Author Archive

En libertad “Popeye”, jefe de sicarios de Pablo Escobar

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

Ejecutó 300 asesinatos y coordinó 3.000, pero por colaboración, estudios y buena conducta cumplió 22 años de 30. Testigo excepcional de la participación de los Castro en el narcotráfico.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez , el temible exjefe de sicarios del fallecido capo del narcotráfico Pablo Escobar recobró el martes la libertad tras permanecer encarcelado más de 22 años por cargos relacionados con homicidios, secuestros y concierto para delinquir, se informó oficialmente.

“La caravana que salió de la prisión de Cómbita (Boyacá) era la de Popeye. Ya Popeye está en libertad”, señaló a la AFP una fuente del Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (Inpec).

Alias Popeye, abandonó la prisión escoltado por una comitiva de varios vehículos sin que su imagen pudiera ser captada directamente por las cámaras de los medios que aguardaban su salida.

Con paradero desconocido, la caravana de vehículos estaba conformada por autos de la Defensoría del Pueblo, el ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro: Fingerprinting at shops is voluntary

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

Venezuela’s recently announced fingerprinting system, aimed at combating food shortages and smuggling, is to be “voluntary,” President Nicolas Maduro has said.

Mr Maduro appeared to backtrack after ordering last week that fingerprinting in shops that sell food be compulsory.

He stressed the biometric system would stop people from buying too much of a single item and fight consumerism.

But the Venezuelan opposition called on all Venezuelans to boycott the scheme.

It has rejected the plan, saying it treated all Venezuelans as thieves.

However President Maduro defended his government’s policy: “We will detect where the smugglers are and we will capture them.”

He told a party meeting in the capital, Caracas, that the implementation of the system would be “voluntary” and start “in the next few days”.

Up to 40% of the goods which Venezuela subsidises for its domestic market are smuggled to Colombia, where they are sold at much higher prices, the authorities ... Read More

Rising Political Star Upends Brazil Presidential Race

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Brazil’s newest presidential candidate, Marina Silva, has pulled ahead of incumbent Dilma Rousseff, upending a race the challenger entered as an official candidate less than a week ago, according to a new poll.

Data released Tuesday evening showed that Ms. Silva, an environmental activist and the newly minted Socialist Party candidate, would garner 45% of the likely vote in a runoff, compared with 36% for Ms. Rousseff of the Workers’ Party.

The survey, conducted by the polling institute Ibope, has a margin of error of two percentage points, giving Ms. Silva a comfortable lead at this point in the race.

Ms. Rousseff leads the survey in the first round of balloting, scheduled for Oct. 5, with 34% of the prospective vote, according to Ibope, compared with 29% for Ms. Silva and 19% for Aecio Neves, a pro-business candidate with the Brazilian Social Democracy Party. However, a runoff is ... Read More

Mexico officials pull CentAm migrants from trains

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


U.S.-bound Central Americans are fleeing urban areas and hiking into the woods and low jungle for fear of being detained by Mexican officials rounding up migrants in southern Mexico.

Until recently, the streets of Arriaga bustled with migrants who would stay at cheap flophouses and shelters and hop aboard the northboundfreight trains at will. The streets of the city of about 40,000 people now look empty.

Federal official Humberto Mayans said Tuesday that immigration officials have pulled 6,000 migrants off the trains they call “The Beast” but offered no details on the roundups.

“We won’t allow in any way for them to board the trains,” Mayans told Radio Formula. He was recently appointed to head the federal government’s southern border improvement plans.

Mexico’s Interior Department said in a statement later Tuesday that the migrants were from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and had been returned to their countries.

Mexican officials say the raids seek ... Read More

Dollar shortage crimps Venezuela

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

Daniela Toledo knew exactly what to ask for as a gift when her boss went on vacation to the Caribbean.

Instead of a carton of duty free cigarettes or a bottle of whisky, the Venezuelan wanted a stick of her favorite deodorant, which she’d been unable to find at home. A complex system of official and unofficial exchange rates, a legacy of the late former President Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule, has left Venezuela with a shortage of dollars and stores empty of basics from toilet paper to medicine.

“I went to five shops in Caracas and couldn’t find it,” the 27-year-old factory worker said in an Aug. 14 interview in Venezuela’s capital. “The only deodorant I can find here doesn’t work for me. So my boss went abroad and he brought me back the deodorant I’ve always used.”

A decade and a half of increasing government control over the economy and official policy ... Read More

Silva surges in Brazil election race, threatens Rousseff

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) – A surging Marina Silva has narrowed President Dilma Rousseff’s lead in Brazil’s presidential race, a new opinion poll showed on Tuesday, paving the way for a likely second-round runoff in which the popular environmentalist looks well-positioned to win.

Silva, who was thrust into the presidential race last week following the death of her party’s candidate, has 29 percent of voter support heading into the Oct. 5 vote, according to the survey by polling institute Ibope.

The poll showed Rousseff with 34 percent, down from 38 percent in the previous Ibope survey in early August. The other main opposition candidate, Senator Aecio Neves, has also dropped four percentage points to 19 percent since the last Ibope poll.

In a likely second-round runoff on Oct. 26 between the top two vote-getters, Silva would defeat Rousseff by a margin of nine ... Read More

Brazil candidates engage in verbal sparring in TV debate

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »


The first of Brazil’s televised presidential debates has taken place just two weeks after the death of one of the leading candidates in October’s election, Eduardo Campos.His replacement, internationally renowned environmentalist Marina Silva, is already challenging incumbent Dilma Rousseff according to opinion polls.

Just two weeks ago, Ms Rousseff seemed to be coasting, almost sleepwalking towards another four-year term as president of Brazil.

Sure, economic growth has all but ground to a halt and crime levels have again started to creep up in many urban areas but Ms Rousseff’s pragmatic and popular social policies have helped to elevate as many as 40 million of her countrymen and women out of poverty.

Surprise turn

Moreover, despite international business concerns about her protectionist economic policies, none of Ms Rousseff’s main opponents for the presidency were able to get close enough to her to really challenge her bid for a second term.

So Tuesday’s first televised ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro more authoritarian than Chávez, analysts warn

| August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »


Beset with annual inflation of 62 percent, one of the world’s highest homicide rates and shortages of just about everything, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is struggling to save his endangered presidency — even as relations with the United States get worse.

Earlier this summer, the Obama administration announced it was suspending the U.S. visas of “a number of Venezuelan government officials who have been responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses.” That follows “street mobilizations” organized by the Maduro government last February in which 43 people died, hundreds were injured and between 2,000 and 3,000 were thrown in prison.

It also came three days after the State Department failed to secure the extradition of Gen. Hugo Carvajal, Venezuela’s former intelligence chief, who was wanted in the U.S. on drug charges and had been detained on the Dutch-speaking island of Aruba.

Those affected by the visa revocation include high-ranking Venezuelan military, National Guard ... Read More

Latin America is key to our national security

| August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Tampa Tribune


For the most part, The Washington Post is a reliable supporter of President Obama and the Democratic Party in general. But earlier this week, the paper criticized the president while warning of the consequences of his administration’s dropping the ball with regard to U.S. foreign policy and fighting terrorism.

“For three years the United States stood aside as the Islamist extremists built up their strength inside Syria. Washington was surprised in June when they burst into Iraq, captured Mosul and threatened Baghdad and surprised again this month when they threatened Kurdistan. Now … they are training hundreds of foreign terrorists, including from Europe and the United States, who could easily slip back into their home countries with malign intent,” the Post said.

It can be argued there is no greater short-term foreign policy issue than the eradication of this perverse and growing threat. It is so dire that the left-of-center ... Read More

La Marina detiene a hijo de El Azul, padrino de El Chapo Guzmán

| August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

CULIACÁN, 25 de agosto.- Autoridades estatales informaron sobre ladetención de Juan José Esparragoza Jiménez, uno de los supuestos hijos de Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, conocido como El Azul, durante un operativo de la Secretaría Marina Armada de México en Culiacán.

De acuerdo con la información proporcionada, fue el miércoles pasado cuando elementos especiales de las Fuerzas Armadas arribaron a un domicilio ubicado en el fraccionamiento Interlomas de la ciudad capital, donde arrestaron al vástago de uno de los líderes del Cártel del Pacífico.

Juan José, de 25 años, fue detenido junto a una mujer de nombre Lourdes Morales y algunos menores de edad que se encontraban en el mismo domicilio ubicado en el norponiente de Culiacán.

El Azul nació el 3 de febrero de 1949 en Huichiopa, comunidad perteneciente a Badiraguato, mismo municipio de donde es originario el capo Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán ‒de quien era socio y considerado su padrino‒ y la dinastía de los hermanos Beltrán Leyva.

Dentro de su trayectoria criminal, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, El Azul, se inició ... Read More

Maduro prepara mecanismo óptimo de control social: el racionamiento electrónico

| August 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Se anunció como un instrumento para combatir el contrabando, pero la instauración de un sistema de identificación biométrico en los supermercados venezolanos podría terminar convirtiéndose en un asfixiante mecanismo de intimidación y control social que aumentaría la dependencia del ciudadano al régimen bolivariano y sofocaría en muchos la disposición a protestar.

Analistas consultados dijeron que los polémicos planes de instaurar un sistema de identificación en los supermercados no es nada más que los primeros pasos para establecer un sistema de racionamiento computarizado, inspirado en la experiencia cubana, que terminará siendo utilizado para doblegar la voluntad de disentir de los venezolanos.

“En Venezuela están imitando muchas de las cosas que han hecho Cuba. La influencia cubana, la asesoría cubana, es crítica dentro del chavismo”, comentó Jaime Suchlicki, director del Instituto de Estudios Cubano y Cubano Americanos.

En este caso, se estarían uniendo la experiencia en represión ... Read More

Venezuela plans to introduce supermarket fingerprinting

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has announced a mandatory fingerprinting system in supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling.

He said the system would stop people from buying too much of a single item.

But the opposition in Venezuela rejected the plan, saying the policy treated all Venezuelans as thieves.

Critics said fingerprinting consumers of staple products was tantamount to rationing and constituted a breach of privacy.

Up to 40% of the goods which Venezuela subsidises for its domestic market are smuggled to Colombia, where they are sold at much higher prices, the authorities say.

“The amount of staples smuggled to Colombia would be enough to load the shelves of our supermarkets,” Gen Efrain Velasco Lugo, a military spokesman, told El Universal newspaper earlier this week.

The opposition blames what it says are the failed left-wing policies of the past 15 years – initiated by late President Hugo Chavez – for the ... Read More

Chavez Propaganda Tool for Sale as Crisis Worsens: Andes Credit

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »


A decade ago, Hugo Chavez started using Venezuela’s Citgo Petroleum Corp. to provide heating oil to the poor in the U.S. to spread his socialist message. His successor is now seeking to sell the company to stem the South American country’s deepening economic crisis.

State-owned producer Petroleos de Venezuela SA wants at least $10 billion for Citgo, its U.S. refining and distribution arm, company president and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Aug. 5. Since energy news agency Argus first reported the potential sale July 24, Venezuela’s bonds have plunged an average 5.9 percent, the most inemerging markets after Argentina’s defaulted debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The planned sale highlights the increasing financial stress faced by President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked replacement, in a country where a dwindling supply of dollars has left shortages of everything from basic medicines to toilet paper, as well as the world’s highest inflation rate. Citgo, which has had a recognized ... Read More

Brazil Eager for Silva’s Economic Vision

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Brazil’s Socialist Party confirmed its support for Marina Silva as its nominee for president, ratcheting up pressure on the presumptive candidate to lay out a vision for steering the world’s 7th-largest economy.

Ms. Silva, a former Green Party leader and environment minister, has made no formal policy statements in the days since being elevated from vice-presidential candidate to the likely replacement for Eduardo Campos, who was killed in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

Although the party said it supported Ms. Silva’s candidacy—along with Beto Albuquerque, a congressman from Rio Grande do Sul state as her vice-presidential running mate—the ticket must still win support from smaller coalition partners.

With inflation stubbornly high and many economic indicators pointing toward recession, analysts and investors say Ms. Silva must swiftly outline her economic plans. Of particular interest are her views on the role and size of government, and whether her environmental leanings ... Read More

Perry Says Terrorists Could Be Entering the U.S. From Mexico

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


Gov. Rick Perry of Texas warned Thursday that militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other terrorist groups may have already slipped across the Mexican border.

Mr. Perry said there is “no clear evidence” that terrorists have entered the United States illegally across the southern border. But he argued that illegal immigration should be considered a national security issue as well as a social and economic problem, and as evidence he cited the increase in violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

“I think there is the obvious, great concern that — because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across — that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be,” ... Read More

Brazil injects extra $4.5bn into economy

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times


Brazil has made its second multibillion-dollar injection into the banking system in less than a month as the government struggles to boost the economy ahead of hotly contested presidential elections.

The central bank on Wednesday eased rules on reserve requirements, freeing up about R$10bn ($4.5bn) for new lending. Just over three weeks ago, it injected R$45bn into the economy by easing compulsory deposit rules and changing the risk calculation of some loans.

“It is hoped that the measures will improve small businesses’ access to credit and strengthen foreign trade,” the bank said in a statement.

Later on Wednesday, the finance ministry also announced the creation of a new tax-exempt bond to boost the mortgage market.

President Dilma Rousseff’s administration has struggled to boost growth in the face of high inflation, which eased slightly this month, but at 6.49 per cent still remains above the 4.5 per cent annual target.

Next week growth data may ... Read More

Frustrated Judge Scolds Argentina but Does Not Hold It in Contempt

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


A federal court judge said on Thursday that Argentina’s attempt to skirt one of his rulings was “lawless” but stopped short of finding the country in contempt of court.

Exasperated lawyers for a group of New York hedge funds that are seeking more than $1.5 billion in bond payments that Argentina has refused to pay pleaded with the judge to take a harsher stance.

In a heated moment, one of the lawyers, Robert A. Cohen of Dechert, even went so far as to propose monetary and other sanctions that would “bite the republic in a way that will make the republic pay.”

Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the Federal District Court in Manhattan held the emergency hearing on Thursday at the request of the hedge funds’ lawyers after Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, announced on Tuesday that her ... Read More

Fernández support wanes as Argentines focus on everyday concerns

| August 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times


At a gathering of hardline supporters of Argentina’s president, Luis D’Elía’s voice cracks with emotion as he celebrates Cristina Fernández’s refusal to pay the group of creditors branded the “vulture funds”.

“Much worse than the vultures abroad are the vultures within,” the social activist tells the crowd, referring to domestic opponents who have criticised Ms Fernandez’s decision not to pay the “holdout” creditors, which pushed Argentina into default for the eighth time in its history.

After the default, support for Ms Fernández swelled on the perception that she was standing up for Argentina’s interests against an enemy that, in Mr D’Elía’s eyes, threatens to undermine the country’s stability and represents the worst of “savage” capitalism.

But amid fears that the default will aggravate a deepening recession, with job losses and shop closures increasingly dominating headlines, the big question is how long the government can survive without cutting a deal with the holdouts, ... Read More

Maduro’s Rating Falls to 39% in Venezuela Poll on Economy

| August 21st, 2014 | No Comments »

By Anatoly Kurmanaev

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s approval rating fell 21 percentage points this year to 39 percent in August, as the economy worsened, according to an Hinterlaces poll.

“The people are waiting for answers, for solutions,” Oscar Schemel, director of the polling company, said by telephone from Caracas today. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about the direction of the economy.”

Currency and price controls pushed annual inflation to 60.9 percent in May, the fastest in the world, while gross domestic product shrank 2.1 percent in the second quarter, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Slumping popularity has made Maduro reluctant to make economic adjustments such as raising gasoline prices or devaluing the bolivar, Eurasia Group analyst Risa Grais-Targow said in a client note Aug. 18. The government will start rationing basic products with biometric sensors before year-end, according to the country’s price controls ombudsman.

Maduro’s approval fell from highs ... Read More

Hospitals in Venezuela virtually closed for lack of materials

| August 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Local 10


Hospitals all over Venezuela suffer from a critical shortage of basic medical materials, from saline to gloves and medications, causing a nationwide health crisis.

The president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, Douglas León Natera, states that Venezuelan hospitals are “virtually closed” due to medical material shortages. In the group’s estimate, 98 percent of the medical facilities have no way to operate.

“If they are open, it is because the health workers have decided to continue working at their own risk,” he told the Agence France-Presse.

This oil-producing country imports 98 percent of its drugs and medical equipment, and the shortage of dollars and strict currency controls in the Venezuelan economy has severely affected all types of medical providers. The Pharmaceutical Federation estimates that drug shortages has reached 60 percent, while the Venezuelan Association of Distributors of Medical, Dental, Laboratory and Related Equipment (Avedem) reports there are “absolute deficiencies” in 85 percent ... Read More

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