Venezuela

YAMIL LAGE / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Cuban government announced economic measures this week to seek dollars in a bid to stay afloat in the midst of an acute financial crisis triggered by its dependence on Venezuelan oil and new U.S. sanctions.

On Tuesday, Cuban Vice President Salvador Mesa and several ministers announced on television that the government was going to lower the prices of household appliances and other items on the condition that Cubans pay in dollars.

The move is an attempt to obtain a larger percentage of remittances sent from abroad.

AP

Washington on Tuesday pledged an additional $98 million in aid to Venezuela, saying the funds will be used to support civil society, human rights organizations and independent media.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed what it called a “historic bilateral agreement” with representatives of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó administration.

The Trump Administration recently issued new economic sanctions that bar U.S. companies from doing business with the regime in Venezuela. But one major U.S. tech firm may be taking that prohibition too far.

Matias J. Ocner

Colombian president Iván Duque will speak Saturday morning at Florida International University’s Wertheim Theater.

The speech comes on the heels of Duque’s escalating condemnation of the Venezuelan regime.

At the U.N. General Assembly this week, the U.S. and Latin American countries denounced Venezuela for aiding criminal groups in Colombia.

MORGAN K. NALL / U.S. NAVY PHOTO

If a day comes when the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro collapses into chaos, the U.S. humanitarian aid agency has a plan to step into the breach.

USAID Administrator Mark Green told McClatchy in an interview on Wednesday that the agency has been “scenario planning” for Maduro’s departure, researching the logistical challenges that will face its teams in a devastated country twice the size of California.

Rafael Urdaneta Rojas / AP

Are Venezuela and Colombia headed for war? Believe it or not, that's the big worry in South America right now.

Susan Walsh / AP

COMMENTARY

When he was Undersecretary of State in the early 2000s, John Bolton insisted communist Cuba had an “offensive biological warfare research and development” program.

Cuba did have an advanced genetic engineering, biotech and vaccine complex. And Cuba was still ruled by Fidel Castro, a despot capable of such nefarious doings. Still, there was no evidence, and none ever surfaced, that cash-strapped Cuba was exporting anthrax instead of vastly more profitable meningitis vaccines.

But that sort of hawkish illusion, or delusion, is what the world came to expect of Bolton – whom President Trump fired this week as his national security advisor.

Amid the chaos and misery that have engulfed Venezuela lies a strange parcel of tranquility, tucked within a valley surrounded by poplar trees and mountains some 20 miles south of the Caribbean coast.

It is a field populated by dozens of lanky teenage boys who are spending this particular evening — as they often do — galloping around the grass in pursuit of an oval ball.

These impoverished Venezuelans are training in the skills of a sport not often seen in a South American nation that's mad about soccer, baseball and horse racing: They are playing rugby.

Leo Correa / AP

COMMENTARY

Here’s a dirty little secret about Amazon deforestation that liberals prefer you overlook: the slash-and-burn may be ugly under right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but it was bad when leftists controlled the rainforest, too. Under former President Dilma Rousseff, the liberal darling who ruled Brazil from 2011 until her impeachment in 2016, Amazon deforestation actually increased.

In no way does that excuse Bolsonaro’s reckless efforts to accelerate the trend – which in 2019 have resulted in an alarming 85 percent rise in Amazon fires that have destroyed more than 7,000 square miles of rainforest. What it points out is that Brazil, left or right, is and largely has been a lousy steward of an emerald ecosystem known as the lungs of the earth.

YouTube

COMMENTARY

There’s a video Venezuelan expats are sharing on WhatsApp like a bottle of Cacique rum at a beach party.

It’s got a guy dressed as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, shackled in a small cage, being paraded around a plaza in Spain by an effigy of Donald Trump. “Maduro” is dressed in one of his garish Venezuelan-flag track suits, making vulgar gestures to the crowd, as a smiling “Trump” takes the captured despot on a perp walk.

It’s funny.

It’s also fantasy.

Yuletsy Martinez, 19, and her husband crossed the border into Colombia when she was pregnant with her second child. They left because they couldn't find food or medical care in Venezuela. Martinez gave birth at a hospital in Colombia. "They took good care of me. And they helped me there," Martinez told NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro in a report that aired on All Things Considered.

Ingebjorg Karstad / Norwegian Refugee Council

The U.N. announced last week it has to ramp up humanitarian aid to Venezuelans. But it admits this new effort to deliver more food, medicine and other essentials to Venezuela will be “modest in terms of responding to the scale of needs” there. A new survey shows as much as a fifth of Venezuela's population have fled the country – and that number is rising.

WLRN’s Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas editor Tim Padgett about where the Venezuela crisis is going – especially since the socialist regime critics say is responsible for the mess doesn't look to be going anywhere soon.

Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

Thousands of Venezuelans seeking political asylum continue to live in South Florida as a bill that would grant them Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, stalls in Congress. The U.S. House attempted to fast-track the bill to pass last month, but those efforts ultimately failed before the Senate left for a six-week break. 

Leonardo Fernandez / AP

Over the weekend, Venezuelan opposition leaders warned the country's regime was poised to shut down the National Assembly. That hasn't happened — but something just as distressing to pro-democracy advocates is taking place.

JUAN BARRETO / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro regime continued lashing out after it was hit with punishing economic sanctions earlier this month, charging three opposition lawmakers with treason and other crimes.

But the country’s leadership stopped short of dissolving the National Assembly — the Venezuelan equivalent of Congress — or calling early legislative elections as some had feared.

On Monday, the country’s Supreme Court — dominated by ruling party judges — accused three opposition congressmen of treason, conspiracy and rebellion, among other charges.

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