Author Archive

Dead Argentine prosecutor wary even of his guards

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
From AFP

By Josefa Suarez

Buenos Aires (AFP) – The prosecutor whose suspicious death set off a crisis for Argentina President Cristina Kirchner no longer trusted even his bodyguards at the violent end of his life, an assistant said Wednesday.

A tense Diego Lagomarsino, his voice breaking at times, recounted at a news conference in Buenos Aires how Alberto Nisman had pleaded to be given the .22-caliber revolver that was used to put a bullet through his head. Who pulled the trigger is not clear.

Nisman’s security chief has been suspended and is under investigation along with two other members of his guard detail, a court source said.

The 51-year-old special prosecutor was found dead at his home January 18, a day before he was to go before a congressional committee to make a bombshell accusation: that Kirchner shielded Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of a ... Read More

Panama high court OKs corruption probe of ex-president

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama’s Supreme Court voted Wednesday to open a corruption probe against former President Ricardo Martinelli, a move likely to rally popular support in a nation where the politically powerful rarely face justice for misdeeds.

A statement from the court said all nine judges voted to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Martinelli over allegations he inflated contracts worth $45 million to purchase dehydrated food for a government social program.

The accusation is based on the testimony of a political ally, Giacomo Tamburelli, the former head of the National Assistance Program who has said he was taking orders from the then president to inflate contracts. He is now under house arrest.

Martinelli, a billionaire supermarket magnate, has denied the charges and says he is the target of political persecution by his successor, Juan Carlos Varela, who broke ... Read More

Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »

In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba’s removal from a terror list.

Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961.

High-level talks were held last week.

A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries’ capitals.

Meanwhile, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro appeared to signal his approval for the political rapprochement.

Cuba’s state-run newspaper published a letter on Tuesday in which he wrote: “We will always defend co-operation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries.”

He wrote that although he did not “trust the policy of the US”, it did not mean he rejected a “peaceful solution to conflicts”.

‘Illegally occupied’

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2008, made his demands at the summit of Community of ... Read More

Is This Scandal the Proof That Venezuela Has Finally Become a Narco-State?

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy


With its economic woes multiplying by the day, the last thing the Venezuelan government needs is another blow to its international reputation. But that’s exactly what it got yesterday, when the Spanish newspaper ABC reported that an ex-bodyguard of Diosdado Cabello, the speaker of the Venezuelan parliament, has provided information to U.S. authorities implicating his former boss as a kingpin in the drug trade. According to the report, Leamsy Salazar, a well-connected officer within the Venezuelan armed forces, has defected to the United States, and is set to serve as the star witness in an American investigation into ties between the Caracas government and powerful narcotics syndicates.

Given his background, Salazar certainly ought to be in the know. Prior to turning state’s witness, he spent over a decade as the head of Hugo Chávez’s personal security detail and sometime personal assistant; a YouTube video currently making the rounds on ... Read More

Autorizan uso de armas mortales contra protestas

| January 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nacional VZ


La resolución 008610 del Ministerio de la Defensa, publicada en la Gaceta Oficial del 27 de enero de 2015, establece un nuevo modelo de control militar del orden público que incluye el “uso de la fuerza potencialmente mortal, bien con el arma de fuego o con otra arma potencialmente mortal”, como último recurso para “evitar los desórdenes, apoyar la autoridad legítimamente constituida y rechazar toda agresión, enfrentándola de inmediato y con los medios necesarios”.

Las nuevas normas menoscaban las garantías del artículo 68 de la Constitución, el cual señala: “Se prohíbe el uso de armas de fuego  y sustancias tóxicas en el control de manifestaciones pacíficas. La ley regulará la actuación de los cuerpos policiales y de seguridad en el control del orden público”.

La resolución suscrita por el general en jefe Vladimir Padrino López no es una ley como exige la Constitución, y ... Read More

Jewish leaders in Argentina boycott Holocaust ceremony

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Joshua Partlow

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina has the largest Jewish population in Latin America, at roughly a quarter-million people. But when the Foreign Ministry holds its annual Holocaust commemoration ceremony Tuesday evening, the country’s most important Jewish organization will not be in attendance.

The rift between the government and the Jewish community here is another consequence of the turmoil wrought by the death of a top prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, earlier this month. For years, Nisman had been the lead investigator into the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center AMIA (the Spanish initials for the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association). But recently, Nisman was focused less on the attack and more on his own government, which he accused of working secretly to freeze the investigation and absolve Iranian officials of blame.

His accusations against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and others, followed quickly by his own shooting death, have outraged Jewish leaders here.

“There are certain moments in ... Read More

Mexico AG: Captured drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman won’t be extradited to US anytime soon

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By MARIA VERZA, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Captured Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will not be extradited to the United States anytime soon, Mexico’s top prosecutor said Tuesday.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said he was expecting to receive a formal request later in the day from Washington, which also wants to prosecute Guzman on drug trafficking charges. But U.S. authorities will have a long wait.

“I could accept extradition, but at the time that I choose. ‘El Chapo’ must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him,” Murillo Karam told The Associated Press in an interview. “So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while.”

Murillo Karam later clarified that he was referring to the time that it would take for Guzman to complete his sentences, “given all the crimes ... Read More

Colombia Angers Venezuela With Call to Free Jailed Opponent

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News


Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is taking a tougher line with Venezuela’s socialist government, urging it to free a prominent opposition leader.

The change in tone comes as Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis is leading Latin American governments to reconsider how best to respond to the threat of renewed unrest there.

Since taking office in 2010, Santos had been reluctant to criticize Venezuela, looking to win its support for peace talks with Colombia’s rebels and avoid a return of tensions that led to talk of war on both sides of the border in 2008.

Colombia broke with its hands-off policy late Monday and became the first South American nation to call for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed for 11 months on charges of instigating violence at anti-government demonstrations that rocked Venezuela a year ago.

While the U.S. and European governments have condemned Lopez’s jailing and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s wider ... Read More

Fear of immigration policy change triggers new wave of Cuban migrants

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

HAVANA — President Obama’s opening to Cuba has accelerated a surge in Cuban migration to the United States, the latest U.S. statistics show, as many on the island grow worried that America’s long-standing immigration benefits for Cubans are now in jeopardy.

Last month the Coast Guard intercepted 481 Cubans in rickety boats and rafts, a 117 percent increase from December 2013. But the boaters account for only a fraction of those attempting to reach the United States. At the Miami airport and ports of entry along the Mexican border, the number of Cubans who arrived seeking refuge jumped to 8,624 during the last three months of 2014, a 65 percent increase from the previous year.

Many Cubans have heard warnings for years that their unique immigration privileges — which essentially treat anyone from the island who sets foot on U.S. terra firma as a political refugee — would not last forever.

And they have seen ... Read More

El Salvador gang leaders seek talks with government over violence

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Leaders of El Salvador’s main street gangs on Tuesday urged the government to begin a dialogue to reduce violence and tone down its tough stance against their members after the vice president said police could open fire on them if necessary.

Violence in El Salvador has jumped over the past year after a 2012 truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and rival gang Barrio 18 started to unravel, and last Wednesday Vice President Oscar Ortiz said police should respond with force “without any fear of suffering consequences” if threatened by gang members.

The following day, authorities registered no murders in the country for a 24-hour stretch, the first time that had happened in more than 2-1/2 years, according to the police.

In a statement, the gang leaders said “the difficult situation the country is going through requires proactive steps and messages in support of peace, ... Read More

Ex guardaespaldas de Chávez deserta a EE.UU. y apunta contra Diosdado Cabello

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

Por Kejal Vyas y Juan Forero

CARACAS, Venezuela—Un ex guardaespaldas de Diosdado Cabello, el poderoso presidente de la Asamblea Nacional y uno de los líderes del brazo militar del país, desertó a Estados Unidos para cooperar con las autoridades que investigan el tráfico de drogas en Venezuela, dijeron funcionarios de ese país el martes.

Leamsy Salazar, quien había trabajado en el cuerpo de seguridad del ex presidente Hugo Chávez, se encuentra en Washington donde se prevé que dé testimonios que implican a Cabello en la presunta organización de operaciones de tráfico de cocaína controladas por militares venezolanos, dijeron dos fuentes al tanto.

Ambas personas dijeron que el objetivo es imputar a Cabello bajo cargos de tráfico drogas. Un vocera del Departamento de Justicia de EE.UU. no quiso comentar, en tanto que funcionarios del Departamento de Estado no respondieron a llamadas solicitando declaraciones.

Funcionarios venezolanos atacaron a Salazar y EE.UU., diciendo que el motivo de ... Read More

Top Venezuelan Bodyguard Defects to U.S.

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


CARACAS, Venezuela—A former bodyguard to Diosdado Cabello, the powerful president of congress and a leader of Venezuela’s military wing, defected to the U.S. to cooperate with officials investigating drug-trafficking, Venezuelan authorities said.

Leamsy Salazar, who had previously worked for late President Hugo Chávez ’s security detail, is currently in Washington, where he is expected to provide witness testimony implicating Mr. Cabello in organizing cocaine-smuggling operations controlled by Venezuela’s military, two people familiar with the matter said.

Both people said the end goal is an indictment against Mr. Cabello on drug charges. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment, while officials at the State Department didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

Venezuelan officials on Tuesday lashed out at Mr. Salazar and the U.S., saying that the motive of Mr. Salazar’s defection is to destabilize President Nicolás Maduro ’s government. This oil-rich country is plagued by a moribund economy expected ... Read More

Diosdado Cabello identified as the head of the Cartel of the Suns

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

[Translation by IASW]

By Antonio Maria Delgado

Leamsy Salazar, Venezuelan [navy] captain who was the head of security for the late Hugo Chávez, arrived Monday in Washington to assist in an investigation headed by U.S. authorities regarding the links between chavismo and drug trafficking.

Salazar, who spent much of his career alongside Chavez arrives in the United States as a protected witness and may provide the most devastating details presented so far about chavismo. According to sources close to the investigation, in his testimony, Salazar argues that the drug trafficking organization known as Cartel de los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) is led by President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

“This has been the hardest blow that has been given to chavismo. This is the man who has provided all the secrets. He was the head of security and chief of staff for Diosdado Cabello, and was the head of security of Hugo ... Read More

Argentina’s insane political scandal, explained

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »

The news from Argentina reads like a real-life locked room mystery: on January 18, Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who had recently accused Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of conspiring with Iran to subvert the prosecution of a terrorist attack, was found dead in his home, the door locked from the inside.

Although Nisman’s death initially looked like a suicide, many believe that he may have been murdered. The gun that killed him was found lying next to his body, but there was no gunshot residue on Nisman’s hands, suggesting that he was not holding it when it was fired. And a number of Nisman’s colleagues and supporters have come forward to say that he had made appointments to see them in the days following his death.

On January 22, President Kirchner, who had initially referred to Nisman’s death as a suicide, publicly changed course and released a statement saying ... Read More

U.S. Pushes Energy Exports to Undermine Venezuela

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

The United States is seeking to dislodge Venezuela’s energy influence in the Caribbean, capitalizing on the collapse in oil prices.

Vice President Joe Biden hosted the first ever Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington DC on January 26. The summit, attended by leaders of Caribbean nations, was intended to find cleaner and more affordable sources of energy. As island nations with few indigenous sources of energy (save natural gas in Trinidad and Tobago), many rely on costly oil and gas imports.

But beyond providing sustainable alternatives, the energy summit appears to be an attempt to peel off Caribbean nations from Venezuelan influence.

Since 2005, Venezuela has provided very generous support to ideological allies in the western hemisphere. Using its abundant oil reserves – Venezuela is sitting on an estimated 298 billion barrels of oil, according to the EIA, arguably the largest reserves in the world – the ... Read More

Border Surge Likely Again In 2015, Data Shows

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Daily Caller

By Neil Munro

The flow of Central American migrant families across the Texas border is continuing at almost the same level as a year ago, according to newly released federal data.

In the last three months of 2014, 7,468 Central American migrants crossed in family units, down only 12 percent from the 8,511 migrants who crossed during the last three months of 2013, according to the federal data.

The late 2013 flow was the vanguard of roughly 60,000 adults and children who crossed in so-called “family units” during the 12 months up to October 2014. That “family unit” inflow occurred alongside the much-publicized inflow of 60,000 children and youths.

Since last summer, White House officials have made deals with Mexico and other Central Americans countries that are intended to block the northern flow of migrants. The continued flow across the border suggests those deals have not succeeded.

... Read More

Diosdado Cabello’s head of security defects to the U.S. and accuses him of narcotrafficking

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

[Translation by IASW]


With the arrival yesterday in Washington, DC, of protected witness, [Venezuelan Navy] Captain Leamsy Salazar, who until December was the head of security for Diosdado Cabello, a U.S. federal prosecutor has accelerated the preparation of a formal indictment against the number two in the Venezuelan regime.

Salazar is the highest-ranking military officer to break ranks with chavismo and make formal accusations in the United States against senior government officials for their involvement in narcotrafficking.

For almost 10 years, Salazar served as chief of security and as personal assistant to Hugo Chávez. After Chávez’s death, Salazar went on to work for Cabello as his chief of security.

Cartel of the Suns

According to sources close to the investigation, opened by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Salazar claims that [Cabello], the president of the National Assembly, is the head of the Cártel de ... Read More

El jefe de seguridad del número dos chavista deserta a EE.UU. y le acusa de narcotráfico

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01


La preparación de una acusación formal contra Diosdado Cabello, presidente de la Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela y número dos del chavismo, se ha acelerado en la Fiscalía federal estadounidense con la llegada ayer a Washington, como testigo protegido, de Leamsy Salazar, quien hasta su salida de Caracas en diciembre era el jefe de seguridad de Cabello.

Miembro de la Casa Militar, encargada de la custodia presidencial, Salazar fue durante casi diez años jefe de seguridad y asistente personal de Hugo Chávez. Tras su muerte, sus servicios fueron requeridos por el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional, para quien también ejercía de ayudante personal. Salazar es el militar en activo de mayor rango (capitán de corbeta, equiparable a comandante) que rompe con el chavismo para acusar formalmente en Estados Unidos de prácticas delictivas a las altas jerarquías del país, en especial la relacionada con el tráfico de ... Read More

Identifican a Diosdado Cabello como jefe del Cartel de los Soles

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Leamsy Salazar, un capitán de corbeta venezolano que fue el jefe de seguridad del fallecido presidente Hugo Chávez, llegó el lunes a Washington para colaborar en una investigación de las autoridades estadounidense sobre las vinculaciones entre el chavismo y el narcotráfico.

Salazar, quien pasó gran parte de su carrera al lado de Chávez, llega a Estados Unidos como testigo protegido y podría brindar los detalles más devastadores presentados hasta ahora sobre el chavismo. Según fuentes cercanas a la investigación, en su testimonio el capitán sostiene que la organización de narcotráfico conocida como Cartel de los Soles es dirigida por el presdente de la Asamblea Nacional, Diosdado Cabello.

“Este ha sido el golpe más duro que se le ha dado al chavismo. Este es el hombre que ha brindado todos los secretos. Fue el jefe de Seguridad y jefe de ayudantía de Diosdado Cabello, y ... Read More

Who Killed Alberto Nisman?

| January 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


It’s hard to know who had most to gain—and the least to lose—from the death of Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman. I’d say it’s Iran.

Nisman was scheduled to testify last week to the Argentine Congress about his investigation into the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85. In 2006 he indicted seven Iranians and one Lebanese-born member of Hezbollah for the crime. None have been captured, though the Lebanese suspect was killed in 2008 in Syria.

Earlier this month Nisman filed a criminal complaint in an Argentine court, alleging that President Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman had crafted a secret agreement with Iran to let the terrorists off the hook in exchange for Iranian oil largess and Iranian purchases of Argentine grain.

Nisman claimed he had a solid case against la presidenta and her alleged co-conspirators, and he released a summary of a 300-page report on his ... Read More

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