Mary O’Grady writes about the reasons behind Peru’s recent economic success: A market model that allows for
a vibrant consumer class that is entrepreneurial and creative
openness to imports
structural reforms that included ending a punishing system of import tariffs and quotas
fiscally conservative governance.
Still, the downturn in commodity prices is eating into growth and the slowdown that began last year continues. Market forecasts for GDP growth are in the 3% range for 2015. Peru’s economy is performing far better than most in the region, but lackluster is not what Peruvians have come to expect.
The obvious answer to this lethargy is more aggressive trade opening on key products like sugar and corn, more tax cutting and deregulation. But Mr. Humala’s popularity is sagging and he is unlikely to do anything bold. Meanwhile, opponents of economic freedom will turn slower growth into opportunity by linking stagnant incomes in the market economy and corruption.
On a seemingly unrelated topic,
The Obama administration insists on easing restrictions on Cuba’s merciless Communist dictatorship while Cuba’s dependence on Venezuelan oil goes bust. Once Cuba’s economy improves cosmetically (because you can bet those in power will not give up their acquisitiveness), the Cuban propaganda machine will use this as another tool in its propaganda arsenal against market economies.
No matter how ruinous Cuban-driven Chavismo is in real life; propaganda is the only thing Cuba’s regime is good at, and it is particularly effective in Latin America.
As it enters the final stretch of a massive expansion, the Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow it to handle the world’s biggest ships.
Workers are now installing giant, 22-story lock gates to accommodate larger “Post-Panamax” ships through the Canal, one of the world’s busiest maritime routes.
The project involves building a third set of locks on the Canal. It is being headed by Italy’s Salini Impregilo and Spain’s Sacyr, and should open on April 1, 2016.
The new Uruguayan government says it will no longer grant asylum to prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
In December, Uruguay gave sanctuary to six Arab men who had been held at the US base in Cuba for 12 years.
Opinion polls said most Uruguayans rejected the decision taken by outgoing President Jose Mujica.
Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa also said Uruguay would stop taking refugees from the Syrian conflict.
Does that mean they’ll kick Syrians Jihad Abu Wael Dhiab, Ali Husain Shaaban, Ahmed Adnan Ajuri, and Abdelhadi Faraj, Palestinian Mohammed Abdullah Taha Mattan, and Tunisian Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi out of the country?
High-level Venezuelan defectors then started talking to Veja journalist Leonardo Coutinho. They told Veja that Aeroterror came to be a biweekly flight that carried drugs and cash to finance Iran’s activities in South America, and that it would stop in Damascus to pick up fake passports and other documents to ensure that Iran’s agents could move freely once they arrived in Caracas.
Aeroterror. Let that sink in for a moment.
Reports indicate that Chavez and Ahmadinejad planned Aeroterror at a meeting Caracas back in 2007, during which Ahmadinejad also asked Chavez to help him get Argentina to help Iran with its nuclear program. Since then, Iran has only strengthened its ties to South America.
Witnesses at the airport said that a few minutes after takeoff they heard a significant explosion followed by a huge fireball.
The passengers were members of the Argentine company La Rural which is an associate in a project to exploit a Convention Center under construction in the Atlantic resort of Punta del Este and had flown to Uruguay for a business conference with their Uruguayan partners and the local government.
La Rural is a leading company in Argentina and Latin America in the fairs, congress and events industry.
The first favor they described, according to Veja, was that Argentina would cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center (known by its Spanish initials as AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The second favor was that Argentina would “share their long experience in [a] heavy-water nuclear reactor, an old-fashioned, expensive and complicated system but one that allows plutonium to be obtained from natural uranium.”
And then there were cash transfers,
The unnamed defectors claim that among other means to manipulate Argentina in favor of Iran, Venezuela arranged direct cash transfers. In August 2007, when Argentine customs officials discovered a suitcase containing an undeclared $800,000 in a plane from Venezuela, most observers chalked it up to Chávez’s efforts to spread his influence around the region. But one of the defectors told Veja that the loot was a gift from Iran for Mrs. Kirchner’s presidential campaign.
The claim in the Veja story that the cash originated in Iran and that a twice monthly Caracas-Damascus-Tehran flight between 2007 and 2010 facilitated its transfer to Venezuela is interesting. Veja notes that Venezuela’s then-foreign minister Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, now the governor of Aragua and a bigwig in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, played a key role in running those flights.
Alberto Nisman’s investigation unearthed more information,
Iran was sore about that according to Nisman’s 2006 indictment of the Iranians. “There is sufficient evidence to prove that the [AMIA] attack was carried out in Argentina owing to the Argentine government’s unilateral decision to terminate the nuclear materials and technology supply agreements that had been concluded some years previously between Argentina and Iran,” the Nisman report said. The same report says that “at this period the Iranian government felt that it was crucial for Iran to develop its nuclear capacities.”
It looks like Nisman was about to blow the lid with more findings . . . and then he was murdered.
Iran’s aggressive posture in obtaining items, materials and technology from Latin America that benefit both it’s [sic] nuclear program and ballistic missile program are at the heart of what led to the death of Dr. Nisman.
In his final term as president, the late Hugo Chávez became an prominent player in Argentina’s foreign policy. Buying out approximately $10 billion of Argentine debt, Chávez gained an inordinate amount of influence over that country, particularly over
their president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Since 2007, Venezuela began nuclear cooperation with Argentina for the development of its own nuclear reactor. At the same time, Venezuela began its military transfers to Iran. Parallel to this nuclear cooperation were several joint financial agreements between Argentina and Venezuela centered around agricultural and social projects. Many of these projects did not materialize, however, millions of dollars tied to these projects still moved between both countries.
Argentina’s nuclear program, which dates back to the 1950s, has been dormant since the 1980s. President Fernández de Kirchner gave the nuclear program new life in 2011. The Veja article released this month, mentions Argentina’s nuclear technology and capability as Iran’s primary objective for their rapprochement with that country.
The question remains to what degree is Argentina’s new nuclear ambition tied to Iran’s intent to attain this technology? And has Venezuela’s own defunct nuclear program and triangulated trade with Argentina served the purpose of helping Iran? Perhaps Dr. Nisman knew more than he reported. Unfortunately he is no longer with us.
To most, the Venezuelan government’s ability to brutally stifle student protests, is a capacity developed by the Cuban regime whose intelligence and military direct many aspects of Venezuela’s national security apparatus. While mostly true, this excludes another vital player that has enhanced Venezuela’s foreign internal defense, the Iranian paramilitary force known as the Basij.
In April 2009, the current Iranian commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, accompanied then-Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar on a high-level visit to Caracas at the invitation of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his foreign minister (now President) Nicolas Maduro. Gen. Naqdi’s role in these high-level meetings was to serve as an advisor to Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior to aid in training their civilian militias, known as the infamous colectivos’. Years later, the results of this advisory support are evident on the streets of Venezuela as the colectivos’ tactics are a step-up in its previous capabilities, to include new clandestine communication and infiltration/espionage techniques.
Gen. Naqdi, who previously served as the Iranian Police Force’s counterintelligence chief, has a long list of human rights violations dating back to the 1999 student protests in Iran.
An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.
. . .
In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Any evidence that Iran and Hezbollah have changed their ways?
“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says [professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations Max] Abrahms.
Last December, the government fired a powerful spy chief who was Nisman’s lead investigator. The prosecutor retaliated with a bombshell: He accused the president, her foreign minister and other political figures of conspiring to absolve the accused Iranians in exchange for commercial deals. Iranian diplomat Mohsen Rabbani, a top suspect in the 1994 attack, participated in secret talks, according to Nisman’s criminal complaint.
Argentine spies “negotiated with Mohsen Rabbani,” an indignant Nisman said in a television interview on Jan. 14. “Not just with the state that protects the terrorists, but also with the terrorists.”
The Argentine government denied his allegations.
Indeed, back in 2006,
Nisman charged senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah with plotting the AMIA attack
flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed to Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.
Venezuela blogger Alek Boyd has been investigating Derwick Associates’ connection to Venezuelan officials’ money laundering for years. Today Spain’s El Mundo’s front-page story catches up as The world is shrinking for Derwick Associates
One of Spain’s newspapers of record, El Mundo, published in its front page today about corrupt officials from Venezuela using the subsidiary of a little bank in Andorra to launder billions of dollars. The news may come as a surprise to some. Readers of this and other blogs of mine will, I hope, share a feeling of vindication with me today, for as extraordinary as El Mundo’s decision to name names is, we have known this for a while. In fact, I alerted Spain’s money laundering authorities (SEPBLAC) about it in April 2012.