Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

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.

TB at the border, and drug violence

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Risk of Deadly TB Exposure Grows Along U.S.-Mexico Border

Officials say that when drug-resistant cases show up in the U.S., there is often a Mexico connection. Of San Diego’s 14 multidrug-resistant TB cases between 2007 and 2011, half were either from Mexico or had a Mexico link based on the particular strain of the disease, said Kathleen Moser of the county’s Health & Human Services Agency, which sees many patients who live and work on both sides of the border.

Part of the problem, of course, is that Mexico’s rate of TB infection is much higher—in some cases 10 times higher. The resistant strains begin to breed, experts say, when doctors there give patients similar drug regimens over and over. Other times, patients who aren’t supervised closely abandon treatment before they are cured.

It’s worse because of the Mexican drug violence:

Funding isn’t the only issue. As a key part of prevention efforts, U.S. experts have regularly crossed the border in California and Texas to keep tabs on and help patients directly. But drug-related violence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border has shot up, forcing workers to consult only from the U.S. side. Among them is Barbara Seaworth, the medical director of a TB center in San Antonio, who stopped a few years ago after making the trips for nearly 20 years.

Compounding the problem: Mexico lacks enough health workers to offer directly observed therapy to every patient.

Cheer up with Bill Whittle

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Feeling down? Listen to Bill Whittle, who has a surprisingly optimistic message,

I realize Bill’s rocking the one-tone suit-&-necktie vibe, but I so wish Bill would take my advice and wear neckties in bright colors. The gray-on-gray washes him out.

America’s crazy uncle welcomes the 113th Congress

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

From the Vice-President and Court Jester in One, the inappropriate comment fest,

“You are so pretty. God love you, holy mackerel.”
This aside was to a brunette in a red dress, apparently there with bachelor Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

“Spread your legs — you’re gonna be frisked!”


The New Year’s Eve Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, December 31st, 2012

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Court Declines Intervention in Media Case

Argentina Congress hosts “Islam for peace” seminar

Muslims sense of belonging in Argentina, ratifying their right and proud to be Argentine citizens, challenges the sense of injustice that the Muslim community faces, unjustly, in the 21st century-world.

via Gates of Vienna

BOLIVIA
Spain’s Iberdrola Has 4 Units Taken Over by Bolivian State

Coca Licensing Is a Weapon in Bolivia’s Drug War

BRAZIL
High Stakes in Brazil After Outage
A day after power outages left travelers at Rio de Janeiro’s international airport in the dark, President Dilma Rousseff tried to calm fears that Brazil was facing the kind of energy shortages that upended national politics a decade ago.

Corruption in Brazil
A healthier menu
As the historic trial of those guilty of a legislative votes-for-cash scheme draws to a close, Brazilians digest the verdict

Obituary: Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Ribiero de Almeida de Niemeyer Soares Filho, architect, died on December 5th, aged 104

COLOMBIA
Sister of Colombian Drug Cartel’s Founder Killed

CUBA
We came, we saw, we were appalled

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Hillary shall remain concussed while in Punta Cana

ECUADOR
Banana Republic v. Chevron

LATIN AMERICA
Latin America, the Mideast, and the Pope

MEXICO
Cartels Clash in Mexican Town
Armed men stormed a town in the mountains of the western state of Sinaloa on Christmas Eve and shot nine men, then dumped their bodies as part of a war between Mexico’s two most powerful cartels.

Old PRI, new PRI? In Mexico, a New Approach to Stanching Drug Violence

Mr. Peña Nieto’s six-point program includes better government planning; increased intergovernmental coordination; protection of human rights; more social investments and crime-prevention programs; additional evaluation of government programs; and institution building.

It also proposes a 10,000-member force to secure municipalities and states where law enforcement is powerless against organized crime. The administration has said it will focus on street gangs and criminals employed by the cartels, a shift from former President Felipe Calderón’s emphasis on eliminating top drug trafficking bosses.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay’s awful history
The never-ending war
How a terrible but little-known conflict continues to shape and blight a nation

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Introduces New Guidelines for Hate Crimes

USA
Latino Muslims are shaping a new US identity, via Gates of Vienna

VENEZUELA
Seven more Years!

The week’s posts:
Mexico: 120-yard tunnel near the Nogales entry into Arizona

Where will Assad go?

Argentina: Squeeze and “creativity”


1789: Washington’s Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

The WSJ:
Thanksgiving, 1789
George Washington’s proclamation was not without controversy.

It was his first presidential proclamation, and it was well heeded. According to the “Papers of George Washington,” compiled by the University of Virginia, Thanksgiving Day was “widely celebrated throughout the nation.” Newspapers around the country published the proclamation and announced plans for public functions in honor of the day. Religious services were held, and churches solicited donations for the poor. Washington himself sent $25 to a pastor in New York City, requesting that the funds be “applied towards relieving the poor of the Presbyterian Churches,” in the words of his secretary.

Thanksgiving feasts in New England at the time of the nation’s founding were similar to those today, says Charles Lyle, director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, Conn. The museum recently hosted an 18th-century-style Thanksgiving dinner using recipes supplied by a local food historian, Paul Courchaine. Turkey and pumpkin pie were on the menu, along with venison pie, roast goose, roast pork, butternut squash, creamed onions, pottage of cabbage, onions and leeks, and Indian pudding, made from cornmeal and spices.

In a bow to contemporary tastes, several wines were served at the museum but not the one Americans were likely to have drunk in the 18th century—Madeira, a high-alcohol-content wine fortified with brandy. Before the Revolution, Madeira, which came from the Portuguese-owned Madeira Islands, was considered a patriotic beverage, since it was not subject to British taxation. It was Washington’s favorite drink.

Washington was keenly aware of his role as a model for future presidents. He once remarked that “There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not be hereafter drawn into precedent.” That included his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, which set the standard for Thanksgiving Proclamations by future presidents, a list that included James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and then every president up to the present day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Unilateral negotiations with Iran?

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The NYTimes claims,

The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Not so, says National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor… or did he?,

Vietor, however, denied that any such agreement had been reached.

“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” he said. We continue to work with the P5+1 on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”

And now the Christian Science Monitor is saying that

Iran followed the United States on Sunday in denying that the two countries had scheduled direct bilateral negotiations on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Meanwhile, one day away from the presidential debate on foreign policy, this reaction’s not unreasonable,

Interestingly, so is the timing of the Zombie Fidel rumors, since both Iran and Cuba would like to influence the outcome of an American presidential election, but I digress.

While the Iran story came out, I was watching Argo, an excellent movie spoiled by Jimmy Carter’s little monologue trying to get some credit for the rescue of the six Americans. The 444-day long Iranian hostage crisis was not the shiniest moment of the Carter administration.

You can’t watch Argo and not think of the September 11 Benghazi attack, particularly during the scenes where we are subjected to the Iranian propaganda and the storming of the embassy. The parallels abound,

In fact, “Argo” may also inadvertently malign the current administration. Once more, the Middle East is on fire, an inept White House is inadvertently fanning the flames with appeasement-style policies and “Death to America” chants are heard across the region.

And now one-on-one negotiations with Iran? Or not?

UPDATE,
Via Ed Driscoll/Instapundit, “Even if the story turns out to be true, I don’t think it will help him. “We’re going to talk to the Iranians!” isn’t a very sexy headline.”

UPDATE 2, Oh, look, Putin flexes muscle in big test of Russia’s nuclear arsenal

And, NEW YORK TIMES CAUGHT EDITING IRAN STORY AFTER WHITE HOUSE DENIALS

The DC‘s Gregg Re writes:
When the New York Times updated its story late Saturday to reflect [National Security Council spokesman Tommy] Vietor’s statement, the paper made no mention of the update or any correction to the story, leaving readers with the impression that the White House’s denial had been in the story all along. In fact, the initial version of the story portrayed the development as a tentative victory for the Obama administration, which has recently been faced with foreign policy crises in the Middle East and Libya. 

The new version of the Times’ story also removed this line about the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions: “Even with possible negotiations in the offing, there is no evidence Iran has slowed its fuel production.”

Normally, a pro forma denial by the White House would not send reporters and editors scurrying to cover up their work. With good sources, and reliable information, journalists could be expected to stand by their story.

Now, with the Times carrying out edits that it apparently hoped ho one would notice, the entire story seems like a desperate attempt to set the stage for the Third Presidential Debate in a way that favors the incumbent.

(h/t Judith)