Archive for the ‘Argentina’ Category

Argentina: Who killed #Nisman?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

  • No traces of gunpowder on his hands
  • Gun was not his
  • Apparently none of the ten security officers assigned to protect Nisman was stationed on the thirteenth floor of the apartment building on which he lived
  • Theory of “induced suicide”
  • Minister for State Security on the scene before police investigating authorities
  • Ariel Lijo, the Argentinian judge who received Nisman’s 300 page complaint alleging the involvement of President Cristina ​Fernández de Kirchner and others in covering up Iran’s culpability for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA, ordered the seizure of all documentation and other evidence referred to in the complaint
  • Left shopping list for his housekeeper

Following the outpour of outraged citizens in Buenos Aires and the country, the government has issued more information:

Spain’s El País reports (link in Spanish) that forensic tests showed no traces of gunpowder on Alberto Nisman’s hands.

The prosecutor in charge of the case, Viviana Fein, explains it as, “Coming from a small caliber weapon, 22 caliber, usually that causes that electronic sweeps show no results.” The weapon had no silencer.

Fein had previously revealed that the gun that shot the bullet in Nisman’s brain was not his, although he owned and had permits for two firearms; additionally,

Fein said she would not rule out the possibility that Nisman was “induced” to suicide.

Which, of course, opens innumerable spin opportunities for the government propaganda machine.

The AP suggests that none of the ten security officers assigned to protect Nisman was stationed on the thirteenth floor of the apartment building on which he lived.

The time of death appears to have been in the mid-afternoon, while none of his bodyguards were present.

Fein also had Nisman’s office raided today.

Timeline: The Events Leading to Alberto Nisman’s Death

Now Nisman is dead meaning that Kirchner and Iran can rest a lot easier. Are we to believe that his death is really a suicide, as the Argentinian government claimed today?

Related:
Argentine prosecutor’s death: The latest act in the Iran-Israel saga
Alberto Nisman was the Argentine prosecutor investigating Iran’s hand in the 1992 and 1994 bombings of Jewish targets; Imad Mughneiyeh, father of the Hezbollah commander killed in Syria on Sunday, was suspected of organizing the Argentina attack.

UPDATE:
Floor plan,

Nisman lived in Apartment 4 (shaded in green, bottom left).

The plot thickens: The government Secretary for Security was on the scene before the investigating authorities (including Fein and the coroner’s office).

Alberto Nisman Death: Judge Seizes Evidence, Initial Autopsy Findings Released (h/t David Gertsman).

“A suspicious death:” John Batchelor talked about Nisman in last night’s show.

UPDATE 2,
Nisman left a shopping list for his housekeeper.

The easement Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 19th, 2015

LatinAmerThis Carnival is dedicated to the new meaning of the word easement, which, following last Friday’s U.S. Department Of Commerce and U.S Department Of The Treasury Announcement Of Regulatory Amendments To The Cuba Sanctions now includes “making a deal where one gets nothing in return.”

However, the big news of the day is Alberto Nisman’s death by a gunshot wound in his home while his bodyguards were absent. Go to this morning’s post for more.

ARGENTINA
THE LONESOME DEATH OF ALBERTO NISMAN

Oil and trouble
A prosecutor accuses the president of obstructing justice in the country’s biggest terror case

In 2013, Argentina announced that it would collaborate with Iran in a joint commission “to advance knowledge of the truth about the attack,” as Ms Fernández wrote on Twitter at the time. The country’s Jewish population, the world’s seventh largest, was puzzled and angry about the accord. Now the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, alleges that the controversial deal was reached in back-channel negotiations that Ms Fernández initiated with Iran. He claims that she offered to cover up the involvement of any Iranian officials in exchange for increased trade. Argentina would export grain to Iran, while Iran would sell oil to Argentina to ease its severe energy deficit.

In the end, for reasons that are still unclear, the negotiations failed and the deal fell apart. But Mr Nisman has marshalled evidence of the talks in a 300-page document that he filed in a Buenos Aires court. “They decided, negotiated, and assured the impunity of the fugitive Iranians in the AMIA case with the aim of faking Iran’s innocence to serve geopolitical and commercial interests,” Mr Nisman declared. The allegations against Ms Fernández, her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, and others are based on “irrefutable proof” from two years of investigations and myriad wiretaps, Mr Nisman claims.

Kirchner Accused of Covering Up 1994 Terrorist Bombing
Prosecutor: President Made Secret Deal with Iran for Cheap Oil

Fernandez Graft Cases Multiply in Argentine Electoral Year

Argentina’s Jews Reel From New Twist in Terror Probe
Prosecutor Accuses President Christina Kirchner of Conspiring to Cover Up a Probe Into a 1994 Terrorist Attack on a Jewish Center

Argentina’s Kirchner Named in Criminal Complaint
An Argentine prosecutor filed a complaint against President Cristina Kirchner, her foreign minister and others for allegedly conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community center.

A federal prosecutor in Argentina has filed a criminal complaint against President Cristina Kirchner , her foreign minister and others, accusing them of conspiring to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in this capital city.

The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, said on Wednesday that Mrs. Kirchner had ordered Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others to negotiate immunity for Iranian suspects in hopes this would reestablish trade ties and allow Argentina to import Iranian oil to ease a domestic energy crisis. The alleged plan didn’t come to fruition, however.

Prosecutor: Argentinian President Plotted to Cover Up Iranian Role in AMIA Bombing

ARUBA
Aruba Tops 1 Million Visitors for First Time

It also makes Aruba one of just five Caribbean destinations above the 1 million mark, along with the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

Cuba’s 1 million visitors sure made a difference so far, or haven’t they?

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Peasants Urged On by Drug Traffickers Hold Hostage, Beat 4 Police

BRAZIL
Petrobras’s Lesson for Latin America
We Ignore Cronyism at Our Peril

Codenamed Lava Jato, or “car wash,” the investigation into Petrobras operations by police and public prosecutors revealed a colossal corruption scheme involving former top executives, construction companies, and prominent politicians from the governing coalition dominated by the Workers’ Party (PT). Evidence uncovered so far suggests the privileged club of racketeers pocketed billions of dollars under the cover of public contracts.

CHILE
Chile’s Penta Case Pulls Dozens Into Corruption Scandal
Officials Took Cash for Influence, Allege Prosecutors

Chile’s Landmark Electoral Reform Passes Senate Hurdle
Binomial System on the Way Out, Gender Quota on the Way In

After a marathon 20-hour session on Wednesday, January 14, the Chilean Senate approved reform to an electoral system that dates back to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The objective is to increase the number of deputies and senators, and change the voting mechanism from binomial to proportional.

COLOMBIA
Why is Colombia Smuggling Coca Base to Honduras?

Colombia’s Santos Orders Discussion of Bilateral Cease-Fire with FARC

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica’s Quakers dodged US draft, now face perils of changing world
After leaving Alabama in 1951, small group of American pacifists maintains community in Central American highlands

CUBA
U.S. eases Cuba embargo

Breaking News from the Rumor Desk: Fidel gravely ill due to “embolia” (embolism)

Via Babalu,
* Obama will allow Americans to use credit cards in Cuba
* Castro will continue to prohibit private businesses from accepting credit card payments

ECUADOR
Ecuador targets cartoonist as world rejects Paris attacks

EL SALVADOR
U.N.’s Ban Ki-Moon Worried by El Salvador Violence as Murders Soar

FALKLAND ISLANDS
Bronze bust of Margaret Thatcher unveiled in Port Stanley
A statue honouring former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who lead Britain to victory in the 1982 conflict to defend the islands the Falkland Islands, has been unveiled in Port Stanley.

HONDURAS
U.S. Seeks to Seize Properties Bought by Corrupt Honduran Officials

IMMIGRATION
CBO: ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GRANTED EXECUTIVE AMNESTY WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR CERTAIN FEDERAL BENEFITS

México: las rutas de los migrantes que no pueden viajar en La Bestia

MEXICO
DECOMPOSING BODY OF MURDERED MEXICAN ACTRESS FOUND IN WATER TANK

Mexico’s Unemployment Drop Points to Labor Market Recovery
Unemployment In Mexico Last Month Was 3.8%

MEXICO PROVIDING BIRTH CERTIFICATES TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN U.S.

Losing marijuana business, Mexican cartels push heroin and meth

PANAMA
Obama to Meet With Cuban Dictator Raul Castro in Panama

PERU
Peru’s Entire Economy Is Threatened By Anchovies

Peru Currency Drops to Lowest Since 2009 After Surprise Rate Cut

PUERTO RICO
Google to Launch ‘Modular’ Smartphone
Google plans to launch a ‘modular’ smartphone in Puerto Rico, part of an audacious and risky effort by the Internet giant to upend the way mobile devices are designed, built and sold.

Sony to Withdraw from Puerto Rico after 25 Years, Web Site Says

URUGUAY
Uruguay Offshore Bidding Plans Hinge on Oil Recovery

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan Bishops Get Religion

Venezuela’s Bishops Have A Message For Pope Francis on Communism

Wow! Venezuela bishops tell Pope Francis the downside of socialism and communism

Report: Coup Plot Possible Against Socialist Venezuelan President. Not quite yet.

Venezuelan oil basket down to USD 39.19 per barrel

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: Cristina’s corrupt deals with the Ayatollahs

Starting the day with Smart Diplomacy

Cuba: Effective Friday UPDATED

Charlie Hebdo: 5 million

Venezuela: Qatar gives a band-aid

Who’s publishing the new Charlie Hebdo cartoon? UPDATED

Cuba: Finally, the list of the 53 UPDATED

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Film: Boyhood

Cuba’s outdated Cold War mentality

Podcast



Argentina: NISMAN DEAD, UPDATED

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Hours before he was schedule to report/testify in a closed hearing to the Argentinian Congress regarding his investigation of Cristina Fernandez’s corrupt dealings with Iran, federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head.

He was found dead by his mother in the bathroom of his home,

The Security Ministry released a statement saying that Mr Nisman’s bodyguards had raised the alarm after he failed to answer their phone calls on Sunday.

Concerned about his welfare, they fetched Mr Nisman’s mother and tried to enter his apartment, the statement said.

They found the door locked from the inside with a key still stuck inside.

After a locksmith gained access, they found Mr Nisman’s body in the bathroom.

He had said in an interview with Clarin (which has been in Fernandez’s crosshairs in the past), I may end up dead from this.”

Clarin has a roundup of international news media coverage here.

Who will obtain justice for Alberto Nisman?

Nisman was a man determined to follow the facts, and committed to achieving justice. When Imad Mughniyeh was killed, allegedly by Israel, in a February 2008 car-bombing in Damacus, he told me he felt no sorrow at the terror chief’s death, but neither did he feel that justice had been served.

What seems particularly tragic about the death of Alberto Nisman in Buenos Aires this week, the death of a brave, decent, seeker of justice, an honest man who would not be intimidated or deterred, is that there will be nobody of comparable caliber and guts to ensure justice for him.

Added:

Haaretz’s Noga Tarnopolsky tweets:

more here.

UPDATE:
I must clarify: While the BBC tiptoes about the cause of death, Clarin’s report specifically states:

Aunque no se conocieron los detalles del hecho, trascendió que su cuerpo apareció sin vida en el baño, aparentemente en la bañadera.

Las primeras informaciones indicaron que tenía un disparo en la cabeza de un revólver de pequeño calibre. Sobre su escritorio estaba la documentación que el fiscal iba a presentar hoy en Diputados. La confirmación de la muerte la dio el juez que invtervino [sic] en la causa, Manuel De Campos, y las primeras hipótesis hablaban de un “supuesto suicidio”.

Todavía hay muchas dudas con respecto a lo que pasó. “Les pido cautela y que esperen los informen. En los próximos días sabremos las causas de la muerte. Encontramos un arma”, contó la fiscal Viviana Fein, una de las primeras en llegar.

My translation – please credit me and link to this post if you use it:

While the details are not known, it was learned that his body was found in the bathroom, apparently in the bathtub.

The earliest information indicated he had a shotgun wound to the head from a small caliber weapon. On his desk was the documentation he was going to present today at the Chamber of Deputies. Judge Manuel De Campos, who was involved in the case, confirmed the death, and the first hypothesis claim an “apparent suicide.”

Many doubts remain as to what happened. “I ask for caution and to wait for information. We will know the cause of death in the following days. We will find a weapon,” stated prosecutor Viviana Fein, one of the first to arrive at the scene.

Spain’s El Pais, however, moves the body,

Lo encontraron en el baño. Su cuerpo inerte bloqueaba la puerta. A su lado se halló un arma y un casquillo de bala.

My translation,

He was found in the bathroom. His lifeless body was blocking the door. Next to him a weapon and a shell casing [correction: cartridge shell is the more accurate term] were found.

Linked to by The Lid. Thank you!

Argentina: Cristina’s corrupt deals with the Ayatollahs

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Alberto Nisman, General Prosecutor of the AMIA 1994 bombing, filed a criminal complaint on January 14

against President Cristina Kirchner , her foreign minister and others, accusing them of conspiring to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing

Nisman, who was barred by the Argentinian government from testifying on Iran’s increased influence in South America at a U.S. Congress subcommittee hearing in 2013, accuses Cristina of ordering Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others to negotiate immunity for Iranian suspects in exchange for allowing Argentina to import Iranian oil. Meanwhile,

Mr. Nisman has asked Judge Lijo to freeze $23 million of assets belonging to Mrs. Kirchner and the others named in the complaint. There was no time frame for a decision to be handed down on whether to proceed with a case against Mrs. Kirchner or the others. Court cases in Argentina can sometimes take many years to resolve.

Nisman inadvertently began uncovering evidence of the plot during the investigation of the AMIA bombing.

Likewise,

In 2009, his sleuthing led to the indictment of Carlos Menem, who was president at the time of the attack. He was accused of tampering with evidence that implicated a Syrian businessman. The case is still in progress.

However, judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral, in charge of the AMIA investigation, criticized Nisman over procedural issues, saying that “the prosecutor has arrogated powers to investigate other things outside this procedure,” and claims to have found out from broadcast news about Nisman’s complaint.

On her part, Cristina says the accusations are an attempt to destabilize her government.

A brief roundup:
Prosecutor claims Argentina’s president hid Iran role in 1994 bombing
Alberto Nisman accuses Cristina Fernández of ‘fabricating the innocence of Iran’ over blast at Jewish community center offices that killed 85 people
. In the 300-page complaint,

Nisman claims that the president decided to “not incriminate” former senior Iranian officials for their roles in planning the bombing, and instead has sought a rapprochement with Tehran, “establishing trade relations to mitigate Argentina’s severe energy crisis,” the Buenos Aires Herald reported.

When her agreement with Iran was challenged in the Argentinean courts, “and here is the criminal (aspect), the president ordered to divert the investigation, abandoning years of a legitimate demand of justice, and sought to free the Iranians imputed (in the case) from all suspicions, contradicting their proven ties with the attack. She decided to fabricate ‘the innocence of Iran’,” the newspaper quoted Nisman as alleging.

Oil and trouble
A prosecutor accuses the president of obstructing justice in the country’s biggest terror case

In 2013, Argentina announced that it would collaborate with Iran in a joint commission “to advance knowledge of the truth about the attack,” as Ms Fernández wrote on Twitter at the time. The country’s Jewish population, the world’s seventh largest, was puzzled and angry about the accord. Now the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, alleges that the controversial deal was reached in back-channel negotiations that Ms Fernández initiated with Iran. He claims that she offered to cover up the involvement of any Iranian officials in exchange for increased trade. Argentina would export grain to Iran, while Iran would sell oil to Argentina to ease its severe energy deficit.

In the end, for reasons that are still unclear, the negotiations failed and the deal fell apart. But Mr Nisman has marshalled evidence of the talks in a 300-page document that he filed in a Buenos Aires court. “They decided, negotiated, and assured the impunity of the fugitive Iranians in the AMIA case with the aim of faking Iran’s innocence to serve geopolitical and commercial interests,” Mr Nisman declared. The allegations against Ms Fernández, her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, and others are based on “irrefutable proof” from two years of investigations and myriad wiretaps, Mr Nisman claims.

Kirchner Accused of Covering Up 1994 Terrorist Bombing
Prosecutor: President Made Secret Deal with Iran for Cheap Oil

Fernandez Graft Cases Multiply in Argentine Electoral Year

Argentina’s Jews Reel From New Twist in Terror Probe
Prosecutor Accuses President Christina Kirchner of Conspiring to Cover Up a Probe Into a 1994 Terrorist Attack on a Jewish Center

Argentina’s Kirchner Named in Criminal Complaint
An Argentine prosecutor filed a complaint against President Cristina Kirchner, her foreign minister and others for allegedly conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community center.

A federal prosecutor in Argentina has filed a criminal complaint against President Cristina Kirchner , her foreign minister and others, accusing them of conspiring to cover up an investigation into Iran’s alleged involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in this capital city.

The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, said on Wednesday that Mrs. Kirchner had ordered Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and others to negotiate immunity for Iranian suspects in hopes this would reestablish trade ties and allow Argentina to import Iranian oil to ease a domestic energy crisis. The alleged plan didn’t come to fruition, however.

Prosecutor: Argentinian President Plotted to Cover Up Iranian Role in AMIA Bombing

The trip to China Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 12th, 2015

LatinAmerLast week Nicolas Maduro and a few others visited China in search of funds. How did that work out?

ARGENTINA
Ha! You Thought Argentina Would Negotiate

BAHAMAS
What the New Value Added Tax Means for Visitors to the Bahamas

BOLIVIA
Robert Downey Jr. helped out, too: A Devoted Sean Penn Helps US Man Recover From Bolivia Ordeal

Ostreicher, who is an Orthodox Jew, had the attention of the Aleph Institute, a foundation that helps incarcerated Jews. The Florida-based group asked Wahlberg to reach out to Penn, who is widely known for his Haiti relief efforts and closeness to leftist Latin American leaders.

Penn became convinced Ostreicher had been unjustly imprisoned since mid-2011 so corrupt authorities could drain the assets of the $25 million rice-farming operation in which he was a minor investor. Though he was accused of money-laundering, no evidence was ever presented.

Penn was self-effacing when asked about his odd-couple friendship with Ostreicher and why he decided to help. “What can I say? He was likable,”

When Penn asked Bolivian President Evo Morales to intercede, Penn got a tepid response.

So he exposed the extortion ring, sparking a scandal that eventually would see 14 Bolivian officials jailed ? the ring’s No. 2 figure entered a guilty plea last week ? while others fled the country.

Penn then got Ostreicher moved to a medical clinic. The New Yorker had withered to 107 pounds from a liquids-only hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. Penn leveraged his Venezuelan connections ? he was close to the late President Hugo Chavez ? to get armed Venezuelan security guards assigned to protect him, fearing he’d be targeted for exposing the extortion ring.

Even though he had endured more than 30 court hearings, Ostreicher continued to insist he wanted to clear his name in Bolivia.

Penn told him to let it go.

Ostreicher should have listened to Penn.

BRAZIL
Brazil’s Inflation Rises Even Amid Low Growth
Inflationary Pressures, Sluggish Growth Create Challenger for New Economic Team

CHILE
Robbers set off explosion in Chile subway station heist
The Franklin metro station in Santiago was filled with smoke after thieves blew up two ATMs Wednesday night,
the Santiago Fire Department said. Authorities have not yet said if there were any injuries.
This sort of thing keeps happening.

COLOMBIA
Colombia Passes Law for Referendum on Peace Agreement Along with Elections

CUBA
Cuba dissidents says 36 activists freed as part of deal with US
Opposition activists are freed following Cuban and US governments agreeing to renew diplomatic relations in December

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic Won’t Recognize Gay Union at British Embassy

ECUADOR
Ecuador Debt: Vulnerable To Oil, But Safe W/China Loan Vs. Argentina, Venezuela. Maybe.

HAITI

Hillary’s Half-Baked Haiti Project
Caracol Industrial Park is failing to deliver on the promises made to foreign investors and Haitians.

Successful industrial parks are built by people who know the business and who demand accountability. This park was put in the hands of State, the IDB and Bill Clinton. The results have been predictable

HONDURAS
Kidnapped Honduras Aids activist Keren Dunaway freed

JAMAICA
‘Blame the Government of Jamaica’

HUMOR
Terapia intensiva:

Edgar Borja en la UdQ:

MEXICO
Carso Energy Slim-Owned Company Gets Share of Contract for Texas Gas Pipeline

Human-Rights Failings Overshadow Peña Nieto’s US Visit
Pressure Mounts to Resolve Iguala Disappearances, End Impunity

Mexican President Offers Obama Help With Executive Amnesty

Obama Outsources Leader-Of-The-Free-World Job To Mexico

NICARAGUA
Springfield firefighters in Nicaragua to help build homes

PANAMA
The Expansion Of The Panama Canal Will Have A Huge Effect On Global Trade

PARAGUAY
Paraguayan rebel leader Albino Jara ‘killed’

PERU
Peru’s Fujimori Gets Eight Years for Tabloid Bribe
Cash for Coverage Conviction Joins Upheld Corruption Charges

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico begins school semester with complaints of teacher shortage

URUGUAY
Fake bomb prompted evacuation of Israeli embassy in Montevideo

VENEZUELA
No fries for you! Out of French Fries in Venezuela, McDonald’s Turns to Yuca

Ángel Vivas: Venezuela Must Resist the Cuban Invasion
Former General Will Defend His Homeland Through Any Means

Venezuela food shortages: ‘No one can explain why a rich country has no food’
Toilet paper, rice and coffee have long been missing from stores, as Venezuelan president blames CIA plot for chronic shortages
. Idiot.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: Spoof?

And now, a post on eyeglass frames

France: Hostage situation

Charlie Hebdo’s next: 1,000,000 copies

Venezuela: Maduro does/doesn’t get $20billion UPDATED

France: Massacre on #CharlieHebdo

Venezuela: Maduro wants a Puerto Rican out jail

Argentina, Venezuela, chickens coming home to roost

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Cuba: Is Fidel dead yet?

The Charlie Hebdo massacre

Podcast:
Cuba & US-Latin America topics



Argentina, Venezuela, chickens coming home to roost

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Russ Dallen looks at what’s ahead:
Hello 2015: Argentina and Venezuela – the emperor has no clothes

But in the second half of the year, what makes for a frightening Halloween/Guy Fawkes period for investors is that Venezuela and PDVSA must pay $3.4bn in bonds and $1.7bn in interest for a scary total of $5.8bn. If oil has not recovered by then (or worse still, continues to deteriorate) and Venezuela is still shut out of international capital markets (where its bonds are currently trading at yields of 50 per cent), it could be lights out for the Bolivarian Republic, which has already quietly and seemingly unnoticed defaulted on the bonds of steel company Sidetur, which it expropriated in 2012.

Read his post for what’s ahead on Argentina’s debt.

He is much more optimistic than I when it comes to elections, though.

Related:
Bank of America: If Maduro does not devalue [the currency], Venezuela could reach 1,000% inflation

The first 2015 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 5th, 2015

ARGENTINA
Argentina Now Freer to Bargain with Holdout Creditors. Argentina will rather go down paying millions to their lawyers than to their creditors.

The Argentinian Harry Reid? Argentine leader Fernandez cancels travel after ankle injury

BOLIVIA
Sky transport of Bolivia: no congestion, quicker trips to work
A $234m cable car route linking La Paz and El Alto is offering clean, affordable transport to people in both cities – and great views

Bolivia Has Highest Foreign Reserves in Latin America

BRAZIL
5 Brazilian habits Americans will never understand

[Sound starts right away] Watch: Plane bursts tyre at Rio de Janeiro airport and continues to gate
American Airlines plane carrying approximately 200 people bursts a tyre upon landing at Rio de Janeiro airport but drives forward to gate

CHILE
Children stolen by Chile regime come to light

COLOMBIA
In Colombia, a palm oil boom with roots in conflict

CUBA
Cuba’s Vested Interest in Discrediting CIA Spy Rolando Sarraf Trujillo

In Cuba, harassment of U.S. diplomats even extends to their pets. Will that now change? Nope.

Nylons for nothing in Cuba

Odds & Ends from Miami: Cuba, Post Script

ECUADOR
Ecuador’s Correa to Visit China

Gas Ovens Take the Heat for Ecuador’s Flagging Economy
Induction Cookers the Touted Cure in Tax Overhaul to Close 2014

IMMIGRATION
MOST ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS CAUGHT AT BORDER NON-MEXICAN AND ADULT

JAMAICA
Former Warrenton mayor behind Jamaican bobsled team dies

MEXICO
Juan Garcia Abrego, the man who ran the Gulf Cartel from the 1980’s until 1996: LEGENDARY MEXICAN CARTEL BOSS FIGHTING FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Northern-Va-Yoga-Teacher-Hari-Simran-Missing-in-Mexico-287306811.html

NICARAGUA

Ortega’s government has granted Wang, among many other sweeping powers, the ability to expropriate land along the canal route, which may affect as many as thirty thousand Nicaraguan property owners. It appears likely that Wang will also be able to seize the autonomous territories of the black Creoles and indigenous Sumo and Rama Indians, which were granted to them by the Nicaraguan Constitution of 1987.

Doubts over ambitious Nicaragua canal project grow as work gets underway. About the only ones to gain would be the Chinese, IF the Chinese government is involved – and even that is not clear at this point.

Would Augusto Sandino Support the Canal for Nicaragua?
Opponents Invoke the National Hero but Ignore His Nuance

PANAMA
Panama Canal Consortium Wins $233 Million for Cost Overruns

PARAGUAY
Paraguayan Leftist Guerrillas Free Brazilian Hostage

PERU
Peru Finishes 2014 with 3.22% Inflation Rate

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s appeal in tax dispute is “baseless”-Doral

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s anti-tobacco law spurs black market in cigarettes

VENEZUELA
Jackson Diehl: Obama is overlooking deep trouble in Venezuela

New Year’s Wishes for Venezuela

There are reasonable options but no one cares

Maduro demands respect from the US
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he demanded respect from the US during an encounter with American Vice-President Joe Biden in Brazil.

Venezuela recession confirmed as Maduro attacks US ‘oil war’

And Their Ice Cream, Too

The week’s posts:
Cuba: What are the names of the 53 prisoners?

Saturday night tango

Venezuela: Biden asks for release of political prisoners

Brazil: Dilma’s shaky inaugural

Why the coyotes were right

Happy 2015!

Mexico: Wal-Mart bodegas

Venezuela: Kidnappings and extorsion prior to jailings

Arguing with idiots about #Cuba

About that Nicaragua Canal . . . UPDATED

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Were taxes an issue in the 2014 midterm election?

The top Latin American story of 2014



The last 2014 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 29th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentineans Hoard Disappearing Tampons
Fixed Exchange Rate Constrains Import Dollars, Pharmacies Lack Essentials

Argentine president hospitalized for sprained ankle. Not sprained, fractured.

Not sure if this was before, or after she broke her ankle, but it’s the weird photo-op of the week: Argentina president adopts young Jewish boy as godson to prevent him from turning into werewolf
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchhner adopted Yair Tawil as her godson, due to an Argentine folktale that says the seventh born son in a family will turn into a werewolf, and eat unbaptized babies.

BOLIVIA
Venezuela and Bolivia Challenge OAS on Supporting U.S. and Cuba
The OAS permanent council convened to support the rapprochement between the two countries began five hours late due to disagreements over the draft declaration, distorting the image of unity that the majority of the member states wanted to promote

Spanish Tourists Spend the Most in Bolivia

BRAZIL
Providence, Rhode Island is suing the Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras over investor losses due to a corruption scandal.

Unlike other class actions, some of the company’s senior executives have also been named as defendants.

Dilma Rousseff’s Christmas may not be so merry
Humiliation at the World Cup, a flailing economy and an oil scandal made 2014 a tough year for Brazil.

CHILE
Red Alert Due to Forest Fires Still in Effect for Chile’s Valparaiso Region

COLOMBIA
Colombia to Grow Faster Than Peers Even as Oil Tumbles

CUBA
The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations

US to pay freed Cuba prisoner $3.2m
American Alan Gross, freed last week after five years in a Cuban jail, is to receive $3.2m (£2m) from the US government.

Americans back normalizing relations with Cuba, but has anyone examined the costs?

Obama, Cuba, and Iran

Cuban dissident voices & Pope Francis’ deaf ears
The wives of imprisoned critics of the Castro regime deserved better

Exiles, U.S. betrayed

The Cuban Archipelago

U.S. ending Cuban sanctions more proof of weakness, say Iranian media

TOP 10 LIES IN OBAMA’S CUBA SPEECH

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Charged in Scheme to Sell Massachusetts’ Driver Licenses to Illegal Aliens

ECUADOR
Boston Investment Company Sues Ecuador Over Bond Default

EL SALVADOR
Salvadorian Who Went Missing in War Reunites with Family 32 Years Later

GUATEMALA
The One Latin America Winner From U.S. Economic Boom: Currencies

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America in 2014: elections, football and environmental conflict
US-Cuba relations dominated the news in December, but elsewhere voters seemed resigned to the status quo

MEXICO
Abducted Mexican priest found deadThe coffin with Father Gregorio Lopez’s body is loaded into a hearse
[Father Gregorio Lopez] A Mexican priest who was kidnapped earlier this week is found shot dead in the south-western state of Guerrero.

Merry Christmas but Lest We Forget, MEXICO STILL MOURNS

NICARAGUA
I’m not the only skeptic: Doubts deepen over Chinese-backed Nicaragua canal as work starts

So far the company, the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd, or HKND Group, of telecoms entrepreneur Wang Jing, has identified only $200 million in funding.
. . .
Supporters point to Monday’s start as evidence that the plan is on schedule. But key feasibility studies on the canal have been pushed back to next April, and excavation work is not due to begin until the second half of next year.

PANAMA
Panama Buys More Time for “Temporary” Price Controls
Sunset Provision Extended, Expanded Product List in the Offing

PERU
Peru evacuates Amazon village after raid by indigenous tribe
At least 39 people taken to Puerto Maldonado as officials search for motive behind latest bow-and-arrow attack by members of Mashco-Piro tribe

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rican Economic Activity Index Drops 2.1%

VENEZUELA
Diosdado’s Crocodile Tears
New York Times Op-Ed Scapegoats United States for Venezuela’s Ruin

Why checks and balances? Check out Venezuela today.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: Leopoldo’s letter

Argentina: Top Gear hot water

Merry Christmas!

Confirmed: US Sperm For Spies program

Nicaragua: Where’s the Canal money coming from?

Did Obama give in on Cuba so Uruguay would take 6 Gitmo alumni?

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The Interview. Yes, The Interview

Last-minute shopping: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Podcast:
The Opening to Cuba: What do Cuban Americans Think?

Argentina: Top Gear hot water

Friday, December 26th, 2014

The Top Gear Christmas special airs this weekend on on December 27 and 28. The lads covered a lot of ground,

And they were run out of town:

Top Gear Christmas Special: What really happened in Patagonia?
Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond arrived in Argentina in September to film the Top Gear Christmas Special. The subsequent fortnight was even more dramatic than they could have imagined

The “normalized” Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

On Wednesday, December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama read a Statement on Cuba Policy Changes. One could parse the fallacies, starting with “the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” when in fact the change is in the relationship with the Communist regime oppressing the people of Cuba. Cuban opposition leaders decry the move, clearly seeing it as a betrayal since the know that engagement won’t automatically promote freedom

Opposition leaders from throughout the island have agreed on four immediate demands to put before the government: the release of political prisoners; the end of repression against human rights and pro-democracy groups; the ratification of international covenants on human rights; and the recognition of Cuban civil society groups.

Nothing in the December 17 Statement refers to those demands.

Apparently 53 political prisoners are to be released; I’ll be most obliged if anyone could send me a link to the list of their names and the date(s) of their release, since I have not been able to find it.

The Liberal Fallacy of the Cuba Deal
Don’t get me wrong: I support the normalization of relations. But believing it can remake the regime in Havana is the worst kind of American exceptionalist fantasy.

The fantasy that U.S. policies and actions can reshape another country has been with us for far too long. The ability of the United States to change any country’s internal economy or politics is extraordinarily limited, as our most recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan show, yet again.

Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter, clarified,

Change must come from within Cuba: Only Cubans can save Cuba.

As things stand right now, the odds have vastly improved for Cuba to “transition” into a profitable Communist regime, like China’s. Or perhaps, even more likely, the Viet Nam outcome,

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely.

Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights (and true democracy) be damned.

Obama on video flaunting Cuban cigar hours after capitulating to Cuba


More ABC News Videos | ABC World News

As an aside, the Castro regime has availed itself of santería imagery to instill fear at home (even having members of his entourage pluck dead chickens at the Waldorf Astoria in 1960). Obama’s announcement came on St. Lazarus day, a saint in Cuban santería, as Val Prieto points out. When it comes to symbolism, Obama handed the Castros an ace in the hole.

Roundup:
Drudge:


CASTRO: CUBA STAYS COMMUNIST!

1960 article from The Economist: On The Rocks

Blogs:
In Cuba Policy Debate, Theories Don’t Cut It

Castros Pull It Off, Again? Some Preliminary Thoughts

Will Obama roll out the White House red carpet for Raul Castro?

‘Disturbing to say the least': Something’s VERY wrong with this photo of Alan Gross

Krauthammer: Liberalization Won’t Work in Cuba

Details of the Unilateral Executive Cuba Deal

What Part of Keeping Cuba Isolated Has Not ‘Worked’?

Obama’s New Cuba Policy: Eating With Raul

Rand Paul Rand-splains Cuba to Marco Rubio

Castro’s Hipster Apologists Want to Keep Cuba ‘Authentically’ Poor
The thawing of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba has elicited a lot of patronizing, asinine fretting about the imminent “Americanization” of Cuba.

The WaPo sees the light on Obama and Cuba

Thoughts on Cuba

Odds & Ends: Cuba

Democracy in Cuba is a long-term project. One of the arguments from those who want to lift the embargo is that capitalism will bring democracy to Cuba. What this argument fails to take into account is that Cuban society from an ethics standpoint has de-evolved. Since Castro has taken over, Cuban society has regressed. Through its loss of freedom and the economic rations, the Cuban people have adopted a “survival of the fittest” mentality. In terms of daily life, this means that the Cuban people have to steal either materials, or food, or money in order for their family to survive. Their thought is that the consequences be damned, I have to do this for my family to survive. For foreign companies that want to do build factories and or businesses in Cuba, be prepared to deal with employees who will steal.

The democratic process in Cuba will take at least three generations. The first generation will need to fight for their democratic rights. This will either be a violent or a peaceful revolution. The second generation, once it has secured those rights, will need to have those rights protected through constitutional means. The third and subsequent generations will need to be vigilant in protecting those rights. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, Cuba will have a democracy, if they can keep it. In that democraticization process civil society will need to be re-established. The re-establish process needs to include a religious component.

Boycott Cuba, Conservative Hellhole
Why, again, are we celebrating a country run by elderly, militaristic white Hispanic men?

Cuba’s Maximum Wage, Or What Life Is Like When You Follow Gawker’s Economic Policy

¿Qué Ofrece Raúl Castro?

ARGENTINA
Will the Pope butt in? Argentina calls on Britain to discuss Falklands sovereignty after US and Cuba deal
ARGENTINA President Cristina Kirchner has today called on Britain to discuss the Falklands’ sovereignty in light of an historic deal between the US and Cuba.

BRAZIL

Edição 2405

24 de dezembro de 2014

No es facil

Estados Unidos e Cuba reatam laços diplomáticos – mas é cedo para comemorar

CHILE
Emanuel heading to Chile for holidays, despite possible criticism

COLOMBIA
Colombia Farc truce follows killings
Colombia’s Farc begins an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire, hours after the army said that the left-wing rebels had killed five soldiers.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Ends Environmental Cooperation with Germany

JAMAICA
Jamaica Urged To Take Lead In Renewed Cuba Relations

PUERTO RICO
Cuba’s Tourism Gain Will Be Puerto Rico’s Loss Says Analyst

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s Mujica Shows U.S. Letter De-Linking Ex-Guantanamo Inmates from Terrorism

VENEZUELA
Venezuela is done for; it is not me saying it, it is Raul Castro

Another thing is that the way Raul Castro has dumped Venezuela for the US tourism dollar. Now that Venezuela is bankrupt, the only quick fix available for Cuba is to open its tourism to US visitors, and to Miami Cubans eager to come back and buy back, say, their ancestral home. Raul Castro, for all practical purposes, told us today that Venezuela is done, that he cannot leech much more from it, and that he dumps us without ceremony. We are broke and not even the most idiot of chavistadom can pretend to ignore that for much longer.

But what worries me the most about the whole Raul-Obama deal is that a wind of impunity is blowing through the Caribbean. Thousands of Cuban criminals that supported the Castro horrendous dictatorship are now going to go Scott free. Sure, a couple of them will be somehow sent to trial, scapegoats for decades of tyranny and errors. But it looks like the Castros are now going to die peacefully in their bed while the cult to Che will grow even stronger as throngs of lobotomized US tourists will be driven to the high places of Che crimes.

Current occupant of the White House imposes sanctions on Venezuela, no one pays attention

US-Cuba: A Historic Decision

How Venezuela’s Collapse Helped Thaw Cuban-American Relations
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez helped keep the Cuban regime propped up, but that’s not possible in an era of low oil prices

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: Raul gets richer

Cuba: Q & A

Cuba: US law and dissidents’ objectives

Ecuador: Selling it to China

Cuba: What is the regime going to do?

Cuba: #AlanGross released – is Obama ending the embargo in exchange? UPDATED THROUGH THE DAY

Argentina: Cristina aims for The People’s Cube

Puerto Rico: NY Yankees’ Jorge Posada scammed out of $11million

Elsewhere

Uruguay: Send more Gitmo alumni!

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Whose “outdated Cold War perspective”?

Brace yourselves: Obama to end the embargo after Gross’s release

Podcast
A look at Venezuela, Cuba and other US-Latin America stories of the week