Archive for the ‘Cuba’ 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.

UPDATE
Related: Putin’s quiet Latin America play

Linked to by Doug Ross. Thank you!

Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation and the Narco-Terrorist Connection

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Pedro Roig writes on Venezuela-Cuba Military Cooperation and the Narco-Terrorist Connection
Key Figures at the Head of the Oppressive Alliance

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Castro regime was in dire need of cash that would replace the Soviet subsidies. During this period, drug trafficking routes involving Nicaragua and Panama became prime operational areas. These drug trafficking links surfaced in the indictment against Carlos Lehder who admitted meeting with Raul Castro to coordinate drug shipments. Lehder also testified in the Southern District of Florida that Cuba controlled cocaine trafficking in Nicaragua.

The Cuba-Venezuela Drug-Trafficking Connection

In 1999, Hugo Chávez’s rise to power in Venezuela changed the Castro brother’s focus to South America. The Cuban government became not only interested in the large subsidies provided to them by Chávez’s government but also on the profitable drug trafficking routes already existent on the Colombia-Venezuela border. Cuba’s prior involvement in narcotics trafficking proved to be a valuable component in a growing partnership between Colombian and Venezuelan drug cartels

Read the rest here.

You can read a transcript of Cuba and Cocaine here.

Venezuela: The Left vs. reality

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Lefties firmly believe the deceased Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically” because GDP went up, and fewer people were living below the poverty line by the time he died last year.

The numbers are there: GDP did go up, and yes, fewer people were listed as living below the poverty line. Whose numbers?

The numbers came from the Venezuelan government.

The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 99 months.

Let me translate that into plain English: The Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

Read the rest of my article at Da Tech Guy Blog

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Must-read: The hidden numbers of Chávez’s legacy, by @danielragua

About that GDP:

Linked by Doug Ross. Thank you!


The St. Patrick’s Day Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s day! If you would like to read a novel about an Irishman in Latin America, I recommend El sueño del celta / The Dream of the Celt: A Novel, by Mario Vargas Llosa. (Warning: It can be gruesome at times)

ARGENTINA
Paris Club invites Argentina to hold debt negotiation

Pope Francis a year on: A friend reveals a very special gift
As Pope Francis marks his first anniversary in the Vatican, an Argentine silversmith explains how he has enlisted millions to help him craft the perfect present for his friend

Soaring Prices Fuel Frustrations Among Weary Argentines
Since the peso was devalued, Argentines have grappled with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, tilling the ground for social unrest, including a strike by schoolteachers and police sit-ins.

BOLIVIA
Petrobras Makes Its Entry into Eastern Bolivia Official

BRAZIL
Brazil World Cup: Fifa scraps speeches to avoid protest

His name is Eduardo Campos: Brazilian Politician Heats Up Election
In Brazil’s poor northeast, an upstart presidential hopeful is shaking up this year’s election race by spotlighting a sensitive issue ahead of the Brazilian-hosted soccer World Cup contest: soaring murder rates.

In Crisis, Rio Tries to Pacify Its Slums
Four community police officers have died in line of duty since February.

CHILE
Chile Earthquake: Magnitude 6.7 Temblor Hits Off Northern Coast Of Chile, Prompting More Than 100,000 To Evacuate

Mysterious underground caves discovered in Chile
A group of researchers in Chile discover 20 underground caves which could help unlock mysteries about how continents are formed

COLOMBIA
Colombian Left Forms United Front for Presidential Contest

Colombia’s elections; a nation divided

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica describes as “outrageous” exclusion from Ethical Traveler list

CUBA
Cuban dictatorship seeks more prison time for 2 imprisoned labor activists

Cuba Participates in “Friends of Assad” Meeting in Iran

ECUADOR
Chevron and Ecuador
Out of Hollywood

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador: Officials Confirm Ex-Guerrilla’s Victory
El Salvador’s electoral tribunal on Thursday confirmed that a former guerrilla commander during the country’s civil war emerged from Sunday’s presidential election with the most votes.

HONDURAS
Judge, Attorney Gunned Down in Honduras

JAMAICA
Jamaica dancehall star Vybz Kartel guilty of murder

LATIN AMERICA
CHAIRMAN SALMON TO SECRETARY KERRY: “WE NEED A BETTER STRATEGY IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE”

MEXICO
Don’t Celebrate Mexico’s Reforms Just Yet
Deficit spending is heading higher and the rule of law remains weak.

Enrique Peña Nieto Says He Wants To “Hit Crime Hard” During Michoacan Speech

PANAMA
Deal over Panama Canal expansion
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) approves a deal to end a dispute over $1.6bn (£1bn) cost overruns that delayed the work to widen the waterway.

PERU
Peru Naked Tourists: Government Wants Visitors To Stop Stripping In Machu Picchu

PUERTO RICO
The Next Financial Catastrophe You Haven’t Heard About Yet: Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Uruguay not seen setting drug liberalisation trend: U.N. official

VENEZUELA
A Growing Crisis in Post-Chavez Venezuela

The crisis in Venezuela
Another day, more bodies

In Venezuela, Conciliatory Talk but Combative Tactics

One Bottle, Then This: My Afternoon at UCV

Some people never learn: Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center promotes herself

To Those That Think Maduro Is Not A Dictator: ¿Qué Pasa en Venezuela? by Foro Penal Venezolano

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: #SOSVenezuela and the war against the Chuckys

#SOSVenezuela: Maria Corina calls for protests today, Maduro warns protesters “We are coming for you”

Ted in tats

Sean Penn: Photoshop, or nitwit?

Colombia: FARC & ELN recruited 1,387 children in the past two years.

#SOSVenezuela in tweets

Puerto Rico: Hedge funds <3 the new bonds

Cuban endurance sports: Meet world-class windsurfer Henry Vergara Negrin

En español: Unidad de quemados

Venezuela: Protesting doctors, 1st foreign casualty

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Biden goes to Chile

#Chile: Bachelet’s inauguration LIVEFEED

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


Venezuela: #SOSVenezuela and the war against the Chuckys

Monday, March 17th, 2014

A week ago,

In one of his more bizarre televised speeches, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro compared the opposition to movie villain Chucky from the 1980′s ‘Child’s Play’ slasher series

“The Chuckys of fascism,” according to him.

At least he stayed away from zombies.

He’s gone on to say that “behind ever Chucky there’s a Chuckylina,” an outsider who’s pulling the strings.

During a speech last Saturday where he warned that President Obama “has given orders to assassinate President Maduro” while

he was surrounded by men wearing olive uniforms, Maduro warned the “Chuckys”–he has rechristened the protesters after the bloodthirsty doll from the 1990s–that they had “a few hours” to leave Altamira Plaza in Caracas or they would face the full force of the Venezuelan military. Maduro warned that he was ready “to finish liberating the places still hijacked by the scammers and violent people who have taken them… I will go liberate those spaces with the public forces.”
Maduro also boasted that Venezuelan police had “captured almost 60 Chuckys in Plaza Altamira” and that he would “respect all the human rights,” above all the “right to work and right to health.” He then called opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, who ran against Maduro in the country’s last election cycle, a “fascist.”

Daniel Duquenal asks, Is Capriles going to negotiate our surrender?

But back to the demonstrators, during yesterday’s “Cubans go home” protest,
Daniel found

not a flag from any political party. None, I have seen none!!!! In the two hours that I walked along, and back home. This is not about politics, about who should represent the opposition. This is about millions of Venezuelans that have had enough of chavismo, that want to reclaim their future.

They have their work cut out for them:

Maduro has been employing the services of armed paramilitary groups on motorcycles commonly known as “motorizados” or “colectivos,” who have wreaked havoc in both the capital of Caracas and outside rebel states like Táchira. Maduro has also employed the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), the domestic wing of the military, against protesters, many of whom are said to be Cuban nationals and trained in torture and violent repression of political speech.

These groups have engaged in an active torture campaign, disfiguring the faces of protesters, and shot many in the face to prevent an open casket funeral featuring a young protester. They have also flooded apartment buildings known to house college students with teargas at night in an attempt to intimidate the protesters into not coming out the next morning. The current death toll is at 28, all unarmed student protesters.

It’s worth pointing out that the Bolivarian militia, an armed civilian force, is similar to Cuba’s Territorial Militia.

Cuban intelligence runs the Venezuelan state security apparatus, in exchange for 100,000 barrels of oil per day, as John Hinderaker points out. John links to that “Chuckylina” of the vast right wing conspiracy, the NY Times:

For Cuba, a military advisory role abroad is nothing new, even if its activities here differ from the combat brigades sent to Angola and Ethiopia in the 1970s or the advisers in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Cuba’s assistance in Venezuela is much broader, including areas like telecommunications and national identification card systems. The emergence of Cuba as Venezuela’s top ally has led to criticism that the Cubans are helping Mr. Chávez tighten his grip on an array of institutions.

Oscar Montealegre was in Caracas on February 12:

It was not the protesters that we had to worry about; it is more so the thugs that are commissioned by the government. I witnessed many of these thugs standing in the flatbeds of pick-up trucks; one truck had two men with no apparent government uniform with machine guns on their backs. Seeing that reinforced the intimidation tactics used by the government.

The students released this video on Saturday,

Among they protest also against Russia building a military base in Venezuela (3:10 in the video). John Hinderaker, again,

What happens in energy-rich Venezuela is important. Is it too much to hope that the final collapse of socialism in that country will extinguish the appeal of socialism across Latin America? Yes. Even here in the U.S., socialism–the stupidest idea that has ever occurred to a human being–keeps making comebacks. But in the medium term, the collapse of the Russia-Cuba-Venezuela-Nicaragua axis will be of great benefit.

It looks like Maduro called Cuba for reinforcements: Reports claim that Cuba prepares for Venezuela disruptions

two Cuban dissidents who have provided good information in the past said they have received reports that military reservists in six municipalities around the country were contacted this month to be ready for trouble in Venezuela.

Guillermo Fariñas, who served with a commando unit in Angola and underwent military training in the Soviet Union until he suffered a training accident, said three supporters told him about call-ups in his home province of Villa Clara.

The Military Committees in the municipalities of Santa Clara, Ranchuelo, Sagua La Grande and Manicaragua have asked several reservists with combat experience in Africa and Nicaragua and under 50 years of age if they would be willing to deploy to Venezuela.

So far, Maduro has not employed the official armed forces against protesters. Whether he’ll be able to control the military to the point that the Venezuelan military will fire on their fellow citizens remains to be seen.

Related: Busting the myth of freedom of speech in Venezuela

UPDATE:

Cuban endurance sports: Meet world-class windsurfer Henry Vergara Negrin

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Last week a twenty four-year old on a windsurfing board pulls onshore and makes a phone call to his dad to ask him to be picked up.

Nothing unusual about that, except perhaps for his needing a ride.

What is really extraordinary is that the young man, Henry Vergara Negrin, had windsurfed for nine hours straight from Cuba, using his GPS. Two other friends each on windsurfing boards, had started with him: one was picked up and returned to Cuba, the third one was found by a fisherman Thursday morning,
[Note: The reporter mistakenly refers to Henry Vergara Negrin as Negrin, when it should be Vergara, or Vergara Negrin]

Key West police reports documented how Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, said he left Jibacoa, Cuba, near Havana at 9 a.m. Tuesday with two companions on separate boards.

Jibacoa is located about 97 miles south of Key West.

About nine and a half hours after leaving Cuba, Negrin arrived ashore at Key West’s luxury Reach Resort.

A hotel spokeswoman told Reuters that hotel guests and a staff member with the hotel helped him to a lounge chair where other staff members took care of him.

Negrin is the reportedly the first Cuban windsurfer to complete the dangerous trip across the Florida Straits in two decades.

According to the account Negrin gave police, he lost sight of his companions four hours into the journey when their sails went down.
He told police he knew them only as Amando, 28, and Dwarta, 23

Vergara Negrin was interviewed by Jaime Bayly, who was suitably impressed by Vergara Negrin’s presence of mind, endurance and fitness. Henry said he didn’t tell anyone, not even his mom, what he was about to do:

Bayly was also surprised to meet a low-key Cuban. Not many of those!

Henry will be celebrating his 25th birthday on March 20th.

Let’s see if the US media fusses about Henry’s accomplishment in fleeing from the island-prison, or if he’ll be in Dancing with the Stars.

On the other hand, Henry – who’s still young enough to sign up as his dad’s dependent under Obamacare (as if he’s anyone’s dependent!) – already has met a criteria for future Secretary of State:

Venezuela: Protesting doctors, 1st foreign casualty

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Wearing their lab coats, Doctors stage protest in Venezuela as Venezuela continues to become Cubazuela:

Another victim was reported over the weekend in the western Andean city of Merida, Giselle Rubilar, a 47-year-old Chilean national.

Chile’s outgoing President Sebastian Pinera said in Santiago Monday he had asked Venezuela to investigate her death of a gunshot wound to the head.

“Apparently there was a barricade near where she was living. She approached it and that’s where she was reportedly hit by the bullet that caused her death,” Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said.

“Not only bullets kill, the lack of medicine does too,” read one sign.

The president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, Douglas Leon, said 95 percent of hospitals have only five percent of the supplies needed to take care of patients.

“The hospitals are deteriorated, supplies aren’t available and we have to tell patients to buy their own,” medical student Caterine Acosta, 20, told AFP.

Meanwhile, at the Miraflores presidential palace, Maduro touted the 2,500 medical students who he said will graduate this year from programs in partnership with allies like Cuba.

Cuba gets 100,000 barrels of oil a day for sending 40,000 medics to Venezuela.

h/t Babalu.

The Goodbye, Columbus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 10th, 2014

LatinAmerWhile more important stories were in the headlines, Cristina Fernandez took the cake by attempting to remove all traces of Christopher Columbus from the royal palace executive mansion, no matter that Columbus never set foot in the Country, and the Italian-born navigator shared a native land with millions of Argentinians.

ARGENTINA
Ted Turner Hospitalized In Argentina For Undisclosed Ailment
A security guard at the Instituto Argentino de Diagnostico y Tratamiento confirmed to The Associated Press that Turner was hospitalized there.

Pope Francis: the priest of the slums
Peter Stanford, author and former editor of the Catholic Herald, retraces the trip Pope Francis used to take to the outskirts of Buenos Aires to try to understand the man who was known as ‘the priest of the slums’

BOLIVIA
Footbridge collapses at Bolivian parade killing at least four people
Three musicians among the dead as an overloaded metal footbridge collapses during the opening parade of carnival in highlands city of Oruro

BRAZIL
Dilma Rou$$eff

Fresh deal to end Rio rubbish strike
Rio de Janeiro officials and street cleaners say they have reached a deal to end a strike which has left litter piling up in the Brazilian city.

CHILE
Chicago Latino Film Festival to honor Chilean actress Paulina Garcia
The Chicago Latino Film Festival will confer its career-achievement award on Chilean theater, film and television actress Paulina Garcia, organizers said.

Incoming Chilean Finance Minister Promises to Boost Investments
Alberto Areas Says New Bachelet Administration Will Take Over Slowing Economy
: expect more government spending, more debt.

COSTA RICA
Governing Party Candidate Pulls Out of Costa Rica’s Presidential Campaign
Sinking in the polls a month before Costa Rica’s presidential election, Johnny Araya, the candidate for the country’s governing party, pulled out of the campaign on Wednesday

CUBA
At least 8 new political prisoners in Cuba in February

French Banks Investigated for Sanctions Violations

ECUADOR
TWO Capt. Louis Renault moments:
1. Presidente plantea enmienda constitucional sin que se llame a referéndum

2. Ecuadoran President Correa Blasts NY Fed Judge’s Ruling for Chevron

EL SALVADOR
Leftist party ahead in El Salvador polls
Elections in El Salvador will decide whether the incumbent leftist government will gain a mandate for another five years. The winning party must tackle gang violence and address the country’s economic problems.

LATIN AMERICA
The Economist: iPhonenomics
One phone, many countries
Costly Brazil, dysfunctional Argentina, bureaucratic Mexico. Our correspondents go shopping for the same Apple product

MEXICO
Court Setback for Mexican Drug Kingpin
A Mexican judge has denied the drug kingpin Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera an injunction against any extradition to the United States.

Andres Oppenheimer: Mexico’s new friend: Castro’s Cuba

If Peña Nieto wanted to keep Cuba and Venezuela from firing up Mexico’s left, he could have done the same with polite diplomacy, without the need to praise as a “moral leader” a dictator who is responsible for thousands of deaths and has not allowed a free election in five decades. In an effort to distance himself from his predecessors, Peña Nieto has gone overboard.

ANALYSIS: FORMER MEXICAN CARTEL LEADER KILLED AGAIN

NICARAGUA
Busted in Nicaragua: ex-Rep. David Rivera’s pal, Ana Alliegro, in FBI custody over campaign scheme

PANAMA
Panama demands Venezuela pay $1bn debt
President Martinelli asks Caracas not to use decision to cut diplomatic ties with Panama as “excuse” to not pay debt.

PARAGUAY
’7 Boxes’ review: fast-paced thriller from Paraguay

PERU
Peru to ‘eliminate’ key environmental rule for oil and gas firms, says minister
Announcement that seismic tests won’t need Environmental Impact Assessments sparks controversy and concern

PUERTO RICO
Felix Salmon on Why Puerto Rico’s bonds are moving to New York: it all comes down to default protection for the bondholders.

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan president to visit Iran next month

La libertad en las calles
PIEDRA DE TOQUE. Venezuela ya no es un país democrático y la gran movilización popular es para que haya todavía elecciones de verdad en ese país y no rituales operaciones circenses como son las de Cuba

Scenes from Venezuela, 3/8/14 #8M #SOSVenezuela

Venezuela’s Opposition Is United Against Maduro, But Internally Divided

A Growing Crisis in Post-Chavez Venezuela

Los Guayabitos: The Venezuelan town where La Revolución reigns supreme

Venezuelan Crisis Plays Out On The Floor Of The United Nations

Large Protests Continue As Venezuelan Government Celebrates OAS Victory

Late Friday in Washington, the Organization of American States approved a declaration that rejected violence and called for justice for the 21 people the government says have died in weeks of street protests. The resolution also offered “full support” for the Venezuelan government’s peace initiative, in which the opposition has so far refused to participate.

The week’s posts:
Don Mario se quita los guantes y le cae encima al fascista Maduro: En español: Vargas Llosa a puño limpio

Argentina: Goodbye, Columbus

Colombia: Congressional elections tomorrow

Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Argentina: Still in the hole for $185 million

Venezuela: Waiting to buy food

Cuba: Mario Díaz-Balart explains to the dense why Cuban oppression is bad

Venezuela: Door-to-door raids, AWOL colonels, Panama out

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez is still dead

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

En español: Terapia intensiva

BREAKING NEWS Ecuador: Chevron wins

Venezuela: Big shoes and misreports

At Da Tech Guy:
Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

Cuba: Mario Díaz-Balart explains to the dense why Cuban oppression is bad

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Damien Cave of the NYT can’t figure out that making concessions to a dictatorship in exchange for nothing is not a good idea, so he debated Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), lost, and titled the article, A Miami Congressman Adamantly Defends Isolating Cuba. I hate to excerpt it, but here’s a sample (emphasis added):

[DC] But there are a lot of people in the Cuban-American community, leaders at the business and political level, who are having a more nuanced conversation — it is not so black and white. Let me give you an example. Cuba Emprende would like find a way to invest; they want to create incubators so they can find and help Cuban businesses. All of this is separate from the Cuban state. This is the beginning of civil society. They don’t have the ability to do that because the embargo prohibits that. Would you be willing to allow investment? I know the Cubans still don’t allow that, but from the American side would you be willing to support that? And if not, why not?

[MD-B] Because as I said before, because what we have to do, the question that has to be asked is: Is that something that will help free people from over half a century of totalitarian dictatorship? In other words, does the Chinese model, you know, the fascist Chinese model, is that the solution for Cuba, where you can invest in Cuba like we do in China, with no internal opposition, with no political parties, with no independent labor unions legalized, with no freedom of press, available and legal. There are folks who would like to have China 90 miles away from the United States, as fascist, totalitarian regime where big business can invest and make money with no labor unions, with no freedom of press, with no political parties, with no freedom, which is why in the law, which has strong bipartisan support in the House, in those laws it says that for those sanctions to go away, three conditions have to be met.

One the one hand, freeing all the political prisoners, free the Mandelas and the Havels and the Walesas of Cuba. Number two is allowing all those freedoms that I just mentioned, that is in the law. Freedom of press, labor unions etc. and then start the process towards free elections — and then all sanctions would go away.

So the question is which one of those conditions do the Cuban people not deserve? Before, precisely U.S. businesses go and invest, i.e. the Chinese fascist model. There are only two answers, two solutions, two possible futures for the Cuban people with the Castro brothers’ regime, one is going to Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, you name it, places where there have been dictatorships and now they have democratic societies, or, yes, the Chinese, Vietnamese model, which is a fascist dictatorship where you have foreign investment and yet the people are still not free. Those are the two options and if you ask me which one the internal opposition in Cuba supports, the vast majority of them, I can refer you to two statements made by the internal opposition saying: ‘Hey, what we want is freedom and therefore do not lift sanctions unilaterally.’

The only thing that is required for the sanctions to go away are those three conditions.

Read the whole thing.

The first Monday in March Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

LatinAmerVenezuela’s demonstrations continue to be the week’s top story, in spite of the media blackout. Take some time to look at photos and read about The Venezuela Paradox,

After three weeks of repression, fifteen dead, at least 60 reported tortured and more than eight hundred detained, including opposition leaders and reporters, the Venezuelan students have at least shown the world what little respect the Maduro administration has for the human and civil rights of the people.

Keep in mind that

The protests come from people who realize that their future has been robbed by a narco-kleptocracy. Almost anyone in Venezuela that has aspirations to a better future through education, hard work, you name it, questions more or less actively the regime.

More below:

ARGENTINA
Heisenberg: Chapo Guzmán, la conexión argentina

What could possibly go wrong? Argentina Plans Price-Control Measures
President Cristina Kirchner has pledged tougher measures against businesses that raise prices, as her administration tries to stabilize an economy suffering from double-digit inflation and hard currency shortages.

Devaluation Hurts Argentina’s Regional Standing
Colombia Has Likely Overtaken Argentina as Latin America’s Third-Largest Economy

Two Years After Expropriation, Argentina and Repsol Sign Accord on YPF
The agreement establishes compensation for the Spanish oil firm of $5 billion in dollar-denominated government bonds, a debt that will be settled by 2033, at the latest, if the bonds are held to maturity

Upcoming meme alert: Expect MSNBC to start referring to the Venezuelan demonstrations (if they ever notice them) as “attempts at a soft coup”, Presidenta argentina habla de ‘golpe suave’ en Venezuela

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s 2013 revenue from gas sales to neighbors totals $6 bn

BRAZIL
Pity Brazil’s Military Police

The military police are not part of the armed forces, and yet they operate according to military principles of rank and discipline. They cannot strike or unionize, and are subject to a military-style penal code (meaning transgressions at work can be treated as mutiny or treason, and officers are tried in a special court). They are prohibited from “revealing facts or documents that can discredit the police or disrupt hierarchy or discipline.”

They also can’t openly disapprove of the acts of civilian authorities from the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government, and are forbidden to express their personal political opinions.

Brazil Sings a New Tune
As millions leave poverty behind, Brazilian funk is moving from the slums to the mainstream

CHILE
South American Anarchists Teach Anti-Capitalist Tactics to American Students

Scientists solve mystery of Chile’s ‘whale graveyard’

“This is a site on par with Dinosaur National Monument here in the United States, a whole hillside littered with dinosaur skeletons. We seem to have the same thing except with whales here in Chile.”

COLOMBIA
US Dismisses Colombia FARC Request to Join Peace Negotiations

More women in Colombian politics, please

CUBA
From The Economist story (also posted under Panama, below): Caribbean ports and the Panama canal
Ripple effects

Brazil and Cuba agreed in 2009 to develop the port of Mariel, west of Havana, through a partnership between Brazil’s Grupo Odebrecht and a state-owned Cuban company, with PSA International of Singapore as operator. The port has been dredged to a comfortable 18 metres and was inaugurated in January. But a major transshipment role is blocked by the American trade embargo: ships which have been to Cuba are barred for six months from American ports. More time to complete the Panama expansion means more time for the embargo to lift.

Lining a Dictator’s Pockets
No good would come of lifting the embargo on Cuba.

CURACAO
Curacao’s StartUp Stock Exchange Combines Crowdfunding with Stock Exchange

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
U.S. Medical Tourism To Dominican Republic Could Increase With High-Tech Clinic

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador Could Be the Next Venezuela
Experts say country could morph into Venezuela if ruling party retains control

GUATEMALA
The Fine Tapestry of the Kaqchikel Women of Guatemala

HAITI
UN official urges Haiti compensation
A UN official breaks ranks with the world body, and calls for compensation for Haitian victims of a cholera outbreak many blame on peacekeepers.

HONDURAS
Democracy

MEXICO
Mexican Drug Lord Owns Nearly 300 Companies

NICARAGUA
Why the Plan to Dig a Canal Across Nicaragua Could Be a Very Bad Idea

PANAMA
Caribbean ports and the Panama canal
Ripple effects

The new locks will accommodate ships which can take almost three times that load and need a draft of over 15 metres.

These monsters will slash shipping costs for Pacific cargo en route for Atlantic ports, and boost the 6% share of world trade that the Panama canal now claims.

PARAGUAY
Giant Prehistoric Sloth Fossil Found In Paraguay

PERU
Voting in Peru? Referendum on ballot just got more confusing

PUERTO RICO
Moody’s Issues Junk Rating for Coming Puerto Rico Bond Sale

20 arrested for bank fraud, money laundering in Puerto Rico

VENEZUELA
Whither Venezuela?

The WSJ lists Venezuela’s Opposition Leaders
University students have been the backbone of the antigovernment movement, but demonstrators recently have looked to Leopoldo López, a former mayor of the Chacao district of Caracas and leader of the Popular Will party. Read more about the opposition to President Nicolás Maduro.

Death toll from Venezuela street protests rises to 18
caracas clashes
Anti-government protests continue to Caracas and across Venezuela with ongoing battles between protesters and police claiming the life of a national guardsman

Chavismo Thrives on Mistrust

The U.S. Was Ready to Impose Sanctions on Ukraine. Why Not Venezuela, Too?

How Chavez planted the seeds of violence

‘A Perfect Storm’: The Failure of Venezuela’s New President
He was hand-picked by Hugo Chávez, but Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has lost control of the country’s economy. Vast protests have been the result, but the government in Caracas has shown no signs of bending.

Jailed Venezuela protest leader mocks President’s talks

ARE CUBAN SPECIAL FORCES SHOOTING AT VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS?

Senate Resolution Targets Venezuelan Rights Violators

The week’s posts and podcast:
Latin America at the #Oscars2014

Just what the Venezuelans need: Jimmy Carter!

#SOSVenezuela: Hugo loses his head in Táchira

Rubio’s speech on Cuba and Venezuela

Argentina: The more things change . . .

Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua: Russia to add military bases overseas UPDATED

Venezuela, en español: Entrevista con Gen. Ángel Vivas

En español: Terapia intensiva

Venezuela: Tweeting the barricades #SOSVenezuela

Mexico: How Chapo was nabbed

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
What would it take for Latin America’s left-wing populist economies to turn around?

Venezuela: “Don’t you get weary!”

Podcast:
Victor Triay, author PLUS US-Latin America this week