All-powerful Venezuelan assembly to open amid protests

All-powerful Venezuelan assembly to open amid protests

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is heading toward a showdown with his political foes, promising to seat a new constituent assembly Friday that will rewrite the country’s constitution and hold powers that override all other government branches.

Leaders of the opposition urged Venezuelans to fill the streets of the capital Friday, hoping to provide a strong showing that many people object to the assembly.

The body’s 545 delegates were expected to be installed at the legislative palace in a room ...  

Venezuelan corruption seen aiding South American illegal drug surge

Venezuelan corruption seen aiding South American illegal drug surge

Corruption in Venezuela is a key factor in the surge in cocaine production in neighboring Colombia, complicating U.S. efforts to aid Bogota as it struggles to recover from a half-century of civil war, the State Department’s point man on illegal drug trafficking told a Senate hearing Tuesday.

William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, spoke at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the state of anti-drug efforts in Colombia, where ...  

How Brazil’s most hated president clung to his job

How Brazil’s most hated president clung to his job

SAO PAULO, Brazil — His political career hung by a thread, but Brazilian President Michel Temer spent Wednesday afternoon working on a victory speech. Just a few miles away, 500 lawmakers in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies would hold a vote to decide whether to suspend his mandate for six months and approve a corruption trial in the Supreme Court.

At the end of the day, the decision was clear. By a vote of 263 to 227, Brazil’s lawmakers shrugged off the ...  

A journalist’s murder underscores growing danger in Mexico

A journalist’s murder underscores growing danger in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The absence of editor Javier Valdez Cardenas is deeply felt at the weekly newspaper he co-founded, but his presence is everywhere.

A large photo of Valdez displaying his middle finger, with the word “Justice,” hangs on the facade of the Riodoce newspaper building in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan. Two reporters in their 30s, Aaron Ibarra and Miriam Ramirez, wear T-shirts that display his smiling, bespectacled face or his trademark Panama hat. The masthead of the paper ...  

Newly jailed Venezuelan opposition leader is cut off from family, whereabouts unknown

Newly jailed Venezuelan opposition leader is cut off from family, whereabouts unknown

The lawyer for one of Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leaders, who was dragged in his pajamas from his home on Tuesday in a police raid, says that the Maduro administration has refused to tell him where his client is or allow him to speak with him.

Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of a Caracas district, was first arrested in 2015 when President Nicolas Maduro accused him of scheming – with the knowledge of the United States — to overthrow his government. ...  

Editorial: In Venezuela, the despotic Maduro has got to go

Editorial: In Venezuela, the despotic Maduro has got to go

The ongoing collapse of Venezuela’s economy, and the official demise of its democracy this past weekend, have brought the South American country to the brink of anarchy.

Those who can are fleeing the country, while President Nicolas Maduro consolidates his power and rounds up his opponents. Those who remain are preparing to fight back, and there is a growing dread that the violence that has killed more than 100 people since April is about to turn into something far worse.

The response ...  

Controversial vote to be investigated, Venezuela’s AG tells CNN

Controversial vote to be investigated, Venezuela’s AG tells CNN

Caracas, Venezuela (CNN)Venezuela’s Attorney General has initiated an investigation into potential voter fraud in Sunday’s election, following claims that the government may have inflated voter numbers significantly.

Luisa Ortega Diaz, in an interview to CNN en Español Wednesday, said that she has appointed two prosecutors to investigate the directors of the National Electoral Council “for this very scandalous act that could generate more violence in the country than what we have already experienced.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro orchestrated last weekend’s vote, which ...  

Mexico says it’s willing to talk on sensitive NAFTA issues

Mexico says it’s willing to talk on sensitive NAFTA issues

MEXICO CITY — Mexico said Wednesday it is willing to talk about tough issues in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is set to start Aug. 16.

Canada has strongly opposed a U.S. proposal to eliminate bi-national dispute resolution panels in which experts now review decisions to impose tariffs or quotas. But Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said he isn’t taking an immediate position on the panels, though he adds that Mexico wants to “modernize” the process.

“I ...  

Britain ready to impose sanctions on Venezuela

Britain ready to impose sanctions on Venezuela

The UK could impose sanctions on Venezuela, a minister hinted today, as a voting technology company that supplies the petrostate said the results of a controversial ballot held on Sunday had been tampered with.

Sir Alan Duncan, the Foreign Office minister for the Americas, said the Latin American nation was in “meltdown” and praised US financial sanctions introduced against President Maduro as “absolutely right”. He said Britain could be part of a potential global effort to impose a sanctions regime on ...  

Venezuela vote: Turnout figure ‘tampered with’

Venezuela vote: Turnout figure ‘tampered with’

Turnout numbers for Sunday’s controversial vote in Venezuela have been “tampered with”, the company that provided the voting system alleges. Venezuela’s electoral authorities said more than eight million people, or 41.5% of the electorate, had voted for a new constituent assembly.

But the CEO of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, said the actual turnout differed by at least one million. The opposition has called for a criminal investigation to be opened.

What did the voting firm have to say?

“It is with the deepest regret ...  

The world must turn back Venezuela’s growing dictatorship

The world must turn back Venezuela’s growing dictatorship

Over the weekend, Venezuela succumbed to dictatorship. It’s going to take a concerted international effort to reverse this ugly development.

On July 30, Socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro held a fraudulent and highly unpopular election. As a result, all 545 seats of a new “Constituent Assembly’ are being filled with candidates hand-picked by Maduro’s National Socialist Party (PSUV). The Constituent Assembly is empowered to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, expel members of the opposition from the current National Assembly, and consolidate all power in ...  

Brazil’s Temer seen defeating corruption charges in Congress

Brazil’s Temer seen defeating corruption charges in Congress

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Michel Temer is expected to win enough support from lawmakers on Wednesday to survive an unprecedented vote on whether he should stand trial on corruption charges.

The deeply unpopular leader is hoping to put behind him a scandal that paralyzed his administration so that he can focus on passing legislation needed to end a budget crisis and help pull Latin America’s largest economy from its worst recession.

The lower house vote will gauge how much political capital ...  

Nicolas Maduro Says he Will Radically Overhaul Venezuela’s Political System

Nicolas Maduro Says he Will Radically Overhaul Venezuela’s Political System

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Nicolas Maduro brushed off new U.S. sanctions on him and condemnation at home and abroad of the newly chosen constitutional assembly, saying the vote has given him a popular mandate to radically overall Venezuela’s political system.

Maduro said Monday evening he had no intention of deviating from his plans to rewrite the constitution and go after a string of enemies, from independent Venezuelan news channels to gunmen he claimed were sent by neighboring Colombia to disrupt ...  

Cuba reins in entrepreneurs who take free enterprise too far

Cuba reins in entrepreneurs who take free enterprise too far

A Coral Gables business consultant watched one day in June as Cuban authorities carried out chairs, tables, plates, sound systems and bottles of imported liquor from a popular private restaurant near the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

“They took everything except the drywall and loaded it into a green truck,” said Saul Cimbler, president of U.S.-Cuba Business Advisory. He happened upon the scene outside El Litoral — a stylish paladar known for its high-end cuisine and customers — just as officers from ...  

Top Venezuelan opposition leaders taken into custody amid fears of wider crackdowns

Top Venezuelan opposition leaders taken into custody amid fears of wider crackdowns

CARACAS — Masked security forces staged middle-of-night raids Tuesday to haul away two leading Venezuelan opposition leaders already under house arrest, possibly signaling an expanded crackdown on dissent after widely denounced elections to boost the authoritian government.

The moves against Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma could intensify the international fallout after Sunday’s election that created a new super congress stocked with backers of the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

The vote was decried as fraud by the opposition and prompted the Trump ...  

The Revolution Devours Venezuela

The Revolution Devours Venezuela

Venezuela is a woeful reminder that no country is so rich that it can’t be driven into the ground by revolutionary socialism. People are now literally starving — about three-quarters of the population lost weight last year — in what once was the fourth-richest country in the world on a per capita basis. A country that has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia is suffering shortages of basic supplies. Venezuela now totters on the brink of bankruptcy and civil war, ...  

Venezuela seizes opposition leaders Lopez, Ledezma from homes

Venezuela seizes opposition leaders Lopez, Ledezma from homes

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan security officials seized two opposition leaders from their homes in overnight raids, their families said on Tuesday, in what critics of President Nicolas Maduro said was further evidence that he is leading a dictatorship.

Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were both under house arrest, the former for his role in leading street protests against Maduro in 2014 and the latter on charges of plotting a coup.

Their apprehension comes a day after the United States slapped sanctions on ...  

Mexico taps member of original Nafta team to lead renegotiation

Mexico taps member of original Nafta team to lead renegotiation

Mexico has chosen a Washington, DC veteran and North American trade expert to lead the latest round of talks with US over modernising the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Mexican economy ministry appointed Kenneth Smith Ramos as the lead negotiator for Nafta talks, set to kick off August 18, reports James Frederick. The announcement was made on Monday at an entrepreneur summit in Mexico City.

Mr. Smith Ramos is currently the head of the trade and NAFTA office at the Mexican ...  

Treasury Sanctions the President of Venezuela

Treasury Sanctions the President of Venezuela

7/31/2017 Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692, which authorizes sanctions against current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela and others undermining democracy in Venezuela. These sanctions come a day after the Maduro government held elections for a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, or ANC) that aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of the democratically ...  

Brazil’s Temer Rallies Allies for Congress Vote on Graft Trial

Brazil’s Temer Rallies Allies for Congress Vote on Graft Trial

Brazil President Michel Temer is rounding up allies for this week’s lower house vote on whether he’ll stand trial, marking a shift from a previous strategy to stall the congressional decision.

Temer wants to hold the session rather sooner than later to return attention on economic bills needed to kick-start a sluggish economy, according to interviews with half a dozen legislators and presidential aides. Until recently the government was inclined to delay the vote in case the prosecutor-general decided to file ...  

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About

During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.