South America

What We Heard in Caracas

President Trump’s tough talk and actions opened the door for change in Venezuela. Now the U.S. must avoid hardline inflexibility that could close it, ending the chance of achieving internal peace through an… ICG It’s hard for the two sides in Venezuela’s political conflict to agree on virtually anything, what with dueling presidents, competing institutions, and diametrically opposed visions. But in a brief visit to Caracas this week, we found broad consensus on one point: It all depends on Donald… The Venezuelan ... Read More »

Mysterious Turkish Firm Helped Maduro Move $900 Million in Gold

Two months after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, a mysterious company called Sardes sprang into existence. Bloomberg The firm started business with a bang in January of 2018, when it imported about $41 million worth of gold from Venezuela, the first such transaction between the two countries in records that go back 50 years. The next month its volume more than doubled, with Sardes transporting almost $100 million worth to Turkey. By November, ... Read More »

Venezuela crisis explained: a tale of two presidents

Venezuela finds itself with two presidents engaged in a high-stakes game to control the country’s future. Daniel Hellinger The Conversation The country has also had two “national assemblies” and many questions about how the constitution should be applied. So, how did it find itself in this position? President Nicolás Maduro claims to be Venezuela’s constitutional president because he won the presidential election in July 2018. On January 23 2019, Juan Guaidó, one month after becoming president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, ... Read More »

Venezuela: Denial of food is a human rights crime

In early February, the Lima Group, a coalition of several Latin American countries and Canada, urged the Venezuelan military to sever ties with President Nicolás Maduro. Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann The Conversation The group called for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid and for international governments to refrain from doing business with the nation “in oil, gold and other assets.”  Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reiterated Canada’s opposition to military intervention in Venezuela to solve the crisis, as… How does ... Read More »

Is authoritarianism bad for the economy? Ask Venezuela – or Hungary or Turkey

Democracy is at risk worldwide. And the economy may be, too. Seventy-one out of the world’s 195 countries saw their democratic institutions erode in recent years, according to the 2018 year-end report by democracy watchdog Freedom House, a phenomenon known as “democratic backsliding.” Authors: The Conversation Signs of backsliding include elected leaders who expand their executive powers while weakening the legislature and judiciary, elections that have become less competitive and shrinking press freedom. When government institutions erode like this, it ... Read More »

Living inside the world’s worst economy, Venezuela

Hungry and without access to medicine, Venezuelans are suffering as a political crisis unfolds. Al Jazeera In oil-rich Venezuela, people don’t have enough to eat, infant mortality is soaring at a faster rate than in Syria, and according to the UN, some three million people have fled the country since 2015. Once Latin America’s richest nation, Venezuela and its people are suffering from the ravages of hyperinflation. On January 23, the leader of the legislature, Juan Guaido, began a push to remove ... Read More »

Mexico’s New Neutrality in the Venezuela Crisis

Bucking the U.S. and several large and influential Latin American states, Mexico has not recognised Juan Guaidó’s claim on Venezuela’s presidency, and has instead argued for negotiations to end the country’s crisis. As Crisis Group’s Senior Mexico Analyst Falko Ernst explains, this position is rooted in a new Mexican foreign policy doctrine. What is Mexico’s position on the fast-developing events in Venezuela? Mexico has declined to recognise Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela, and has adopted a… Mexico’s New ... Read More »

UN Rejects Guaido, Favors Discourse With President Maduro

Guterres reiterated his concern about the impact of the current Venezuelan crisis on the people. UN News, by teleSUR/ jf-GB The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognized, Friday, the representation of the Venezuelan Government – led by its Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza – while rejecting the interests of deputy of the National Assembly (AN), Juan Guaido, who… Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, confirmed that Guterres responded to a letter, which was sent by Juan Guaido asking the agency to send humanitarian aid to… UN Rejects Guaido… Read More »

Anti-War Democrats speak out against Donald Trump’s actions in Venezuela

At least three Democratic representatives known for their vocal anti-war positions have spoken out against President Donald Trump’s intervention in Venezuela’s political crisis. Tom O’Connor Newsweek As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro entered his second term earlier this month, the country became increasingly destabilized by protests against what has been widely seen as government mishandling of economic woes that have led to… On Wednesday, opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó declared himself president, a move recognized by the Trump administration, ... Read More »

Explained // What’s Behind Turkey’s Fervent Support for Venezuela’s Maduro

Economic and political ties between Ankara and Caracas have grown stronger, with Turkey being shipped tons of Venezuelan gold for refinement and processing. Haaretz and Reuters Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to offer support after the opposition leader declared himself interim president and won the backing of Washington and… Socialist Maduro described Juan Guaido’s move as a coup attempt. The United States, Canada and right-leaning Latin American governments recognised Guaido. Economic and political ties between Ankara and Caracas have grown stronger, ... Read More »

In Venezuela, a High-stakes Gambit

The Venezuelan National Assembly’s chairman, Juan Guaidó, has declared himself interim president, with the support of several foreign governments. Phil Gunson ICG Unless the Venezuelan military backs his move, it is unlikely to topple incumbent President Nicolás Maduro and could unleash greater repression and even outside military intervention. What is happening in Venezuela? On 23 January, amid a mass opposition demonstration that brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, opposition politician Juan Guaidó, chairman of ... Read More »

Do truth and reconciliation commissions heal divided nations?

As long as unresolved historic injustices continue to fester in the world, there will be a demand for truth commissions. Bonny Ibhawoh The Conversation Unfortunately, there is no end to the need. The goal of a truth commission — in some forms also called a truth and reconciliation commission, as it is in Canada — is to hold public hearings to establish the scale and impact of a past injustice, typically involving wide-scale human rights abuses, and make it part ... Read More »

Bogotá Bomb Shatters Peace Talks with Colombia’s Last Guerrillas

After Bogotá’s deadliest bombing since 2003, the government is likely to crack down hard on Colombia’s last guerrilla group, the ELN. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for Colombia Kyle Johnson says any new military campaign should distinguish between ELN factions and is unlikely to inflict a lasting defeat on the rebels. What happened? On 17 January, a car drove into the General Santander police academy in Bogotá and exploded, killing 21 police officers and injuring 68 more. Though the perpetrator also died, the ... Read More »

Migrant caravans are making their way to the US border — but the journey is far from easy

Imagine you’re 13 years old. You don’t want to sell drugs for a gang, so one of their thugs tries to kill you. Foreign Correspondent By Eric Campbell ABC You have no family, so you flee for your life, crossing jungles and rivers on a dangerous 4,000-kilometre journey to find safety. When you finally arrive, you face American soldiers who’ve been authorised to kill you. We spent three days with that boy. His name is Daniel and he’s one of ... Read More »

Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa flees to US

Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa has fled to the US to protest over President Nicolás Maduro’s second term in office. BBC Last year’s election “was not free and competitive”, the former Maduro loyalist told a Florida radio station. And he accused President Maduro of systematically manipulating the affairs of the Supreme Court. In response, the court said Mr Zerpa was fleeing allegations of sexual harassment. Opposition parties boycotted the 2018 vote, calling it a sham. Mr Zerpa had been ... Read More »

German government cagey on spy cooperation in Pinochet’s Chile

The German Foreign Ministry has refused to shed light on the BND’s cooperation with the CIA to aid General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime in Chile. Ben Knight DW The vague responses have outraged the German Left party. The German government has offered only cagey responses to questions about cooperation between the German secret service, the BND, and military dictatorships in Chile and Greece in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The socialist Left party’s Jan Korte submitted 68 questions to ... Read More »