Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Nicaragua: Wang Jing does poorly

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

In case you don’t remember the name, Wang Jing is the chairman of Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, who made a $300million telecommunications deal last year with Daniel Ortega. He also heads HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., the company behind the proposed Nicaraguan Canal, that project of Dubious Plans and Abundant Unknowns.

Wang is the year’s worst-performing billionaire:

This Chinese Billionaire Has Lost More Than Glasenberg in 2015 (h/t JC)

Telecommunications entrepreneur Wang Jing, 42, was one of the world’s 200 richest people with $10.2 billion at the peak of the Chinese markets in June, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth has since fallen to $1.1 billion.


HKND Group, Wang’s closely held development company, was awarded a 50-year concession for the 170-mile (274 kilometer) canal by the government of President Daniel Ortega in 2013. The billionaire said in a December 2014 televised press conference in Nicaragua that he was committing personal funds to the project, and he’s poured about $500 million of his own money into it so far, Peng Guowei, an executive vice president at HKND, told Chinese state media Xinhua on Sept. 7.

Turn of Fortune
“The turn of fortune in Mr. Wang’s financial resources will impact how and whether the canal can and will be built,” said Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions and a former country risk manager at General Electric Co. “I would expect, given this year’s financial gyrations in China, that the government is also asking itself whether the canal is a viable proposition.”

The company said that despite the economic setbacks and local protests against the canal’s construction, the project is moving forward. “I have no doubt that appropriate financial arrangements will be in place before construction commences,” Bill Wild, HKND’s chief adviser for the canal, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Company representatives for Xinwei declined to comment on Wang’s personal investments and declined a request for an interview with Wang.

A September e-mail from closely held HKND said the funds raised from the pledged Xinwei shares were used for Wang’s “personal investments” and not for the canal project, without elaborating. Wang is also funding unrelated projects — in some cases with partners — including a deep water port in Ukraine.

As I have been saying from the start, the canal project (if you can find it) cannot come about without major support from the Chinese government.

The post-papal visit Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Thank God Papa Che came and left without incident. Yet, as Rich Lowry put it,

The Catholic Church’s traditional discomfort with modernity has cachet at this moment in American politics, especially when it is wrapped in the fashionable causes of income inequality and climate change. In this sense, Pope Francis is (inadvertently) a genius marketeer by taking crackpot attitudes about economic development and getting them a respectful hearing.

Taking the Pope to School

Argentina’s Presidential Hopefuls Aim to Further Militarize Drug War. Experts Warn “Failed Policy” Will Lead to More Violence, Corruption

Can Argentina responsibly develop its massive shale oil and gas potential?


Bolivia row with Chile over strip of land to Pacific Ocean goes to The Hague.
Anger in Chile as International Court of Justice at the Hague declares it has jurisdiction to rule on Bolivia’s claim

Gates Foundation sues Petrobras. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sues the Brazilian state-owned oil company, Petrobras for investment losses due to corruption.

Chile refuses bilateral negotiations over Bolivia border dispute

Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC leaders signed an accord in Havana under the aaegis of Raul Castro. Alvaro Uribe refers to it as an “Agreement of Impunity” (#AcuerdoDeImpunidad):
Santos, it’s not peace that’s near, it’s the surrender to FARC and the tyranny of Venezuela.”

The accord does not address the issue of drug trafficking.

Colombia Peace Process: Theatre of the Politically Absurd.

The accord is one of the biggest stories of the year, and U.S. media has barely mentioned it, even when the pope was involved (link in Spanish).

Violence in Costa Rica Reaching ‘Pandemic’ Levels?

Governor Cuomo and Raúl Castro of Cuba Meet

Haiti border crisis grows as Dominican Republic expels ‘migrants’

Ecuador’s President Used Millions Of Dollars Of Public Funds To Censor Critical Online Videos. Exclusive: BuzzFeed News has seen leaked documents that reveal Rafael Correa used the intelligence budget to delete content critical of him and the first lady from YouTube, Facebook, and other sites.

Testing the limits on crazy immigration policies, a New plan: we’ll pay to import formerly deported illegals with mental illnesses

Jamaican Anti-Gay Rally to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage, Even Though No One Has Proposed It. Like it or not, Jamaica is leapfrogging over decriminalization and straight to relationship equality. Here are four reasons LGBTI activists should embrace the issue.

State capitalism, populism, extractive economies and corruption don’t work: Support for Latin American Leaders Has Fallen Steadily, Poll Shows: Latin America’s political leaders face a bleak future and a potent backlash from citizens regionwide who feel increasingly disillusioned as economies stumble and corruption flourishes, a new poll across 18 countries by a respected Chilean firm shows.

Latin America cracks open its doors as Syrian refugee crisis mounts. Syrian Issa Hassan is one of the first to land in Mexico today as citizen pressure to do more mounts. Many countries in the region have had their own experiences with authoritarian rule and brutality.

Mexico’s Peña Nieto meets Iguala parents and vows to “search for truth”. President holds first face-to-face with families of the 43 missing teaching students

Dozens of Clandestine Graves Found During Search for Missing Mexican Students

Nicaragua says planned canal will cut sailing time for mega-ships, if it ever gets started, that is.

Companies building controversial dam in Panama hit with $1.2 mn in fines

Paraguay Homicides Drop, But Border Remains Violent 

The figures show high concentrations of violence in the states of Amambay and Alto Parana, with those provinces registering 50 and 31 homicides respectively. Both of these states are major border crossings between Paraguay and Brazil. Amambay in particular isone of the most dangerous border regions in Latin America, registering a murder rate of 66.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2014.  

British tourists held overnight by Peruvian protesters. Tour party hijacked by indigenous campaigners angered by halt in road construction

Puerto Rico Funds May Face Federal Oversight. Legislation that would subject Puerto Rico mutual funds to the same regulations as mainland funds is expected to be introduced in Congress on Friday, a sign Puerto Rico’s financial crisis is drawing greater scrutiny.

Dozens Injured, Arrested in Student Protest in Uruguay

Antonio Ledezma: Seven Months under House Arrest, Still No Hearing for Caracas Mayor. Venezuelan Opposition Fears a Repeat of Leopoldo López Case Leaked Government Study Reveals Extent of Shortage Crisis in Venezuela. Report Exposes “Economic War” as Fraud, Says Center for Documentation Director

Venezuelan defector reveals secret meetings between Maduro and Hezbollah

The papal visit Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 21st, 2015

The question right now is, after getting the finger, how will Francis react to the deliberate insult to Pope Francis and to Catholics in the US?

Cristina in Havana:

U.S. Targets Tax Evaders Using Belize Accounts. Judge approves ‘John Doe’ summonses on U.S. banks

Top Bolivian officials allegedly involved in drug trafficking, according to DEA claim. Secret United States indictments obtained by the media have implicated top Bolivian officials in drug trafficking, reigniting the highly charged debate over whether Bolivia is a victim of US political persecution or whether it is becoming a corrupt narco-state.

Brazil’s sagging economy:Recession’s sharp bite. The shrinking of a once-vibrant economy is shocking ordinary folk as well as number-crunchers

Chile Sees Extensive Damage After Earthquake and Tsunami. My contacts are in areas not deeply affected.

Venezuelan Soldiers Reported Crossing Border into Colombia

Black in Bogota. Reaction to police search starts huge debate online


Castro praises Pope’s anti-capitalism stance

Follow Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba here

Cubans Increasingly Detour through Central America to Reach US Soil. Panama Sees Nearly 300 Percent Increase in Illegal Cuban Migrants in 5 Years

Correa Come Lately Not Fooling Anyone.Ecuadorians Need More than a New Coat of Paint

Danny Glover to visit Jamaica for reparation forum

Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America’s new era of disenchantment; nothing new.

Ranking America’s Love for Five Central American Countries

Hillary is ready to fight the war on drugs… in Mexico

Leaked Permit Refutes Egypt’s Account of Mexican Tourist Massacre. Tour Company Offers Proof Convoy Did Not Travel “Out of Bounds”

10 dead in land conflicts among Nicaragua settlers, Indians

New Panama Video App Shares Location-based Videos Anonymously

Syrians Play Political Prop for Pepe Mujica. Refugee Grandstanding Show’s Ex-President’s True Colors

Paraguayan Journalist among Prizewinners for Defending Press Freedom

Vigilante Lynchings Go Viral in Peru. Social Media Catalyzes Pent-Up Hunger for Justice

Peruvian serial killer’s brother arrested for murder in Japan. Brother of a serial killer known as the “apostle of death” has been arrested in connection to six murders in Japan

Peruvian Ombud’s Office Calls for Negotiated Solution to Oil Protests

Puerto Rico Utility Fails to Extend Contract With Insurers

The Electric Power Authority’s failure to extend the forbearance agreement with the insurers marks a setback for the utility, which earlier this month struck a tentative deal with some of its bondholders to reduce its debt load. Insurers that guarantee $2.5 billion of the utility’s debt balked at extending the talks. The forbearance keeps negotiations outside of court.

The Venezuelan Judge Who Caved to Chavista Pressure: Susana Barreiros’s Ruling Follows Chumming with Diosdado Cabello

The $40/barrell oil Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Oil breaks $40 barrier for first time in six years, which is very important news for our hemisphere.

Menem vows to reveal evidence that could shed light on AMIA attack

The defence of Menem today requested the Federal Oral Court No. 2 (TOF 2), that is leading the investigation into the cover-up of the 1994 deadly attack, to have the Senate withdraw Menem’s state secrets privilege warning the release of the information “could affect” the interests of the Nation and “the breaking of peaceful coexistence” with other countries.

Argentineans Launch Petition against “Donald Trump” Wall with Paraguay
Locals Dry [sic] Infrastructure as Wasteful, Bad for Relations

Bolivian Police Drag Indigenous Protesters Out of Their Homes
Guaraní Pledge to Resist Evo’s Oil Exploration on Their Lands

Translation: Merkel reminds Rousseff that Germans want to get paid. Merkel calls for a free trade accord between the Europe Union and Mercosur. During the “surprise” visit,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Brazil’s government on Thursday to further open its markets to foreign companies, and said she saw an opportunity to reach a free-trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur trade bloc. Merkel is on a two-day visit to Brazil with a large delegation of government officials and representatives from German companies.

Study: Chile likely to draw from stabilization fund due to copper price drop

Colombia slashes gold holdings by two-thirds amid July rout

The reason for and timing of the move are not known, but it came as institutional and speculative investors pulled more cash en masse from commodities, ending a decade-long boom, as the stock market crash in China reignited concerns about demand from the world’s biggest consumer of industrial raw materials.

Obama Plays the Clinton Vietnam Card to Normalize Relations With Cuba, but Turns it On Its Head

Before restoring full diplomatic relations with Vietnam, President Clinton eased a majority of the economic sanctions. A mistake. However, by the time he did this, the Soviets were mostly gone from Vietnam; Vietnamese forces had pulled out from Cambodia and replaced with a UN peacekeeping force; and thousands of former South Vietnamese officials had been freed from political prisons and exiled to other nations including the United States.

What ultimately made it politically palatable for Clinton to remove sanctions was a 1993 Senate Select Committee report on POW matters that afforded Clinton the domestic political cover he needed to move forward to ease sanctions. Vietnam also started to return POW remains and allowed U.S. inspectors as part of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTF-FA) to visit various places throughout the country to investigate POW/MIA claims.

Ecuador Protests: Correa’s Oil Crisis, Policies Could Spell End Of Latin America Success Story

Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano roars back to life, locals speak of lava flow fears and damage to tourism

Prosecution requests impeachment of Guatemala president Otto Perez

IMF Considering Adjusting Some Measures Under Deal With Jamaica

International Monetary Fund (IMF’s) Mission Chief to Jamaica, Dr Uma Ramakrishnan says the fund is considering relaxing some of the targets under Jamaica’s economic support programme

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, Mexican who led search for mass graves found shot to death
Activist’s group had unearthed 129 bodies in Guerrero, where students went missing last year.

He worked for the politically active group called the Union of Towns and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (known as UPOEG)

Previously Deported Illegals Caught Smuggling Thousands of People Across Border

3-Time Deported Top Mexican Drug Trafficker Caught Illegally Re-Entering Texas

Investigation Lifts a Cloud Over President of Mexico
A seven-month conflict-of-interest investigation into the purchase of luxury homes by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s wife and his finance minister from a government contractor found no wrongdoing, Mexico’s comptroller said Friday.

Why am I not surprised? China’s Building a Huge Canal in Nicaragua, But We Couldn’t Find It

Turkey’s new direct connection to Panama may facilitate terrorist financing for Hamas

Turkey and Panama have no international trade to speak of, raising questions as to why, of the 28 countries not served by the airline, is Turkish Airlines expanding to Panama.

Likewise, New nonstop flight from Dubai to Panama a terrorist financiers’ dream? (h/t JC)

Financiers for Hezbollah and a number of other sanctioned Middle East terrorist groups must be jumping up and down for joy, for their jobs will become much easier. The amount of international trade between Panama and the Middle East is nominal, but the nonstop flights will greatly facilitate both illicit (i.e. money laundering) transactions, and terrorist financing operations.

Expect more of that if Obama’s Iran deal goes through.

Rogelio Livieres Plano, ousted bishop in Paraguay, dies at 69

The migrant nation
Urbanisation in Peru has brought citizenship but also a host of problems

Peruvian newspaper cancels cardinal column after papal ‘plagiarism’
Peruvian newspaper says it will not publish any more articles by Roman Catholic cardinal Luis Cipriani after papal plagiarism revelations

Now Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has been unceremoniously dumped from his occasional column at El Comercio, Peru’s oldest privately-owned newspaper, after his writings were proved to include plagiarised words of popes.

Governor Luis Fortuño On The Lessons The US Must Learn From Puerto Rico

The former Governor of Puerto Rico explains that “bottom line, you can never tax yourself out of a hole.”

Hurricane Danny Has Begun Its Weakening; Drought Relief For Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico?

Good luck with that: Venezuelans Launch Mises Institute to Take Down ChavismoLibertarians Offer Ideological Cure to Economic Crisis

The week’s posts and podcast:
Nicaragua: Where’s the canal?

Argentina: Wheelchair tango

The Falklands: Pope Francis, what fresh hell can this be? UPDATED

Venezuela: Circling the drain

Somebody tell Al Sharpton Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens

Venezuela: Cuban doctors stuck in limbo, as the country collapses

Cuba: Air-travel, credit cards next . . . by executive action?

Menendez on Iran: Failure Theater, or not?

Cuba: “Who fears the billboard?”

“Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Brazil: Will Dilma get it?

Mexico: @Leon_Krauze looks at the big White House

Podcast: Cuba, marches in Brazil & other US-Latin America stories of the week

The foreign policy house of lies

Nicaragua: Where’s the canal?

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

Bloomberg News went looking but couldn’t find it:

China’s Building a Huge Canal in Nicaragua, But We Couldn’t Find It

The townspeople haven’t seen any signs of canal workers in months. And the work that was done was marginal. A handful of Chinese engineers were spotted late last year making field notations on the east side of the lake; early this year, a dirt road was expanded and light posts were upgraded at a spot on the west side where a port is to be built.

Other Chinese projects in our hemisphere have not been doing all that well:

Last year I was saying The Nicaragua canal: Don’t be the next Lord Crawley

Nicaragua: Is China actually behind the canal?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Mary O’Grady thinks so:
China Wants to Dig the Nicaragua Canal

The economics don’t add up, but the project serves both governments’ larger interests.

The Chinese government denies it is behind the concession held by HKND. But with more than $3.5 trillion in foreign reserves, it’s the logical candidate to foot the bill. Beijing has been flexing its geopolitical muscles in the Americas for more than a decade, and it hasn’t hesitated to work closely with corrupt dictatorships like those in Ecuador and Venezuela. According to HKND, the Nicaragua canal will require a labor force of 50,000. Many can be expected to be Chinese. The company says the China Railway Construction Corporation is conducting feasibility studies of the project.The HKND concession includes the rights to develop “two ports, a free-trade zone, holiday resorts and an international airport.” Canal or no canal, each is a business opportunity not only for China but also for Mr. Ortega, who is bound to ensure that he gets a piece of the action.

There’s action already: Last year Ortega made a $300 million telecommunications deal with Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, of which Wang Jing is chairman.

The canal, a project of Dubious Plans and Abundant Unknowns, cannot come about (as I have been saying from the start) without major support from the Chinese government. As O’Grady puts it,

China may still see the ditch as part of a military strategy,

A Nicaragua canal may fit as part of a military strategy along with the South China Sea projects.

The Swedish model Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Contrary to what the uninformed Left would believe, the Swedish model won’t be working in LatAm any time soon.

Whale appears alongside yachts in luxury Argentine area
News of the whale quickly spread on social media and was broadcast live by local stations, prompting hundreds to line up along the port area to catch a glimpse

Post-Kirchner Argentina Promises More Populist MiseryNo Matter What Party Tops the Election, the Welfare State Wins

Argentine Tango With Creditors Takes a TwirlArgentine officials are hinting at a thaw in a long-running standoff with hedge-fund creditors, boosting investors’ interest in the struggling South American nation ahead of a New York court date Wednesday.

El narcotráfico salvó la campaña

After some delays in early voting, Argentineans cast their ballots to elect presidential candidates

Law Requires Bolivian Officials to Speak an Indian Language

Delivering a message, with a hit, Brazilian anti-corruption radio DJ shot dead live on air
Gleydson Carvalho gunned down in studio as he broadcast
; Two Arrested in Killing of Brazil Radio Host

Brazil’s space programme
Ten, nine, ten…
Rocket science is hard. Rocket diplomacy is harder

Brazil’s space programme suffered a blow in July when President Dilma Rousseff scrapped an 11-year-old agreement with Ukraine to launch satellites aboard Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rockets from Brazil’s Alcântara spaceport in the northeastern state of Maranhão. The official explanation implied that the much-delayed project, which had been budgeted at 1 billion reais ($290m), had become too expensive. Brazil may also fear that Ukraine will not fulfil its part of the deal, not least because its space industry is located near Donetsk, which is controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

8%: Brazilian President’s Approval Rating Hits Record Low
The country’s economy is struggling and nation faces a growing corruption scandal

Gunmen shoot Spanish convict dead in front of his home in Brazil
Galician Anxo Antono Valiño had been convicted of murdering a businessman in 2007

Chile ex-spymaster, Manuel Contreras, dies at 86

Santos: Colombia Government Negotiator Met Twice with FARC’s Top Leader

Santos Pisses Away Colombian Tax Dollars on His Own BrandingState Propaganda Makes Mockery of Accountable Presidency

Havana’s hottest spot is a crowded ramp to WiFi bliss
At one the world’s most unusual Web lounges, Cubans have been trying WiFi for the first time

Locarno: Andy Garcia on Hemingway, Family, Directing and Cuba

“The political situation is Cuba has not turned,” Andy Garcia said politely, but very adamantly. “There is one government, a dictatorship. The Castros are still in power. There’s never been a popular election in Cuba. Nothing will change in Cuba until the Castro regime leaves and the people are free.”

Leaked Documents Blow Rafael Correa’s Spying Ways Wide OpenEcuadorian Watchdog Alleges Long-Term Surveillance, Infiltration of Opposition

String of Driver Murders Invoke Militarized Transport for El SalvadorSánchez Cerén Will Not Negotiate with Narcos

Haitians vote in delayed elections
Haitians vote in legislative elections that have been repeatedly delayed since 2011, in a test of stability for the impoverished nation.


Mexico’s economy was supposed to soar. It’s starting to flop.
President Peña Nieto’s economic reforms have yet to produce growth, and the peso has been battered.

6 Tons of Cocaine Seized in Homemade Submarine

Convicted rapist arrested in Mexican journalist murder case
Still no official motive as to why Rubén Espinosa and four women were brutally killed

US Lifts Restrictions Over Seized Property in Nicaragua

Panama Canal to limit ship draft due to drought

Peru’s Shining Path Rebels still Enslaving Around 200 People

Pain of Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Is Weighing on the Little Guy, Too

St. Lucia to Launch Citizenship-by-Investment Program

Venezuela shortages: ‘Take away beer and things get risky’
Venezuelans facing prospect of heatwave without their favourite beer, latest in a series of shortages from disposable nappies to light bulbs

Obama’s failed ‘charm offensive’ in Venezuela

The week’s posts and podcast:
Sunday palate cleanser: Carlos Copello & Anabela Brogioli

Saturday essay: The Swedish model again, and why it won’t work in Latin America

Venezuela: Food riots

Don’t call that a debate

Another Capt.Louis Renault moment, Mexico: People’s disbelief at official story of El Chapo’s escape

Today’s must-read: It’s Time for an Encyclical on Christian Persecution

Brazil: File this under “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas”

Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Hillary’s sinking, roll out Princess Chelsea

Cuba: Hillary’s ignorance

Running out of people’s money: Puerto Rico UPDATED

Venezuela: The shocking state of its health service

The visiting pope Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Pope Francis is touring Ecuador, Bolivia – where the witches are protesting – and Paraguay, extolling the Bolivarian revolution’s idea of a “great motherland.”

What a guy.

Bolivia’s Adepcoca (Asociación Departamental de Productores de la Hoja de Coca i.e., Coca Leaf Growers’ Departamental Association) have prepared 20,000 bags of coca leaves to gift the people lining up from the airport to La Paz, giving new meaning to the term goodie bag.

You really can’t make up this stuff.

Live sex show at Buenos Aires university sparks scandal
School authorities investigating why ‘post-porn’ exhibition was held in an open public lobby

La oposición argentina se examina en Buenos Aires y Córdoba
La derecha y el peronismo opositor aspiran a vencer en la capital argentina y en la segunda provincia más poblada del país

Report: Argentinean Government Robs over 90% of Farmer Profits
Soybeans Garner Attention as Workaround for High Tariffs, Export Restrictions

Tensions Rise In Bolivia As Indigenous Witches Prepare For The Pope’s Visit

Dilma in the back seat of a driverless car. Lovely metaphor for today’s Brazil.

Calling Capt. Louis Renault, US ‘routinely spied’ on Brazil
Wikileaks says it has evidence that the United States has routinely spied on senior Brazilian government officials since 2011 or earlier.

Brazil Says Diplomatic Spat with U.S. is Over

Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ version of Facebook
A group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil created Facegloria as their own, sin-free, version of Facebook

British musician faces five years in Chilean jail after admitting dealing drugs
Alexander Harrild, who was educated at exclusive Dulwich College, is being held in one of Santiago’s most notorious prisons with rapists and murderers

Chile secured the first major trophy in their history on home soil courtesy of a penalty shootout win over Argentina in the Copa America final

Time to call the FARC’s bluff
Colombia’s peace process risks drifting to collapse

The president, whose hobbies include poker, now faces a choice. Call the FARC’s bluff by laying on the table a take-it-or-leave-it offer on justice—or risk the talks collapsing anyway in the cycle of retaliation. Burdened by disappointments in other areas, Mr Santos has staked his presidency on a peace agreement. But objectively it is the FARC’s negotiators who need it more. Return to war in Colombia, and sooner or later they will be killed.

FARC & ELN commit crime together or coordinating, regardless of how the Govt may want to treat them:”

Why Colombia’s first euthanasia was stopped with 15 minutes to go
Doubting doctors have now approved procedure for cancer patient they canceled last week

Costa Rica becomes 33rd country to launch pro-Israel caucus
The 20 Parliamentarians signed a foundation document reaffirming Israel as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.

No, Mr. President, Castroite Cuba Is Not What Change Looks Like

How Global Threats Have Crowded Obama’s Diplomacy AgendaPresident has sought to focus on Iran, Cuba, climate and trade, but Islamic State, China and Russia have muscled in

Optimist: US-Cuba Relations, A Race to the Bottom. But, in the End, Truth and Freedom Always Triumph

5 Questions Obama Must Answer About the Potential US Embassy in Cuba

Despite Obama, Business as Usual for Cuban Tyrants

Mensaje de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa a Su Santidad

Ecuador’s Libertarian Movement Rolls Out a Rescue Plan
Protesters Want Dialogue with Correa to Solve the Crisis

Ecuador under threat of “soft coup” by opposition, says Correa
Officials fear that spike in anti-government marches may mar pope’s visit on Sunday

Maduro Denounces Guyana “Aggression” against Venezuela

80% Of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.

Mexican Police Recover Nearly 10,000 Stolen U.S. Visas

Mexico wants to tame disruptive teachers union

EXCLUSIVE: Illegal Who Confessed to Murdering Wife with Hammer Deported Four Times

Five Sentenced In $25M Medicare Fraud Involving Nicaragua, D.R.

Go.Away.Trump. Trump Fallout Continues: Panama Pulls Out of Miss Universe Pageant

Paraguay hero’s uncle dies while watching victory against Brazil
Derlis Gonzalez’s uncle suffered a heart attack

Peru drug mule’s transfer to Scottish prison ‘approved’
Melissa Reid could be back in the UK within weeks after reports Peru has agreed to move her to Scotland

It is not in Gov. García Padilla’s interest to improve the economy – you can bank on that. Treasurer Admits Puerto Rico Can Pay Debts, Doesn’t Want To
“Shameful” Myth Diverts Attention from Need for Frugality

Puerto Rico’s Financial Crisis Is U.S.’ Crisis, Too

The Beeb starts to catch on, Puerto Rico: The Greece of the Caribbean?

How a pie factory in South America is taking on the world
Fray Bentos – the town in Uruguay famous for its pies – could be named a World Heritage Site alongside the Forth Bridge, Sicilian churches and Genghis Khan’s birthplace at the end of this year’s Unesco meeting

Venezuela faces national beer drought
Striking workers linked to the Maduro government have forced the closure of breweries at Polar, the country’s largest producer and a beloved household name

Cuba and FARC, and their Sinister Presence in Venezuela

Tanta Pasión Por El Socialismo Y Para Ellos Solo Vales 15$ Al Mes

One year on, El Universal is fully “hegemonized”

The week’s posts and podcast
Happy Independence Day

On Independence Day, let’s thank Caesar

Ecuador: Sing along with Rafael

Venezuela: Corker in Caracas

Today’s “WTH moment” courtesy of the NYT

Repeat, it is not in Gov. García Padilla’s interest to improve the economy – you can bank on that. Puerto Rico: A few thoughts on the economic crisis

What amnesty means to legal immigrants

Up next: The King’s Spanish

Puerto Rico: Countdown to the Greecespot

Brazil: Dilma wants U.S. investment

Argentina: Buenos Aires closes Sunderland

Venezuela’s moola from the mullah: Iran’s new $500million credit line

Puerto Rico: the Greece of the Caribbean UPDATED

Podcast: “Che” & Walmart, US-Cuba embassies, Puerto Rico & US-Latin America issues

The unsubsidized Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The week’s headlines in a sentence: While the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare subsidies and gay marriage, the deadline for the Iran negotiations looms and terrorists are blowing up people and pipelines all over the place.

Contraband Economy Booming on the Argentina-Bolivia Border
High Inflation, Tariffs Fuel Thriving Black Market

The location of the judge is rather interesting: Argentine judge orders seizure of Falklands drillers’ assets

Lilian Herraez, a federal judge in Tierra del Fuego, ordered the seizure of $156 million in bank accounts, boats and other property, the government said on Saturday.

Pope sends video-message to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The guy can’t stay away from socialist throwaway terminology:

“I want to be a witness of this joy of the Gospel and bring to you the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to your children most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, to those who are victims of this throwaway culture,” he said.

Brazil to Narrow Inflation Target Range
Brazil will narrow the inflation target range for its central bank starting in 2017, but the center point of the range will remain unchanged at 4.5%. The tolerance band will be cut to a range of 3% to 6%

Working Within the System to Disrupt Brazilian PoliticsRoberto Mangabeira Unger, a Harvard philosopher born in Brazil and raised in Manhattan, has settled into a career as an appointed public figure charged with fostering long-term thinking about Brazil.

Chile’s Bachelet Hits New Low Approval Rating

Colombian army killed civilians to fake battlefield success, rights group saysA new report on “false-positive” killings looks into one of the darkest episodes of the country’s civil war.

FARC rebels kill four and rupture Colombian pipeline

Cardinal SinsA Castro cleric brings disgrace.

Cuban artist pushes boundary between art and politics, and pays a price
What Tania Bruguera’s ordeal in Cuba says about the state of artistic expression “within the Revolution.”

Top Intelligence-Defense Lawmakers Introduce Cuban Military Transparency Act

Double surprise! Cruz and Rubio are “non-whites”!

State Dept: No Change in Iran, Cuba Human Rights, Despite Obama Overtures

Galápagos Residents Decry Fiscal Milking of World Heritage SiteIsland Representative Resigns, Parts Ways with Correa over “Unconstitutional” Law

Guyana Assures Exxon Amid Venezuela Row
Guyana’s president has sought to reassure Exxon Mobil that a territory dispute with Venezuela won’t interfere with the company’s recent oil discovery off the coast of Guyana, one that Caracas claims as its own.

A Haitian border town struggles with new rules in the Dominican RepublicThe Dominican’s new rules have Haitians nervously heading back to a homeland with fewer jobs.

Thousands march in Honduras to demand resignation of president

Thousands of angry, torch-bearing Hondurans marched on Friday to call for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and demand an independent probe into one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history.

PM: Jamaica’s Economic, Industrial Climate In ‘Delicate Situation’

Interesting premise, but premature, Move over, China: Latin America may welcome India. The operative word is may.

Mexican President Undergoes Gallbladder Surgery
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto underwent surgery to have his gallbladder removed and was recovering satisfactorily at a military hospital, officials said.


Nicaragua’s Bizarre Plan to Bury the Panama CanalThe country’s Sandinista government has cut a deal with a reclusive Chinese businessman willing to spend $50 billion on a larger-than-life transport waterway. There are a few unanswered questions, starting with whether Nicaraguans really want it and how much priceless habitat would be wrecked. Traveling the proposed route by motorcycle, boat, and boots, the author hunts for answers.

Odebrecht Wins Contract to Renovate Panamanian City of Colon

Manuel Noriega apologises over military rule of PanamaJailed former dictator gives first interview since 1996 and asks for forgiveness over brutal reign – ‘I want to to close the cycle of the military era’

Peru’s support for Bolivian sea access claim creates tensions with Chile
Chilean President Bachelet cancels next week’s meeting with Peruvian leader Humala

The perfect Summer portrait, A Sleeper Awakened With Color
Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June” is on loan to the Frick Collection in New York for the next three months.

‘Gourmet cannabis’: Take a peek inside a Uruguay marijuana club , if you must. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, “fat, stoned and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

MUD, the Sausage Fest

Gay marriage, at long last (but not here)

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: FARC blows up oil pipeline

Bloody Friday: France, Tunisia, Kuwait terror attacks UPDATED
Morgenthau on the Iran-terror connection

Ecuador: Demonstrations against Correa

SCOTUS upholds Obamacare subsidies

Venezuela’s deadly colectivos

The other flag controversy: US Embassy in London flies the rainbow flag

Today’s WTH moment: Venezuelan vet arrested for smuggling heroin in puppies UPDATED

Mexico: EL GRAN HERMANO del cartel TE VIGILA

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

Podcast: The flag controversy plus US-Latin America stories of the week

The globally warmed encyclical Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Oblivious to current scientific data, pope Francis I, under the advice of German climate activist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, threw the Catholic Church into the global warming morass and a tailspin of pessimism, thereby making headlines across the world. Francis also banned skeptic Philipe de Larminat.
(I hope to throw in enough metaphors to make it to Taranto one of these days.)

Argentine Presidential Race Comes into FocusArgentine Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo bowed out of the race for the ruling party’s 2015 presidential nomination, leaving Buenos Aires provincial Gov. Daniel Scioli as the only candidate

Facebook Signs Agreement with Bolivian Telecom to Promote Free Internet

Chilean grandma carried mummified foetus for 50 years92-year-old Chilean grandmother has been bearing large mummified foetus for at least 50 years in what is a rare condition known as lithopedion, doctors have discovered

[Video show the FARC using schools to train minors and store explosives in Putumayo]

Colombia’s Farc blows up oil pipeline in Catatumbo

Obama Admits Cuba Sponsors Terrorism, But…

By Carlos Eire: A Father’s Day Tribute

Stella McCartney’s Anti-Cruelty Fashion Line Celebrates Marxist Killers Fidel Castro & Che Guevara

The DR makes deportation plans but Dominican Deadline Passes Without Mass Expulsion of Haitian Migrants

No skin off Correa’s back: Julian Assange’s three-year stay in Ecuadorean embassy has cost taxpayer £11.1mThree years ago the WikiLeaks founder fled bail and sought asylum in Ecuador – resulting in millions being spent on policing the embassy

Lone protester ends Guatemala marchA lone protester in Guatemala receives a hero’s welcome after covering more than 200 km (125 miles) in a protest against corruption.

Mexico beer centre attack leaves 10 dead

Why is a Chinese Tycoon Building a $50 Billion Canal in Nicaragua That No One Wants?

Remaking world trade?

Panama Ready to Help Normalize Relations Between OAS, Cuba

Peru Inflation Churns as Consumer Confidence Falls

5 Indicted for Bid-Rigging in Puerto Rico School Bus Auction

[US court orders seizure of Puerto Rico’s Department of Health accounts]


Brazilian senators forced out of Venezuela after failed solidarity missionVenezuelan opposition prisoners Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma were due to be visited by a delegation from Brazil – until their path was blocked, and their bus was attacked

Swiss embassy warns Venezuela’s golf players its balls could killMembers of the exclusive Caracas Country Club have reacted with anger to a sign posted by the Swiss embassy warning that stray balls could be in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations