Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for South America

Newsline: Assange risks to be kicked out of Ecuador embassy over Catalonia

The Wikileaks Founder’s support for Catalan separatists has antagonised the new president, Lenin Moreno, who had asked the Australian hacker to stay out of the independence debate. Responding to the president on Twitter, Assange accused President Moreno of attempting to silence him. He wrote: “If President Moreno wants to gag my reporting of human rights abuses in Spain he should say so explicitly — together with the legal basis.” The Australian hacker, who has been sheltered at the embassy for more than five years, is believed to be wanted by the United States for exposing state secrets.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/866750/Assange-to-be-kicked-out-of-embassy-Wikileaks-founder-clashes-with-Ecuador-over-Catalonia

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Newsline: Venezuelan skier avoids jail after assaulting embassy landlord in Canberra

A top Venezuelan skier and world-record holder who punched the landlord of his home country’s embassy in Canberra has been handed a good behaviour order over the assault. The dispute arose due to growing tensions between embassy staff and the building’s landlord, who chose to blockade entrances to the embassy with vehicles as the spat intensified. During the blockade, Cesar Baena, 30, got into an altercation with the landlord. Baena, a champion skier, said he had struck out after being taunted, and the night before the incident the wife of the landlord had driven past and said “bad words” to him. He also told the court he had felt the man had shown disrespect for his country. In court today, Baena told the court if he had a conviction against his name his international skiing career would be over, as it would limit his ability to travel.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-13/top-venezuelan-skier-avoids-conviction-after-assault/9048198

Newsline: Blaze breaks out atop Embassy of Ecuador in NW Washington

A two-alarm fire sent flames leaping from the roof and attic of the Embassy of Ecuador early Wednesday morning in the Columbia Heights area of Northwest Washington. The blaze was on top of the embassy at 15th and Euclid Streets NW, across from the northeast corner of Meridian Hill Park. At about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, fire officials said efforts were still underway to extinguish pockets of flame inside the building. The embassy is in a four-story tan brick building that reflects the Beaux-Arts tradition, and is topped by a steeply pitched roof in the mansard style. The cause of the blaze was not known immediately. Firefighters said they were combating the blaze from the building’s interior. However, they also went outside at the top level, and were challenged officials said, by the pitch of the roof.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/blaze-breaks-out-atop-embassy-building-in-nw-washington/2017/09/27/874a2ecc-a33d-11e7-b14f-f41773cd5a14_story.html?utm_term=.7b47760f8007

Newsline: US embassy employee kidnapped, freed, in Venezuela

An employee of the US embassy in Caracas has been released after being kidnapped two days earlier by criminals demanding a ransom, police said. Police said the employee, a Venezuelan national identified as Kerbin Barazarte, 28 — whom they described as a security guard — had been released yesterday unharmed and without payment of a ransom. They said he was abducted while patrolling in a van near the embassy on Monday night. His captors, who were not identified, had demanded payment of USD 30,000 for his release. A colleague who was with him managed to evade the kidnappers, the police said. The interior ministry announced on Tuesday that the US embassy van had been recovered but that Barazarte was missing. Police gave no details of the circumstances of his release.

US embassy employee kidnapped, freed, in Venezuela: police

Newsline: War crimes suits against Sri Lankan ambassador in Brazil

Human rights groups in South America are alleging war crimes violations in lawsuits filed against a former Sri Lankan general who is now his Asian nation’s ambassador to Brazil and five other countries in Latin America. The suits against Jagath Jayasuriya are based on his role as a commander in the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. They allege Jayasuriya oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed, disappeared and tortured thousands of people. Jayasuriya has diplomatic immunity in the countries where he is ambassador: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Suriname. But the groups pursuing the suits hope they will compel regional governments to expel him. Carlos Castresana Fernandez, the lawyer coordinating the effort, told The Associated Press on Monday night that suits were filed Monday in Brazil and Colombia. Petitions also will be filed in Argentina, Chile and Peru in the coming days, he said, adding that authorities in Suriname refused to accept the suit.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article169906707.html

Newsline: Mexico’s top diplomat visits Cuba to seek help on Venezuela crisis

Mexico’s foreign minister is in Havana hoping to persuade Cuba, one of Venezuela’s top allies, to help resolve the tense political situation in the beleaguered South American nation, according to a senior Mexican official briefed about the trip. The minister, Luis Videgaray, has not gone empty-handed, according to the official and a document seen by Reuters, and has agreed with Havana’s request to expand a credit line with Mexico’s state-owned Bancomext bank from 30 million to 56 million euros as a gesture of goodwill. Cuba uses the credit line to pay for key imports. “The foreign minister is going to say, ‘We want to solve the situation in Venezuela. How do we do that?'” the official said. “He’s going to see what the Cubans’ view is, and how we can soften or manage the transition in Venezuela and its impact on Cuba.” Mexico may struggle to convince Cuba to join its effort. Venezuela is Cuba’s closest strategic and ideological ally, and has showered the island with billions of dollars of cheap oil and aid since the turn of the century. Mexico, on the other hand, has flip-flopped in its relationship with Cuba, with former President Vicente Fox famously snubbing Fidel Castro at a summit, a move that pleased the United States but damaged Mexico’s regional influence. Cuba has been loathe to support regional, U.S.-backed efforts to pressure the government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro into restoring democratic order after months of deadly protests. Still, Mexico, which has ditched years of isolationist foreign policies to lead Latin American diplomatic efforts to pressure Caracas, believes there won’t be a peaceful transition in Venezuela without Cuba’s help, the official said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-mexico-venezuela-exclusive-idUSKCN1AY270

Newsline: Peru and Venezuela Expel Each Others Ambassadors

Venezuela has rejected Peru’s decision to withdraw its Ambassador to Lima and said it is obliged to expel the Peruvian Ambassador to Caracas in response. The government issued a statement which criticises the move and adds “The President of the Republic of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, has become an enemy of Bolivar’s homeland by continually interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela”. Earlier the Peruvian government announced the expulsion of Ambassador, Diego Molero, giving him a maximum of five days to leave the country. Lima says Caracas had sent an “unacceptable” response following a regional meeting which condemned Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly.

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Peru-Expels-Venezuelan-Ambassador-Diego-Molero-20170811-0019.html