Operation Gideon was doomed to fail (May 11, 2020)
Venezuelan authorities said they arrested 11 alleged "terrorists," yesterday, in connection with last week's failed Operation Gideon, an attempt to forcibly invade Venezuela and oust Nicolás Maduro. This brings the total captured to more than 40, reports AFP.
Venezuela's military said it seized three abandoned Colombian light combat vessels that soldiers found while patrolling the Orinoco river on Saturday, reports Reuters.
The information compiled on the initially murky episode show a reality far different to that plotters originally envisioned: an underfunded, ill fed, infiltrated and tiny fighting force doomed to fail, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The newest details on Operation Gideon published by the Washington Post show how Venezuelan police and military defectors who participated in the failed invasion attempt believed Goudreau's narrative of U.S. support, and believed they were training for a U.S. backed plan.
The entire embarrassing episode is reminiscent of Mexican film noir director Juan Orol's oeuvre, writes Alberto Barrera Tyszka in Efecto Cocuyo, but with the effect of undermining the country's already fragile institutionality, faith in politics, and international standing. "As always, there are so many versions, so many declarations, so many explanations and so many speculations that it is nearly impossible to know and understand what happened."
Whatever the reality, the episode is a "propaganda gift that keeps on giving," for Maduro, according to the Los Angeles Times. And it severely calls into question the competence of opposition leader Juan Guaidó: "A mercenary attack is an unfortunate look in a region with profound historic antipathy to outside meddling."
The U.S. plans to deport five Haitians today who say they have tested positive for Covid-19 -- despite increasing concern in the region that deportations are fueling contagion in Central America and the Caribbean. (Huffington Post)
A Haiti presidential panel charged with advising the government on how to manage the coronavirus pandemic is calling for the suspension of U.S. deportations of Haitian nationals for the time being, reports the Miami Herald.
Brazil has recorded nearly 11,000 Covid-19 deaths -- though scientists think the real toll could be 15 or even 20 times worse, given the country's inability to carry out widespread testing, reports AFP. Still the country is failing to really shut down, even as countries elsewhere are starting to reopen, reports the Washington Post. Indeed, social isolation guidelines are increasingly flouted by the population afflicted by poverty and lack of trust in authorities.
The current situation is likely just the beginning of what some analysts are positing as a "perfect storm" for Brazil, reports the Atlantic. "Just as it has in countries such as the United States, the virus is also mixing toxically with Brazil’s ugliest underlying conditions—most significantly, its status as one of the most unequal countries on the planet."
President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the threat, and took a jetski ride this weekend with a pit stop at a barbecue on a boat, reports the Guardian. This after a public outcry forced him to backtrack on plans to hold his own barbecue at the presidential palace with 1,300 guests.
This after The Lancet published a grim appraisal of Brazil's coronavirus strategy, in which it said Bolsonaro is the biggest threat to the country's ability to combat the virus and the public health crisis it has provoked. (Reuters)
Today's Latin America Advisor looks at the case for Bolsonaro's impeachment. "Bolsonaro retains a faithful support base of about one-third of the electorate—and could well mobilize enough votes in Congress to avoid his ouster. There is also justifiable fear that another impeachment trial, following the harsh pandemic disruption, could produce a period of political havoc across Brazil, which might spark some form of military intervention to restore order. Should Bolsonaro be exonerated, Brazil’s institutions would end up weaker, while he emerges to push his authoritarian agenda harder and perhaps succeed in winning re-election," warns Peter Hakim.
Defending Brazil's democracy means recognizing the dictatorial violations in its past, warns Thiago Amparo in Folha de S. Paulo.
The Guardian contrasts the cases of Brazil and Argentina in response to the coronavirus pandemic. "Argentina closed swiftly, while Brazil downplayed the crisis. The difference is reflected in their pandemic figures."
A sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Buenos Aires shantytowns has raised alarm, even as the Argentina's overall contagion rate has slowed enough to permit reopening in much of the country except for the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. (EFE)
Argentina will extend negotiations over a $65 billion debt restructuring proposal until May 22, after foreign creditors rejected an initial offer that expired last Friday, reports Reuters. Argentina is teetering on the brink of its ninth sovereign debt default.
Nicaragua's government has been adamantly unconcerned with Covid-19, but several sudden deaths in streets and new immediate burial orders are raising hackles, reports EFE.
Amnesty International voiced concern over reports that several Nicaraguan political detainees are complaining they have symptoms consistent with Covid-19.
New exceptions to Colombia's two-month coronavirus quarantine will revive between 60% and 70% of economic activity, Commerce Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo said on Friday. (Reuters)
"Across Colombia, the red flag — or scarf, or towel, or T-shirt — has come to symbolize an urgent need for assistance. It’s a cry for help." -- Washington Post.
Locked-in Latin Americans are eating more processed foods, which puts them at greater health risk, writes Soledad Barruti in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Many indigenous communities in Latin America are implementing strong measures to ensure isolation from coronavirus, which could wipe out elders and traditions, reports Reuters. Moves include barricading villages against outsiders and doling out harsh punishment to members who violate quarantine rules.
It's too soon to tell the full impact, but since appearing on the scene, MeToo swept Mexico and enabled a flood of testimonies and accusations. "We now know that speaking up is a real option, that we won’t be alone if we make public our experiences with abuse," writes Tamara De Anda in the Washington Post.
Tequila was recognized as an agricultural product in Mexico, allowing producers to duck shutdown. Demand for the spirit is soaring, reports the Financial Times.
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... And in these times of coronavirus, when we're all feeling a little isolated, feel especially free to reach out and share.Latin America Daily Briefing