Bolsonaro Picks Army General as Brazil Defense Minister

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro appointed retired army General Fernando Azevedo e Silva as defense minister on Tuesday, adding another former military officer to his cabinet while saying that a career foreign service officer may get the top diplomat’s job.

Azevedo belongs to a group of retired army generals who backed the presidential bid of Bolsonaro, a far-right politician and former army captain, in the name of fighting Brazil’s endemic political corruption and violent crime.

Bolsonaro has vowed to respect the Constitution and democratic rule. But the backing for him from military brass, and the number of former officers in Bolsonaro’s cabinet, have raised concerns about a potential outsized role for the armed forces in Brazil’s government. It spent more than three decades out of the political limelight since the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

The group of former top military brass is headed by retired five-star General Augusto Heleno, who Bolsonaro had originally named as defense minister. Last week he decided to make Heleno the head of the presidential office for national security.

Azevedo, a four-star general, was Bolsonaro’s contemporary at the Black Needles military academy, Brazil’s West Point, where they both trained as paratroopers.

While Bolsonaro was discharged from the army as a low-ranking officer, Azevedo went on to become the commander of Brazil’s paratrooper brigade. He also served as operations chief of the Brazilian-led United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti when it was under Heleno’s command.

Azevedo retired as army chief of staff in August and has since been a special adviser to Chief Justice Dias Toffoli at the Supreme Court.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Bolsonaro also said that diplomat Luis Fernando Serra was one of the candidates to run the foreign ministry. Serra’s most recent posting was as ambassador to South Korea.

Bolsonaro, who nearly died from a stab wound received on the campaign trail, added that he would likely to skip the G20 diplomatic summit in Argentina at the end of the month due to his poor health.

Military cabinet 

Bolsonaro is expected to name another member of the military group backing him, retired General Oswaldo Ferreira, former head of the army engineers corps, as his transportation minister in charge of improving Brazil’s anemic national infrastructure.

Bolsonaro’s vice president-elect is retired General Hamilton Mourao, who was removed from command in 2015 and given a staff job for criticizing the leftist Workers Party government at the time. He later offered a public defense of military intervention if the courts failed to punish corrupt politicians.

While former military officers will have a high profile in the next government, it was democratically elected by 57 million voters and will be led by a politician who once was a soldier, said the current administration’s national security adviser, Sergio Etchegoyen, also a retired army general.

“He has been painted as a fascist, a homophobe, a misogynist and many other things,” Etchegoyen said in an interview. “If he really is a fascist and a pervert, Brazilian society will remove him the next day.”

Bolsonaro has suggested the army will play a role in backing up state police as part of the crackdown on runaway crime and drug gangs that he promised while campaigning.

Speaking via teleconference to an investor conference in New York on Tuesday, Mourao said Bolsonaro wants to privatize the fuel distribution unit of state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, sending its shares higher.

Mourao also said also said a proposal for Boeing to acquire control of Embraer SA’s commercial jet unit was “a very good one” for the Brazilian planemaker. He added that Bolsonaro plans to approve an overhaul of Brazil’s pension system by late-June next year.

Colombia Opens Camp for Venezuela Migrants as Exodus Swells

Colombian authorities moved homeless Venezuelan migrants to a soccer field filled with yellow tents and cots Tuesday, as the number of migrants fleeing their nation’s economic and humanitarian calamity continues to rise.

The first migrant camp for Venezuelans in Colombia’s capital sparked a protest from residents who said they feared their new neighbors would bring crime and disease — the latest hint of escalating tensions throughout the region over the spillover of Venezuela’s crisis.

“They want to ruin our communities!” a man cried out from his balcony overlooking the field of tents, later switching to English and yelling, “Welcome to the jungle!”

Colombian officials had been reluctant to set up refugee-style camps, even while similar sites have been created at Ecuador’s border with Peru and in Brazil. The new camp is modeled after a temporary refugee settlement for Syrian arrivals in France.

Authorities fear camps could become permanent fixtures and hinder Venezuelans from integrating into society. But with over 1 million Venezuelans now living in Colombia, officials said they had no choice but to offer tents to destitute migrants.

“There’s nothing else left to do,” said Cristina Velez, Bogota’s secretary for social integration.

The migrants taken to the camp had been living in a park outside a bus station in conditions considered a potential public health risk. Families with young children were living cramped together alongside railroad tracks and cooking food over makeshift fires. Many had reached Bogota after long walks by foot and didn’t have enough money to rent a room.

Velez said Colombian officials talked with their counterparts in Paris over Skype to determine how to create a temporary camp, settling on a model that would keep families together while dividing up single men and women into separate tents. Migrants will be allowed to stay at the camp for up to three months and will be given information on accessing education and health care.

The initial capacity for the camp will be 500 people, though Velez said officials will evaluate whether a more permanent fixture is needed.

“We are going step by step because everything has changed very quickly,” she said.

The current exodus from Venezuela began in mid-2015 and has climbed steadily as Venezuelans face crippling hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages, and high crime. According to the United Nations, a total of 2.3 million have fled in the last three years alone.

Xenophobic attacks

Colombia has received more migrants than any other nation at a time when it is already tackling a litany of domestic issues including surging coca production and a fragile peace process with leftist rebels.

The arrival of so many Venezuelans has sparked xenophobic attacks throughout the region. Last month, a group of Venezuelans living in Colombia’s capital said a mob beat a man to death and ransacked their homes while shouting slurs against foreigners. In Brazil, violence erupted after a local storeowner was stabbed and beaten in an assault blamed on Venezuelan migrants.

As officials transported the Venezuelans to the new camp in Bogota, a dozen angry residents stood in front of a gate attempting to block their arrival. Residents in a large new condominium sat on their balconies now overlooking a field of yellow tents and cots and took photos. Several said they were angry officials hadn’t given them advance notice while others worried Venezuelans would take their jobs.

“I’m going to be left with nothing,” said Esperanza Contreras, 60, who sells grilled corn and said she feared Venezuelans willing to work for less would steal her customers.

Still others complained that Colombian officials chose a field prone to flooding and expressed worry about sanitary conditions for several hundred migrants sharing 10 portable toilets. They said officials should do more to make sure migrants have access to safe water, food and jobs.

“Not even animals should be there!” Giovanna Sanchez, 35, shouted into a microphone outside the camp.

‘Trapped’

Venezuelans arriving at the camp said they were jolted by the protest.

“I feel less safe because of what we’re seeing outside,” one man said. “They don’t want us here.”

As they completed a registration process and made their way toward the tents, many said they felt deceived by authorities who had promised showers and food.

Ivonne Jaimes, 27, cried as she sat on a cot with her 1-year-old son wondering when she would be able to bathe him. She feared they would end up spending more money living at the camp since they are not allowed to cook inside.

“I feel trapped here,” she said.

US Hardens Border at Tijuana to Prepare for Migrant Caravan

The U.S. government said it was starting work on Tuesday to “harden” the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection announced it was closing four lanes at the busy San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry in San Diego, California.

It said the closures were needed “to install and pre-position port hardening infrastructure equipment in preparation for the migrant caravan and the potential safety and security risk that it could cause.”

That still leaves a substantial path for the tens of thousands of people who cross daily: Twenty-three lanes remain open at San Ysidro and 12 at Otay Mesa.

The caravans became a campaign issue in U.S. midterm elections and U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to help fend off the migrants. Trump has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group.

To the thousands of Central American migrants making their way toward Mexico’s Pacific coast state of Nayarit, the prospect of meeting a hostile reception at the border is nothing new.

After a month on the road, through three countries, migrants like Maribel, 22, from La Ceiba, Honduras, are used to tough conditions.

Maribel, who did not want her last name used for fear of reprisals in Honduras, pushed a baby carriage with her 1-year-old daughter while her husband pushed another with their 3-year-old son along a highway leading from Guadalajara to the Nayarit capital of Tepic.

“We are well aware of everything Trump has been saying,” said Maribel. “Let them close whatever they want to close, but we are going to get through anyway.”

The thousands of Central American migrants left shelters in Guadalajara early Tuesday and were taken by bus to a highway tollbooth to wait for rides to their next destination.

They thought other buses would be waiting for them to take them through hurricane-ravaged Nayarit to the neighboring state of Sinaloa, further north. But no other buses showed up and few trucks passed to pick them up, leaving many to walk.

Most appeared intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward to the border city of Tijuana, which was still about 1,350 miles (2,200 kilometers) away. The migrants have come about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) since they started out in Honduras around October 13.

While they previously suffered from the heat on their journey through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, they now trek along highways wrapped in blankets to fend off the morning chill.

While the caravan previously averaged only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) a day, the migrants are now covering daily distances of 185 miles (300 kilometers) or more, partly because they are relying on hitchhiking rather than walking.

Migrants have hopped aboard different kinds of trucks, regardless of comfort or safety. Some have stacked themselves four levels high on a truck intended for pigs. On Monday, a few boarded a truck carrying a shipment of coffins, while others squeezed into a truck with narrow cages used for transporting chickens.

Many, especially men, travel on open platform trailers used to transport steel and cars or get in the freight containers of 18-wheelers and ride with one of the back doors open to provide air flow.

Last month, a Honduran man in the caravan died when he fell from a platform truck in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

A smaller, second caravan began arriving in Mexico City on Monday. By Tuesday, over 1,000 migrants had set up camp at the same Mexico City sports complex the larger caravan left Saturday. A third caravan was heading toward the capital.

Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said Monday that 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status. Some 533 migrants had requested a voluntary return to their countries, the government reported.

US Trial to Tell Epic Tale of Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’

During the height of Mexican drug wars in 1993, an attempted hit on Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman went wrong.

A team of gunmen sent to rub out the notorious drug lord instead killed a Roman Catholic cardinal at an airport in Guadalajara, outraging the Mexican public enough to touch off a massive manhunt for Guzman. He was captured, but prosecutors say he was undeterred from a brutal pursuit of power that lasted decades, featured jail breakouts and left a trail of bodies.

The story of the botched assassination will be part of an epic tale told in a tightly secured New York City courtroom starting Tuesday as prosecutors and defense lawyers make their opening statements in Guzman’s long-awaited U.S. trial.

Guzman, who has been held in solitary confinement since his extradition to the United States early last year, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he amassed a multi-billion-dollar fortune smuggling tons of cocaine and other drugs in a vast supply chain that reached New York, New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere north of the border.

If convicted, he faces a possible life prison sentence.

Prosecutors have said they will use thousands of documents, videos and recordings as evidence, including material related to the Guadalajara airport shooting, drug smugglers’ safe houses, Guzman’s 2015 prison escape and the law enforcement operation to recapture him.

More than a dozen cooperating witnesses are scheduled to testify, including some who worked for Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel. Prosecutors say they risk retribution by taking the stand and the court has taken some steps to conceal their identities. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan barred courtroom sketch artists from drawing them.

Guzman’s lawyers are expected to attack the credibility of the witnesses by emphasizing their own criminal records, saying some have an incentive to lie to win leniency in their own cases.

One of Guzman’s attorneys, Eduardo Balarezo, has suggested that he hopes to convince jurors Guzman wasn’t actually in charge of the cartel but was a lieutenant taking orders from someone else.

“Now that trial is upon us, it is time to put up or shut up,” Balarezo said.

Despite his diminutive stature and nickname that means “Shorty,” Guzman was once a larger-than-life figure in Mexico who has been compared to Al Capone and Robin Hood and been the subject of ballads called narcocorridos.

Among the highlights of his lore: how he was known for carrying a gold-plated AK-47; for smuggling cocaine in cans marked as jalapenos; for making shipments using planes with secret landing strips, container ships, speedboats and even submarines.

But Guzman is perhaps best known for escaping custody in Mexico, the first time in 2011 by hiding in the bottom of a laundry bin. He escaped again in 2015 through a mile-long tunnel dug into a shower in his jail cell that he slipped into before fleeing on a motorcycle.

Guzman’s second escape was a black eye for the Mexican government, an embarrassment amplified when the actor Sean Penn was able to find and interview him at one of his hideouts in Mexico while he was on the run from authorities.

Guzman extradition to New York City shook up Mexico’s drug underworld.

Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said it created “something of a civil war within the Sinaloa cartel” that has essentially ended with the arrest of internal rivals and allowed his sons to take control of what remains a “weakened” but far-from-finished smuggling operation.

Hope said he has seen no sign that Guzman’s extradition and jailing in the U.S. had a major impact on drug flows or routes.

“But symbolically I think it’s important. It’s a bit of an end of an era. There are very few kingpins of that size left, of that importance,” Hope said. “We are actually leaving behind that era, the era of the kingpin.” Smaller gangs now dominate, he said.

Raul Benitez, a security expert and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said Guzman’s oversized myth has been fading, too.

In Mexico, news stories about Guzman’s trial have been prominent in the media even though it’s viewed by some as old history.

“He is totally isolated. He cannot approach anyone. His wife was not even able to approach him. So he is now out of the game,” Benitez said, referring to an order by the judge banning Guzman’s wife from hugging him in the courtroom during the trial.

Whether he is out for good will be decided by anonymous jury of seven women and five men who will decide the case. The trial is expected to last into next year.

Nicaragua: Anti-govt. Protests Caused $1B in Economic Damages

Nicaragua’s government said on Monday that the economic damages from protests against President Daniel Ortega between April and July amounted to almost $1 billion and that some 120,000 jobs were lost during the period.

The transportation sector faced losses of $525 million, the tourism industry lost $231 million the public sector $205 million, for a total of $961 million, Nicaragua’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The people of Nicaragua were subjected to an attempted coup by political groups disguised as non-governmental organizations, associated with organized crime and financed from abroad,” the statement said.

Nicaragua has been roiled by unrest since demonstrations began against planned welfare cuts by Ortega’s government in April, which then spiraled into a wider protest against him.

The crackdown on protesters has sparked widespread international condemnation. Ortega’s supporters said the protests have been orchestrated by his opponents to remove the former Marxist guerrilla from power.

Local human rights groups said more than 300 people have been killed in the protests. Ortega’s government disputes those figures and said around 200 people have died.

Nicaragua’s gross domestic product is forecast to contract 4 percent in 2018, in part due to the protests, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund.

Human rights organization Amnesty International has said it documented at least six “possible extrajudicial executions” in Nicaragua during a government crackdown on the

protests.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ latest findings indicate that 325 people have been killed during the protests, including 21 police officers.

Migrant Caravan Moving to Western Mexico City of Guadalajara

Several thousand Central American migrants marked a month on the road Monday as they hitched rides to the western Mexico city of Guadalajara and toward the U.S. border.

Most appear intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward to the border city of Tijuana, which is still about 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) away. The migrants have come about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) since they started out in Honduras around Oct. 13.

While they previously suffered from the heat on their journey through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, they now trek along highways wrapped in blankets to fend off the morning chill.

Karen Martinez of Copan, Honduras, and her three children bundled up with jackets, scarves and a blanket.

“Sometimes we go along laughing, sometimes crying, but we keep on going,” she said. 

By late afternoon, the first migrants arrived on the outskirts of Guadalajara, and buses took them to an auditorium where they would sleep for the night.

While the caravan previously averaged only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) a day, the migrants are now covering daily distances of 185 miles (300 kilometers) or more, partly because they are relying on hitchhiking rather than walking.

On Monday morning, migrants gathered on a highway leading out of the central city of Irapuato looking for rides to Guadalajara about 150 miles (242 kilometers) away.

“Now the route is less complicated,” Martinez said.

Indeed, migrants have hopped aboard so many different kinds of trucks that they are no longer surprised by anything. Some have stacked themselves four levels high on a truck intended for pigs. On Monday, a few boarded a truck carrying a shipment of coffins, while yet others squeezed into a truck with narrow cages used for transporting chickens.

Many, especially men, travel on open platform trailers used to transport steel and cars, or get in the freight containers of 18-wheelers and ride with one of the back doors open to provide air flow.

The practice is not without dangers. Earlier, a Honduran man in the caravan died when he fell from a platform truck in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Jose Alejandro Caray, 17, of Yoro, Honduras, fell a week ago and injured his knee.

“I can’t bend it,” Caray said as he watched other migrants swarm aboard tractor-trailers.

“Now I’m afraid to get on,” he said. “I prefer to wait for a pickup truck.”

After several groups got lost after clambering on semi-trailers, caravan coordinators began encouraging migrants to ask drivers first or have someone ride in the cab so they could tell the driver where to turn off.

Over the weekend, the central state of Queretaro reported 6,531 migrants moving through the state. Another group was farther behind and expected to arrive in Mexico City on Monday.

The caravan became a campaign issue in U.S. midterm elections and U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to fend off the migrants. Trump has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group.

Many say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Mexico has offered refuge, asylum or work visas, and its government said 2,697 temporary visas had been issued to individuals and families to cover them during the 45-day application process for more permanent status.

But most migrants vow to continue to the United States.

Jose Tulio Rodriguez, 30, of Siguatepeque, Honduras, celebrated his 30th birthday at a migrant shelter in Mexico City last week before setting out with the rest of the caravan.

“The distance between cities is longer” than it was at the start, Rodriguez noted, “but thanks to the people of Mexico, we haven’t suffered.” 

Those distances will get longer the farther they travel into northern Mexico, where towns of any size are often 250 miles (400 kilometers) apart. 

Bolsonaro: Brazil Pension Reform Legislation Unlikely in 2018

Brazil’s Congress is unlikely to pass pension reform legislation this year, far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday, a blow to investor hopes that caused the country’s currency to weaken in futures markets.

Investors snapped up Brazilian assets in the wake of Bolsonaro’s election victory last month, cheered by his party’s stronger-than-expected showing in congressional races, which raised hopes he could make quick advances on fiscal reforms.

Many economists say cuts to Brazil’s social security system are essential to controlling a huge federal deficit and regaining Brazil’s investment-grade rating.

Last week, Bolsonaro said he would like to see some form of pension reform passed this year to make it easier to deal with the deficit after he takes office on Jan. 1.

On Monday, however, he told reporters in Rio de Janeiro that after speaking with his chief economic advisor Paulo Guedes, passing a 2018 pension reform bill looked increasingly unlikely.

He added that the reform would not just be based on crunching the numbers, but would also have to take into account the social impact of the overhaul.

Brazil’s currency, the real, weakened against the U.S. dollar in futures markets after his comments.

Bolsonaro also said that no decision had yet been taken on the next head of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, with more names for the chief executive position set to come out on Tuesday.

Separately, Guedes said on Monday that World Bank chief financial officer and former Brazilian finance minister Joaquim Levy had accepted Bolsonaro’s offer to lead state development bank BNDES.

Colombia’s Ex-rebels Turn Rafting Guides

The nine former rebel fighters, who traded their guns, battle fatigues and heavy rucksacks for paddles, helmets and life jackets, launch four rafts laden with visitors into the turbulent Pato River, deep in Colombia’s dense Amazon jungle.

The former guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have chosen rafting as their path to reintegration, as the government pushes to make tourism a top engine of the Andean nation’s economy.

“During the conflict, this region was rough, there were bullets and bombs all the time. Today, so much has changed — many people come to see the waterfalls, the mountain, the river,” guide Duberney Moreno, 34, a 13-year veteran of the FARC, said on Friday.

Nearly 13,000 former combatants and their unarmed sympathizers are participating in a reintegration process agreed as part of a 2016 peace deal to end more than 52 years of war with the government.

Reincorporation is considered fundamental to ensuring former FARC members do not return to the battlefield with smaller rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN), numerous crime gangs and dissident groups that refused to demobilize.

The conflict in Colombia has killed more than 260,000 people and millions more have been displaced, suffered sexual violence or been maimed by land mines or bombs.

Implementation of the polarizing deal has advanced slowly, but the FARC is now a political party with 10 guaranteed seats in Congress through 2026.

Many former fighters have returned home to reunite with their families, but some 5,000 have remained in 24 demobilization zones like the one on the Pato, turning them into makeshift towns built on Marxist principles.

Certified rafters 

The government has budgeted some $1.6 million to help those in the zones, which are protected by government forces, start some 300 farming, ranching, shoemaking, fishery, woodworking and now tourism projects.

Many ex-combatants, most of whom come from poor, rural backgrounds, have also contributed the money they were given upon demobilization to the projects.

Moreno and eight other former fighters got 200 hours of guide training and are now certified by the International Rafting Federation.

The site in Caqueta province cost $20,000 to construct and features hiking trails and lodging. Former fighters cook meals and drive visitors two hours by rutted road from the nearest large town.

“We have to keep supporting these initiatives — they create confidence in the peace process,” said Jessica Faieta, deputy chief of the United Nations’ mission in Colombia, which helps manage reintegration.

President Ivan Duque, who took office in August, has said tourism could be the country’s new economic driver. Travel to Colombia has spiked in recent years, as stereotypes about violence are offset by positive media coverage of the country’s diverse destinations.

“I want tourism to be Colombia’s new oil and for it to be the great invigorator of economic activity,” Duque said at a recent event.

More than 3.3 million tourists visited Colombia in 2017, a 23.9 percent jump from 2016. Figures from the past two years were more than double rates in 2010 and before, when just 1.4 million people visited.

The government estimates tourism has the potential to generate $6 billion annually and some 300,000 jobs.

Colombia has coastline on both the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, Amazonian jungle, Andean glaciers and cosmopolitan urban areas, as well as a plethora of adventure sports and wildlife.

Moreno and his colleagues are optimistic about their future on the river.

“We want peace,” Moreno said, standing on a beach along the Pato in the suffocating heat. “We believe a different Colombia is possible.”

Human Rights Commission Expresses ‘Concern’ Over Brazil

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has expressed “deep concern” over human rights in Brazil and says it will monitor what happens when the government of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro assumes office on Jan. 1.

The commission released a report Monday after a one-week visit to eight states in the country.

It highlighted violence suffered by indigenous people, the growing exclusion of those on the streets, a culture of impunity among police and threats against freedom of expression.

“The focus must be on the protection of life,” said commission president Margarette May Macaulay at a press conference.

Brazil is one of the countries with the highest homicide rates in the world, with 30.8 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Last year, an estimated 5,012 people were killed by police.

Trudeau: Canada has Heard Turkish Recordings on Khashoggi’s Killing

Canadian intelligence officers have listened to Turkish recordings of what happened to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday, adding that he was discussing with allies what next steps should be taken.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate by a team sent from Riyadh. Saudi authorities have acknowledged that the killing was premeditated, but his body has not been found.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said over the weekend that audio recordings of the killing had been given to the U.S., French, German and British governments.

When asked on a visit to Paris whether Canadian intelligence had heard the Turkish recordings, Trudeau said: “Yes”, although he added that had not heard them personally.

 

 

“Canada’s intelligence agencies have been working very closely on this issue with Turkish intelligence and Canada has been fully briefed on what Turkey had to share,” Trudeau told a news conference.

He added that he had also spoken to Erdogan about the issue in Paris over the weekend.

Canada is part of the so-called five eyes intelligence network which shares information along with the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Trudeau faces a dilemma as an election approaches over how to clamp down credibly on Riyadh over its human rights record while sparing a $13 billion arms deal with the kingdom.

He is under pressure to freeze the contract for armored vehicles built in Canada by U.S.-based General Dynamics, although the deal underpins 3,000 jobs in the small city of London, Ontario.

Sidestepping a question on whether the recordings could change Ottawa’s relationship with Riyadh and have consequences, Trudeau said he was continuing to talk with allies about the investigation and accountability for those behind the murder.

“We are in discussions with our like-minded allies as to the next steps with regard to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau said.

Earlier on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris was not in possession of recordings related to Khashoggi’s killings, apparently contradicting Erdogan’s remarks.

“The truth isn’t out yet. We want to know the truth, the circumstances of his death and the identity of the culprits.

Then we will take the necessary actions,” Le Drian told France 2 television. “If the Turkish president has information to give us, he must give it to us. For now, I don’t know about it.”