Top U.S. diplomat, security chief to visit Mexico Wednesday

Top U.S. diplomat, security chief to visit Mexico Wednesday

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Mexico this week along with the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to discuss issues including border security with the southern neighbor amid frayed relations under new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Tillerson and Kelly will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other top Mexican officials during the two-day visit on Wednesday and Thursday, the State Department said in a statement.

They will discuss border security, law enforcement and trade, the State Department said.

The Feb. ...  

Colombia FARC rebels to start disarmament process

Colombia FARC rebels to start disarmament process

Colombia’s Marxist FARC rebels can begin surrendering their weapons to the United Nations now that almost 7,000 of them have reached designated demobilization zones around the country, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed a peace agreement with the government late last year to put an end Latin America’s longest-running armed conflict, which killed more than 220,000 people.

The rebels will have turned in all their arms by June, Santos said.

“This weekend the process ...  

Ecuador Vote Count Delayed Until Wednesday as Protests Mount

Ecuador Vote Count Delayed Until Wednesday as Protests Mount

Ecuador’s top electoral authority will wait until Wednesday to announce whether the South American country faces a runoff presidential election, the organization’s President Juan Pablo Pozo said in a press conference.

As crowds of demonstrators gathered outside the offices of the National Electoral Council, or CNE, in Quito and other cities to demand the immediate publication of the results, Pozo told reporters “there is absolutely nothing to hide”. He said that the count has slowed down because the body needs to ...  

Venezuelan food crisis reflected in skipped meals and weight loss

Venezuelan food crisis reflected in skipped meals and weight loss

A mother contemplates how she does her food shopping amid shortages and high inflation in Venezuela: Whatever is cheapest in the season is what her children eat, substituting one thing for another and in much smaller portions than before.

“What I have at home is enough to give them a plain arepa, and it’s very little for each one,” the woman, Grecia Gonzalez, told CNN en Español, referring to the traditional white corn cakes. “And for me, I don’t care about ...  

What to expect from Ecuador’s elections

What to expect from Ecuador’s elections

WHEN Rafael Correa first ran for Ecuador’s presidency in 2006, supporters at his rallies brandished belts in homage to their candidate, whose surname means “belt” or “strap”. “Dale correa,” or “give them a whipping,” the crowds roared. It was a demand to punish what they regarded as the corrupt elites who had governed Ecuador since the return of democracy in 1979. Mr Correa promised he would. He won that election and then two more. His presidency brought a ...  

Now That Cuba Is Open, Americans Aren’t Going

Now That Cuba Is Open, Americans Aren’t Going

America, did you miss the travel industry’s memo declaring Cuba the hottest new destination?

Apparently. Service to the long-time U.S. foe began in September, but after just five months the largest carrier to the island, American Airlines Group Inc., cut daily flights by 25 percent and switched to smaller jets on some routes. Meanwhile, Silver Airways Corp. reduced weekly flights to six Cuban cities and JetBlue Airways Corp. downsized its planes so as to match lower-than-expected demand.

“It’s going to take ...  

Leopoldo Lopez: Venezuela court upholds 14-year prison sentence

Leopoldo Lopez: Venezuela court upholds 14-year prison sentence

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has upheld the 14-year jail sentence of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, a day after Donald Trump called for his release.

Mr Lopez was found guilty of inciting violence during protests in 2014 in which 43 people – from both sides of the political divide – were killed.

He has repeatedly said that his sentence was politically motivated.

Thursday’s ruling on an appeal by Mr Lopez’s defence makes the conviction final, officials said.

“Under ...  

Crime Accusations Have Long Dogged Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s No. 2

Crime Accusations Have Long Dogged Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s No. 2

By NICHOLAS CASEY and ANA VANESSA HERRERO

The drug trafficker was sitting in a Colombian prison cell, but he claimed to have a very valuable connection — the interior and justice minister of Venezuela.

The trafficker did not make that boast quietly. In 2010, he told a Colombian television network that the minister, Tareck El Aissami, was a “friend,” and that one of Mr. El Aissami’s brothers would do “whatever favor I needed.”

More accusations ...  

The blacklisting of Venezuela’s vice-president

The blacklisting of Venezuela’s vice-president

THE statement by the United States Treasury Department was blunt. It alleges that Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s vice-president, is a “prominent” drug trafficker, who amassed great wealth through his connections to gangs across Latin America, including Mexico’s vicious Zetas. Among the now-frozen American assets linked to him are three lavish apartments in the Four Seasons complex in Miami and a Gulfstream jet. If the allegations are true, Mr El Aissami’s carefully cultivated image as a true believer in ...  

Trump: Rubio and I have ‘very similar views on Cuba’

Trump: Rubio and I have ‘very similar views on Cuba’

BY NORA GÁMEZ TORRES

President Donald Trump said during a press conference Thursday that he shares Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s views on Cuba.

“We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who was by the way, lovely, and we had a very good discussion about Cuba because we have very similar views on Cuba,” Trump told journalists.

“Cuba has been very good to me, in the Florida elections, you know, the Cuban people, Americans,” he ...  

Obama diplomats blocked sanctions to help Maduro

Obama diplomats blocked sanctions to help Maduro

By Antonio Delgado

Barack Obama’s State Department maneuvered to help stabilize the regime of Nicolás Maduro, blocking sanctions against chavista leaders involved in narcotrafficking and promoting an ineffective dialogue that ended up weakening the Venezuelan opposition, said the former Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roger Noriega.

The diplomat, who has spent years promoting the Venezuelan democratic cause in Washington, said in an interview that US Drug Enforcement Administration officials and the Treasury Department had previously tried to adopt drug sanctions against ...  

Noriega: Diplomáticos de Obama bloquearon sanciones para ayudar a Maduro

Noriega: Diplomáticos de Obama bloquearon sanciones para ayudar a Maduro

El Departamento de Estado de la administración de Barack Obama maniobró para ayudar a la estabilización del régimen de Nicolás Maduro, bloqueando sanciones contra líderes chavistas involucrados en el narcotráfico y promoviendo un desafortunado proceso de diálogo que terminó debilitando a la oposición venezolana, dijo el ex subsecretario de Asuntos Hemisféricos, Roger Noriega.

El diplomático, quien lleva años promoviendo en Washington la causa democrática venezolana, declaró en una entrevista que funcionarios de la Agencia Estadounidense Antidrogas (DEA) y del Departamento del ...  

Sanctions Against Venezuelan Vice-President: Great First Step Against Venezuela’s Rogue Regime

Sanctions Against Venezuelan Vice-President: Great First Step Against Venezuela’s Rogue Regime

Finally, we are seeing movement and leadership on the part of the U.S government to isolate a Venezuelan leadership that for almost two decades has led, within Latin America, an anti-democratic movement mixed with drug trafficking and alliances with rogue elements.

The Venezuelan Vice-President, Tareck El Aissami has been added to the list of those sanctioned by the U.S government on the grounds of international narcotics trafficking. El Aissami, as well as other associates who served as front men for him, ...  

Ambassador Pinzón: “US stands to gain from Colombia’s ongoing rise to prosperity”

Ambassador Pinzón: “US stands to gain from Colombia’s ongoing rise to prosperity”

The U.S.-Colombia relationship is the most important strategic partnership in the Western Hemisphere. It is a partnership that has grown in significance and strength over the past 20 years, and it is a partnership that stands to continue strengthening during the Trump administration and the 115th Congress.

Built on a solid foundation of shared values, our partnership has allowed us to promote security, peace and prosperity in both of our countries, throughout the hemisphere and around the world. No longer just ...  

Top diplomat to accept award from democracy group in Cuba

Top diplomat to accept award from democracy group in Cuba

WASHINGTON — A prominent diplomat is planning a politically sensitive trip to Cuba to accept an award from a pro-democracy group on the island.

Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, will travel to Cuba next week to accept the Oswaldo Paya Prize from the Latin America Youth Network for Democracy, a spokesman for the regional organization said Wednesday.

Spokesman Gonzalo Ezpariz confirmed Almagro’s plans but declined to disclose details of a trip that could touch a nerve in ...  

Venezuela’s bad relationship with the United States just got worse

Venezuela’s bad relationship with the United States just got worse

Venezuela and the United States haven’t had the best relationship recently. This week, it got worse.

The Treasury Department blacklisted Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on Monday, saying he oversaw or “partially owned” narcotics shipments of more than 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds) from Venezuela, some of which ended up in Mexico and the U.S.

“On the one hand, it’s a drop in the ocean, because it won’t change what’s happening on the ground,” said Dany Bahar, fellow at Brookings. “On the ...  

Ecuador’s elections: Who are the contenders?

Ecuador’s elections: Who are the contenders?

On Feb. 19, Ecuadoreans head to the polls for general elections to choose the president and vice president, along with all 137 seats in the country’s unicameral legislature and five representatives to the Andean Congress. An expected presidential runoff is slated for April 2. The country’s National Electoral Council said about 12.8 million of the country’s 16 million citizens will be eligible to vote this year, including some 380,000 expat voters. Voting is mandatory in Ecuador; turnout in the last ...  

CNN Pulled in Venezuela; Trump Meets Opposition Leader’s Wife

CNN Pulled in Venezuela; Trump Meets Opposition Leader’s Wife

One by one, cable providers started dropping CNN Español’s signal off their air in Venezuela as millions flipped through the channels, bewildered. The decision to ax CNNE came swiftly in the form of an administrative order from CONATEL, the national telecommunications commission.

“The procedure is done in light of the content that the mentioned news station has systematically been broadcasting, which presents a clear aggression against the Venezuelan homeland,” said CONATEL, which also silenced a national TV broadcaster a decade ago.

This ...  

Exit the Dragon: Why China Should Stop Supporting Venezuela

Exit the Dragon: Why China Should Stop Supporting Venezuela

CHICAGO — Poor Venezuela, so far from God, so close to the People’s Republic of China. Having bid farewell to tumultuous 2016, President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled government, hit hard by low oil prices, has again bucked market expectations, muddling through without defaulting on sovereign bonds or those of the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Paying off $10 billion to Wall Street last year required many sacrifices from Venezuela: selling off or mortgaging international assets and slashing imports by nearly 50 percent ...  

Will Ecuador’s Voters Reject Failed Populism?

Will Ecuador’s Voters Reject Failed Populism?

It is a pity that Ecuador’s presidential election, which will be held this coming Sunday, is not attracting more international attention. It should, now that the world is witnessing the rise of populist nationalism.

For the past decade Ecuador has been governed by Rafael Correa. Like other Latin American populists, he won free elections but changed the constitutional rules so he could remain in power indefinitely through a combination of authoritarianism, fiscal profligacy, and demagoguery. However, the backlash against populism in ...  

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Jose Cardenas discusses Cuba's problematic ties abroad at the Center for Security Policy’s 4th Annual Latin America Symposium

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.