Things That Matter

Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno “Jokes” Women Report Rape Only When Assailants Are Ugly

It’s a tale as old as time and one with a well-overdue expiration date.

Once again, victims– namely women– of sexual assault are being shamed into silence because of jokes that have not been well thought out. This time, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno is the mouth behind the quip that deserves no laughs.

In a recent speech delivered in the city of Guayaquil, Moreno claimed women-only complain about assaults when the perpetrator is unattractive.

Speaking to investors in the port city, Moreno appeared to defend men accused of harassment saying “at times, with harassment, they torment ugly people. That is to say, that the harassment is when it comes from an ugly person,” he went onto add that “if the person looks good according to the standards, they tend not to think necessarily that it is harassment.”

Fortunately, the responses to Moreno’s disdainful comments were quick, unforgiving, and loud.

Women’s rights activist groups and other organizations quickly lambasted the already controversial president for his snide and noxious comments.

In a tweet posted to her Instagram account, Ecuador’s governing party congresswoman Soledad Buendía condemned Moreno, writing on Twitter that the president’s comments “justifies and reproduces violence against women. You can’t joke about harassment, rape, femicide, trafficking, sexual exploitation … Nothing justifies expressions that revictimize us!”

According to the Guardian, the Women for Change organization were quick to join in the conversation.

“It is not that everything now looks to women like harassment, it is that to machos like you it has never seemed bad to harass!” the organization tweeted.

Soon after the backlash hit, Moreno attempted to apologize.

In a tweet posted to his account, Moreno wrote an apology saying “In my comment about harassment, I did not intend to minimize such a serious matter as violence or abuse. I apologize if it was understood that way. I reject violence against women in all its forms!”

According to a comparative analysis published in the 2008 book Violence Against Women, 32.4% of Ecuadorian women interviewed aged 15-49 stated they had been physically or sexually abused by a current or former partner. Clearly, this is no laughing matter.

Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

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Michelle Obama’s Support For First Responders Amid Pandemic Is Why We Need Her For President

michelleobama / INSTAGRAM

The Queen Mother of the United States is back with some great advice.

The former First Lady recently took to Twitter to encourage her legions of followers to show some gratitude and love for the health care workers and other emergency personnel exposing them to great risk at hospitals and medical facilities during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the former first lady, 56, encouraged her Twitter followers to show appreciation for the work that is being done to save lives as the virus continues to infect millions of people across the globe.

“If you’re feeling as grateful to––and in awe of––our first responders as I am, now is the time to let them know,” Obama wrote in a post showing photos of handwritten letters being sent to healthcare providers. “A handwritten letter, a social media post, or a simple ‘thank you’ text can go a long way in showing our appreciation for these heroes among us.”

Earlier this month, Obama’s husband Barack Obama reminded Twitter users that “We owe a profound debt of gratitude to all our health professionals and everybody who’ll be on the front lines of this pandemic for a long while. They’re giving everything. May we all model our own behavior on their selflessness and sacrifice as we help each other through this.”

Of course, it’s not the first time Michelle Obama has offered encouragement that was inspiring.

Michelle Obama has always been a woman who keeps it real, particularly when it comes to the sexism women experience on a daily basis. In a conversation at the Obama Foundation’s Inaugural Summit, Obama dropped some knowledge on how families often inadvertently raise entitled boys and men. In a conversation she held alongside poet Elizabeth Alexander, Obama hit families with some hard questions about their role in creating toxic masculinity, and Latinas were totally there for it.

During the summit, Obama asked families to look at the way they raise their sons and recognize how that contributes to a world where men and women are not treated as equals.

The former First Lady pointed out that when families raise their sons and daughters differently, they ultimately end up rearing boys who turn into men that inherently believe they deserve special treatment and exploit others. “I think we pay for that a little bit and that’s a ‘we’ thing because we are raising them. And it’s powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean?” she asked. “Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much, so they feel a little entitled?”

If you’re interested in sending gratitude to healthcare providers, there’s an easy way to do so online!

Many hospitals are allowing people to submit notes online. Recently UChicago Medicine shared a form on their website that gives people an opportunity to send a message to their frontline medical workers.

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Things That Matter

The U.S. Offers To Lift Crippling Sanctions Against Venezuela In New Plan, But There’s A Major Catch

Anadolu Agency / Getty

The coronavirus isn’t stopping the United States from continuing its maximum pressure campaign on Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela. 

For well over a year, Venezuela has suffered from a massive political crisis. President Nicolas Maduro clings to power as a growing number of foreign countries (including the U.S.) recognize his main competitor, Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself interim-President.

But as the country struggles to confront a growing Coronavirus pandemic, the international community is imploring the Trump administration to ease sanctions of the struggling nation. Many are concerned over its spread amid a collapsing health care system and a deep economic crisis, aggravated by U.S. sanctions and low oil prices.

The Trump administration is prepared to lift crippling sanctions on Venezuela in support of a new proposal to form a transitional government.

Credit: Kenneth Rapoza / Getty

However, getting both Maduro and Guaidó to buy into the plan – let alone millions of Venezuelans – will be an immense challenge. Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó would both have to step aside in favor of a five-person governing council, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plan.

Under the “democratic transition framework”, all political prisoners would be released, and all foreign – mostly Cuban – forces would leave. A five-member council would be selected, with two members chosen by the opposition, two by Maduro’s Socialist party, and the fifth member picked by the other four.

“The hope is that this set-up promotes the selection of people who are very broadly respected and known as people who can work with the other side,” the US special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told the Associated Press.

The U.S. has long pushed for regime change in Venezuela and this could be a major step towards achieving this policy.

“The United States has long been committed to finding a solution to the manmade crisis in Venezuela,” the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said.

“The urgency for this has become all the more serious in light of the Maduro regime’s failure to adequately prepare for and address the global Covid-19 pandemic. This framework demonstrates our commitment to helping Venezuela fully recover and ensures that the voice of the Venezuelan people is respected and included.”

The plan would mean the end of the Maduro regime and the likely withdrawal of his largest competitor.

Credit: Elizabeth Melimopoulos / Getty

Since early 2019, Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis with two clashing sides vowing to take back control of the country. Millions of people have poured into the streets in support of one side or the other – often resulting in violent flare ups that have left thousands dead.

But could the promise of zero sanctions against a struggling economy be enough to make the plan work?

Credit: @carmses_in / Twitter

The US and EU would then lift sanctions on the current leadership. Broader sanctions on the country’s oil business would be lifted after all foreign forces had left the country. All sanctions would be lifted after free elections, to be held within six to 12 months.

“The basic outline is simple: We call for a transitional government that would govern for nine to 12 months and hold free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters Tuesday. “The United States will recognize the result of a free and fair election no matter which party wins.”

The proposal comes five days after the U.S. indicted Maduro and top members of his government and army for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Department of Justice indicted Maduro and many of his right-hand men on a range of charges, all but guaranteeing they will not be part of any potential democratic transition in Venezuela down the line.

The indictment for crimes ranging from drug trafficking to corruption to narcoterrorism puts the spotlight on the horrendous acts Maduro and his associates have allegedly perpetrated.

In addition to giving the U.S. additional leverage over Maduro, the indictment also acts as an incentive for the 14 individuals charged along with him — and others close to him — to cooperate with U.S. authorities.

The plan has his critics on both sides of the aisle.

Skeptics of the plan said it provided few incentives for the incumbent officials to give up power, days after they were charged with serious offences and multimillion-dollar rewards put on their heads.

The ultimate focus must be on alleviating the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and though it will not be eased by these recent actions alone, the only way forward is to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with Maduro.