Trump seeks to further slash foreign aid funding (Aug. 19, 2019)
The U.S. Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to cancel up to $4 billion in foreign aid funding -- despite bipartisan opposition to the measure, reported CNN on Saturday. The cuts would reportedly encompass $2.3 billion from USAID and $2 billion from the State Department through a process called rescission, reported Politico last week.
The timing of the move appears to aim at limiting Congress's ability to void the plan, reports Foreign Policy. Experts say the aid cuts could further harm the U.S.'s already chaotic foreign policy.
The rescission reportedly includes money to the United Nations -- including some peacekeeping funds -- funding for the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and cultural programs.
Advocacy groups warned the cuts would have "devastating" consequences for millions of people around the world. (Common Dreams)
Gender violence against women is a significant, though under-reported, factor in the Central American migration crisis, reports the New York Times. New U.S. rules seek to prevent victims of domestic violence from claiming asylum, despite evidence that femicides are a systemic phenomenon.
Guatemala's asylum system is woefully underprepared for the potential influx of migrants who would apply for protection under a new agreement with the U.S. In the past year, Guatemala has received 226 asylum claims. Of those, not a single one has been processed, reports the Washington Post.
Venezuelan outward migration could double within the next year, according to opposition leader Juan Guaidó -- he estimates there could be 8 million exiled Venezuelans next year, a quarter of the country's population. Such figures could cause economic and political earthquakes for neighbors in the region, warns Andrés Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald.
Early elections are on the table in Norway-mediated negotiations between Venezuela's legitimacy challenged Maduro government and the political opposition, reports the Washington Post. The opposition is pushing for a vote to be held within the next six to nine months, though guaranteeing free and fair elections in the context of Venezuela's crisis will be challenging. Venezuelan officials are seeking lifting of U.S. sanctions and to keep President Nicolás Maduro in office until the vote is held -- both conditions rejected by the U.S. Instead the opposition is pushing amnesty and protection from prosecution for former officials. Washington has sought to offer Maduro security guarantees should he agree to a new vote and go into exile. (See Friday's post.)
In an interview with CNN, Guaidó said elections with Maduro in power would not be "really free." (Efecto Cocuyo)
In the meantime, the Maduro administration is ratcheting up pressure on the opposition with the threat of early parliamentary elections, which would threaten the last remaining branch of government not under Maduro's control, reports AFP. (See last Monday's briefs.)
A group of Haitian opposition lawmakers formally requested a set of documents that prove President Jovenel Moïse routinely violated the constitution, reports Voice of America. They say the documents contain evidence of illegal contracts, misuse of government funds and the appointment of ineligible and corrupt officials.
Most of Mexico's gun violence is fueled by illicitly imported U.S. arms -- Newsweek.
Mexican indigenous communities are resisting international gas pipeline projects that were approved without local consultation, reports The Nation.
Bolivia's government will double spending on preventing violence against women and will give control of the funds to local authorities, reports TeleSur.
Argentina finds itself in a tricky transition period -- the general election is still two months away, but President Mauricio Macri's eventual loss is considered almost certain. Front-runner Alberto Fernández (considered a "virtual president" by many analysts) gave a long interview to Clarín, in which he spoke of leaving behind the country's intense political polarization and how the intense economic crisis impacted the vote.
Macri has the explicit goal of being the first democratically elected non-peronist president since 1928 to finish out his full term. That objective has now been adopted by the opposition and his likely successor as well, both sides seeking to stabilize the economy enough to avoid an acute crisis during the transition.
The recent primary results demonstrate former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's strategic vision -- she stepped aside in favor of Fernández in May, a conciliatory candidate who created a broad alliance against Macri, reports the Guardian.
Chile’s army allegedly ordered a surveillance operation against the investigative journalist Mauricio Weibel Barahona in 2016, when he was researching claims of misconduct in the armed forces -- the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern.
Ecuador's government is eager to boost the country's underdeveloped mining sector, but faces significant opposition from local environmentalists and indigenous communities, who fear that mining will cause irreversible environmental damage to vital waterways and agricultural lands, reports World Politics Review.
Four people died in a battle between fans of rival Honduran soccer teams Saturday evening, reports the Associated Press.
The Pan American Health Organization is warning against a deadly spike in dengue fever in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports the Miami Herald.
WhatsApp and YouTube formed a powerful feedback loop of extremism and misinformation in Brazil, reports the New York Times. Together the platforms spread conspiracy theories, campaign material and political propaganda throughout Brazil.
A proposed 4,970-mile trans-Brazil hiking trail would provide a continuous coastal corridor from the country's southern border with Uruguay to its northern frontier with French Guiana -- a Guardian photo-essay.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...