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Daily Brief: Mass Demonstrations in Venezuelan Capital Against Maduro Government

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September 2, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Mass Demonstrations in Venezuelan Capital Against Maduro Government

Editor's NoteThere will be no Daily Brief on Monday. The DB will resume on Tuesday, September 6.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government flooded the streets of Caracas on Thursday in one of the largest protests seen in a decade (Reuters). Reports indicated hundreds of thousands (Guardian) participated in the peaceful protest, chanting "the government will fall" and demanding a recall referendum to replace Maduro. The Committee to Protect Journalists said at least six reporters were barred from entering the country to cover the protests (NYT), which followed authorities detaining at least twenty-five opposition members (Reuters). Venezuela's opposition has been calling for a referendum vote since early 2016 as the country faces a severe economic crisis and food and energy shortages.


"Inflation has reached 700% as the country continues its recession, and basic food and medicine are in severely short supply. Many Venezuelans spend their days queueing for hours at supermarkets, but often go home empty-handed. The crippling economic situation handed [opposition coalition] MUD an overwhelming victory in December’s parliamentary elections, giving many Venezuelans hope for change. But Maduro’s ruling socialist government has blocked any attempt by the opposition to legislate effectively, leaning on the supreme court to veto every major measure passed in the assembly," Sibylla Brodzinsky writes for the Guardian.

"We're heading for a heated standoff, and it's unclear what could happen. This is a volatile country. But the opposition has always said we want to go through democratic routes. That said, you know, the streets are getting impatient. People are hungry and angry. We've seen an increase in looting outside of supermarkets or even on highways in broad daylight," Alexandra Ulmer said in this interview with National Public Radio.

"Since the country produces almost nothing, and its once-prosperous oil industry is in a calamitous state, Mr. Maduro has no money for international creditors. So he has slashed imports, including food and other basics, to save foreign reserves. He believes that if the government defaults on its debt the revolution will crumble – hence his willingness to preside over daily scenes of hunger and despair," Alvaro Vargas Llosa writes for the Globe and Mail.

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Minister: Malaysian PM Named in U.S. Lawsuit

In an interview, a Malaysian cabinet minister confirmed (BBC) that Prime Minister Najib Razak is the figure referred to as "Malaysian Official 1" in a U.S. lawsuit alleging $3.5 billion was stolen from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

MYANMAR: Representatives from a major armed ethnic group abandoned peace talks in Myanmar's capital city of Naypyidaw (Al Jazeera) after being informed they could not address the gathering, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.


Attacks in Pakistan Target Court, Christians

A suicide bomber attacked a court in the northern city of Mardan (BBC), killing at least twelve people. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed that attack and another, on a Christian neighborhood near Peshawar (Reuters), that injured security forces in the ensuing standoff (Dawn).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker examines Islamist militancy in Pakistan.

UZBEKISTAN: The Uzbek government said President Islam Karimov is in critical condition after a stroke (Al Jazeera). Numerous diplomatic sources have said that Karimov, who has ruled the country since the fall of the Soviet Union, is dead.


Bodies of Three U.S. Fighters Await Repatriation from Syria

A spokesperson for the U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in Syria confirmed that three U.S. citizens had died fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State alongside the militia in the city of Manbij (WSJ) and that their bodies would be flown to the United States. A separate Kurdish spokesperson identified the men and said one died in July and two in August.

ISRAEL: Israel will permit drilling leases in the Mediterranean in a bid to attract investors to increase its natural gas and energy exports (NYT).


Zimbabwe Bans Demonstrations Ahead of Planned Opposition Protests

Police in Zimbabwe banned public protests for two weeks, saying they do not have the capacity to contain any disorder (Africa News). The ban comes as leaders from Zimbabwean opposition parties called for protests in the capital Harare Friday (FT) over the country's dire economic health and longtime leader Robert Mugabe.


Mother Teresa to be Canonized Sunday

Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who was known for charity work in Calcutta, will be canonized as a saint on Sunday by Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Square (WSJ).

FRANCE: France's interior minister said he plans to gradually "dismantle" the Calais refugee camp (Guardian) where an estimated 7,000 migrants are camped in hopes of reaching the United Kingdom. The minister said France would create accommodation for the migrants elsewhere. 


Guantanamo Detainee Deported to Uruguay Vows Hunger Strike

Resettled Syrian Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa'el Jihad Dhiab has said he will stage a hunger strike in Uruguay in his bid to be reunited with his family (AP). Dhiab traveled from Uruguay to Venezuela, where he tried to gain support to be reunited with his family, before being deported back to Uruguay.


Report: More Than 2 Billion Possibly at Risk of Zika Infection

More than two billion people in Africa and Asia could be at risk of catching the mosquito-borne Zika virus, according to new research published in the Lancet journal (BBC). Populations in India, Nigeria, and Indonesia are among the most vulnerable.

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