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Argentina: Judge Rafecas dismisses case against President Fernández

On 26 February, as a Buenos Aires judge dismissed the obstruction of justice case brought against President Cristina Fernández, she announced a small ministerial reshuffle.

Caracas mayor arrested, protester killed as Maduro’s conspiracy claims grow

Two events over the past week have exacerbated political tension in Venezuela: the arrest of the opposition mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, as an alleged party to a plot to stage a coup, and the death in the westernmost state of Táchira of a young protester at the hands of a police officer, against the backdrop of more claims by President Nicolás Maduro about a continually expanding conspiracy against his government.

Cigars and mojitos - opening up US-Cuba trade

It almost certainly won’t all go smoothly, but for now, things are moving fast. On 17 December US President Barrack Obama lifted his country’s 53-year old freeze on full diplomatic relations with Cuba. On 15 January Cuba honoured an undertaking to release 53 detainees considered political prisoners by the US. On the same day, United Airlines said that it would look to begin direct US-Cuba flights, subject to expected changes in US federal legislation. On 16 January the US treasury and commerce departments published the details of the new changes announced by President Obama, including allowing the authorised categories of US travellers to Cuba to bring back small quantities of cigars and rum and to use their credit cards while on the island, as well as green-lighting US exports of telecoms and ICT equipment, building materials for residential construction, and agricultural equipment for small farmers. Permitted remittances from American citizens to Cuba have also been increased sharply. The question is: where is it all heading?

President Fernández says a Judicial Party has arisen, bent on destabilising her government

‘What is coming? A coup d’état. By whom? Cristina Fernández [...] On Sunday the President will tear up the constitution.’ This was the prediction made on 25 February by Elisa Carrió, leader of the Coalición Cívica ARI and aspirant to the vice-presidency. She was alluding to the President’s scheduled 1 March address to the legislative assembly (formed by both chambers of congress in joint session). Headliners in the media translated this as ‘Cristina plans an autogolpe’, using a term, literally ‘self-inflicted coup’, first applied to Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) when in 1992 he dissolved congress, dismissed the supreme court and suspended civil liberties.

Latin America flummoxed by the Venezuela question

Unless the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) can pull off some deft diplomatic footwork in coming weeks, the upcoming mid-April Summit of the Americas in Panama, billed as a celebration of the historic accord between the US and Cuba, risks instead a new stand-off between the US and Latin America, this time over Venezuela.

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