"President Maduro expresses the need for dialogue and has met with the leading producers and manufacturers in Venezuela. However, two weeks later he threatened and charged political opponents, most recently the mayors of San Cristobal and San Diego. In this climate, the opposition is wary of entering into dialogue and has raised their conditions for talks. These now include the removal of Cuban officers from the Venezuelan military. Consequently, prospects for dialogue between the government and political oppositions are dim," writes Diana Villiers Negroponte for Brookings Up Front.
"The question the U.S. confronts now is how best it can speak out against human rights and democratic violations in Venezuela without inflaming an already polarized situation and jeopardizing the principles it seeks to defend. The potential U.S. response is limited by three factors: the Venezuelan government's predictable but effective nationalistic appeals to sovereignty and victimization, an opposition that too often has overplayed its hand in the past and the failure of regional governments to enforce the very norms to which they are signatories," writes Christopher Sabatini in World Politics Review.
"To be silent is to be complicit in the downward spiral of Venezuela's political system, economy and society, not to mention in the continued misery of millions. Many current leaders in Latin America suffered similar abuses in their time and they should not be silent accomplices to the abuses of today. For Venezuelans, a change in leadership can be accomplished entirely within a constitutional and legal framework. We must advocate for human rights; freedom of expression; the right to property, housing, health and education; equality within the judicial system, and, of course, the right of protest," writes former Chacao mayor Leopoldo López in the New York Times.
CHINA: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama discussed free speech and minority rights (NYT) on a weeklong trip to China. State television censored part of her remarks at Beijing's Peking University, but the microblog platform Weibo published them in full. Her trip concludes Wednesday in Chengdu.
This Backgrounder explains the state of media censorship in China.
South and Central Asia
WHO Report: Air Pollution Kills Seven Million Annually
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry flies to Amman on Wednesday to meet with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who he hopes will sign on to a U.S.-brokered framework agreement for extending Israeli-Palestinian talks, slated to end at the end of April. Kerry will rejoin President Obama in Riyadh (Haaretz).
IRAQ: Members of Iraq's electoral commission tendered letters of resignation en masse on Tuesday in protest of what they claim has been political interference ahead of April 30 elections (BBC).
A legislative proposal threatens to set back the cause of gender equality, CFR's Isobel Coleman writes in Foreign Affairs.
Nuclear Summit Closes With Reduction Commitments, Security Agreements
The nuclear summit in The Hague closed on Tuesday with more than thirty countries agreeing to adopt more stringent security guidelines, but nuclear heavyweights China, Russia, India, and Pakistan did not sign on. Several countries also announced their intention to reduce nuclear materials in their possession (WSJ).
Stewart Patrick and Claire Schacter discuss elements of a successful nuclear summit.