Regional nations, US flay Maduro for superseding congress

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro plays the maracas during a rally against U.S President Donald Trump in Caracas, Venezuela, in this August 14, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 August 2017
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Regional nations, US flay Maduro for superseding congress

CARACAS/LIMA: A group of 12 regional nations plus the US rejected Venezuela’s new government-allied legislative superbody, saying they would continue to regard the opposition-controlled congress as the country’s only legitimate law maker.
The move came after an announcement on Friday that the newly-created Constituent Assembly, elected in late July to re-write the crisis-hit country’s Constitution, would supersede congress and pass laws on its own.
The Lima Group, including Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and seven other regional governments, late on Friday joined the US in criticizing the assembly for “usurping” the powers of Venezuela’s tradition congress.
The congress has been controlled by the opposition since 2016, but has been neutered by President Nicolas Maduro’s loyalist Supreme Court, which has tossed out almost every law it has passed.
“We reiterate our rejection of the constituent assembly and its actions,” the 12-member Lima Group said in a statement published by Peru’s Foreign Ministry.
“We ratify our full support for the Venezuelan congress.” it added.
Maduro has slapped the opposition with several measures blaming it for the unrest that killed more than 125 people in recent months as security forces met rock-throwing protesters with rubber bullets and water cannon. The UN says government troops used excessive force in many cases.
One of the measures is the assembly’s new truth commission that will investigate opposition candidates running in October gubernatorial elections, to see if they were involved in the deadly protests. Considering that many opposition figures supported the demonstrations, the commission could hobble their efforts at winning governorships in the upcoming vote.
Anti-government marches have stalled since the assembly was inaugurated on Aug. 5. The opposition was stunned by a threat of US military action in Venezuela issued by President Donald Trump on Aug. 11.
The threat played into Maduro’s hands by supporting his oft-repeated assertion that the US “empire” wants to invade Venezuela to steal its oil. The idea had been easily dismissed as absurd by opposition and US officials before Trump’s surprise statement that “a military option” was on the table for dealing with Venezuela’s political crisis.
Over the days ahead the assembly says it will pass a law against “expressions of hate and intolerance,” which rights groups say is so vaguely worded it could allow for the prosecution of almost anyone who voices dissent.


Nationalist ‘leprosy’ spreading in Europe: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron is pictured after giving a speech on June 21, 2018, during his visit at the French western France of Quimper. (AFP)
Updated 23 min 29 sec ago
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Nationalist ‘leprosy’ spreading in Europe: Macron

  • Macron condemned “resurgent nationalism and closed borders, which some are pushing for” while repeating that Europe “cannot welcome everyone”
  • Italy’s new far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who refused to allow the Aquarius to dock, hit back at the French president

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday likened rising nationalism and anti-migrant sentiment in Europe to “leprosy.”
On a visit to Brittany three days before a meeting of European leaders to try to resolve the continent’s migrant crisis, Macron urged the French not to give into anti-EU sentiment.
“I’m saying to you in the gravest terms: Many hate it (Europe) but they have hated it for a long time, and now you see them (nationalists) rise, like leprosy, all around Europe, in countries where we thought that they would never reappear.”
These included “friends and neighbors” who “say the worst things and we become used to it,” he added.
Macron did not say to whom he was referring but France and Italy traded barbs in the past 10 days over Rome’s refusal to take in a boatload of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
The 629 passengers onboard the Aquarius were also rejected by Malta before being taken in by Spain in a case which shone attention on mounting anti-migrant sentiment in Europe.
Italy’s new far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who refused to allow the Aquarius to dock, hit back at the French president.
“If Macron were to stop insulting and concretely practice the generosity that fills his mouth by welcoming the thousands of immigrants that Italy has in recent years, it would be better for everyone,” Salvini said in the town of Terni, according to the Italian press agency AGI, when questioned about friction with France.
“We may be leper populists,” he said, “but I take the lessons from those who open their own ports. Welcome thousands of migrants and then talk we can talk.”
An influx of more than two million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa in the past three years has fueled the rise of nationalist and populist parties, including the League and Five Star Movement which share power in Italy.
Macron condemned “resurgent nationalism and closed borders, which some are pushing for” while repeating that Europe “cannot welcome everyone.”
The median position adopted by his government — stepping up deportations of so-called economic migrants while improving conditions for refugees — was “always the most difficult because no one is happy, but it is more responsible than playing on people’s fears,” he argued.
In remarks aimed at his leftist critics, he said that those who argued “we should welcome everyone” were turning a blind eye to the divisions in French society.
“I want France and its national cohesion to remain intact,” he said.