Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Venezuela: Corker in Caracas

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

A few notes on Venezuela:

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) traveled to Caracas to meet with Maria Corina Machado, and with government officials

Venezuelan Ombudsman Tareck El Aissami said that he would meet with the senator and added, on his Twitter account, that the pair would discuss “issues related to Venezuelan democracy, human rights and national peace.”

Meanwhile, over at the UN Human Rights Council, Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor, Luisa Ortega

Ortega was pressed on the treatment of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni – detained for releasing a political prisoner without the president’s permission – by the Tunisian representative Yadh Ben Achour, one of the Arab World’s most respected legal rights scholars. It seems Ortega blew a gasket, snapping, “so that the lawyer Yadh Ben Achour, representing Tunisia, may shut his mouth, it is not true that Judge Afiuni was raped. He is making things up.”
. . .

But the worst, for Ortega, was yet to come. Hours after her outburst, Judge Afiuni turned up at her trial in Caracas – a trial that’s taking place now, five years and four months after the fact – and repeated that not only had she been raped in prison, but that both her vagina and anus had been seriously injured in the attack.

Jerry Brewer writes at Mexidata, Cuba and FARC, and their Sinister Presence in Venezuela

Cuba maintains one of its largest intelligence networks in Venezuela (and in Mexico). The late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela preferred direct access to Cuba’s security service, as indicated by cables that were released and sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department.

The Cuban security apparatchik remains a key source of Venezuela’s training for its military, and its domestic and foreign security services, as well as for the development and support of people and groups with terror agendas, and to restrain and inhibit opposition to the repressive leftist governments of Venezuela and Cuba.

Read the whole article.

In case you missed it, TalCual: Government of Venezuela is Soft on FARC, Hard on Mayor Barreto in a border town where smuggling is the #1 industry,

Guerrillas, paramilitary groups and criminal gangs rule Apure’s second-largest city, not the government of Nicolás Maduro. None of its officials in that secluded region of the country have control over them. Neither the National Armed Forces, nor the National Guard, much less the governorship of the state or the mayor’s office.

Nobody from Caracas cares about what happens there, unless it is of interest to the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). That explains the diligence of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in validating an irritating ruling made by most municipal councilmen there who disregarded the will of the people of the municipality by removing opposition mayor Lumay Barreto from office and appointing a PSUV activist in her place. That’s what the Government calls “participatory democracy.”

Venezuela’s moola from the mullah: Iran’s new $500million credit line

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Half a billion, “for peaceful purposes”:

Venezuela, Iran Sign Economic Cooperation Deals; Venezuela Signs $500M Credit Line With Iran

The agreements include pledges to cooperate in economic, financial, technological and scientific fields. Venezuela also signed a deal with Iran for a $500 million credit line to fund the development of joint projects and help Venezuela secure goods that Maduro said were “necessary for the Venezuelan people,” including drugs and surgical equipment, Reuters reported. The two nations also agreed to fund a joint research program in nanotechnology.
. . .
Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh reportedly said on Iranian television that the agreement was preliminary and would be reviewed by Iran’s finance ministry sometime in the future.

At El Nuevo Herald,

Reza Nematzadeh señaló que además de esta media docena de acuerdos la comitiva persa sostuvo conversaciones con otros ministerios y con el presidente del Banco Central de Venezuela, Nelson Merentes, quien, dijo, “estaba muy interesado para aumentar y profundizar” las relaciones bilaterales.

My translation: [Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mohammad] Reza Nematzadeh indicated that, in addition to the half a dozen agreements, the Persian delegation held talks with other ministries and with Venezuela’s Central Bank president Nelson Marentes, who, he said “was very interested in increasing and deepening” bilateral relations.

At PressTV (emphasis added)

Moreover, Iran agreed to transfer its expertise to Venezuela in combating an “economic war” on the Latin American country, Maduro said, apparently referring to Iran’s experience in facing years of US-led sanctions.

The line of credit is part of a larger framework of six economic cooperation agreements with Venezuela.

Back in 2012, when Iran was banned from SWIFT banking transactions, which could have actually kept it out of much of the international markets and made the sanctions even more effective,Iran easily bypassed the problem with an alternative, rogue financial system it help set up with some South American countries, including Venezuela.

The system had already been set up by Iran in anticipation of the SWIFT ban.

For background information on Iran-Venezuela relations, if you can read Spanish, I highly recommend Emili Blasco’s Bumerán Chávez: Los fraudes que llevaron al colapso de Venezuela.

The unsubsidized Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 29th, 2015

The week’s headlines in a sentence: While the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare subsidies and gay marriage, the deadline for the Iran negotiations looms and terrorists are blowing up people and pipelines all over the place.

ARGENTINA
Contraband Economy Booming on the Argentina-Bolivia Border
High Inflation, Tariffs Fuel Thriving Black Market

The location of the judge is rather interesting: Argentine judge orders seizure of Falklands drillers’ assets

Lilian Herraez, a federal judge in Tierra del Fuego, ordered the seizure of $156 million in bank accounts, boats and other property, the government said on Saturday.

BOLIVIA
Pope sends video-message to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The guy can’t stay away from socialist throwaway terminology:

“I want to be a witness of this joy of the Gospel and bring to you the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to your children most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, to those who are victims of this throwaway culture,” he said.

BRAZIL
Brazil to Narrow Inflation Target Range
Brazil will narrow the inflation target range for its central bank starting in 2017, but the center point of the range will remain unchanged at 4.5%. The tolerance band will be cut to a range of 3% to 6%

Working Within the System to Disrupt Brazilian PoliticsRoberto Mangabeira Unger, a Harvard philosopher born in Brazil and raised in Manhattan, has settled into a career as an appointed public figure charged with fostering long-term thinking about Brazil.

CHILE
Chile’s Bachelet Hits New Low Approval Rating

COLOMBIA
Colombian army killed civilians to fake battlefield success, rights group saysA new report on “false-positive” killings looks into one of the darkest episodes of the country’s civil war.

FARC rebels kill four and rupture Colombian pipeline

CUBA
Cardinal SinsA Castro cleric brings disgrace.

Cuban artist pushes boundary between art and politics, and pays a price
What Tania Bruguera’s ordeal in Cuba says about the state of artistic expression “within the Revolution.”

Top Intelligence-Defense Lawmakers Introduce Cuban Military Transparency Act

Double surprise! Cruz and Rubio are “non-whites”!

State Dept: No Change in Iran, Cuba Human Rights, Despite Obama Overtures

ECUADOR
Galápagos Residents Decry Fiscal Milking of World Heritage SiteIsland Representative Resigns, Parts Ways with Correa over “Unconstitutional” Law

GUYANA
Guyana Assures Exxon Amid Venezuela Row
Guyana’s president has sought to reassure Exxon Mobil that a territory dispute with Venezuela won’t interfere with the company’s recent oil discovery off the coast of Guyana, one that Caracas claims as its own.

HAITI
A Haitian border town struggles with new rules in the Dominican RepublicThe Dominican’s new rules have Haitians nervously heading back to a homeland with fewer jobs.

HONDURAS
Thousands march in Honduras to demand resignation of president

Thousands of angry, torch-bearing Hondurans marched on Friday to call for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and demand an independent probe into one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history.

JAMAICA
PM: Jamaica’s Economic, Industrial Climate In ‘Delicate Situation’

LATIN AMERICA
Interesting premise, but premature, Move over, China: Latin America may welcome India. The operative word is may.

MEXICO
Mexican President Undergoes Gallbladder Surgery
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto underwent surgery to have his gallbladder removed and was recovering satisfactorily at a military hospital, officials said.

HARDBALL: DONALD TRUMP BLASTS JORGE RAMOS’S CELL PHONE NUMBER TO 200,000 INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua’s Bizarre Plan to Bury the Panama CanalThe country’s Sandinista government has cut a deal with a reclusive Chinese businessman willing to spend $50 billion on a larger-than-life transport waterway. There are a few unanswered questions, starting with whether Nicaraguans really want it and how much priceless habitat would be wrecked. Traveling the proposed route by motorcycle, boat, and boots, the author hunts for answers.

PANAMA
Odebrecht Wins Contract to Renovate Panamanian City of Colon

Manuel Noriega apologises over military rule of PanamaJailed former dictator gives first interview since 1996 and asks for forgiveness over brutal reign – ‘I want to to close the cycle of the military era’

PERU
Peru’s support for Bolivian sea access claim creates tensions with Chile
Chilean President Bachelet cancels next week’s meeting with Peruvian leader Humala

PUERTO RICO
The perfect Summer portrait, A Sleeper Awakened With Color
Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June” is on loan to the Frick Collection in New York for the next three months.

URUGUAY
‘Gourmet cannabis': Take a peek inside a Uruguay marijuana club , if you must. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, “fat, stoned and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

VENEZUELA
MUD, the Sausage Fest

Gay marriage, at long last (but not here)

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: FARC blows up oil pipeline

Bloody Friday: France, Tunisia, Kuwait terror attacks UPDATED
Morgenthau on the Iran-terror connection

Ecuador: Demonstrations against Correa

SCOTUS upholds Obamacare subsidies

Venezuela’s deadly colectivos

The other flag controversy: US Embassy in London flies the rainbow flag

Today’s WTH moment: Venezuelan vet arrested for smuggling heroin in puppies UPDATED

Mexico: EL GRAN HERMANO del cartel TE VIGILA

Venezuela: Next stop on the Obama administration’s “normalizing” with dictators?

Podcast: The flag controversy plus US-Latin America stories of the week



Morgenthau on the Iran-terror connection

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan district attorney from 1975 to 2009, writes in the WSJ, Obama Ignores the Tehran-Terror ConnectionA nuclear deal will mean billions for Iran, but no means for curtailing its support for terrorism.. Specifically, on Latin America,

Tehran also has growing influence in several South American countries, including Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The apparent murder of Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January focused the world’s attention on a deal that Nisman said he uncovered between Argentina’s government and Iran to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist bombing of 85 people in the Jewish Center in Buenos Aries. In March, a report in the Brazilian magazineVeja—based on testimony of defectors who were close to Hugo Chávez—accused Venezuela of brokering the cash transfer in that deal, which included sharing Argentine nuclear technology with Iran.

Iran and Venezuela have signed mutual-assistance agreements on commercial, financial, technological and military matters. Iran has even constructed a military base in Venezuela to house Iranian unmanned aerial drones. According to Iranian officials cited in the Jerusalem Post, these drones, called Mohajers, are capable of aerial surveillance and can be retrofitted to deliver advanced weaponry.

In the context of the current U.S.-Iran deal, it would be unrealistic to assume that Iran will curtail its role as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Related: Venezuela’s deadly colectivos.



Venezuela’s deadly colectivos

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Readers of this blog may be familiar with Venezuela’s colectivos, the government-sponsored marauding motorcycle gangs doing the dirty work, that I’ve written about in the past.

Panampost has an article on how Venezuelan Paramilitaries Wreak Havoc with Cuban, FARC Support

Studies Reveal Colectivos with 10,000 Active Members

Studies released by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies(ICCAS) at the University of Miami have revealed that the Cuban regime is training Venezuelan paramilitary groups, including Los Tupamaros, La Piedrita, Simón Bolívar, and Alexis Vive. These groups have killed more than 25 students during protests, and injured over 300.

These studies show that for years the Venezuelan government has sent regime supporters to Havana to learn repression tactics in order to help their leaders stay in power. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the US government, also trains these groups on Venezuela’s border with Colombia.

Remember Raul Reyes‘s computer? Not only did it reveal that the Venezuelan government may have had the FARC act as hit men against political opponents, Panampost adds that (emphasis added),

In 2011, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, on behalf of the Colombian Defense Ministry, conducted an independent analysis of the computers of Raúl Reyes, a member of FARC’s Central High Command who was killed in an ambush in 2008. The investigation revealed important intelligence material on the guerrilla, including information that linked senior members of the Venezuelan army with drug trafficking.

The IISS also found evidence of that the FARC had trained Venezuelan colectivos in exchange for the campgrounds Hugo Chávez allowed the guerrilla to establish on the border.

The ICCAS report concludes,

The most troubling aspects of this relationship are the growing drug trafficking and the continuous opposition to U.S. policies. The inclusion of Iran in rounding out this triumvirate, has added a dimension of strategic importance. The proximity of Cuba and Venezuela to the U.S. makes the two countries ideal platforms for anti-American activities, specifically in the event of a U.S. conflict with Iran. These two allies may be called upon to support Iranian policies and objectives.

You can read the ICCAS’s Cuba Transition Project report by Pedro Roig below the fold:
(more…)

Today’s WTH moment: Venezuelan vet arrested for smuggling heroin in puppies UPDATED

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Venezuelan news have become the stuff Werner Herzog movies are made of. Exhibit 1, today’ s WTH moment:

Venezuelan vet arrested for smuggling heroin in puppies
Puppies

Spanish police arrest man who allegedly sent liquid heroin from Colombia to the United States by implanting it in puppies

More headlines from Venezuela:
Sources tell me Leopoldo Lopez may suspend his hunger strike. He won’t be long of this world if he persists in starving himself. UPDATE: Indeed, he ended his hunger strike.

An election was announced – Good luck with that:

In her announcement today, Venezuelan elections chief Tibisay Lucena implied that only UNASUR would be invited, and then only to “accompany” the elections.

There are multiple problems with that. First off, UNASUR – the Union of South American Nations – was founded by Chávez and is widely seen as pliant to the Venezuelan regime. What’s more, “accompaniment” is not “monitoring”.

Elections Are Coming! Elections are Coming!

Hunger strike succeeded? Elections on December 6

Venezuela Vote, in Doubt, Is Now Set
Venezuela will hold parliamentary elections Dec. 6, the country’s National Electoral Council announced, ending months of speculation that the vote may be postponed.Vote is being closely watched as polls show ruling Socialist party is suffering a major setback

In Venezuela, Elections Are the Lesser of Two Evils

Venezuela’s government is a complex web of interlocking political relationships built during chavista rule. Several groups and individuals merit closer observation to determine how Venezuela’s immediate future will develop. The first person to consider is Cabello. As National Assembly speaker, he stands to lose immunity if the opposition sweeps the December elections — a possibility that is growing more likely as a majority of opinion polls show the ruling party trailing the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable. Cabello faces an investigation for cocaine trafficking through Venezuela to the United States — a crime entailing potential arrest and extradition if Cabello loses his immunity. Consequently, Cabello has joined Maduro in reaching out to the United States on the modest goal of appointing ambassadors, and Cabello likely will remain involved in this outreach to reduce his personal risk. Initially, Cabello was publicly absent from the negotiations. But in the face of growing political challenges from Maduro, Cabello seems to have inserted himself in the negotiations for the long run.

$5 says the die has already been cast: The date is a symbolic one for Venezuela. Maduro’s charismatic predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, who founded the populist “Chavismo” movement, was first elected to the presidency on Dec. 6, 1998.

Desperate Venezuela 3: Will China Learn The Value Of Friendship?

It’s not clear that a leadership change in Caracas will negate the goodwill China has built up, since Maduro might be replaced by a colleague from the USP. The political opposition might come into power at some point, but the next presidential elections are far off, and it seems hardly likely that Maduro will survive that long. Of course, few would want the thankless task of attempting to clean up the mess that is Venezuela, which might be the only thing preventing a palace coup.

However, even if Maduro is replaced by someone in his party who regards China favorably, there will almost certainly be a demand for debt renegotiation, simply because the Venezuelans can’t afford to repay what they owe.

Venezuela’s learning from China, though: Colombia Condemns Venezuela’s South China Sea-Style Caribbean Territory Grab, and Guyana says Venezuela threatens ‘peace and security’ over oil and border row
Potentially valuable oil discovery in waters claimed by Guyana sets up conflict as Venezuela extends territorial claims further into Atlantic Ocean
.

Last, but not least, Maduro blames Exxon-Mobil for his regime’s attacks on its neighbors (video in Spanish),

Any similarities between the new aggression and the Argentinian attack on the Falklands are purely coincidental.

[Post corrected to include omitted links]

UPDATE 2:
Linked to by Dustbury. Thank you!

Venezuela: Next stop on the Obama administration’s “normalizing” with dictators?

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Thomas Shannon (left in the above photo), a senior counselor to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, met with Venezuela’s National Assembly president Diodado Cabello (right) in Haiti earlier this month.

As you may recall, Diosdado is being investigated by the U.S. Justice department for drug trafficking and money laundering.

Jackson Diehl asks, why?

Cabello and his nominal boss, President Nicolás Maduro, were quick to trumpet their versions. The meeting, Maduro said, was part of a “normalization” of relations between his increasingly beleaguered regime and the Obama administration. Cabello offered it as proof that the reports that he is a U.S. criminal suspect are false. U.S. officials, meanwhile, sounded confused. Both the White House and State Department spokesmen said they were unaware that Cabello had met with Shannon.I heard another story: that the meeting was part of what has become an increasingly urgent attempt by the administration to broker a soft landing for a collapsing Latin American state.

Diehl speculates that Kerry intends to prolong Leopoldo Lopez’s life, and aim for “fair elections” (whatever that means in Venezuela at this point, since there is no reason why the Venezuelan regime would want a real election). Mary O’Grady has more,

A State Department official told me last week that the issues discussed with Mr. Cabello in Haiti included the treatment of the Maduro government’s political prisoners, the importance of setting a date for parliamentary elections this year, and providing internationally credible observation.

While Shannon has traveled twice to Venezuela this year,

when asked at a State Department briefing about Mr. Cabello’s role in Port-au-Prince, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said “I was not aware of a meeting with him.”

And yet,

A State Department spokesperson told me in an email last week that the [Haiti] meeting was “positive and productive.” Translation: Nothing to see here; move along. In fact there’s a lot riding on these negotiations. The end of the chavismo dictatorship would be a good thing. But a descent into chaos of African proportions would take with it the frail democracy movement.

Venezuela News and Views agrees,

The fact of the matter is that Venezuela is a problem big enough that negotiations are a must because the alternative, not negotiating and waiting to see what happens is even worse.

There is a lot riding on these negotiations, for both Venezuela and Cuba.

And then there is a fourth party not mentioned by Diehl and O’Grady: Iran.

Emili Blasco, in his book Bumerán Chávez: Los fraudes que llevaron al colapso de Venezuela, details the many and extensive ties between Iran and Venezuela. Not to be ignored is how Iran milks the difference between the black market and official bolivar-dollar exchange rates and drains Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves. An easing of commercial ties between the U.S. and Venezuela will benefit Venezuela’s foreign currency reserves.

Iran, for one, will be watching closely.

The globally warmed encyclical Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Oblivious to current scientific data, pope Francis I, under the advice of German climate activist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, threw the Catholic Church into the global warming morass and a tailspin of pessimism, thereby making headlines across the world. Francis also banned skeptic Philipe de Larminat.
(I hope to throw in enough metaphors to make it to Taranto one of these days.)

ARGENTINA
Argentine Presidential Race Comes into FocusArgentine Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo bowed out of the race for the ruling party’s 2015 presidential nomination, leaving Buenos Aires provincial Gov. Daniel Scioli as the only candidate

BOLIVIA
Facebook Signs Agreement with Bolivian Telecom to Promote Free Internet

CHILE
Chilean grandma carried mummified foetus for 50 years92-year-old Chilean grandmother has been bearing large mummified foetus for at least 50 years in what is a rare condition known as lithopedion, doctors have discovered

COLOMBIA
[Video show the FARC using schools to train minors and store explosives in Putumayo]

Colombia’s Farc blows up oil pipeline in Catatumbo

CUBA
Obama Admits Cuba Sponsors Terrorism, But…

By Carlos Eire: A Father’s Day Tribute

Stella McCartney’s Anti-Cruelty Fashion Line Celebrates Marxist Killers Fidel Castro & Che Guevara

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The DR makes deportation plans but Dominican Deadline Passes Without Mass Expulsion of Haitian Migrants

ECUADOR
No skin off Correa’s back: Julian Assange’s three-year stay in Ecuadorean embassy has cost taxpayer £11.1mThree years ago the WikiLeaks founder fled bail and sought asylum in Ecuador – resulting in millions being spent on policing the embassy

GUATEMALA
Lone protester ends Guatemala marchA lone protester in Guatemala receives a hero’s welcome after covering more than 200 km (125 miles) in a protest against corruption.

MEXICO
Mexico beer centre attack leaves 10 dead

NICARAGUA
Why is a Chinese Tycoon Building a $50 Billion Canal in Nicaragua That No One Wants?

Remaking world trade?

PANAMA
Panama Ready to Help Normalize Relations Between OAS, Cuba

PERU
Peru Inflation Churns as Consumer Confidence Falls

PUERTO RICO
5 Indicted for Bid-Rigging in Puerto Rico School Bus Auction

[US court orders seizure of Puerto Rico’s Department of Health accounts]

VENEZUELA

Brazilian senators forced out of Venezuela after failed solidarity missionVenezuelan opposition prisoners Leopoldo Lopez, Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma were due to be visited by a delegation from Brazil – until their path was blocked, and their bus was attacked

Swiss embassy warns Venezuela’s golf players its balls could killMembers of the exclusive Caracas Country Club have reacted with anger to a sign posted by the Swiss embassy warning that stray balls could be in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations



Venezuela: The FAO gets fooled

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Food and Venezuela
Let them eat Chavismo
The UN honours Venezuela for curbing hunger—which is actually getting worse

According to the FAO, which presented the diploma on June 8th, Venezuela is one of 72 countries that have reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of their populations suffering from hunger. But the prize, based on government data up to 2012, comes amid growing evidence that the trend has reversed.

As of June 2014, Venezuela ranks 182 out of 189 in the World Bank Economy Rankings. The International Monetary Fund keeps a List of IMF Member Countries with Delays in Completion of Article IV Consultations or Mandatory Financial Stability Assessments Over 18 Months. As of the writing of this post, Venezuela hasn’t held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 114 monthsThe Venezuelan government has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade.

Click to enlarge

And the FAO fell for the Venezuelan government’s data, hook line and sinker.

The Mexican Nazi cheerleaders Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 15th, 2015

LatinAmerOf all the odd news I’ve read in the past decade or so, the Mexican Nazi cheerleaders take the cake for crassness and ignorance (and I’m being kind), but they’re an example of the abysmal lack of history education in our hemisphere.

ARGENTINA
More contradictions: Nisman’s laptop not accessed after his death

Argentina president attacks ‘ill-mannered’ Cameron over FalklandsCristina Kirchner condemns David Cameron after PM tells Argentine foreign minister to stop ‘threatening’ residents on South Atlantic islands

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Urges OAS to Approve Declaration of Indigenous Rights after 18 Years

BRAZIL
Brazil $800m money laundering network broken up

CENTRAL AMERICA
CentAm aid cut back

CHILE
Chilean Teachers Vote to Continue Unlimited Strike

COLOMBIA
Colombia Farc rebel attack leave 500,000 without powerColombia’s Farc rebels have shot dead three police officers and cut off power to almost half a million people, the military has said.

CUBA
U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to End Cuba EmbargoThe Cuba Trade Act of 2015 would give private firms, including financial institutions, the right to conduct business with the Communist-ruled island.

Next Phase of the US-Cuba Faustian Bargain Goes Unchecked by Congress

Cuba’s Web Entrepreneurs Search for U.S. Clients, and Reliable Wi-FiAs the United States opens up to Cuba, a little-advertised circle of software developers, web designers and translators are selling their skills long-distance.

CUBA REPORT FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF

ECUADOR
Ecuador Gets OPEC’s Support in Dispute with Chevron

GUATAMALA
Guatemalan Supreme Court Rules Pérez Molina Must Face the MusicJudiciary Greenlights Congressional Probe, Removal of Immunity

Guatemalans Demand Resignation of President Accused of Corruption

GUYANA
Economic war (a real one)

HAITI
Time to dissolve the UN: UN peacekeepers ‘barter goods for sex’UN peacekeepers regularly barter goods for sex with people in the countries the world body is meant to be helping, a draft UN report says.

HONDURAS
Wave of Protests Spreads to Scandal-Weary Honduras and Guatemala

JAMAICA
Despite doctor’s advice … J’CAN WOMEN RUSHING ‘VIRGIN SOAP’

MEXICO
Mexico’s mid-term electionsPunishing bad behaviourThe mainstream political parties suffered setbacks. That is no reason for the government to retreat from reform

PANAMA
Panama Canal Expansion Surges Forward into New LocksDouble-Capacity “New Panamax” Ships to Pass from April 2016

PARAGUAY
Fifa crisis: Paraguay ends immunity for ConmebolParaguay is ending the diplomatic immunity of the headquarters for South America’s Conmebol football association, the latest fallout from the corruption scandal engulfing Fifa.

PERU
Visa-Free: Peruvians, Colombians Can Pack Their Bags for the EUOld World Opens Up to 90-Day Visits

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s economy matters in the 2016 presidential race

SURINAME
Presidential pardonVoters overlooked Desi Bouterse’s dodgy past, hoping for a better future

VENEZUELA
Venezuela: Running on Fumes?

De genocidas y huelgas de hambre

Spain Brings Pain to Venezuela’s Leftists

The week’s posts:
Mexico: Springtime for Hitler

Cuba: Marielito blood on Fidel’s hands

Mexico: House Votes to Remove Country-of-Origin Labels on Meat Sold in U.S.

Ecuador: Hotlanta PR doesn’t come cheap

Cars: Private enterprise vs. government-owned

Venezuela: And now for the Iranian cars

2 en español: Lucio Gutierrez, Emili Blasco en el show de Bayly

Cuba: “For both sides”?

There was an election in Mexico

Rubio Vice

Argentina: Cristina visits Francis, for the fifth time

Puerto Rico: Flaming June at the Frick

Today at Drudge

The week’s books: