Archive for the ‘Puerto Rico’ Category

The Venezuelan riots Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 17th, 2014

This week’s big story: Three dead, several dozen wounded in Venezuela’s ongoing riots as the country enters a new stage of repression:

Twitter reports image blocking in Venezuela

Tomorrow Leopoldo López will lead a march from Venezuela Square and then go to the office of Ministry of Interior and Justice, to hand a petition and hand himself in:

ARGENTINA
Argentina to Replace Bogus Inflation Index to Mend IMF Ties

The nationwide index released on Feb. 13 will replace the benchmark greater Buenos Aires index that has shown inflation at less than half the pace of private estimates since 2007, when former PresidentNestor Kirchner replaced senior staff at the statistics agency. The move comes a year after Argentina became the first nation to becensured by the International Monetary Fund for failing to report accurate economic data.

Soon after, Argentina Fines Retailers
A day after reporting the highest inflation in over a decade, Argentina’s government fined several retail chains for failing to stock certain price-capped products.

BOLIVIA
Peru and Bolivia to meet concerning port sharing proposal

BRAZIL
Brazil’s Economy Seen in a Major Downturn
Data released Friday suggest economic growth has weakened over the past two quarters, illustrating how far a country once considered the darling of emerging-market investors has fallen.

Effects of Brazil’s drought could last through the election

CHILE
Chilean Port Workers End Strike After New Agreement

COLOMBIA
Colombia at crossroads; show us promised land Mr President

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica doubles down on security
While neighboring nations turn to their armed forces for help fighting drug trafficking and violence, no-military Costa Rica taps into other approaches.

CUBA
WaPo editorial: Cuba’s changes are no more than window-dressing

New York Times unmasks selfish motives behind Castro’s ‘reforms’

Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship once again stops consular services in U.S.

Cuba: Release Alan Gross, Maybe US Can Help with “People to People” Banking Transactions

For the third time in a week, Cuban police arrest Antunez

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Haitian migrants caught, repatriated to Haiti

ECUADOR
Ecuador Faces Legal Quandary over Intra-Indigenous Violence

EL SALVADOR
Castaway back in El Salvador in an emotional homecoming (+video)
After 13 months adrift at sea, and a flight across the Pacific, José Salvador Alvarenga returns to his native El Salvador — and is too overcome for words

HONDURAS
Honduras suspends eight consuls in US

Honduras has suspended eight of its 10 consuls in the United States.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said there would be an investigation into whether the eight had illegally issued identity papers.

JAMAICA
Jamaican dancehall deejay arrested in lottery scam

MEXICO
Vicente Fox says: For Mexico, legalization is freedom

Mexico: A Different Kind of Gun Story

NICARAGUA
Constitutional Changes Take Effect in Nicaragua

Changes to the Nicaraguan constitution that allow President Daniel Ortega to run for re-election as many times as he wishes entered into force Tuesday with their publication in the official gazette.

PANAMA
More on the Chong Chon Gang, U.N.: Cuba weapons shipment to North Korea violated arms embargo

PARAGUAY
Downpour Saves Paraguay Market from Flames

PERU
Misery, poverty greet paroled foreign drug mules in Peru

PUERTO RICO
CNN gets its panties in a bunch over this, but they don’t have time to report on Venezuela: First on CNN: Christie vacationing in Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
The bong show:
Following legalization in US, Uruguay, marijuana gets second look
Experiments with legalizing marijuana in Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay have countries as diverse as Morocco and the Netherlands rethinking how they approach the drug.

Uruguay President Jose Mujica urges US and Europe to change drug policy
After legalising the production and sale of cannabis in his own country, Uruguayan President Jose Mucjica calls on rich, “developed countries” to re-evaluate their strategy for dealing with narcotics

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan Opposition Leader Says He Will Risk Arrest
Leopoldo Lopez Says He Plans to March With Antigovernment Protesters Tuesday

A new landmark date for repression in Venezuela: confirming the dictatorship

5 Ways To Invest In Venezuelan Freedom

Venezuelan dissenter Leopoldo López: Maduro waits for orders from Havana
On Thursday night, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro rejected violent events and, without naming opposition leader Leopoldo López or ex Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia Fernando Gerbasi, said they were “fugitives from justice”

Maduro says the solution to shortages is to eat less:

Chocolate and Chávez

“The final stage of socialism isn’t Communism. It’s an empty shelf.” Gone With the Whine

The week’s posts and podcast:
Panama: World-wide port expansions

Venezuela: Today’s headlines

Panama: Chong Chon Gang goes back to Cuba, captain goes to jail, garage sale coming up

Venezuela: Street scenes UPDATED

En español: Los Horóscopos del Maestro Piyush

Is Venezuela collapsing?

Cuba: The truth about Che

Venezuela: Now reporting

Venezuela: Huge demonstrations UPDATED

Sochi? No, Princeton!

Puerto Rico: Growth yes, more taxes no

Iran in U.S. maritime borders: A question

At Da Tech Guy Blog: The truth about Che.

This week’s podcast: A book about Fidel Castro PLUS US-Latin America issues of the week

Puerto Rico: Growth yes, more taxes no

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Says Monica Showalter of IBD, and I wholeheartedly agree:
To Avoid Becoming The Next Detroit, Puerto Rico Needs Growth, Not Taxes

Too much bureaucracy, much of it for welfare, and too much rewarding failure over success drive up costs and drive out the productive. Puerto Rico’s most talented citizens are voting with their feet. The island loses about 1% of its population a year, a deadly loss compounded over the years for any economy.
To bring these people back, the governor has to fight to cut taxes and really go after the country’s entrenched special interests with a baseball bat.

The 39% corporate tax has to go.

He [governor Alejandro García Padilla] also must fight in the U.S. Congress to reinstate Puerto Rico’s special tax break that ended in 2006 so that investment will once again return.

Finally, he must also take on Big Labor’s favorite, the Jones Act, which artificially drives up shipping costs, putting local manufacturers at a disadvantage, demanding Congress at least give Puerto Rico an exception.

Read the whole thing.


The Winter Olympics week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 10th, 2014

While the Sochi accommodations are nowhere near as nice as those in the more modest hotels in our hemisphere, Mexico sent the most interesting skier in the world, Bermudans wore shorts, and the guys from the Caymans wore shorts and flip-flops (which may explain why there only three). Dominica, Tortola of the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica (whose bobsled is now complete), Paraguay, Brazil, Peru and the US Virgin Islands also have athletes in Sochi.

ARGENTINA
Argentina bus crash near Mendoza kills at least 18

COUNTING THE COST
Argentina’s great decline
It has gone from being one of the world’s wealthiest nations to a serial defaulter, but can it get back on track?

Argentina: Repeat Economic Offender

ARGENTINA FREE FALL
Kirchner Government Doubles Down In Its War Against Math

Argentina is doubling down in its war against math. The WSJ reports that political activists loyal to President Kirchner are publicly targeting retailers by putting posters of the executives up all over Buenos Aires. The posters accuse the leaders of Walmart and other companies of fueling the country’s ruinous inflation by raising prices, even as the government continues to devalue the official currency and ignore traditional IMF economic policy.

Argentina to US senators: Show a little respect

BELIZE
A magical world at Francis Ford Coppola’s luxe resorts in Belize
Need isolation? Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge is in the middle of the untamed, natural beauty of a Belizean forest preserve. Need local culture? Turtle Inn is on the coast near the fishing village of Placencia

BOLIVIA
Bolivia floods kill 38, more heavy rains forecast

The European Union (EU) Thursday called on Bolivia to respect the ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favor of British power generator Rurelec PLC, said an official. US$41 million.

BRAZIL
Brazil may face water shortages during World Cup, group says, but I’ll bet it won’t be like the Sochi water.

Removida delegada que apura ligação de Lula com mensalão

Responsável pelo inquérito que investiga a suposta participação do ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva no esquema do mensalão, a delegada Andrea Pinho foi removida do cargo nesta sexta-feira, 7. O inquérito que tem Lula como alvo será tocado por outro delegado, ainda não designado que pode pedir novas diligências ou o arquivamento do caso.

CHILE
Chile cool: art, music and graffiti in laid-back Valparaíso
The Chilean city of Valparaíso is alive with avant-garde culture and vibrant street art. Think mini Berlin by the seaside

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s media are wrong; election is up for grabs

Photo of Pres. Santos shaking hands with Timochenko, the FARC leader, back in the day, “If you want Timochenko as president and Iván Márquez in the Senate, you know who to vote for in the upcoming elections.”

COSTA RICA
‘Black Heart’ in Brazil heat drives coffee turnaround h/t DP

CUBA
Gorki Aguila, Cuban Rocker Faces Sham Trial

Cuba Regime Supporters Caught Off Guard with Reaction to Fanjul Story

Oh Happy Day! NBC refers to Communism as “pivotal experiment”

The Truth About Che Guevara

ECUADOR
Xavier Bonilla’s cartoon before:

Freedom of speech in Ecuador
Drawn and quartered
The government orders a newspaper to “correct” a critical cartoon

Xavier Bonilla’s cartoon after:

EL SALVADOR
JJ Rendón is suing Salvador’s president Mauricio Funes for $100 on defamation of character and slander from Funes calling him “a fugitive from justice, a rapist.” (link in Spanish) I hope Rendón wins, and gets to collect.

GUATEMALA
Claudia Paz y Paz, A Guatemalan crusader is reined in

Guatemalan court upholds top prosecutor’s ouster

HONDURAS
Democracy

MEXICO
In Apatzingán:Mexican Vigilantes Enter Key City in Michoacán State
Vigilantes Aim to Take Control of City from Organized Crime Group

THE AMERICAN VIGILANTE VERSUS THE MEXICAN CARTEL

Sochi 2014: ‘Mexican prince’ ready to hit slopes in Mariachi suit

Well, he already was successful lobbying against soft drinks: Look who’s giving advice to Mexico City? Señor Bloomberg. I suggest he brush up his Spanish,

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua: Ortega allowed to run for third successive term

PANAMA
Panama Canal work stops in $1.6bn row
The Spanish-led consortium working on a project to widen the Panama Canal confirms work has been suspended amid a row over cost overruns.

PARAGUAY
Julia Marino becomes Paraguay’s first Winter Olympian

PERU
400 Dead Dolphins Washed Up on Peru Beaches in January

PUERTO RICO
Networks Completely Ignore $70 Billion Puerto Rican Debt Crisis

Puerto Rico Downgrade Puts Bond Deal in Spotlight
Investors are looking beyond the junk-rated credit of Puerto Rico to see if it can sell debt needed for short-term finances, lay groundwork for economic recovery.

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s president nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for legalizing marijuana

VENEZUELA
D.C. mayoral candidate’s business to host Venezuelan government’s pro-Chavez event

Toyota Halts Venezuela Production as Car Sales Fall

Venezuelans fume as government signals end to ‘free’ petrol
In a country where petrol is cheaper than water, ministers say prices must increase for the first time since a rise 15 years ago sparked deadly riots

The fascists in charge of Venezuela want to kill the press, while banging students

The Paradox Of Chavista “Planning”: Even Simple Things Are Hard For Them

Antonio Pardo, A Venezuelan in Sochi (Important Update)

According to Alek Boyd and others, Mr. Pardo is not quite the feel-good story we made him out to be. Turns out he allegedly has links to Antonini Wilson and the suitcase scandal. State news media is falsely reporting he won a gold medal.

Venezuelan “skier” in #Sochi2014 has a Swiss bank, is partners with Carlos Kauffmann & Co. His brother’s a partner of L. Oberto in St Barts

The week’s posts and podcast:
“Smart diplomacy”: Ambassador to Argentina may not even speak Spanish

Mexico: The most interesting skier in the world

Brazil: Cuban doctor seeks asylum

Argentina: Burning down the house

Venezuela: Squatting at the Presidential Mansion

Puerto Rico: Junk bond status

Sochi: Airline loses Jamaicans’ bobsled

Mexico: Behind the Peña Nieto-Fidel photo-op

Left turns: El Salvador and Costa Rica

At Da Tech Guy: Ask Fausta: Is now the time to travel to Latin America? The answer is yes.

Podcast: Elections in El Salvador plus other US-Latin America issues


Puerto Rico: Junk bond status

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Only about 1 percent of American municipalities have been given a junk rating by S&P:

Puerto Rico GO Bonds Inch Higher After S&P Downgrade
A Sign That Some Buyers Are Relieved To Have The Downgrade Behind Them

S&P on Tuesday lowered Puerto Rico’s general obligation bond rating to double-B-plus from triple-B-minus, stripping the island of its investment grade rating. The rating firm said it cut the rating because of Puerto Rico’s “reduced capacity” to borrow and the contraction in its economy in all but one year since 2006. It kept the island’s ratings on watch and warned of further cuts if the island is unable to raise money.

Puerto Rico has also been weighed down by large pension obligations, a 15% unemployment rate and big losses in the value of some of its debt. But the Puerto Rico government has been taking steps to bolster the economy and improve its fiscal outlook by overhauling pensions and raising taxes.

Despite the benign response to the downgrade, the cut adds pressure on Puerto Rico to shore up its finances with a near-term borrowing, analysts said. Puerto Rico, which has $70 billion of debt, has been able to put off borrowing in recent months, but its flexibility is fading, said Daniel Hanson, a credit analyst at Height Securities LLC.

Island officials have been planning a bond offering of some $2 billion in coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials have been weighing how to raise money with offerings backed by sales taxes or the island’s general fund, or a deal structured by hedge funds and other distressed investors who may demand yields near 10%.

[T]he yields it will have to pay of up to 10% could likely scare off investors and further reduce confidence in Puerto Rico’s finances.

Moody’s and Fitch are expected to be next with their downgrades.

The White House Says There Are No Plans To Bail Out Puerto Rico

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla is finally trying to cut the budget and reduce the deficit to $75 million, something he’s been avoiding, considering how his predecessor, Luis Fortuño, was not re-elected for doing just that.

To add to García Padilla’s woes, a misspelling of his name caused a flurry of tweets under the hashtag #GobiernoPandilla (gangster government), including the news that the administration-appointed telecommunications board (Junta Reglamentadora de Telecomunicaciones) granted contracts to partisans, and that the University of Puerto Rico’s administrators’ payroll increased by 35%:

Monumental payroll increase UPR for #GobiernoPandilla’s #FriendsOfTheHeart

No word as to whether García Padilla, commonly referred to as Agapito (for Alejandro GArcía PadIlla + “to“), has considered laying off his five relatives working for the government.


The Groundhog Day / Superbowl weekend Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina’s Luck Is Finally Running Out

Héctor Timerman: el canciller que denunciaba que “Cuba es una dictadura” hoy participa de la CELAC en La Habana

BRAZIL
Debt bondage and indentured servitude in modern-day Brazil: Brazil’s Slaves Are Being Freed, But Owners Go Largely Unpunished

Barbarians at the Mall Entrance

CHILE
Detenida por caso Guzmán relacionaría a Bachelet con el FPMR
“Ella es clave en delitos terroristas y además podría individualizar dirigentes, jerarquías y funciones en que participaron dirigentes actuales de la izquierda chilena”, acusa el abogado Raúl Meza sobre la información que manejaría la “Comandante Ana”.

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s next president; a woman Marta Lucia Ramirez

Colombian chief prosecutor Eduardo Montealegre says he will bring charges against six employees of the US coal mining company, Drummond, over an environmental disaster last year.

COSTA RICA
After yesterday’s elections, Luis Guillermo Solís is ahead: Leftist Costa Rica outsider leads election, run-off expected

Costa Rica Flirts with Chavismo

Costa Rica holds presidential poll
Voters in Costa Rica choose a successor for President Laura Chinchilla, with opinion polls predicting a tight race between four main contenders.

CUBA
Cuba steps up repression on the eve of the CELAC summit

How do Cuban doctors escape Venezuela?
Doctors escape medical missions assigned by the Cuban government. These missions are not only to Venezuela, but to other parts of the world.
Via Babalu.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Fines Leading Newspaper Over Cartoon
The Ecuadorean government has fined newspaper El Universo, saying a political cartoon it recently published was defamatory and promoted social unrest, stoking concerns about press freedom in the South American country.

Lima Journal, Part I, and Part II By Jay Nordlinger

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador: former leftwing guerrilla takes lead in presidential election
Salvador Sanchez Cerén was rebel leader in bloody civil war but with nearly half votes counted he is favourite to win March run off

El Salvador in Peril
If leftist Sánchez Cerén becomes president, the future would be grim.

El Salvador votes for new presidentElection posters in San Salvador, 31 January
El Salvador is voting in a presidential election pitting the left-wing FMLN against the conservative Arena party, amid rising concern gang violence.

GUATEMALA
The Antigua Forum: Exporting A Different Kind of Latin American Revolution

Central America’s largest museum of Mayan culture to be built in Guatemala (h/t DP)

HAITI
Haiti celebrates first cardinal
The first Haitian cardinal didn’t believe the news — until he turned to the Internet.

HONDURAS
Narcos In The Mist

JAMAICA
Tufton wants Jamaicans to open eyes to economic realities

MEXICO
The Violent Gang Wars Behind Super Bowl Guacamole
Mexican growers in the world’s avocado capital chase off a criminal gang that extorted millions of dollars a year.

Humor: Los Horóscopos del Maestro Piyush 30/01/2014

PANAMA
Panama releases majority of crew on North Korean ship

PUERTO RICO
Not surprising: Puerto Rico bonds facing possible junk ratings are no longer part of the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index because of the debt’s outsized yields and spotty liquidity, S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Friday

Dead Puerto Rico boxer posed standing in the ring

HUMOR: Cinco Parientes De AGP Trabajan En El Gobierno; Aparecen Miles De Garcías Y Padillas A Pedir Cacao

VENEZUELA
At markets, Chavez successor falls short

Venezuela and Argentina
The party is over
Latin America’s weakest economies are reaching breaking-point

Quiqueo throws the towel. He made the news.

Daniel’s recipe for the Venezuelan opposition (for what good it does…)

The week’s posts and podcast:
Brazil: Not quite ready for World Cup prime time

Crazy Venezuelan headline of the day: “Maduro offers 80% discount in tickets to the moon”

Ecuador: Maybe Mia ought to meet Vaca

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold, continued

En español: Angry Birds en la Unidad de Quemados

Cuba: CELAC, the hypocrisy summit

Mexico: Michoacán vigilantes to join with police

Guatemala: The lost orphans

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Latin America: What was missing from the SOTU

Podcast: Crime and inflation in Venezuela PLUS other US Latin America issues.

The misplaced Machu Picchu Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 27th, 2014

To err is human, and to misplace the ruins is definitely not divine, so today’s Carnival is dedicated to Hema Maps, the publishers of this guidebook.

ARGENTINA
Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Argentina’s Latest Crisis

THE TWO WORLDS OF BUENOS AIRES: MACRI’S LEGACY OF INEQUALITY

Erosion of Argentine Peso Sends a Shudder Through Latin America
The decline in Argentina’s currency is the steepest since the country’s economic collapse in 2002, and it is raising fears of a global slump in developing countries.

Currency controls in Argentina
Relaxation therapy

BELIZE
Belize and Guatemala agree on ‘road map’ to address the territorial dispute
Belize and Guatemala agreed at the headquarters of the Organization of American States on a “Road Map and Plan of Action”, which has as its main objective the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the two countries during 2014 in order to make concrete the holding of popular consultations to enable the consideration of the territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

BOLIVIA
Bolivia ‘to build first nuclear reactor’

Radio Serial About Evo Morales Debuts in Bolivia

BRAZIL
The Brazilian ranch where Nazis kept slaves
On a farm deep in the countryside 100 miles (160km) west from Sao Paulo, a football team has lined up for a commemorative photograph. What makes the image extraordinary is the symbol on the team’s flag – a swastika.

New book claims THIS picture proves Hitler escaped his Berlin bunker and died in South America in 1984 aged 95
Fuhrer ‘fled to Argentina and then Paraguay before settling in Brazil’
Hunted for treasure with a map given to him by Vatican allies, book claims
Author Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias claims fascist actually died aged 95
Claims he had a black girlfriend to disguise his fascist background
Says her suspicions increased after she photoshopped a moustache [sic] onto the grainy picture and compared it to photos of the Fuhrer

World Cup protesters set fire to car
Brazil World Cup protesters set fire to car
Violence erupts on the streets of Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo as more than 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest against the cost of the upcoming soccer World Cup

CHILE
Chile’s president-elect chooses old faces for new cabinet

Chile’s 33 miners still haunted by their past

Magic and Mystery: Isabel Allende
The best-selling author on her new mystery and why her work isn’t so ‘magical’

COLOMBIA
Cash for votes

COSTA RICA
Cato’s ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BULLETIN NO. 18
Growth without Poverty Reduction: The Case of Costa Rica

Costa Rica needs genuine market reforms that eliminate the government’s power to pick winners and losers or otherwise bestow favoritism. In the areas aforementioned, the country should

* Implement a neutral exchange rate regime either by allowing the colón to freely float against the U.S. dollar or by adopting the latter as the country’s official currency.
* Abolish all tariffs on agricultural products as well as other regulations that provide monopoly powers to conglomerates that produce farm goods such as rice, beef, and sugar, and eliminate price controls on rice.
* Dismantle regulations that stifle domestic entrepreneurship, following the guidelines laid out by the World Bank’s Doing Business project.
* Adopt a neutral and competitive tax regime that taxes all businesses domiciled in the country equally but at a low flat rate.

CUBA
Dissidents Arrested Ahead of CELAC Summit

RIP, Inter-American Democratic Charter

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Republic runaways told they cannot return to Stonyhurst College
The two pupils who ran away from Stonyhurst College to the Dominican Republic will not be allowed to return to school

ECUADOR
Ecuador airline suspends flights to Venezuela because of tickets’ debts
Ecuadorean airline Tame has suspended flights to Venezuela, demanding 43m dollars in overdue payments for tickets. Some 80 passengers were left stranded on Thursday at the airport in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito. Tame says the Venezuelan Central Bank has not transferred any money to its account in Ecuador since April 2013.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador Presidential Election Preview, 2014

Shaky truce: Is El Salvador’s gang war really on hold?

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s Stranded Orphans
Unicef’s pressure to stop international adoptions has tragic results.

JAMAICA
Mass Burial Site Claim
Police said to be aiding some criminals in the East

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America and the Caribbean: Congressional Priorities for 2014

MEXICO
The American roots of a Mexican militia movement
Many who have joined fight against Michoacan drug cartel once lived and worked in the U.S.

Knights Templar on quest for drugs efficiency
Mexican narco-gang diversifies into mining and iron ore export

PANAMA
Panama Canal Authority Says Proposal on Table That Could End Dispute

Car Shopping Observations

PARAGUAY
Six Hurt in Clash with Police in Paraguay

PERU
Peru Lawmakers Find Evidence of Graft Under Former President

PUERTO RICO
Your taxes just went up: Gobernador convierte en Ley medidas de COFIM

Puerto Rico: The next debt crisis?

Puerto Rico: Harbour of debt
The territory is imposing tough austerity measures as it seeks to allay investor concerns and issue new bonds

URUGUAY
A really big mess: Dead Sperm Whale Washes Up on Beach in Uruguay

Uruguayan Economy Minister Resigns Amid Airline Scandal

VENEZUELA
Carta abierta a @abc_es

Maduro sets limits on company profits and prison terms for hoarding or over charging
Venezuela decreed a new price control law that sets limits on company profits and establishes prison terms for those charged with hoarding or over-charging, part of populist President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to tame inflation.

Jeff Bezos will go to jail in Venezuela

Venezuelan Government Devalues Currency

Miami on the cheap? Venezuelans traveling to Florida face new restrictions

HRW “unlikes” Maduro

Will Venezuela default on its debts?

The week’s posts and podcast:
CELAC: Maduro & Cristina want Puerto Rico’s independence

The question the media should be asking about Menendez

Argentina And Venezuela: Chronicles Of Devaluations Foretold

Who is to gain from smearing Robert Menendez?

Argentina: Chronicle of a default foretold

Cuba: Success through ruination

En español: Terapia intensiva

Cuba: Michael Totten’s road trip

Mexico: Michoacan’s fighting priests

The BVI, China’s new tax haven

Venezuela: Worst judicial system

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
UN Climate chief: Communism fights global warming

Cuba: What a “prosperous and sustainable socialism” looks like UPDATED

The week’s podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week


CELAC: Maduro & Cristina want Puerto Rico’s independence

Monday, January 27th, 2014


Sayonara, suckers.

Puerto Ricans’ opinions don’t matter to the tinpot Venezuelan dictator or to the Evita-wannabe, because they need a distraction from driving their own countries to ruin:
Crises Squeeze Two Latin Leaders
The leaders of Argentina and Venezuela were set to attend a conference in Cuba to debate Puerto Rican independence on Tuesday, as their countries faced their most acute economic crises in a decade.

On the streets of Argentina and Venezuela, many asked what their leaders were doing in Cuba when they were struggling with Latin America’s highest rates of inflation and the palpable fear that things could worsen when private investment is veering toward a recovering American economy.

The fact is,

independence for Puerto Rico, which was handed over by Spain after the Spanish-American war, has never gotten much traction. In a 2012 referendum, 61% voted for statehood and only 5% for independence.

Puerto Rico’s independence party has such low turnout that they needed to re-register after general elections.

Not that democracy matters to anyone at the upcoming CELAC

Apparently, the first objective of that organization, as declared, is: “To reaffirm that the preservation of democracy and democratic values, the validity of the institutions and the Rule of Law, a commitment to the respect for, and the validity of, all human rights for all, are the essential objectives of our countries.”

What do these people understand democracy to be? Cuba, like the other countries hatched by the now-extinct Soviet Union, is a one-party dictatorship older than half a century where no individual freedoms exist and no human rights are respected. While the CELAC is being held, the political police harasses and bashes the Ladies in White and the opposition democrats who dare to protest. Is anyone unaware of this?

Cuban dissidents are holding their own forum:

Cuban dissidents and activists plan to hold a forum on democracy in Havana on Jan. 28, parallel to the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, opposition sources told Efe on Saturday.

Organized by the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America, or CADAL, and the dissident group Arco Progresista, the forum hopes to bring together members of the opposition like Guillermo Fariñas and Jose Daniel Ferrer, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler, blogger Yoani Sanchez and activist Antonio Rodiles, among other representatives of civil society on the island.

Cuban police will block the opposition’s meeting.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza is attending CELAC, but refused to meet with any dissidents, thereby offering further evidence of the OAS’s irrelevance.

Elsa Morejón, whose husband Dr. José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) was arrested after meeting with the ambassadors of Spain and the Netherlands this week and transported away from Havana for the duration of the summit, tweeted,

The only country in the Americas without free elections or multi-party [system] in 56 years, will host the #CELACSummit. Unbelievable.

But look at the bright side: The more Maduro, Cristina, and their ilk cackle about Puerto Rico, the fewer the Puerto Ricans who’ll side with them.

Post re-edited to add links.

UPDATE:
My tweet,
#CELACSummit As if there isn’t enough poop in #PuertoRico, @NicolasMaduro & @CFKArgentina want to bring theirs.

RELATED:
Puerto Rico: La crisis final del “ELA”

The Corcovado thumb Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 20th, 2014

The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio was struck by lightning, damaging its right thumb. Here’s the striking photo.

ARGENTINA
Argentine Government Rules Out Military Role in Drug Enforcement

The fish are biting . . . you: Carnivorous fish injure 10 Argentine river bathers in area where 70 were wounded last month

BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Touts Nuclear Power Program

BRAZIL
The Laureus World Sports Awards, abruptly cancelled, Sporting events in Rio
We regret to announce

Inri Cristo, preacher on a scooter

Mulher de malandro decidirá eleição
O eleitorado diz que quer mudança, mas pretende reeleger Dilma. É puro chavismo

CHILE
The drugs industry in Chile
Getting the treatment

COLOMBIA
Someone explain to me why should anyone trust the FARC, Bomb explodes in Colombian town as rebel ceasefire ends
At least one person was killed when a bomb went off in the town of Pradera in western Colombia, officials say.

Bogota; time to move on

CUBA
Cuban political prisoner Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta starts hunger to protest denial of family visit

Another Moronic Offensive Stunt to Take Place in Castrogonia

One Year of Immigration And Travel Reform… What Changed?

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
OBAMA CALLS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ‘THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICAN’

ECUADOR
A tale of two hacks: Ecuador’s continued assault on the press

Ecuadorian state newspaper says new media outlet would seek to destabilize the government

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador’s first presidential debate brims with pledges – but can candidates deliver?
El Salvador’s presidential election takes place next month, and topics of gang violence, the economy, and healthcare are top of mind.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s president and vice president withdraw criminal complaints against newspaper editor

HAITI
Haitians living abroad weigh investment opportunities
After four years in Washington, D.C., a diaspora investment conference moves to Port-au-Prince

JAMAICA
LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law

LATIN AMERICA
Cuban Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Has Lived in an Oppressive Society

Andres Oppenheimer is optimistic: Latin America’s downward spiral?

Sure, Venezuela may descend into further chaos, but it doesn’t have many followers. Argentina will most likely change course within the next two years, and Brazil will, in the worst-case scenario, remain stagnant.

More importantly, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile are doing well, and may drag several other countries in their direction. Together with Brazil, the four Pacific-coast countries make up more than 75 percent of Latin America’s economy.

More than a downward spiral, we may soon see the end of the populist cycle, and the beginning of an upward spiral.

Organized crime in 2014: What can Latin America expect?
Organized crime is adaptable and profit-driven, and in 2014, that could mean moving beyond Mexico and Colombia to a more diverse set of nations.

MEXICO
Adrift in Mexico’s deportation capital
Mexicali has became the U.S. government’s biggest dumping ground for deportees who often have deep ties in America.

Michoacan replaces security chiefsMexican soldiers patrol the streets of Apatzingan, Michoacan. Photo: 16 January 2014
Mexico’s authorities say top security officials will be replaced in the western state of Michoacan that has recently been rocked by violence.

Deep-water drilling is a test for Mexican oil company Pemex

Gangs from Central America on the rise in Mexico: Report
A new report out of Mexico details the growing links between Central American Maras and the nation’s main criminal groups, highlighting more cross-border gang activity

El pincel de la justicia
Ramiro Gómez hace su primera presentación en un espacio formal, en una pequeña galería en Chinatown. No tiene un taller: el dueño del lugar le prestó el primer piso para que ahí concluyera cuatro lienzos que son parte de la obra que expone.

PANAMA
Canal Standoff Worries Panamanians
A standoff over cost overruns in the Panama Canal expansion has Panamanians as anxious as the global shipping industry.

PERU
Peru: Media Merger Serving as Pretext for Manipulation
Let the People, Not Caudillos, Determine the Role of the Press

Disagreement between Vargas Llosa and his son illustrates the debate in Peru over media concentration

PUERTO RICO
Fixing Puerto Rico: Part I

URUGUAY
A leopard never changes its spots: Paris Hilton poses up a storm on the beach in Uruguay wearing animal print dress

VENEZUELA
Regulation, Death by a thousand cuts (Updated)

Thomas Berry died ‘trying to show family real Venezuela’, parents say
Berry family speaks for the first time of grief at death of their son and his wife, killed by robbers in front of their daughter after their car broke down on a dangerous stretch of highway

Pet rights? When all are rights there are no rights

Venezuelan economic controls lead to newsprint shortage

The week’s posts and podcast:
Puerto Rico: Festival success

Brazil: Corcovado damaged by lightning

Argentina: Where’s Cristina?

Panama: North Korea to pay fine for the rust bucket

Mexico: Mireles won’t back down

Puerto Rico: Take down that fence!

Venezuela: Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic UPDATED

Mexico: Military clash with cartel-fighting militias

Ecuador, Iran, Syria: The new axis?

Argentina’s crumbling economy

Mexico: El Universal claims DEA-Sinaloa deal in Fast & Furious

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Do heed those travel warnings.

The week’s podcast: The US-Latin America stories of the week


Puerto Rico: Festival success

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

SanSe1

As reported earlier, the barriers and fences were torn down in Old San Juan; later on a judge issued an injunction blocking checkpoint searches.

My sister attended the festival yesterday, and reported that this year’s festival is a success:

  • She attended Saturday, while the festival had started on Thursday
  • Old San Juan was spotless, all the streets were blocked to vehicles, and five cruise ships were docked.

In addition, there were

  • Hundreds of craftspeople and food vendors
  • Three large bandstands with dance areas
  • Many comparsas parading with music
  • Heavy police presence
  • Sanitary facilities sponsored by Clorox, in addition to the usual chemical toilets

The huge crowd filled the streets, and were polite and friendly.

SanSebaile

While the shuttle service from the Miramar Convention Center parking lot never materialized, enterprising (privately-owned) jitneys took people to and from Old San Juan.

The only altercation reported was a minor scuffle that was broken up by a policeman.

In all, a huge success.

SanSeband


Puerto Rico: Take down that fence!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, has seen the light and agreed to bring down the chain-link fences and barricades she had had installed in Old San Juan:

SanJuanfence

Facebook commenters hinted (ahem!) at cronyism allegations regarding the why and who was awarded the fence job.

There is, however, the upcoming San Sebastian festival, and mayor Yulín has ordered police for the first time to search everyone who attends

Officials have said there will be metal detectors and that people’s bags and purses will be searched.

Last year, a 32-year-old man was fatally shot at the crowded festival.

Now the ACLU has filed suit.

Considering how an estimated 500,000 people attended the festival last year, it’s going to be a long wait.