VENEZUELA: Several dozen officers from all four branches of Venezuela’s armed forces were imprisoned on accusations of treason by a military court in mid-May for planning a coup against President Nicolás Maduro, reported Bloomberg on Wednesday. One of the plot’s coordinators who escaped arrest said that Colombian and U.S. officials allegedly knew about the plot but didn’t provide active support. Lawyers and relatives of those imprisoned denounce that some have been tortured.
A court report seen by Bloomberg’s reporters ratifies there was a plot to overthrow Maduro ahead of May’s election and goes further to say that the U.S. and Colombian governments did provide financial support, that there was a separate plot to assassinate Maduro and that opposition leader María Corina Machado was part of the insurrection, which she vehemently denies.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
UNITED STATES: Demonstrations were held around the country against the policy of separating undocumented immigrant families by the Trump administration. The Capitol police arrested around 575 people who were protesting inside a Senate office building for unlawfully demonstrating and released them immediately after processing. Bigger protests are being planned for Saturday.
CUBA-UNITED STATES: The second of the two U.S. diplomats affected in May in Havana by the mysterious disease that causes brain-injury-like symptoms was “medically confirmed” yesterday, bringing the total of affected Embassy workers to 26. Although initially the illnesses were thought to be caused by some sort of sonic attack, an FBI report in January found no evidence that sound waves could be the reason for the damage. Although the United States has never blamed Cuba directly, it’s use of the term “attack” does imply that the illnesses were caused on purpose. Carlos Fernández de Cossio, Cuba’s director-general of relations with the U.S., wrote on Twitter “Whoever uses the term ‘attack’ to refer to symptoms reported by U.S. diplomats is consciously lying with a well-defined political agenda.”
Miente quien usa el término “ataque” para referirse a los síntomas reportados por diplomáticos de EEUU. Lo hace concientemente, con una agenda política bien definida y una carga de oportunismo. @Cuba @CubaMINREX @cubadebate @JohanaTablada
— Carlos F. de Cossio (@CarlosFdeCossio) June 28, 2018
EL SALVADOR: Hundreds of peasants gathered yesterday in the capital San Salvador to demand that they be allowed to participated in the debate of a water law that is currently being discussed in Congress and that many see as opening the door to the privatization of water. They presented a letter demanding that water be declared “a social interest good.”
COLOMBIA: Two generals of the Colombian Armed Forces denounced that a senator of the newly elected president’s party is pressuring them to support the changes made on Wednesday to the Special Peace Justice specifically affecting them. The complaint against Sen. José Obdulio Gaviria was made anonymously to journalists of Blu Radio. Gaviria answered saying he hasn’t pressured anyone, but called the military leadership “deliberative” and said it was unconstitutional for them to have signed a letter “written by politicians,” referring to a letter sent two days ago by the six commanders of the armed forces and the Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas sent to Sen. Paloma Valencia, also of the elected president’s Democratic Center party, asking for the Special Peace Justice to be regulated.
VENEZUELA: Protests by nurses demanding higher salaries and highlighting shortages of drugs and other supplies at hospitals in Venezuela have continued and intensified with many doctors beginning to join them. On Monday, President Nicolás Maduro had appointed a new health minister to try to assuage the protesters but to no avail.
BRAZIL: The latest polls show former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the leading contender for the presidency even though he is in prison for corruption. Results published yesterday by the pollster Ibope said that 33 percent of those interviewed would vote for Lula if he is allowed to run. Right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro appeared second in the poll with 15 percent of the vote and environmentalist Marina Silva is third with 7 percent.
Judge Cármen Lúcia, the president of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, will decide on Lula’s petition for bail in August, when the court comes back from winter break. Judge Edson Fachin was supposed to make a decision on Tuesday but he demurred arguing there were formal errors in the case, Lula’s defense accused Fachin of stalling to purposefully try to prevent Lula from running for president.
ARGENTINA: The Senate announced on Wednesday that on Aug. 8 it will vote on the bill to legalize elective abortions which was approved by the House of representatives two weeks ago. After intense negotiations it was decided that the commissions for health, justice and constitutional affairs will review the bill but not the commission for budget and internal revenue as some senators wanted. Of the senators who have publicly announced their vote 27 have said they will vote in favor and 29 against, this leaves the votes of 16 senators unknown.
ARGENTINA: A study released yesterday revealed that 48.1 percent of children in Argentina’s urban areas live under poverty with 10.2 percent living under extreme poverty. The study by the Catholic University of Argentina also said that even though 33.8 percent of children depend on school lunches, 17.6 percent still suffer from food deficit.
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