Home Politics Congress Senator Collor analyses world situation at the Committee of External Relations

Senator Collor analyses world situation at the Committee of External Relations


At the opening of Thursday’s (April 6) session of the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense of the Federal Senate, its chairman, senator Fernando Collor de Mello, presented an overview on current foreign issues, focusing in particular on the meeting (to happen that same day) between the U.S. President Donald Trump and the Chinese Prime Minister, Xi Jinping.  Some comments were made about the political situation in Venezuela, in Paraguay, in Ecuador and in Russia. Also Mr. Collor de Mello made references to the attack with chemical weapons against civilians in Syria”:

” Today, expectations are focused on the first meeting between the US President Donald Trump and the Chinese top leader Xi Jinping, a meeting that Mr. Trump himself  qualified that a very difficult one.  The conversation between the two leaders should be dominated by trade issues as well as on the constant threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear tests,  a country which has the tacit support of China.

By the way, North Korea, on the eve of the Trump-Xi Jinping meeting  made yet another mid-range ballistic missile launch into the Sea of ​​Japan. It was the latest in a series of tests that the country has been conducting, aiming at the development of a nuclear vector.

Trump and Xi Jinping are expected to discuss how to control the North Korean nuclear and missile program as the United States increases pressure on China, a historic ally of Pyongyang, to do more in this regard. Trump said in a recent interview that Washington is ready to act without Beijing’s cooperation: “If China does not solve [the problem] of North Korea, we will,” Trump said, without saying how.

Second point of the communiqué: Venezuela. On Monday, in what represented a defeat for President Nicolás Maduro and his allies in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Permanent Council of the institution approved a resolution that applied the Inter-American Democratic Charter to Venezuela and detrmined it was “essential” to “restore  full democratic order in the country. “

One thing is that this Democratic Charter provides a series of steps for its implementation. It is not something that is put to deliberation and that is resolved immediately. There are several steps that must be followed until the last one is taken to the Plenary deliberation. The maximum penalty shall be the suspension of the Member State, which shall be approved by the vote of two thirds of the countries at an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Ministers.

The approved measure urges Venezuela to guarantee the separation of powers and restore the “full authority” of the National Assembly, in addition to restoring democratic order. It also states that the OAS is authorized to implement diplomatic measures, including a meeting of the continent’s foreign ministers – who may, at the time, decide to suspend the country of the body.

The Venezuelan judiciary most recently complied with the recommendation of President Nicolás Maduro and annulled, on Saturday, the decisions by which he assumed the functions of the Legislature. The retreat of Chavismo gives back to Congress limited powers, since fifteen months ago, parliamentarians have been unable to legislate because the country’s judiciary considers the National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, in contempt.

In fact, the situation of Venezuela, as we all follow, is dramatic. With the fall in the price of oil, international revenues have fallen sharply and, even with a radical restraint of imports, Venezuelan foreign debt is around  $ 100 billion, in stark contrast to reserves of only  $ 10 billion.  Really, an extremely critical situation. Therefore, the international financial market fears a default of Venezuela.

Last Tuesday, we followed the demonstrations that took place there, as well as the meeting that was held in Buenos Aires between the Brazilian, Argentine, Paraguayan and Uruguayan Foreign Ministers, to activate the democratic clause regarding Venezuela in Mercosur. The democratic clause was triggered in the OAS, as already mentioned, and also the Mercosur Foreign Ministers decided to activate the democratic clause, as a result of the Ouro Preto Commitment, signed in 1995, if I am not mistaken, with regard to Venezuela in Mercosur, for Account of the “lack of separation of powers” and for having diagnosed the member countries of Mercosur a “rupture of the democratic order” in the government of Nicolás Maduro.
The Argentine Foreign Minister, hostess of the meeting, Ms. Susana Malcorra, stressed that the democracy clause of Mercosur does not imply the expulsion of the state in question, but rather a monitoring of the situation in search of solutions through dialogue. The country has been suspended from the block since last December.
The bloc also opted to “urge the Government of Venezuela to respect the electoral timetable derived from its institutional regulations.”
Concerning Paraguay, political tension in Paraguay worsened in the capital, Asuncion, after protests against the Senate’s approval of amendment to the constitution allowing reelection to the post of President of the Republic, culminated in the death of a young demonstrator, hit by Police shots. (…) of amendment to the Constitution allowing the re-election to the post of President of the Republic, culminated in the death of a young demonstrator, who was shot by police.
As a result of the protests, the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies suspended a meeting scheduled for Saturday in which it would vote on said amendment.
For the opposition, the amendment is a maneuver by President Horacio Cartes to extend the power of a country still traumatized by a long dictatorship, surpassed only in the 1990s. Demonstrations, begun last night, had violent clashes , And police detained more than 200 people. Demonstrators even set fire to Congress.
The protests began after a majority of 25 senators, out of a total of 45, approved behind closed doors a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Cartes, in power since 2013, to run for a new five-year term in the upcoming elections, hence To one year.
Roberto Acevedo, who chairs the Senate, said Friday’s vote was unconstitutional, and asked the Supreme Court to overrule it.
Opponents consider the approval of the constitutional amendment a parliamentary coup, and asked the people to resist. After the long dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner, between 1954 and 1989, the Paraguayan Constitution of 1992 banned presidential re-election.
In relation to Ecuador. On Sunday, April 2, presidential elections were held in Ecuador, which gave the victory to the government candidate, Lenin Moreno. The results are being disputed by the opposition’s opponent, Guillermo Lasso, who pleads for the recount of votes. However, the National Electoral Council of Ecuador has already declared the victory of Socialist Moreno, by a difference of 2.32 percentage points.
Coming out of our Continent, we deal with the question of Russia.
On Monday, day 3, that terrorist attack on a subway station killed 14 people and left 49 wounded in St. Petersburg, the second city of Russia. Police identified a Russian national born in Kyrgyzstan as the person responsible for the suicide bombing. Russian officials confirmed that he had links to Islamic radicals.
Russia’s intervention in Syria is seen as the likely cause for the country to have become targets of extremist groups such as the Islamic State.
According to correspondents from the Financial Times in Moscow, Kathrin Hille and Henry Foy, the focus on a Central Asian suspect draws attention to one of the main risks of terrorism for Russia: his military intervention in Syria in support of President Bashar Al- Assad has convinced many Sunni Muslims in Russia and other former Soviet republics who are fighting alongside jihadist groups in the conflict. They have the presumption of Moscow declared them war, those living in Central Asia.
In addition, it has transformed Russian migrant workers from established Central Asia, often discriminated against, into easier targets of jihadist recruiters.
In October, President Vladimir Putin told his colleagues in the Commonwealth of Independent States that an estimated five to seven thousand fighters from the former Soviet republics were fighting alongside the Islamic state.
Earlier this morning, Russian police discovered and deactivated an explosive device found in an apartment in St. Petersburg, allegedly linked to the terrorist suspected of the subway bombing.
Several suspects were detained, and neighbors evacuated. Witnesses saw three men coming out handcuffed from the scene.
In relation to Syria,  in an emergency meeting held yesterday, the UN Security Council discussed the chemical attack on Tuesday in the Syrian city of Khan Shaikoun, which killed 72 people, including 20 children. At the meeting, Russia was harshly criticized by other world powers, who rejected the Moscow version, according to which a Russian allied air strike from Syria would have hit a terrorist-operated chemical weapons factory and caused the tragedy.
Without reaching a conclusion, the Security Council meeting has been postponed, while the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Council, those with veto rights – the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom – negotiate privately trying to reach a consensual language to be adopted by the Resolution on Syria.
US ambassador Niki Haley said Syrian chemical attacks would continue if nothing was done and said that “Russia uses the same false narrative to divert the attention of its ally in Damascus.” The French envoy to the Council, François Delattre, blamed Bashar al-Assad’s government for the attack, accusing him of “destructive madness.”
A specialist in chemical weapons, British Colonel Hamish of Bretton-Gordon said in an interview with the BBC that he considers the Russian version of the events “very creative.” For him, “the idea that sarin gas could spread after the bombing of a chemical weapons factory is unsustainable.”
Meanwhile, in Brussels at a meeting of 70 humanitarian donors to Syria organized by the European Union, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said yesterday that “war crimes are occurring in Syria.”
I now read the statement of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, which was sent to this Commission yesterday by its embassy here in Brazil. It is a two-page letter, of which I have emphasized two paragraphs to inform Your Excellency.
According to the official statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic:
The Syrian Arab Republic categorically denies the use of toxic gases against Khan Shaikoun or any other village or town in Syria. It reaffirms that the Syrian Arab Army does not possess any kind of chemical weapons, has not used them in the past, does not intend to use them in the future and does not even seek to obtain them. It has already been proven that the Syrian Arab Army has not used such weapons or in the worst battles fought against armed terrorist groups.
The Syrian Arab Republic states that it has complied with all its commitments under the treaty to ban chemical weapons since its accession in 2013.
Syria clarifies that the armed terrorist groups and their sponsors were responsible for promoting such attacks and others, with the aim of later accusing the Syrian state of ownership, given that the Syrian Arab Republic provided the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Security Council  and a number of countries with detailed and accurate information over the past few years, and specifically through Syria’s notes in recent weeks on the actions of armed terrorist groups for the entry of toxic materials into Syria, including Idleb province, Through the neighboring countries, especially Turkey, for these products to be used later. [It should be noted here that this note already accuses Turkey of sponsoring this entry of toxic weapons and gases into Syrian territory.”

(This is a free translation of the non-revised words of the chairman of the Committe on Foreign Relations and National Defense)

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