Archive for February 1st, 2013

Insulza podría salir de la OEA

| February 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
La Estrella

PANAMÁ. En Chile es práticamente noticia confirmada. José Miguel Insulza, actual secretario general de la OEA, intentará lograr un escaño en el Senado de su país, según informan medios en el país suramericano.

El exembajador panameño ante ese organismo regional, Guillermo Cochez, al conocer la noticia reiteró lo que había dicho a comienzos de año. ‘Me rei tero entonces que su posición —no autorizada por nadie— de avalar lo ocurrido en Venezuela el 10 de enero, señalando que no había violación alguna de Constitución, fue el producto de su decisión de aspirar a la Senaduría en Chile, ya que no quería que nada ni nadie —como Venezuela— le armara algún alboroto por declaraciones en otro sentido. Para Insulza lo más importante en los últimos meses no ha estado en la OEA, sino en Chile’.

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As Chavez takes his time, Havana rules Venezuela

| February 1st, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Sun Sentinel

BY GUILLERMO MARTINEZ

Latin American politics in the second decade of the 21st century are strange, to say the least. Other adjectives may apply. They reader may choose the most appropriate after reading this column.

Raúl Castro, the younger of two brothers who have ruled Cuba as their own sugar plantation for the last 55 years, assumed the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on Monday.

The organization, organized to preclude the influence of the United States in hemispheric affairs, also has a charter that promotes democracy. Yet its president this year is the only dictator in Latin America.

Outgoing president, Chile’s Sebastián Piñera, told the media that in a private conference with Castro he had asked the Cuban leader to help investigate the death of an ex-Chilean Sen. Jaime Guzmán, whose killers are supposedly living in the Caribbean island.

Yet nobody asked Castro about the dozens of Americans and hundreds of Cubans he was responsible ... Read More

Victims, Victims Everywhere

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The New York Times

BY DANIEL LANSBERG-RODRÍGUEZ

Three years ago I was giving a ride home to the sister of my cousin’s girlfriend in Caracas, when we were violently kidnapped and held for ransom overnight.

I prefer not to dwell on the specifics of the experience: the hollow sound of an assault rifle tapping a car window, the voices of terrified loved ones negotiating my life over speakerphone. It could have been much worse.

Through a series of bizarre coincidences and lucky breaks, we emerged from the experience largely unharmed, before any money changed hands. And having since married my fellow hostage, I look forward to someday regaling our children with what is perhaps a uniquely Venezuelan “How I Met Your Mother” story.

But last week upon hearing news of an outbreak of violence at Uribana prison, about 275 kilometers west of Caracas — a phenomenon that, like kidnappings, has become all too common in Venezuela ... Read More

Why Argentina is reaching out to Iran

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Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

BY EMILY SCHMALL

BUENOS AIRES

After years of impasse, Argentina and Iran this week announced an agreement to work together on solving one of the deadliest anti-Semitic attacks anywhere since World War II. The deal emerged in the midst of deepening trade ties and has generated skepticism from the US and Israel.

In 1994, a suicide bomber drove a van full of explosives into the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building, killing 85, wounding about 300, and tearing at the heart of Buenos Aires’ Jewish population, the largest in Latin America. An Argentine special prosecutor in 2006 accused Hezbollah, the Lebanese group with strong ties to Iran and Syria, of executing the attacks with financing from Iranian government officials.

Argentina and Iran announced this week an agreement to create a joint commission of international legal experts to investigate the 1994 attack. As part of the agreement, prosecutors will be allowed for the first time to interrogate suspects – in Tehran.

The announcement, signed by Foreign Minister Minister Héctor Timerman and his ... Read More

Peru’s roaring economy: Hold on tight

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The Economist

WALK down Calle Gamarra in Lima’s La Victoria district and you might imagine you are in Kowloon. For a dozen blocks, Gamarra and its side streets are packed with multitudes and lined by high-rise buildings, the older ones of rough and ready brick, the newer ones of glass. At ground level every square metre is occupied by shops and galleries selling clothes. The buildings above are an anarchic mixture of offices and workshops.

Gamarra is the humming heart of the rag trade in Peru, a country blessed with top-quality cotton as well as alpaca and vicuña fibre. It is home to more than 15,000 separate businesses. Since at least part of the industry is informal (ie, not legally registered), nobody knows how much Gamarra turns over, but estimates range from $1.3 billion to $3 billion a year. Not long ago La Victoria was known for crime, grime and chaotic poverty. Now ... Read More

As U.S. Consumes Less Cocaine, Brazil Uses More

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NPR

BY JUAN FORERO

As cocaine consumption falls in the United States, South American drug traffickers have begun to pioneer a new soft target for their product: big and increasingly affluent Brazil.

And the source of the cocaine is increasingly Bolivia, a landlocked country that shares a 2,100-mile border with Brazil.

As Brazilian police officers and border agents can attest, the drug often finds its way to Brazil by crossing the Mamore River, which separates the state of Rondonia from Bolivia in the heart of South America.

It is not an easy border to patrol. Much of it is porous jungle or river. It is also a big border, bigger than the U.S.-Mexico line that has caused so much trouble for both the Obama administration and Mexico’s government.

Worse still is that Bolivia, along with Peru and Colombia, are the three biggest cocaine-producing countries — and Brazil shares 5,000 miles of frontier with them.

A perfect route ... Read More

Colombia As A Potential New Free Trade Haven

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Forbes

BY ALEXA VAN SICKLE

Colombia, with its 45 million consumers, has long seemed a prime market for U.S. exports in the region. It has the third-largest economy in Latin America, and in 2010, U.S. producers exported more than $11 billion in goods to Colombia, making it the U.S.’s third-largest market in Latin America after Mexico and Brazil.

With a new free-trade agreement with the U.S. and some progress on its internal issues, is Colombia’s future as a trading partner starting to look brighter?

The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which went into effect May 15, 2012, has been one driving force in that direction, eliminating barriers to billions of dollars of U.S. exports. The FTA also provides protection to U.S. investors and U.S. copyrights, trademarks and patents registered in Colombia.

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that through the FTA, the value of U.S. exports to Colombia could rise by $1.1 billion, while Colombian exports to the U.S. could grow by $487 million. According to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota’s blog, since May ... Read More

Leading FARC commander ‘killed’ in northwestern Colombia

| February 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

BY OLLE OHLSEN PETTERSSON

The commander of the FARC‘s 5th Front, “Jacobo Arango,” has been killed by the Colombian air force in northwestern Colombia, local media reported on Thursday night.

The FARC rebel was killed in the Paramillo mountains in the northwestern Antioquia department, together with five other presumed FARC guerrillas, reported radio station Caracol.

Colombia’s minister of defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon, said the killing of Arango was “one of the hardest blows against the FARC in the past months.”

Arango had been a member of the FARC for 34 years and was considered close to the FARC’s killed military commander “Mono Jojoy.”

According to Caracol, Arango was the nephew of alias “Isaias Trujillo,” the current top leader of the FARC’s Northwestern Bloc.

Trujillo is the second cousin of Dario Antonio Usuga David, the leader of Los Urabeños, a neo-paramilitary group based in northern Colombia.

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Venezuela is spying on its Jews

| February 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
The Jerusalem Post-01

NEW YORK – Venezuela’s secret service, SEBIN, is spying on the country’s Jewish community, according to leaked documents said to be from the spy agency.

Last week, Analisis24, a right-leaning Argentinean news website, released 50 documents attributed to the Venezuelan intelligence agency containing private information on prominent Venezuelan Jews, local Jewish organizations and Israeli diplomats in Latin America. The Anti-Defamation League, among others, believes the documents are authentic based on the wealth of detailed and private information included.

The papers include a dossier on Espacio Anna Frank, a coexistence group in Caracas, with clandestinely taken photos of its offices and private information on its personnel, including their home addresses, passport numbers and recent travel itineraries. It identifies the organization as a “strategic arm of the Israeli intelligence agency in the country,” the Mossad, and as a front for “far right-wing Zionists” to recruit agents using “subversive socio-political influence.”

Other documents say the local ... Read More

Reshaping Panama Canal Trade Means Boom in U.S. Gas to Asia

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BY MICHELLE WIESE BOCKMANN

Six years after the Panama Canal began a $5.25 billion expansion to capture shipments of Asian- made goods to the U.S. East Coast, the flow of liquefied natural gas in the opposite direction promises to be a better bet.

Shipments of the fuel, along with rising commodity and energy cargoes between the U.S., Latin America and Asia, are likely to provide the largest sources of demand growth when the project is complete in June 2015, Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said in an interview. Shipping containerized goods, which generate most business for the 50-mile link, has yet to return to the same level as 2007, two years before the global economy had its worst recession since World War II.

The shift shows how rising U.S. shale-gas output is reshaping global energy markets. The Panama Canal enlargement is central to the change because the route cuts voyages by more than 7,500 nautical miles ... Read More

Explosión en Pemex estremece al país; 25 muertos y 101 heridos en torre corporativa

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Excelsior

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, 1 de febrero.- Una explosión, de origen no explicado hasta anoche, en el edificio B2 de la Torre de Pemex provocó 25 muertos y 101 personas heridas.

El hecho ocurrió a las 15:45 horas de ayer en el momento en el que cientos de empleados realizaban el registro de salida y entrada de sus labores.

Miguel Osorio Chong, secretario de Gobernación y encargado por el Presidente de la República para coordinar las labores de rescate e investigación, dijo que “los resultados de los peritajes los daremos a conocer con transparencia”.

Aseguró que es irresponsable especular sin tener datos concretos y que se investigará a fondo el caso. Para ello se convocará a peritos nacionales e internacionales con el fin de que se esclarezcan las causas que provocaron la explosión.

Hasta el lugar se trasladaron efectivos de Protección Civil, Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, Marina, PGR y de la Policía Federal con ... Read More

Venezuelan congressional chief travels to Cuba to see Hugo Chavez

| February 1st, 2013 | No Comments »

CARACAS, Venezuela — The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly traveled to Cuba on Thursday to visit President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering on the island more than seven weeks after undergoing cancer surgery.

The trip by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello was announced on television by Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

“He should be landing in Havana already, taking a message of ours, taking a group of subjects to keep consulting (with Chavez) on various issues relating to the country’s political, social development,” Maduro said. He said that among those matters was the development of a coalition of pro-Chavez parties.

Chavez hasn’t appeared or spoken publicly since before his Dec. 11 operation for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer.

The government provided its latest update on Chavez’s health on Saturday, saying he had overcome a severe respiratory infection and was beginning additional medical treatment.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said when he gave that update that ... Read More