Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Maduro loyalists used shipping containers to block the Tienditas International Bridge ahead of the planned delivery of aid on Saturday. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images
There’s a powder keg on the border of Venezuela and Colombia. In some 36 hours, the Venezuelan opposition, led by National Assembly President Juan Guaidó and forcefully backed by the U.S., plans to light the fuse.
What to watch: A caravan organized by the opposition set off today for the border, where food and medicine flown in by the U.S. have been stockpiled. Guaidó is vowing to bring the aid into Venezuela on Saturday. President Nicolás Maduro, who insists there is no humanitarian crisis, says he won’t let them.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently returned from the border and has played a key role in shaping the Trump administration’s hawkish approach to Venezuela. He told Axios’ Jonathan Swan that the opposition is "well-aware of the risks they run to their personal safety by undertaking this."
The U.S. has gone all-in on regime change in Venezuela and wants results — fast. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Colombia on Monday to give a speech and meet with Lima Group leaders to "define concrete steps that support … a transition to democracy,” the White House says.
The big picture: Naím says there are indications both Russia and China, Maduro’s most powerful backers, are hedging their bets.
The bottom line: “Give it a few months, and the economy will be the centerpiece of every conversation," Naim says. "This is a country that doesn’t produce anything anymore. So every tube of toothpaste, every piece of bread has to be brought in and paid for in advance. ... How do you run a country like that?”
Netanyahu heads a Cabinet meeting. Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Pool/AFP
Two massive developments in Israeli politics over the past 48 hours have shaken up Israel's April 9 elections. Axios contributor Barak Ravid breaks it down:
1. After two weeks of efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in forming a united ultra-right-wing party, paving the way for Jewish supremacists from the "Jewish Power" party to make it into the next Knesset.
2. Hours before the registration deadline, Netanyahu's two main political rivals announced today they would merge their parties into a single, centrist party.
What's next: Israel's attorney general is expected to announce next week that he is indicting Netanyahu in 3 corruption cases.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Investor Mike Calvey was an American success story in Moscow, writes Axios business editor Dan Primack. Now, Calvey is in a Russian jail.
Dan discussed his case with Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital and the driving force behind the global Magnitsky Act, on the Pro Rata podcast:
Another empty chair? Butts (L) and Trudeau in 2015. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Justin Trudeau’s closest adviser resigned this week as a scandal continues to damage the prime minister’s squeaky clean image.
Backdrop: Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported earlier this month that aides close to Trudeau pressured then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to settle a case against SNC-Lavalin, a big engineering firm from Trudeau's home province of Quebec.
What to watch: Wilson-Raybould has hired a former Supreme Court of Canada justice to advise her on what she can legally say, and she is expected to testify before a parliamentary committee later this month. This story could get more explosive still, and Canada has elections in October.
A tribute to Maj. Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, who was killed in last week's attack. Photo: Vinay Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
The prime ministers of India and Pakistan have exchanged warnings as tensions continue to simmer a week after an attack claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, left 44 paramilitary police dead in Indian-administered Kashmir.
1. In the U.K.: The so-called Independent Group, made up initially of 8 defectors from Labour objecting to anti-Semitism and the party's stance (or lack thereof) on Brexit, has been bolstered by three defections from the ruling Conservative Party. It now has as many Members of Parliament as the Liberal Democrats. More are likely to join.
2. Violent anti-government protests gripped Haiti for nearly two weeks. Amid the chaos, five Americans were arrested with a cache of weapons. They’ve now been flown back to the U.S. and won’t face criminal charges. Everything around the case remains murky.
3. Nigeria’s electoral commission waited until five hours before voting was set to start on Saturday to delay the election, citing “logistical reasons.”
Trump and Kim in Singapore. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
The Trump administration is heading into the Feb. 27–28 summit with Kim Jong-un unsure whether North Korea is committed to denuclearization.
Why it matters: The U.S. intelligence community believes North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons because it sees them as crucial to regime survival.
What they're saying:
Worth noting: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NBC's "Today Show" this morning that sanctions on Pyongyang would only be lightened once "we’re confident that we’ve substantially reduced" the risk posed by the country's nuclear arsenal. That would seem to be a different standard than complete denuclearization.
The Carnival Regatta on Venice's Grand Canal. Photo: Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images
"Should have an excellent moral character ... a very good mind and mental strength."— From a job posting in Sri Lanka. The role? Executioner. President Maithripala Sirisena says he's bringing back the death penalty "as part of a Philippines-style crackdown," per CNN.
Thanks for stopping by — see you Monday evening!