Colombia: Luis Carlos Cervantes murdered

August 21st, 2014

A classic mob hit: The Colombian journalist’s car was stopped on the road, and Cervantes was shot dead . . . three weeks after he was denied protection by the authorities, who now claim that “according to the information obtained from a risk assessment, there weren’t any links between the threats Cervantes received, and his work as a journalist.”

Marcela Estrada has the story:

 Four years ago, Cervantes served as a correspondent for news channelTeleantioquia. His problems started in 2010, when he covered the collusion between government employees from the Bajo Cauca region and the paramilitary and drug trafficking group, Los Urabeños. This occurred most heavily in Tarazá and Caucasia, both cities in the department of Antioquia,

In April 2010, Cervantes was attacked by a policeman while he was reporting on the capture of another police officer in Tarazá, who was accused of handling war munitions for paramilitary groups. Three years later, a grenade exploded just a few meters away the radio station where he worked.

In October 2013, Cervantes asserted to the authorities that the local leader ofLos Urabeños, Germer Andrés Rebolledo, also known as “El Escamoso,” was the instigator behind the threats. That same year, Rebolledo was detained by the police, for allegedly killing another journalist, Luis Eduardo Gómez.

After filing several complaints, Colombia’s National Agency for Protection assigned Cervantes around-the-clock state protection. From then on, the journalist was always escorted by two bodyguards and a police car.

Nonetheless, on July 20, the agency determined that the journalist was no longer at risk, and took away his protection program.

Four days after he was off the protection program, a stranger shows up, a text tells him to get out of town, ten days later he was executed, but the National Agency for Protection claims Cervantes’s murder had nothing to do with his profession? The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is not buying it.

In response to the clamor generated by the assassination, the Colombian government’s Procuraduría General (prosecutor’s office, the equivalent of the U.S. Attorney General) is creating a “special agency” to work with the Medellín prosecutor’s office’s current investigation (link in Spanish).

As Drudge says, “developing.”


Tonight’s podcast

August 20th, 2014

live at 8PM Eastern, and archived for your listening convenience Panama Canal, Argentina, Mexico & US-Latin America stories of the week

Is Populism beatable?

August 20th, 2014

Today is question day: Is Populism beatable?

Populism has been the driving force behind both our political landscape and our economic misfortunes. This trait has marked the misguided economic policies of several administrations, with Chavismo just exacerbating the problem. Because, in essence chavismo repeats a well’worn recipe: continue to fuel the spending binge, among other insane policies, with an unprecedented oil boom backing this profligate party.

Indeed,

Populism thrives in societies where the rule of law is undermined or non-existent, with sky-high economic inequalities, a weak institutional framework, and polarization among other contributing factors.

Carlos Rangel’s post offers a start, but my question is, can totalitarian Communism be ousted from Venezuela at this point?

Would “gender mainstreaming” fix the border crisis?

August 20th, 2014

Marisol Ruiz writes, Want to Fix Border Crises? Empower Women.

Ms Ruiz, whose research focuses on gender and international relations, states that

A common denominator in most proposals is that they lack a gender perspective or simply ignore the concerns of women and girls. A long-term solution is to urge Central American governments to allocate resources – their own and any that the United States may want to contribute – to policies that reduce inequality and promote “gender mainstreaming” – the “globally accepted approach to achieving gender equality,” according to UN Women, so women’s and men’s concerns and experiences are “integral to the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of all policies and programs.”
. . .
Any approval by US Congress for emergency funds should attach specific conditions to the aid packages, ensuring the money will implement policies focused on gender mainstreaming, highlighting the importance of transforming gender relations, rather than just implementing a one-size-fits-all approach to include women.

Her solutions include government spending in education, family planning, legalizing abortion, and “investing in political equality” by including women in the policymaking.

Yes, good, universal elementary school education and fostering literacy is a vital factor. But what is missing from Ruiz’s picture?

Not a word on the rule of law.

Not a word on curtailing corruption.

Not a word on protecting and encouraging property rights.

Not a word on fostering economic growth by decreasing bureaucracies, streamlining the registration and licensing of businesses, or investing in infrastructure.

Not a word on finding ways to provide access to capital (other than by remittances, that is).

Not a word on attracting foreign investment, industrializing, increasing exports, or increasing productivity.

So, would “gender mainstreaming” fix the border crisis? No.

Argentina: “Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent”

August 19th, 2014

Looks like Citibank lied down with dogs, and is now covered with fleas:

Citibank could lose Argentina banking license

If the banking giant obeys a US judge’s order, it risks losing its banking license in Argentina — and the $2 billion it has in local deposits.

But if it follows Argentine law, it risks violating a US federal court order.

Play me the world’s smallest violin: It’s not looking good,

In a recent speech, Kirchner reminded Citi of its obligations under Argentine law and noted that her government decides who gets banking licenses in the country.

The potential fallout is a major concern for Citi, which has a huge retail banking presence in Argentina — and throughout South America, which is siding with Argentina.

About 18 percent of Citi’s revenues come from Latin America.

Briefly interrupted

August 19th, 2014

I don’t know if it’s related to the infernal heat, but there was no internet for several hours today. Here’s some Terapia Intensiva while I get things done,

The Panama Canal Centennial roundup

August 18th, 2014

August 15th marked the Centennial of the inauguration of the Panama Canal.

U. of FL in Gainsville: Panama and the Canal

WSJ: The Panama Canal Celebrates 100 Years
Panamanian ownership has transformed a staid, state-owned utility into a modern business.

Under Panamanian leadership, the canal has not merely been maintained as one of the world’s premier shipping routes. It has been transformed from a staid state-owned public utility, with its quasi-socialist “zone” for employees, to a modern business that aims to maximize revenues and compete internationally. The privatization of the ports on both coasts and the railroad that runs alongside the waterway, as well as the construction of a third set of locks, are testaments to the visionary and entrepreneurial thinking that Panamanian ownership has brought.


Of course, no roundup would be complete without The Tailor of Panama, in book and film.

France24:Florida celebrates US engineering as Panama Canal turns 100

The 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, hailed at the time as one of the world’s great wonders, has inspired a celebration in central Florida to showcase the experience of the US canal workers behind the engineering feat.

Fresno Bee:At age 100, Panama Canal looks to the future

To fuel that growth, the canal is in the midst of an expansion that includes new channels on both ends and state-of-the-art locks that will allow bigger, wider and heavier ships to transit the waterway.

Quijano, who is in charge of the autonomous government agency that oversees canal operations, said the expansion represents “the next 100 years of the canal.”

The $5.25 billion project was initially supposed to be completed to coincide with the canal’s 100th anniversary. But a dispute with the contractor, weather and delay in finding the right concrete mix for the new locks have pushed the completion date to December 2015 with commercial traffic beginning in 2016.

International Business Times: Panama Canal Anniversary 2014: 100 Years Ago Today, Navigation Project Launched “American Century

Mashable photos: The Panama Canal, Then and Now

BBC: My Panama Canal
The Panama Canal has been described as one of the wonders of the modern world. Cutting a swathe through the landscape, the canal connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans for the first time 100 years ago. Today, the waterway provides employment and inspiration. Four people talk about their Panama Canal.

The Venezuelan show trial Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

August 18th, 2014

LatinAmerWhy is the Venezuelan regime so intent in making the trial of Leopoldo Lopez such a travesty?

Let me make that clear for the reader: the defense will not be allowed to present its evidence nor its witnesses. The only evidence and witnesses that will be allowed in court are the ones from the prosecution. The defense, we hope, will be only able to cross examine that evidence. Since we know that Venezuelan judges under chavismo can silence cross examination as they want, there you have it. Of course, I am sure that as the trial moves on the judge may allow the defense an item here, an item there, just to pretend that a trial did take place, but is not going to fool anyone. It is also true that in any serious trial the judges can dismiss useless evidence such as the nephew of the accused selling boy scout cookies as a character reference, but this is not the case here. What is going on here is outright denial of justice, it is a show trial, a kangaroo court, a pre-ordained execution.

Why is the regime taking such an international risk with a figure that has already won in international courts sentences establishing that the regime was unfair towards him?

One word: force.

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s Financial Troubles Pile Up
Creditor Plays Down Hopes of Deal to Bring Nation Out of Default; Peso Tumbles on Rate Cut

What could possibly go wrong? Argentinean Senate Introduces Sweeping Soviet-Style Economic Plan
Dictatorship-Era Law of Supply Not Interventionist Enough for Kirchner

Bat-shit crazy: Argentina says will use anti-terror law against U.S. printing firm

Fernandez said the printing firm had ties to foreign investors whose decade-long debt battle against Argentina in the U.S. courts led Argentina to default on its debt last month for the second time in 12 years.

BOLIVIA
With Subway in the Sky, Valley Meets Plateau

BRAZIL
Silva ‘to run’ for Brazil president
Former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva agrees to run as the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate after Eduardo Campos’s sudden death, an adviser says.

Brazil’s Economic Activity Index Down 1.2% in Q2

‘Water war’ in Brazil as Rio’s supply threatened
São Paulo and Rio authorities battle over scarce water resources as reservoirs run dry

CHILE
Airport heist in Chile sees gunmen escape with £4m
Largest robbery in country’s history as trucks transporting cash targeted in audacious raid in Santiago

Chilean Police Defuse Bomb Planted at Bank

COLOMBIA
Odebrecht-Led Consortium Awarded Colombian River Contract

Colombian Journalist Denied State Protection, Murdered Three Weeks Later
Press Associations, Human-Rights Groups Demand Justice for Luis Carlos Cervantes

Santos and the Company He Keeps: Populist Progressives Encircle Colombia
New Allies Threaten to Reverse Liberalization, Development Process

Colombia victims join peace talksRepresentatives of the victims join the talks in Cuba for the first time, 16 Aug 14
A group of victims of five decades of conflict in Colombia for the first time join government negotiators and Farc rebel leaders at peace talks.

COSTA RICA
Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica

CUBA
Castro’s WTO Blackmail

Cuba: A country where toilet paper is rarer than partridge

Photo essay of the day: The glorious legacy of the so-called Revolution

ECUADOR
Pie in the sky: Ecuador Seeks To Build A Silicon Valley Of Its Own

GUATEMALA
A Reminisce: Grand Theft Auto Murder

RAND PAUL HEADS TO GUATEMALA TO CONDUCT CHARITY EYE SURGERIES

Baja California and Guatemala sign Accord in re Migrants

HAITI
UN troops disperse Haiti protesters supporting Aristide

JAMAICA
Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born review – a persuasive account of Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
Matthew Parker brings the outpost of empire where the 007 novels were written to vivid life

MEXICO
Kidnappings in Mexico surge to the highest number on record

Mexico’s kidnappers used to target the rich. Now even shopkeepers and taco vendors are victims.

PANAMA
At 100, Panama Canal looks to the future
Panamanians reflecting on the past 100 years say the biggest legacy of the canal is its contribution to the economy. ‘Without the canal, we wouldn’t have half the things we have now,’ says one shopkeeper.

100 Years of the Panama Canal
One of the supreme engineering feats of the early 20th century, the canal has been an immense boon to shipping and of major geopolitical benefit to the United States.

PERU
Gold, Peru’s New Cocaine

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Power Bonds Rally on Loan-Delay Deal
Utility to Delay Loan Payments and Work on a Business-Revamp Plan

URUGUAY
Not The Onion: Migrant Thinks He’s Arrived To U.S., Actually In Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Ten years of funk
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the day the opposition lost its groove.

Venezuela Oil Price Falls to Lowest Since 2012 Even as Mid-East and Ukraine Simmer

What Government Control Of The Media Means In Venezuela

The week’s posts and podcast:
Mexico: The dancing ‘dipu-tables’

Coming soon to a school near you, 37,477 illiterate students

Brazil: Socialist Party candidate dies in plane crash

En español: Barbara Padilla

Socialism: making it harder to get a drink since 1848*

Brazil: Hacking the reporters

Cuba: The end of the deepwater oil lie

Brazil: Opposition now has Arminio Fraga

Venezuela: El Pollo as big fish

At Da tech Guy blog:
The Economist lowers the bar on low expectations

The Pontifical Council denounces ISIS

Podcast:
US-Latin America stories of the week


Mexico: The dancing ‘dipu-tables’

August 18th, 2014

Puerto Vallarta PAN legislative-strategy meeting:

Video Rocks Mexican Opposition Party
Online Publication Shows Lawmakers From Conservative PAN at Party With Scantily Clad Women

The four-minute video was published this week by Reporte Indigo, a muckraking online publication known for taking on public corruption and politicians of all stripes. The publication’s publisher, Ramón Alberto Garza, said in an interview that the video’s newsworthiness rests in the question of whether the party was paid for with public funds. The PAN officials in the video, none of whom dispute its authenticity, say it wasn’t.

Mr. Garza didn’t reveal where his publication obtained the video, in which a chuckling man can be heard shouting, “The Viagra is going to run out.”

Here’s Garza’s interview, in Spanish,

Garza points out that one of the men caught hot-handed is the man in charge of managing the money allotted to the PAN funds from public funds.

It’s not the first time PAN members were caught copping a grope:

Brazilian police in late June arrested two PAN officials and two other Mexican men for allegedly groping a woman on a street corner after Mexico’s World Cup loss to Holland, then beating her husband when he tried to intervene. The men have been fired from their jobs with a Mexico City district government and remain jailed in Fortaleza, Brazil, charged with assault.

Paco Almaraz did a burnt-out unit skit on them,

Post re-edited for clarity.

On a lighter mode: The Art of Villany

August 17th, 2014

Tom Hiddleston for Jaguar,

Mark Strong fans will like this one: “Maybe we just sound right.”

Blogging on LatAm shall resume shortly.