Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Venezuela: Did anyone miss Maduro at the UN?

Saturday, September 28th, 2013


Maybe a birdie told him to stay away.

As you may have noticed, all the talk at last week’s UN meeting was focused on Obama and Iran, and not on NicoláMaduro, who may enviously look back at the days when Hugo Chávez could make the headlines around the world just by doing stand-up.

Instead, Maduro had to skip the UN altogether and rush back to Venezuela – after signing off oil exploration and gold mining rights to the Chinese (and still coming short on cash) – because

  • while refueling in Vancouver, Canada, he became aware that the DEA could arrest three members of his entourage on charges of drug trafficking, based on information provided by former Aragua state Chavista governor Rafael Isea, now a protected witness for the DEA
  • Cuban spies traveling with Maduro, and identified by Spanish newspaper ABC, would not have been allowed to land in the USA
  • and the fear that, if he prolonged his absence from the country, he may have a coup from the military and/or members of his own party.

Instead Maduro flew back to Caracas and claimed he had to because of not one but two plots against his life, which President Obama’s weakness could not prevent.

Carlos Eire translated the ABC article, which you must read.

Argentina: Cristina trusts Iran

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The largest terrorism attack in our hemisphere prior to 9/11/2001 was the explosion at the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) center in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was masterminded by Mohsen Rabbani, who presently is actively recruiting converts in Latin America, and Ahmad Vahidi, now Iran’s Defense Minister.

Where do things stand now?

Cristina Fernandez trusts Teheran and hopes for cooperation in the AMIA case
President Cristina Fernandez during her speech to the UN General Assembly said she hoped that the new Government in Iran would cooperate with Argentina in relation to the clarification of the attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires in 1994.

(emphasis added)

The Argentina/Iran project, which commits both countries to commit to an investigation into the perpetrators of the deadly bombing, is subject to uncertainty in Iran where it remains in legal limbo.

Funny wording, that, “commits both countries to commit to an investigation”.

Having received the equivalent of a pre-engagement ring, Cristina went on and asked for “a date to send an Argentine magistrate to Teheran”.

Don’t hold your breath, Cristina.

While at the, she took time to condemn the UK government for deploying nuclear-armed submarines around the Falklands.

Priorities, priorities.


The Syrian news Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 9th, 2013

LatinAmerEveryone’s talking about Syria, but what does it have to do with Latin America? This:
Iran, Cuba warn of fallout of Syria attack
Iran and Cuba have expressed concerns about the consequences of any foreign military action against Syria, stressing a political approach to resolve the crisis in the Arab country.
(h/t Capitol Hill Cubans)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla expressed their deep reservations about the threats of military action against Syria in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.

Iran and Cuba: Chummy enough to do joint conference calls on behalf of Assad, no less.

Here’s looking at you, kid,

Meanwhile, Syrian Refugees Flock To Latin America As World Ponders Taking Action Against Assad

ARGENTINA
‘Dirty War’ judge Romano extradited to Argentina
A former Argentine judge has been extradited to face charges of human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 military rule.

BOLIVIA
Andres Oppenheimer: Authoritarian leaders breed corruption
What’s most amazing about the arrest in Miami of Bolivia’s top anti-corruption police official, caught on tape extorting a bribe from a well-known businessman, was that hardly anybody was surprised by the news.

BRAZIL
Brazil’s Independence Day Marked By Widespread Protests

Political corruption in Brazil
Lawmaker behind bars

CHILE
Chile court admits omissions during dictatorship

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s peace talks
To the edge and back again
A hiccup serves to confirm that the government and the FARC are making progress

The week Santos lost Colombia

CUBA
Grounded TV Marti plane a monument to the limits of American austerity

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Vatican Abruptly Removes Dominican Republic Envoy

ECUADOR
Ecuador writes off ill-fated satellite

MEXICO
Mexico Set to Unveil Tax-Code Overhaul
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is expected to introduce Sunday a wide-reaching proposal that seeks to boost federal tax revenue, a move that could prove politically complicated in a slowing economy.

Capture of a Mexican drug lord
Got Ugly Betty. Now get Shorty

PUERTO RICO
Fortuño: Puerto Ricans In U.S. Shouldn’t Have A Say On Statehood, But Congress Needs To Act

57 Undocumented Migrants Detained in Puerto Rico

TRINIDAD
Venezuela Reaches Gas Deal with Trinidad

VENEZUELA
SIBCI’s Syria

La corrupción apaga a Venezuela
La abundancia de la naturaleza es superada por la infinita corrupción en los gobiernos que han administrado el país

Accountability Is A Dirty Word For Chavismo

The week’s posts and podcast:
Capital flight: from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic

Colombia: Santos OK with FARC not disarming

Brasil: Médico cubano relata exploração do trabalho na Ilha dos irmãos Castro

Spy vs Spy

Mexico: Senate approves education reform

Colombia: Santos’s approval plummets

NSA spying: Mexico & Brazil not amused UPDATED

Mexico: Will the teachers imperil reforms?

Podcast:
US-LatAm stories of the week


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:

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

BOLIVIA
Morales says US hacked Bolivian leaders’ emails

BRAZIL
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

CHILE
FACTS AND TRUTH: THE GOVERNMENT THAT SAVED CHILE

COLOMBIA
Uribistas name candidates for Colombia´s 2014 senate race

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

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominicans Freak Out Over Obama’s Gay Ambassador Pick

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

QUITO JOURNAL
In Ecuador, a Magazine’s Death Comes Amid Questions

GUATEMALA
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

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

A Tale of Two Coups: Egypt and Honduras

LATIN AMERICA
Iran Fans Out 40,000 Agents in South America

MEXICO
‘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

PUERTO RICO
Reports bring PR into Snowden case

VENEZUELA
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

Podcast:
Socialism in Latin America with Dr Carlos Eire


Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

From the Washington Free Beacon:
House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid
Bipartisan coalition criticizes Argentina for growing closer to Iran

U.S. officials and regional experts warned earlier this week that under the leadership of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has helped Iran bring its terrorist activities to the Western hemisphere.

The lawmakers—including House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), Reps. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Grace Meng (D., N.Y.), Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), and Bill Posey (R., Fla.)—urged Kerry to immediately cut back U.S. support for Argentina.

The matter has assumed “a new level of urgency” given Argentina’s increasing efforts to accommodate Iran, according to the letter.

U.S. officials and independent experts have cited Kirchner’s government for boosting trade with Iran by more than a billion dollars, as well as for allowing Iranian agents to move freely through the region, where they are suspected of smuggling weapons, money, and other goods.

I’ll be extremely surprised if Kerry agrees. At best, the current administration simply doesn’t care. Worse, the State Department comes up with two-page reports soft-pedaling Iran’s threat on Latin America.


Venezuela and Iran’s joint intelligence program

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

ProPublica’s report on The Terror Threat and Iran’s Inroads in Latin America

A senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) traveled secretly with the presidential delegation and met with Venezuelan military and security chiefs. His mission: to set up a joint intelligence program between Iranian and Venezuelan spy agencies, according to the Western officials.

At the secret meeting, Venezuelan spymasters agreed to provide systematic help to Iran with intelligence infrastructure such as arms, identification documents, bank accounts and pipelines for moving operatives and equipment between Iran and Latin America, according to Western intelligence officials. Although suffering from cancer, Chavez took interest in the secret talks as part of his energetic embrace of Iran, an intelligence official told ProPublica.

The senior IRGC officer’s meeting in Caracas has not been previously reported.

As I previously posted, Argentina blocked the AMIA prosecutor from testifying to Congress on the Iranian presence in South America

The context for the unusual move to block the testimony is Argentina’s pro-Iranian shift. Argentina has had tense relations with Iran since the AMIA attack. A previous bombing in 1992 — also blamed on Iran — destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and killed 29 people.

In 2003, Nisman was appointed special prosecutor with a mandate to revive a probe that had bogged down in dysfunction and corruption. He indicted seven Iranian officials and a Hezbollah chief as the masterminds three years later, and Interpol issued arrest warrants for them. Iranian officials denied any role and described Nisman, who is Jewish, as “a Zionist.”

But six months ago, the Fernández de Kirchner government agreed with Iran to form an independent “truth commission” about the AMIA case. Argentina’s about-face was blasted by Jewish groups, the political opposition, the Israeli government and U.S. officials. Critics call it a political maneuver that makes justice even less likely at this late date. Argentina’s growing ties to Iran coincide with an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the United States, Spain and other Western nations.

“The Argentine president has already made her decision to curtail DEA activities, publicly and repeatedly attack the United States as an imperialistic and warmongering nation, and reopen relations with Iran that make a mockery of the rule of law,” Douglas Farah, president of the IBI Consultants national security consulting firm, testified at the hearing.

Indicted AMIA plotter Mohsen Rabbani, an alleged spymaster using the cover of Iranian cultural attaché in Buenos Aires, oversaw the establishment of intelligence networks in embassies, front companies and religious and cultural centers in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to the Argentine prosecutor’s report. The Iranian spies teamed with Hezbollah to carry out both bombings, according to Argentine, Israeli and U.S. investigators.

Today, the fugitive Rabbani is based in Iran and continues to play a key role in Latin American espionage, directing ideological and operational training for recruits who travel from the region, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and witnesses at the hearing.

Go to ProPublica and read their article.

Re: Venezuela, In Venezuela, Snowden Can Prepare For Life As A Pawn

UPDATE,
Linked by Instapundit. Thank you!


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

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

The Congressional Committee on Homeland Security is holding hearings today on the Threat to the Homeland: Iran’s Extending Influence in the Western Hemisphere (which you can watch at the link).

Alberto Nisman, General Prosecutor of the AMIA Case, was scheduled to testify regarding Iran’s influence in South America; however, the government of Argentina would not allow it.

McCaul, Duncan Question Government of Argentina Blocking Witness from Testifying on Iranian Presence in South America

The letter to President Fernández de Kirchner is available HERE, and the letter from Alberto Nisman to Chairman Michael McCaul is available HERE.

Chairman McCaul on the letter: “Alberto Nisman’s report sheds critical light on how the United States should understand threats to our homeland that emanate from the Iranian regime. His investigation into the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires shows that the Iranian presence in the Western Hemisphere is greater than we imagined. Iranian infiltration within countries in our region presents a clear and present danger to our homeland, as do attempts to silence or downplay this threat, and Mr. Nisman’s testimony should be heard.”

Subcommittee Chairman Duncan on the letter: “Iran’s willingness to conduct operations in the Western Hemisphere and on American soil is clear. In contrast to the U.S. State Department’s recent assessment that Iran’s influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is ‘waning,’ Nisman’s investigation revealed that Iran is deeply embedded within countries in Latin America and is ready to exploit its position to ‘execute terrorist attacks when the Iranian regime decides to do so.’ Argentina’s decision to deny Nisman permission to share his findings publicly sends a troubling message and is deeply disturbing to regional security and U.S. homeland security.”

As you may recall,

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.

And now he’s not allowed to testify at the U.S. House Homeland Security hearings on Iran.

Who is Cristina protecting?

UPDATE:
Press Briefing: Iran’s influence in Latin America evolving, not declining, new study reveals


The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 8th, 2013

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

Mothers will now collect welfare money instead of fathers in Argentina

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

Russia’s Plan Bolivia – drug wars and oil

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

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

Custody case strands Mass. mom, child in Brazil

Getting Brazil on a winning streak

Brazil’s State-Made Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

1964 and the day we left in Cuba

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

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

GRENADA
2013 Budget Statement; the country is broke

GUATEMALA
Gangs Target Bus Drivers in Guatemala

JAMAICA
The Shetlander who mapped Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Iran in Latin America: State Department Ignores Allies

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

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

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

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

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

PARAGUAY
Cartes changing Mercosur position

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

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

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

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

Where oh where will Edward Snowden go?

Venezuela: A circus without a ringmaster

Ecuador: The curious case of the combative consul

Note to Cristina: Don’t drink and tweet!

Fukuyama on Brazil’s demonstrations

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

Row, row . . . the Amazon?

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


Today’s must-read

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Soft-Pedaling the Iranian Threat in the Americas

Three months after Southcom commander Gen. John F. Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee that the United States needs to be “extremely concerned” about Iran’s expanding presence in the Western Hemisphere, the State Department has just informed Congress that Iran’s regional influence is “waning.”

The State Department’s assertions come in a two-page unclassified annex to a long-awaited classified report to Congress mandated by the bipartisan Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama late last year. It directs the secretary of state to “conduct an assessment of the threats posed to the United States by Iran’s growing presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere and submit to the relevant congressional committees the results of the assessment and a strategy to address Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere.”

Granted, the bulk of the report is classified, but it is not difficult to conclude that its tone is unlikely to diverge much from the unclassified annex — and that is deeply disturbing.

Especially when just last month an Argentine prosecutor added to the growing paper trail on Iran’s nefarious activities in the Americas by releasing a 500-page report detailing how Iran has systematically built a clandestine intelligence network throughout the region “designed to sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks.

Read the whole thing.

And don’t miss Iran’s Latin America Strategy


The Nicaragua canal: Don’t be the next Lord Crawley

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Don’t be like him

For many years now we who watch Latin American news have been hearing about a Nicaraguan canal to rival the Panama canal.

Indeed, people who know Nicaraguan history have been hearing about it for centuries.

Back in 2010 the Iranians were in the picture,

Costa Rica says that last week Nicaraguan troops entered its territory along the San Juan River – the border between the two nations. Nicaragua had been conducting channel deepening work on the river when the incident occurred.

Sources in Latin America have told Haaretz that the border incident and the military pressure on Costa Rica, a country without an army, are the first step in a plan formulated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with funding and assistance from Iran, to create a substitute for the strategically and economically important Panama Canal.

Well, Hugo died, his heir Nicolas Maduro’s still talking to the birds, the Panama Canal expansion is going on schedule, and the Iranian fervor has cooled off in the midst of its current current annual inflation rate of 105.8 percent.

Enter HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., known as HKND Group,

Nicaragua’s legislators gave their poverty-stricken country one more chance at a dream that has eluded it for nearly 200 years, granting a Hong Kong company the right to build a $40 billion interoceanic canal.

Supporters of the 50-year concession, approved Thursday, hope that it will propel Nicaragua out of its misery by boosting employment and economic growth. But there is also ample suspicion that the project will flounder, as so many others have done since the first government contract for a canal through Nicaragua was awarded in 1825.

The project envisions building a canal as long as 286 kilometers (178 miles), depending on which of four possible routes is used, as well as two deep-water ports, two free-trade zones, an oil pipeline, a railroad and an international airport.

The law granting the concession to HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., known as HKND Group, whose sole owner is Wang Jing, a 40-year-old Beijing-based entrepreneur, was introduced last week to Nicaragua’s congress, which is controlled by Mr. Ortega’s ruling Sandinista party.

Take a look at the map,

Look at the size of the existing Panama Canal, whose expansion is estimated to cost $5.25 billion dollars and take 8 years, and compare it to the projected Nicaraguan canal. Are we supposed to believe that a new canal, multiple times larger, when

work on some of the pre-feasibility studies has barely started and isn’t scheduled to be finished until next year

plus two deep-water ports, two free-trade zones, an oil pipeline, a railroad and an international airport, are supposed to cost only $40 billion?

If the Chinese government is not involved, who’s going to cough up that kind of money for that period of time?

Wang Jing’s experience appears to be only in the telecommunications industry. And he’s not even started the feasibility studies?

There’s Mr. Wang’s little deal with Daniel Ortega,

Mr. Wang registered his canal company in Hong Kong in August. A month later, on Sept. 5, he met President Ortega in Nicaragua. That day, Mr. Wang and the Nicaraguan government signed a memorandum of understanding—which wasn’t announced at the time—authorizing Mr. Wang to promote the financing and participate in the construction of a canal.

He and Mr. Ortega also discussed a telecommunications proposal, and Xinwei was awarded a $300 million telecommunications contract in Nicaragua, according to the company.

Nicaragua’s corruption frequently makes the news.

And then there’s the collapse of the Chinese stocks, which happens sporadically, since – guess what! – China doesn’t use GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

Bernie Madoff is probably regretting he didn’t think of this first, but Werner Herzog may be casting a lead for a movie now that Klaus Kinski is gone.

Those of us who watched Downton Abbey may recall that Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham found that

the investment he made in the Canadian Railway has become worthless, he had lost his own and most of Cora’s money, enough to lose Downton.

Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.