The crashed plane Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

March 23rd, 2015

An Argentine turboprop airplane crashed and burned shortly after taking off, killing all 10 people aboard,

Witnesses at the airport said that a few minutes after takeoff they heard a significant explosion followed by a huge fireball.

The passengers were members of the Argentine company La Rural which is an associate in a project to exploit a Convention Center under construction in the Atlantic resort of Punta del Este and had flown to Uruguay for a business conference with their Uruguayan partners and the local government.

La Rural is a leading company in Argentina and Latin America in the fairs, congress and events industry.

Was it an accident?

ARGENTINA
Exactly two months after his murder, Argentine Government Accuses Nisman of Embezzlement

Dead Argentine prosecutor was zeroing in on a terror threat to the entire Western Hemisphere

Investigan un supuesto refugio de jerarcas nazis en Argentina

BRAZIL
POLL NUMBERS!!! Dilma’s drop

Why is Brazil so angry?
Big Question: Over a million people took to the streets over the weekend calling for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, five months after she won a general election

CHILE
Hundreds protest over Chile bishopProtesters shout as Rev Juan Barros enter the Osorno cathedral
Hundreds of people in Chile try to stop the ordination of Catholic Bishop Juan Barros, accusing him of covering up a sex abuse scandal.

COLOMBIA
Drug Gang Led by Female Trafficker from Mexico Nabbed in Colombia

Guerra y paz en Colombia

CUBA
[pdf file] An Illusory Opening to Cuba:
Why Florida Shouldn’t Walk Through the Breach

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Where “Cold War Charm” is the half-century long misery endured by the inmates of the island-prison: Cuba’s Cold War charm has D.R. wary about losing U.S. tourists to next-door neighbor

ECUADOR
#19M Protests Put Correa’s Citizen Revolution on Notice
Thousands March in Ecuador as Anti-Authoritarian Outrage Boils Over

Populist Playbook: The Slow Death of Democracy in Correa’s Ecuador

HAITI
Clinton Foundation’s chickens coming home to roost in Haiti?

WaPo Reporter: Bill Clinton ‘So Disliked’ in Haiti After Charity Work ‘He Couldn’t Even Run for Mayor’

HILLARY CLINTON’S BROTHER DEFENDS HAITI GOLD MINE DEAL: ‘I RAISE MONEY FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE’

HONDURAS
Are Special Economic Zones the answer? How ZEDEs Can Make Honduras Prosperous
Next-Generation Zones for an Anti-Poverty Success Story

Honduras sends soldiers to protect ‘lost city’ from drug cartels
Expendition team reportedly split on how to safeguard artefacts from looters after ‘lost city’ rediscovered in Honduras jungle also used by drug trafficker

JAMAICA
US Say Courts Crippling Ja Narcotics Fight

MEXICO
US Court Convicts Mexican of Kidnapping Mexican in Mexico
Federal Jury Convicts Mexican Citizen Living in San Antonio for His Role in Kidnapping Scheme

NICARAGUA
Wang Jing: The man behind the Nicaragua canal project

PARAGUAY
Paraguay and Latin America are officially the happiest nations in the world, in a Bobby McFerrin sort of way?

PERU
Peru’s Premier Removes Senior Spy Officials
Peru’s prime minister removed the head of the National Intelligence Service and other high-level officials, as allegations widened that the spy agency for years gathered information on a broad range of well-known people.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s Catholic Church Calls for Referendum on Gay Marriage

SOUTH AMERICA
The Islamization of South America

URUGUAY
After years in Guantanamo, ex-detainees find little solace in Uruguay Apparently they don’t have Uruguayan passports yet.

VENEZUELA

Unbroken: Former Venezuelan Political Prisoner Speaks Out
Police Chief Lucchese Describes His Year Behind Bars at Ramo Verde Military Prison

Enabling Maduro’s Tyranny in Venezuela
US Sanctions Give Perfect Excuse for Crackdown on Dissent
. I disagree – the crackdown has been going on, well before any sanctions.

Maduro’s English in action,

Yes, Venezuela is a security threat

Drums of War or Pipes of Peace?

Venezuela-Iran-Argentina: Cash for nukes

March 22nd, 2015

Mary O’Grady writes about the deal:
Iran and Argentina: The Defectors’ Tale
Three former Venezuelan insiders say Hugo Chávez brokered a cash-for-nuclear-technology deal.

The first favor they described, according to Veja, was that Argentina would cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center (known by its Spanish initials as AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The second favor was that Argentina would “share their long experience in [a] heavy-water nuclear reactor, an old-fashioned, expensive and complicated system but one that allows plutonium to be obtained from natural uranium.”

And then there were cash transfers,

The unnamed defectors claim that among other means to manipulate Argentina in favor of Iran, Venezuela arranged direct cash transfers. In August 2007, when Argentine customs officials discovered a suitcase containing an undeclared $800,000 in a plane from Venezuela, most observers chalked it up to Chávez’s efforts to spread his influence around the region. But one of the defectors told Veja that the loot was a gift from Iran for Mrs. Kirchner’s presidential campaign.

The claim in the Veja story that the cash originated in Iran and that a twice monthly Caracas-Damascus-Tehran flight between 2007 and 2010 facilitated its transfer to Venezuela is interesting. Veja notes that Venezuela’s then-foreign minister Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, now the governor of Aragua and a bigwig in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, played a key role in running those flights.

I’ve been blogging on the secret flights for over half a decade, and also about the possibility of an Iranian missile base in Venezuela.

Alberto Nisman’s investigation unearthed more information,

Iran was sore about that according to Nisman’s 2006 indictment of the Iranians. “There is sufficient evidence to prove that the [AMIA] attack was carried out in Argentina owing to the Argentine government’s unilateral decision to terminate the nuclear materials and technology supply agreements that had been concluded some years previously between Argentina and Iran,” the Nisman report said. The same report says that “at this period the Iranian government felt that it was crucial for Iran to develop its nuclear capacities.”

It looks like Nisman was about to blow the lid with more findings . . . and then he was murdered.

Ecuador: Thousands protest

March 20th, 2015

Thousands Protest Against Government in Ecuador
Protesters rail against economic, labor and social policies

Thousands of people took to the streets in Quito and at least 12 other cities in Ecuador Thursday to protest against the government of President Rafael Correa, asking for changes in economic, labor and social policies.
. . .
Protest leaders said they are protesting against planned labor and land reforms, to reject large-scale mining and new oil tenders, and against planned constitutional reforms that will open up the possibility for indefinite re-election for elected posts. Leaders also said they are against new tariffs for 38% of the imported products. Economists said the tariff increase would cause a general increase in prices, affecting mainly the middle class.

Protesters marched about two kilometers in central Quito, carrying signs that read, “We want democracy” and “No more tax and tariff increases” as well as “Say no to re-election.”

As you may recall, last year Rafael Correa was pondering whether to continue as president after 2017, even when the constitution prevents it.

Last year he also came up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion. This year he asked China for help.

.

Iran, Argentina, Venezuela, Chavez, and Nisman

March 20th, 2015

More from Humire’s testimony at the House Subcommittee on the Wesyern Hemisphere (emphasis added):

Iran’s aggressive posture in obtaining items, materials and technology from Latin America that benefit both it’s [sic] nuclear program and ballistic missile program are at the heart of what led to the death of Dr. Nisman.

In his final term as president, the late Hugo Chávez became an prominent player in Argentina’s foreign policy. Buying out approximately $10 billion of Argentine debt, Chávez gained an inordinate amount of influence over that country, particularly over
their president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Since 2007, Venezuela began nuclear cooperation with Argentina for the development of its own nuclear reactor. At the same time, Venezuela began its military transfers to Iran. Parallel to this nuclear cooperation were several joint financial agreements between Argentina and Venezuela centered around agricultural and social projects. Many of these projects did not materialize, however, millions of dollars tied to these projects still moved between both countries.

Argentina’s nuclear program, which dates back to the 1950s, has been dormant since the 1980s. President Fernández de Kirchner gave the nuclear program new life in 2011. The Veja article released this month, mentions Argentina’s nuclear technology and capability as Iran’s primary objective for their rapprochement with that country.

The question remains to what degree is Argentina’s new nuclear ambition tied to Iran’s intent to attain this technology? And has Venezuela’s own defunct nuclear program and triangulated trade with Argentina served the purpose of helping Iran? Perhaps Dr. Nisman knew more than he reported. Unfortunately he is no longer with us.

Related:
Lawmakers warn of links between Cuba, Iran, Venezuela

Bombshell report alleges Argentina, Iran, and Venezuela were once all bound together by sex, drugs, and nuclear secrets

New photos reveal expanding reach of Iran in Venezuela and other parts of Latin America

Video below (starts right away)

Read the rest of this entry »

Recommended reading for Easter: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

March 20th, 2015

Good literature is when it goes beyond the printed word to exalt the better parts of our human souls. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is great literature.

Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.



Today’s must-read: What Nisman Said About Iran UPDATED

March 19th, 2015

Read Richard Horowitz’s article at World Policy Institute, What Nisman Said About Iran in full.

It starts with Nismam‘s own words,

“It can be said with certainty that the highest-echelon Iranian government officials were directly responsible for the AMIA attack . . .We will show that said officials made the decision to carry out the attack, defined the manner in which it was to be implemented, and instructed the terrorist organization Hezbollah to carry out the operation in its capacity as a mere instrument, in this case, of the will of the Teheran government . . We will also show that for Iran’s leaders, there was nothing unusual or exceptional about the realization of an attack of this nature. To the contrary: an analysis of the information that has been gathered in this case shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the realization of acts of terrorism abroad was not the outgrowth of an unusual foreign policy instrument, but was instead based on the principles of the Iranian revolution of February 1979, the ultimate goal of these principles being to propagate Iran’s fundamentalist view of Islam throughout the world.”

The Nisman Report (2006)

Related:
‘If Argentina wants our support we will give it’
Israeli Agriculture minister tells the [Buenos Aires] Herald Iran is the main sponsor of international terrorist attacks

And, may I remind you? Iran no longer on Terror Threat List.

UPDATE:
An excellent resource on Nisman and his investigation: AlbertoNisman.org



Venezuela: Was Iran behind the colectivos?

March 19th, 2015

From the [pdf file] WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF
JOSEPH M. HUMIRE
CO-AUTHOR
IRAN’S STRATEGIC PENETRATION OF LATIN AMERICA
BEFORE THE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE (WHEM)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
HEARING ON
“IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH IN THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE”


To most, the Venezuelan government’s ability to brutally stifle student protests, is a capacity developed by the Cuban regime whose intelligence and military direct many aspects of Venezuela’s national security apparatus. While mostly true, this excludes another vital player that has enhanced Venezuela’s foreign internal defense, the Iranian paramilitary force known as the Basij.

In April 2009, the current Iranian commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, accompanied then-Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar on a high-level visit to Caracas at the invitation of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his foreign minister (now President) Nicolas Maduro. Gen. Naqdi’s role in these high-level meetings was to serve as an advisor to Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior to aid in training their civilian militias, known as the infamous colectivos’. Years later, the results of this advisory support are evident on the streets of Venezuela as the colectivos’ tactics are a step-up in its previous capabilities, to include new clandestine communication and infiltration/espionage techniques.

Gen. Naqdi, who previously served as the Iranian Police Force’s counterintelligence chief, has a long list of human rights violations dating back to the 1999 student protests in Iran.

Venezuela: Keeping the money in Andorra wasn’t such a good idea

March 18th, 2015

Andorra?

Yes, Andorra, the money laundering center.

The story is like something out of Chavistas en el imperio, only that the money was stashed in Europe and not the U.S.:
Andorra: CEO of bank accused by US of money laundering is arrested, will appear in court

The Treasury Department said BPA managers helped launder money, including $2 billion allegedly siphoned from the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

It also said one unnamed high-level BPA manager accepted “exorbitant commissions” to develop shell companies that helped launder the Venezuelan company’s money.

Related:
How Russian, Chinese gangs use a tiny European state to wash ‘dirty’ cash

En español: Carmen Aristegui y Joaquin Vargas en la UdQ

March 18th, 2015

Related:
Mexican Journalist Fired by Radio Station
A Mexican radio station has fired journalist Carmen Aristegui, whose investigative team broke an alleged conflict of interest story involving the acquisition of a mansion by the wife of the country’s president.

Oh, for the days when silence was golden!

March 18th, 2015

Hearing this,

and reading about Starbuck’s #RaceTogether scheme, whereby baristas will impose upon you a script talk to you about race, made me yearn for the days when silence was golden.