Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Brazil: Cunha charged with corruption and money laundering

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Eduardo Cunha, whom the WaPo once referred to as Brazil’s evangelical Frank Underwood has been charged:

On Thursday, Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot formally charged Eduardo Cunha, Brazil’s highest-ranking lawmaker with commanding a farrago of felonies, including shaking down suppliers of Petrobras, the scandal-ridden national oil company, for some $5 million, and then laundering the bribes through more than 100 financial operations from Montevideo to Monaco.

Mac Margolis explains:

Ever since Cunha won the right to the top microphone in Congress, trouncing Rousseff’s own candidate for the job, the Rio de Janeiro lawmaker has dedicated his mandate to making her life miserable, delaying revenue raising initiatives and planting some “fiscal bombs” in Congress that would plump constituents’ earnings at the expense of the swelling public deficit.

So how do you say schadenfreude in Portuguese? After weeks of escalating rhetoric and street protests clamoring for impeachment, suddenly it’s Rousseff’s archenemy who looks to be on the brink.

But hold those vuvuzelas. While Cunha may be hobbled by the scandal, he’s hardly out of play. Even if the Supreme Court accepts Janot’s indictment and sends Cunha to trial, he has no obligation to step aside. Removing him would take half plus one of the 513 members of Brazil’s lower house, an ecosystem where Cunha is at home.

Cunha is second in line to succeed the president. As Speaker of the lower chamber he controls the legislative agenda and the budget.

As you may recall, Cunha made The Economist last month when he announced that he would defect to the opposition without leaving the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB),

If numbers were all that mattered, the PMDB would be the most powerful party by far. Besides having more seats in Congress than any other, it outguns its main rivals, the PT and the centre-right opposition Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), in state and local governments (see table). The PMDB has 2.4m card-carrying members, more than the PT’s 1.6m.

In Brazil’s Byzantine political environment, the move to charge Cunha may be seen as payback for Cunha’s defection, who in turn may deny approval of Dilma’s (rather weak, if you ask me) proposals to slash government spending, raise taxes and reduce bureaucracy.

More interestingly, the question remains whether Cunha would push to impeach Dilma (as the demonstrators demand), and if he does, will Dilma gather enough congressional support to avoid impeachment – with the help of PMBD members.

Mexico: @Leon_Krauze looks at the big White House

Monday, August 17th, 2015

León Krauze reports on Mexico’s Telenovela First Lady
Angélica Rivera may have dazzled on the TV screen, but her shady relationship with a government contractor has wreaked havoc on her husband’s presidency.

The disappearance and apparent brutal slaying of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero State started the downward slide. The government’s clumsy response, including the president’s reluctance to handle the issue personally, made things much worse. 

A couple of months later, Peña Nieto’s image was damaged even further by the publication of a blockbuster investigation into a luxurious residence owned by Mexico’s first lady, the actress Angélica Rivera. Known as the “Casa Blanca”—the White House— for its imposing white walls and interiors, it was built and financed by one of Peña Nieto’s favored government contractors, and it had a $7 million price tag, which is an excessive figure even for Mexico City’s swankiest neighborhoods.

Read the whole thing, and watch León’s report,
A year ago I asked @EPN [Enrique Peña Nieto] if he would commit to ensuring that #ElChapo would not escape again. ‘It’d be unforgivable.’

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There’s no Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean this week due to server issues.

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s daughter, richest person in the country

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Socialists in the U.S. proudly proclaim that the dead dictator “improved the economy, reduced inequality,” most likely in the Orwellian sense,

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Hugo Chávez daughter is the richest individual in Venezuela, report claims

According to the Miami-based Diario Las América, Venezuelan media sources will soon publish materials showing that María Gabriela Chávez has bank accounts in the U.S. and Andorra with assets totaling nearly $4.2 billion.

If the claim is true, Chávez’s daughter would be the richest person in Venezuela, a country with industrialists like telecommunications magnate Gustavo Cisneros (worth $3.6 billion, according to Forbes) and food and beverage mogul Lorenzo Mendoza ($2.7 billion).

. . .

Last July, Venezuelan outlets reported that she was involved in a scheme that favored an Argentinean rice company, Bioart, by importing 37,000 tons of greatly overpriced rice to Venezuela – a deal that reportedly contributed $15 million to her personal accounts.

. . .

In September of 2014, according to La Tribuna, the Cuban-American television journalist María Elvira Salazar showed on the air a receipt purported to be from a U.S. bank account in María Gabriela’s name that held nearly $737 million. The address on the account was that of the Venezuelan consulate in New York City.

MGC currently is permanent deputy representative to the United Nations, where she fits right in.

In other Venezuelan news, would-be kidnappers broke into an American’s apartment and murdered him:
Well-Known American Lawyer John Pate Murdered in His Apartment in Venezuela

The well-known American lawyer John Pate, a US citizen, was stabbed to death by assailants in his apartment at the Vista Real on Avenue Panorama in Lomas de San Román section of Caracas on Sunday evening.

Pate, 71, was a member of the Editorial Board of the Caracas Daily Journal, the predecessor of the Latin American Herald Tribune, and had helped build the fabric of Caracas society. His first wife, Gertie Paez Pate, was a well-known Peruvian painter who died of cancer in 2007.

According to police, the criminals reportedly entered his apartment with the intent to rob him, but instead killed him with multiple stab wounds. His girlfriend, Sally Evan Oquendo, 67, was wounded and is hospitalized.

According to early police reports, the perpetrators entered through a bathroom window and police suggest that they knew the building well. There are apartments being remodeled in the building and police are interrogating workers.

The Caracas expat community has shrunk as homicide rates rise and foreign companies pull out of Venezuela, citing economic difficulties.

Pate’s primary business was in representing multinational companies doing business in Venezuela, and he was sometimes critical of the country’s 16-year-old socialist revolution.
In 2005, he told the Christian Science Monitor he had lost half his international clients in the six years since the now-deceased President Hugo Chavez came to power.

24,980 people were murdered in Venezuela last year.

Money-wise, a billion here, a billion there, Ravaged by Oil’s Collapse, Venezuela Now Has a Big Gold Problem

The South American country, which is trying to stave off a bond default in the wake of oil’s swoon, had 68 percent of its international reserves in bullion as of August, according to the World Gold Council. That’s a big worry because the price of the precious metal has tumbled 15 percent from this year’s high in January as the global slump in commodities deepened.

At the blogs:
Daniel has A guide to Venezuela eateries around the world

Devil’s Excrement looks at The Uncertain Outcome Of The Venezuelan Parliamentary Election

Chavismo will do anything to manipulate and obtain an edge in the upcoming election.

The outcome does not look uncertain to me: Venezuela’s first lady Cilia Flores to run for congress while opposition figure barred

Hours after election officials reject María Corina Machado’s attempt to register as a candidate, President Nicolás Maduro announces his wife will run



Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

(See Argentina’s Cabinet Chief Refutes Drug Trafficking Allegations as Extortion

With a week to go for the primaries in Argentina, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez was accused of involvement in drug trafficking by those implicated in ephedrine trafficking in a television program, Periodismo para Todos (Journalism for Everyone), or PPT.)

Here’s Lanata’s Sunday show of Aug. 2 (in Spanish but NSFW),

Full show here,

Following which, Police: Lanata building damaged during street fight

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Not only did he tunnel out, ‘El Chapo’ Ally Tunneled Out Months Before

Nearly 14 months before crime boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from his maximum-security cell through a tunnel, one of his Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants broke out of another prison in the same way. (emphasis added)

The passage through which Adelmo Niebla González and two underlings busted out of a prison in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa state, in May 2014 shared many of the same technological and building styles.

Side-by-side

We’re talking about a cartel known for its elaborate tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border, but Mexican authorities put them all on ground-floor because,

“No one can say it was obvious this would have happened,” Mr. Rubido, whose more than three decades included several stints as Mexico’s top spy chief, said of Mr. Guzmán’s escape.

How do you spell c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n . . .

Hey, how about an open border!

UPDATE
At Breakfast to Talk El Chapo, Drug War Veterans Serve Up Cynicism

Over eggs at a San Antonio café, a reporter listens as former law enforcement officials and one ex-drug cartel operative swap theories about El Chapo’s latest escape and what it says about the U.S. and Mexico

Sinaloa became the McDonald’s of the drug trade. Customers could find its products — cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines — everywhere. Operations ran so smoothly that after Chapo’s arrest in February 2014, many experts predicted that they’d continue to hum along without him. However, hopes ran high in the United States and Mexico that Chapo’s arrest would herald a new era of trust between the two governments. The arrest was seen as a sign that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was serious about ending a long history of government corruption, and that Washington, after some skepticism, could trust him.

Chapo’s latest spectacular escape seems to have put an end to any such illusions.

Argentina: Judge in Cristina’s hotel case, “If I turn up suicided, look for the killer”

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Cristina Fernandez’s son Maximo continues to be investigated:

Máximo Kirchner’s Offices Raided in Hotesur Corruption Case

Argentine federal judge Claudio Bonadio and prosecutor Carlos Stornelliordered a raid on the offices of Presidential son and La Cámpora leader, Máximo Kirchner, Monday, seeking accounting information as part of the ongoing Hotesur K-money laundering and corruption case.

. . .

The raid itself represented the execution of Judge Bonadio’s “procedural orders” seeking information about 35 separate companies with ties to the Kirchner family and its business interests, specifically including “banks and companies” associated with K-businessman Lázaro Báez – the number one recipient of public works contracts during the Kirchner administration. Báez is a business partner of President Kirchner, and the former administrator of her largest hotel, Alto Calafate.

Judge Bonadio was about to start reviewing the evidence retrieved during the raid, when he was removed from the case by two other judges.

As you may recall, peronistas were calling for Bonadio’s impeachment last year.

You can tell that Judge Bonadio’s under pressure that he’s come out saying, Si aparezco suicidado, busquen al asesino; no es mi estilo“. If I turn up suicided, look for the killer; it’s not my style.

El Chapo’s new song: Gimme shelter

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

BREAKING: Joaquin “#ElChapo” Guzman Offers $10 Million To Any U.S. Citizen Who Provides Shelter For Him

“It’s time for us to ban together to protect El Chapo. It’s important for our people to remain strong through the American media disrespecting our people and culture. El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people.

The Sinaloa Cartel, with permission from El Chapo, is offering $15 Million Dollars to any Mexican-American willing to provide a safe haven for El Chapo. We will give $10 Million Dollars to any other American person willing to assist El Chapo, and $7 Million Dollars to anyone who can successfully get El Chapo across the Mexican-American border without detection. Send this message to everyone affiliated.”

Interesting nationalistic wording (“El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people“) aside, the announcement leads to conjecture on what factors may be behind it:

  • El Chapo’s already in the U.S. and the announcement is a red herring
  • El Chapo’s US$10 million offer counters the Mexican government’s 60 million pesos  reward (almost US$4 million) to show who’s boss
  • The person(s) running top day-to-day operations are not too willing to relinquish their positions of power
  • Competing cartels (Zetas, Nueva Generación, etc.) may not want him back in action and be heating things up enough to make him/his organization want to get him out of the country
  • El Chapo may have decided to move closer to where the consumer is
  • Mexican authorities may have abetted his escape on the condition that he leave the country

None of these are mutually exclusive.

Plus, of course,

there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Sing it, Mick!

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Mexico’s El Chapo: “Guilty as sin, free as a bird.”

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Mexico’s El Chapo: “Guilty as sin, free as a bird.” Odds are he will remain out.

Related:
I was in Willie Lawson’s podcast, and in Silvio Canto‘s podcast, and El Chapo was one of the subjects we talked about.

What does it take to win an ESPY?

Friday, July 17th, 2015

REVEALED: Caitlyn Jenner’s reps ‘demanded ESPYs award in exchange for PR plugs and Diane Sawyer interview’

Argentina: #FIFAarrests in 22 tweets

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Eamonn MacDonagh summarizes it perfectly: