Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

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!

Venezuela: En español, las grandes fortunas de los chavistas en el Imperio mismo

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Via Doris, Conozca la vida “socialista” de los chavistas en el Imperio mismo

iPads de oro. . .

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Catholic priests, with the encouragement of their bishop, are actively encouraging people to fight the Knights Templars:
Priests take the lead in fierce revolt against drug gang in Mexico’s Michoacan

The anger of the clergy is aimed with equal vehemence at gangsters and at government officials, who they say have not done enough to rein in crime and extortion. That vexation will get a vast airing at morning Mass this Sunday, when priests across the Apatzingan diocese will read a scathing pastoral letter from Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez that accuses federal police and soldiers of doing little to capture Knights Templar bosses.

“Their leaders are fully identified and yet no authority stops them,” the letter says.

In his letter, Patino evokes the Nazi era, saying Christian believers should not only console the victims but also halt the Nazi campaign to kill its enemies.

“We ask politicians, the government and the Interior Secretariat to give people of our region clear signals that in reality they want to halt the ‘killing machine,’” Patino writes.

The vigilantes are fighting against corruption,

Since February 2013, a vigilante campaign by armed civilians has spread across nearly a third of Michoacan. The vigilantes call themselves self-defense groups or community police, and they have won broad citizen support from nearly everyone, from large farm owners down to tortilla vendors and doormen at public restrooms.

In barely 11 months, the vigilantes have occupied at least 15 townships. In each, they have disbanded municipal police and run off politicians believed linked to organized crime

As you may recall, the government clashed with the militia last week.

It’ll be interesting to see how it develops. Will the militia turn into criminal paramilitary groups, as the did in Colombia? Or will they clean up Michoacan?


Ecuador: Cléver Jiménez, accused of hacking, gets raided. Assange & Snowden could not be reached for comment.

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Ecuadorian Assemblyman Cléver Jiménez claims to have documentation of corruption in high places, which has displeased president Rafael Correa.

Correa’s been tweeting about it, in a 4-part tweet, which started with:
Months-long hacking of the accounts of the President and high officials. Investigations lead to Cléver Jiménez and his “advisor” Fernando . . .

Now Jiménez is under investigation for espionage, and yesterday his home was raided in his absence by a SWAT team, 3 criminologists, a prosecutor from Pichincha and a number of his aides. Jiménez’s attorney stated the raid was carried out without a warrant. Additionally, Jiménez’s office at the National Assembly was raided and his computer and documents were removed.

I could not reach Julian Assange in London for his reaction to the warrantless raid by the government of his patron Correa, who claims ‘Britain is violating Julian Assange’s human rights,’ while Correa persecutes an elected official for hacking.

Likewise, Edward Snowden, who, when asking for asylum, praised Correa,

who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world

ought to come out of his Russian hidey-hole and stand for Jiménez’s rights.

Argentina: #Córdoba police strike linked to prostitution

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Translation: URGENT: The citizens of #Cordoba defending their city during the police protests.

Looting, death in Argentine police strike

A police strike for higher pay — which the governor blamed on his closure of brothels that provide a money stream to corrupt officers — has prompted waves of looting and robberies in Argentina’s second largest city.

The violence in Cordoba began Tuesday night and continued Wednesday morning, with storefronts being shattered, mobs stealing merchandise, robbers attacking people in the streets and vigilantes arming themselves to protect their homes. More supermarkets and a mobile television van recording the violence were attacked this morning, even as officers and provincial authorities began negotiations to end the strike.

Hospital authorities reported one shooting death and more than 100 injuries, mostly from shattered glass.

[Gov. Jose Manuel] de la Sota also described the strike as a police response to his decision to close 140 brothels that provide income to corrupt officers. “We know that this, which is a terrible business, horrible, is linked to drug trafficking and that it would bring us problems sooner or later,” the governor said.

The new police salaries are the equivalent of about US$1,400/month at the black market rate. This is a 52% increase over their prior salary.

RT reports that the police union has agreed on the new salary,

Translation: [Breaking] #Córdoba’s governor: “There’s an agreement. The police will start chasing the looters.”


Brazil: “Mensalão”s must serve their sentences

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The Mensalão trials convicted 25 people over a scheme to pay opposition politicians 30,000 reais (around US$12,000 at the time) every month in order to vote for legislation favored by then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “Mensalão” means “big monthly allowance”, and it was. The scandal burst into the scene in 2005.

Folha de Sao Paulo outlines how the key members of Lula’s party, Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) channeled funds to Marcos Valério Fernandes de Souza’s ad agencies that had government contracts, funneling the payments through the Banco Rural.

38 people were accused of corruption, fraud, conspiracy, tax evasion, and money laundering.

The trials also brought up charges of illegal campaign contributions from Cuba and the FARC, but nothing much came from those allegations.

Lula’s own chief of staff, Jose Dirceu, was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months, while Lula to this day insists that he knew nothing.

Yeah, right.

So far, no one has served time in prison.

As you may recall, the convictions were appealed. Back in September I predicted that would take years, but Brazil’s Supreme Court has now upheld the jail terms of 23 out of the 25 people sentenced:

Brazil upholds corruption jail terms
Brazil’s Supreme Court rules that most of the 25 people convicted in the country’s biggest corruption trial should start their prison sentences.

Folha de Sao Paolo, which first uncovered the story, has extensive reports (in Portuguese) on the trials. So far, Dirceu has not turned himself in to the police, which in turn awaits the court orders from the Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) (Federal Supreme Court) to jail the people involved.