Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Cuba: #AlanGross released – is Obama ending the embargo in exchange? UPDATED THROUGH THE DAY

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Alan Gross, the American political prisoner held by the Communist Cuban regime for five years, has been released.

As I have written before,

In December 2009, Alan P. Gross was arrested while in Cuba working as a U.S. government subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s small Jewish community. He was held in jail, and, in March, 2011 was convicted for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”.

What does “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state” means? It means that, in Cuba, attempting to provide access to the internet is a crime.

American Alan Gross Released From Cuba After 5 Years in Prison
Gross Is Headed to U.S. on Government Plane, Obama Administration Official Says

Administration officials have said that his captivity has precluded any modification in U.S.-Cuban relations, so his release could clear the way for discussions about a broader deal. President Barack Obama is expected to make a statement about Cuba from the White House at noon on Wednesday.

I fully expect Obama to declare an end to the embargo before year’s end. Will that be his “statement about Cuba from the White House at noon”?

UPDATE 10AM:
The remaining three of the Cuban Five were released in exchange: The Miami Herald (emphasis added),

The Cuban government had linked Gross’s release to the imprisonment of five Cubans convicted in 2001 of infiltrating South Florida military installations and spying on the exile community. The men, considered heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.

The administration had repeatedly ruled out a swap, saying the USAID subcontractor wasn’t a spy and can’t be part of a spy-for-spy swap. But news reports Wednesday indicate that three Cubans were released in exchange for Gross. The other two of the so-called Cuban Five were previously released after completing their sentences.

Val Prieto:

This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this “deal”, has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.

Get ready. This is going to be one hell of a day.

Read also my post at Da Tech Guy Blog.

UPDATE 11AM:
“Normalizing” U.S.-Cuba relations means giving the Communist Cuban government a lifeline, at a particularly critical time, now that its sugar daddy Venezuela nears economic collapse as oil prices drop. Marco Rubio:

“This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba,” Rubio said in an interview. “But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come.”

UPDATE 11:19

Guardian Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts,

UPDATE 11:25AM
CBS News affiliate in Miami stated Gross will not be with Obama at the WH press conference.

UPDATE 11:30
Betrayal: Vatican Brokered Secret U.S.-Cuba Talks

Pope Francis and the Vatican played a significant role in reopening diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. The Vatican not only hosted in-person meetings between Cuban and U.S. officials, but actively played a role in the discussions, according to senior Obama administration officials. The meeting to finalize the reopening of relations was also held at the Vatican this past fall. The Vatican sent a personal letter to President Obama regarding Cuban relations. “We haven’t received communications from the Pope of this nature,” said a senior adminstration official. “That gave us greater impetus and momentum.”

Rep. Ron de Santis:

This prisoner swap sends a signal to rogue regimes and actors that taking an American hostage can be leveraged into scoring policy concessions. This makes America less safe and emboldens the dictatorship in Cuba.

UPDATE 11:53
The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 minutes off the American coast.

Congress need not be consulted?

UPDATE 11:59AM
Is Cuba easing its embargo on American products and American travel?

12 noon:

Cuba no longer listed as state sponsor of terrorism.

UPDATE 12:16
Obama claims “Todos somos Americanos” – “we’re all Americans”. Not at all.

UPDATE 12:30PM
I was wondering, is Cuba easing Cuba’s embargo on American products and American travel? Will they not continue to shelter FARC & other known terrorists? Nothing on that in O’s speech.

Not in Raul Castro’s speech, either,

Castro said that he had spoken to Secretary Kerry about normalizing relations between the two country, adding that President Obama’s decision deserved “respect and gratitude.” He also thanked the Vatican, Pope Francis and Canada for their support in the process.

But he stressed there was still much work to be done: the US economic blockade remains in place, he said, causing “enormous damage to our people. It must end.”

Acknowledging that the blockade is established in law, Castro said that president Obama could modify its application, and he called on the US government to adopt measures which will benefit both countries.

“Recognizing that we have many fundamental differences on the subjects of national soveignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, we reaffirm our willingness discuss all of these subjects.”

Castro called on the US government to remove the obstacles between the countries, dividing families – specifically he called for the re-establishment of direct flights, postal deliveries and telecommunications.

“The progress we have already made shows that it is possible to find solutions to our problems,” he said.

Another question:
How is Obama going to prevent Cuba’s possible role in bypassing sanctions on Venezuela, Russia and Iran?

UPDATE 2PM
Alan Gross on TV thanking all who helped in the effort to release him.

CODA:
As Val Prieto put it, “and from the here’s a swift kick in the nuts department….”

Alan Gross returns to the United States, is greeted by an image of Che Guevara



The criminal #Greenpeace Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Before Greenpeace:

After Greenpeace:

It’s time to put the Greenpeace vandals out of business

ARGENTINA
Why Argentina Must Learn the Virtues of Economic Orthodoxy
Ignore Basic Economic Lessons, Bring on More Crises

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s YPFB Hit by Corruption, Sexual-Harassment Scandal

BRAZIL
Survivors Recall Genocide of Amazon Tribe in Brazil, the Waimiri-Atroari.

Brazil killer alleges 42 victims
Brazilian police arrest a man who says he killed 42 people in the last decade, which would make him one of the country’s most prolific serial killers

CHILE
Chile Not Facing an Economic Crisis, Bachelet Says

Construction in Chile of world’s largest telescope approved

COLOMBIA
Colombian Government, Rebels Resume Peace Talks

COSTA RICA
Take a Ride on Costa Rica’s Fiscal Train Wreck
Executive Ignores Credit Risk, Overrules Congress for 19 Percent Spending Increase

CUBA
Cuban Regime Arrests Over 100 Activists on Human Rights Day
Police Target Dissident Ladies in White, Independent Journalists

‘Al Capone’ Justice for Fidel Castro

The AP’s Latest Attack: On Cuba’s Independent Rappers

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Abortion stalls Dominican Republic Penal Code vote

ECUADOR
Ecuador Moves to Block Disclosure of U.S. Propaganda Activities
Government attempts to prevent court discovery of documents at its U.S.-based PR firm

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador President to Cuba for Checkup after Falling Ill in Mexico, since that worked so well for Hugo Chávez.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala: Breaking the silence
How do a country and its people come to terms with the atrocities committed during a decades-long, bloody civil war? Dialogue is key here, and that’s a focus of DW Akademie projects in Guatemala.

HAITI
Haitian President May Drop His Premier
To end an impasse and allow for elections, President Michel Martelly said that he would accept the recommendations of a commission that has called for the prime minister to resign.

IMMIGRATION
Adding Insult to Injury: Obama Paying for Illegal Amnesty with Fees Paid by Legal Immigrants

Sheriffs: Obama’s Amnesty Creates ‘Insurgence of Heroin,’ ‘Saloon-Door’ Border Mentality

JAMAICA
Jamaica Approached To Sell PetroCaribe Debt

LATIN AMERICA
Neocolonialism update: Iran expanding its presence in Latrine America

MEXICO
Mexico minister denies home scandal
Mexico’s finance minister defends his purchase of a luxury home, amid reports he bought it from a firm whose parent company won public contracts.

PANAMA
Panama: Cuba to Attend First-ever Americas Summit

PERU
Frantic efforts to save Lima climate change talks
Main talks suspended as delegates from 190 countries admit there is ‘no consensus’, while frantic efforts have begun to reach some token agreement, but few are optimistic of a quick resolution, if any

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico tops list of 25 best Caribbean islands list

URUGUAY
Former Guantanamo Prisoners Leave Hospital in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
The Precise Instant Everything Went to Hell

The Phantom of Miraflores

UK: Journalist’s flat burgled, family threatened

VenEconomy: Drug Trafficking – The Other Pest of the Venezuelan Revolution

Mother of slain beauty queen seeks asylum in the US
María Eugenia Tovar, mother of beauty queen Génesis Carmona, killed during an anti-government protest in February, would not explain the reasons for her decision

US Congress passes sanctions against Venezuelan human rights abusers

The week’s posts:
White privilege, indeed

Mexico: Gulf Cartel run from Texas

Venezuela: Default by September 2015?

Peru: Greenpeace vandalism

Colombia: FARC using al-Qaeda for European drug trade

Uruguay: Gitmo alumni go free

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
U.S. releases 6 al-Qaeda detainees to Uruguay

Time to put Greenpeace vandals out of business



The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 8th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Fines Facebook for Defying Censorship Order
Social-Media Company Permits “Defamatory” Groups, Faces US$77,000 Rebuke

Prosecutor in Argentina Will Look into Hidden Swiss Bank Accounts

BARBADOS
Barbados PM to Visit Cuba

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Authorities Seize Huge Load of Contraband Fuel Bound for Chile

BRAZIL
Corruption Curses Mexico and Brazil

COLOMBIA
Pablo Escobar’s sister trying to pay for the sins of her brother
The sister of the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, Luz Maria Escobar sits by her brother’s tomb
Luz Maria Escobar, the sister of Colombian cartel boss Pablo Escobar, has told how she is trying to make amends for her murderous brother

CUBA
Political Arrests Have Quadrupled in Cuba

GUATEMALA
Guatemalan Populism Meets Its Match in Gloria Álvarez
Education Can Restore Republicanism in Latin America

HAITI
Haiti hit by anti-government clashes
Thousands of anti-government protesters clash with police in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, calling for overdue elections to be held.

IMMIGRATION
Watch: Gowdy’s brutal cross-examination tears apart immigration activist’s ‘racism’ argument

MEXICO
Mexico’s president
Business backlash

Mexico City Police Chief Says He Is Stepping Down

These graphics will show you why Mexicans are saying they’ve had enough
The 43 missing students have come to represent the more than 22,000 people who have disappeared since 2006

NICARAGUA
China’s Nicaragua Canal Could Spark a New Central America Revolution
Many critics thought construction of a canal across Nicaragua never would begin. Now that it’s about to, they ask how it will end—and some are asking for guns to stop it.
Er, it’s not the Chinese government, it’s Wang Jing and his Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. (HKND) – big difference.

PANAMA
Panama Invites Cuba to Summit of the Americas

PUERTO RICO
Opinion: Koch brothers eye Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Uruguay to take Guantanamo prisonersPresident Jose Mujica 4 December 2014
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica says his country is set to resettle six prisoners from Guantanamo Bay on humanitarian grounds.

VENEZUELA
Cash-Strapped Chavistas Bankroll Million-Dollar Music Festival
Opposition Blasts ‘Caracas Sound’ as Wasteful Government Spending

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: Peace at all costs?

Venezuela: The oil teat runs dry

Saturday night tango: Matteo & Patricia

Puerto Rico: In search of roast pork

Venezuela: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

Cuba: Londoño meets with dissidents

Venezuela: Maria Corina charged; falling oil prices

En español: Unidad de quemados

Venezuela: Oil break-even price?

Colombia: Gen. Alzate resigns UPDATED

Kevin Williamson on Russell Brand’s Che fixation

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Venezuela and the falling oil price

Russia aims at Latin America

Podcast:
Talking about art with artist Adrian Plasencia in Silvio Canto’s podcast



Cuba: Londoño meets with dissidents

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

After four editorials and three blog posts in less than two months, NYT unofficial lobbyist against the embargo editorial board member Ernesto Londoño met for two hours with Cuban dissidents from Yoani Sanchez’s 14ymedio:
Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents

And for two hours the staff of 14ymedio gave him an earful about life in Cuba, the lack of democracy or a free press; how changes in Cuba were more in name only and not meaningful; how young Cubans are continuing to flee the island in ever greater numbers because they don’t see a future in their own country.

One of those asking questions was Eliécer Avila, the student who, in 2008, asked Ricardo Alarcon, the President of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, several difficult questions:
Why do Cubans have to work several days to earn enough money to buy a toothbrush? Why can’t Cubans travel freely? Why is access to the Internet restricted and censored?

Those are questions the American editorialist should try to answer when he publishes an account of his encounter with these dissenting Cubans. I am sure he will, and he will explain that all this can also be blamed on the embargo. Sorry, I shouldn’t presume what Londoño is going to write — even if what he had written before has been slanted to an anti-American, pro-Cuban point of view.

The group tried explaining to Londoño why the embargo would not solve the problems of the ordinary Cubans, who according to Sánchez “have fear ingrained in their genes.”

“People in this country are very scared,” Sanchez said. They fear those who tell the government what they say in private; they are afraid of not being allowed to leave the country; of being rejected for a better job; of being told that their children cannot go to the university because “the university is for revolutionaries,” Sánchez added.

Miriam Celaya, an independent journalist, pointed out the government had allowed foreigners to invest in Cuba and grants them permits to import what they need. The same benefits are not granted to Cubans, she told Londoño.

Recently more than 30 Cuban dissidents explained why they did not agree with the premise that the solution to Cuba’s problems was for the United States to lift the embargo. They all pointed to many of the same reasons this group of six staffers from 14ymedio told Londoño.

Additionally, Sánchez’s point was that focusing on the embargo focuses on a decision outside Cuba, while she’s focusing on Cuban civil society, “on when we’ll have freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and when will the straijacket will be taken off economic freedom in this country.”

Let’s see if he paid attention.

(h/t Babalu)



The post-Thanksgiving weekend Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 1st, 2014

LatinAmerYes, I love Thanksgiving Day. No, I don’t go shopping in stores on the weekend.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s look at the week’s stories:

ARGENTINA
Castro Helped the Devil in Argentina

Although they kept it quiet, Argentina’s dictators had a gentlemen’s agreement with Castro. Under the pact, Videla supported Cuba’s bid in 1977 to join the Executive Council of the World Health Organization, a diplomatic feather in Castro’s beret. The quid pro quo was that Havana stump among nonaligned nations to name Argentina to the United Nations prestigious Economic and Social Council. Apparently Cuba’s vote was the 18th and decisive ballot, landing Argentina the coveted UN seat.

Argentina to Snoop Emails from Citizens with Swiss Bank Accounts
Suspected Tax Violators Must Prove Innocence to Authorities

BOLIVIA
ICYMI Beware a Leftist Landslide in Bolivia

BRAZIL
Capping Brazil’s Corruption Gusher

Brazil’s Economy Claws Out of Recession
GDP Expands 0.1% in Third Quarter But Outlook for Latin America’s Biggest Economy Remains Clouded

Drought-hit Sao Paulo may ‘get water from mud': TRFN

CHILE
Chilean Teachers on Strike over Bachelet’s Education Reform
Internal Union Dispute over Benefits May Cause Ruling Party to Reshape Policy

COLOMBIA
Colombia: Farc rebels release two soldiers

CUBA
The Blackest of Fridays Planned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Castro’s agents had targeted Macy’s, Gimbels, Bloomingdales, and Manhattan’s Grand Central Station with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The holocaust was set for detonation the following week, on the day after Thanksgiving.

CNN promotes pro-Castro editorials of The New York Times to a wider audience

Silence Enables Violence Against Cuba’s Dissidents

ECUADOR
Ecuador shrimp prices tumble as Chinese buyers hold off

ENTERTAINMENT

Antonio Banderas, Distinguished as Buenos Aires Guest of Honor

IMMIGRATION
White House – Illegal Immigrants Entitled to Social Security and Medicare

Incentivizing the Lawless and Penalizing the Lawful

JAMAICA
Jamaica’s Economy to Show Growth for 2014/15

LATIN AMERICA
The great deceleration
The region’s economies have slowed far more abruptly than anyone expected

Worst off are those countries with populist governments that squandered the windfall from the boom. Forecasters see no let-up in the stagflation afflicting Venezuela and Argentina. Thanks to lack of investment and clumsy macroeconomic management, Brazil’s economy will barely grow this year and faces a fiscal squeeze in 2015. Yet the deceleration goes far wider. The high-flying and well-run economies of Chile, Peru and Colombia are all suffering. The growth rate this year in Chile (2%) and Peru (around 3%) is half that of 2013. Contrast that with sub-Saharan Africa, which is also a big commodity producer and where the IMF expects growth of 5.1% this year and 5.8% next.

MEXICO
As Mexican Border Town Tries to Move On, Some Are Stuck in Limbo

British forensic experts work with Mexican parents to create database of disappeared
As Mexican president announces police revamp following student atrocity outrage, British-funded project aims to identify human remains buried in mass graves across violence-plagued country

NICARAGUA
Andres Oppenheimer: Canal calamity looms in Nicaragua

PANAMA
Alleged Ponzi scammer Quintin Earl Sponagle returned to N.S., to stay behind bars until Tuesday

PERU
Corruption Revives Debate on Peru’s Political Stability

PUERTO RICO
U.S. government warns Puerto Rico of funding loss if transit shuts

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s election
Feeling very mellow
Voters are not in the mood for change

VENEZUELA
Venezuela to charge opposition leader over alleged plot to kill President Maduro
Maria Corina Machado denies any wrongdoing and says the threat is an attempt to silence critics of the government

Venezuela Says 35 Prison Inmates Dead From Overdose
Pressure is building on Venezuela’s government to fully investigate a rising number of deaths at an overcrowded prison, with human-rights activists questioning authorities’ claim of a mass drug overdose by dozens of inmates who stormed an infirmary.

The week’s posts:
Venezuela: AP does Orwell so well

Argentina: Investigate Cristina, get impeached?

En español: Terapia Intensiva 233

Mexico’s failures and immigration

Venezuela: New deal with China

Panama: Legal truble for Carlos Slim

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans

On thankfulness and apple pie



The amnesty Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 24th, 2014

LatinAmerAs predicted, Pres. Obama granted amnesty to an untold number of illegal aliens. Walter Russel Mead has some thoughts on the subject: Obama’s Big Miscalculation
President Obama’s new initiative is unlikely to succeed politically—in part because Democrats are overconfident that rising Hispanic immigration will deliver them a permanent, left-leaning majority.

In many ways Latinos face less prejudice than Jews or Italians did in the 1880s, and have more opportunities to integrate into American society at large than those earlier generations of immigrants did. The evidence if anything suggests that Hispanic immigrants are more open to the cultural influences of American political and social ideas than were earlier waves. While very few Italian, Jewish or Greek immigrants, for example, converted to evangelical Protestantism, 24% of hispanic adults in America are now former Catholics. Hispanics are a large and varied group, but by and large they are learning English, starting businesses, joining Protestant churches and voting Republican at levels that suggest that they are anything but a permanently alienated racial underclass in formation.

And then there’s the Democrats’ assumption that “Hispanics” are a homogeneous group.

ARGENTINA
Fitch Cuts IMPSA, WPEI, and Venti to Default

A more accurate translation is “The Falklands are Argentinian”, Argentina rules all public transport must state: ‘The Falklands are Argentina’
Argentina’s congress passes a law which states that all public transport and stations must display a sign reading “Las Malvinas son Argentinas”

BOLIVIA
Influx of Cheap Peruvian Quinoa Riles Bolivia

BRAZIL
Brazil Probe Sparks Worries Over Olympics
Prosecutors are investigating firms working on Rio’s 2016 Games for their roles in an alleged graft ring surrounding Petrobras.

Authorities are investigating allegations that the companies formed a cartel to drive up the value of contracts with state-controlled energy giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR +11.89% and paid bribes to the Petrobras executives and Brazilian politicians.

The prosecutors’ targets include Brazilian-based multinational construction companies Odebrecht, Queiroz Galvão and OAS, who together are partners in billions of dollars of contracts for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Petrobras Bonds Decline With Builders Amid Graft Probe

CHILE
Chilean colonels jailed for torture
Two retired Chilean colonels – Ramon Caceres and Edgar Ceballos – are jailed for torturing the father of President Michelle Bachelet in 1973.

COLOMBIA
Colombia Prepares Areas Where FARC Will Release Hostages

CUBA
La máquina de matar: El Che Guevara, de agitador comunista a marca capitalista

Cuba says measures to make food more affordable fall short

Mosque for you? Maybe….. ($$$$$$?)

ECUADOR
Iranian Nobel Laureate to Inaugurate UNESCO Chair at University of Ecuador

Correa Takes on Market Forces with Slew of Employment Prohibitions
“Government of the Worker” to Mandate Wage Ratios, Ban Uncompensated Layoffs

GUATEMALA
100,000 Guatemalans Could Benefit from Obama’s Executive Order

GUYANA
Guyana’s Main Opposition Demands Elections Now

HONDURAS
Four Involved in the Murder of Miss Honduras World and Sister Sent to Prison

MEXICO
U.S. Marshals Service Personnel Dressed as Mexican Marines Pursue Cartel Bosses
Members of U.S. Marshals Service Join Military Operations in Mexico Against Drug Gangs

Mexico Is Fed Up and This Time, It’s Different

Teeth and Bones: Mass Abduction Reveals a Decaying Mexican State

Mexico’s Holy Warrior Against the Cartels
Padre Goyo, with his clerical collar and his bulletproof vest, is an icon for those fighting drugs and corruption. But some in the church think he goes too far.

NICARAGUA
Yeah, right, Nicaragua canal: Construction to begin in December. Heed my advice and don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

PANAMA
The French School Where Panama Canal Pilots Train in Cute Little Ships

PERU
Peru Introduces Measures to Boost Economy
Peru’s government plans to cut taxes and boost government spending to give a shot of growth to the weakening economy.

PUERTO RICO
Opinion: Puerto Ricans will be hurt the most by President Obama’s executive action

Puerto Rico Sees Slight Drop in Unemployment Rate

URUGUAY
Same old, Vazquez Is Favorite to Win Uruguay Presidential Vote

VENEZUELA
Alek Boyd tells us how he was robbed of his lap tops, and only them

Oligarco Works The Fascist Phone Line

Venezuelan Consumers Get Creative Amid Shortages

The week’s posts and podcast:
The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus

Venezuela: Tweet of the day

Ecuador: Assange granted political asylum

Chile: Blowing up the ATMs

Cuba: The wall

Venezuela: Break-in in London

Countdown to amnesty, continued

Cuba: The Nation’s Valentine’s cruise

Amnesty: I told you so UPDATED

Countdown to amnesty

Keystone XL & Venezuela

Colombia: Government suspends peace talks after FARC kidnaps general

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Amnesty: A slap in the face to all of us, not just to #Fruitpickers and #Bedmakers

Why weren’t taxes an issue in the last election?

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week with Silvio Canto, Jr.



The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Mary O’Grady writes on Iran’s presence in Latin America, a topic I have blogged about for the past ten years:


The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus
The West underestimates the growing threat from radical Islam in the Americas.


The West is well aware of the growing presence of Islamic fundamentalism in the Americas, but policy makers may be underestimating the threat. Joseph Humire is a security analyst and co-editor of “Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America,” a book published earlier this year. In an interview in New York last week, Mr. Humire described Iran’s significant progress, over three decades, in setting up operations in the region.

The earliest stages of the process have featured clandestine operatives using mosques to make connections inside Muslim communities and then using those connections to access wealth and gain political prominence. Where these initial forays have been successful, says Mr. Humire, Iran has opened embassies and established commercial agreements that allow operatives to create businesses, which can be used as fronts for covert operations.

In Venezuela and Bolivia, Iran has moved to the next level, developing a military presence through joint ventures in defense industries. In Venezuela, the state of Aragua, where Mr. El Aissami is now governor, is ground zero for this activity.

Havana applauds this Islamic intervention. Since the rise of chavismo, Cuba has supplied intelligence services to Venezuela and its regional allies, notably Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador. Mr. Humire says it has also supplied passport-information technology to allow these countries to process individuals from the Middle East, hand out new documents and maintain the secrecy of true identities. Cuba has used this capacity to exchange information with like-minded nations, including Russia and Iran.

O’Grady’s article goes on to describe the important role the governor of the state of Aragua and former Venezuela interior minister, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, plays in building

“a criminal-terrorist pipeline bringing militant Islamists into Venezuela and surrounding countries, and sending illicit funds from Latin America to the Middle East.”

Cuba wants to get aid from Iran. Keep that in mind when Obama ends the embargo with Cuba.

Cuba: The wall

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Maria Werlau of Cuba Archive writes about how Cuba refuses to tear down its wall (h/t Asher):

Barbed wire, high fences, mine fields, watch towers, ferocious dogs, and sharpshooters firing at unarmed civilians…the tropical version of the Berlin Wall prevents escapees from reaching the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo. Cuba’s distinctive version of the barrier extends into Guantánamo Bay, where border guards fire from patrol boats or throw grenades at anyone trying to swim to the base.

In the mid-1990s, Cuba built a sea wall, visible on Google Earth. Its movable net allows authorized maritime traffic but is manned by guards trained to trap swimmers trying to get to the base.

While the NYT pushes for the end of the so-called embargo,

Cuba’s Penal Code (Article 215) continues to forbid citizens from leaving the island without prior government authorization. Attempting to do so is punishable with years of prison. Stealing or hijacking a vessel to flee can lead to capital punishment.

The Cuba Archive has documented 80 people killed or missing in attempts to reach the base.



Cuba: The Nation’s Valentine’s cruise

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

You can’t make up this stuff,

The Nation is, in fact, going to Cuba. They are going in February. It is not too late. Cuba is still a one-party dictatorship with a gulag. It has not yet been spoiled. The Castros and their fellow Communists are firmly in charge, as democrats and liberals in prison would be happy to tell you, if only they could speak to you.

Jay Nordlinger asks,

What if ordinary Cubans, in their innocence, ask The Nation’s people for help? What if they ask some American to send an e-mail for them, for example? Will The Nation’s people be like Paul Robeson in Stalin’s Russia, and turn the wretched locals in to the Party?

Wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

———————————

In today’s podcast at 1PM, I’m Silvio Canto’s guest,
We will discuss the political crisis in Mexico and the 43 dead students, FARC in Colombia, and other stories



The falling oil price Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 17th, 2014

LatinAmerThe price of crude oil has dropped by 30% in four years, so Iran, Venezuela urge oil price support ahead of OPEC meeting

Iran and Venezuela need higher oil prices to balance their budgets than fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab producers.

ARGENTINA
La enfermedad argentina

Outrage as Argentina milks millions out of UK foreign aid budget
DAVID Cameron is today facing demands to block British taxpayers’ cash going to Argentina.

Argentina Cracks Down on Black Market for Dollars

BELIZE
Belize’s 2014 Tourism Boom Breaking Records

BOLIVIA
Why Foreigners Fall for the Evo Morales House of Cards
Statistics Gloss Over Bolivia’s Lack of Development, Bubble Waiting to Pop

BRAZIL
Police Raid Odebrecht’s Offices Amid Corruption Probe

Petrobras Former Executive Among a Score Arrested in Brazil Corruption Probe

Cannibal gang baked victims into pies
Three Brazilians sentenced to prison after being caught murdering two women and using their flesh as the filling in “empadas” which they sold to neighbours

Study: Brazil’s Underground Economy Equivalent to 16.2% of GDP

CHILE
Chile and China
¡Salud!
Food and drink draw two regions together

COLOMBIA
Ex-President Samper Took $10 Million from Cartel, Colombian Kingpin Says

CUBA
3 Cuban activists sentenced to prison on bogus charges

Yoelkis Rosabal, 31, was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Ricardo Pelier, 28, was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Ernesto Darián Duffo, 24, was sentenced to years in prison.

ECUADOR
Term limits in Ecuador
If you can’t beat ‘em, referendum
A vote could cost President Correa his job—in 2017

EL SALVADOR
25 Yrs After El Salvador Priest Killings, Groups Press For Justice

GUYANA
Guyana: Legislature Is Suspended

HONDURAS
Obama and Honduras, 2009: portent of things to come

IMMIGRATION
I expect that Pres. Obama will issue an executive order for amnesty this week. Here are a few links:
The Missing Immigration Memo
Has Obama asked the Office of Legal Counsel for its legal opinion?

But a Justice-OLC opinion is all the more necessary on domestic issues because the President’s authority is far more limited. He is obliged to execute the laws that Congress writes. A President should always seek legal justification for controversial actions to ensure that he is on solid constitutional ground as well as to inspire public confidence in government.

The Next Border Crisis
Column: How Congress can fight Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty

The 150 million adults worldwide who would move to the United States if given the chance will draw the conclusion that their status and future are secure as long as they end up on U.S. soil. Pay the snakeheads and coyotes, avoid the authorities, and fall under the next amnesty. Just as it happened in 1986 and happened again, piecemeal, in 2012 and 2014.

I do not consider it humanitarian to induce people to undertake perilous and uncertain journeys through hazardous territory in the hopes of joining a population that is at best ambivalent about them. I think it is cruel. And it is cruel not only to the immigrants, but also to American citizens, who must cope with the attendant fall in low-skilled job opportunities and wages, rising inequality, economic and social consequences of population density, and erosion of social cohesion. These are all reasons confidence in public institutions is at a low. Obama’s executive order will drive it lower.

Minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras Can Now Apply for Asylum in U.S.

Obama’s Amnesty Will Turn U.S. Into Welfare Magnet

From Drudge: ILLEGALS TAUNT AGENTS AS AMNESTY NEARS…

NYT: BIG Money Behind Push…

CRUZ: ‘DEFIANT OF VOTERS’…

DEPORTATIONS PLUMMET…

Central American Children to be Granted Refugee Status…

NYC Will No Longer Hold Illegals For Feds…

MEXICO
Mexican President’s Reputation Takes A Further Dive Thanks To Reports About A Luxury Home

A Familiar Anger Begins to Boil Again in Mexico

Mexico’s Iguala Massacre: Criminal gangs and criminal government

PANAMA
“48 Hours” investigates American’s death in Panama

PERU
Peru’s Most Wanted Gangster Captured after 4 Months on the Run
Hiding in Colombia, Orellana’s Network Allegedly Committed US$100 Million in Fraud

PUERTO RICO
Hefty Losses Cause US Shipper to Close Door on Puerto Rico
Long-Time Competitors to Acquire Alaska, Hawaii Lines

URUGUAY
Vázquez leads polls ahead of Uruguay’s runoff

VENEZUELA
Cubanization 8.2: Maduro creates snitching hot lines

Venezuela cracks down on peddling diapers: ‘I feel like a drug dealer’
As basic goods grew more scarce on store shelves, authorities targeted open-air black markets that sold everything from coffee, eggs and cooking oil to shampoo, deodorant and detergent.

A broke Venezuela splits its finances in two

The week’s post and podcast:
Venezuela: Oil slide

And now for a surfer saint?

En español: UdQ 199, Los Vándalos del Zócalo

The Monroe Doctrine’s dead, but Putin’s alive and kicking

It’s raining parodies!

Argentina: Jorge Lanata will petition US Court re: Cristina’s US businesses

Mexico: And now, for #Articulo39RenunciaEPN

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
And now for a @BatDadBlake break

Keith Hennessy on Jonathan Gruber’s honesty

Podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories