Support for Guaidó crumbling (Dec. 6, 2021)
The opposition to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro faces a major schism: Julio Borges, a leading figure in the coalition, called for an end to the leadership of Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and dozens of allies have backed as Venezuela’s legitimate president since January 2019, reports the Wall Street Journal. “The notion of the interim government has to disappear,” said Mr. Borges in a virtual news conference from his exile in Bogotá, Colombia, adding that he is resigning as Mr. Guaidó’s chief foreign diplomat. “We can’t continue with this bureaucracy.”
Maduro named former foreign minister Jorge Arreaza as his party’s candidate for a special gubernatorial election in Barinas, which was scheduled after the opposition contender in November’s regular contest was retroactively disqualified, reports the Associated Press. (See last Wednesday's briefs.)
Venezuela’s government – subject to sanctions by the United States and others – is increasingly paying providers in U.S. dollars as it seeks to reduce spending in its bolivar currency to control inflation, reports Reuters.
A dissident former leader of Colombia's Farc rebels has been killed in an ambush in Venezuela. Hernán Darío Velásquez, nicknamed El Paisa, was reportedly shot dead in Venezuela's Apure state, reports the BBC. Local media have speculated that mercenaries may have killed Velásquez, seeking rewards for his capture.
The U.S. must act to isolate Iran and Venezuela from each other to avoid Venezuela becoming "a forward operating base in the Western Hemisphere for Iranian forces to undermine U.S. national security," argues Jeb Bush in a Miami Herald opinion piece.
Barbados' passage to a republic this week could be a tipping point in the Caribbean argues the Guardian in an editorial. "For much of the world, decolonisation is not an argument but simply a fact – a work begun several decades ago, and now re-embraced with greater vigour in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement." (See last Thursday's Just Caribbean Updates.)
Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley ushered the country into a new phase, and has broad ambitions for the Caribbean region, reports the Guardian separately. One of Mottley’s early acts was to reinstate free tertiary education at the country’s premier University of the West Indies campus, an indicator of "the kind of mental transformation Mottley is eager to accelerate across the Caribbean."
Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro plans to ask the U.N. for help in fighting corruption, and will urge Congress to repeal so-called "impunity" laws, she told AFP. An OAS backed anti-corruption mission to Honduras left in 2020 after a disagreement with the current Hernández administration over renewing its mandate.
While campaigning Castro promised the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras - MACCIH), reports InSight Crime.
Honduras' last presidential elections were marred by fraud, last month's were helped by citizen observers who forced vote counters to hold up every ballot for inspection by the crowd, which protested any miscounted vote, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
The U.S. government is fighting in court to preserve a public health rule that uses the coronavirus pandemic to justify quickly turning back migrant families at the border with Mexico. But immigration and human rights advocates say "Title 42" is being used improperly as an enforcement tool, forcing migrants to return to dangerous situations, reports the New York Times. (See last Friday's post.)
The Brazilian Supreme Court has ordered a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro for claiming that COVID-19 vaccines may increase the chances of contracting AIDS, reports Al Jazeera.
Much of Brazil’s vast northeast is, in effect, turning into a desert. The slow-motion natural disaster process of desertification is pushed by climate change, but also short-term decisions residents made in order to survive — like clearing trees for livestock and extracting clay for the region’s tile industry — that have carried long-term consequences, reports the New York Times.
InSight Crime examines four recent environmental crises in Brazil, each showcasing a different side of the disaster in the Amazon that further prove that Brazil's environmental promises, and its actions, are far apart.
Rio de Janeiro's "dirty feet" bars are back: "a cross between a dive bar and a greasy spoon, where the grit and grime are part of the charm," reports the New York Times.
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the country had acquired an additional 150 bitcoins after the digital currency’s value slumped again, enlarging his bet on the cryptocurrency despite criticism, reports Reuters.
An InSight Crime investigation looks into a contentious deal between a major pharmaceutical firm and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute. Prosecutors said the IGSS greenlit the agreement despite the firm’s lack of experience and infrastructure. Afterwards dozens of patients with kidney disease died and scores of others were infected. The case eventually reached the country’s highest courts where the elites implicated in the IGSS case had bought what some said was an insurance policy to make sure they would never be prosecuted.
The case of a soldier found driving a stolen car in Port-au-Prince, and his rapid release while a police investigation into a possible stolen car ring was ongoing, stands in sharp contrast to how most Haitians are treated and has raised suspicions of influence peddling given the soldier's stature, reports the Miami Herald. Police are also accusing the justice system of undermining their efforts to tackle Haiti’s raging insecurity.
Argentina is edging closer to a deal with the IMF, despite gaps between the two sides over how to fund fiscal consolidation. But the Fernández administration faces an uphill battle to convince Argentines who fear the impact of a deal on public spending and the government could take a political hit from any austerity ahead of presidential elections in 2023, reports Reuters. The government instead wants to improve tax collection and find funds from other lenders. The government is aiming to push a multi-year economic plan to Congress this month with the IMF’s blessing.
Tuft warfare between drug gangs in Argentina's Rosario has pushed criminal violence out of control, reports InSight Crime.
Cartel violence is expanding on Mexico's Mayan Riviera, and has put the country’s tourism industry on edge, reports the Guardian.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum is an early favorite to succeed President Andres Manuel López Obrador. Analysts contrast the environmental scientist's reputation for innovative problem solving with her ardent support for some of AMLO's more controversial policies. "Despite her ideological alignment with López Obrador’s political project, some observers believe a Sheinbaum presidency would look more like her technocratic, data-driven city administration," writes Benjamin Russell in Americas Quarterly.
AMLO is pushing a mid-mandate referendum, asking citizens to vote on whether he should leave the presidency early. With high approval ratings, there is little chance he would be ousted if the vote occurs, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo faces an impeachment vote in Congress this week: opponents seek to oust him on the grounds of ‘moral incapacity’ and cronyism, allegations he has strongly rejected. He accuses right-wing parties and “economic interest groups” of looking to push him out of office, reports Reuters.
Ecuador's women’s rights organizations are fighting for a “fair and restorative law” that guarantees safe and legal access to abortions for victims of rape, in hopes that it will be approved by the National Assembly before the end of the year, reports EFE.
Colombian authorities seized more than 230 tarantula spiders, dozens of cockroaches and a scorpion that were going to be illegally taken out of the country by two foreigners traveling to Germany, reports the Washington Post.
A Colombian mother and daughter’s celebration of envueltos, leaf-wrapped dishes that form part of a Latin American culinary heritage, has been named best cookbook in the world at the Gourmand awards in Paris. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...
Latin America Daily Briefing