South America

Asia-Pacific trade deal signed by 11 nations

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Eleven Asia-Pacific countries have just signed the trade pact formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tim McDonald BBC Although the US pulled out last year, the deal was salvaged by the remaining members, who signed it at a ceremony in the Chilean city of Santiago. Chilean foreign minister Heraldo Munoz said the agreement was a strong signal “against protectionist pressures, in favour of a world open to trade”. The deal covers a market of nearly 500 million people, despite the ... Read More »

Justin Trudeau’s India debacle shows the pitfalls of ‘nation branding’

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Justin Trudeau’s multiple missteps on his recent visit to India — wearing inappropriately formal dress and posing for corny photo-ops, at least once with a controversial figure — have prompted critical onlookers to suggest that self-awareness is sorely lacking from the Canadian prime minister’s “brand.” Rebecca Ogden The Conversation The ease with which we use the term “brand,” especially when speaking of political diplomacy, underscores how the discourse and practice of corporate branding has spread into previously unbranded contexts. Branding ... Read More »

Venezuela: Electoral authority rejects President Maduro’s mega-elections

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In a setback to President Nicolas Maduro, the CNE announced it would not be able to organize all the elections on one day. DW The OAS and the US have criticized the vote, set to take place in April. The National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela has ruled out the possibility of carrying out legislative, state and municipal elections, in conjunction with the scheduled presidential elections on April 22, as President Maduro had proposed. Tibisay Lucena, the president of the CNE, ... Read More »

Forced disappearances are on the rise as human rights violators cover their tracks

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It seems the global campaign to protect human rights has had an unexpected side-effect: governments are changing their preferred methods of getting rid of political opponents. Rodwan Abouharb The Conversation Fear of scrutiny has prompted governments to switch from brazenly killing their opponents to forcing them to “disappear” – leaving their fate unclear, and helping leaders avoid accountability for their actions. The majority of disappearance cases go unsolved – in the absence of a body, forensic evidence or even eyewitness ... Read More »

Hell of a Fiesta

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In the spring of 2017, and all through the year, social media feeds in Venezuela were filled with images of deprivation and despair: long lines of people hoping to purchase food; women fighting over a stick of butter; mothers who could not find milk to buy; children picking through garbage in search of something to eat; empty shelves in pharmacies and stores; hospitals without stretchers, drugs, or minimum levels of hygiene; doctors operating on a patient by the light of ... Read More »

ICC to probe alleged crimes in Philippines, Venezuela

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The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched initial probes on Feb. 7 into alleged crimes against humanity during the “war on drugs” in the Philippines and political upheaval in Venezuela. THE HAGUE Hurriyet “Since 2016, I have closely followed the situations” in both the Philippines and Venezuela, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. After “a careful, independent and impartial review… I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation.” In the Philippines, her office would ... Read More »

Justice Without Borders for Venezuela

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With Venezuela’s humanitarian catastrophe worsening by the day, governments in the region and beyond are pondering how to respond. But it may be civil society that needs to invent new ways of taking action. Ricardo Hausmann Project Syndicate TIRANA – As Venezuela’s humanitarian catastrophe worsens by the day, governments in the region and beyond ponder how to respond. It may be time for civil society to invent new ways of taking… According to estimates from MIT’s Billion Prices Project, month-on-month food ... Read More »

Portugal confronts its slave trade past

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Planned monument in Lisbon sparks debate over race and history LISBON — Over five centuries after it launched the Atlantic slave trade, Portugal is preparing to build a memorial to the millions of Africans its ships carried into bondage. Paul Ames Politico Citizens of Lisbon voted in December for the monument to be built on a quayside where slave ships once unloaded. Yet although the memorial has broad support, a divisive debate has ignited over how Portugal faces up to ... Read More »

Is Venezuela on the Brink of Economic and Social Collapse?

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For change to occur in Venezuela, it will have to come from within the ranks of its armed forces. Scott B. MacDonald The National Interest Venezuela is totally out of sync with most of Latin America and the Caribbean as it has headed in an increasingly autocratic direction politically, marked by stunningly inept economic mismanagement, reminiscent of Zimbabwe under Mugabe and the Congo under Mobuto. The problem is that as Venezuela sinks deeper into socioeconomic misery, many of its citizens ... Read More »

Jeff Flake’s 20 most damning lines about Donald Trump’s assault on the press

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(CNN) – Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake came to the Senate floor Wednesday with a simple message for Donald Trump: Stop attacking the media. Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large The speech, which Flake had previewed over the weekend, was the first of what the Arizona Republican has promised will be a series of addresses over 2018 aimed at noting the abnormalities of the Trump presidency. Critics have cast Flake as something of a sore loser — a Republican whose strong ... Read More »

Martin Luther King’s Call to ‘Give Us the Ballot’ Is As Relevant Today as It Was in 1957

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And that’s a mark of how endangered voting rights are right now Martin Luther King Jr.’s first speech at the Lincoln Memorial was not his celebrated 1963 address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. By Barbara Arnwine and John Nichols The Nation Six years earlier, when he was still a relative newcomer on the national scene, Dr. King addressed 25,000 civil-rights activists who had gathered at the memorial for the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, ... Read More »

Julian Assange granted Ecuadorian passport – reports

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WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has cryptically uploaded a picture of himself dressed in the national colors of Ecuador. The country’s media reports the whistleblower has been granted an Ecuadorian ID. RT Assange’s ID was issued on December 21, Ecuadorian outlet El Universo reports, citing “reliable sources” and providing the civil registry number to check on the government website. The document number 1729926483, upon checking on the Internal Revenue Service, is indeed registered to one Julian Paul Assange. Meanwhile, Assange uploaded a photo of himself ... Read More »

Venezuela to raise minimum wage despite economic crisis

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Venezuela is set to raise its minimum wage by 40%, in a move expected to worsen already high levels of inflation. BBC The country is suffering from an economic crisis in which shortages of food and medicine are common Venezuela’s economy has been hit by falling oil revenue and the plummeting value of the Bolivar. President Nicolas Maduro announced the wage increase in his end-of-year address. He said the move would “protect workers” from what he called an economic war ... Read More »

Thousands of Peruvians march against Fujimori pardon

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Thousands of Peruvians marched on Dec. 28 to protest the president’s recent pardoning of former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori, calling for new general elections as a graft scandal ensnares established politicians. LIMA – Reuters Hurriyet The demonstrations capped a head-spinning week in which President Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki warned about a new rise of Fujimori’s authoritarian movement, only to pardon him three days later after Fujimori’s loyalists in Congress saved him from an impeachment bid. Waving Peruvian flags and chanting “down ... Read More »

Argentina Dirty War: Killer Etchecolatz gets house arrest

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A court in Argentina has granted house arrest to an 88-year-old former police officer who was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity BBC Miguel Etchecolatz headed police investigations in Buenos Aires province from 1976 to late 1977, when Argentina was ruled by a military junta. Etchecolatz confessed to killing political opponents under military rule although he never said how many. He was also found guilty of stealing the baby of two Uruguayan militants. The court ruled that because ... Read More »

Canada expels Venezuela diplomat in tit-for-tat move

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Canada has announced it is expelling Venezuela’s ambassador to Ottawa, Wilmer Barrientos Fernández, and its charge d’affaires, Ángel Herrera. BBC Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the move was in retaliation for the expulsion of its most senior diplomat from Caracas over the weekend Venezuela had accused Canada of meddling in its internal affairs. Canada has criticised the government of President Nicolás Maduro over its human rights record. More than 120 people were killed during months of… Canada expels Venezuela… Read More »