Archive for January 18th, 2013

First US-supported drug raid in Honduras since resumption of radar info sharing leaves 1 dead

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — At least one suspected drug trafficker died in the first U.S.-supported anti-narcotics raid in Honduras following a five-month suspension in radar intelligence sharing between the countries, authorities said.

The cooperation was halted after the Honduran air force shot down two suspected drug planes in violation of agreements with Washington.

The Honduran navy said late Wednesday that one of three Jamaican men on a go-fast boat carrying 350 kilograms (772 pounds) of cocaine died when a Honduran coast guard vessel rammed the craft before dawn about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) off the country’s northern coast.

Rear Adm. Rigoberto Espinal said one of the other Jamaicans jumped into the sea and disappeared, but his fate had not been confirmed. The third man was detained.

The Jamaicans “did not put up any armed resistance, but we had to ram the boat with a coast guard vessel, with the unfortunate result that one of the ... Read More

IMF to meet on Argentina problem on Feb. 1

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
From AFP


WASHINGTON: Directors of the International Monetary Fund will meet on February 1 to decide if and how to punish Argentina for not supplying accurate economic data, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

But she also said that the IMF currently has a team of experts inside Argentina to prepare a review of the country’s financial sector, suggesting the two sides continue to work together despite the data spat.

“We have had a mission on the ground with a view to put in place a FSAP, a financial sector assessment program, and that was a scoping mission, a preliminary mission, where we discuss with the authorities what aspect of the financial sector we will review,” Lagarde told reporters.

“That is separate from the issue of the accuracy of data,” she said.

In September, Lagarde warned that Argentina could be censured with a “red card” after nearly two years of pressing Buenos Aires to ... Read More

US commandos boost numbers to train Mexican forces

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is stepping up aid for Mexico’s bloody drug war with a new U.S.-based special operations headquarters to teach Mexican security forces how to hunt drug cartels the same way special operations teams hunt al-Qaida, according to documents and interviews with multiple U.S. officials.

Such assistance could help newly elected Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto establish a military force to focus on drug criminal networks that have terrorized Mexico’s northern states and threatened the U.S. Southwest border. Mexican officials say warring drug gangs have killed at least 70,000 people between 2006 and 2012.

Based at the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado, Special Operations Command-North will build on a commando program that has brought Mexican military, intelligence and law enforcement officials to study U.S. counterterrorist operations, to show them how special operations troops built an interagency network to target al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden and his followers.

The special ... Read More

Destituyen a embajador panameño en la OEA

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

CIUDAD DE PANAMA – El embajador de Panamá en la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), Guillermo Cochez, aseguró este jueves que el gobierno de Ricardo Martinelli lo destituyó, tras sus declaraciones no autorizadas, en las que criticó el supuesto silencio frente a la situación en Venezuela.

Según Cochez, su destitución se produjo mediante un decreto firmado por Martinelli y el canciller Rómulo Roux.

“El señor presidente tiene todo el derecho de haberme destituido”, pero “no me arrepiento en lo más mínimo de las palabras que vertí ayer”, dijo Cochez al canal Telemetro de Panamá.

Martinelli había dicho horas antes que desaprobaba la postura de Cochez.

“Nosotros no compartimos esa opinión del embajador (Guillermo) Cochez. Igualmente el Estado panameño no la comparte. Son opiniones muy personales de él”, dijo este jueves Martinelli.

Una fuente de la cancillería panameña aseguró a la AFP que “hasta ahora no hay ninguna información sobre eso. Ni a favor (confirmando la destitución) ... Read More

Critics Question Chávez Signature on an Official Decree

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times


CARACAS, Venezuela — A tempest in an ink pot has broken out over the signature of President Hugo Chávez, which suddenly appeared on a government decree this week despite his long absence from the country.

The case of the mysterious signature comes as Mr. Chávez remains out of public view since undergoing cancer surgery in Havana on Dec. 11. He is still in Cuba, officials say, undergoing what they call a delicate recovery, which left him too sick to be sworn in on Jan. 10.

Now the appearance of the signed decree in a government publication on Wednesday has put a new twist on the fight over how the country should proceed without him.

The decree named a longtime Chávez ally, Elías Jaua, as foreign minister and was dated Jan. 15. It bears Mr. Chávez’s distinctive signature at the bottom.

But it also says that it was promulgated in Caracas, an inconsistency ... Read More

Crying for Argentina

| January 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy


In 1913, Argentina’s per capita income was among the five highest in the world. In the interim, it has slipped to 69th place, behind most of Eastern Europe and just ahead of Botswana, Gabon and Lebanon. It’s safe to say that no other modern economy with a democratic government has made so little from so much.

This relative decline has proceeded in cyclical fashion. Policies have ricocheted between extremes, reflecting conflicts between economic interests that were all too often resolved by military coups. However, the military has stayed in the barracks since its humiliation in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982. Nonetheless, Argentina has since been beset by out-of-control budget deficits, hyperinflation and debt defaults, even as civil society has been battered by unprecedented poverty and inequality.

In a global economy that has consistently rewarded free-market policies, Argentines have increasingly opted for a greater state role, relying on trade protectionism to stimulate industrial expansion and ... Read More

Why Brazil’s economy is losing its shine

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
Global Post


Brazil, long viewed as one of the most promising emerging markets, has seen its crown slip slightly in recent months. The country has been enshrined as Latin America’s economic powerhouse for more than a decade, fuelled by vast resource wealth and investment from China.

Yet its dominance is under threat as other emerging markets compete fiercely on cost.

“The last decade was very good for Brazil,” James Lockhart Smith, head of Latin America, Maplecroft, told CNBC.

“Now, Brazil is having to compete with a lot of other countries and it has an Achilles heel in the cost of doing business, so it’s much more complicated to generate growth.”

After roaring to growth of 7.5 percent in 2010, gross domestic product is expected to grow by 3.2 percent in 2013 by the Banco Central do Brasil, the country’s central bank. Of course, these figures are still much higher than the slow or negative growth forecast in ... Read More

Brazil’s economy: More inflation, less growth

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Economist

FOR Brazilians, disappointing economic news just keeps coming. After weak third-quarter GDP figures shocked market economists and government at the end of November, both cut their predictions for growth in 2012 to just 1%. Then the government admitted it would only hit its closely watched target for the primary fiscal surplus—of 3.1% of GDP—by omitting some infrastructure spending from the sums, bringing forward dividends from state-owned firms and raiding the sovereign wealth-fund it set up in 2008. Now inflation figures have brought more gloom. During 2012 prices rose by 5.84%—above market expectations, and, for the third year running, close to the ceiling of the range (2.5-6.5%) targeted by the Central Bank.

In fact, the headline figure underestimates inflationary pressures. If the federal government had not capped petrol prices, and municipalities frozen public-transport fares before October’s local elections, last year’s figure would have been closer to 6.5%. In 2013 both those prices ... Read More

Venezuela Military to Play Central Power Broker

| January 18th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


In a country riven by political strife, Venezuela’s military often has served as the arbiter of power. It has launched coups and frustrated them and dispatched soldiers to guarantee stability, distributing food, fighting crime and securing oil fields.

Now with President Hugo Chavez battling for his life, the stance of the 134,000-strong armed forces again will be crucial.

Divisions within the military have clouded attempts to determine who it might support among Chavez loyalists or if it would side with the opposition. While the military’s leadership is packed with Chavez supporters, the officer corps may not be so loyal. Much will depend on what Chavez’s political heirs do in the coming weeks.

Experts and former military officers agree that the governing duo of Vice President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello has been unable to fill the leadership vacuum created by Chavez’s five-week absence and silence. Without a commander ... Read More