How the World Works comments on the budget speech,
How the World Works comments on the budget speech,
All fun and circumstance, via Maria,
Dan Miller writes on Walid Makled, Venezuela, Latin America and the United States
Good for Chávez, good for Colombia, good for Obama; bad for Makled, bad for freedom in Latin America and bad for the United States.
Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe explains why Makled is of interest to the United States,
The US had actually failed to follow up on Colombia’s offer to extradite Makled to the US
in addition to being one of the most prolific drug kingpins in the world, Makled may know enough to expose the connections between the drug trade, the Venezuelan government, and terrorist group Hezbollah.
As you may recall, last Sunday Jackson Diehl of the WaPo was asking, Why isn’t Obama fighting Colombia’s dirty deal with Chavez? Diehl’s answer is that Obama has no stomach for taking on Chavez, since Obama eschews aggressive US leadership.
Miller, in turn, expands on the issue,
Although Colombia has given U.S. officials, primarily Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, “full access” to Makled, little seems to have come of it to disparage Chávez and his merry band; once he is sent to Venezuela, nothing more will. He will not be in a position to testify in any U.S. court and it seems unlikely that anything he has said or is likely to say once in Venezuela will become publicly known in the United States. Former Colombian President Uribe has stated that he opposed Makled’s extradition to Venezuela.
The way it worked out, probably without any wise guidance from the Obama Administration, Venezuela will soon silence Makled, at least for a while or perhaps permanently, and that’s a good thing for el Presidente Chávez as well as perhaps for President Obama. Besides, Colombian President Santos seems to have got some good from it and that probably hurt Chávez. A perceptive blogger in Venezuela notes,
Chávez really, really wants narcocelebrity Walid Makeld back to Venezuela where a mock trial will silence, for a few weeks at least, all the narco charges pressed against some of the highest military ranks of the Venezuelan army, and who knows how many that are into the laundering system of Venezuela, made proficient through extensive washing of corruption dirty clothing. So Santos had no trouble to force Chávez to seat [sic] down with cursed Honduras president Lobo and have the picture published, with a Chávez looking so ill at ease that for a brief instant I had some kind of sorry pity feeling for him. But very brief, rest assured, as soon as I remembered that he has only himself to blame for all the blackmail that Santos and Colombia are putting him through. Big hit for Santos if you ask me! With an additional slap at Lula, by the way as now Roussef will have it easier to renew ties with Honduras. Don’t you love this moments of ground shifting?
Another English language blogger in Honduras wrote recently that since Honduran President Lobo wanted Honduras back in the OAS he had to talk first to Colombian President Santos, the circus owner, and only after things were arranged to Chávez, a mere circus clown.
Not that the Obama Administration had all or any of this in mind; very little attention is paid (or has for a long time been paid) to goings on in South and Central America and what interest the Obama Administration has shown has generally been maldirected, as the Obama Administration waffle flipping contest in Honduras during the “military coup” that wasn’t a military coup pretty clearly demonstrated. President Obama’s Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, was firmly on Zelaya’s side and would have been better employed monitoring EPA noxious gas emission gauges in some remote corner of Montana. The former U.S. ambassador, Charles Ford, had a very good grasp of what Zelaya was about and Llorens did not.
If we had a strong president, more interested in freedom and democracy than in “democracy” without freedom, it would be a good thing if he were more attentive to and active in Latin American affairs. As things stand, it’s better if he continues to remain aloof.
A missed opportunity, indeed.
Not quite what Hillary and Obama expected from “smart diplomacy,”
“Cuba’s Deep-Water Drilling Proposal Raises Concern“, as well it should, since it’s sixty miles off the Florida coast,
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressed concern Thursday about Cuba’s proposal to allow deep-water oil and gas drilling off the Florida coast.
The U.S. has banned offshore drilling in waters near the Florida coast. Following last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, Mr. Salazar and other U.S. officials have been engaging Mexico, Brazil and other countries in discussions about offshore-drilling safety, following on U.S. actions to tighten safety standards.
But so far they haven’t talked with officials in Cuba, where several global companies have signed leases, and Spain’s Respol is expected to begin drilling this year.
“Obviously because it’s located sixty miles off the coast of Florida, it’s an issue that we’re monitoring very carefully,” Mr. Salazar said during a forum on offshore-drilling safety. “It’s an issue of concern.”
Last week, Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, endorsed the idea of establishing uniform safety standards among the U.S., Mexico and Cuba for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He cautioned that finding a way to do so would be “tricky” and needed to be explored.
Mexico’s talks with Cuba have been limited to a dispute over the border between the two nations’ territorial waters, which the United Nations is helping to resolve, said Mario Gabriel Budebo, undersecretary for hydrocarbons in Mexico’s Ministry of Energy.
“Once that is solved, then we can move forward to other issues,” Mr. Budebo said Thursday during the drilling-safety forum.
Unmentioned in the article is the fact that Cuba hired Chinese and Canadian companies to work on 36 oil wells five years ago.
Rather than address the issue in the USA that we are the only nation in the world which prevents itself from exploring and exploiting its own energy resources, Salazar and the US officials are attending a conference where they are trying to impose rules on 12 other countries – among them China and Canada – on how to drill offshore. Those countries see energy production as necessary for their national best interest, unlike the USA.
Good luck with that.
1. Violence and Calderón:
Violence increases pressure on Calderon (emphasis added)
In yet another case of alleged police complicity in murder, authorities found the bodies of four men detained three weeks ago in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. The men disappeared in the system after they were arrested by a special forces unit of municipal police. Their bodies, showing signs of torture, turned up in the high grass at a ranch Wednesday.
Four years into his U.S.-backed, military-led war against drug cartels, Calderon’s government is struggling to make good on promises to transform the state and local police forces, whose officers are often ill trained and poorly paid. These same units often work for crime mafias and drug traffickers. Calderon’s opponents in the Mexican congress have blocked his efforts to place local police under state control.
Authorities searching shallow pits in San Fernando, about 90 miles south of Brownsville, Tex., said they found 23 more corpses Thursday, bringing the total to 145 since the first were uncovered last week.
The locations highlighted above bring me to
2. The Threat Just Inside Our Door
National Security: The Defense Department warns that the cartels making Mexico a war zone are operating easily here too. And a secret U.S. report leaked in Mexico warns of even worse. So why isn’t anyone talking about it?
“The drug trade is inherently associated with creating instability” and is “often a localized funding source for insurgent and criminal groups.”
As for Mexico’s cartels, he [William F. Wechler, deputy assistant secretary of defense, on his testimony last Tuesday to a Senate armed services subcommittee on emerging global threats] said they operate in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. Amazingly enough, that was an understatement.
According to an internal Justice Department report leaked to Mexico’s El Universal this week and available only in Spanish, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations have affiliates in at least 1,286 U.S. cities, with 143 reporting directly to cartel leaders.
Translating from the El Universal report, InsightCrime.com said the Sinaloa Cartel, run by Mexico’s biggest kingpin, Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, operates in 75 U.S. cities.
The Zetas, a separate organization known for beheadings, operate in 37. Then there’s the Gulf Cartel operating in 37 cities, the Juarez Cartel in 33, the Beltran-Leyva Organization in 30, La Familia in 27 and the Tijuana cartel in 21.
That would explain why Phoenix has seen beheadings, Las Vegas has seen child kidnappings, Los Angeles has seen freeway shootings and both El Paso and Brownsville, Texas, have seen the murder of American college students.
There’s a lot of money behind all this violence, and the money has to be laundered. Here is a post on trade-based money-laundering,
On Washing Dirty Cash
For what it’s worth, the most notorious money-launderers in Torreón, at least according to the word on the street, were also really successful businesses, especially nightclubs and car dealerships. There were a couple that were always empty yet stayed open for years, but more common were the ones that would have made money with or without the dirty cash flowing through. I can only imagine the huge volume of legitimate sales makes it harder to identify a place as a money-laundry.
Once the money is “clean”, it pays for a lot of politicians’ favors.
Remember back when hookers were polluting the public right of way in the theater district? Bill Clinton thinks that was romantic and fascinating:
Clinton said he first visited Times Square in 1964 when he was a freshman at Georgetown University. He said he saw “a hooker approach a man in a gray flannel suit.” He said it was “pretty heavy stuff for a guy from Arkansas.”
Clinton said the area is cleaner and safer now — and that’s good.
But he sounded like he missed the old days.
“I still have vivid memories of it,” he said. “Romantic. Fascinating. It was dangerous.”
Melts your heart, doesn’t he?
UPDATE, Friday April 15,
Here’s Bill, saying it on camera
Moe Lane is Choosing Disney over hookers.
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