Author Archive

Cuban dissidents will head to Summit of the Americas

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Cuban opposition leaders and activists Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Guillermo Fariñas, and Berta Soler will take part in civil-society events at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, according to the Miami-based Cuban Soul Foundation.

The foundation — which promotes independent Cuban artists and musicians — is hosting, together with the Human Rights Foundation in Cuba and the Panama campus of Florida State University, a conference titled The Road Ahead in the Fight for Human Rights on April 8.

Independent journalist Myriam Celaya and philologist Yusmila Reyna Ferrer, a member of Cuba’s Patriotic Union, UNPACU, will also take part with Soler and Saily Navarro, both representing the Ladies in White, in a panel discussion on women’s human-rights activism. Celaya, Reyna, and Soler participated last week in a similar conference at Florida International University.

Blogger Henry Constantin and UNPACU activist Amel Oliva will discuss with Morúa, leader of Arco Progresista, and Fariñas, representative ... Read More

Venezuela le reduce a Cuba ayuda petrolera

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Excelsior

Venezuela redujo a la mitad el suministro de petróleo que otorga en condiciones preferenciales a países de la región, miembros de Petrocaribe, según un informe del banco de inversión Barclays, citado por el diario El Nuevo Herald.

De acuerdo con la publicación, el banco calificó de irónico que Venezuela, pese a la crisis económica que enfrenta, continúe con los suministros de crudo a Cuba y otros países con mejor situación económica.

Los despachos de petróleo, dice El Nuevo Herald, habrían caído de los 400 mil barriles diarios a 200 mil, siendo siempre Cuba el mayor beneficiado aunque también sufrió el recorte.

La isla, el principal aliado político del gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, recibió en 2014 cerca de 50 mil barriles diarios, la mitad de lo que recibía en 2012.

Pero a diferencia de otros países miembros de Petrocaribe, que sí pagan una parte del crudo que reciben, Cuba y Venezuela tienen un acuerdo para que la isla cancele ... Read More

Appeals court dismisses Iran cover-up charges against Argentina president

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

A federal court of appeals dismissed charges against the Argentinian president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on Thursday, regarding an alleged conspiracy to shield Iranian officials’ from prosecution over their alleged role in the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community centre.

The charges had originally been made by prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, four days before he was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in his Buenos Aires apartment.

On 14 January, Nisman had presented a 289-page writ in court that he said unveiled a conspiracy headed by Fernández to clear five high-ranking Iranian suspects of charges that they had masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Amia centre, in which 85 people were killed.

In a 2-1 vote, appeals judges dismissed Nisman’s accusation, but there is a strong likelihood that prosecutor Germán Moldes – who upheld Nisman’s charges before the judges – may appeal the decision to a higher court.

Fernández and other ... Read More

Forget Brazil. This emerging market is on the rise

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
CNBC-01

By Elizabeth MacBride

Brazil, an emerging-market darling just a couple years ago, is crumbling amid economic stagnation and political turmoil. But there’s a far brighter story—one most investors are missing—elsewhere in Latin America.

Four countries—Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile—three years ago formed a free-trade bloc called the Pacific Alliance. Tiny Costa Rica joined the club in 2013. Together, they’re a bigger economy than Brazil, and they’re expected to grow three or four times faster than their huge neighbor over the next few years.

Brazil’s $1.7 trillion economy contracted by 0.1 percent in 2014, according to Brazilian central bank data released Thursday, and it’s seen shrinking by 0.5 percent 2015. A corruption scandal at state-controlled Petrobras, the state-controlled petroleum giant, is expected to further hobble the country’s economy.

Pacific LatAm rising Country Population GDP past 5 years Predicted 2014/2015 Mexico 115 Million 1.90% 2.4%/3.5% Colombia 47 Million 4.20% 4.8%/4.5% Peru 30 Million 5.50% 3.6%/5.1% Chile 17 Million 4% 2.0%/3.3% Costa Rica 5 Million 3.10% 3.6%/3.6%

In contrast, the five Pacific Alliance members, with a collective GDP of $2.2 trillion, are expected to grow 3.3 percent in 2014, and 4 percent in 2015. ... Read More

Dealing with Dilma

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

She is less than three months into her second term, but already most Brazilians want to see the back of Dilma Rousseff. Grappling with a sickly economy and a hydra-headed corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state-controlled oil giant, she finds herself almost friendless in Brasília. She has already lost control of a Congress where, in theory, her coalition has a comfortable majority. More than 1m Brazilians took to the streets on March 15th to repudiate their president. Her approval rating has fallen by 30 points in six months to 13%, the lowest for a Brazilian president since Fernando Collor in 1992, on the eve of his impeachment for corruption.

Nearly 60% of respondents in one poll believe that Ms Rousseff merits the same fate. It is not hard to see why voters are angry. She chaired Petrobras’s board in 2003-10, when prosecutors believe more than $800m was ... Read More

Brazil’s Economy Expected to Shrink in 2015, as Joblessness Rises in February

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY JEFFREY T. LEWIS AND ROGERIO JELMAYER

SÃO PAULO—Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff received more bad news about the economy on Thursday, with one government report showing rising unemployment and another forecasting slower growth and faster inflation.

Brazil’s jobless rate rose to 5.9% in February, the highest in almost two years, according to the country’s statistics agency. Meanwhile, the central bank estimated gross domestic product shrank 0.1% in 2014 and forecast a contraction of 0.5% for this year, while revising its forecast for the 2015 inflation rate upward to 7.9%.

The central bank’s negative view is likely to be reinforced on Friday, when the statistics agency releases the country’s official GDP report for the fourth quarter and full year 2014. Economists expect the statistics agency to report that GDP last year didn’t grow from the previous year.

The numbers come just as Ms. Rousseff is facing resistance from her allies in Brazil’s Congress to her government’s proposals for economic ... Read More

Americans cling to claims for properties seized by Castro

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Times Argus

OMAHA, Neb. — The smell of Cuban coffee drifts from the kitchen as Carolyn Chester digs through faded photos that fill boxes spread across the dining table.Friends linked arm-in-arm on a Cuban beach.Men in suits and women in evening gowns at a Havana nightclub.And in almost every frame, an American man with a salt-and-pepper mustache and a raven-haired woman — Chester’s parents — smiling at good fortune that, they could not know, would soon be snatched away.“I always heard about Cuba … and all this money that we lost and `Maybe one day,’ but I didn’t understand it,” Chester says.Six decades later, that day may finally be nearing for Chester and others like her. To reach it, though, diplomacy will have to settle very old scores.After Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, Cuba confiscated property belonging to thousands of American citizens and companies. Edmund and Enna Chester lost an 80-acre ... Read More

US GENERAL TO SENATE: TERROR GROUPS BENEFITING FROM LATIN AMERICAN DRUG TRADE

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Breibart

WASHINGTON, DC — The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is among the terrorist organizations that are benefiting from the illegal drug trade in Latin America, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), told lawmakers.

Illegal drug trafficking in Latin American generates at least “tens of millions” for Hezbollah, which uses the funds to fuel its operations in the Middle East, explained the Southcom general.

During a hearing this afternoon held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Ron Johnson (R-WI), the panel’s chairman, asked the general to comment on the nexus between drug traffickers and terrorist organizations in Latin America.

“Mr. Chairman certainly in a classified setting we can give you a lot more detail. Suffice it to say from open source, I think we know that in at least several occasions over the past decade and a half, terrorists have attempted ... Read More

Cleaning up Latin American democracy

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the multitudinous demonstration against Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, in São Paulo on March 15th, a lunatic fringe chanted for a return to military rule. That was sad more than worrying. The rightists were shouted down. Their isolation served to underline how routine democracy has become in many Latin American countries in the third of a century or so since the generals returned to barracks.

That outcome was not inevitable. Compared with Europe or North America, democracy in Latin America must struggle against big obstacles, including poverty, gaping income inequality and corruption. Another is poor institutional design. Latin America combines directly elected presidents, as in the United States, with multiparty legislatures chosen by proportional representation, in the manner of many European parliamentary systems. The result has often been gridlock: weak governments have lacked majorities in legislatures unthreatened by dissolution, which induces consensus in parliamentary regimes.

These ... Read More

“En El Salvador hay que aplicar las leyes para contrarrestar a las maras que están operando en las calles y desde las prisiones”

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
elsalvador.com

Por Tomás Guevara

En su disertación frente a los titulares de ese comité de la Cámara Alta del legislativo estadounidense, Roger Noriega, quien es analista político e investigador del American Enterprise Institute (AEI), un centro de análisis conservador en Washington D.C., expuso que las problemáticas de la región centroamericana no se resolverían solo con el desembolso de dinero por parte de Estados Unidos.

En lo anterior coincidió con sus colegas William Kandal, Adolfo Franco, Eric Olson, con quienes formó parte del panel de testigos expertos en la región centroamericana sobre las migraciones de menores indocumentados desde El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala y los alcances que tendría el Plan Alianza para la Prosperidad del Triángulo Norte.

En entrevista con El Diario de Hoy, luego de concluida la audiencia de más de una hora realizada en un salón del tercer piso del edificio Dirksen, Noriega acentúa que ... Read More

AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

By Linette Lopez

From 2007 to at least 2010, there was a flight from Caracas, Venezuela to Tehran, Iran that made a stop in Damascus, Syria.

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly called it ‘Aeroterror.’ Only government officials with a special clearance were permitted to fly on it, and there were often very few passengers.

Instead, according to US government testimony and a report by Brazilian paper Veja, the plane was laden with drugs, weapons, and cash.

Since the mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, Iran’s presence in South America has come into focus. Nisman died the day before he planned to testify that the Argentine government had covered up Iran’s involvement in a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack. He had spent about a decade investigating Iran and Hezbollah’s growing presence in the Western hemisphere.

High-level Venezuelan defectors then started talking to Veja journalist Leonardo ... Read More

Roger Noriega: Centroamérica debe poner lo suyo

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Voz de America

Expertos en temas latinoamericanos señalaron en una audiencia del Senado estadounidense que los gobiernos centroamericanos deben poner de su parte para que el plan de la Alianza para la Prosperidad del Triángulo Norte sea exitoso y así disminuir la migración hacia EE.UU.

Roger Noriega, exsecretario de Estado asistente para el Hemisferio Occidental de EE.UU., dijo al panel de Comité de Seguridad Nacional y Asuntos Gubernamentales del Senado que los gobiernos centroamericanos deben poner mayores recursos para que el plan para la prosperidad rinda frutos.

“Creo que EE.UU. debe aceptar algo de la responsabilidad para remediar la inseguridad y violencia que es impulsada por la demanda estadounidense por drogas ilícitas”, dijo Noriega. “Sin embargo, este transformativo plan no funcionará a menos que los gobiernos centroamericanos comprometan sus propios recursos a este proyecto”.

El plan, hecho en conjunto con el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), busca aumentar ... Read More

Brazilian Real Drops as Central Bank Plans to Pare Back Support

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Paula Sambo

(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s real dropped after the central bank said it will scale back support for the currency.

The real lost 2 percent to 3.2010 per dollar in Sao Paulo trading, extending its run as the worst performing major currency this year. It has lost 17 percent against the dollar in 2015 on concern that weakening fiscal accounts will cause the country to lose its investment-grade credit rating.

Officials at the end of this month will stop swap auctions that had bolstered the currency, the central bank said in a statement Tuesday. The monetary authority will continue rolling over old contracts, which are equivalent to selling dollars in the futures market, and may still hold auctions for dollar loans.

“The end of the swaps program might sour investors’ appetite for the currency,” Deives Ribeiro, a foreign-exchange manager at Fair Corretora de ... Read More

Securing the border: Understanding and addressing the root causes of Central American migration to the United States

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
US Senate

Statement before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

United States Senate

Ambassador Roger F. Noriega

Visiting Fellow

American Enterprise Institute

   March 25, 2015

Mr. Chairman, I commend you and your Committee for organizing a series of hearings this week to focus attention on the fundamental responsibility of securing our borders. I also would like to begin my testimony by recognizing the service of the U.S. government officials who testify before you today. I know from experience that their jobs are critical to our security, and I thank them for their service to our nation.

No event in recent years has underscored the vulnerability of the United States’ southwest border as dramatically as the wave of illegal immigrants—many of them children—crossing our border in a five-month period beginning last March. Overall in FY 2014, 51,000 “unaccompanied alien children” (UACs) were detained ... Read More

The left must speak out about the horror in Venezuela

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
New Statesman

Venezuela is a mess. Inflation is running at 70 per cent or higher and in the capital Caracas citizens have to stand in queues for hours just to pick up the basics from increasingly empty shops. This comes on the back of a decade-long oil boom in which Venezuela earned over $800 billion in oil revenues. Accusing the government of profligacy somehow doesn’t cut it.

But Venezuela isn’t just a crumbling mess teetering on the brink of economic and social collapse. It also happens to be a country in which many western leftists have over the past decade invested their hopes for a better future.

The governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro certainly have achievements to their name. Between 1998 and 2012 there was a reduction in the poverty rate from 50 per cent to approximately 30 per cent. The closeness of the Venezuelan government’s ties to Cuba, and the ... Read More

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

Colombian army nabs drug suspect wanted in U.S.

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

A Colombian man wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges was detained by soldiers near the border with Panama, Colombia’s army said Monday.

Special forces of the army’s Air Assault Division captured Juan Carlos Portela Noriega in Chigorodo, a town in the Uraba region. He is reputed to be a leader of the Clan Usuga gang, which operates in the area.

The U.S. government has requested that Portela be extradited for trial before a federal court in Texas, the Colombian army said.

Authorities in Colombia say Portela has connections to the Mexico-based Los Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels and that he has coordinated exports of cocaine and other banned substances.

The drugs were transported via speedboat to Panama, where they would be loaded onto cargo vessels bound for Central American, used by the Mexican cartels as a staging area for shipments to ... Read More

After S&P Ratings Reprieve, Brazil Faces Some Tough Economic News

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY JEFFREY T. LEWIS AND WILL CONNORS

SÃO PAULO—President Dilma Rousseff got a big break on Monday night when Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services maintained Brazil’s investment-grade credit rating, but Friday’s coming report on economic growth is expected to bring the embattled president more bad news.

Ms. Rousseff, who was re-elected last October, has seen her approval rating plummet, as the stagnant economy, her government’s efforts to raise taxes and cut spending and a corruption scandal at state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA have undercut her standing with voters.

The kickbacks-and-bribery scandal at Petrobras is weighing on the Brazilian economy, S&P analysts said in a conference call on Tuesday. Earlier this week, S&P lowered its outlook for the oil company, but held back from downgrading its credit rating. Last month, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Petrobras’ debt to junk status.

Petrobras is an investment powerhouse which traditionally has been responsible for about 10% of total annual business investment in the country. But the scandal has ... Read More

Colombia’s hunt for elusive drug lord Otoniel

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

By Natalio Cosoy

Widescreen TV sets hooked up to satellite dishes, expensive drinks and perfumes – these are just some of the luxury items Colombian police have found in huts in the otherwise poor rural area of Uraba, in western Colombia.

The huts, and the luxury items inside, belong to Dairo Antonio Usuga David, better known as Otoniel, one of the most wanted men in Colombia.

Currently some 1,200 members of the security forces are chasing the elusive gang leader.

That is more than double the 500 who hunted Pablo Escobar, the drug lord who controlled the infamous cocaine cartel of the same name.

Crime syndicate

Otoniel runs the Usuga clan, a drug gang that has its powerbase in the Uraba region of Colombia, but whose network extends across the country and beyond.

Members of the gang have been arrested as far away as Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and ... Read More

Here’s Why U.K.-Argentina Tensions are Rising Again Over the Falklands

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time

By Harvey Morris

Argentina still poses a “very live threat” to the British-ruled Falkland Islands, Britain’s defense minister warned on Tuesday as he announced plans to increase security spending on the South Atlantic islands to counter Argentina’s attempts to improve its military.

Michael Fallon told Parliament the government planned to spend £180 million ($268 million) over the next 10 years to boost the security of the islands as part of a defense review, although the level of military and civilian personnel involved would remain at around 1,200.

“The principle threat to the islands remains,” he told legislators. “I am confident that, following this review, we have the right deployment.”

The minister’s announcement comes as Argentina has been trying to upgrade its military capabilities. It has looked at buying new warplanes and has signed a co-operation deal with Russia that could result in it leasing Russian bombers in return ... Read More

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