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Catch up on the news with Open Americas! 

In the headlines: Bolsonaro's plans for Brazil, Correa ordered before Ecuador's Supreme Court, Mexico's precedential decision on marijuana, new US policy on immigration, and more.

Just over a week after being elected, Jair Bolsonaro has begun announcing his plans for once he assumes the presidency on January 1. These plans include merging the ministries of agriculture and environment, moving the Brazilian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and making prominent anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro Justice Minister. The current Agriculture and Environment ministers expressed concern over the decision to merge the two ministries, and there is fear it will be a huge setback for addressing climate change. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Bolsonaro on his election victory and quickly welcomed the plan to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem. Moro will serve as the Minister of the Justice and Public Security Ministry, another set of ministries Bolsonaro plans to merge.

A landslide in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro killed 10 people Saturday after two days of heavy rains. Eleven people have been rescued so far and four are still missing.

Former president Rafael Correa was ordered by Ecuador’s Supreme Court to stand trial for his role in the attempted kidnapping of an opposition leader in 2012. Correa’s arrest and extradition from Belgium, where he has lived since leaving office last year, was previously ordered when he refused to appear in court. Correa can only be tried once he is back in Ecuador, but faces up to 12 years in jail if found guilty. In addition to Correa, his former vice president and several top aides have been jailed or are under investigation for corruption.

Mexico’s Supreme Court has established a precedential decision regarding marijuana. The court has decided that “absolute prohibition” of recreational marijuana use is unconstitutional. The two recent rulings follow three similar rulings between between 2015 and 2017, solidifying the precedent under Mexican law. While the rulings do not fully legalize recreational use of marijuana, they do show progress towards future drug regulation.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s trial on US drug trafficking crimes is set to begin today, and he faces 17 criminal counts and life in prison if he is found guilty. The 12 jurors picked to decide if Guzmán is guilty will be kept anonymous and will be escorted to and from the trial by armed US marshals, as Guzmán has a history of intimidating and ordering the murders of witnesses.

After spending a week in police custody, opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was ordered to spend three years in jail as a “preventative measure” while prosecutors investigate allegations she accepted $1.2 million from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. Judge Richard Concepción Carhuancho based his ruling on his belief that Fujimori is at high risk of fleeing the country during the investigation. Fujimori denies all wrongdoing and her lawyers plan to appeal the ruling.

United States
The Trump administration announced new restrictions to immigrants who enter the United States illegally, denying them asylum if they do not enter at an official port of entry. These new measures come as a migrant caravan of between 7,000 to 10,000 Central Americans makes its way through Mexico towards the US border. Asylum claims at the US border have increased fourfold since 2014 in what the Department of Homeland Security calls “an unprecedented crisis at our Southern border.” There is a 750,000 case backlog in US immigration courts and October saw over 23,000 migrants taken into custody, the highest one-month total during Trump’s presidency. The American Civil Liberties Union along with other immigrant advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Friday to block the Trump administration’s new plan. The suit is based on the government violating immigration laws and federal procedure.

The European Union announced it will extend its sanctions on Venezuela through November 2019. The sanctions were meant to encourage democracy and political stability, but are being extended for the government undermining democracy and rule of law and violating human rights. This EU decision came just after the United States announced new sanctions on Venezuela, banning US citizens from dealing with gold sales from Venezuela and effectively blocking Venezuela’s government from borrowing on international markets. In response to the sanctions, President Nicolas Maduro is seeking to repatriate its $550 million in gold bars from the Bank of England. The plan to send the gold back to Venezuela has been on hold for two months due to inability to find insurance for the shipment. Meanwhile, the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants has reached 3 million worldwide.

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