Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

Brazil: Up next, China’s 3,000mile railroad?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

The Chinese are big on mega-infrastructure, and now they’re proposing a 3,300 mile railroad through South America, starting with Brazil (starting with, since that’s the first stop of the tour):

China begins charm offensive in South America amid controversy over Amazonian railway
Beijing denies that Li Keqiang’s eight-day visit to South America, which begins in Brazil, means China is muscling in on the United States “backyard”

Top of their agenda will be the so-called trans-Amazonian railroad which would link Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic coast with Peru’s Pacific coast, cutting through remote areas of rainforest that are home to a wealth of biodiversity as well as numerous indigenous tribes. Mr Li is expected to announce a feasibility study for the megaproject during his trip.

This is different (at least so far) from the proposed Nicaragua Canal in two major ways:

  • The Brazil-Peru railway is officially backed by the Chinese government, which sent prime minister Li Keqiang. The Nicaragua Canal project’s only investor is Wang Jing’s HKND Group (which may or may not be a cover for the Chinese government – who knows?), a company that made a $300 million telecommunications contract with Nicaragua.
  • Li is, from the start, announcing feasibility studies. With the Nicaragua Canal so far, no details on where the funds come from and no feasibility studies (if any) have been made public.

After three days in Brazil, Li will head to Colombia, Peru and Chile.

Environmental concerns are not very high on China’s priorities.

Today’s podcast

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

at 1PM Eastern,

The “Silence is health” Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Orwell was off by a decade, as this 1974 sign in Buenos Aires showed.

ARGENTINA
Things that can’t be said

A Weekend Without Soccer: Argentina’s Stadiums Silenced After Player Killed

BOLIVIA
Evo Morales wants his revolution to perpetuate itself “like China’s”: Evo Morales quiere que su revolución se perpetúe “como en China”

“Gobernar para toda la vida, pero sirviendo al pueblo boliviano y no estamos lejos de eso” [“To govern for a lifetime, but serving the Bolivian people, and we’re not far from that”]

BRAZIL
Brazil’s supreme courtCourtly intrigueThe battle between president and Congress moves to the judiciary

Mr Fachin’s travails have little to do with jurisprudence and everything to do with a power struggle between an unruly Congress and an enfeebled president. The two sides have been tussling ever since the start of Ms Rousseff’s second term in January. The new battleground is the supreme court, the final interpreter of the constitution. On May 5th Congress amended the constitution to raise the age at which judges on higher federal courts must retire from 70 to 75. This could deprive Ms Rousseff of five supreme court nominations she had expected to be able to make before her term ends in 2018.

Rio de Janeiro Buses Set Afire in Protest against 2 Deaths in Shantytown

CHILE
Two die during Chile student protest in Valparaiso

Two young men have been shot dead during a student protest in Chile.

The victims were named as Exequiel Borbaran, 18, and Diego Guzman, 24. Both men were killed in the port city of Valparaiso, said Interior Minister Jorge Burgos.

Local media report that they had been spraying graffiti on a wall and were shot by the son of the owner of the property.

A poetic trip to ChileUnder Neruda’s influence

COLOMBIA
Colombia Defense Minister Says Cocaine Production Increasing

CUBA
Cuba’s Twisted Definition Of Terrorism

Cuba’s 12 Most Absurd Prohibitions That Tourists May Never NoticeIt’s getting easier to go to Cuba, but not necessarily to live there. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you crazy. But, then, there are big things, too.

4-Can’t live in Havana (without a permit).

Raul Castro Is On a Road Alright, To the Netherworld

ECUADOR
Ecuador Responds to Bloomberg Article: Fernando Alvarado Espinel

GUYANA
Opposition’s Electoral Victory in Guyana Was a Long Time Coming

Five points on Guyana’s elections

HAITI
How the Clintons worked Haiti

JAMAICA
Jamaica Tests Drones to Detect Illegal Fishing

LATIN AMERICA
Latin American Allies Resist U.S. Strategy in Drug Fight

MEXICO
Mexican satellite burns up in launchA Russian rocket carrying a Mexican satellite malfunctions and burns up over Siberia soon after launch on Saturday, Russia’s space agency says. $390 million gone, but Mexican Government Says No Economic Losses Caused by Lost Satellite

Mexico travel advisory: Avoid Puerto Vallarta

PANAMA The Panama Canal Gets Grander

PARAGUAY
Paraguay rejects UN criticism over case of 10-year-old pregnant girl

PERU
Hydroelectric Mega-Project Threatens Machu PicchuLocals Cry for Help with River Set to Dry Up in Vilcanota Valley

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s Massive Anti-Austerity Protests Ignored By U.S. Mainland Media

URUGUAY
Bring Your Own Salt – BYOS – Assault On Salt: Uruguay Bans Shakers In Restaurants And Schools

VENEZUELA
Chavismo Meets Its Match in MemesHumor the Last Refuge for Defiant Venezuelans

Mass Deportation of Colombians Underway in VenezuelaMaduro Scapegoating Legal Migrants for Food Shortages Whistleblower: Infrastructure Planning Bites the Dust in CaracasPublic Ministry Sources Sound Alarm on Potential Environmental Disaster

Felipe Gonzalez Will Travel to Venezuela Despite Maduro Snub

US Senators meet with wives of Venezuelan dissenters, voice supportSenator Marco Rubio called for tougher implementation of the executive order imposing sanctions on Venezuelan officials

The week’s posts and podcast
Argentina: “Silence is health”

So many Evitas, so little time . . .

Argentina: Side-by-side #Nisman

Why the University of Alabama won over the Ivy League

Ecuador: Correa thinks Brad bought the wrong book

Art: Abstract interpretation of a minion sells for $46.5million

Venezuela: The dark side of price controls

Brazil: World Cup stadium now a parking lot

If the Pope were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

Hezbollah in Latin America: $100million a year, and more

En español: Unidad de quemados OHL

Honduras: “It’s over for the little guy”

Haiti: Clintons’ scam

Cuba: Fidel’s fantasy islands

Cuba: The annotated Raul-Pope Francis meeting



The royal baby Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 4th, 2015

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, had a baby daughter born on Saturday, and that’s all you’ll hear about it on this blog.

On with the news in our hemisphere:

ARGENTINA
Now even the dogs get kidnapped: Gangs Target Purebred Dogs in Argentina

BAHAMAS
Bahamas court agrees to review new immigration rules

BRAZIL
Lula Investigated for Being Odebrecht’s “Trafficker-in-Chief”

Brazil’s Power Dynamics Shifting Amid Political Scandals

Brazilian executed in Indonesia ‘unaware what was happening until end’Priests states Brazilian man executed in Indonesia did not understand what was happening to him because of his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

CHILE
Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupts for third time

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s High Court Seeks Wider Probe of Espionage CaseInvestigation of ex-President Álvaro Uribe, five other aides sought

Where Are Colombia’s Youth in FARC Negotiations?Josías Fiesco: The Most Impacted Have Not a Single Seat at the Table

Colombia’s judiciaryTrouble at the topEven the highest courts are not immune from scandal

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is happy — but not too much

CUBA
From China: Clandestine Arms Shipment Arrives in Cuba

Venezuela’s Maduro Joins Raul Castro for Cuba’s May Day Parade, where no one would dare throw mangoes at them.

ECUADOR
What Happened When I Joked About the President of Ecuador

A few months before, I registered the Crudo Ecuador brand with the Ecuadorean Institute of Intellectual Property. The I.E.P.I. published the Gaceta, a booklet that shows all the brands that are being registered, including mine.

That’s when things took a dark turn. Some Twitter users began posting I.E.P.I. documents. These documents are supposed to be confidential; they showed my telephone number, my address, my ID number. Then they started posting information from the civil registry. And then, a photo of me in a mall. When I showed my wife the picture, she said, “Hey, this was taken three days ago.” So they’d been following us.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala Needs More than OutrageScale Back the State to Starve Corruption

HAITI
SCHWEIZER: CLINTON DONORS, RELATIVES GOT RICH OFF HAITI CONTRACTS, US TAXPAYERS

JAMAICA
A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia reviewRichard S Dunn’s comparative study of slavery makes surprising arguments

LATIN AMERICA
Thanks To Vaccination, Rubella Has Been Eliminated From The Western Hemisphere

MEXICO
Mexican army helicopter shot at in drug cartel attackA Mexican army helicopter has been shot at in the western state of Jalisco, killing three soldiers and injuring 12 others.

NICARAGUA
For “peaceful purposes”? Nicaragua approves Russian satellite base for ‘alternative GPS’Opposition say legislation was rushed through without proper scrutinyNicaraguan military says it plans to buy Russian jets and patrol boats

PANAMA
Crossing the Darién Gap: US-bound migrants marooned in Panama jungleLong voyage winds from half a world away in search of economic opportunity in North America (emphasis added),

As dusk fell on a recent Saturday, a long dugout canoe floated into this remote town in Darién province of Panama, carrying an increasingly frequent cargo of improbable origins.

At a border police base by the Chucunaque River, the human haul — 13 Bangladeshis, seven Nepalese and two Somalis — disembarked to noisy greetings from other migrants on the bank.

PARAGUAY
Girl, 10, raped by stepfather, denied abortion in ParaguayAmnesty International is calling on Paraguay’s government to allow child to get an abortion for the sake of her health

PERU
Hidden early Christian crypt discovered with dozens of skeletons

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico on the Brink

Puerto Rico is in trouble, after years of bad policies, mismanagement, excessive debt and bad luck.

Its economy has been shrinking or stagnant for a decade and theunemployment rate sits at nearly 12 percent. The commonwealth and its utilities have a debt of $73 billion, its public pension funds are woefully underfunded and one state agency has warned that the government could be forced to shut down soon because it might run out of money.

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo Detainees In Uruguay Protest At U.S. Embassy

VENEZUELA
The U.N.’s Venezuela Crush Gets Orwellian

Report: Venezuela’s Medical Shortages Rival War ZonesHuman Rights Watch: Thousands at Risk while Maduro Looks for Scapegoats

«Yo fui el intérprete de Chávez»Mohamad Mohamadi fue el traductor del líder bolivariano en más de un centenar de encuentros con sus aliados iraníes

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: On with slandering the Jews in the AMIA & #Nisman cases

Cuba: How’s that “easement” going?, part 2

What works

“The Americans” non-values UPDATED

Venezuela: Electricity rationing because of . . . global warming

Chile: Bachelet lifts a page from the Clintons

Don’t rebuild

Minnesota men heading to ISIS via . . . Mexico?

Puerto Rico: Calling Dr. Cardona Harper

Cuba: How’s that “easement” going?

Latin America: Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

Podcast:
Mexico and other US Latin America stories of the week



Latin America: Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Vast natural resources, great human capital, and yet, LatAm wallows in corruption and crime. This is not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Why?

Belen Marty writes about one reason why:
LatAm’s Socialist Countries Rival World’s Worst in Institutional Quality
Zimbabwe, Libya Outrank Venezuela in Dismal Scoresheet for Bolivarian Republics

Latin-American countries with governments that claim to be pursuing a “socialist” agenda come out the worst in the latest Institutional Quality Index published by Argentina’s Freedom and Progress Foundation, with several regional nations ranking alongside countries such as South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and Gabon.

Argentina, governed between 2003 and 2007 by the late former President Néstor Kirchner, and by his spouse President Cristina Kirchner since 2007, has fallen the most in the rankings over the last 10 years, dropping 50 places to occupy position 137 out of 193 surveyed nations. In 2014 alone, Argentina fell several places to be rated worse than China, Uganda, and Lebanon.

Hugo Chavez’s legacy lives on,

Taking the same long-term view, the index shows how other regional countries have slid dramatically in the quality of their public institutions. Bolivia is down 99 places, Argentina by 33, Ecuador by 81, Venezuela by 75, and Paraguay fell by 61 positions, all since 1996.

Communism doesn’t work: Cuba takes the cake at 192, one notch above bottom-ranked North Korea, even after US$300million and 3 million tourists last year alone. Let’s pause for a Capt. Louis Renault moment.

The report, authored by academic Martín Krause, takes an average of eight indicators used by recognized international organizations. Among them are the Index of Economic Freedom (Compiled by the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation), Doing Business, the Rule of Law (the World Bank), and Corruption Perceptions (Transparency International).

The report, which you can read here in Spanish, concludes,

En definitiva, aquellos países que tienen una buena calidad institucional o aquellos que la han mejorado, en particular en relación a las instituciones de mercado, y dentro de ellas aquellas que protegen la inversión y la actividad emprendedora, muestran un mejor desempeño económico y, con ello, ofrecen más oportunidades de progreso a sus habitantes.

[My translation:]
Definitely, the countries with good institutional quality or those which have improved it, especially in regards to market institutions, and within those, the ones that protect investment and enterprise, show better economic performance, and, along with it, offer their citizens more opportunities for progress.

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

ARGENTINA
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

BRAZIL
The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

CHILE
Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

COLOMBIA
Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

COSTA RICA
Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

CUBA
Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”

MEXICO
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES RECOVER STOLEN RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

NICARAGUA
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

PANAMA
Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

PARAGUAY
Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

PERU
Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

PUERTO RICO
S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

VENEZUELA
Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?

WATCH: ROGUE MANGO ATTACKS VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO

Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Podcast:
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories



Two days, two podcasts

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Yesterday,
Rick Moran’s RINO Hour of Power, Hillary announces: Should we even bother to count the votes? with Rich Baehr.

Today,
Silvio Canto’s The Panama summit and other US Latin America stories of the week with Roger Mailhot.

More at the circus: Correa & Obama, BFFs

Monday, April 13th, 2015

From the VII Summit of the Americas circus, 2 items:

Rafael Correa managed to tear himself away from Twitter to give a speech condemning the U.S., and portraying Latin America (and especially Ecuador) as a paragon of freedom and human rights. Mercifully, he did not try to inflict it on his audience in English.

You can watch the whole speech (subtitled in English):

Barack Obama was next, and, as you can see, he agreed with Correa (emphasis added),

I wanna make one last comment, er, addressing er, some of the points that er, president Correa raised that I’m sure will be raised by a few others during this discussion. Er, I always enjoy the history lessons that I receive, er, when I’m here.

Having prefaced that, Obama continued,

I am a student of history so I tend to actually be familiar with many of these episodes that have been mentioned. I am the first one to acknowledge that America’s application to concern around human rights has not always been consistent. And, I’m certainly mindful that there are dark chapters in our own history in which we have not always observed the principles and ideals upon which the country was founded. Just a few weeks ago I was in Selma, Alabama celebrating the 50th anniversary of a march across a bridge that resulted in horrific violence and the reason I was there and the reason it was a celebration is because it was a triumph of human spirit in which ordinary people without resort to violence were able to overcome systematic segregation. There voices were heard and our country changed. America never makes a claim about being perfect, we do make a claim about being open to change.

Here’s a quick glance at International rankings of Ecuador, and you can read the Human Rights Watch report on Ecuador.

How’s that for history lessons?

The Summit of the Americas circus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 13th, 2015


This time the circus was in Panama, where OBAMA-CASTRO MEETING OVERSHADOWS ANTI-US LINE AT SUMMIT

ARGENTINA
CFK: ‘It’s ridiculous to consider Venezuela, Argentina a threat’

Argentine court orders arrest of Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber will be arrested if he ever sets foot in Argentina, following an alleged fracas outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in 2013

BRAZIL
Brazil Ignites Union Fury with Outsourcing Bill
State Employees Warn Hiring-Policy Changes Threaten Labor Rights

Protesters Return to Brazilian Streets
Antigovernment protesters returned to the streets of several Brazilian cities Sunday to express dissatisfaction with President Dilma Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party.

The end of the BRICs

CHILE
Chile Fights Off Creeping Crisis as Graft Accusations Escalate.

Bachelet: I Will Not Resign, Government Is Not Covering Up Scandals. Bachelet didn’t attend the VII Summit.

Chile prisoners ‘extorted Spaniards’
Spanish police break up an extortion ring run by Chilean jail inmates who allegedly cold-called Spanish civilians demanding kidnap ransoms.

COLOMBIA
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Could Colombia play peacemaker between U.S. and Venezuela?

Colombia Navy Finds 21 Cuban Migrants on Border with Panama

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica finishes work to close artificial canal built by Nicaragua in disputed territory

CUBA
Menendez Unloads on ‘Alarming’ Reports of Pressure from White House to Rush Removal of Cuba from Terror List

The President meets the General: Dictatorship legitimized and misbehaviour whitewashed

Obama Mau-Maued By Tinpots At Latin Summit After Conceding So Much To Cuba

HAITI
Haiti’s Hillary Headache: Clinton to announce Presidency Bid Sunday

IMMIGRATION
TWO GOOD REASONS TO CURB IMMIGRATION

JAMAICA
Watch Barack Obama and Usain Bolt do sprinter’s trademark lightning pose on presidential visit to Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America Will Tackle Corruption Later

MEXICO
N Korea urges Mexico to free detained ship

Meet Mexico’s fastest growing drug cartel. It even builds its own rifles

PANAMA
Pro-Castro Panamanian groups threaten Cuban activists

Dos Amigos: President Obama and Raúl Castro Shake Hands in Panama
I guess we should be glad he didn’t bow.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay peasants resist soybean agribusiness activities

PERU
6.5 Million Ounces of Gold LOST in Peru!

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago
Island police and mayors direct heroin addicts to Chicago and other cities with promises of housing and treatment
.

URUGUAY
UN to help Guantanamo refugees with houses in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Panama OAS summit for dummies

Sign or Else: Venezuelans Coerced into Anti-Obama Petition

PBS NewsHour Laments Smell of ‘Imperialist Meddling’ and ‘Bullying’ Venezuela — by Obama?

Meeting under trees in the dark of night, and other stories from Venezuela’s struggling guerilla resistance

The week’s posts and podcast:
Today’s hashtag

Ecuador: Correa tweets!

Breaking: Dissidents attacked again in Panama by Cuban gov operatives

Cuba, the “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society” country

Biden: Like taking a binky from a baby

Colombia: Hillary changed her mind on FTA over $50 million, oops, $130 million

Panama: Cuban agents assault dissidents

Coming up next: The Summit of the Americas circus

Venezuela: Opposition leaders’ wives to attend the Summit of the Americas

Jamaica: Vendors angry about Obama visit

Nicaragua’s steps to dictatorship

Panama: Rosa María Payá detained

Podcast: On the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Panama



Coming up next: The Summit of the Americas circus

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Coming up next: The Summit of the Americas circus

Read all about it here.