Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Colombia: Former Pablo Escobar lead henchman goes free

Friday, August 29th, 2014

What could possibly go wrong?

Pablo Escobar’s chief hit man was released from jail on Tuesday:

Colombians wary as former Escobar hitman gets ready to walk free from prison
“Popeye” has served 23 years after killing hundreds under reign of Medellín cartel chief
. The headline says hundreds, but

Popeye has coldly admitted that he ordered 3,000 people killed when his boss, the head of the Medellín cartel, was fighting the government to avoid extradition.
. . .
Velásquez Vásquez confessed that he ordered hundreds of car bomb attacks in all the country’s main cities, causing a wave of terror that Colombians are not likely to forget soon. Despite the pain he has caused, Popeye has shown a complete lack of contrition. In early 2013, he told the newspaper El Tiempo that ““if Pablo Escobar were born again, I would join him without a second thought.”

Bad through and through,

Velásquez joined the Medellín cartel at age 18, when “the boss” began asking him to commit murders. He soon climbed the rungs of the underworld ladder and featured prominently in the kidnapping of former president Andrés Pastrana when he was running for mayor of Bogotá. He also helped abduct former vice-president Francisco Santos when he was the editor of El Tiempoand was instrumental in the attack that blew up an Avianca airplane in mid-flight, killing 107 passengers.

He also killed his own girlfriend Wendy.

In addition to killing,

Popeye helped Escobar industrialize cocaine production, seize control 80 percent of the global cocaine trade, and become one of the richest people on the planet by kidnapping, torturing, and murdering hundreds of people who obstructed the Medellín cartel’s business.

And after 23 years he’s getting out?

The gang member benefited from term reductions through work and study schemes, and is reported to have paid $4,500 for access to parole.

He “paid $4,500 for access to parole”? Are you friggin’ kidding me?

Reportedly he’ll be under surveillance for good conduct for four years. He calculates the odds of his been killed after his release at 80%.

Popeye figures prominently in Mark Bowden’s book, Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw, which I recommend.

Argentina: Boudou’s voodoo may land him in the hoosgow

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

A judge has charged Argentina’s Vice President Amado Boudou with bribery and conducting business incompatible with public office. Money quote (all puns intended):

The charges relate to the acquisition of the company that prints the country’s currency, and of benefiting from government contracts.

Mr. Boudou is accused of using shell companies and secret middlemen to gain control of the company that was given contracts to print the Argentine peso and campaign material for the ticket he shared with President Cristina Fernandez.

Somewhere in the U.S., a politician is taking notes.


Brazil: Who made out from the #WorldCup money?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The 2014 World Cup

is the most valuable, lucrative and expensive in FIFA history.

Record numbers include a $35 million prize to the winning team’s federation, $4 billion commercial revenue for FIFA and a $14 billion bill for Brazil.

And

As street protesters in Brazil know, FIFA’s revenue is untaxed there. World Cup sponsors and media also receive exemptions for their operations as a condition of Brazil’s hosting bid in 2007.

FIFA, however, has spent significantly in Brazil.

FIFA already gave $221.6 million to the embattled organizing committee, and more should follow in last-minute wrangling over paying for essential services.

Odebrecht’s certainly making out like gangbusters:
Brazilian Builder Odebrecht Emerges as World Cup Winner

Odebrecht is helping erect or expand four World Cup stadiums, financed with 1.5 billion reais ($447 million) in subsidized loans from Brazil’s state development bank. The company is one of the biggest contributors to Rousseff’s worker’s party, a relationship not lost on people critical of the World Cup’s cost to taxpayers.

Hmmm . . . Brazil, Inc.,

“Brazil has a lot of state-owned companies and big private firms with strong ties to governments in what I like to call Brazil Inc.,” said Peter Lannigan, managing director at broker-dealer CRT Capital Group LLC. . . .
Campaign donations from five Odebrecht units grew to 37.9 million reais in 2012, from 8.1 million in 2002, according to the electoral tribunal. Odebrecht’s building unit gave 6 million reais to the worker’s party in 2013, as incumbent Rousseff, a former guerrilla who was tortured by the military regime, seeks re-election. Units of World Cup stadium builders OAS SA, Queiroz Galvao SA and UTC Enghenaria SA also ranked among the top 10 contributors

Meanwhile,Stadium hosting World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia would NOT pass UK safety test
Arena de Sao Paulo will host Brazil vs Croatia World Cup opener without a test taking place that would meet UK legislation
Junior game was held in the stadium but 20,000 were left empty
The Sao Paulo stadium has a capacity of 61,000
FIFA state the arena has passed four different tests at various stages
Two people were killed by a crane during the construction of the arena

Related: The Billion-Dollar Business Of The World Cup


Venezuela: 9.8% in extreme poverty

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

To those out there thinking that chavismo has “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically”, chew on this:

9.8% of the population is living in extreme poverty (a 38% increase over the prior year), according to the Venezuelan government’s own figures, as Education Minister Héctor Rodríguez mentioned on February 25 during his speech at a Campaign for Eradicating Extreme Poverty event.

Keeping the populace poor is a feature, not a bug, for chavismo; Héctor Rodríguez himself has said, “We’re not going to pull them out of poverty so they can become protesters,” a sentiment echoed by Planning Minister Jorge Giordani, who says. “The poor must remain poor, we need them like that, we must keep them poor and hopeful.” [quotes in Spanish here]

But back to the latest poverty numbers, Spanish newspaper ABC reports and I translate,

During the second half of 2013, 9.8% of the population, that is, 2,791,292 citizens lived in extreme poverty, while during the same period in 2012 the number was 7.1%, according to statistics published in Venezuelan daily «El Universal».

Looking at the article in El Universal (my translation), the number of households living in poverty increased by 28% in one year:

The percentage of Venezuelan households living in poverty increased from 21.2% in 2012 to 27,3% in 2013.

Contrast that with the chavistas rolling in dough. That’s 21st Century socialism.

The news of Chavez’s death was released on March, 2013. All this was happening while he was still alive, but his legacy lives on.

(h/t Café con Libertad · 27 de mayo de 2014)


Venezuela: Wives of jailed mayors win

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Patricia Gutierrez in San Cristobal

Rosa Brandonisio in San Diego

Wives of Jailed Venezuela Opposition Mayors Dominate Vote. The wives of Daniel Ceballos and Vicencio (Enzo) Scarano won by landslides in San Cristobal and San Diego, yet

The result is little more than a symbolic victory for Mr. Maduro’s detractors as both sides remain in a tenuous standoff after more than three months of off-and-on demonstrations that have cost at least 42 lives. Protests began by addressing rampant crime before taking on corruption as well as economic woes like high inflation and frequent shortages of basic goods.

Sunday’s vote is unlikely to change the political landscape. Mr. Maduro, the successor of late leftist firebrand Hugo Chávez, has emerged mostly unshaken with the help of soldiers to put down the unrest, while the opposition is split over its next step as the protest movement shows signs of fatigue.

Bloggers differ on this conclusion: Alberto de la Cruz sees it as Cuba’s puppet dictatorship in Venezuela takes major hit in mayoral elections.

Daniel Duquenal explains,

All the efforts of the regime to brow beat these cities, to divide opposition, to promote abstention have failed and it looks like the gains were made more at the expense of chavismo than possible abstention. there is no way around, this is a major set back for the regime, a major confirmation that the opposition is now an electoral majority. Days of reflection for all ahead. Chavismo strategy is a dead end of violence and repression. The MUD cannot possibly win if it does not find a more durable way to tie protest and elections and clear message as it was, miraculously, the case today. Yes, I wrote miraculously.

Juan Cristobal Nagel has more on Polls vs. chavismo vs. guarimbas vs. naysayers and sees it as

a heavy defeat for chavismo. It shows that the government continues losing support, unable to muster its forces even when faced with political neophytes and an opposition that is both financially and physically exhausted. If they were counting on political infighting within the opposition to keep their voters home, they were mistaken.

I hope the opposition is able in future elections to again circumvent the chavista intervention in election results.

Highly-connected chavistas continue to loot the oil money. Alek Boyd is on the trail of Derwick Associates:

The Derwick boys aren’t in the wealth-creation league of Onassis-type of entrepreneurs: they’re simply laundering proceeds from ill gotten contracts their school chums got for them thanks to chavismo’s rampant corruption and nepotism.

Alek also has an update on Raúl Gorrín

The City of Miami recently declared Raul Gorrin -Boligarch owner of TV channel Globovision- persona non grata, after reports have surfaced about his property purchases in Cocoplum. U.S. authorities would do well in checking backgrounds of property owners at Jade Ocean..

Indeed.

Colombia: Santos campaign chief resigns

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Today’s top news in Latin America:
J.J. Rendón, who has managed some of the most successful political campaigns in Latin America (and the failed campaign for Henrique Capriles in Venezuela, which he did pro-bono), has resigned as campaign manager for Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on allegations that Rendón had negotiated with drug traffickers an offer to surrender in 2011 and shut down their operations.

Who is J.J. Rendón?

Rendón is THE topmost campaign advisor in Latin America. He plays to win, and plays hardball. Here’s his talk on neo-totalitarianism:

Who is the accuser?
The man making the accusations, Javier Antonio Calle, was one of Colombia’s most hunted drug traffickers. He turned himself in to the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012 and is now in jail in the U.S.

The firestorm:
Since Colombia is holding a presidential election on May 25, this has generated a political firestorm.

Adding to the fire, there’s also the 18-month old FARC negotiations in Havana, Rendón’s opposition to Chavismo (he’s Venezuelan), and speculation as to what role international players may have had in the release of this news. One may also have to consider Calle’s motivations, too.

The Espectador story:
Last Sunday El Espectador newspaper published an article claiming that Rendón was given $12 million for submitting a proposal to end 90% the country’s lucrative drug trade

According to El Espectador, the former drug lord, Javier Antonio Calle, alias “Comba,” has told prosecutors that several of the country’s drug traffickers made ​​a deal in 2011 with Rendon in order to submit the proposal to the government.

The proposal outlined a route to shutting down 90% of Colombia’s drug trade, with the surrender of top capos and their henchmen. Among those who participated in the proposal were some of Colombia’s top drug lords, such as Luis Enrique Calle, alias “Comba,” alias “Cuchillo,” Diego Rastrojo, and Loco Barrera.

The 2011 document called ”Agenda for solving the problem of drug trafficking and the violence it generates,” allegedly shows that Rendon officiated as a general strategist for the proposal, which was facilitated by former ELN guerrillas Francisco Galan and Jorge Castañeda. Other sources consulted by El Espectador confirmed that Rendon was actively involved in creating the plan.

Rendon subsequently told El Espectador that there was no exchange of money, that he “acted as a simple messenger”. He insists that he only recently learned the details of the proposal, adding that he will take legal action in response to the allegations.

In the dossier held by El Espectador, Rendon is described as the “general strategist” charged with “damage control, crisis management and facilitator of the negotiations.”

When asked by the journalist Daniel Coronell of Semana Magazine if money had been involved, Rendon replied that, “if there was money involved it must have been in the hands of those who put him in touch with representatives of the narcos: the then senior presidential advisor for political affairs German Chica.”

Rendón has tweeted seven points in response, which I translate (Rendón’s tweets posted below the fold)

1. I received from F[rancisco] Galán a request to communicate to the Government the illegal groups’ proposal to submit to justice.

2. I communicated to Mr. President @JuanManSantos in the presence of prosecutor @Viviane_Morales and General Naranjo their intention.

3. Mr. President @JuanManSantos requested that I channel to the Prosecutor’s Office the documents of that intention to submit to justice.

4. So I did: transparently and officially. With the document # 2011-100-001832-3 dated 7/5/2011 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Despacho de la Fiscal General).

5. The document was on the hands of the competent authority, for study and follow-up. That was the extent of my part in that matter.

6. I firmly insist that I have not received any money, stipend or benefit, and I dare anyone who says I have to prove it.

7. I am fully willing to collaborate with the competent authorities to clarify anything they may consider relevant, as always!

Uribe’s tweets:
Former president Álvaro Uribe, who is staunchly opposed to negotiations with the narcoterrorists, in turn tweeted,

Pres. Santos has been carrying a long dialogue with ELN in spite of that terrorist organization’s continuous crime, adding it to the FARC’s impunity.”

and,

Pres. Santos announces reform to Prosecutor’s [Office] on the day they ordered to investigate him.”

My question:
Never mind Santos; Who gains the most by taking down Rendón?

(more…)

En español: La vida de los “Enchufados” en Miami

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Una de las mentiras chavistas que más repite la izquierda norteamericana es que Chávez disminuyó la desigualdad.

Javier Ceriani de AQP investiga cómo viven los príncipes del Chavismo en Miami – quienes compraron Globovisión – “enchufados” en el imperio. No se pierdan los yates:

Parte I

Parte II

Parte III, donde explica como investigó (desde los 8:00 minutos)

Parte IV

No se pierdan tampoco el libro de Casto Ocando, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos.

New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Miguel Octavio reviews Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States):

Perhaps nothing summarizes better the book, as Ocando’s revelation in the introduction, that Chavez spent US$ 300 million in propaganda in the US during his first ten years in power. Thus, while Chávez was accusing Washington of trying to destabilize Venezuela, he was outspending Bush and Obama in promoting his revolution. And his buddies in Government, were always (or are?) trying to make friends in the US, to defend their money, their properties and even guarantee protection sometime in the future.

In fact, the promotion was not only of the revolution, but even paying companies in the US to regularly show that Venezuela’s economic numbers were doing well. ironically, while Chávez formed the Venezuelan Information Office and Eva Golinger was hired to show the US was conspiring in Venezuela, there was proof of all the money being spent very directly by the Venezuelan Government to promote itself in teh US and very little proof was ever shown that the US was ding the same thing in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In the end, the book just tells us how Chavismo went from corruption to drugs, joining forces with the FARC, the Iranians and drug cartels, showing that Chávez was willing to allow anything to his buddies in order for the revolution to survive.

This alone would make a valuable contribution to the literature of Latin America’s history.

Ocando, as his Twitter feed notes, is an

Investigative Reporter & Writer with Univision Network. Interests: Public Corruption, Narco-Terrorism, US-LatAm Relations, Venezuela. http://www.univision.com.

I bought the Kindle edition, and will post on it.

The Isaías, on @Instapundit’s post

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Today on the esteemed Instapundit,

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: U.S. Investigates Brothers From Ecuador Who Donated $90,000 to Obama.

The link goes to a NY Times story on Ecuadorian brothers William and Roberto Isaías, who are here legally, having fled Ecuador ten years ago after the government allegedly confiscated media outlets they owned which were critical of the government.

The case recently resurfaced when an NBC station in New York reported that Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, was under federal investigation for helping the Isaias brothers with their immigration problems after their relatives contributed to his campaigns. Several other members of Congress also helped the family by writing letters urging the State Department to resolve bureaucratic delays that kept several of the family members from obtaining residency in the United States.

I posted about the Isaías last January. I pointed out then that

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s chancellor, has said he thinks campaign donations to American politicians have helped the brothers stay in the country.

Let’s ponder that for a moment: The Correa regime thinks something, so NBC NY runs a story on it?

As it is, the Justice Department says Ecuador’s government has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

So, no, I wouldn’t rush to include the Isaías on a “culture of corruption” post.


Latin America: Putin gets his license

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The Economist‘s cover story:

Mr Putin’s new order, in short, is built on revanchism, a reckless disdain for the truth and the twisting of the law to mean whatever suits those in power. That makes it no order at all.

Some of the more unsavory heads of state in Latin America have been borrowing a page from Putin: Last year I posted on Mary O’Grady’s article on how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips

behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

It’s not only indirect “putinismo”: Putin has been interested in Latin America all along.

Russia has been cruising through the region for quite a while.

Read the rest at Da Tech Guy Blog.

UPDATE
Related: Putin’s quiet Latin America play

Linked to by Doug Ross. Thank you!