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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

To Venezuela, This Week’s Sanctions Are A Joke

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

 

This week, the Trump administration took the rare step of declaring Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “dictator,” freezing his assets and banning Americans from doing business with him.

It looked like a big deal. Phones pinged with alerts, and cable news channels carried the announcement live. Maduro was now the fourth member of an exclusive club of sanctioned dictators, joining Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

“Maduro is not just a bad leader; he is now a dictator,” President Donald Trump said in a statement.

I watched this movie again and again in the three years I spent covering Venezuela for the Associated Press.…

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Trump Is Playing Dangerous Military Gambit In Central America

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

There has been a flurry of Trump administration activity around Central America recently. Most prominently, several cabinet members and Vice President Pence traveled to Miami last month for the administration’s “Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America” that the United States cohosted with Mexico.

The signals so far are not encouraging. In the Trump White House’s proposed 2018 budget, we can see a shift toward trying to spur private sector investment in Central America, while increasing “defense” spending to more than half the overall budget. State Department and USAID programs for Central America are cut by over 30 percent, while additional security assistance is expected to come from the Pentagon budget.…

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