— Fausta (@Fausta) December 30, 2016
Post-Fidel Castro Havana may lose its long-time protector and guarantor of security, Russia, according to Cuba-watchers in Miami’s community of exiles and dissidents.
They predict Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer the incoming Trump administration a free hand to deal with Cuba as it sees fit in return for the United States recognizing Moscow’s invasion and annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
The assessment comes from former Cuban officials who fled the island nation under the rule of Fidel Castro. They said Putin is seeking to use the recent passing of Castro as an opportunity to take the pressure off a deteriorating domestic economic situation back in Russia.
It is an interesting premise, but my initial reaction while I read the article was, “Is this a trial balloon?”, and if so, from whom?
To say that I distrust reports based on unnamed sources, especially if those are “former Cuban officials” – and the report is not found elsewhere – is to put it mildly.
Following the news that Russia wants military bases in Cuba, here’s another interesting note: Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro palsying with Putin at the World Energy Congress in Instanbul.
Putin announced that
non-Opec member Russia was ready to work with the cartel in imposing measures to limit oil production, in comments that propelled the price of crude to its highest levels in a year.
. . .
Nicolas Maduro, President of Opec member Venezuela which has seen its economy battered by the low oil prices, said a “new mechanism” was needed to keep up prices.
For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
capped off a series of presidential addresses on the first day of the World Energy Congress by some of his biggest political and energy allies — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, whose government is not recognized anywhere except in Turkey.
The reports do not mention if, following the speeches, Erdoğan, Putin, Maduro, Aliyev and Akinci held hands and sang Kumbaya.
Cross-posted at WoW! Magazine.
No, the Panama Papers is not the title of a John Grisham thriller, it’s today’s top story in many LatAm countries and across the world.
What are they?
The Panama Papers are a huge trove of legal records from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, revealing
the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world’s dictators, business tycoons and criminals.
initially obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently the subject of a yearlong investigation, led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and involving more than 100 publications from nearly 80 countries
Süddeutsche Zeitung [WARNING: MUSIC STARTS RIGHT AWAY] About the Panama Papers
The ICIJ report: Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption.
Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens
In this story
Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world
Current and former world leaders in the data include prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia
More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories
Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project OCCRP report: ICIJ/OCCRP Panama Papers project yields unprecedented access to high level offshore corruptionOne of the biggest leaks in journalistic history reveals the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world’s dictators, business tycoons and criminals.
How big was it?
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) April 4, 2016
Who’s in it?
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) April 4, 2016
Ian Bremmer is tweeting lots of clever graphs on the PP.
With more than 2.6 terabytes of data comprising more than 11.5 million documents, the release of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca’s records this week represents one of the largest data leaks in history—bigger than both the intelligence records revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden three years ago and the U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks in 2010.
Macri and Messi, too?
A new word: Putinophobia!
“It is clear that the degree of ’Putinophobia’ has reached such a level that it is impossible a priori to speak well of Russia,” Mr. Peskov said in comments carried by state news agencies.
O Globo (link in Portuguese) says that Russia’s accusing former CIA agents of being behind the leak.
Video below the fold,
For a fuller aroma, the NYT’s article, Putin ‘Probably Approved’ Litvinenko Poisoning, British Inquiry Says, quotes (emphasis added),
[British Home Secretary Teresa May] said that the British assets of the two Russian men suspected in the killing, Andrei K. Lugovoi and Dmitri V. Kovtun, would be frozen and that the Russian ambassador would be summoned to be told of Britain’s response.
Mr. Litvinenko died 22 days after ingesting green tea from a pot laced with polonium 210 — a rare and highly toxic isotope — in the company of Mr. Lugovoi and Mr. Kovtun. He was 43. The three men had met in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in London.
Mr. Lugovoi, now a member of Parliament in Russia and the recipient of a medal from Mr. Putin, said the accusation that he murdered Mr. Litvinenko was “absurd,” Interfax reported, and a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, said the Litvinenko case “is not among the topics that interest us.“
Take it away, Louis!
I’m not sure in exactly what form, or exactly when, but in our connected world, there are storm clouds gathering:
You don’t have to be a supporter of Putin’s domestic to recognize that he is successfully expanding Russia’s influence and strengthening his country’s global position, while Obama has thoroughly squandered American prestige, abandoned allies, embraced our enemies, and reduced American influence to third-rate status.
But Putin sees a necessity in humiliating the United States. That’s business. And yet, despite Putin’s obviousness, the White House team and its acolytes publicly scratch their heads and other body parts, saying, “We’re not certain what the Russians intend.”
4. In Obama’s world posturing is enough to produce an conclusive result. That may be, but Obama is actively working towards a conclusive result in other areas. I have stated several times that I fully expect Obama to cede Guantanamo to Cuba. You can be sure Putin and the Castros already are planning to gain from that eventuality. Or do you really believe Putin wasn’t listening when John Kerry declared “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over”?
Lest you find me unduly alarmist, my gut tells me that, once a Russian three star general warns US officials ‘we request your people leave’, all bets are off.
And remember the signing amount of $100 billion Obama administration released to Iran for agreeing to the Nuclear Deal? Russia is getting a big chuck of that money. Tehran is ordering missile equipment as well as satellite and space technology worth $21 billion from Moscow.
Another storm cloud, which may or may not be catching Putin’s attention, is the Colombia/FARC agreement. Alvaro Uribe sums it up in one tweet:
“I helped elect Santos in 2010 and he brings terrorists to power, buried our policies that elected him, and offers me a guaranteed jail sentence.”
Ayudé a elegir a Santos en 2010 y lleva terroristas al poder enterró nuestras políticas que lo eligieron y me ofrece la cárcel de garantía
— Álvaro Uribe Vélez (@AlvaroUribeVel) September 30, 2015
Uribe may prove to be an optimist.
Colombia is Latin America’s third-largest economy. If the FARC is legitimized, all sorts of hell is going to break lose.
In a lighter mode, The Art of Manliness has How to Gird Up Your Loins: An Illustrated Guide
While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles (more posts on El Aissami here).
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin
Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.
Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]
— Gr. Jaime Lasprilla (@COMANDANTE_EJC) April 23, 2015
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?
The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?
From Stratfor: U.S., Bolivia: The Pieces Are in Place for Improved Relations
Heisenberg: Bill Clinton apologizes to Mexico for the war on drugs which he blames for fueling violence in the country
Bill Clinton spoke at a summit on Youth and Productivity in Mexico
He said: ‘I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault’
He then blamed U.S. efforts which had forced trafficking over land
Clinton’s administration followed past president’s efforts on drugs war
Ohio? Panama Canal expansion shipping jobs to Ohio
Appalachian Ohio could benefit most, in part because the Ohio River could receive goods from the canal after they’ve made their way to the United States via the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River or the East Coast and the Port of Virginia.
Clashes in Venezuela as economic shortages continue to bite
A year after violent clashes between opposition protestors and government forces left 43 dead, protestors returned to the streets of Venezuela
Reporters without Borders: Venezuela flunks in Press Freedom Index
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by NGO Reporters without Borders, highlights increasing difficulties in Latin America for journalists to do their job in 2014. Venezuela fell 21 places from 2013
The week’s posts and podcast:
Smart diplomacy: “We didn’t want anything in return” from Cuba
At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Argentina: A case of “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown?” UPDATE