South America

Venezuela crisis: Farmers struggle as people go hungry

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The state of Portuguesa is Venezuela’s breadbasket – full of crops like rice, beans, soya and sunflowers. Katy Watson BBC It is also where Venezuela’s staple corn is grown – the raw material for much-loved corn patties or arepas. Imposing metal silos stand tall on the horizon. At a time when people in the country are going hungry, Portuguesa is a strategic part of the economy. But the breadbasket is looking a bit emptier these days. Ronald Lakra and his family ... Read More »

Socialism is still popular in U.S. despite the Venezuelan

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It’s a puzzle. Over the last decade, Venezuela has supplanted Cuba as the Shangri-La of the American left. Not long ago, self-declared socialist Sen. Jonah Goldberg Tribune Content Agency Chicago Tribune Bernie Sanders insisted that the American dream was more achievable in the Bolivarian Republic than in America. A string of Hollywood luminaries made the pilgrimage to visit the socialist mecca to say ponderous and stupid things. Today, the praise is more muted because events have illuminated that stupidity. The ... Read More »

China’s ‘Period of Strategic Opportunity’ in Mexico

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Beijing is looking to cash in on Trump’s rhetoric against Mexico and NAFTA As the Trump administration contemplates border wall prototypes and dissolving the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), China is taking a decidedly different approach to relations with Mexico. Margaret Myers Ricardo Barrios In recent months, Beijing has launched an unprecedented charm offensive south of the Rio Grande. The National Interest In addition to a series of new investments, and renewed talk of a bilateral trade pact, ... Read More »

Venezuela: Hunger by Default

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Economic mismanagement, corruption and dwindling reserves have forced Venezuela into penury and now into missed payments and partial default on its debts ICG Full-scale, internationally supervised negotiations involving a restored parliament are essential to pave the way to a debt restructuring and a free, fair presidential election. What happened?  On 14 November, credit ratings agencies declared Venezuela in partial default on its foreign debt, after the country failed to meet a $200 million payment to bondholders. Why did it happen?  Economic mismanagement ... Read More »

‘A way of healing’: Art and memory in Latin America

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More than 20 years have passed since the civil war ended in Guatemala and Chile returned to democracy, but the impact of extreme state violence is still keenly felt. BBC As part of a BBC radio series on protest art in Latin America, Louise Morris travelled to both countries and asked if there was a role for art both to demand justice and collectively memorialise those lost. A woman sits centre stage reading aloud. At regular intervals a dentist enters ... Read More »

Ex-Argentine Vice President detained on laundering charge

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Former Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou has been detained on charges of illicit enrichment and money laundering, joining other members of the administration of former President Cristina Fernandez who are under arrest. BUENOS AIRES – The Associated Press Hurriyet Boudou also served as economy minister during the 2007-2015 administration of Fernandez. A woman who works in the court of federal Judge Ariel Lijo says Boudou was detained in his Buenos Aires apartment Friday by coast guards and will be brought ... Read More »

Peru legalises medical marijuana in move spurred by mother’s home lab

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Proposal to decriminalise the drug came after police raided a makeshift laboratory where a group of women made cannabis oil for their sick children Dan Collyns The Guardian Lawmakers in Peru have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill to legalise medical marijuana, allowing cannabis oil to be locally produced, imported and sold. With a vote of 68-5, Peru’s Congress approved the bill which will be written into law in 60 days, once regulations for producing and selling cannabis have ... Read More »

Colombia’s Armed Groups Battle for the Spoils of Peace

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Colombia’s 2016 peace accord has brought over 10,000 FARC fighters to the cusp of civilian life, but in their wake rival armed groups are battling for control of vacated territory and lucrative coca crops. ICG In order to roll back booming drug production and expanding non-state groups, the Colombian government should provide local farmers with alternative livelihoods while developing grassroots security and local governance. Executive Summary The peace process with Colombia’s largest and longest standing guerrilla group has defied its ... Read More »

The Twists and Turns along China’s Belt and Road

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China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative could potentially transform relations with over 60 countries across Eurasia, Africa and beyond But to bring the concept to fruition, Beijing must overcome mammoth logistical obstacles, navigate fragile political situations and placate growing regional apprehension surrounding its ambitions. Michael Kovrig  ICG “The project of the century” is how Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi touted the Belt and Road Initiative to the world when addressing the UN General Assembly on 21 September. It was only ... Read More »

Colombia’s FARC rebels reborn as legal party

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Colombia’s FARC former guerrilla group has re-launched itself as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, sealing its transformation into a leftist political party following its disarmament after a half-century civil conflict. Hurriyet The name controversially retains the same acronym and the revolutionary spirit of the communist guerrilla group, which fought a bloody 52-year campaign against the state before signing a peace deal last year. The party was set to hold a formal launch ceremony on Sept. 1 on Bolivar Square, near ... Read More »

Final Curtain for Venezuela’s Democracy as Parliament is Dissolved

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The Venezuelan government has dissolved the elected, opposition-led parliament and initiated de facto rule. Foreign governments and multilateral organisations should regard all government actions carried out in contravention of the 1999 constitution as invalid and press the government to take urgent steps toward the restoration of democracy. ICG On 19 August, Venezuela’s self-styled Constituent Assembly, installed two weeks earlier by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, announced that it was taking over the functions of the country’s opposition-led parliament, elected ... Read More »

Will China be a Factor in the Upcoming NAFTA Negotiations?

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Beijing is incentivizing Mexico City and others in Latin American to rethink their traditional trading relationships. Bill Bray Miyako Yerick The National Interest The first round of NAFTA renegotiations is set to take place in Washington, DC August 16–20 and one of the primary U.S. objectives is reducing its $63 billion trade deficit with Mexico. Mexico is in a position to drive a harder bargain than many would think, however. Unlike thirty years ago, Mexico today can leverage China’s growing foreign direct ... Read More »

Venezuela’s Last Flickers of Democracy

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Venezuela’s political crisis took another fateful turn on Sunday 30 July with the rigged election of an all-powerful assembly mandated to rewrite the constitution. Phil Gunson ICG In this Q&A, Senior Analyst for the Andes Phil Gunson says Sunday’s vote represents the end of what little democratic space still existed and takes the country on the path to dictatorship. Can you explain what Sunday’s vote was about? On Sunday, the chavista government led by President Nicolás Maduro held a one-sided “election” to ... Read More »

Why Can’t the U.S. Left Get Venezuela Right?

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As Venezuela’s fascist-minded oligarchy conspires with U.S. imperialism to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro, few in the… Shamus Cooke CounterPunch Instead of denouncing rightwing violence that aims at regime change, many on the U.S. left have stayed silent, or opted to give an evenhanded analysis that supports neither the Maduro government nor the oligarchy trying to… Rather, the left prioritizes its energy on lecturing on… Why Can’t the… Read More »

Saudi-Venezuelan ties to reach new heights: Envoy

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RIYADH: Bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are set to take a leap forward with the holding of a Joint Committee Meeting in Riyadh at the end of this year, according to Joseba Achutegui, the Venezuelan ambassador to the… MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN Arab News The envoy was speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, on the 206th anniversary of his country’s independence. Achutegui said that the… Saudi-Venezuelan ties… Read More »

Colombia’s FARC Ends its 53-year Insurgency

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With the official disarming of its main rebel organisation, Colombia has passed a remarkable new milestone in its peace process. ICG But major challenges remain: the destruction of remote arms dumps, reintegration of ex-combatants, and progress towards peace with other armed groups. The International Crisis Group celebrates the most significant achievement of the Colombian peace process to date: the… Colombia’s FARC Ends… Read More »