Posts Tagged ‘Central America’

Central America: Everybody wants a canal

Monday, July 29th, 2013

and I have a bridge to sell you,

Two, Three, Many Canals in Central America (emphasis added):

Besides, the Panama Canal is already undergoing an expansion of its capacity to accommodate the latest class of super tankers through the isthmus. But everywhere you go in Central America today there is talk of new canals and of China’s willingness to pay for them.

Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Honduras, too. And there’s even a dry canal, “high-speed rail system powered by a hydro-generated plant in the Gulf of Fonseca.”

The whole thing sounds very pie-in-the-sky to me. As I mentioned last month, the Nicaragua Canal is not underwritten by the Chinese government, but instead by some guy with experience only in the telecommunications industry who’s not even started the feasibility studies – but has a track record of floating stocks, and who was awarded a $300 million telecommunications contract in Nicaragua by Daniel Ortega.

The Chinese government apparently has nothing to do with it. More to the point, why would the Chinese government involve itself with such high-cost, high-risk projects when the Panama Canal expansion is going well?

Could it be that the next Chinese stock market bubble will feature Central American canal stocks?

Somewhere in a jail cell, Bernie Madoff is asking himself, “why didn’t I think of that?”

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, November 21st, 2011

LatinAmerThe week’s must-read article: Jaime Darenblum’s Four Things You Need to Know about Venezuela
The Chávez regime is increasingly sustained by China, Cuba, drug-trafficking generals, and a paramilitary militia.

(1). The regime is financially dependent on China.
(2). The regime is run partly by Cubans.
(3). The regime’s senior military allies are complicit in the drug trade.
(4). The regime has trained thousands of pro-government paramilitary fighters, who represent a serious long-term threat to domestic peace and stability.

Darenblum also touches on the Iranian and Hezbollah presence, and the increasingly violent Venezuelan society. Go read every word.

ARGENTINA
Tests Mount for Argentine Economy

BOLIVIA
Bolivian migrants ride out hard times

BRAZIL
Chevron Mea Culpa in Spill
Oil Company Underestimated Pressure in Well Off of Brazil

A Path to Victory in the Drug War
Brazil’s Fernando Henrique Cardoso on why legalization of marijuana will reduce the cartels’ threat to Latin democracies.

CHILE
A Year Out of the Dark in Chile, but Still Trapped

CUBA
“Pedro Pan” is 50: The story of how 14,000 Cuban children were sent to the US!

The Relajo of the Obama administration’s Cuba travel policy

CENTRAL AMERICA
Stratfor report:
The Mexican Drug Cartel Threat in Central America

ECUADOR
Ecuador loses a great statesman

Edgar Terán: R.I.P.

HONDURAS
Weapons, weapons, who’s got the weapons? More here.

MEXICO
The return of Amlo: Mexican politics
Left in the lurch
Mexico’s divided leftist party has chosen a veteran radical as its presidential candidate. Will he pull it out of its hole, or dig it in deeper?

Apocalypto for Bondholders?
A Mexican bankruptcy ambushes U.S. investors

PERU
A Rags-to-Riches Career Highlights Latin Resurgence

Protests in Peru
Honeymoon over
Ollanta Humala struggles to contain opposition to mining projects

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Allocates Millions More to Cops as Drug Killings Soar

VENEZUELA
Chavez’s secret fight against cancer

Congressman Carlos Ramos questions Williams F1

Nationals catcher’s kidnapping just one of many in Venezuela

Even driving you cannot reach the boundaries of Venezuelan corruption

The week’s posts:
Dominican-born Muslim convert arrested on plot to bomb NYC
Cuba: Lie down with dogs…
Herman Cain flunks the Versailles test
Costa Risa: A tax increase Costa Ricans are not happy about
LIVECAST The Unwritten Story: How the Media and the Obama Administration Overlook Cuba’s Wave of Repression

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Costa Risa: A tax increase Costa Ricans are not happy about

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Tax ‘Experts’ Target Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s official tax stats are deceptive. In 2008 the central government’s revenues equaled only 15.9% of gross domestic product. But as Cato Institute scholar Juan Carlos Hidalgo pointed out in a January op-ed in the Costa Rican daily La Nación, that number doesn’t include local taxes or taxes paid to government entities like the Institute for Tourism and the Institute for Agrarian Development. Nor does it include social security taxes, which rich countries include when they discuss their tax-to-GDP ratios.

Tally up the total take and, according to Mr. Hidalgo, the burden for Costa Ricans in 2008 was 23.1% of GDP. In recessionary 2009 it fell to 21.7%. Compare that to the U.S. overall tax burden of 26.1% in 2008 and 24% in 2009 (the latest year for which Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development figures are available), and it is clear that Costa Ricans are not undertaxed.

Nevertheless, the country’s fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP rose to 3.5% of GDP in 2009 from only 0.2% in 2008. In 2010, according to the United Nation’s Economic Commission on Latin America, Costa Rica’s fiscal deficit was 5.2%, the highest in Latin America. The government forecasts a deficit of 5.5% in 2012.

The problem is government spending. While revenues as a percentage of GDP are forecast to be 7.5% lower this year than they were in 2008, expenditures as a percentage of GDP are expected to come in 29.4% higher. Most of that money is going into an expanded bureaucracy, which grew by 20% during the previous PLN government of Oscar Arias. Mr. Arias was also generous with salary increases. Tocqueville predicted it.

Now Ms. Chinchilla’s “reform” proposes, among other things, a 14% value-added tax on all goods and services to replace a 13% sales tax on goods only and tax hikes on small and medium-sized businesses. Far from simply raising taxes on the rich, as the politicians want people to believe, this proposal will hit ordinary Costa Ricans hard.

Check out the Costa Risa website (in Spanish). Tax increases are for the clowns.

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Nicaragua loses by a landslide UPDATED

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Hugo Chavez’s money pays off:
Nicaragua pres Ortega poised to win third term

With nearly 50 percent of voter support and an 18-point lead over his nearest challenger in the most recent poll, Ortega could end up with a mandate that would not only legitimize his re-election but allow him to make constitutional changes guaranteeing perpetual re-election.

Ortega’s well on his way – readers of this blog may remember that last year he insisted that the Nicaraguan Supreme Court declare term limits unconstitutional.

Over in Guatemala, a Retired general sweeps to power in Guatemala election

A retired right-wing general promising a crackdown on violent crime won Guatemala’s presidential election on Sunday and will be the first military man to take power since democracy was restored in 1986.

Otto Perez had 54.2 percent support with results in from 98 percent of polling stations while his rival, wealthy businessman Manuel Baldizon, trailed with 45.8 percent.

Guatemala’s electoral tribunal declared Perez the winner late on Sunday, and his supporters began celebrating in the streets.

It was a clear move to the right for Central America’s largest economy and came after leftist President Alvaro Colom failed to contain violent crime or protect the country from Mexican drug cartels using it as a key smuggling route.

The LA Times writes on how the Elections in Nicaragua, Guatemala underscore threats to democracy.

UPDATE,
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Condemns Ortega’s Manipulation of Election, Democratic Process in Nicaragua

“Sunday’s so-called ‘election’ in Nicaragua was a complete sham. Daniel Ortega made sure of it.

“According to the Nicaraguan constitution, Ortega was not eligible to run for another term as President. But he forced his way onto the ballot through a corrupt scheme that trampled over Nicaraguan constitutional mandates.

“And once he forced his way onto the ballot, Ortega pulled out more tricks to make sure that he would win. He denied countless Nicaraguans the right to vote in order to stack the deck in his favor. He has clearly learned from his dictatorial buddies in the region, like Chavez, who is an expert at trampling democracy.

“Last month, I sent a letter to the Department of State urging the Administration to stand up to Ortega’s scheme to cling to power. The U.S. and other responsible nations cannot recognize the outcome of this stolen election.”

Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Cross-posted in The Green Room.

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The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 17th, 2011

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Flights cancelled due to volcano ash

Falsifican las cifras en Buenos Aires
Argentina tiene una de las tasas de inflación más altas del mundo. Pero, sobre la base de los datos oficiales, nadie lo sabría.

BRAZIL
Sao Paulo’s ‘Big Worm,’ an elevated highway, must go, urban planners say

CENTRAL AMERICA
Central America Death Toll at 45 From Heavy Rains

CHILE
Fading miracle: rescued Chilean miners return to harsh realities, via The Latin Americanist

Mining safety in Chile
An ounce of prevention

COLOMBIA
The Colombia-United States free-trade agreement
Get cracking

CUBA
Cuban-American relations
And then there were four

Remembering Laura Pollán

Laura is gone, Laura is no more

FRENCH GUIANA:
Video at this link First Soyuz launch from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana

More,

GUATEMALA
Justice in Central America
Parachuting in the prosecutors
Two failing states in Latin America have turned to outsiders for help. We report first from Guatemala, on a UN effort to fight organised crime

HONDURAS
Drudge: Honduras on course to break world records with murder rate…

MEXICO
CBS: Don’t forget Grenadewalker, too

Mexico’s drug war
The Perry doctrine

Mexico’s President Works to Lock In Drug War Tactics

Jailhouse Mayhem

PANAMA
Admit It: It’s Victory

PUERTO RICO
Llegó lo que faltaba, Puerto Rico launches its own Occupy Wall Street

VENEZUELA
Free gas for the rich

PDVSA Now Giving Away Gasoline to Gas Stations

Hugo Chávez, Deadbeat

While Hugo Chávez is in Cuba “for medical tests”, his former doctor says he only has 2 years left to live due to an aggressive sarcoma of the pelvis. He also stated that Hugo has been under long-term treatment for manic depression.

The week’s posts,
Lady in White Laura Pollan died.
Los Zetas: Organized crime puts the brakes in illegal immigration to the USA, aids Iranian terrorism
Soyuz launching from French Guiana
House approves Colombia/Panama/SKorea free trade agreements
The Iranian plot to kill Saudi Ambassador involved Mexican cartels
The Mounting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America

At Conservative Commune,
Laura Pollan: The heroic life of a courageous woman

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The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Speaking out against drug trafficking in Argentina puts radio hosts in drug dealer’s crosshairs

Argentine Water Exports: Blue Gold for a Few

BP’s $7.1 Billion Argentina Sale to Cnooc Is at Risk of Collapse

BOLIVIA
Protests in Bolivia
Road rage
The splintering of Evo Morales’s base

Violenta represion a indigenas lleva a las multitudes a las calles exigiendo renuncia de Morales

BRAZIL
Brazil: World’s Next Major Oil Producing Country?

Football in Brazil
Own goals from Senhor Futebol
Brazil hopes that the 2014 World Cup will boost its image, but the country’s football federation is shrouded in sleaze

CENTRAL AMERICA
Poverty and Potential in Central America
Better public institutions in Guatemala and Nicaragua would help those nations become richer.

CHILE
Energy in Chile
Dancing in the dark
A blackout highlights a pressing problem

COLOMBIA
Venezuelan oilmen behind Colombia’s boom
Driven from Venezuela by President Hugo Chávez’s efforts to use the state oil company to implement his socialist policies, many petroleum specialists have given a shot in the arm to Colombia’s booming energy sector.

CUBA
Cuba’s Repression Escalates
The loosening of travel restrictions by the U.S. is read as weakness in Havana.

U.S. Company bloomspot Sells ‘Glamorous’ Trip to Cuba, Flouts Letter of Law

Cuban human rights activists arrested by Castro regime still missing

HAITI
Haiti’s army
Back to the future

MEXICO
Mexico’s Smoggy Capital Gets First Electric Taxis

Migrating violence in Mexico
Herding cockroaches

Mexican top court upholds anti-abortion laws

Mexico Murders Prompt Asylum Pleas
The Mexican murder rate, nearly five times that of the U.S., is driving a rise in the search for asylum here, while suspicions mount that Mexican officials may be behind some of the deaths
. Even a narco is asking for asylum.

The Guerena Shooting, Analysis 5.2

“Emails show Operation Fast and Furious was shared with Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan — and perhaps beyond”

Cartels in Mexico Hit New Victims: Web-Based Critics

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular sells loan portfolio

VENEZUELA
It’s crazy numbers day at Caracas Chronicles

Dilemas del postchavismo

Unnamed sources

IN VENEZUELA, CHAVEZ PRAYS FOR GADDAFI AND SUPPORTS ASSAD, via Gates of Vienna.

The week’s posts:
Found in the Fast and Furious documents today…
Is Chavez really sick?
Bordering on insanity

At Real Clear World:
How Sick Is Chavez?

At The Conservatory:
Ignoring Fast and Furious While Challenging State Immigration Laws: Pure Insanity

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The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 31st, 2011

LatinAmerIn today’s news, the US Embassy in Caracas is closed due to threats, according to El Universa (h/t Vlad). The nature of the threats was not specified.

While the world’s attention is focused on the Middle East, here are several of the news stories in our hemisphere this week,

CENTRAL AMERICA

Central America, crime, and what the Americas are doing about it

ARGENTINA
Argentine Wheat Exports May Fall to Lowest in Almost 30 Years

ARUBA
Following up on a story from a few years ago, Stanford Judged Incompetent to Stand Trial

BRAZIL
Business in Brazil
Top whack
Big country, big pay cheques

Brazil’s Canny Asia Game
Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva oversaw a period of growing influence in the Asia-Pacific. Will his successor follow suit?

CHILE
Copper Law

COLOMBIA
Colombia economy: Post-flood emergency mode

CUBA
Italian Parliament commits to the freedom of Cuba’s political prisoners

On those New OFAC regulations on Cuba travel released

The interesting thing here is that when originally reported it appeared that remitters would not be able to send more than $500 to Cuba per quarter. It now seems, however, that U.S. citizens can send $2,000 a year to as many qualified Cubans as they like. I’m not a lawyer and I received this information too late to call OFAC, so I can’t say for certain.

Cuba political prisoner Guido Sigler responds with defiance to Castro’s blackmail

EL SALVADOR
Obama’s heading to El Salvador in March. Obama and El Salvador

If there is one thing all media outlets can agree on, it is that they have no idea why President Obama is going to El Salvador.

Salvadoreños al tanto de la visita de Obama antes de su discurso

HONDURAS
Update on Liz

MEXICO
Saddling up for the trail to Los Pinos
Can anyone stop Enrique Peña Nieto restoring the PRI to power next year?

PANAMA
What is economic freedom?

S. Korea to get FTA but not Panama

PERU
State Department says relations with Peru “never been this strong”

PUERTO RICO
Back when I was a student at the University of Puerto Rico, the students were protesting. No change on that front,

VENEZUELA
LOS VENEZOLANOS QUEREMOS SER UN PUEBLO PROPIETARIO, NO UN PUEBLO EXPROPIADO…

After the Flood in Venezuela
Housing the estimated 130,000 homeless people is drastically more difficult thanks to Hugo Chávez’s nationalizations and regulations in the construction industry.

How a bully Dictator like Hugo Chavez runs Venezuela

How people in Taiwan see Hugo,

Venezuela tells foreign oil firms to keep output at 3.1 mn bpd

Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela
Charting a course to irrelevance
The Inter-American Democratic Charter is proven toothless

Investing in Venezuela’s Future

English language chavismo in the web on the decline

The week’s posts,
Chavez says Egpyt embassy briefly taken over by protestors
Muslim cleric catapults to fame by crossing the border
Catapult over the border!
Tanks for Hugo, bankrupt states, the Supremes, and the roundup

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The Colombia/Venezuela kerfuffle Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 26th, 2010

LatinAmerWelcome to this week’s Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. This week’s big story: Colombia and Venezuela are disputing evidence presented at the OAS that Chavez is harboring FARC terrorists. Mary O’Grady writes about Where the FARC Goes to Fatten Up
Dramatic evidence presented by Colombia at last Thursday’s OAS meeting in Washington puts Hugo Chávez on the hot seat.
(emphasis added)

In a two-hour presentation before the permanent council at the Organization of American States, Colombian OAS ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos laid out a series of photos, videos, maps, satellite images and computer documents that Colombia claims show the rebels using Venezuela as a safe haven much the same way they were using Ecuador.

Mr. Hoyos also charged that Venezuela knows about the guerrilla camps—some of which have been there for a long time—and has done nothing about them. Indeed, the Venezuelan National Guard sometimes consorts with the rebels, Mr. Hoyos said.

Given this new information, Mr. Chávez’s reaction to Colombia’s 2008 incursion into Ecuador now looks logical. Bogotá justified that raid on the grounds that its appeals to Quito to go after FARC taking rest and relaxation in its territory had gone nowhere. Now we know that Mr. Chávez had reason to believe he would be next.

But Mr. Uribe launched a different sort of offensive on Thursday. Instead of a military operation, he bundled new intelligence on the FARC’s Venezuelan outposts and dropped it like a bomb on the OAS permanent council.

The facts were no surprise. For years, Bogotá has been complaining—with no shortage of proof—about the friendly treatment Venezuela gives the guerrillas. But by packaging and delivering the new evidence as he did, Mr. Uribe put Mr. Chávez, very publicly, on the spot. More importantly, he has forced the issue with his hemispheric counterparts.

Mr. Hoyos told the OAS that there are some 1,500 rebels across the border in more than 75 camps. There they regroup, organize, train and prepare explosives. This safe-haven status, he explained, produces more kidnapping and drug trafficking on both sides of the border. And more carnage in Colombia: Graphic photos of rebel victims flashed on a screen while he spoke.

Mr. Hoyos did not call for sanctions against Venezuela. Instead he asked for an international commission to verify Colombia’s claims. He promised that his government could provide the “precise coordinates” of farms and haciendas where the rebels are ensconced. “If what is there is only a little school and humble peasants, there would be no problem with an international commission to verify if Colombia’s accusation is not true,” Mr. Hoyos argued.

CENTRAL AMERICA
Central America: Cultivation Central
Central America is rapidly becoming an important global trading partner as its fruit and vegetable exports grow.

LATIN AMERICA
Making Latin America More Competitive

SOUTH AMERICA
175 people killed in South America cold spell

ARGENTINA
Democracy or exclusion? Argentine politicians favor Twitter over journalists

BRAZIL
The Skeletons in Brazil’s Closet

China invests heavily in Brazil, elsewhere in pursuit of political heft

CHILE
Chile Fishermen Fight to Recover From Quake

Cierre de pasaje genera polémica/ Venta de viviendas sube en junio/ Puerto Octay se declara zona típica

COLOMBIA
Why Colombia did get so personal yesterday at the OAS?

Bogota Brouhaha
Why is Colombia putting the screws to Chavez now?

CUBA
Cuba—Is It Different This Time?

Capitol or Bat House

A Cuban Dissident Asks: Why do you (heart) Marxist-Leninist Autocrats?

The Suffering of Guantanamo Prisoners

Democratic Senator Menendez Threatens Filibuster Over Cuba Sanctions

ECUADOR
Ecuador Leader Falters in Bid to Consolidate Power

GUATEMALA
Ugh! Bowls of Human Fingers and Teeth Found in Mayan Tomb (h/t Gates of Vienna)

HONDURAS
Cultural differences: Consumer complaints

MEXICO
No, Texas Hasn’t Been Invaded, original post here.

New Terror Threat On Mexico Border

Mexico prison guards let inmates out for massacres

The gang at Gomez Palacio were responsible for 33 murders in three incidents, including the massacre of 17 people at a rented hall filled mainly with young adults. They fired more than 120 rounds into the crowd; it was the bullet casings that led investigators back to Gomez Palacio. The prison director and three of his henchmen have been placed under house arrest, although considering this story, that may wind up being more secure than prison anyway.

This should impress the truth on people, which is that the problem in Mexico isn’t American guns, or any kind of guns at all. The problem in Mexico is corruption.

Mexico: Prison guards let killers out, lent guns

NUGENT: Dear Mexico …
American dream is attainable for those who share our values

Terrorism in Mexico?

PANAMA
Foreign banking for U.S. citizens just got a lot more dfficult

PERU
Peru declares states of emergency in 16 regions due to cold wave

PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico requests FEMA aid for 17 flooded areas

VENEZUELA
Rumble at the OAS: Colombia vs. Venezuela

A very personal rant: Screw Maradona, Long Live Abdus Salam and throw Richard Feynman into the mix!

Chávez intenta nuevamente apoderarse de Globovisión

Chavez says Venezuela now owns almost half of opposition channel Globovisión

Will the U.S. Hand Chávez a License to Kill?
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez’s record of providing money, arms, political support, and, yes, safe haven to groups waging a murderous war against a sovereign state openly violates international law.

Behind exhumation of Simon Bolivar is Hugo Chavez’s warped obsession

PRESIDENTE, VAMOS A EXHUMAR EL POLLO, LA LECHE, EL ARROZ…

Qué hacer con Hugo Chavez?

And, Stoned, as always,

Oliver Stone: ‘Jewish-Dominated Media’ Prevents Hitler from Being Portrayed ‘in Context’

The director, who recently met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, also slammed the U.S. policy toward Iran as “horrible.”

“Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy,” said Stone. “[B]ut we don’t know the full story!”

The Scarface screenwriter had even more encouraging words for socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who Stone called “a brave, blunt, earthy” man. The director has recently been promoting his Chavez-praising documentary called “South of the Border.”

When the interviewer pointed out that Chavez has had a less-than-stellar record on human rights, Stone immediately dismissed the criticism.

“The internet’s fully free [in Venezuela],” said Stone. “You can say what the hell you like. Compare it with all the other countries: Mexico, Guatemala, above all Colombia, which is a joke.”

While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.

On ABC’s Good Morning America on July 28, the director told anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “absolutely” believes Chavez is a good person, and claimed that there was “there’s no pattern of censorship in this country [Venezuela].”

IMMIGRATION
Deportation of illegal immigrants increases under Obama administration

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Chavez breaks relations with Colombia over evidence presented at OAS
Moratinos falls for a sucker game
I’m not the only Latina supporting the Arizona SB 1070
“The Mandela of Cuba”
El Diario’s spy, Vicky
Venezuela, Syria and Iran, sponsors of terror VIDEO

Special thanks to Dick, Maggie, and Maria.

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Sunk in Guatemala

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

In the middle of the devastation caused by Hurricane Agatha,

Hardest hit was Guatemala, with 152 people killed, dozens injured and at least 100 people missing following the floods and mudslides that swept away ramshackle homes along hills and destroyed bridges and roads.

As many as 22,000 dwellings were destroyed in Guatemala and 155,000 people forced from their homes, about half of whom remained in shelters, officials said.

Guatemala City’s response was hampered by a separate emergency: the eruption of a nearby volcano whose ash forced the closure of the capital’s international airport since last week, when two people were also killed and three went missing.

one extraordinary disaster stands out:

The apparently bottomless sinkhole that swallowed a three-story building,

ruptured sewer line is thought to have caused the sinkhole that appeared in Guatemala City in 2007.

The 2010 Guatemala sinkhole could have formed in a similar fashion, Currens said. A burst sanitary or storm sewer may have been slowly saturating the surrounding soil for a long time before tropical storm Agatha added to the inundation.

Dot Earth’s also posting on it.

Will the sinkhole get larger?

UPDATE
Obi’s Sister calls it “Guatemala’s hole to China.”

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Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

At Stratfor, THE report you should read on the Mexican weapons trade:
Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade

At the far end of the spectrum is the black arms market where the guns are contraband from the get-go and all the business is conducted under the table. There are no end-user certificates and the weapons are smuggled covertly. Examples of this would be the smuggling of arms from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Afghanistan into Europe through places like Kosovo and Slovenia, or the smuggling of arms into South America from Asia, the FSU and Middle East by Hezbollah and criminal gangs in the Tri-Border Region.

Nation-states will often use the gray and black arms markets in order to deniably support allies, undermine opponents or otherwise pursue their national interests. This was clearly revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, but Iran-Contra only scratched the surface of the arms smuggling that occurred during the Cold War. Untold tons of military ordnance were delivered by the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba to their respective allies in Latin America during the Cold War.

This quantity of materiel shipped into Latin America during the Cold War brings up another very important point pertaining to weapons. Unlike drugs, which are consumable goods, firearms are durable goods. This means that they can be useful for decades and are frequently shipped from conflict zone to conflict zone. East German MPiKMS and MPiKM assault rifles are still floating around the world’s arms markets years after the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. In fact, visiting an arms bazaar in a place like Yemen is like visiting an arms museum. One can encounter century-old, still-functional Lee-Enfield and Springfield rifles in a rack next to a modern U.S. M4 rifle or German HK93, and those next to brand-new Chinese Type 56 and 81 assault rifles.

There is often a correlation between arms and drug smuggling. In many instances, the same routes used to smuggle drugs are also used to smuggle arms. In some instances, like the smuggling routes from Central Asia to Europe, the flow of guns and drugs goes in the same direction, and they are both sold in Western Europe for cash. In the case of Latin American cocaine, the drugs tend to flow in one direction (toward the United States and Europe) while guns from U.S. and Russian organized-crime groups flow in the other direction, and often these guns are used as whole or partial payment for the drugs.

Illegal drugs are not the only thing traded for guns. During the Cold War, a robust arms-for-sugar trade transpired between the Cubans and Vietnamese. As a result, Marxist groups all over Latin America were furnished with U.S. materiel either captured or left behind when the Americans withdrew from Vietnam. LAW rockets traced to U.S. military stocks sent to Vietnam were used in several attacks by Latin American Marxist groups. These Vietnam War-vintage weapons still crop up with some frequency in Mexico, Colombia and other parts of the region. Cold War-era weapons furnished to the likes of the Contras, Sandinistas, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity movement in the 1980s are also frequently encountered in the region.

After the civil wars ended in places like El Salvador and Guatemala, the governments and the international community attempted to institute arms buy-back programs, but those programs were not very successful and most of the guns turned in were very old — the better arms were cached by groups or kept by individuals. Some of these guns have dribbled back into the black arms market, and Central and South America are still awash in Cold War weapons.

But Cold War shipments are not the only reason that Latin America is flooded with guns. In addition to the indigenous arms industries in countries like Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela has purchased hundreds of thousands of AK assault rifles in recent years to replace its aging FN-FAL rifles and has even purchased the equipment to open a factory to produce AK-103 rifles under license inside Venezuela. The Colombian government has accused the Venezuelans of arming the FARC, and evidence obtained by the Colombians during raids on FARC camps and provided to the public appears to support those assertions.

Go read every word.