The Trump administration labeled President Nicolas Maduro a “dictator” and imposed financial sanctions after a controversial election gave his government sweeping new powers to rewrite the constitution. At least two opposition leaders have been arrested by the security services.
Over 100 people have been killed in protests over the past four months and the economy is in crisis, with inflation running in excess of 700%. Despite the enormous oil reserves, there are reports of malnourishment with shortages of food and medicines.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated their travel advice for the country:
The lower house of Congress rejected a motion to suspend the president, Michel Temer, amidst accusations of corruption after a close aide was given $150,000 in cash, allegedly part of $12m in bribes he and the aide were due to receive after intervening in a business deal. Temer took over from the ousted president Dilma Rousseff just before the 2016 Rio Olympics. His uneasy administration appears set to survive until presidential elections in 2018 although the smell of corruption that hangs over Brazil’s political leaders will continue to linger.
Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is currently in Argentina at the head of a British Trade Mission. He is the first cabinet minister to visit the country in 16 years. Inevitably the thorny issue of the Falkland Islands will come up.
In the meantime, Argentina’s foreign ministry is transferring digital copies of nearly 40,000 documents about World War II and the Holocaust to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. The set comprises a total of 38,779 documents and includes letters, telegrams, newspaper articles, notes and reports compiled between 1939 and 1950.
More than 100,000 Jewish immigrants settled in Argentina legally between 1918 and 1943, with an additional 20,000 estimated to have arrived illegally during the first decade of the Nazi regime. After the war at least 4,800 Holocaust survivors later made the country their home. But Argentina is also notorious for becoming a refuge for Nazi war criminals, including Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents in 1960, put on trial in Israel and hanged. Mengele drowned in 1979.
Bolivia is set to become a member of Mercosur – the South American Common Market. President Evo Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week. Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent. The figures speak for themselves: those living in poverty have come down from 60% to less than 40%, and levels of illiteracy have come down from 13% to 3%. The minimum wage has quadrupled and the economy has grown by an average of 5% annually.
A forensic team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working to identify Argentine soldiers buried in Darwin cemetery. By 15 July sixty bodies had been exhumed, analysed, sampled, documented and reburied in their original graves. Each body was placed in a new coffin and reburied on the same day that it was exhumed, with full consideration for the dignity of the dead. The information provided so far by the families of the soldiers (i.e. ante-mortem data) who agreed to participate in this process is proving to be very useful in the forensic identification efforts.
The forensic operation is being conducted in accordance with international scientific standards, following several months of preparation and the signing of an agreement between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom. It is expected to continue as planned until August with samples being sent to Cordoba for genetic analysis. The results of the genetic testing should become available in the coming months and the identification reports will be finalized by the end of the year.
Marijuana is now legal in Uruguay and on sale in pharmacies to residents. The drug is now being grown and regulated by the government and some of the profits from sales will go to fund addition treatment.
Further reading: Latin America News 3 Aug 2017
Please open the link for a round-up of news from Mexico, Central and South America in a brief snapshot of what is happening throughout Latin America.