Archive for the ‘Bolivia’ Category

Why Bolivia could be the new hub for regional drug trafficking

| October 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Jeremy McDermott

Transnational organized crime likes opportunities and little resistance. Bolivia currently provides both and finds itself at the heart of a new criminal dynamic that threatens national and citizen security in this landlocked Andean nation.

This new criminal dynamic centers on the changing patterns of drug consumption in the region. Mexico’s dominance in the regional drug trade owes much to its position alongside the world’s largest drug consumer, as well as its ability to produce drugs like heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

Bolivia now sits alongside the second biggest consumer of illegal drugs in the world: Brazil. Bolivia also borders the world’s principal producer of cocaine, Peru, and South America’s primary producer of marijuana, Paraguay. Meanwhile, Argentina is experiencing ballooning domestic drug consumption, particularly of “basuco” or “paco,” a form of crack cocaine which can be produced in Bolivia. Even the domestic drug markets in Chile and Peru are growing.

Bolivia is now literally at the heart of South America’s illegal narcotics trade. ... Read More

Latin America is a region plagued by incumbents

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez

Six weeks after falling for Marina Silva, pro-market souls (and the markets themselves) have bounced back, developing a new infatuation with the man who defeated her in Brazil’s presidential election. Propounding sensible policies and polling strongly, Aécio Neves will face off next month against Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s formidable incumbent. He may yet prevail. Brazil’s anaemic projected growth, coupled with rising unemployment, should be fertile ground for any challenger. Yet if history is any guide there is only one thing Ms Rousseff needs to do for her re-election to be all but certain: run.

Incumbents have an advantage everywhere. They enjoy high visibility and voters tend to prefer the devil they know. Yet the record of sitting Latin American presidents is astonishing. No Brazilian president seeking immediate re-election has ever failed to attain it. As far back as the 19th century, only two governing presidents anywhere in Latin America – Nicaragua’s ... Read More

Rising Dragon? The Chinese Mafia Threat in Latin America

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By David Gagne

Chinese mafia operations in Latin America are little understood, but a recent report on these groups in Argentina illustrates how they make their presence felt via extortion, human smuggling rings, and the occasional murder. As China deepens its economic relationship with Latin America, it’s possible these mafias may become ever more prominent.

Authorities in Argentina have attributed 31 murders over the last five years, and four in 2014 alone, to seven Chinese mafias operating in the country, reported La Nacion. These mafias reportedly earn revenue by extorting businesses within the Chinese community, and resort to violence when owners do not comply with their demands.

In at least three of the 2014 cases, the victim did not appear to have been robbed, leading authorities to believe they were killed after running afoul of criminal groups in the Chinese community. According to La Nacion, the Chinese mafias (also known ... Read More

Beware a Leftist Landslide in Bolivia

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Mac Margolis

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has gone on record saying he aims to win reelection this Sunday with 74 percent of the popular vote. Whether that was a prediction or an order, he didn’t say. Yet even Morales’s harshest detractors allow that the only doubt about the Oct. 12 election is the size of his landslide.

Whatever else can be said about the charismatic Andean leader — he’s authoritarian, obsessively anti-American and brooks no criticism — his skills as a political operator are unmatched among the region’s accident-prone populists. He has ruled Bolivia since 2006, longer than any president since the 19th-century caudillo Andres de Santa Cruz, who was in office from 1829 to 1839. In a country known better for coups d’etats than elections, and which saw six presidents in the decade before Morales, that’s all the more remarkable.

Leave aside that another four years of Morales might be the ... Read More

Happily Evo after

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

A TRIP on the new cable car that links La Paz, the Bolivian capital, to El Alto, a satellite city perched 400 metres up the cliffs, takes eight scenic minutes. Zig-zagging up the mountains in a bus normally takes 40. The cable car wins plaudits for President Evo Morales. “Evo is actually investing in the country,” says Juan Diaz Crespin Quispe, who sells natural remedies concocted from plants and lizard parts in El Alto’s twice-weekly market. “He’s developing and redistributing, not just lining his own pockets like past governments.”

Such sentiment is common. That, and the smothering of the opposition, will help Mr Morales get a third term in presidential elections on October 12th. Bolivian presidents are technically limited to two consecutive terms, but after pushing through a new charter in 2009, Mr Morales persuaded pliant courts to ignore his first term, which was under the old dispensation.

Bolivians don’t seem worried ... Read More

Bolivia’s Perennial President

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Harvard

By Julio Mendez Cabrera

It is often expected that democracies impose term limits on presidential candidates. Such is the case in Bolivia, where the current term limit is set at two terms and general elections are set for October 12, 2014. So why is the incumbent, Juan “Evo” Morales, running for the third time?

The simple answer is that he is doing so because he can. Following a spurt of political instability in 2008, a January 2009 referendum instituted a new constitution, which reestablished the country as the Plurinational State of Bolivia and set new presidential term limits. A provision of the constitution states that terms prior to enactment do not count toward these limits. As such, despite promising before the constitutional referendum that he would not seek reelection following its enactment, Morales will run for president again.

And he will surely win. Though there are numerous ... Read More

El legado de Insulza y el futuro de la OEA

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR EZEQUIEL VÁZQUEZ-GER

Corría Febrero del año 2011. Un grupo de estudiantes en Venezuela había decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre en protesta contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. En Washington, junto con un grupo de estudiantes venezolanos, decidimos apoyar la protesta pidiendo un pronunciamiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Lo hicimos a través de decenas de cartas dirigidas a cada uno de los embajadores, notas de prensa, y una protesta frente al Edificio principal del organismo, previo a una sesión de su consejo Perrmanente.

Terminada esta sesión, el secretario general José Miguel Insulza nos otorgó una audiencia privada, en la que nos dijo: “Me compadezco con ustedes, yo también sufrí una dictadura en carne propia y tuve que refugiarme en el exterior. Pero tienen que entender, a Chávez no lo van a vencer con cartas, Chávez es un dictador, y en Venezuela hay una dictadura militar”.

Esta anécdota sirve para describir el ... Read More

Latin American Growth to Slow, World Bank Says

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE LIMA, Peru—Latin America is on track this year to post its slowest rate of annual growth since 2009, when the global financial crisis began to be felt in the region, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the region by nearly half to 1.2%, following expansions of 2.4% and 3% in the previous two years. In its semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank said the region could grow 2.2% next year, but cautioned that it was still unclear whether the current downward cycle has bottomed out.

“We do not know if this deceleration has hit bottom, or if there is further deceleration to come,” said Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, in a telephone interview. But growth, he said, “is not going to be what it used to be in the past decade, partially because ... Read More

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s powerful incumbent, plays politics at high altitude

| October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

LA PAZ, Bolivia — There was a time when Evo Morales so alienated his opponents that Bolivia nearly broke in two.

But those were the days of the old Evo. On Sunday, when Bolivians vote for president, Morales is expected to breeze to a third term behind a broad coalition of longtime supporters and one-time enemies. The latest polls show him trouncing a scattered field of opponents by a margin of 40 points or more.

After nearly a decade in power, Morales has buried the old political order in Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest nations, and consolidated control over nearly every facet of government. Much of the country’s economy is in state hands. Morales’s political party, the Movement Toward Socialism, dominates Bolivia’s legislature. Last year, supreme court judges said he could run for president again, despite term limits, because his first term had been interrupted when he had the constitution rewritten.

“We have ... Read More

Brazil heads into white-knuckle presidential race — Bolivia, Uruguay follow

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield and Jim Wyss

With less than a week to go before Sunday’s Brazilian presidential election, the only thing that seems certain is that it’s too close to call and is likely to be determined in a runoff.

Recent polls show President Dilma Rousseff in a virtual dead heat if the election goes to the second round with environmental activist Marina Silva. Silva wasn’t even in the running a few weeks ago, but she moved to the top of the Brazilian Socialist Party ticket after her running mate, Eduardo Campos, died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

A third candidate, Social Democrat Aécio Neves — the former governor of Minas Gerais, could squeak into an Oct. 26 runoff but it will probably be a contest between the two women if neither gets more than 50 percent of Sunday’s vote.

While the Brazil race is the closest and, perhaps most heated, it’s ... Read More

Bolivia Rejects U.S. Claim It Hasn’t Done Enough to Cut Drug Production

| September 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Robert Kozak

Bolivian President Evo Morales rejected a U.S. government assertion that his country has failed to do enough to cut down on narcotics production.

Late last week the White House designated Bolivia, alongside Burma and Venezuela, as countries that have failed over the last year to do enough to comply with international counter narcotics agreements. Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of coca and cocaine, according to the U.S. government.

“Whatever they do and whatever they say, or yell from the United States, the people won’t be confused by this type of information,” Mr. Morales said Wednesday in a speech ahead of general elections in October.

Mr. Morales, who remains leader of a regional coca growers group, is running for a third term as president, and opinion polls show him with a wide lead. Some coca leaf is grown legally in ... Read More

A Nuclear Bolivia? Why Not?

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

By James Conca

The renaissance in nuclear power is in full swing around the world, just not so much in the West.

Last month, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera declared his country will go nuclear as part of a “platform for his nation’s technological development for the next 400 to 500 years” (TELESUR).

In a speech closing the 7th International Congress on Oil and Gas in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Linera stated that humanity can, and must, master this “sacred fire.”

This may shock Americans, who have trouble pointing to Bolivia on a map, but the country’s President, Evo Morales, had already announced Bolivia’s plan to go nuclear last year, and is establishing a nuclear advisory council to implement this technological future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin practically tore his shirt off to offer Bolivia help in achieving “their rightful role as a Promethean nation.”

The push to expand nuclear energy around the world is coming from a league ... Read More

Miami conference: Better roads to improved ports creates business opportunities in Latin America

| September 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Some 450 government and business leaders from 28 countries have gathered for the two-day Trade Americas & ConnectAmericas Expo — an opportunity to explore ways to bridge Latin America’s infrastructure gap.

But speakers at the conference, which was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank and Latin Trade Group, said that with growing populations — the region is expected to have 700 million people by 2030, more people moving into the middle class and globalization, most countries’ infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Relatively brisk economic growth in Latin America in recent years also has “revealed the need to improve infrastructure,” said Bernardo Guillamon, the IDB’s manager of outreach and partnerships.

Even ... Read More

Bolivia to Appeal Ruling Favoring India’s Jindal in El Mutún Dispute

| August 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE

Bolivia said Tuesday it would appeal a ruling from an international tribunal that gave India’s Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. 532286.BY -3.39% a multimillion-dollar award in a dispute over the development of the El Mutún iron ore project.

“We are going to appeal the decision in the corresponding tribunals in order to defend the interests of the Bolivian state,” Vice President Álvaro García told reporters Tuesday.

The Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce ruled earlier this month that Bolivia’s state-owned mining company Empresa Siderúrgica del Mutún should pay Jindal $22.5 million in compensation for the seizure of funds to guarantee the development of El Mutún.

Mines Minister César Navarro also criticized the judgment. “We don’t share these types of actions or decisions that think about private capital and don’t think about the well-being of the people and the state,” he said in a statement.

Empresa Siderúrgica del Mutun, or ESM, took Jindal’s $18 million guarantee in 2010, arguing ... Read More

Bolivia, Peru Aim to Set Up Radar for Drug Flights

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY ROBERT KOZAK

Bolivia and Peru are working on a plan to install radar stations on their border, aiming to use the information to help authorities intercept airplanes smuggling drugs and to possibly shoot them down, if both governments move ahead to set up flight interdiction programs, an official said.

Bolivia’s Deputy Minister for Social Defense and Controlled Substances, Felipe Caceres, said on a ministry Web page Wednesday that the governments are studying a proposal for Peru to run five or six radar stations on the border, while Bolivia would run three or four radar stations.

“The radars provide accurate information on the flights that occur at the border and on their legal status,” Mr. Caceres said.

The chief of Peru’s Interior Ministry antidrug branch recently said half of the cocaine that leaves Peru now goes out on small airplanes, with 95% of that moving through Bolivia, mainly to Brazil. The U.S. State Department’s ... Read More

Menor demanda externa reduce crecimiento de América Latina

| August 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

AFP

SANTIAGO – La menor demanda externa de materias primas por parte de los socios de América Latina y el Caribe, principalmente China, llevó a Cepal a reducir su estimación del crecimiento de la región de 2.7% a 2.2% en el 2014.

A la menor demanda externa se suma “un bajo dinamismo de la demanda interna, insuficiente inversión y un limitado espacio para la implementación de políticas que impulsen la reactivación”, sostuvo la Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (Cepal) en un informe económico presentado este lunes.

El menor crecimiento de China es “el principal riesgo” en lo que queda de año para los países de la región exportadores de materias primas.

En tanto, el crecimiento de Europa y Japón, otros importantes socios comerciales de Latinoamérica, caerá de 0.5% a 0.2% y de 1.7% a 1.4% respectivamente, lo que también significará una menor demanda de las ... Read More

Bolivian president vows to expand coca crops

| July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Bolivian President Evo Morales has been re-elected head of the country’s largest union of coca growers and promises to expand crops if he wins a third term as the nation’s leader.

Morales told union members Sunday that Bolivia needs a new law regarding coca production.

Current law allows nearly 30,000 acres of coca leaf to be grown for traditional use. One proposal would expand the permitted acreage, including in the Chapare region that is Morales’ political base, to more than 49,000 acres.

The United Nations, however, has estimated Bolivia already grows more than that, with nearly 57,000 acres believed dedicated to the crop last year.

Traditionally, coca leaf is used in religious rituals or to fight off fatigue and altitude sickness. It also can be used to produce cocaine.

Click here for article. ... Read More

Bolivia: Morales officially candidate for 3rd term

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian President Evo Morales’ candidacy for a third consecutive term is now official.

Bolivia’s electoral council announced Monday that the Andean nation’s first indigenous president will be on the Oct. 12 ballot.

The 54-year-old coca growers’ union leader is heavily favored to win.

Bolivia’s new constitution, ratified in 2009, sets a two-term limit for presidents, but the country’s Supreme Court ruled last year that Morales’ initial 2006-2009 term was exempt.

The main opposition candidate is currently cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina, who got less than 10 percent of the votes in the last three presidential elections.

Click here for original ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

Bolivia rebels at rightist timepieces, flips clock

| June 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY CARLOS VALDEZ

Bolivia’s leftist government is turning back the clock. Or, more precisely, turning it backward.

The government this week flipped the clock atop the Congress building so that while it’s accurate, the hands now turn to the left, a direction known elsewhere as counterclockwise.

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca announced the modification Tuesday. He said it was only logical that a clock in the Southern Hemisphere should turn in the opposite direction of a Northern Hemisphere clock.

The president of Congress, Marcelo Elio, on Wednesday called the reform “a clear expression of the de-colonization of the people” under President Evo Morales, who became the country’s first indigenous president when he won office in 2005 and is up for re-election in October.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia said the government is thinking about similarly modifying all clocks at public institutions.

He recalled that during an open-air Cabinet meeting, Choquehuanca placed a stick in the ground and showed ... Read More

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