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Nicolás Maduro

By mortgaging off Citgo, the last fairly well-functioning piece of the national oil sector, the Maduro administration and the ruling PSUV can muddle on, likely averting default for another year—though the falling oil price is a new major problem. 

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro made his annual address to the legislature on Wednesday, defending his government’s socialist economic model and accusing the Venezuelan political opposition of waging an “economic war” that has led to the country’s current financial crisis.

This week's likely top stories: the Panama Canal gears up to expand its Pacific coast facilities; Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro travels to China and OPEC countries; the 114th U.S. Congress starts its session on Tuesday with a Republican majority and plenty of hot button issues for the Americas; the trial of Guatemalan General Efraín Ríos Montt on genocide resumes; Uruguayan First Lady Lucia Topolansky confirms she will run for mayor of Montevideo in 2015.

Mientras Cuba abraza a los Estados Unidos, Venezuela abraza al vacío.

President Obama signed a bill yesterday authorizing sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of protesters in the South American country earlier this year.

The U.S. Senate approved a bill on Monday that would impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials found responsible for violating demonstrators’ rights during anti-government protests that left more than 40 dead and 800 injured since February.

The Venezuelan state prosecutor’s office formally charged former Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado with  treason and conspiracy for allegedly plotting to kill President Nicolas Maduro this Wednesday.

Leopoldo López, a Venezuelan opposition leader and founder of the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, appeared in court on Tuesday for the first timesince the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found his detention illegal and called for his immediate release on October 9.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the release of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López.

Jesus Torrealba, the new chief of Venezuela’s Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Democratic Unity Roundtable—MUD) opposition coalition, has targeted Venezuela’s 2015 parliamentary elections as the opposition’s next strategic opportunity to end chavista rule.

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