Brazil’s Bolsonaro pledges action to ‘restore democracy’ in Venezuela

(L-R) Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araujo, exiled Venezuelan supreme court justice Miguel Angel Martin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Organization of American States representative Gustavo Cinosi during a meeting with members of the Venezuelan opposition in Brasilia on January 17, 2019. (Brazilian presidency press office handout via AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Brazil’s Bolsonaro pledges action to ‘restore democracy’ in Venezuela

BRASILIA: Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he would do all he could to “to re-establish order and democracy” in Venezuela, while his foreign minister met with Venezuelan opposition leaders.
The right-wing government of Bolsonaro on Saturday said it recognized Juan Guaido, a Venezuelan opposition leader who is head of the congress, as the rightful president of Venezuela — even though Guaido himself has not proclaimed himself president.
Socialist President Nicolas Maduro began a new term last week under a cloud of international criticism by governments around the world, who have described him as an illegitimate leader whose policies have plunged Venezuela into its worst ever economic crisis.
“We will continue doing everything possible to re-establish order, democracy and freedom there,” Bolsonaro said in a video, in which he stood next to the head of the opposition-appointed Supreme Court in exile, Miguel Angel Martin.
“We asked the people of Venezuela to resist and have faith, because I believe a solution is coming soon,” Bolsonaro said in the video issued by his office.
Guaido, a lawmaker from the hard-line Popular Will opposition party, said last week he was prepared to assume the presidency on an interim basis and call elections, but would only do so with support of the armed forces.
Since taking office Jan. 1, Bolsonaro has stepped up criticism of Maduro’s government, the United States’ biggest ideological foe in Latin America.
Also at the meeting was a representative for Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States who has said Venezuela should be suspended from the regional forum.
Bolsonaro’s foreign minister Ernesto Araujo spent the morning huddled with a group of Venezuelan opposition leaders, led by the exiled former mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, to analyze the situation and Guaido’s readiness to take over as acting president, a Brazilian foreign ministry statement said.
Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The meeting also discussed ideas for “concrete action” to re-establish democracy in Venezuela, the statement said, without giving further details.
The opposition leaders said 300,000 people were starving and more than 11,000 newborn babies were dying each year due to the lack of medicine in what they called a “silent genocide perpetrated by the Maduro dictatorship,” the statement said.
Maduro, who says that a US-directed “economic war” is trying to force him from power, has so far had consistent support from the armed forces at home.


Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 19 April 2019
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Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok
  • Proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.