Top 5 on Latin America this week

Busy week on Latin America:

  1. VENEZUELA: Just back from his week-long visit to Latin America, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech Wednesday on Venezuela at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Florida – home to a large Venezuelan Diaspora – where he previewed the sanctions announced yesterday by the White House prohibiting U.S. persons from trading in Venezuelan debt and bond issuances by state-owned oil company PDVSA.
  2. NAFTA: Sara Schaefer Munoz and Bob Davis, U.S., Canada and Mexico Wrap up NAFTA First Round. Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2017. WSJ’s coverage of the NAFTA re-negotiation provides an insight into the industry perspective, which is at odds with the Administration’s plans to modify rules of origin and eliminate dispute resolution mechanisms. Also recommend Joel Trachtman’s piece in The Hill last week analyzing whether President Trump has the authority to withdraw from NAFTA without congressional action.  You also can never go wrong with anything on Mexico by Shannon O’Neill.
  3. GUATEMALA: Parker Asmann, Is Another Presidential Crisis Unfolding in Guatemala? InSight Crime, August 24, 2017. President Jimmy Morales was to meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres today in New York and there are reports speculating that Morales may seek the removal of Ivan Velazquez as head of the UN-backed International Commission against impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to protect himself against a corruption investigation and potential ties to international drug trafficking. Former Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina resigned and was jailed in 2015 after CICIG and the Guatemalan Attorney General broke a massive corruption scandal. If true, this development could not come at a worse time with the impending departure of U.S. Ambassador Todd Robinson, who’s been a staunch supporter of human rights and anti-corruption efforts.
  4. BRAZIL: Ernesto Londono. A Judge’s Bid to Clean Up Brazil From the Bench. New York Times, August 25, 2017. It has been three months since Ernesto left the NY Times Editorial for the beaches of Rio, where let’s admit we’d all rather be. He made The NY Times Editorial page into an important platform on Latin American issues and a refreshing change of pace from the predictably ideological Friday columns in the Wall Street Journal by Mary O’Grady. Ernesto is doing the same as Brazil Bureau Chief by providing Latin America experts and non-experts alike with important insights into defining issues in the region, like the efforts of Brazilian Judge Sergio Moro to combat rampant corruption in Brazil.
  5. IMMIGRATION: Where to start – President Trump delivered a political speech in Arizona on Wednesday, where he reiterated his willingness to shut down the federal government if Congress did not fund his border wall. And, oh yeah, he  pardoned Joe Arpaio, who was serving six months for his oppressive tactics in rounding up undocumented migrants. The Phoenix Time has been following him for 20 years, so worth reading some of their articles on him hereherehere, and here.

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