Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Venezuela: The shocking state of its health service

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Venezuela’s hospitals on life support

There is almost no official information available about waiting lists, operating times, or treatment. The government argues that its critics simply distort any figures they release to make them look bad. Opposition politicians say this lack of information means they are hiding the truth.

H/t Caracas Chronicles.

The dog days of summer Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Yes. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere. Deal with it.

ARGENTINA
Audio slideshow: The Welsh in Patagonia, 150 years on

‘Judicial officials sought to delay AMIA cover-up trial’Luciano Hazan is the Justice Ministry’s under-secretary for Criminal Policy and will be representing the Executive in the AMIA cover-up trial. In conversation with the Herald, Hazan pointed fingers at the judges for their reluctance to investigate their colleague’s alleged implication in crimes.

Los presos ahora ganan 46% más que un jubilado

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Ready to Renew Ties with Chile to Resolve Maritime Claim, at least until the next time.

BRAZIL
Good luck with that: Rio’s favelas to accommodate visitors to 2016 Olympics

CHILE
Chile’s Pinochet covered up report on death of U.S. student, documents say

COLOMBIA
Colombia’s Ecopetrol to Export 1st-Ever Cargo of Crude to Japan in August

El Monótono Dialogo De Paz En Colombia, ¿Qué Intenciones Tiene?

Colombia’s biggest ever exhumation begins at Medellin rubbish dumpOfficials believe the remains of 300 people could be unearted from La Escombrera (The Dump) as the city begins the long-awaited exhumation

CUBA
Senators probe political motivations for trafficking report
Corker, Cardin question whether the State Department was motivated by politics to upgrade Cuba and Malaysia in annual report on human trafficking.

Cuba Emerges as Paradise for Gay Tourism

The U.S. now has an embassy in Cuba. But relations are hardly normal.With U.S. Embassy open in Havana, American diplomats face a changing mission.

Secretive White House meeting reveals Obama’s plan to visit Cuba in 2016

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Cabarete: Dominican Resort Is a Refuge Twice AbandonedHaitians, who had brought new life to an abandoned seaside hotel, face ejection under new laws and conflict with their island neighbors.

ECUADOR
Scraping the barrel
Will Ecuador turn into Latin America’s Greece?

Ecuador’s “Liberation Front” Attacks Newspapers with Homemade BombsSelf-Proclaimed Revolutionaries Debut with Guerrilla Marketing in Guayaquil

EL SALVADOR
Salvadoran Government Deploys Armored Cars to Support Police against Gangs

GUATEMALA
We need to talk about GuatemalaGuatemala has been described as the worst place in the world to be a child.

JAMAICA
Was the PetroCaribe buyback a good deal for Jamaica?

LATIN AMERICA
Latinoamérica, ¿Para Qué Utilizan Los Gobiernos Socialistas La Ley?

‘Progress’ but no deal at TPP talks
Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations have finished a week of talks without agreement on a regional trade deal.

MEXICO
Annals of ExcavationUnderworldHow the Sinaloa drug cartel digs its tunnels.

‘FEMINICIDE,’ MEXICO ISSUES ALERT FOR SPIKE IN VIOLENT CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN

A Transformation in Mexican Migration to the United States, Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire – 27 July 2015 (H/T Mexidata)

PANAMA
Supreme Court ruling allows work to resume on Panama’s 29-MW Barro Blanco hydropower project

Watch: Panama Canal July Update (h/t JC),

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico to miss debt payment, signalling default

URUGUAY
Here’s why a historic meat packing plant in Uruguay was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site

VENEZUELA
Ciudad Guayana: Venezuela supermarket looting leaves one dead, dozens detained

Caracazo en Gotas: San Felix Edition

Mega-Gangs the New Plague in VenezuelaOrganized Crime Takes Root in Neglected Slums

Meanwhile, back in Caracastan: Maduro steals foreign-owned property

Venezuela Runs Out of Birth Control

Maduro takes over brewers complex as Venezuela runs out of beer because of lack of barley

The week’s posts and podcast:
Chile: Eat your rock before it gets cold

Brazil: How to make coxinhas

Argentina: Cristina tweets Iran

Answers: Where can women go, instead of Planned Parenthood?

Peru: Shining Path’s shameful prisoner camps

En español: @OLPL visita Bayly

New Jersey: It’s the taxes, stupid.

Why dress up?

Blogging shall resume shortly

Argentina: Tokyo Rose does the Falklands?

Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez still in jail, FP fails

As expected: WH finishing up latest plan for closing Guantánamo

PODCAST
A word about Che merchandise plus US-Latin America this week



Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez still in jail, FP fails

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Juan Cristobal Nagel links to Roberto Lovato’s lengthy article in Foreign Policy, The Making of Leopoldo López
A closer look at the democratic bona fides of the rock star of Venezuela’s opposition.
As you may recall, Lopez has been jailed since February 2014

on charges of arson, public incitement, and conspiracy
. . .
The judge has been far from friendly to López’s defense, rejecting all but one of the 65 witnesses his attorneys sought to call, while admitting 108 witnesses for the prosecution.

Amnesty International has called López’s trial an affront to justice and free assembly.

Lovato sniffs at Mrs. López, Lilian Tintori,

Later that day, the telegenic Tintori, a former model, kite-surfing champion, and reality show star, appeared at a rally for political prisoners held in Chacao, the Caracas district where her husband once served as mayor and which has been a center of anti-government opposition. It also happens to be one of the wealthiest localities in all of Venezuela. Vibrant in a bright orange windbreaker, with her flawless smile and long blonde hair, Tintori’s strengths as standard-bearer for her jailed husband’s message were on full display.

Would Lovato approve of an unkempt, dowdy scowl, as choice of a wife, if she was in the opposition?

But I digress.

López’s wife, “with her flawless smile and long blonde hair” and all, continues to rally support for her husband, including that of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez – a prominent figure for the Left – who left Venezuela after not being allowed to visit LL in prison, most recently

Lilian Tintori, the wife of Leopoldo López, reported on Friday that she would visit the Venezuelan opposition leader on Friday together with Spanish Senators Iñaki Anasagasti (PNV), José Maldonado (PSOE), Ander Gil García (CyU), Dionisio García (PP) and Uruguayan Pablo Mieres (Independent Party).

So far, all to no effect.

It is worth pointing out that Tintori must resort to getting international attention to her husband’s arrest since the Chavista regime controls all the media and the Venezuelan institutions.

Lovato writes at length about the 2002 Carmona decree (which López did not sign), and his connections to Pedro Burelli, a former JP Morgan executive and pre-Chávez-era PDVSA member of the board of directors, while (emphasis added)

Over the past year, a series of fresh government allegations have begun to take the shine off 2014’s wave of protests. It began with a thinly sourced government report, issued in May of last year. Called “Coup d’état and Assassination Plan Unveiled in Venezuela,” the report places the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, and two close López allies — María Corina Machado, now leader of the Vente Venezuela party, and López’s old friend and mentor from Harvard, Pedro Burelli — as part of a conspiracy to “annihilate” Maduro and overthrow the government. The plot, according to then-Justice Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, included political, business, and military leaders, who, he claimed, were the true forces behind the February 2014 street protests. Burelli, who currently lives in McLean, Virginia, is now considered a fugitive from justice by Venezuelan authorities.To back its claims, the government released emails between the alleged plotters, as well as recorded conversations involving Burelli. Burelli denies all charges and hired forensic investigators who say that the emails were forged and that Google has no record of some of them having been sent.

The article also mentions (wiretapped?) conversations of Burelli, which took place after López’s arrest on Feb. 18, 2014 (emphasis added)

voice recordings of [Burelli’s] conversations released by two local elected officials, who say they took place between Feb. 20 and March 14 of last year,

López was initially charged with murder and terrorism, which were later changed to arson, public incitement, and conspiracy, as I mentioned above.

Lovato’s article raises more questions than it answers: Offhand, I can start with,

  • I don’t understand Lovato’s point. Is he saying that LL is in jail because of the [alleged] actions of members of his party which took place 13 years ago?
  • What do the “fresh government allegations” regarding the emails have to do with the case?
  • What did LL say in Burelli’s tapes? Is he in the conversation at all, since he was in jail? If not, what exactly was said about him that may affect the case? Why, indeed, are Burelli’s tapes pertinent to LL’s prosecution and defense at all ?
  • Of what exactly is LL currently charged? Since the prosecution changed the charges since LL’s detention, will the current charges be changed again?

The Foreign Policy article ends with this:

This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with support from the Puffin Foundation.

Caracas Chronicle’s commenter Bill Bass:

According to the FT text the piece was funded sponsored by the Puffin Foundation a NY institution dedicated to “opening the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy.” , it also sponsors the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Association ( the brigade was made up mostly of communist americans who joined the republican spanish army during the spanish civil war)’ which among other things promotes ‘social activitsm.’ Lovato is decribed to be a visiting professor at the Berkeley Latino Studies Department in Berkeley University . Does that suggest to us something of the progressive ideological inclinations of the people ordering the piece, of the likelihood that it includes some ‘progressive’ american Chavez sympathyzers . Why is a foundation dedicated to giving grants to artists and art organizations funding this politically loaded piece ??

Bill Bass’ comment is worth looking into: Here are links to the Puffin Foundation. The Nation Institute has Lovato’s article on its main page and posted on the Investigative Fund as

  • IN CONJUNCTION WITH

By all appearances, Foreign Policy mag has published a sponsored, long-on-words-short-on-evidence piece which struggles to obscure the facts.

That is Foreign Policy‘s failure.

 

The Indoctrinator Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Today’s Carnival is dedicated to cartoonist Luciano Cunha, creator of The Indoctrinator.

ARGENTINA
Pathetic: Now Argentina accuses Falkland Islands fishermen of stealing their FISHA SENIOR Falkland Islands diplomat has hit back at claims by an Argentine minister that the wealth of the remote archipelago derives from “stolen” fish.

PRO’s Macri says government seeking to ‘demonize’ him

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Frees 47 of 51 Arrested after Violent Protests

BRAZIL
Brazilian politics
The power behind the throne
A junior partner in government is running the country

It is the person, not the party, that is abandoning the coalition, the PMDB was quick to declare. Still, Mr [Eduardo] Cunha’s exit is a worry for the president. Last week came news that police are investigating her predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for possible influence-peddling on behalf of construction firms. He denies the allegation. That is a further blow to the battered PT. Ms Rousseff needs the PMDB more than ever if she is to survive until the end of her term in 2018. Increasingly, it is running the show.

An oil scandal is shaking Brazil’s democracy to its core

New plant species ‘discovered on Facebook’
Experts identified a plant pictured on Facebook as a new species, since named as “drosera magnifica“, or magnificent sundew, according journal research paper
. Someone tell Pope Francis.

CHILE
Chile charges over burning students
A Chilean judge charges seven former soldiers over the burning of two students during a 1986 protest against Gen Augusto Pinochet’s government.

COLOMBIA
Colombians Outraged by Gang Rape of Bus Driver

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica: Examples of How to be Like Greece (h/t JC)

CUBA
Evidence Mounts That Oswaldo Payá Was Assassinated by the Castros
Human Rights Foundation Documents Cuban Agents at Work on Tragic Day
; Victims of Communism organization follows up on Ted Cruz’s address change proposal

Inside the offices of Granma, Cuba’s government newspaper

There’s a sucker born every minute: Cuba Hoping To Kickstart Offshore Oil & Gas Industry

Springtime for America’s EnemiesDangerous and short-sighted U.S. diplomacy has empowered no one except state sponsors of terrorism and fascistic regimes.

ECUADOR
Rafael Correa recibe la asesoría de la chavista Eva Golinger
La «novia de Venezuela», como la llamó Chávez, se ha ocupado en «desacreditar» a quienes critican al presidente de Ecuador

GUATEMALA
Fired for Daring to Prosecute Extortion in Rural Guatemala
Georgetown University’s False Heroine: Part III

HAITI
A Glimpse Of An Everyday Struggle Among Haiti’s Health Care Workers

JAMAICA
Pennies on the dollar: Jamaica to retire $3B in oil debt to Venezuela

Jamaica has forged a deal to retire $3 billion in oil debts to Venezuela thanks to bond sales.

In a Friday statement, Jamaica said it has issued roughly $2 billion in bonds on the international capital market that will pay down the debt it accumulated through Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan program that provides fuel to countries at market prices but under generous credit terms.

Officials say a negotiated settlement with Caracas will dismiss about $3 billion in long-term debt in exchange for $1.5 billion. It was not immediately clear Friday if Jamaica’s deal will retire all of its Petrocaribe debt.
. . .
Jamaica’s Petrocaribe settlement is similar to one the Dominican Republic negotiated with Venezuela earlier this year. That Caribbean country dismissed $4 billion in Petrocaribe debt in exchange for $2 billion.

MEXICO
Mexican judge jails three Joaquin Guzman prison guards

Filmmaker Ridley Scott to bring life of “El Chapo” to the big screen
British director purchases rights to Don Winslow’s bestseller ‘The Cartel’

Is there a rift between Mexico’s president and first lady?
Rumors fly after videos capture allegedly awkward moments between Enrique Peña Nieto and his wife, Angélica Rivera

PANAMA
Panama, Costa Rica join forces, demand corruption investigation of CONCACAF Gold Cup

PARAGUAY
US asks Paraguay to extradite Fifa official Nicolas Leoz

PERU
Police burn down illegal gold mine town in Peru
Action against La Pampa is latest blow in war against illegal mining that is destroying rainforest and spreading mercury poisoning


First pictures of last-uncontacted Amazon tribe
Mashco Piro tribe have lived in the jungle in Peru for at least 600 years, but have never before been approached

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico debt crisis: austerity for residents, but tax breaks for hedge funds
The Caribbean territory has courted some of Wall Street’s richest citizens, selling its debt and offering inducements while local people face high taxes and cuts

URUGUAY
Uruguay says more Syrian refugees welcome

VENEZUELA
Mega-Gangs the New Plague in Venezuela
Organized Crime Takes Root in Neglected Slums

Venezuela Bars Foreign Lawmakers’ Visit to Jailed Opposition Leader

Memo To Venezuela: The Soviets Nationalized Food Distribution And Guess What? It Didn’t Work

Mother of all battles in scarcity-hit Venezuela: having a baby

The last available health ministry figures for infant mortality under 1 show an increase of 2.35 percent from January to October last year compared with the same period of 2013.

The week’s posts and podcast:
Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

Puerto Rico: The bets are on

Argentina: #Nisman’s killer washed his hands in the sink

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget

Brazil: Meet The Indoctrinator

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Planned Parenthood and the evil of our times

Argentina: Judge in Cristina’s hotel case, “If I turn up suicided, look for the killer”

LatAm currencies slide

Colombia: Today’s infographic

Cuba: “Mojito diplomacy”

Cuban embassy now open in DC



Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Venezuela: A lesson we can’t forget.

You’re probably thinking, “But Fausta, we have bigger things to worry about: ISIS, border crime, Iran nuclear deals. Why are you carping about Venezuela?” For the answer, read my article here.

Venezuela: Just how bad are things?

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Michael Johnston has A Visual Guide to Venezuela’s Failed Economy

Venezuela’s economy is in shambles, with runaway inflation and a massive budget deficit leading to food shortages and frequent violence. Ten (US) dollars for a gallon of milk, an economy nearly fully dependent on oil, ballooning budget deficits, and a stock market worth slightly more than . . . Chipotle.

Hold the guac!

Juan Cristobal Nagel posts about Economists as detectives

Daniel Duquenal looks at Chavistas or Greeks: eat shit and die

And the Santero Economics Will Not End In Venezuela With The Upcoming Elections

Related:
The Multi-Trillion Dollar Oil Market Swindle



The Communist crucifix Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 13th, 2015

During his visit in Bolivia, pope Francis stepped out of the popemobile to pray at the site where the late Jesuit Luis Espinal’s body had been dumped, after which Evo Morales (who wore a jacket embroidered with Che Guevara’s face to the Pope’s speech) presented Francis with the Communist crucifix designed by Espinal, and a matching medal, which Francis accepted:

Following the ensuing outrage, Francis left the medals and crucifix in Bolivia while the Vatican launched into spin mode.

Evo certainly milked the photo ops. It’ll be interesting to see what Raul Castro does when Francis goes to Cuba.

ARGENTINA
From her official website: Cristina Kirchner interview with The New Yorker – Up Close and Uncut (march 11, 2015) President Cristina Kirchner interviewed by Dexter Filkins from the US magazine The New Yorker, on March 11, 2015

Argentina’s New Intelligence Agency Targets Captains of IndustryPresident Kirchner Fears “Economic Warfare”

The Peronist pope
Francis’s balancing act in Latin America

From March 2013: Sobre el mensaje del arzobispo de Buenos Aires

Cristina travels to Paraguay to meet Francis

BAHAMAS
Bahamas Independence Day 2015: 10 Key, Quick Facts To Know About The Caribbean Paradise

BOLIVIA

Pope gives his backing to Morales’ social programs in BoliviaPontiff reported to have sipped coca-based tea before reaching high-altitude destinationPresident hopes Francis will offer to mediate in border conflict with Chile

Contrast Francis’s visit with Pope John II’s 1983 visit to Nicaragua and his attitude towards liberation theology.

BRAZIL
Brazil: Man’s Lynching Compared to Slave Flogging

Brazil oil giant faces $98bn shareholder lawsuit in US over corruption schemeNew York court to hear case brought by investors including pension funds of British academics and US state workers over ‘Carwash’ scam at Petrobras

The lawsuit claims that Petrobras executives accepted bribes for inflating the value of construction contracts and “used the money to bribe politicians through intermediaries to guarantee they would vote in line with the ruling party while enriching themselves”.

CHILE
Duff idea? Fox hopes Chile’s beer lovers give Simpsons brew a warm receptionCompany to sell beer – which an executive calls fruity with a caramel aromatic – after decades of pirated versions ruling the market

COLOMBIA
Colombian president replaces military chiefs days after scathing report into extra-judicial killingsPresident Juan Manuel Santos overhauls his high command despite rejecting Human Rights Watch claims about role of military commanders in murders of civilians who were then framed as left-wing rebels

Colombian President Welcomes FARC Cease-Fire

The Mixed-Up Brothers of BogotáAfter a hospital error, two pairs of Colombian identical twins were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins. This is the story of how they found one another — and of what happened next.

CUBA
Marco Rubio: Obama’s Faustian Bargain With Cuba

Here’s “What Change Looks Like” Through a Business-First Policy

Twice as Many Cuban Rafters Flee While They Can
2015 Arrivals Exhibit Fear of End to Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot Policy

ECUADOR
Ana’s Story: The Face of Colombia’s Refugee Crisis in Ecuador

EL SALVADOR
This is how bad El Salvador’s murder rate is

El Salvador is on pace to pass its neighbor, Honduras, as the deadliest country on the planet.

MEXICO
Mexican Police Deliver Wrong Corpses to Get Murder Case Closed
Victim Families Allege Cover-Up, Demand Prosecutor’s Resignation

Mexican Ex-Governor Arrested on Tax-Fraud Charges

Some Ford lines may be heading to Mexico

Mexican helicopter trades fire with gunmen on ground near border, kills 6

GUATEMALA
Guatemala: Ex-ruler Rios Montt found unfit for trial
A former Guatemalan general, Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled the country briefly in the 1980s, has been found mentally incapable of standing trial.

MEXICO
A matter of when, not if? Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán Escapes From PrisonMexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has escaped from a maximum-security prison in central Mexico, almost a year and a half after being captured, prompting a major search operation.

NICARAGUA
Panama and Nicaragua – Two Canals, One Shared Dream, but with the Chinese financial market in flux, what will happen to the Nicaraguan project?

PANAMA
Venezuelans heading to Panama

PARAGUAY
Pope Praises Paraguayan Women
Pope Francis celebrated Paraguayan women as the “most glorious women of America” in a sermon at the shrine of the country’s patron Madonna Saturday, the second-to-last day of his weeklong visit to South America.

Argentina Sees Exodus as Pope Visits Paraguay
Roughly one million people will cross the border into Paraguay from Argentina to see Pope Francis in the capital, Asunción, immigration officials estimate.

PERU
Better keep Greenpeace away: New Nazca geoglyphs in Peru could be older than famous Unesco siteJapanese team believes new images are older than the famous monkey, spider and hummingbird at the Unesco World Heritage site

Ubinas Erupts in Peru Dispersing Ash Up to Radius of 9.3 Miles

PUERTO RICO
America’s Greece: Fixing Puerto Rico Could Provide Answers for Europe

VENEZUELA
Now it’s serious! Venezuela is almost out of beer

The week’s posts and podcast:
The new perfect Latin American idiot

“Economy class cabin hexagon”? No. Just no.

What current Mexican immigration law is like

Cuba: Policy paper shows correlation between US engagement and rising repression in Cuba

Two books that don’t exist for the NYT

Argentina: Cristina drops the mask on anti-semitism

Bolivia: Evo gives Francis hammer and sickle crucifix UPDATED

Business at the BBC: Firing Clarkson will cost them BIG

NYSE down

Ecuador: Pope calls for “new economic and ecological world order”

Meanwhile, over in Cuba,

Argentina: Cristina cheers for Greece

Today’s immigration headlines

Monday night “It takes 1 to tango”

Ecuador: Pope’s visiting, crowd clamors “Out, Correa, out”



The visiting pope Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Pope Francis is touring Ecuador, Bolivia – where the witches are protesting – and Paraguay, extolling the Bolivarian revolution’s idea of a “great motherland.”

What a guy.

Bolivia’s Adepcoca (Asociación Departamental de Productores de la Hoja de Coca i.e., Coca Leaf Growers’ Departamental Association) have prepared 20,000 bags of coca leaves to gift the people lining up from the airport to La Paz, giving new meaning to the term goodie bag.

You really can’t make up this stuff.

ARGENTINA
Live sex show at Buenos Aires university sparks scandal
School authorities investigating why ‘post-porn’ exhibition was held in an open public lobby

La oposición argentina se examina en Buenos Aires y Córdoba
La derecha y el peronismo opositor aspiran a vencer en la capital argentina y en la segunda provincia más poblada del país

Report: Argentinean Government Robs over 90% of Farmer Profits
Soybeans Garner Attention as Workaround for High Tariffs, Export Restrictions

BOLIVIA
Tensions Rise In Bolivia As Indigenous Witches Prepare For The Pope’s Visit

BRAZIL
Dilma in the back seat of a driverless car. Lovely metaphor for today’s Brazil.

Calling Capt. Louis Renault, US ‘routinely spied’ on Brazil
Wikileaks says it has evidence that the United States has routinely spied on senior Brazilian government officials since 2011 or earlier.

Brazil Says Diplomatic Spat with U.S. is Over

Brazilian Evangelicals set up a ‘sin free’ version of Facebook
A group of Evangelical Christians in Brazil created Facegloria as their own, sin-free, version of Facebook

CHILE
British musician faces five years in Chilean jail after admitting dealing drugs
Alexander Harrild, who was educated at exclusive Dulwich College, is being held in one of Santiago’s most notorious prisons with rapists and murderers

Chile secured the first major trophy in their history on home soil courtesy of a penalty shootout win over Argentina in the Copa America final

COLOMBIA
Time to call the FARC’s bluff
Colombia’s peace process risks drifting to collapse

The president, whose hobbies include poker, now faces a choice. Call the FARC’s bluff by laying on the table a take-it-or-leave-it offer on justice—or risk the talks collapsing anyway in the cycle of retaliation. Burdened by disappointments in other areas, Mr Santos has staked his presidency on a peace agreement. But objectively it is the FARC’s negotiators who need it more. Return to war in Colombia, and sooner or later they will be killed.

FARC & ELN commit crime together or coordinating, regardless of how the Govt may want to treat them:”

Why Colombia’s first euthanasia was stopped with 15 minutes to go
Doubting doctors have now approved procedure for cancer patient they canceled last week

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica becomes 33rd country to launch pro-Israel caucus
The 20 Parliamentarians signed a foundation document reaffirming Israel as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.

CUBA
No, Mr. President, Castroite Cuba Is Not What Change Looks Like

How Global Threats Have Crowded Obama’s Diplomacy AgendaPresident has sought to focus on Iran, Cuba, climate and trade, but Islamic State, China and Russia have muscled in

Optimist: US-Cuba Relations, A Race to the Bottom. But, in the End, Truth and Freedom Always Triumph

5 Questions Obama Must Answer About the Potential US Embassy in Cuba

Despite Obama, Business as Usual for Cuban Tyrants

ECUADOR
Mensaje de la Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa a Su Santidad

Ecuador’s Libertarian Movement Rolls Out a Rescue Plan
Protesters Want Dialogue with Correa to Solve the Crisis

Ecuador under threat of “soft coup” by opposition, says Correa
Officials fear that spike in anti-government marches may mar pope’s visit on Sunday

GUYANA
Maduro Denounces Guyana “Aggression” against Venezuela

IMMIGRATION
80% Of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.

MEXICO
Mexican Police Recover Nearly 10,000 Stolen U.S. Visas

Mexico wants to tame disruptive teachers union

EXCLUSIVE: Illegal Who Confessed to Murdering Wife with Hammer Deported Four Times

NICARAGUA
Five Sentenced In $25M Medicare Fraud Involving Nicaragua, D.R.

PANAMA
Go.Away.Trump. Trump Fallout Continues: Panama Pulls Out of Miss Universe Pageant

PARAGUAY
Paraguay hero’s uncle dies while watching victory against Brazil
Derlis Gonzalez’s uncle suffered a heart attack

PERU
Peru drug mule’s transfer to Scottish prison ‘approved’
Melissa Reid could be back in the UK within weeks after reports Peru has agreed to move her to Scotland

PUERTO RICO
It is not in Gov. García Padilla’s interest to improve the economy – you can bank on that. Treasurer Admits Puerto Rico Can Pay Debts, Doesn’t Want To
“Shameful” Myth Diverts Attention from Need for Frugality

Puerto Rico’s Financial Crisis Is U.S.’ Crisis, Too

The Beeb starts to catch on, Puerto Rico: The Greece of the Caribbean?

URUGUAY
How a pie factory in South America is taking on the world
Fray Bentos – the town in Uruguay famous for its pies – could be named a World Heritage Site alongside the Forth Bridge, Sicilian churches and Genghis Khan’s birthplace at the end of this year’s Unesco meeting

VENEZUELA
Venezuela faces national beer drought
Striking workers linked to the Maduro government have forced the closure of breweries at Polar, the country’s largest producer and a beloved household name

Cuba and FARC, and their Sinister Presence in Venezuela

Tanta Pasión Por El Socialismo Y Para Ellos Solo Vales 15$ Al Mes

One year on, El Universal is fully “hegemonized”

The week’s posts and podcast
Happy Independence Day

On Independence Day, let’s thank Caesar

Ecuador: Sing along with Rafael

Venezuela: Corker in Caracas

Today’s “WTH moment” courtesy of the NYT

Repeat, it is not in Gov. García Padilla’s interest to improve the economy – you can bank on that. Puerto Rico: A few thoughts on the economic crisis

What amnesty means to legal immigrants

Up next: The King’s Spanish

Puerto Rico: Countdown to the Greecespot

Brazil: Dilma wants U.S. investment

Argentina: Buenos Aires closes Sunderland

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

Puerto Rico: the Greece of the Caribbean UPDATED

Podcast: “Che” & Walmart, US-Cuba embassies, Puerto Rico & US-Latin America issues



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.