Latin America: Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

April 28th, 2015

Vast natural resources, great human capital, and yet, LatAm wallows in corruption and crime. This is not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Why?

Belen Marty writes about one reason why:
LatAm’s Socialist Countries Rival World’s Worst in Institutional Quality
Zimbabwe, Libya Outrank Venezuela in Dismal Scoresheet for Bolivarian Republics

Latin-American countries with governments that claim to be pursuing a “socialist” agenda come out the worst in the latest Institutional Quality Index published by Argentina’s Freedom and Progress Foundation, with several regional nations ranking alongside countries such as South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and Gabon.

Argentina, governed between 2003 and 2007 by the late former President Néstor Kirchner, and by his spouse President Cristina Kirchner since 2007, has fallen the most in the rankings over the last 10 years, dropping 50 places to occupy position 137 out of 193 surveyed nations. In 2014 alone, Argentina fell several places to be rated worse than China, Uganda, and Lebanon.

Hugo Chavez’s legacy lives on,

Taking the same long-term view, the index shows how other regional countries have slid dramatically in the quality of their public institutions. Bolivia is down 99 places, Argentina by 33, Ecuador by 81, Venezuela by 75, and Paraguay fell by 61 positions, all since 1996.

Communism doesn’t work: Cuba takes the cake at 192, one notch above bottom-ranked North Korea, even after US$300million and 3 million tourists last year alone. Let’s pause for a Capt. Louis Renault moment.

The report, authored by academic Martín Krause, takes an average of eight indicators used by recognized international organizations. Among them are the Index of Economic Freedom (Compiled by the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation), Doing Business, the Rule of Law (the World Bank), and Corruption Perceptions (Transparency International).

The report, which you can read here in Spanish, concludes,

En definitiva, aquellos países que tienen una buena calidad institucional o aquellos que la han mejorado, en particular en relación a las instituciones de mercado, y dentro de ellas aquellas que protegen la inversión y la actividad emprendedora, muestran un mejor desempeño económico y, con ello, ofrecen más oportunidades de progreso a sus habitantes.

[My translation:]
Definitely, the countries with good institutional quality or those which have improved it, especially in regards to market institutions, and within those, the ones that protect investment and enterprise, show better economic performance, and, along with it, offer their citizens more opportunities for progress.

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

ARGENTINA
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

BRAZIL
The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

CHILE
Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

COLOMBIA
Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

COSTA RICA
Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

CUBA
Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”

MEXICO
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES RECOVER STOLEN RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

NICARAGUA
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

PANAMA
Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

PARAGUAY
Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

PERU
Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

PUERTO RICO
S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

VENEZUELA
Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?

WATCH: ROGUE MANGO ATTACKS VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO

Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Podcast:
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories



Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

April 27th, 2015


It’s not just the negotiations, it’s everything else (emphasis added),
Devilish Dealmaking in Colombia
The FARC terrorists repay President Santos’s peace negotiations by executing 11 soldiers.

Days later the government denied rumors that Mr. Santos will now seek special powers, via a referendum, to negotiate and seal a deal without congressional or public review. Colombians I talked to expect the president to try just that, noting that he is running low on time and credibility.

Mr. Santos didn’t help last week when he released a Chinese ship carrying an undeclared weapons cache, which had been seized in Cartagena in early March. The Da Dan Xia’s bill of lading claimed it was carrying grain. But according to press reports Colombian authorities found 100 tons of gunpowder, 2.6 million detonators for bullets, 99 “projectiles” (rocket-propelled grenades, to venture a guess) and 3,000 artillery shells—in other words, the stuff of guerrilla warfare.

Once freed, the floating armory went to Cuba, which according to China had ordered the low-tech hardware. But then why the false documentation and why won’t the Colombian government say what the ship was delivering to Colombia?

Borrowing a page from their Cuban Communists hosts,

The FARC rebels aren’t much for negotiating. They say they won’t go to jail for atrocities, they won’t turn over their weapons, and they won’t give up the wealth and land they acquired at gunpoint.

Santos went on TV to talk about the peace process (video in Spanish), essentially calling for peace at all costs,

Outside, a crowd gathered to boo him.

Sunday tango at the gazebo

April 26th, 2015

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

April 24th, 2015

Luego de que una persona fuera embestida durante una competencia callejera avalada por las autoridades de San Cristóbal de las Casas, tres responsables llegan a la UdQ… y en el Cineclub de Nicasio: Una Noche para Sobrevivir

Detienen a dos funcionarios de San Cristóbal de las Casas

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

April 24th, 2015

Please read my latest, Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal.

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

April 24th, 2015

Cristina Fernandez’s administration’s approach to Alberto Nisman is two-pronged:
1. Get the case Alberto Nisman filed a few days before his murder dismissed from the courts.
2. Engage in a full-spectrum smear campaign against Nisman.

The Washington Post has an editorial on #2, which now includes anti-Semitism:
Argentina’s president resorts to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

WHAT DO lobbyists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the director of a Washington think tank have to do with hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and the Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died mysteriously in January? Well, according to Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, they are all part of a “global modus operandi” that “generates international political operations of any type, shape and color.” They “ ‘contribute’ to financial attacks or simultaneous international media operations, or even worse, covert actions of various ‘services’ designed to destabilize governments.”

Cristina’s accusations, titled Everything has to do with everything when it comes to geopolitics and international power, first posted at her official website, are now missing, but The Guardian listed some of them:

Fernández says Nisman told leaders of the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations (Daia): “If necessary, Paul Singer will help us.” This is alleged to have happened two years ago when Nisman lobbied the body – which represents the country’s Jews – to mount a legal challenge a memorandum of understanding between Argentina and Iran.

Nisman and his supporters alleged that the memorandum was part of a conspiracy to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in exchange for a trade deal – a charge denied by both Iran and Fernández.

The president’s allegations that Singer supported her critics were based on an article in the government-friendly newspaper Página 12 by Jorge Elbaum, a former executive director of Daia. Elbaum claimed Singer was funding opposition to the Iran-Argentina deal in Buenos Aires and Washington. The report says Singer also donated $3.6m between 2008 and 2014 to the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a thinktank whose executive director, Mark Dubowitz, claims to be a friend of Nisman’s.

Fernández said she saw parallels between these activities and the Israeli government’s support for US members of Congress who aimed to block the recent US-Iran nuclear deal. In both cases, she said lobbyists and covert agencies organised financial attacks and media smear operations designed to destabilised governments.

Not only was Cristina’s original article erased from her official website, she did not bother to present any evidence (in court or elsewhere) to any of her accusations.

And, just this week, prosecutor Javier De Luca asserted that, when it comes to Nisman’s case, “There has been no crime.”

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

April 23rd, 2015

A new book by Emili Blasco, Bumerán Chávez: Los fraudes que llevaron al colapso de Venezuela claims that Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela.

The article, Nicolás Maduro negoció con Hizbolá la presencia de sus milicianos en Venezuela
Se entrevistó con su líder Nasralá para hablar de narcotráfico, blanqueo de dinero, suministro de armas y entrega de pasaportes
(Nicolás Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah its militia’s presence in Venezuela
He discussed with its leader Nasrallah drug trafficking, money laundering, supplying weapons and passports), by Blasco, the book’s author and Washington, D.C. correspondent for Spanish daily ABC, explains that the meeting, orchestrated by Hugo Chavez, took place in Damascus in 2007 when Maduro was Foreign Minister.

La cita en Damasco fue probablemente resultado de las conversaciones mantenidas en enero de 2007 por Chávez y el presidente iraní, Mahmud Ahmadineyad, que significaron un salto en la cooperación de Venezuela con los intereses del radicalismo islámico. En marzo de ese año entró en servicio un vuelo semanal entre Caracas y Teherán, con escala en una base militar de Damasco, lo que puso el Caribe más rápidamente al alcance de Hizbolá.

[my translation] The appointment in Damascus likely came about from January, 2007, conversations between Chavez and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which bounced up cooperation between Venezuela and Islamic state interests. On March that year, direct flights started between Caracas and Teheran, with a stop at a military base in Damascus, which placed the Caribbean at Hezbollah’s closer reach.

(h/t HACER)

—————————————

In other Venezuelan news, the government is using posters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles for target practice at the Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad military college.

UPDATE
Linked to by Frontpage. Thank you!

[Post corrected for misspelling]

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

April 23rd, 2015

Where’s the kaboom?

Here’s the kaboom!
Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupts for first time in more than 40 years

More spectacular photos at the links above.

Alinsky wears high heels

April 22nd, 2015

Read my post, Alinsky wears high heels.

Video: LANGUAGE ALERT