Content from IASW Contributors

Mexico’s security crisis: Will Iguala be a wake-up call?

By Roger F. Noriega and José R. Cárdenas By Roger F. Noriega and José R. Cárdenas
Mexico’s democracy, stability, and economy require a collaborative response from all levels of government to quell the wave of recent political unrest and address the underlying causes of insecurity and public dissatisfaction. The current crisis—sparked by national outrage over the September 26 disappearance of 43 students near the town of Iguala in the state of Guerrero—should be a wake-up call for the country.
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Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

By Roger F. NoriegaBy Roger F. Noriega
Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no? Read More-->

Obama Signs Bill to Sanction Venezuelan Officials

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

President Barack Obama has signed legislation into law allowing him to sanction Venezuelan government officials who were involved in a crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The bill authorizes sanctions that would freeze the assets and ban visas for anyone accused of carrying out acts of violence or violating the human rights of those opposing the South American nation’s socialist government.

Last summer, the State Department imposed a travel ban on Venezuelan officials who were accused of abuses during street protests that left dozens of people dead.

Click here for original ... Read More

Bush Commerce Secretary Says Obama Gave Cuba ‘a Major Political Win

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Time

By Eliza Gray

“The U.S. has given so many concessions and not received anything in return,” Carlos Gutierrez tells TIME

Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told TIME Thursday that the U.S “will have egg on our face” following President Barack Obama’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in half-a-century. Gutierrez, a Cuban-born former Kellogg CEO who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, is now a consultant at the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Here’s his Q&A with TIME, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How much flexibility will businesses have if Congress doesn’t actually act to lift the embargo?

How much flexibility there will be for U.S. businesses will depend on how much flexibility the Cuban regime gives to U.S. businesses. That’s the aspect of this that has brought down these agreements. At the end of day, ... Read More

Colombia rejects FARC’s verification demand for ceasefire

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY PETER MURPHY

(Reuters) – Colombia on Thursday welcomed an offer by Marxist rebels for a ceasefire but rejected their demand for independent monitoring, putting the plan to stop hostilities on uncertain ground hours before it was to start.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced an indefinite ceasefire from Saturday if the government allows independent verification. But Latin America’s oldest insurgency said it would be called off if government forces attacked.

In a statement, President Juan Manuel Santos’ government rejected the call for verification but did not explicitly address the demand for a bilateral ceasefire, though it has continually ruled that option out.

“This must remain clear: the government will continue fulfilling its indeclinable constitutional duty to guarantee and protect the rights of Colombians,” the statement said.

The FARC’s stance puts the government in an awkward position by leaving the success of the group’s offer to end hostilities up ... Read More

Cuba Opening Shines Light on Obsolete Telecom Links

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By DREW FITZGERALD And RYAN KNUTSON

Cuba is closing the gap to the U.S. Next up: Closing the gap to the Internet.

The island nation has just one modern, fixed Internet connection to the outside world, with spotty access to satellite links providing the rest. Cuba has access to about 1% of the Internet bandwidth available in the nearby Dominican Republic, according to researcher TeleGeography.

Cuba’s population of about 11 million is bigger than the Dominican Republic’s roughly 10 million, but the Dominican Republic is served by five underwater cable systems. The other fiber optic communications lines crisscrossing the Caribbean wrap around Cuba, a black hole in an otherwise connected hemisphere.

That omission is by design. Cuba keeps tight control of its citizens’ access to information, and the U.S. embargo has limited American companies’ ability to build infrastructure that touches the island. The normalization of relations with the U.S. creates an opportunity to bridge the gap, but ... Read More

Price of U.S.-Cuba deal: Releasing a murderer

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Politico

By Josh Gerstein

The deal President Barack Obama announced Wednesday setting in motion the most significant warming in U.S.-Cuba relations in half a century comes with an American concession that may be a tough sell for the White House: releasing from a U.S. prison a Cuban spy serving a life term for murder.

One of the three Cubans whose sentences Obama commuted Wednesday as part of the groundbreaking  agreement between Washington and Havana is Gerardo Hernández, who was convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shootdown of two Brothers to the Rescue planes over Cuba in 1996, in which four Cuban émigrés aboard the aircraft were killed.

Hernández and the two others released were members of the so-called “Cuban Five” — a group of Cuban nationals convicted in 2001 of acting as what amounted to a spy ring known as ... Read More

Obama Gives Rubio a Gift From Cuba

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Eli Lake & Josh Rogin 

U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement today on plans to normalize relations with Cuba is good news for many constituencies. It’s good for the agribusinesses that stand to sell more food to Cuba. It’s good for Democrats, desperate for a tangible foreign policy success from their president. And of course, it’s good for Alan Gross, the Jewish aid worker arrested in 2009 who warned visitors recently that he feared he would die in his Cuban jail cell.

But Obama’s decision is also very good news for Marco Rubio, the man emerging as the leader of the Republican fight against Obama’s new outreach to Cuba. When Republicans take control of the Senate in the next Congress, Rubio will be in charge of the subcommittee that oversees diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere and would hold nomination hearings for America’s first ambassador to Cuba since 1960.

It doesn’t look like that nomination ... Read More

On Cuba, Obama abandons a clear position for a vague project

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Charles Lane

The U.S. embargo on Cuba — or what’s left of it after President Obama’s dramatic Cuba policy announcement — may be a futile gesture. But it is, or was, not an empty gesture.

It put the United States firmly on record that it would have as little as possible to do with a regime whose misdeeds have included inviting Soviet nuclear weapons onto its soil, sponsoring violent guerrilla groups throughout the Western Hemisphere, harboring fugitives from U.S. justice and — last but certainly not least — systematically trampling its citizens’ most basic rights.

In place of this clear position, Obama has taken a stance that is more nuanced morally but, he assures us, more efficacious practically.

He might be right, too — if you believe that this administration, or its successors, will have the diplomatic smarts, and the attention span, to maneuver the Castro regime into letting its people have more ... Read More

Obama and Cuba: The Triumph of Ideology over U.S. National Interests

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
National Review

By Elliot Abrams

The American Left has loathed the embargo and overlooked all of Castro’s repressive actions since the 1960s. They have blamed the U.S.–Cuba deadlock entirely on the United States and have sought the end of the embargo whenever a Democrat was in the White House. Under Johnson, Carter, and Clinton they did not get their way; that had to await Obama.

When the Soviet Union fell, the Castro regime was in dire straits. It survived through sheer repression — until it was sustained by Venezuelan oil money sent by Hugo Chávez. Today Chávez is dead, oil is under $60 a barrel, and Venezuela is reeling. Who will bail Castro out this time? Now we have the answer: Barack Obama.

Put aside the prisoner exchange, which one can be for or against and still decry the rest of Obama’s moves today. It’s clear that Obama told the Cubans ... Read More

Rubio Leads Republican Charge to Block Obama Cuba Policy in 2015

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Kathleen Hunter

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who may run for president in 2016, is leading a Republican charge to do everything possible to block President Barack Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.

Yet even Rubio says there may be little the Republican-controlled Congress can do.

“I would concede that many of the changes that have been made today, such as diplomatic relations, fall within the purview of the presidency,” Rubio told reporters today in Washington.

Rubio, whose parents left Cuba in 1956, said Republican lawmakers will “use every tool at our disposal in the majority to unravel as many of these changes as possible.”

Blocking funds for an embassy in Cuba and refusing to confirm an ambassador to the island nation are steps Rubio and others in his party suggested Congress might be able to take.

“We’re going to have a very ... Read More

Cuba’s Castro Brothers Get Big Present From Santa Obama

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Investor's Business Daily

Foreign Policy: Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama’s announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month’s decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was “not working,” comparable to Obama’s claim the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.

As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor ... Read More

Cuba’s Castro has given little and gained a lot, analyst says

| December 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
DW

The restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba has triggered debate on how far normalization will go. Human rights fellow Mark P. Lagon tells DW why he doesn’t expect dramatic changes to come fast.

DW: Why did President Obama push ahead with this now?

Mark P. Lagon:He feels that the Senate is shifting in power to a Republican majority and he wants to take a step in a direction that’s of dialogue with an autocratic government. This is in line with some other politics he’s pursued in the past; for example he also has an inclination to dialogue with the Iranians.

What are the chances that this rapprochement will go any further – seeing as the US House of Representatives and Senate will be dominated by Republicans soon, who may not be in favor of lifting the embargo?

This not cut entirely along partisan lines. ... Read More

Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Editorial Board

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the accelerating economic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide ... Read More

A Victory for Oppression

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARCO RUBIO

The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.

Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.

As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is ... Read More

Colombian Rebels Propose Cease-fire

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By SARA SCHAEFER MUÑOZ

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—Colombia’s largest Marxist rebel group says that it will embark on a unilateral, indefinite cease-fire beginning Saturday as a way to propel peace negotiations with President Juan Manuel Santos ’s government.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has in the past temporarily halted its operations for Christmas holidays and elections, but an indefinite cease fire is unprecedented. Mr. Santos’s government declined to comment on the announcement, though analysts who track the peace process said it creates prickly scenarios for his administration, such as whether it should also call for a cease fire.

“We have initiated a definitive path towards peace,” the FARC, whose leaders have been negotiating with the government in Cuba, said in a statement. “We have resolved to declare a unilateral cease-fire and end hostilities for an indefinite time.”

The FARC’s gesture came on the same day that President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba announced a ... Read More

The Cuban people will pay the price for Obama’s careless concessions

| December 17th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
AEI

BY ROGER NORIEGA

The Cuban regime’s decision to release American hostage Alan Gross to celebrate Hanukkah with his family is long overdue, welcome news. Gross is free today; 11 million Cubans are not. President Obama’s decision to move toward normalizing diplomatic relations with the Castro regime resuscitates a gasping dictatorship without even asking for anything in return.

The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, signed by President Clinton after the downing of American rescue planes over international waters, codified the economic embargo on the totalitarian dictatorship of Fidel and Raúl Castro. (Incidentally, Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban spies to which Obama referred in his speech today, was found guilty of murder in US federal court for his complicity in the 1996 shoot-down.)

The LIBERTAD Act stipulates that the restoration of normal commercial ties should be used as leverage with a post-Castro transition to ensure that economic and political reforms ... Read More

Cuba releases American Alan Gross in prisoner swap

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

By Elise Labott

Washington (CNN) – U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.

President Obama is expected to announce Gross’ release at noon.

Gross’ “humanitarian” release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.

President Barack Obama is also set to announce a broad range of diplomatic and regulatory measures in what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since the 1961 embargo was imposed.

... Read More

Brutal Gang Violence Reigns In El Salvador

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
wbur

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR — In a country with all the sun and verdure of an idyllic resort, but none of its safety, new white vans and pick-ups convey a steady supply of corpses through the crowded traffic of San Salvador, the capital city, to the Office of the Medical Examiner. Fifty-two murders in 72 hours, said local newspaper headlines on Nov. 18.

If you want to know why so many Salvadorans are running north this year, the medical examiner’s receiving room seems a good place to start. The victims keep the metal autopsy tables and attending doctors at full capacity. On display are the youth of El Salvador.

“Seventy percent of the people who are killed are between 15 and 30 years old,” Dr. Miguel Enrique Velasquez says in Spanish.

According to a recent report from UNICEF, El Salvador has the world’s highest rate of homicide for ... Read More

Argentina’s Approach To Inflation: Ditch The Peso, Hoard U.S. Dollars

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
NPR

BY LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO

Kelly Brenner ushers in guests at the Adentro Dinner Club. This is a “​puertas cerradas”​ restaurant — meaning behind closed doors. It’s a culinary movement where people cook for paying guests in their homes. Adentro is the most well-reviewed in Buenos Aires​.

​Brenner, who is originally from Boulder, Colo., acts as the host, and her Argentine fiance, Gabriel Aguallo, does the cooking, focusing on grilled meat.

​On a recent evening, visitors gasped with pleasure at the beautifully set dinner table before they were ushered up for cocktails on a roof terrace festooned with lights. Despite the success of the venture, though, the pair say they have been struggling.

​”​Tourists would call and want to make a reservation for two months in advance, but we couldn’t take that reservation because we couldn’t tell them how much it was gonna cost in two months​,” she says.

The problem is ​inflation​. ​

​It’s been ​ravaging Argentina’s ... Read More

Fire In The Hole: The Imminent Implosion of Venezuelan Chavismo

| December 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

By Agustino Fontevecchia

Ever since Hugo Chavez´s rise to power in 1998, the opposition has announced (like the boy who cried wolf) that the demise of the Chavista regime was around the corner. After 15 years, it is hard to find similar allegations to be truthful or realistic. The institutionalists in the armed forces did not overthrow the government, the opposition did not win the elections, and the economic crises have not roused the pro-Chavez masses against the government they elected. The hypotheses presented by the opposition have proven wrong repeatedly.

Yet, none of this means the danger of governmental collapse in Venezuela is nonexistent. On the contrary, if the disintegration of the Chavista leadership has ever been closer, it is now. Not for any of the previously mentioned reasons, though. This time the threat comes from deep inside PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). The fractures that pre-date the death of ... Read More

Socialist policies undoing success of South America’s strongest economy

| December 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times By Richard W. Rahn 

Why do very successful nations often adopt policies that lead to their undoing? After a revolution or major reform, some countries allow a high degree of economic freedom, establish the rule of law, protect private property rights and establish low tax rates with strict limits on government spending and regulation. The economy takes off, the citizens become far richer and then the government mucks it up, usually by attempting to redistribute income and expand state control.

Is Chile, which has been one of the bright spots in the world economy, falling into this pattern under socialist President Michelle Bachelet?

For the past three decades, Chile has outperformed the other South American countries and now has the highest per-capita income in South America, averaging approximately $22,000 per year on a purchasing power parity basis. The World Bank lists Chile as a “developed economy,” and it was the first Latin American country to become a member ... Read More

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