Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: North Korea on course to set up embassy in Venezuela

North Korea is set to establish a diplomatic mission in Venezuela after recently winning approval from the Latin American country. The Venezuela government has recently approved the North’s embassy plan. If successfully established, it will be North Korea’s first embassy in the South American country since the two forged bilateral diplomatic relations in 1974. So far, the North Korean ambassador based in Cuba has represented his country in Venezuela, The recent approval came upon the North’s repeated approaches to Venezuela. In 1991, the North set up a trade office in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas before shutting it down in 1999. The office was reopened the next year. The North has been on friendly terms with Venezuela, a key oil producing country that like the North has an anti-U.S. foreign policy.


Newsline: Julian Assange Marks 2nd Year in Ecuador’s Embassy

The gathering at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London has the feel of something which may become an annual fixture. For the second time in as many years, journalists were invited to the embassy to mark the anniversary of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange’s stay there — a bid to escape extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over allegations of sexual misconduct, and to the United States, where an investigation into WikiLeaks’ dissemination of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents remains live. Assange said he has no intention of going to Sweden because he has no guarantee he wouldn’t subsequently be sent to the U.S. Assange had been under a form of supervised release in the U.K., but shortly after losing his battle in Britain’s highest court he jumped bail and applied for asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy on June 19, 2012. British police on guard outside the embassy have orders to arrest him should he ever step out. That doesn’t seem likely.


Newsline: Assange May Stay in Ecuador Embassy ‘Forever’

Julian Assange, hiding inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost two years, may remain there indefinitely, the Ecuadorean ambassador said, adding “it’s a pity” that UK citizens have to cover the growing policing bill. The 67 year old diplomat, Juan Falconi Puig said that Assange was “suffering” in custody but could remain there for a long time. Assange is “not a fugitive”, Falconi stressed, reminding that Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, granted him asylum on human rights grounds – and that Assange, if eventually extradited to the US, would face persecution and could even be tortured. “He thinks it is a very strong possibility. The (Ecuadorean) government have accepted that position,” Falconi said. The UK has been refusing to provide Assange safe passage to Ecuador ever since the Australian sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012. Since he entered the embassy, the security measures implemented by the British security services to prevent Assange from escaping the Ecuadorian premises have amounted to £6 million for the British taxpayers. Meanwhile, from the Ecuadorian Embassy Assange spoke about the ability of governments to monitor citizens using their DNA. “We will see a situation that Sweden has had for more than a decade… which is everyone has a number, everyone’s DNA is taken at birth, their DNA is encoded onto their identity documents or connected to it,” Assange said via Skype conference at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. “That’s led to a huge transfer of power from the people who are surveiled upon to those who control the surveillance complex,” he said.


Newsline: Trial in Venezuelan diplomat’s murder case hits snag in Kenya

The trial of a Venezuelan diplomat charged with the murder of their acting ambassador in Kenya has failed to proceed for the second time. The trial court was informed that the hearing of the murder trial cannot proceed because the state counsel prosecuting the matter was held up elsewhere. The first time it failed to proceed before Justice Rosalyn Korir, the counsel for one of the accused stepped down. Korir then directed the state to find a lawyer for Moses Kiprotich, a guard who worked at the embassy, after his lawyer stepped aside. The judge set the hearing date of the murder trial for July 16. Diplomat Dwight Sagaray and his co-accused Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed are charged that on the night of July 26 and 27 at the residence of the Venezuelan Embassy in Runda Estate, they murdered the ambassador Olga Fonseca. The envoy was found strangled to death at her official residence in Nairobi on 27 July. Three security guards who were also charged in connection with the murder of the Venezuelan Ambassador were released on bail.


Newsline: Uruguay’s Inmate Tapped Into U.S. Ambassador’s Phone

Uruguayan inmate tapped into the United States ambassador’s cellphone and tried to commit fraud, the authorities said. Officials said the inmate got Ambassador Julissa Reynoso’s voicemail password. “He got access to some messages left by some of my friends. And he was able to — I don’t know how — send certain messages from prison to some of my contacts,” Ms. Reynoso told Uruguay’s Canal 10 TV. FM Gente radio in Maldonado first reported the tapping, saying the police discovered it while investigating the inmate for other fraud.


Newsline: Strike hits Brazilian consulates in US, Europe

Employees at Brazil’s consulates began a two-day strike Tuesday that affected visa services in major cities in the United States and Europe just weeks before the World Cup. Local employees at Brazilian diplomatic offices said they hoped to pressure the government to increase their pay and other compensation, arguing the government has frozen their salaries in the past years. Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said the Tuesday-Wednesday strike was only slowing operations at nine consulates and one embassy, but did not say which ones. The Association of Local Employees at Brazilian Foreign Missions said strikes or protests were hitting 17 cities in North America and Europe, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, London, Paris and Rome. Some consulates posted a message on their websites saying they were responding only to emergency requests made by Brazilian nationals. Brazil’s consulates have been issuing for free a special category of visa for tourists visiting Brazil for soccer’s World Cup that begins June 12. Applicants need to have tickets for a match. Marcia Ramos, a representative of the association, said it has 1,800 members in more than 50 Brazilian diplomatic offices around the world, but she said it wasn’t yet clear how many were participating in the strike. “Our demand is simple: They need to replace the lost wages they have not raised in recent years,” Ramos said in an email. The foreign ministry said its contracts with local employees adhere to the laws of the countries where consulates are located, arguing there is no way to negotiate collectively.


Newsline: Chinese embassy in Ecuador says 4 workers killed in explosion

Four Chinese workers were killed by an explosion at the construction site of the Sopladora hydroelectric station in Ecuador, the Chinese embassy has confirmed. The blast broke out near Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, and the four workers were working in a vertical shaft when the explosion occurred. After over five hours of rescue, the remains of the four workers had been found. There were no other casualties in the accident. The Sopladora hydropower station, one of the most important hydroelectric projects in Ecuador, is built by Gezhouba Group, a Chinese construction and engineering company based in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China. The company is undertaking another two water conservancy projects in Ecuador. The cause of the explosion is under investigation. The Chinese embassy has offered help to appropriately handle the aftermath.


Newsline: US partially suspends visa issuances in Venezuela

The US Embassy in Venezuela is partially suspending the issuance of tourist visas because President Nicolas Maduro’s recent expulsion of American diplomats has left it understaffed. The embassy says last month’s expulsion of three consular officials and delays by Maduro’s socialist government in authorising the arrival of new US officials makes it impossible to meet demand for visas.


Newsline: Azerbaijan to establish diplomatic mission in Colombia

Azerbaijan is set to open a diplomatic mission in Colombia in March. This was said by Azerbaijani Ambassador to Mexico and Colombia Ilgar Mukhtarov during a meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar. He also presented the charge d’affaires of the country Ramil Farzaliyev. Mukhtarov noted that the launch of the diplomatic mission will enhance relations and strengthen friendship between both countries.


Newsline: Venezuela expels Panamanian ambassador after severing ties

Venezuela asked the Panamanian ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours Thursday after it severed ties with Panama for attempting to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Ambassador Pedro Pereira and the three embassy staff members were declared “personae non gratae” and given 48 hours to leave Venezuela, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday that Venezuela was breaking off diplomatic ties with Panama after Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli called an urgent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) over the political turmoil in Venezuela. Two people were killed in a Caracas neighborhood Thursday, bringing the death toll to at least 20 in the month-long anti-government protests. It was the second time that foreign diplomats were expelled from the country since street protests erupted on Feb. 12. Last month, Venezuela expelled three U.S. diplomats accused of conspiring with the opposition. Washington denied the charge and expelled three Venezuelan diplomats in retaliation.



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