Author Archive

Venezuelan General Detained on Drug Trafficking Charges

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

Retired Venezuelan General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios was arrested in Aruba on July 23, pursuant to a request by U.S. authorities under an indictment for drug smuggling.  According to sources familiar with the investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors in New York and Miami have been preparing much more expansive cases against Carvajal, based on crimes committed in concert with other senior officials of the Venezuelan government.  The Venezuelan government is protesting Carvajal’s arrest, based on his supposed “diplomatic immunity” as consul general of Venezuela in Aruba; however, Aruban officials have stated publicly that such immunity was never granted. READ THE U.S. INDICTMENTS HERE & ... Read More

Unmasking the Venezuelan ‘narcostate’: The Case of Hugo Carvajal

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

[Ed. Note: This week, retired Venezuelan Gen. Hugo Carvajal was detained in Aruba at the request of U.S. authorities.  Carvajal was the former head of Venezuelan military intelligence (DGIM) and a close confidante of the late Hugo Chávez. In 2008, he was designated by U.S Treasury as a “drug kingpin” for his ties to the Colombian narco-terrorist FARC.  That year also, the highly respected Colombian magazine Semana published an exposé of Carvajal that reported on his criminal associations with the FARC. The following article was translated by IASW.]

Hugo Carvajal: Hugo Chávez’s “Montesinos”

Semana Reveals the Scandalous Ties between Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal, the FARC, and Drug Traffickers

Semana magazine (Bogotá)

February 2, 2008

There are very few people who have the luxury of having Hugo Chávez’s ear. Of that select group, one of the closest, most loyal, and who Chavez trusts the most is General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios: the brains of Venezuelan intelligence.

The ... Read More

IMF sees ‘substantial costs’ of an Argentina default

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

The IMF’s chief economist warned Thursday that a default by Argentina in its battle with holders of its defaulted debt may hurt its economy and the global financial system.

“If it goes into default and doesn’t pay the holdouts, there might be substantial costs, being basically unable to access markets for some time,” said Olivier Blanchard, head of the International Monetary Fund’s team of economists.

Blanchard, speaking at a news conference on the latest IMF growth forecasts for the global economy, also emphasized that “there’s a cost to the world in the sense that we need resolution systems which work well when countries are in trouble.”

Under a US court order, Argentina has until next Wednesday to either pay certain hedge funds demanding full payment on defaulted bonds or risk being declared in default.

Blanchard said the Argentina case means “there’s much more uncertainty as to how we’ll be able to restructure ... Read More

PdV weighing offers to sell Citgo

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Argus Media-01

Venezuela´s state-owned PdV is weighing offers to buy its US downstream subsidiary Citgo to raise cash for long-delayed upstream projects at home, augment crude supplies to China and reduce the government´s exposure to foreign litigation.

The government has received three separate offers to buy Citgo submitted through Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, energy ministry officials tell Argus.

The banks are acting as intermediaries for potential buyers including oil companies, the officials added. The offers are in the range of $10bn to $15bn for the Citgo assets, including three US refineries with a combined nameplate crude processing capacity of 757,000 b/d, 48 products storage facilities, three wholly owned Citgo pipelines and stakes in six other US pipelines, the ministry officials added.

Citgo’s refineries include the 425,000 b/d Lake Charles refinery in Louisiana, the 165,000 b/d Corpus Christi refinery in Texas, and the 167,000 b/d Lemont refinery in Illinois.

PdV, which owns Citgo through ... Read More

Retired Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal Detained on U.S. Petition

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


American probes into cocaine-smuggling to the U.S. has led to the first indictments of Venezuelan officials who worked at the top echelons of power, including a former general and a senior law-enforcement official.

Hugo Carvajal, a former chief of Venezuelan military intelligence, was detained in Aruba at the American government’s behest, officials in the Caribbean island and the U.S. said on Thursday.

Mr. Carvajal, a retired general who was awaiting confirmation as President Nicolás Maduro’s consul-general to Aruba, is the highest-ranking Venezuelan official to be arrested on a U.S. warrant. A former Venezuelan judge, Benny Palmeri-Bacchi, was arrested last week in Miami on drug-trafficking and other charges, it emerged on Thursday.

Indictments against Mr. Carvajal, Mr. Palmeri-Bacchi, and the former head of Interpol in Venezuela, Rodolfo McTurk, were unsealed on Thursday in Miami. The indictments accuse all three men of conspiring with Colombian drug traffickers to export cocaine ... Read More

Honduras and Guatemala seek U.S. help with gang violence to halt waves of child migrants arriving at U.S. border

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Thomson Reuters Foundation-01


Higher fences will not halt the tens of thousands of children arriving alone at the U.S. border seeking refuge. Instead the United States should partner with Central America to combat organised crime and drug trafficking, said the leaders of Honduras and Guatemala.

It requires a comprehensive strategy to restore security and promote investment in the region if there are to be lasting effects in slowing migration, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras and Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala said ahead of a meeting at the White House on Friday to address the border crisis.

About 50,000 “unaccompanied minors” have shown up at the U.S. border with Mexico since October, hoping to escape gang violence, poverty and abuse, and join relatives in the United States. Most of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The children have overwhelmed U.S. border resources, arriving traumatised after being smuggled thousands of miles by train, truck and foot, ... Read More

Brazils Economy: All systems slow

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the month-long football World Cup, which concluded in Brazil on July 13th, rua 25 de Março, a tatty but popular shopping street in São Paulo, was a riot of yellow and green. It was hard to buy anything that did not come in the Brazilian national colours. Now the flags and football jerseys are gone; the cheap bags and Calvin Klein knock-offs are back. Katia Maurício, who runs a stall full of T-shirts and headbands, is selling off the last of her World Cup-themed stock at a big discount. Business was good, she says. “But it will go downhill after the election.”

It is already heading that way. Business confidence has sunk to levels not seen since the depths of the global recession in 2009. Inflation among items whose prices are set by the market, not the government, stands at over 7%. Economists are busy slashing growth forecasts for 2014 ... Read More

Murder on the Pipelines: Drug Cartels Turn Texas Oil Routes Into Killing Zones

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »


Update, July 24: Adds details of police investigations of deaths throughout.

Linda Vickers fed her horses and was walking back to her house on a secluded Texas ranch when she saw her German shepherds tussling over what looked like a sun-bleached volleyball. When she got close enough to scatter the dogs, her stomach turned: Their toy was a human skull with a shock of red hair, its flesh and lower jaw missing.

What was left of the dead woman lay just yards from Vickers’s front door, obscured by thick stands of oak and mesquite on the 1,000-acre MV Ranch, about 75 miles north of the Mexican border. The victim’s name, home, and intended destination remain mysteries, but two things are certain. She died violently: Her shinbone couldn’t have been fractured naturally in such soft, sandy soil. And she was traversing one of the oil pipeline rights of way that Mexico’s ... Read More

Mexico’s Energy and Telecom Reforms Come Into Focus

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

The passage of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s reform agenda last year was a watershed moment for Mexico’s government, representing the most significant change to the country’s governance since the election of VicenteFox in 2000 ended decades of single-party rule. Yet the true extent of the reforms remains very much unknown. Although the constitutional amendments passed last year represented agreements to reforms in principle, the nuts and bolts of the actual reform must still be hashed out in a wave of secondary legislation. As I’ve written here before, the devil is in the details.

Some of those details are now coming into focus for two of the most significant areas of reform: telecommunications and energy. The secondary legislation governing telecoms reform was signed into law on July 14, and legislation implementing the energy reforms is not far behind.

Initial reaction to the telecoms laws was mixed. On the one hand, critics charge that the new laws do ... Read More

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on trial

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »

The trial of one of Venezuela’s main opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez, has begun in the capital, Caracas.

He is accused of inciting violence during anti-government demonstrations.

Mr Lopez has been in custody since 18 February, when he handed himself in to the authorities. He denies all the charges.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Venezuela earlier this year in months of protests against rising inflation and crime.

Mr Lopez, 43, has accused the government of President Nicolas Maduro of jailing Venezuelans for seeking democratic change.

Other opposition activists detained during the protests have also appeared in court in Caracas..

There is heavy police presence and road blocks near the Justice Palace.

But hundreds of supporters, including Mr Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, and parents, have gathered outside the court to call for his release.

‘Failed socialist policies’

The street protests began in late January, in the western states of Tachira and Merida.

Opposition leaders seized the ... Read More

Border crisis: Central American leaders convening at White House

| July 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


President Barack Obama is summoning Central American leaders to the White House to discuss the influx of young immigrants from their countries to the U.S., hoping to show presidential action even as Congress remains deeply split over proposals to stem the crisis on the border.

The meeting comes as the administration is considering creating a pilot program giving refugee status to young people from Honduras, White House officials said Thursday. The plan would involve screening youths in their home country to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. The program would be limited and would start in Honduras but could be expanded to include other Central American countries.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, speaking Thursday in Washington, said he hadn’t heard about the plan but expected it to come up Friday. He said Central American nations have sought to pursue a unified approach. “We expect that the solution to this problem also ... Read More

Retired Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal Detained on U.S. Petition

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

U.S. Alleges Carvajal Has Ties to Drug Trafficking, Colombian Marxist Rebels

By Kejal Vyas

CARACAS, Venezuela—A former chief of Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, accused by the U.S. of having ties to drug trafficking and Colombian Marxist rebels, was detained in Aruba on a petition from the American government, officials in the Caribbean island and the U.S. confirmed Thursday.

The detention of Hugo Carvajal, a retired military general who was awaiting confirmation as President Nicolás Maduro’s consul general to Aruba, is among the highest-profile arrests of a Venezuelan citizen in a cocaine trafficking case.

In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department had put him on a blacklist, which prohibits any American entity from doing business with him, alleging that he had protected the drug shipments of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and also provided the rebel group with weapons and logistical help.

Mr. Carvajal, who was detained Wednesday night on a provisional arrest request ... Read More

Does a caged chavista sing the blues?

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

By Juan Cristobal Nagel| Caracas Chronicles

A few months ago, Nicolás Maduro appointed former general Hugo Carvajal to be Consul General of Venezuela to the Dutch island of Aruba. Yesterday, as Carvajal laid low in the island waiting for the Dutch government to approve his position, he was detained. The US had asked the Netherlands to incarcerate and extradite him.

Carvajal was head of Venezuela’s military intelligence (DGIM) for years. A high-ranking chavista military if there ever was one, he was a close confidant of Hugo Chávez, and is suspected of aiding and abetting Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Ironically, among other posts he also headed the National Office against Organized Crime.

This 2008 story on Carvajal by the Colombian magazine Semana (in Spanish) is well worth a read. The story includes everything: torture, drug smuggling, coordination with the guerrillas. Una joyita, puej. The money quote is a whopper:

Although all of the aforementioned events leave serious doubts as to General Carvajal’s actions, perhaps the most serious of them all ... Read More

Murders in Mexico Down From Height of the Drug War, But Violence Persists

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »


During Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto’s first year in office, after he had promised to cut back on everyday violence, there were 22,732 recorded homicides the National Institute of Statistics and Geography announced Wednesday.

The figure, which the institute called preliminary, is slightly lower than the previous year but still higher than when Felipe Calderon, Pena Nieto’s predecessor, took office. In 2007, shortly after Calderon declared war on drugs, the number of homicides reached 8,867. During his six years in office, homicides peaked at 27,213, in 2011.

“This is lower than I expected,” said Rene Jimenez Ornelas, coordinator of the unit for the analysis of violence at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, of the number of homicides in 2013. Jimenez Ornelas said one of the reasons for a lower-than-expected number is that many people prefer to have their loved ones’ death registered as a heart attack or another ... Read More

Colombia Oil Auction Disappoints

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Colombia announced disappointing results Wednesday from its first oil auction in two years, which sought to attract investment dollars from major foreign oil companies that have the money and the know-how to explore offshore and to dig through shale.

Latin America’s fourth-largest oil producer drew investment commitments totaling $1.4 billion, well short of the $2.6 billion the government said it was hoping for. Of the 95 oil blocks spread out over 50 million acres that were up for bid, 26 of them, or 27%, received offers, compared with expectations for a 40% success rate.

While the total investment dollars didn’t achieve the government’s target, the submitted offers did include a few big names, including those in a bid for the “Colombia Block 4″ area in the Caribbean Sea. A temporary joint venture among Exxon Mobil XOM +0.19%Corp, Norway’s Statoil STL.OS -0.16% and Spain’s Repsol REP.MC +2.14% made the only bid for that block.

Colombia pumps about one million barrels a day of ... Read More

Venezuela just mortgaged another $4 billion of its oil exports to China

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »


Chinese president Xi Jinping pledged $4 billion in loans to Venezuela while visiting president Nicolás Maduro this week. The agreement will raise Caracas’s existing debts to Beijing by almost 25%, to over $20 billion—money that the country may find it increasingly difficult to repay.

China has lent its South American partner more than $40 billion since 2008 to help Caracas shore up its ailing economy, which is expected to slip into a recession this year and has suffered from shortages ranging from medicine to toilet paper. Venezuela has been paying that money back mostly with oil, but that is getting harder to do.

Every day, about 500,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil are exported to China, half of which go to pay off the country’s loans from Beijing. As of last month, outstanding debt totaled $17 billion, according to Venezuela’s vice president for the economy. The Maduro administration plans to pay ... Read More

Ecuador Weighs Escape From Dollar ‘Straitjacket’

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »


Ecuador, one of only eight countries to adopt the U.S. dollar as its official currency, is poised to create its own parallel currency for use in local transactions as the government struggles to meet spending commitments.

Congress has until the end of today to vote on President Rafael Correa’s proposal to change the South American nation’s financial laws, which would allow payments in “electronic money.” Lawmakers are debating whether to insist the central bank back the new currency with a one-to-one dollar guarantee.

As a current-account deficit drains dollars from the economy, making it harder for Correa to fund a burgeoning budget gap, a new currency could be used to meet government payments, said Jaime Carrera, a former deputy finance minister and director of the Quito-based Fiscal Policy Observatory. It could also lose its value quickly if not backed by the central bank, he said.

“It’s still not clear in the monetary law if each electronic ... Read More

Detienen en Aruba al general venezolano Hugo Carvajal

| July 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Las autoridades de Aruba arrestaron el miércoles al poderoso general venezolano Hugo Carvajal, bajo pedido estadounidense, por su presunta participación en operaciones de narcotráfico y brindar apoyo a la guerrilla colombiana.

Carvajal, un ex Director de Inteligencia Militar, fue arrestado al aterrizar en el aeropuerto Internacional de Aruba, dijeron fuentes cercanas a la situación.

El militar venezolano, quien años antes había sido incluido en la lista negra del departamento del Tesoro, tiene previsto ser trasladado esta tarde al suelo estadounidense.

Click here for original ... Read More

Argentina: se aplaza reunión entre gobierno y “fondos buitre”

| July 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

La reunión programada para este miércoles entre el gobierno de Argentina y los representantes de los llamados “fondos buitres” ha sido aplazada.

Ambas partes debían encontrarse en EE.UU., en la oficina del mediador judicial Daniel Pollack.

No obstante, el abogado hizo saber este miércoles que la reunión no podría realizarse y que tendría que ser aplazada “debido a que los argentinos dijeron que no podrían llegar a tiempo” a Nueva York.

El Ejecutivo argentino litiga contra un grupo de inversionistas que reclaman una suma millonaria por los títulos de deuda soberana impagados cuando el país cesó pagos por unos US$100.000 millones.

Más del 90% de los tenedores de bonos se han acogido a las quitas ofrecidas por el gobierno, pero los fondos con los que ahora litiga el gobierno no han aceptado rebajas.

De hecho, el gobierno los califica de “fondos buitre” porque considera que pagaron precios muy rebajados por sus títulos en lo peor de ... Read More

Maduro necesita $15,000 millones para desmantelar el control cambiario

| July 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


El régimen de Nicolás Maduro necesita conseguir cerca de $15,000 millones para que el desmantelamiento del sistema de control de cambio no se le salga de las manos y hunda decididamente a Venezuela en un proceso hiperinflacionario, advirtieron analistas.

El régimen, que busca desesperadamente alguna fórmula que le permita lidiar con la grave crisis económica que aflige al país, tiene previsto anunciar en agosto sus planes para unificar en una sola tasa los tres distintos tipos de cambio vigentes, ante las abundantes señales de que el esquema cambiario actual está asfixiando aceleradamente lo que aún queda del aparato productivo nacional.

Pero expertos consultados dijeron que la unificación cambiaria –plan impulsado por el zar de la economía y ministro de Energía y Minas, Rafael Ramírez– no es suficiente para lidiar con los problemas que enfrenta la economía venezolana.

El proceso debe estar acompañado de una eliminación de las restricciones del mercado, ... Read More

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