Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: Venezuela opposition politician Freddy Guevara spends year in Chilean embassy

Freddy Guevara, the 32-year-old former vice-president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has spent a year holed up in the Chilean embassy in Caracas. The high security outside of the embassy is a sign of the tense relations that continue between the two countries, as the Chilean government continues to offer protection to one of President Nicolas Maduro’s most prominent critics. Guevara’s supporters gathered at the embassy on Monday to mark the anniversary of the day he sought refuge. They were demanding an end to his persecution. After Maduro was elected to replace the late Hugo Chavez in 2013, human rights activists say Maduro’s persecution of his critics has been brutal and relentless. Last year, Maduro tightened his grip to power with a Constituent Assembly that replaced the National Assembly. With loyalists in the Supreme Court, the Constituent Assembly issued a new “anti-hate law” that is being used to arrest anyone who speaks against Maduro. Any “hate speech” on social media in Venezuela is punishable with up to 20 years in prison.



Newsline: Egypt postpones Brazil visit after Bolsonaro promises Israel embassy move

Egypt has postponed a visit by Brazil’s top diplomat, Brazil’s foreign ministry said on Monday, in a move that two diplomatic sources said was due to the President-elect’s vow to relocate the South American country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira was set to fly to Cairo for a Nov. 8-11 visit, during which he was to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Egypt’s foreign ministry postponed Nunes Ferreira’s trip, citing problems with senior officials’ agendas, the foreign ministry said on Monday. But the foreign ministry sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said no new date has been proposed, signaling Egypt’s discontent with Jair Bolsonaro’s proposal. Egypt’s embassy in Brasilia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bolsonaro’s promise to relocate Brazil’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv follows a similar move by U.S. President Donald Trump in May, after he recognized the city as the capital of Israel. Palestinians also claim as their political capital.


Newsline: Venezuelan diplomat’s Land Rover seized in Guyana pending tax payment

More than a week after seizing the car of a Venezuelan Diplomat, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has made it clear that Luz León Guillén has to pay $2.4M in prorated taxes and that she must have it privately registered. News Room first reported on October 28, 2018 that Luz, who worked as a First Secretary and a Counselor at the Venezuelan Embassy in Guyana for some three years, had her 2003 Land Rover bearing the diplomatic plates, confiscated by the Enforcement Unit of the GRA while she was at the Georgetown Public Hospital on October 25.


Newsline: Brazil To Close Palestinian Embassy

Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has announced that in a package of initial moves related to Israel and the Middle East, he plans to shut down the Palestinian embassy in Brasilia. “Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here,” Bolsonaro said recently. Bolsonaro, who won a presidential election run-off on Sunday – with 55.1% of the votes according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal – has already given strong indication that he will move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In addition, Bolsonaro has stated that his first overseas trip will be to Israel. The apparent change of direction in Brazil’s foreign policy was warmly welcomed by Christians United for Israel.


Newsline: Ecuador judge rules against Assange over embassy changes

A judge ruled against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Monday, rejecting his request to loosen new requirements that he says are meant to push him into leaving his asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Judge Karina Martinez decided stricter rules recently imposed by the South American nation’s embassy — such as requiring Assange to pay for his internet and clean up after his cat — do not violate his asylum rights because authorities have the right to decide what is and isn’t allowed inside the building. Ecuadorian officials praised the ruling in the latest row between the Australian hacker and the government that has provided him refuge for six years. Relations between Assange and Ecuador have grown increasingly prickly as the years have dragged on with no solution in sight. Assange’s lawyer vowed to appeal the decision. “The Ecuadorian state has an international responsibility to protect Mr. Assange,” attorney Carlos Poveda said. Assange argued that the new measures making it more difficult to receive visitors and requiring him to pay for services like laundry and medical bills are meant to coerce him into ending his asylum. The rules also make clear that if Assange doesn’t properly feed and take care of his cat, the animal could be sent to the pound. Ecuador’s government contended the requirements are aimed at peaceful cohabitation in tight quarters in the small embassy, where Assange takes up more than a third of the space. Officials have complained that his soccer playing and skateboarding have damaged the building.


Newsline: Brazil may move embassy to Jerusalem

Nearly three months ago, Rio de Janeiro federal deputy Jair Bolsonaro vowed that if elected president in this year’s Brazilian presidential election, he would move his country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The head of the right-wing Social Liberal Party added further to his pro-Israel bona fides when he suggested that the Palestinian Authority’s office – which serves as a de facto embassy – be closed in the capital city of Brasilia. “Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here,” Bolsonaro said. While his statements regarding both the Brazilian embassy in Israel and the PA facility in Brasilia appeared definitive before the election, sources close to Bolsonaro suggest that after winning the presidential race, the 63-year-old former Brazilian army captain is not yet settled on the matter.


Newsline: Ecuador won’t help Assange leave embassy in UK safely

Ecuador will not help Julian Assange leave the UK, the country’s foreign minister said, claiming its only duty was to look after the WikiLeaks founder’s “well-being” after Assange sued them for restricting his rights and freedoms. cuadorian FM Jose Valencia told Reuters that Ecuador is not responsible for helping Assange leave the London embassy safely, even though the Inter-American Court on Human Rights recently found them to be responsible for protecting him from US extradition. The UK authorities are poised to apprehend Assange should he step outside the building. Assange accused the Ecuadorian government of violating his rights after they drew up a “Special Protocol” barring him from speaking about politics or involving himself in the political affairs of other countries. The list of restrictions runs to nine pages and permits authorities to confiscate the property of visitors, who must be approved in advance, submit their social media profiles, and turn over the make, model, serial and IMEI numbers of their mobile devices. The conditions added insult to injury with a threat to turn Assange’s cat over to a shelter if he fails to clean up after it adequately. The cat has been Assange’s only companion during nearly seven months in which the Ecuadorian government has kept him cut off from the outside world, jamming his phone lines, scrambling WiFi signals, and banning almost all visitors.