This just in: TPP signed

October 5th, 2015

The LatAm countries are Mexico, Peru and Chile (which in turn are members of the Pacific Alliance):
U.S. Reaches Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal With 11 Pacific Nations. Trans-Pacific Partnership created after bitter fights over automobile industry, intellectual property rights and dairy products. China is not included since it did not meet criteria. The TPP is yet to be approved by Congress,

But Mr. Obama faces a steep challenge in the months ahead to win approval for the deal in a deeply divided Congress. Only a handful of Democrats support Mr. Obama’s trade policy, and Republican support is unpredictable in the 2016 election year, depending on the stance of presidential candidates and new leadership in the House. As it is, the deal can’t go to a vote before Congress until early next year.

Ian Bremer commented on the TPP on Facebook – now on YouTube,

The storm clouds Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

October 5th, 2015

Storm clouds are coming to a hemisphere near you.

Argentina’s Scioli Urged by Ally to Pursue Accord With Creditors

Argentina warns US to cooperate in heightened search for fugitive spy chief. President Cristina Fernández says US must be ‘protecting’ Antonio Stiuso, who reportedly fled to Miami soon after star prosecutor’s mysterious killing

The narrative changes: Nisman documentary tied to US conservatives. Expect a lot more of that.

Hunt for ship missing after hurricane. The US Coast Guard searches for a cargo ship with 33 crew – 28 Americans and five Poles – that vanished in Bahamian waters during Hurricane Joaquin.

Ex-Brazil President Lula to be questioned in Petrobras case. Brazilian officials investigating a corruption scandal at the state-run oil company Petrobras will be allowed to question ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the supreme court has ruled.

Funny how so many bring up the Swedish model but few understand it: 7 fatos que contradizem tudo que você acreditava sobre a Suécia

Chilean Industrial Production Falls 5.2%

Colombia Drug Kingpin “Megateo” Slain in Military Operation

Worth watching:
Narcos on Netflix, loosely based on Killing Pablo, a miniseries made more interesting when keeping in mind the upcoming FARC deal.

Apparently this is how Cubans get Netflix (h/t Spotniks) without Internet. I wouldn’t be surprised if Danny Paquete is a front:

[In Puerto Rico, un paquete can mean either package or a bundle of lies]

The one-sided relationship with Cuba

The Montaigne Dogma: Alive and Well in Ecuador. Correa Resurrects Debunked Zero-Sum Theories on Poverty

“The Profit of One Man Is the Damage of Another” is the 21st essay in this edition.

Guatemala mudslide leaves hundreds missing

We Jamaicans can’t blame our entire malaise on the evil white bogeyman. Whatever David Cameron’s motives for the repatriation scheme, our prisons are a disgrace – and the whining of the reparations lobby masks the screw-ups of our own governments

13 narcos extradited from Mexico include a former Texas high school football star, “La Barbie”.

Mexico Awards Three Areas in Oil Auction. Italy’s ENI International, Argentina’s Pan American Energy and Fieldwood Energy of the U.S. among the winners

Chinese giant Huawei opens its sixth distribution center in Panama. Good luck collecting,

According to official figures, Venezuelan buyers owe the free zone vendors a total of 1.2 billion dollars.

Behind Drugs’ Glare, Paraguay’s Illegal Cigarette Trade Flourishes

Peru Declares State of Emergency Where Protest Left 3 Dead

Puerto Rico Development Bank Goes to Court for $400 Million in Taxes

High times: Uruguay Awards Two Marijuana Permits to Investors

The World Is Watching Caracas. Why Venezuela’s approaching parliamentary elections matter — and not only for Venezuelans. Dude, the election is scheduled for December 6.

Salarios en Venezuela: cómo el régimen chavista empobreció a la población. Un profesor universitario cobra 16 dólares, un maestro 12, un médico no llega a los 10 y un policía araña los 14 (si suma bonos y horas extras)… Advertencia: cuando usted termine de leer esta nota, puede que los valores ya estén desactualizados.

U.S. Charges Venezuelan Ex-Officials with Drug Trafficking. U.S. judges have unsealed indictments charging two former top Venezuelan police officials with drug trafficking, an action likely to fuel further tensions between Washington and embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Judges in the southern district of Florida unsealed indictments against Pedro Luís Martín, a former head of financial intelligence for Venezuela’s secret police, and Jesús Alfredo Itriago, a former antinarcotics official with Venezuela’s investigative police.

Crime Wave Downs 100 Venezuelan Police Officers. Failure to Contain Lawlessness Comes at a Price

Sunday palate cleanser: Der Rosenkavalier

October 4th, 2015

Der Rosenkavalier, full opera, Covent Garden,

This production of Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” by Oscar-winning film director John Schlesinger, marked the 25th anniversary of Sir Georg Solti’s spectacular debut at Covent Garden. Featuring Kiri Te Kanawa’s first performance in London in the role of Marschallin.

Nicaragua: Wang Jing does poorly

October 3rd, 2015

In case you don’t remember the name, Wang Jing is the chairman of Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, who made a $300million telecommunications deal last year with Daniel Ortega. He also heads HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., the company behind the proposed Nicaraguan Canal, that project of Dubious Plans and Abundant Unknowns.

Wang is the year’s worst-performing billionaire:

This Chinese Billionaire Has Lost More Than Glasenberg in 2015 (h/t JC)

Telecommunications entrepreneur Wang Jing, 42, was one of the world’s 200 richest people with $10.2 billion at the peak of the Chinese markets in June, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth has since fallen to $1.1 billion.


HKND Group, Wang’s closely held development company, was awarded a 50-year concession for the 170-mile (274 kilometer) canal by the government of President Daniel Ortega in 2013. The billionaire said in a December 2014 televised press conference in Nicaragua that he was committing personal funds to the project, and he’s poured about $500 million of his own money into it so far, Peng Guowei, an executive vice president at HKND, told Chinese state media Xinhua on Sept. 7.

Turn of Fortune
“The turn of fortune in Mr. Wang’s financial resources will impact how and whether the canal can and will be built,” said Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions and a former country risk manager at General Electric Co. “I would expect, given this year’s financial gyrations in China, that the government is also asking itself whether the canal is a viable proposition.”

The company said that despite the economic setbacks and local protests against the canal’s construction, the project is moving forward. “I have no doubt that appropriate financial arrangements will be in place before construction commences,” Bill Wild, HKND’s chief adviser for the canal, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Company representatives for Xinwei declined to comment on Wang’s personal investments and declined a request for an interview with Wang.

A September e-mail from closely held HKND said the funds raised from the pledged Xinwei shares were used for Wang’s “personal investments” and not for the canal project, without elaborating. Wang is also funding unrelated projects — in some cases with partners — including a deep water port in Ukraine.

As I have been saying from the start, the canal project (if you can find it) cannot come about without major support from the Chinese government.

The NYT’s modern man & his melon baller UPDATED

October 2nd, 2015

I won’t link to it since it’s hatebait, because it’s written to be mocked, but linked each time it’s mocked, but if one is to believe the NYT, what makes a man, as Ace puts it,

is simply behaving like a liberal, urban white woman (the actual target demographic of this piece).

I’ve never met the author of the NYT article, but I’ve met Ace, who indeed is modern, and a man, and I agree with his assessment.

The NYT’s modern man owns a melon baller.

Lest your mind wander to impure thoughts, here is a melon baller, which, if you must-have, I’d appreciate you get through this link so I get a small commission.

But I digress.

I’ve also met Lileks, another modern man, who went to town dissecting the NYT’s idea of a modern man, only that Lileks is pitch-perfect,

Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?

So has his wife. Maybe when the kids are gone.

The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.

But not those plastic ones. Something elegant with a bone handle. There has to be a place in the Village that sells them. That sells only shoehorns. There will be an old man who knows his craft, and the store will be old and cluttered and you know like European? And he will learn something about the art of the shoehorn, and the traditions of the makers, and the old man will be pleased to help him, because most people these days, they don’t care about the old ways.

The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.

Stay away Mr. Burglar or you are going to get such a melon balling

Steven Miller, who I haven’t met, corrects the modern man,

The modern man does not use a mellon baller as anything other than a cereal spoon.

So the NYT succeeds at a hatebait, generating lots of posts (mine included), but my favorite so far is John del Signore’s, N+0 Ways To Be A Postmodern Man

The postmodern man and the modern man are both part of the same privileged white man hypocrisy, and never more so as when they compose deliberately insufferable listicles to be published purely for the sake of feeding bite-sized content into a rapidly devolving banner ad shell game.

Take it away, George!

Blogging on LatAm shall resume shortly.

“The Modern Man” Fisked…. By Hand

Netanyahu’s thunderous silence and the West’s moral vacuum

October 2nd, 2015

While Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power busied themselves in a video conference with Pres. Obama, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a most powerful speech, which you can watch in full:

Read my post on Netanyahu’s thunderous silence and the West’s moral vacuum.

Argentina: Los Abandonados, the movie I want to see but can’t find. UPDATE: FOUND!

October 1st, 2015


Website: Los Abandonados Movie

Facebook page


Prior post:

Frances Martel writes about a new documentary, Los Abandonados (The Abandoned),

As Americans reflect on months at the negotiating table with Ali Khamenei, the new filmLos Abandonados (“The Abandoned”) demands a deeper look at another Iran deal: the one Argentina made to absolve the perpetrators of the largest terrorist attack in their history.

Part historical account and part spy novel, Los Abandonados tells the story of the death of Alberto Nisman, an Argentine prosecutor who was found dead of a gunshot to the head the day before he was to testify to Congress. He was to accuse President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of making a secret deal with the Iranian government to protect Hezbollah-linked terrorists. The terrorists in question are the orchestrators of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), the worst terror attack in Argentina’s history and the worst attack on the Western Hemisphere prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Readers of this blog know that I’ve been following the Nisman story, so I’m keenly interested in seeing the film.

However, it has no IMDB listing, movie times, or official website that I could find. It does have a YouTube channel.

Any information on where it’s playing will be greatly appreciated.

Coming soon to a hemisphere near you

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

Argentina: The curious incident of Cristina at the UN, UPDATED

September 30th, 2015

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of Silver Blaze, there’s the the curious incident of the dog in the night-time,

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had a curious incident of her own at the UN.

The Telegraph asks, Why didn’t Cristina Kirchner mention the Falklands during her UN speech? For the first time in her eight appearances at the General Assembly, the president of Argentina failed to speak about the Falklands. After describing several of Cristina’s speeches (and let’s not forget some have been delusional), The Telegraph concludes,

It was unclear why she omitted the reference this year – especially given that this is her last address as head of state. In October Argentina will hold elections, and she cannot run for a third term.

Maybe the meds worked?

You can read her speech in Spanish here.

Curiouser and curiouser,
Argentine President: In 2010, An Obama Administration Official Asked Me to Provide Iran with Nuclear Fuel; Obama Administration Official Confirms Story. Ace posts,

Mediate notes the oddness of asking Argentina, specifically, to supply Iran with nuke fuel — given the bombing a Jewish center in Argentina in 1994,a case officially unsolved but believed to have been sponsored by Iran.

And perhaps there’s a reason Kirchner is making this accusation now:

Coincidentally [???– or not. Ace], the speech by Argentinian President Kirchner coincides with the release of the anticipated documentary film Los Abandanados, which examines the role of Iran in the 1994 AMIA bombing. The film also highlights the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Nisman, who actively devoted his life to uncovering the judicial misconduct following the attack. Nisman was found dead in January at his home in Buenos Aires, hours before he was scheduled to address the Congress of Argentina.

Jason Howerton has now updated; Samore [sic? Kirchner names a Gary Seymour, not Samore*, in her speech. Fausta] confirms he went shopping in Argentina for fuel for Iran’s nukes.

The idea is that we’d give Iran mid-enriched uranium and of course they would enrich it no further than that.

Ace says, “It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

We live in unbelievable times.

Is the Iran story true? Who confirmed it, Seymour or Samore?

Initially I posted a paragraph from Kirchner’s speech in Spanish, but this is bothering me enough I decided to translate it myself:

*Cristina’s speech (emphasis added):

Nosotros sabíamos de estas negociaciones, estábamos esperanzados en que el acuerdo finalmente llegara. Ustedes se preguntarán y cómo sabíamos. Simple, en el año 2010, nos visitó, en Argentina, Gary Seymour, en ese entonces principal asesor de la Casa Blanca, en materia nuclear. Él nos vino a ver con una misión, con un objetivo que la Argentina que había provisto, en el año 1987, durante el primer gobierno democrático y bajo el control de OIEA, la Organización Internacional, en materia de control de armas y regulación nuclear, había provisto el combustible nuclear, del denominado reactor “Teherán”. Gary Seymour, le explicó a nuestro Canciller, Héctor Timerman que estaban en negociaciones precisamente para llegar a un acuerdo y que la República Islámica de Irán no siguiera enriqueciendo uranio, lo hiciera a menor cantidad, pero que Irán decía que necesitaba enriquecer este reactor nuclear de Teherán y esto entorpecía las negociaciones. Nos venía a pedir a nosotros, los argentinos que proveyéramos de combustible nuclear a la República Islámica de Irán. No estaba Rohani todavía, estaba Ahmadinejad, ya había comenzado las negociaciones.

My translation:

We knew of these negotiations, we hoped that an agreement would finally come about. You may ask, how did we know. Simple, in 2010, we were visited, in Argentina, by Gary Seymour, who at that time was the White House’s main advisor on nuclear issues. He came to see us with a mission, a purpose that Argentina had foreseen, in 1987, during its first democratic government, and under the control of the IAEA, the International Organization on nuclear regulations and weapons control, had provided the nuclear fuel, for the reactor named “Teheran”. Gary Seymour, explained to our Minister of Foreign Relations, Héctor Timerman, that they were negotiating to reach an agreement so that the Islamic Republic of Iran would not continue enriching uranium, that they would [instead] do it in smaller quantities, but that Iran said that they needed to enrich this Tehran nuclear reactor and that hindered the negotiations. He came to ask us, the Argentinians, to provide nuclear fuel to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rohani wasn’t on yet, it was still Ahmahinejad, who had started the negotiations.

The Blaze‘s translation polished Cristina’s meandering style to a much clearer paragraph, but it changed Seymour to Samore:

In 2010 we were visited in Argentina by Gary Samore, at that time the White House’s top advisor in nuclear issues. He came to see us in Argentina with a mission, with an objective: under the control of IAEA, the international organization in the field of weapons control and nuclear regulation, Argentina had supplied in the year 1987, during the first democratic government, the nuclear fuel for the reactor known as “Teheran”. Gary Samore had explained to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Héctor Timerman, that negotiations were underway for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease with its uranium enrichment activities or to do it to a lesser extent but Iran claimed that it needed to enrich this Teheran nuclear reactor and this was hindering negotiations. They came to ask us, Argentines, to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel. Rohani was not in office yet. It was Ahmadinejad’s administration and negotiations had already started.

My question remains, who confirmed the story, Seymour, or Samore, or who?


September 30th, 2015

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 2014 Annual Report to Congress reveals that the Obama administration has granted asylum or residency to 1,519 foreigners with terrorist ties.

Read about the 1,519.