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Daily Brief: Protests in Venezuela After State of Emergency Declared

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May 16, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Protests in Venezuela After State of Emergency Declared

Protests rocked Venezuela over the weekend following President Nicolás Maduro’s Friday declaration of a state of emergency. The sixty-day state of emergency includes measures to seize idle factories, which the president said were being "paralyzed by the bourgeoisie" (NYT). Maduro said on Friday the emergency measures were intended to "to denounce, neutralize, and overcome the external and foreign aggressions against our country," and that upcoming military exercises would be carried out to prepare for "any scenario," including a foreign invasion (CNN). The turmoil comes during a severe economic crisis, electricity blackouts, and a movement to remove Maduro from the presidency through a national referendum (Reuters)


"Washington, along with a handful of Latin American capitals and several former heads of state, has criticized the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for using excessive force against antigovernment protesters, prosecuting its critics, and jailing political opposition leaders. Maduro’s crackdown, though, is worse than even his critics realize. His broad and aggressive exercise of unchecked executive power has also been directed at residents of low-income and immigrant communities, where there was widespread support for the Bolivarian Revolution, the leftist, social movement of Hugo Chávez, who served as president from 1999 to 2013," write Rafael Uzcátegui and José Miguel Vivanco for Foreign Affairs.

"The current government in Venezuela has signaled strongly that it is uninterested in working with international policymakers on a rescue program, and these policymakers have returned the favor. Absent a dramatic change in the political environment, there would need to be a change in government, and a green light from the United States, before officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would board a plane to Caracas to begin negotiations on a rescue program. By then, the chaos could be severe," writes CFR's Robert Kahn.

"Unlike other countries that use hydroelectric power, Venezuela doesn’t have a sufficient back-up plan for when the water runs dry. Corruption under the Chavez presidency meant that a large part of the money that was supposedly invested in alternative energy ended up in officials’ pockets, though it’s unclear how much. And many of the innovations in power production were not updated to keep pace with demand, or showed problems in the early stages of development," Linda Poon writes for City Lab.


Philippines President-Elect Describes ‘Tough on Crime’ Approach

In his first press conference since winning the Philippines' presidential election, Rodrigo Duterte said he would urge congress to reintroduce the death penalty (AFP) and give security forces "shoot-to-kill" instructions when facing criminal suspects. Duterte, who will be sworn in June 30, also said he would institute a curfew for late-night drinking and ban children walking alone at night (Al Jazeera).

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick discusses what lies ahead for Rodrigo Duterte in this article for the Diplomat.

MYANMAR: Nationalists staged a protest in the northern city of Mandalay demanding the government denounce the U.S. embassy's use of the word "Rohingya" to describe the persecuted Muslim minority in the country (RFA).


Kabul on Lockdown as Thousands Protest Energy Route

Demonstrators marched toward the presidential palace in Kabul on Monday to oppose a proposed route for a power project that would not go through the predominantly Hazara Bamyan province, a move protesters saw as discriminatory (Al Jazeera).

TAJIKISTAN: Sixteen leaders from a banned Islamist party face life sentences or thirty-year prison terms for alleged participation in a revolt to topple the government of Emomali Rahmon (Al Jazeera), in power since 1992. A former deputy defense minister is accused of leading the plot (EurasiaNet).


Report: Twenty-Seven Islamic State Militants Killed in Turkish, U.S. Operations

Turkish state news agency Anadolu said twenty-seven militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State were killed north of Syria's Aleppo province by Turkish shelling and airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition as the militants readied rocket attacks on Turkey (Anadolu). Meanwhile, suicide attackers broke into a gas facility and killed at least eight people in the Taji plant north of Baghdad (AFP).

LIBYA: Representatives from eastern and western factions in Libya signed a memorandum of understanding on Sunday to break an impasse (WSJ) in exporting oil, partially resolving a blockade on the country's oil exports from a UN-backed law.


Ethiopian Floods Take Dozens of Lives

Severe floods in Ethiopia have killed dozens (VOA), following an eighteen-month drought that was the worst in the country in fifty years. Ten million people have relied on humanitarian food assistance during the severe weather crisis.

AFRICA: During a visit to Tanzania to hold talks with African militaries on terrorism, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said the focus on terrorist threats detracted from the army's ability to counter more traditional threats. "Today, a major in the Army knows nothing but fighting terrorists and guerrillas, because he came into the Army after 9/11," Gen. Milley said in an interview (NYT).


Number of Migrants Returned to Turkey Lower Than Expected

Figures from the Greek government show that fewer than 400 of the 8,500 asylum-seekers who arrived on Greek shores since a March deal between the European Union and Turkey were returned to Turkey. The slow pace of returns reflects Greece's policy of reviewing asylum requests (FT), Greek officials said.

In this CFR event, experts assessed Turkey's handling of the refugee crisis, the country's relationships with neighbors, and U.S. policy options going forward.

EUROPEAN UNION: EU officials reportedly met secretly in March to discuss cooperation with dictatorships in the Horn of Africa to stem refugee flows from the region (Der Spiegel). The talks reportedly included one proposal to provide equipment to track refugees to the Sudanese regime of Omar al-Bashir.


Former Argentine President Indicted on Financial Charges

Former President Cristina Kirchner was indicted by a federal judge in a case that alleges the Argentine central bank illegally traded derivatives during her term (WSJ). Kirchner's former economy minister, who is also being charged, called the allegations "entirely political" (NYT).


Clinton, Sanders Oppose Second Round of Deportations

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) opposed (Hill) the Obama administration’s proposal to launch a new round of raids later this month aimed at deporting undocumented immigrants from Central America. Both candidates opposed a previous round in January.

Track and compare the candidates’ position on immigration and other major foreign policy issues with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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