Archive for March 19th, 2012

Iran: The leading state sponsor of int’l terrorism

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Jerusalem Post-01

BY IRWIN COTLER

There is increasing – and compelling – evidence of Iranian footprints in a series of recent aborted terrorist attacks in India, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Thailand.

The Indian police have just reported that the Iranian connection to the bombing of the Israeli Embassy car has been “conclusively established” and that the bombing was connected to a botched attack targeting Israeli consular staff in Bangkok.

Thai officials have now detained three Iranian nationals in connection with the plots, while a fourth has been detained in Malaysia. Similarly, an Indian journalist with close ties to Iran’s notorious Quds Force was also arrested last week for facilitating the New Delhi attack. An Indian court has now issued arrest warrants for three other Iranian nationals in connection with the bombing.

Two other Iranian nationals suspected of involvement in the Thai attack, including the alleged mastermind who is presently in Iran, remain fugitives.

Moreover, Thai investigators have released ... Read More

Mexico’s War vs. Organized Crime, Goons and Savage Gangsters

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

BY JERRY BREWER

It has taken many years for the U.S. to answer a wakeup call to the Mexican border.  As far back as 2005, when the sophistication of Mexican and other transnational organized criminals graphically manifested their superior tactics and armament on the streets of Nuevo Laredo, a nation scrambled to demand walls and fences regardless of the associated costs.

The “gang” culture of violence from Latin America had long since penetrated the U.S. border and set up shop in many major U.S. cities.  As well, these gangs had been building personnel infrastructures for years, assimilating with U.S. prison gangs — particularly in southwestern states and California. People were later shocked to learn that there were well over 300,000 gang members in California alone.

While local U.S. police jurisdictions were valiantly working to interdict gang crime activities and violence at local levels, for the most part many remained narrowly focused on a ... Read More

In Mexico, extortion is a booming offshoot of drug war

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

BY TRACY WILKINSON

Reporting from Mexico City—

No taco stand was too small for Juan Arturo Vargas, alias “The Rat.”

Every week, Vargas would shake down the businesses in Nicolas Romero, a working-class town an hour outside the Mexican capital. His take: anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars. His leverage: Pay up, or your kids will get hurt.

The Rat, police and prosecutors say, worked at the low end of a vast spectrum of the fastest-growing nonlethal criminal enterprise in Mexico: extortion.

From mom-and-pop businesses to mid-size construction projects to some of Mexico’s wealthiest citizens, almost every segment of the economy and society has been subjected to extortion schemes, authorities and records indicate. Even priests aren’t safe.

Extortionists have shut entire school systems, crippled real estate developments, driven legions of entrepreneurs into hiding or out of the country.

And although it is not considered a violent crime, violence readily engulfs victims: When a casino in the industrial ... Read More

Colombia Captures Drug Trafficker Who Pioneered Use of Submarines

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Bogota –  The drug trafficker who pioneered the use of submarines to smuggle cocaine has been captured in southwestern Colombia, the National Police said.

Jose Samir Renteria, who is the subject of a U.S. extradition request, was arrested in Cali, the capital of Valle del Cauca province.

Renteria has links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group and the Los Rastrojos gang, U.S. officials said.

The suspect got involved in the illegal drug trade in the mid-1980s, when he began smuggling cocaine into the United States using speedboats that operated out of Colombia’s Pacific coast.

Renteria became a partner of Neftali Umensa, one of the top leaders of the FARC’s 30th Front, who was killed by the army on Oct. 20.

U.S. investigators determined that Renteria also had contacts and did business with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, considered the world’s most powerful drug trafficker.

Renteria, ... Read More

Venezuela: Una Transición Tóxica

| March 19th, 2012 | 2 Comments »
The American

De acuerdo con mis fuentes y contrario a las declaraciones del caudillo venezolano Hugo Chávez, el tumor canceroso que le  fue descubierto en el colon el mes pasado no ha sido extraído. Siguiendo el consejo controversial de los médicos cubanos, Chávez ha rechazado la cirugía para que pueda volver a sus funciones públicas tan pronto como sea posible y así reforzar la estrategia de sucesión dentro del régimen.

Especialistas médicos internacionales han insistido, contra la opinión medica cubana, en que el tumor debe ser removido antes de retomar los tratamientos de quimioterapia y radiación. Ellos creen que la decisión de Chávez de rechazar la cirugía va a acelerar su muerte. Sin embargo, los hermanos Castro lo necesitan de vuelta en la arena política de Venezuela y no en una cama de hospital. Miembros de la familia de Chávez y algunos amigos cercanos están furiosos de que los cubanos estén manipulando la ... Read More

Bolivia’s Morales threatens to close US embassy

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
From AFP

LA PAZ — Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales warned in comments published Sunday that he would close the US embassy in La Paz if Washington continued interfering in his country’s domestic affairs.

Morales, who has faced a proliferation of protests in recent weeks over a variety of issues, has accused the United States of fueling the unrest against his government.

“If the US embassy continues bothering Bolivia, as it is doing now, then it is best we close the United States embassy in Bolivia because we are anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-neoliberals,” the state-run ABI news agency quoted Morales as saying.

The US embassy had no comment.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2008, when Morales expelled US ambassador Philip Goldberg and officials of the US Drug Enforcement Administration after accusing them of taking part in a right-wing conspiracy against him.

Washington reciprocated by kicking out the Bolivian ambassador to Washington.

Click here for original ... Read More

Church-ordered raid sparks controversy in Cuba

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY PAUL HAVEN

HAVANA—A decision by Cuba’s Roman Catholic cardinal to call police in to remove dissidents occupying a church has sparked an uncomfortable debate about the institution’s role on this Communist-run island at the worst possible moment: just 10 days ahead of a high-profile visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Cuban opposition leaders who had kept their distance from the 13 little-known protesters holed up in the Church of Charity since Tuesday nonetheless denounced the move by Cardinal Jaime Ortega to oust them, saying Friday it was a black mark for a church that ought to protect human and political rights.

The criticism was joined by human rights officials and some exiles, though others acknowledged the dissidents put church leaders in a tough spot. Religious experts noted the eviction of the occupiers was not unprecedented, with police called in just last month to remove protesters from a camp outside St. Paul’s cathedral in ... Read More

Venezuela’s Chavez to get radiation treatment soon

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
From AFP

CARACAS — Ailing President Hugo Chavez, just back from cancer surgery in Cuba, said Saturday he would start radiation treatments “in the coming days,” amid rising drama over his health as he seeks reelection late his year.

“Now I have to start radiation in the coming days to attack any new threat. This cancer is not going to be the end of Chavez,” the leftist president told supporters at Miraflores Palace, without saying if he would be treated in Venezuela or Cuba, his main regional ally.

“So here I am… back with more strength and love and drive to live,” said Chavez, 57, amid surging concerns even among his followers about whether he can tough out the grind of a reelection campaign ahead of the October 7 election.

Chavez underwent surgery in Havana on February 26 to remove a cancerous tumor around the pelvis, the same area from where a first tumor was ... Read More

Cuban authorities detain prominent dissident, dozens of followers ahead of papal visit

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

HAVANA — Cuban authorities detained a prominent dissident and dozens of her colleagues early Sunday, then rounded up more activists while they staged a weekly protest march through Havana just days before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Police took away Bertha Soler and three dozen supporters of the Ladies in White dissident group hours before they were to take part in a regular march down Quinta Avenida in the leafy Miramar neighborhood of Havana.

“They were arrested,” said Angel Moya, Soler’s husband and a former political prisoner himself. Soler was also detained briefly Saturday evening, he said.

About 30 other Ladies supporters did make it to the march, which began peacefully, but state security agents moved in when the Ladies tried to extend the protest into streets they don’t normally enter. All were escorted onto a bus belonging to state security. By Sunday evening, many had been released and some driven back ... Read More

The Pope’s Cuba Gamble

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY MARY O’GRADY

With only a week to go until Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make the second papal visit to Cuba in 14 years, joyful anticipation ought to be buoying the island’s Christians. But for those brave soldiers of Christ who have stood up against political repression, the prevailing mood is deep frustration.

For 53 years, Cuba’s totalitarian regime has made life hell for the population. But Castro also has spared no expense in running a clever international propaganda campaign. Regime survival has depended on East German-style repression covered over by a smiley face for international consumption. It has worked, and Cuban human-rights defenders have suffered their indignities with little moral support from the outside world.

Cuban dissidents had hoped the pope’s visit would help them expose the twisted jailors who run the island prison. So what are we to make of the fact that the pontiff will not be meeting ... Read More

Cuba detains 70 ‘Ladies in White’ ahead of Pope visit

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
MSNBC

HAVANA – Cuban authorities detained about 70 members of the dissident group Ladies in White over the weekend, drawing fresh attention to human rights issues days ahead of a visit by Pope Bendict XVI.

The 18 women, dressed in their customary white clothing, were rounded up and taken away in buses after they left their permitted route through Havana’s Miramar neighborhood during their weekly Sunday march in the Cuban capital, said a Reuters cameraman on the scene.

The arrests are likely to bring into focus the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Communist Cuban regime, which is officially atheist but has recently had better relations with Christian groups.

A One Cuba/Una Cuba Facebook campaign has been started by Cuban Americans in Florida, calling for the Pope to meet the country’s dissidents during his two-day visit, which begins March 26.

The Miami Herald notes that Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998 was followed by ... Read More

The Toxic Transition in Venezuela

| March 19th, 2012 | No Comments »
The American

If a narco-state or violent crackdown emerges in Venezuela, the White House will no longer be able to avert its attention from the mess or to ‘lead from behind.’

Contrary to statements by Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chávez, a cancerous tumor discovered in his colon late last month has not been removed, according to my sources. Heeding the self-serving advice of Cuban doctors, Chávez has rejected surgery so that he can return to his public duties as soon as possible and bolster his regime’s ongoing succession strategy. The Castro brothers need him back on the political stage in Venezuela, not in a hospital bed. Meanwhile, back in Caracas, corrupt military leaders are consolidating their power and plotting their political survival as if Chávez were already dead.

Non-Cuban medical specialists insist that the larger-than-expected tumor must be removed before resuming last-ditch chemotherapy and radiation. They believe that Chávez’s decision to refuse surgery will hasten his ... Read More