Would Peru go for Chavismo?

March 30th, 2015

Mary O’Grady writes about the reasons behind Peru’s recent economic success: A market model that allows for

  • a vibrant consumer class that is entrepreneurial and creative
  • openness to imports
  • structural reforms that included ending a punishing system of import tariffs and quotas
  • fiscally conservative governance.

However,

Still, the downturn in commodity prices is eating into growth and the slowdown that began last year continues. Market forecasts for GDP growth are in the 3% range for 2015. Peru’s economy is performing far better than most in the region, but lackluster is not what Peruvians have come to expect.

The obvious answer to this lethargy is more aggressive trade opening on key products like sugar and corn, more tax cutting and deregulation. But Mr. Humala’s popularity is sagging and he is unlikely to do anything bold. Meanwhile, opponents of economic freedom will turn slower growth into opportunity by linking stagnant incomes in the market economy and corruption.

As O’Grady points out, this means Peru Is Chavismo’s Next American Target
Corruption scandals give the left an opening in the 2016 presidential election.

On a seemingly unrelated topic,
The Obama administration insists on easing restrictions on Cuba’s merciless Communist dictatorship while Cuba’s dependence on Venezuelan oil goes bust. Once Cuba’s economy improves cosmetically (because you can bet those in power will not give up their acquisitiveness), the Cuban propaganda machine will use this as another tool in its propaganda arsenal against market economies.

No matter how ruinous Cuban-driven Chavismo is in real life; propaganda is the only thing Cuba’s regime is good at, and it is particularly effective in Latin America.

Face it: The fact that the article talks about Chavismo – instead of Castrocommunism – itself is a success for the Cuban propaganda machine; in reality, “The Venezuelan regime is a puppet controlled by the Cubans.”

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Related reading:
Hernando de Soto’s excellent book, The Other Path, available on Kindle for under $10, and Ian Bremmer’s The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?

The dismissed Nisman case Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

March 30th, 2015

LatinAmerArgentina’s Federal Criminal Appeals Court refused to open an investigation into the complaint filed in January by former AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman four days before he was found dead

Federal prosecutor Germán Moldes will try to reactivate the investigation against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner next week

Accusations fly that

Prosecutor Viviana Fein is conducting the investigation into the death of Alberto Nisman “with an evident interest” of only showing that the AMIA special prosecutor committed “suicide.”

Meanwhile, Venezuelan defectors from Hugo Chavez inner circle are talking.

ARGENTINA
Falklands defence: Why is Argentina considering an aircraft deal with the Russians?
Russia’s potential deal to lease 12 long-range bombers to Argentina is causing Britain to rethink its protection of the Falklands. Why is Cristina Kirchner cosying up to Moscow?

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Mob Tries to Bury Alive Teacher Accused of Raping Girl

BRAZIL
Brazil Economy to Shrink, Joblessness Rises
The Brazilian central bank’s view of the economy is getting worse, with the official unemployment rate rising in February, as Latin America’s largest economy continues to struggle.

After Ratings Reprieve, Brazil Faces Tough News
President Dilma Rousseff got a big break when Standard & Poor’s maintained Brazil’s investment-grade credit rating, but Friday’s coming report on economic growth is expected to bring the embattled president bad news.

CHILE
Flood torrents devastate Peru and Chile

Two dead as flash flooding hits Chile Atacama desert region

COLOMBIA
Colombian Government, FARC Agree to Begin Land-Mine Removal

New IG Report: DEA Agents in Columbia Partied With Hookers Hired By the Drug Cartels

CUBA
Obama’s Cuba Folly Unfolds

ECUADOR

EL SALVADOR
Half Million People March Against Violence in El Salvador

FALKLAND ISLANDS
Britain to boost Falklands Islands defences

JAMAICA
Jamaican Prime Minister Rebukes Gay-Rights Protestors At New York Townhall

MEXICO
39 Central American Migrants Rescued in Mexico from Human Traffickers

PANAMA
Panama Canal sets sights on new $17 billion expansion project

As it enters the final stretch of a massive expansion, the Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow it to handle the world’s biggest ships.

Workers are now installing giant, 22-story lock gates to accommodate larger “Post-Panamax” ships through the Canal, one of the world’s busiest maritime routes.

The project involves building a third set of locks on the Canal. It is being headed by Italy’s Salini Impregilo and Spain’s Sacyr, and should open on April 1, 2016.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay Farmers March in Asuncion to Demand President’s Resignation

PERU
Floods in Chile and landslides in Peru after heaviest rain in 80 years

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Prepares for Luxury Shopping Amid Recession

Puerto Rico Mayor Gets 5 Years for Bribery

URUGUAY
Uruguay will no longer grant asylum to Guantanamo prisoners

The new Uruguayan government says it will no longer grant asylum to prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

In December, Uruguay gave sanctuary to six Arab men who had been held at the US base in Cuba for 12 years.

Opinion polls said most Uruguayans rejected the decision taken by outgoing President Jose Mujica.

Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa also said Uruguay would stop taking refugees from the Syrian conflict.

Does that mean they’ll kick Syrians Jihad Abu Wael Dhiab, Ali Husain Shaaban, Ahmed Adnan Ajuri, and Abdelhadi Faraj, Palestinian Mohammed Abdullah Taha Mattan, and Tunisian Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi out of the country?

VENEZUELA
“Normalization” update: Venezuelan Castro puppet seeks to humiliate U.S. at the Summit of the Americas but Maduro Says “Venezuela Is Ready” for Dialogue with U.S. Of course. In his spare time, he indulged in vandalism,

Alicia Bárcena’s blinders

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba {heart} Iran: Love-terror

Words, words, words

How a German trial relates to the #Nisman case

Ecuador: Chinese loans, social media censorship

Today’s Colombian hookers update

Venezuela-Iran’s Aeroterror: Airplanes full of drugs & money

Podcast: US-Latin America: Cuba-Venezuela, elections in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina & more

Barrio 18 in El Salvador: A View from the Inside

The #Nisman Case and the Whitewashing of Iran

About that “Cuban side or the white side”

Thank you, Newsmax

Argentina: Beef for bombers

Today’s WSV* moment: Now Snowden wants to come back

Today’s immigration headlines

Ted throws his hat in the ring

Colombia: FARC’s “Pedro Nel” dead

March 29th, 2015

Good news:

Key FARC commander found dead: Colombia military

The body of a key FARC commander has been found in a grave in south-central Colombia, the Colombian army claimed on Wednesday.

The commander of the guerrillas’ 66th front, “Pedro Nel,” was found in an improvised grave in the Planadas municipality in the Tolima state.

According to the military, the deceased guerrilla commander was severely injured in combat with a military unit in the nearby Neiva department on March 12 when his unit was collecting extortion payments.

However, Pedro Nel was able to escape and fled to Tolima where he died hours after the clash with the military, according to the National Army’s 9th Division.

Army commander General Jaime Asprilla told press that the death of “Pedro Nel” “seriously affects the Central Joint Command [block] of the FARC” that is active in the Tolima and Huila states.

The ringleader’s death is the second important combat kill reported by the army this month.

Better dead than in congress.

Cuba {heart} Iran: Love-terror

March 28th, 2015

You may recall that a few years ago I recommended this book:
Jon B. Perdue, director of the Latin American program at the Fund for American Studies, has written THE must-read book about our hemisphere, The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism.

The title refers to Hugo Chavez’s name for his war on U.S. “imperialism”, an ideological and political, violent war involving Iran, terrorist organizations from around the world, and drug money.

Now we have the Obama administration cozying up to Cuba and Iran (Ace has much more on the awful Iran deal), after having declared “the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

Meanwhile, Iran strives for hegemony.

Jaime Suchlicki writes on Cuba’s love for the ayatollahs (h/t Babalu):From Havana to Tehran
The strange love affair between a theocracy and an atheistic dictatorship.

Communist Cuba’s alliance with the Iran of the Ayatollahs dates to 1979, when Fidel Castro became one of the first heads of state to recognize the Islamic Republic’s radical clerics. Addressing then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Castro insisted that there was “no contradiction between revolution and religion,” an ecumenical principle that has guided Cuba’s relations with Iran and other Islamic regimes. Over the next two decades, Castro fostered a unique relationship between secular communist Cuba and theocratic Iran, united by a common hatred of the United States and the liberal, democratic West — and by substantial material interests. (In the photo, Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Cuba’s Vice Foreign Minister Marcos Rodriguez attend a wreath-laying ceremony on Revolution Square in Havana on Sept. 7, 2011.)

Suchlicki recommends that Washington address Havana’s troublesome alliances with rogue regimes; I’m cynical enough to say it already has.

Words, words, words

March 27th, 2015

So there you have it: a word that is OK to use when referring to the Clintons.

Read my article to find out which word.

How a German trial relates to the #Nisman case

March 27th, 2015

Roya Hakakian explains Germany’s commitment to justice:
Iran’s Assassins in Berlin
The determination of the prosecutor, the press, and the Iranian exile community made all the difference in Germany, where the courts ruled against Iran’s highest leaders.

[Investigator Bruno] Jost had a major advantage. He was investigating in the shadow of the World War II blunders and the fundamental transformations that the German justice system had undergone. By the time the trial was set to begin, Tehran was no longer the focus of popular attention. Now, it was Germany, herself, on trial, with something grand to prove about her own credibility and the authenticity of her reformation.

In contrast,

Whether the same spirit can cross over into another continent to move the course of the Argentines’ investigation is to be seen. But this much is for sure: The sum of the 1994 AMIA bombing, Iran’s lethal role, the misconduct of former President Carlos Menem, an alleged conspiracy to halt the nuclear negotiations, the mysterious murder of Alberto Nisman, and the alleged corruption of President Cristina Kirchner or the Argentine Intelligence all add up to something larger. It is about Argentina herself, the state of her republic, and whether the ghosts of its dirty past are truly buried or still lurking in the shadows.

This us a must-read.

Ecuador: Chinese loans, social media censorship

March 27th, 2015

Two seemingly unrelated items:

Item 1:
Ecuador Expects $4 Billion in Loans From China in 2015
It is estimated China has committed more than $12 billion in financing to Ecuador between 2009 and 2014
(emphasis added),

Most financing operations from China to Ecuador have been tied to oil sales and several have been backed with presales of crude oil.

Mr. Herrera said the new loans aren’t linked with the selling of crude oil.

The minister said despite the decline of around 50% in oil prices, the Andean country plans to maintain its level of public spending this year, thanks to loans from China, credits from multilateral lenders and governments as well as the selling of Ecuadorean bonds in international markets and domestic debt.

The minister, however, ruled out that the country plans a new bond issue in international markets, citing high interest rates.

Last Thursday the country sold $750 million of five-year bonds at a yield of 10.5%.

In plain words, it sold $750 million worth of junk bonds.

Item 2:
Correa’s Social-Media Troll Center Exposed in Quito
Lucrative Contracts to Shout Down Detractors at Taxpayer Expense

According to Mil Hojas, Ribeney employees operate multiple social-media accounts dedicated to monitoring and attacking the Ecuadorian opposition.

At taxpayer expense, and perhaps a little help from junk bond sales and Chinese loans, too?

Today’s Colombian hookers update

March 26th, 2015

Remember the grope and change story of the Secret Service agents partying with hookers in Colombia?

Well, there were also 10 DEA guys partying in Colombia, too, only for a longer time.

The hookers were Hired By the Drug Cartels.

The cartels sent the hookers; Who would have thunk it?

Let’s call Capt. Louis,

But wait! There’s more,

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.
. . .
“The foreign officer allegedly arranged ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years,” the IG report says.

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In other party news, Guatemalan congressmen asked for “whisky and Colombian girls” in exchange for approval of a clean-up project for Lake Amatitlán.

No word from Guatemalan hookers on the subject, but at least they prefer whisky to whiskey.

Venezuela-Iran’s Aeroterror: Airplanes full of drugs & money

March 26th, 2015

Remember those direct Tehran-Caracas flights I posted about in 2008? The ones La Stampa reported about? (click on image to enlarge)

Well, they carried (carry?) terrorists, drugs, and money:
AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people

High-level Venezuelan defectors then started talking to Veja journalist Leonardo Coutinho. They told Veja that Aeroterror came to be a biweekly flight that carried drugs and cash to finance Iran’s activities in South America, and that it would stop in Damascus to pick up fake passports and other documents to ensure that Iran’s agents could move freely once they arrived in Caracas.

Aeroterror. Let that sink in for a moment.

Reports indicate that Chavez and Ahmadinejad planned Aeroterror at a meeting Caracas back in 2007, during which Ahmadinejad also asked Chavez to help him get Argentina to help Iran with its nuclear program. Since then, Iran has only strengthened its ties to South America.

Alberto Nisman was on the trail early on,

. . . Nisman published a report on the same subjects that he took to Interpol in 2007 — Iranian officials threatened to arrest Nisman after it was presented.

Veja’s article, Venezuela vendia passagens fantasmas para o “aeroterror”O voo que fez a rota Caracas-Damasco-Teerã entre 2007 e 2010 era deficitário, mas passageiros comuns nunca conseguiam fazer reserva em um de seus assentos, pois o avião destinava-se a transportar drogas, terroristas e dinheiro

According to Chavez exiles in the United States, the flights were used to carry dozens of Islamic extremists who had to travel to the West, from Iran and Syria, unnoticed.

It is unclear if the flights are still continuing.

Today’s podcast

March 26th, 2015

Talking with Silvio Canto, Jr., about US-Latin America: Cuba-Venezuela, elections in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina & more, archived for your listening convenience.