EU, S.America bloc reach trade deal after 20 years of talks | AFP

The European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur agree on a vast trade deal to end 20 years of talks over one of the world’s largest regional commercial accords, negotiators said. SOUNDBITE

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A massive outage blacked out Argentina | AFP

A massive outage blacked out Argentina and Uruguay on Sunday, leaving both South American countries without electricity, power companies said. IMAGES

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Ecuador’s highest court approves same-sex marriage | AFP

People celebrate after the Ecuador’s Constitutional Court approved same-sex marriage in a landmark ruling in the traditionally Catholic and conservative South American country.

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Massive pro- and anti-government rallies take place in crisis-striken Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido calls for huge May Day protests to pile pressure on President Nicolas Maduro as the United States says it is prepared to take military action to stem the crisis in the South American nation. Pro- and anti-government rallies are taking place, a day after violent clashes erupted in the capital following Guido’s call on the military to rise up against Maduro, who claimed the insurrection had failed.

Embassy skating: Assange roll through Ecuador diplomatic mission’s room

Wikileaks founder was arrested and dragged out of the embassy in London last week after the South American nation revoked his political asylum.
Interior minister Maria Paula Romo later revealed that Assange’s mental and physical state had deteriorated during his seven-year stay at the embassy, and he reportedly exhibited increasingly anti-social behavior.

Ecuador has been making some outrageous allegations,” Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, commented on the issue. Quito made these claims to divert public attention from its own misdeeds and to “justify the unlawful and extraordinary act of letting police come inside an embassy,” she added.

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‘Military options in Venezuela’ discussed at US secret meeting – docs obtained by Grayzone reveal

A hawkish US think tank has hosted a secretive meeting on Venezuela, bringing together American and South American officials to discuss the ‘use of military force’ in the country, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.

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Pompeo prioritizes Venezuela crisis in Paraguay

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Saturday a “tyrant” who has caused the ruin of the South American country and its people. (April 13)

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Red Cross to RT: Venezuela faces malnutrition, lack of clean water, power outages

Supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido held rival rallies on Saturday in the capital Caracas.

That’s amid the South American country experiencing a series of nationwide blackouts, which have hit water, transportation and telecommunication services.

A spokesman for the Red Cross says the power outages are a primary cause for concern and aggravate the humanitarian situation in the country.

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Freudian slip or firm grip? Trump calls Venezuela ‘company’

‘Crisis-stricken, starving & under a brutal rule’ – Venezuela has been described many ways in the western media recently. But there’s a new label being pinned on the South American country too by President Trump.

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Trinidad And Tobago Is Ignoring Its Venezuelan Refugee Problem (HBO)

Cedros, on the remote southwestern tip of the island of Trinidad, is a sleepy fishing village unaccustomed to heavy traffic. Its port is little more than a narrow jetty sticking out into the water and a small customs house on shore.

But in recent months, ferries have been dropping off passengers by the dozen, most of them hauling large rolling suitcases behind them. That’s because Cedros happens to be seven miles away from the Venezuelan coast, where political turmoil and a collapsing economy is driving people out by the thousands.

“Before this situation developed, the number of [Venezuelans] entering through the port was under 100 weekly,” said Shankar Teelucksingh, the councillor for Cedros. “Today we have over 1,500. And that’s just what we can keep track of — that excludes the ones that come into the country illegally.”

Roughly 3.4 million people have left Venezuela in recent years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The large majority have gone overland to Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries. But proportionally, Trinidad and Tobago has received the most: an estimated 60,000 Venezuelans now live in the island nation, which amounts to more than four percent of its population.

And yet, of all the countries bearing the brunt of the Venezuelan refugee crisis, Trinidad and Tobago has done the least to address it. Venezuelans there can apply for refugee status from the UNHCR, which entitles them to stay in the country. But the government has not otherwise made significant efforts to integrate them or provide them with legal status.

Adults are not legally allowed to work, and children are not given the right to a public education. As a result, Venezuelans in Trinidad live mostly underground. The lucky ones find local residents who are willing to help them.

After months of living in overcrowded conditions with other families, Josué Campos and his family met a local school principal named Kelly-Ann Langdon-Pascal, who let them enroll their daughter for free in her small private school. Langdon-Pascal also rented them her basement apartment for cheap.

Campos and his wife now work odd jobs cleaning houses and on construction sites. “It’s tough, because you have to live in fear,” Campos said. “You’re working and you’re wondering if immigration is coming, if the police are coming. It’s not stable.”

Still, odd jobs in Trinidad are a better deal than a stable job in Venezuela: A day’s work in Trinidad is enough to buy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Campos said. “With the minimum wage you get in Venezuela, you can’t even buy breakfast.”

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