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Venezuela

Venezuela Withdraws From Human Rights Court 'Out Of Dignity'

AMERICA ECONOMIA (Latin America), TERRA COLOMBIA (Colombia), EXCELSIOR (Mexico)

Worldcrunch

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that his country would withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights "out of dignity," after the Costa-Rica based organization accused Venezuela of "inhumane" jail conditions, America Economia reports.

According to Terra Colombia, Hugo Chavez accused the Human Rights Court of supporting terrorism, after the commission issued a rule in favor of a man who had been sentenced to nine years in prison by the Venezuelan government. Raul Diaz had been found guilty of participating in the 2003 bombing attack on the Colombian consultate and Spanish Embassy in Caracas which injured four people.

Diaz managed to flee to the United States after serving out half of his sentence.

The Commission on Human Rights issued a rule against the Venezuelan government for alleged "inhuman and degrading treatment" during Diaz's detention.

The commission also ordered Venezuela to pay Raul Diaz's medical expenses as well as compensation for moral damages.

According to the Mexican daily Excelsior, Hugo Chavez called the ruling a "travesty," saying that it "offended the dignity of the Venezuelan people" and that his country had "no other solution" but to exit the organization.

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Economy

Russian Diamonds Are Belgium's Best Friend — But For How Much Longer?

Belgium has lobbied hard for the past year to keep Russian diamonds off the list of sanctioned goods. Indeed, there would be a huge impact on the economy of the port city of Antwerp, if Europe finally joins with the U.S. and others in banning sale of so-called "blood diamonds" from Russia. But a 10th package of EU sanctions arriving this month may finally be the end of the road.

Photo of a technician examining the condition of a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium

A technician examining the condition of a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium

Wang Xiaojun / Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

Since Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has agreed to nine different packages of sanctions against Russia. With the aim to punish Moscow's leadership and to cripple the war economy, European bans and limits have been placed on imports of a range of Russian products from coal, gas and steal to caviar and vodka — were successively banned over the past 11 months.

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Still, one notable Russian export is a shining exception to the rule, still imported into Europe as if nothing has changed: diamonds.

Russian state conglomerate Alrosa, which accounts for virtually all of the country's diamond production (95%) and deals with more than one-fourth of total global diamond imports, has been chugging along, business as usual.

But that may be about to change, ahead of an expected 10th package of sanctions slated to be finalized in the coming weeks. During recent negotiations, with 26 of the 27 EU members agreeing on the statement that ALSROA’s diamonds should no longer be imported, the one holdout was not surprisingly Belgium.

The Belgian opposition to the ban is explained by the port city of Antwerp, where 85% of the rough diamonds in the world pass through to get cut, polished, and marketed. There are estimates that 30,000 Belgians work for Alrosa.

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