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Obama throws down the gauntlet to Venezuela’s Maduro

In signing into law on 18 December the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, just a day after making his historic announcement on the restoration of relations with Cuba, US President Barack Obama is pressuring Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to address the internal political crisis in Venezuela.

Obama sets bold new course on Cuba

Barack Obama has made history – and cast his legacy – by becoming the first US President to make a decisive move to end the last Cold War anachronism in the Americas. On 17 December President Obama used his executive powers to decree a major change in US-Cuba policy, paving the way for the restoration of diplomatic relations after 53 years. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”

Peru presides over climate change deal

Officially, the 12-day United Nations climate change conference (known as Conference of the Parties 20 or COP20) held in Lima and chaired by the Peruvian government was a success: it was extended for a further two days to break a deadlock and finally concluded in the early hours of 14 December with the approval of a document that sought to balance the many, often conflicting views of the participants on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the global debate will continue, it is becoming clear that climate change issues are of growing importance in Latin America.

From Bolívar to Damocles – a Greek tragedy for Maduro?

It is exactly two years since Venezuela’s seriously ill president, Hugo Chávez, anointed his-then foreign minister and vice president Nicolás Maduro as his preferred successor, with the words, “Nicolas, here is the sword of Bolívar”. Chávez shortly thereafter departed for Cuba for another operation for recurrent cancer; he never walked the streets of Caracas again. Twenty-four months later, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the sword of Damocles seems to be hanging over Maduro, as he struggles to preserve the Socialist legacy entrusted to him by his mentor.

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