Nicaraguan illegal aliens and other Latin American items

Nicaragua exports its poor… to Costa Rica:

Historically, Nicaraguans have always used their southern neighbour as a refuge during periods of violence, such as the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza or the war of the 1980s. But since the 1990s migration has been driven by the struggle for economic survival. After the fighting ended, demobilisation left thousands of soldiers and counter-revolutionaries on the loose, with no resources or future, in a country whose economy was unable to integrate them. At the time, the Nicaraguan government’s priority was to privatise and reduce public spending. Costa Rica, which has impressive economic growth and a remarkably well-developed welfare state for Central America, seemed an accessible El Dorado.

As I have said before, there is no such thing as “Hispanics”. The article explains,

“Costa Ricans see Nicaraguans as a negative value,” said Carlos Sandoval, a sociologist at San José university. He argued that Costa Ricans construct their identity around powerful ideas: the paleness of their skin, which is unusual in Central America (and is the result of the fact that there were only a few indigenous inhabitants when the conquistadores arrived); the stability of a democracy that has experienced little violence; and the success of an economy and a welfare state unique in the region. Costa Rica and its neighbours describe it as “the Switzerland of Central America”. Its ecotourist-friendly beaches and jungles, its relaxed way of life attract prosperous foreign tourists in numbers its neighbours can only dream about.

From this perspective, Nicaragua, with its wars and chronic instability, seems an immature country condemned to poverty. In Costa Rica, the dark-skinned immigrants are often described as violent, ignorant and untrustworthy, as thieves and alcoholics. “No seas Nica” (“don’t be an idiot”) is a common insult. This latent xenophobia, and correspondingly strong anti-Costa Rican feelings in Nicaragua, rises to the surface each time the perennial conflict over navigation rights on the San Juan river turns nasty.


The Economist has an article on Salvadoran gangs: El Salvador’s crime wave. The government is trying to tame criminal gangs

President Saca did his share of finger-pointing, lambasting the US, in particular, for worsening the problem of gangs (knows as “maras”) by deporting back to El Salvador thousands of Salvadoran nationals who had served time in US jails for crimes committed while in the US. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, there was a 26% rise in the number of Salvadorans deported from the US between January and September 2006. Among the deportees, almost one-quarter have criminal records. Since most have not committed any crimes in El Salvador, the authorities are unable to arrest them upon arrival at the international airport.

In Mexico, The new president has sent the army after the drug mobs. More importantly, he has started to reform the police

HE TOOK office as Mexico’s president only on December 1st, but Felipe Calderon has lost no time in putting pressure on the country’s powerful drug gangs. Last month he dispatched 7,000 troops and police to the central state of Michoacan. Forces of similar size have since been sent to Tijuana on the northern border, and to the Pacific resort of Acapulco. On January 19th, the government extradited four drug kingpins and a dozen lesser figures to the United States for trial. Notably, they included Osiel Cárdenas, the head of the so-called “Gulf Cartel”, by far the most powerful drug gangster to be extradited so far.

This flurry of action responded to a “real anxiety in some parts of the country” that organised crime was “out of control”, Mr Calderon told El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, this week. There were 2,100 drug-related murders last year, up from 1,300 in 2005. Some 600 killings took place in Michoacán alone in 2006. Many of the murders involved brutal cruelty: in a notorious case, five severed heads were dumped in a dance hall in Michoacán. Much of the violence stems from a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and its main rival, based in Sinaloa. Paradoxically, this was triggered by arrests made by the previous government of Vicente Fox.

Two things compound the problem. The first is the continuing demand for drugs across the border in the United States. The second is that during the seven decades of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, defeated by Mr Fox in 2000, the main objective of policing was political control rather than crime fighting.

What do all these items have in common? They all pertain to immigration.


India in Latin America, and other Caribbean items

I have blogged in the past on China’s presence in Latin America, but Andres Oppenheimer says India will be big player in Latin America

It’s not surprising that 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries have set up embassies here, more than they have in Russia.

”India is in a growth trajectory,” Nath told me, noting that India is likely to grow at 10 percent annually in coming years. “And Latin America is very important to us.”

While India’s trade with Latin America lags far behind China’s, Indian officials are working overtime to catch up, as I learned after meeting R. Viswanathan, the Foreign Ministry’s head of Latin American affairs.

Unlike most Indian career diplomats, who tend to be low-key bureaucrats, Viswanathan is a highly visible Latin America promoter. His business card reads, ”Passionate about Latin America,” and he personally runs three blogs and one website, Business with Latin America [link added], dedicated to the region.

Oppenheimer notes that politically, India has an advantage over China:

America for its Buddhist history and spiritual movements that are increasingly popular in the region, and for its booming information technology and pharmaceutical companies, he said.

”While China reminds me of 16th century Spain, which was only interested in extracting Latin America’s natural resources, India is never going to be an imperial country,” agreed Abdul Nafei, head of the Latin American studies program at Jawhardal Nehru University.

My opinion: Get ready to hear more about India in Latin America. In addition to a 1.1 billion population, democracy and a booming economy, India will offer an alternative economic role model — based on exporting services rather than manufacturing — that some in the region will find more appealing than China’s. Lagos, the former Chilean president, knew what he was talking about.

In other Caribbean items,
Former tinpot dictator Daniel Noriega of Panama will be released from prison later this year:

When Noriega steps out of his specially built, apartment-like cell at the Federal Correctional Institution in Southwest Miami-Dade, he probably won’t be free. Noriega — reportedly 68 or 72, depending on conflicting birth records — is wanted in Panama and in France.

Noriega was sentenced to a 30-year term for protecting Colombian cocaine shipments through Panama in the 1980s.

At least he can still speak out: Former Chavez confidant becomes critic in Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez’s political mentor — who once persuaded the fiery leader to seek power through elections after he led a failed coup — now says the regime has “all the characteristics of a dictatorial government.”

Richard Rahn writes about the Collapsing Venezuela

Venezuela no longer has an independent central bank, and inflation is already up to 17 percent and rapidly rising. We know countries thrive with economic freedom but decline without it, and Venezuela is now down to 126 out of 130 nations in the 2006 Economic Freedom of the World the most rapid decline ever (in 1995 it was No. 75). And, finally, we know that when a state becomes totally corrupt an economic collapse always follows.

Here are some NEW DEAD CASTRO RUMORS, in case you thought I forgot.

Meanwhile in South America,
Evo replaced seven out of 16 ministers of his cabinet – a day after celebrating his first year in office.

In Spanish: Los muertos de Castro, a must-see video on The Cuba Archive:


‘Jad’s junket

As I mentioned Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on a tour of friendly South American countries. He started with Venezuela, where unfortunately he couldn’t make it to Hugo’s inaguration (and neither did any heads of state). While in Veneuzela, Jad and Hugo renewed their vows to undermine the USA, by starting an anti-USA fund

The two countries had previously revealed plans for a joint $2 billion fund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran, but the leaders said Saturday the money would also be used for projects in friendly countries throughout the developing world.

“It will permit us to underpin investments … above all in those countries whose governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the (U.S.) imperialist yoke,” Chavez said.

“This fund, my brother,” the Venezuelan president said, referring affectionately to Ahmadinejad, “will become a mechanism for liberation.”

“Death to U.S. imperialism!” he said.

Ahmadinejad, who is starting a tour of left-leaning countries in the region, called it a “very important” decision that would help promote “joint cooperation in third countries,” especially in Latin America and Africa.

No word from Hugo about the kidnappings, but I digress.

Both Venezuela and Iran depend on foreign refineries for their oil.

After Venezuela, it was time to visit with Daniel Ortega in Managua. The lovefest went well:

The two countries announced that they were restoring full diplomatic relations and re-opening embassies in their capitals.

Gateway Pundit has more.

Jad did make it in time to Rafael Correa’s inaguration

Before arriving in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, Mr Ahmadinejad said both countries had common views and would talk about expanding ties.

Borrowing a page from Hugo, Correa’s already saying,

he will call a referendum on a special assembly to rewrite the constitution so that the powers of the traditional parties are curbed.

Let’s hope Rafael’s not counting on ‘Jad to clean the air


Following up on another Venezuela story I’ve been following for a while, More illegal drugs entering Haiti by air from Venezuela

Update Elephants In Academia posts that Hugo Chavez to “govern by decree”
The Young and Naive Flock to Caracas, Report Back – no, Scott’s not referring to ‘Jad.



As I posted yesterday, Chavez’s official announcement of what he’s been up to all these years wrecked havoc with the financial markets.
The effect was not limited to Venezuela, but at least was limited. NYT: Venezuelan Plan Shakes Investors

Investors reacted with alarm here and in markets in the United States and throughout Latin America on Tuesday as they measured the impact of the plan by Mr. Chávez to nationalize crucial areas of the economy. Memories of past nationalizations during another turbulent era, in places like Cuba and Chile, helped drive down the Caracas stock exchange’s main index by almost 19 percent.

Markets across Latin America declined Tuesday, but the drop was modest in most other countries, with the Bovespa index in Brazil and the Bolsa index of Mexico each falling 1.9 percent. The measured reaction appears to reflect the belief of investors that Mr. Chávez, in spite of his words, has limited influence on the economic policies of other governments in the region.

Prairie Pundit, in his post (h/t Larwyn) Markets quickly send negative message to Chavez correctly states:

Socialism belongs on the ash heap of history and Chavez attempt to resurrect it is simply a power grab for his megalomania

Chavez will continue to exert power and influence in Latin America – in this morning’s headlines I also found Bolivia Allows Venezuela To Send Troops. However, in Nicaragua, former Cold War Marxist rebel Daniel Ortega, will not copy the radical economic policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his main foreign ally, a top aide said on Tuesday.

In today’s Daily News Michael Shifter speculates,

Rather than assuring his longevity in office, Chavez’s moves at the outset of his eighth year as Venezuela’s president may accelerate the implosion of a political system whose soft spots and vulnerabilities are increasingly exposed.

The WaPo editorial realizes that (emphasis added)

Some will see in Mr. Chávez’s actions a threat to U.S. interests. Certainly, those who caution that it is unwise to count on Venezuela to continue supplying up to 15 percent of U.S. oil imports have a point. If assets of U.S. companies are seized without fair compensation, Venezuela should be subject to penalties. But the main threat posed by Mr. Chávez is to Venezuela’s 26 million people. If he follows through on his threats, they can look forward to steadily diminishing freedom and — if the history of socialism is any guide — national impoverishment.

I fully expect Chavez to stay in power for many years to come. Rather than an aftermath, this week’s announcement is a beginning.

Update Don’t miss David Paulin‘s article on CANTV.

Update 2
Expropriations Darken Venezuela (h/t Pajamas Media)

Chavez’s choice of industries to expropriate is clearly strategic. A dual attack on phones and electricity is a sly effort to silence the electronic media, and with it all public scrutiny of the regime.

All electronic means of sending information – the Internet, in particular – will be at the consent of Chavez and his Cuban advisers. It also comes right after Chavez’s bid to put RCTV, a private station, out of business by not renewing its license.

Without independent media to check him, Chavez opens the gate to moves he doesn’t want the media to cover — the sorts of things Fidel Castro did to secure his permanent power, like firing-squad walls and forced labor camps. An end to a free press will also atomize society, leaving citizens less free to judge the actions of their government as anomalous or systematic. Tyrants prefer to operate in the dark.

Chavez’s ideological blueprint is not encouraging, either. He worships Castro, seeking to inherit his mantle as leader of the international left. Chavez’s other template is his devotion to Simon Bolivar, Venezuela’s first president and a Latin American icon.

It’s not well-known, but the latter’s heroic image as liberator of the Americas was tarnished by savagery — forced marches, terror and civilian murders.

Count on Chavez to be attuned to the darker side of Bolivar’s character in the socialist revolution he calls “Bolivarian.” In fact, prepare for the worst.