Posts Tagged ‘Real Clear World Blog’

#Mexico: PRI back

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Enrique Peña Nieto will be Mexico’s next president, and

In other races, exit polls suggested that the PRI would pick up at least one more governor’s post, giving the party control of 21 of Mexico’s 31 states.

In the megalopolis of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera captured 60 percent of the vote, allowing the left to continue to run one of the largest and most complex cities in the world.

Mexico Restores Ex-Ruling Party to Power

Enrique Peña Nieto, a telegenic former governor of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won with about 38% of the vote versus 31% for his closest challenger, leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to a partial vote count by Mexico’s election agency.

Josefina Vázquez Mota, Mexico’s first major female presidential candidate and a member of President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party, or PAN, trailed with 26%.

The final official result might vary slightly, election officials said.

Ms. Vázquez Mota conceded defeat, but Mr. López Obrador said he would wait for final results in the coming days to decide what to do. Associates said he would likely contest the results in court, alleging that the PRI broke campaign spending limits and had favorable coverage in the media.

The return of the PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years through an extensive patronage system that Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa dubbed “the perfect dictatorship,” marks a stunning comeback for a party that nearly fell apart after it lost its first presidential election in 2000. After a third-place showing in 2006, the party has united around its new face: Mr. Peña Nieto, a 45-year-old former state governor.

Even in victory, the party was supported by only four in 10 Mexicans. In his victory speech, Mr. Peña Nieto told cheering supporters that the PRI had been given a second chance at power, and must show voters that it can govern better than in the past, when it was dogged by corruption scandals. “We have to show that we understand Mexico has changed,” Mr. Peña Nieto said.

Sr Peña-Nieto will succeed as president if he is willing to “de-PRI” the PRI. The question is,can he?

While the 45-year-old presents himself as part of a more-
democratic generation of leaders, many PRI governors continue to rule their states like “fiefdoms” and won’t take easily to centralized control, said Enrique Krauze, a historian and author of “Mexico: Biography of Power.” Pena Nieto also faces the threat of protests from an anti-PRI student movement and supporters of second-place finisher Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“Pena Nieto has proved during these months that he has political instincts, that he’s a political animal,” Krauze said in an interview in Mexico City prior to yesterday’s balloting. “But he won’t have an easy ride now in the sense that he’ll
have to fight both inside and outside” his party.

While the PRI will control at least one house of Congress, amending the Constitution – a step required to end Pemex’s grip on oil production, as Peña Nieto promised – would require at least a two-thirds majority.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.

Bolivia: Venezuela has five military bases in the country

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

(click on photo for larger view)

Bolivian legislator Norma Piérola has denounced the existence of five Venezuelan military installations in the countryside. Piérola, member of the Convergencia Nacional (National Convergence party), asserted that the military bases have existed since at least 2010.

Piérola made the statement during a session of the Legislative Assembly, in the presence of Defense Minister Rubén Saavedra and Government Minister Carlos Romero. Saavedra denied the military bases’ existence but declared that there are Venezuelan army personnel in Bolivia as part of an “educational exchange program” with friendly countries.

The Bolivian Constitution forbids any military installations from a foreign country.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.

CELAC: Chavez’s latest “alternative”

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

After creating the ALBA with Cuba ten years ago, Hugo Chávez now is hosting the inaugural for the CELAC (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).

ALBA is mostly dependent on Venezuelan oil, and its current members – Bolivia, Nicaragua, (Honduras dropped out), Ecuador, Dominica, St Vincent and Antigua – are not exactly the largest economies in the world. Another Chávez brainchild, the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) has tanked, so far, due to liquidity issues and lack of reserves.

But Chávez knows how to get publicity, and he also knows that his fellow heads of state in Latin America love to travel all-expenses-paid-by-their citizenry to other countries since it gives the appearance of doing something, everybody gets to badmouth the USA, the local media (which he controls) will lap up the meeting, Mexico wanted to be included in something, and, who knows, there may even be slush fund opportunities in the bargain.

Voilá, CELAC was born, created in Mexico last year.

The spin is intense: CELAC is touted as “a new geopolitical structure“, soon to replace the “old and worn out” OAS, with Caracas not only as its capital (of course!) but also the capital of the Americas, with growing economies ; just take a look at the map:

The map shows the purported growth in GDP for 2010 in each country’s economy. Let me dampen your enthusiasm over these numbers by pointing out that anyone who believes Cuban government statistics deserves to be called a fool. I leave it to you to verify other statistics, for instance, Argentina’s, where their government is prosecuting independent economists.

Canada and the USA are not invited, of course. Chile’s president prudently sent his vice-president instead. In total, leaders of 33 countries are expected.

Raúl Castro turned up for the opening, crowing “for the first time, we’ll have an organization for our America“, conveniently forgetting that his brother said more or less the same thing about ALBA a decade ago. Venezuela rolled out the red carpet and lined up the military in full tin soldier garb, but Hugo couldn’t make it to the airport to greet him,

Crisitina Fernández of Argentina and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil already met with Chávez, and Felipe Calderón tweeted from Mexico this morning that he’s on his way.

And, this morning oil is up, which may help fund the proceedings.

What is there not to love?

Well, for one thing,

Because it lacks any formal charter or mandate, however, Celac will be more effective as a forum for left-wing figures like Mr. Chávez to “pontificate” and fan anti-U.S. sentiment, said Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York.

It’s a good photo-op, but

“It’s a good show for Chávez. It boosts his standing and shows Venezuelans that he is a regional leader and that other heads of state will come to Venezuela,” Mr. Shifter said.

But beyond photo opportunities, Mr. Shifter says he doubts Celac will be able to distinguish itself from the slate of existing regional organizations such as Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Andean Community of Nations, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.

“There are very significant problems among the subregional organizations,” Mr. Shifter said. “It’s hard to imagine that an organization that includes all of Latin America and the Caribbean will have fewer obstacles.”

Or, as The Economist put it,

On paper CELAC will try to co-ordinate among trade blocks, such as Mercosur and the Andean Community (but UNASUR is also supposed to do that). It will also try to stimulate regional trade and speak with one voice in international forums. If only. The lesson of ALBA is that regional clubs based on political ideology rather than national interest do not get very far.

The USA is the major trading partner for most of these countries.

It’ll be interesting to see what the heads of state end up signing, if anything, at the end of this summit.

You can watch it live here.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World


Real Clear World liveblogs the debate

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

My colleagues at Real Clear World are liveblogging tonight’s Republican national security debate starting at 8PM Eastern.

Scheduled participants include:

Carl Cannon, Washington Editor, RealClearPolitics
Daniel Larison, Contributing Editor, The American Conservative
Greg Scoblete, Editor, RealClearWorld
Jeremy Lott, Editor, RealClearBooks
James Joyner, Managing Editor, Atlantic Council
Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Justin Logan, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute
Richard Cleary, Research Assistant, American Enterprise Institute
Sally McNamara, Senior Policy Analyst for European Affairs, Heritage Foundation

Click on this link (please note it will play a noisy ad).


Russia grants Venezuela $4billion for military spending

Friday, August 12th, 2011

while China is lending Venezuela an additional $4billion,
Venezuela Finalizing New Loans Totaling $8B With China, Russia

Venezuela is finalizing agreements for two separate credit lines of $4 billion each with Russia and China, with a portion of the financing earmarked for military equipment for the South American nation, according to Venezuelan state media.

With the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela needs a well equipped military to defend itself from foreign aggression, President Hugo Chavez said during a broadcast phone call reported by the Venezuelan News Agency.

Chavez had to call in the news from Havana, where he is undergoing chemotherapy.

Readers of this blog may recall that Russia has financed over $6billion worth of military equipment from 2005-2010.

On the other hand, Venezuela is borrowing at least $24billion from China,

last year, Venezuela received a $20 billion credit line from the China Development Bank for housing

The housing construction has not started, but Hugo’s betting on oil futures, so to speak, in a very big way.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.


Gaddafi wants Chavez’s help

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

How do you spell “fungible assets”?
Source: Gaddafi wants Chávez to help sell oil
A Libyan delegation visited Venezuela over the weekend to seek help in selling Libyan oil on the international market, according to intelligence sources.

   El líder libio, Muamar al Gadafi (d), recibe con un abrazo al presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, durante el encuentro que sosuvieron en Doha, Qatar, el martes 31 de marzo del 2009.
Emphasis added,

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sent emissaries to Caracas over the weekend to ask president Hugo Chávez to help his regime sell crude oil through Venezuela in international markets, thus evading internationally imposed sanctions, western intelligence sources said.

The small delegation — headed by Planning and Finance Minister Abdulhafid Zlitni — arrived Sunday on a private jet and Chávez confirmed its presence in the South American country.

“Gaddafi has sent us an emissary,” Chávez told a government television channel. “They bring a letter for me. That is good. The world needs to know it. As soon as you have it translated,” he told his foreign affairs minister, Nicolás Maduro, who was at the television studio, “bring it to me.”

The intelligence sources told El Nuevo Herald that the emissaries plan to request that Venezuela take control over more than a dozen tankers, each with a capacity to store more than 160,000 tons of oil, and the possibility to market more than 1.5 million barrels of Libyan crude oil through the South American country.

“[Gaddafi] is proposing that […] Venezuela assume ownership of the ships to continue operating them through Venezuela,” said one of the sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity. “If this is done, it would be a violation of all sanctions.”

The sources said that the Libyan government also has given orders to ask the Venezuelan government to supply water and fuel to two Libyan boats stranded in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as purchase nearly 5,000 tons of additives for producing gasoline.

The request also considers the possibility of selling hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil products that Libya has not been able to place in the market after the United Nations unanimously approved sanctions against Gaddafi’s regime due to its bloody repression against dissidents, the sources said.

Venezuela was slapped with sanctions in May, as you may recall, for shipping $50 million worth of fuel additives to Iran between December 2010 and March this year.

Chavez talked about the Libyan delegation on a telephone interview, since he had already shown himself on TV to badmouth the US and show off his new look, now that his hair is falling off,

Thus, the chemo provided a timely distraction, as Chavez’s clowning usually does. from the real news on the upcoming Libya-Venezuela oil deals.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.


Brazil holding $200billion in US treasuries

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Brazil is the fourth largest sovereign creditor of the US, holding more than $200 billion in Treasuries, which is good news for Brazil, since its economy has been growing enough that the country can do so:

Brazil, the region’s economic powerhouse, which just a decade ago had to come to Washington to ask the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, is now the United States’ fourth-biggest sovereign creditor — holding about $211 billion in U.S. Treasury securities, according to U.S. data from May.

As you may recall, a little over two years ago, Lula, then-president of Brazil, was lecturing President Obama about the dangers of protectionism and the benefits of free trade. Unfortunately Obama didn’t listen, and

These days, Latin America’s economy as a whole is expected to expand about 4.7 percent in 2011 — almost twice the expected rate in the United States — thanks to strong demand for the region’s commodities and a decade of mostly prudent fiscal management, itself the product of many hard-learned lessons of the past.

Hence, we have a chorus of clowns mocking the US economy,

“When did the American dream become a nightmare?” gloated Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, whose own country defaulted on about $100 billion in debt a decade ago.

In a speech at the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange on Monday, she contended that Argentina had prospered since then by focusing on exports and controlling financial speculation — a lesson that Washington has yet to learn, she said.

Cristinita forgot to mention that she raided private pensions a few years ago (2008) to avoid default.

Cristina’s soul mates Evo and Hugo are using the US debt for propaganda purposes,

Washington’s biggest critics in the region, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, have also portrayed the crisis as an inevitable outcome for a country that failed to follow its own financial advice and overextended itself militarily — in Latin America, and elsewhere.

whether – in spite of large oil reservesthe well runs dry in Venezuela,

yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Bolivian president Evo Morales had announced that a local program called “Bolivia changes, Evo delivers,” which “is under his control and has little legislative or administrative oversight,” would no longer depend on Venezuelan largess, but would be funded by the Bolivian government.

Here in the USA, Congressman Connie Mack, Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Connie Mack, has proposed legislation which would

cease aid to those countries which harm America’s freedom and security.

Mack’s five amendments would:

  • Eliminate foreign aid funds for Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Boliviia
  • Cease U.S. contributions to the Organization of American States.
  • Eliminate U.S. funding for Global Climate Change Initiative Activities.
  • Establish a Congressional recorded vote which states “The delay in the authorization of the Presidential Permit is threatening the economic and national security benefits of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”
  • Name Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism due to its continued material and financial support of the Revolutionary ArmedForces of Colombia (FARC), Hezbollah, the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Meanwhile, out-of-control government spending, onerous regulations on businesses, and uncertainty regarding the currently hostile environment on private enterprise does not bode well for the US economy – and that has the Hemisphere’s economies worried.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World


Brazil: Battisti released from prison

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Two years ago I wrote about Cesare Battisti, a terrorist who was convicted in absentia by Italy for murders committed in the 1970s.

Battisti, who escaped from an Italian prison in 1981 while awaiting trial on four counts of murder when he was a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, (Proletari Armati per il Comunismo – PAC), had lived in France writing crime novels until 2004, when he failed to appear to his scheduled parole visit after Paris agreed to hand him over to the Italian authorities.

From there he fled to Brazil, where he was arrested in 2007. In 2009 then-president Lula granted him political refugee status while still in prison.

Battisti was released from prison last Wednesday,

Cesare Battisti was released from a Brazil prison Wednesday after the Supreme Court rejected the extradition request—a decision that sparked outrage and indignation among Italian government officials, who had been pushing for years that Mr. Battisti be sent back to Italy to serve a lifetime prison sentence. The Italian government said Thursday that it was planning to appeal the decision with the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The court’s decision “wounds our sense of justice and also those who have suffered in those cases,” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters.

He was released from prison on June 9 by order of the Brazilian Supreme Court.

Battisti Walks as Brazil Rejects Italy’s Appeal
Supreme court turns down attempt to overturn Lula’s decision not to extradite former terrorist
, h/t Gates of Vienna

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.


Bolivia Defense Ministry invites accused Iranian terrorist mastermind, then disinvites him

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

iran, whose embassy in Bolivia is the largest in our hemisphere, sent Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi to Bolivia at the Bolivian Defense Ministry’s invitation.

While in Bolivia, Vahidi attended a ceremony with President Evo Morales,

The article does not touch on the question of what the nature of Vahidi’s visit to the BDM would be. However, apparently Argentinian officials must have protested, because Bolivia’s foreign minister wrote a letter of apology to the Argentinian foreign minister, and Vahidi was sent out of the country. The apology claimed that

The invitation . . . had been issued by the Bolivian defence ministry which did not know the background to the case and had not co-ordinated with other departments.

Vahidi is wanted for being behind the AMIA bombing.

Iran minister accused of planning Argentina Jewish center bombing told to leave Bolivia
Bolivia sends letter of apology to Argentina for inviting Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who is accused by Argentina of planning the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center that killed 85.
(Hat tip: Jewish Bro’s Twitter feed.)

Argentina had previously protested Vahidi’s appointment as Defense Minister, which Iran carefully ignored.

Vahidi is not the only Iranian accused of being connected to the AMIA bombing who travels to Latin America. As you may recall, Mohsen Rabbani, who is also wanted for the bombings, is recruiting in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Argentina continues to press the case on the 1994 AMIA and the 1992 Israeli embassy bombings.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World.


Hispan TV: Iran-Cuba joint propaganda effort

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Via Latin American Thought,

The fight for hearts and minds reached a new level on 3 May, when Cuba and Iran announced plans to increase media cooperation via Iranian run Spanish language news network Hispan TV. Hispan TV was launched last week eight months after a September 2010 announcement from Iranian state officials announcing the importance of increasing awareness of Iran’s “ideological legitimacy”.

But why Spanish? The Guardian reports that Ezatollah Zarqami, the head of Iranian State TV, says because half of the world speaks Spanish.


The answer most likely has to do with the intended audience. Launching a Spanish language network clearly targets the Spanish speaking world, the majority of which resides in Latin America. It is an example of the type of soft power information campaigns that many governments are undertaking in efforts to promote policy, improve public diplomacy, and have a say in the information madhouse that exists today.

While the goal of this venture supposedly is “the reflection of first-hand, authentic news“, Cuban Colada points out that

Iran, Syria, Cuba, Russia and China are among the 10 worst repressors of the Internet, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists published on Monday. Click here for details.

Notice how the goal was stated as “the reflection”, not the reporting.

Cross-posted at Real Clear World