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LANR [November 1, 2023]: South American Countries Recall Ambassadors, Cut Ties with Israel

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South American Countries Recall Ambassadors, Cut Ties with Israel

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South American Countries Recall Ambassadors, Cut Ties with Israel alt_text LATIN AMERICA NEWS ROUND-UP SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES RECALL AMBASSADORS, CUT TIES WITH ISRAEL CEPR has launched two newsletters in recent weeks, one on Haiti and one on Ecuador. You can sign-up for future editions as well as other newsletters here. Brazil and Southern Cone Bolsonaro Again Ruled Ineligible to Hold Public Office by Brazil Electoral Court. Bloomberg Deforestation has big impact on regional temperatures, study of Brazilian Amazon shows. The Guardian Brazil’s Minister of Indigenous Peoples on Land Rights, the Climate Emergency and Empowering Women. TIME Argentina Makes $2.6 Billion IMF Payment as Reserves Drop. Bloomberg The Dollarization Threat. Phenomenal World Northern Andean Region Venezuela Tries to Squash Opposition Campaign Before It Even Starts. New York Times Western Andean Region Bolivia cuts diplomatic ties with Israel over attacks in Gaza. Washington Post Bolivia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Israel Over Strikes in Gaza. New York Times Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Mexico announces $3.4 bln plan to rebuild Acapulco after hurricane. Reuters State Department sanctions Guatemalan officials over post-election interference. The Hill Tropical Storm Pilar Kills at Least 1 in El Salvador. New York Times Cuba officials urge U.S. lift sanctions to stem migration from the Caribbean island. NBC Jamaica was never afraid to stand on the side of justice – silence on Gaza shames us. The Guardian Region: Trade, Security, Economy and Integration South American countries recall ambassadors and cut ties with Israel over war with Hamas. The Guardian BRAZIL AND SOUTHERN CONE [CONTENTS] Bolsonaro Again Ruled Ineligible to Hold Public Office by Brazil Electoral Court Daniel Carvalho and Simone Iglesias. Bloomberg. October 31, 2023 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of judges on Brazil’s top electoral court voted to declare Jair Bolsonaro ineligible to seek or hold public office for a second time on Tuesday, ruling that the former right-wing president abused his power during last year’s independence day celebrations. Five of the court’s seven judges have voted in favor of barring Bolsonaro, bringing the trial to an end. The decision won’t add to the eight-year ban Bolsonaro received in June, when the same court ruled that he had broken election laws by spreading false claims about the country’s electronic voting system during a meeting with foreign ambassadors. But it will put another hurdle between him and a potential political comeback. Even if an appeal of the first ruling succeeds, a second ban would remain in effect. In this trial, the court weighed allegations that on Sept. 7, 2022 — just a month before the presidential election — Bolsonaro purposefully used official independence celebrations to campaign, constituting an abuse of his political and economic power. The court’s judges earlier in October voted to acquit Bolsonaro in another trial that analyzed three separate cases involving allegations that he abused the power of his office by campaigning from Brazil’s presidential palaces last year, when he narrowly lost his reelection bid to leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. A committee probing post-election riots in Brasilia, however, also this month recommended that Bolsonaro face criminal charges for plotting a coup d’etat in response to his electoral defeat. The committee’s report resulted from a months-long investigation into the Jan. 8 insurrection attempt launched by Bolsonaro supporters who stormed major government buildings in an attempt to undermine Lula’s victory. The report only recommend charges to Brazilian authorities, who will decide whether to pursue indictments. The electoral court is still considering numerous other allegations against Bolsonaro, who spread conspiracies about voter fraud and the election system throughout last year’s contest. The 68-year-old former Army captain is also facing mounting legal troubles from various investigations that have raised the prospect of his arrest. Bolsonaro has denied wrongdoing on all fronts. _______________________________ Deforestation has big impact on regional temperatures, study of Brazilian Amazon shows Jonathan Watts. The Guardian. October 30, 2023 Deforestation has a far greater impact on regional temperatures than previously believed, according to a new study of the Brazilian Amazon that shows agricultural businesses would be among the biggest beneficiaries of forest conservation. The research has important political implications because farmers in Amazonian states have, until now, led the way in forest destruction on the assumption that they will make money by clearing more land. The new research highlights the other side of the picture. It shows the agricultural heartland of Mato Grosso, where crops are already suffering from drought and extreme heat, would be just over half a degree celsius hotter by 2050 if deforestation continued at the rapid rate of recent years. The paper, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated Amazon deforestation causes warming at distances up to 60 miles (100km) away. The greater the forest clearance, the higher the temperature. This is in addition to the wider climate impact of global heating. Dominick Spracklen of the University of Leeds said the average tree had a cooling effect equivalent to two to three 2.5kW air conditioners working at full power every hour of every day. This works through evapotranspiration, which he said was very similar to the sweat humans produce to lower body temperature. He said the effect spread wider than anyone had realised. “We always thought this might be happening, but the extent is bigger than I would have thought,” he said. “More and more, we are demonstrating the big benefits the forests bring to surrounding regions. For farmers, they bring cooler air and more rainfall. Hopefully putting numbers on these benefits will help to persuade a broader set of people to protect forest areas.” An increasing number of peer-reviewed studies are proving the importance of the Amazon in maintaining a stable regional climate. Earlier this year, a paper showed that forest clearance reduced rainfall up to 125 miles away. More recently, research at a greater scale demonstrated that the Amazon was coupled with the South American monsoon and that continued deforestation could reduce regional precipitation by 30% with dire consequences for food production. Until now, studies on the impact of forest clearance on heat have concentrated on local effects with a clear correlation between loss of tree cover and higher temperatures in the area where the trees were cut down. The new research went further by looking at whether there is also a warming effect over a wider area. Using satellite data and artificial intelligence, the authors found a 0.7C increase in temperature for each 10-percentage point loss of forest within a radius of 60 miles. In areas that have been extensively cleared, the impact is considerable. As the paper concludes: “We show that regional forest loss increases warming by more than a factor of four with serious consequences for the remaining Amazon forest and the people living there.” However, the lead author, Ed Butt, said this should be seen not as an alarm, but as a useful tool to incentivise the sustainable management of the forest. ”If we could reduce deforestation, then we could avert a good amount of regional warming. I see that as a big opportunity. It demonstrates the big benefit of reducing deforestation for local farmers … The most important thing is that states like Mato Grosso can follow different futures. This hands back control to regions and states. They could really reduce the amount of warming they will be exposed to.” _______________________________ Brazil’s Minister of Indigenous Peoples on Land Rights, the Climate Emergency and Empowering Women ARMANI SYED. TIME. October 29, 2023 It’s been a busy few weeks for Sônia Guajajara. When Brazil’s first ever minister of Indigenous peoples met with TIME in September, she was speaking on a panel at iconic London private members club Annabel’s alongside activist Txai Suruí, having just been in New York for Climate Week. The Indigenous Voices panel was facilitated by The Caring Family Foundation, a big backer of reforestation efforts in Brazil. Guajajara, 49, appeared rejuvenated by the biggest win for Indigenous rights since her appointment in January by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In September, nine of 11 justices on Brazil’s supreme court voted to block efforts to place a time restriction on Indigenous peoples’ claim to ancestral lands. “Marco temporal” (time marker) is an agribusiness-backed notion that would require groups to prove they physically occupied lands up until Oct, 5. 1988 to stake a legal claim to it. Speaking before attendees, Guajajara described the landmark ruling as a huge victory. “The Brazilian Supreme Court decided against this thesis of the time frame ruling. A thesis that was very frightening to us,” said Guajajara. “It was an attempt to prevent the demarcation of Indigenous lands in Brazil,” she added, referring to the process by which protective boundaries are laid out in the rainforest to prevent illegal logging. Days after the event in London, Brazil’s Senate moved to approve the bill anyway, and on Oct. 20 the President used his veto on core aspects of the bill. “President Lula is very much on the side of Indigenous peoples’ rights,” says Guajajara. “Now, instead of going back we can move forward.” It’s a stark difference to Brazil’s path under the previous administration. Within eight months of her historic appointment, Guajajara says, her ministry was able to sign and demark more land than in the past 8 years, which included right-wing former President Jair Bolsonaro’s four year term. Guajajara also noted that tackling illegal cattle farming and gold mining are an essential part of the climate emergency. “It’s not enough just to protect, we have to return to the forest everything we took from it,” she told attendees. This includes the protection of the Yanomami peoples who are facing a humanitarian and health crisis which has left many, including young people, susceptible to disease. The indigenous reserve the Yanomami population live on—located between Brazil and Venezuela—has long been a target for illegal gold miners, which led to soaring malaria rates. It has also left the Yanomami culture and way of life at risk. Guajajara’s career is defined by a number of remarkable firsts. Born to illiterate parents on Araribóia land in the Amazon, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão, Guajajara left her city to study and earned a degree in literature and nursing. Since then, she became a symbol of resistance against the oppression of Indigenous people, and in 2018, she became the first Indigenous woman in Brazil to appear on a presidential ticket. Guajajara spoke to TIME through a translator about the new ministry’s progress so far, and what her priorities are looking ahead. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. You were appointed Brazil’s first-ever minister for Indigenous peoples at the start of this year. What did this milestone mean to you and what are your priorities in this role? Being minister is a great opportunity for the Indigenous peoples to really participate in political debate but also it's also a window into being open to break with preconceived ideas, with prejudice, and to be able to help. In terms of priorities, first of all to secure the territories of the Indigenous people. To protect the territories as well as the environment, and to make sure that there is security for the Indigenous peoples within the territories and to manage the practices that we already have in place. What has it meant to Indigenous communities to see increased representation at a political level? Today we have the maximum possible representation that we could have wished for in the instances of power. And I really feel that this recognition that people speak about and believe in it. So this creates good expectations in terms of actually being able to implement all rights. Has it been a fight for you and other Indigenous figures to be taken seriously in political spheres? Do such barriers still exist? These sort of barriers to Indigenous participation have always historically existed and we are working on taking them down and increasing participation in different spaces. But it doesn't mean that it's easy, there's still a lot of resistance and lack of understanding, particularly by the decision makers. The participation process is a struggle, it still encounters a lot of resistance. A lot of people don't understand the importance of Indigenous peoples as an alternative as a solution to the climate crisis. We may have a ministry in Brazil, but not all countries do. We're trying to work towards that as well—to have a role in other parts of the world—so that we can really drive home the importance of Indigenous peoples and territories as a solution for the climate crisis. As we know, you’re connected with the Caring Foundation, what role does outreach with wider organizations play in your work? This sort of support is very important for actions in civil society as a whole and also for the Indigenous movements. And it means that actions that are right on the front line can be supported. The villages can be supported and this is seemingly like a small amount of support, but that can make a real direct difference. What is the new ministry doing to raise awareness and address the human cost of the climate crisis? We're really promoting a core amongst Indigenous women, and getting Indigenous women to organize and mobilize to really provide elements to the fight against climate change. We're seeing a lot of sort of protagonism in this regard, but also amongst the youth. And we're carrying on with this debate, as well, within the context of Congress, and really clarifying and informing society about the cost of the climate crisis to all of us. Can you tell me about the public health emergency affecting the Yanomami peoples? The Yanomami were in a various serious state in terms of their health crisis, not just because of the lack of support, but also because of the invasion by illegal miners, the gold prospectors. This has resulted in grave damage to the waters in the territory because now they're contaminated with mercury. We had a public health system specifically geared towards Indigenous peoples, but there wasn't enough of a budget in order to ensure healthcare for them. So what happened a lot of the time was that Indigenous peoples were going into the cities to seek health care, and then not being able to come back. So we're working in order to improve the budget and make sure that it's sufficient for this to actually work. We are constantly carrying out actions to promote health and assist them in any way we can. We have laws that forbid the entry of other people to Indigenous lands. There is no [legal] permission for mining and no permission for gold prospecting [but] it's being done. From the use of radioisotopes to monitoring drones, what role is technology playing in the protection of the Amazon? There's a lot of roles that technology plays, and we are actually working in tandem with the Ministry of Communications to ensure Internet access in all the different villages. This helps with monitoring the territories, denouncing invasions, and it helps with distributing information. So information technology is very important for monitoring and protecting the territory in general. What is the legacy of the Bolsonaro administration, particularly as it pertains to the treatment of Indigenous peoples, and what has changed since Lula's appointment? The legacy of Bolsonaro was tragic. Tragic, not just for us, but for the environment and human rights. It was an administration that incited hatred, violence, attacks, and invasions in Indigenous territories. And what we're seeing now is a change in monitoring and inspection of territories. There has been a 46% reduction in deforestation until the end of the month of July, in the Amazon in particular. So this is just during this administration, and demarcations of Indigenous lands have already moved forward in the Lula government. So in eight months, we've achieved the equivalent of what we could achieve perhaps in eight years. So it's, it's really moving forward. We've been trying to work out a better budget for health care and a couple of different initiatives have been restarted. We now have a national policy for territorial environmental management. And we also have a national Indigenous Council and these are spaces in which we can move forward within an Indigenous policy. How has the threat of violence and other barriers prevented effective reporting on the human and environmental issues facing the Brazilian Amazon and its communities? Obviously the threat of violence caused a lot of fear. So people were making less complaints and manifesting themselves a lot less. People sometimes complain but they didn't have the courage to take it forward because of reprisals and the repression that was taking place. So the number of complaints massively dropped and now it's really shot up but it's not because there's been more violence or more illegal activity—it's been because there's an environment now where this can be made. [Murdered journalist] Dom Phillips and [Indigenous expert] Bruno Pereira, they had suffered threats already. But they are only a couple amongst a number of people who were forbidden from speaking out, and now people feel more at liberty to speak because that's what democracy is. There's a bigger environment for opposition and for other points of view, so it may seem that things have got worse because, in terms of complaints, the number has gone up but it's really a result of just having more freedom because we have just gone through a very dangerous period. Looking forward then what are your hopes and aims for COP this year? We're working on a process with COP30 [which will be hosted by Belem, Brazil in 2025] in mind, and we want to really increase Indigenous participation in decision making spaces. But we particularly want to increase the participation of women thinking specifically of the COP 28 [this year] in Dubai. Next year, we would also like to hold a women's meeting—including women from several different parts of the world—and to hold a pre-COP debate on Sept. 5, 2024. This would be for women, by women, and in preparation of a greater call by Indigenous women to have to have a debate with women from all over the world for COP30. _______________________________ Argentina Makes $2.6 Billion IMF Payment as Reserves Drop Patrick Gillespie and Manuela Tobias. Bloomberg. October 31, 2023 (Bloomberg) -- Argentina paid the International Monetary Fund $2.6 billion due Tuesday, complying with major maturities before the presidential runoff election Nov. 19, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The government, led by presidential candidate and Economy Minister Sergio Massa, paid the IMF as the central bank reported reserves fell Tuesday to $21.9 billion, the lowest level since 2006. With the payment, Argentina avoids falling into arrears — a worst case scenario — on its $43 billion IMF program, the lender’s largest. With razor-thin level of liquid cash reserves, Argentina tapped a currency swap line from China and the remaining amount of IMF special drawing rights (SDRs) from an August disbursement to make the payment Tuesday, according to one of the people. It remained unclear how much of the China swap Argentina had spent to make the IMF payment. Argentine officials confirmed earlier this month that China approved them using another $6.5 billion from the $18 billion swap line. Argentina owes the IMF another $1.77 billion across principal and interest payments in November and December, according to the IMF’s website. Massa has made IMF payments at the final minute a few times this year by using various loans and currencies, illustrating Argentina’s lack of dollars that are putting pressure on the peso and unsustainable currency controls. The government’s dollar shortage spearheaded another controversy in recent days as long lines of cars lined up around gas stations short on gasoline in part because the government hadn’t paid tankers anchored off the Argentine coast waiting with fuel. Massa faces off against outsider candidate Javier Milei in the definitive November runoff vote where the future of Argentina’s IMF deal is on the line after Massa has failed to meet the key targets this year. _______________________________ The Dollarization Threat Matías Vernengo. Phenomenal World. October 30, 2023 The results of Argentina’s first round elections on October 22 again defied expectations. Conservative former security minister and election favorite Patricia Bullrich came in third place, knocking her out of the running for the presidency, which will be decided on November 19 at a runoff election between the current Peronist finance minister Sergio Massa and the far-right economist Javier Milei. Having won 36.6 percent of the vote—compared to Milei’s 29.9 percent—Massa remains the frontrunner, but it remains unclear whether Bullrich’s supporters will side with the Peronist figurehead of the crisis-ridden economy or the far-right outsider next month. To some extent, questions of democracy are at stake; Milei has said explicitly that Argentina’s problems can be traced back to 1916 when a new law allowing universal male suffrage led to the first popular government in the country’s history. Milei’s most publicized economic proposals—dollarization, the abolition of the central bank, and the end of trade with China—would deliver painful repercussions. But Argentina’s difficulties date far back, with the spectacular crisis of 2001-2 only as the most recent case. The question is whether the country can cope with another such crisis, after suffering from political instability and economic stagnation for more than fifty years. The backdrop of the current political crisis is Argentina’s dire economic situation—the country is on the verge of another external crisis. The central bank has run out of foreign reserves, and the only reason a default will be avoided, at least this year, is that there are no significant outstanding outlays other than to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The lack of dollars means that the economy cannot import essential goods. A recession is very likely this year, compounding almost a decade of stagnation. The inability to manage the exchange rate—which has tumbled against the dollar—means that the price of imported goods continues increase. This in turn stimulates inflation, which is now at a rate of more than 120 percent. The scarcity of dollars has detrimental effects, too, even if a full-fledged hyperinflation crisis can be avoided before the end of the year, when a new government will be sworn in. The fears now are of a complete collapse of the political institutions and the end of the democratic experiment that started forty years ago with the fall of the last dictatorship in 1983. A self-described “anticasta”—an outsider from what he sees as the nation’s “political caste”—Milei has crowned himself the leader of a rising authoritarian right. He promises to break the pattern of stagnation and inflation that has afflicted both the center-left and -right over the past two decades, but the proposed solutions threaten even greater turmoil. State of crisis It is important to note that the Argentine crisis has had a long gestation; responsibility for the problems lies beyond the current government of Alberto Fernández. The Argentine economy recovered swiftly after the 2002 default. Néstor Kirchner was elected in 2003, at the beginning of a period that was globally favorable to developing countries, with low interest rates in the United States following the dot-com bubble and high growth rates in China, which had just entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), leading to higher prices of commodities, including soybeans, Argentina’s main export. Kirchner renegotiated the external debt with foreign creditors and reduced debt in foreign currency by half while also increasing exports, helping to service the foreign debt.1 By 2010, when Kirchner passed away, Argentina had paid back its debt with the IMF. Economic prospects seemed relatively bright. Kirchner’s wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had been elected in 2007, and was easily reelected in 2011. The government had imposed higher taxes on exports, and though this had angered landowners and soybean producers, nothing indicated that a crisis was brewing, even in the context of the housing-bubble collapse in the US and the European debt crisis of 2010. It was at this time, however, that the external problems began to intensify; while many countries in the periphery accumulated significant amounts of dollars, the Argentine central bank maintained relatively low interest rates and failed to beef up its international reserves. The path taken was to maintain relatively low interest rates, seen by many within Kirchnerist progressive circles as essential for credit expansion and growth, while at the same time promoting the depreciation of the nominal exchange rate to stimulate exports. In reality, however, low interest rates drained current-account surpluses, which in turn meant reduced government spending in an effort to control imports, which ultimately cramped growth. At the same time, the depreciation of the currency and the resulting higher prices on imported goods, combined with the wage increases demanded by trade unions, led to higher inflation.2 With growth rates low and inflation surging, Mauricio Macri came to power in 2015, renewing the neoliberal project after twelve years of Peronist government. Macri promised to stabilize the economy. He appointed Federico Sturzenegger—an economist who had worked with Domingo Cavallo before the 2002 crisis—as president of the central bank and promoted the bank’s independence as an inflation-fighting institution that could bring down prices. Nonetheless, inflation accelerated and hit close to 50 percent by the end of his tenure in 2019. Elsewhere, Macri removed controls on the purchase of foreign currency, which had been introduced in 2011. The government paid the debt with the so-called Vulture Funds, which allowed it to borrow significant amounts of dollars abroad. However, domestic interest rates remained low, for the most part, and the central bank did not accumulate foreign reserves. By 2018, Argentina had more than doubled its foreign debt in dollars, and the central bank lacked the reserves required to face the short term needs of the country, forcing Macri to go to the IMF to obtain the largest loan in the history of the institution. Argentina’s particularly low interest rate means that the country’s main economic actors prefer to hold dollars rather than pesos.3 While the Kirchners wanted low interest rates to stimulate the economy, the Macri administration initially maintained low rates to allow some inflation acceleration to reduce real wages.4 In other words, the inability to accumulate dollars, for different reasons, has plagued both left and right of center governments, and has fueled the political pendulum in which Peronists and anti-Peronists alternate in power. The run-off For the past four years, Kirchnerists in coalition with more centrist groups within Peronism have held power amid this economic instability. Given widespread discontent in the run up to the election, many expected that a center-right candidate, probably from the Macri coalition, would win. The surprise has been, first, Milei’s victory in the primaries, and then his passing to the second round last Sunday. Milei is often described as a representative of the region’s new authoritarian right, comparable to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or José Antonio Kast in Chile. It is clear that Milei’s primaries’ victory was the product of both popular anger and exhaustion with the inability of the traditional political parties to deal with the economic crisis. However, it is important to note that Milei is not a complete outsider, and neither is he a completely new phenomenon in Argentine politics. While Milei has almost no political experience, he has links to the most prominent economic corporations in the country and until recently worked for one of the main media groups. These connections opened many doors, providing him the media exposure that helped catapult his campaign. The team that he announced, should he be successful in the second-round election on November 19, includes experienced figures in previous neoliberal Argentinian projects, from the National Reorganization Process to the Menem and Macri administrations. In that sense, a Milei government would constitute the fourth coming of the neoliberal order in Argentina. The policies would likely be very similar to neoliberal predecessors, pushing austerity, liberalization, deregulation, and privatization—a difficult situation, given the destructive power of these policies, but hardly something new. Milei’s biggest threat has been his pledge to formally dollarize the Argentine economy. The consequences could be dire. There is overwhelming evidence that dollarization leads to slower growth, largely because it reduces the space for fiscal policy. In a dollarized economy, the interest rate is set by a foreign authority unconcerned with the domestic economy and its needs. Very often, developing countries are forced to drastically reduce spending, more often than not cutting social benefits, in order to reduce income and the imports associated with it. Low growth becomes instrumental in dealing with the external constraints. The case of Greece, which formally adopted the euro in 2002, is very illustrative. Greek incomes grew significantly after the entry in the euro, as capital inflows allowed an expansion that led to higher wages domestically. However, the European debt crisis led GDP to collapse; a decade later, it remains at 23 percent below its peak. The fall in GDP, high levels of unemployment, and lower real wages are instrumental in promoting external adjustment. It is true that dollarization tends to lead to lower inflation, but there are less drastic alternatives. An exchange rate anchor is often used to stabilize the economy and could be achieved if the central bank accumulates enough reserves while still propping up the peso, making it profitable for people to use the domestic currency. This option could be available to Massa, but the uncertainty hinges on whether the fear of a Milei presidency, with its grim prescriptions, outweighs the popular anger against the “political caste.” NORTHERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS]  Venezuela Tries to Squash Opposition Campaign Before It Even Starts Genevieve Glatsky. New York Times. October 31, 2023 It seemed like a small glimmer of hope for supporters of democracy, after years of authoritarian rule. The election of an opposition candidate to challenge Venezuela’s president, which followed on a commitment from the government to hold free and fair elections next year, led to cautious optimism among Venezuelans and international observers about the possibility of establishing a path back to democracy. But now the government of President Nicolás Maduro is taking aim at the opposition election held this month, raising concerns that Mr. Maduro will resist any serious challenge to his 10-year hold on power even as his country continues to suffer under international sanctions. The opposition primary in Venezuela, a South American nation of roughly 28 million people, took place with no official government support. Instead, the vote was organized by civil society, with polling stations in homes, parks and the offices of opposition parties. More than 2.4 million Venezuelans cast ballots, an impressive number that suggests how engaged voters could be in the general election that is supposed to take place in 2024. But in the days that followed, the president of the Maduro-controlled legislature has claimed that the voter turnout was inflated and called the organizers “thieves” and “scammers,” and the election a “farce.” “The primaries sent a clear message that the Venezuelan people are, in essence, profoundly democratic,” said Tamara Taraciuk Broner, who researches Venezuela for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based research organization. “And if they have the option to vote, they will express themselves through the vote. And that is a huge challenge to those in power.” Venezuela’s attorney general’s office announced last week that it was investigating 17 members of the national and regional commissions that oversaw the balloting, based on allegations of violating electoral functions, identity theft, money laundering and criminal association. If the attorney general files criminal charges, the defendants would face a trial and possible imprisonment. And on Monday, the country’s supreme court issued a ruling effectively annulling the primary. But since the government played no role in the election, it is not clear what the practical effect will be or what the ruling will mean going forward. “All effects of the different phases of the electoral process conducted by the National Primary Commission are suspended,” the ruling said. Juan Manuel Rafalli, a constitutional lawyer in Venezuela, said the attorney general’s office will likely ask the primary’s organizers to hand over documents that it will use to try to invalidate the election results or to call for a new one. “They have unleashed all the judicial apparatus that they control to try to annul what happened,” Mr. Rafalli said. “Don’t look for a legal explanation for this because you won’t find one.” Mr. Maduro assumed power in 2013, following the death of Hugo Chávez, who had led a socialist-inspired revolution in the late 1990s. Under Mr. Maduro, Venezuela, whose vast oil reserves made it one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations, has been in an economic free fall, which has set off a humanitarian crisis. About seven million Venezuelans — one quarter of the population — have left the country. The Maduro government and the opposition signed an agreement last month that was intended to move the country toward free and fair elections, including allowing the opposition to choose a candidate for next year’s presidential contest. María Corina Machado, a center-right candidate and former member of Venezuela’s legislature, won with 93 percent of the vote, in a 10-candidate race. But Mr. Maduro’s government has barred her from running for office for 15 years, claiming that she did not complete her declaration of assets and income when she was a legislator. It is a tactic commonly used by Mr. Maduro to keep strong competitors off the ballot. Ms. Machado is a veteran politician, nicknamed “the Iron Lady” to reflect her adversarial relationships with the governments of Mr. Maduro and Mr. Chávez. If Ms. Machado were allowed to run, some analysts say, she could likely defeat Mr. Maduro. But her hard-line positions and insistence on holding members of the Maduro administration criminally responsible for human rights abuses could also make it less likely that the government would allow her to assume power. “It is a contradiction to sign an agreement and then, in the days that follow, they proceed to violate the first points of the agreement,” she said in a speech on Thursday, referring to the investigations of the organizers of the primary. The Biden administration has lifted some sanctions on Venezuela’s crucial oil industry in response to some of Mr. Maduro’s recent overtures, which have included accepting Venezuelans that have been deported from the United States and releasing a handful of political prisoners. But the administration also expects Venezuela to reinstate candidates prohibited from participating in the national election or face the restoration of sanctions. The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the Venezuelan high court’s decision regarding the opposition primary and urged the Maduro government to abide by its agreement to hold a credible election next year. “The United States and the international community are closely following implementation of the electoral road map, and the U.S. government will take action if Maduro and his representatives do not meet their commitments,” the statement read. Two other members of the national commission that organized the opposition election, and who are not under investigation, criticized the legitimacy of the Maduro government’s move. “They were not aware of the level of participation that was going to happen and I think it caught them and us by surprise,” said Víctor Márquez, a commission member. “It is clear that the current government has no chance of winning the elections.” Pedro Benítez, a Venezuelan political analyst, said the Maduro government was following a familiar playbook in trying to squelch threats to its power. “What they are trying to do is up the ante to prevent her from being chosen as a candidate,” Mr. Benítez said, referring to Ms. Machado. “The objective is to discourage the opposition, to divide the opposition, to create conflicts in the opposition, to demoralize its base.” “That is the first phase,” he added. “Then the next phase will come, which will be the direct offensive against the process.” WESTERN ANDEAN REGION [CONTENTS] Bolivia cuts diplomatic ties with Israel over attacks in Gaza Kelsey Ables. Washington Post. November 1, 2023 Bolivia’s government said it is severing diplomatic ties with Israel in response to its ongoing attacks on Gaza, as human rights groups continue to express outrage over civilian casualties and a worsening humanitarian crisis in the territory. Bolivia condemns the “aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive at Gaza, as well as the threat to international peace and security,” Bolivian Deputy Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the move. María Nela Prada, Bolivia’s minister of the presidency, described Israel’s actions as “crimes against humanity” and called for a cease-fire. Soon after, Chile and Colombia announced that they would recall their ambassadors, pointing to what they described as Israeli violations of humanitarian law. Chile’s Foreign Ministry in a statement likened Israel’s military operations to “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza” and said it does not respect “fundamental norms of International Law.” Colombia, in its statement, expressed its “strongest rejection” of Israel’s actions in Gaza and called the situation “intolerable.” Colombia’s relationship with Israel has soured in recent weeks after its president compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazis and refused to condemn Hamas’s attack, prompting Israel to suspend security exports there. The shift in South America comes after Israeli strikes hit a crowded refugee camp in Gaza, killing or injuring hundreds, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and the director of Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital. International human rights groups have sounded alarms for weeks about Israel’s bombardment and siege on Gaza, which has cut the enclave off from food, water, fuel and electricity. The United Nations children’s agency on Tuesday described Gaza as “a graveyard for thousands of children” and a “living hell for everyone else.” Since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, more than 8,500 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Several countries have called for a humanitarian pause in fighting to facilitate aid deliveries, while others — including Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico — are calling for a more formal cease-fire. In a statement Wednesday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry called Bolivia’s decision to cut ties “a surrender to terrorism” and said the government is “aligning itself” with Hamas. In its public messaging, the Israel Defense Forces has said it is targeting Hamas infrastructure and leadership. It has accused the militant group of using civilians as human shields. In breaking ties with Israel, Bolivia becomes one of a handful of Latin American countries that does not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Cuba severed its relationship in 1973, under what the U.S. State Department described as pressure from Arab countries. Venezuela cut ties in 2009 over Israel’s military offensive in Gaza at the time. Bolivia also terminated its relationship with Israel in 2009 under leftist President Evo Morales but resumed diplomacy in 2019 under a right-wing interim president. Chile and Colombia, both close partners of the United States, have in recent years elected leftist leaders; Bolivian President Luis Arce was elected under a socialist banner in 2020. In recent years, Latin America’s approach to Israel has become “entrapped in the ideological cleavage between left and right,” Arie M. Kacowicz, Exequiel Lacovsky and Daniel F. Wajner wrote in the 2021 book “External Powers in Latin America.” A leftward shift that many Latin American countries experienced from the 2000s “had a negative effect on their policies toward Israel,” they wrote, while a rightward shift in the mid-2010s prompted a “drastic positive” change in policy toward the global North, the United States and, “by extension, to Israel.” Kacowicz, a professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said this particular case, however, “is a bit more complicated and breaks stereotypes between left and right.” While Bolivia’s response “could have been expected,” given its history, those of Chile and Colombia are more surprising, he said. In Chile, which has one of the world’s largest Palestinian diasporas outside the Middle East, “massive demonstrations demanding the breaking of diplomatic relations with Israel” took place in 2014, during a previous war in Gaza, Kacowicz said, and domestic politics could be an influence. Colombia’s decision to remove its ambassador “departs from the traditional close relations between the two countries,” he said. _______________________________ Bolivia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Israel Over Strikes in Gaza Cassandra Vinograd and Emma Bubola. New York Times. November 1, 2023 Bolivia has severed relations with Israel over its strikes on Gaza, a diplomatic decision that Israel condemned as a “surrender to terrorism” even as its own ties with other countries in Latin America began to fray. The governments of Chile and Colombia said on Tuesday that they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel for “consultations” in light of the strikes on Gaza, which have been in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel that killed about 1,400 people. In a statement, Chile accused Israel of refusing to respect international laws and said its airstrikes were a “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.” Bolivia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the decision to cut diplomatic ties, announced Tuesday, had been made “in protest and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip, which threatens international peace and security.” The Latin American nation had only restored diplomatic ties with Israel in 2019 after a decade-long rupture that was also in protest over the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza. In severing ties, Bolivia called for an end to Israel’s current strikes on Gaza, denounced the thousands of casualties the Israeli strikes have since inflicted and urged that sufficient food, water and aid be allowed to enter the enclave. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that relations with Bolivia had been “devoid of content” under the Latin American country’s current government. “By taking this step, the Bolivian government is aligning itself with the Hamas terrorist organization,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. Israel also accused Bolivia of bowing to the influence of Iran, which has long supported Hamas and other groups that oppose Israel. Israel’s relationship with Colombia, friendly for years, has strained in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks. President Gustavo Petro has also been starkly critical of the Israeli government. After Israel’s defense minister described Hamas as “human animals” in his announcement of the siege on Gaza, Mr. Petro remarked on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “This is what the Nazis said about the Jews.” Last month, after Israel said it was cutting off security exports to Colombia over the comment — which was also roundly condemned by Holocaust memorial organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center — Mr. Petro said he was open to suspending relations with Israel, although he stopped short of doing so on Tuesday. The Palestinian cause has long received strong support in Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world. The war in Gaza is adding to resentments there and accusations that the West is applying a double standard in its approach to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. Brazil has been described as a swing state of sorts in the developing world. This month, as the holder of the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, it drafted a resolution that called for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza and condemned the “heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas.” Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sérgio França Danese, expressed frustration when the United States vetoed the resolution because it did not mention Israel’s right to self-defense. “Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza cannot wait any longer,” he said. “Actually, they have waited far too long.” MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN [CONTENTS] Mexico announces $3.4 bln plan to rebuild Acapulco after hurricane Reuters. November 1, 2023 MEXICO CITY, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Mexico's government on Wednesday unveiled a $3.4 billion recovery plan for the battered coastal resort of Acapulco, including tax breaks, humanitarian aid and reconstruction of infrastructure, and said it could spend more if necessary. Hurricane Otis slammed into Acapulco last week, devastating homes, hotels and other businesses, severing communications and temporarily leaving the city of 900,000 people incommunicado. The total investment needed for the recovery plan was estimated at 61.3 billion pesos ($3.42 billion), Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O told a press conference. Otis left more than 100 people dead or missing, and the cost of damage could be as high as $15 billion, according to experts. Widespread looting broke out in Acapulco after the hurricane. Mexico has sent thousands of armed forces members to keep order and help distribute food and supplies. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the government would raise more money for Acapulco if needs be. "Fortunately, we have healthy public finances and unlimited resources when it comes to benefiting the people," he said. Many residents are still struggling to get food and water, and some have been reduced to washing in local waterways. The plan will bring forward social welfare payments by two months, waive electricity charges until February and provide household necessities for families whose houses were flooded. It also foresees the weekly provision of basic foodstuffs to some 250,000 families for three months, the president said. Major retailers including Walmart de Mexico and Soriana were working with the government on the plan, he said. The plan also included 10 billion pesos for rebuilding the city's shattered infrastructure. Acapulco and nearby Coyuca de Benitez will be exempt from paying taxes through February 2024, Lopez Obrador said. _______________________________ State Department sanctions Guatemalan officials over post-election interference RAFAEL BERNAL. The Hill. October 31, 2023 The State Department on Tuesday announced it is pulling the U.S. visas of “a dozen individuals, and their immediate family members” in Guatemala over ongoing attempts to interfere with President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s ascent to power. Guatemala’s outgoing government has, since July, taken a series of legal actions against Arévalo and his party, jeopardizing a peaceful transition. “The United States rejects the continued efforts to undermine Guatemala’s peaceful transition of power to President-elect Arévalo,” Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesperson, said in a statement. “Most recently, the Guatemalan Public Ministry seized electoral materials under the custody of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, called for the forced removal of peaceful protestors, pressed for the removal of the Minister of Governance who protected the right to peaceful protest, and sought to lift the immunity of a member of Congress who publicly expressed concern about these anti-democratic measures,” said Miller. Though the State Department did not make public the names of the sanctioned individuals, the latest round is targeted to hit where it hurts — at the ability of government officials and their allies among the country’s elite to visit the United States. In a separate announcement, the State Department did name three individuals who are close to President Alejandro Giammattei. Gendri Rocael Reyes Mazariegos, former minister of the interior; Alberto Pimentel Mata, the former minister of energy and mines; and Oscar Rafael Perez Ramirez, the current vice minister of sustainable development were barred from entry into the United States “due to their involvement in significant corruption.” “The threats against the popular will are strengthening, so the hope is these sanctions won’t be just sending a message, but preventing a continued alteration to constitutional order,” said Ana María Méndez Dardón, director for Central America at the Washington Office on Latin America. The Hill has reached out to the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington for comment. Since Arévalo’s surprise win in August, Guatemalan officials have been ratcheting up pressure on his supporters. Attorney General María Consuelo Porras — herself sanctioned in 2022 over corruption allegations — has become the face of the government’s alleged efforts to stop the transition. Porras first drew international attention after ordering investigations against lawyers, judges and advocates linked to anti corruption efforts in the country, leading to the sanctions against her. U.S. officials see her actions, at least implicitly supported by Giammattei, as a threat to stability in the country, which is both a major source of migration to the United States and a necessary pathway for other migrants from South and Central America. As conditions in Guatemala have deteriorated, the number of Guatemalan migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border has skyrocketed. In the first nine months of fiscal 2023, encounters with Guatemalans hovered between 10,000 and 15,000 per month. In July, Customs and Border Protection reported 22,127 such encounters, followed by 37,937 in August and 34,537 in September. And Guatemala has the potential to be a key democratic ally in Central America — U.S. officials are wary of El Salvador’s creeping authoritarianism, Nicaragua’s full descent into dictatorship, and signs of dwindling anti-corruption efforts in Honduras. Guatemala’s own anti-corruption initiatives have been faltering since 2019, when former President Jimmy Morales terminated a U.N.-sanctioned investigative body, but Arévalo’s election raised hopes of a course correction among external observers “A peaceful transfer of power is critical to Guatemala’s democratic future, and I pledge to stand against those upholding systemic corruption in Guatemala. It is my hope other agencies — including the Department of Treasury — will follow suit with equally strong actions against these anti-democratic actors in Guatemala,” said Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), who was born in Guatemala. The threats against Arévalo are not limited to the alleged prosecutorial harassment led by Porras: Since August, he and Vice President-elect Karin Herrera are under the protection of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organization of American States. The IACHR extended its protection after plans to assassinate Arévalo surfaced, including one named “Plan Colosio,” in reference to Luis Donaldo Colosio, a reformist Mexican presidential candidate assassinated in 1994. According to the IACHR resolution granting Arévalo and Herrera protection, Arévalo “received worrying information about a plan to assassinate him with the participation of state agents and private individuals.” Giammattei’s critics have long alleged his government is beholden to the interests of an elite minority with outsize influence. The new U.S. sanctions are targeted to individuals both in government and in the private sector. “These individuals include Public Ministry officials and other public and private sector actors engaging in undermining democracy or the rule of law in Guatemala. The Guatemalan people have spoken. Their voices must be respected,” said Miller. _______________________________ Tropical Storm Pilar Kills at Least 1 in El Salvador Mike Ives. New York Times. November 1, 2023 Heavy rains linked to Tropical Storm Pilar have killed at least one person in El Salvador, an official there said early Wednesday, as parts of Central America faced heavy flooding. The Associated Press and local news media attributed reports of at least two deaths in El Salvador to officials from the country’s civil defense office. A spokesman for that office said by telephone early Wednesday that he could only immediately confirm one death. El Salvador’s National Police agency described the storm on social media late Tuesday as a “national emergency,” and the civil protection office posted photos overnight that showed emergency personnel working to clear downed trees in the dark. Pilar had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour early Wednesday morning, 14 miles shy of hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center of the United States said in an advisory. Its center was about 120 miles south-southwest of San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital, and 225 miles west of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Tropical storm watches are in effect for the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. That means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 12 to 24 hours. The U.S. Hurricane Center said that the storm was drifting north and expected to begin moving west, farther into the Pacific Ocean, on Wednesday. But Pilar was still forecast to produce 5 to 10 inches of rain, and up to 15 inches in some areas, through Wednesday in portions of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica, the center said. It also warned of possible flooding in cities, and mudslides at higher elevations. Hurricanes have become more destructive over time, in no small part because of the influences of a warming planet. Climate change is producing more powerful storms, and they dump more water because of heavier rainfall and a tendency to dawdle and meander; rising seas and slower storms can make for higher and more destructive storm surges. _______________________________ Cuba officials urge U.S. lift sanctions to stem migration from the Caribbean island Suzanne Gamboa. NBC. October 31, 2023 Cuban officials are hoping to tap into the frenzy over the U.S. “border crisis” to negotiate the lifting of some of the harsher sanctions imposed on the Caribbean nation. Cuban authorities have been making rounds in the U.S. trying to connect the spike in Cuban migration with the punishing policies enacted during the Trump administration and kept in place under President Joe Biden. The efforts to ease sanctions are happening as the 2024 election campaign is already underway, making any move on Cuba unlikely, but also after Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., a Cuba hard-liner, stepped down as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations amid bribery and corruption charges, suggesting an opening for Cuban operators. In particular, Cuban officials say including Cuba in the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism has worsened its economic conditions. "The maximum pressure, the extreme measures that they inherited from the government of Trump and some that were taken even during Biden's government are wreaking havoc on the Cuban population," Johana Tablada, deputy general director for the U.S. division of Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told NBC News. "That inclusion of Cuba in the terrorism list has a direct link with the wave of migrants that is coming to the United States." In 2021, former President Donald Trump’s administration reinstated Cuba to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, reversing former President Barack Obama’s 2015 removal from it, which he did as part of his administration's efforts to normalize relations with the island. Also on the list are Iran, North Korea and Syria. Placement on the list translated into heavier sanctions on Cuba, which was already subject to a U.S. embargo on trade, and Cuba officials and other experts say it has had a major impact on the island's economy. This financial impact, Tablada said, is part of the push and pulls of migration that currently is causing more Cubans to go to the United States. Officials and critics have said the designation reduced remittances from abroad to Cuba, added to inflation, and cut off sources for credit and capital. While Biden has softened some of the restrictions, his administration has yet to return to the Obama-era policies on Cuba he said he was willing to restore in his 2020 campaign. “The U.S. hasn’t been effective in the No. 1 goal of overthrowing the Cuban revolution and the government that they don’t like, but unfortunately and painfully the United States has been very effective in damaging the standard of living in a very short time of the Cuban population ... [for]a lot of people — it's better to leave the country,” Tablada said. There were 220,908 Customs and Border Protection “encounters” with Cubans from October 2021 to September 2022, which is the 2022 fiscal year. They include encounters with Cubans who have crossed the border illegally, those who entered legally using the CBP One app, those who were exempt from expulsion under previous immigration policy and a small number allowed in through a Biden parole program. In the 2023 fiscal year, which ran from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023, numbers fell to 142,352. In the 2021 fiscal year, the number was 38,674 and 13,410 in the 2020 fiscal year. But Coast Guard interceptions of Cubans at sea rose in the first 11 months of the 2023 fiscal year, to a total of 6,967, according to the Migration Policy Institute, MPI, a Washington-based think tank that supports an immigration reform that includes legal migration pathways. Along with the interceptions of Cubans in fiscal year 2022, these levels of Coast Guard interdictions of Cubans have not been seen since the 1990s, said MPI spokesperson Michelle Mittelstadt. The current exodus from Cuba is surpassing previous post-Cuba Revolution departures, including the Mariel Boat Lift and Balsero Crisis. Experts said it's difficult to establish a direct correlation between the recent increases in Cuban arrivals and the Trump and Biden policies on Cuba, but noted they certainly exacerbated economic and political difficulties in the country. The Trump administration's designation of Cuba as a terrorism sponsor in January 2021 — just as Trump was leaving office — came as Cuba was reeling from the blow to tourism and business brought on by the pandemic. “No region of the world was more affected by the pandemic than Latin America and the Caribbean. The countries have yet to dig out,” said Jorge Duany, director of Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. But other factors are also contributing to the exodus of Cubans from the island, according to Duany, including crackdowns on protesters, increases in Cuban political repression and censorship, and less reliable financial support from Russia, which is diverting resources to its war with Ukraine. “All these things add up to increased migration from Cuba," Duany said. Mariakarla Nodarse Venancio, assistant director for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group, said the sanctions hinder international transactions with Cuba — both the government and the emerging private sector — because banking is restricted due to its inclusion on the terrorist sponsorship list. Faith-based groups also face obstacles providing humanitarian aid in Cuba, she said. "We can expect numbers to increase because September numbers showed about 15,000 Cubans reached the U.S.-Mexico border, Nodarse Venancio said. "But if we go down and look at Honduras' numbers — because they do a good job of reporting — we see 19,000 Cubans in September, which means 5,000 Cubans that haven't made it to the U.S. yet," she added. Also, Cubans can fly to Nicaragua without a visa and from there take one of the multiple daily flights between the countries. "I don't expect the numbers to go down," she said. Biden's approach to Cuba has been "partial and cautious re-engagement spurred mainly by the migration crisis in Cuba and at the U.S. border," Ted Henken, an associate professor at Baruch College in New York, told Politifact for a 2022 article on Biden's progress on his promise to restore engagement with Cuba following Trump's policies. The Biden administration included Cuba in a program that allows Cubans to legally enter the country through humanitarian parole, as long as they make appointments through an online app to present themselves at ports of entry rather than cross the border illegally. More than 50,000 Cubans have entered the country that way through the end of September. Data analysis from Migration Policy Institute shows 79,052 Cubans presented themselves at ports of entry in fiscal year 2023, up from 1,579 in fiscal year 2022. _______________________________ Jamaica was never afraid to stand on the side of justice – silence on Gaza shames us Kenneth Mohammed. The Guardian. October 31, 2023 For Jamaicans, the absence of the country’s representative at last week’s UN general assembly vote on a call for a “humanitarian truce” in the Israel-Hamas war was more than just an embarrassing political effort to “walk between raindrops”, as one government critic put it. It was shameful. In the annals of international diplomatic history, Jamaica’s decision on apartheid in July 1959 was a pivotal moment. Prior to this, the world had witnessed India’s efforts at the UN to condemn South Africa for its racist treatment of Indians in 1946-47, before the country descended into the era of legally defined apartheid. But it was not until more than a decade later that Jamaica become the first nation to initiate sanctions against South Africa. The response from the South African government was volcanic. They decried the move as a blatant intrusion into their sovereignty, urging the British colonial power to intervene and quash Jamaica’s audacity. The South African authorities were not merely angered; they were deeply apprehensive that Jamaica’s action might set in motion a ripple effect of sanctions imposed by other countries. Jamaica, a member of the West Indies Federation since 1958, had the potential to spark a political chain reaction across the British Caribbean. Jamaica was still deliberating while the UN vote was going on. What was there to deliberate? The Jamaican government’s decision was far from impulsive. The implementation of trade sanctions against South Africa had been a topic of intense discourse within the ruling People’s National party and among cabinet ministers for nearly two years before its public announcement in 1959. Nurtured within the echelons of government, it was a cogent decision, bearing witness to the imperatives of justice. As the then Jamaican chief minister, Norman Manley, explained: “The ban on trade with South Africa is a logical and proper act done in respect of a country which denies to its own people all the basic human rights and denies to coloured people all over the world every right of human rights intercourse. “Since we cannot send a coloured athlete to South Africa, nor even a cricket team, with any pretence of dignity, why should we send our goods?” Jamaica has never been a country to shy away from controversy, or been afraid to stand on the side of justice, regardless of the risk of being ostracised. After all, its greatest hero, Bob Marley, was the leading Caribbean figure to sing out against injustice and discrimination. The prime minister, Andrew Holness, after Hamas’s murderous madness, came out to show solidarity with Israel and tweeted that Jamaica stood with Israel. He called for a cessation of hostilities and a return to peace within internationally agreed guidelines, and urged them to pursue diplomatic solutions. Now that Israel has shown its overreaching response against the Palestinians, he has said no more and, to add insult to injury, Jamaica was still deliberating on Friday while the UN general assembly (UNGA) vote was going on. What was there to deliberate? Or was this a deliberate move by one government with business ties to another? The Caribbean has always been at the forefront of condemning racial discrimination, human rights violations, and religious intolerance. On 9 October, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) said it “abhors the attacks in Israel and the counterattacks in the Palestinian territory of Gaza”. It went on: “The savage nature of the attacks and counterattacks are the antithesis of civilised life and living. Innocent lives are being lost amidst the fervour and violence of the actual combatants.” Twelve Caricom countries voted for the UNGA resolution supporting “the ongoing efforts of the UN towards a two-state solution as the best way to achieve comprehensive peace, security and tranquillity between Israel and Palestine”. Caricom emphasised that it “joins the responsible members of the international community in calling for an immediate ceasefire and end of hostilities by all parties”, continuing that “the recent round of hostilities reflects the pain and suffering of ancient quarrels. “The ongoing harsh conditions under which the Palestinians live in veritable colonialism and Israel’s sense of insecurity will contribute to a cycle of violence until those realities are definitively addressed,” Caricom said. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, one of the more sober thinkers in world politics, called for an end to “epic suffering” in Gaza that amounted to the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people”, in violation of international law. “To ease epic suffering, make the delivery of aid easier and safer, and facilitate the release of hostages,” he said. “I reiterate my appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” Guterres rightly denounced the “appalling” attacks on innocent civilians by Hamas. But the violence, he went on, did not happen in a vacuum. “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation,” he said. “They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished.” Palestinians have lived under an apartheid system for years. This war will no doubt be recorded in history as another era of man’s inhumanity to man. We in the Caribbean stirred up the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 70s. As proud and resilient descendants of enslaved and indentured peoples, who have lived under colonialism – and to this day are still suffering the economic and social impact of these atrocities – we know what it is to be the underdogs in world politics and to be seen as inconsequential perennially. As we witness another abhorrent genocide of people during our lifetime, unfolding on the world stage, we can only express condemnation of the warmongers on both sides. But this is just a manifestation of “the hate that hate produces”. However, we should never stand by quietly. As Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The proud history of the Caribbean has been let down by Jamaica’s government quietly standing by. REGION: TRADE, SECURITY, ECONOMY AND INTEGRATION [CONTENTS] South American countries recall ambassadors and cut ties with Israel over war with Hamas Tom Phillips. The Guardian. October 31, 2023 A number of South American countries have registered diplomatic protests against Israel, in response to its latest conflict with Hamas, with Bolivia’s leftwing government cutting ties entirely and attributing its decision to alleged war crimes and human rights abuses being committed in the Gaza Strip. The decision by Bolivia was announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon by María Nela Prada, a minister in President Luis Arce’s administration. “We demand an end to the attacks on the Gaza Strip which have so far claimed thousands of civilian lives and caused the forced displacement of Palestinians,” the minister told reporters in her country’s de facto capital, La Paz. Hours later, the governments of Chile and Colombia recalled their ambassadors from Israel, while Brazil’s president criticised the continued airstrikes on Gaza. Bolivia’s deputy foreign minister, Freddy Mamani Machaca, said the decision represented “a repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and its threat to international peace and security”. The move came after the former president Evo Morales called for his country to sever ties with Israel because of the “horrific situation facing the Palestinian people”. Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this month, Morales demanded Israel be classified as a “terrorist state” and for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and “his accomplices” be denounced to the international criminal court for genocide and war crimes. Bolivia previously broke off relations with Israel in 2009 after the county’s invasion of the Gaza Strip but re-established ties in 2020 under the rightwing president Jeanine Áñez. Colombia’s leftwing president, Gustavo Petro, said on Tuesday he had recalled his ambassador over Israel’s “massacre of the Palestinian people”. Petro recently likened Israel’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, drawing a rebuke from Israel’s foreign ministry, which accused him of putting Jewish lives in danger and encouraging “the horrific acts of Hamas terrorists” with his “hostile and antisemitic statements”. Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, also announced he had recalled his country’s ambassador in Tel Aviv to discuss the “unacceptable violations of international humanitarian law” he said Israel was committing in Gaza. Boric said the more than 8,000 civilian victims of Israel’s offensive – many of them them women and children – demonstrated that the military operation represented the “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza”. The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, last week criticised what he called “the insanity of the prime minister of Israel [in] wanting to destroy the Gaza Strip but forgetting that there aren’t just Hamas soldiers there but also women and children who are the big victims of this war”. “Just because Hamas committed a terrorist act against Israel, it doesn’t mean Israel has to kill millions of innocent people,” Lula added in another interview. On Tuesday evening, after reports that dozens had been killed by Israeli airstrikes at a refugee camp in northern Gaza, Lula tweeted: “For the first time, we are witnessing a war in which the majority of the dead are children … Stop! For the love of God, stop!” alt_text The Latin America News Round-up is a daily email digest featuring a free compilation of articles with the latest English language news on economic and political developments in Latin America. The newsletter is produced by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), and is aimed at educating people on current trends and what policies will best improve the quality of life for Latin Americans. You can subscribe to the Latin America News Round-up and other CEPR updates here. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR was co-founded by economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot in 1999. CEPR's Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University. 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