Archive for the ‘Guatemala’ Category

The Brazil downgrade Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 7th, 2013

LatinAmerThe big news this week: After a few years on the upswing, Latin America’s largest country and biggest economy has been downgraded from positive, to stable.

Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez suffers brain haematoma
Fernandez in hospital and has been told by doctors to take a month off, forcing her to quit congressional election campaign

Argentina’s Fernández told to rest for a month after head injury

Railways in Buenos Aires
Not driving but sleeping
The government decides it is time to shake things up

Schools in Argentina
To the barricades

Argentina seeks jail for de la Rua
Prosecutors in Argentina request a six-year prison term for former President Fernando de la Rua over a bribery scandal

Mexico’s Grupo Elektra to Exit Argentina
Mexican retail and banking company Grupo Elektra said it is leaving Argentina after six years in the country because of government restrictions on business and high inflation.

Andres Oppenheimer: Miami officials should thank Argentine president
Miami officials should erect a statue to Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Thanks to her disastrous economic policies, Argentines are flocking to invest here and Argentine developers are building some of the city’s most spectacular real estate projects.

Calling Jesse Pinkman: More than $1 million tossed from a plane in Bolivia

Brazil property rights: Tribes and farmers battle to the death
Brazil’s agricultural boom, led by exports to China, has made the problem worse, indigenous groups say

Smart Diplomacy: Brazilian President complains to Obama about “a grave violation of human rights” and “especially of disrespect to national sovereignty”

Caribbean states seek slavery reparations from Europe, but apparently not from Spain, which is broke (h/t Gates of Vienna)

“Missing”: Ex-US Navy Officer Wanted for Murder Dies in Chile

Jesse Jackson Should Stay Out of Colombia

Colombia’s Risky Peace Gambit

”Cheap Flesh Of The Revolution” – Cuban Women Recount A Grim Reality

678 cases & counting: Cholera (and Castro’s Cover-Up) on the Rise

Cuban human rights groups report big spikes in political repression in September

Ecuador’s Correa: Obama’s exceptionalism talk reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric before WWII

Mexico arrests Guatemala ‘drug lord’
Police in Mexico arrest one of Guatemala’s most wanted men – a drug lord suspected of masterminding the killing of eight policemen in June

Haiti’s garment industry: a lost cause, or ready to change?
Factory co-founded by Matt Damon and promising minimum wage, hopes to bring responsible production of high-end apparel to the country

POLL NUMBERS: Honduras moving to a two way race

Latin American cinema
Coming of age

Trade overrides ideology: Latin America’s Anti-Americanism Is All Talk

Anti-American rhetoric in ALBA countries has not prevented them from listing the US among their main trade partners. As of 2012, the US was the main import source for Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Honduras. Particularly striking is that 31.2 percent of Venezuela’s imports and 28 percent of Ecuador’s come from the United States. Adding to this list, the US is Bolivia’s fourth largest source of imports, producing up to 10 percent of its imports, and Argentina‘s second source after Brazil.

The United States receives the largest percentage of Latin American exports from Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras. In the case of Bolivia, it drops to second place after Brazil. Such significant flows of merchandise and capital will not stop overnight, no matter how many countries forced the Bolivian presidential plane to land for a few hours.

Mexico police clash with protesters
Riot police clash with protesters in Mexico City during a demonstration commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre.

Armed Housewives In The Hills Of Southern Mexico Fight Back Against Organized Crime
Women in the Mexican town of Xaltianguis, an hour away from Acapulco, have joined the men in patrolling their streets and have managed to significantly reduce a local crime wave.

At the beginning of the year, town leaders reached out to the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State (UPOEG), an established statewide network of community police. Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest states, has a long-time tradition of sending waves of immigrants north to the U.S. in search of work. The state also has long history of guerrilla activity.

Historically, towns in Guerrero have had rather tenuous ties to the federal government. Many have taken advantage of provisions in Mexico’s constitution that grant indigenous groups the right to enforce their own “customs and practices,” and maintain their own semi-autonomous police and justice systems.

Maritime execs debate Panama Canal expansion at Miami conference

Pal of Peru cocaine mules Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum arrested in major drugs bust on party island Ibiza
CHELSEA Greaves, 20, her dad and uncle were among 15 people held in dawn raids last weekend. Cops seized more than 2000 meth pills as well as cocaine and ecstasy.

Puerto Rico Record Yields Luring Buyers of Distress: Muni Credit

Uruguay: the world’s laboratory for marijuana legalisation
Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, wants to make pot legal. The idea is getting a lot of praise abroad, but criticism at home

Mujica, an ex guerrilla fighter, and Hungarian-American magnate George Soros, believe that legalizing the drug would be a strike against drug trafficking, a better way to control drug consumption and an opportunity to help those who suffer any drug disorder or addiction.

While it makes them money, too.

It’s Time To Teach Venezuela A Lesson

The Venezuelan State’s Occupy “Movement”: The Victory of Socialism!

The week’s posts and podcast:
Nicaragua: Bill de Blasio ignores the truth.

Nicaragua canal: Plan, nothing more

Troubled currencies: Argentina & Venezuela

Brazil: Unions to challenge use of Cuban doctors

Venezuela: Swarm loots a truck after an accident

Corruption in Venezuela’s Cuban medical missions

Brazil: Moody’s lowers outlook

Venezuela: A voice from the grave? UPDATED

Argentina: SCOTUS didn’t take the case . . . yet

Jessie Jackson heads to Colombia anyway

Colombia and other US-Latin America stories

The Renault 4 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 16th, 2013

LatinAmerToday’s Carnival is dedicated to the Argentina Renault 4 Motor Club, which granted Pope Francis a lifetime membership, for his fondness for the “roadrunners”, as the fans call their little cars.

Over in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro fell off his bike. The clueless anchorwoman went on reading the scripted propaganda as if nothing had happened. She probably didn’t even have a livefeed for the event, demonstrating it’s all about the narrative,

For more serious news,

See the Cathedral of Human Sacrifices in the Cave of the Crystal Maiden

Reporter Glenn Greenwald to testify at Brazil spy probe
A parliamentary commission in Brazil investigating spying allegations says the journalist Glenn Greenwald will be invited to testify next week.

David and Daniel (h/t American Digest)

Forty years after the coup and the IACHR

Colombia Implements Hotel Guest Immigration Tracking Program

Woman arrested with ‘cocaine bump’
A Canadian national is arrested in Bogota trying to board a flight to Toronto with a phony pregnant belly filled with cocaine, Colombian police say.

The US Embassy tweeted on its campaign to save endangered species,

Makes you wonder what kinds of strings Vlad attached to his $800 million offer: Concrete Crypt for Communist Dreams: Cuba’s Unfinished Nuclear Power Plant

Lacking nuclear fuel and without the primary components installed, the plant sat in limbo until December 2000, when Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Cuba. Putin offered Fidel Castro a belated $800 million to finish the first reactor. Despite Cuba’s reliance on imported oil for power, Castro declined. Project status: officially abandoned.

Amnesty International calls on Castro Kingdom to free Ivan Fernandez Depestre

Chocolates From Ecuador
Until recently, Ecuadorean cacao growers had been cultivating low-grade cacao beans and selling them to foreign chocolate makers to process. The past few years have seen the emergence of local producers. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process.

A U.S. Reward for Misrule in El Salvador The FMLN has made the country poorer and less free. Yet $227 million in American aid is coming.

Guatemalan bar attack leaves 11 people dead

Honduras, A Bottomless Pit

Mexico captures third man linked to killing of U.S. border agent


Territorial disputes
A sea of troubles

NOTHING brings together domestic foes like an external enemy. So when President Juan Manuel Santos announced that Colombia would not heed a ruling last November by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that granted 70,000 sq km (27,000 square miles) of the Caribbean Sea that Colombians have considered their own since 1928 to Nicaragua, even his harshest critics applauded.

Drug labs on Brazil-Peru border targeted in joint operation

Analysis: Puerto Rico’s population drops as economy wobbles

The 4.9 million Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States as of 2011 outnumbered those on the island by more than 1 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“New Conferry” Chronicles (Corrected)

Venezuela: From crazy to insane

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: Pope Francis, Renault 4 Club’s lifetime member

En español: El primer podcast de HACER

New book: Latin America in the Post-Chávez Era: The Security Threat to the United States

Colombia: Alvaro Uribe at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Argentina: SCOTUS to hear defaulted bonds case

Mexico: #EstamosHartosCNTE Fed up with the teachers’ union

Mexico: Bloomberg wants “sugary drinks” taxed

Venezuela: Can Chavismo last long?

Mexico: How the teachers’ union became so unpopular

Syria and Latin America reaction

The free homemade Viagra Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 12th, 2013

LatinAmerThe Argentinian government produced its first drug: a generic version of Viagra. Good thing no one in Argentina needs aspirin.

Argentina: revés para el neopopulismo

Indigenous peoples in Argentina: “We are strangers in our own country”

A report on the Mennonite colony of Manitoba, Bolivia: THE GHOST RAPES OF BOLIVIA

Glenn Greenwald offered Brazilian protection from U.S.
Greenwald tells Salon he intends to visit the U.S. soon — but says the risk of prosecution against him is real

Endesa Chile Appeals Ruling Against Thermoelectric Project

Talking to Colombian Guerrillas Doesn’t Make You Popular

Colombia coca area down by 25% – UN
The area of land planted with coca – the raw ingredient for cocaine – in Colombia has fallen by 25%, a UN report has said.

3 years with Colombia`s President Juan Manuel Santos

Missile Crisis Wasn’t End of Cuba’s Missiles
The U.S. government has had evidence of missiles in Cuba—particularly North Korean—for at least two decades.

Ecuadorean soldier killed on border
An army officer from Ecuador and five Colombian rebels have died in clashes near Colombian border, local media reports say.

Mayan frieze discovered in Guatemala
Archaeologists discover a richly decorated Mayan frieze which had been buried in an ancient pyramid in northern Guatemala.

Attorney Who Revealed Death Threats Murdered in Honduras

Opinión: 101 años de Milton Friedman y su legado para la libertad del mundo de hoy

Kingpin Behind Killing of DEA Agent Released from Mexican Prison
Rafael Caro Quintero left the penitentiary in the western state of Jalisco several hours before the court decision was made public, the source said

U.N. probes Cuban arms shipment bound for N. Korea

36 Hours in Panama City, Panama

Paraguay Rebuffs Mercosur’s Rapprochement

Puerto Rico Utility Pays a Premium to Borrow
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Sold $673.1 Million in Bonds

Corruption in Venezuela
The billion-dollar fraud
Evidence of huge rip-offs at the heart of the “Bolivarian revolution” has unleashed political infighting
, Unsurprisingly,

Claims of corruption involve some of the most senior figures in Mr Chávez’s “Bolivarian revolution” (named for Simón Bolívar, Venezuela’s independence hero). In an audio tape leaked in May, Mario Silva, a presenter on state television and (it now appears) a Cuban agent, enumerated to his handler the sources of illicit finance he said were available to Diosdado Cabello, speaker of parliament and leader of the ruling socialist party, who is a potential rival to Mr Maduro. They included the tax authority, headed by Mr Cabello’s brother, and Cadivi. Mr Cabello dismissed the audio tape as a fake, the public prosecutor has yet to investigate and Mr Silva lost his job.

Instead, Mr Cabello has gone after the opposition.

Apotheosis of Chavez proclaimed by Maduro: Christ became incarnate in Hugo

A heavy fine for El Nacional to attack freedom of expression

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: Free (homemade) Viagra

Venezuela: More repression

Venezuela: Supreme court dismisses the Capriles election appeal

Cuba: 100 political arrests in 5 days

Argentina: Back to the UN

Mexico: Pemex to allow foreign investment?

Cuba: The Russia, Iran, & North Korea trifecta

Colombia: The FARC negotiations

The latest from Venezuela with Comandante Cazorla

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 #CowNado Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Yes, my friends, after the #SharkNado, it’s #CowNado time!

The Brazilian man was asleep in bed when the cow fell on him and killed him. Both the cow & his widow are unharmed.

LatinAmerIn other news from the region:

Greenwald Tells Argentinean Media Snowden Has Info That Could Be US’ ‘Worst Nightmare’

Morales says US hacked Bolivian leaders’ emails

Corruption and Graft: Brazil Rushes Headlong into Popular Revolt

Brazil’s protests
The fallout spreads
Politicians have been hurt by the marches, none more so than the president


Uribistas name candidates for Colombia´s 2014 senate race

Remembering victims of ’13th of March’ tugboat massacre, July 13, 1994

Dominicans Freak Out Over Obama’s Gay Ambassador Pick

The Correa-Khamenei Axis
Ecuador pumping up its relationship with Iran and Syria, experts say

In Ecuador, a Magazine’s Death Comes Amid Questions

Guatemala ‘to extradite drug lord’
A Guatemalan appeals court rules that Waldemar Lorenzana, who is wanted by the US for his alleged ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, can be extradited

With Honduras, Obama Was Quick to Recognize a ‘Coup’

A Tale of Two Coups: Egypt and Honduras

Iran Fans Out 40,000 Agents in South America

‘The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus: An Alliance of International Drug Cartels, Organized Crime, and Terror Groups’

What Happened to Congress’ ‘Fast and Furious’ Fury?
Scandal resurfaces as a Mexican police chief and his bodyguard fall victim to a gun from the ATF operation.

Local elections in Mexico
Something for everyone—except voters

Disappeared, Smeared and Abandoned by their Government: the Fate of Mexico’s Disappeared

Reports bring PR into Snowden case

What Edward Snowden Should Know About Venezuela (registration required)

In Spanish: Maduro y Evo hablan del espía,

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: I say tomato, you say tomahtoh

Mexico: Bugs – it’s what’s for dinner

Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Cuba: 50 years of food rationing

Venezuela and Iran’s joint intelligence program

Argentina and Mexico: #1 on corruption

Argentina: 33% in poverty

Venezuela: Runaway inflation, runaway asylum

Argentina blocks AMIA prosecutor from testifying on Iranian presence in South America

UN: Mexico border a “global pathway” to the USA

Socialism in Latin America with Dr Carlos Eire

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 8th, 2013

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

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

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:

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

‘World’s biggest cocaine dealer’ deported to Italy

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.

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)

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.

2013 Budget Statement; the country is broke

Gangs Target Bus Drivers in Guatemala

The Shetlander who mapped Jamaica

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.

‘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

Cartes changing Mercosur position

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.

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

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?

The Babalu Blog @ 10 plus US-Latin America stories

The Colombia-loves-NATO Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 10th, 2013

LatinAmerColombian President Juan Manuel Santos got his neighbors in a flutter by hinting that he would like Colombia to join NATO, which conveys a message to the rest of South America – and not about geography.

Now US falls out with ‘corruptible’ Argentina
ARGENTINA’S relations with the US have reached an “all-time low”, a top think-tank warned last night.

In a recent report he claims Argentina has profited from a US-led clampdown on the Mexican drug cartels. They switched distribution routes via Argentina, which is now believed to supply 70 tons of cocaine a year to Europe, a thirds of annual consumption.

It is feared that Argentina’s ties with Iran could lead them to build missiles together

Argentina can no longer be seen as a reliable counter-narcotic partner, or a partner in any sense, for the US.
Douglas Farah, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center think-tank
Argentina also imports far more ephedrine, used in the making of many designer drugs, than its pharmaceutical industry needs, despite a US attempt at a crackdown in 2008.

This is said to be behind a flood of methamphetamine reaching the US.

Rio Olympic venue closed until 2015
Officials in Rio de Janeiro say a recently-built stadium that will be used at the 2016 Olympics will remain closed for 18 months while the roof is repaired.

Brazil’s disappointing economy
Out of step
(video below the fold since it starts immediately)

Colombia and the FARC
Digging in for peace
A deal on land marks a welcome breakthrough in peace talks. But there is still much to do, and not much time to do it in

Colombia and the arms treaty with no legs to stand on

UN hails first deal between Colombian government, rebels

Cuban Documentary Extols ETA Terrorists

Widow and children of assassinated Cuban dissident, Oswald Paya, take political refuge in U.S.

Cuban political prisoner Enrique Figuerola Miranda on hunger strike for 40 days

Dominica Catholics vow support for accused priest

NGOs will have new controls in Ecuador

Administrative issues at the OAS GA in Guatemala

Xi Jinping in America’s backyard
From pivot to twirl
The Chinese leader tries a smooth move in America’s backyard

Demography in Latin America
Autumn of the patriarchs
Traditional demographic patterns are changing astonishingly fast

The Pacific Alliance a New Center of Gravity in Hemispheric Trade

Mexico bar kidnap ‘linked to gang’
Prosecutors in Mexico City say they believe the disappearance of 12 young revellers from a bar in the capital is linked to gang rivalry.

Mexican housebuilders
Dropping a brick
Changing government policies have plunged housebuilders into a crisis

Mexico Soldiers Free 165 Kidnapped Migrants
Mexican soldiers stormed a residence near the U.S. border and rescued 165 migrants who had been kidnapped by criminal gangs and held for ransom for up to three weeks, a Mexican official said Thursday.
The cartels control the border.

Central America’s low-cost life lures baby boomers, even from Bonita Springs

Peru’s Shining Path leader Florindo Flores, a.k.a. Comrade Artemio sentenced
A court in Peru sentences the last of the original leaders of the Shining Path rebels to life in prison.

How Puerto Rico Will Hack its Way to the Global Future

As Economy Stalls, Inflation Heats Up and Maduro Seems Clueless

María Lourdes Afiuni, Three and a half years, some rapes, beatings and a forced abortion later, has not yet been released.

Venezuela scraps food restriction
Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro calls a plan to restrict the number of basic food items people can buy in the western state of Zulia “insane”.

Chavez’s Folksy Style Proves to Be a Tough Act to Follow
President Nicolás Maduro does a good political impersonation of his predecessor Hugo Chávez. However, he’s missing a key ingredient: Mr. Chávez’s folksy, often ribald, sense of humor.
Not to worry, Gustavo Ríos more than makes up for it,

The week’s posts and podcast,
George Galloway’s racism

Venezuela: The kidnapping worked

Mexico: Retailers Descend on Mexico

Colombia: Bayly entrevista a Uribe, 2a parte

Venezuela: Timothy Tracy released

Colombia: Bayly entrevista a Uribe

Cuba: Castro’s pawn

Argentina and other US-Latin America issues


The Iranian networks Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

LatinAmerThis week’s big news item is the spotlight on a subject I’ve posted about for years: Iran’s Latin American networks.

Mary O’Grady has the background information:
Uncovering Iran’s Latin Networks
A prosecutor in Buenos Aires finds Tehran’s fingerprints region-wide.

In October 2006, Mr. Nisman indicted seven Iranians and one Lebanese-born member of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia for the AMIA murders. Interpol notices for their arrest were issued but none was captured. Then, late last year, the Argentine government of Cristina Kirchner announced that a “truth commission,” to be chosen by Argentina and Iran, would examine the viability of the prosecutor’s case.

To many Argentines, that seemed like letting the fox decide the fate of the chickens. But Mrs. Kirchner forged ahead, getting congress to agree. On May 20 Ahmadinejad approved Iran’s participation on the commission.

Mr. Nisman’s response was to release a mountain of evidence against Tehran into cyberspace for all the world to see.


My posts on the subject this week:
Roundup: More on Iran in Latin America

Argentina: Iran’s infiltration in Latin America

Color Dekadencia

Argentina’s Elected Autocracy
Faced with growing public opposition, the Kirchner government is stepping up its attacks on democracy.

An Argentine Dictator’s Legacy

Maria Corina Machado went to Chile. Juan Cristobal Nagel is charmed.

Colombia says Maduro claims ‘crazy’
Colombia rejects as “crazy” allegations made earlier this week that it is trying to destabilise Venezuela, in the latest diplomatic row.

Iran and Cuba: The Real “Mad Men”

All Eyes on Yoani’s Return

Cuban dissident says security forces are studying Vladimir Putin’s rule

An Honor Roll

I did not mention this — that he named the embassies in Havana that allow dissidents and democrats to come in and use the Internet. Would you like the complete list? The embassies of the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Holland, and the U.S. interests section (which is housed in the Swiss embassy). That’s it. “The rest of the diplomatic corps in Cuba does not give us any type of help,” said Roberto.

Che Guevara was no hero, he was a racist (h/t Babalu)

Ecuador: Concern for Rights of WikiLeaks Founder

A Salvadoran at Risk Tests Abortion Law

Salvadoran woman allowed C-section
A seriously ill Salvadoran woman says she will undergo a Caesarean section following the Supreme Court’s decision to deny her an abortion.

Ex-President of Guatemala Faces Judge in Manhattan

Honduran gang truce begins

Police: American killed in Jamaica during robbery

Meet Latin America’s Serious Side: The Pacific Alliance

Murder of Mexican reporter in Veracruz spotlights official hostility toward press

Immigration Reform: Compassion for Mexican Elites

Wedding bells for Van der Sloot in Peru prison

Annals of the Security State: ‘Is Puerto Rico in America?’

The Dead Voted Massively Last October in Venezuela

Venezuelan Military “Technology”: It’s All Kid’s Stuff

The True Intentions of Iran in Latin America are Questioned

The week’s posts:
Mexico: 11 kidnapped in broad daylight

Good news Sunday: The Pacific Alliance

Venezuela: Bayly entrevista a Capriles, 2a. parte

El Salvador: Abortion denied

Venezuela: Capriles travels to Colombia

Mexico: Iron Man? No, Peatónito!

Venezuela: 2 Americans shot in strip club

Cuba: Would you spend a week’s salary for an hour on the internet?

Paraguay: Nueva Germania, and Nietzsche’s sister

US-Latin America: Free trade agreements

Good news Sunday: The Pacific Alliance

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

The Pacific Alliance met in Colombia last week, for the seventh time since its creation in June of 2012; This is good news for the world, not just for the region.

For starters,

there are two major “requirements” for a nation to join the Alliance. First, the government of the aspiring member state must adhere to the charter of the Alliance, which stresses respect for democracy.

In addition, the second requirement to joining the Alliance is that a new member must have free trade agreements with the other Alliance members before becoming full members. Hence, Costa Rica will only join the Alliance after President Chinchilla signs a free trade agreement with the Colombian government (San José [Costa Rica] already has FTAs with other Alliance members).

Member countries Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico were joined by Canada, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Japan, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama,

These countries and investors from outside of Latin America are attracted by the positive business climate among Alliance members—they occupy four of the top-five spots in the World Bank’s Doing Business in Latin America ranking—and encouraged by the fact that the bloc is serious. It is focused on trade, investment and immigration rather than politics and ideology.

Keep in mind that

The goal of the alliance is to create a free-trade corridor of all countries in the Americas with a Pacific coast. The hope is that dropping barriers on labor, finance and trade will help the Alliance become a hub for commerce with Asia.

The reason Japan, Canada, Spain and Australia attended as observers is that members of the Pacific Alliance are all part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; they are serious about growth and prosperity. Bloggings by Boz lists what they are getting done:

  • The four current members dropped tariffs on 90% of the goods traded among them (something that was mostly done due to bilateral free trade agreements) and committed to completing the final 10% within the next few years.
  • The countries have dropped visa requirements with each other.
  • The four countries will likely create a joint visa system – Visa Alianza del Pacífico – that will allow tourists to visit all four countries on just one visa.
  • Peru dropped business visa requirements for the other three members.
  • The four current members agreed to open joint embassies in Africa and Asia.
  • The countries will conduct a coordinated trade mission in Africa and tourism promotion globally.
  • The creation of a fund to support small and medium sized businesses.
  • A fiscal transparency agreement to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes.
  • Agreement on educational exchanges, including 400 annual scholarships.
  • Agreement to consolidate a scientific network on adapting to climate change challenges.
  • Mexico signed an agreement with Chile to export meat.
  • Mexico moved forward on integration into the Integrated Latin American stock Market (MILA).
  • Costa Rica signed a free trade agreement with Colombia.
  • Guatemala and Peru will have a free trade agreement within the next few months.
  • Guatemala dropped its tourist visa requirements for Colombia.

Decreasing Trade Barriers and Increasing Economic Growth

This initiative is a significant step forward to synchronize members’ trade commitments and is aimed at enhancing trade with the bloc’s most dynamic partners in East Asia.

The Pacific Alliance numbers speak for themselves. These four economies are the most dynamic in the region, representing more than 40 percent of Latin America’s economy with a market of more than 210 million people—more than one-third of the region’s population. Since 2010, these four economies have grown at a higher rate than their neighbors and have also invested at a greater rate—25 percent of their combined gross domestic product (compared to just 20 percent elsewhere).

The Pacific Alliance is already having an effect on regional politics. Daniel Duquenal posts,

Brazil in recent years had a campaign to gain a permanent seat in the security council of the United Nations. All the efforts have been lost, I dare say with the recent fiascoes. How can a country aspire to such a rank when it is unable to protect democracy in its area of influence, and furthermore generates deep divisions as it may happen soon between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance? Clearly Itamaraty hopes of world leadership are seriously compromised as its actors are revealed to be mere grocery shop managers, more worried about Venezuela paying its bills to them than the long term perspective. Or mere amoral operatives if you prefer. Let’s say it: Brazil is not ready for the major leagues, Colombia is.

Democracy, free trade, investment and immigration: keys to the well being of the region, and the world.

The Memorial Day Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Are We Becoming Argentina?
The Republican Party is taking America down a dangerous path.

Alan Faena’s Argentine Residence
The restoration of the businessman’s Argentine estancia is a touchstone for an ambitious new real estate development that he hopes will change Miami.

Jorge Rafael Videla
Death of a “Dirty War” criminal

Bolivia Enacts Law Allowing Morales to Seek 3rd Term

Portuguese for the perplexed

Brazil ‘cancels’ most African debt
Brazil says it will cancel or restructure almost $900m (£600m) worth of debt owed by African countries, to boost economic ties with the continent

Brasilia, immigrants from Bangladesh forced to work in slave-like conditions (h/t GoV)

Barrick Gold fined for Chile project
Chilean authorities fine the world’s largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold Corp, more than $16m for environmental offences at an Andean mine.

Colombian welfare: Family Subsidy by the Box

Cuban activist Alexander Tamayo arrested

Ecuador president starts third term
Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, is sworn into office for an unprecedented third term in the capital, Quito

Guatemala extradites ex-leader Alfonso Portillo to US
Guatemala’s former President Alfonso Portillo has been flown to the United States to face corruption charges.

Rhinoceros beetle

Hunger Strikes End in Several LatAm Countries

Mexican Billionaire Wants Probe of Activists
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says protests by an activist group in the U.S. have the trappings of an orchestrated campaign against him and his mobile phone companies and is asking California to investigate the group.

Soldiers re-occupy Mexico’s Hot Land

Great Time – No Photos

Corruption in Peru
A widening web

‘Las Caras Lindas’: To Be Black And Puerto Rican In 2013

Six Cuban Rafters Rescued from Puerto Rican Islet

Uruguayan Official Defends Drug Policy During Mexico Visit

The Cuban elephant in the room

Mario Silva and our daily abjection

Mario Silva’s Gossip Tape Aimed at Discrediting Chavismo/Madurismo

Good luck with that: Venezuela’s PdVSA Gets $1 Billion Credit Line From Schlumberger
State energy monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, will receive a $1 billion revolving credit line from oil-service provider Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), the South American country’s oil minister said Friday.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina’s K Decade: 10 years of Kirchnerismo

Cuba: Dissidents meet exiles in Miami

Venezuela launches missile

Guatemala: Ríos Montt conviction thrown out

Venezuela: The Silva tape

Podcast (Audio starts immediately): US-Latin America issues of the week