Posts Tagged ‘Summit of the Americas’

Were the Colombian prostitutes spies?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

When the news first came out my initial reaction was,

Was this a set-up?

Were those prostitutes spies? Officials check identities in Secret Service scandal (h/t The Other McCain)

An investigation is under way to determine whether any classified information was compromised when U.S. Secret Service agents consorted with prostitutes in Colombia before a summit attended by President Obama, according to two U.S. officials.

Authorities are checking identities of the women and whether they may have been recruited by a foreign intelligence service or a group with hostile intentions, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the inquiry is confidential.

It is exactly why the situation lends itself to that, which makes the agents involved so stupid.

Or maybe I’ve been reading too many spy novels.


Summit of the Americas: the overseas campaign stop

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

IBD has the post-mortem:

This trip wasn’t about diplomacy, or taking a stand for democracy or encouraging American values. The president mouthed cautious, standard U.S. stances on Cuba, drugs and free trade, but did so with little conviction.

Instead, he was really focused on winning votes back home as campaign season kicks in. Acts that can only be justified in a campaign rather than diplomatic context formed a pretty long list at this summit:

• Presummit briefings suggested the trip would be all about winning the Latino vote. “There is a unique quality to the relationship that we have with the Americas, specifically the fact that we have so many of our citizens here in the United States who trace their heritage back to the Americas,” White House aide Ben Rhodes said, explaining the reason for the trip.

• The president also became a new convert to free trade, despite consistently blocking it over the past three years. At a pre-summit stop in Latino-heavy Tampa, Fla., he told port workers: “When I’m in Colombia talking with other leaders, I’m going to be thinking about you.” Coming from the president who delayed the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact at a huge cost of U.S. jobs, it was all about the Latino vote again.

If I may add, the gullible Latino vote. Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress for the first two years of his term and neither item was a priority.

Even now, all he promised is that

he would “try” to bring up the issue in the first year of a second term.
“I can promise that I will try to do it in the first year of my second term,” he said. “I want to try this year.

Continuing,

• Politics doesn’t end at the water’s edge. On his official travels, Obama made time to attack GOP rival Mitt Romney in an interview with Univision, calling his immigration stance “very troubling.” Translation again? Not diplomacy, just the Latino vote.

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• Obama’s official Summit statement was also geared to domestic votes: “These last three years have been as difficult for the world economy as anything that we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” he oddly told the Latin leaders, whose economies are booming. “And it is a result of globalization and it is also a result of technology.” In another pander to voters, he effectively blamed foreigners and computers for his own fiscal failure and the mortgage crisis. That’s not diplomacy.

• Lastly there were photos of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dancing at a Cartagena club and knocking back a beer. Undignified in a diplomatic context, they are perfect images in a populist campaign context.

Obama’s gaffes are his own. One could start a war.

Too bad the press didn’t follow up.

Related:
Is Hillary Clinton becoming an embarrassment as Secretary of State?

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 16th, 2012

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentine war heroes revealed to be henchmen in military dictatorship

BRAZIL
What’s Behind Brazil’s Slow Growth?
Politicians in Brasília are depressing investment by placating manufacturers.

VISIBLY ANNOYED OBAMA GETS LECTURE FROM FEMALE PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL

Army sergeant receives 2nd highest military honor

CHILE
Progress and its discontents
A popular student rebellion shows that, as Chileans become better off, they want the government to guarantee a fairer society. Politicians are struggling to respond

The rich are the best Communists, and the NYTimes loves them: Camila Vallejo, the World’s Most Glamorous Revolutionary

COLOMBIA
20 US agents could be involved in Colombian hooker woe

‘Colombian miracle’ takes off

Juan Forero’s Interview with Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos (transcript)

When will anyone in the Spanish speaking media tell Pres BO to stop speaking in tongues?

Obama promises to tackle immigration reform in second term

Obama Promises Immigration Reform in Second Term

CUBA
What Pope Benedict Got Wrong in Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuador: Failing Universities to Close

GUATEMALA
Juan Forero’s Interview with Guatemala President Otto Perez (transcript)

HAITI
Vaccinations Begin in a Cholera-Ravaged Haiti

MEXICO
Mark me skeptical, Net illegal immigration from Mexico: zero

Mexico shaken by two earthquakes in 24 hours
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake has struck off Mexico’s Pacific coast, the second to hit the area in the last 24 hours.

Car-saturated Mexico City lets bicycle riders rule the roads on Sunday mornings

PERU
Peru rules out talks with Shining Path over hostages
The Peruvian government says it will not negotiate with Shining Path rebels, who kidnapped a group of gas workers in the south of the country on Monday

PUERTO RICO
GOP strategists: Puerto Rico Gov. Fortuno is a sleeper vice presidential pick

Pricey gossip glossy’s new edition: ¡HOLA! Puerto Rico joins the celebrity news family

Weird news of the week: Puerto Rico paramedics detained in fatal shooting

VENEZUELA
Crime in Venezuela
No immunity here
A spate of kidnappings has embassies on edge

Chavez Predatory Appetite Sets Its Sight On Ripping Off The Workers

Chavez says ‘doing well’ after latest cancer treatment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his battle against cancer is “advancing” after he returned from a third round of radiotherapy in Cuba.

Chavez rallies supporters marking coup anniversary

The week’s posts:
Annals of smart diplomacy: Obama calls the Falklands the Maldives UPDATED

Summit of the Americas update: Hillary ties one on

A view from the Summit: A warm kiss

Colombia: Obama heading to the Summit of the Americas

After Chavez, the narcostate?

Argentina: Oil drama queens, and a king

Brazil: Dilma at the White House, another Latin American head of state slighted


Annals of smart diplomacy: Obama calls the Falklands the Maldives UPDATED

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The Latin American media’s having a ball with this one. During a joint press conference with Colombian president Santos, Obama said, “In terms of the Maldives, or the Falklands, whatever your preferred tern, our position is that… ah… that we’re going to remain neutral.”

20:01 into the video,

What’s several thousand miles among friends?

After saying that the US-Colombia free trade agreement will become effective on May 15, and having a photo-op with black Colombian children, Obama returned to the 57 States.

No word on whether Hillary had recovered from her hangover after her night at the Cafe Havana.

UPDATE,
Take her to the Maldives, then! ‘Part of My Job Is to Scout Out Where I May Want to Bring Michelle Back Later for Vacation’

Video, via Gateway Pundit,

UPDATE,
Linked by Public Secrets and Sister Toldjah. Thanks!
Linked by Hot Air. Thanks!

Summit of the Americas update: Hillary ties one on

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

The group photo went OK,

Obama didn’t agree to legalize cocaine and dismissed calls for greater political engagement with Cuba.

Cristina Fernandez didn’t get any US statements on the Falklands, so she left early.

Lucia Newman, who shilled for Castro when she worked for the BBC and is now working for al-Jazeera, says “this may be the last Summit of the Americas” unless Cuba is allowed to participate.

Hugo Chavez is back in Cuba for more radiation, or something.

And the Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Widens.

So what’s a girl to do?

Party hearty!

Yes siree, our Secretary of State had a cold one,

and led the conga line!

You never saw stuffy Condi Rice doing that while on the job, did you?

Smart diplomacy in action!

UPDATE:
You can’t make this up: she was at the Cafe Havana.


A view from the Summit: A warm kiss

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

UPDATE, Sunday April 15
Summit of the Americas update: Hillary ties one on

Obama is now in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas,

El presidente Santos recibe al presidente Obama en el Castill... on Twitpic

but before he arrived, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos was urging him to focus on Latin America. Hardly surprising, considering how Obama wasted the North American Summit with Canada and Mexico by derailing the press conference to talk about Obamacare. One could say that Nobody is dancing the “Hope & Change” in Latin America anymore.

Also before he got there, U.S. Secret Service agents leave Colombia over prostitution inquiry

Edwin Donovan, an agency spokesman, said that an unspecified number of agents have been recalled and replaced with others, stressing that Obama’s security has not been compromised because of the change. Obama arrived in Cartagena on Friday afternoon for this weekend’s Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 33 of the hemisphere’s 35 leaders to discuss economic policy and trade.

Donovan declined to disclose details about the nature of the alleged misconduct. But Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations relate to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena.

I’m actually puzzled as to what is going on. An “unspecified number” recalled, because of “at least one agent”?

Adler said the entire unit was recalled for purposes of the investigation.

Was this a set-up? Protectus interruptus?

At the Summit, the Latin Americans want to discuss two things,

The twin issues — the pros and cons of drug legalization and Cuba’s continued exclusion from the summit — were expected to dominate the agenda of the Summit of the Americas, highlighting the growing disconnect between Washington and an increasingly assertive and independent Latin American bloc led by powerhouse Brazil.

The hemispheric leaders were also to tackle regional integration, reducing poverty and inequality, combating transnational crime and increased access to technology.

But uppermost in their minds will be whether to rethink the fight against drugs, which are creating havoc across the region.

As of yesterday, Hugo Chavez wasn’t sure if he’ll attend, which will deprive Obama of another photo op and maybe some reading material (remember 2009?),

but today’s photo shows that Obama greeted Santos warmly

.

(Click on photo to enlarge.)

UPDATE,
Hugo’s not going.

Update 2: At Americas summit, Obama says no to legalizing drugs
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and others want to talk about what they call the failed war on drugs, as President Obama tries to focus on economic ties.

Linked by Instapundit. Thanks!


Colombia: Obama heading to the Summit of the Americas

Friday, April 13th, 2012

while his approval ratings drop,

According to a new Gallup Opinion Briefing out this morning, Obama’s median job approval rating in that region was 62% right after he took office in 2009.

Today, it’s 47%, a drop of 15 points or 25%.

Of course, he’s not seeking to transform that region and they can’t vote. Given the perennial talk by U.S. presidents about better neighborhood relations and the inevitable ensuing political indifference, Gallup found that only a median 24% of Latin Americans in 21 countries now see a strengthening of relations.

This compares to 43% in 18 countries back when Obama’s “Hope and Change” wasn’t a late-night laugh line.

The decline varies from Paraguay, where few expected it in 2009 (24%) and folks still don’t (22%), to Chile, where 60% expected better relations under Obama but today only 25% do.

Other declines include Colombia (down 10%), Panama (down 17%) and Brazil (down 18%) to Costa Rica (down 22%), Mexico (down 24%) and Uruguay (down 33%).

Why has Latin America lost faith on Obama?

President Obama’s new era of “engagement” with the region has yielded few—if any—tangible results. The administration has failed to defend democracy and the rule of law, failed to standby regional allies and friends, and failed to put forward concrete proposals to tackle the region’s most difficult security challenges.

The administration’s only success—passage of free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama—were hardly that. Both deals were signed under the Bush administration and were ready for congressional approval on Obama’s first day in office, but the White House—at the behest of union allies—stalled for two and a half years. The administration’s delay deprived U.S. corporations of important business opportunities and greatly damaged America’s reputation as a free market leader.

Obama signed the Colombia-US Free Trade Agreement last year but it has yet to be implemented, according to Business Week.

There is also the issue of the drug trade, with Latin American Leaders to Question U.S. Drug Policy at Summit.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Cartagena, Colombia at 5:45PM local time. Right now he’s in Tampa giving a speech.

While at the Summit, Obama will meet with Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez,

Although the agenda was not revealed Argentina and the US have several issues to discuss mainly trade, protectionism and compensation for American companies as well as possible retaliatory measures, sources said.

I hope he doesn’t come out and tell her that the US supports bilateral UK-Argentina talks over the Falklands.

Hugo Chavez is scheduled to make a cameo appearance, but I don’t think he’ll be watching the video on Cuba’s latest wave of repression,

No need to panic yet

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Students Fall Ill in New York, and Swine Flu Is Likely Cause

Tests show that eight students at a Queens high school are likely to have contracted the human swine flu virus that has struck Mexico and a small number of other people in the United States, health officials in New York City said yesterday.

The students were among about 100 at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows who became sick in the last few days, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City’s health commissioner.

“All the cases were mild, no child was hospitalized, no child was seriously ill,” Dr. Frieden said.

other cases in the US:

In the United States, so far, at least 11 swine flu cases have been confirmed. Seven were confirmed in San Diego and Imperial Counties in California and two in Kansas. In Texas, two 16-year-old students at Byron Steele High School in Cibolo, near San Antonio, were confirmed to have swine flu, and one of their classmates was suspected to have the virus. There have been no deaths, and officials said most of the 11 seemed to be recovering.

Additionally, Tamiflu has worked against the new strain.

The problem I see is that most doctors won’t be issuing Tamiflu and instead tell their patients to “rest and drink a lot of fluids”, as the local doctors here in Princeton do.

This other article is interesting on the timing: U.S. Slow to Learn of Mexico Flu
Canadian Officials Knew of Rare Strain Before Americans Did

Whether delayed communication among the countries has had a practical consequence is unknown. However, it seems that U.S. public health officials are still largely in the dark about what’s happening in Mexico two weeks after the outbreak was recognized.
,,,
On April 16 or 17, Mexico notified the Pan American Health Organization of the outbreak, Hernández said. The organization, based in Washington, is the Americas’ branch of the World Health Organization. Spokesmen for both groups were not able to say yesterday when the influenza or pandemic planning offices at WHO’s Geneva headquarters learned or were informed of the Mexico outbreak.

The CDC, in Atlanta, is one of WHO’s four “reference laboratories” for flu. It routinely gets samples from Mexico and many other countries, and processes them with great urgency, Nancy J. Cox, the head of the flu lab, said last night. It, too, eventually received the Mexican samples.

“The only reason the samples went first to Winnipeg is because the paperwork is easier. We were in a rush,” Hernández said.

The samples arrived in Canada on Wednesday. Six hours later, Mexican authorities were told that 16 of 17 had tested positive for swine flu and that it was the same strain just isolated by the CDC from the very different cases in California.

The next day, Mexican health authorities contacted the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services and said their country’s outbreak and the U.S. cases appeared to be two parts of the same event. That same day, the Mexican samples arrived in Atlanta. They were tested in four hours, and Mexico was informed that they pointed to swine flu.

I don’t know if the delay was related to Pres. Obama’s April 16 visit to Mexico or not, but the news certainly lends itself to speculation. Regardless, Pres. Obama is fine.

UPDATE
Via Jules, Wonkette,

As for Obama, after meeting Solís [who died of swine flu shortly after that] on the same night he met and praised the works of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he headed off to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. And that’s where, among other things, Obama shook hands with Venezualan President Hugo Chavez – which was, of course, an OUTRAGE against Democracy, according to U.S. wingnuts. (He was supposed to give Chavez a wedgie.)

Hmmm…I was thinking of a noogie, but never mind.

But this can now be seen in a whole new crazy light, if you are crazy. Maybe Obama secretly assassinated Chavez with the swine flu! Meanwhile, the actual outbreak is moving to horror mode.

Let’s not lose our heads, please.

UPDATE
Administration declares flu ‘emergency’

n Mexico, where the new strain apparently originated, there have been over 1,000 confirmed infections to date.
Photo: AP

In an unusual Sunday briefing at the White House, administration officials said a “public health emergency” is being declared in the United States in order to mobilize maximum resources to combat fears of a global swine-flu pandemic.

The term “sounds more severe than it really is,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who called the measure “standard operating procedure,” adding, “I wish we could call it a declaration of emergency preparedness.” The same measures, she said, were taken for the inauguration and in cases of flood and hurricane.

Alvaro on the gift

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

When I heard that Chavez had gifted Obama the Marxists’ loser-game screed, The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano (go ahead, look for it if you want it), all I could think of was Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s book, Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot which was first published in Spanish, Manual Del Perfecto Idiota Latinamericano, where Vargas Llosa, along with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza and Carlos Alberto Montaner debunked much of the nonsense that passes for political analysis in Latin America.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who thought about it. Mary O’Grady was saying,

Too bad Mr. Obama didn’t have a copy of the late 1990s bestseller “The Perfect Latin American Idiot” as a gift for Mr. Chávez.

As it turns out, Alvaro wrote the chapter dealing with Galeano’s book, and now Alvaro updates his message:

Regift, Please!
What to make of the book that Chavez gave Obama?
(via Ada)

The author claims that relations between Latin America and rich countries have been so pernicious that “everything … has always been transmuted into European–and later United States–capital.” Actually, for years that relationship has transmuted into the exact opposite: Latin American capital. In the last seven years alone, Latin America has benefited from $300 billion in net capital flows. In other words, a lot more capital came in than went out.

The book rails against the international division of labor, in which “some countries specialize in winning and others in losing.” That division of labor in the Western Hemisphere has not changed–Latin American countries still export commodities–and yet in the last six years, poverty in the region has been reduced to about one-third of the population, from just under half. This means that 40 million were lifted out of that hideous condition. Not to mention the 400 million pulled out of poverty in other “losing” nations worldwide in the last couple of decades.

The author pontificates that “raw materials and food are destined for rich countries that benefit more from consuming them more than Latin America does from producing them.” Sorry, amigo, but the story of this decade is that Latin America has made a killing sending exports abroad–the region has had a current account surplus for many years. Rich countries are so annoyed with all the things poor countries are exporting to them that they are asking their governments to “protect” them in the name of fair trade. The “buy American” clause in the fiscal stimulus package approved by Congress a few weeks ago is a case in point. The U.S. had a trade deficit of more than $800 billion last year. The poor, if I may echo Galeano’s hemophilic language, are sucking the veins of the rich.

The book claims that for years “the endless chain of dependency has been endlessly extended.” The story now is that the rich depend on the poor. That is why the Chinese have $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds! The book’s jeremiad goes on to say that “the well-being of our dominant classes … is the curse of our multitudes condemned to exist as beasts of burden.” One of the few countries that exemplifies that curse is the author’s beloved Cuba, where a worker cannot be paid directly by a foreign company employing him or her; the money goes to the government, which in turn pays the worker one-tenth of the salary–in nonconvertible local currency.

Galeano’s mathematics are hugely entertaining. He states that the average income of U.S. citizens is “seven times that of a Latin American and grows 10 times faster.” The gap has actually shrank, dear comrade. Many “poor” countries in modern times have seen their income gap with the Unites States narrow dramatically. Thailand and Indonesia have seen theirs cut almost by half in three decades.

The book’s Malthusian predictions invite no less compassion than its economic forecasts. Overpopulation, Galeano maintains, will mean that “in the year 2000 there will be 650 million Latin Americans,” the implication being that the region will starve. In 2000, the region’s population was 30 percent smaller than the author predicted.

Go read every word.

Someone send Pres. Obama the Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, please.

UPDATE
Free Marketeros rip to shreds the Galeano book.

Fidel Castro calls Obama ‘conceited’

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

You gotta laugh at the premise: Fidel Castro (or what’s left of him), the most conceited of all conceited people in the hemisphere, calls Pres. Obama “conceited:

“Comrade Fidel” was quick to dash the president’s optimism about easy rapprochement with Cuba, saying in a communique Tuesday that Obama misunderstood his brother Raul at the Summit of the Americas.

Well, smack my butt and call me Sally. You don’t say! You mean that the Festivus didn’t clear all the grievances? That the Cuban Communists weren’t sold on Hope and Change?

Indeed they weren’t:

…At the press conference, as well as in the final meetings of the Summit, Obama looked conceited. Such attitude by the US President was consistent with the abject positions adopted by some Latin American leaders. …When the US President said, in answering to Jake, that thousands of years had elapsed since 2004 until the present, he was superficial. Should we wait for so many years before his blockade is lifted? He did not invent it, but he embraced it just as much as the previous ten US presidents did.

What did I tell you?

UPDATE
Apparently, there are limits to “soft power,” and the good graces of President Obama’s international popularity.