Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Here’s the next country ready to throw in the towel on the U.S. ‘war on drugs’

| May 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »
FUSION

By Kevin Gray

Add Ecuador to a growing list of countries pushing back against the U.S. “war on drugs.”

A ruling party lawmaker recently introduced legislation that would make Ecuador the second country in the world — and the first in the Americas— to decriminalize the personal use of all drugs, from marijuana to cocaine to heroin.

The bill, presented by a lawmaker allied with President Rafael Correa, would regulate the consumption of over 100 substances and create a state agency to control the importation, exportation, production and cultivation of illegal drugs. Anyone interested in using or obtaining drugs would have to register with the agency.

If approved, the South American country would follow in the footsteps of Portugal, which in 2001 radically shifted its drug policy from prosecution to prevention and rehabilitation. It would also reflect the growing challenge from some Latin America countries to ... Read More

Frustration with Latin America’s left on the rise

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s socialist government is struggling to put food on the shelves amid runaway inflation. Brazil’s president is facing calls for impeachment. And even Cuba’s communist government, an iconic touchstone for generations of leftists, is embracing closer ties with the U.S.

Whether it’s because of corruption scandals or stagnant growth, the popularity of the crop of leftist Latin American governments that have been running the region since the start of the millennium appears to be waning. Voters who embraced what became known as the pink tide that swept away the pro-Washington, free-market policies dominant in the 1990s are increasingly turning against the populist firebrands they once rallied behind.

Across the region, polling numbers are tanking and street protests are on the rise.

Triggering the growing disenchantment are some serious economic headwinds. Most leaders came into power just ... Read More

Susan Kaufman Purcell: The New Normal in Latin America

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

By Susan Kaufman Purcell

At the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama, the topic that received the most attention was the U.S. decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. This allowed the historic handshake and the official talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that ended half a century of diplomatic isolation.

Various polls have shown, however, that that the diplomatic problems between the United States and Cuba have not been a major concern of Latin Americans. Why then were the Latins so enthusiastic about this particular change in U.S. policy toward the region?

The answer was not that normalization would bring an end to the Castro dictatorship, since Latin America has not cared whether Cuba remained a dictatorship. Nor were Latin American governments preoccupied that the inflow of dollars to Cuba following the normalization of relations would mainly benefit Cuba’s unelected and wealthy rulers, especially the military, which controls the ... Read More

Beijing to Unveil South America Investments

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By PAULO TREVISANI and ROGERIO JELMAYER

BRASÍLIA—Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is set to bring greater financial support to South America this week, part of Beijing’s broader effort to reassure developing countries that have been hit by China’s declining demand for raw materials.

On Tuesday, Mr. Li is expected to discuss with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to build a giant railway, corporate acquisitions and the disbursement of billions of dollars for the overhaul of Brazil’s aging infrastructure as South America’s largest economy gears up for the Rio Olympics next year.

Later in the week, Mr. Li will visit Colombia, Peru and Chile, seeking to reassure trading partners that China’s slowdown won’t affect Beijing’s engagement in the region. Beijing is proposing deals in which China buys finished products instead of only commodities. Already, Chinese lenders have become some of Latin America’s top investors.

“China is putting money in companies and assets that are undervalued,” said Sergio Amaral, a Brazilian diplomat and former trade ... Read More

Frustration with Latin America’s left on the rise as leaders hit by economic slowdown, scandal

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Star Tribune

By JOSHUA GOODMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s socialist government is struggling to put food on the shelves amid runaway inflation. Brazil’s president is facing calls for impeachment. And even Cuba’s communist government, an iconic touchstone for generations of leftists, is embracing closer ties with the U.S.

Whether it’s because of corruption scandals or stagnant growth, the popularity of the crop of leftist Latin American governments that have been running the region since the start of the millennium appears to be waning. Voters that embraced what became known as the pink tide that swept away the pro-Washington, free-market policies dominant in the 1990s are increasingly tuning hostile against the populist firebrands they once rallied behind.

Across the region, polling numbers are tanking and street protests are on the rise.

Triggering the growing disenchantment are some serious economic headwinds. Most leaders came into power just as China’s economy was ... Read More

Hezbollah en América Latina: el narcotráfico, su principal fuente de financiamiento

| May 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
Infobae

Las actividades delictivas del grupo terrorista Hezbollah en la región continúan su ascenso sin que ninguna alarma se encienda en los Gobiernos de América Latina. Incluso en muchos casos, las autoridades de algunas administraciones regionales son cómplices de sus movimientos. Tráfico de drogas, de armas, de influencias, lavado de dinero y otras maniobras ilícitas son las elegidas por las células que la agrupación libanesa mantiene a lo largo de esta parte del mundo.

Desde 2006 a la fecha, fue sobre todo el narcotráfico la vía que más dinero aportó al financiamiento de Hezbollah. Bajo diferentes fachadas, jefes regionales del grupo terrorista se instalaron en diferentes ciudades latinoamericanas para tapar sus verdaderos propósitos. Mezquitas, centros culturales islámicos, comercios y otras organizaciones sin apariencia política reúnen a cientos de fieles, quienes en muchos casos son “utilizados” por la agrupación extremista.

Es la Triple Frontera (conformada por Paraguay, Brasil y la Argentina) la “capital” de ... Read More

Latin America leads world on murder map, but key cities buck deadly trend

| May 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

By Jonathan Watts

Latin America may be the most murderous continent on Earth, but huge improvements in public safety have been achieved in several major cities, according to a new homicide map of the world that is being launched this week.

Several metropolises that were once bywords for violent death – such as Medellín, Bogotá, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – have seen declines of more than 60% in the murder rate over the past two decades thanks to improved living standards, better education, decelerating urbanisation and more effective policing, say the researchers behind the Homicide Monitor.

But while overall figures are falling, the map reveals that murders are stubbornly concentrated in poor communities, and the victims are mostly young – usually black or mixed-race – men.

The Monitor is an interactive online world map with data on the distribution of murder by country, year, age of victim and – where figures are available ... Read More

Long in charge, leftist leaders struggle across South America

| April 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

By Nathaniel Madden

Argentina may not be alone in South America moving from left to right in the coming days.

A string of leftist leaders across the continent have come under scrutiny in recent months for political scandals, falling poll numbers and economic reverses that, in the case of Venezuela, have produced the world’s second-highest inflation rate after Syria.

Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late populist President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, has seen his approval rating fall to just 28.2 percent, following months of popular protests driven by high levels of violence, food and consumer good shortages, and an inflation rate in 2014 of 63.4 percent. Mr. Maduro’s government recently announced it will soon start to ration electricity, despite the fact that the country by some estimates has even more proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia.

Corruption and inflation are also driving factors behind the low approval ... Read More

Una región que arropa la represión

| April 14th, 2015 | 2 Comments »
Felipe Trigos-01

La Séptima Cumbre de las Américas celebrada el pasado fin de semana en Panamá demostró de nueva cuenta la inhabilidad de superar la fascinación con el mito de la revolución cubana y la falta de comprensión sobre los daños que este movimiento trajo, no solo para Cuba, sino para toda la región.

Cuando líderes del hemisferio tienen la oportunidad de coincidir con Raúl o Fidel Castro en reuniones multilaterales, parecería que lo más importante en la agenda es rendir homenaje a los hermanos y aprovechar la oportunidad para la foto, quizás para no provocar la protesta clamorosa de izquierdistas que ven con ojos enamorados ‘la obra’ de los Castro, a pesar de 55 años donde se ha podido constatar la opresión, pobreza y sufrimiento que ha causado a millones que habitan la isla.

La Cumbre en Panamá, que se centraría en temas como la prosperidad y la equidad, acabó sirviendo de plataforma ... Read More

An ‘Obama doctrine’ fail: Cuba still won’t love us

| April 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
New York Post

The two men will cross paths at the Organization of American States’ seventh summit, a meeting of 35 Western hemisphere heads of state that kicks off today in Panama.

Cuba was finally invited to attend the two-day affair this year.

Because the Communist regime’s membership in the OAS has been suspended in 1962 (it only accepts democracies as members), and because in past years Washington insisted Cuba be banned from the summit, the island nation wasn’t being invited before.

But this year, the United States dropped its objections, and so Cuban President Raul Castro and Obama can be expected to hug it out like the bros they’re fast becoming.

It’s all part ... Read More

¿Puede Obama rescatar su fallida política exterior en Latinoamérica?

| April 9th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Real Clear World-01

El presidente de los Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, ha notado claramente que muchos en América Latina y el Caribe tienen una afinidad extraordinaria con el mito de la revolución cubana. Lo que aún no tiene claro es que la gran mayoría de los ciudadanos de la región preferiría vivir en el Chile construido por Augusto Pinochet que en la Cuba destruida por Fidel Castro.

Durante la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá Obama se encontrará con una región que ha perdido la estabilidad y la prosperidad desde que asistió a su primera cumbre en 2009. A pesar de que esperaba cosechar elogios por su acercamiento con La Habana, Obama recibirá en cambio un trato hostil por parte de varios líderes latinoamericanos, quienes encabezados por Nicolás Maduro de Venezuela y apoyados por Castro están determinados en diezmar la influencia que le queda a Washington en una región de suma importancia para la ... Read More

Can Obama Rescue His Failing Latin America Policy?

| April 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

U.S. President Barack Obama has clearly noticed that many in Latin America and the Caribbean have an uncanny affinity for the myth of the Cuban revolution. What he has yet to realize, however, is that the vast majority of the region’s citizens would rather live in the Chile built by Augusto Pinochet than in the Cuba destroyed by Fidel Castro.

As Obama travels to Panama this week for his third Summit of the Americas, he encounters a region that has lost stability and prosperity since the president first attended the summit in 2009. Although he hoped to harvest accolades for his rapprochement with Havana, Obama will instead be greeted by a coterie of hostile counterparts, led by Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and abetted by Castro, who are determined to sever Washington’s remaining influence in a hemisphere critical to U.S. prosperity and security.

To be fair, other OAS leaders insisted that Castro ... Read More

Mr. Obama’s opportunity in Panama

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post By Editorial Board

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in December was supposed to improve political and economic conditions for average Cubans and remove an irritant in U.S. relations with other Latin American nations, which have been pushing to end the isolation of the Castro regime. Four months later — a short time, admittedly — there is no sign of those benefits. According to Cuban human rights groups, political detentions have increased: There were more than 600 in March alone. More than 50 long-term political prisoners are still being held. Several Cuban opposition leaders are banned from leaving the country, which means they cannot attend this week’s Summit of the Americas in Panama.

U.S. and Cuban officials have yet to agree on the terms for reopening embassies. But the Castro regime has nevertheless reaped some substantial gains. Raúl Castro will be welcomed to the Americas summit for the first time; Mr. Obama will shake his ... Read More

Obama’s Amateur-Hour Foreign Policy In The Americas

| April 8th, 2015 | No Comments »
Investor's Business Daily

Terrorism: Seeking applause at a summit in Panama, President Obama vowed to swiftly remove Cuba as a state sponsor of terror. It just shows how his foreign policy runs — for political convenience, not national security.

As he headed off to the Summit of the Americas in Panama, President Obama tossed a tidbit for the region’s tyrants that’s expected to be a crowd-pleaser: A vow to quickly lift the State Department’s designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terror.

The move would let the communist dictatorship buy weapons from the U.S., gain dual-use technologies, end some financial sanctions and open Cuba to foreign aid.

And as for whether Cuba really was a state sponsor of terror and a threat to the U.S., well, that was secondary. Given the huge number of State Department political appointees, an independent assessment isn’t possible.

Pressure to lift the designation has come from the Cuban regime as a precondition ... Read More

La cumbre de las mentiras

| April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR MOISÉS NAÍM

La próxima semana va a tener lugar en Panamá una cumbre de jefes de Estado de las Américas. Allí ocurrirán una celebración y una confrontación. También se dirán muchas mentiras.

La celebración se debe a la normalización de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba. Barack Obama y Raúl Castro se darán la mano, sellando así el inicio de una nueva fase entre ambos países. Esa foto quedará para la historia. Pero no será la única. También veremos la foto (o muchas fotos) del presidente Nicolás Maduro y sus aliados denunciando la sanción impuesta por Estados Unidos a Venezuela.

Mientras que la foto de Obama y Castro refleja lo que debería ser el futuro del hemisferio, la ópera bufa que será escenificada por el Gobierno de Venezuela reflejará su pasado. Un pasado en el cual los gobernantes utilizaban la mentira y la manipulación para confundir a incautos y engañar a ... Read More

Historic encounter: Obama, Raúl Castro to have ‘interaction’ at summit

| April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield and Nora Gamez Torres

President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro briefly shook hands at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in 2013, and then chatted on the phone last December before announcing plans for renewed diplomatic relations.

Now, the big question is what type of encounter the leaders of once-hostile neighbors might have in Panama during the seventh Summit of the Americas next Friday and Saturday. Both will attend — a first in the history of the intra-regional summits that began in Miami in 1994.

“This opens the door for everyone,” José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, said in January. “We can now deal with matters together. It releases a lot of tensions and pressures.”

But there won’t be a full complement of regional leaders. Chile’s Michelle Bachelet will stay home as her country weathers a month of natural disasters, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa ... Read More

Andres Oppenheimer: Obama on defensive at summit

| April 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER

Until a few weeks ago, it looked like next weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama would be a golden opportunity for President Barack Obama to seal his announced normalization of ties with Cuba, and remove a decades-long sore point in U.S.-Latin American relations. But with few days to go before the 34-country summit, Obama’s prospects of emerging a big winner look bleak.

Several developments in the past few weeks will put Obama on the defensive at the mega-summit, a rare occasion where the U.S. president will meet collectively with all his Western Hemisphere counterparts. Since the first of these meetings was held in Miami in 1994, they have taken place only every three or four years.

First, the March 9 Obama executive order denying U.S. visas and freezing U.S. assets of seven Venezuelan government figures accused of human rights abuses or public corruption has led Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ... 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

Ecuador Expects $4 Billion in Loans From China in 2015

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY MERCEDES ALVARO

Ecuador expects to receive $4 billion worth of loans this year from different Chinese lenders, of which about $1 billion correspond to disbursements of loans approved last year, a top government official said.

Finance Minister Fausto Herrera said Monday the loans will have a maturity of around eight years.

According to Mr. Herrera, disbursements of Chinese loans have been delayed because or a sharp drop in oil prices in the first months of the year but would begin to arrive next month.

According to unofficial estimates, China has committed more than $12 billion in financing to Ecuador between 2009 and 2014. Most financing operations from China to Ecuador have been tied to oil sales and several have been backed with presales of crude oil.

Mr. Herrera said the new loans aren’t linked with the selling of crude oil.

The minister said despite the decline of around 50% in oil prices, the Andean country plans to maintain ... Read More

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