Archive for March 13th, 2012

Fernandez numbers hurt by slowing Argentine economy

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BUENOS AIRES – Argentine leader Cristina Fernandez’s popularity fell to a 13-month low of 42.1 percent in a poll released on Sunday, as people in the grains-exporting country start to feel the pinch of the contracting global economy.

Fernandez has cut back on some of her popular subsidies and social spending while her government tries to dodge fallout from Europe’s debt crisis and the slowdown in demand from key trade partners Brazil and China.

The survey, conducted by Management & Fit, showed a sharp drop from the 59.1 percent popularity that the 59-year-old Peronist leader enjoyed last month. In October she won a 54 percent re-election landslide, powered by one of the region’s fastest economic expansions.

But the headlines have not been great since then, as Europe tries to stave off financial disaster and commodities markets slacken. Argentina’s economy grew 5.5 percent in December, the slowest year-on-year rate in nearly two years.

The focus for investors ... Read More

U.S. Biases Harm Our Interests In Latin America

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Investor's Business Daily

BY MICHAEL FUMENTO

BOGOTA — There are two Latin Americas. There’s the largely fictional one of media-perpetuated stereotypes; and there’s the real one: an incredibly vibrant, industrial, youthful, open-minded people with whom the United States — if it wishes to remain a great power — absolutely must forge stronger economic and political bonds.

I have now lived in four cities of two Latin American countries: Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena, Colombia, and Guadalajara, Mexico. I stay in others’ homes and rarely speak English. And I’ve observed what the empirical data support: Gringos suffer mass misperceptions harmful to all parties; false beliefs that impede business dealings and national security arrangements with people who are both neighbors and friends.

“Gringos” he says. Isn’t that a nasty word? Sure, in context — like when the bandito calls Clint Eastwood’s character a “Feelthy greengo peeg!” In reality, it’s a neutral term often applied to any foreigner and sometimes ... Read More

El Salvador’s conservative party wins slim edge in legislative seats, dealing blow to leftists

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The leftist party led by El Salvador’s president lost four seats in midterm elections, leaving the conservatives as the biggest bloc in the legislature, according to preliminary vote counts made public Monday.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said that with 95 percent of Sunday’s votes counted, the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance gained a seat to hold 33 of the Legislative Assembly’s 84 seats. It also won some key mayorships, including in the capital.

President Mauricio Funes’ Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front dropped to 31 seats from 35. A coalition led by former conservative President Elias Saca won 11 seats, while the remaining nine seats went to four small parties.

Funes is the first leftist to be elected El Salvador’s president since its civil war ended in 1992.

Observers said the results of Sunday’s vote was a setback for Funes, who won the presidency in 2009 leading the ticket of former ... Read More

Mexico drug lord’s fate is focus of election year speculation

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

BY KEN ELLINGWOOD

Reporting from Mexico City—

A tantalizing question is spicing up talk shows and opinion columns as Mexican voters prepare to elect a new president: Will the government spring a “June surprise” by finally nabbing Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman?

Guzman, you might recall, is the world’s most wanted drug suspect — on the lam since escaping a Mexican federal prison in a laundry cart in 2001. He allegedly sits atop a vast crime network reaching into the United States and across much of the globe, and is ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest men.

In other words, Guzman would be a sweet trophy for President Felipe Calderon, who could use a big score before voters head to the polls July 1.

Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, and its presidential candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, trail in the polls, even though formal campaigning hasn’t begun yet. Far ahead is Enrique Peña Nieto, ... Read More

Latin American Summits offer Opportunities, pose Problems

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

BY JERRY BREWER

The time is now for democratic Latin American leaders to stand tall and firm on addressing the true problems of the continuous deteriorating security environment within Latin America. A major part of this extraneous discourse must squarely place a large portion of the blame on those leftist regimes that continue to foster discord and demonstrate zero attempts to be part of the solution.

When might these proactive government hopefuls have such a timely opportunity?

The good news is that they have two major occasions approaching, and not a second too late.  Free nations and democracies in the hemisphere should do all within their power between the dates of these two regional assemblies to address their leaders and government representatives, help set true agendas, and hold some feet to the fire.

The Sixth Summit of the Americas will be held in Cartagena, Colombia on April 14-15 of this year.  The central theme ... Read More

In ‘Battle’ With Media, a New Tactic in Ecuador

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY WILLIAM NEUMAN

QUITO, Ecuador — The fight goes on for Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, who has been in a relentless donnybrook with his country’s news media almost from the day he took office five years ago.

At the end of February, he pardoned three executives and a columnist at El Universo, a leading conservative newspaper, who were sentenced to three years in jail and fined $42 million in a libel lawsuit brought by the president. But it was not a truce, Mr. Correa explained. He is no less irate at what he calls the dictatorship of the media.

“We are in a battle,” Mr. Correa said in an interview in the presidential palace last week. Comparing his campaign against the news media to Abraham Lincoln’s shutdown of newspapers sympathetic to the South during the Civil War, he said that he had set his sights squarely on the wealthy, who, for generations, have ... Read More

Dissidents Ask Pope to Give Them “a Minute” on Cuba Visit

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

HAVANA – The Cuban dissident group Ladies in White has asked Pope Benedict XVI to give them “a minute” of his time during his upcoming visit to the island.

“We’re asking His Holiness to meet with the Ladies in White, even if it’s just for a minute, to inform him about our situation and that of the political prisoners who have not been freed,” the group’s spokeswoman Berta Soler said.

Soler said that last Wednesday a delegation of the Ladies was received in the Havana Archdiocese by Monsignor Ramon Suarez Polcari, whom they asked to covey their request to Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Cuba’s Catholic primate.

Arranging a meeting of the pope with the island’s dissidents will be “very difficult,” was the response from the church hierarchy, Soler said.

She also said that her group told the Catholic Church of their wish for Cardinal Ortega to intercede once more with the Cuban government so that ... Read More

Chavez to undergo radiation therapy

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
MSNBC

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he will be home from Cuba in a week and start radiation therapy for cancer that could leave him weakened ahead of his re-election bid on Oct. 7.

Chatting for more than two hours in a televised address from Havana, where he is recovering from a third surgery to treat cancer in his pelvic area, Chavez seemed eager to show he is fully in command of the government despite his illness.

Flanked by some of his cabinet ministers at the head of a long table, he laughed and sang songs in an apparent effort to squelch rumors he has a life-threatening condition such as metastatic cancer.

“Today we are in the 13th day post-operation, with completely normal vital signs, a good general state of health and with no complications, good scarring, daily monitoring, rehabilitation and long walks,” he said, reading off a document with details about his ... Read More

Venezuelan oil a risky investment for China

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

BY KELLY HEARN

BUENOS AIRES — China has poured billions of dollars into Venezuela’s oil sector to expand its claim over the country’s massive oil reserves.

But Beijing is getting relatively little for its investments, and Chinese officials are increasingly frustrated with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to energy analysts and former managers of the state oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela, or PDVSA as it’s known by its Spanish acronym.

Mr. Chavez, who is battling a life-threatening recurrence of cancer, said his goal is to send 1 million barrels of oil a day to China, which has given Venezuela more than $30 billion in loans and promised billions of dollars more in energy investments by 2016.

PDVSA claims to send 410,000 barrels a day to Chinese markets, the bulk of which is used to pay back the loans.

Already this year, PDVSA has announced that Citic Group Corp., China’s largest state-owned investment company, will acquire ... Read More

Los Valencia, los Milenio, la Nueva Generación

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
Excelsior

JORGE FERNANDEZ MENENDEZ

La caída de Erick Valencia, El 85, jefe del cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, es un golpe muy duro para el cártel de Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, mientras que el círculo en torno suyo parece cerrarse cada día más. El cártel Nueva Generación, que se hizo más conocido por su grupo de sicarios que se llamaron los matazetas, se había hecho cargo de varias tareas fundamentales en esa organización: por una parte, la de reconstruir la organización en el estado, al reemplazar a Ignacio Nacho Coronel, incluso desde antes de su muerte (cuando comenzaron los enfrentamientos en ese territorio que Coronel había hegemonizado desde hacía mucho tiempo) y, por la otra, asumieron buena parte de la batalla contra los Zetas.

El cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación no es en absoluto una organización criminal nueva. Sino, en realidad, la transformación de una de las más viejas organizaciones del narcotráfico en México (comenzaron en el negocio de la mariguana en ... Read More