My latest at Da Tech Guy Blog, Communism: When the only way out is death, is up. Please read it!
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:
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
Costa Rica is happy — but not too much
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: On with slandering the Jews in the AMIA & #Nisman cases
Two seemingly unrelated items:
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.
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?
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.)
From the U.S. State Department website:
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.”
Más de 1.000 asistentes al evento… ¿Serán todos de “La Cámpola” y vinieron sólo por el aloz y el petlóleo? …
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) February 4, 2015
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.
She must be off her meds.
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.
After Russia, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro headed to China in his search for funds. He wore a suit:
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.
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.
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.
. . . 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.
He bundled up for the occasion:
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.
Regarding China, read today’s post by David Goldman.
China will be more active in Latin America.