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CHILE: Chilean President Sebastián Piñera called for national stability on Monday. His statements followed a weekend of protests where a confrontation police and at least 150 protestors happened outside the Viña del Mar music festival. Other protestors targeted municipal offices and looted local shops. Twenty-three police officers were injured and 15 people were arrested, according to officials.

After a Monday cabinet meeting, Piñera told reporters that Chile needs stability ahead of the April 26 constitutional referendum. In October, protests against a metro fare hike turned into a country-wide movement against inequality. The country is bracing for renewed mobilizations during March, when annual protests for International Women’s Day and anniversaries of the country’s military dictatorship take place.

On Sunday, Piñera tweeted, “March: A month of agreement or of violence? Many anticipate a violent March.”

HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

SOUTHERN CONE

URUGUAY: The Trump administration announced it will send a delegation to attend the inauguration of President-elect Luis Lacalle Pou on March 1. Lacalle Pou is the first center-right candidate to win the Uruguayan presidential election in 15 years. In November, he defeated the incumbent Broad Front coalition, running on voters’ economic concerns.

THE ANDES

VENEZUELA: A United Nations World Food Program (WFP) report found that 9.3 million people in Venezuela, or a third of the population, face food insecurity. President Nicolás Maduro granted the WFP permission to conduct the Food Security Assessment, while other humanitarian groups have been denied access. The report found that 74% of families have adopted strategies for coping with limited food, and 20% of families have sold their assets to afford food. A majority of Venezuelans told the WFP that food is available, but that they cannot afford the inflated prices.

CENTRAL AMERICA

COSTA RICA: The government announced that it has made progress on 79% of the green goals established in the National Decarbonization Plan one year ago. The Minister of Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, reaffirmed the plan is to totally decarbonize the economy by 2050 as a way to fight climate change. Action has been particularly effective in the fields of waste management and sustainable transportation. Going forward, the government wants to build an electric cargo train, install fast-charge stations for cars, launch electric busses, and encourage walking and biking.

GUATEMALA: Only 2% of all asylum seekers deported from the United States to Guatemala have actually pursued asylum in the Central American country, according to the Associated Press. Since an agreement signed by the two countries in November of last year, 683 migrants who arrived seeking asylum in the U.S. have been sent to Guatemala. But many return to their home countries, instead of opening asylum claims in Guatemala. Analysts say the agreement amounts to “deportation with a layover.” International law prohibits the U.S.from sending asylum seekers directly to their home countries.

NICARAGUA: Daniel Ortega’s regime lifted the blockade of paper and ink that was preventing Nicaragua’s oldest and most renowned newspaper, La Prensa, from normal publishing. The paper went more than 500 days without the necessary supplies to print. To continue working, La Prensa had to first shrink their editions from 32 to eight pages and later use a more expensive kind of paper. They also cut staff and limited distribution. The government’s decision came after a pressure campaign led by the paper’s director, Jaime Chamorro. He said, “if La Prensa had been closed down, [Nicaragua] would have been the first country in the world without a print newspaper.” Since the protests of April 2018, press freedom in Nicaragua has dramatically deteriorated. It is now considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

NORTH AMERICA

MEXICO:  A new study found that the average sentence for a woman is higher than the sentence for a man convicted of the same crime. The organization Reinserta surveyed 503 men and 570 women and found that women were serving an average of 23 years for serious crimes. Men served 17 years on average for the same infraction. The research also showed that women receive 25-year sentences more frequently than men, whose most common sentence is five years. Women surveyed were most likely to be convinced of theft, kidnapping, and murder. Men were most frequently convicted of theft, murder, and rape.

UNITED STATES: Democratic leaders in Florida objected to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on 60 Minutes, in which he declined to fully denounce the Cuban Revolution. Asked about statements he made in the 1980s regarding the regime’s approach to education and healthcare, the current Democratic primary frontrunner said, “We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but, you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad.” State Rep. Javier Fernández said a Sanders nomination would make it hard to beat President Trump in Florida. Meanwhile the Vermont Senator’s campaign pointed to Florida polls where he is tied with Trump and other Democratic rivals like Vice President Joe Biden.

UNITED STATES: The “public charge” rules went into effect yesterday, allowing the government to deny visas and green cards to individuals it considers “likely to be a public charge.” Officials will be able to factor applicants’ use or predicted use of services like Medicaid and SNAP benefits and their English language abilities into decisions about immigration status. Lawsuits across the country stalled the implementation of the policy for months, until the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review the case. In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled to allow the policy, which has already led many immigrants to drop out of public programs.

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