Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

El Salvador: The Millennium Challenge Corporation ignores its own rules

Monday, September 29th, 2014


Salvadoran gangs

American Aid Props Up a Castro Ally
While investors flee, U.S. Millennium Challenge grants sustain Salvador’s anti-American leaders

Even more desperate to see El Salvador get the money is the MCC, which claims that it administers foreign aid differently than traditional bureaucracies. Under its guidelines, only candidates that demonstrate a commitment to good governance and the rule of law qualify for grants. But since countries that clear that hurdle, and thus attract capital, grow on their own, finding “clients” is challenging for the MCC.

So it ignores the guidelines. Last year Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) noted the gaping chasm between the MCC’s rules and El Salvador’s sketchy profile, calling it “a country of weak democratic institutions where the independence of the judiciary has been attacked, corruption is widespread and transnational criminal organizations have flourished.”

El Salvador blocks foreign investment and employment opportunities to its people, getting instead MCC and Venezuelan oil handouts. As Mary O’Grady puts it,

Why bother with the pesky rule of law when the home of one of the world’s largest oil reserves and even the great Satan to the north are standing by with free money?

FIFA follies

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

That’s what I call a goody bag! Football Association dragged into Fifa controversy over £1million worth of watches handed to World Cup nations
Fifa’s ethics committee have confirmed the acceptance of the £16,000 Parmigiani Fleurier timepieces

Telegraph Sport was seeking a response from the FA on Thursday as to whether any of its officials took home a goody bag distributed by the Brazilian Football Confederation in June to commemorate this summer’s World Cup and which contained a watch bought from one of its sponsors.

According to the UK’s Mirror, this is the watch:


That’s $25,000 for your wrist.

Why did Qatar win the bid? FIFA isn’t telling:
FIFA Investigator Wants Report Made Public
Michael Garcia, the former U.S. attorney in charge of investigating the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, on Wednesday said he wants his report to be made public.

FIFA hired Garcia in 2012 to investigate the bid process, which generated much controversy after Russia and Qatar won the voting to host the next two World Cups. Garcia delivered the report to FIFA’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert earlier this month.

Qatar beat out bids from Australia, the U.S. and Japan to host the event in 2022 despite temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Since that vote in 2010, Qatar has been dogged by allegations that it secured the outcome through a series of secret deals. Organizers of the Qatar bid have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said selecting Qatar was a mistake.

Is Qatar building air-conditioned venues?

Will they move the tournament to a season when the temperatures are not as high?

IS QATAR THE FOREMOST SUPPORTER OF THE ISLAMIC STATE’S SUNNI JIHAD?

In other Qatar news,
Qatar quits basketball over headscarf ban

If chosing [sic] Qatar as a World Cup finals venue was bad, Russia’s tournament in 2018 offers a recipe for disaster
Best way of halting Russia expansionism is not travel sanctions – it is the threat of stripping it of World Cup

The more we find out about them, the more delightful the hosts of the 2022 World Cup finals sound.

How endearing is the way they treat their workers – dying in their dozens in death traps masquerading as work places. How refreshing their approach to those who ask questions – at least two journalists have gone missing in Doha in the past six months after attempting to investigate the working conditions of those tasked with building World Cup stadiums. How enlightened is their foreign policy – Qatar is a sizeable financial sponsor of the Islamic State thugs as they go about their business of forcefully returning Syria and Iraq to the Stone Age. What fun it is going to be playing games with them. How relaxed and carefree. And that is before we even mention women’s and gay rights. Or the heat.

There is one thing, though, to be said in favour of Qatar. And it is not an insignificant virtue. At least it is not Russia.

Think Qatar’s losing the 2022 World Cup? Think again

Tenuously related:
Obama’s UN Speech

Blogging on Latin America will resume shortly.


Mexico: La Tuta’s newest YouTube

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Knights templar chief Servando Gómez “La Tuta” (the teacher) has a new one,

Video shows Mexican drug lord paying journalists for ‘good press’

The video, which was published yesterday by Mexican news site MVS, shows two reporters from Mexico’s troubled Michoacan state appearing to accept money from one of the country’s most wanted drug lords, Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar Cartel. The men then discuss a “communication strategy” to improve the cartel’s image and are heard asking for trucks and cameras.

The handoff occurs at the: 22:56 mark

An offer they really could not refuse.

Corruption: Brazil not on the map

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer map is out,

and Brazil’s not in it,

Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer gathered data from 95 countries on bribery. For a small number of them, including Brazil and Russia, data on particular questions has been excluded because of concerns about validity and reliability. For the question on corrupt institutions 105 countries were covered.

An estimated $1tn (£600bn) a year is being taken out of poor countries and millions of lives are lost because of corruption, according to campaigners.

You can read the report here.

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…)