Content from IASW Contributors

New face may scramble Brazil’s presidential campaign

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
Brazil’s presidential campaign took a tragic turn Wednesday morning when Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, was killed when the private plane he was traveling on crashed in the Brazilian port city of Santos; four other passengers and the two pilots also were killed. Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva Vaz de Lima, will likely be designated to assume the top spot on the Socialist alliance ticket.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

By José R. CárdenasBy José R. Cárdenas
For the second time in four months, the Associated Press has published a gross distortion of USAID’s Cuba Democracy Program that has made it the subject of unjust derision from the legions of U.S.-Cuba policy critics. Read More-->

Colombia’s government announces poverty and employment targets for second term

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

During a “Good Governance” workshop Monday, Colombia’s Finance Minister announced President Juan Manuel Santos’s targets in investment, poverty reduction, andunemployment to achieve a “more equal country” during his second term.

 By 2018, President Juan Manuel Santos and his ministers hope to:

decrease unemployment to 7.5% decrease poverty to 25% decrease extreme poverty to 5% increase investment to 32% of GDP.

According to Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, Colombians currently have an annual income of around $8,300 dollars. Cardenas would like to set a target at $11,200 of income per capita by the end of 2018, an addition of over $3,000 to a Colombian’s income.

“All these objectives are all connected. For this we need more housing, roadways, that the whole energy sector keeps growing. Connecting all these objectives, we can provide Colombian families with more employment. And something fundamental, that we advance in the erradication of extreme poverty,” stated Minister Cardenas, according to the President’s website.

Unemployment currently stands at 9.2%, poverty at 29%, and extreme ... Read More

Ecuador President Rafael Correa Seeks Law Allowing Perpetual Re-Election

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


President Rafael Correa, in speeches and televised interviews, assures followers he’d like nothing more than to step aside when his current term ends. “The easiest thing would be for me to retire in 2017 as one of the best presidents in our history, as the people refer to me,” he said in a recent televised interview.

But Mr. Correa, whom opponents characterize as a semi-authoritarian leader who controls all levers of power, has other plans. Ecuador’s Constitutional Court, whose judges are allied with the president, is now deliberating a proposal by the ruling Alianza Pais Party to permit indefinite re-election for every office-holder. The justices are expected in the days ahead to forward the proposal on to Congress, where Alianza Pais has a strong majority and is expected to pass the new law sometime next year.

Still popular after seven years in office, Mr. Correa, who is ... Read More

6 suspects arrested at Panama border with cocaine, drugs and DEA vests

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Tico Times


Costa Rican police arrested six men near the country’s southern border with Panama with cocaine, guns and four vests bearing the initials of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a statement Sunday.

At a press conference Monday morning, Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said authorities found 121 kilograms of packaged cocaine and several guns in a white van transporting three Panamanians in the possession of four vests bearing the letters “DEA.” Inside the van, police also found emergency response sirens. The minister said the Panamanian suspects appeared to have stolen the drugs and possibly the weapons from two Costa Rican suspects, a father and son with the last names Campos Morales and Campos Torres, respectively, who were found beaten in a truck in Cuervito, Puntarenas. The two Costa Rican men also were taken into custody.

National Police stopped the van in La Cuesta, Puntarenas, near the Panamanian border. As police approached, the suspects began throwing packages of cocaine out of the vehicle’s ... Read More

To Stop the Surge of Migrants, Central America Needs a ‘Plan Colombia’

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy


The crisis of more than 70,000 children surging toward the United States has been partially caused by the “pull” of porous U.S. borders and signals from the United States that are close to “amnesty on arrival.” But it has also been fueled by the major “push” of increasingly serious problems in three Central American countries — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — that the United States must confront. To do so effectively, it needs to deploy a sustained, large, and long-term assistance and security program modeled on Plan Colombia.

For my day job at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, I recently wrote a report that digs into this in some detail. Luis Alberto Moreno, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, has also weighed in, as has a former president of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick. The first time I saw this idea in print, however, it was written by my friends Ambassador Roger ... Read More

Death Lifts Opposition in Brazil Vote

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Brazil’s Socialist Party, whose dark-horse presidential candidate died in a plane crash last week, now has a chance of making it to a runoff and even winning the October election, a new poll showed on Monday.

Barely a week ago, Marina Silva was a vice-presidential hopeful running with Eduardo Campos, who was polling a distant third with about 8% of the vote at the time of his death, leaving Ms. Silva poised to take his place at the top of the ticket.

The survey by polling firm Datafolha showed Ms. Silva—whose candidacy hasn’t yet been officially announced by her party, but is widely expected in coming days—not only appears be a stronger candidate than Mr. Campos, but would have a viable shot at defeating incumbent President Dilma Rousseff of the leftist Workers’ Party in the event of a second-round runoff vote.

Ms. Rousseff remains the favorite ... Read More

Guatemalan alleged drug lord pleads guilty in US court

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

A Guatemalan with ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to ship more than 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of cocaine to the United States.

Waldemar Lorenzana had his plea entered by US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in federal court in Washington, the US Justice Department said in a statement. No date was set for sentencing.

The 75-year-old is the patriarch of a Guatemalan family authorities have linked to Mexican drug baron Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa cartel. Lorenzana was arrested by Guatemalan authorities in 2011 and extradited to the United States in March.

“For years, members of the Lorenzana family smuggled cocaine to the United States with impunity,” Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Patterson said in a statement.

Prosecutors said that between March 1996 and April 2009, Lorenzana and three of his children worked with illegal drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico ... Read More

The Deadly, Invisible Borders Inside El Salvador

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New Republic


Last April, in the town of Izalco in the western state of Sonsonate, El Salvador, a group of families decided to dismantle the makeshift houses of wood and tin where they had been living for up to 26 years. The scene unfolded on a rural stretch of land known as the San Luis Ranch, where the families had built up a shantytown. The Mara Salvatrucha gang, which isblacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department, had targeted one of the residents, and that meant all the families felt they had no choice but to move.

n the United States, you are having a debate over immigration. But many of the Central Americans now coming into the United States never wanted to leave their country. For them, the proper verb is not migrar, but huir—to flee. The breaking point for the residents of San Luis Ranch came when members of the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, ... Read More

Brazil: Marina Silva ‘to replace’ late candidate Campos

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

The former Brazilian Environment Minister, Marina Silva, is expected to be named in the next few days to run for president in October.

She would replace former presidential candidate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday.

A close adviser to Ms Silva, Bazileu Margarido, told the BBC that she had agreed to run.

But the decision still needs to be officially approved by Mr Campos’s Socialist Party (PSB).

The Socialists – the major partner in the opposition coalition established to run against President Dilma Rousseff – are expected to announce their decision after a meeting on Wednesday.

Evangelical environmentalist

Ms Silva had decided to run for vice-president alongside Mr Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).

She fell out with the Workers’ Party government and left office to run against Ms Rousseff in 2010.

An environmentalist and devout ... Read More

Julian Assange speaks of ‘leaving’ Ecuador embassy

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving London’s Ecuadorean embassy “soon”.

He said he understood from Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson he would be “leaving the embassy” after two years’ refuge but gave no more details.

Mr Assange is wanted for questioning over alleged sex assaults in Sweden and faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Mr Hrafnsson later said the plan “as always” was for Mr Assange to depart when the UK “calls off the siege”.

“The world is not coming to an end,” Mr Hrafnsson told reporters inside the embassy.

“The plan, as always, is to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements.”

Mr Assange, 43, faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010. He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after the UK’s ... Read More

Morris Beschloss: Venezuela Abandons Citgo-Petroleum Corp. and Supplemental U.S. Holdings

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Desert Sun-01

The unofficial announcement by Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, that it is in the process of selling major U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation in addition to three refineries, representing a combined 750,000 barrels per day conversion capability, has geopolitical, as well as energy-oriented ramifications.

Caracas is already closely allied with fellow U.S. antagonist Cuba, while providing Iran with a strong footprint in the Western Hemisphere. The late dictator Hugo Chavez, who first “socialized” Venezuela and seems to have established that energy rich nation in the Sino/Russian/Iranian world camp, has also perpetuated a distinct anti-U.S. point of view, leading to a breakdown with America economically, as well as politically.

While Venezuela harbors South America’s largest crude oil reserves, it also sits on a huge additional complement of Canada-like “oil sands,” second only to Canada in tar-sands reserves in the Athabasca region of its Alberta Province.

Citgo’s refineries are located in Chicago’s suburb of Lemont, IL, ... Read More

US Sees Surge in Cuban Rafters Aiming for Florida

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

One early morning this April, Dairon Morera climbed onto a raft of aluminum tanks with 22 other people, revved up a Volvo car motor and pushed off the Cuban shore, joining a never-ending stream of islanders desperate to reach the United States.

“The biggest dream a Cuban has is to leave,” said Morera, who was frustrated by government limits on his pizza business. He had no money for airplane tickets or smugglers, so decided to risk his life at sea.

Morera’s journey was so turbulent that many people vomited, but all made it alive in just 20 hours. They ran ashore in the Florida Keys, hugging each other and shouting “Libertad!”

The number of Cubans trying this perilous journey is up sharply this year, with nearly 3,000 picked up by U.S. authorities so far, double last year’s pace.

The special status Cuban migrants have thanks to U.S. efforts undermine their communist government is a ... Read More

Deadly Plane Crash Turns Green Evangelical Into Brazil Kingmaker

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Raymond Colitt and David Biller

She’s an environmental activist and an evangelical abortion opponent. She’s been called pro-market and a socialist. And now Marina Silva is the kingmaker in one of Brazil’s most-contested presidential elections.

Silva, 56, became the wild card in Brazilian politics after her running mate, presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, died in a Aug. 13 plane crash. While political analysts and investors say she will probably replace him on the ballot, her stance on the environment clashes with vested interests in a party she joined after failing to form her own, said Andre Cesar, director at public policy and business strategy consultants Prospectiva.

Silva stands to upset the campaigns of her two leading contenders if she jumps into the race. She could divide the vote enough to rob President Dilma Rousseff of a first-round victory, while denying candidate Aecio Neves a spot in the second round, UBS AG said. A candidate needs ... Read More

Colombia overtakes Peru to become the region’s fastest-growing big economy

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

AS HE prepared to begin a second term as Colombia’s president on August 7th, the first name that Juan Manuel Santos inked in for his cabinet was Mauricio Cardenas, who keeps his job as finance minister. That was no surprise: helped by an investment boom, the country’s economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. Mr Cardenas says the second quarter was strong, too. The government will be raising its growth forecast for this year from 4.7%.

This is a welcome exception to a regional trend: Latin America as a whole looks likely to grow by less than 2% this year, the worst figure since 2009. The end of the commodity boom that lifted the region for more than a decade, the fading of the era of cheap money as central banks in the rich world prepare to raise interest ... Read More

Brazil’s Election Draped in Mourning

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »


Twenty years ago, when he debuted in national politics, Eduardo Campos, the Brazilian presidential hopeful who died in a plane crash yesterday, was easy to underestimate. With his elegant suits, camera-ready smile and pale-blue eyes as big as fog lights, the junior legislator from the northeastern state of Pernambuco seemed a better fit on the set of a soap opera than in the two-fisted arena of Brasilia.

He was nothing like his congressional colleague and close friend, Aldo Rebelo, the ambitious Communist Party chieftain who I’d arranged to meet one night in a tony Brasilia restaurant favored by power brokers. Campos was by his side that evening, but clearly as entourage. As it happened, Rebelo would go on to occupy second-rate jobs in service to leftwing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, where his most memorable offering was a legislative bill to banish foreign words (delivery, sale, shopping center) from Brazilian ... Read More

Mexican mayor detained for alleged links to cartel

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

A mayor in the western state of Michoacan was detained for allegedly ordering the killing of a friend and extorting her employees and street vendors in her city on behalf of a drug cartel, authorities said Thursday.

Michoacan state prosecutors said in a statement that Huetamo Mayor Dalia Santana told her friend to meet her for breakfast at a Chinese restaurant, where a gunman shot him to death last year. The gunman was a member of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which is based in Michoacan.

Officials said Santana demanded 20 percent of her employees’ salaries and also extorted street vendors and gave the money to Servando Gomez, the alleged leader of the Knights Templar cartel.

Santana is the fifth official detained in Michoacan this year for alleged links to organized crime. Authorities have also arrested the mayors of Aguililla, Apatzingan and Lazaro Cardenas. In April, federal investigators detained Jesus Reyna, Michoacan’s former ... Read More

Venezuela as a Distressed Seller

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


Venezuela is digging its way to distressed seller status.

The country wants to offload Citgo, its American refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 billion, money that’s sorely needed because of President Nicolás Maduro’s foolish economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

There can be advantages to getting rid of refining businesses.ConocoPhillips, for example, spun out its fuel-processing plants as a standalone company in May 2012. The two separate companies are now worth a total of 61 percent more.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA has a different motive. Mr. Maduro’s administration is running out of cash. That’s the result of anti-business policies — including price controls and nationalization — that have depressed local production and increased reliance on imports. Access to dollars is rationed ... Read More

First National Guard troops at Texas-Mexico border

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

The first wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border.

Several dozen soldiers deployed in the Rio Grande Valley are part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Gov. Rick Perry last month, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday.

Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge.

This first batch of soldiers was specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Walker said. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

State officials have estimated the deployment, which they’ve called a “deter and refer” mission will cost $12 million per month.

On Wednesday, during a visit to Camp Swift Army National Guard Training Center outside Austin, Perry said the troops were needed to ... Read More

New owners of leading Venezuelan newspaper fire columnists and change editorial line

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Journalism in the Americas


A leading Venezuelan newspaper that was recently sold to anonymous investors appears to be shifting its opposition editorial line weeks after pledging not to. The managing editor at El Universal, Elides Rojas, told the International Press Institute (IPI) that the newspaper’s new president had “ordered a complete revision of the opinion section” and had suspended or dismissed editorial staff.

El Universal has been a vocal critic of the Venezuelan government, especially on its editorial pages.

Weeks ago, the spokesman for the group of unknown buyers who bought the 105-year-old newspaper last month, Jose Luis Basanta, dismissed fears that the buyers had a political agenda in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“The editorial line is not going to be touched but only the days, the weeks and the months ahead will be able to demonstrate that,” he told Bloomberg.

... Read More

New face may scramble Brazil’s presidential campaign

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

Brazil’s presidential campaign took a tragic turn Wednesday morning when Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, was killed when the private plane he was traveling on crashed in the Brazilian port city of Santos; four other passengers and the two pilots also were killed. Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva Vaz de Lima, will likely be designated to assume the top spot on the Socialist alliance ticket. Silva, 56, grew up poor in the heart of the Amazonian jungle, but went on to serve as environmental minister under popular former president “Lula” da Silva (no relation) and finished third in the 2010 presidential race that was won by current president Dilma Rousseff. Although the Socialist ticket was running a distant third in recent polls, Silva’s rags-to-riches story may scramble a race that has been tightening in recent weeks due to dour economic news.

Recently, economists once again lowered projections for Brazil’s 2014 economic growth to around ... Read More

Argentina’s Financial Troubles Pile Up

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Argentina’s financial turmoil intensified Wednesday as a hedge fund seeking to collect on defaulted bonds played down settlement hopes, and the peso tumbled to a record low following a surprise interest-rate cut.

Aurelius Capital Management LP said Wednesday that “there is no realistic prospect” that its standoff with the Argentine government will be resolved in a deal led by outsiders.

Banks in Argentina and the U.S. have sought to strike a deal to help Argentina pay off the debt it owes a small group of hedge funds and resume interest payments to other bondholders.

Many investors and analysts view such a deal as the best hope to pull Argentina out of a July 30 default potentially affecting some $29 billion of outstanding debt.

Early Thursday, the country’s dollar bonds due 2033, which were among the ones in default, fell to 83.25 cents on the dollar early Thursday, down from 84 cents ... Read More

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