opposition has failed to reach consensus strategies in the past, notes the Washington Post. (See Monday's post.)
Internationally, Maduro is increasingly isolated. "If there is any light in this bleak picture, it is that Venezuela’s neighbors are edging toward more assertive action to stem a crisis that, with the massive flow of refugees, threatens to destabilize several other countries," notes a Washington Post editorial.
The OAS voted not to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro's second term -- 19 nations supporting the motion, six against and eight abstaining. Peru and Paraguay recalled their diplomats from Venezuela.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called the inauguration a sham, and said the U.S. would not recognize "the illegitimate result of a stolen election. The president of the European Parliament also called Maduro's new mandate illegitimate, and Canada's foreign minister called on the president "to immediately cede power to the democratically-elected National Assembly until new elections are held, which must include the participation of all political actors and follow the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela." (More negative reactions: Perú, Japan, Honduras, Argentina ...)
The international condemnation will make it even more difficult for Maduro to revive the country's crisis-wracked economy, reports the Wall Street Journal. But international isolation is not Maduro's main concern -- "he still has control of the institutions," WOLA's David Smilde told the Associated Press. "He has the guns. He has the money." Reuters notes that Maduro continues to enjoy the support of the armed forces, a key pillar of his power base. (See Wednesday's briefs.)
Russia accused the U.S. of undermining Venezuelan sovereignty and creating parallel structures of power in Venezuela, reports Efecto Cocuyo. And the presidents of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua were among the few foreign dignitaries to attend..
Looking forward, Maduro promised to make economic policy announcements on Monday at the National Constituent Assembly, reports Efecto Cocuyo.
Looking for a recap? Efecto Cocuyo reviews the step-by-step of the past three years of Venezuela's political crisis of legitimacy.
More from Venezuela
Venezuela is planning a seismic survey along its border with Guyana, escalating a long-term border dispute with its neighbor over oil-rich waters. The move comes as Exxon prepares to develop giant deep-water reserves off the coast of Guyana, reports Bloomberg. (See Tuesday's briefs.)
Americas Quarterly profiles Guaidó, the fresh face of Venezuela's political opposition.
Nicaraguan Supreme Court judge Rafael Solis Cerda has reportedly resigned -- the highest level government defection since Nicaragua entered a political crisis in April of last year. A letter appearing to be his, circulating on social media, accuses President Daniel Ortega and his wife Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, are dragging Nicaragua toward a civil war. The letter makes reference to the human cost of the crisis -- an estimated 325 deaths, 2,000 wounded, and 550 detainees -- and said he postponed resigning since April in hopes that the Ortega government would advance in dialogue with civil society. (Confidencial and Associated Press)
The OAS Permanent Council will meet today regarding Nicaragua. (Confidencial)
The Violeta Chamorro foundation awarded media excellency awards honoring Nicaraguan journalists who are imprisoned, in exile and Angel Gahona, killed in government repression of protests last year.
"The United States was made by its frontier. Today it is being unmade by its border," writes Greg Grandin in a poetic and history spanning piece in the Boston Review. "The horrors blend into each other, with the closing of the frontier hastening the hallucinatory collapse of historical time."
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has remained largely silent on the issue of the wall U.S. President Donald Trump is insisting on to divide the two countries. Though he was strongly opposed to it before his election, he has chosen to remain focused on domestic issues since taking office, reports the Washington Post. He maintains that development initiatives are the proper response to undocumented migration.
Ruling Morena party lawmakers passed a constitutional reform required to create a new national guard through committee hearings in the Lower House yesterday, reports Americas Quarterly. A full vote on the reform could come as soon as this weekend, though Morena and allies don't have the two-thirds needed to pass it on their own.
The National Human Rights Commission and the U.N.'s human rights commission said the proposal goes against individual human rights guarantees and is contrary to international treaties, reports Animal Político.
Mexican authorities are investigating an apparent gang turf battle in Ciudad Miguel Alemán, near the border with Texas, that killed at least 20 people. (Guardian)
The Sea Shepherd environmental group said fishermen in the Gulf of California attacked a vessel working to protect the endangered vaquita porpoise in the area. (Guardian)
"Washington is giving President Morales a pass on his efforts to evade justice," writes U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres in Americas Quarterly. (See Wednesday's post.)
Violence in Brazil's Ceará state could set a troubling precedent of gang cooperation against the government, reports InSight Crime. (See Wednesday's post.)
The Guardian reports on Sao Paulo's "digital deserts."
The Easter Island's famous moai statues may have been built close to sources of fresh water, according to new research. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...