Archive for the ‘Vladimir Putin’ Category

Coming soon to a hemisphere near you

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

I’m not sure in exactly what form, or exactly when, but in our connected world, there are storm clouds gathering:

1. International Geopolitics Abhors a Vacuum

You don’t have to be a supporter of Putin’s domestic to recognize that he is successfully expanding Russia’s influence and strengthening his country’s global position, while Obama has thoroughly squandered American prestige, abandoned allies, embraced our enemies, and reduced American influence to third-rate status.

2. Putin doesn’t have a strong hand, but it’s strong enough to exploit the weakness that Obama projects

3. Putin wants to humiliate Obama with airstrikes in Syria

But Putin sees a necessity in humiliating the United States. That’s business. And yet, despite Putin’s obviousness, the White House team and its acolytes publicly scratch their heads and other body parts, saying, “We’re not certain what the Russians intend.”

4. In Obama’s world posturing is enough to produce an conclusive result. That may be, but Obama is actively working towards a conclusive result in other areas. I have stated several times that I fully expect Obama to cede Guantanamo to Cuba. You can be sure Putin and the Castros already are planning to gain from that eventuality. Or do you really believe Putin wasn’t listening when John Kerry declared “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over”?

Lest you find me unduly alarmist, my gut tells me that, once a Russian three star general warns US officials ‘we request your people leave’, all bets are off.


And remember the signing amount of $100 billion Obama administration released to Iran for agreeing to the Nuclear Deal? Russia is getting a big chuck of that money. Tehran is ordering missile equipment as well as satellite and space technology worth $21 billion from Moscow.

During the spring of 2011, two Iranian Hezbollah operatives were conducting terror training on Venezuela’s Margarita Island for persons brought there from other countries in the Latin America.


Another storm cloud, which may or may not be catching Putin’s attention, is the Colombia/FARC agreement. Alvaro Uribe sums it up in one tweet:
I helped elect Santos in 2010 and he brings terrorists to power, buried our policies that elected him, and offers me a guaranteed jail sentence.”

Uribe may prove to be an optimist.

Colombia is Latin America’s third-largest economy. If the FARC is legitimized, all sorts of hell is going to break lose.


In a lighter mode, The Art of Manliness has How to Gird Up Your Loins: An Illustrated Guide

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”


In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?


Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories

The Presidents’ Day Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Prosecutor Pollicita charges President CFK in AMIA cover-up case

Alberto Nisman’s Death Just The Latest Example Of Large-Scale Corruption, Argentines Say

From Stratfor: U.S., Bolivia: The Pieces Are in Place for Improved Relations

Whose oil in Brazil?
One of the many casualties of the Petrobras scandal is a misguided industrial policy

Carnival time in Brazil

Son of Chilean president resigns
The son of Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet resigns as head of a government charity after being accused of influence peddling.

Colombian Oil Firm Recruits FBI to Weed Out Bribery
Four Years Pass before Friends-with-Benefits Contracts Surface

Uribe meets with US Congressmen to seek support for Colombia opposition

Colombia proposes world’s largest eco-corridor with Brazil, Venezuela

Former Obama Official on Cuba Talks: “We didn’t want anything in return”

Dissident savagely attacked by Castro thugs

Aggressive new HIV strain detected in Cuba
Researchers said an aggressive HIV strain in Cuba progresses into AIDS so fast that treatment with antiretroviral drugs may come too late.

Turkey’s Erdogan wants to build a mosque in Cuba. It’s based on a historical fallacy.

The President Of Ecuador Just Went Off On John Oliver In Hilarious Rant


In historic move, Jamaica extradites fraud suspect

What’s Putin’s Game in the Western Hemisphere?
The Russians are coming—again

Worldwide Threat Assessment

Heisenberg: Bill Clinton apologizes to Mexico for the war on drugs which he blames for fueling violence in the country
Bill Clinton spoke at a summit on Youth and Productivity in Mexico
He said: ‘I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault’
He then blamed U.S. efforts which had forced trafficking over land
Clinton’s administration followed past president’s efforts on drugs war

HSBC has form: remember Mexico and laundered drug money
For the bank to get off with hollow statements of apology is to treat us all with contempt

Skeptical Panama takes heed of planned Nicaraguan canal

Ohio? Panama Canal expansion shipping jobs to Ohio

Appalachian Ohio could benefit most, in part because the Ohio River could receive goods from the canal after they’ve made their way to the United States via the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River or the East Coast and the Port of Virginia.

Argentina oil company leaves Peru town after protests

Puerto Rico bankruptcy bill to get House hearing: source

Uruguay: Árabes, persas y espías, último capítulo de la gestión Almagro

You think? Uruguay Undecided on Accepting More Syrian Refugees

‘Coup plot foiled’ in Venezuela
An ex-air force general is arrested and more than 10 others implicated in a plot to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, officials say.

Coup = toucan’s saliva

Clashes in Venezuela as economic shortages continue to bite
A year after violent clashes between opposition protestors and government forces left 43 dead, protestors returned to the streets of Venezuela

Reporters without Borders: Venezuela flunks in Press Freedom Index
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by NGO Reporters without Borders, highlights increasing difficulties in Latin America for journalists to do their job in 2014. Venezuela fell 21 places from 2013

Escándalo en el HSBC revela cuenta en Suiza de Hugo Chávez con 12 mil millones de dólares

The week’s posts and podcast:
Smart diplomacy: “We didn’t want anything in return” from Cuba

Today on Drudgereport

Argentina: Gitmo alumnus “ready to fight”

Latin America: Worldwide Threat Assessment

Ecuador: John Oliver goofs on Correa

Argentina: Why we’ll probably never learn the truth about the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Persecuting the retailers

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Argentina: A case of “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown?” UPDATE

Netflix in Cuba, yeah, right

On Venezuela, Argentina & US-Latin America

Russia aims at Latin America

Friday, December 5th, 2014

“Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft,” along with long-range bombers conducting regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and military bases in Nicaragua (not a member of UNASUR), that is.

Read all about it at Da Tech Guy Blog

The Monroe Doctrine’s dead, but Putin’s alive and kicking

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Eight months ago I was blogging about Putin’s quiet Latin America play. Not so quiet anymore,
Russia’s long-range bombers to conduct regular patrols over Arctic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

Russia’s long-range bombers will conduct regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the military said Wednesday, a show of muscle reflecting tensions with the West over Ukraine.

To remind you,

Earlier this year, [Russian Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu said that Russia plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere for replenishing supplies and doing maintenance. He said the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.

Shoigu said Russia was also talking to some of those countries about allowing long-range bombers to use their air bases for refuelling [sic].

Almost a year ago to the day, John Kerry put a “Kick me” sign on America; now we have major cities, army bases, ports, and refineries at Russian-missile range.


Why Russia Has Reinvaded Ukraine
Aware that America lacks the resolve to impose sanctions, Putin has little incentive to back down.

Venezuela wins U.N. Council seat

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I told you on October 13:

it’s very likely Chavez’s daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez will soon be sitting next to an American diplomat at the United Nations Security Council.

Sure enough, today:

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola and New Zealand won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015, while a run-off vote between Spain and Turkey was taking place to decide who gets the fifth available spot.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes in favor

Somewhere in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is laughing.

Could Mexico become the next Russia?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

In Russia, Putin is king. Paul Roderick Gregory writes that Putin’s Reaction To Sanctions Is Destroying The Economy And China Won’t Help

Things are not going well for Vladimir Putin. The price of oil and the ruble continue to fall. Top Russian officials admit that the economy is in big trouble, despite Putin’s denials. Likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has declared that Putin must be contained. Putin’s counter sanctions are making things worse. The most ominous sign, however, is that Putin is weakening the foundations on which his power is based. He is cutting off foreign investment by bailing out his friends, and he is breaking the social compact on which his KGB-Mafia state is founded.
. . .
Putin’s kleptocracy is based on the following principles of (mis)governance: 1) The state determines what is legal and what is not; there is no rule of law. 2) The state serves the interests of Putin and his inner circle, not of the people. 3) Putin’s kleptocracy uses its media monopoly to brainwash the people with Goebbels-like big lies. 4) Putin determines property rights – who owns what. 5) Disloyalty will be punished by confiscation of property, banishment, prison, or worse. Loyalists can rest easy, however. Their property is safe, or at least says their friend, Vladimir Putin.

Leon Krauze sees Russia as a cautionary tale for Mexico, and asks that Mexico’s President Must Not Ignore This Mass Grave of College Kids—or the Corruption It Represents. The mass grave refers to the 43 students missing since September 26

And then you have Guerrero, current epicenter of Mexico’s nightmare. For a while now, rival gangs have been fighting for control of the state. The result has been the usual parade of horrors: cities besieged (including Acapulco), governments infiltrated, journalists threatened, police corrupted. And death. And vengeance. The latest rearing of the beast’s head produced an atrocity: 43 college students were abducted by local policemen, reportedly under the order of both the police chief and the mayor of Iguala, a man allegedly in cahoots with organized crime (both are on the run). The whereabouts of the kidnapped students remain unknown, but authorities recently found a crude open grave filled with 28 severely burnt bodies. Some showed signs of torture. Forensics are still trying to figure out if the bodies are those of the kidnapped students. Relatives fear the worst.

Krauze points out,

Instead of trying to will reality into submission, the government should tackle Mexico’s biggest problem: corruption. Despite Peña Nieto’s penchant for structural change, his administration has failed to put in place even the most modest reform to fight the country’s deep-rooted corruption.

Updating the story yesterday, Mexico’s attorney general said that none of the 28 bodies found in a mass grave in Iguala belongs to the 43 missing students. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that nine mass graves exist in Iguala, or that none of the students’ remains have been found.

Iguala’s mayor Jose Luis Abarca (now missing, along with his wife and the town police chief), had numerous and serious complaints of corruption filed against him, which federal authorities ignored.

The thing is, Peña Nieto’s party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) was based, and ruled Mexico for over 70 years with impunity, on a culture built on widespread tolerance of corruption, which Krauze calls a “gigantic structure of perverse political convenience.” About the only thing preventing Mexico from a Putin-type of president was that the PRI insisted on changing presidents every six years.

When Krauze asked Peña Nieto (emphasis added)

how Peña Nieto planned to prevent Mexico from turning into Russia, especially now that billions of dollars will be in play due to the recent opening of the country’s energy sector to private investors. Peña Nieto shrugged off my concern. Corruption in Mexico “is a cultural matter,” he said, not realizing the implications of the sentence.

Until and unless Mexico tackles corruption, the country is not going to flourish, no matter what other changes the president du jour may attempt.

[Post edited for clarity]

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,


I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!

The semifinals Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 7th, 2014

LatinAmerArgentina and Brazil go to the World Cup semifinals, and that has been the top story all over the hemisphere.

Argentina running out of options in lose-lose debt battle with ‘vultures’

Murder verdict over Argentina bishop
Two former senior military officers in Argentina have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Bishop Enrique Angelelli in 1976 during military rule.

World Cup police cooperation leads to arrest of fugitive from Argentina’s ‘dirty war’
Salvador Siciliano, a leading member of the notorious Triple A anti-communist death squad in the 1970s, captured in Brazil thanks to heightened communications between international forces around the tournament

Bolivia sanctions child labour as young as 10
Bolivian congress passes laws that allow 12-year-old children to be employed in full-time work for others, with 10-year-olds permitted to work if self-employed

Bolivian Cops Occupy Command Centers to Demand Pay Hike

Brazilian police link Fifa official to World Cup ticket gang

Brazil Tragedy Raises Doubts on Building Rush
Grief Descended on Belo Horizonte, a World Cup Host City, Following the Collapse of a Highway Overpass
Video here.

Chile’s Bachelet Introduces $27 Billion Infrastructure Program

Colombia Taps World Cup Fever to Urge Guerrilla Defections

Putin to visit Cuba and other LatAm nations

Media bias reaches new depths in reports on Castrogonian vehicle sales
Four motorcycles sold in Cuba, in addition to those fifty cars.

Dominican Authorities Arrest 137 Haitian Migrants

NYT editorializes with this headline, Government of Ecuador Can Sue Fugitive Bankers in U.S.

Four Guatemalan Cops Accused of Extorting Olympic Athlete

Honduras: Search for Miners Continues


Jamaica selling out its paradise

New Telecom Rules in Mexico Clear Senate Hurdle
Mexico is near to completing its biggest overhaul of the telecommunications sector in more than two decades.

The telecom bill is a tough blow for Mr. [Carlos] Slim. It forces mobile unit Telcel to complete calls from competing networks without charge, and establishes that domestic long-distance charges made by Telmex will be phased out starting next year. The bill also gives powers to the new enhanced regulator to set some phone rates of dominant players.

Mexico’s reforms
The power and the glory
Foreigners enthuse over Enrique Peña Nieto’s reforms. Mexicans are warier

Venezuela restores ties with Panama
Relations were broke off after President Maduro accused Panama of joining the US in an “open conspiracy” against him.

Animals Take to Rooftops to Survive Floods in Paraguay

Hero of Peru’s Battle with Shining Path Arrested

Puerto Rico: The New Detroit
Puerto Rico is moving to restructure a large slice of its debt. More trouble could be on the way. And, Mercado Libre is the eBay of Latin America. But it has a new competitor: eBay itself.

Spain’s €3,500 Epalisticia buys El Universal for €90 million

Che’s Battle Comrade Becomes Maduro’s New Economic Adviser
Cuba’s Dominance over Venezuela Out in the Open for All to See

The week’s posts and podcast:
Guatemala: When The Mountains Tremble to be corrected

Venezuela: Bye-bye, El Universal UPDATED

ISIS’s Chilean spokesman

Argentina: Pay up, Cristina

Invasion update: No visitors allowed on federal facilities, CDC opens Emergency Operations Center

Today’s update on the immigrant invasion

Venezuelan army protection racket at Guyana border

Obama to heal illegals with $2billion

Tinker, hacker, Snowden spy

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Bean-counting Catholic justices

Are Liberals Patriotic?

Chile: Bienvenido, Putin

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Now that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stopped in Chile during his tour of Latin America, Bachelet invites Putin to visit Chile

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday invited Russia’s Vladimir Putin to visit the Andean nation and the bases that both countries have in Antarctica with the aim of moving forward on scientific cooperation.

And it’s not just science,

[Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo] Muñoz also joined Lavrov at a meeting with Chilean Defense Minister Jorge Burgos to discuss “the potential for military exchanges.”

$5 says Russia comes out ahead on any of this.

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!