On eve of Rio games, terror threat looms in Brazil

On eve of Rio games, terror threat looms in Brazil

By Roger Noriega

7/21/2016

A radical jihadist group “Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil,” also referred to as the “Brazil Caliphate”, became the first group in the Western Hemisphere to pledge loyalty to ISIS. Ansar al-Khilafah publicly posts jihadist propaganda through the messaging app Telegram, which it also used to make its pledge to ISIS.

In one post, the group refers to the recent attack in Nice, noting the ease with which a similar attack could happen during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro set to ...  

Brazil Authorities Arrest 12th Suspect in Alleged Olympics Terror Plot

Brazil Authorities Arrest 12th Suspect in Alleged Olympics Terror Plot

Brazilian authorities on Sunday arrested a 12th suspect they say was part of a group allegedly plotting to conduct terrorist attacks during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.

In a brief statement, the Federal Police said late Sunday that the man was arrested in the city of Comodoro, in the central-western state of Mato Grosso. He will be questioned and later sent to a Federal prison, according to the statement.

The suspect is Leonid el Kadre de Melo, a ...  

Jailed Leopoldo Lopez denounces Venezuela’s government at appeal hearing

Jailed Leopoldo Lopez denounces Venezuela’s government at appeal hearing

Jailed opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez angrily denounced Venezuela’s government on Saturday at an appeals hearing that his supporters are hopeful will overturn a nearly 14-year sentence for inciting violence. A decision is expected within 10 days, according to Lopez’s party, although government officials have yet to comment.

Tension hung over the marathon proceedings, which ended after 2 a.m. local time, as dozens of Lopez supporters gathered outside the court house to demand his freedom as police in riot gear looked on ...  

Prosecutor: Venezuela first lady’s nephews confess drug trafficking

Prosecutor: Venezuela first lady’s nephews confess drug trafficking

Two nephews of Venezuela’s powerful first lady confessed to trying to smuggle 800 kilograms (1,763 pounds) of cocaine into the U.S., according to prosecutors in the politically-charged case.

The court filings Friday by prosecutors shed new light on the case that has sounded alarm bells about high-level corruption and drug trafficking by Venezuela’s political elite at a time of increasing economic and political turmoil in the South American nation.

Efrain Campo and Francisco Flores were arrested last November in Haiti in a ...  

Socialist Venezuela sees exodus amid rampant crime, scarcity of basic necessities

Socialist Venezuela sees exodus amid rampant crime, scarcity of basic necessities

Far from the streets of Caracas, political leaders and ordinary citizens across South America are waging an increasingly quixotic battle to curtail the ripple effects of Venezuela’s economic and social meltdown.

For years on end, chronic shortages of consumer goods and rampant violent crime have turned emigration guides into best-sellers in bookstores across Venezuela. And with the government of populist President Nicolas Maduro now unable to guarantee a steady supply of even basic food, household staples and medicine, the estimated number ...  

Obama to give Mexican president a megaphone against Trump

Obama to give Mexican president a megaphone against Trump

On the heels of Donald Trump’s acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination, President Obama will give his Mexican counterpart a megaphone Friday to criticize Mr. Trump’s plans to build a border wall and restrict immigration.

Mr. Obama will host Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the White House for a discussion of trade, border security and efforts to combat drug trafficking.

After their Oval Office meeting, the two leaders will hold a joint press conference, where Mr. Trump is likely to be ...  

Venezuela Accepts Vatican Role in Dialogue With Opposition

Venezuela Accepts Vatican Role in Dialogue With Opposition

President Nicolas Maduro’s government accepted the opposition’s proposal to have the Vatican participate in talks to address Venezuela’s deepening political crisis. “Both sides have accepted the Vatican joining this work,” Unasur Secretary-General Ernesto Samper said on state television after a meeting between Maduro a group of former heads of state seeking government-opposition talks.

Venezuela’s opposition is pushing for a referendum to oust Maduro as the economy teeters on the brink of collapse amid a looming constitutional crisis. Gross domestic product will ...  

Venezuela Accepts Vatican Role in Dialogue With Opposition

Venezuela Accepts Vatican Role in Dialogue With Opposition

President Nicolas Maduro’s government accepted the opposition’s proposal to have the Vatican participate in talks to address Venezuela’s deepening political crisis. “Both sides have accepted the Vatican joining this work,” Unasur Secretary-General Ernesto Samper said on state television after a meeting between Maduro a group of former heads of state seeking government-opposition talks.

Venezuela’s opposition is pushing for a referendum to oust Maduro as the economy teeters on the brink of collapse amid a looming constitutional crisis. Gross domestic product will ...  

Rio Olympics: Brazil weighs jihadi threats

Rio Olympics: Brazil weighs jihadi threats

Brazil’s intelligence agency said it was reviewing all threats against the Rio 2016 Games after a jihadi messaging channel called for its followers to target the Olympics.

“Many [threats] are discarded and the ones that deserve attention are investigated exhaustively,” the agency said. Earlier this week, a jihadi channel on the messaging app Telegram called for attacks against the Games and detailed targets and methods, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

SITE said a message was posted to “Inspire the Believers!” saying, ...  

Argentina judge requests arrest of Iran adviser for bombing

Argentina judge requests arrest of Iran adviser for bombing

An Argentine judge is requesting that Singapore and Malaysia arrest an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader who is accused of masterminding the South American country’s worst terrorist attack.

Ali Akbar Velayati was foreign minister of Iran at the time of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and is now an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Velayati is visiting Southeast Asia to attend a regional summit. Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral told The Associated Press on Wednesday ...  

Will Venezuela’s Ongoing Crisis Jeopardize Colombia’s Peace With the FARC?

Will Venezuela’s Ongoing Crisis Jeopardize Colombia’s Peace With the FARC?

On June 23, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States discussed OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro’s report invoking the group’s Democratic Charter against Venezuela. Almagro’s report underlined not only Venezuela’s democratic deficits—including the lack of separation of powers, the jailing of political opponents, and the crackdown on protest—but also scarcities of food and medicine, inflation, and dramatic rates of crime and violence.

At the very same time, 1,800 miles to the south, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Leon ...  

Argentina and Iran

Argentina and Iran

This week the Jews of Argentina marked the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA (Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina), which left 85 dead and 300 injured.

But the commemoration of the 18th of July is not solely or even principally a day of remembering for Jews. It is a day that should be marked by all Argentinians as a reminder that all is not well in Argentina. It is also a day to remember that global Islamic terror sponsored by ...  

In Venezuela, desperate conditions turn worse

In Venezuela, desperate conditions turn worse

There is more desperation in what’s widely considered the most miserable economy in the world: Venezuela. Food is so scarce that this past weekend, more than 100,000 people surged across a newly opened border to buy rice, flour and milk in Colombia.

Other Venezuelans hunt for food in the black market, paying 20 to 100 times state-controlled prices – that is, if basic staples are available. Still others have been seen sweeping up grain spilled on roads to eat that.

In the ...  

Oppenheimer: Cuba’s human rights abuses worse despite U.S. ties

Oppenheimer: Cuba’s human rights abuses worse despite U.S. ties

On the first anniversary since Cuba re-opened its embassy in Washington, D.C., one thing is clear: the re-establishment of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties — which I have cautiously supported in this column — has not helped improve by one iota Cuba’s human rights situation. On the contrary, human rights abuses have worsened.

This is not a conclusion based on random anecdotes from the island, but the result of a well-documented report just released by the Havana-based Cuban Human Rights and Reconciliation Commission, ...  

Obama Can’t Let Iran Get Away With Murder in Argentina

Obama Can’t Let Iran Get Away With Murder in Argentina

The Obama administration has long said it will hold Iran accountable for acts of terrorism. It now has a chance to prove it: Interpol red notices for five former Iranian officials found culpable in Argentina’s deadliest terrorist attack are about to come up for renewal.

Today marks 22 years since the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed, and the attack injured hundreds more — innocent men, women and children.

In 2007, Argentine prosecutor Alberto ...  

Argentinian President Finds Economic Problems Are Harder at Home Than Abroad

Argentinian President Finds Economic Problems Are Harder at Home Than Abroad

Mauricio Macri has re-opened the Argentinian economy to the world but voters are angered by his attempts to solve economic problems at home.

After reopening Argentina’s economy to the world after 12 years of protectionist and populist policies, Argentina’s new centre-right president Mauricio Macri is now facing a hard task at home to restore economic equilibrium to this troubled South American nation.

Following his inauguration last December, Macri moved swiftly to settle Argentina’s main outstanding dispute with foreign creditors. He reached a ...  

Colombia to press for open border with Venezuela after food queues

Colombia to press for open border with Venezuela after food queues

The government in Colombia has called for the permanent opening of its border with Venezuela after crisis-hit Venezuelans flocked to buy basic items. Colombia said it would not allow any further temporary openings of the border, which Venezuela shut last year.

More than 100,000 people went to Colombia last weekend, the second time the border was open in a year. They crossed to buy basic goods that are in short supply in their country because of a severe economic crisis. Venezuelan ...  

Venezuela: Former Chavez allies join opposition’s push to recall President Maduro

Venezuela: Former Chavez allies join opposition’s push to recall President Maduro

A dozen prominent Chavistas have joined the opposition’s call for a vote to recall President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, adding yet another layer to the complex political and financial crisis ripping the country apart.

The group, which includes former lawmakers and three ministers or secretaries under Hugo Chavez’s presidency, wrote an open letter to the National Electoral Board Monday saying the people of Venezuela should be able to express its will via a referendum.

“It wouldn’t be good for the country if ...  

Economic hardships in Cuba spark rumors of a new “Special Period”

Economic hardships in Cuba spark rumors of a new “Special Period”

Cuban ruler Raúl Castro may have ruled out a return to the “Special Period” — the devastating economic crisis sparked by the loss of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s — but he was clearly somber earlier this month when he confirmed that the island faces a grim future.

Castro predicted the economy would grow by only 1 percent — half the previous forecast — and confirmed that deliveries of Venezuelan oil have fallen “despite the firm commitment of President Nicolás ...  

Venezuela food shortage: Family liquidates savings to stockpile food

Venezuela food shortage: Family liquidates savings to stockpile food

Tebie Gonzalez and Ramiro Ramirez still have their sleek apartment, a fridge covered with souvenir magnets from vacations abroard, and closets full of name brand clothes. But they feel hunger drawing close.

So when the Venezuelan government opened the long-closed border with Colombia this weekend, the couple decided to drain what remained of the savings they put away before the country spun into economic crisis and stocked up on food. They left their two young sons with relatives and joined more ...  

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UNDERSTANDING AND ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES

About

During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.