Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

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.

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.

Mexico: Templars, Inc.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

The headline reads, Mexican armed forces take over security in key Pacific port

Mexican armed forces have taken charge of security in the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, a major cargo hub in a part of the country struggling to contain violent drug gangs.

The story-behind-the-story is that the port of Lázaro Cárdenas in the state of Michoacán is a veritable gold mine for the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug gang, as they have merged legitimate businesses with their criminal activities. has a report (in Spanish), explaining how.
Illegal businesses (drug trade, kidnappings, etc) and extortion to both businesses and municipalities combine with agricultural industry-related businesses for money-laundering to turn the city of Lázaro Cárdenas into the Templars’ financial center.

Related: Vigilante Groups Force Mexican Government To Promise More In Drug Fight

Ecuador: Chevron racketeering trial roundup – the corrupt judge

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

WSJ: Key Chevron Witness Testifies In Racketeering Trial

A former Ecuadorean judge testified Wednesday that he was paid $1,000 a month to ghostwrite rulings and “expedite” proceedings in an environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corp. in Ecuador that ultimately resulted in a $19 billion judgment against the oil giant

Reuters: Former Ecuadorean judge testifies to bribery in Chevron case

On the witness stand on Wednesday, the former judge, Alberto Guerra, said he met in 2009 with Donziger and other representatives of the villagers at Honey & Honey, a restaurant in Quito.

Guerra said another lawyer representing the villagers had already agreed to pay him $1,000 a month to ghost-write court orders for the presiding judge, Nicolas Zambrano. Zambrano, who was also being paid, agreed to expedite the case and limit procedural avenues by which Chevron could delay it, Guerra said.

Donziger was fully aware of the arrangement, Guerra said.

“Mr. Donziger thanked me for the work that I was going to do,” Guerra said of the restaurant meeting.

Bloomberg: Ecuador Judge Testifies to Taking Bribes in Chevron SuitBusiness Week: Chevron Calls Star Witness: A Bribe-Taking Former Judge

In late 2003, Guerra presided over the initial stages of a lawsuit against Chevron that Donziger engineered on behalf of thousands of rain-forest residents who allege massive harm from oil contamination. Later, supervision of the case shifted to other judges. Guerra testified that he essentially went into business with one of those subsequent judges, ghostwriting interim rulings that generally—although not always—favored Donziger’s clients. Guerra said that he received monthly $1,000 cash payments from Donziger’s legal team in Ecuador.

Guerra also asserted under oath that he and the other judge, Nicolas Zambrano, offered their services to both Chevron and the Donziger team. Chevron turned them down, but Donziger agreed to play ball, according to Guerra.

Bloomberg: Ecuador’s Worn-Out War on Chevron

David Russell, an environmental consultant who formerly served as a witness for Ecuador’s lawyers, testified that his original damage estimate of $6.114 billion stemmed in large part from assumptions that Donzinger instructed him to use. “I came to learn that my cost estimate was wildly inaccurate and had no scientific data to back it up,” Russell noted in written testimony.

Racketeering aside, the case also looks rather weak on its own merits. For starters, Texaco operated as a minority partner under state-owned Petroecuador when the pollution occurred, so it is difficult to argue the damage is all its doing. Through agreements in 1995 and 1998, the Ecuadorian government also freed the company of further liability following a $40 million cleanup. An arbitration panel in The Hague cited the government’s sign-off when it ruled last month that Ecuador’s lawsuit should have never proceeded in the first place.

And Rafael Correa barked at The Economist, who replied,
Oil, Ecuador and The Economist
A volcano erupts
Rafael Correa lambasts us and “the empire of capital”

Nicaragua canal: Plan, nothing more

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

The Economist weighs in,
Nicaragua’s proposed canal
A man, a plan—and little else
Yet again, Nicaraguans are letting their longing for a trans-oceanic canal get the better of them

Since June, when the Sandinista-stuffed National Assembly rubber-stamped a law granting a 50-year concession, renewable up to 100 years, to Mr Wang’s HKND Group, many have wondered whether the 40-year-old telecoms boss is a crank. In August the Associated Press reported that in many countries, including Nicaragua, where he has claimed to be doing business, his companies are barely noticeable. Although both Mr Wang and President Daniel Ortega insist that the project will go ahead, people who have worked with HKND say it has more of an option to build than an obligation. In effect, the cost of the option is the tens of millions of dollars that Mr Wang is expected to pay from his own pocket to find out which route is most physically and financially feasible.

Hence ERM, a British consultancy, is looking at the environmental and social impact of digging a deep channel through Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest in Latin America, and carving through ancestral indigenous lands. Australian engineers are pondering how to remove millions of truckloads of dirt in a country with no large excavators, let alone nearby roads or railways. McKinsey, a business consultancy, is said to be working out how the project could make enough money to entice sovereign-wealth funds to bankroll it.

Good luck with that; all they have is dubious plans and abundant unknowns.

Again: the Chinese government are not involved in this; only Wang Jing – and he and Ortega already made a $300million sweet deal.

I’ve been saying all along, Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

Venezuela: Swarm loots a truck after an accident

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The sad state of affairs in Venezuela:
A truck carrying meat got stuck under a bridge, and it was immediately swarmed and looted by people who actually climbed over the injured driver, who later died.

Daniel Duqenal comments about The society Chavez has left us: barbarians inside the gate

At 9 AM about 300 bikers arrived and tried to overpower the police security people who had to call for reinforcement. Of course, the idea was to loot the truck…

The disaster blocked the whole city all the way until downtown (photo included in the link)

So there you have it, 14 years of Chavez socialism and we are left with a large group of people who think that they can grab whatever they want, at any price, shocked, SHOCKED when actually some authority tries to explain to them that no, they cannot do so. Note: the society of motorbikes is a creation of chavismo who has subsidized them heavily in the early years because they were their storm troopers to quickly go around town to crush any anti Chavez protest. Remember Lina Ron? Now they are out of control, a threat to regime itself. One shudders at the idea that suddenly 300 bikes could appear in a neighborhood and start looting while the cops look helpless. Because they are armed, you know, the bikers, better than the cops probably.

The problems we face to rebuild Venezuela are much, much worse than a matter to find money for reconstruction, putting finance in orders, supporting business to produce and hire people. We have become a society of looters, robbers, abusers, drug traffickers, and what not, to a degree of cruelty and violence that leads us to prison riots where the hearts of the victims are pulled out of their chests.  Viva Chavez, carajo!

The looting was open and went on for a long time,

Daniel further comments,

But what that video illustrates quite well is the plague that motorbikers have become in Venezuela, the huge numbers they are and their ruthless contempt at blocking traffic and reckless driving. Chavez is the man that has allowed the rise of that cast of violent folks. True, they may be, for all that I know, a minority inside the motorbiker “community”. Chavez made motorbikes easily available for his supporters, and with the ridiculous price of gas they had no problem in learning to use their bikes all the time. Chavez wanted that because he wanted a form of storm troopers ready to mobilize on short notice across Caracas, to launch counter protests wherever needed, the threaten whomever was necessary with a “spontaneous” protest of chavismo own. Soon, they were even allowed without helmets in the highways, a place they were banned from until Chavez.

The result was to be expected. After a decade of driving recklessly, of scratching and banging the cars stuck in traffic as they sneak through it, these storm troopers are realizing that they can mobilize themselves by the hundreds, attack whatever they want to attack, and push back the authorities. They are on the loose on Caracas, a violent mob like gang.

I have several friends mention that the trucks were frequently looted in Venezuela. But this is monstrous.

In other Venezuela news, Maduro expelled three American diplomats for meeting with the opposition.

Because you can never be tough enough on crime.

Trip Advisor: Caracas