Venezuela talks resume
Nov. 28, 2022
Representatives of Venezuela’s Maduro government and an opposition coalition agreed, Saturday, to ask the United Nations to manage an estimated $3 billion dollar fund to help tackle Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis. The funds belong to the Venezuelan government, but which have been frozen in foreign accounts as a response to human rights abuses and authoritarian slide in the South American country. (See Friday’s post.)
The humanitarian agreement calls for a yet-to-be-established UN trust to finance programs in the education, health, food security, flood response and electricity sectors, reports AFP.
The negotiators also agreed to continue talks next month to discuss a timetable for “free” elections in 2024 and human rights issues. Other issues on the table include the release of political prisoners and the withdrawal of decisions that bar many politicians from running for office, reports the Associated Press.
In response, the U.S. Treasury granted Chevron a license for a limited expansion of energy operations in Venezuela, on Saturday. The six month deal can be revoked by the U.S. if Venezuela does not follow through on commitments. It is “the first significant crack in a years-long U.S. embargo,” against Venezuela’s oil industry, reports the Washington Post.
The move could herald Venezuela’s reentry to the international oil market, reports the New York Times. The deal is limited, but can be expanded if Maduro grants more concessions.
The U.S. shifted its approach to Venezuela after Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine earlier this year, and sanctions in response, led to reduced global oil supplies. But a senior U.S. official rejected the notion that the license had been issued to Chevron as a result of an increase in energy prices, in a call with reporters on Saturday.
The limited license stipulates that any oil produced can only be exported to the United States. No profits from its sale can go to the Venezuelan state-owned company. “The sanctions change appears to be an agile circumvention of a main complaint of U.S. critics — the possibility that the Maduro government would benefit directly,” according to the Washington Post.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will host Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on a state visit next week — the latest in a series of diplomatic appearances by Maduro who had stayed off the international stage for years. (Bloomberg)
AMLO leads “People’s March”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led hundreds of thousands of supporters on a six hour march in Mexico City, yesterday. CDMX officials said 1.2 million people participated. The “people’s march” marked the president’s fourth year in office. It was also a response to a massive protest two weeks ago against AMLO’s proposed reform of Mexico’s electoral authority.
It was a massive show of political popularity for the president, supporters flocked to him, chanting his name and hoping to hug or just touch him as AMLO personally led the march. Critics said many participants were bused in by local politicians hoping to curry support, or are welfare recipients who fear losing social benefits. But journalists emphasized the enthusiasm of marchers.
Critics of the reform proposal say it would reduce the independence of Mexico’s electoral authority. The reform lacks support in Congress, where it is currently under debate.
(Animal Político, Associated Press, New York Times)
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo named Betssy Chávez, a close ally, to be his new prime minister, in the midst of an intense political tussle with the country’s lawmakers, reports Reuters. Former Prime Minister Anibal Torres resigned after the opposition-controlled Congress refused to hold a confidence vote last week. (Al Jazeera)
Castillo also announced yet another cabinet reshuffle on Friday. The latest changes include new leaders in six ministries including Oliverio Muñoz, appointed as energy and mining minister, reports Reuters.
Honduran President Xiomara Castro proposed a state of emergency to fight gangs, particularly focused on crimes like extortion, reports the Associated Press. Honduras hasn’t specified exactly what the state of emergency would entail, but normally such measures temporarily suspend normal rules regulating arrests and searches; sometime limits on freedom of speech and assembly are implemented as well.
In El Salvador, which has had an anti-gang related state of emergency for nine months now, activists have denounced human rights violations and illicit detentions. President Nayib Bukele announced last Wednesday that he will seal off sections of cities to search for street gang members. (Associated Press)
The director of Haiti’s National Police Academy was shot and killed at the doors of a police training facility in a gang-controlled neighborhood in the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince, reports the Associated Press.
Anti-government protesters in Bolivia called off demonstrations after a month, in which at least four people died and 177 were injured in clashes between demonstrators and government defenders. Protesters sought to force Bolivia’s government to hold a national census next year, but the Arce administration is pushing forward with plans to hold it in 2024. (AFP)
Ecuadorean police arrested seven gunmen, alleged gang members, who stormed a hospital in an attempt to kill a teen, believed to be a rival gang member, being treated there. (BBC)
Colombia's government and the National Liberation Army said Friday they would invite the United States to join their peace process, reports AFP. (See last Tuesday’s post.)
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Friday that he will host meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mexico City early next year. (Associated Press)
Barbados’ government is considering plans to make a British Conservative MP Richard Drax the first individual to pay reparations for his ancestor’s role in slavery, reports the Guardian.
Argentina is reviving a currency measure to boost soy exports and prop up central bank reserves that generated backlash from the International Monetary Fund, reports Bloomberg.
St. Lucia is implementing a holistic approach to tourism that combines both the island’s environmental wonders and Creole culture — “community tourism.” It’s a drastic shift from the island’s traditional “sea, sand and sun tourism,” reports the New York Times.
Brazilian soccer player Richarlison is being celebrated not only for his sporting prowess — scoring two goals against Serbia — but also “as a paragon of human decency, compassion and good sense after four gruelling years in which Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government divided society, wrecked the environment and mishandled a Covid outbreak that killed nearly 700,000 citizens,” reports the Guardian.