Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: OAS General Assembly—Xi Jinping in Mexico—U.S. Immigration Reform—Julian Assange—Protests in Mato Grosso

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Top stories this week are likely to include: the OAS meets for the 43rd General Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala; Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Mexico and the United States; the U.S. Senate will soon debate immigration reform; the UK and Ecuador foreign ministers may meet to discuss Julian Assange; Indigenous settlers protest in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

OAS General Assembly in Antigua, Guatemala: The 43rd General Assembly of the Organization of Americas States (OAS) will be held this week in Antigua, Guatemala, with agenda items to include the future of the hemisphere’s fight against drug trafficking and the election of three new members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and several other hemispheric Heads of State have proposed a discussion on revising the hemisphere’s policies against the criminalization of marijuana; an OAS report published in May described several scenarios for dealing with the drug trade, including legalization. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will represent the United States before the Assembly, which meets from June 4-6, with the IACHR election to be held during the afternoon plenary session on Thursday, June 6.

Chinese President Xi Jinping Visits the Hemisphere: Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Mexico on Tuesday to discuss increasing trade ties between the two countries. China’s relationship with the previous Mexican administration was strained after then-President Felipe Calderón received the Dalai Lama in 2011. Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, visited China in April in an effort to improve relations between the two countries. President Xi has also visited Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica, and will end his regional tour in the United States this weekend.

U.S. Senate to Debate Immigration Reform: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer predicted on Sunday that the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill will pass the Senate by July 4. The full Senate is expected to begin debating the reforms by June 10, with floor debate possibly beginning this week. The bill needs at least 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but supporters of the bill are hoping to attract about 70 votes. Meanwhile, a group of legislators is working on its own bill in the House of Representatives, but has not yet formally introduced the legislation.

UK May Enter Talks with Ecuador over Julian Assange: Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño has asked to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss the future of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange when he visits London on June 16. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 2012. Assange faces extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault charges and fears that he will be extradited to the U.S. to face additional charges for the release of secret diplomatic cables.

Hundreds of Indigenous Brazilians Protest in Mato Grosso: Members of the Terena tribe seized a rural property in Mato Grosso state on Saturday that they say is part of their ancestral territory. Tribal members were forcibly evicted from the territory, known as “Sidrolândia,” on Thursday during a confrontation with police, and one member of the tribe was killed in the standoff. On Saturday, members of the tribe met with property owners and representatives from Brazil’s Conselho Nacional de Justiça (National Justice Council—CNJ) to reach an agreement over the conflict, but were not successful. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said that reaching a solution is a priority for the Brazilian government.

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