Seeking answers for the Venezuelan refugee crisis (Sept. 4, 2018)
Governments in the region must develop a coordinated response to the Venezuelan refugee crisis, recommends Human Rights Watch in a new report. They should consider adopting a uniform temporary protection regime to afford security and legal status to Venezuelans seeking protection.
More than than 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2014, the HRW report looks at how different countries in the region have absorbed the flow of refugees.
A two day meeting international meeting in Ecuador is set to conclude today. Representatives from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic and Ecuador are participating and are expected to announce a regional strategy. Last week Colombia, Peru and Ecuador asked for international aid to help cope with the flood of refugees overwhelming their public services. (Reuters, Bloomberg, and AFP)
In the meantime, the Venezuelan government maintains that the refugee crisis is being exaggerated to justify foreign intervention. Yesterday National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello accused Colombia of faking refugee numbers and planning military maneuvers against Venezuela. (Efecto Cocuyo) Vice President Delcy Rodríguez insisted migration flows are normal. (Efecto Cocuyo) And President Nicolás Maduro said the numbers of migrants are far lower, and that most people who left regret their decision. (Reuters)
The Venezuelan exodus is only likely to intensify -- but while Latin American countries are taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees, the U.S. has only increased the number of Venezuelans deported back to their country, criticizes Andrés Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald.
More from Venezuela
Venezuelan authorities said they arrested 131 people accused of attempting to sabotage recently implemented economic reforms. Attorney general Tarek William Saab said the arrests included "several managers of large chains" accused of "speculating and hoarding basic products" subject to price controls, reports AFP.
Venezuela will increase its heavily subsidized oil prices next month, announced Maduro. (Reuters)
The Venezuelan government's recent economic reform has failed to even "stabilize the misery" faced by the country -- lines continue for scarce goods, hyper inflation continues, and the parallel currency market is increasingly divergent from the official. "At heart, what happens is that the policies the regime needs to perpetuate itself in power do not coincide with those the economy requires to work," argues Miguel Ángel Santos in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez marked a softer stance towards Venezuela on his Latin America visit last week. Though he did not visit Venezuela, the country's crisis was a central part of the agenda on his stops in Chile, Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Colombia. Though the Venezuelan government has shown little interest in dialogue of late, the Spanish government could be uniquely positioned to further such efforts, argues Hugo Pérez Hernáiz in Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
Spain's stance contrasts with stronger U.S. and O.A.S. perspectives, notes David Smilde in the Venezuela Weekly. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio maintains that a military response is a viable response to Venezuela, and said last week "there is a strong argument that can be made that at this time Venezuela and the Maduro regime have become a threat to the region and even the United States."
Lawmaker Juan Requesens remains detained by the intelligence police (SEBIN) and incommunicado, denounced his lawyers yesterday. (Efecto Cocuyo)
The influx of thousands of Nicaraguans has caused tensions in Costa Rica. Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada is investigating whether Nicaragua's government or its supporters were responsible for inflaming anti-immigrant anger with false social media messages that incited a mob last month, reports the New York Times. (See Aug. 21's briefs.)
The U.S. is pushing the U.N. Security Council to react strongly to the Nicaraguan government's ongoing repression. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley is arguing that the crisis poses danger not only to Nicaragua, but also the region, reports McClatchy DC. And some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for Iran-style stringent sanctions against Nicaraguan officials associated with human rights violations and corruption, reports McClatchy separately.
In an interview with EFE, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega denied responsibility for more than 300 deaths associated with repression in the past four months. He characterized protests against his government as a "criminal coup" and said the U.S. and drug traffickers are funding and supporting violent groups.
Chilean Michelle Bachelet assumed leadership of the U.N.'s human rights office yesterday. (EFE)
Outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto delivered his final state of the union address yesterday. He acknowledged that he failed to bring peace to the country. In fact, security indicators have deteriorated significantly under his presidency. (Los Angles Times)
International rights groups called on Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador to conduct a proper investigation of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. (New York Times)
Inhabitants of Peru's Chaparrí ecological reserve are increasingly threatened by land invaders, reports the Guardian.
The Argentine peso continued to lose value against the dollar yesterday, as the government announced austerity measures angled at speeding up IMF emergency funding. (Guardian and New York Times) In Chaco province a 13-year-old boy was killed by police responding to a supermarket looting. (Página 12)
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will appeal his barring from October's presidential election to the United Nations and the Brazilian Supreme Court, reports AFP. (See yesterday's post.)
The vast majority of the Brazilian National Museum's treasures are believed to have been lost in a fire that devastated the 200-year-old institution on Sunday. Critics say the case is emblematic of years of austerity measures that left the museum severely underfunded and vulnerable, while protesters say it's symbolic of broader distress in a country that can't afford public services. Firefighters' efforts were hampered by lack of water in hydrants, for example. Protesters outside the site were held back by police with pepper spray, tear gas, and batons. (Guardian and New York Times)
Four bird species have become extinct in Brazil in recent years, and South American birds are increasingly threatened by deforestation. (Guardian)
Record numbers of Chinese students are studying Spanish and Portuguese in hopes of finding employment related China's expanding role in Latin America, reports the Guardian.
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