Venezuela: Turned away at the prison gates

January 27th, 2015

The Venezuelan government has turned down a request by former presidents of Chile and Colombia to visit opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in jail (h/t HACER). Mexico’s former president Felipe Calderón would also been turned away, creating An impossible to avert PR mess for Maduro

Piñera and Pastrana have now a first hand account, a direct witness position on repression in Venezuela. They saw the Nazional Guards everywhere, they were both somewhat threatened by diverse hecklers and possibly by “security”, they experienced personally the harshness and autism of the regime, etc, etc.

@AndresPastrana_ and @sebastianpinera enter Ramo Verde to meet with @leopoldolopez

Maduro then doubled down and accused Piñera and Pastrana of enriching themselves from drug money (as if Piñera needed the money). This is particularly offensive to Pastrana, who was held prisoner by Pablo Escobar 27 years ago.

Pastrana, on his part, scored a dig or two on Maduro, referring to him as “my fellow countryman”, since Maduro may have been born in Colombia – which would disqualify Maduro from being president of Venezuela (video in Spanish),

Pastrana points out that he and Piñera went to the Ramo Verde jail on the regular visiting day, when no permits are required to see the inmates.

Just another day in the Communist Bolivarian Revolution.



Argentina: Yesterday, and today

January 26th, 2015

Yesterday:
June 2013, Douglas Farah & Mark Dubowitz, writing on Terror and Foreign Policy (read the whole article),

The election of Rouhani is a gift to the Argentine government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was already moving in the opposite direction to her prosecutor – rapidly forgetting her nation’s history by normalizing relations with the Islamic Republic’s soon-to-be former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and pushing the bombing investigation into cold storage.

Journalist: Prosecutor Tied Rouhani to Argentina Terror Attack 

The late Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani of involvement in planning the July 1994 terror attack on the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, journalist Andres Oppenheimer of The Miami Herald reportedWednesday.

Andrés Oppenheimer:

Nisman told me that Rouhani was not among the eight Iranian officials whose international arrest he had requested to Interpol in 2006, but that he was a member of the committee that had planned the attack. Nisman added that a key witness, a former Iranian VIVEK official named Abolghasem Mesbahi, had testified that Rouhani was a member of the Vijeh committee at the time of the bombing.

Today:
January, 2015, Who Killed Alberto Nisman?
First his death was declared a suicide; now Argentina’s president says it was the work of her enemies. What about Tehran?

If Nisman was murdered, it involved a level of sophistication not normally associated with Argentina but not uncommon for Iran. Tehran has more than 40 years of experience knocking off meddlesome individuals abroad and is now trying to allay global distrust as it bamboozles Barack Obama about its nuclear-weapons program. Nisman’s search for truth may have put a target on his back.

More evidence points to a murder:

Argentinian federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was shot from a distance of at least 15 centimeters [6 inches]
. . .
The finding completely contradicts the government’s initial claims that Nisman had committed suicide, an assertion president Cristina Fernandez Kirchner has since backtracked from.

The forensics exam also confirmed that there was no exit wound, a result expected when a gun is pressed to the temple, the Federal Police source said.

Elsewhere, journalist Damián Patcher, who first broke the news of Nisman’s death,

had to flee Argentina in fear for his life:

After I left Argentina I found out that the government was still publishing wrong information about me on social media. The Twitter feed of Casa Rosada, the Argentine presidential palace, posted the details of the airline ticket I had bought, and claimed that I intended to return to Argentina by February 2 — in other words, I hadn’t really fled the country. In fact, my return date is in December.

The government proudly tweeted the details, thereby showing they’re keeping an eye on people,

UPDATE
Linked to by Neo-neocon. Thank you!

The Nisman murder Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

January 26th, 2015

LatinAmerThe hemisphere’s top story continues to be the murder of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman. This weekend it was revealed that Damián Pachter of the Buenos Aires Herald, the first to journalist break the news of Nisman’s death on Twitter last Sunday, reportedly fled the country because he feared for his life.

ARGENTINA
Nisman death: ‘Now we will never know what happened’
Mother of one of the victims of the 1994 terrorist attack in Argentina tells The Telegraph that she fears they will never have justice, after prosecutor Alberto Nisman found dead

Cash-starved Argentina tried to protect Iran, cover up Jewish Center bombings for cheap oil

Can Castro admirer Cristina from Argentina survive the Nisman murder scandal? All she has to do is hang in there until the Ocotber 25 election, and the November 9 runoff, if there is one.

Argentine Prosecutor’s Death May Warrant U.S. Economic Sanctions, More

BERMUDA
CDC Removes Chikungunya Notice For Bermuda

BOLIVIA
Bolivia Caravan Celebrates Return of God of Prosperity

Evo Morales sworn in for third term as president which brings up to the tweet of the week,

Drug trafficking, Corruption, Treason, Terrorism, Poverty. All of Latin America’s problems in one picture.

BRAZIL
Petrobras Says It’s Still Tallying Up Losses from Kickback Scheme

CHILE
Was Pablo Neruda, Chile’s greatest poet, murdered by Pinochet?
Fresh tests to see whether Nobel laureate’s body displays signs of poisoning – or whether he really did die of prostate cancer more than 40 years ago

COLOMBIA
25 Colombia Military, Police Sanctioned for Spying on Peace Talks

CUBA
U.S.-Cuba Talks Recap: Castro Coerces, Obama Acquiesces

Did U.S. send Cuba its next leaders when it released the ‘Cuban Five’?
There’s no clear successor to Castro, and the five men have youth, fame and revolutionary credentials.

ECUADOR
Ecuador goes for Super Bowl exposure with halftime ad

China and Ecuador Do Away with Tourist Visas, Sign Broad Range of Agreements

GUATEMALA
Police Chief Found Guilty of 1980 Massacre at Spanish Embassy in Guatemala

HAITI
Haitians Desperately Seek Ways to Get into Dominican Republic

Haiti ‘back on democratic path’
Haiti installs a Provisional Electoral Council to organise long-delayed elections – after weeks of protests and political uncertainty.

HUMOR

JAMAICA
Jamaica considers marijuana legalisation and production, while Jamaica to Discourage Pot Use Among Teens, Pregnant Women

MEXICO
U.S., Mexico Increasingly Competing for Farm Labor
Dwindling Pool of Workers Likely to Have Implications on U.S. Agricultural Sector

Top Mexico State Police Official Arrested
The head of Tlaxcala’s state police has been arrested on kidnapping charges, underscoring the challenges Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces trying to overhaul corrupt police forces and quell rampant crime.

PANAMA
Ton of Cocaine Seized on Panamanian Island

PERU
Greenpeace Seeks to Exclude Journalists From Peru Case

PUERTO RICO
16 Cubans repatriated after boat sinks near Puerto Rico

URUGUAY
Uruguay’s Mujica Believes Europe Is “Lashing Out Blindly” in Fight Against Fanaticism

VENEZUELA
Venezuela Oil Barrel Stays Below $40
Venezuela’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reports that the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending January 23 remained below $40

Venezuelan Free Press for Sale, under “Siege”
Hotel Magnate Buys Notitarde, Tal Cual to Close Due to Regime Pressure

Notitarde: Censorship in the 21st Century

After his unsuccessful begging tour, Maduro’s Answer for Venezuela’s Economic Woe: “God Shall Provide”
President Rolls Out Plan to Expand Biometric ID Ration Cards to Counter Shortage

Maduro’s Announcements: The Devil Sees Few Details

Choses vues at the Hunger Games

The week’s posts and podcast:
Argentina: Why Nisman’s lawsuit matters

Cuba: File this one under “No sh*t, Sherlock

Argentina: Today’s Nisman roundup

Cuba: For Rangel, “there’s always pain”

Argentina: #Nisman’s murder is all about Iran

Argentina: Nisman’s door was unlocked

Ecuador: Censorship on line

Argentina: Who killed #Nisman?

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
It’s all about Iran

The curious case of the dead Argentinian prosecutor UPDATED

Podcast:
Argentina, Cuba and other US-Latin America stories



Argentina: Why Nisman’s lawsuit matters

January 24th, 2015

Joseph Humire explains (emphasis added),

Nisman knew that to get Iran to face justice, he would have to force their hand. Herein lies the importance of his most recent work. In sifting through the voluminous pages of Nisman’s formal accusation against Fernández de Kirchner and her cronies, one comes to realize that a strategic shift is taking place on the AMIA case. What had historically been an Argentine judicial case prosecuted under the country’s anti-terrorism laws was now morphing into a criminal case potentially taken to an international court.

In reading Nisman’s report, one realizes that he not so subtly and repeatedly suggests the Kirchner-Iran connection is a “criminal plot” against Argentine justice. Moreover, he tips his hand in his last televised appearance on the program “A Dos Voces” (Two Voices) stating: “there exists a [new] method to extradite the Iranians, so that they can face justice in the Republic of Argentina” and goes on to say “but an international organization will have to intervene.” The International Criminal Court in Switzerland could be such an organization, where Iran has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute.

More importantly, however, Nisman seems to have had an ace up his sleeve to further indict Iran on the AMIA case. Knowing its history of political assassinations and the likelihood that they would go to great lengths to prevent their accused from standing before a criminal court, the Islamic Republic should be a prime suspect behind the Argentine prosecutor’s suspicious death.

As Iran tries cleaning up its international image and alleviating economic pressure from international sanctions, Nisman was about to cause them a significant setback potentially costing the regime billions of dollars. President Obama ignored this during his State of the Union speech. For those working to stop the U.S. misguided rapprochement with Iran — the late, courageous Argentine prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, may have shown us a way.

Cuba: File this one under “No sh*t, Sherlock”

January 24th, 2015

Pres. Obama gave a speech the week before Christmas, and everything was taken care of: Cuba’s outdated Cold War mentality magically transformed into an age of enlightenment and human rights.

So here we go,
After First Normalization Talks With Cuba, U.S. Says Deep Divisions Remain
Human Rights, Support for Dissidents Are Main Areas of Disagreement
.

Who wouldha thunk it!

Back in the olden days enlightened despots

did not propose reforms that would undermine their sovereignty or disrupt the social order.

Nowadays there’s the Viet Nam outcome,

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely.

Same old, same old.

UPDATE,
Linked to by Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!



It’s all about Iran

January 23rd, 2015

As Charles Krauthammer points out, Iran Isn’t Just Trying to Build a Nuclear Bomb, instead, Iran is marching toward conventional domination of the Arab world.

Krauthammer points to Iranian-backed Houthis seizing control of the Yemeni government, Iran sending in weapons, money and revolutionary guards and ordering Hezbollah to fight in Syria.

In Latin America, Iran has greatly expanded its presence and influence over the last decade – which directly affects the U.S. In 2007 an alleged Iranian agent, Abdul Kadir, plotted to blow up JFK airport in New York.

Read the rest of my article here.

Argentina: Today’s Nisman roundup

January 23rd, 2015

Iran Has A Lot To Gain From The Death Of A Crusading Argentine Prosecutor

Nisman’s testimony would have shown that the AMIA bombing wasn’t jut a discrete event, but an ongoing, two decade-long conspiracy that implicated Argentina and Iran in the execution and cover-up of a major act of terrorism.

Argentine Prosecutor Death in Iran Terror Case Gets Curiouser

Alberto Nisman: The Man Who Exposed Iran in Latin America

Life and death of Alberto Nisman: what we know so far
The death of Alberto Nisman – the prosecutor heading up an investigation into a 1994 terrorist attack, who pointed the finger at Iran and President Cristina Kirchner – has caused a political earthquake in Argentina, but left many serious unanswered questions

(Added later today) Why Nisman’s Killing In Argentina Matters To The U.S.

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/blogs-capital-hill/012315-735986-why-nisman-killing-in-argentina-matters-to-the-us.htm#ixzz3PftMZO2X
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is blaming former intelligence chief Antonio Horacio Stiusso for Nisman’s lawsuit (link in Spanish). Here’s the text of the Alberto Nisman’s civil complaint filed last week:

La denuncia completa de Nisman by Todo Noticias

UPDATE,
With all the in-depth information and analysis on this case, who gets the instalanche? Yahoo news.

They must really need the traffic.

Cuba: For Rangel, “there’s always pain”

January 22nd, 2015

Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) took time off from not paying his taxes to insult Cubans suffering under the island-prison’s Communist oppression,

“How would you explain the president’s plan to normalize relations to Americans, like the ones in the audience tonight, that have lost everything, that have lost family members to the Castro regime?” asked MSNBC anchor Ronan Farrow.

“Well there’s always pain when people have suffered under a Communist regime,” said Rangel. The career politician believes that relaxing restrictions on Cuba will eventually help to “ease the pain” that the Cuban people are feeling.

Grok the empathy here, if you can stand it,

Read the rest of this entry »

Argentina: #Nisman’s murder is all about Iran

January 22nd, 2015

Let’s not lose track of the real story as we examine the details of last Sunday’s assassination of prosecutor Alberto Nisman: His murder is all about Iran.

Through his investigation of the 1994 AMIA bombing, Nisman found out that president Cristina Fernendez had allegedly been secretly negotiating with Iran since 2011, and conspiring to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack. He brought a civil lawsuit last week, asking the judge to freeze $23 million of assets belonging to Mrs. Kirchner and the others named in the complaint, and was scheduled to testify to Argentina’s Congress on Monday, but was prevented from doing it by a single shot to the head.

Eli Lake writes on Argentina, Iran and the Mysterious Death of a Prosecutor

. . . Nisman made an enemy of Iran, a country with a history of killing its political opponents in foreign countries. In May 2013, Nisman issued a scathing report that implicated several senior Iranian officials by name in the AMIA bombing. Just four months earlier, Kirchner’s government had signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran to investigate the incident. Part of the deal, however, was that Nisman’s investigators would not be allowed to interview senior Iranian officials. Argentina also got a favorable trade pact to import Iranian oil in exchange for grain. Nisman said the terms of the Iran-Argentina joint investigation amounted to a coverup.

The AMIA attack occurred in 1994, before Iran’s government began trying to clean up its image with the rest of the world. It was before Iran elected its first reform government in 1997, and before Iran’s current government agreed to nuclear negotiations with China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and U.S.

And yet many of the senior Iranian officials Nisman named still have influence. They include Ali Fallahian, who is today a member of the regime’s council of experts, the clerical body that would choose Iran’s next supreme leader; Ahmad Vahidi, who served as Iran’s defense minister between 2009 and 2013; and Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the former Iranian president and a favorite interlocutor of many Western diplomats.

The news of Nisman’s death was first called a suicide. However, since Sunday, details have come to the surface – Here’s what has been revealed as of the writing of this post:

  • He was found in his bath­room in a pool of blood. Next to his body was a 22 cal­iber firearm and a bul­let casing.
  • He died from a bul­let to the head. Ear­lier accounts said the entry point was on his right side towards the rear of the ear; the offi­cial account says it was the right temple.
  • The police prevented medics from two ambulances (one arriving at 10:45PM, the other at 11:30PM) from entering the premises.
  • The inves­ti­gat­ing pros­e­cu­tor initially called it an “induced suicide.”
  • Nis­man left a shop­ping list for his housekeeper.
  • He had talked to his personal trainer on resuming his regular schedule.
  • Appar­ently none of the ten secu­rity offi­cers assigned to pro­tect Nis­man was sta­tioned on the thir­teenth floor of the apart­ment build­ing on which he lived. None were on the premises from Saturday until Sunday afternoon.
  • His apart­ment has a main entrance and a ser­vice entrance, but all the initial reports only men­tioned the main entrance.
  • Inves­ti­ga­tors found another means of access to the apart­ment through a hall­way where the air-​conditioners are located, with a door that leads to the apart­ment, where they found a fin­ger­print and a foot­print.
  • Ariel Lijo, the Argen­tin­ian judge who received Nisman’s 300 page com­plaint alleg­ing the involve­ment of Pres­i­dent Cristina​Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­ner and oth­ers in cov­er­ing up Iran’s cul­pa­bil­ity for the 1994 bomb­ing of the AMIA, ordered the seizure of all doc­u­men­ta­tion and other evi­dence referred to in the complaint.
  • Author­i­ties raided both his home and his office for all doc­u­ments regard­ing any of his investigations.

In addition to the Iran allegations, Cristina Fernandez’s administration is also allegedly involved in money laundering and precursor chemical trafficking, according to this report by Douglas Farah. Adding to the list are new accusations of cover-ups by another Argentinian prosecutor, Germán Moldes.

Nis­man had been barred by the Argen­tin­ian gov­ern­ment from tes­ti­fy­ing on Iran’s increased influ­ence in South Amer­ica at a U.S. Con­gress sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing in 2013.

Yesterday evening I was discussing Iran’s expanding influence with David Gerstman who emailed,

Lee Smith recently wrote that in regards to the nuclear negotiations Iran is “pushing through an open door.” It’s not just in terms of the nukes, it’s also in terms of the regional hegemony. The US is willing to cede a huge amount of the Middle East influence to Iran.

The Tower did a post on Iran’s destabilizing influence on the region and noted that when he first proposed reaching out to Iran, Obama said, “actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region and around the world; that their attacks or their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, the bellicose language that they’ve used towards Israel, their development of a nuclear weapon, or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon — that all those things create the possibility of destabilizing the region.”

And now to go along with the outreach, the destabilization has only accelerated.

Indeed,

Senator Robert Menendez (D – N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pushed back today against the White House’s claims that Congressional action could derail negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program. In his State of the Union speech last night, President Barack Obama claimed that such initiatives “will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails” with Iran.

In his opening statement to a committee hearing titled “Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Status of Talks and the Role of Congress“, Menendez said:

The more I hear from the administration in its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization when they are the ones with original sin: an illicit nuclear weapons program going back over the course of twenty years that they are unwilling to come clean on.

Bonus:
Argentine Phone Calls Detail Efforts to Shield Iran

UPDATE,
Read Claudia Rosett on Alberto Nisman’s Warning About Iran, especially page 2.

Analysis: Alberto Nisman and the Crisis of Democracy in Argentina

———————————-

In a lighter mode,

Mexican humorist Paco Almaraz has Cristina in the burnt-out unit, and brings up the names of “suicides” Brigadier Rodolfo Echegoyen, Jorge [sic – the correct name is Horacio] Estrada, Alfredo Yabrán, Lourdes di Natale and Marcelo Cattaneo (in Spanish).

—————————-

Linked to by Legal Insurrection. Thank you!
Linked to by IBD. Thank you!
Linked to by Shadow Diplomacy. Thank you!



Argentina: Nisman’s door was unlocked

January 21st, 2015

New developments:
1. The locksmith called to open Alberto Nisman’s door on Sunday asserts that the service door to the apartment was unlocked,

“Anyone could have opened it.”

2. Investigators found another means of access to the apartment through a hallway where the air-conditioners are located, with a door that leads to the apartment. They found a fingerprint and a footprint.

3. Spain’s El País published a PDF file of the civil complaint Nisman filed last week. The Kirchner regime released it to the public following popular outcry.

4. Last week Nisman transferred for safekeeping 330 CDs containing evidence to another person for safekeeping

5. Alberto Nisman will be buried at the Jewish cemetery, and not in the section reserved for those who have committed suicide, according to this report from Brazil’s R7 (link in Brazilian Portuguese).

In the Jewish faith, suicide is considered a sin against the Creator, and people who take their lives are buried in a separate area. However, Rabbi Ioni Shalom stated,

“I don’t believe he will be buried in the suicide section, because it is not certain that he did indeed commit suicide. And even if that were the case, he may have done so to protect someone, his family or even the whole [Jewish] community, since he was subjected to enormous threats – and that would be a noble attitude”

Both major Argentinian Jewish associations, AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) and DAIA (Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas), are working to have Nisman buried near the victims of the 1994 attack.

Read also my post The curious case of the dead Argentinian prosecutor UPDATED summarizing all the findings so far.