Archive for South America
Israel denounced Brazil for recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations in protest over the IDF’s operation in the Gaza Strip, calling it an economic power but an irrelevant diplomatic power. “This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “The moral relativism behind this move makes Brazil an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions.” A statement put out by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry announcing the recall of its ambassador said Brazil considered the “escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine” as unacceptable. “We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip.” Foreign Ministry officials were bracing for other Latin American countries to follow suit, noting that Brazil often sets the tone in South America. In 2010, once Brazil recognized a Palestinian state, a number of other South American countries did the same.
A Venezuelan former intelligence chief who had been arrested in Aruba on US drugs charges has been freed. Hugo Carvajal was declared ‘persona non grata’ by the Dutch foreign minister. Carvajal was freed late Sunday after being arrested last week in Aruba, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as he arrived to serve as Venezuela’s consul general on the Caribbean island. He was detained at the request of US prosecutors, who want to try him over alleged drug crimes and helping Colombia’s Marxist FARC guerrillas. Carvajal served as military intelligence chief under the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, from 2004-2011. At the time of his arrest, Carvajal’s diplomatic status had led to confusion as to whether he was entitled to immunity from prosecution. Aruban authorities had argued that did not have immunity because he had yet to be accredited by the Netherlands. That was cleared up at a press conference in Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, late on Sunday, when it was announced that Carvajal did indeed have immunity. However, it was also announced that the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, had declared the retired general ‘persona non grata’ – a term used by governments to remove diplomats. “The fact is that Mr. Carvajal was granted diplomatic immunity, but is also considered persona non grata,” said Aruban Justice Minister Arthur Dowers. Dowers said Carvajal was arrested because he had arrived on a diplomatic passport but had not yet been accredited by the Dutch authorities to serve as a diplomat on the island. Officials decided to act on the US detention request because of an international treaty between Washington and the Netherlands. US officials were “very disappointed” with the decision to free Carvajal, Aruban Justice Minister Dowers said.
Newsline: Ethiopian and Namibian ambassadors accused of role in Venezuelan envoy murder trial in Kenya
A lawyer in the Venezuelan envoy murder trial accused the Ethiopian and Namibian ambassadors of playing a role in the arrest of his client. Lawyer Katwa Kigen, who is representing the former first secretary of the Venezuelan Embassy Dwight Sagaray, said ambassadors Luise Gurbert and Juana Carlos insisted on having Sagaray charged with the murder of Olga Fonseca. The proceedings also saw a gardener, who still works at the Venezuelan Embassy, testify against Sagaray and his four co-accused. Julius Anini told Justice Weldon Korir that he knew the Ethiopian and Namibian ambassadors and that they came to act for the embassy when he was arrested with Sagaray for investigations into Fonseca’s murder.
Julian Assange lost a court bid to get an arrest warrant against him scrapped, leaving the WikiLeaks founder marooned in the Ecuadoran embassy in London where he sought refuge more than two years ago. The 43-year-old Assange fears extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual molestation, which he denies. At the hearing in Stockholm District Court, prosecutors demanded that the warrant, issued in late 2010, should be upheld to secure Assange’s return to Sweden. They rejected Assange’s suggestion that they question him in London. Assange’s defence team, which had maintained that the investigation had been unreasonably long, said it would appeal the ruling. The WikiLeaks founder sought refuge with Ecuador in June 2012 after exhausting all legal options in British courts to avoid being extradited to Sweden. He has said he fears that his being sent to Sweden would be a pretext for his transfer to the United States, where WikiLeaks sparked an uproar with its publication of thousands of secret documents. Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino called the ruling “bad news”. “The government of Ecuador will not abandon its commitment to defend Julian Assange’s human rights until he can get to a safe place,” he said on Twitter. Patino said in June as Assange marked two years since taking refuge there that both international agreements and Ecuador’s constitution made it a “complete impossibility” for the country to turn him over. But Assange’s asylum comes with a large price tag for the British government — the cost of round-the-clock policing reached six million pounds (eight million euros, $11 million) at the two-year mark, Scotland Yard said.
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.
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.
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.