Archive for January, 2013


| January 31st, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Ecuador en Vivo


No hay mayor ciego ni sordo que el que no quiere ver y no quiere escuchar. En nuestro caso cabría además añadir que no hay peor ciudadano que el que se hace de la vista gorda frente al poder omnimodo del Estado, por un beneficio personal, por comodidad o por miedo.

Las próximas elecciones revisten importancia histórica para el Ecuador.

En esta ocasión no se trata de simples comicios para que la población decida que propuesta política y económica es la mejor para el país en los próximos cuatro años; situación usual cuando se vive bajo un régimen democrático donde se respeta la división de poderes y la alternabilidad en el mismo.

Hoy en día la sociedad ecuatoriana vive un momento político de gravedad. En el país se ha impuesto una dictadura disfrazada de legitimidad democrática, que se caracteriza por la concentración de todos los poderes en las manos de una ... Read More

Argentina-Iran deal makes a mockery of justice

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Argentina has crossed a line by making a sweet deal with Iran to jointly investigate a 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which according to Argentine prosecutors and Interpol was masterminded by top Iranian officials.

The deal seems to put Argentina fully within the Venezuelan-led club of Latin American countries that support some of the world’s worst human rights offenders.

Until now, many of us had hesitated to put Argentina in that category, mainly because Argentina remains a democracy and differed with Venezuela on Iran. Despite pleas by Venezuela to put the AMIA case on the backburner, the late President Néstor Kirchner had supported Argentine court requests for the extradition of former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, current Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and others in connection with the car bombing that left 85 people dead and about 300 wounded 19 years ago.

But ... Read More

U.S. puts Colombian gang on kingpin list

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


BOGOTA – One of Colombia’s most notorious criminal gangs, Los Rastrojos, was put on a U.S. Treasury watch-list Wednesday, making it illegal for U.S. citizens to do business with the organization and allowing authorities to seize the gang’s assets in the United States.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named Los Rastrojos and its imprisoned founder Diego Pérez Henao as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

“By targeting this violent criminal organization currently operating in Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, we are taking steps to expose their activities and undermine their operations,” OFAC Director Adam Szubin said in a statement. “OFAC will use these sanctions against key leaders and facilitators of this criminal organization so long as they continue their criminal behavior.”

Penalties for corporations that violate the act can include fines of up to $10 million and jail time.

Over the last decade, Los Rastrojos emerged ... Read More

OPPENHEIMER: Argentina-Irán: un pacto lamentable

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Argentina ha cruzado una línea al hacer un pacto de amigos con Irán para investigar conjuntamente el ataque terrorista de 1994 contra el centro comunitario judío AMIA de Buenos Aires, que según la justicia argentina e Interpol fue una acción muy probablemente planificada desde los más altos niveles del gobierno iraní.

Este acuerdo coloca a la Argentina de lleno dentro del bloque de países latinoamericanos liderados por Venezuela cuyas políticas exteriores están alineadas con Cuba, Irán y otros de los peores violadores de los derechos humanos del mundo.

Hasta ahora, muchos de nosotros habíamos dudado en colocar a Argentina en ese bloque, no solo porque internamente sigue siendo una democracia, sino porque su política exterior se diferenciaba de la de Venezuela en materia de Irán.

El fallecido presidente argentino Néstor Kirchner, haciendo caso omiso a los pedidos de Venezuela de que se acercara a Irán, había apoyado los pedidos de extradición de ... Read More

Colombia’s Farc to continue targeting military personnel

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »

Colombia’s Farc rebel group has said that it intends to carry on capturing military personnel, despite warnings that it could undermine peace talks.

Two policemen are currently being held by the left-wing group.

The government says they have been “kidnapped”, but the Farc has described them as “prisoners of war”.

The rebels declared a unilateral two-month ceasefire at the start of the talks to end five decades of conflict, but it was suspended on 20 January.

The government says it will not halt its operations against the Farc until a final peace agreement has been signed.

The latest round of peace talks is set to start on Thursday in the Cuban capital, Havana.

The rebels pledged to stop kidnapping for ransom last year and released ten policemen and soldiers they had been holding captive.

In their latest statement, however, they said that capturing police and military officers was “part of its right” when they “surrender in ... Read More

The Caribbean and Cuba: A True Friendship Should Rest on Principles

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »
Stabroek News


In recent messages to Cuba marking 40 years of diplomatic relations, the Government of Guyana and many of its CARICOM counterparts spoke of a partnership based on principles of solidarity and strategic partnership.  Notably absent from these messages were references to Guyana’s and CARICOM members’ most cherished national principles of democracy and human rights. Although the countries of the English-speaking Caribbean have a proud democratic tradition and a commitment to respect for human rights at home and abroad, when it comes to the Cuban people this tradition is unfortunately set aside.

True partnership often requires one friend to tell the other hard truths.  The English Caribbean’s friendship with Cuba would be more meaningful if the Caribbean were willing to accompany its strongly felt sense of solidarity with a willingness to press the Cuban government to ensure that all Cubans enjoy the same rights that Caribbean citizens demand ... Read More

Venezuela Seen Delaying 33% Devaluation as Chavez Treats

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s battle with cancer will defer an expected devaluation by three months as his convalescence in a Cuban hospital delays economic decision-making, according to a survey of analysts.

Venezuela will weaken the official bolivar rate 33 percent to 6.4 per dollar in the second quarter, generating more revenue in local currency from each dollar of crude exports, according to the median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. In a poll taken in July, economists expected a devaluation of the same size in the first quarter.

Speculation over a devaluation mounted this week after Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Chavez had drawn up new plans to boost exports from his hospital bed in Havana. Chavez hasn’t been seen in public since undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba six weeks ago. Venezuela needs to weaken the bolivar and boost fiscal revenue after government spending leaped in the year preceding Chavez’s Oct. ... Read More

Venezuela Will Deify Chavez Even as Crash Looms

| January 31st, 2013 | No Comments »


In the nature and the suffering of what may be his impending death, Hugo Chavez will probably achieve the immortality in human memory that he has always sought, the certainty of a veneration reserved for saints, martyrs and redeemers.

The images now appearing in the streets of Venezuela leave no doubt about it. They don’t compare Chavez to Simon Bolivar — the inspiration of the nation’s “comandante” — but to Jesus Christ. And there are explicit slogans displayed that go further and deeper into Venezuelan reality: “The people are Chavez” and “We are all Chavez” — like some modern miracle of transubstantiation.

It is possible that the ruling government of Cuba (where the Venezuelan is hospitalized) may try to preserve the authority of a moribund Chavez, like the famous Spanish Cid Campeador, whose body — strapped to his horse — led troops in a victorious battle. But it is much more likely that, after ... Read More

Hugo Chávez: An elected autocrat

| January 31st, 2013 | 2 Comments »
New Statesman


It was visiting day at Los Teques women’s jail, a jumble of concrete ringed by guards on a hill overlooking Caracas, and the inmates were dolled up, tight jeans, heels, lipstick, bangles, to receive their menfolk and children. All lounged in the courtyard, soaking up sun, chatting and snacking.

All save one. Maria Lourdes Afiuni’s cell door was open but she stayed inside, perched on her bunk, smoking. Pale and pasty, she wore baggy jeans, a shapeless sweater, trainers and no make-up.

A portrait of the Archangel Michael slaying a dragon, a gift from a friend, adorned the wall. The dragon bore a distinct resemblance to Hugo Chávez. Afiuni smiled. The president had already sentenced her; what did she have to lose?

It was January 2011 and I had come to interview Venezuela’s best-known prisoner. Afiuni was a judge who had come to national attention 13 months earlier by releasing a ... Read More

Argentina whitewashes Iranian terrorism: ‘What does it matter?’

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »

It is bad enough that the U.S. national security establishment is ignoring the Iran/Hezbollah threat in the Americas.  Now, Argentina’s president Christina Kirchner has made matters worse by agreeing to help Iran whitewash its terrorist legacy.  This week, her regime announced an accord with Tehran to form a joint “truth commission” to examine the deadly 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the worst terrorist attack in the history of the continent.

Successive Argentine investigations have implicated Iranian officials – including then “cultural attaché” Mohsen Rabbani and current defense minister Ahmad Vahidi — in a car-bombing that leveled the five-story building killing nearly 90 people and injuring hundreds more.  (The bloody fingerprints of Iran and Hezbollah are all over a bombing of the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital in 1992.)

Now, the Kirchner regime has agreed to work with Iran to jointly name a panel of experts from third countries to again sift through the evidence ... Read More

Argentina: I am not a ‘vulture’

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
Daily Caller


The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals will soon hear arguments in a legal battle that has been described in the media as “the landmark sovereign debt default case of the century”: NML v. Argentina. The court will determine — once and for all — whether Cristina Kirchner’s government must honor its promises to “international creditors,” i.e., the institutional holdout investors. The case, it is said, will set “an important legal precedent,” upon which might rest the future of the secondary debt market.

These are all true statements, and speak to why this case has earned the attention of the world. But, in my kitchen in Buenos Aires — and in tens of thousands of homes across Argentina, Europe, and North America — individual holdout investors like myself also await judgment. We look forward to the day that justice will be done; that our dignity — and our savings — ... Read More

Numbers racket in Argentina

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times


In 2007, the government of Argentina fired Graciela Bevacqua and other statisticians who were collecting its price statistics and inflation estimates. Since that time, large and disturbing — even shocking — discrepancies have developed between the official inflation estimates (roughly 10% a year) and privately generated estimates announced by Bevacqua and others (roughly 25% a year).

Why would the Argentine government take such drastic action?

In late 2001, Argentina defaulted on its bonds, and it has refused to negotiate with its creditors. This has cut off the third-largest economy in Latin America from the international capital markets. To finance itself, the government has taken to seizing or nationalizing assets (national pension funds, reserves of the Central Bank, the Spanish oil company YPF) and printing money so the banks can buy the government’s bonds. Because of a history of hyperinflation (and roller-coaster boom and bust), inflation is a sensitive domestic matter. In ... Read More

Israel Rebukes Argentina for Deal With Iran to Investigate ’94 Attack

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times


JERUSALEM — Israel strongly criticized Argentina on Tuesday, summoning its ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to explain Argentina’s agreement with Iran to establish a joint commission to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, an attack for which Tehran is widely blamed.

The Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for Latin America “conveyed Israel’s astonishment and disappointment at the Argentine government’s decision to collaborate with Iran,” according to a statement from the ministry.

It added that Israel had “protested the unacceptable attitude of the Argentine government toward Israel since the beginning of contacts between Buenos Aires and Tehran,” saying that Argentina had not responded to Israel’s requests to be kept informed of the diplomatic moves with Iran, nor of how Argentina envisaged bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Israel’s ambassador to Argentina was expected to request a meeting with Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, in the coming days for clarification ... Read More

Rosneft to invest $10bln to Venezuela

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
Russia Today

The Russian energy company Rosneft plans to deepen its cooperation with Venezuela and invest $10 billion to the country’s oil and gas projects.

Russian and Venezuelan officials have signed a deal covering offshore natural gas and oil projects and have agreed to create joint service and drilling ventures. Oil production in the projects with Russian participation could reach 50 million tonnes per year, Chief Executive of Rosneft, Igor Sechin said on Wednesday. Rosneft’s share of that would be around 15 million tonnes, he said.

Venezuelan oil reserves amount to 300 billion barrels. Along with Rosneft, a number of other Russian companies operate in Venezuela’s energy sector including Gazprom, Lukoil and Surgutneftegaz. They take part in five production projects, including the Junin-6 and Caraboo-2 oil blocks. Rosneft is also going to acquire TNK-BP’s 16.7% of stake in PetroMonagas, a joint venture of TNK-BP and Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA.

Rosneft is also interested in Venezuela ... Read More

Secret government study exposes infiltration attempts by Mexican drug cartels

| January 30th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Washington Examiner

An internal study for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security describes 15 incidents in which known associates of Mexican drug cartels tried to inflitrate the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The same study detailed “turf battles, internal dysfunction and other troubles” that have hobbled the agency in its efforts “to get a handle on corruption and other misconduct within its ranks,” CIR said.

The internal study was conducted by the Homeland Securities and Analysis Institute, which is an internal think tank for DHS. The study has been kept under wraps for more than a year, according to CIR. The study’s authors said there may have been many more attempts by drug cartels to infiltrate the U.S. government in addition to the 15 discussed in their document.

“As part of lie detector tests, prospective hires have admitted to drug trafficking, human smuggling and other illegal activity, ... Read More

Israel Angered Over Argentina-Iran Bombing Probe

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


Israel summoned the Argentinian ambassador on Tuesday in protest over an agreement between Iran and Argentina to jointly investigate the bombing 19 years ago of a Jewish center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires and that was widely blamed on Tehran.

The terror attack was the deadliest on Argentinian soil, coming just two years after a bomb flattened the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Argentina-Iran agreement, which was struck on Sunday, “is like inviting a murderer to investigate the killings he committed.”

Argentine prosecutors have formally accused six Iranians of coordinating — under orders from their government — the July 18, 1994, bombing that demolished the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building.

The center, a symbol for Argentina’s Jewish community, was destroyed and 85 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.

Argentine officials have claimed that Iran masterminded the attack while agents of ... Read More

Former Ecuador judge on Chevron case says plaintiffs bribed court

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO – A former Ecuadorean judge has claimed that after stepping down from the bench, he illegally ghostwrote a judgment in which Chevron was ordered to pay $18.2 billion for polluting the rain forest, and that the plaintiffs paid a $500,000 bribe to the judge who issued the ruling.

Alberto Guerra, who presided over the case from 2003 to 2004, made the allegations in a sworn statement filed by Chevron on Monday in support of a lawsuit in Manhattan federal district court accusing the Ecuadorean plaintiffs and their lawyers of fraud.

“Another participant in the fraud has now come forward rather than wait to be exposed by others,” Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, in a statement called Guerra a “disgraced former Ecuadorean judge who is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars ... Read More

Venezuela to Pump More Dollars Into Economy With Oil Tax

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »


Venezuela will channel more resources from its oil exports to the central bank this year as it seeks to alleviate a shortage of dollars that has crimped imports, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said yesterday.

The government plans to reduce levies on the oil industry by changing rules on the so-called windfall tax that will now only be triggered on oil prices above $80 a barrel, instead of $70 a barrel. The move will reduce funding to President Hugo Chavez’s off-budget development fund known as Fonden and pump more dollars into the central bank, Ramirez said. The changes need to be approved by Congress.

The measure is part of an economic growth plan approved by Chavez as he undergoes treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer in Cuba, the minister said. A shortage of foreign currency led to a 53 percent plunge in the bolivar to 18.35 per U.S. dollar in the black market in ... Read More

How Venezuela’s leader-in-wings compares to Chávez

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »


CARACAS, Venezuela — As Venezuela awaits news of its president’s health, Hugo Chávez’s heir apparent, a mustachioed, affable and Cuba-trained politician, is hoping to come out from under “El Comandante’s” shadow.

Nicolás Maduro, 50, has already provided one example of the difference between himself and Chávez. He took 10 minutes to give this month’s state of the union address in Chávez’s absence. Chávez delivered a 10-hour oration last year.

“Look at where he’s headed, Nicolás, the bus driver! How the bourgeoisie laughed at him!” Chávez said as he appointed Maduro, then foreign minister, as his successor in December just before flying to Cuba for surgery on an undisclosed cancer.

The operation led to bleeding and a pulmonary infection, and Chávez has not been seen or heard from since. Should he succumb after 14 years as president, power will supposedly pass to a man whom few Venezuelans know much about.

“The majority of ... Read More

Venezuela pierde espacio en mercado petrolero de EEUU

| January 29th, 2013 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


En el marco de su incendiaria retórica antiestadounidense, el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez amenazó en más de una ocasión a Washington con suspender el suministro de petróleo, planteamiento que analistas veían como impráctico y que mostraba desconocimiento sobre las realidades del mercado petrolero.

Pero Estados Unidos bien podría terminar comprando menos crudo venezolano a la vuelta de unos años, no necesariamente como el resultado de sanciones impuestas contra el gobierno bolivariano, sino por cambios drásticos en el mercado y las gigantescas deudas contraídas por el régimen de Chávez con el gobierno chino.

Analistas consultados afirmaron que la participación venezolana en el mercado estadounidense está siendo amenazada y que podría quedar reducida a niveles irrelevantes en el mediano plazo, en momentos en que aumenta la oferta de petróleo de Canadá y de Estados Unidos.

Es un escenario, que aunado al gradual declive de la producción venezolana, tendría serias implicancias para el futuro ... Read More

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