Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

The dollarized Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 8th, 2015

The latest trend: Peoples of Latin America are increasingly favoring the U.S. dollar in monetary transactions.

In other news, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter was shot down or forced to initiate an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas due to receiving gunfire from the Mexican side of the border.

ARGENTINA
Alberto Nisman’s computer ‘accessed more than 60 times after his death’Mystery surrounding death of Argentine prosecutor deepens as judicial sources say his computer was accessed after his death and detectives accused of contaminating crime scene

One More Unsolved Mystery in Argentina

U.S. Judge Orders Argentina to Pay $5.4 Billion to Other Bondholders

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Hands Over Fugitive Businessman to Peru Authorities

Bolivia’s government on Friday handed over fugitive businessman Martin Belaunde Lossio, who was captured the day before in Bolivia’s Amazon region after escaping house arrest last weekend.

Belaunde, a former adviser to Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, is wanted in his homeland on corruption charges.

BRAZIL
Debts of Brazil Companies Probed in Petrobras Scandal up 1,424%

Brazil court convicts two firefighters in nightclub fireA court convicts two of eight firefighters in connection with 2013 nightclub fire that killed more than 200 people in southern Brazil

Lt Col Moises da Silva Fuchs and Cpt Alex da Rocha Camillo were found guilty at a military court of making a false declaration in the licence for Kiss nightclub in the university town of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul.

Fuchs was also convicted of misconduct for not sanctioning an officer, who also managed a company responsible for renovations at the club.

Six other firefighters were cleared over inspection failures before the fire after a two-day hearing.

CHILE
Bachelet’s Popularity in the Toilet after Corruption CrisisPresident’s Support Halves in Just One Year to 26 Percent

COLOMBIA
11-year-old daughter of high-ranking official in Colombia abducted and held for ransom

Colombia Re-Arrests Suspected Rapist of Journalist Bedoya

How Libertarianism Can End Bogotá’s Traffic ChaosShared-Spaced Designs Can Lift the Burden of Unnecessary State Controls

CUBA
Human rights group: Political repression in Cuba almost doubles in May

Dictatorship and the Nature of the Vatican

In an online world, Cuba remains a stand-in-line society
Waiting in long lines for just about everything is an inescapable fact of life on the island.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic Inches Closer to Consecutive Presidential ReelectionDanilo Medina Clears Another Hurdle toward 2016 Bid

ECUADOR
Ecuador’s Pope Francis Propaganda Reaches Critical MassCorrea Splits with Bishops over Papal Visit Branding

GUATEMALA
Another Guatemalan Minister Calls It Quits as Protests SpreadMounting Money Trail Goes Right to the Top

Rios Montt Defense Lawyer Slain in Guatemala

HONDURAS
Thousands rally in Honduras calling for president to quit

JAMAICA
Building Jamaica from Burma through IndiaLachu Ramchandani started with nothing, now opens up possibilities for many

LATIN AMERICA
Crime in Latin AmericaQuickie kidnappingsAs abductions get faster, the poor are being targeted along with the rich

MEXICO
**UPDATES** BREAKING: US CBP CHOPPER DOWN AT TEXAS BORDER, FIRED ON FROM MEXICO

DABIQ: ISIS COULD TRANSPORT NUKE FROM NIGERIA INTO U.S. THROUGH MEXICO

Video of Mexican Prison Riot Highlights a Crisis as Elections NearThe footage of a deadly melee illustrated the difficulty the government has in controlling inmates in its overcrowded and violent prison system.

Mexico’s Midterm Elections Likely to Reflect President’s WoesSunday’s vote is shaping up as a referendum on President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose early popularity has been undercut by a resurgence in gang violence and corruption scandals.

PERU
Peru Two land roles as hairdressers in Peruvian jail in bid to get early parole

PUERTO RICO
Broke And Barred From Bankruptcy, Puerto Rico Seeks Outside Cash

Thank God this was not a trend when I lived there, Dead man standing: Macabre wakes of Puerto Rico prop up the dead

URUGUAY
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee weds Muslim convert in UruguayAdel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi, a 50-year-old Tunisian, married Roma Blanco, a 24-year-old Uruguayan; Omar Abdelhadi Faraj’s wedding was postponed to next week.

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan President Maduro Cancels Visit With Pope FrancisMaduro, criticized on human rights record, says he is ill and cannot travel

Good luck with that: Pope asked to intercede in Venezuelan hunger strike
Pope and President Maduro are due to meet in Rome on Sunday amid concerns that jailed opposition figures beginning to develop serious health problems as a result of their fast
. As you can see above, Maduro’s not going.

Venezuela: Not Hyperinflating — Yet

The week’s posts and podcast:
Uruguay: De facto dollarization

Nicaragua: The canal, a pretext for expropriation?

An exquisitely civilizing moment: Sinatra and Jobim

Cuba: Outside the Tourist Bubble

Argentina: Who went into #Nisman’s laptop?

Venezuela: Maradona for FIFA president!

Why do we talk about Jenner?

En español: Lo que sabía #Nisman: la conexión iraní

Colombia: Today’s Capt. Louis Renault moment

Ecuador: Hasta la vista, dollars!

Argentina: Crime scene video from #Nisman apartment



The off-the-sponsors-of-terror-list Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 1st, 2015

LatinAmerThe week’s big news: Pres. Obama removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror, as part of a deal brokered by the Vatican, in exchange for which Cuba had to do nothing.

The top headlines in the hemisphere: FIFA corruption; as expected, its re-elected president blames the U.S. and England.

ARGENTINA
Cristina’s not running: ‘CFK will not be candidate in the upcoming elections’ . . . maybe.

Re: Nisman, Calls on prosecutor Fein to hurry probe into Nisman’s deathJudge: investigate Lagomarsino

‘Meteorite thieves’ held by policePolice in Argentina arrest four men who appear to have been trying to steal more than a tonne of meteorites in the northern province of Chaco.

BAHAMAS
China mulls air route to Bahamas

BOLIVIA
“Refugio de corruptos”

BRAZIL
Former Petrobras Executive Sentenced to Five Years
Nestor Cerveró, Petrobras’ former director of international operations, was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison.

Brazil Dangles Leniency to Spur Energy Industry
Brazil’s government is preparing to offer U.S.-like leniency deals to several private companies linked to the Petrobras corruption scandal to lessen its drag on the nation’s economy

CAYMAN ISLANDS
How the Cayman Islands Became a FIFA Power

CHILE
When a government spies on its citizens: lessons from Chile

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s peace process
Bullet proof
Despite an escalation of violence, the talks continue

One reason for the talks’ resilience is that both sides are used to negotiating during bouts of violence, which did not end even during the quietest periods. Military action by the FARC fell by 85% during its ceasefire and civilian deaths fell by 73%, according to the Conflict Analysis Resource Centre (CERAC), a think-tank in Bogotá. Even so, CERAC recorded 21 attacks by the FARC (and suspects it was responsible for another 75). Mr Santos has staked his reputation on concluding a peace agreement (by the end of this year, he hopes). For the FARC, the alternative to peace is further pounding by the armed forces; it no longer hopes for victory.

Farc peace negotiator killed in Colombia bombingPedro Nel Daza Martínez, the Farc leader better known as “Jairo Martínez”, had returned from peace talks in Havana when he was killed by a government bombing raid

Public opinion and pessimism in Colombia’s peace talks

CUBA
Raul Castro Meets with Leaders of Mexican Left

Voluntary Corporate Code of Conduct for Cuba Needed

Interamerican Human Rights Commission asked to intervene on behalf of besieged Cuban pastor

On Cuba’s Removal From the State-Sponsors of Terrorism List

Carlos Eire writes on how “they hate it so much when we refuse to be the caricatures they want us to be:” Okay, that’s it. Se acabó la pachanga. The party’s over. Time to say “Hell is my homeland.”

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Legal Limbo over for Haitian Descendants in Dominican RepublicCritics Fear Many Still Fall through the Cracks

ECUADOR
Bye-bye, dollarization: Ecuador Moves Toward Electronic Currency

Ecuador’s Monetary Council has published a resolution making it mandatory for private and public banks to deal with transactions in electronic currency.

Depending on their size, banks will have between 120 and 360 days to register as Macro Agents of the electronic currency system in the central bank.

The resolution reiterated that the central bank is the only entity authorized to issue electronic currency, and that the electronic currency must be backed up by liquid assets of the central bank.

Tax Me, I’m Ecuadorian
Taking More from Inheritances Will Depress Salaries, Impoverish Middle Class

EL SALVADOR
How gang violence is spreading fear in El Salvador

HAITI
Accused Clinton Donation Solicitation Used For Haiti Projects

The money will be used for “undetermined” projects in Haiti.

Yeah, right.

LATIN AMERICA
U.S. Soccer Probe Brings Adulation From AbroadUnexpectedly, the FBI’s case is garnering plaudits even in regions like Latin America that are traditionally suspicious of Washington’s motives

MEXICO
Mexico Shelves Key Part of Education OverhaulThe Mexican government suspended its planned teacher evaluations that were a cornerstone of the country’s education overhaul, in a decision ahead of midterm elections that dissident teacher groups threatened to boycott.

Major US Banks Closing Border Branches to Fight Money Laundering

LIFE AND DEATH ON THE AVOCADO TRAIL
A fearless Mexican-American cook routinely travels 2,000 miles, driving through a drug war and slipping out of kidnappers’ fingers, all in the name of a decent mole poblano for her New York customers.
Inexplicably, they let her go.

NICARAGUA
DRUG TRAFFICKING
Beachcombing along the Caribbean drug trail in Nicaragua

PANAMA
Global Migrants Brave Panama’s Vipers, Bats, Bandits to Reach U.S.
Africans, Asians, Cubans cross the treacherous jungle of the Darien Gap

PERU
Peru planning to dam Amazon’s main source and displace 1000s
Over 20 hydroelectric projects proposed for the main trunk of the River Maranon would have devastating impacts

PUERTO RICO
Fat lot of good that’s going to do: Puerto Rico Governor Signs Law Raising Sales Tax to 11.5 Pct. To cover its $1.2 billion in debt service due this year from sales tax alone, it would have to raise over $10 trillion in sales – absurd.

URUGUAY
June brides: Ex-Guantanamo Prisoners to Marry Uruguayan Women

Abd al Hadi Omar Mahmoud Faraj [a.k.a. Abd al Hadi Faraj], 40, from Syria and Tunisian Abdul Bin Mohammed Ourgy [a.k.a. Abdul Bin Mohammed Bin Abess Ourgy], 50, will marry Muslim women at a mosque in Montevideo.

VENEZUELA
Venezuelans March in Caracas to Demand Release of Jailed Opposition Leaders


Diosdado is now reading members of NGOs Provea and Public Forum emails on TV.

#SOSVenezuela: Venezuelans, Cubans, others protest for freedom, democracy in Venezuela #30M

Leopoldo Lopez shows us what a selfie should be all about

The week’s posts and podcast:
Cuba: Willfull blindness

Masplaining and the shrinking violets

This just in: Cuba off sponsors of terror list

Latin America: Breitbart news report on Iranian expansion in our hemisphere

Brazil: The WaPo’s evangelical Frank Underwood

Is Venezuela dollarizing

Argentina: #FIFAarrests in 22 tweets

Cuba: Is China rebuilding Cuba’s ports?

The era of moral imbecility

Brazil: Beam him up, Scotti

Mexico: The independent El Bronco

Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez’s jail video

Note to all Latin Americans: Being a populist socialist won’t save you from ISIS

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week



Latin America: Breitbart news report on Iranian expansion in our hemisphere

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Visitors to Fausta’s blog have been reading about it for years, so it’s good to see more on it:


IRAN RISING: TEHRAN USING HEZBOLLAH IN LATIN AMERICAN ‘CULTURAL CENTERS’ TO INFILTRATE WEST

Breitbart News interviewed military and intelligence officials, policy experts, members of Congress, and a former White House official for this report, all of whom warned about the threat posed by Iran’s continuing encroachment into Latin America.Iran is infiltrating Latin America thanks largely to Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group that has sworn loyalty to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, showing overt preference to the Tehran dictator over its host-state Lebanon. Hezbollah, along with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have provided the on-the-ground support needed for the proliferation of Iran’s Khomeinist ideology.

Read the whole thing.

The Memorial Day 2015 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 25th, 2015

LatinAmerToday we commemorate those who died for our great nation.

ARGENTINA
Argentinian Falklands veterans take ‘torture’ case to international arenaVeterans of the 1982 conflict recount their ordeal and the anti-Semitic abuse they faced in a press conference, including instances of beatings and sexual violence

Do orang-utans have human rights?Argentinian court hears arguments on whether keeping Sandra the orang-utan in a zoo is a human rights violation, but the Nisman case got dismissed.

BOLIVIA
NARCORREVOLUCIÓNEl negocio cocalero de Evo Morales y Nicolás Maduro

Almost 500 Students, Teachers Poisoned in Northern Bolivia

No marraqueta for you! Bakers Stop Baking Traditional Bolivian Bread in La Paz

The bakers of La Paz will not bake ‘marraqueta’, a traditional Bolivian bread symbolic of the city, as a part of a strike in opposition to the Bolivian government’s removal of a flour subsidy, a trade-union source told Efe.

BRAZIL
Unlike my former neighbors in Princeton, I don’t share their fascination with Albert Einstein, but here it is anyway: A 65-year-old letter written by Albert Einstein found in Brazil schoolThe letter was reportedly discovered in a safe at a school in Porto Alegre in the south of the country

CHILE
Clashes as Chile’s Bachelet seeks to regain popularityPresident looks to get reform agenda back on track in annual address to Congress as protesters and police clash outside.

COLOMBIA
Colombia Rebels Suspend Unilateral Cease-Fire after Army Operation

Farc rebels killed in new air strikeColombia’s security forces kill at least five rebels from the Farc a day after the left-wing rebel group suspended its unilateral ceasefire.

CUBA
Cuban torturers sent to Vietnam to ‘extract’ information from American prisoners

Syrian Regime Officials Visit Cuba, Learn From Castro’s Outmaneuvering of Obama

Trafficking With the Enemy, American Taxpayers Deserve BetterDo Your Due Diligence Before Engaging in Authorized Transactions in Cuba, Especially When it Comes to the Confiscated Lands Issue

The Pope, Liberation Theology, Palestine and Castro…One by one, the great Western institutions have fallen to the infection of the left. Have they now captured the Church of Rome? Yes.

ECUADOR
Chevron Update

EL SALVADOR
Msgr. Romero Beatified in El Salvador Before Crowd of 300,000

Crowds greet Romero beatification
Huge crowd attends Romero's beatification ceremony

Huge crowds in El Salvador attend the beatification of Oscar Romero – the Roman Catholic archbishop murdered during the 1980-92 civil war.

Division remain over ‘martyr’

El Salvador Needs Economic Development, Rule of Law

GUATEMALA
MOB BURNS GIRL ALIVE IN CENTRAL AMERICA **GRAPHIC VIDEO**

Guatemalan Central Bank Chief Arrested on Corruption Charges

GUYANA
Guyana’s electionA time to healThe new government could narrow the racial divide

IMMIGRATION
Telemundo Ignores Conservative Immigration Initiative. The Spanish-language networks are so awful at news, 80% of so-called Hispanics in the U.S. get their news elsewhere.

JAMAICA
Jamaica rejects buggery law repeal, same-sex marriage

MEXICO
Mexico investigates new Guerrero disappearances

AT LEAST 42 GUNMEN AND ONE COP KILLED IN MEXICAN CARTEL FIREFIGHT

Gulf Cartel Had Camera Surveillance System Across Mexican Border City

PANAMA
‘No peace dividend’ for Panama border force

“Peace is not a bad thing, but it’s unlikely to solve our problems,” says Director of Panama’s Border Police, Frank Abrego.
He is referring to the prospect of a peace deal between the Colombian government and left-wing rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Follow Panama: Dollarize

PARAGUAY
Counterfeit goods are big business in Paraguay

PERU
Peru declares state of emergency over mining violence

PUERTO RICO
Final Section of Modern, Regional Undersea Cable Comes Ashore in Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Matías Campiani Private Equity Executive to Be Released From Uruguay Prison

VENEZUELA
Will the Venezuelan State Fail?

NYC’s most legendary prosecutor sees a darker threat in Venezuela’s alleged global cocaine hub

 Morgethau believed, and still does, that Chavez’s regime was allowing Iran to use the country’s banking system, and that former Venezeulan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami specifically helped Iran’s agents obtain Venezuelan passports so they could travel freely around the world.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Memorial Day Commemoration Ceremonies

37 MS-13 indicted in Charlotte

VDH’s Pathei Mathos

Argentina: Veterans take torture case to inter-American court of human rights

Cuba and terrorism

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

Communism: When the only way out is death

Mexico: Human rights division head resigns over Iguala case

Venezuela: Diosdado and drugs – whose powerplay?

Ecuador: Brazilian prosecutor sides with Chevron



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