The unsubsidized Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

June 29th, 2015

The week’s headlines in a sentence: While the Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare subsidies and gay marriage, the deadline for the Iran negotiations looms and terrorists are blowing up people and pipelines all over the place.

ARGENTINA
Contraband Economy Booming on the Argentina-Bolivia Border
High Inflation, Tariffs Fuel Thriving Black Market

The location of the judge is rather interesting: Argentine judge orders seizure of Falklands drillers’ assets

Lilian Herraez, a federal judge in Tierra del Fuego, ordered the seizure of $156 million in bank accounts, boats and other property, the government said on Saturday.

BOLIVIA
Pope sends video-message to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The guy can’t stay away from socialist throwaway terminology:

“I want to be a witness of this joy of the Gospel and bring to you the tenderness and caress of God, our Father, especially to your children most in need, to the elderly, the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, to those who are victims of this throwaway culture,” he said.

BRAZIL
Brazil to Narrow Inflation Target Range
Brazil will narrow the inflation target range for its central bank starting in 2017, but the center point of the range will remain unchanged at 4.5%. The tolerance band will be cut to a range of 3% to 6%

Working Within the System to Disrupt Brazilian PoliticsRoberto Mangabeira Unger, a Harvard philosopher born in Brazil and raised in Manhattan, has settled into a career as an appointed public figure charged with fostering long-term thinking about Brazil.

CHILE
Chile’s Bachelet Hits New Low Approval Rating

COLOMBIA
Colombian army killed civilians to fake battlefield success, rights group saysA new report on “false-positive” killings looks into one of the darkest episodes of the country’s civil war.

FARC rebels kill four and rupture Colombian pipeline

CUBA
Cardinal SinsA Castro cleric brings disgrace.

Cuban artist pushes boundary between art and politics, and pays a price
What Tania Bruguera’s ordeal in Cuba says about the state of artistic expression “within the Revolution.”

Top Intelligence-Defense Lawmakers Introduce Cuban Military Transparency Act

Double surprise! Cruz and Rubio are “non-whites”!

State Dept: No Change in Iran, Cuba Human Rights, Despite Obama Overtures

ECUADOR
Galápagos Residents Decry Fiscal Milking of World Heritage SiteIsland Representative Resigns, Parts Ways with Correa over “Unconstitutional” Law

GUYANA
Guyana Assures Exxon Amid Venezuela Row
Guyana’s president has sought to reassure Exxon Mobil that a territory dispute with Venezuela won’t interfere with the company’s recent oil discovery off the coast of Guyana, one that Caracas claims as its own.

HAITI
A Haitian border town struggles with new rules in the Dominican RepublicThe Dominican’s new rules have Haitians nervously heading back to a homeland with fewer jobs.

HONDURAS
Thousands march in Honduras to demand resignation of president

Thousands of angry, torch-bearing Hondurans marched on Friday to call for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and demand an independent probe into one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history.

JAMAICA
PM: Jamaica’s Economic, Industrial Climate In ‘Delicate Situation’

LATIN AMERICA
Interesting premise, but premature, Move over, China: Latin America may welcome India. The operative word is may.

MEXICO
Mexican President Undergoes Gallbladder Surgery
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto underwent surgery to have his gallbladder removed and was recovering satisfactorily at a military hospital, officials said.

HARDBALL: DONALD TRUMP BLASTS JORGE RAMOS’S CELL PHONE NUMBER TO 200,000 INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua’s Bizarre Plan to Bury the Panama CanalThe country’s Sandinista government has cut a deal with a reclusive Chinese businessman willing to spend $50 billion on a larger-than-life transport waterway. There are a few unanswered questions, starting with whether Nicaraguans really want it and how much priceless habitat would be wrecked. Traveling the proposed route by motorcycle, boat, and boots, the author hunts for answers.

PANAMA
Odebrecht Wins Contract to Renovate Panamanian City of Colon

Manuel Noriega apologises over military rule of PanamaJailed former dictator gives first interview since 1996 and asks for forgiveness over brutal reign – ‘I want to to close the cycle of the military era’

PERU
Peru’s support for Bolivian sea access claim creates tensions with Chile
Chilean President Bachelet cancels next week’s meeting with Peruvian leader Humala

PUERTO RICO
The perfect Summer portrait, A Sleeper Awakened With Color
Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June” is on loan to the Frick Collection in New York for the next three months.

URUGUAY
‘Gourmet cannabis': Take a peek inside a Uruguay marijuana club , if you must. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, “fat, stoned and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

VENEZUELA
MUD, the Sausage Fest

Gay marriage, at long last (but not here)

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: FARC blows up oil pipeline

Bloody Friday: France, Tunisia, Kuwait terror attacks UPDATED
Morgenthau on the Iran-terror connection

Ecuador: Demonstrations against Correa

SCOTUS upholds Obamacare subsidies

Venezuela’s deadly colectivos

The other flag controversy: US Embassy in London flies the rainbow flag

Today’s WTH moment: Venezuelan vet arrested for smuggling heroin in puppies UPDATED

Mexico: EL GRAN HERMANO del cartel TE VIGILA

Venezuela: Next stop on the Obama administration’s “normalizing” with dictators?

Podcast: The flag controversy plus US-Latin America stories of the week



Sunday Joe

June 28th, 2015

Colombia: FARC blows up oil pipeline

June 27th, 2015

This week the FARC attacked Colombia’s oil infrastructure, the major way the Colombian economy is not held hostage by the narco-terrorist group. The worst attack was an explosion at a pipeline in the southeastern Nariño province.

FARC attack caused Colombia’s ‘biggest environmental disaster in 10 years’

A FARC attack on an oil pipeline in the southwest of Colombia has caused the country’s biggest environmental disaster in the past decade, said the country’s environment Minister on Thursday.

Alleged FARC rebels blew up a pipeline in the southeastern Nariño province on Monday, causing the spilling of more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil into nearby rivers, streams and mangroves.
. . .
Not only does the oil threaten the local ecosystem, it has cut off the water supply of the approximately 160,000 inhabitants of the town of Tumaco who depend on the polluted waters for their drinking water.

Rebel attacks on oil sites threaten peace talks in Colombia (emphasis added)

The FARC’s motive is thought to be a show of strength to force the government to agree to a bilateral cease-fire, something the Santos government has refused to do until a overall peace agreement has been signed, said Bruce Bagley, a Colombia specialist at the University of Miami.
. . .
Adam Isacson, a Colombia researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank in Washington, said that despite the upsurge in violence, the odds are good that the peace talks will continue, noting that slow but incremental progress has been made. But the future hinges on whether the attacks continue.

The talks have stalled over the issue of

whether FARC commanders will stand trial and serve prison time for crimes against humanity, a prospect the rebels reject.

To an outsider like myself, the latest actions from the FARC make the answer to that crystal-clear.

Bloody Friday: France, Tunisia, Kuwait terror attacks

June 27th, 2015

Bloody Friday: France, Tunisia, Kuwait terror attacks, reminiscent of the IRA’s 1972 Bloody Friday. Read my post here.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Morgenthau on the Iran-terror connection

June 26th, 2015

Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan district attorney from 1975 to 2009, writes in the WSJ, Obama Ignores the Tehran-Terror ConnectionA nuclear deal will mean billions for Iran, but no means for curtailing its support for terrorism.. Specifically, on Latin America,

Tehran also has growing influence in several South American countries, including Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The apparent murder of Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January focused the world’s attention on a deal that Nisman said he uncovered between Argentina’s government and Iran to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist bombing of 85 people in the Jewish Center in Buenos Aries. In March, a report in the Brazilian magazineVeja—based on testimony of defectors who were close to Hugo Chávez—accused Venezuela of brokering the cash transfer in that deal, which included sharing Argentine nuclear technology with Iran.

Iran and Venezuela have signed mutual-assistance agreements on commercial, financial, technological and military matters. Iran has even constructed a military base in Venezuela to house Iranian unmanned aerial drones. According to Iranian officials cited in the Jerusalem Post, these drones, called Mohajers, are capable of aerial surveillance and can be retrofitted to deliver advanced weaponry.

In the context of the current U.S.-Iran deal, it would be unrealistic to assume that Iran will curtail its role as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Related: Venezuela’s deadly colectivos.



Ecuador: Demonstrations against Correa

June 26th, 2015

Protesters in Ecuador Demonstrate Against Correa’s PoliciesNew tax proposals from Ecuadorean president are especially unpopular

Thousands of protesters on Thursday took to the streets of Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, to protest against the policies of President Rafael Correa, especially new tax proposals.

The Guayaquil demonstrations, led by Mayor Jaime Nebot, were part of the third week of protests against Mr. Correa’s government. On Thursday mass protests also took place in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and in other cities.
. . .
A bill to tax inheritances up to 77.5% and a 75% tax for capital gains from real estate ignited protests which included complaints about other economic policies of the government and what critics describe as President Correa’s dictatorial attitude.

95% of businesses are family-owned, according to the WSJ report.

The theme of the protests was “enough is enough,” according to Ecuador En Vivo, which broadcast live the demonstration in Guayaquil.

Whether the protests have any effect remains to be seen. As Oswaldo Toscano puts it, Correa Is Not Ecuador’s Problem, Socialism Is

SCOTUS upholds Obamacare subsidies

June 25th, 2015

Hardly surprising,

Add one to the Capt. Louis Renault file:

My out of pocket under Obamacare is close to $10,000. Anyone supporting this can all go to h*** as far as I’m concerned.

In another decision, lawyers stand to make a bundle, Supreme Court Upholds Tool for Fighting Housing BiasOutcome means fair-housing lawsuits can proceed without proof of intentional discrimination

UPDATE
Allahpundit expected the Obamacare decision, too: “It was already here to stay no matter how the Court ruled today.

Venezuela’s deadly colectivos

June 25th, 2015

Readers of this blog may be familiar with Venezuela’s colectivos, the government-sponsored marauding motorcycle gangs doing the dirty work, that I’ve written about in the past.

Panampost has an article on how Venezuelan Paramilitaries Wreak Havoc with Cuban, FARC Support

Studies Reveal Colectivos with 10,000 Active Members

Studies released by the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies(ICCAS) at the University of Miami have revealed that the Cuban regime is training Venezuelan paramilitary groups, including Los Tupamaros, La Piedrita, Simón Bolívar, and Alexis Vive. These groups have killed more than 25 students during protests, and injured over 300.

These studies show that for years the Venezuelan government has sent regime supporters to Havana to learn repression tactics in order to help their leaders stay in power. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the US government, also trains these groups on Venezuela’s border with Colombia.

Remember Raul Reyes‘s computer? Not only did it reveal that the Venezuelan government may have had the FARC act as hit men against political opponents, Panampost adds that (emphasis added),

In 2011, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, on behalf of the Colombian Defense Ministry, conducted an independent analysis of the computers of Raúl Reyes, a member of FARC’s Central High Command who was killed in an ambush in 2008. The investigation revealed important intelligence material on the guerrilla, including information that linked senior members of the Venezuelan army with drug trafficking.

The IISS also found evidence of that the FARC had trained Venezuelan colectivos in exchange for the campgrounds Hugo Chávez allowed the guerrilla to establish on the border.

The ICCAS report concludes,

The most troubling aspects of this relationship are the growing drug trafficking and the continuous opposition to U.S. policies. The inclusion of Iran in rounding out this triumvirate, has added a dimension of strategic importance. The proximity of Cuba and Venezuela to the U.S. makes the two countries ideal platforms for anti-American activities, specifically in the event of a U.S. conflict with Iran. These two allies may be called upon to support Iranian policies and objectives.

You can read the ICCAS’s Cuba Transition Project report by Pedro Roig below the fold:
Read the rest of this entry »

Are we supposed to take the Global Well-Being Index seriously?

June 24th, 2015

Americas Lead Highs, Sub-Saharan Africa Lows in Well-Being

The Global Well-Being Index is organized into the five elements:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Puerto Rico was in the top-ten on purpose, social, community, and physical categories.

Here’s the rub: Puerto Rican Population Declines on Island, Grows on U.S. Mainland

Why Are So Many Young Puerto Ricans Leaving Home?

Puerto Ricans flock to Florida fleeing economy, crime

The other flag controversy: US Embassy in London flies the rainbow flag

June 24th, 2015

This morning’s news from London:

Read all about The other flag controversy: US Embassy in London flies the rainbow flag