Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since Hugo Chavez is urging the Venezuelan people to go on a diet as the country faces food shortages due to his ineptness, this week we have all the calories.
Chavez has lobbied in recent weeks against what he calls the evils of capitalism, including alcoholism, breast implants and violent television programs.
Since taking office in 1999, he’s preached against supposed capitalist-fueled vices ranging from alcohol to cholesterol, vowed to curb whisky imports and ordered beer trucks off the street.
But make sure to chew on coca leaves while attending a summit.
Responding to the pressure — and opportunity — the cartels have spread out quickly. Five of Central America’s seven countries are now on the United States’ list of 20 “major illicit drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.” Three of those, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, were added just last year.
VIDEO: Cuban dissidents repressed
And, Julie Lopez, can you tell us first, is this a sincere divorce, or a divorce of convenience for the president and the first lady?
Ms. JULIE LOPEZ (Freelance Journalist): Well, both the president and the first lady have said that the reason why they are divorcing is to prevent their case going to the constitutional court because a divorce would make her qualify as a candidate.
An October 2009 cable, signed by Mr. Pascual, reported that Mexican Undersecretary for Governance Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez lamented that the early phase of the Merida Initiative ($400 million for the drug war approved by Congress in June 2008) did not contain “enough strategic thought.” There was too much focus “on equipment, which they now know is slow to arrive and even slower to be of direct utility,” and not enough focus on institution building.
The cable continues: “[Mr. Gutierrez Fernandez] went on to say, however, that he now realizes there is not even time for the institution building to take hold in the remaining years of the Calderón administration. ‘We have 18 months,’ he said, ‘and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.’” And: “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions.”
Mr. Pascual reported that soon after 15 Juárez high school and university students, with no links to the cartels, were massacred in January 2010, Mr. Calderón “created an unprecedented level of engagement by every level of government to address the violence in Juarez.” He also wrote that the U.S. was “well-placed to support efforts to implement new and creative strategies.” The 2010 drug-war death toll in Juarez reached more than 3,000.
In November 2009, Mr. Pascual wrote that Mexico’s security strategy “lacks an effective intelligence apparatus to produce high quality information and targeted operations,” and also that there was resistance to information sharing because some units viewed “local military commands as often penetrated by organized crime.” In another cable Mr. Pascual charged that the Mexican army sat on intelligence that the U.S. gave it in the hunt for drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was later killed by the Mexican navy.
Puerto Rico’s Budget Gap Will Be Closed in 2 Years, Fortuno Says. Puerto Rico had its first credit-rating upgrade from Standard & Poor’s this month.
The week’s posts,
At the WaPo: President Obama’s weak message to Latin America
Hypocrisy on the fly: Obama does Latin America
Islamist terrorists crossing the border,
Memeorandum does the hemisphere
A Chavez terror network?
Post re-edited to include omission.