I’m fighting a cold and the holidays kept me busy, so this week we have a mini-Carnival:
Macri wants to rally the country around the old (loser) cause: Argentina’s new government says it will press claims to Falkland Islands. Buenos Aires demands talks over future of disputed territory dashing hopes that Mauricio Macri will offer more conciliatory approach than Cristina Kirchner. The Junta, the Kirchners, and now Macri.
When do we get to call it a depression? Brazil Heads for Worst Recession Since 1901, Economists Forecast
— PanAm Post (@PanAmPost) December 31, 2015
El ‘policía del año’ en Texas era miembro del cártel más peligroso de México. Un policía del Departamento de Houston que fue nombrado como el mejor agente del año suministró armas y vehículos al cártel de Los Zetas desde 2006.
— PolicethePoliceACP (@PolicePoliceACP) January 1, 2016
While there are five states with significant challenges (Illinois, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Kentucky) , the majority of states have debt service-to-revenue ratios that are more manageable.
Venezuela Supreme Court blocks opposition’s parliamentary super-majority in ‘judicial coup’. Judges granted government request to suspend three parliamentarians due to take office next week – taking opposition below two-thirds majority needed to unpick Nicolas Maduro’s grip on power
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 2, 2016
Merry Christmas to all visitors! Here’s the Carnival,
That change is likely to make a terrible situation worse. It suggests that Mr Levy lost an argument within the government about whether austerity is the right cure for Brazil’s sickly economy, and that he lost it not because his economic remedy was wrong but because it was politically unpalatable.
Mr Li is one of seven officials with Fifa, world football’s governing body, who were arrested in Zurich in May, amid a huge corruption investigation.
Open-borders money backs Marco Rubio
Iran Taking Over Latin America
New traffic laws in the DF,
Cambridge University graduate killed in psychedelic ceremony in Peruvian Amazon. Unais Gomes, a 26-year-old high-flying London financier, was killed by a friend during ayahuasca ceremony near the jungle city of Iquitos
Some warn that Puerto Rico could be a test case for the rest of the country, paving the way for troubled states like Illinois to escape unsustainable debts.
Stephen J. Spencer, a restructuring expert representing Puerto Rico bondholders including some hedge funds, said letting the government renege on agreements with hedge funds and other investors would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the integrity of the bond market.
“It’s really a wealth transfer from the bondholders to the municipalities,” Mr. Spencer said.
The bondholders include large numbers of retirees.
Roberto Rincón trades his little Woodlands house for a jail cell. Roberto Rincón, the enchufado of Tradequip and Ovarb Industrial fame, is spending tonight in a Houston-area federal jail cell awaiting arrainment [sic] on money laundering charges.
Michael Totten accurately describes it: The Iraq of Latin America
Mexico is more like Iraq than any other country in the Western Hemisphere with the possible exception of Haiti. A bewilderingly multifaceted armed conflict has been raging since 2007 between more than a dozen militarized drug cartels, the federal government and a smorgasbord of citizen’s militias.
The Mexican mafia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Soviet Proxy during the Cold War that remains on the list of international terrorist organizations, back some of the cartels, and according to the Tucson Police Department, even Hezbollah has gotten involved.
The cartels are bribing and corrupting so many government officials that the state fights them only occasionally and only in certain places, leaving citizens at the mercy of murderous criminal enterprises that don’t flinch at even ISIS levels of brutality.
Totten reviews the documentary Cartel Land
The brutality in Mexico, a neighboring country, is difficult to imagine. Now Breitbart Texas reports that the Zetas are killing each other:
The series of executions and violence that have spiked along this region appear to show that Mexico’s most sadistic criminal group is undergoing internal changes in an effort to remain current and to keep their plazas under control. Their ongoing war with the Gulf Cartel has already spread to five years plunging the state into an insecurity crisis where the loss of lives remains beyond counting and neither side has been a clear winner.
Border security is national security, now more than ever.
Authorities in Tamaulipas state take down surveillance cameras installed by secret gang (emphasis added)
Recently, police announced that they had taken down 39 hidden surveillance cameras installed by traffickers at key points around the city to monitor movements by law enforcement authorities, rival gangs and ordinary citizens.
. . .
One local cartel – whose name has not been made public – has acknowledged that it set up 38 other cameras to closely follow movements made by the army, navy, police and prosecutors, according to an official statement.
Since the cartel itself has acknowledged it, why haven’t the authorities named it? Most likely, it would be either the Zetas or the Gulf cartel,
The region’s two most powerful drug organizations, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, have long battled for control of Tamaulipas’s 17 border crossings to ship narcotics to the north.
Not that these 39 cameras were the first – back in May authorities took down 30 others.
The WSJ reports on the latest cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generación:
Rise of Drug Cartel Brings Wave of Mexican ViolenceArmy hunts for three missing soldiers in Jalisco since helicopter was shot down on Friday
“A new and military powerful cartel is appearing, and opening up a new front in the war against drugs in Guadalajara and Jalisco,” said Raul Benitez, a security analyst at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The flare-up of violence in Guadalajara, a city of 1.5 million people in a metropolitan area of 4.5 million, and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta is the latest setback for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The government has been determined to show that Mexico is a modern, emerging economy, but its inability to control areas where criminal gangs continue to exert control have frustrated these efforts.
“Guadalajara is not a little town in the middle of nowhere, and this shows the cartel has the logistics and power to paralyze a city,” said Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico City.
. . .
The areas the Jalisco cartel controls sit astride important transport and production centers for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.
The Jalisco Nueva Generación, who are allies of the Sinaloa cartel, started in 2010 for the purpose of neutralizing the Zetas, according to this report from El Comercio.
El Nuevo Herald has a report that has not made its way yet into the Miami Herald, Coyotes, detrás de millonario tráfico de migrantes (Coyotes, behind the multi-million immigrant trade).
Among the findings:
- It’s a high-risk business, generating an estimated US$6.6 billion per year.
- Each illegal alien pays $5,000-$10,000.
- The human traffic networks bribe authorities, gangs controlling railways, and drug cartels’ tax.
- The profit is estimated at US$3,500-$4,000 per illegal alien per successful trip.
- The field guides may not necessarily know who they work for.
- Mexican teens may work as field guides since they are returned to Mexico and not charged as adults. They are paid $100 per illegal alien.
- U.S. citizens are paid $150-$200 per illegal alien when delivering them to safe houses.
The reporters interviewed some of the coyotes, from one that claims to charge $2,500 from the Guatemala-US trip, to another who charges US$10,000 from Central America to the US. The $10,000 includes hotels, bribes, and a cut for the cartels, but there may be an additional $5,000 fee for hazard pay if the Zetas must be avoided/paid off.
I continue to ask, who’s paying for the current invasion? Or are we supposed to believe that tens of thousands of Central America’s indigents suddenly could come up with the money to pay the coyotes? And that the coyotes are not getting paid?
The AP article, in English, MIGRATION SPOTLIGHTS MEXICAN ‘COYOTE’ SMUGGLERS
Gov. Rick Perry deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to border
The geological marvel known to Texas oilmen as the Eagle Ford Shale Play is buried deep underground, but at night you can see its outline from space in a twinkling arc that sweeps south of San Antonio toward the Rio Grande.
The light radiates from thousands of surface-level gas flares and drilling rigs. It is the glow of one of the most extravagant oil bonanzas in American history, the result of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Curving south and west, the lights suddenly go black at Mexico’s border, as if there were nothing on the other side.
This is a reflection of politics, not geology. The Eagle Ford shale formation is believed to continue hundreds of miles into Mexico, where it is known as the Burgos Basin. But while more than 5,400 wells have been sunk on the Texas side since 2008, Mexico has attempted fewer than 25.
There’s the Texas oil boom:
The shale boom is the main reason the United States is challenging Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top oil producer. Texas pumps more than a third of U.S. output, and on its own the state would rank as the world’s ninth-largest oil producer.
The situation in Mexico gets complicated by the Batial-1 well site being in an area controlled by the Zeta drug cartel. All the more reason for the US to strive for full energy independence.
Fascinating article in Popular Science on Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies
Inside the communications infrastructure of the ultraviolent syndicate
Why walkie-talkies? To enable communication even in locations without cellular service.
How Jose Luis Del Toro Estrada was tapped to develop the covert radio network also remains a mystery, but as his system grew, it supplied the Zetas with what’s called a command-and-control capacity. “It essentially linked all the different members of the cartel—the people doing the trafficking and the people doing the protection—so there was a communication between them,” says Pike, the DEA special agent. Armed with handheld radios, the cartel’s street-corner halcones, or hawks, could help commanders avoid arrest by alerting them whenever police set up checkpoints. A midlevel boss in Nuevo Laredo could monitor a semitruck carrying several tons of cocaine as it trundled across the border into Texas. Most crucially, Zetas gunmen could use the system to attack and seize plazas, or smuggling corridors, held by other drug gangs.
The Zetas’ military training and ultraviolent tactics were crucial for propelling their rise to power, but one other factor was essential: After splitting from the Gulf Cartel, it was the Zetas who maintained control of the radio network.
Read the whole thing.