My latest article, The Strange Case of Rodrigo Rosenberg, is up at Real Clear World.
My latest article, The Strange Case of Rodrigo Rosenberg, is up at Real Clear World.
Rodrigo Rosenberg, who was killed last Sunday in Guatemala while riding his bicycle, left a tape accusing president Alvaro Colom of his death. Rosenberg also left a letter left a three-page long letter accusing Colom of money laundering, use of public funds, and fronting businesses for narco-traffickers. In the tape, Rosenberg stated the country’s vice-president was not involved in these crimes.
I posted the original video, but here’s the video with subtitles,
The “more info” section at this YouTube translates the rest.
In the recording Rosenberg, appearing calm and wearing a suit and tie, said a former client, businessman Khalil Musa, angered the government by refusing to collaborate in alleged deals involving a development bank and “non-existent” social programmes headed by Sandra de Colom, the president’s wife. In March the businessman and his daughter, Marjorie Musa, were shot dead.
In addition to the first lady, Rosenberg named Gustavo Alejos, the president’s private secretary, and Gregorio Valdez, a businessman with links to the government, as accomplices in the alleged conspiracy which involved drug trafficking, money laundering and front companies.
Guatemala rejects allegations of role in lawyer’s death; the Wall Street Journal reports that the Dead Lawyer’s Video Pitches Guatemala Into Crisis
I’ll talk about this in this morning’s podcast. Chat’s open at 10:45AM.
Like something out of an episode of Mystery,
GUATEMALA CITY — A lawyer slain by gunmen over the weekend appears in a video tape that emerged Monday alleging that if anything happened to him it would be at the behest of Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.
Lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg was shot to death by unidentified assailants while riding his bicycle Sunday, the newspaper El Periodico de Guatemala said.
In the video distributed to local media, Rosenberg says: “If you are watching this message, it is because I was assassinated by President Alvaro Colom with help from Gustavo Alejos,” the president’s private secretary.
Former interior minister Adela de Torrebiarte, who knew Rosenberg, said he was the man on the video.
The director of El Periodico, Juan Luis Font, said the accusation was distributed to media in audio format at Rosenberg’s funeral and later in the video.
Rosenberg says on the tape that officials might want to kill him because he represented businessman Khalil Musa, who was killed along with his daughter Marjorie in March. Rosenberg alleged those killings were in retaliation for Musa’s refusal to engage in acts of corruption that Colom purportedly invited him to participate in.
Noticias 24 quotes Rosenberg saying, “with the approval of Mr. Álvaro Colom and of [his wife] Sandra de Colom.
Here’s the full video in Spanish,
Rosenberg also left a three-page long letter accusing Colom of money laundering, use of public funds, and fronting businesses for narco-traffickers.
This week’s big story: Chavez’s nationalizing the oil contractors, removing books from public libraries, threatening Globovision, all for the purpose of consolidating power around himself, which was the subject of this morning’s podcast. See the links under Venezuela below.
Another big story: while the OAS aims to legitimize the Cuban regime by granting it membership in the organization, the Cuban government rejected the idea via an article by Fidel Castro in Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party.
In other news, Peru is also granting asylum to Bolivian ministers who oppose Evo Morales. as you may recall, Peru recently granted political asylum to Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales.
At the Melia Cohiba
UPDATE, Tuesday 12 May,
Welcome, Dodgeblogium readers. Please visit often.
There are lots of interesting stories today, but do not miss Mary O’Grady’s excellent article in today’s Wall Street Journal, Aid Keeps Latin America Poor: For real progress, they need the means to accumulate wealth. This should be required reading for everybody.
Here’s also the video,
A meeting with Vladimir Bukovsky
La advertencia de Biden
La lucha de México contra la droga tendrá el efecto secundario de empujar a los traficantes hacia Centroamérica
Para desgracia de México, los esfuerzos por cerrar el corredor del narcotráfico en el Caribe tuvieron éxito
Zeta camp found in Guatemala
Two from The Economist:
Taking on the narcos, and their American guns. Senior American officials are trooping to Mexico with assurances of support in its drug war. Will warm words be backed up by action?
The Mexico-US border: Fear of violence, But still pretty safe—on the northern side
As many as 12,000 Puerto Rican schoolchildren, teachers and school administrators are believed to be victims of an identity-theft ring that sold stolen personal documents to illegal immigrants in the mainland United States, according to the FBI.
This week’s posts and podcasts:
How Chavez is subverting Latin Democracy
The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S
Ecuador: Who is Rómulo López and why does Correa want him arrested?
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on the budget, easing restrictions with Cuba, and the US joining the UNHRC
At Real Clear World:
U.S to Lift Some Cuba Travel Curbs
Doha Brief: Chávez Invites Bashir to Venezuela
Two big stories last week:
Allen Stanford, resident of St. Croix and holder of dual US-Antigua citizenship, managed to bilk thousands of investors across Latin America, and went missing for a few days. He eventually was located in Virginia. I did a background post for Real Clear World and will continue to follow the story in months to come.
The second big story is the (pdf file) “CHANGING CUBA POLICY — IN THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTEREST” report by the committee headed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar (Rep. – Indiana). The report – as the title says – recommends a change in US foreign policy with Cuba. Don’t miss today’s podcast on the Lugar report.
Reality intrudes on drug war
$8bn ‘missing’ from Allen Stanford’s offshore bank
Ecuador expels second US diplomat for ‘meddling in internal affairs’
Ecuador ordered the expulsion on Wednesday of a second US diplomat for allegedly “meddling in its internal affairs” in a dispute over an aid programme, fuelling tensions between the OPEC member and its most important trade partner.
El Salvador and the Chávez Model
With the presidential election approaching, chavismo weighs heavily on voters’ minds.GUADALOUPE
Race, class fuel social conflict on French Caribbean islands
Hallan avioneta venezolana abandonada en Honduras Authorities found Venezuelan airplane abandoned in Honduras. The plane was believed to have carried nearly a ton of cocaine.
Must-read report on the Mexican drug wars at the Wall Street Journal: The Perilous State of Mexico
With drug-fueled violence and corruption escalating sharply, many fear drug cartels have grown too powerful for Mexico to control. Why things are getting worse, and what it means for the United States.
Chavez holds Venezuela
In Bronx, Little Houses That Evoke Puerto Rico
Abrogation of the soul
Venezuela: Expectations & Challenges 2009 – The Opposition’s Perspective . Part 1 here, continues at YouTube
Che’s image and its perception
EDITORIAL: Illegal-alien outrage
Special thanks to Ada, the Baron, Eneas, Larwyn and Maggie
Continuing the thread on Mexico’s drug wars, here’s a very interesting article: Drug Cartels Move Beyond Borders, by Carlos Macias.
The article talks not only about Mexico, but also about
Latin American Thought blog’s Eliot Brockner reports on the recent seizure of 1,000 kilos of cocaine at Buenos Aires’ port. The fact that Mexican drug cartels “can use Argentina as an entry (ephedrine/pseudoephedrine) and exit (cocaine) point suggests there is a fairly well-coordinated smuggling ring capable of transporting large quantities of illicit merchandise across South America,” he writes.
Latin American Thought also points to a Chinese connection:
Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the two key ingredients used in meth labs for the production of homemade methamphetamines. The ingredients primarily come from China and are legally imported to many countries throughout the world.
Don’t miss also El Universal‘s reports (in Spanish).
The drug trade, crime, and terrorism are linked like the threads woven in a fabric.
Extraordinary news from Colombia:
Colombia smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties
Colombian authorities said on Tuesday they broke up a drug and money-laundering ring in an international operation that included the capture of three people suspected of shipping funds to Hezbollah guerrillas.
More than 100 suspects were arrested in Colombia and overseas on charges they trafficked drugs and laundered cash for Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel and for outlawed paramilitaries in a network that stretched from South America to Asia, the attorney’s general office said.
“The criminal organisation used routes through Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Middle East and Europe, bringing in cash from the sale of these substances,” the statement said.
Among those arrested in Colombia were three people suspected of coordinating drug smuggling to send some of their profits to groups such as Hezbollah, the office said.
Those suspects — Chekry Mahmoud Harb, Ali Mohamad Abdul Rahim and Zacaria Hussein Harb — used front companies to send drug cash overseas, it said without providing further details.
Also among the arrested, Guatemalan drug kingpin Otto Roberto Herrera García one of the 40 most wanted criminals in the world.
In addition to Venezuela, Panama, Guatemala, Middle East and Europe, the cartel transacted in the US, Canada, Africa, and Asia, which is unsual, considering that Asian countries involved are also drug producers. Not unsual, however, would be that the international drug rings may be using similar money laundering processes and resources.
Also arrested were members of paramilitary groups in Colombia.
Here’s the official Colombian government press release on the raid (in Spanish). I’m not sure why the WaPo finds it necessary to title their Reuters reprint as “Colombia says smashes drug ring with Hezbollah ties.”
This is an extraordinary mission indeed.
First of all, the Colombian armed forces have performed another hugely successful operation this year. The US training and technology are well used, and the military have proved themselves trustworthy. This alone is a tremendous improvement from the condition they were in eight years ago.
This was an international operation: Colombia’s seeking out and cooperating with international law enforcement agencies. This particular operation had been in the works for two years,
A statement from the [Colombian] attorney general’s office said the international police operation, codenamed Titan, had been under way for more than two years.
Its aim was to break up a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring that operated globally, from Colombia to the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
Ninety people were detained overseas, while raids in the cities of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Pereira led to 21 further arrests.
From the internal security standpoint, Colombian law enforcement is also going after the paramilitaries. Are you paying attention, Obama and the House Democrats?
Last but not least: International terrorism, Islamists (in this case, Shi’ite Hezbollah), crime, kidnapping, money laundering and the drug trade are not separate elements in South America; they are the threads from which one fabric is woven. American policymakers need to recognize that fact.
The US must show its support of Colombia in every way. Passing the FTA would be a good start.
Recent archived posts on Hezbollah in Latin America here, including the story on the Venezuelan Minister of the Interior‘s ties with Hezbollah.
See also November 2007: Piracy, the Tri-Border Area and terrorism and July 2006: Hezbollah in Latin America