Latin American Leaders Rally Behind Venezuela

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Top Story — Top Latin American officials threw their support behind Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday, denouncing the March 9 sanctions imposed by the United States on seven of the country’s officials.

Cuban President Raúl Castro and Bolivian President Evo Morales were among the Latin American leaders to convene in Caracas for an emergency summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). The meeting follows an escalating standoff between the Venezuelan and U.S. governments, which most recently saw Venezuela stage pre-emptive military exercises in response to the sanctions implemented by the United States, as well as take out an ad in the New York Times accusing the United States of trying to rule the South American country by decree.

Cuba’s support of the Venezuelan government threatens to derail the ongoing diplomatic talks between the United States and Cuba. During Tuesday’s ALBA summit in Caracas, Castro said, “The U.S. needs to understand once and for all that it can’t seduce or buy Cuba, just as it can’t intimidate Venezuela,” adding that, “Our unity is indestructible.”

The third round of talks between the United States and Cuba ended abruptly on Tuesday — one day after being announced in an equally abrupt manner. The recent support for Venezuela from several Latin American countries places pressure on the United States as the country gears up for the Summit of the Americas in April, which Castro and Maduro will also attend.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • A Honduran migrant headed to the United States was shot and killed while travelling aboard the Mexican train known as “the beast” in an apparent robbery attempt — highlighting the pervasive risks facing those who take the journey northward.
  • Mexican authorities have arrested at least five suspected members of the Los Zetas drug cartel in the northeastern state of Nuevo León — the latest blow against the group since the arrest of its leader earlier this month.

Caribbean

  • The third round of talks between Cuba and the United States aimed at restoring diplomatic ties ended on Tuesday just a day after they began, with no apparent progress immediately announced.
  • A joint undercover operation by the United States and Dominican Republic rescued 29 Dominican women — 20 of them minors — who had been trafficked into the sex industry in the tourist town of Sosua, the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo announced on Tuesday.

Central America

  • Costa Rica’s national electrical utility announced that, so far in 2015, it has generated 100 percent of the country’s power using clean sources — highlighting Costa Rica’s advanced grid, which is second among the region only to Uruguay in its breadth of coverage.
  • Guatemalan investigators in Suchitepequez have received death threats related to their probe into the murders of three journalists in the area in March, officials announced on Tuesday.

Andes

  • In response to broad criticism from Latin American leaders, the United States government clarified before Congress that the rhetoric employed in the March 9 executive order against the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, as well as the sanctions imposed in the order, are not aimed at overthrowing the socialist administration.
  • Colombia’s government has asked Venezuela to grant the Red Cross permission to visit jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, a privilege which was denied the former presidents of Chile and Colombia in January.

Southern Cone

  • Pope John Francis’s appointment of a bishop in Chile who was connected to a sexual abuse case has been called into question by politicians and church leaders.
  • Argentine authorities arrested two Paraguayan men who attempted to cross the border with a block of 19th century gold worth more than $2 million.

Image: Venezuelan government, public domain

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