Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Cuba: Is China rebuilding Cuba’s ports?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Interesting article at Global Post, with the disclaimer,

This article was produced by the Xinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua describes itself as the “information organ of the central government.” Given China’s size and importance, GlobalPost publishes Xinhua’s press feed as a resource for its readers and makes no claims as to journalistic accuracy.

Cuban port terminal in transformation with Chinese assistance

Santiago de Cuba’s Guillermon Maoncada port is undergoing a dramatic transformation into a modern multipurpose terminal with involvement of a Chinese company.
China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) is in charge of the port’s rehabilitation and modernization project which is slated to be completed in three years.
. . .
Valued at 120 million U.S. dollars, the future multipurpose terminal will facilitate the arrival of ships weighing up to 40,000 tons and will have high-tech port equipment which will possess better control ability.The transformation will enable the port to handle around 565,000 tons of goods per year, local authority said. Currently the port attracts ships with a general load of 20,000 tons.

Meanwhile, Russia’s planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing a military base in Cuba.

What could possibly go wrong?

Brazil: Up next, China’s 3,000mile railroad?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The Chinese are big on mega-infrastructure, and now they’re proposing a 3,300 mile railroad through South America, starting with Brazil (starting with, since that’s the first stop of the tour):

China begins charm offensive in South America amid controversy over Amazonian railway
Beijing denies that Li Keqiang’s eight-day visit to South America, which begins in Brazil, means China is muscling in on the United States “backyard”

Top of their agenda will be the so-called trans-Amazonian railroad which would link Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic coast with Peru’s Pacific coast, cutting through remote areas of rainforest that are home to a wealth of biodiversity as well as numerous indigenous tribes. Mr Li is expected to announce a feasibility study for the megaproject during his trip.

This is different (at least so far) from the proposed Nicaragua Canal in two major ways:

  • The Brazil-Peru railway is officially backed by the Chinese government, which sent prime minister Li Keqiang. The Nicaragua Canal project’s only investor is Wang Jing’s HKND Group (which may or may not be a cover for the Chinese government – who knows?), a company that made a $300 million telecommunications contract with Nicaragua.
  • Li is, from the start, announcing feasibility studies. With the Nicaragua Canal so far, no details on where the funds come from and no feasibility studies (if any) have been made public.

After three days in Brazil, Li will head to Colombia, Peru and Chile.

Environmental concerns are not very high on China’s priorities.

Communism: When the only way out is death

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

My latest at Da Tech Guy Blog, Communism: When the only way out is death, is up. Please read it!

The royal baby Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 4th, 2015

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, had a baby daughter born on Saturday, and that’s all you’ll hear about it on this blog.

On with the news in our hemisphere:

ARGENTINA
Now even the dogs get kidnapped: Gangs Target Purebred Dogs in Argentina

BAHAMAS
Bahamas court agrees to review new immigration rules

BRAZIL
Lula Investigated for Being Odebrecht’s “Trafficker-in-Chief”

Brazil’s Power Dynamics Shifting Amid Political Scandals

Brazilian executed in Indonesia ‘unaware what was happening until end’Priests states Brazilian man executed in Indonesia did not understand what was happening to him because of his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

CHILE
Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupts for third time

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s High Court Seeks Wider Probe of Espionage CaseInvestigation of ex-President Álvaro Uribe, five other aides sought

Where Are Colombia’s Youth in FARC Negotiations?Josías Fiesco: The Most Impacted Have Not a Single Seat at the Table

Colombia’s judiciaryTrouble at the topEven the highest courts are not immune from scandal

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is happy — but not too much

CUBA
From China: Clandestine Arms Shipment Arrives in Cuba

Venezuela’s Maduro Joins Raul Castro for Cuba’s May Day Parade, where no one would dare throw mangoes at them.

ECUADOR
What Happened When I Joked About the President of Ecuador

A few months before, I registered the Crudo Ecuador brand with the Ecuadorean Institute of Intellectual Property. The I.E.P.I. published the Gaceta, a booklet that shows all the brands that are being registered, including mine.

That’s when things took a dark turn. Some Twitter users began posting I.E.P.I. documents. These documents are supposed to be confidential; they showed my telephone number, my address, my ID number. Then they started posting information from the civil registry. And then, a photo of me in a mall. When I showed my wife the picture, she said, “Hey, this was taken three days ago.” So they’d been following us.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala Needs More than OutrageScale Back the State to Starve Corruption

HAITI
SCHWEIZER: CLINTON DONORS, RELATIVES GOT RICH OFF HAITI CONTRACTS, US TAXPAYERS

JAMAICA
A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia reviewRichard S Dunn’s comparative study of slavery makes surprising arguments

LATIN AMERICA
Thanks To Vaccination, Rubella Has Been Eliminated From The Western Hemisphere

MEXICO
Mexican army helicopter shot at in drug cartel attackA Mexican army helicopter has been shot at in the western state of Jalisco, killing three soldiers and injuring 12 others.

NICARAGUA
For “peaceful purposes”? Nicaragua approves Russian satellite base for ‘alternative GPS’Opposition say legislation was rushed through without proper scrutinyNicaraguan military says it plans to buy Russian jets and patrol boats

PANAMA
Crossing the Darién Gap: US-bound migrants marooned in Panama jungleLong voyage winds from half a world away in search of economic opportunity in North America (emphasis added),

As dusk fell on a recent Saturday, a long dugout canoe floated into this remote town in Darién province of Panama, carrying an increasingly frequent cargo of improbable origins.

At a border police base by the Chucunaque River, the human haul — 13 Bangladeshis, seven Nepalese and two Somalis — disembarked to noisy greetings from other migrants on the bank.

PARAGUAY
Girl, 10, raped by stepfather, denied abortion in ParaguayAmnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow child to get an abortion for the sake of her health

PERU
Hidden early Christian crypt discovered with dozens of skeletons

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico on the Brink

Puerto Rico is in trouble, after years of bad policies, mismanagement, excessive debt and bad luck.

Its economy has been shrinking or stagnant for a decade and theunemployment rate sits at nearly 12 percent. The commonwealth and its utilities have a debt of $73 billion, its public pension funds are woefully underfunded and one state agency has warned that the government could be forced to shut down soon because it might run out of money.

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo Detainees In Uruguay Protest At U.S. Embassy

VENEZUELA
The U.N.’s Venezuela Crush Gets Orwellian

Report: Venezuela’s Medical Shortages Rival War ZonesHuman Rights Watch: Thousands at Risk while Maduro Looks for Scapegoats

«Yo fui el intérprete de Chávez»Mohamad Mohamadi fue el traductor del líder bolivariano en más de un centenar de encuentros con sus aliados iraníes

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: On with slandering the Jews in the AMIA & #Nisman cases

Cuba: How’s that “easement” going?, part 2

What works

“The Americans” non-values UPDATED

Venezuela: Electricity rationing because of . . . global warming

Chile: Bachelet lifts a page from the Clintons

Don’t rebuild

Minnesota men heading to ISIS via . . . Mexico?

Puerto Rico: Calling Dr. Cardona Harper

Cuba: How’s that “easement” going?

Latin America: Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

Podcast:
Mexico and other US Latin America stories of the week



Ecuador: Chinese loans, social media censorship

Friday, 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?

Colombia: What other weapons were in the Chinese ship heading to Cuba

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Along with long-range weapons systems, the BBC reports that the Chinese ship Da Dan Xia, intercepted last week by Colombian authorities as it headed to Cuba, was carrying

About 100 tonnes of gunpowder, almost three million detonators and some 3,000 cannon shells were found on board the Da Dan Xia, officials said.

But according to the ship’s records, it was carrying grain products.
. . .
The Da Dan Xia is operated by China’s largest shipping company, Cosco Shipping.

Cuba isn’t saying anything yet, but the Chinese say,

We were engaged in “normal trade cooperation involving normal military supplies.”

Rather than dig into the illegal weapons trade, American media is focused instead on Conan’s trip to Cuba,

Looks like Conan spent more time interacting with dogs than with dissidents.

Humberto Fontova reminds us that

(BTW, over TWENTY TIMES as many people have died trying to escape the place Conan advertised last night, as died trying to escape East Berlin.)



Colombia Intercepts Shipment of “War Materiel” Headed to Cuba

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

From the U.S. State Department website:

State Sponsors of Terrorism:

Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are four countries designated under these authorities: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria

In the news:
Colombia Intercepts Shipment of “War Materiel” Headed to Cuba (emphasis added)

Colombian authorities have intercepted a Chinese-flagged ship loaded with “war materiel” headed for Cuba.

Headline in Spanish: Autoridades Colombianas interceptan barco de bandera china cargado de armamento de guerra de largo alcance con destino a Cuba.

It was intercepted near the Port of Cartagena. The cargo includes long-range weapons systems.

According to El Tiempo, the ship did not have appropriate documentation — indicating that this was a clandestine shipment.

Capitol Hill Cubans point out,

Cuba was found to be in violation of U.N. sanctions — the most egregious violation of these sanctions to date.

Yet, Castro’s regime got away scot-free — despite a U.N. Panel of Experts documenting how the Cuban authorities lied and sought to conceal the weapons shipment.

Instead, the Obama Administration rewarded Castro’s regime with the normalization of diplomatic relations and eased sanctions for travel and trade with the Cuban military’s monopolies.

While everybody’s talking about Paris Hilton in Havana, the Communist regime’s importing long-range weapons systems; That’s today’s news in “smart diplomacy.”

China: Cristina’s twit UPDATED

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

er, tweet,

Argentine President’s Tweet Mocks Chinese Accent During Official Visit

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner mimicked the Chinese accent in a tweet, replacing r’s with l’s, as she met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to raise investment in the recession-hit South American economy.
“Did they only come for lice and petloleum?” Fernandez wrote in Spanish on her Twitter account in reference to 1,000 businessmen who attended a conference where she spoke.

The best way to get a foreign government to give you billions of dollars to bail out your economy, is to make fun of their accents.

She must be off her meds.

UPDATE:
Cirstina’s ¿Serán todos de “La Cámpola”? refers to La Cámpora, a political patronage network whose purpose is to secure political support within the government for Cristina’s own Front for Victory party:

Kirchner has direct control over the network that has significantly increased its presence in state ministries and companies over the past several years.

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

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

After Russia, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro headed to China in his search for funds. He wore a suit:

He didn’t get what he was after:

When Nicolas mentioned US$ 20 billion, the Chinese smiled. An unscrutable [sic] smile at that. US$ 20 billion, they said, we would not pay that for all of Mongolia, said one of the Chinese. Nicolas argued back saying Sidor alone was worth US$ 10 billion, to what Ling Pin answered: “Chavez paid US$ 1.97 billion for it when it was functioning and eporting [sic]”. As we went out Maduro asked me what that was about and I said: “I did not know that”

Devil’s Excrement has the unofficial Road Trip or The Fantastic Voyage tale.

Bloomberg has the serious take:
Maduro Says Venezuela Gets $20 Billion New China Investment.

Let that heading sink in: Maduro says.

Moving right along (emphasis added),

The impact of the announcement will depend on how much of the $20 billion will be a cash transfer instead of long-term contracts for Chinese goods and labor, Eurasia Group analyst Risa Grais-Targow said in an e-mailed report.

“The funds do not necessarily represent freely available cash that the government can use for imports or to make debt payments,” Grais-Targow said.

Venezuela owes China over $45 billion in loans over the past decade, mostly in return for oil supplies, including a $4 billion loan in July. [Note: In Wednesday’s podcast, I said that Venezuela owes China over $50 billion, not including the July 2014 $4b. I stand corrected.]

Things are bad enough that

Foreign companies working to develop some of Venezuela’s most prized oilfields are asking to be compensated with crude as a way to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid cash owed to them

which, by the way, also avoids the foreign currency control mess.

But wait!

Maduro’s not the only guy looking to China for a handout:
Correa Heads to China for Financial Lifeline
Ecuadorian President Secures US$7.5 Billion Loans to Plug Oil Shortfall

Correa has already netted loans worth US$7.5 billion and signed nine bilateral cooperation agreements with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

China Boosts Support for Latin Leftists
China Pledged Billions of Dollars of Financing to Venezuela and Ecuador, Two South American Energy Exporters Battered by Falling Oil Prices

Experts said it was unclear without further details what kind of impact the new financing would have on the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian economies.

Next thing you know, Nic & Rafa may have to start building canals.

UPDATE:
The planned investment is weird stuff

Venezuela: Maduro wants a Puerto Rican out jail

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

. . . who didn’t want to be pardoned.

Taking a cue from the U.S.-Cuba sweet deal (sweet for Cuba, that is), Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro wants to make a deal:
Venezuela’s Maduro would free Lopez if U.S. freed Puerto Rican

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday he would only seek the release of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez if the United States agreed to release a Puerto Rican nationalist currently held in a U.S. prison.

The man in question, Oscar Lopez Rivera, is serving

70 years for seditious conspiracy and a variety of weapons charges as well as the second thwarted escape attempt (which included plans for the use of violence)

in Leavenworth, and,

he is a dangerous terrorist as well as a sociopath, and has never been known to express any regret or remorse. He was a co-founder of a deadly terrorist group, who constructed bombs (their weapon of choice) and trained others in both how to build them and how to use them. He twice attempted to escape from prison, and the latter attempt included plans of violence and murder.

Lopez-Rivera was offered clemency by Bill Clinton in August of 1999 (in a move that was engineered by then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder) but refused to show remorse.

So, not only is Maduro meddling into Puerto Rican politics again – where he clearly is not wanted, he’s offering to exchange Leopoldo Lopez, an innocent man, for a sociopath terrorist:

“The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera – man for man,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast.

After his offer, Maduro headed overseas – in a Cuban jet – in search of money, since at home the shelves are empty and oil hit $50/barrel as of the writing of this post.

He bundled up for the occasion:

First Russia, where Putin couldn’t fit him in his schedule. After that, China, where he has a date with

Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit and take part in a meeting between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States Jan. 8-9 in Beijing.

Busy, busy.

UPDATE:
Regarding China, read today’s post by David Goldman.

China will be more active in Latin America.