Argentina: #Nisman’s lawsuit dismissed

February 26th, 2015

El País reports that federal judge Daniel Rafecas ruled that there is no reason to investigate the charges of conspiracy to cover-up Iranian involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing against president Cristina Fernandez from the civil lawsuit Alberto Nisman filed five days before his assassination.

Nisman was killed in his apartment the day before he was scheduled to testify to Congress on his findings.

Following his death, Fernandez set to scrap the country’s intelligence agency and replace it with a new one, a move that Congress approved today.

Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita had continued the suit, and has the right to appeal Rafecas’s decision.

UPDATE
WSJ: Judge Dismisses Coverup Allegations Against Argentine President
Judge says there is no evidence that Mrs. Kirchner committed any crime

Brazil: No joy in soy

February 26th, 2015

Soybean prices have gone up following a truckers’ strike protesting a recent increase in the federal tax on diesel fuel in Brazil, according to the WSJ:
Brazil Truckers Jar Soybean Markets
Work stoppage impedes shipments to ports, fuels speculation that buyers could turn to the U.S.

U.S. soybean futures surged to a six-week high on Tuesday as truckers across Brazil’s main farming regions blocked roads to protest fuel-tax increases and low wages, impeding shipments to ports and fueling speculation the U.S. would enjoy increased overseas demand for soybeans at Brazil’s expense. Prices pulled back Wednesday as police officers cleared some roads, but analysts said the situation remained fluid as the protests spread to more states.

The effect will be felt by the farmers, further cramping Brazil’s economy.

Over in Argentina (the world’s largest exporter of soybean oil and derivatives), rather than expedite exports,

farmers defending their fields at night amid accusations that they’re hoarding crops to undermine the government.

Argentina imposes an insanely high 35 percent export tax on soy.

Argentina: #3 port of departure for Europe’s cocaine?

February 26th, 2015

Alejandro Rebossio of Spain’s El País reports that Pope Francis’s comment on “Mexicanization” was prompted by UN data showing Argentina as the country with the third-largest number of seized cocaine shipments, after Brazil and Colombia.

The cocaine route starts in Colombia and Peru, makes a layover in Bolivia, and is processed in Argentina, where some of it is consumed, while most is exported to Europe.

Gustavo Vera also mentioned, in his emails to Pope Francis, that Argentina has the highest per-capita cocaine consumption in Latin America.

You can read Rebossio’s article here (in Spanish).

All about Steve: a review of Birdman

February 25th, 2015

Rather than a flight of imagination, a philosophical and magical-realism clunker big enough to fuel dozens of film studies thesis for years to come.

Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Today’s podcast

February 25th, 2015

Live at 10AM Eastern, and archived for your listening convenience, in Silvio Canto’s podcast, talking about the LatAm stories of the week.

Argentina: Pope Francis worried about “Mexicanization”

February 24th, 2015

Pope Francis is concerned that the increase in the drug trade may drive Argentina to the same terrifying conditions as Mexico (link in Spanish, my translation)

Ojalá estemos a tiempo de evitar la mexicanización. Estuve hablando con algunos obispos mexicanos y la cosa es de terror”,

“Hopefully we’re still on time to avoid Mexicanzation. I was talking to Mexican bishops and it’s a terrifying situation”

You can read the Pope’s email to legislator Gustavo Vera at the Alameda website.

En español: Mares de infelicidad, por Enrique Krauze

February 24th, 2015

Mares de infelicidad
La lógica de Hugo Chávez obedecía a una combinación de poder y delirio: quería ser el heredero histórico de Castro. Y quería demostrarle al mundo que el socialismo cubano, el original, el fidelista, sí podía funcionar

Nunca dejará de sorprender el daño que el poder absoluto, concentrado en una persona, puede causar en la vida de los pueblos. Pero aún más misteriosa es la incapacidad de muchos pueblos para ver de frente el fenómeno, comprenderlo y evitarlo. Es el triste caso de un sector del pueblo venezolano, ciego al desmantelamiento de su propio país perpetrado por Hugo Chávez y su Gobierno en beneficio del régimen dictatorial más longevo del mundo actual: el de los hermanos Castro.

Leerlo completo.

Y me gusta el dibujo,

English article here (but rather watered-down for a NYT audience?).

Colombia: Aronson special envoy to FARC peace tallks

February 24th, 2015

U.S. Names Aronson Special Envoy to Colombia
Former assistant secretary of state will help Colombian government and FARC in negotiations

On Friday, President Barack Obama named Bernard “Bernie” Aronson, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American Affairs from 1989 to 1993, as the envoy. He will help the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, overcome roadblocks in the final stretch of negotiations.

Let’s hope it’s not another case of “not wanting anything in return.”

But they do look glum, don’t they?

Colombia: Hello FARC, good-bye rule of law

February 23rd, 2015

Colombia’s new Supreme Court president is not quite in Marie Harf’s “jobs for ISIS” class, but comes close: When it comes to ending FARC violence, he thinks that

denying justice to the FARC’s victims and offering the rebels minimal penalties (e.g., community service in lieu of prison) for their war crimes solves the problem.

Mary O’Grady has the story of how the FARC wants amnesty by claiming that Colombia’s military is as guilty of war crimes as they are.

Kidnapping, murder, extortion, drug trade, child soldiers, raping women and forced abortion: what the FARC stands for.

Nice going, judge.

The Putinesco Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

February 23rd, 2015

Everything old is new again, so this week’s word is Putinesco, the 21st century non-Soviet.

ARGENTINA
DEBKA investigation: A fake Iranian “defector” assassinated Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

Witness is latest in string of false ‘leaks’

Argentina, Iran and the strange death of Alberto Nisman
The death of a prosecutor investigating links between Buenos Aires and Tehran has quickly gone from being a criminal case to a political affair
It always was.

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s “spaceship architecture” showcases the new wealth of indigenous people

BRAZIL
Brazil Rio carnival: Beija-Flor wins despite ‘Obiang link’
A Brazilian samba school, which is alleged to have received funding from Equatorial Guinea, has been crowned champion of Rio de Janeiro’s carnival.
Equatorial Guinea?

CHILE
Bachelet’s Virtuous Facade
Hypocrisy Runs Deep Throughout Chile’s Political Elite

COLOMBIA
A court in Colombia rules that same-sex couples can adopt children, but only if the child is the offspring of one of the partners.

Colombian teacher changes her name to ABCDEFG HIJKLMN OPQRST UVWXYZ

CUBA
Whitewashing & Policy Laundering Cuban Terrorism

ECUADOR
No Referendum on Correa’s Indefinite Reelection in Ecuador
National Electoral Council Denies Request for Popular Vote

MEXICO
Mexico to stop shipping ready-to-use fuel to curb thefts

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex has announced it will stop shipping ready-to-use petrol and diesel through its pipelines, in an effort to curb fuel thefts.

Pemex says it will use its pipelines across Mexico only for unfinished fuel.

That fuel will go through a last phase of mixing when it reaches the company’s storage plants.

More than $1bn (£650,000) worth of fuel was stolen by Mexican gangs in 2014, an increase of 70% over the previous year.

TOWERS OF SECRECY
Mexican Political Family Has Close Ties to Ruling Party, and Homes in the U.S.
The properties stand in contrast to the working-man image promoted by José Murat Casab, a longtime party insider, and his son, a top housing official.

NICARAGUA
Trouble Brewing in Nicaragua

PUERTO RICO
Race to the bottom: Moody’s Cuts Puerto Rico Rating Further into Junk
Two-notch downgrade brings the rating on Puerto Rico’s general obligation bonds to Caa1

VENEZUELA
Turmoil in Venezuela
Sliding toward dictatorship
The arrest of the mayor of Caracas is a sign that the regime will do whatever it takes to hold on to power.
Sliding?

The sudden rise of the bodyguards