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DECEMBER  21,  2018


.     WASHINGTON, D.C.     --
 US President Donald Trump signed on Thursday a law known as "Nica Act" that limits Nicaragua's access to international loans and increases pressure on Daniel Ortega's regime which faces a serious political and social crisis. Trump said in a statement that he signed that law that seeks to condition the approval of the United States of all loans that Managua manages before international financial institutions. In addition, this law establishes sanctions on persons directly related to the government.

      As of this moment, it becomes a Law that also allows sanctions directed to the dictatorship of Ortega and Rosario Murillo, officials and accomplices who are involved in corruption and serious violations of human rights in Nicaragua since last April. The application of this statute could be avoided unless Ortega adopts the effective steps established in the Law: The commitment to hold early elections, which comply with democratic standards and allow a credible international electoral observation; but it also makes it necessary to stop the violence perpetrated against civilians by the police and armed paramilitary groups, as well as to carry out independent investigations into the murders of anti-government protesters and to hold those responsible to justice.

     The Nica Act includes Senate Bill Menéndez's sanctions bill, the Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Act of Nicaragua of 2018, S. 3233, which provides for individual sanctions against officials of the Sandinista regime and their collaborators. It also includes the amendment of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, aimed at sanctioning the dictatorship's facilitators with financial resources and technology for repression. This new law is the third tool of sanctions against the regime. The others are the Magnitsky Global Law (Glomag); applied already to officials of Ortega's environment last July, and the executive order of Trump recently promulgated and that allows sanctions such as those applied to Vice President Rosario Murillo and security adviser Néstor Moncada Lau.


     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --The Trump administration announced Thursday it will send migrants who cross the southern border back to Mexico while their cases are being heard so they cannot "disappear" on US soil. "Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in statement. "Instead, they will wait for an immigration court decision while they are in Mexico. 'Catch and release' will be replaced with 'catch and return,'" she added. The announcement came after US courts rebuffed President Donald Trump's order to deny asylum across the board to tens of thousands of Central Americans, mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, who have headed northward fleeing poverty and violence in their countries.

     The move threatened to change the dynamic on the porous, 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border, forcing more migrants to accept staying in Mexico for long periods or choose to try and sneak into the United States undetected, an often high-risk option. "We expect this will result in a truly historic drop in illegal immigration, because the incentive to come here –- file an asylum claim and remain in the United States during the pendency of that claim -– will no longer exist," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "We've made clear to the Mexican government our intent to do this," Pompeo added. It was not clear if there was a formal agreement with Mexico's weeks-old government on the policy.

      "Mexico has made an independent determination that they will commit to implement essential measures on their side of the border," Nielsen said. "We expect affected migrants will receive humanitarian visas to stay on Mexican soil, the ability to apply for work, and other protections while they await a US legal determination." Mexico's Washington charge d'affairs Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia told reporters his country would "guarantee that foreign people who have received their appointment (in the United States) fully enjoy the rights and freedoms recognized by the constitution." But he also urged Washington "not to turn migrants into ping-pong balls." "The measure applies only to people seeking asylum" in the United States, Zabalgoitia said. "We will not accept people deported from the United States."


      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --      
Venezuela’s fuel shortages are worsening as mass resignations at the state oil company’s tanker fleet have delayed gasoline shipments. Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s refineries are running at less than a quarter of their capacity, forcing the country to rely on imported gasoline. Once the cargoes are unloaded at import docks, smaller ships distribute fuel to terminals along the coast, where it’s loaded on trucks to refuel inland stations. But as Venezuelan tankers lose engineers and helmsmen, delivery delays are becoming increasingly frequent, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Gasoline lines are one of the challenges of daily life in Venezuela, along with the scarcity of basic goods, regular power outages and a lack of public transport. Gas prices are still among the cheapest in the world, with the black market rate earlier this month less than one cent per gallon.

      Resignations and requests for leave by personnel at PDV Marina, the oil company’s shipping affiliate, are reducing the tankers’ crews to a minimum, according to a document seen by Bloomberg. At least 11 tankers are affected, and minimal staffing is hindering PDVSA’s ability to deliver on time, the document shows. Venezuela’s Oil Ministry and PDVSA officials declined to comment. “Tankers are now delayed all the time,” PDVSA union leader Gregorio Rodriguez said from Puerto La Cruz. “The situation is worse in cities far from distribution centres, where the truck fleet service is also shaky, as is eastern Venezuela.” Venezuela’s sliding oil production is exacerbating an already dramatic fiscal deficit, as the country is behind on almost $7bn owed to debt investors and is handing over barrels of crude to settle outstanding loans.

      Document written by PDVSA’s Commerce and Supply Security Department described poor working conditions and lack of security equipment, food or safe lodging on the tankers. Tankers Caura and Guanoco have no officers left on board; three other tankers are missing a first engineer; two other ships are now indefinitely anchored in Portugal and Bonaire. Wages diluted by hyperinflation – now running at an annual pace of 187,400% according to Bloomberg’s Cafe Con Leche Index – are pushing personnel to leave the country, said Luis Diaz, a tugboat worker at PDV Marina in Puerto La Cruz. “More than 100 employees, among them captains, officers, machine engineers and deck assistants, threatened PDVSA two weeks ago with mass resignation if they don’t fix our pay scales,” Diaz said.

DECEMBER  20,  2018


  The Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, has warned his regime’s “imperialist” foes in the United States, Colombia and Brazil that their troops “will not make it out alive” if they dare to invade a single inch of Venezuela’s “sacred soil”. Addressing thousands of armed members of Venezuela’s Bolivarian militia in Caracas, Maduro declared himself a “warrior of peace” who hoped to bring happiness and prosperity to his crumbling nation. But amid rising tensions between Venezuela and its regional neighbours, Maduro ordered his troops to meticulously prepare to repel and crush foreign invaders. Militiamen and women needed to be ready “to go to the heart of the enemy who dares touch Venezuelan soil – to go to the heart of the enemy and to tear out his heart in his own territory”.

      Maduro warned it was possible an “imperialist force” might seek to storm some corner of the country. “But what the imperialists should know is that they won’t make it out alive, because the people will track them down and the people will defend our beloved and sacred Venezuela’s right to peace and independence and sovereignty with their lives. “We will defend our homeland from imperialists and oligarchs and traitors … whether they are in Bogotá or Brasília,” he insisted, calling for the 1.6 million-member civilian force to be strengthened and “armed to the teeth” to make Venezuela “impregnable and untouchable”. Maduro’s sabre-rattling speech came exactly a week after Russia landed two nuclear-capable bombers in Caracas in a high-profile show of support for Venezuela’s embattled president.

     The US has turned up the heat on Maduro in recent months, declaring Venezuela part of a Latin America “troika of terror” and warning Maduro he will “have to go” The incoming administration of Brazil’s far-right president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, has also set Maduro in its sights, with its next foreign minister on Sunday calling for Venezuela’s liberation. In an interview with a Chilean newspaper, Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, insisted Brazil was not about to invade Venezuela with tanks and sought Maduro’s removal from power rather than his death. But on Monday Maduro told his troops to prepare to protect Venezuela’s “coasts, rivers, plains, mountains, barrios, fields and cities” from foreign aggressors. Are we ready to defend the homeland? Are we ready to pounce on and defeat the traitors and the oligarchs?” Maduro bellowed. Members of the militia hoisted their assault rifles into the air and shouted: “Sí!”


     RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL    --  The elected president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, said on Tuesday that Cuba had "agents and members of the Army" infiltrated among the doctors who were part of the program "More Doctors", which the island government decided to abandon after criticism from the far right . The future president, who will be invested on January 1, said, in a live broadcast made through their social networks, that some 200 professionals of the more than 8,000 who recently left Brazil "had nothing to do with medicine."

      The first 200 that left were all Cuban agents or members of the Cuban Army. They were here guarding the slave labor practiced by them here, with the connivance of the Workers Party "(PT) of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro said. The captain of the Army Reserve, who has harshly criticized the PT initiative, stressed that these 200 supposed doctors, "came out because they could be audited" by the Government from January, when his term will begin. "We had confirmation that they had nothing to do with medicine," he said. The "Más Médicos" was created in 2013 by the Workers Party to offer health in the most remote and poorest places in Brazil, but Cuba decided to abandon it after the criticisms made by Bolsonaro.

     The ultra-rightist said that Cuban doctors were working in the country in conditions of "slavery", to remain separated from their families and receive only 30% of their salary, since the rest is destined to the Government of that country. In his statement made from his residence in Rio de Janeiro and that was shorter than usual, Bolsonaro insisted that he did not invite the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela to his investiture. After the controversy generated over the weekend, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry clarified on Monday that it invited the rulers of all the countries with which it has diplomatic relations to Bolsonaro's inauguration, but later, at the request of collaborators of the president-elect, withdrew the invitations I had made to Cuba and Venezuela. "We do not invite the Cuban and Venezuelan dictator, it is a democracy party, there are no elections and when they exist they are suspected of fraud," said Bolsonaro.


      CARACAS, VENEZUELA  --      
The Foreign Policy Commission of the National Assembly of Venezuela (AN, Parliament) said today that it alerted the international community about the "inconvenience" of the closure of embassies in the Caribbean country, since a lack of "scrutiny" could affect the violation of the human rights of the population. "We have addressed ourselves from the Foreign Policy Commission to the diplomatic community warning of the inconvenience, because that is what the government of (Nicolás) Maduro wants (...) to be able to do what he pleases without any scrutiny", Francisco Sucre, president of this committee, told reporters after participating in a forum in Caracas.

      "The presence of the international community is a kind of wall of contention so that this repressive policy (against dissent) does not continue to advance," he added. The Government of Peru announced ten days ago that it will propose to the members of the Lima Group - which together with 13 other American countries - the rupture of relations with Venezuela as a "natural consequence" of the ignorance of the presidential elections of May 20, that won with ease Maduro in the middle of high abstention. While the US ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Carlos Trujillo, said last week that there must be a "regional" debate on the legitimacy of Maduro from January 10, when he assumes a new term .

     Maduro has said that he will be sworn in and will not accept diplomatic "blackmail", given the possibility that some countries withdraw their ambassadors for not knowing the results of the May elections. For his part, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, showed the exit door to countries that do not recognize Maduro as of January 10, 2019. "Before the new Government of President Maduro, the State that wants to withdraw its ambassador, its diplomatic corps and its consular corps of Venezuela : welcome, you can do it, goodbye, but it is carried from the ambassador to the last consular official", said the week passed during a meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited in the country.

DECEMBER 19,  2018


 Venezuela’s DICTATOR Nicolas Maduro has vowed to arm HIS civil militia group in the country “to the teeth,” as their number, according to the Venezuelan president, grows to 1.6 million, more than triple in size since the beginning of the year. “We will arm the Bolivarian militia to the teeth,” Maduro told the militia members during a speech broadcast on Monday, without detailing how many of the forces were armed. “An invading imperialist force may enter a part of our fatherland, but the imperialists should know that they will not leave here alive.”

     The so-called National Bolivarian Militia functions as a reserve force composed of civilian volunteers, which was founded by former president Hugo Chavez in 2008 to assist the Latin American country’s armed forces. said in his address that he had given an order in April to boost the size of the reserve force to one million members. At the time, he said the militia had “nearly 400,000” members. Maduro’s speech to militia members came less than a week after the socialist leader accused the United States of plotting to invade his country. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accuses the United States of hatching plot to invade the South American nation.

     US President Donald Trump has  asked his aides whether a military invasion of Venezuela is possible. He has also talked of a “military option” to remove Maduro from power. But there is no clear indication that the US is preparing to invade Venezuela. Last year, Venezuela plunged into political unrest amid opposition protests, which left at least 125 dead from both the government and opposition camps. Last August, Maduro survived an assassination attempt during a military parade in Caracas. He was unharmed while seven Venezuelan soldiers sustained injuries in the incident. The Venezuelan president accused the US and Colombia of having a role in the attack.


  MANAGUA, NICARAGUA   --  Nicaraguan students taunted President Daniel Ortega with shouts of “murderer” as he spoke at an event aimed at negotiating a solution to weeks of deadly demonstrations that flared up again on Wednesday. A protester shouts slogans during a protest against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's government in Managua, Nicaragua May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas The meeting was a rare opportunity for the protesters to directly address the former Marxist guerrilla, and anger boiled over as the president lamented the violence of recent weeks. At least 49 people have been killed, mostly students, amid demonstrations that began over discontent with a new law that raised worker and employer social security contributions, while cutting benefits.

     “This is not a forum of dialogue; this is a forum to negotiate your exit,” one student told Ortega at the start of the event, organized by Nicaragua’s Roman Catholic bishops. “We cannot have dialogue ... because what has been committed in this country is a genocide.” Ortega talked through the insults. He said all deaths should be investigated and that police were under orders not to open fire against   the protesters, which have turned into the worst crisis of his more than a decade back in power. “Of course the deaths pain us. The death of even one citizen pains us,” said Ortega, harking back to his own fight against authoritarian rule.

     In an airport parking lot, people stood beside their cars, listening in silence to a live broadcast of Wednesday’s event. A woman called out names of dead protesters, and others shouted: “Presente!” (“Here we are!”), echoing a call from the Despite the talks, hundreds of protesters gathered through the afternoon and into early evening in front of the Universidad Centroamericana, bearing Nicaraguan flags and setting off fireworks. As she readied two cans of graffiti paint to spray “libertad” in the colors of the national flag on the street, Gabriela, 20, an architecture student, covered her face with a scarf, afraid in part, she said, of recognition by authorities. “My father was a chief of police,” she said, declining to give her last name. “He told me he’s deeply disappointed. This isn’t the police force he helped found.”


      BRASILIA, BRAZIL  --      
Two weeks remain until the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil, but he has already adopted a measure that ratifies what had been his speech against Nicolás Maduro's regime in Venezuela. Bolsonaro did not include Maduro on his guest list for January 1 in Brasilia, despite the fact that the Venezuelan president had received the formal invitation that the outgoing government sends to all the leaders of the region. Jair Bolsonaro confirmed the announcement of the future chancellor Brazilian, Ernesto Araújo, that the Venezuelan president was not invited to the investiture.

     "There is no place for Maduro in a celebration of democracy and the triumph of the Brazilian popular will.All the countries of the world must stop supporting it and unite to liberate Venezuela," Araújo said on Twitter. Traditionally, all the South American heads of state are invited to the investiture of the Brazilian presidents. Last week Maduro implicated Bolsonaro in an alleged plan orchestrated by the United States to assassinate him, following a meeting between the elected president and White House National Security Advisor John Bolton.

     In that meeting, which took place at the end of November in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro and Bolton discussed, among other issues, measures to deal with the crisis in Venezuela, although they were not specified. "We have to look for solutions for Venezuela. We must take measures, "said Bolsonaro, and said they will do everything possible to resolve the crisis in that country by" legal and peaceful ways, "because they feel" the reflection of the dictatorship installed in Venezuela. " From Caracas, the response of the Maduro regime to the Brazilian "disinvitation" did not wait. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted two "diplomatic notes" that, he said, were sent by the outgoing Brazilian government to invite Maduro to the assumption, and also hung the "official response" from Venezuela.

DECEMBER 18,  2018


      moscow, russia    --
  the state-sponsored TASS news agency reported that Russian experts had selected the island of La Orchila, 125 miles northeast of Caracas, as a possible military base up to 10 years ago. According to the agency, Russia will now be 'deploying Tu-160 strategic aircraft to the island', after seeking permission from Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.  The deployment will represent the one of the largest semi-permanent postings of Russian military hardware to the region since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 - which marked the height of the Cold War.

    Venezuelan law reportedly prohibits a full-time military base from being set up within its borders. However, the deployment of supersonic Russian jets would be 'temporary' - according to official sources. 'It is the right idea to include Venezuela in long-range aviation missions,' military expert Colonel Shamil Gareyev told the Russian newspaper Novaya Gozeta. 'Our strategic bombers will not only not have to return to Russia every time, but also won't perform aerial refueling while on a patrol mission in the Americas.

     'Our Tu-160 aircraft arrive to their base in Venezuela, conduct flights, execute their missions and are then replaced on a rotating basis. This is how it should be done.' The news comes just days after two of Russia's nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers flew over the Caribbean sea during a 10-hour training mission with the Venezuelan Air Force amid escalating tensions between Moscow and Washington. "We are clearly helping the Venezuelan government to stay afloat," said the researcher at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Emil Dabagyan.


  CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --  Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro YESTERDAY accused the Colombian leader, Iván Duque, of directing military plans against the so-called Bolivarian revolution, for which he asked the Armed Forces of his country to be prepared to defend and attack. "Iván Duque, you are responsible if someday Colombia aggressively attacks Venezuela (...) He personally directs the preparation of actions against Venezuela, so I denounce it to the world, with the support, with the financing of the White House", said Maduro during an act with the military in Caracas. The dictator said he wanted "the best relations" with all the countries but warned the members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) about conspiracy plans that would be weaving between Bogota, Washington and Brasilia.

      "You are responsible for your ambition, for your selfishness, for your hatred against Venezuela, for your immaturity Ivan Duque, you are not prepared to be head of state, you are not prepared to be president of Colombia and all of Colombia knows it," he continued. ruler. Maduro asked the Venezuelan military to develop preventive tasks to face "any strange movement of paramilitary groups or infiltrators that may be here or there," and defensive efforts to "defend every inch of the national territory of the enemies of the homeland." "The people will defend with their lives the right to peace, the right to independence, the right to sovereignty of our beloved and sacred Venezuela," he said. In addition, he ordered the FANB to prepare "meticulously" offensive work "to go to the heart of the enemy that dared to touch the Venezuelan land" and "to tear the enemy's heart in their own territory"; although he said he hoped that this measure would never be necessary.

    "We will defend our homeland of imperialists, oligarchs and male or female traitors (...) who may come from Bogotá or come from Brasilia (...) or traitors who sell their souls for a handful of dirty dollars from Colombia and of the northern empire, "he added. The Venezuelan government denounced this month that more than 700 "mercenaries" are being trained in Colombia to simulate Venezuelan attacks against the forces of order in the neighboring country and that this generates a "destabilization" that justifies foreign intervention. After that accusation, President Duque stressed that Colombia is "a country that respects international law" and that it has been characterized "by having solid institutions", as well as by "going to multilateral organizations when it comes to obligations of other countries to Colombia".


      ASUNCION, PARAGUAY   --      
The president of the Mercosur Parliament (Parlasul), the Paraguayan Tomás Bittar, said today that the "dictatorial" and "repressive" government of Nicolás Maduro applies a "genocidal policy" in Venezuela. In the LIII Meeting of the Mercosur Council, Bittar said that in Venezuela "the children are being" hunted "and" a decent life is denied "to the people. The president of Parlasul added that in the Brazilian state of Roraima, on the border with Venezuela, there is "pain, sadness and hopelessness", but that thanks to the Government of Brazil "all this has become a space of opportunity" as immigrants "They are treated as human beings." Also, Bittar explained that from the moment he took office, on January 1, the biggest challenge he assumed was "the defense of democracy."

     Therefore, he explained that he denounced "every abuse and abuse" of the Government against the Venezuelan parliamentarians whose passports were canceled, they were accused of crimes without any evidence or publicly threatened. Bittar thanked Uruguay's chancellor, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, for "being a good host" and for "always taking into consideration the requests" from his presidency pro tempore. He explained that it was not possible to advance as wanted in the institutional growth of Parliament and in relation to the decision-making bodies of Mercosur, he stressed that "this was not the case in all aspects". "We have obtained the support of some members of this bloc in relation to the financing of our activities, which positioned the Mercosur parliament on the international stage in an effective way, marking presence in many forums of great importance and we have achieved visibility never seen so far, "he remarked.

     For Bittar, who will leave the presidency of Parlasur next December 31, this body "must be a real protagonist of decision-making and its importance must be recognized in the institutional growth of Mercosur and the need for its participation in the legislative process of the common order ". "I hope to advance decisively and continuously towards a real, fair and generous interaction with the peoples of Latin America," concluded the one that will be succeeded in 2019 by the Parlasur front by Uruguayan official deputy Daniel Caggiani., there will be a ceremony for the transfer of the pro tempore presidency from Uruguay to Argentina - which will be responsible for this new function for six months. Despite being a State Party to Mercosur, Venezuela is suspended in all the rights and obligations inherent to its membership, in accordance with the provisions of the Ushuaia Protocol on the democratic commitment in the bloc.

DECEMBER 17,  2018


 The future Foreign Minister of Brazil, Ernesto Araújo, reported that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was not invited to the inauguration of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro on January 1, and urged "all countries of the world" to "unite to liberate" the Caribbean nation. "All the countries of the world should stop supporting him (Maduro) and unite to liberate Venezuela," Araújo said on his social networks, as he was appointed  as Brazil's fnext foreign minister.

      The diplomat said in a tweet that, "in respect to the Venezuelan people," Maduro was not invited to the investiture of Jair Bolsonaro, which will be held on January 1 in Brasilia. "There is no place for Maduro in a celebration of democracy and the triumph of the Brazilian popular will," he said. Araújo, director of the Department of Inter-American Affairs of the Foreign Ministry since 2016, declares himself an ad,mirer of US President Donald Trump, opponent of globalism and Marxism, both ideological and "cultural" and has warned that he will fight "climate alarmism".

Dctator Maduro this week involved Bolsonaro in a supposed plot to assassinate him and put an end to the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, following a meeting of the Brazilian elected president with US National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolsonaro, an avowed anti-communist, has described the government of Maduro as a "dictatorship" on several occasions, although he always ruled out supporting a military intervention in the neighboring country. "On our part there is no such thing (an intervention in Venezuela). Brazil will always seek the peaceful way to solve the problems, "said the president-elect a few days after winning the elections in Brazil.

      Araújo's comments were pronounced days after Maduro implicated Bolsonaro in an alleged plan orchestrated by the United States in order to assassinate him and put an end to the Bolivarian revolution, following a meeting of the elected governor with the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Nicolás Maduro denounced last Wednesday the existence of a "plot from the White House (USA)" to assassinate him and which is currently "in development" with the complicity, also, of the Colombian Government.


he Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published its annual report on imprisoned journalists on December 13 and found that the last three years vENEZUELA had the highest numbers worldwide since the organization began to track the data. The most recent case in Latin America is that of the German journalist Billy Six, who was arrested on November 17 by officials of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM) in the state of Falcón. He was covering the economic and social crisis in Venezuela, including mass migration, according to CPJ.

      Six is now in the infamous Helicoide prison in Caracas, according to "Espacio Público." The organization said that he was accused of rebellion and espionage for photographing, "very closely," Nicolás Maduro. Six is now on a hunger strike, asking to speak with his family. The German embassy in Caracas and a civil lawyer, are also requesting the  results of a dengue test, according to a letter he published through his parents, Espacio Público reported. Also in Venezuela, Jesús Medina Ezaine, a freelance photographer and journalist of Dólar Today, is being held in the military prison of Ramo Verde before his trial. According to El Nacional, he has been accused of money laundering, criminal association, incitement to hatred and illegal profits against acts of public administration.

      Medina was arrested on August 29, 2018 at a Caracas metro station by agents of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service. A Peruvian journalist who witnessed the arrest said in a video published by the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) that Medina was helping her and a colleague with his research work. According to CPJ, the head of the Scientific, Penal and Penal Investigations Agency (CICPC) said that an arrest warrant was processed for "simulating a punishable act,"  after the journalist reported that he had been kidnapped in November. of 2017 , according to El Universal. The authorities claimed that their investigations showed that the kidnapping did not occur "CPJ could not determine when the arrest warrant was issued or why the court charges did not include a reference to the false abduction complaint," the organization reported.


      WASHINGTON, D.C.  --      
In a note to its clients, the Norwegian consultant Rystad Energy foresees the decline of the mature fields in Venezuela of 35% in 2018, with respect to the production of 2017. Rystad Energy reports that the substantial absence of approved production projects since 2014, leads it to believe that most of the operating drills in Venezuela are used in work to stop the decline of mature fields.

     Mature fields are those that have produced 50% or more of their original resources. Since the Spring of 2016, the count of platforms in Venezuela began to decrease, since the main contractors of well services, such as Schlumberger and Halliburton, reduced activity due to the unpaid debt that PDVSA has with them. The reduction in the number of operational drills continued during the second half of 2017 and until 2018.

     The count of drills in activity is currently 25 in November,  compared to an estimated 60-70 equipment needed to normalize the natural decline of mature fields that is between 6-7% per year. As a result, Rystad predicts that some mature fields, such as El Furrial, Tia Juana and Bachaquero, will lose about half of their production by 2018. In general, they forecast that the production of crude from mature fields in Venezuela will decrease 35% YoY in 2018 and 25% YoY in 2019.

DECEMBER 16,  2018


The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) takes note with the greatest concern of the news coming from Venezuela about the possibility that aircraft capable of using nuclear weapons from Russia are in its territory. The presence of this foreign military mission violates the Venezuelan Constitution because it has not been authorized by the National Assembly, as required by Article 187, paragraph 11. Therefore, we consider such an act harmful to Venezuelan sovereignty.

      Likewise, this action may also be in violation of fundamental norms of international law. Venezuela is a State Party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean ("Treaty of Tlatelolco"), whose first article prohibits the receipt, storage or possession of nuclear weapons by States party or by third parties in their territory. The adoption of this treaty was a great achievement for Latin America and the Caribbean, which would made us the first region free of nuclear weapons. Its violation is a serious threat to international peace and security.

      We urge the bodies established in this agreement to adopt the necessary measures to verify compliance by Venezuela with its obligations, ensure that we are not in the presence of nuclear weapons as defined in Article 5 of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and if a violation is found, that both the United Nations and the OAS be immediately informed, as established in Article 21. Likewise, the General Secretariat observes with extreme concern the participation of military capabilities of extra-regional powers in the Hemisphere outside the constitutional framework of the countries, and far from the transparency and mutual trust that should guide these activities. Such attitudes do not contribute to peace or hemispheric stability, values of the utmost importance to preserve for coexistence in the region.


     WASHINGTON, D.C.    - - The Inter American Press Association (SIP) today denounced the cessation of the print edition of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional because of the monopolization of paper by the Venezuelan regime, implemented with the creation of the state-owned Corporación Maneiro in 2013. The president of the SIP, María Elvira Domínguez, expressed her solidarity in a statement with the director of El Nacional, Miguel Henrique Otero, and his staff and described as "a new and serious attack" this form of government censorship to punish critical media with the regime.
       he cessation of the printed version of the aforementioned newspaper due to the lack of paper supposes a "further regression of press freedom" in Venezuela, a consequence of a regime that "continues to destroy the rights of its citizens, the country and democracy", affirmed Dominguez in the statement. The National assured, on the other hand, that the suspension of its printed format implies a "stop to take strength, but without renouncing to print quickly the newspaper, which, undoubtedly, does not belong to us because it has become the property of entire Venezuela "

       The voice of El Nacional, the newspaper continued, "will continue to be heard through its web portal, where it will continue its struggle". Roberto Rock, president of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said it was "serious news for press freedom." Rock pointed out that it is the result of the "evolution of censorship that we have been highlighting for decades and in which the (Venezuelan) government uses all the mechanisms at its disposal to suffocate and attack independent expressions." "We hope these are the last acts of censorship and antidemocracy in Venezuela," said Rock. In its recent report on Venezuela, the IAPA denounced that the last few months have been one of the hardest for the media and independent journalists.


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  - -  Not only the Greater Caracas presented blackouts the afternoon of this Friday, also in several Venezuelan states reported failures in the electrical service during which it left without light to some areas of the national territory after noon. Through the social network Twitter users echoed the situation that affected many areas of the country. In Miranda state localities such as Guarenas, Guatire, Los Teques, Carrizal, San Antonio de Los Altos and Valles del Tuy there were reported blackouts. Also in Vargas in sectors such as Caraballeda and Tanaguarena.

       In the Carabobo state, sectors such as Valencia, Naguanagua, Mañongo and San Diego were without light. In Aragua, it should be noted that a fire occurred in the electric substation in Los Tanques, in Villa de Cura, which caused faults in the service of this state and part of the central region of the country."Fire at the La Horqueta substation, in the state of Aragua (north)," generates interruption of service in sectors of the central region of the country, "CORPOELEC reported on Twitter, also reporting that firefighters managed to extinguish the flames accompanied by a thick column of black smoke. According to the corporation, it was "a strong fire" that affected lines of 765 kilowatts. In some areas the supply recovered gradually in the late afternoon, while others remained in the dark.

      Towards the east of Venezuela, the Nueva Esparta state was affected by faults in the electric service in areas such as Porlamar and Pampatar In the West, the situation was more extensive, affecting several states. In the areas of Coro, the capital of the Falcón state, they were reported without electricity, as were the towns of the Lara and Portuguesa states; In the latter, blackouts were reported in Acarigua and Araure. in the Zulia capital, Maracaibo, especially in the northern areas. "The light comes and goes. I heard the explosion of several transformers in a nearby substation, " Néstor Zambrano, a retired 61-year-old who lives in the city , told AFP . In the Venezuelan Andes, in Trujillo there were blackouts in Valera and in several locations in the state of Merida.

DECEMBER 15,  2018


The US ambassador before the Organization of American States (OAS), Carlos Trujillo, believes that there must be a "regional" debate on the scenario that will open when Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro swears his charge on January 10 for the period until 2025. In an interview with Efe, Trujillo said that the US It will request the convening of a Permanent Council of the OAS for January 10 with the objective of examining the response of the continent to the investiture of Maduro, the result of elections that have not been recognized by dozens of countries. "We are not going to all have the same answer, but it is important to have a conversation about the non-recognition of the elections. What does it mean from a diplomatic perspective?

      All countries will have a different response, "said the US diplomat. Trujillo did not specify whether the US will break relations with Maduro after January 10 and explained that this decision will be made by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in consultation with other actors such as the National Security Council of the White House (NSC). If the US takes the decision to cut ties with Venezuela, that would mean "a significant change in the current diplomatic landscape," Trujillo said. "I think that if we do not recognize it as a democratic government, we should treat it as such," he said. Maduro, who has been in power since 2013, was reelected president on May 20 in elections not recognized by most of the international community.

     The Lima Group, which brings together a dozen nations that consider democracy broken in Venezuela and which the US supports from the outside, met in Bogotá on October 31 to analyze possible options from January 10, but did not announce any decision on the renewal of Maduro's mandate. At the continental level, some countries, such as Chile, have asked the international community to express their "repudiation" of the Venezuelan Executive. Meanwhile, inside the US, Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez have asked US President Donald Trump to declare Maduro "illegitimate" and to recognize Venezuela's "only legitimate institution" as the National Assembly (AN), controlled by the opposition since 2016 and that Chavez had tried to replace with the Cuban Constituent Assembly.


     UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK    - - UN said on Friday that it predicts that by the end of 2019 5.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees will be AROUND THE WORLD due to the political and economic crisis in their country, and made a first call for donations for the region. The UN presented in Geneva the Regional Plan of aid for refugees and migrants from Venezuela, something "unprecedented in the Americas," said the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). a joint statement. According to UN agencies, some three million Venezuelans live abroad, of which at least 2.3 million have left Venezuela since 2015. The majority choose Colombia or Peru.

     "Based on government figures, it is estimated that there will be 5.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants by the end of December 2019," the UN said in its Regional Intervention Plan. The exodus of Venezuelans leaving their country increased in 2017 and accelerated in 2018, according to the UN. According to UNHCR and IOM estimates, in 2018 some 5,500 people left Venezuela every day. "We are facing a humanitarian earthquake," declared the special envoy of the UN for refugees and migrants from Venezuela, Eduardo Stein, at a press conference. "The peak" of games was reached "in mid-August, when the number of Venezuelans who left the country exceeded 18,000 per day. Currently it dropped to 5,000 per day on average, "he added.

     The request for funds launched by the UN is based on the hypothesis that the current situation will continue. United Nations requested 738 million dollars to distribute aid in 16 countries to 2.7 million people (2.2 million Venezuelans and 500,000 people in the communities they reach). The exodus of Venezuelans fleeing from a disastrous economic situation is considered by the UN as the most massive displacement of people in the recent history of Latin America. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but is suffocated by a deep economic crisis.


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  - -   Most of Venezuela's industries are working at a third of their capacity and a group of them estimates that they will only operate another year in the country due to the economic crisis, revealed on Thursday a survey by Conindustria, an organization that groups the 2,500 leading companies in the nation. The oil nation faces its worst economic crisis with a recession that has lasted five years, while hyperinflation reached a year-on-year increase of 1.299 million percent in November, according to the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, which keeps statistics in the absence of official figures Due to the crisis and restrictions on access to foreign currency, many multinationals have already minimized their activity and others have left, such as the Goodyear tire factory, which ceased operations on Monday.

     "Life with hyperinflation, increased taxes, less demand and low access to domestic and imported raw materials is difficult," said Juan Pablo Olalquiaga, president of Conindustria when presenting the results of the quarterly consultation that he carried out with his associates. Forty-two percent of industrialists responded that they will work 12 more months in the country due to unfavorable economic conditions, while 73 percent said their plants are operating up to 30 percent of their installed capacity. According to President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's financial difficulties are due to the fact that there is an "economic war" on the part of the United States and Venezuelan businessmen. But critics and economists say that the distortions are due to the model of controls, from which the exchange rate to the prices of food and which last more than a decade.

     In August, Maduro devalued the currency, raised the minimum wage, subtracted five zeroes from the currency and increased taxes in what he described as a plan for economic growth and recovery. However, analysts described the measures as disorderly actions because they do not correct the distortions of the economy, which have led to the migration of 3 million people, according to the United Nations. Maduro promised new economic announcements on Wednesday, but industrialists do not have much expectations because up to now the successive plans have failed. In the survey, 38 percent of the industries said they lost their qualified personnel. "The loss of that personnel will become a limiting factor when it is necessary to recover industrial activity," Olalquiaga added.

DECEMBER 14,  2018


Russia informed the United States that two of its strategic bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, will leave Venezuela on Friday, the White House announced on Wednesday. Moscow's decision would put an end to a deployment that infuriated Washington, and raised concern in Colombia and the OAS. "We have spoken with representatives of Russia and they have been informed us that the military planes that landed in Venezuela will leave the country on Friday and return to Russia " said Wednesday, White House Press secretary Sarah Sanders, in an email to the Media.

     On Monday, Russia and Venezuela announced joint military maneuvers for the eventual defense of the Latin American country, whose government presided over by dictator Nicholas Maduro who regularly denounces intentions of military aggression from the United States, without presenting any evidence. The planes arrived in Venezuela after last week the Venezuelan dictator made a visit to Russia, where he signed investment agreements for more than 6 billion dollars, and a contract for the maintenance and repair of armaments. During the visit, Russia expressed to Venezuela, at the level of its defense ministers, its interest in continuing to use the airports and ports of the Caribbean country for its warships and military aviation.

     Moscow announced on Monday that as part of the fleet that it would participate in military maneuvers were two strategic bombers Tupolev Tu-160, with capacity to carry nuclear weapons: an airplane of transport an-124 and a passenger plane Il-62. The announcement did not specify the reason for the displacement, nor the time that it would remain in Venezuelan territory. The Tu-160, which NATO calls "Black Jack," is the largest war aircraft in history. It is capable of carrying 12 cruise missiles with nuclear or conventional warheads and 40 tons of bombs. As expected, the opposition criticized Russia's military support for the Maduro government. The deputy and former President of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, said that "Russia helps the dictatorship to remain in power through terror and intimidation ", and suggested that the support is not free, and that the government pays it "Delivering the country’s mineral riches of the country.


     WASHINGTON, D.C.    - -  Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat Bob Menéndez on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to declare "illegitimate" the government of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro before January 10, when he will presumably swear his oath until 2025. "We request to condemn the Government of the Maduro regime as illegitimate, and formally recognize the National Assembly of Venezuela as the only legitimate democratic institution that remains in the national government, "Rubio and Menéndez wrote in a letter sent to Trump. On January 10, the presidential period that began in 2013 ends and a new cycle of six years begins, according to the Venezuelan Constitution.

     The National Assembly of Venezuela declared that the last presidential elections, held in May, violated the conditions of electoral integrity, so they can not be considered as legitimate. In that letter, the senators criticized that Maduro "has distanced Venezuela from the path of democracy and has brought it closer to that of the dictatorship." "It is time for the United States to formally recognize the democratically elected National Assembly as the only legitimate government institution remaining in Venezuela," Rubio said in a statement to Efe. Also, the senator from Florida pointed out that Maduro "has used manipulative and unconstitutional tactics to remain in power in Venezuela, including the fraudulent elections of May 2018 and the creation of an illegitimate Constituent Assembly in July of 2017."

     Although many countries do not recognize the May 20 elections, in which the bulk of the opposition did not participate and according to which Maduro was re-elected with 68% of the votes, the Venezuelan president said he will take office on the 10th. January for a new period until 2025. Maduro assured that he will not accept diplomatic "blackmail" in view of the possibility that some countries withdraw their ambassadors because they consider their reelection illegitimate. "Governments can do what they want, if they want to leave Venezuela with their ambassadors, they all can leave, they are free to leave. Venezuela is not going to be blackmailed by anyone, "the Chavist leader said during a press conference on Wednesday in Caracas.


     LA PAZ, BOLIVIA  - -    Several marches of Bolivian groups opposed to the re-election of President Evo Morales from different parts of the country arrived in La Paz on Thursday to demand that the electoral body reverse the qualification of Morales as a presidential candidate in 2019. Thousands of angry Bolivians gathered in the center of La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, as well as major cities, like Cochabamba and Santa Cruz demanding that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) takes action.

      Along the way they held Bolivian and white flags with inscriptions of “Bolivia said no” and chanted the same message that alludes to the result of the 2016 referendum that rejected a constitutional reform to allow Morales the possibility of re-election. “This is Bolivia, not Venezuela,” thousands of demonstrators chanted, burning a doll representing Bolivian president Morales at the doors of the electoral body and denounced the alleged establishment of a dictatorship in the country.

     In an improvised act, the president of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia (APDHB), Amparo Carvajal, said that the Supreme Electoral Court “has betrayed” the Bolivians’ vote by allowing the long-serving president and his vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, to stand for a fourth term in office. On Tuesday night, the Supreme Electoral Court announced the qualified candidates for the primaries prior to the 2019 general elections. The nomination of Morales and Garcia Linera was allowed with the endorsement of four members of the court, and against two others who assessed that there was a legal clash between a ruling of the Constitutional Court that gives them that right and the 2016 referendum that prevented them from presenting themselves to new elections.

DECEMBER 13,  2018


The United States anti-terrorism coordinator, Nathan A. Sales, said on Wednesday that the Venezuelan government does not hesitate to relate to regimes such as Iran, and said it is closely monitoring the "humanitarian situation" suffered by the government. South American nation, publishes the Voice of America . Consulted during a teleconference by online journalists, Sales also said that he hopes that the Peace Agreement in Colombia "remains firm and that the Colombian public receives the benefits of that agreement: peace, stability, order and tranquility." "The Venezuelan government has no concern to be associated with the most sordid actors, among them Iran, which, as we all know, is the country that most sponsors terrorism, uses terrorism as a tool to carry out its state designs," said Sales.

     He also warned that we must be prepared for the threat posed by transnational terrorist groups, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which compromise the collective security and the citizens of countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. "We have to be aware of the trips of the terrorists, who depend on these trips to raise money, to study and examine their objectives, their future attacks, to provide training," he said. Sales reiterated that it is necessary "to have tools so that this does not happen". Sales declined to answer a question about whether the United States is willing to give military support to Colombia now that Russia is giving planes to Venezuela: "I'm going to let my colleagues in the Pentagon answer that question."

     Asked about what are the terrorist groups supported by the Venezuelan government today, Sales responded that the United States has a framework of laws that defines the parameters that must be met in order for a country to be called a state sponsor of terrorism. and that is the job of the Secretary of State. "Here in the United States we are monitoring, monitoring all the countries of the world to evaluate if there is reliable information that indicates if that country meets that threshold," he said. Before concluding his teleconference, Sales reiterated what remains as the goal of the United States in the fight against terrorism. "The main focus of ours remains the transnational terrorist groups that represent a threat to the security of the United States and the interests of our country and threaten the security of Americans abroad," he said.


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA   - -  The Venezuelan subsidiary of the tire multinational Goodyear announced on Monday the cessation of its operations, which adds to a list of foreign companies that have withdrawn from the country hit by a deep economic crisis. Goodyear, which is based in Ohio, United States, agreed to halt the production of tires at its plant located in the coastal state of Carabobo, company spokesperson Eduardo Arguelles told The Associated Press in an email. Arguelles said the company's goal was to maintain operations, but that "the economic conditions and sanctions of the United States have made this impossible."

     The paralysis took several dozens of workers by surprise who arrived at the plant on Monday and found that it was not operating. "Today they closed the doors without saying anything," union secretary Luis Aponte told the AP, who reported that the company's strike affects some 1,100 workers. After a meeting between the employees and the representatives of the Ministry of Labor and other authorities, several dozen employees decided to take plant facilities to protect it and prevent vandalism at the site, Aponte said. The authorities agreed with the employees to initiate a legal process to determine the future of the plant in the coming days, the official added. After 35 years of work in the company, Julián Rodríguez, a worker of 62 years, found that the plant was paralyzed. "The situation is serious, we do not know how we can solve it," he said ruefully after admitting that he lost his only income. "This is strong," he added.

     Numerous local and international companies have suspended activities or limited production due to difficulties in importing raw materials, a situation that has deepened the problems of scarcity, economic recession and inflation, which stood at 144.2% in November and reached an annualized rate 1,299,724%, according to calculations that the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition. In July the international Pirelli tire corporation also ceased operations in Venezuela after 28 years. Pirelli joined the list of foreign multinationals such as Bridgestone, Halliburton, Ford Motor and Procter & Gamble that slowed down their activities or abandoned their investments in Venezuela. The dictator Nicolás Maduro activated in August a plan to recover the economy that implied a monetary reconversion, an increase in the minimum wage, an increase in the Value Added Tax and a unification of the exchange rate that represented a strong devaluation. In spite of the measures, the deepening of the crisis has continued in the face of the uncontrolled advance of hyperinflation and economic paralysis.


     BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - -    America must be "alert" to the "unfriendly" defense exercises initiated by the government of Nicolás Maduro with the support of Russia, which sent two bombers to Venezuela, Colombian President Iván Duque said on Wednesday. The president assured Noticias RCN news that it is not the first time that the neighboring country uses combat aircraft as "provocative tools" and that it is worrying. "The continent must be alert. This is not only an unfriendly act with Colombia, but an unfriendly act (...) against a region that is clear that there is something called the Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance where, if there is any aggression, all countries should protect the country attacked, "said Duque.

     On Monday, Russia moved to Venezuela two Tu-160 bombers, an An-124 transport aircraft and an Il-62 passenger plane. The shipment is part of some exercises aimed at defending the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, which faces a severe economic crisis and at the same time financial sanctions from the United States. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, condemned on Twitter the maneuvers stating that it is "two corrupt governments squandering public funds and repressing freedom while their people suffer." For its part, a spokesman for the Kremlin criticized the response as "not very diplomatic", calling the message "unacceptable". Washington's strategic ally and "global partner" of the Atlantic Alliance NATO, Colombia leads the regional pressure that aims to "suffocate diplomatically" the government of Maduro, which he calls "dictatorship".

     On Sunday, the Venezuelan leader denounced once again the supposed plans of the United States to overthrow him, in a conspiracy that, according to him, involves Colombia. Bogota, which has emphatically denied seeking Maduro's government by force, insisted on Tuesday that it will continue to act with "prudence" in the face of Venezuelan maneuvers. Colombia "does not allow itself to be intimidated, but neither does it allow itself to be provoked nor does it go out to provoke the neighbors, any of our neighbors," Defense Minister Guillermo Botero said. The two Latin American countries, which share a 2,200 km border, have practically frozen their relations since mid-2017, and they are escalating their declarations war every now and then.

DECEMBER 12,  2018


The Venezuelan government seeks to reaffirm after winning a municipal election on Sunday with 72.6% abstention and without the participation of the main opposition forces . Those elections, the last ones of the electoral cycle, suppose the previous step of the oficialismo to the new mandate of Nicolás Maduro, that will be inaugurated the 10 of January. Amid a context of increasing international pressure, with the threat of new sanctions , the Chavist regime tried on Monday to refute its international isolation with an exhibition of strength.

     The message, in the absence of a pronouncement by the president, was made by Vladimir Padrino López, Minister of Defense, who in the morning received some Russian bombers and a hundred pilots at the Maiquetía airport. Venezuela will perform military maneuvers next to Moscow. Nothing beyond a few demonstrations, although a warning with two purposes. First, try to show that the country is not alone in the international board, despite being isolated within the region and having in front of Washington and Brussels. And secondly, what the defense minister said: "We must tell the people of Venezuela and the entire world that just as we are cooperating in different areas of development for both peoples, we are also preparing to defend Venezuela until the last span when necessary. "

      The rhetoric of the foreign enemy and the economic war of international markets is nothing new. Although in this context it is especially relevant due to the chavismo's flight forward and the questions that the main international instances, from Washington to Brussels, show to the drift of Chavismo. To this it is added that neither the Administration of Donald Trump nor the European Union will recognize from January the Government of Maduro. The presidential elections of last May were questioned by the vast majority of the international community and the main opposition parties refused to participate, considering that the elections lacked democratic guarantees. However, Europe does not give up to explore a new stage of dialogue between the Government and the opposition, despite several frustrated attempts.


     WASHINGTON,   - -  Washington and Moscow traded hostile remarks on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 after Russia sent a fleet of aircraft, including a pair of nuclear-capable bombers, to Venezuela in a show of support. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that two Tu-160 strategic bombers landed at the Maiquetia airport in Venezuela on Dec. 10. The bombers were accompanied by a transport plane and a long-haul aircraft. The aircrews were greeted on the ground by a Venezuelan welcoming party. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the move shortly after, calling it a waste of public funds by “two corrupt governments.” The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to respond, calling Pompeo’s statement “undiplomatic” and “totally inappropriate.” The war of words over the aircraft deployment is the latest escalation of tensions between Russia and the United States, driven largely by Russia’s provocations on the global stage.

     The Russian defense ministry said the 6,000-mile flight was in accordance with international airspace rules, adding that F-16 Fighting Falcon jets of the Norwegian Air Force shadowed the Russian aircraft at separate stages of the journey. Venezuelan Minister of Defense Padrino Lopez said the bombers would participate in a joint exercise with Venezuelan planes, according to Russian state-owned news agency TASS. Pompeo’s Venezuelan counterpart, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza issued a statement pointing to America’s significant military presence in the region. “The backlash [by Mike Pompeo] against military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela is not only disrespectful, it is cynical: the US has at least 800 military bases (known) in 70 countries. Today 75 of the 107 US programs for security cooperation, operate in Latin America,” Arreaza wrote on Twitter.

     As the Russian bombers headed to Venezuela, a senior State Department official told reporters in a conference call that Russia’s latest aggression in Kerch is a reminder that America’s allies in Europe must take steps to wean themselves off dependence on Russian energy. During the call with reporters, Francis Fannon, the assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, specifically targeted Russia’s proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying that Washington is rallying allies to oppose the project. “Unlike the United States, Russia’s energy companies are an extension of the state, and the Russian state uses energy for coercive political aims. Through Nord Stream 2, Russia seeks to increase its leverage of the West while severing Ukraine from Europe,” Fannon said Dec. 10.


     WASHINGTON, D.C.  - -    On Tuesday, Senator Marco Rubio, a US senator from the state of Florida, made a statement on his Twitter account about the two Russian strategic bombers Tu-160, noting that this is another example of the threatens that both regimes represent for the stability in the region and the national security of the USA.

      "It is alarming that Russia has deployed bomber planes to Maiquetia in Venezuela after the meeting of dictators Maduro and Putin. This is another example of the threat that both regimes represent for stability in the region and the national security of the United States ", was what the senator expressed in the social network. He also noted that "the democracies of Latin America should reject Russia's attempts to exploit Latin America for their own benefit. Putin's decision to send Blackjack planes shows Maduro's desperation in seeking support from his autocratic henchmen. "

      Senator Marco Rubio appeared to have predicted Russia's move in a Twitter message on November 13. Rubio warned at the time that if Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro invited Russian bombers to Venezuela, Putin would have the planes fly in patrol over the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. "Not only would it be a highly provocative act on the part of Russia, but it would confirm that the Maduro regime represents a threat to the national security of the United States," Rubio said on November 13. With his suspicions confirmed, Rubio said on December 11 that Russia would fly a patrol mission already on December 12 to "prove that they can project power in the Western Hemisphere from Venezuela." "Instead of sending bombers, why does not Putin send food and medicine to the long-suffering people of Venezuela?" Rubio added.

DECEMBER 11,  2018


Three judges were appointed to initiate criminal proceedings against Nicolás Maduro in the International Criminal Court. In a communication signed by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji who chairs the ICC, three judges were appointed Péter Kovács of Hungary, Frenchman Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Benin Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou who make up the First Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC . Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut is the second vice-president of the ICC and led the Pre-Trial Chambers section until last March. The assignment of the case to a room for preliminary issues was a direct consequence of the request made by six American governments.

      On 26SEP18 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Presidents Mauricio Macri, Iván Duque Marquez, Sebastián Piñera, Mario Abdó Benítez and Martín Vizcarra on behalf of Canada and the Republics of Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru invoked Article 14 of the Statute of Rome that regulates the functioning of the International Criminal Court. Article 14 empowers "every State Party" to "refer the Prosecutor to a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed".Through a communication that was delivered on 27SEP18 at the ICC headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, the six countries requested the ICC Prosecutor, the Gambian Fatou Bensouda, "to initiate an investigation into the commission of crimes against humanity that it would have taken place in Venezuela under the government of President Nicolás Maduro, as of February 12, 2014, in order to determine if one or more specific persons should be accused of committing such crimes.

     " The arrival of the letter in the hands of the Prosecutor activated standards 45 and 46 of the Regulations of the ICC. On the same day, 27SEP18, Prosecutor Bensouda informed the President of the Court in writing about the content of the correspondence received. On 28SEP18, the President of the ICC, the Nigerian Chile Eboe-Osuji, In its annual report published on 05DIC18, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda assured that her office "will continue its evaluation of the information available to reach a determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes correspond to the jurisdiction of the court." (...) and "will continue to register allegations of crimes committed in Venezuela [since 12FEB14] insofar as they can enter within the jurisdiction of the court."


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  - -  According to information from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 bombers that landed in Venezuela are capable of transporting nuclear warheads, among other missiles of considerable power. The Tu-160, also known for its white color and smooth lines like "White Swan", is a strategic multi-mission bomber designed for operations ranging from subsonic speeds and low altitudes to speeds above Mach 1 at high altitudes, "he explains. FAS.

     These large aircraft "can accommodate different mission-specific loads, including strategic cruise missiles, short-range guided missiles, nuclear and conventional bombs and mines. Its basic armament of short-range guided missiles and strategic cruise missiles allows it to launch nuclear attacks on targets with pre-assigned coordinates, "adds FAS. According to the Russian Air Force, it is one of the most powerful aircraft in the world, with various world records, both speed, distance and load capacity.

     Sometimes, to train new combat pilots, the Russians perform refueling maneuvers on flights from military bases in Russia that go beyond Europe and reach Venezuela and even Nicaragua. Coinciding with Maduro's stay, the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigú, told his Venezuelan colleague, General Vladimir Padrino López, that Russia was interested in continuing to use the airports and ports of the Caribbean country for its warships and military aviation. . Ten years ago, two Tu-160s also landed in Venezuelan territory for test flights in international waters, a year after Russian strategic aircraft resumed flights to areas patrolled by the United States and NATO, which had been suspended since 1992. The Tu-160, ("Black Jack", according to NATO), is capable of transporting twelve cruise rockets with nuclear or conventional warheads and 40 tons of bombs, and is the largest fighter aircraft in history.


     WASHINGTON, D.C.  - -  Colonel Robert Manning, spokesman for the US Department of Defense, criticized with vehemence Monday the landing of Russian bombers in Venezuela and mentioned the sending of a US hospital ship to the region as an example of Washington's commitment to the region. "The US approach to the region differs from Russia's approach. In the middle of the tragedy, Russia sends bombers to Venezuela and we send a hospital ship, "Manning said during a press conference held on Monday at the Pentagon.

     The spokesman was referring to the USNS Comfort, which left in mid-October for Central America and South America to offer health assistance to the thousands of Venezuelan refugees hosted by various countries in the region. "While we offer humanitarian aid, Russia sends bombers," Manning insisted, referring to the dispatch of a squadron of Russian aircraft, including two T-160 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs, the Russian Defense Ministry reported. release. Manning urged the government of President Nicolás Maduro to "focus on offering humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of his people," instead of accepting military assistance from the Kremlin. "The most
    important thing here is that we are on the side of the people of Venezuela during a time of need and that is what the USNS Comfort symbolizes," he said. According to the data offered Monday by the US defense portfolio, since its mission began, about eight weeks ago, the medical team of the hospital ship has offered medical treatment to more than 20,000 civilians and has executed some 600 operations. The Comfort crew includes more than 200 American doctors, nurses and military technicians, as well as some 60 volunteer medical professionals and dentists from NGOs. The USNS Comfort, currently in Honduras, has more than 1,000 beds, a dozen operating rooms, digital radiology services, a laboratory, pharmacy and a blood bank with 5,000 units, as well as a heliport enabled for large aircraft.

DECEMBER 10,  2018


The president-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, pledged on Saturday to "consolidate" in Latin America the "new political line" that "was born" in the elections last October and join efforts to combat communism in the region. The future president of Brazil expressed himself in that sense in a message addressed to the so-called "Conservative Summit of the Americas", organized by one of his sons, the deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, which brought together representatives of a dozen countries in the region. According to Bolsonaro, leader of the Brazilian right, "everyone" in Latin America "knows what the consequences of the left are," adding that "the clearest example is Cuba, and the country that comes closest to that reality is Venezuela". Bolsonaro encouraged the conservatives of Latin America "not to desist, not to lose hope "and" to keep alive the flame of freedom ".

      According to Bolsonaro, leader of the Brazilian right, "everyone" in Latin America "knows what the consequences of the left are," adding that "the clearest example is Cuba, and the country that comes closest to that reality is Venezuela". In his message, directed by teleconference from his bed, in his private residence in Rio de Janeiro, where he recovers from wounds suffered during the election campaign, Bolsonaro encouraged the conservatives of Latin America "not to desist, not to lose hope "and" to keep the flame of freedom alive. "He also called for" jointly fighting the objectives of the Sao Paulo Forum, "an organization that brings together leftist parties in Latin America, and to wage" a broad struggle for freedom, democracy and free trade."

     According to what was said by the political leader, what will be "at stake" from January 1, when he assumes power, "will not be the success or failure of a mandate, but the success or failure of Brazil itself" . In this context, he affirmed that he is "obliged" to "succeed" and that "with that, the possibility of Brazil accompanying other countries" in a similar project will be "very big". At the conference, the deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro came to offer Brazil as a venue for a hypothetical trial to the "dictatorships" of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. "It would be a great source of satisfaction for Brazil to receive that court," said the deputy, who organized the event in the Brazilian city of Foz de Iguaçu.


       CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --      The Venezuelans did not go to vote massively this Sunday to elect councilors. The day that, according to analysts, was marked by abstention due to distrust in the vote, the disqualification of opposition parties and the satiety in the face of the socioeconomic crisis. The elections were suspended in the municipality of Gran Sabana (Bolívar state, south), where on Saturday an indigenous man died during a military operation against illegal mining, reported the National Electoral Council (CNE). In a first assessment, the president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, said that the process is proceeding with "total normality" in the rest of Venezuela, with "some novelty, small, that we have been attending". He did not give participation figures.

      A month after President Nicolás Maduro began a second term (2019-2025) after being re-elected in votes that were unknown to the United States, the European Union and several countries in Latin America, Chavismo hoped to strengthen its institutional control with the election of 2,459 ediles in 335 municipal councils. Today the opposition controls a quarter. The road seems clear, because the main opposition parties were disqualified by the CNE, amid deep divisions between the political sectors that oppose Maduro. Facing the projections about a high abstention, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) called to participate.
"The ruling party will capture the majority of the municipal chambers with a level of historical abstention," Felix Seijas, director of the Delphos polling firm, told AFP. There is a low influx of voters in Caracas centers, after a campaign in which electoral propaganda was practically nil. The opposition accuses Maduro of having put the electoral and judicial powers at his service, while the leadership of the Armed Forces frequently declares its "loyalty" to the socialist leader. On the eve of the vote, the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference considered that "the actions of power and domination that the government has been exercising in the different public powers do not guarantee impartiality and truth." The day of this Sunday is the last link in a chain of elections called by the ruling Constituent Assembly, which in practice displaced Parliament, the only power in the hands of the opposition.


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  - -  Dictator Nicolás Maduro: A coup attempt against the constitutional regime is underway today
Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro informed Luefo of exercising his right to vote that he will hold a press conference this week to announce alleged "conspiracies" from the White House in the United States, which in his view, "will try to divide To the country. " "I will give a press conference to give details of the conspiracies from the White House (...)
Today an attempt is underway to disrupt the democratic life of Venezuela and attempt a coup d'état against the constitutional, democratic regime of our country, "he said.

      In that sense, Maduro pointed out that the constitution will be defended against possible US interventions, "within the constitution everything, out of it nothing. We will defend this constitution from you (USA) and make it succeed again, "he added.

     The national president, in the company of the first combatant, Cilia Flores, attended the Liceo Miguel Antonio Caro National Education Unit in Catia, this Sunday in the afternoon. The elections of councillors that are celebrated this Sunday are the process election number 25. "From the previous 24 we have won 22, we are a real force," stressed the dictator.

DECEMBER 9,  2018


      WASHINGTON, D.C.   
President Trump said Saturday that embattled White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly will leave his job at the end of this month. “John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year,” the president told reporters at the White House, calling him “a great guy.”
Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, took over the high-pressure post in July 2017 after the ouster of Reince Priebus. The president said he’ll announce a replacement in the next few days. He is considering Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Last summer, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Kelly would stay on the job through his reelection bid in 2020.

      But there has been increasing friction between the two men, including Mr. Trump’s dissatisfaction with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was Mr. Kelly’s hand-picked successor at DHS. His departure is part of an overall year-end staff shakeup at the White House. On Friday, Mr. Trump announced he will nominate former attorney general William P. Barr as his new attorney general, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as ambassador to the United Nations. The president said his yet-to-be-announced replacement for Mr. Kelly might serve “on an interim basis.” “He’s been with me almost two years now, as you know, between the two positions,” the president said of Mr. Kelly. “I appreciate his service very much.”

     While Mr. Kelly’s departure has been long anticipated, the situation came to a head this week amid reports that he and the president were no longer on speaking terms. He has clashed with new national security adviser John R. Bolton over border security issues, while Mr. Trump has complained about Ms. Nielsen’s performance at DHS, the agency that Mr. Kelly formerly led. Mr. Kelly came on board the White House in the summer of 2017 to bring some discipline to an often freewheeling work atmosphere. He received credit for restoring a sense of order in the West Wing as a gatekeeper to the president, but also created resentment in some quarters for limiting access to Mr. Trump. He also reportedly clashed with the first lady’s office over staffing issues.


       WASHINGTON, D.C.    --      Senator Marco Rubio affirmed yesterday that the Chinese government tries to save the regime of Nicolas Maduro because of the high debts that the Venezuelan government maintains with the Asian nation. "At this time the government of Maduro owes China a lot of money, they are paying with oil, they are behind in those payments and obviously, the Chinese have concluded that if another government takes over, they will be paid less. They are seeking to save that regime, not simply for ideological reasons, but for economic reasons, "said Rubio. In the senator's view, Venezuela's relations with Russia are different, "because the relationship with Russia is based on Russia's wish to project power in the hemisphere and wants to be able to threaten the US, in the case of the Chinese, which interests, more than anything else, is to win money ,"

      Speaking about the case of the transnational Chinese communications ZTE, the senator pointed out that it should be reviewed whether the company's activities in Venezuela have violated the sanctions imposed by the United States and if so, the company must lose access to the North American market. Rubio recalled that some time ago ZTE could not work in the U.S. market for the violation of measures imposed by the U.S. government. "There was an agreement with the American government, so that under strong restrictions they could open in the U.S.; I was not in favor of it, I thought they should not be allowed to act in our country, but that was signed by the administration and now they really have given technology that is used by the Maduro government to oppress its people , that violates the U.S. sanctions against that regime and is also violating ZTE's arrangement with the U.S. government. "

      The senator made it clear that this situation should be thoroughly investigated "And if they have violated that agreement, then they must suffer the consequences, which is to lose access to the North American market. " Referring to the U.S. president, George H. W. Bush death, Rubio noted that he had a life dedicated to public service and remembered that he almost lost his life during his participation in World War II. Rubio added that he did not know him well, personally, but by the testimonies he heard during the funeral ceremonies, "were consistent with what was this great President ". He stressed that the first time he voted was to seek the re-election of George H. W. Bush.


     CARACAS, VENEZUELA  - -  Venezuela is experiencing the worst situation in terms of Human Rights in the last 30 years, according to NGO reports that have been replicated by international organizations such as the Organization of American States. In recent years, more than 2 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their country, a fact that, according to Efe, the general coordinator of the Venezuelan Program of Education Action in Human Rights (Provea), Rafael Uzcátegui, reflects that " there is a context of absence of democracy "and" a setback in terms of civil and political rights ". Added to this is "the worst situation of poverty and exclusion in recent decades" that explains the migration crisis because "Venezuelans have no chance to guarantee their integrity with the fruits of their work." The Venezuelan Parliament, of opposition majority, NGOs and relatives of more than 400 political prisoners have requested seven times the visit of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to Venezuela so that constant, they assure, the "violation" of the human rights.

      Nicaragua lives in 2018 marked by the so-called "anti-government" civic insurrection. Humanitarian agencies have so far counted between 325 and 545 deaths -29 children among them-, 1,315 people "kidnapped" by the police and paramilitaries, 610 "political prisoners", hundreds of disappeared, 4,533 injured, and more than 25,000 exiles. The government only recognizes 199 dead and 273 inmates, which qualifies as "terrorists", "coup" or "common criminals", and denies that in Nicaragua there are political prisoners. Both the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Acnudh), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Amnesty International blamed the Government for hundreds of deaths, as well as extrajudicial executions, torture, obstruction of attention medical, arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and sexual violence, while the Government of Ortega ensures that the country "is normal."

     Human rights organizations have repeatedly denounced the lack of civil liberties in Cuba, the only communist country in America, where only the ruling Communist Party is legal, the only means of communication permitted are state-owned and the right of association is strictly regulated. The political prisoners number about 120 - whom the Cuban government does not recognize as such - and so far this year there have been more than 200 arbitrary temporary detentions every month, according to data compiled by the internal dissidence, since The island does not have access to foreign civil organizations. The only current case of a dissident leader behind bars is the doctor Eduardo Cardet, who replaced the front of the Christian Liberation Movement to Oswaldo Payá, who died in a controversial accident in 2012. Cardet has been in prison for two years - of a sentence three years old - accused of a crime of assault against the authority that he and his family deny, and has been declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International.

DECEMBER 8,  2018


 The BASEBALL players Luis Valbuena and José Castillo died in a traffic accident in the state of Yaracuy. Both players, with experience in the Major Leagues, played with the Cardinals Lara team of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League and they were precisely heading to Barquisimeto after the game they played this Thursday against the Leones in the city of Caracas. The tragic traffic accident instantly ended the lives of both, confirmed two sources close to the players. Both players left the University Stadium and the accident occurred in the La Morita sector, on the road between Yaracuy and Barquisimeto, although the details are unknown.

     A source informed, after 1:00 in the morning, that the police forces were still there, raising the sinister, where Carlos Rivero survived, although with some injuries as a result of the overturning. It was learned that the three involved in the accident were traveling in the car of Carlos Rivero, a white Toyota Fortuner truck, ESPN reported . According to some local versions, the car was driven by the driver of Rivero, who did not manage to dodge a huge stone covered with cloths, placed on the road. A preliminary report from the authorities in the place assures that the rock was thrown to the road, a common modus operandi to perpetrate robberies on the highway.

     The car, according to the unofficial version, went to the other side of the road. Castillo and Valbuena, who were traveling in the back without seat belts, were thrown from the car by the impact. The driver was able to get out alive. The Cardinals team confirmed the tragic death of both players . Valbuena starred in a solid season with the Cardinals with seven homers, 11 doubles and 22 RBIs. Castillo, a tireless shooter on the local ball, batted .265 and had also towed 22 runs for the twilight cause. Both had been unobjectionable struts of the Larense team that is in the first place of the Venezuelan peloteril tournament.


       TEHRAN, IRAN    --      The Sahand destroyer, which can voyage for five months without resupply, may join a planned naval convoy to South America. The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities (Tasnim News Agency) Iran's navy has launched a domestically made destroyer, which state media said has radar-evading stealth properties, as tensions rise with the United States. In a ceremony carried live on state television on Saturday, the Sahand destroyer, which can sustain voyages lasting five months without resupply, joined Iran's regular navy at a base in Bandar Abbas on the Gulf.

     The Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-air missiles and electronic warfare capabilities, state television reported. "This vessel is the result of daring and creative design relying on the local technical knowledge of the Iranian Navy ... and has been built with stealth capabilities," Rear-Admiral Alireza Sheikhi, head of the navy shipyards that built the destroyer, told the state news agency IRNA. A naval commander said Sahand may be among warships that Iran plans to send on a mission to Venezuela soon, the Reuters news agency reported.

     "Among our plans in the near future is to send two or three vessels with special helicopters to Venezuela in South America on a mission that could last five months," Iran's deputy navy commander, Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani Moqaddam, told the semi-official news agency Mehr. US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran's development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.


     BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - -   MEP Beatriz Becerra has asked the High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini to agree with the Foreign Ministers the common position of the European Union in Venezuela after January 10, 2019 "with the ignorance of the presidential mandate of Nicolás Mature". In anote published by Becerra through social networks, he assures that "The European Union has already ignored the fraudulent presidential elections of May and its result.

     Maduro is a cruel dictator who has kidnapped #Venezuela with his network of corruption and drug trafficking. " she insisted that "the 4 million Venezuelans who have fled their country in search of food, medicine and peace, testify to this. When in 2017 we awarded the # Venezuela's democratic resistance the Sakharov prize, we assume the commitment to protect them for life. " "We must maintain consistency with all the measures adopted by the European Union so far. With firmness and responsibility, Europe must continue with a firm hand, "he said.

     She stressed that "no country in the world should recognize Maduro as president of #Venezuela on January 11. He will only represent himself and his narco-corrupt court. " "He will be the dictator who liquidated all democratic institutions, which caused an incalculable migratory crisis, imprisoned and tortured the dissidents, who repressed the students and starved their citizens," he wrote in his Twitter account.

DECEMBER 7,  2018


  The new president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) believes that Donald Trump is a "racist. "So he told me in an interview in 2017. That means that the honeymoon between AMLO-Trump can last very little. "Trump is racist?" I asked him. "Yes Yes. He has expressed it, "Lopez Obrador told me. "Stir racism. Yes. It is against foreigners. But it's not like I feel that way either. It is a political strategy. I mean, that's what I clarify. It has done us a lot of damage. He worked his strategy, his xenophobia, his racism. That's how he won. And they did not know how to face it. "" It's hard for you to call Trump a racist. "

     "If you come to the presidency that will generate huge problems." "No, it does not have to. In other words, let's talk very clearly. " "You are calling the president of the United States racist." "Because he treats us like this. And do not forget that Mexico is an independent country. " The question is whether López Obrador will be the same militant politician who called Trump a "racist" in May of last year - and who wrote a book about it called "Oye Trump" - or if he will try to get along with the US president. . Trump congratulated AMLO in a tweet, after his triumph in the July elections, and both have avoided fighting publicly over the issue of the construction of the border wall. It's a strange relationship: the new Latin American left with the US extreme right.

     The 64 percent of Mexicans living in the United States who voted by mail in the last elections in Mexico did so for López Obrador. And they expect him to defend them against Trump and not leave them alone, as Enrique Peña Nieto did. But the interesting thing is that Trump and AMLO have a coincidence on the issue of migration. López Obrador wants to create good jobs in Mexico so that Mexicans do not have to go north while Trump is trying to prevent new immigrants from entering. There is a chance to work together in what AMLO calls "cooperation for development". However, the arrival of the caravans of Central Americans to the US-Mexico border is the first crisis that the two leaders face together. AMLO's harsh vision of Trump does not extend to Venezuela and Cuba.


       MOSCOW, RUSSIA     --      The Russian president admitted that the situation of the South American country "is difficult" but reiterated his support for the government of Nicolás Maduro, whom he received in the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin today condemned any attempt to change the situation in Venezuela by force by receiving his Venezuelan colleague, Nicolas Maduro, at his residence outside of Moscow. "Of course, we condemn any action that has a clear terrorist nature, any attempt to change the situation with the help of force," Putin said at the start of the meeting held at the Novo-Ogariovo residence. After admitting that "the situation in Venezuela is still difficult," he stressed that Moscow supports Maduro's efforts to "achieve understanding in society ... and the normalization of relations with the opposition."

     In the economic sphere, Putin acknowledged that economic relations have experienced in recent years "difficult times" in which trade exchanges decreased. "But we have managed to reverse the negative trend, and this year we have already seen a concrete growth," he said. For his part, Maduro said that Venezuela has been the victim of "all kinds of aggressions", but that the country has learned the lesson. "I am sure that the results of this meeting will be good news for cooperation between our countries," he said.

      The Kremlin said today that Maduro's visit to this country will focus, among other things, on an eventual economic aid from the Eurasian country to the Andean country, which is going through an economic and social crisis. "In this context, the assistance that the Venezuelan Government needs will be addressed," said presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov, who added that, "in fact, that is what the president of Venezuela has come for." Before leaving for Moscow, Maduro said he intended to review "in depth" the cooperation with Russia in the working meeting with Putin, which he described as "necessary" for Caracas. The Venezuelan leader stressed that the visit will allow him to put "the finishing touch" to 2018 and is part of the diplomatic policy of strengthening ties "with the emerging powers of the world."


     MOSCOW, RUSSIA  - -   
Russia and Venezuela signed on Thursday several agreements and contracts that will guarantee investments for more than 5,000 million dollars, Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro revealed through his Twitter account. "Contracts have been signed today to guarantee investments of more than 5,000 million dollars to increase oil production with our Russian partners and joint ventures," Maduro said in the video posted. The dictator added that agreements were also signed that guarantee "an investment of more than 1,000 million dollars for mining production, mainly in gold."

     Maduro said that in March 2019 there will be a meeting of the mixed commission of Russia and Venezuela in Moscow with the aim of "continuing to make progress in the relationship." Likewise, the Venezuelan dictator thanked the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin and the Russian people for their welcome in the Eurasian nation. Putin, for his part, promised Maduro support during the meeting held between the two leaders at the official residence of Novo Ogarevo, near Moscow. "We support his efforts to achieve social peace and all his actions to harmonize relations with the opposition," said the Russian premier, who Maduro described as emerging world leader. The two leaders also signed a contract on the supply of 600,000 tons of wheat to Venezuela.

     Maduro said that in March there will be a meeting of the mixed commission of Russia and Venezuela in Moscow "to continue advancing in the relationship" and reported, in addition, the signing of maintenance contracts for military equipment in Venezuela. "The contracts for assistance, assistance, repair and maintenance of the weapons system of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have been signed," he wrote. Maduro arrived in Russia on Tuesday 4 from Caracas, where he held a meeting with the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Previously, Maduro also received visits from Iranian Foreign Minister Hojattolah Soltani and North Korean Supreme Assembly President Kim Yong Nam. Venezuela and Russia signed agreements for more than $ 5 billion. Both nations signed agreements on oil matters. , mining, food and weapons maintenance.

DECEMBER 6,  2018


      MOSCOW, RUSSIA  -- 
  Russian President Vladimir Putin offered firm support Wednesday for Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, who is visiting Moscow to shore up political and economic assistance even as his country has been struggling to pay billions of dollars owed to Russia. Maduro has become increasingly isolated in the world under growing sanctions led by the U.S. and the European Union which accuse him of undermining democratic institutions to hold onto power, while overseeing an economic and political crisis worse than the Great Depression. At the start of their talks, Putin told Maduro that Moscow is aware that the “situation in Venezuela remains dire.” As food and medicine become increasingly scarce, masses of Venezuelans are fleeing, stretching resources in neighbouring Colombia and Brazil. Runaway inflation this year could top 1 million per cent, the International Monetary Fund predicts.

     “We support your efforts to achieve rapport in society and reach out to the opposition,” the Russian leader said. “Naturally, we condemn any terrorist action, any attempts to use force to change the situation.” Maduro responded by saying that his government has overcome the challenges it faced. “We have faced various threats and aggression, but we have learned how to deal with them,” he said. “We are standing firmly, we are winning.” The Venezuelan leader added that he was looking forward to expanding economic ties with Russia. Russia is a major political ally of Venezuela, and Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, is heavily invested in the South American nation’s oil fields, which produce less crude each month. Critics blame two decades of socialist rule, corruption and mismanagement for destroying Venezuela’s once-thriving oil industry under the state-run PDVSA.

     Even as crude production shrinks, Venezuela must maintain deliveries to Russia, China and Cuba to meet debt payments and appease political allies, while also shipping oil to the United States for hard currency that Maduro needs to run his country. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin recently visited Caracas, pressuring the Maduro government to continue making good on its commitments to Russia. “Once people realize Maduro can’t deliver on what he promised, they may lose interest in supporting him,” said Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society, a Washington-based think-tank . “I think that’s what he fears more than anything.”


       MOSCOW, RUSSIA     --      Embattled Venezuelan DICTATOR  Nicolas Maduro thanked Russian President Putin for his support, after they held talks in Moscow Wednesday focussed on financial aid for the crisis-stricken Latin American country. Venezuela, which has been rocked by deadly protests and economic chaos that has caused dire shortages of food and medicine, is counting on Russian support amid growing international isolation. "I thank you for all the support, both political and diplomatic, during the difficult moments we are experiencing," Maduro said in remarks before the two presidents met behind closed doors. "We see that Venezuela is undergoing an uneasy time. There is the impression that you have nonetheless managed to establish some kind of contact with the political forces that oppose you," Putin said. The Kremlin said prior to the meeting that the two would discuss debt restructuring.

     "With regard to the Venezuelan-Russian talks, debt restructuring is, of course, one of the subjects of the negotiations," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. "No doubt the subject should be seriously discussed. That is why the talks are being conducted," Peskov added. Maduro said in a video tweet as he emerged from the Kremlin after the 2.5-hour meeting that "it's been an extraordinary day of work with President Putin," adding that the two consolidated a "strategic relationship" though without elaborating on what the two agreed. In 2011, Russia granted Venezuela a loan to finance the purchase of Russian arms including tanks and missiles.

     Venezuela has struggled to service the debt, which stood at $2.8 billion as of 2016. Rosneft run by Putin's top ally Igor Sechin has lent its Venezuelan counterpart PDVSA around $6 billion since 2014, according to the oil major's financial results released earlier this year. Before meeting Putin, Maduro told a Russian energy forum in Moscow that Venezuela has been "subject to financial persecution for the past three years" and called US-imposed sanctions on Caracas "brutal and unprecedented." "But we are prepared, Venezuela won't be stopped," Maduro said. Moscow has sided with Maduro's regime over the protests and criticized the Venezuelan opposition for "disrupting" the presidential elections carried out on May 10. International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in a bid to counter opposition pressure for him to quit. From Moscow Maduro is scheduled to travel to authoritarian Belarus and Turkey.


The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today that the preliminary examination of Venezuela for crimes against humanity "is being carried out with the aim of formulating conclusions within a reasonable period of time." These statements come after the general prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has received criticism from sectors of the Venezuelan opposition for not having initiated a full investigation into Venezuela, a step subsequent to the preliminary examination that already opened in February.  International observers believe, however, that the delay in the judicial process is really due to the influence exerted over Bensouda by her close friend, Haifa Al-Aissami, sTareck Al-Aissami, Venezuelan Minister of Industry and National Production, currently sanctioned by the US for his terrorist activities. Haifa, without any diplomatic experience, was recently appointed ambassador to The Hague, seat of the ICC.

      The office of the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, today released a report on the preliminary examinations opened in nine countries, published after the first day of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC, held today in The Hague. In the section on Venezuela, the document explains that, since last February, it has continued to receive information from different sources on alleged crimes against humanity. The report notes that "it has been alleged that State security forces frequently used excessive force to disperse and suppress demonstrations" in the context of the April 2017 demonstrations against the Government. Furthermore, the document adds that, allegedly, "thousands of civilians have been detained and imprisoned, some of whom were allegedly subjected to serious abuse and mistreatment during their detention."

     According to the information received by the Prosecutor's Office, "State security forces" and "senior officials" were responsible for "crimes against humanity allegedly committed against opponents" such as "murder, incarceration, torture, other inhumane acts, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and persecution based on political motives. " Another point dealt with in the report is the alleged "excessive force" used by the authorities in "security operations and raids carried out outside the context of demonstrations against the Government. The Office of the Prosecutor indicated that it also has under its microscope the collaboration between authorities and "armed civilians favorable to the Government, including groups called 'collectives', which also allegedly perpetrated a series of violent acts against demonstrators, members of the opposition - real or perceived. as such- and activists, elected officials and students."

DECEMBER 5,  2018


      MOSCOW, RUSSIA  -- 
  Maduro, who landed in Moscow Tuesday, is set to have talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin the following day. The United States and some European nations have sanctioned Maduro’s administration in an attempt to pressure Venezuela into making a return to democratic ways. Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Russia will express its support for a peaceful dialogue in Venezuela, adding that all of the country’s “internal political problems must be settled through an open dialogue between political forces.” He emphasized that “any outside pressure on Maduro’s government is counterproductive and won’t help to calm the situation and establish stability.” Ushakov added that Putin and Maduro will also discuss cooperation in the oil sector.

      On Monday, the President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro, held a conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, in which they discussed issues of bilateral importance. Through a communiqué, the national government stated that issues were addressed with special emphasis on cooperation in the areas of security and defense, energy, agriculture, science and technology and culture. The conversation was about various bilateral issues with special emphasis on cooperation in the areas of security and defense, energy, agriculture, science and technology and culture. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, expressed his admiration for the courage and serenity with which the Venezuelan nation has been guided along the path of peace, under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro Moros with the Venezuelan people.

     President Putin also stressed that Venezuela is the second commercial partner of the Russian Federation in the Latin American and Caribbean region and noted the growing importance of Venezuela in the development of the commercial interests of both nations. In this regard, he highlighted the importance of the recent visit made by the Minister of Popular Power for Economy and Finance, Ramón Lobo, to the city of Moscow, in order to prepare the High Level Intergovernmental Commission (CIAN) Russia Venezuela, which will take place in the Russian capital next October. Finally, in the long and pleasant conversation held between the two presidents, President Putin acknowledged President Maduro his courage and effort in maintaining the stability and peace of the country, and expressed his rejection of political efforts, internal and external, that are unknown the constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at the same time that it indicated to know with precision the foreign attempts that are organized against Venezuela, indicating that only the Venezuelan people can determine their own destiny.


       CARACAS, VENEZUELA     --      President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 3 during his historical visit to the Latin American country. “We resolve to preserve the momentum we have achieved over the past two years and to enhance our relations further,” Erdoğan said at a news conference alongside his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro in the capital Caracas.  Erdoğan, the first Turkish president to visit Venezuela, said that bilateral trade between Turkey and Venezuela has jumped more than six-fold over the previous year, exceeding $1 billion in the three quarters of 2018.

      Maduro expressed hopes that Erdoğan’s visit would pave the way for a “new phase” in relations between the two countries. He underlined his confidence that Turkish investors would “act on the interests of both countries,” praising the “beautiful” buildings erected in the South America country by Turkish firms. “Turkish investors will continue to develop and strengthen trade and the progress in oil production and refineries, petrochemicals for gold production, in diamonds, coltan, iron aluminum and tourism,” said the Venezuelan president. He stressed that the two countries enjoy “independent” economic relations with a high degree of transparency. “We do not interfere in the trade of the U.S. or other countries, nobody should interfere with our commercial and economic activities,” he said, stressing that the South American country would continue to legally export its gold resources.

     Maduro said the world was now past the time of “old empires of crushing supremacy” and had entered a multi-polar age. “Turkey will play a critical role in the new multi-polar, multi-centered world,” Maduro said, adding that Caracas also has a “multi-polar agenda.” Speaking at the business forum in Caracas, “Trade restrictions and sanctions are wrong,” Erdoğan said, warning that such measures would only deepen “instabilities.” “You cannot punish an entire people to resolve political disagreements,” he added, according to an official translation of his speech to a business forum. With oil production in a tailspin the socialist president Maduro has invited Turkish businesses to invest in exploiting a vast mining reserve known as the Arco del Orinoco in the south of the country, an area with considerable gold, diamond and coltan reserves. Maduro said Turkish businesses intend to invest some 4.5 billion euros in Venezuela.


      MANAGUA, NICARAGUA  - -     
Humberto Ortega, the ex-head of Nicaragua's military, has called on his brother President Daniel Ortega to stop the pro-government paramilitaries that are blamed for months of deadly unrest. The government must act responsibly to "end the presence of these armed people", said Humberto Ortega in a TV interview with CNN En Español. President Ortega has defied calls to stand down and blamed the opposition. More than 300 people have died during three months of protest in the country. His 71-year-old brother - a former defence minister and stalwart of the Sandinista revolution - said the paramilitaries act "as if they are a military or police authority". He urged the president to work with the army to resolve the situation.

       In July, he published an open letter, making a similar plea and calling for the election to be brought forward. More than 40 medical staff have been sacked for treating wounded anti-government protesters in the city of Leon, it was reported on Friday. Doctors, nurses and technicians are among those who lost their jobs at a public hospital. The protests - which began as a stand against pension reform - have escalated since April, turning into a broader call for the president to resign. Human rights activists say that paramilitary groups loyal to the government, known locally as "grupos de choque" (shock forces), are behind much of the violence against demonstrators and often use live ammunition.  Amnesty International says the mobs "appear to be acting with the acquiescence of the state".

      The government says protesters are terrorists and accuses them of plotting a coup d'etat against President Ortega, who was re-elected to a third consecutive term in office in 2016. Some police officers have also been killed in the clashes. After the group succeeded in their aim to bring down the presidential dynasty, Daniel became president and Humberto was minister of defence. Humberto Ortega continued in the role through his brother's first presidency and the rule of his successor, Violeta Barrios de Chamorr. He retired in 1995 and has been critical of his brother since he returned to power in 2007. He has said he has a "very respectful and fraternal" relationship with the president, but that they do not have direct communication, according to AFP news agency.

DECEMBER 4,  2018


      MADRID, SPAIN -- 
  Venezuelan opponents called for unit today to deny legitimacy to dictator Nicolás Maduro and urged Spain and the international community not to recognize him for a new government mandate that will begin next January 10. In Madrid, the former mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, Antonieta Mendoza, mother of the imprisoned opposition Leopoldo López, and human rights activist Lorent Saleh intervened today at the seminar "Great challenges of Ibero-America", of the International Foundation for Freedom, which presides the Spanish-Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa.

     Ledezma, who considered himself a "legitimate" mayor, indicated that Venezuela is an "outlaw" state, without separation of powers, where there is a "dictatorship" that is in the hands of the "organized gangs", which he linked with "drug trafficking" and The terrorism". He reviewed the economic, social and "moral" collapse of a "fragmented" society, a victim of "populism" and an "axis of evil protected by Cuba." He insisted on "international pressure" to promote the "closure of the Venezuelan tyranny" and form a government of democratic transition with "sovereign" elections because the opponents are "prepared", to joint actions inside and outside the country.

     "Maduro has neither legitimacy of origin nor of office for electoral fraud and does not present accounts before the legitimate National Parliament," he said, referring to the presidential elections last May and the restrictions on the National Assembly. He is also "responsible for crimes against humanity," he said. Ledezma wondered what more evidence is needed to apply "the principle of international humanitarian interference." He asked Spain to support, like France and Germany, the investigation in the International Criminal Court about the alleged crimes of the Venezuelan authorities. He called on the armed forces, not to carry out a coup d'etat, he said, but to make a "reparation" to the Venezuelan people.


        MEXICO CITY, MEXICO    --       Mexican SOCIALIST president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is finalizing the details of a deal with Cuba to take in at least 3,000 doctors from the medical mission in Brazil. The negotiations between the Mexican leader and the Cuban regime began in September. Lazaro Cardenas Batel, the new coordinator for presidential advisers, has been the link between representatives of Miguel Diaz-Canel and the Cuban regime and officials from the governments of Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

     The objective: an Mexican adaptation of Mais Medicos, a program that involved nearly 15,000 Cuban specialists in 1,600 municipalities located in some of the difficult areas to access in Brazil. At this moment, Cuban doctors have received notice that the transfers from Brazil to Cuba have been postponed because according to mission leadership,”there were not airline flights available.” The document says the transfers are expected to resume between “the 3rd and 4th of December,” a few days after Lopez Obrador takes office in Mexico.

     Cardenas Batel has been a key piece in the negotiations between the Cuban regime and the Workers’ Party, which sealed the deal between Cuba and Brazil. He is heir to a dynasty profoundly identified with leftist causes in Mexico. Both he and his father, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, maintain a solid relationship with the Workers’ Party. The relationship between the Cardenas family, the Castro regime, and other governments in Latin America identified as “leftist” is solid. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who met Fidel Castro in 1959, maintained a relationship with the late dictator that he defined “not extremely close, but one of affection” and called his death “a loss for the entire world.”


      TIJUANA, MEXICO - -     
The migrant caravan that left Honduras on October 13 to reach the United States is dissolving in the city of Tijuana, where thousands of Central Americans were stuck in the face of the impossibility of crossing the US border en masse to seek asylum. For more than two weeks, almost 6,000 migrants, mostly families with children, lived in the open or in overcrowded conditions in a shelter that the authorities of Tijuana improvised in a marginal neighborhood, a few meters from the border wall.

    But the heavy rains and low temperatures that hit the city this week aggravated the respiratory infections suffered by Central Americans, and the authorities were forced to move them to a new shelter, installed in an isolated center. So far, about 2,000 migrants are in the new shelter, said Mario Osuna, secretary of Social Development of Tijuana, a northwest city that borders San Diego. There are currently some 500 migrants living in the middle of the street, the surroundings of the old hostel, according to official figures.

     Concerning the rest of the members of the migrant caravan, that is, those who are neither in one or the other shelter, "we do not know where they are. If they are returning or will seek assistance for their return, "assured Osuna. The new shelter was installed in a center of spectacles of a marginal district of Tijuana to 15 km of the border, that this Sunday was guarded by municipal police and soldiers carrying long arms. Surrounded by desert mountains and exposed to strong currents of icy air, the refuge has a wide roofed galley, where women with children settled, and an outdoor esplanade occupied mostly by men.

DECEMBER 3,  2018


      WASHINGTON, D.C.--
  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has to go, and is urging the people of Venezuela to "restore democracy to the country" during an interview with Greta Van Susteren on "Voice of America." "We are searching for a solution which will deliver democracy to Venezuela. It's the Maduro regime that has inflicted this set of horrible living conditions on the people of Venezuela and it will ultimately be on the people of Venezuela to fix it," Pompeo said during an interview that aired Friday and took place in Mexico. Pompeo was in Mexico to ask for help on the migration "crisis." Part of his visit was to "urge the countries of the OAS [Organization of American States] and of the region to ensure we have a coordinated set of policies, a common understanding.

      Almost 2 million Venezuelans have fled the ailing oil-rich nation since 2015, driven out by brutal food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime. Washington has imposed sanctions on Venezuela, denouncing Maduro as a dictator who has quashed human rights and triggered an economic meltdown. On whether the U.S. would issue additional sanctions, Pompeo said he was "confident we can find other places where we think we can exert pressure in a way that will convince Maduro that this isn’t going to work, he’s not going to be able to retain power forever."

      Maduro behaves in the way that dictators do and imposed enormous personal anguish on Venezuelans. Now we have several million Venezuelans who have fled their country, largely to Colombia, but now also to other places in South America, "he said in an interview for the NBC News news channel on the Hugh Hewitt Show, according to He reported a press release from the State Department. In this regard, he insisted that "US policy is very clear" in supporting "the return to democratic processes in Venezuela." He added that the United States has "imposed significant sanctions on Venezuelan leaders to urge them to allow the return of democracy.


        MEXICO CITY, MEXICO    --       U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis yesterday condemned Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro as a despot leading his oil-rich nation to ruin, adding “ultimately this regime is going to have to go” for the situation to improve. However, Mattis did not suggest any U.S. role in such a process and told a security forum in California: “It’s up to the Venezuelan people, it’s up to the regional states in that area to help expedite that and bring that country back to a more prosperous and positive future.”

      More than three million Venezuelans have fled the ailing oil-rich nation in recent years, driven out by brutal food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime. Washington has imposed sanctions on Venezuela, denouncing Maduro for quashing human rights and triggering an economic meltdown. “This is what happens when you have an irresponsible despot leading a country to ruin. And I think what we should do is work by, with and through our Latin American allies as we stabilise this situation,” Mattis told the Reagan National Defense Forum. He noted that the Comfort, a U.S. Navy hospital ship, was treating Venezuelan refugees on a Latin American tour that included stops in neighboring Colombia.

      “We’re doing our best diplomatically and through humanitarian aid. But ultimately this regime is going to have to go,” he said. The United Nations on Monday pledged $9.2 million in aid for Venezuela, where hunger and preventable disease are soaring due to food and medicine shortages. Maduro blames the country’s problems on U.S. sanctions and an “economic war” led by political adversaries. Government critics celebrated the U.N. pledge as a recognition by Venezuelan authorities that the country faces a humanitarian crisis – something Maduro has denied in the past – and a step toward treating a population starved of basic services. But some worry the funds could fuel the corruption of the ruling Socialist Party, which was put on display earlier this month when a former Venezuelan treasurer told U.S. prosecutors he took US$1 billion in bribes.


      WASHINGTON, D.C. - -     
Russia’s army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week. Tanks are seen on a freight train shortly after its arrival at a railway station in the Russian southern town of Matveev Kurgan, near the Russian-Ukrainian border in Rostov region, Russia, May 26, 2015. Picture taken with a mobile phone. Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments.

      The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area. Earlier this month, NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove said he believed the separatists were taking advantage of a ceasefire that came into force in February to re-arm and prepare for a new offensive. However, he gave no specifics. Russia denies that its military is involved in the conflict in Ukraine’s east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting forces loyal to the pro-Western government in Kiev.

     Russia’s defense ministry said it had no immediate comment about the build-up. Several soldiers said they had been sent to the base for simple military exercises, suggesting their presence was unconnected to the situation in Ukraine. Asked by Reuters if large numbers of unmarked weaponry and troops without insignia at the border indicated that Russia planned to invade Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with reporters: “I find the wording of this question, ‘if an invasion is being prepared’, inappropriate as such.” The weapons being delivered there included Uragan multiple rocket launchers, tanks and self-propelled howitzers — all weapon types that have been used in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Kiev’s forces and separatists.

DECEMBER 2,  2018


      HOUSTON, TEXAS   --
   He was the man who sought a “kinder, and gentler nation,” and the one who sternly invited Americans to read his lips — he would not raise taxes. He was the popular leader of a mighty coalition that dislodged Iraq from Kuwait, and was turned out of the presidency after a single term. Blue-blooded and genteel, he was elected in one of the nastiest campaigns in recent history. George Herbert Walker Bush was many things, including only the second American to see his son follow him into the nation’s highest office. But more than anything else, he was a believer in government service. Few men or women have served America in more capacities than the man known as “Poppy.”

     He was 94. Air Force One was being sent to Texas to transport Bush’s casket to Washington, where his body will lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda after an arrival ceremony Monday. The public is invited and can pay their respects from Monday evening through Wednesday morning. The Bush family is still arranging funeral services, but the White House said President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to attend. Bush was no ideologue — he spoke disparagingly of “the vision thing,” and derided the supply-side creed of his future boss, Ronald Reagan, as “voodoo economics.” He is generally given better marks by historians for his foreign policy achievements than for his domestic record, but assessments of his presidency tend to be tepid.

     Unlike his son, who joined the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam era but served only in the U.S., the elder Bush was a bona fide war hero. He joined the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942 over the objections of his father, Prescott, who wanted him to stay in school. At one point the youngest pilot in the Navy, he flew 58 missions off the carrier USS San Jacinto. His wartime exploits won him the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery. He was shot down on Sept. 2, 1944, while completing a bombing run against a Japanese radio tower. Eight others who were shot down in that mission were captured and executed, and several were eaten by their captors. But an American submarine rescued Bush. Even then, he was an inveterate collector of friends: Aboard the sub Finback, “I made friendships that have lasted a lifetime,” he would write.


        MEXICO CITY, MEXICO    --       Veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as Mexican president on Saturday, promising a radical change of regime in a country struggling with gang violence, chronic poverty and corruption on the doorstep of the United States.
Backed by a giant Mexican flag, the 65-year-old took the oath of office in Mexico's lower house of Congress, saying his administration would overturn what he called the disastrous legacy of decades of "neo-liberal" governments. "Starting now, transformation is under way, ordered and peaceful but at the same time radical, because we will end the corruption and impunity that impede Mexico's rebirth," he said. The first leftist to take office in Mexico in a generation also tried to reassure business after markets crashed since the July 1 election on worries about his policies, including the abrupt cancellation of a $13 billion airport project.

    Lopez Obrador reiterated that investments in the country of 130 million people would be safe, and he vowed to respect central bank independence. Saying his government would make savings by stopping losses from the public purse into the "sewer of corruption," he promised not to raise national debt or taxes. But in a reference to one of his heroes, former President Benito Juarez, who separated the church and the state in Mexico, Lopez Obrador promised his government would ensure a divide between economic and political power in the country. He said the government of his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, had caused a plunge in oil output by opening the energy industry in Latin America's second-largest economy to private investment.

     Lopez Obrador enters office with more support than Pena Nieto, according to a Nov. 23-25 survey by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky published Friday. Reflecting his austere manner, Lopez Obrador arrived at Congress in a modest white Volkswagen sedan with little visible security, in contrast to the opulent lifestyles of his predecessors. In another sign of change, the doors of Pena Nieto's official Los Pinos residence were thrown open to public visitors on Saturday. Lopez Obrador has said he will save money by living in an apartment in the presidential palace. Pena Nieto returned to Mexico from a G-20 summit in Argentina on Saturday morning, on the last official flight for his Boeing Dreamliner presidential plane, which Lopez Obrador is putting up for sale.


      TORONTO, CANADA - -     
Canada is considering all options regarding its embassy in Cuba after another diplomat was found to have fallen mysteriously ill. A senior Canadian government official said Thursday that the latest diplomat affected first reported symptoms in the early part of the summer. Testing then confirmed it. Canadian has confirmed 13 cases of mysterious health problems since early 2017. Twenty-six American embassy workers in Cuba have also been affected, suffering a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion. The official said in a briefing for journalists on Thursday that senior officials will visit Cuba next week and consider all options to ensure all staff are protected. They declined to specify what options they are considering.

       Canada currently has 12 Canadian staff at the Havana embassy. Canada ordered the families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home last April. The 13 Canadians affected includes diplomats and some of their family members. The Cuban government did not immediately respond to Canada’s statement but said in April after Canada pulled diplomats’ families that, “the Cuban government respects the decision adopted by the government of Canada but considers it lacking in justification, and reiterates that Cuba is a safe, stable and healthy country, for its inhabitants and for the almost 5 million foreigners who visit it every year, among them more than 1 million Canadians.

      Cuba is a favorite tourist destination for Canadians, but the Canadian government said there is no evidence of any related ailments among Canadian travelers. The Canadian official said Cuba has been co-operating from the beginning and said Cuba has expressed a desire to get to the bottom of the cause of these health conditions. Canadian government officials provided a briefing on the latest developments on condition of anonymity. The mysterious case has sent U.S.-Cuba relations plummeting from what had been a high point when the two countries, estranged for a half century, restored full diplomatic ties under President Barack Obama in 2015

DECEMBER 1ST.,  2018


   Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his US counterpart Donald Trump were concerned about the lack of democracy in Venezuela during their bilateral meeting in Buenos Aires on Friday before the summit of G20 leaders, officials said. The two leaders had an "extremely cordial" meeting for 45 minutes, in which they expressed their "concerns" about the "delicacy of the fact that Venezuela is not a democratic country today," Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie explained.

       At the meeting, which took place in the Casa Rosada (government) in the Argentine capital, they also talked about potential US investments in the Argentine gas fields of Vaca Muerta. Before the meeting, Trump said he would talk to his Argentine counterpart of "military purchases," but both Foreign Minister Faurie and Finance Minister Nicolás Dujovne denied any dialogue in this regard. "When he (Trump) came into the meeting he referred again to what he had just said. He made reference to material of all kinds available to our Armed Forces ", but at this moment" we (Argentina) are not in a position to make acquisitions of any type of war material, "Faurie explained, when his country is going through a severe economic crisis

      Macri will meet this Friday with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in what constitutes the first visit of a London leader on Argentine soil after the Falklands war in 1982. "We do not decline from our historical claim" of sovereignty over the islands in the South Atlantic, but "the focus is on the reconstruction of confidence" explained the Argentine Foreign Minister. The G20 summit of leaders of developed and emerging nations this Friday and Saturday in Buenos Aires celebrates the 10th anniversary of this forum, held for the first time in South America.


        CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --       The Venezuelan Defense Minister, General Vladimir Padrino, on Friday asked the military not to fall into the "temptations of the devil," which he said is knocking at the doors of the officers to break their allegiance to President Nicolás Maduro. "Let us not leave, dear brothers, companions (...), break forom the temptations of the devil who always walk around trying to undermine moral integrity," Padrino said during a ceremony of promotion of some 2,000 mid-level officers in Caracas. The minister echoed Maduro's denunciations of plans to create a break in the Armed Forces that, he assures, are encouraged by the opposition and countries such as Colombia and the United States, which brand the Venezuelan president as a "dictator".

     "In these moments of difficulties and great complexities, the temptations are there, to the corner, and they are knocking at the door, one by one, to see who bends the knees, to see who falls into temptation," remarked the officer. Padrino alluded to the severe economic crisis in Venezuela, with five years of recession, hyperinflation and shortage of basic goods, which undermined Maduro's popularity. The socialist leader is preparing to start on January 10 a second six-year term, after his re-election last May in the presidential elections rejected by the great mayority of the international community. Padrino stressed that the promoted officers were evaluated in their professional and physical abilities, but also in their "loyalty" to Maduro.

     According to Padrino, Venezuela is the victim of a "siege" that seeks to "stifle the national spirit and break institutionalism," which is why he called on the military to take out "weapons from the parks to go out and shout freedom and defend the sovereignty" if it is necessary. He affirmed that many people want "the Armed Forces to be fractured to make Venezuela a succulent dish for tyranny and looting" and "to make a party with our riches, (but) we will not allow it". With its great political and economic power, the military is considered by experts as the main support of Maduro. The Venezuelan government accused US President Donald Trump last September of promoting a "military insurrection," after the president warned at the United Nations that Maduro could be "overthrown" by his military if they wanted. However, the high command continuously reiterates its "absolute loyalty" to the ruler.


      BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - -     
Colombian President Iván Duque announced on Sunday the deployment of nearly five thousand soldiers in the turbulent region of Catatumbo, bordering Venezuela, to combat drug trafficking and illegal armed groups. The troops will seek to confront "the presence of terrorists, organized groups (...) who want to impose themselves with violence" in the second region with the most narco-cultures in the country, the president said at a public event in the municipality of Ocaña (northeast). The new military unit will be added to the two thousand policemen and soldiers who were mobilized in April to reinforce the six thousand troops guarding the border region with the Venezuelan states of Zulia, Tachira and Apure.

     The Catatumbo is disputed by the rebels of the ELN, dissidents of the demobilized Maoist guerrilla EPL, drug gangs and smugglers, for being an area of coca leaf crops and drug shipments by Venezuela. The clashes between these criminal organizations have caused the displacement of thousands of people, as well as a rise in selective homicides and kidnappings, according to the authorities. The relations between Colombia and Venezuela, which share a porous 2,200-kilometer border, are practically frozen since the mandate of former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2010-18).

      Duque took up the banners of diplomatic pressure against the "dictatorship" of Nicolás Maduro that his predecessor raised, amid the arrival of thousands of Venezuelans to Colombia fleeing the acute economic crisis in his country. Colombia, the world's leading producer of cocaine and on track to overcome an armed conflict of half a century, has acknowledged its inability to serve alone the one million Venezuelans who have entered its territory in recent years. The Government of Venezuela, reluctant to acknowledge the migration crisis, has accused Bogota of being part of an alleged plot to overthrow Maduro. Colombia vehemently denies these accusations.