Content from IASW Contributors

Midterm elections in Mexico may not provide momentum for Peña Nieto

By Roger F. NoriegaBy Roger F. Noriega
Midterm elections in Mexico on June 7 may reaffirm the ruling party’s hold on power, but may not produce new political momentum for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as he struggles to salvage his program of economic modernization and to quell persistent outbreaks of narco-related violence. Read More-->

Will narcostate revelations sober State Department’s attempts to coddle Venezuelan regime?

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
IYesterday’s blockbuster Wall Street Journal article revealing ongoing US criminal investigations into the involvement of “several high-ranking Venezuelan officials” in international drug trafficking will not have come as a surprise to anyone who has read my Congressional testimony and other reports on the subject in recent years.
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El poder de un cártel de la droga en Venezuela

| May 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

Por Jackson Diehl

[Traducción IASW]

Venezuela sufre de la inflación más alta del mundo, es el segundo país con más homicidios y tiene una escasez paralizante de alimentos, medicinas y bienes de consumo básico. Su gobierno autoritario tiene preso a 70 políticos, entre ellos al alcalde de Caracas y al líder de la oposición Leopoldo López. A Venezuela también se le acusa de violaciones a los derechos humanos, de tortura, de detenciones ilegales y de represión contra los medios de comunicación independientes.

Todo esto es bien conocido y finalmente está comenzando a ganar un poco de atención por parte de líderes latinoamericanos que durante años hicieron todo lo posible para apaciguar o ignorar a Hugo Chávez y a su “Revolución Bolivariana”. Lo que se entiende menos es el factor que hará mucho más difícil que se implementen cambios políticos o económicos: El régimen de Chávez, dirigido desde su muerte por Nicolás Maduro, no ... Read More

A drug cartel’s power in Venezuela

| May 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Jackson Diehl

Venezuela is afflicted with the world’s highest inflation, its second highest murder rate and crippling shortages of food, medicine and basic consumer goods. Its authoritarian government is holding some 70 political prisoners, including the mayor of Caracas and senior opposition leader Leopoldo López, and stands accused by human rights groups of illegal detentions, torture and repression of independent media.

All of that is now pretty well known, and it is finally beginning to gain some attention from Latin American leaders who for years did their best to appease or ignore Hugo Chávez and his “Bolivarian Revolution.” What’s less understood is the complicating factor that will make any political change or economic reconstruction in this failing state far more difficult: The Chávez regime, headed since his demise by Nicolás Maduro, harbors not just a clique of crackpot socialists, but also one of the world’s biggest drug cartels.

Ever since Colombian commandos captured the ... Read More

Convoy repele agresión en Michoacán; al menos 42 muertos

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Excelsior

MICHOACÁN, 22 de mayo.- Fuentes oficiales informaron que el saldo preliminar de un enfrentamiento entre fuerzas federales y pistoleros del crimen organizado es de al menos 42 muertos, tres detenidos, y cuatro heridos.

Los hechos ocurrieron en el municipio de Tanhuato en el occidente de Michoacán, en los límites con el estado de Jalisco.

Se sabe que un convoy formado por fuerzas de élite de la PF y soldados de la Sedena fue atacado cerca de la comunidad de Tinaja de Vargas y al repeler la agresión dieron muerte a los presuntos delincuentes.

Se desconoce qué grupo participó en esta balacera, la cual duró aproximadante una hora y 15 minutos.

Cabe recordar que esta zona se convirtió en foco rojo a partir de la muerte del candidato de Morena, Enrique Hernández, y los operativos estaban destinados a recuperar la seguridad.

Derivado de este asunto, el Gabinete de Seguridad Nacional se trasladó hasta el lugar.

De click aquí para tener acceso ... Read More

Excandidato presidencial colombiano Antanas Mockus confiesa que ha sido “auxiliador” de las FARC

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
NTN24

El ex candidato presidencial y exalcalde de Bogotá, Antanas Mockus, anunció este viernes que ha sido “auxiliador” del grupo terrorista de las FARC y que está dispuesto a recibir penas por crímenes de guerra.

El anuncio del también docente se da luego de que el grupo terrorista de las FARC suspendiera este viernes, el cese al fuego unilateral, tras la muerte de 26 de sus miembros en el departamento colombiano del Cauca (sur del país), informaron varios medios locales.

En una declaración que dio en la sede presidencial acompañado del ministro de Defensa, Juan Carlos Pinzón, y el mando militar, Santos afirmó que en el bombardeo hubo “26 bajas y un menor de edad herido que recibió atención médica”.

De click aquí para tener acceso a artículo ... Read More

Scandals Upend Bachelet’s Reform Agenda

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
World Politics Review

By Eric Farnsworth

Images on television and social media of students rampaging through Santiago and Valparaiso and reports of injuries and even deaths were not what Chilean President Michelle Bachelet anticipated when she began her second, nonconsecutive term in office early last year. Elected in a landslide on a platform to institute social reforms, most of all on education, Bachelet has instead faced increasing political turbulence: The left demands rapid, far-reaching action, and the right is growing anxious about her political course. On May 6, she announced that she had asked her entire Cabinet to resign in order to breathe new life into her political agenda, including a redrafting of the constitution later this year.It’s quite a turnaround from Bachelet’s first term, concluding in 2010, when she governed as a moderate leftist reformer. As one of Latin America’s cadre of center-left leaders coming to power in the last decade, she was ... Read More

Here’s the next country ready to throw in the towel on the U.S. ‘war on drugs’

| May 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »
FUSION

By Kevin Gray

Add Ecuador to a growing list of countries pushing back against the U.S. “war on drugs.”

A ruling party lawmaker recently introduced legislation that would make Ecuador the second country in the world — and the first in the Americas— to decriminalize the personal use of all drugs, from marijuana to cocaine to heroin.

The bill, presented by a lawmaker allied with President Rafael Correa, would regulate the consumption of over 100 substances and create a state agency to control the importation, exportation, production and cultivation of illegal drugs. Anyone interested in using or obtaining drugs would have to register with the agency.

If approved, the South American country would follow in the footsteps of Portugal, which in 2001 radically shifted its drug policy from prosecution to prevention and rehabilitation. It would also reflect the growing challenge from some Latin America countries to ... Read More

Farc suspenden el cese unilateral del fuego

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

Las Farc anunciaron este viernes a través de un comunicado que suspenden el cese unilateral del fuego, acordado desde el 20 de diciembre del año pasado, luego del bombardeo contra el frente 29 que dejó 26 guerrilleros muertos.

“Nos duelen por igual las muertes de guerrilleros y soldados, hijos de un mismo pueblo y procedentes de familias pobres. Debemos parar este desangre”, dijo las Farc en un comunicado.

Las Farc insistieron en la necesidad de acordar el cese bilateral del fuego.

Los guerrilleros murieron en una operación de la Fuerza Aérea y del Ejército en zona selvática del municipio de Guapí (sur del Cauca).

Las tropas iban detrás de alias ‘Aldemar’, jefe de ese frente, quien al parecer logró salir de la zona. Sin embargo, otro mando de ese grupo, alias ‘Chugo’, sí estaría entre los muertos.

Los bombardeos se reiniciaron el pasado 15 de abril como ... Read More

Midterm elections in Mexico may not provide momentum for Peña Nieto

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
AEI

Midterm elections in Mexico on June 7 may reaffirm the ruling party’s hold on power, but may not produce new political momentum for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as he struggles to salvage his program of economic modernization and to quell persistent outbreaks of narco-related violence.

Voters will elect all of the 500 members the federal Chamber of Deputies, 9 of 31 governors, 16 delegates of the Federal District, and 640 state legislators.  These elections will serve to measure the strength of Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the political appeal of the opposition, made up mostly of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).  It also will gauge ​​the viability of the new National Regeneration Movement (Morena), founded by two-time leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who launched this party to challenge the PRD.

Two ... Read More

Colombia army raid kills 18 Farc rebels as talks inch on

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

At least 18 members of the Farc rebel group have been killed in a military operation in Colombia, officials say.

The attack – in the south-western Cauca region – is the deadliest since the resumption of air raids against the rebels last month.

President Juan Manuel Santos restarted the raids after 11 soldiers were killed in an ambush.

The bloodshed comes as Farc and government representatives meet for the latest round of peace talks in Cuba.

The two sides have been in negotiations since 2012 to try to end more than half a century of conflict.

Thursday’s military action comprised an air strike and ground assault against the rebel group in Guapi, Cauca, said officials.

The operation’s aim was the capture of a rebel known by the alias “Javier”, and two rebels were captured along with those killed, defence ministry officials told the ... Read More

Will the Venezuelan State Fail?

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Carl Meacham

On May 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. prosecutors are in the process of investigating a number of high-up Venezuelan officials for their alleged involvement in turning Venezuela into a cocaine-trafficking and money-laundering hub.

Among those being investigated is Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s congress and arguably the second most powerful person in Venezuela-long suspected for involvement in clientelistic relationships with transnational criminal organizations operating in Venezuela’s borders.

The investigation is being carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and federal prosecutors in New York and Miami – notably, this is not under the White House’s direction or coordination. And the case they’re building has foundations in the testimony of former cocaine traffickers, defectors from the Venezuelan military, and informants who were once close to top Venezuelan officials, including the former head of Cabello’s security detail.

All of this comes to light just months ... Read More

Son of Former Honduras President Arrested in Haiti

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

The son of former President Porfirio Lobo was arrested in Haiti in an apparent anti-drug operation carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Haitian authorities, the ex-president and the Honduran government confirmed Thursday.

Fabio Lobo Lobo, 43, was arrested Wednesday night in Haiti and taken to New York to appear before a judge, according to a statement from the Honduran government. Lobo was arrested by Haitian authorities with the support of the DEA.

Porfirio Lobo said Thursday in an interview with the government’s Channel 8 television that he was facing a situation that he would never wish on any parent.

“I cannot say that he is guilty; I cannot say that he is not,” Lobo said.

“Fabio is not a child,” Lobo added. “He is a man with a family and must answer for his actions.”

Lobo said he hopes his son can prove his innocence. As a father, he added, he is very hurt.

DEA ... Read More

Guatemala President Shakes Up Cabinet Amid Probes and Protests

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY SANTIAGO PÉREZ And DUDLEY ALTHAUS

Guatemalan President Otto Pérez purged his cabinet on Thursday as his administration struggles to contain fallout from a string of corruption probes that this week led to the arrest of the heads of the central bank and social security agency.

Mr. Pérez, a former Army general who won office in 2011 with a tough-on-crime campaign, accepted the resignation of Interior Minister Mauricio López, who is seen by analysts as one of the Guatemalan leader’s closest collaborators. Mr. Pérez also removed the country’s intelligence chief, the energy and environment ministers, and the deputy interior minister.

“This signifies that the president is alone,” said Renzo Rosal, director of a public policy institute at Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala City. “He doesn’t have any room to maneuver.”

The cabinet changes follow Wednesday’s arrest of central-bank Gov. Julio Suárez, and the detention early Thursday of Juan de Dios Rodríguez, head of the social-security agency. ... Read More

Protests Force Mining Billionaire German Larrea To Halt $1.4 Billion Copper Project In Peru

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Forbes

By Dolia Estevez

Fifty days of protests against the $1.4 billion Tía María copper mining project in southern Peru forced Grupo Mexico , owned by Mexican mining billionaire German Larrea Mota Velasco, to call for a two-month truce, Peruvian and Mexican media reported.

Oscar Gonzalez Rocha, CEO and President of Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, announced Friday a 60-day “pause” on the Tía María project to allow the parties involved to present “their concerns and fears, identify solutions, agree on a path to move forward and define responsibilities that all must assume in a reasonable time,” EFE reported from Lima.

Carlos Galvez, president of Peru’s National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy (SNMPE), a non-profit business association,  supported the truce. “No project can be imposed by force; a truce would be the most appropriate,” said Galvez, according to Mexico’s El Economista.

But the announcement did not stop community and civil groups in seven regions ... Read More

Brazil’s Economic Downturn, Corruption Scandals Shake Leader

| May 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

POR JOHN LYONS AND PAULO TREVISANI 

BRASÍLIA— Dilma Rousseff survived torture and cancer to become Brazil’s first female president. Now the former leftist-militant faces another challenge: saving her presidency and stanching the deterioration of Latin America’s biggest economy.

Her second term has barely begun. But Ms. Rousseff is beset by protests, while lawmakers openly weigh impeaching her over an alleged $2.1 billion embezzlement scheme at the state oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR -0.90% . The currency has plunged, inflation is rising and the economy is entering what may be its worst recession in 25 years.

In some neighborhoods, Ms. Rousseff’s mere appearance on television has been enough to send residents to their balconies clanging pots and pans in noisy protest.

Whether the 67-year-old leader will regain her footing has become a critical question for a nation struggling to prevent its troubles from growing into a full-blown crisis. Ms. Rousseff’s approval rating fell to 13% in April from 65% two years earlier, one poll showed. Analysts ... Read More

Venezuela’s #2 targeted in U.S. drug probe has faced slew of corruption allegations

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Franz von Bergen

CARACAS, VENEZUELA –  The man at the center of a major U.S. drug-trafficking investigation involving top members of the Venezuelan government is the Speaker of the National Assembly and the country’s second most powerful man, 53-year-old Diosdado Cabello Rondón.

A longtime ally of late President Hugo Chavez, whom he met while in the Military Academy back in the 80s, Cabello is known these days as Chavismo´s main bully and has repeatedly been accused of corruption.

As President Nicolas Maduro, and President Chavez before him, Cabello also has his own weekly TV show television, in which he mostly attacks opposition leaders and other “enemies” of the so-called revolution. He calls his sources “patriotas cooperantes” (cooperating patriots), infiltrated revolutionary agents who work all over the country collecting data about possible conspiracies against the government or other politically useful information.

After Chávez’s death in 2013, Cabello ... Read More

Germán Cardona: «Militares bolivianos y venezolanos exportan cocaína en aviones oficiales»

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

Por Javier Chicote

El coronel boliviano Germán Cardona se encuentra en España, donde espera que le concedan asilo político. Denuncia una persecución en su país después de que el pasado febrero presentara un incendiario informe en el que denuncia una trama de narcotráfico en su país con la participación de altas esferas políticas y militares.

-¿Qué es el cártel de las Estrellas?

-Una organización narcotraficante que opera en el departamento de Santa Cruz que está controlada por miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas y de la Policía Nacional de Bolivia y encabezada por el ministro de la Presidencia, Juan Ramón Quintana. Éste, según mis fuentes, controla varios aeropuertos clandestinos en la frontera con Brasil para exportar cocaína.

-¿Está relacionado con el cartel de los Soles, el que según la DEA dirige Diosdado Cabello, el número dos de Nicolás Maduro?

-El cartel de las Estrellas ... Read More

Mexican onshore oil holds most potential in Latin America -study

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY DAVID ALIRE GARCIA

May 20 Mexico’s marginal oil fields hold more potential than any other country in Latin America, a mostly onshore resource that could be tapped quickly with techniques perfected in the U.S. shale boom, the lead author of a new study said on Wednesday.

The 14.1 billion barrels in incremental oil potential from Mexico’s lower-quality, overwhelmingly onshore fields is bigger than any nation bar Russia and Iran, said Leta Smith, director of upstream energy research at consultancy IHS Energy.

“The thing that makes it exciting is that access to Russia and Iran is pretty limited for most international oil companies, but Mexico is opening up right now,” she said.

Last year, Mexico finalized a historic energy overhaul that ended state-owned oil company Pemex’s longstanding oil and gas monopoly and that aims to lure billions of dollars in private investment via new contracts to ... Read More

Guatemala Central Bank Boss Arrested as Investigations Widen

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MICHAEL D. MCDONALD

Guatemala central bank President Julio Suarez was arrested Wednesday as multiple corruption scandals spark increasing demands for President Otto Perez Molina’s resignation.

Suarez was one of 16 people arrested for fraud as part of a probe into 116 million-quetzal ($15.1 million) contract issued by the Social Security Institute to Drogueria Pisa de Guatemala S.A., according to Ivan Velasquez, chief of the United Nations’ crime-investigations unit in Guatemala. The director the country’s Social Security Institute is also under arrest.

“The people awarding this contract weren’t qualified to review the proposals,” Velasquez said, adding that the company lacked “infrastructure” and “experience” in performing dialysis.

Latest Blow

The arrest is the latest blow to Perez Molina, four months before presidential elections. Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti stepped down May 8 after the country’s tax chief was arrested for customs tax fraud and a warrant was issued ... Read More

China and Brazil are becoming BFFs. Should we be worried?

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Dom Phillips

RIO DE JANEIRO — The big question after the announcement of a potential $53 billion investment agreement between Brazil and China on Tuesday is whether it should be a cause for concern, especially as the deal includes discussions about defense, plans for a ‘bi-oceanic’ railway to connect Brazil’s Atlantic coast to Peru’s Pacific rim, and talk of a “new global order.”

The answer: Not too much, at least not yet, because the 36 agreements — in mining, oil, infrastructure, technology and agriculture — that the countries signed as Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang began a South America tour in Brasilia on Tuesday were really about business, not geopolitics.

“It’s the story that’s been playing out for several years of a more intense relationship between Latin America and China,” said João Augusto de Castro Neves, Latin America director in the Washington office of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting outfit. ... Read More

Revolt from indigenous base challenges Bolivia’s Morales

| May 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Just months after President Evo Morales won re-election with a convincing three-fifths of the vote, Bolivia’s first indigenous president is suddenly up against a formidable opposition.

It comes not from the conservative business elite that long has chafed at Morales’ leftist rhetoric, but rather from the very “anti-colonialist” movement that propelled him to power nearly a decade ago.

When Morales next week swears in mayors and governors elected in runoff voting May 3, he will be face-to-face with those who have benefited from the discontent with his Movimiento a Socialismo, or MAS.

Opposition candidates won mayoral races in eight of Bolivia’s 10 most important cities, a gain of two. MAS held onto only two, relatively minor state capitals — Sucre and Potosi.

Significantly, a former rising star in Morales’ inner circle who turned insurgent won the governorship of La Paz state, Bolivia’s most populous state, home to the capital and a bastion of ... Read More

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