Protests against President Nicolás Maduro’s regime on the streets of Venezuela have now reached their 50th day, and at least 47 people have died. The U.S. government issued sanctions against the eight Venezuelan Supreme Court justices whose March power grab–a thwarted efort to dissolve the opposition-led legislature–sparked the protests in the first place. Eight Latin American countries, including neighboring Colombia, criticized the government’s “excessive use of force” against protesters. The increasingly isolated government announced that it would pull Venezuela out of the Organization of American States. Maduro’s much-criticized proposal to undo the crisis is to have a constituent assembly, with little opposition participation, rewrite the country’s 1999 constitution. There was a scare about the well-being of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, who appears to remain healthy in the Ramo Verde military prison. Still unclear from all the reporting about Venezuela is what’s happening inside the powerful armed forces–which are now trying civilian protesters in military courts–and how deeply the protests have penetrated poorer neighborhoods that were once pro-government bastions.
In Brazil, where it seems like the majority of the political class is under investigation for graft, President Michel Temer may soon be forced out by recent revelations of illegal payments and bribes. A general strike at the end of April, led by unions, ground the country to a halt. Meanwhile large landholders, who have a strong voice in the current conservative government, got a congressional commission to recommend dismantling the indigenous affairs agency Funai, which helps indigenous Brazilians defend land claims. Funai already had its budget cut 40 percent this year. Indigenous protests against land grabs were met with a violent police response in Brasília.
Colombia’s peace accord has brought near-total compliance with an August 2016 ceasefire and the least violent eight months the country has known in decades. Still, the process is facing significant setbacks. A looming May 31 deadline for full FARC disarmament will not be met, because government inaction on setting up disarmament sites delayed the process and because the FARC has reported more than 900 arms caches scattered around the country. And Colombia’s Constitutional Court has just struck down key parts of the “fast track” authority by which the government and Congress were to approve legislation necessary to implement the accords.
In Paraguay, President Horacio Cartes backed off an attempt to seek re-election, which had triggered violent protests in Asunción in March.