Archive for the ‘Costa Rica’ Category

The Winter Olympics week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 10th, 2014

While the Sochi accommodations are nowhere near as nice as those in the more modest hotels in our hemisphere, Mexico sent the most interesting skier in the world, Bermudans wore shorts, and the guys from the Caymans wore shorts and flip-flops (which may explain why there only three). Dominica, Tortola of the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica (whose bobsled is now complete), Paraguay, Brazil, Peru and the US Virgin Islands also have athletes in Sochi.

ARGENTINA
Argentina bus crash near Mendoza kills at least 18

COUNTING THE COST
Argentina’s great decline
It has gone from being one of the world’s wealthiest nations to a serial defaulter, but can it get back on track?

Argentina: Repeat Economic Offender

ARGENTINA FREE FALL
Kirchner Government Doubles Down In Its War Against Math

Argentina is doubling down in its war against math. The WSJ reports that political activists loyal to President Kirchner are publicly targeting retailers by putting posters of the executives up all over Buenos Aires. The posters accuse the leaders of Walmart and other companies of fueling the country’s ruinous inflation by raising prices, even as the government continues to devalue the official currency and ignore traditional IMF economic policy.

Argentina to US senators: Show a little respect

BELIZE
A magical world at Francis Ford Coppola’s luxe resorts in Belize
Need isolation? Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge is in the middle of the untamed, natural beauty of a Belizean forest preserve. Need local culture? Turtle Inn is on the coast near the fishing village of Placencia

BOLIVIA
Bolivia floods kill 38, more heavy rains forecast

The European Union (EU) Thursday called on Bolivia to respect the ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favor of British power generator Rurelec PLC, said an official. US$41 million.

BRAZIL
Brazil may face water shortages during World Cup, group says, but I’ll bet it won’t be like the Sochi water.

Removida delegada que apura ligação de Lula com mensalão

Responsável pelo inquérito que investiga a suposta participação do ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva no esquema do mensalão, a delegada Andrea Pinho foi removida do cargo nesta sexta-feira, 7. O inquérito que tem Lula como alvo será tocado por outro delegado, ainda não designado que pode pedir novas diligências ou o arquivamento do caso.

CHILE
Chile cool: art, music and graffiti in laid-back Valparaíso
The Chilean city of Valparaíso is alive with avant-garde culture and vibrant street art. Think mini Berlin by the seaside

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s media are wrong; election is up for grabs

Photo of Pres. Santos shaking hands with Timochenko, the FARC leader, back in the day, “If you want Timochenko as president and Iván Márquez in the Senate, you know who to vote for in the upcoming elections.”

COSTA RICA
‘Black Heart’ in Brazil heat drives coffee turnaround h/t DP

CUBA
Gorki Aguila, Cuban Rocker Faces Sham Trial

Cuba Regime Supporters Caught Off Guard with Reaction to Fanjul Story

Oh Happy Day! NBC refers to Communism as “pivotal experiment”

The Truth About Che Guevara

ECUADOR
Xavier Bonilla’s cartoon before:

Freedom of speech in Ecuador
Drawn and quartered
The government orders a newspaper to “correct” a critical cartoon

Xavier Bonilla’s cartoon after:

EL SALVADOR
JJ Rendón is suing Salvador’s president Mauricio Funes for $100 on defamation of character and slander from Funes calling him “a fugitive from justice, a rapist.” (link in Spanish) I hope Rendón wins, and gets to collect.

GUATEMALA
Claudia Paz y Paz, A Guatemalan crusader is reined in

Guatemalan court upholds top prosecutor’s ouster

HONDURAS
Democracy

MEXICO
In Apatzingán:Mexican Vigilantes Enter Key City in Michoacán State
Vigilantes Aim to Take Control of City from Organized Crime Group

THE AMERICAN VIGILANTE VERSUS THE MEXICAN CARTEL

Sochi 2014: ‘Mexican prince’ ready to hit slopes in Mariachi suit

Well, he already was successful lobbying against soft drinks: Look who’s giving advice to Mexico City? Señor Bloomberg. I suggest he brush up his Spanish,

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua: Ortega allowed to run for third successive term

PANAMA
Panama Canal work stops in $1.6bn row
The Spanish-led consortium working on a project to widen the Panama Canal confirms work has been suspended amid a row over cost overruns.

PARAGUAY
Julia Marino becomes Paraguay’s first Winter Olympian

PERU
400 Dead Dolphins Washed Up on Peru Beaches in January

PUERTO RICO
Networks Completely Ignore $70 Billion Puerto Rican Debt Crisis

Puerto Rico Downgrade Puts Bond Deal in Spotlight
Investors are looking beyond the junk-rated credit of Puerto Rico to see if it can sell debt needed for short-term finances, lay groundwork for economic recovery.

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s president nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for legalizing marijuana

VENEZUELA
D.C. mayoral candidate’s business to host Venezuelan government’s pro-Chavez event

Toyota Halts Venezuela Production as Car Sales Fall

Venezuelans fume as government signals end to ‘free’ petrol
In a country where petrol is cheaper than water, ministers say prices must increase for the first time since a rise 15 years ago sparked deadly riots

The fascists in charge of Venezuela want to kill the press, while banging students

The Paradox Of Chavista “Planning”: Even Simple Things Are Hard For Them

Antonio Pardo, A Venezuelan in Sochi (Important Update)

According to Alek Boyd and others, Mr. Pardo is not quite the feel-good story we made him out to be. Turns out he allegedly has links to Antonini Wilson and the suitcase scandal. State news media is falsely reporting he won a gold medal.

Venezuelan “skier” in #Sochi2014 has a Swiss bank, is partners with Carlos Kauffmann & Co. His brother’s a partner of L. Oberto in St Barts

The week’s posts and podcast:
“Smart diplomacy”: Ambassador to Argentina may not even speak Spanish

Mexico: The most interesting skier in the world

Brazil: Cuban doctor seeks asylum

Argentina: Burning down the house

Venezuela: Squatting at the Presidential Mansion

Puerto Rico: Junk bond status

Sochi: Airline loses Jamaicans’ bobsled

Mexico: Behind the Peña Nieto-Fidel photo-op

Left turns: El Salvador and Costa Rica

At Da Tech Guy: Ask Fausta: Is now the time to travel to Latin America? The answer is yes.

Podcast: Elections in El Salvador plus other US-Latin America issues


Left turns: El Salvador and Costa Rica

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Both countries held elections on Sunday, both go into runoffs in March, both favoring leftists:

In El Salvador, former FMlN leader and current vice-president Salvador Sánchez Cerén is ahead:
El Salvador: former leftwing guerrilla takes lead in presidential election
Salvador Sanchez Ceren was rebel leader in bloody civil war but with nearly half votes counted he is favourite to win March run off
. Otto Reich sees a grim future if Sánchez Cerén wins (emphasis added):

Sánchez Cerén is no ordinary contender. For example, he has admitted to participating in the brutal execution of members of his own guerrilla force, the Popular Liberation Forces, or FPL, who did not comply with his orders and rules.

Witnesses and survivors accuse him of ordering the torture and subsequent murder of hundreds of alleged “traitors” and of guerrilla soldiers accused of desertion. Anywhere else in the world, Sánchez Cerén would be condemned for his record on human rights. In El Salvador, he is at the top of some polls.

Like [current president Mauricio] Funes, Sánchez Cerén paints a rosy picture of reformist, democratic rule. But Sánchez Cerén is being backed by the Venezuelan government through a multimillion-dollar enterprise called ALBA Petroleos. That enterprise was set up with Venezuelan money to provide FMLN mayors and officials exclusively with valuable products such as gasoline and toilet paper, which are scarce in Venezuela, in order to generate political goodwill for the FMLN party. ALBA Petroleos is managed by José Luis Merino, another former FMLN fighter, top official in the Salvadoran Communist party, and one of Sánchez Cerén’s closest advisers.

According to U.S. and Colombian intelligence and counter-narcotics agencies and international press reports, Merino has ties to the Marxist Colombian FARC army, to multinational drug cartels, and even to the Italian Mafia. It is persons like Merino who would staff a Sánchez Cerén government, or else stay outside and continue to manipulate resources that should go to the poor but instead are used to illicitly enrich FMLN party and government officials.

Likewise, in Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solís is ahead: Leftist Costa Rica outsider leads election, run-off expected

Luis Guillermo Solis, an academic who has never been elected to office, had a slim lead over ruling party candidate Johnny Araya despite trailing in pre-election polls and early vote returns.

Araya was seen as the front-runner ahead of the vote, but his campaign was hurt by corruption scandals that plagued President Laura Chinchilla’s administration.

Solis, who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, won 30.9 percent support on Sunday compared to 29.6 percent for Araya with returns in from around 82 percent of polling centers.

Left-wing lawmaker Jose Maria Villalta was in third place with 17.2 percent. His supporters could help carry Solis to victory in the run-off against Araya, although votes from a host of smaller parties who commanded around a quarter of the tally on Sunday will also be fought over.

A Solis victory in the run-off would mark another triumph for center-left parties which have gained ground in much of Latin America in recent years.

Federico Delgado wrote about how Costa Rica Flirts with Chavismo with Frente Amplio candidate Jose Maria Villalta; so far Villalta came in third in Sunday’s results.

The Groundhog Day / Superbowl weekend Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina’s Luck Is Finally Running Out

Héctor Timerman: el canciller que denunciaba que “Cuba es una dictadura” hoy participa de la CELAC en La Habana

BRAZIL
Debt bondage and indentured servitude in modern-day Brazil: Brazil’s Slaves Are Being Freed, But Owners Go Largely Unpunished

Barbarians at the Mall Entrance

CHILE
Detenida por caso Guzmán relacionaría a Bachelet con el FPMR
“Ella es clave en delitos terroristas y además podría individualizar dirigentes, jerarquías y funciones en que participaron dirigentes actuales de la izquierda chilena”, acusa el abogado Raúl Meza sobre la información que manejaría la “Comandante Ana”.

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s next president; a woman Marta Lucia Ramirez

Colombian chief prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre says he will bring charges against six employees of the US coal mining company, Drummond, over an environmental disaster last year.

COSTA RICA
After yesterday’s elections, Luis Guillermo Solís is ahead: Leftist Costa Rica outsider leads election, run-off expected

Costa Rica Flirts with Chavismo

Costa Rica holds presidential poll
Voters in Costa Rica choose a successor for President Laura Chinchilla, with opinion polls predicting a tight race between four main contenders.

CUBA
Cuba steps up repression on the eve of the CELAC summit

How do Cuban doctors escape Venezuela?
Doctors escape medical missions assigned by the Cuban government. These missions are not only to Venezuela, but to other parts of the world.
Via Babalu.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Fines Leading Newspaper Over Cartoon
The Ecuadorean government has fined newspaper El Universo, saying a political cartoon it recently published was defamatory and promoted social unrest, stoking concerns about press freedom in the South American country.

Lima Journal, Part I, and Part II By Jay Nordlinger

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador: former leftwing guerrilla takes lead in presidential election
Salvador Sanchez Cerén was rebel leader in bloody civil war but with nearly half votes counted he is favourite to win March run off

El Salvador in Peril
If leftist Sánchez Cerén becomes president, the future would be grim.

El Salvador votes for new presidentElection posters in San Salvador, 31 January
El Salvador is voting in a presidential election pitting the left-wing FMLN against the conservative Arena party, amid rising concern gang violence.

GUATEMALA
The Antigua Forum: Exporting A Different Kind of Latin American Revolution

Central America’s largest museum of Mayan culture to be built in Guatemala (h/t DP)

HAITI
Haiti celebrates first cardinal
The first Haitian cardinal didn’t believe the news — until he turned to the Internet.

HONDURAS
Narcos In The Mist

JAMAICA
Tufton wants Jamaicans to open eyes to economic realities

MEXICO
The Violent Gang Wars Behind Super Bowl Guacamole
Mexican growers in the world’s avocado capital chase off a criminal gang that extorted millions of dollars a year.

Humor: Los Horóscopos del Maestro Piyush 30/01/2014

PANAMA
Panama releases majority of crew on North Korean ship

PUERTO RICO
Not surprising: Puerto Rico bonds facing possible junk ratings are no longer part of the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index because of the debt’s outsized yields and spotty liquidity, S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Friday

Dead Puerto Rico boxer posed standing in the ring

HUMOR: Cinco Parientes De AGP Trabajan En El Gobierno; Aparecen Miles De Garcías Y Padillas A Pedir Cacao

VENEZUELA
At markets, Chavez successor falls short

Venezuela and Argentina
The party is over
Latin America’s weakest economies are reaching breaking-point

Quiqueo throws the towel. He made the news.

Daniel’s recipe for the Venezuelan opposition (for what good it does…)

The week’s posts and podcast:
Brazil: Not quite ready for World Cup prime time

Crazy Venezuelan headline of the day: “Maduro offers 80% discount in tickets to the moon”

Ecuador: Maybe Mia ought to meet Vaca

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold, continued

En español: Angry Birds en la Unidad de Quemados

Cuba: CELAC, the hypocrisy summit

Mexico: Michoacán vigilantes to join with police

Guatemala: The lost orphans

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU

Podcast: Crime and inflation in Venezuela PLUS other US Latin America issues.

The misplaced Machu Picchu Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 27th, 2014

To err is human, and to misplace the ruins is definitely not divine, so today’s Carnival is dedicated to Hema Maps, the publishers of this guidebook.

ARGENTINA
Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Argentina’s Latest Crisis

THE TWO WORLDS OF BUENOS AIRES: MACRI’S LEGACY OF INEQUALITY

Erosion of Argentine Peso Sends a Shudder Through Latin America
The decline in Argentina’s currency is the steepest since the country’s economic collapse in 2002, and it is raising fears of a global slump in developing countries.

Currency controls in Argentina
Relaxation therapy

BELIZE
Belize and Guatemala agree on ‘road map’ to address the territorial dispute
Belize and Guatemala agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of American States on a “Road Map and Plan of Action”, which has as its main objective the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

BOLIVIA
Bolivia ‘to build first nuclear reactor’

Radio Serial About Evo Morales Debuts in Bolivia

BRAZIL
The Brazilian ranch where Nazis kept slaves
On a farm deep in the countryside 100 miles (160km) west from Sao Paulo, a football team has lined up for a commemorative photograph. What makes the image extraordinary is the symbol on the team’s flag – a swastika.

New book claims THIS picture proves Hitler escaped his Berlin bunker and died in South America in 1984 aged 95
Fuhrer ‘fled to Argentina and then Paraguay before settling in Brazil’
Hunted for treasure with a map given to him by Vatican allies, book claims
Author Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias claims fascist actually died aged 95
Claims he had a black girlfriend to disguise his fascist background
Says her suspicions increased after she photoshopped a moustache [sic] onto the grainy picture and compared it to photos of the Fuhrer

World Cup protesters set fire to car
Brazil World Cup protesters set fire to car
Violence erupts on the streets of Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo as more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the cost of the upcoming soccer World Cup

CHILE
Chile’s president-elect chooses old faces for new cabinet

Chile’s 33 miners still haunted by their past

Magic and Mystery: Isabel Allende
The best-selling author on her new mystery and why her work isn’t so ‘magical’

COLOMBIA
Cash for votes

COSTA RICA
Cato’s ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BULLETIN NO. 18
Growth without Poverty Reduction: The Case of Costa Rica

Costa Rica needs genuine market reforms that eliminate the government’s power to pick winners and losers or otherwise bestow favoritism. In the areas aforementioned, the country should

* Implement a neutral exchange rate regime either by allowing the colón to freely float against the U.S. dollar or by adopting the latter as the country’s official currency.
* Abolish all tariffs on agricultural products as well as other regulations that provide monopoly powers to conglomerates that produce farm goods such as rice, beef, and sugar, and eliminate price controls on rice.
* Dismantle regulations that stifle domestic entrepreneurship, following the guidelines laid out by the World Bank’s Doing Business project.
* Adopt a neutral and competitive tax regime that taxes all businesses domiciled in the country equally but at a low flat rate.

CUBA
Dissidents Arrested Ahead of CELAC Summit

RIP, Inter-American Democratic Charter

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic runaways told they cannot return to Stonyhurst College
The two pupils who ran away from Stonyhurst College to the Dominican Republic will not be allowed to return to school

ECUADOR
Ecuador airline suspends flights to Venezuela because of tickets’ debts
Ecuadorean airline Tame has suspended flights to Venezuela, demanding 43m dollars in overdue payments for tickets. Some 80 passengers were left stranded on Thursday at the airport in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. Tame says the Venezuelan Central Bank has not transferred any money to its account in Ecuador since April 2013.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador Presidential Election Preview, 2014

Shaky truce: Is El Salvador’s gang war really on hold?

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans
Unicef’s pressure to stop international adoptions has tragic results.

JAMAICA
Mass Burial Site Claim
Police said to be aiding some criminals in the East

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America and the Caribbean: Congressional Priorities for 2014

MEXICO
The American roots of a Mexican militia movement
Many who have joined fight against Michoacan drug cartel once lived and worked in the U.S.

Knights Templar on quest for drugs efficiency
Mexican narco-gang diversifies into mining and iron ore export

PANAMA
Panama Canal Authority Says Proposal on Table That Could End Dispute

Car Shopping Observations

PARAGUAY
Six Hurt in Clash with Police in Paraguay

PERU
Peru Lawmakers Find Evidence of Graft Under Former President

PUERTO RICO
Your taxes just went up: Gobernador convierte en Ley medidas de COFIM

Puerto Rico: The next debt crisis?

Puerto Rico: Harbour of debt
The territory is imposing tough austerity measures as it seeks to allay investor concerns and issue new bonds

URUGUAY
A really big mess: Dead Sperm Whale Washes Up on Beach in Uruguay

Uruguayan Economy Minister Resigns Amid Airline Scandal

VENEZUELA
Carta abierta a @abc_es

Maduro sets limits on company profits and prison terms for hoarding or over charging
Venezuela decreed a new price control law that sets limits on company profits and establishes prison terms for those charged with hoarding or over-charging, part of populist President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to tame inflation.

Jeff Bezos will go to jail in Venezuela

Venezuelan Government Devalues Currency

Miami on the cheap? Venezuelans traveling to Florida face new restrictions

HRW “unlikes” Maduro

Will Venezuela default on its debts?

The week’s posts and podcast:
CELAC: Maduro & Cristina want Puerto Rico’s independence

The question the media should be asking about Menendez

Argentina And Venezuela: Chronicles Of Devaluations Foretold

Who is to gain from smearing Robert Menendez?

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold

Cuba: Success through ruination

En español: Terapia intensiva

Cuba: Michael Totten’s road trip

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

The BVI, China’s new tax haven

Venezuela: Worst judicial system

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
UN Climate chief: Communism fights global warming

Cuba: What a “prosperous and sustainable socialism” looks like UPDATED

The week’s podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week


The Communist Venezuela Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 9th, 2013

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentines teach tango inside mental hospital

BRAZIL
Turning Good Economic Luck into Bad

CHILE
Chile Presidential Candidates Square off in Debate

COLOMBIA
Five points on President Obama’s meeting with Colombia’s President Santos

The stateless Colombia

COSTA RICA
POLL NUMBERS!!! Three way race in Costa Rica

CUBA
Cuba: Castro State Security releases dissident leader Berta Soler after arrest at airport

Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro: A Relationship Built On Mutual Admiration

Communist vandals attack home of former Cuban prisoner of conscience Librado Linares

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Haiti and the Dominican Republic
A storm in Hispaniola
And no agreement as to how many have been cut off from citizenship

ECUADOR
A Possible Overture From Ecuador in the Chevron Pollution Mess

GUATEMALA
Was it 7 or 8? A Little Miscommunication Among Friends.

JAMAICA
Reggae Wine From Indiana To Be Launched In Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Latin American, Caribbean dilemma: Many entrepreneurs, but little innovation

MEXICO
Nuclear Terrorist Threat Looms On Our Southern Border

Truck with dangerous radioactive material ‘stolen in Mexico’

O’Grady: Mexico Nears an Energy Breakthrough
A proposed change to the nation’s law could free private capital to develop the country’s vast oil and gas reserves.

At the burned-out unit (in Spanish): former governor of Tamaulipas Tomás Yarrington, who not only is being accused of money laundering and fraud by both the Mexican and US governments, he allegedly played the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas and the Beltrán Leyva cartel against each other.

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua shootout raises specter of guerrillas

PANAMA
101 Years After Its Birth, The Panama Canal Is On The Verge Of Creating A Huge New Opportunity For US Exporters

PUERTO RICO
Is Puerto Rico Too Big To Fail?

Puerto Ricans fleeing debt battle
Tax increases, pension cuts and a fall in jobs are part of the strategy to save Puerto Rico from another rating downgrade

URUGUAY
Uruguay opposition demands marijuana referendum
Last minute opposition to Uruguay’s plans to legalise sale and consumption of marijuana

VENEZUELA
Electoral coverage by VN&V

Venezuela headed for chaos

VENEZUELA GOES INTO THE CAR BUSINESS

The week’s posts:
Venezuela municipal elections results

Mexico: Congress to vote on bill ending PEMEX monopoly

Extortion from the state and from the cartels: Mexico: The border-crossing “tax”

Mexico: 6 detained on cobalt-60 case

Brazil: Corinthians Arena to be ready by April

Today’s Louis Renault moment

Mexico: The cobalt-60 case

Argentina: #Córdoba police strike linked to prostitution; 140 brothels’ worth.

Venezuela: Al-Jazeera op-ed in denial

Mexico: AMLO has a heart attack, and other news

The most corrupt countries in the world

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Cuba’s foreign prisoners

This week’s podcast: Medical tourism in Latin America plus other issues this week


The day-before-election-day Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 4th, 2013

LatinAmerTomorrow is election day; if you live in Princeton, NJ, please vote for me.

ARGENTINA
Argentina opposition gains ground in vote
President Kirchner’s party loses seats in four largest districts with 72 percent of votes counted in mid-term elections.

Argentina’s mid-term election
Cristina’s come-uppance
President Fernández should build bridges to her opponents—or risk leaving office early

Argentina’s wealth gap
Barbarians at the gate
The capital’s exclusive closed neighbourhoods face a heavy new tax
Related: Visits to MIAMI Properties Soar in September, Venezuela Tops Lists of Countries Searching Miami Properties

Following Venezuela were Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Lithuania, France, Italy, Spain and the Philippines, eight of which also made the top ten list last year.

BRAZIL
The second beheading this year: Former Brazilian footballer’s head left on his doorstep

Beheadings raise concerns of violence in Brazil

CHILE
Tortured Chilean wins compensation
An 80-year-old exile wins compensation from the Chilean state over torture he suffered 40 years ago under General Pinochet, in a landmark legal battle.

Is This The End Of The Chilean Economic Miracle?

COLOMBIA
How are those negotiations with the FARC going? Rebels in Colombia Hit Energy Sector Hard in ‘Black October’
Colombia’s energy sector, the main driver of its economy, is limping away from “Black October,” a term coined by Marxist rebels who set forth on a month-long blitzkrieg, attacking oil pipelines, coal trains, electricity plants and transmission towers.

Colombian rebel group FARC free US hostage
Kevin Scott Sutay, the former US soldier who wandered in to territory of Colombian rebels, turned over to Cuban and Norwegian officials four months after being taken hostage

Probably the only time I’ll post on Mr. Bieber: Justin Bieber shows Colombia´s police force is for rich and famous?

No zombies allowed: Colombian University Bars Halloween Celebrations (video in Spanish)

COSTA RICA
Condé Nast Traveler ranks 9 Costa Rican resorts in top 15 in all of Central and South America

Four Rising Global Art Collectors Discuss Their Collections
Top buyers from Italy, Thailand, France and Costa Rica are part of a new emerging class of collectors

CUBA
Cuba shuts down private cinemas
Cuban authorities order the immediate closure of privately-run cinemas and video-game salons, saying they were never authorised.

Over 900 Political Arrests in October

ECUADOR
Chevron Vindicated As Evidence Points To ‘Green Fraud’ By Environmentalists

Chevron v. Donziger: The Lawyer Who Walked Away

The Cubanization of Ecuador

GUATEMALA
Day of the dead celebrated with giant kites in Guatemala – video

HONDURAS
Honduras General Denies Involvement In Brutal Death Squads

JAMAICA
Police: Operation Resilience seizes record number of illegal firearms

MEXICO
Mexico’s Theology of Oil

PERU
How Gold Is Destroying Peru’s Rainforests

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Economy Forecast to Shrink 0.8% in Fiscal 2014

URUGUAY
Biden Meets with President Mujica of Uruguay, but, did the get the munchies?

VENEZUELA
U.S.-Owned Oil Rigs Seized By Venezuelan Government

Maduro still trying to turn Chavez into Christ

Venezuela Unveils Orwellian Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness
Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, just unveiled the country’s euphemistically-named Deputy Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness—to mockery on Latin America’s blogosphere.

What will Mercosur do about Venezuela’s delayed payments?

The week’s posts:
Brazil: Why bug Dilma?

Brazil: The highflying tastemaker

Mexico: Enrique Krauze on oil reform

Mexico: Tax my chocolate!

Venezuela: The marauding motorcyclists

Argentina: The end for Clarín

Colombia: “Peace is not in Havana”

Mexico: The cartel-induced blackout

The everybody-wants-a-canal Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 5th, 2013

LatinAmerPanama has shown that having a Canal is cool, so now everybody wants one. This Carnival is dedicated to their pipe dreams.

ARGENTINA
The ANSES-PDVSA link 

As the Economist reported in February, ANSES is already under fire in Argentina for failing to index pension funds to inflation, meaning that many of Argentina’s seniors are receiving far less money than they put in the system. More generally, CFK has turned the agency into a large slush fund for social programs that go to political supporters. Argentina’s opposition hopes to make an issue over why ANSES can find over a billion and a half dollars to pay Venezuelan debt when Argentina’s seniors can barely get by on their pensions and the average Argentine citizen must fight for every peso-to-dollar conversion they need to do international business.

Shocking video of train drivers sleeping and reading a book
CCTV is released of train drivers in Buenos Aires, sleeping, reading a book and checking their emails while behind the controls.

BRAZIL
Religion in Brazil
Earthly concerns
The promise and peril of a papal visit

Brazil jail massacre police guilty
Twenty-five Brazilian police are given life sentences for their part in the 1992 Carandiru jail massacre in Sao Paulo that left 111 prisoners dead.

Samples of Sales Taxes on Products in Brazil

CHILE
‘I want to dig a deep hole and bury myself again’: Chilean miners stunned by decision not to prosecute over accident
The decision that no one will face charges over the mining accident in Chile that left 33 men underground for 69 days has left many speechless

UN official tells Chile to stop using anti-terrorism law against Mapuche in land dispute
A United Nations investigator has urged Chile’s government to stop using an anti-terrorism law against Mapuche Indians who are fighting to recover their ancestral land.

COLOMBIA
Army blame leftist guerrillas as Colombia’s largest oil pipeline is attacked
Colombia’s largest oil pipeline was hit by an explosion causing a significant oil spill in an attack blamed on leftist guerrillas, according to the army.

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica tops list for women’s rights in the Americas, but report warns of ‘troubles’ ahead
Costa Rica leads its Latin American neighbors in women’s and civil rights but trails in government responsiveness and civil society participation.

CUBA
Cubans killed activist: Spanish politician
Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya did not die in a car crash last year but was instead “assassinated” by Cuban secret services, a Spanish politician who was at the wheel of the car said in an interview published on Monday.
(h/t Babalu)

The Cuban Sugar Missile Crisis: ‘Obsolete’ live munitions and grenade launchers found on N. Korean ship

HONDURAS
Prisons in Honduras are ‘in control of inmates’

JAMAICA
As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth

MEXICO
Mexico blast blamed on explosive mix
An official inquest says an explosion that killed 37 people in January at Mexican state oil firm Pemex was caused by a mix of methane gas and solvent vapours.

PANAMA
Live ammunition found on North Korean ship held in Panama
Sniffer dogs found ammunition for grenade launchers and other munitions aboard the Chong Chon Gang

PERU
Humala humbled
A lonelier president faces protests

British climber feared dead after scaling 19,000ft mountain in Peru alone
A British climber is feared dead after failing to return from a solo ascent of a 19,000ft mountain in Peru.

PUERTO RICO
84 Haitians abandoned off Puerto Rico

People smugglers have abandoned 84 men and women from Haiti on a deserted island off the west coast of Puerto Rico.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Politics in Trinidad and Tobago
Own-goal

URUGUAY
Drug legalisation in Uruguay
The experiment
Another blow against prohibition

VENEZUELA
Groll: Meet the NSA’s new data centers: Russia, China and Venezuela

Otto Reich sues Derwick Associates

Bronze medal in prison overcrowding

PDVSA Creates Privatization-Like Program To Increase Oil Production

Chavez’s heirs in full psychotic dissociation

The week’s posts:
Good news: Colombia eradicates “river blindness”

Colombia: WSJ reviews 2 novels

Venezuela imports US$3 billion worth of Cuban surveillance equipment

Among the Snowden headlines,

Argentina: Wall-to-wall Papal photo up

Panama: More Cuban weapons in the N. Korean freighter

High intensity drug trafficking areas: Caribbean security threats

Brazil: Santos Basin/Libra field among top 6 key oil & gas discoveries of 2013

Central America: Everybody wants a canal


Central America: Everybody wants a canal

Monday, July 29th, 2013

and I have a bridge to sell you,

Two, Three, Many Canals in Central America (emphasis added):

Besides, the Panama Canal is already undergoing an expansion of its capacity to accommodate the latest class of super tankers through the isthmus. But everywhere you go in Central America today there is talk of new canals and of China’s willingness to pay for them.

Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Honduras, too. And there’s even a dry canal, “high-speed rail system powered by a hydro-generated plant in the Gulf of Fonseca.”

The whole thing sounds very pie-in-the-sky to me. As I mentioned last month, the Nicaragua Canal is not underwritten by the Chinese government, but instead by some guy with experience only in the telecommunications industry who’s not even started the feasibility studies – but has a track record of floating stocks, and who was awarded a $300 million telecommunications contract in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega.

The Chinese government apparently has nothing to do with it. More to the point, why would the Chinese government involve itself with such high-cost, high-risk projects when the Panama Canal expansion is going well?

Could it be that the next Chinese stock market bubble will feature Central American canal stocks?

Somewhere in a jail cell, Bernie Madoff is asking himself, “why didn’t I think of that?”

The maggot Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 29th, 2013

LatinAmerNo, not maggot Anthony Weiner (with apologies to any soft limbless larva of dipterous insects who may be reading this blog). The catchy headline is not from a Star Trek movie, but from another trek . . . to Peru,

A British woman returned from a holiday in Peru hearing scratching noises inside her head to be told she was being attacked by flesh-eating maggots living inside her ear.

Now that I have your attention, here’s the news from our hemisphere:
ARGENTINA
Sure this is the real thing? GREEN Coke launched in Argentina with natural sweetener and fully recyclable bottle

BOLIVIA
Evo says the continent must cease to depend on foreign companies for its large-scale industrial projects: Bolivia’s Morales Calls for South America’s “Technological Liberation”

BRAZIL
Pope Warns of Drug Scourge as Latin America Moves to Legalize

Papal Visit a Mixed Blessing for Rio
Mishaps at a papal event are raising doubts about Rio de Janeiro hosting the upcoming Olympics and the World Cup.

Pope urges talks in divided Brazil
Pope Francis urges Brazil’s government and civil society leaders to use dialogue as an alternative to violent protest and “selfish indifference”.

CHILE
‘Murder’ claim roils Chile campaign
A Chilean lawyer wants charges against the father of the conservative presidential candidate for the murder of her rival’s father.

Some final thoughts on Capriles in Chile

COLOMBIA
Colombia civil conflict has killed ‘nearly a quarter of a million’: study
Almost a quarter of a million Colombians have been killed in the country’s bloody half-century conflict, most of them civilians, a government-funded report revealed on Wednesday, providing fresh evidence of the vast scale of human rights violations since hostilities began.

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica Aims for Zoos without Cages. [Insert NJ Turnpike joke here]

CUBA
The Castro Brothers Get Caught in the Act News of arms shipments to North Korea rudely interrupts the happy talk about reforms in Cuba.

The Cuban Cargo Caper

In the spirit of rock and roll and freedom, Cuban heavy metal band Hipnosis defects

ECUADOR
U.S. Aims to Resume Bilateral Talks With Ecuador Before Year-End

Chevron’s latest headache in $19 billion lawsuit
A federal appeals court is weighing a sixth attempt by representatives of the Amazon Defense Front to toss the judge hearing the oil giant’s RICO case.

HAITI
Haiti cholera epidemic caused by UN, say experts

HONDURAS
UNREAL! Chicago Teachers Union Officials Travel to Honduras to Discuss “Revolution” With Former Tyrant

LATIN AMERICA
FDA set to overhaul food safety rules for imported fruits, veggies

Latin America and Edward Snowden
South Americans in glasshouses

MEXICO
WSJ letter to the editor: Mexico Needs Big Oil-Policy Change
Pemex’s freedom of maneuver has been held hostage for a half-century by a national narrative that misunderstands the global dynamic of the oil industry

NICARAGUA
Chinese Businessman Seeks to Build Nicaraguan Canal

PERU
More than 100 bodies exhumed in Peru

PUERTO RICO
Luis Gutierrez Asks Congress To Oppose Puerto Rico Statehood Resolution In Joint Letter With Nydia Velazquez

SURINAME
Suriname wants Dutch compensation for slave trade (h/t Gates of Vienna)

VENEZUELA
Apocalyptic South American fuck-up nudges up fund manager’s alpha

In Venezuela, the only fully-stocked supermarket belongs to the government: Caracas’s only fully-stocked supermarket and its one-in one-out policy
Demand at Caracas’s only fully-stocked supermarket – the government-run Bicentenario – is so high that it is now operating a “one-in, one-out” policy.

The week’s posts:
Brazil: 3 million expected at Copacabana today

Latin America and the China bubble

Cuba: A grim anniversary

Venezuela: Maduro gets hacked

Habemus Papam, habemus tango

Cuba: Civility, schmivility

Brazil: The Pope in a pickle

UNESCO self-ridicules UPDATED

Puerto Rico: Wind farm fiasco


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 8th, 2013

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Fifty ways to screw your country: Argentina Applies Law That Jails Hoarders as Bread Surges

Mothers will now collect welfare money instead of fathers in Argentina

BOLIVIA
Michael Moynihan brings out the big stick: Edward Snowden’s Parasites: Evo Morales, Julian Assange & More
The NSA drama has reeled in a host of global grandstanders desperate for relevancy. Michael Moynihan on the Bolivian farce, the WikiLeaks sideshow, and other yanqui ‘victims.’

Russia’s Plan Bolivia – drug wars and oil

McDonald’s closing all restaurants in Bolivia as nation rejects fast food

BRAZIL
Ever wonder why 21st century socialism is winning so many hearts and minds in Latrine America?

Custody case strands Mass. mom, child in Brazil

Getting Brazil on a winning streak

Brazil’s State-Made Crisis

Brazilian Students Dig for Corruption
Student protesters at a public university in Rio de Janeiro are teaching each other how to expose data about the city’s transport system:

CHILE
Post-Coup Egypt’s Only Way Out Is The Chilean Model

COLOMBIA
‘World’s biggest cocaine dealer’ deported to Italy

COSTA RICA
You have to pass it to know what’s in it? Costa Rica ‘accidentally’ legalises gay marriage
Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill to pass but later realised that a change in the language could allow gay marriage.

CUBA
Fewer political arrests in Cuba in June, but nothing has changed

1964 and the day we left in Cuba

18 members of Cuba’s Ladies in White resign over alleged infiltrator (h/t Babalu)

ECUADOR
Julian Ku and George Conway: When Corporate Defendants Go on Offense
How an $18 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador turned into a battle royal with a top U.S. law firm.

GRENADA
2013 Budget Statement; the country is broke

GUATEMALA
Gangs Target Bus Drivers in Guatemala

JAMAICA
The Shetlander who mapped Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Iran in Latin America: State Department Ignores Allies

Indeed, the report paints a rosy picture, suggesting that Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere is in decline. This narrative is contradicted by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s testimony last year warning about Iranian ambitions to establish operations in the Americas and strike the continental United States.

Additionally, the general prosecutor of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) bombings in Buenos Aires, Alberto Nisman, issued a report that directly conflicts with the State Department’s narrative. An intense multi-year investigation went into Nisman’s report, which detailed how Iran and Iranian agents have used their assets in the Western Hemisphere to conduct terrorist actions against the United States and its friends and allies. For example, the AMIA building in Buenos Aires was destroyed in 1994 by Iranian-backed terrorists. In 2011, Iranian intelligence agents attempted to coordinate with Mexican drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on American soil.

Nisman’s report painstakingly details how Iran has also been engaged in a widespread effort to infiltrate governments and public institutions throughout the Western Hemisphere. These outposts work toward radicalizing individuals across Latin America, destabilizing U.S. allies in the region, and influencing regional governments.

MEXICO
‘No me importa’: You get the feeling that the Mexican government does not care about “Fast & Furious”!

Mexican Police Chief Was Killed By ATF “Fast And Furious” Rifle

PARAGUAY
Cartes changing Mercosur position

PERU
Make sure you have your visas: Driving the Interoceanic Highway Through Peru
Ten days of hairpin turns, Inca cities, horseback rides and high-altitude villages along South America’s Route 66.

PUERTO RICO
US pledges $2.25M to help improve traffic safety in Puerto Rico

VENEZUELA
He better bring his own toilet paper: Maduro offers Snowden the world and the sun.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: The British man falsely accused of spying

Where oh where will Edward Snowden go?

Venezuela: A circus without a ringmaster

Ecuador: The curious case of the combative consul

Note to Cristina: Don’t drink and tweet!

Fukuyama on Brazil’s demonstrations

Putin, Maduro, and Snowden: A deal in the making?

Row, row . . . the Amazon?

Podcast:
The Babalu Blog @ 10 plus US-Latin America stories