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.

Cuba: Victory lap, and more gimme gimme

September 30th, 2015

Raul Castro is on a roll:
Cuban Dictator Castro Thanks U.S. With Insults And Grievances, since too much is never enough,

“After 56 years in which the Cuban people put up a heroic and selfless resistance, diplomatic relations have been re-established between Cuba and the United States of America,” the military dictator said.

Normalization of relations “will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba; the return to our country of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base; the cessation of radio and TV broadcasts and of subversive and destabilizing programs against the island; and when our people are compensated for the human and economic damages they still endure,” he said.

After a speech, there’s always a photo-op:

Capitol Hill Cubans want to know, Which Conditions for Lifting the Cuban Embargo Does Obama Disagree With?

Want to Do Business in Cuba? All Roads Lead to Raúl Castro’s Son-in-Law

[Post corrected to add two final links]

Paraguay: Don’t worry, be happy?

September 29th, 2015

John Carlin travels to Paraguay, the country that recently was officially declared happiest in the world:

Paraguay conquers happiness: The South American nation is the happiest country in the world, according to a Gallup survey. But it is also one of the most unjust and corrupt. Carlin is as skeptical as I when it comes to the “happiness index”:

What lessons can be learned from the Paraguayan experience? That happiness is possible if you close your eyes to the inevitable evils of life, if you live in the present, if you are content with just having the essential items for living, and can achieve the enormous luxury of not having to worry about money. But there is one ingredient missing to make Paraguay an earthly paradise. Before those who live afflicted by the crisis or by other hardships taking place around the world can follow in the footsteps of the old utopian dreamers, it is essential to ask one thing of the wealthy minority that governs Paraguay: to install a democracy sin qua non and rule of law so that justice is equal for all. When that day comes, yeah, let’s go there. They have everything else.

Sing it, Bobby!

Mexico: Murders on the rise at the capital

September 29th, 2015

Would it be unfair to call Mexico a “functional narcostate”? (amongst all its disfunction, that is)

Rise in Violent Crime Shakes Mexico City. Increase in murders in capital stokes fears that brutal drug gangs have grabbed foothold (emphasis added)

The Federal District, home to some nine million of the 20 million inhabitants in the Mexico City metropolitan area, saw homicides rise 21% to 566 in the first eight months of this year, according to Interior Ministry data released last week, putting the capital’s murder rate at its highest level over the same period since 1998.
. . .
The increase in murders in Mexico City has contributed to a nationwide rise in homicide for the first time since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power in late 2012, months after the rate of killings linked to the country’s murderous drug war began to fall.

During the first eight months of this year, murders rose 5% nationwide. August was the fourth consecutive month in which the murder rate increased.

The rising toll is a big challenge for Mr. Peña Nieto, whose administration had trumpeted the decline in murders over the past two years as proof that the government’s security initiatives, such as improved coordination between crime-fighting agencies like the army and federal police, were working.

Raúl Toledo, a security consultant and former city official, said the rise in Mexico City’s crime rate coincides with estimates by local authorities of a 17% increase in drug consumption in the capital over the past three years.

Latin American countries are prone to deny the existence of drug use among their citizenry. Yet it exists.

And of course they also deny the existence of organized crime.

A Mexico City judge has sentenced three men to 520 years in jail each for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of 13 young people two years ago.