Featured Post



Sunday, July 3, 2016

PressTV-Bombing outside US consulate in Jeddah

2 police officers injured in bomb blast outside US consulate in Jeddah

US consulate compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (file photo)

Two police officers have been injured in a bomb attack outside the US consulate building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
According to reports, the attacker blew himself up early on Monday morning after he was stopped by local police.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.
The bomber was reportedly driving to a mosque in the vicinity of the consulate, while he was pulled over by the police.
The area around the consulate has been cordoned off by security forces and the consulate's staff members have been moved to a safe location.

PressTV-Anti-Muslim Buddhists protest in Myanmar

Anti-Muslim Buddhists protest in Myanmar

Anti-Muslim Buddhists held protests in Myanmar Sunday against a government decree that orders officials to use "Muslim communities in Rakhine State" when referring to the Rohingya.
The demonstrations were held in over 15 towns in the western state of Rakhine, including its capital, Sittwe, in a show of opposition to the recent edict by the government, which has been issued in an attempt to contain sectarian tension.
"We reject the term 'Muslim communities in Rakhine State'," said Kyawt Sein, the protest organizer in Sittwe.
Myanmar's government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as citizens. They have been denied Myanmar citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982.
The Rohingya call themselves by this name, but Buddhists identify them as "Bengalis," meaning they are immigrants from Bangladesh.
"Bengalis should be called Bengalis," said Phoe Thar Lay, a leader of a local Rakhine youth group.
Hideous anti-Muslim sentiments among the radical Buddhists in Myanmar have led to numerous deadly attacks against about one million Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. About 140,000 of the Muslims have been forced into living in overcrowded, decrepit and fetid displacement camps or even compelled to flee abroad for fear of prosecution.
Muslims living across Buddhist-governed Myanmar suffer persecution, but the Rohingya minority in Rakhine is suffering the most.

Two Muslim Rohingya women and a child are seen at one of the displacement camps in Sittwe, Rakhine State, July 2, 2016. (AFP)

On July 1, Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, said Myanmar's government should immediately end the deep discrimination practiced against the Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine.
She also called for the improvement of living conditions in the camps for the Rohingya and other Muslims in Rakhine, stressing that putting an end to "institutionalized discrimination against Muslim communities in the state" must be "an urgent priority."
"The continuing restrictions on the freedom of movement of the Rohingya and Kaman communities cannot be justified on any grounds of security or maintaining stability," Lee said.
The remarks came days after the UN warned that the Rohingya were subject to multiple forms of human rights violations, including citizenship denial, forced labor and sexual violence.
The UN also called on the administration of Aung San Suu Kyi to launch an independent and comprehensive investigation into incidents of rights abuse against the Rohingya Muslims.
Rohingya and other Muslims have faced torture, neglect, and repression in Myanmar for many years. A large number of the Rohingya are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in attacks by Buddhist extremists.

PressTV-India floods death toll likely at 40

Death toll from India floods, landslides likely at 40

Indian officials have updated the death toll from flash floods that have hit the northern regions of the country in recent days, saying at least 40 are feared dead following the heavy downpours.
Om Prakash Sati, a spokesman at the chief minister's office of Uttarakhand State, said Sunday that 40 people are feared dead and several more people still missing.
The official toll from the floods is still 18, including 15 from the city of Pithoragarh. The figure is expected to rise, said Sati, adding that two remote districts of Chamoli and Pithoragarh were the most affected in the flash floods.
Reports showed that landslides triggered by heavy downpours blocked hundreds of roads in rural areas.
According to Sati, thousands are feared stranded. He added that officials have asked people in low-lying areas to evacuate as a precautionary measure.
The official said relief operations are underway but incessant rains have hampered the rescue efforts with rivers flowing to dangerous levels, raising fears of more flooding.

This handout photograph released on July 2, 2016 by the Indian Army shows Indian soldiers searching for survivors of a landslide following torrential rains in the Pithoragarh area of rural Uttarakhand state. ©AFP

Uttarakhand's chief minister, Harish Rawat, said, however, that there was "no need to panic" as several roads have been repaired and rescue teams were trying to reach affected people.
He said teams from the state, central authorities, and other relief forces have all been kept on high alert as a precautionary measure.
Flash floods have also affected the neighboring Pakistan with reports suggesting that at least 43 have been killed in the Chitral district in northern Pakistan. Houses and mosques were damaged in the floods as local officials said several people, among them women and children, were killed during special Ramadan evening prayers in the local mosque.
Floods kill hundreds in South Asian monsoon season every year. Pakistan's mountainous areas which border Afghanistan saw similar floods last year which led to several deaths.

PressTV-Flash floods kill 43 in north Pakistan

Flash floods kill 43 in north Pakistan

Flash floods caused by monsoon rains in northern Pakistan have killed at least 43 people and caused extensive damage to houses and structures in a village.
The floods swept away a mosque, houses and an army post in Ursoon Village, according to a local official on Sunday.
Monsoon, a rainy season that starts in mid-July and lasts until the end of August, strikes Pakistan hard each year.
Pakistan experiences severe weather patterns every year, which have affected millions of people, claimed many lives and wiped out millions of acres of farmland in recent years.

Pakistani residents cross a flooded street following heavy rain on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, April 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Torrential downpours and flooding killed 81 people and affected almost 300,000 Pakistanis across the country during the rainy season last summer.
In 2010, flooding killed 1,200 people and impacted one-fifth of Pakistan's population of over 190 million.
In April, floods killed at least 92 people.
Two foreigners killed in Pakistan
In a separate development, two Chinese engineers were killed and five Pakistani workers injured when the roof of a construction site collapsed at Tarbela Dam as a result of the heavy rains that began late Saturday, according to officials.

'Guacamole-Thick' Algae Takes Over Florida's Atlantic Coast, 4 Counties Declare State of Emergency

'Guacamole-Thick' Algae Takes Over Florida's Atlantic Coast, 4 Counties Declare State of Emergency

Waterways and beaches along Florida's Atlantic coast have been taken over by thick, blue-green algae blooms, prompting Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare local states of emergency in St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Lee counties.
Residents have described the foul-smelling algae as "guacamole-thick," "god-awful" and "a festering infected creepy mess." One resident has complained of health problems, telling Reuters, "It is affecting all of us as far as red eyes, runny nose and the 'in the throat' feeling."
"It's heartbreaking for all of us who live, work and play along the lagoon to see how the quality of the water has declined," environmental non-profit Balance For Earth wrote on Facebook.
The source of the severe bloom is believed to stem from the polluted Lake Okeechobee, which has become a hotbed of finger-pointing.
Toxic algae blooms, a Florida problem decades in the making http://bit.ly/29aQvwG 
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems)
ThinkProgress reported in February that local industries have long dumped an assortment of chemicals, fertilizers and cattle manure into the lake. David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida branch of the environmental law group Earthjustice, described the lake as a "toilet."
The Guardian reported that algae samples from the lake taken earlier this month found levels of toxins 20 times higher than a safety threshold set by the World Health Organization.
The officials who regulate the toxic, overflowing lake are in an unenviable position. To prevent flooding, water gets flushed from the lake into the St. Lucie River that flows to the ocean via Martin County. They can't just leave the water there either; high water levels have added stress to the aging Herbert Hoover Dike, a 143-mile levee that surrounds the lake. Florida's high rainfall only makes matters worse.
However, according to UPI, Scott said the Obama administration is at fault for failing to repair the dike.
"Because the Obama Administration has failed to act on this issue, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [which regulates lake levels], continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae which is now entering residential waterways in South Florida," he said. "Although the president has failed to do what is needed to address this growing issue, the state of Florida will devote every available resource to find solutions for the families and businesses in this area."
However, Irene Gomes, local resident and owner of the Driftwood Motel in Jensen Beach, has blamed Scott. Gomes told the Associated Press that the governor has not done enough to curb pollution from farms north of the lake or purchase land farther south where lake waters could be stored and cleaned.
Local environmental agencies, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, have now been tasked with addressing the blooms, including reducing the flow of water into Lake Okeechobee and creating a hotline for residents to report algae blooms.
Deborah Drum, manager of ecosystem restoration at Martin county, told the Guardian that there is no known way to effectively clean up an algal bloom.
"We have to wait for it to disperse," she said. "We anticipate that it will go away but we are not sure about that now. We didn't expect this to happen so we are kind of at a new frontier."
Algae blooms have become a worsening problem in many parts of the U.S. In Toledo, Ohio a toxic algae blooms erupt across Lake Erie every year.
Sandy Bihn, executive director for the Ohio-based Lake Erie Waterkeeper environmental advocacy group, told EarthIsland Journal that climate change will exacerbate conditions leading to Erie's toxic blooms. As heavy rains increase in the region, they will contribute to high runoff levels. Higher summer temperatures will also promote blooms, she said.
The Environmental Working Group wrote that for algal blooms in Martin County, Lake Erie and other parts of the country, the primary source of pollution is conventional agriculture.
Florida, you might want to take note.

PressTV-‘Buddhist mob torches Myanmar mosque’

Buddhist mob sets fire to mosque in Myanmar: Report

A Buddhist mob has reportedly set a mosque on fire in northern Myanmar in a fresh act of violence against Muslim minorities in the Southeast Asian country.
Buddhist extremist residents of the town of Hpakant ransacked the mosque on Friday while "wielding sticks, knives and other weapons" before burning it down, the state-run English daily, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
"The mob was unresponsive and entirely beyond control. The building was razed by the riotous crowd," the report said.
The raid was triggered by a dispute over the mosque's construction, the report said, adding that police have made no arrests over the assault.
This was the second such attack on a Muslim prayer site in just over a week in the Buddhist-majority state.
On June 23, a group of about 200 Buddhist extremists raided a Muslim area of Thuye Tha Mein village in Myanmar's Bago Province, destroying parts of a mosque and forcing residents to seek refuge overnight in a police station.
The violence broke out following an argument between the residents over the construction of a Muslim school in the area.
Amnesty International slammed the June 23 raid as a "criminal offense," urging the Myanmarese government to take "swift action" and launch an "impartial" investigation to find those guilty.
"This incident must be immediately and independently investigated and those suspected of involvement must be brought to justice and victims receive effective remedies including reparations," said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, speaks during a news conference in Yangon, Myanmar, July 1, 2016. ©Reuters

The new attack came on the same day that Yanghee Lee, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, warned that "tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society."
In a press conference concluding her 12-day visit to the Asian country, she urged the government to "demonstrate that instigating and committing violence against an ethnic or religious minority community has no place in Myanmar."
The UN official further called for the improvement of living conditions in the cramped and decrepit camps for Rohingya and other Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, highlighting the need for putting an end to "institutionalized discrimination against Muslim communities" there.
Muslims living across Buddhist-governed Myanmar suffer persecution, but the Rohingya minority community in Rakhine is suffering the most.
Myanmar's government refuses to recognize Rohingya Muslims as citizens. They have been denied Myanmarese citizenship since a new citizenship law was enacted in 1982.
The Rohingya call themselves by this name, but Buddhists identify them as "Bengalis," meaning they are immigrants from Bangladesh.
Hideous anti-Muslim sentiments among the radical Buddhists in Myanmar have led to numerous deadly attacks against the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom have been forced into camps or compelled to flee abroad.
Last month, the UN warned that widespread and ongoing human rights violations against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims could amount to crimes against humanity.

PressTV-Egypt govt. under fire over rights situation

Egypt govt. under fire for failure to change rights situation

Egypt's National Council for Human Rights on Sunday denounced the authorities' failure to change the human rights situation in the country, citing disappearances and abuse of prisoners by the police.
"The human rights situation in the country has not changed in spite of the adoption of the new constitution two years ago," the council said in an annual report, adding that, "Human rights causes have not yet become a priority for the state."
The council has raised 266 cases of enforced disappearances with the Egyptian Interior Ministry, of whom 27 cases turned out to have been released, while 143 others are still kept in pretrial detention.
According to the ministry, 44 of the missing people had not been arrested, and may have disappeared for other reasons, including joining Takfiri terrorist groups operating in the region.
The council said the cases had been documented from April 2015 through March this year, adding that it had received 296 complaints in 2015.
"Many of the complaints are related to abuses they are subject to in prisons and other detention facilities, most notably torture and other harsh and degrading treatment," the council said.
The report noted that the use of torture "continues to be widespread," particularly in initial detention centers.
Initial detention centers are estimated to hold more than 300 percent of their capacity and detainees take turns sleeping because of lack of space, it said.
The Egyptian government has been engaged in a crackdown on the opposition since the first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup led by then head of the armed forces and current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in July 2013.
Sisi has been accused of leading the suppression of Morsi's supporters. Hundreds of the Morsi supporters have been killed in clashes with security forces since the ouster.
Rights groups say the army's crackdown has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

PressTV-'German arms exports doubled in 2015'

German arms exports almost doubled in 2015: Report

Germany almost doubled its arms exports in 2015 to the highest level in nearly 20 years, in contradiction with an earlier pledge to restrict the amount of weapons sales, a report says.
On Sunday, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper cited a report on the matter by the German Ministry of Economy that is due to be presented to the cabinet later this week.
The paper said the value of individual approvals granted for exporting firearms and weaponry stood at 7.86 billion euros (USD 8.75 billion) last year in comparison with 3.97 billion euros worth of German arms exports in 2014.
It said the ministry had attributed the sharp overall rise in the arms exports to certain factors such as the approval of selling four aerial refueling aircraft to Britain worth 1.1 billion euros.
The paper also stated that Qatar, under a deal worth 1.6 billion euros signed in 2013, received combat tanks and heavy artillery, as well as ammunition and accompanying vehicles.
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel had already confirmed the sale report in February, saying preliminary figures showed that Germany had approved about 7.5 billion euros worth of arms shipments in 2015.
The German newspaper also reported an arms sale deal with Saudi Arabia, which was to a large extent funneled through joint delivery programs organized with other European countries, especially France.
Back in January, Gabriel had said that Berlin would closely monitor all pending arms deals between German firms and Saudi Arabia due to concerns of human rights abuses in the kingdom. However, he said previously signed deals with the Saudis would not be cancelled.
An unnamed spokesman for Gabriel's office said the department has blocked export approval to the Riyadh regime for "offensive weapons" as they could be used for "oppressive measures."
The comments came a few day after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, among them prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, causing international outrage and a serious escalation of tensions in the region.
Since March 2015, Riyadh has also been involved in a deadly military campaign which has so far killed over 8,000 people in neighboring Yemen.
Germany is one of the world's main arms exporters to the European Union states and NATO countries and has been cutting its sales of light weapons outside those countries.

Robert Mugabe’s days in office are numbered as economy implodes

Last supper: Robert Mugabe's days in office are numbered as economy implodes

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is a besieged man, his aura of invincibility appears to have all but gone as protests pop up like mushroom in summer, while calls for his removal grow into a crescendo.

From #ThisFlag campaign, the opposition MDC-T demanding that he explain the shocking disappearance of $15 billion in diamond revenue and an end to rampaging corruption, vendors picketing at the Harare International Conference Centre demanding that the Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko moves out of Rainbow Towers Hotel, to Christian groups demonstrating against Education minister Lazarus Dokora's contentious National Pledge, pressure is mounting.
Mugabe's Zimbabwe is burning around him, but as those close to him have revealed, he could actually be sleeping peacefully.
Missing democracy activist-cum-journalist Itai Dzamara's brother Patson has continued with demonstrations demanding his brother back, giving State apparatus constant headaches with spontaneous solo and group protests. He has been joined by groups such as #Tajamuka/Sesijikile and a Kariba-based cleric Patrick Mugadza, who last week launched a campaign code-named #Mugabe must fall.
Meanwhile, the country's biggest port of entry, Beitbridge was forced to shut down on Friday for the first time in a century. Ordinary people affected by a government policy to ban mostly foodstuffs imported from South Africa have rebelled.
The border town was literally burning, but Mugabe continued with business as usual as if nothing was happening.
One of Mugabe's defenders, former Zanu PF activist Acie Lumumba who broke away to form his own party, Viva Zimbabwe, went overboard and took unprintable pot-shots at Mugabe. The Zimbabwean leader's former number two Joice Mujuru is now leading a fledgling opposition party, Zimbabwe People First. Two weeks ago at a rally in Harare, Mujuru asked of Mugabe, whose love for travelling is legendary: "You should not just be flying out of the country. At the end of the day you must be asking yourself what it is that you have done for the people".

It's seemingly all going pear-shaped for the 92-year-old who insists he will stand for re-election in 2018, when he will be 94.
But Mugabe has not always been the leader that anybody could just wake up and pass a negative comment on, especially one that has unprintable expletives. Any inclination to challenge Mugabe was akin to applying for serious trouble. Many bear the scars of what has become the hallmark of his near four-decade rule. However, the walls of Jericho seem to have fallen and the inimitable former guerrilla leader is now the subject of constant ridicule from his subjects, hitherto a cowed population.
#ThisFlag front-man and cleric Evan Mawarire, who began the protest after "failing to raise his children's school fees", says Zimbabweans were now identifying with each other's personal struggles.
Evan Mawarire (right) supervises the signing of a petition advocating the explusion of MInister of Energy, Samuel Undenge recently
Evan Mawarire (right) supervises the signing of a petition advocating the explusion of MInister of Energy, Samuel Undenge recently
"More than it being a fashion, people now identify with each other's personal struggles and it's becoming clearer by the day, even to the ordinary citizen, that the source of our common problems is the government that has failed us.
"It's now difficult even for the most reserved of persons to just keep quiet because the level of resource mismanagement and the blatant corruption cannot be excused any longer," Mawarire said.
He added: "What you are seeing is a lack of leadership and a cry from the citizens to restore order and cast vision. The Bible says in Proverbs 29 verse 18 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'. When people run amok, it's not because they are lawless; it's because they have no vision to focus on".
Mawarire said his group was now setting up structures beginning in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kadoma and Chinhoyi. He could not, however, reveal his plans going forward.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe's stranglehold on power was waning. "Nothing lasts forever," he said.
"President Robert Mugabe's hold on power is increasingly becoming fragile both within his own Zanu PF party and also in the country as a whole. No rocket science is needed to appreciate that this is the end game for Mugabe," Gutu said.
"The sun is setting on Mugabe's political hegemony. This is one of the main reasons why there is unprecedented factional fighting within his party and why even ordinary citizens are finding it increasingly fashionable to protest against Mugabe's continued stay in office".
Social and political analyst Ricky Mukonza said the Zimbabwean crisis could have reached tipping point.
"I think the reason is that the Zimbabwean crisis has now managed to affect everyone in various facets of life. The youth cannot find employment, businesspeople cannot do business because of a disabling environment and civil servants can't get paid at the end of the month.
"This tells you that the crisis is fast-reaching boiling point and with that, people have nothing much to lose in protests. Remember there is a generation that has not known formal work despite graduating from colleges and universities and this generation is fast-realising that time has run out; they are reaching 40 without being economically active," Mukonza said.
"This is the generation that you see leading protest movements such as #Tajamuka, etc. In fact, I can safely say the greatest security threat that this government is facing is from its own citizens and not external forces".
Another analyst Maxwell Saungweme concurred adding, "Zimbabweans have had enough".
"The socio-economic problems Zimbabweans are going through are vast and people have naturally reached a level where they can't take it any more. People have really been pushed against the wall and the only option is to question the system through action and words," Saungweme said.
Vendors Association of Zimbabwe leader Sten Zvorwadza, out on bail following a string of anti-Mphoko demonstrations, said the country's leadership had turned into a "terror mafia against citizens".
"Our history is marred by the first dark history of colonial masters which was characterised by repression and oppression. This saw young men and women deciding to revolt against such injustices. In 1980 we attained independence, but despite this freedom, those that represented Zimbabweans have turned out to be a terror mafia, sparing no one who holds a different viewpoint from theirs," Zvorwadza said.
Zvorwadza added: "This has led to people withdrawing from participation in national political issues. The very people who have been oppressed by Zanu PF since 1980 are now organising themselves and declaring that 'enough is enough'. This is why you now see a breed of youths who appreciate that Zimbabwe is theirs, not these elders who claim perpetual ownership of the country despite their advanced ages". -The Standard

Mugabe’s govt blamed for unrest at Beitbridge border


Morgan Tsvangirai's party says it's deeply concerned over the latest disturbances at Beitbridge.
FILE: President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - There are ongoing concerns over the situation at Beitbridge border post, with Zimbabwe's main opposition party saying President Robert Mugabe's government invited retaliatory measures by imposing what it says amounts to a ban on imports. 
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was responding to violent protests that gripped the Zimbabwean side of Beitbridge border on Friday. 
Morgan Tsvangirai's party says it's deeply concerned over the latest disturbances at Beitbridge
It says millions of Zimbabweans now earn a living through trading and vending, and that the government bungled by imposing a blanket ban on imports. 
The latest reports today say the border is not closed but that there is a heavy police presence after a warehouse was set on fire last night in protest.
Zimbabwe's state-owned Chronicle says protesters threw stones, destroyed a house and looted a fast food outlet.
Two weeks ago, authorities began implementing restrictions on the importation of food, beauty products and building materials, which mostly come in from South Africa.

So Africa DA launches a plan to stop ‘rampant corruption’ at local govt level


The party's Corruption-free Cities report outlines a number of steps to be taken if it wins Tshwane.
FILE: Solly Msimanga has been chosen as the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Tshwane mayoral candidate for the 2016 Local Government Elections. Picture: @TanyaHeydenrych, DA DA Gauteng Provincial Media Liaison, via Twitter.
CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched a plan to stop what is calls rampant corruption at local government level.
The party's Corruption-free Cities report, introduced in Tshwane earlier today, outlines a number of steps the organisation would take should it be elected.
It cited the 2016 Auditor General's Municipal Performance Report which shows that nearly R11 billion was lost due to unauthorised, wasteful and irregular expenditure in the Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane metros.
The DA's mayoral candidate for Tshwane Solly Msimanga says this is concerning.
"We want to ensure that the tender processes are opened for public scrutiny, which is something the African National Congress-run government has always said they were going to do but didn't. So we are saying: open tender processes."
He adds that officials are currently not being held to account.
"All your officials should actually sign a performance agreement so that should things like wasteful expenditure occur, people can be held personally accountable for whatever it is that is happening."
Corruption in the City of Tshwane:
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA)
(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

So Africa 67% worried about election violence


Out of 693 people, a total of 464 voted that violence would sway the August poll.
FILE: Two Golden Arrow buses were torched as residents took to the streets over the ANC's candidate election list in Cape Town on 29 June 2016. Picture: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG – Eyewitness News asked you to vote about whether you were worried about the recent increase in violence before the local government elections, and an overwhelming majority of those who took part said they believed violence would sway the poll.
[POLL] IEC says SA should be worried about violence before . Your thoughts http://bit.ly/29bCwWs 
— Eyewitness News (@ewnupdates)
A total of 693 people voted:

- 83.16 people said the polls would be free & fair
- 69.3 said the violence won't impact polls
- 76.23 of you believe the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will do a good job
- 464.31 feel the violence will sway the vote.

The responses to the poll on Twitter varied from those anticipating more violence, to others blaming certain parties:
@Unathi_Kwaza @MiaMthombeni @MYANC the criminal cartel won't give up the golden cow of endless riches easily,violence will escalate.
— Jeremy Forbes (@F62Forbes)
@ewnupdates PV: Depends what type of violence they are referring to. If it's about dissatisfaction about election's credibility, then good.
— bheka mathe (@bhizori_08397)
@ewnupdates @ewnreporter more worrying about the protests/riots is the inability of to deal with the violence!
— Lloyd Frazenburg (@FrazenburgLloyd)
@ewnupdates @ewnreporter but we all know who are behind this unrest, so why are they worried instead of disqualifying ANC
— Gatvol Minister ®™© (@GavaneCage)
The poll stems from the IEC's concerns about recent violent incidents related to the upcoming local elections.
The electoral commission's Mosotho Moepya said violent protests leading up to the elections should not only worry the commission, but all South Africans.

It pleaded with political parties to keep their members disciplined and stop outbreaks of further violent protests.
Last week, residents in various parts of Tshwane protested, looted, and destroyed property after the African National Congress (ANC) announced Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate.

Five people were killed and many more were arrested.

ANC activist Thabo Moroa was shot and killed at his home in Maboloka outside Brits in the North West on 18 June. 

Two weeks ago, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and ANC members clashed over allegations by the red berets that the ruling party is behind the killings of two of its members at the Sethokga hostel in Tembisa. 

It's understood the two members of the EFF were killed earlier this year during election campaigns.

To follow EWN's interactive map on political attacks leading up to the local elections, click here.

Venezuela on the Edge: Can the Region Help?

Venezuela on the Edge: Can the Region Help?

Venezuela is being rocked by its worst political and economic crisis in more than a decade.1 A humanitarian crisis is taking shape in a country that has among the largest proven oil reserves in the world. With President Nicolás Maduro having neutralized the opposition-dominated National Assembly elected in December 2015 and decimated the judiciary's independence, a negotiated, democratic solution to the crisis looks increasingly remote.
Given that Venezuela seems unable to overcome its internal divisions alone, external actors will be vital in influencing how the crisis unfolds. Yet the crisis has erupted at a moment when Latin American governments' interest and capacity to engage in Venezuela are limited. While the Maduro government has fewer regional allies than his predecessor Hugo Chávez could count on, governments in the region are doing little to defend democratic governance in Venezuela. Despite much pro-democracy rhetoric and some mediation efforts, they seem content to let Venezuela find its own way out of the crisis—whether this means an abrupt collapse of the authoritarian government or a prolongation of its increasingly heavy-handed rule.
Latin American governments need to do more to help Venezuela overcome its impasse. The regional mechanisms established to preserve democratic governance in the Americas have dramatically underperformed in Venezuela. South American governments, such as those in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, need to adopt a less equivocal position toward the crisis. Field research that we carried out in April in Caracas leads us to the conclusion that existing external efforts to build dialogue and mediation are unlikely to gain traction if they are not accompanied by clearer commitments to defend core democratic norms.

The Edge of the Abyss

On May 19, 2016, President Maduro declared a state of emergency in Venezuela and argued that the country was under attack from imperialist forces led by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The political and economic crisis engulfing Venezuela is rapidly deteriorating and pushing the country into an abyss. In what for decades was one of Latin America's most prosperous countries, a combination of hyperinflation, price controls, capital flight, and falling oil prices have produced an incipient humanitarian emergency. Over the past year, Venezuela's GDP contracted 8.4 percent while inflation rose to an astonishing 400 percent a year. The budget deficit is running at 14 percent of the country's GDP, one of the highest levels in the world.
The social consequences of this situation are severe. Poverty levels previously reduced by the Chavista revolution are now being wiped out by hyperinflation. Poverty levels rose from 27 percent of the population in 2013 to 73 percent in 2015.2 Industrial production has largely stopped. The government lacks hard currency to import even milk, eggs, flour, and other basic products. Food shortages are widespread. There is an acute shortage of medicines. A major drought has forced the government to ration energy, crippling the economy even further. Falling budgets and energy shortages have forced the government to ask public employees to work only two days a week.
Oliver della Costa Stuenkel
Violence has spread, particularly in major cities across the country. So far in 2016, 170 major looting incidents have been reported in San Cristóbal, Puerto Ordaz, Maracaibo, Caracas, and elsewhere. Violent crime has grown to epidemic proportions. Venezuela now has the highest homicide rate in the world.3 The Economist ranks Caracas as the most dangerous city in the world.4
Venezuela's long-simmering political standoff has become more acute. The Bolivarian revolution initiated by the late Hugo Chávez has profoundly polarized Venezuelans. Venezuela's 1999 constitution, written by the Chávez government, transformed the country's political system by diluting democratic checks and balances. Venezuela now retains few vestiges of a meaningful democracy. Power has been centralized, and the advantages of holding office have become overwhelming. Relations between the government and the opposition have become a highly confrontational, zero-sum game that lacks any spirit of accommodation or compromise. The ideological distance between the ruling government and the opposition now appears to be almost insurmountable.
The situation has worsened as a result of the unpopular presidency of Nicolás Maduro. Polls indicate that 70 percent of Venezuelans want him out of office this year.5 Maduro lacks the charisma and political skills of Hugo Chávez. The president is surrounded by loyalists and sycophants and seems out of touch with the travails of ordinary Venezuelans. In our conversations in Caracas, we were struck by how strongly Maduro is disliked and ridiculed not only by the opposition but also by many in the government.
The political crisis has spiraled out of control since the December 2015 legislative elections. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) lost its sixteen-year control of the National Assembly to the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of opposition parties. The opposition won 112 seats (two-thirds of the total) against the regime's 56 seats. This supermajority granted the MUD significant powers, including the ability to block ministerial appointments, influence the government's budget, unseat sitting Supreme Court justices, call for a Constitutional Assembly, remove the vice president, and—most significantly—initiate a recall referendum (revocatorio) against the president.
The opposition's triumph initiated a more conflictive phase in Venezuela's political crisis. The result has been febrile polarization. An emboldened opposition began to wield its new power in an effort to undermine the government. The Maduro administration brought in the courts to annul the opposition's electoral gains. The government resorted to the Constitutional Court, which is packed with pro-regime judges, to impugn the victory of six members of parliament in an effort to take away the opposition's two-thirds supermajority. It also blocked a constitutional amendment introduced by the opposition to shorten Maduro's term.
The opposition initiated the process for a referendum to recall the president after it collected the necessary 1.85 million signatures in a petition. In Caracas, we heard widespread speculation that the government is planning to retaliate against state employees and citizens who depend on government programs if they sign the recall petition. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles told us that the recall referendum is the best tactic because it uses formal provisions in the chavistas' own constitution.
Maduro attacked the initiative as a plot by what he damned as "the oligarchy" to derail the revolution. He created a special council headed by Jorge Rodríguez, the mayor of a Caracas district and one of his most loyal supporters, and charged it with signature revision. As a result of such tactics, many members of the opposition—in particular those who have been put in jail, such as Leopoldo López—insist that formal, institutional means are likely to be ineffective against the regime. There is thus a division in the opposition over what kind of strategy should be adopted.
The crisis is a strongly ideological battle for power. The government says that the turmoil is necessary to bring about radical social change and overcome conservative opposition to change. It insists that the humanitarian crisis is the result of the opposition, the United States, and other, so-called imperialist forces, orchestrating an economic boycott. For the opposition, chavismo is simply a defunct, authoritarian, and corrupt version of socialism. By harking back to the highly elitist Second Republic, some opposition leaders can appear insensitive to Venezuela's poor and marginalized sectors.
The current impasse raises the stakes for both sides. An increasingly cornered government appears determined to cling to power and defend its revolutionary legacy—and to do so in ever more autocratic ways. The opposition has seized its rare electoral triumph to push forward a far-reaching reform agenda that entails removing Maduro and the PSUV from power entirely. Rather than the elections ushering in a search for compromise, both camps have adopted more rigid and radical positions. Our meetings in Caracas left us feeling that the prospects for negotiated agreements are increasingly slim.
All of this puts the army in a potentially decisive role. The armed forces are ostensibly loyal to the revolution but have distanced themselves from Maduro and his disastrous record. This has engendered much speculation over what the army's eventual stance might be on some form of negotiated transition.

Three Scenarios for Maduro and Venezuela

There are three potential scenarios for how the crisis may evolve. The first is that the opposition succeeds in ousting Maduro through a recall referendum by the end of 2016. The second scenario would see the president hang on to power at least until 2017, even as Venezuela's economy continues its downturn spiral and social conflict and repression escalate. The third possibility is a military coup against Maduro.
The chances of the first scenario occurring are slim. To succeed in the recall referendum the opposition would need to clear several, prohibitively high hurdles. It would need to collect the signatures of 20 percent of the electorate (nearly 4 million people) to trigger the referendum. In the referendum itself, the opposition would then need to win a greater number of votes than the 7.5 million votes won by the government in 2013. As indicated, the regime is already resorting to myriad means to prevent the referendum from taking place. Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz has already stated that the opposition is too late to act and is guilty of procedural irregularities and even fraud.6 The National Electoral Council is supportive of the government and is aiming to delay the process until 2017. If the referendum is held (and won by the opposition) after December 2016, Maduro would have to leave office but there would not be new elections. The vice president would take over and the regime would survive—with Maduro effectively wielding influence from behind the scenes.
The second scenario—Maduro remaining in power—is the most likely. The regime has control of all the main state bodies and institutional processes that it can use to derail any effort to remove the president. This includes the judicial system, which ceased to be independent a long time ago and has openly pledged its support to defend the Bolivarian revolution and chavismo. Maduro recently filed a complaint against the National Assembly—and threatened to close the body down altogether—after the assembly backed moves to invoke the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Democratic Charter against Venezuela (see below). The government has also moved to imprison more opposition figures, human rights activists, and journalists and to break up social protests in an effort to undercut the opposition's momentum.
While Maduro is likely to stay in power, the economic and social situation is unlikely to improve. Indeed, barring increases in the price of oil large enough to replenish state coffers, the economy will almost certainly further deteriorate. Living conditions for most of the population will descend to an even more critical position. A large-scale social explosion and mass outflow of Venezuelan citizens across Latin America cannot be discounted.
This may bring the third scenario into play. With formal, institutional avenues for change virtually barred, the only scenario that would oust Maduro involves the military. There may be an internal coup or a rebellion in the military. For the moment this remains relatively improbable, but if the crisis worsens it cannot be completely ruled out.
Aware of that risk, Maduro—like Chávez before him—has sought to tie the military strongly into the regime, handing key positions in government to leading military figures. The regime has also given the army responsibility for food distribution across the country—an opportunity to make virtually limitless gains on the black market. Therefore, there will be a coup only if parts of the military—such as the middle- and lower-ranking members of the armed forces—believe the costs of repression and rising instability have begun to outweigh the benefits of supporting the Bolivarian regime. Venezuelan sources and diplomats we interviewed in Caracas spoke of growing divisions between high-ranking officers who have a stake in the survival of the regime and less senior officers who have not benefited directly from the existing order and seem worried about the country's general loss of direction.

South American Ambivalence

Against this backdrop, the role that regional actors could play to address the crisis has become more critical. Other South American governments and regional intergovernmental organizations have not been able to temper Venezuela's turmoil and have failed to read the nature or gravity of the crisis correctly. As these actors have increasingly committed themselves to defending democracy across Latin America, their failure to intervene decisively in Venezuela stands as a conspicuous failure for their democracy support policies.

Regional Governments

Brazil's lack of clear backing for Venezuelan democracy has been often noted. Compounding this, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and the appointment of Michel Temer as interim president have now thrown Brazil into disarray and diverted the country from active foreign policy engagements. Brazil has for many years been a staunch supporter of the Venezuelan government. The transition of power in Brazil may change this stance and leave Venezuela more isolated. Brazil's new government invited opposition leader Henrique Capriles to Brasília in a clear sign of its evolving stance on Venezuela. Notwithstanding this modest shift, however, Brazil is unlikely to engage in any assertive support for Venezuela's democratic reformers. José Serra, Brazil's new foreign minister, is expected to run for president for a third time in 2018 and is unlikely to engage in topics that could produce negative headlines. Brazil can be expected to support a stronger regional reaction—such as Venezuela's suspension from Mercosur—only if another state takes the lead.
When he assumed power in December 2015, Argentine President Mauricio Macri challenged the reigning code of silence among Latin American countries by publicly condemning those left-wing governments that have eroded freedom of the press and other human rights. Since then, however, his government has gradually adopted a less principled position on Venezuela. This is in part related to the informal candidacy of Argentina's foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, to become the next secretary general of the United Nations, which reduces her willingness to confront Venezuela. Malcorra has advocated further attempts at dialogue with Caracas and rejected taking any punitive measures against the regime.7
Chile has become more vocal in its criticism of the Maduro government, but also without adopting a highly confrontational stance. The Chilean Supreme Court has pressed the Chilean government to get the OAS's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit Leopoldo López and another imprisoned opposition figure, Daniel Ceballos. The administration of President Michelle Bachelet has agreed to do this. This is probably the most forward-leaning measure taken anywhere in the region—which shows how low the hurdle has been set in democracy support measures and how strikingly cautious Latin American governments have been in trying to limit the extension of authoritarianism in Venezuela.
In Uruguay, the ruling administration of President Tabaré Vázquez of the center-left Frente Amplio (Broad Front) has so far adhered to a noninterventionist position. Former government figures including ex-president José Mujica and his foreign minister, Luis Almagro—who is now head of the OAS—have vocally criticized the Maduro administration for its handling of the economy and for its authoritarian turn.8 But the current Uruguayan government has maintained a hands-off approach.
Hence, the agenda of democracy promotion in Venezuela has no regional champion. All of Latin America is suffering a hangover from the ongoing commodity bust, which has led to low growth, high public debt, and widespread voter discontent. Venezuela still provides subsidized oil to at least ten countries in the Caribbean and retains traditional allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Governments in the region apparently have no appetite to incur any risks by supporting Venezuelan democrats. Even those governments that extol pro-democracy rhetoric are in practice driven by realpolitik.
None of the South American governments that profess support for democratic norms has offered any material support to Venezuelan civil society or any capacity building for pro-democracy activism. This kind of democracy support, which is standard fare in other regions, is still apparently anathema in Latin America—even in the case of such a repressive autocratic turn as witnessed in Venezuela. Venezuelan opposition leaders told us how disappointed they are with the lack of wholehearted support from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and other states.

Intergovernmental Organizations

Various parliamentary organizations have visited Venezuela. Many of them have criticized Caracas for imprisoning opposition figures and curtailing the freedom of expression. These efforts have, naturally, been met with a hostile reception by Venezuelan authorities. A Brazilian delegation of center-right members of Congress was attacked by an angry mob on its way to visit opposition leaders in prison from Simón Bolívar International Airport and was forced to leave the country. Parliaments in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay have voiced concern over the erosion of democratic rule in Venezuela—but this has not pushed their respective governments into any more tangible pro-democracy support.
Regional organizations have been equally ineffective in getting a grip on the crisis. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) has been severely weakened by the Venezuelan crisis and the 2015 electoral upset in Argentina. ALBA now counts on the support of only a relatively small, less influential group of left-populist governments in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. The new diplomatic dialogue between Havana and Washington leaves Venezuela's regime further exposed at a regional level.
The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)—long influenced most strongly by pro-chavista governments—is now less likely to be able to mediate in the Venezuelan crisis due to the rise of center-right governments in Buenos Aires, Lima, and Brasília. Colombia's commitment to UNASUR has been limited from the very beginning. Policymakers in Buenos Aires and Brasília see the UNASUR secretary general, former Colombian president Ernesto Samper, as too pro-Maduro.
With ALBA and UNASUR sidelined and weakened, eyes have turned to the OAS. Venezuela has long worked to weaken the OAS by questioning its legitimacy and financing rival regional bodies. Many Latin American governments share this unease with the OAS and the role it accords to the United States in the region. This has prevented the OAS from playing any significant role in Venezuela. However, Almagro, the current secretary general, has recently been one of the most outspoken critics of the Venezuelan government. In a recent series of Twitter posts, Maduro accused Almagro of being "a traitor," and Almagro replied by calling Maduro "a petty dictator."
In May 2016, Almagro invoked Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and asked for a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, submitting a comprehensive report that laid out the case against Venezuela's violations of democracy and human rights. This is the first time that a secretary general of the OAS has taken such an initiative in support of democracy. Although the democratic charter was designed mainly as a mechanism to protect incumbents from coups, it makes it possible for the secretary general or any member state to call for a meeting of the Permanent Council where incumbent governments are themselves putting democracy at risk.
This call was received with great enthusiasm by several organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and—as mentioned—the Venezuelan parliament.9 It certainly succeeded in generating a regionwide debate about the crisis in Venezuela. However, the (two-thirds majority) support needed to suspend Venezuela is lacking in the OAS. The new governments in Argentina and Brazil have both opposed any use of the Democratic Charter. OAS states declined to activate the charter when they met on June 23, 2016. If this charter is not invoked in the current context in Venezuela, it is difficult to imagine that it has any tangible utility at all. It remains unclear what the OAS can do in any concrete sense to foster democratic transition in Venezuela.
Mercosur has also, so far, failed in its mediation efforts. It took Paraguay, one of the region's smallest countries, to request a meeting of Mercosur foreign ministers to address the situation.10 Paraguayan government officials often express frustration that Brazil and Argentina, which were swift to punish Paraguay for a less clear-cut overturning of democracy four years ago, are today silent in the face of Venezuela's massive violations of democratic governance. Paraguay complains that it was suspended from Mercosur for blocking Venezuela's accession to the bloc, more than for reasons related to democracy. Although Mercosur is unlikely to suspend Venezuela or exert other forms of pressure on Maduro, on June 10 the foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay signed a declaration condemning the violence in Caracas and reasserting that "the authorities are responsible for guaranteeing the right to peaceful demonstrations and to freedom of speech." The ministers also urged that "disagreements be settled through peaceful dialogue and democratic methods."11 Mercosur's role is more likely to be played through critical persuasion of Venezuela than through punitive sanctions against it.

Needed: A New Regional Approach

Regional actors' mediation efforts have failed to preserve democracy in Venezuela. While such bridge-building approaches should continue, they need to be backed up by a more assertive stance toward the Maduro government. The vast majority of Latin American countries seem unwilling to take an active stance on the crisis as they fear the diplomatic costs and the precedent such moves could entail. In so doing, however, they are tacitly favoring the government's position to the detriment of democracy and the Venezuelan people.
The region should act more decisively in the defense of democracy, in particular given that the humanitarian crisis afflicting Venezuela poses real dangers for regional stability. The OAS should be one of the main vehicles of a new regional strategy. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and other countries in the region (Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay) should help put together a coalition of the two-thirds of OAS members needed to suspend Venezuela until the Maduro government restores judicial independence and the protection of fundamental rights. To flank this move, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay should suspend Venezuela from Mercosur.
While some analysts argue that such initiatives would have little effect, the Maduro government cares far more about its international reputation than is generally appreciated. Indeed, preserving an image of stability is so important that—insiders told us—the government sees servicing foreign debts as more pressing than maintaining social programs.
Mediation efforts should continue alongside such critical measures. Former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has recently engaged in efforts to establish a meaningful dialogue between the government and the opposition. While the chances for success are limited, these efforts are laudable and should be maintained. They cannot, however, remain the only response to the crisis in Venezuela.
Brazil and Argentina have clear reasons to step in. Venezuela's crisis damages the region's reputation and feeds the notion that South America is adrift and incapable of solving its own problems. In addition, the leaders of other governments will look for cues from Brasília and Buenos Aires as they make up their minds on how to act. More importantly, both Brazil and Argentina have a moral obligation to help, after their previous governments actively promoted economic cooperation with Caracas during a period when Maduro and Chávez worked to dismantle Venezuela's democracy. Without diplomatic support and economic engagement from Brasília and Buenos Aires over the past decade—which generated ample economic rewards for Brazil and subsidized oil for Argentina—chavismo could not have kept itself afloat or gained such an uncompromising grip on power. Realpolitik thinking should be inverted: Venezuela's opposition is bound to take over at some point and is unlikely to forget the lack of pro-democratic support from its neighbors.
Our meetings in Caracas left us convinced of the urgent need for a more effective regional strategy for supporting democracy in Venezuela yet pessimistic about the likelihood that this will take shape. With Argentina's government reluctant to lose votes for Malcorra's campaign to become UN secretary general and Brazil's government too unstable to take leadership in a meaningful way, the omens are not good. It is far from clear whether Mercosur can unify to suspend Venezuela or whether two-thirds of the other 34 countries in the OAS are willing to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
Action via the OAS or Mercosur would increase pressure on the Maduro government to cease its attacks against the legislature and scale down its meddling in the judiciary. This would not be an undue interference in the country's internal affairs, nor would it be a signal that regional actors are biased toward the opposition. Rather, it would be a defense of Venezuelans' rights to choose their leaders—and a sign that the region is capable of using the legal instruments that have been arduously established over the past two and a half decades in a very practical way to further democratic norms.
Federico Merke is professor of international relations and director of undergraduate studies in political science and international relations at San Andrés University, Argentina.
Andreas E. Feldmann is an associate professor in the Departments of Latin American and Latino Studies and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Oliver della Costa Stuenkel is an assistant professor of international relations at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo. He is also a nonresident fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin.
The Carnegie Endowment is grateful to the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Ford Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development for their support of the Rising Democracies Network. The opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the authors.


1 We thank Richard Youngs for his insightful comments and help in the preparation of this essay.
2 Daniel Gallas, "Venezuela: Economy on the Brink?," BBC, December 7, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-34983467.
3 "The World's Most Dangerous Cities," Economist,February 3, 2016, http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/02/daily-chart-3.
4 Ibid.
5 Gallas, "Venezuela: Economy on the Brink?"
6 "Venezuela's President Maduro 'Won't Face Recall Referendum,'" BBC, May 17, 2016,  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36301742.
7 Sylvia Ayuso, "Venezuela da en la OEA un portazo a cualquier mediación en su crisis," El Pais, May 5, 2016, http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2016/05/06/estados_unidos/1462492624_995606.html.
8 "'Pepe' Mujica Said Maduro Is 'Mad as a Hatter,'" La Nación, May 19, 2016, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1900289-pepe-mujica-dijo-que-maduro-esta-loco-como-una-cabra.
9 "Venezuela: OAS Should Invoke Democratic Charter," Human Rights Watch, May 16, 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/16/venezuela-oas-should-invoke-democratic-charter; Phil Gunson, "Venezuela: The Light at the End of the Tunnel?," International Crisis Group, January 8, 2016, http://blog.crisisgroup.org/latin-america/venezuela/2016/01/08/venezuela-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/.
10 "Paraguay Requests Meeting of Mercosur Foreign Ministers to Address Venezuela Situation," MercoPress, May 27, 2016, http://en.mercopress.com/2016/05/27/paraguay-requests-meeting-of-mercosur-foreign-ministers-to-address-venezuela-situation.
11 Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, "Press Release on Venezuela," Argentine Republic, June 10, 2016, https://www.mrecic.gov.ar/en/press-release-venezuela.