The week at a glance...Americas


Caracas, Venezuela

Newsprint shortage? Venezuela is running out of newsprint—except, that is, for pro-government newspapers. The government of President Nicolás Maduro has been consistently denying import permits to importers who want to sell newsprint to opposition papers. Five newspapers have already shut down, and many more have only a few weeks’ worth of paper left. “We’re going to see a blackout of the local press,” Antonio Briceño, editor of La Antorcha, told USA Today. But state-run newspapers, which parrot a pro-government line, are flush with paper. “It’s political,” says Tinedo Guía, president of the National College of Journalists. “It’s a means of silencing the political opposition.”

Quito, Ecuador

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Space stumble: Ecuador has given up on its first attempt at keeping a surveillance satellite in orbit. The NEE-01 Pegaso, a 3-pound nanosatellite, was launched in April from a Chinese space center and had a great run for a couple of weeks, sending back live video of Ecuador and the surrounding region as it passed overhead. But in May, it bumped into some space debris from an old Russian rocket and went offline. This week, Ecuador’s EXA space agency said it had finally admitted defeat in trying to revive the satellite. “EXA has presented the appropriate claim to the insurance company,” the agency said.

Brasília, Brazil

No secret ballot: Brazilian lawmakers now have to tell their constituents how they voted on laws. Congress finally abolished secret voting last week, meeting one of the main demands of massive street protests that began in June. The decision was sparked by another round of public outcry this month, after Congress voted secretly to allow one of its members to keep his seat even though he is serving a jail term for corruption. Around a third of Brazilian lawmakers are under investigation for corruption or other criminal activity, and it’s not clear how much the new law will improve their image. “Currently, politics is a dirty game of exchanges,” said Graciara Albuquerque, 32, a protester in the capital.

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