He probably doesn’t want to upset the folks in the tri-border area:
President José Mujica said in an interview Monday that any Guantánamo detainees his country takes will be treated as refugees and will be free to travel wherever they wish, even if they have promised the United States that they’ll stay in the South American country for at least two years.
Mujica told El Espectador radio that Uruguay has tentatively agreed to take four Syrians and a Palestinian who have been held at the military detention center in the U.S.-held corner of Cuba.
Mujica denied that the five are dangerous and said that “in no way” would Uruguay prevent them from traveling.
While he was at it, Mujica also said he’ll skip meeting Pres. Obama in Washington, thank you.
Happy St. Patrick’s day! If you would like to read a novel about an Irishman in Latin America, I recommend El sueño del celta / The Dream of the Celt: A Novel, by Mario Vargas Llosa. (Warning: It can be gruesome at times)
Pope Francis a year on: A friend reveals a very special gift
As Pope Francis marks his first anniversary in the Vatican, an Argentine silversmith explains how he has enlisted millions to help him craft the perfect present for his friend
Soaring Prices Fuel Frustrations Among Weary Argentines
Since the peso was devalued, Argentines have grappled with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, tilling the ground for social unrest, including a strike by schoolteachers and police sit-ins.
His name is Eduardo Campos: Brazilian Politician Heats Up Election
In Brazil’s poor northeast, an upstart presidential hopeful is shaking up this year’s election race by spotlighting a sensitive issue ahead of the Brazilian-hosted soccer World Cup contest: soaring murder rates.
El Salvador: Officials Confirm Ex-Guerrilla’s Victory
El Salvador’s electoral tribunal on Thursday confirmed that a former guerrilla commander during the country’s civil war emerged from Sunday’s presidential election with the most votes.
The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: #SOSVenezuela and the war against the Chuckys
At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Biden goes to Chile
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 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.
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
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 may face water shortages during World Cup, group says, but I’ll bet it won’t be like the Sochi water.
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.
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.”
Si quiere a Timochenko en la presidencia e Iván Márquez en Senado, ya sabe por quien votar en próximas elecciones. pic.twitter.com/HmfE9jj3BJ
— cazador (@cazador2050) February 7, 2014
‘Black Heart’ in Brazil heat drives coffee turnaround h/t DP
Gorki Aguila, Cuban Rocker Faces Sham Trial
Xavier Bonilla’s cartoon after:
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.
Claudia Paz y Paz, A Guatemalan crusader is reined in
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,
Yo soy honoredo that Presidente Obamba que appointedo mi as el officialo translator de Españish para el Obambacare websitero. Si can puede!
— Miguel Bloombito (@ElBloombito) January 13, 2014
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.
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
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
"esquiador" venezolano en #Sochi2014 tiene un banco en Suiza, socio de Carlos Kauffmann y cia. Su hermano es socio de L. Oberto en St Barts.
— Alek Boyd (@alekboyd) February 8, 2014
The week’s posts and podcast:
“Smart diplomacy”: Ambassador to Argentina may not even speak Spanish
At Da Tech Guy: Ask Fausta: Is now the time to travel to Latin America? The answer is yes.
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.
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.
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).
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
Cash for votes
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.
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 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 Presidential Election Preview, 2014
Your taxes just went up: Gobernador convierte en Ley medidas de COFIM
A really big mess: Dead Sperm Whale Washes Up on Beach in Uruguay
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.
The week’s posts and podcast:
CELAC: Maduro & Cristina want Puerto Rico’s independence
At Da Tech Guy Blog:
UN Climate chief: Communism fights global warming
The week’s podcast:
Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week
The fish are biting . . . you: Carnivorous fish injure 10 Argentine river bathers in area where 70 were wounded last month
The Laureus World Sports Awards, abruptly cancelled, Sporting events in Rio
We regret to announce
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.
OBAMA CALLS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ‘THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICAN’
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fixing Puerto Rico: Part I
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
The week’s posts and podcast:
Puerto Rico: Festival success
At Da Tech Guy Blog: Do heed those travel warnings.
The week’s podcast: The US-Latin America stories of the week
The week’s big news in Latin America was the terrible murder of Mónica Spear and ex-husband Henry Thomas Berry in Venezuela.
However, I dedicate this week’s Carnival to the best-named style blog Te lo juro por Louis Vuitton (I swear it by Louis Vuitton), which comes from Argentina.
Latin American rivers among most polluted in the world, says new study
Experts are warning of a possible public health and environmental crisis after it was revealed that rivers in Latin America are some of the most polluted in the world
The court, in a brief written order, agreed to hear an appeal by Argentina seeking to stop Elliott Management Corp.’s NML Capital Ltd. from obtaining records on accounts maintained by Argentina and leading public officials, including its president, Cristina Kirchner.
WARNING: Very gruesome photos Atrocity in Cuba: revisiting the horrors of Mazorra
El Comercio: Enlace ciudadano 356, desde Babahoyo, provincia de Los Ríos
During a six-week federal trial in New York, Chevron introduced overwhelming evidence of fraud, extortion and other misconduct as part of a civil lawsuit against Steven Donziger and his associates.
Read a comprehensive summary of Chevron’s claims and supporting evidence against Steven Donziger and his associates in the company’s post-trial brief here.
World Bank Is Criticized for Honduran Loan
The bank’s ombudsman delivered a stinging review of a loan to a palm-oil company engaged in a violent conflict with poor farm workers over land in Honduras.
Los caballeros templarios: Executive Slaying Sparks New Fears
The death of a top ArcelorMittal executive, believed to be the work of a powerful drug cartel, raises concerns about foreign companies operating in Mexico.
Panama named best place in the world to retire
That’s where retirees will get the most bang for their buck, and be able to bask in the sun and warm weather every day. Plus, a new program makes it easy to establish residence in Panama. Also on the list of top places to retire are Ecuador, Malaysia and Costa Rica. I don’t know about Malaysia, but Ecuador would not be on my list. The Huffpo has a 5-part series: Is Panama Truly a Retirement Haven?
TURKS & CAICOS
Michael Misick, Former Turks and Caicos leader extradited from Brazil under U.S. escort, spends first night in prison on corruption charges.
Hundreds protest over murdered Miss Venezuela
Hundreds took to the streets of Caracas to demand the government protect its citizens from callous killers, following the murder of a former Miss Venezuela and her British ex-husband
The week’s posts:
Puerto Rico: 6.4 earthquake
At Da Tech Guy Blog: Venezuela: Killing beauty
Ex-Israeli envoy to Argentina: Israel killed most perpetrators of AMIA, embassy bombings
Former ambassador Itzhak Aviran accuses Argentine gov’t of not doing enough to probe 1990s Buenos Aires terrorist attacks.
Dejó un mensaje telefónico porque las monjas no pudieron atender la llamada
El Papa llama a un convento de Lucena para felicitar el año nuevo
La conversación con el Pontífice duró 15 minutos y la pudieron escuchar cinco monjas
El Santo Padre envió su bendición a toda la buena gente de la localidad cordobesa
Argentina Criticizes Utilities After Outages
Argentina’s government has ruled out raising electricity rates and instead repeated threats to revoke the concessions of the two largest utilities that serve the capital if they don’t invest more to prevent a repeat of recent blackouts.
Headbanging in Bolivia to the Flutes of Yore
Heavy metal, Bolivian style, is a fusion of thrashing guitars and shrieking lyrics with the rhythms and instruments of pre-Incan Andean folk tunes.
Chilean miracle miners back in spotlight, with Antonio Banderas.
Bogota needs a “Bloomberg”; maybe, but it’ll do much better with a Giuliani.
Sitting in the Ecuadorian embassy, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange derides Catholic confessional system but can’t come up with an original thought.
Election fraud in Honduras
Mexico: 6 Police Officers Charged in Death of U.S. Citizen in Custody
The man, Yeudi Estrada, was dead when he arrived at Police Headquarters in the resort of Playa del Carmen after his arrest, local prosecutors said.
THE $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is one of the world’s great infrastructure projects, aimed at enabling giant mega-tankers to pass through the 100-year-old waterway between the Atlantic and the Pacific. So a threat by an international consortium, led by Spain’s Sacyr, to halt construction work on January 20th if the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) doesn’t pay it $1.6 billion for cost overruns, is serious. The amount it is claiming is fully half the $3.2 billion it bid in 2009 for its part of the project.
Jorge Quijano, administrator of the PCA, told The Economist that the authority would not pay the money because cost increases were accounted for in the contract.
Meanwhile, In 2013 Chiriquí Had 673 Earthquakes
The inflationary monster (in Spanish)
The week’s posts:
Argentina: More price controls
At Da Tech Guy Blog: Ringin’ in the New Year in yellow undies: A brief story by Fausta
The Kirchner-Baez scandal
Bolivians cheer satellite launchBolivian indigenous rituals ahead of satellite launch
Thousands of people in La Paz celebrate the launch of Bolivia’s first telecommunications satellite from a base in China
Jamaican bride dumps new husband 20 MINUTES after arriving in the UK… and guess who paid for her £5k visa
Heartbroken charity worker believes she ‘joined boyfriend with whom she planned scheme’
He paid £5,000 for her visa
EL FORO DE SAO PAULO, UN PELIGRO PARA LA DEMOCRACIA
Mexico’s Reforms: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Mexico’s Congress has delivered an energy reform plan that could alter Mexico’s economic outlook for decades to come, but its populist tax policies and profligate spending threaten the steady growth the country has achieved in recent years.
British drug mules sentenced to six years for trafficking in Peru
Michaella Connolly and Melissa Reid have been sentenced to six years and eight months in prison by a Peruvian judge, for attempting to smuggle 11 kilos of cocaine out of the country
Coast Guard rescues man kicked off mountain by goat (h/t Tree-hugging Sister)
The Economist’s country of the year, for legalizing the mass production and distribution of marijuana.
More bad news from Venezuela
The week’s posts and podcast
Colombia: mayor trouble
At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Brazil: Edward Snowden asks for asylum
As you may recall, Uruguay is the first country in the world to legalize the production and mass distribution of marijuana.
Boz points out, that, while keeping mum on Cuba’s human rights abuses,
It took exactly one day for the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to announce that Uruguay’s new marijuana regulations are against international law.
But the news on marijuana is not good: Marijuana linked to brain-related memory woes, schizophrenia risk in teens
They found changes in gray matter areas of the brain associated with working memory, which is the ability to process information and transfer it to long-term memory, if needed. Gray matter is rich in neurons (nerve cells) and plays a role in routing signals to areas responsible for numerous functions like memory and movement.
Marijuana likely increases the risk of testicular cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, a type of brain tumor, and the risk of leukemia in the offspring of women who use it during pregnancy.
Keep that in mind if you’re a user.
The rationale for the legalization “experiment” – as President Lugo calls it – is that government intervention will regulate the market.
Like the drug itself, we’ll yet find out what the side effects are.