Archive for February 4th, 2013

Iran-Venezuela Money Laundering Confirmed?

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
AEI

An Iranian man caught by authorities “trying to enter Germany with a check worth about $70 million”  is the chairman of a suspicious Venezuelan bank that is wholly owned by Iran’s black-listed Saderat Bank.  Even as U.S. diplomats rush to normalize relations with Caracas, this incident is tangible evidence of the money-laundering machine established by Iran in Venezuela.

German authorities confiscated a check for 300 million Venezuelan bolivars (equivalent to about $70 million) that Tahmasb Mazaheri failed to declare as he cleared customs upon arrival at Düsseldorf airport from Turkey on January 21.  The incident is being investigated as a money-laundering scheme, according to the German media.  Mazaheri has been identified in media reports as the former chief of Iran’s Central Bank, a post that he held since 2008.  Few if any of the media reports on the incident disclosed that Mazaheri has been a director of Venezuela’s Banco Internacional de Desarrollo (BID) since its ... Read More

IMF Censure of Argentina Cements Investor Outcast Status

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

BY JOSHUA GOODMAN & IAN KATZ

The International Monetary Fund’s historic rebuke of Argentina is likely to cement its outcast status among global investors while failing to persuade the government to boost the credibility of its economic data.

Argentina on Feb. 1 became the first nation to be censured by the IMF after the Washington-based lender said that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government isn’t addressing concerns that it’s underreporting inflation, which analysts forecast is more than double the 10.8 percent official rate. While the move won’t have an immediate effect, it takes the country a step closer to sanctions that include expulsion.

“This official action makes it quite apparent to those who may want to invest in Argentina that there’s trouble,” said Albert Fishlow, a former top U.S. diplomat to Latin America.

Still, Argentina’s feuding with foreign investors dates back to its 2001 financial meltdown, which Fernandez blames on the fund, and she ... Read More

United States and Mexico Reach Tomato Deal, Averting a Trade War

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY STEPHANIE STROM

The United States and Mexico have reached a tentative agreement on cross-border trade in tomatoes, narrowly averting a trade war that threatened to engulf a swath of American businesses.

The agreement, reached late Saturday, raises the minimum sales price for Mexican tomatoes in the United States, aims to strengthen compliance and enforcement, and increases the types of tomatoes governed by the bilateral pact to four from one.

“The draft agreement raises reference prices substantially, in some cases more than double the current reference price for certain products, and accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato market since the signing of the original agreement,” Francisco J. Sánchez, the United States under secretary of commerce for international trade, said in a statement.

The agreement will be open for public comment until Feb. 11. The Commerce Department estimated it would take effect March 4.

Estimates are that nearly half ... Read More

Kidnappings Imperil Talks With Rebels in Colombia

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

BY WILLIAM NEUMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — The recent kidnappings of two police officers in Colombia by the country’s largest rebel group have cast a shadow over peace talks between the rebels and the government, disheartening a nation weary of the decades-old conflict.

The military also blamed the group, the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia, or FARC, for the kidnapping of three civilian engineers on Wednesday.

The first of the kidnappings, carried out nine days ago, interrupted a lull in the conflict after the start of talks last fall, and they prompted fears that the FARC might be resuming a tactic much hated by Colombians.

Last February, the FARC announced that it would cease its longstanding practice of financing its activities by kidnapping civilians for ransom. In April, it released a group of 10 soldiers and police officers, some of whom had been held captive for as long as 14 years, and said they were ... Read More

Venezuela Foreign Minister Jaua in China For More Loans as Shortages Bite at Home

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

Venezuela Foreign Minister Elías Jaua Milano is in Beijing holding meetings with his counterpart of the People’s Republic of China, Yang Jiechi, as well as Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Yu Zhengsheng, seeking further loans as shortages of goods caused by a lack of foreign currency as well as price controls continue to frustrate consumers in the oil rich Latin American nation.

CARACAS — Venezuela Foreign Minister Elías Jaua Milano is in Beijing holding meetings with his counterpart of the People’s Republic of China, Yang Jiechi, as well as Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Yu Zhengsheng, seeking further loans as shortages of goods caused by a lack of foreign currency as well as price controls continue to frustrate consumers in the oil rich Latin American nation.

There have been no announcements of new loans after days of meetings, though both sides have noted that they will continue strengthening ... Read More

US military expands its billion dollar drug war in Latin America

| February 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

The crew members aboard the USS Underwood could see through their night goggles what was happening on the fleeing go-fast boat: Someone was dumping bales.

When the Navy guided-missile frigate later dropped anchor in Panamanian waters on that sunny August morning, Ensign Clarissa Carpio, a 23-year-old from San Francisco, climbed into the inflatable dinghy with four unarmed sailors and two Coast Guard officers like herself, carrying light submachine guns. It was her first deployment, but Carpio was ready for combat.

Fighting drug traffickers was precisely what she’d trained for.

In the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War, the U.S. has militarized the battle against the traffickers, spending more than $20 billion in the past decade. U.S. Army troops, Air Force pilots and Navy ships outfitted with Coast Guard counternarcotics teams are routinely deployed to chase, track and capture drug smugglers.

The sophistication and violence of the traffickers is so great ... Read More