Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua: Russia to add military bases overseas UPDATED

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Last November Secretary of State John Kerry declared the Monroe Doctrine dead; Putin was listening:

Russia Seeks Several Military Bases Abroad – Defense Minister (emphasis added)

Russia is planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing military bases in a number of foreign countries, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.

Shoigu said the list includes Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles, Singapore and several other countries.

“The talks are under way, and we are close to signing the relevant documents,” Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.

The minister added that the negotiations cover not only military bases but also visits to ports in such countries on favorable conditions as well as the opening of refueling sites for Russian strategic bombers on patrol.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced plans to shrink army to pre-World War II levels. His timing could not have been more perfect.

UPDATE, Thursday Feb. 27, 2014, via Kermit:
Russian spy ship docked in Havana

There you have it:

The Optimistic Conservative:

The timing of SSV-175’s patrol is presumably no coincidence. We don’t know exactly when she left her Northern Fleet home port on the Barents Sea, but since she was in Curacao on the 30th, we do know it was at least before 10 January (and probably before that. At an overall speed of 12 knots, the ship would have needed to leave the Barents around 2 or 3 January). It’s unlikely that the AGI is in Central America just for the excitement of popular unrest in Venezuela, however. The more interesting event could well be the deployment of the Iranian navy task force.

John Kerry was on TV just now saying “This is not Rocky IV.” No, it’s not: this is real.

The first 2014 Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 6th, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
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.

BOLIVIA
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.

BRAZIL
Brazil’s fighter jet decision

CHILE
Photos: Violent protests in Chile

Chilean miracle miners back in spotlight, with Antonio Banderas.

COLOMBIA
Bogota needs a “Bloomberg”; maybe, but it’ll do much better with a Giuliani.

CUBA
Reuters shocked…. shocked! … by Cuban car pricing

Mujeres: la carne barata de la revolución

The media
The most absurdly oblivious headline you’ll read all year

Cuba’s unhappy birthday

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Haitians without a nation
A ruling in the Dominican Republic divides immigrants in Boston

ECUADOR
Ecuador Authorities Raid Journalist’s Home
The raid is the latest crackdown on the press following a recent law restricting negative reporting.

USAID to Pull Out of Ecuador
Organization cites efforts of Correa admin to stifle aid programs

Sitting in the Ecuadorian embassy, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange derides Catholic confessional system but can’t come up with an original thought.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador orders evacuation from volcano’s slopes
Authorities in El Salvador have resumed evacuating residents living on the slopes of the Chaparrastique volcano

HONDURAS
Election fraud in Honduras

JAMAICA
Cool Runnings Again? Jamaican Bobsleigh Team Return for Sochi Winter Olympic Glory Bid

LATIN AMERICA
Nafta at 20: A Model for Trade Policy
Opponents of the 1993 agreement have been proven definitively wrong.

MEXICO
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.

Mexico 2013: End of the Year Reflections and the Year to Come

Suspected leader of Mexican drug cartel nabbed at Amsterdam airport, via Gates of Vienna.

PANAMA
Trouble at the Panama Canal
Your money or your locks

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.

Panama Canal expansion: Spain steps in to negotiations

Meanwhile, In 2013 Chiriquí Had 673 Earthquakes

PARAGUAY
Paraguay drug seizures up by 39% in 2013

PERU
Peru Plans to Increase Eradication of Coca Leaf
The nation’s drug czar says Peru plans to eradicate an estimated 30,000 hectares of illegally grown coca leaf in 2014.

PUERTO RICO
Could a Puerto Rico Default Hammer the $3.7 Trillion US Muni-Bond Market in 2014?

Puerto Rico Marijuana Reform Gets A Second Life

Puerto Rico’s Population Continues Rapid Decline

USA
No, an illegal immigrant should not be admitted to the bar

URUGUAY
Uruguay consumer prices up 8.5 pct in 2013, top government target

VENEZUELA
Venezuela’s surveillance state strikes again

Transforming a mistake into a revamped tool of repression: the Delcy Rodriguez scandal

Venezuelan Central Bank Joins The Dark Side

The inflationary monster (in Spanish)

The week’s posts:
Argentina: More price controls

Latin America: Free trade vs. Mercosur

Cuba: Lies, lies, and more lies

Mexico: Another Fast & Furious gun found

Italy: Latin American thieves pick the wrong town to hide

Cuba: The new car

Is 2014 Latin America’s “big year”?

Mexico: What has changed

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Ringin’ in the New Year in yellow undies: A brief story by Fausta


The year-end Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 30th, 2013

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Nine-year-old US boy climbs Aconcagua peak in Argentina
A nine-year-old boy from the United States has become the youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas.

BRAZIL
Brazil jail fights kill 59 in 2013
At least 59 inmates have been killed in a single northern Brazilian prison this year
; the town is Pedrinhas.

Smart Diplomacy: Boeing’s Super Hornet Banned From Brazil’s Fighter Sales Because of Fury Over NSA Scandal

Brazil Boosts Levy On Overseas Transactions
Brazil is raising taxes on more transactions its residents make abroad, as the country tries to increase government revenue and reduce the outflow of dollars.

ICYMI, Smart Diplomacy: Brazilian President complains to Obama about “a grave violation of human rights” and “especially of disrespect to national sovereignty

CHILE
Statistics in Chile
No consensus

COLOMBIA
Colombia`s year of peace

Colombian military kills 10 Farc rebels in bombing raid
The Colombian military says it has killed at least 10 members of the left-wing Farc rebel group in an operation in central Meta province.

CUBA
The Free Alan Gross website.

Magazine Celebrates Mass Murderer Che

Man who shouted “Down with communism!” during pope’s visit to Cuba is now in Chattanooga
Andrés Carrión Says security agents threatened to kill him, fired his wife, forced them out of their home and sent two snitches to get close to him.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Faces Legal Quandary over Intra-Indigenous Violence

HONDURAS
Honduran High Court Rejects Challenge to Presidential Vote

JAMAICA
Police in Jamaica probe slaying of New York teen

MEXICO
Observations and Questions as NAFTA Reaches 20 Years of Age

Mexico to Tax Luxury Item: Pet Food
Mexico’s pet owners are bracing for a new tax on pet food, which the government recently declared a “luxury item.
A 16% Sales Tax to Kick In as Government Scrounges for Revenue

A Civil Servant in Mexico Tests U.S. on Asylum

NICARAGUA
A must-read firsthand account from a former NGO worker: 32 years after the revolution Reagan is right

PERU
The Dark Side of El Dorado: Illegal Gold Mining In Peru Generating More Money Than Drug Trafficking (emphasis added)

In fact, so much gold has been produced by the “informal” (or “illegal’) mining sector in Peru – involving some 40,000 miners who have tried to scrape whatever they can in abandoned mines around the country, from the jungle province of Puerto Maldonado to the deserted landscape of Ica – that gold has become more lucrative than cocaine trafficking (of which Peru is the largest exporter, having surpassed Colombia in 2012, according to the United Nations).

PUERTO RICO
PENSION WARS
Pension Update: Puerto Rico Up, San Jose Down
It’s been an up-and-down week for public pensions. In San Jose, a judge struck down a significant piece of the city’s pension reform plan, setting the stage for a big ballot fight next year. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, the Senate finally passed a measure to put the Teachers Pesion Fund on solid footing.

With A Downgrade On Debt Imminent, Puerto Rico Needs A Visit From Santa Claus

TURKS & CAICOS
Turks and Caicos Islands: 18 Believed to Be Migrants From Haiti Drown
Eighteen people believed to be migrants from Haiti died Wednesday when their overloaded sailboat overturned as it was being escorted to shore in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

URUGUAY
Uruguayan Navy Seizes Over 1 Ton of Cocaine

USA
‘Military-Style’ Raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.

The Most Underreported Foreign News Stories of 2013

The Most Underreported Domestic News Stories of 2013

VENEZUELA
Caracas Says It Received China Credits
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said China has given his country $5 billion in credits under a deal reached in September.
Money Pledged in September to Be Used for Several Purposes

PDVSA awards crude tender to U.S. refiner at wide discounts-trade, via Kermit, wjo points out,

A decade or so ago Venezuelan crude was sold on longterm contracts at about $10 per barrel discount from the two widget fiction crudes, WTI & Brent. Looks like it is now $20 discount and crude production has declined quite a bit.

What Will Happen In Venezuela In 2014?

2013 in review: the year we realized that the Venezuelan electorate is wretched and vile

Muere Hugo Chávez, nace el chavismo
Con o sin el expresidente, el chavismo es una plataforma viable, y es la preferida por los venezolanos. De eso ya no queda duda

ICYMI, The Venezuelan State’s Occupy “Movement”: The Victory of Socialism!

The week’s posts:
Cuba: Institutionalized racism

Argentina: Rocket up, power out

Ecuador: Cléver Jiménez, accused of hacking, gets raided. Assange & Snowden could not be reached for comment.

Mexico showed the way in 2013

Argentina: 60 wounded by piranha attack

Cuba: Doctors to earn $40 a month

Nicaragua: Paul Berman writes to de Blasio

Reformed dictators don’t exist

At Da Tech Guy: Fausta’s Puerto Rican Christmas menu


Venezuela detains ship with US crew

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Venezuela has been muscling into Guyana for a while, and here’s the latest installment:
Venezuela Detains Ship Contracted to U.S. Oil Company
The Vessel With Five Americans on Board Was Conducting a Seismic Survey for Anadarko Petroleum

Guyana’s Foreign Ministry insisted that the ship was well within its own national territory when the incident took place.

The survey ship was directed by the Venezuelan naval unit to shut down its seismic equipment and head west to the island of Margarita in Venezuela, where the crew was placed under arrest, the Guyanese government said.

Unfortunately for the five Americans now imprisoned, it’s unlikely that the current US administration will do anything in their behalf.

.

Argentina: House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

From the Washington Free Beacon:
House Lawmakers Ask John Kerry to Reconsider Argentinian Aid
Bipartisan coalition criticizes Argentina for growing closer to Iran

U.S. officials and regional experts warned earlier this week that under the leadership of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina has helped Iran bring its terrorist activities to the Western hemisphere.

The lawmakers—including House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R., Texas), Reps. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Grace Meng (D., N.Y.), Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), and Bill Posey (R., Fla.)—urged Kerry to immediately cut back U.S. support for Argentina.

The matter has assumed “a new level of urgency” given Argentina’s increasing efforts to accommodate Iran, according to the letter.

U.S. officials and independent experts have cited Kirchner’s government for boosting trade with Iran by more than a billion dollars, as well as for allowing Iranian agents to move freely through the region, where they are suspected of smuggling weapons, money, and other goods.

I’ll be extremely surprised if Kerry agrees. At best, the current administration simply doesn’t care. Worse, the State Department comes up with two-page reports soft-pedaling Iran’s threat on Latin America.


UN: Mexico border a “global pathway” to the USA

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

The United Nations has issued a report,
Transnational Organized Crime inCentral America and the Caribbean:
A Threat Assessment

Page 45:

Central America as a global pathway to the United States
Central Americans are not the only ones being smuggled through Mexico to the United States. Irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia), as well as South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, and India), China and other African and Asian States are also being smuggled through Central America. Migrants from the Horn of Africa are transported using land routes to South Africa, and then air transport to Brazil and Colombia. Those who can afford onward air travel fly to Mexico, while others proceed by land and sea to Costa Rica or Panama. From that point, their journey looks very much like that of the Central Americans. Until recently, Indian nationals did not require a visa to enter Guatemala, and from there joined the rest moving northward.

Chinese nationals may reach their North American destinations via Central America and Mexico with forged passports from Japan or Hong Kong, China, which allow entry without a visa.

According to the authorities of Panama, smuggling of Cuban migrants has increased threefold in the first months of 2012.

Among other the findings,

As with drug trafficking, migrant smuggling involves
transportista-type groups, territorial groups, predatory groups, and street gangs.

The Zetas, the Maras, and other territorial groups ap-pear to be involved in migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and the firearms trade. This involvement may increase if cocaine revenues decline.

Breitbart first carried the story,

The report identifies the Islamic terrorist haven of Somalia as being one of the nations from which the illegal U.S. bound border-crossers are originating.

The UN Threat Assessment–which refers to illegal aliens as “irregular migrants”–states:

Central Americans are not the only ones being smuggled through Mexico to the United States. Irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia), as well as South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, India), China, and other African and Asian states are being smuggled through Central America.

The National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), which serves as the primary organization in the United States Government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism, states that much of Somalia was taken over by Al-Shabaab, the militant wing of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts, before it entered a phase of on-and-off control of various key regions of the failed nation.

Similarly, the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations in-depth analysis of Somalia states:

Its porous borders mean that individuals can enter without visas, and once inside the country, enjoy an almost complete lack of law enforcement. Somalia has long served as a passageway from Africa to the Middle East based on its coastal location on the Horn of Africa, just a boat ride away from Yemen. These aspects make Somalia a desirable haven for transnational terrorists, something Al-Qaeda has tried to capitalize on before, and is trying again now.

As I have said many times over the past eight years, border security is national security.

Related: Immigration from south of the Mexican border

UPDATE
Linked by Public Secrets and Sister Toldjah. Thank you!

Read the UN report below the fold:
(more…)

Venezuela: The kidnapping worked

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Imagine, if you may, this sequence of events:

  • Dictator dies
  • Dictatorship expels superpower military attaches in March the same day dictator dies
  • Dictatorship perpetuates (or at least attempts to perpetuate) itself through electoral fraud
  • Superpower ignores election results
  • Big OAS pow-wow date looms on the horizon
  • Dictatorship kidnaps citizen of superpower
  • Behind-the-scenes deal takes place
  • To add urgency, the dictatorship places the citizen of the superpower in one of the most dangerous jails in our hemisphere
  • Citizen is released and returned
  • Superpower’s Secretary of State and dictatorship’s foreign minister get together for photo-op
  • Everybody’s happy

You don’t think that’s what happened in the Timothy Tracy case?

Think again:

John Kerry Meets With Venezuela’s Foreign Minister; Talk Of Improving Relations

On his first trip to Latin America since taking office, Kerry said he was hopeful that a rapprochement could be achieved. The meeting, which came at Venezuela’s request, took place just hours after Venezuela released from prison an American filmmaker who had been jailed on espionage charges, removing an immediate irritant in the relationship.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the 35-member OAS annual general assembly, Kerry did not mention the developments with Venezuela, but reiterated U.S. concerns that some countries in the hemisphere are backsliding on their commitments to democracy and seeking to weaken OAS institutions that monitor and report on human rights.

Any questions?

UPDATE:
Linked by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


In Silvio Canto’s podcast

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

live now, talking about US-Latin America: Free trade agreements with Jim Roberts.

You can also listen to the archived podcast at your convenience.

The Memorial Day Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, May 27th, 2013

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Are We Becoming Argentina?
The Republican Party is taking America down a dangerous path.

Alan Faena’s Argentine Residence
The restoration of the businessman’s Argentine estancia is a touchstone for an ambitious new real estate development that he hopes will change Miami.

Jorge Rafael Videla
Death of a “Dirty War” criminal

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Enacts Law Allowing Morales to Seek 3rd Term

BRAZIL
Brazilians
Portuguese for the perplexed

Brazil ‘cancels’ most African debt
Brazil says it will cancel or restructure almost $900m (£600m) worth of debt owed by African countries, to boost economic ties with the continent

Brasilia, immigrants from Bangladesh forced to work in slave-like conditions (h/t GoV)

CHILE
Barrick Gold fined for Chile project
Chilean authorities fine the world’s largest gold mining company, Barrick Gold Corp, more than $16m for environmental offences at an Andean mine.

COLOMBIA
Colombian welfare: Family Subsidy by the Box

CUBA
Cuban activist Alexander Tamayo arrested

ECUADOR
Ecuador president starts third term
Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, is sworn into office for an unprecedented third term in the capital, Quito

GUATEMALA
Guatemala extradites ex-leader Alfonso Portillo to US
Guatemala’s former President Alfonso Portillo has been flown to the United States to face corruption charges.

HONDURAS
Rhinoceros beetle

LATIN AMERICA
Hunger Strikes End in Several LatAm Countries

MEXICO
Mexican Billionaire Wants Probe of Activists
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says protests by an activist group in the U.S. have the trappings of an orchestrated campaign against him and his mobile phone companies and is asking California to investigate the group.

Soldiers re-occupy Mexico’s Hot Land

PANAMA
Great Time – No Photos

PERU
Corruption in Peru
A widening web

PUERTO RICO
‘Las Caras Lindas’: To Be Black And Puerto Rican In 2013

Six Cuban Rafters Rescued from Puerto Rican Islet

URUGUAY
Uruguayan Official Defends Drug Policy During Mexico Visit

VENEZUELA
The Cuban elephant in the room

Mario Silva and our daily abjection

Mario Silva’s Gossip Tape Aimed at Discrediting Chavismo/Madurismo

Good luck with that: Venezuela’s PdVSA Gets $1 Billion Credit Line From Schlumberger
State energy monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, will receive a $1 billion revolving credit line from oil-service provider Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), the South American country’s oil minister said Friday.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina’s K Decade: 10 years of Kirchnerismo

Cuba: Dissidents meet exiles in Miami

Venezuela launches missile

Guatemala: Ríos Montt conviction thrown out

Venezuela: The Silva tape

Podcast (Audio starts immediately): US-Latin America issues of the week


We need more of these: Foreign citizens making big investments in U.S. in exchange for green cards

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

At the WaPo, Foreign citizens making big investments in U.S. in exchange for green cards

The EB-5 program is booming in popularity, driven largely by a struggling U.S. economy in which developers are searching for new sources of capital. It is also fueled by rising demand from foreigners looking for access to U.S. schools, safe investment in U.S. projects and — in the case of China, where most of the investors are from — greater freedom.

The program has broad bipartisan support in Congress, and key senators who are negotiating an overhaul of the immigration system have said they are leaning toward expanding visa programs that provide an immediate boost to the economy.

Since the EB-5 program began in 1992, more than 29,000 people have received visas, foreigners have invested more than $6.8 billion and 50,000 American jobs have been created, U.S. officials said.

IF (big “if”) the government can carry out this program in such a way that real investors are bringing thriving businesses, there’s only thing to say:

More cowbell!

In other immigration news,
Texas taxpayers spent at least $250 million last year in state prison and health care costs for illegal immigrants.