Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

En español: Entrevista a Susana Mangana sobre refugiados sirios

Monday, September 21st, 2015

H/t Vlad.

Syrians in Uruguay: A developing story of domestic violence?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Syrian refugees are in the news as they now invade Europe, but they made the news in Latin America earlier this year due to allegations of wife and child abuse.

The video below, which I posted in this morning’s Carnival after translating (below the fold since it starts right away), describes that, after Jose Mujica brought to the country forty-five* members of five families who arrived in October 2014, one of the priests at the Marist location housing them claimed to have witnessed one of the Syrian men repeatedly beat up his wife and children.

[*The number is not clear: While most reports refer to five families, the actual number of people varies from 42 to 45.]

The ensuing investigation was later tabled by the authorities, who decided that the matter was a misunderstanding that cleared up after the families left the Marist shelter for permanent housing (“pero que se solucionaron una vez abandonaron la casa de retiros de los Hermanos Maristas para ir a sus hogares definitivos”), while the local police did not contact directly any of the Syrians.

Ponder that for a moment.

The Syrians were promised before their arrival that no one would interfere with their customs. When the priest interrupted the beating and warned the man that domestic violence is against the law, the man demanded that he and his family be relocated to Europe.

In another instance, a Syrian boy was treated at the Pereira Rossell Hospital for an arm fracture caused by his father’s beating.

At the time Frances Martel reported

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez halted the program, started by predecessor José Mujica, until the government could reassess the costs and benefits to the nation. In February, Uruguay announced that it would no longer take in male Syrian refugees due to a surge in domestic violence in the community, before halting the influx of refugees altogether in March.

Discussing the challenges facing Uruguayan society in assimilating Syrians, Human Rights Secretary Javier Miranda told the Uruguayan legislature how he had encountered child abuse among Syrians.

After the case was dismissed, Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa announced that Uruguay will welcome an additional seven Syrian families with 72 members (Mujica implies it would be an additional 80 people in the video below).

The refugees are receiving housing, health care, education and financial support from the government, but that aid is scheduled to end next year.

Now the five families are camping in protest and demand to be relocated to other countries who may take them, naming lack of economic opportunities in Uruguay,

“I am not afraid to go back to Lebanon,” said 36-year-old Aldees Maher, whose family had initially sought safety in a refugee camp across the border from Syria. “I want a place that guarantees me, my family a life.”

Interestingly (emphasis added),

Maher Aldees’s family, the one that got stranded in Istanbul, had been living in the coastal city of Piriápolis, where local officials accused the parents of not sending their daughters to school. Authorities later said the issue was resolved.

Aldees and his family tried to leave for Serbia, but after 23 days at the Istanbul airport, Turkish authorities sent them back to Uruguay. Another Syrian family, the Ashlebis, joined in the protest.

Mujica, no longer president, claims that the fiasco is due to the protesting Syrians not being used to used to heavy labor since they are of middle-class, white-collar background, and that Mujica had envisioned the program for farm laborers. However, the Ashlebis come from a rural background.

Video below the fold:


Uruguay: Syrians don’t like it,

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

they want to go back:
Syrian Refugees Protest in Uruguay, Say Host Nation Lacks Opportunity. Families fleeing civil war say Uruguay is too costly, demand help to move to other countries (emphasis added)

Maher Aldees’s family, the one that got stranded in Istanbul, had been living in the coastal city of Piriápolis, where local officials accused the parents of not sending their daughters to school. Authorities later said the issue was resolved.

Mr. Aldees said they now want to travel to Syria or Lebanon and intend to protest outside the presidential offices until authorities take them to the airport.

Take them to the airport, send them off on a one-way ticket to Damascus.

AFP did a report (in Spanish; h/t Vlad),

Elsewhere, Story Begins To Unravel About Drowned Syrian Boy

Hungarian bishop says pope is wrong about refugees

For WSJ non-subscribers, Reuters (emphasis added)

In Uruguay, a secular country with a tiny Muslim population of about 300, the refugees receive housing, health care, education and financial support from the government. Even so, they have struggled to settle in and relations with locals have been strained.

Update 2:
Venezuela ready to receive 20,000 Syrian refugees, Maduro says

The socialist president reiterated his support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has had close ties to Venezuela in recent years.

“Close ties” in the form of direct flights from Iran.

Ecuador, Iran, Syria: The new axis?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Lachlan Markay writes in the Washington Free Beacon on The Correa-Khamenei Axis
Ecuador pumping up its relationship with Iran and Syria, experts say

Correa, who began his third term as president on Friday, reaffirmed Ecuador’s alliance with Iran.

“We would ratify it a thousand times over,” Correa said of the alliance during his inaugural address, according to a translation of the speech.

Iran’s vice president for international affairs, who attended the inauguration in an official capacity, said the two countries “have elite people and revolutionary governments and we are happy that the ‘Citizens’ Revolution’ — the slogan of Ecuador’s president — can live on,” according to a report from Iranian state-owned media.

Correa also expressed support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which also sent an envoy — its former ambassador to Venezuela — to Correa’s inauguration, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.

Iran’s relationship with Ecuador appears to be mirroring its arrangement with Venezuela, according to Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, who has called Ecuador “one of Iran’s largest money-laundering hubs in Latin America.”

As you may recall, The Ecuadorian Finance Co., Inc. (COFIEC), a bank that was seized a decade ago by the former Deposit Guarantee Agency (AGD) would be the legal vehicle used by the Ecuadorian state to conduct financial transactions with Iran. The purpose is to help Iran evade sanctions.

Additionally, two years ago, Deutsche Welle was reporting that Ecuador had become the new hub for international crime.

The Syrian news Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 9th, 2013

LatinAmerEveryone’s talking about Syria, but what does it have to do with Latin America? This:
Iran, Cuba warn of fallout of Syria attack
Iran and Cuba have expressed concerns about the consequences of any foreign military action against Syria, stressing a political approach to resolve the crisis in the Arab country.
(h/t Capitol Hill Cubans)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla expressed their deep reservations about the threats of military action against Syria in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.

Iran and Cuba: Chummy enough to do joint conference calls on behalf of Assad, no less.

Here’s looking at you, kid,

Meanwhile, Syrian Refugees Flock To Latin America As World Ponders Taking Action Against Assad

‘Dirty War’ judge Romano extradited to Argentina
A former Argentine judge has been extradited to face charges of human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 military rule.

Andres Oppenheimer: Authoritarian leaders breed corruption
What’s most amazing about the arrest in Miami of Bolivia’s top anti-corruption police official, caught on tape extorting a bribe from a well-known businessman, was that hardly anybody was surprised by the news.

Brazil’s Independence Day Marked By Widespread Protests

Political corruption in Brazil
Lawmaker behind bars

Chile court admits omissions during dictatorship

Colombia’s peace talks
To the edge and back again
A hiccup serves to confirm that the government and the FARC are making progress

The week Santos lost Colombia

Grounded TV Marti plane a monument to the limits of American austerity

Vatican Abruptly Removes Dominican Republic Envoy

Ecuador writes off ill-fated satellite

Mexico Set to Unveil Tax-Code Overhaul
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is expected to introduce Sunday a wide-reaching proposal that seeks to boost federal tax revenue, a move that could prove politically complicated in a slowing economy.

Capture of a Mexican drug lord
Got Ugly Betty. Now get Shorty

Fortuño: Puerto Ricans In U.S. Shouldn’t Have A Say On Statehood, But Congress Needs To Act

57 Undocumented Migrants Detained in Puerto Rico

Venezuela Reaches Gas Deal with Trinidad

SIBCI’s Syria

La corrupción apaga a Venezuela
La abundancia de la naturaleza es superada por la infinita corrupción en los gobiernos que han administrado el país

Accountability Is A Dirty Word For Chavismo

The week’s posts and podcast:
Capital flight: from Venezuela to the Dominican Republic

Colombia: Santos OK with FARC not disarming

Brasil: Médico cubano relata exploração do trabalho na Ilha dos irmãos Castro

Spy vs Spy

Mexico: Senate approves education reform

Colombia: Santos’s approval plummets

NSA spying: Mexico & Brazil not amused UPDATED

Mexico: Will the teachers imperil reforms?

US-LatAm stories of the week

Today’s question:

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Could someone please explain what US national interest would intervention in Syria serve?

Where will Assad go?

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

A little while ago, I was asking, Assuming Assad asks asylum . . . will he go to Cuba, Venezuela, or Ecuador? One commenter asked about Bolivia, too.

Assad Is So Out of Vogue that the Russians are distancing themselves,

The Syrian dictator has yet to be pried from power, but with the Kremlin sending war ships for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens, it may not be long before the Assads are passé. That’s good news, isn’t it? In the Middle East, “yes” and “no” are rarely correct answers.

We can say this: Assad’s downfall would be preferable to Assad’s survival. As U.S. Central Command chief General James N. Mattis told Congress last March, regime change in Syria would represent “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.”

Hugo Chavez, who had those weekly direct flights from Damascus and Tehran to Caracas, is now in Cuba supposedly recovering from his fourth cancer surgery, but delegating some duties “related to the budget, expropriations and government debt” to Maduro, his VP. With the prospect of a prolonged post-Chavez power struggle, it’s unlikely that Maduro is willing to be welcoming Bashar and Asma anytime soon.

Cuba has much to lose when Hugo’s gone, and, considering that Russia’s turning its back on Assad, what is there for Cuba to gain by taking him in?

Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia are possibilities, but only if Assad can line a lot of coffers. Enough coffer-lining to justify a lot of unwanted attention?

Asma and Cristina Fernandez are big Louboutin fans, but Argentina’s got enough problems; let’s hope Cristina doesn’t decide to jump that shark. She’s not that crazy, is she?

One thing is clear: any country who welcomes the Assads will be signaling that it welcomes Iran’s meddling in its affairs, too.

Of course, all of this assumes that Assad’s own people are going to allow him to get out of the country. Now that the top general responsible for preventing defections within the military has become a defector himself, it may turn out that the Assads may not be able to reach the airport alive.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

Assuming Assad asks asylum…

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

…will he go to Cuba, Venezuela, or Ecuador?

The embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is considering the possibility to claim political asylum for himself, his family and his close circle in Latin America if he has to cede power, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister held meetings in Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador over the past week, and brought with him classified personal letters from Assad to local leaders,” the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported.

Hmmm…Let’s think that one through:

Cuba would love to add a dentist to its roster of practitioners of “excellent free health care”. [CORRECTION: Merv advises me that Assad’s an eye doctor. But what about those Marathon Man jokes, then?]

Venezuela could resume its direct flights to Damascus, so Assad has a non-stop to Caracas.

And Rafael Correa would certainly try to get a Vogue interview as follow-up to Asma’s Rose of the Desert feature. Now that Anna Wintour may become ambassador, the mag may go for it.

So many possibilities…

Indeed, the olden days when the world’s evil men could count on South American dictatorships offering hiding places may be back again.

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

Chavez heading back to Cuba

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Contradicting reports that he was traveling to Brazil for emergency medical treatment, after begging God for life, Chavez announced last night in a telephone interview that he’s heading back to Cuba tonight for more “radiation therapy

He said the daily radiation treatments in Havana would help him continue what he calls a “battle for health and for life”.

He has only been in Venezuela since early Thursday morning, but must go back tonight?

According to Brazilian journalist Merval Pereira, the Venezuelan government wanted to vacate two floors of the Hospital Sírio e Libanês in Sao Paulo, install the Venezuelan army in charge of clearing all visitors to the hospital, and demanded a news blackout regarding medical updates.

Pereira says Chavez may be suffering of colon-rectal cancer with tumors in the colon, rectum and appendix, but this diagnosis is based on bits of information.

Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda reported yesterday that Chavez suffered burns from his latest radiation treatment, which has not been as on-target as it would have been in countries with state-of-the-art equipment, unlike Cuba. Chavez may have to undergo additional exploratory surgery.

In between cries to the divinity, Hugo didn’t waste time, and accused the USA of using terrorism to try to topple Syria’s Assad,

“I had been trying to talk with him for several days,” Chavez said of Assad, adding that the Syrian leader gave him a detailed rundown of the situation there during a half-hour call.

“Bashar told me that the political plans continue forward and that the security situation is improving, and he hopes and he’s sure … and let’s hope it’s the case … that with less bloodshed in the coming days, soon that brother Arab nation will be totally under control and will return to normality,” Chavez said.

Chavez, who has long had an antagonistic relationship with the U.S. ­government, has repeatedly accused Washington of trying to stir up violence in Syria similar to the fighting in Libya that led to the ouster and killing of his ally Muammar Gadhafi.

“The pressure by the Yankee empire and its allies continues, trying to use arms to topple President Bashar Assad, using terrorism,” Chavez said, adding that such actions were responsible for the violence in Syria.

Chavez has been selling Syria diesel fuel.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.

Columnist Tweaks Venezuela’s Leader

Asma in Vogue

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Vogue Mag recently did a puff piece on the fashionable Asma Assad, treating her as if she was married to a guy who invented laser surgery or something while running a wonderful country. Austin Bay pulls the rug right under Vogue’s kowtowing to the dictator’s wife,
Syria: Father-Son Dictatorship Remains in Vogue

Vogue described Mrs. Assad as “young and very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” who “is on a mission … to put a modern face on her husband’s regime.”

But prose lipstick and cosmetic patois cannot camouflage Syria’s blood-splattered legacy and its ongoing horror. Just as the Vogue article appeared in late February, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution began to shake Mr. and Mrs. Assad’s regime. Two months later, Syria continues to quake. The regime has killed around 200 demonstrators since the end of February, though no one knows for sure, since Assad’s government has restricted access within the country.

Vogue kowtowing to Asma? Swank, baby. The BBC interviewing anti-regime protestors? Suddenly the Vogue mask drops and the Assad regime’s hard face appears.

That hard face has quite a history. Troublemaking in Lebanon, common cause with Iran and relentless war with Israel are part of that history. But the Assads’ longest-running war has been against the Syrian people. Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, ordered the February 1982 massacre in the city of Hama. Regime security forces murdered between 7,000 and 20,000 people; Syrians I know claim that one day the mass graves will be excavated and the 20,000 figure will be ratified.

Bashar took charge in 2,000, after Hafez died. He was a fresh face with a bit of style. But like father, like son, the secret police remained employed and the jails remained filled. Like father, like son, the body count, inside and outside Syria, continued to mount. A U.N. investigation of the February 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri found evidence of Syrian involvement. Former Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam later told the German magazine Der Speigel, “I am convinced that the order (to kill Hariri) came from (Bashar) Assad.”

Under Bashar, Syria continues to arm Shia Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas. Hezbollah gives Assad a way to exert backdoor control over Lebanon. With Hezbollah and Hamas as allies, together Syria and Iran wage a war of political and economic attrition against Israel.

Bashar, like Hafez, wears the hard face well. Despite secret police intimidation and the mass deployment of security forces, however, demonstrations in Syria have not subsided. Still, 200 killed in 2011 isn’t 1982’s slaughter of 20,000. What gives?

Videos of the protests, taken by Syrian activists, are cropping up on the Internet. New media may have given Bashar’s regime pause. Bashar is clearly not repeating Moammar Gadhafi’s mistake of threatening the mass murder of dissidents. Bashar claims he will lift Syria’s state of emergency. It has been in effect since 1963 — again, like father, like son.

The Vogue article goes on to mention Asma’s “alliance” with the Louvre Museum, as if Asma herself had any personal resources to back up such “alliance”, other than her marriage to a dictator.

Over in Syria, another day, another massacre.

Fresh face on a dictator’s regime? It’s Vogue, babeee…