Venezuela: convoy attacked as lawmakers barred from assembly

Lawmakers hold session on outskirts of capital after people dressed in civilian clothes target their vehicles

Government security forces and armed motorcycle groups loyal to Nicolás Maduro have forcefully blocked opposition lawmakers from entering Venezuela’s national assembly building, prompting them to hold their session on the outskirts of the nation’s crisis-torn capital.

It was the second time this month that lawmakers have been barred from the building that houses the only branch of government that remains out of control of Maduro’s socialist government.

Armed civilians attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying Venezuelan opposition politicians to congress on Wednesday, as Maduro seeks to bar Guaido from presiding over parliament. (Video by Guaido’s press team)https://t.co/ys3T1dS0iM pic.twitter.com/ZIji0EFDFg

Related: Aid workers toil amid crisis and corruption to give Venezuelans the drugs they need

Continue reading…

Aid workers toil amid crisis and corruption to give Venezuelans the drugs they need

In Venezuela, hospitals lack the basics and medicine shortages are common, forcing humanitarian groups to pick up the slack

Feliciano Reyna masterminds a drug running network that spans Venezuela. His organisation moves substances through ports, trucks them across the country, and deliver them into customers’ hands. But he is not on any DEA watchlist.

“I am the biggest dealer in Venezuela,” says Reyna – though he is quick to qualify the remark – “If we’re talking about legal drugs.”

Related: UN urged to declare full-scale crisis in Venezuela as health system ‘collapses’

Related: Venezuela crisis takes deadly toll on buckling health system

Continue reading…

Venezuela: Maduro opponents storm parliament to reinstall Guaidó as leader

  • Juan Guaidó sworn in for second term as caretaker leader
  • Maduro attempted to seize control of parliament on Sunday

Venezuela’s increasingly byzantine political meltdown took its latest turn on Tuesday as opponents of authoritarian president Nicolás Maduro stormed the country’s parliament to reinstall Juan Guaidó as their leader.

Troops loyal to Maduro had surrounded the palm-dotted national assembly compound in Caracas in a bid to keep Guaidó and his supporters out after the president’s attempt to seize control of the parliament on Sunday.

En la unión de los venezolanos está la fuerza para salir de la dictadura.

Entramos al hemiciclo a cumplir con nuestro deber, no con la violencia, sino con la fuerza de la razón y la mayoría.

Unidos, organizados y con firmeza, es posible. #100diputados #ANLegítimaConVzla pic.twitter.com/6S1mjuE0LF

Related: Latin America’s tumultuous year turns expectations on their head

Continue reading…

Yemen heads list of countries facing worst humanitarian disasters in 2020

Venezuela also in top five as IRC’s David Miliband warns of devastating impact from war, floods, droughts and disease

Yemen has topped an annual watchlist of countries most likely to face humanitarian catastrophe in 2020, for the second year running.

Continued fighting, economic collapse and weak governance mean that more than 24 million Yemenis – about 80% of the population – will be in need of humanitarian assistance this year, according to analysis by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which found that another five years of conflict could cost $29bn (£22bn).

Continue reading…

Maduro accused of parliamentary ‘coup’ after replacing Guaidó as president of assembly

Troops blocked presidential rival from entering the parliament building in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas

Venezuela’s opposition has accused president Nicolás Maduro of masterminding an illegal parliamentary “coup” after an apparent bid to decapitate the challenge from his presidential rival Juan Guaidó by replacing him as head of the country’s opposition-controlled parliament.

Guaidó shot to international prominence last January after he was elected president of Venezuela’s national assembly and used that position to declare himself the country’s legitimate interim leader.

The moment Juan Guaidó tries to jump a fence to get inside the parliament as the PSUV’s ‘opposition’ candidate Luis Parra is illegally sworn in as president of the National Assembly pic.twitter.com/4p6lgO3qBf

Continue reading…

Latin America’s tumultuous year turns expectations on their head

2020 could bring another year of turmoil for Latin America after the dramatic events of 2019 from the Caribbean to Chile

Celso Amorim joined Brazil’s foreign service nearly six decades ago and rose all the way to its top but even he struggles to recall a Latin American year like 2019.

“Like this? Never before,” Brazil’s former foreign minister said of the tumultuous 12 months that have seen social and political upheaval rattle the region, from Buenos Aires to Bogotá.

Related: An explosion of protest, a howl of rage – but not a Latin American spring

Related: Bloody Tijuana: a week in the life of Mexico’s murderous border city

Continue reading…

Blackwater founder Erik Prince secretly met Venezuela vice-president

  • Prince had plotted using mercenary army to overthrow Maduro
  • Speculation that Prince could be back channel for White House

Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater and prominent supporter of Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez – one of Nicolás Maduro’s closest allies.

The visit, described by one source as “outreach” to Maduro’s government, came just eight months after Prince floated a plan to deploy a private army to help topple the Venezuelan leader.

Continue reading…

Josep Borrell: can EU’s new diplomat- in-chief strengthen bloc’s global standing?

The veteran Spanish socialist has a reputation for plain speaking, and a brief to build a more assertive EU

It has been called Europe’s “valley of tears”. But it isn’t in National Geographic; rather it is the monthly pilgrimage of the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers to Brussels or Luxembourg to discuss the woes of the world.

And the man who coined the phrase, Josep Borrell, a socialist veteran of Spanish politics, was not paying a compliment. He described the EU foreign affairs council as “more a valley of tears than a centre of decision-making” because “it’s where all the open sores of humanity come. They tell us their sufferings, we express our condolences and concern … but no capacity for action comes out of it and we just move on to the next one.”

China
China is Europe’s “systemic rival”, the EU executive stated earlier this year in a paper seen as a turning point in the bloc’s approach to the authoritarian superpower. Diplomats say the EU is less naive about China, and wiser to unfair competition via state subsidies or intellectual property theft. The EU is also facing calls to resume human rights sanctions on China, as further details emerge about China’s vast prison network in Xinjiang.

Ursula von der Leyen, born in 1958, is the daughter of Heidi and Ernst Albrecht, the latter having been a senior politician in the centre-right Christian Democratic Union who rose to be governor of the state of Lower Saxony.

Continue reading…

‘This is meant to be a caring country?’: refugees battle the cold in Madrid

Having fled violence in Venezuela, El Salvador and beyond, migrants are facing a fresh struggle in Spain

On Monday night, a group of newcomers to Madrid put their children to bed. In the absence of a roof, walls or mattresses, they wrapped them in blankets and tucked them into open suitcases to guard against the cold of the streets.

Had it not been for the intervention of a neighbourhood volunteer network who paid for a hostel, the two families who had fled violence in their home country of El Salvador would have spent the whole night outside the city’s overwhelmed emergency shelter coordination centre.

Related: El Salvador: a nation held hostage – a photo essay

Related: Spain’s new coalition must face up to the Catalan crisis and the rise of the far right | Pablo Iglesias

Continue reading…