Archive for February 16th, 2012

Venezuela’s Chavez calls presidential foe a “pig”

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY MARIO NARANJO

CARACAS – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tore into opposition candidate Henrique Capriles again on Thursday, calling him a “low-life pig” in an ever-more vitriolic campaign ahead of the October election.

“Now we have the loser, welcome! We’re going to pulverize you in the October 7 election,” Chavez said of the Democratic Unity coalition candidate in a speech to an audience that included friend and U.S. actor Sean Penn.

“You have a pig’s tail, a pig’s ears, you snort like a pig, you’re a low-life pig. You’re a pig, don’t try and hide it,” the socialist leader added at the ceremony for graduating medical students in Vargas province.

Since his landslide win in the opposition primary last weekend, Capriles, the 39-year-old governor of Miranda state who comes from a wealthy family, has faced a barrage of verbal attacks and insults.

State commentators and Chavez supporters have questioned his sexuality and said his Jewish ... Read More

Is Mexico’s drug war strategy working?

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
From CNN

BY MARIANO CASTILLO

Mexico has landed some hard punches against the drug cartels that have stirred violence in parts of the country — at least on paper.

In 2011, against just the notorious Zetas cartel, Mexico ended the reign of 16 leaders who ran cartel operations at the state or national level. Thugs with nicknames like “El Piolin,” “El Lucky” and “El Amarillo.”

But the violence attributed to the Zetas has not decreased even after these busts, and critics wonder if names are meaningless if they are so quickly replaced.

And a majority of Mexico’s most-wanted drug traffickers, 22 out of 37, have been put out of commission, but to what benefit? At what cost?

“Mexico has paid an enormous price: almost 50,000 dead, almost $50 billion in additional security costs, ever more numerous human rights violations, (and) a great discrediting of the country to the world,” wrote Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister ... Read More

Venezuela ships fuel to war-torn Syria: traders

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY MARIANNA PARRAGA & EMMA FARGE

The government of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is emerging as a rare supplier of diesel to Syria, potentially undermining Western sanctions and helping the Syrian government fuel its military in the middle of a bloody crackdown on civilian protests.

A cargo of diesel, which can be used to fuel army tanks or as heating fuel, was expected to arrive at Syria’s Mediterranean port of Banias this week, according to two traders and shipping data. The cargo could be worth up to $50 million.

Chavez is a vociferous advocate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who face pressure from Western sanctions. Few leaders on the world stage have polarized opinion as sharply as the Venezuelan president.

Chavez, who still defends the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has repeatedly backed Arab leaders who have faced a year-long wave of popular protests, which have already toppled four governments.

Venezuelan state ... Read More

Ecuador top court upholds libel ruling against newspaper

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

QUITO – Ecuador’s highest court early on Thursday upheld a ruling sentencing three newspaper directors to jail and setting damages at $40 million for libeling leftist President Rafael Correa.

The combative Correa has been sparring with local media ever since he took office in January 2007 promising a “citizens’ revolution” in the South American OPEC member.

He often accuses privately owned television networks and newspapers of spreading lies to undermine his government and has called them “the real opposition,” while news organizations say he is trying to censor critics.

“Thank God that the truth has prevailed and we’ve been allowed to overcome this tough challenge successfully,” Correa told reporters, after accusing El Universo of orchestrating a campaign to destroy his reputation.

The original ruling last year sentenced columnist Emilio Palacio and three owners at El Universo to three years in prison and set payment of $40 million in damages to Correa over a column ... Read More

Americas summit should include Cuba, Latin leftists tell U.S.

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY JEFF FRANKS

HAVANA – Officials from the left-leaning ALBA bloc of Latin American countries threw down the gauntlet to the United States on Wednesday by insisting Cuba participate in April’s Sixth Summit of the Americas in Colombia and asking the host country to invite the communist island.

ALBA, founded in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, is a grouping of eight countries that has positioned itself as a counterpoint to U.S. influence in Latin America. ALBA also includes Ecuador, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, the Commonwealth of Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

In a meeting of ALBA’s Political Council, the officials put off a decision on a threatened boycott of the summit if Cuba does not attend, saying they would see how the latest U.S.-Cuba dust-up plays out.

Cuba has said it would like to take part in the event, but Washington insists it cannot unless it institutes democratic reforms that permit ... Read More

Venezuela says payment to Exxon Mobil puts an end to arbitration dispute

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s state-run oil company announced Wednesday that an arbitration dispute with Exxon Mobil Corp. has been settled because the U.S. oil giant has received a payment topping $250 million.

Exxon Mobil sought arbitration after the government of President Hugo Chavez nationalized an oil project in the South American nation’s oil-rich Orinoco region in 2007.

The Irving, Texas-based oil company and representatives of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, failed to reach an agreement on compensation for Exxon’s assets, prompting Exxon to bring the case to the International Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber awarded Exxon more than $907 million in compensation for its nationalized assets.

But PDVSA said Wednesday the dispute had been settled following a payment of $250,897,799.

Representatives of Exxon did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment late Wednesday.

Venezuela’s oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said the government doesn’t intend to make additional payments to Exxon beyond about $255 million.

Exxon had brought ... Read More

Challenging Venezuela’s Chavez: Henrique Capriles represents a new style of opponent to President Hugo Chavez.

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

For more than a decade, political opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have sought to unseat the fiery populist. Yet his rivals have proved to be their own worst enemy. They’ve bickered among themselves, waged electoral boycotts that played into Chavez’s hands, and failed to show that they understand the plight of the country’s poor.

But this past weekend, the opposition did the unthinkable: It coalesced behind a single candidate, Henrique Capriles, a youthful governor from the state of Miranda, to challenge Chavez in this year’s presidential elections. It’s a welcome development in a country in desperate need of new voices and policies.

Despite its vast oil reserves,Venezuela’s troubles are mounting. The country is politically and economically divided. Unemployment is rampant and inflation has hovered near 30%. The country’s homicide rate is among the highest in the hemisphere, with near-daily reports of killings and kidnappings. And even the president’s most ardent supporters now ... Read More

Venezuelans Resist Order to Turn Over Voter Names

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY WILLIAM NEUMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — A furor has erupted in Venezuela over voter secrecy in an opposition primary election held on Sunday to choose a candidate to run against President Hugo Chávez, with political leaders expressing fear that the government might seek reprisals against voters if their names are publicized.

The nation’s highest court on Tuesday ordered the opposition coalition that organized the primary to turn over to the government records containing the names of the more than three million people who participated.

The voters overwhelmingly selected Henrique Capriles Radonski, a 39-year-old state governor, to take on Mr. Chávez in a general election scheduled for Oct. 7.

But the organizers of the primary said they would resist the court order and had already burned almost all of the books that voters used to sign in at polling places, as they had publicly pledged to do to safeguard the voters’ anonymity.

“We are protecting the identity ... Read More

Despite housing pledges from Chavez, Venezuela’s homeless call racetrack home

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

BY JUAN FORERO

CARACAS, Venezuela — The chestnut-colored 3-year-olds still take the turns hard and fast on the dirt track at La Rinconada, the once-elegant racing park inaugurated in 1959 as Venezuela began its oil-fueled heyday.

But these days, dozens of homeless families live under the vast concrete grandstands, moved by President Hugo Chavez’s government into cramped cubicles to alleviate a critical housing shortage. Water service is spotty, foul-smelling bathrooms overflow with sewage and gangs of young thieves steal what little residents have.

“God takes care of us,” explained Maria Valera, 61, saying the weekend races she sees for free are the saving grace of living at the track.

For those trying to survive here — indeed, for thousands more in similar conditions across Venezuela’s capital — it is just another symbol of this city’s long slide into squalor, decay and fear. And that is a serious problem for a leftist populist government that is ... Read More

The Iranian Threat in America’s Backyard

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Secure Freedom Radio

Congressman Jeff Duncan introduces the “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012” (H.R 3783) which comes a week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s five day tour of four Latin American countries. Duncan’s legislation makes it clear that American policy is to counter Iran’s influence in Latin America by requiring a coordinated and targeted strategy that uses all elements of national power. Specifically, the legislation charges the Obama Administration to detail the presence of Iran in the Western Hemisphere.

Podcast Powered By ... Read More

Growing risk posed by Iran-Venezuela axis

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY SEN. RICHARD LUGAR

The growing and deepening alliance between the mullahs of Iran and the America-bashing leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, poses a serious threat to U.S. national interests, but the Obama administration has been behind the curve in appraising these risks and forging effective policies to counter them.

The administration’s neglect of the dangers in the Iran-Venezuela bonds assumes greater importance against the backdrop of the rising tensions in the Middle East. Iran continues to be a direct threat to U.S. national security, the security of our close ally, Israel, and other U.S. interests. As Iran accelerates its drive toward building a nuclear weapon in the face of growing U.S.-led sanctions, the probabilities grow of a major conflict in the region.

Countries that support Teheran, such as Venezuela, could be tempted to serve as proxies for Iran around the world and in coordination with Iran openly challenge the United States. Iranian ... Read More

‘Iran cultivating L. American ties beyond Venezuela’

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY HILARY LEILA KRIEGER

WASHINGTON – Iran is cultivating relationships beyond Venezuela to make sure its toehold in Latin America stays secure, should Hugo Chavez lose his battle with cancer, a former US State Department official warned Wednesday.

“Certainly the Iranians are happy with the platform they have so close to US borders. They’d love to hang on to Venezuela, but if that isn’t convenient for whatever government that succeeds Chavez, they’ll have look elsewhere,” said Roger Noriega on a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project.

Noriega pointed to the countries Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited in addition to Venezuela on his recent Latin American tour – Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba – as places Iran is looking to develop ties.

Noriega, who served in the George W. Bush administration, will testify before the Senate on Iran and Latin America Thursday. He is expected to highlight Ecuador as a country of particular interest for ... Read More

Dice EU confía en transparencia de comicios RD

| February 16th, 2012 | No Comments »
El Nacional-01

ALBERTO CAMINERO

La subsecretaria de estado de Estados Unidos, Julissa Reynoso, y varios representantes norteamericanos  para el Caribe y República Dominicana están atentos a las elecciones presidenciales del 20 de mayo  y confiados en que los comicios serán transparentes y diáfanos.

La información la ofreció este jueves el candidato vicepresidencial del Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Luis Rodolfo Abinader, en declaraciones vía telefónica con cuyos funcionarios conversó ayer y les expuso la posición del ingeniero Hipólito Mejía, candidato presidencial perredeísta, en torno a las elecciones y su lucha contra el narcotráfico en un gobierno suyo.

Abinader se reunió este miércoles con funcionarios de los Departamentos de Estado, de Agricultura y de Comercio, y de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA).

Asimismo, Abinader expuso en Washington la posición de Mejía sobre la inseguridad ciudadana en  República Dominicana.

Además de la subsecretaria Reynoso, Abinader sostuvo encuentros con  Mike  Giglio, encargado de la oficina de seguridad nacional para Centroamérica ... Read More

Armas, Minería y Redes de Irán en América Latina

| February 16th, 2012 | 2 Comments »
US Senate

Aspectos destacados del testimonio del Embajador Roger Noriega ante el Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado, Subcomité para el Hemisferio Occidental, Cuerpos de Paz, y Narcóticos

Febrero 16 del año 2012

El director de Inteligencia Nacional, James R. Clapper, declaró a principios de este mes que “las autoridades iraníes” de más alto nivel “están ahora más dispuestas a realizar un ataque en Estados Unidos ….” El general Clapper también informó que el líder supremo de Irán, Ali Jamenei, probablemente estaba enterado de las acciones descubiertas en octubre donde supuestos líderes de cárteles de la droga mexicanos conspiraron con Irán para perpetrar un supuesto atentado terrorista en el corazón de la capital de nuestra nación.

Basándonos en decenas de entrevistas con expertos de todo el mundo, con testigos en la región y en una gran cantidad de documentos oficiales venezolanos e iraníes se hacen las siguientes conclusiones:

Hugo Chávez y el ... Read More

Noriega Testimony: “IRAN’S INFLUENCE AND ACTIVITY IN LATIN AMERICA”

| February 16th, 2012 | 3 Comments »
US Senate

TESTIMONY OF AMBASSADOR ROGER F. NORIEGA

BEFORE THE UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE,PEACE CORPS, AND GLOBAL NARCOTICS AFFAIRS

HEARING ON

“IRAN’S INFLUENCE AND ACTIVITY IN LATIN AMERICA”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Room 419, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman, I applaud you and other members of the Subcommittee forinitiating a review of Iran’s activities in Latin America.

Since you announced your inquiry, the Director of National Intelligence, James R.Clapper, testified earlier this month that “Iranian officials” at the highest levels “are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States….” General Clapper also reported that Iran’s so-called “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei was probably aware of the bizarre plot discovered last October to conspire with supposed Mexican drug cartel leaders to commit a terrorist bombing in the heart of our Nation’s capital.i Only because ... Read More