Content from IASW Contributors

High Stakes in Colombia

Roger NoriegaBY ROGER NORIEGA

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos secured a second term yesterday, winning just over 50 percent of the votes cast to defeat his rightist opponent Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. In a victory speech last night, Santos appeared contrite after a bitter campaign that many see as a bruising referendum on his first term. “We’re going to correct what has to be corrected, we will adjust what must be adjusted and we will reform what has to be reformed,” he pledged.

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Lo que está en juego en Colombia

Roger NoriegaBY ROGER NORIEGA

El presidente de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, fue reelegido para un segundo mandato el día de ayer con un poco más del 50 por ciento de los votos emitidos. Derrotó así a su rival de derecha Óscar Iván Zuluaga. En su discurso de victoria, Santos parecía arrepentido después de una amarga campaña que muchos ven como un referéndum a su primer mandato. Se comprometió a “corregir todo lo que haya que corregir” y “a reformar todo lo que haya que reformar”.

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Bolivian president vows to expand coca crops

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Bolivian President Evo Morales has been re-elected head of the country’s largest union of coca growers and promises to expand crops if he wins a third term as the nation’s leader.

Morales told union members Sunday that Bolivia needs a new law regarding coca production.

Current law allows nearly 30,000 acres of coca leaf to be grown for traditional use. One proposal would expand the permitted acreage, including in the Chapare region that is Morales’ political base, to more than 49,000 acres.

The United Nations, however, has estimated Bolivia already grows more than that, with nearly 57,000 acres believed dedicated to the crop last year.

Traditionally, coca leaf is used in religious rituals or to fight off fatigue and altitude sickness. It also can be used to produce cocaine.

Click here for article. ... Read More

Republicans Press on Border Security; Perry to Send Troops

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY KRISTINA PETERSON, LAURA MECKLER & ANA CAMPOY

Republicans grappling with the surge of Central American migrants entering the country this year have lined up behind a common goal: ratcheting up security along the Southern border.

Both on and off Capitol Hill, Republicans have called for a more muscular approach to border security in response to the recent influx of migrants, returning to a top priority during the broader debate about rewriting immigration laws. On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would deploy as many as 1,000 state National Guard troops to try to deter criminal activity by Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers in South Texas.

“I won’t stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” said Mr. Perry in announcing an action applauded by Republican lawmakers.

Democrats and some policy specialists say the GOP, in focusing on border security, ... Read More

Everything We Know About The Huge Spy Base In Cuba That Russia Is Reopening

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BY COREY ADWAR

Moscow and Havana have agreed to reopen a Cold War-era signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba. An agreement was reached during Putin’s visit to Cuba last week to reopen the base, Russia business daily Kommersant reported last week. That was confirmed by a Russian security source who told Reuters: “A framework agreement has been agreed.”

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis had brought the U.S. and Soviet Union close to confrontation over Moscow’s proposal to place nuclear weapons on Cuban soil.

Havana shut it down in 2001 because of financial issues and American pressure.

Located south of Cuba’s capital Havana and just 150 miles from the U.S. coast, the base left many parts of the U.S. vulnerable to Soviet communication intercepts, including exchanges between Florida space centers and U.S. spacecraft.

Here’s what a Congressional report from 2000 said about the facility:

• The Secretary of Defense formally ... Read More

China’s President Pledges Continued Aid to Venezuela

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY KEJAL VYAS

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged additional financial support to Venezuela, as the oil-rich South American nation grapples with a moribund economy and a severe squeeze on hard currency.

Mr. Xi’s commitment to deepen economic ties comes on top of the more than $40 billion China has provided in loans to Venezuela since 2008 in exchange for oil. The bulk of those funds, which have been earmarked for unfinished infrastructure and housing projects as well as imports of electronics and oil drills, have done little to turn around Venezuela’s economic fortunes.

Mr. Xi and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro, signed more than a dozen financial and bilateral cooperation agreements, including a renewal of a joint development fund in which China will contribute $4 billion that Venezuela will repay with an additional 100,000 barrels a day in crude.

“Everything we do with China is for the happiness of our people,” Mr. Maduro said ... Read More

Venezuela’s Auto Industry in a Free Fall

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY EZEQUIEL MINAYA

This car-crazed country’s auto industry, once the third largest in South America, is seizing up as manufacturers struggle to produce a few vehicles a day.

Car makers, including global giants like Ford Motor Co. F +0.59% , Fiat Chrysler Automobiles F.MI -0.07% NV, General Motors Co. GM +0.84% and Toyota Motor Corp. 7203.TO +0.35% , have cut output by more than 80% in the first six months of the year compared with a year earlier because of a lack of dollars to pay parts suppliers, according to data compiled by the Automotive Chamber of Venezuela, which represents car makers.

“This is the first time I have ever seen things this bad,” said 61-year-old Antonio Lopez, a Ford worker who recently prepared a sedan for painting at the auto maker’s factory here. The cavernous Valencia pla`nt, about 110 miles west of Caracas, was quiet by midafternoon one day last month, with a ... Read More

Exclusive to Power Line: Marco Rubio on the Russian Threat to the Western Hemisphere

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
PowerLine-01

Senator Marco Rubio is one of Washington’s leading authorities on Latin America. While most people don’t want to hear much about foreign policy these days, given America’s problems at home, the fact is that years of neglect by the Obama administration have put the U.S. in danger. Some of the threats are perilously close to home, as Senator Rubio explains in this analysis, special to Power Line:

Russia-Cuba Cooperation a Sign of Growing Threats in Latin America

Following the news in recent months has sometimes felt as if we’ve opened a time capsule from the Cold War – when Soviet Union aggression was the norm along with its determination to prop up U.S. adversaries in the Western Hemisphere, most notably the Castro regime in Cuba. Today, Russia under Vladimir Putin has challenged the international order through its unlawful annexation of Crimea and continued provocations against Ukraine. In our own hemisphere, there is ... Read More

Editorial: Oswaldo Payá’s death in Cuba two years ago still awaits a proper investigation.

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

Two years ago Tuesday, a blue rental car was wrecked off a deserted road in eastern Cuba. In the back seat was Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s best-known dissidents, who had championed the idea of a democratic referendum on the nation’s future. Mr. Payá’s voice was not the loudest against the Castro dictatorship, but it was one of the most committed and determined. On the day of the car crash, he had been trying for more than a decade to bring about a peaceful revolution, one that would empower Cubans to decide their own fate and end the half-century of misrule by Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Mr. Payá endured harassment and intimidation for his efforts. Many of his friends and allies were jailed. He received threats by phone and other warnings, some violent. But he did not give up. On the day of the crash, Mr. Payá was traveling with a young associate, Harold ... Read More

China’s Xi eyes increased investment in Cuba

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Havana (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Cuba with hopes of expanding political and economic ties in the fellow communist nation.

The tour of the Americas’ only one-party communist nation is the last leg of a weeklong trip in the region that has already taken Xi to Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, as he reaches out to resource-rich countries often shunned by the United States and Europe.

The Chinese leader arrived in Havana late Monday from Caracas for the two-day official visit.

Xi aims to make his country — already Cuba’s second-largest trading partner after Venezuela and its primary source of credit — a major investor on the Caribbean island.

Coinciding with his trip, about 50 Chinese entrepreneurs traveled to Havana to explore business opportunities, attracted by foreign investment incentives and the future Mariel free trade zone outside the capital.

“We want Chinese businessmen to invest in Cuba and partner with Cuban companies,” said ... Read More

The Deep Roots of the Border Crisis

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Daily Signal-01

MIKE GONZALEZ & ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

The violence in Central America that leads to the crisis at our border is not an isolated example of policy gone awry but the tipping point of a failing policy on Latin America. Exhibit 1 is Venezuela. We don’t hear much about Venezuela anymore since the Obama administration let its dictatorial president regain the upper hand.

Yet, Venezuela is the distribution point for much of the drugs that end up in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which are then shipped from there to the United States. It is estimated that 75 percent of illegal drug flights outbound from South America land in Honduras and originate in Venezuela.

The cartels and street gangs that transship the drugs have overwhelmed the armed forces of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, giving them the No. 1, 4 and 5 highest murder rates in the world. This is why, when Central American ... Read More

Leopoldo Lopez’s jailing is a symptom of a sick Venezuela

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Lilian Tintori

Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, lives in Caracas.

This year, my husband, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López , spent his 43rd birthday behind bars. To mark Leopoldo’s birthday, our children, Manuela, 4 , and Leopoldo, 1, and I tried to bring him a birthday cake at the Ramo Verde military prison. We were turned away. We were forced to celebrate on the street outside the prison, where our family sang “Happy Birthday” to a life-size picture of him.

For our children, this was a poor substitute for seeing their father. It’s been a month since we last visited Leopoldo, and we miss him each day. In his absence, I am a single mother, a circumstance that has taken a toll on our family.

The irony is that my husband is not a criminal but rather a devoted father, husband and politician whose “offense” was urging Venezuelans to peacefully exercise their ... Read More

Putin’s hemispheric charm offensive

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The China Post-01

By John J. Metzler

It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the handover for the next FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Russia as well as his participation in the Summit of the BRIC economic powers, the real story was the largely overlooked wraparound of his Latin American charm offensive. Here’s the background.

Cuba

Before flying to Brazil for the final soccer match and the FIFA handover for the 2018 World Cup, Putin first stopped in Cuba to renew the spark of the old cold war alliance between Castro’s communists and the Soviet Union. While Russia’s political system has witnessed significant change since 1991 following the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba remains in a kind of tropical torpor time warp. The Castro brothers still run the island but the revolutionary zeal is long gone and replaced ... Read More

Bigger Ships, Bigger Risks: The Expansion of the Panama Canal Brings Opportunities and Dangers

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Newsweek

By Rory Ross

On August 15th, the Panama Canal celebrates its 100th birthday with a ceremony at its Miraflores lock, followed by a Centennial Gala for 2,000 guests including representatives of the international shipping industry, owners, builders, insurers, operators and the like. This event marks the culmination of more than a year’s worth of celebrations worthy of a feat of engineering that took 35 years to complete, and that still holds its own as the oldest of the “seven modern wonders of the world”, rubbing shoulders with the Channel Tunnel and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Regrettably, the intended centrepiece of the centennial – the unveiling of the expanded locks of the canal that will herald a new era for Panama – is not yet ready, nor is expected to be ready until June 2015.

The expansion of the canal was proposed in 2006, and began in September 2007, and was meant ... Read More

Argentina Countdown to July 30 Deadline: Default or Boom

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Camila Russo

Argentina is set to default in less than two weeks unless it reaches a deal with holders of defaulted bonds or U.S. courts grant a delay to allow the nation to continue servicing restructured bonds.

U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa blocked the country’s attempt to make a June 30 bond payment, saying it must also comply with an order to pay $1.5 billion to hedge funds and other holders of defaulted bonds that sued for full repayment. As the 30-day grace period winds down, here are three possible outcomes:

1) Argentina and Holdout Creditors Reach a Deal by July 30

A settlement with creditors holding untendered securities from the nation’s $95 billion default in 2001, including billionaire Paul Singer’s NML Capital Ltd. and Aurelius Capital Management LP, would likely be the best scenario for investors.

“Most importantly it would allow Argentina to regain access to international credit markets,” said Mauro Roca, a senior Latin America ... Read More

Argentina nears cliff in risky debt game

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Benedict Mander

In “Rebel Without a Cause”, the anti-hero played by James Dean is challenged to a lethal game of chicken in which two cars must race towards a cliff. The loser is the driver who jumps out first. Investors in Argentine bonds must feel as if they are in a re-run of the 1955 film.

“There is no better analogy” for the showdown between Argentina and a group of New York hedge funds seeking repayment of bonds still in default since the country’s 2001 debt crisis, says Marco Schnabl, an Argentine lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. “Who is prepared to get closest to the brink?”

Despite a looming July 30 deadline for Argentina to make interest payments on restructured bonds, which it has been prevented from doing by a New York judge unless it also pays its “holdout” creditors in full, Argentine bond prices have rallied sharply in anticipation ... Read More

An Average Of 35 Protests Per Day In Venezuela, A Total Of 6,369 This Year

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

During the first half of 2014, Venezuela endured an average of 35 protests per day across the nation, according to a report released by the NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict (OVCS).

So far this year, the number of recorded rallies is 6,369, the NGO said.

In the report entitled “Social Unrest in Venezuela in the First Half of 2014,” OVCS indicated that the first six months of this year have had the most protests seen in the last 10 years.

It estimated an increase of 278 percent over the first semester of 2013, when there were 1,687 rallies.

The wave of protests, which intensified in February, began with demands for the right to public safety as a response to astronomical rates of street crime and violence. In the following weeks, the NGO wrote in its report, the theme of the protests expanded to include demands for a range of rights: food, political participation, ... Read More

Obama To Meet With Three Central American Presidents Over Border Crisis, Flow Of Children Slows Down

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

WASHINGTON (AP) –  The presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will come to Washington next week to discuss the surge of unaccompanied minors from their countries across the U.S border.

The White House says Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren will meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Friday.

The U.S. has been urging their governments to take steps to stem the exodus of children and warning that the U.S. will take steps to send them back promptly.

An Obama request to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending contains $300 million to help the Central American government repatriate and reintegrate migrants that are sent back.

Meanwhile, the flood of children crossing the Mexican border illegally and without their parents has slowed down in recent weeks, according to two senior administration officials.

Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande ... Read More

Xi heads to Venezuela after inking trade deals with Argentina

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

China’s President Xi Jinping departed Argentina Sunday for Venezuela, the next-to-last stop of a Latin American tour aimed at bolstering trade with the region.

The Chinese leader’s charm offensive seeks to secure new bilateral trade deals — particularly for coveted raw materials.

Xi hopes to further develop his country’s strategic relationship with Venezuela, just as Caracas’ ties with the United States — the region’s traditional political and economic powerhouse — are arguably at their lowest point ever.

The countries, which have not had ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010, had poor relations during the leadership of late president Hugo Chavez and ties have remained strained under his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

- Warming ties with Caracas -

By contrast, relations have been warming between China and Venezuela where bilateral trade has been steadily rising, exceeding $20 billion in 2012. Beijing now is also the second largest buyer of Venezuelan oil.

Xi’s visit to Caracas is sandwiched ... Read More

Russia Rejoins Cuba’s Espionage Apparatchik in the Americas

| July 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

In order to effectively monitor aggression, hostile intelligence acts, interference, and other forms of insurgency within their homelands, democracies throughout the Americas must immediately address their governments’ counterintelligence missions against those rogue and dictatorial style regimes that pose obvious threats.

Russia’s recent decision to reopen its electronic spying center in Cuba is once again an obvious act that aggressively demonstrates support for the Cuban Castro regime, and a shared dispute versus the United States.

The Lourdes base closed 13 years ago, having been built in 1962. The closing was reportedly due to the economic crisis in Russia, along with repeated requests from the United States.

Lourdes served as a signals’ intelligence (SIGINT) facility, among other applications, located just 100 miles from the United States at Key West, Florida. During what has been described as the Cold War, the Lourdes facility was believed to be staffed “by over 1,500 KGB, GRU, Cuban DGI, and Eastern ... Read More

China’s Goals in South America

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Diplomat

By Shannon Tiezzi

As Xi Jinping travels through South America this week, China’s goals for the region are on display. Even though Xi ’s tour of South America only sees him stopping in three countries (Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina), he has arranged meetings with even more leaders, including the presidents of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Amidst all the diplomatic niceties, what does China actually want to achieve with Xi’s trip?

The most obvious priority is expanding economic ties between China and South America. Trade between China and Latin America (a region encompassing South America, Central America, and the Caribbean) has skyrocketed in the past 15 years, rising from a total value of $12 billion in 2000 to $261 billion in 2013. And there’s still room for growth, as China’s bilateral trade volumes with individual countries remain relatively low. China has grown to be Latin America’s second largest trading partner and may ultimately has its sights ... Read More

Putin’s Pirates Of The Caribbean Tour

| July 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
IBD

Geopolitics: Vladimir Putin blew through Latin America last week, handing out goodies to anti-U.S. regimes. But he insists he doesn’t want to reopen an old spy base in Cuba, which we find disingenuous.

The scope of the Russian president’s visit took the U.S. by surprise. Instead of just attending the World Cup final and a summit of BRICS countries, Putin made an unexpected visit to Nicaragua, with talk of a military land base there. He then flew to Argentina, reportedly with promises for two nuclear plants, and on to Venezuela to offer a credit lifeline.

Last but not least, Putin stopped in Cuba to sign deals on everything from electricity output to exploration for oil with Rosneft (the company whose unsavory oligarch, Igor Sechin, was the target of Wednesday’s sanctions over Ukraine). There was also a dramatic announcement that Russia would forgive 90% of Cuba’s $35 billion debt.

But on Thursday, Putin denied that ... Read More

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