Archive for the ‘John Kerry’ Category

Venezuela: Next stop on the Obama administration’s “normalizing” with dictators?

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Thomas Shannon (left in the above photo), a senior counselor to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, met with Venezuela’s National Assembly president Diodado Cabello (right) in Haiti earlier this month.

As you may recall, Diosdado is being investigated by the U.S. Justice department for drug trafficking and money laundering.

Jackson Diehl asks, why?

Cabello and his nominal boss, President Nicolás Maduro, were quick to trumpet their versions. The meeting, Maduro said, was part of a “normalization” of relations between his increasingly beleaguered regime and the Obama administration. Cabello offered it as proof that the reports that he is a U.S. criminal suspect are false. U.S. officials, meanwhile, sounded confused. Both the White House and State Department spokesmen said they were unaware that Cabello had met with Shannon.I heard another story: that the meeting was part of what has become an increasingly urgent attempt by the administration to broker a soft landing for a collapsing Latin American state.

Diehl speculates that Kerry intends to prolong Leopoldo Lopez’s life, and aim for “fair elections” (whatever that means in Venezuela at this point, since there is no reason why the Venezuelan regime would want a real election). Mary O’Grady has more,

A State Department official told me last week that the issues discussed with Mr. Cabello in Haiti included the treatment of the Maduro government’s political prisoners, the importance of setting a date for parliamentary elections this year, and providing internationally credible observation.

While Shannon has traveled twice to Venezuela this year,

when asked at a State Department briefing about Mr. Cabello’s role in Port-au-Prince, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said “I was not aware of a meeting with him.”

And yet,

A State Department spokesperson told me in an email last week that the [Haiti] meeting was “positive and productive.” Translation: Nothing to see here; move along. In fact there’s a lot riding on these negotiations. The end of the chavismo dictatorship would be a good thing. But a descent into chaos of African proportions would take with it the frail democracy movement.

Venezuela News and Views agrees,

The fact of the matter is that Venezuela is a problem big enough that negotiations are a must because the alternative, not negotiating and waiting to see what happens is even worse.

There is a lot riding on these negotiations, for both Venezuela and Cuba.

And then there is a fourth party not mentioned by Diehl and O’Grady: Iran.

Emili Blasco, in his book Bumerán Chávez: Los fraudes que llevaron al colapso de Venezuela, details the many and extensive ties between Iran and Venezuela. Not to be ignored is how Iran milks the difference between the black market and official bolivar-dollar exchange rates and drains Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves. An easing of commercial ties between the U.S. and Venezuela will benefit Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves.

Iran, for one, will be watching closely.

Colombia: Aronson special envoy to FARC peace tallks

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

U.S. Names Aronson Special Envoy to Colombia
Former assistant secretary of state will help Colombian government and FARC in negotiations

On Friday, President Barack Obama named Bernard “Bernie” Aronson, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American Affairs from 1989 to 1993, as the envoy. He will help the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, overcome roadblocks in the final stretch of negotiations.

Let’s hope it’s not another case of “not wanting anything in return.”

But they do look glum, don’t they?

Starting the day with Smart Diplomacy

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Lurch brought a friend to Paris:

Some of the reaction:

John Podhoretz

May God help us. Our secretary of state brought James Taylor with him to Paris and had Taylor sing “You’ve Got a Friend.” THIS HAPPENED. I want to escape America in a balloon.

The week in the administration

Friday, September 5th, 2014

My latest, The week in the administration, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Raise your hand if you’re sure,

Venezuela: Today’s headlines

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

The Scotsman: Venezuela: Third night of riots over dead students

WSJ: Venezuela Opposition Leader Is Sought
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said a police manhunt was under way for Leopoldo Lopez, the hard-line opposition leader behind antigovernment demonstrations that ended with three deaths
.

Reuters: Venezuela frees some student protesters, unrest continues

Yahoo: Venezuela music star Dudamel targeted by opposition critics

AP: Twitter reports image blocking in Venezuela

MercoPress: Chilean president-elect Bachelet blasts Venezuelan repression and Maduro

Following the bloody events of last Wednesday, while countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua expressed their full support for the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro, others were more cautious such as Washington and the Europe Union calling for restraint and dialogue, but Chilean president-elect Michelle Bachelet openly twitted her rejection to repression, to President Maduro and called for a plebiscite.

AFP: John Kerry says US concerned about unrest in Venezuela. Official statement here.

Twitter:
#LaSalida

Livestream: NTN24

Blogs:
Altamira then and now: a Venezuelan spring?

Cuba Training Venezuelan Armed Groups

Is This the End of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela?
In the midst of runaway violence, inflation, and shortages of basic goods, Venezuela’s youth have taken to the streets—to take on its Orwellian government.

Video in Spanish:

Kerry Gives $17 Million to Vietnam to Fight Global Warming

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

John Kerry Gives $16 Million to Vietnam to Fight Global Warming (h/t Frontpage); The AP reported

Kerry pledged $17 million to a program that will help the region’s rice producers, shrimp and crab farmers and fisherman [sic] adapt to potential changes caused by higher sea levels that bring salt water into the delicate ecosystem.

Don’t know about the “higher sea levels”, but some of the water was frozen on its way down:

Some of the rice producers, shrimp and crab farmers and fishermen may need to get themselves some goretex with the $17 million, as Heavy Snowfall Causes Damage In Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province

According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Sa Pa, more than 100 hectares of chayote and another 100 hectares of flowers were buried under snow.

School kids got a snow day off from school, perhaps for the only time in their lives.

In other global warming news to warm your heart, Climate change expert’s fraud was ‘crime of massive proportion,’ say feds (h/t Babalu)

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

He even got his shrink to say the scam was “fueled by his insecurities.”

Tellya what: John Kerry gives me $17 million, and my (financial) insecurities will not only vanish, I’ll even put some of that money towards clearing the waters rising outdoors in the form of snow.

IMG_0433

Winter hasn’t even started.

John Kerry puts a “Kick me” sign on America

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Iran is actively recruiting in Latin America and using Latin American countries to avoid UN sanctions, Hezbollah’s making deals with the drug cartels, Russia’s doing maneuvers in the Caribbean, Cuba’s shipping armaments in North Korean vessels. So what does the Secretary of State do?

He declares: “The Monroe Doctrine Is Over”

The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.

The LatAm media was abuzz,

Monday’s comments receivedwide play in the Latin American press. Venezuela’s El Universal, for example,noted the “end of the U.S. interventionist policy” in the region. Some read too much into it, mistakenly celebrating the end of the “error” of the Monroe Doctrine (instead of the “era”).

A new footing, indeed.

Venezuela: The lifeline, the triple currency

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

First, the triple currency:
Carlos Eire posts on how Maduro Institutionalizes Cuban-Style Economic Chaos in Caracastan

The Venezuelan currency — the Bolivar — has now been assigned three different values by Maduro’s economic ministers.

The official name for this institutionalized chaos is “Sistema Complementario de Divisas (Sicad)”.

This new “Sicad” system in Caracastan is much more than an open display of the Castronoid obsessios with acronyms for destructive and repressive government programs: it’s an acknowledgment of the existence of a black market. Under “Sicad” the Bolivar will have three distinct exchange rates. Right now, depending on what kind of financial transaction one is making, the Bolivar will be worth 10 cents on a US Dollar, or 6.3 cents on a US Dollar, or 3 cents on a US Dollar. The lowest of these three values is the real value of the Bolivar, for that is the value pegged to the black market, which is euphemistically referred to as the “parallel” market.

The purpose is to obscure the devalued currency’s worth so no one knows its worth.

Spain’s ABC has much more (in Spanish) on the 3-card Monty; the also point out that Argentina’s got the official and the black market rates. Clarín (in Spanish) has more on Argentina’s double currency.

And the lifeline,
Venezuela gets a lifeline from the United States

One government, however, has chosen to toss Mr. Maduro a lifeline: the United States. Last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry took time to meet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, then announced that the Obama administration would like to “find a new way forward” with the Maduro administration and “quickly move to the appointment of ambassadors.” Mr. Kerry even thanked Mr. Maduro for “taking steps toward this encounter” — words that the state-run media trumpeted.

What did Mr. Maduro do to earn this assistance from Mr. Kerry? Since Mr. Chávez’s death in March, the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly used the United States as a foil. He expelled two U.S. military attaches posted at the embassy in Caracas, claiming that they were trying to destabilize the country; he claimed the CIA was provoking violence in order to justify an invasion; and he called President Obama “the big boss of the devils.” A U.S. filmmaker, Timothy Tracy, was arrested and charged with plotting against the government — a ludicrous allegation that was backed with no evidence. Though Mr. Tracy was put on a plane to Miami on the day of the Kerry-Jaua encounter, Mr. Kerry agreed to the meeting before that gesture.

As I mentioned last week, the Tracy kidnapping worked.


Venezuela: The kidnapping worked

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Imagine, if you may, this sequence of events:

  • Dictator dies
  • Dictatorship expels superpower military attaches in March the same day dictator dies
  • Dictatorship perpetuates (or at least attempts to perpetuate) itself through electoral fraud
  • Superpower ignores election results
  • Big OAS pow-wow date looms on the horizon
  • Dictatorship kidnaps citizen of superpower
  • Behind-the-scenes deal takes place
  • To add urgency, the dictatorship places the citizen of the superpower in one of the most dangerous jails in our hemisphere
  • Citizen is released and returned
  • Superpower’s Secretary of State and dictatorship’s foreign minister get together for photo-op
  • Everybody’s happy

You don’t think that’s what happened in the Timothy Tracy case?

Think again:

John Kerry Meets With Venezuela’s Foreign Minister; Talk Of Improving Relations

On his first trip to Latin America since taking office, Kerry said he was hopeful that a rapprochement could be achieved. The meeting, which came at Venezuela’s request, took place just hours after Venezuela released from prison an American filmmaker who had been jailed on espionage charges, removing an immediate irritant in the relationship.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the 35-member OAS annual general assembly, Kerry did not mention the developments with Venezuela, but reiterated U.S. concerns that some countries in the hemisphere are backsliding on their commitments to democracy and seeking to weaken OAS institutions that monitor and report on human rights.

Any questions?

UPDATE:
Linked by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


Bill Whittle: “What difference does it make?”

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Well said.

(And I’m glad Bill’s wearing a dark suit and contrasting tie. The gray-on-gray washed him out.)

h/t Jimbo.