Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Carlos Alberto Montaner: Nicolas Maduro’s Failures All Too Apparent

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

Nicolás Maduro didn’t fare well in the first round of talks at Miraflores Palace. Man does not live by slogans alone.

He, his government and half of Venezuela for the first time had to (or could) listen in silence to the complaints and recriminations of an opposition that represents at least half of the country.

A revolutionary leader is a voracious and strange creature that feeds on empty words.

It is easy to spout revolutionary rhetoric in a pompous voice, gaze lost in space, perhaps looking for talking birds or miraculous faces that appear on walls, while accusing the victims of being fascists, bourgeois or any other nonsense that comes to mind.

The official team spoke of the revolution in the abstract. The opposition spoke of the daily life. For those spectators who are not dogmatic, the result was obvious: The opposition won sweepingly.

It is impossible to defend oneself from the lack of milk, from the ... Read More

Mexico pledges own anti-money laundering list

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY E. EDUARDO CASTILLO Mexico has announced plans to fight money laundering by using “kingpin” lists like those issued by the United States, although unlike the public U.S. list, Mexico will make its registry confidential, a Mexican official said Monday.Alberto Elias Beltran, the official in charge of implementing a new money laundering law at the Finance Department, said the list will be made available only to authorities, anyone accused of money laundering and financial institutions.

“There could be a person who follows the procedure to be excluded from the list and we don’t want them to affect their reputation by making this list public,” Elias Beltran said.

The criteria that will be used to put a person or a business on the list hasn’t yet been determined but the government hopes the first list will be ready by the end of April, he said.

Elias Beltran added that the list will be immediately sent ... Read More

Venezuela’s military admits excesses during deadly protests

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

The military in Venezuela has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left more than 40 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, Vladimir Padrino, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

But the general stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 (officers) are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen Padrino said.

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.


The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

But Vladimir Padrino insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, ... Read More

Venezuela, road to enslavement

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »

With the world’s attention focused on the foreign –sponsored revolution in Ukraine these past months, the violent protests in Venezuela yielded much less attention from news watchers.

This has been labelled the worst unrest to date since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year.  Also aggravating the situation has been the county’s economic woes and the depreciation of its currency against the US Dollar. Food shortages have been the result of both the violence and the economic downturn, although not helped by the fact that the country is one of the weakest economies on the South American continent.

An issue raised in an article by Associated Press (AP) entitled: Venezuela issues ID card to curtail food hoarding, bears highlighting.  Basically citizens won’t be able to buy food without this ID card, and the possible reason for this being to halt the black market food economy as well as prevent the hoarding of ... Read More

Governance in Central America and Criminality in El Salvador

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data


With the most recent estimates of homicides reported by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (the latest data being for the year 2012), the northern cone of Central America continues to lead and set records for intentional deaths.

Honduras has the world’s highest rate of murder, with 90.4 per 100,000. Guatemala’s numbers were 39.9; El Salvador had 41.2 per 100,000; and, surprisingly, Belize homicides were reported at 44.7. All of which must alarm Mexico’s political leaders (where the rate per 100,000 intentional deaths was 21.5) as their southern borders, seemingly, continue to be elbow to elbow in violence, death and misery, with little progress showing from professed efforts to actively fight crime.

In the United States, the 2012 intentional homicide rate per 100,000 population was 4.7.

This report graphically and boisterously shows that the Americas’ homicide rates have been five to eight times higher than those of Europe and ... Read More

Venezuela’s Protest Movement Fights The Ghost Of Chavez

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From BuzzFeed


Hugo Chavez is dead, but he’s everywhere around Caracas: on billboards, posters, and graffiti. Sometimes it’s just his eyes, watching over this teeming city and the hillside slums packed with his supporters. “Peace Prevails,” blares graffiti with Chavez’s eyes perched above.

Chavez’s personality cult remains strong 13 months after his death, and his ideology, Chavismo, still holds a grip on many Venezuelans, especially the poor, many of whom viewed Chavez as a hero. Chavismo’s principles of populist socialism and anti-imperialism, and the allure of the Bolivarian Revolution (named after 19th-century Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar), dominate Venezuela’s political landscape. They also helped bring about severe economic and security crises that have pushed thousands into the streets of Venezuela’s cities for the past two months. And yet, the enduring popularity of Chavismo has proved a difficult problem for the Venezuelan opposition to solve. Protest organizers in both the political opposition ... Read More

Panama’s King Moves the Queen

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


Center-right Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli is an outspoken critic of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. Back home in Panama, though, Mr. Martinelli is laying the groundwork for a power grab of his own. If he prevails the region will take another step backward on the freedom trail, yet the Obama State Department remains silent.

Mr. Martinelli’s term ends on July 1 and the constitution bars him from re-election. But the wealthy supermarket magnate is not letting go so easily. He has made his wife, Marta, the vice-presidential candidate on his Democratic Change Party (CD) ticket for the May 4 presidential election. The presidential candidate is José Domingo Arias, his former housing minister.

The Panamanian Constitution anticipates the caudillo who tries “moving the queen,” as this tactic is known elsewhere in the region, to get around a prohibition on re-election. Its Article 193 states that relatives within “the second degree of marital relations of ... Read More

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto slumps in polls despite policy wins

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post


Plenty of world leaders would be thrilled to have the kind of executive hot streak blazed by Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto during his first 16 months in office.

In that short span, he and his administration have steered more than a dozen major new laws through congress, overhauling the country’s energy, banking and education sectors, among others.

Peña Nieto has stood up to powerful interests from Mexico’s business world and underworld. He has locked up drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world’s most wanted trafficker, quieting doubters in the United States who questioned his crime-fighting mettle.

Yet for all the praise he has won in Washington and elsewhere in the world, Peña Nieto’s opening act is getting panned in the only place it really counts: Mexico.

After Time magazine put him on the cover of its international edition recently with the headline “Saving Mexico,” a flood of ridicule and derision followed.

Peña ... Read More

Colombia To Extradite Seven Accused Of Kidnapping, Killing DEA Agent In 2013

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

President Juan Manuel Santos announced Thursday that he signed the order to extradite to the United States the seven Colombians accused of the June 2013 kidnapping and murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Santos made the announcement in an interview with La FM radio, eight days after Colombia’s Supreme Court authorized the extraditions after determining that James Terry Watson, the agent who was killed, was a protected person in the United States.

“I already signed it,” the president responded to a question on the matter without making any further comment.

The measure affects Andres Alvaro Oviedo Garcia, Hector Leonardo Lopez, Julio Stiven Garcia Ramirez, Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, Wilson Daniel Peralta Bocachica, Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero and Edwin Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, and now they just need to determine the date of the transfer. They will face charges in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.

Watson was killed on June 20, 2013, in ... Read More

Everything you need to know about the Venezuelan protests

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Week-01

What are the protests about? A broken economy, crime, shortages of basic goods, and political repression. When the populist President Hugo Chávez died last year, he left Venezuela’s economy and civil society in shambles. Chávez’s handpicked successor, President Nicolás Maduro, has none of Chávez’s charisma, but essentially the same socialist policies and autocratic governing style, and the country has quickly deteriorated. Its murder rate of 25,000 per year is among the world’s highest, with a Venezuelan killed every 20 minutes. Crime is so bad that the government stopped tracking it, claiming the data was being “politicized.” Kidnappings and robberies are rampant, and the police have been corrupted by criminal gangs. Venezuela exports oil and imports nearly everything else, so when global oil prices stalled this year, it triggered a runaway annual inflation rate of 57 percent, as the bolivar currency lost much of its value. Families have been unable to buy ... Read More

Cat-and-mouse secrecy game plays out daily in Cuba

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Cuban dissident Berta Soler says she and other members of the Ladies in White were handing out toys to children at Trillo Park in Havana when a State Security officer detained them and seized the 60 to 70 toys.

Soler said she protested that the women bought the toys legally in Havana with money received legally from supporters abroad. But the agent told her, “Berta, don’t play the fool, because you know those toys come from Miami, the terrorists.”

The March 15 incident reflected the cat-and-mouse game played almost daily by dissidents, supporters abroad who send them assistance and the security agents of a communist government that views most such aid — even toys — as “subversive.”

That’s why, several of the foreign supporters argue, they must use a measure of discretion when sending aid to democracy, human rights or Internet freedom activists in Cuba — enough to ensure it ... Read More

The Real Threat to Venezuela’s Democracy

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
New York Review of Books


Last week, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to counter the bad press his government has received for its crackdown on widespread protests over the past two months. He accused the international media of having “distorted the reality” of Venezuela by portraying the protests as peaceful and the country’s democracy as “deficient.” Yet the steps he’s taken to respond to the protests at home have shown that the deficiencies of Venezuelan democracy are all too real. Not only have his security forces abused unarmed protesters; his government has also censored news coverage of the demonstrations and jailed a prominent opposition leader who urged his supporters to join them.

President Maduro has faced major difficulties since his narrow election victory one year ago. A longtime deputy of Hugo Chávez, who died last March, Maduro inherited the support of roughly half the country’s voters, many of whom ... Read More

Venezuela’s Agony: Weak President, Strong Generals, Riots and Cocaine

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

In the dark before dawn one night last February, Colonel Googlis Martín Caballero was driving a white Ford Explorer through the Venezuelan countryside not far from the Colombian border. With him were his wife, his daughter and roughly half a ton of cocaine. He probably felt sure nobody would question him, a ranking officer in the country’s National Guard, but, then, that much coke is hard to hide.

At a routine checkpoint, other members of the National Guard detained the colonel. The story of his arrest generated brief headlines in the national papers, making the point, perhaps, that there are limits to what a military man could get away with. But, if so, this was the exception that proves the rule. His capture could have been very bad luck for Col. Caballero. It could have been another officer out to get him, or mere confusion among the soldiers about whose orders to ... Read More

Cuba – French minister must not ignore freedom of information during Cuba visit

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter about freedom of information in Cuba to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is about to make the first official visit to the Caribbean island by a member of the French government since 1983.

Cuba’s violations of freedom of information must not be ignored during this visit. Improvement in relations between the European Union and Cuba must not be at the expense of Cuba’s journalists and bloggers.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Ministry of Foreign Affairs 37 Quai d’Orsay 75351 Paris

Paris, 10 April 2014

Dear Foreign Minister,

Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to draw your attention to the plight of professional and non-professional journalists in Cuba.

All independent media, both traditional and online, are censored in Cuba, which is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in our 2014 press freedom index. Even defending the right to information is obstructed by President ... Read More

Honduras, Venezuela have world’s highest murder rates – U.N.

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


Honduras retains the world’s highest murder rate, according to a United Nations report published on Thursday, with the Americas overtaking Africa as the region with the most peacetime murders per 100,000 people.

Torn apart by gang warfare and invaded by Mexican drug cartels, the Central American nation of Honduras had a 2012 murder rate of 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, almost double Venezuela’s rate of 53.7.

According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s report, Central America fared particularly badly. Belize had a murder rate of 44.7, while El Salvador’s was 41.2 per 100,000.

In a previous report in 2011, Honduras topped the list, with El Salvador in second place andVenezuela in third.

In the U.N.’s latest report, the Americas overtook Africa as the region with most murders, thanks to a surge in organized crime, which is often funded from the proceeds of drug smuggling.

Nearly 40 percent of the 437,000 murders committed globally in ... Read More

Peru’s Italian job

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

WHEN Bello reported on the latter years of Carlos Menem’s rule in Argentina, he would sometimes be enjoined to take no notice of the political scandals lapping around the regime. The important thing, he was told, was that the economy was run by responsible technocrats, as in “the Italian model” of the post-war decades. He heard something rather similar when Ollanta Humala was poised to win Peru’s presidency in 2011. Politics was a mess, a prominent banker confided, but what really mattered was that the economy was well managed.

Almost three years into Mr Humala’s presidency, both of those things remain true. But far from being a reassurance, Peru’s adherence to the Italian model is actually a cause for concern.

Mr Humala, a former army officer and a political chameleon, first ran for president in 2006 as a supporter of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. He lost that election and in 2011 reinvented himself ... Read More

Son of Mexico drug lord turns informant

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post


The son of one of Mexico’s most-wanted drug traffickers has been “flipped” by U.S. prosecutors as part of a plea deal in Chicago federal court, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

High-ranking Sinaloa cartel lieutenant Jesús Vicente Zambada-­Niebla, also known as “El Vicentillo” or “El Mayito” after his father, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, pleaded guilty a year ago to helping direct a vast drug trafficking operation that smuggled “multiple tons of cocaine” into the United States.

According to the plea deal unsealed Thursday by U.S. attorneys, Zambada-Niebla, facing life in prison, will be eligible for a lesser sentence in exchange for cooperating with the government. Prosecutors also said the 39-year-old agreed not to challenge a $1.37 billion forfeiture judgment against him, assets that U.S. officials said could include cash, real estate, businesses, vehicles and other property.

“Zambada-Niebla admitted that between May 2005 and December 2008, he was a high-level member of the Sinaloa Cartel and was responsible ... Read More

Colombia’s Santos would think twice about killing FARC leader

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said he knows “more or less” where the Marxist FARC’s leader is hiding but would think twice about attacking at this stage of peace talks with the rebel group, a change in tone from an earlier goal of capturing or killing him.

Santos, who is seeking reelection in May, said he has taken the “difficult” decision to kill leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia before, but would consider the progress being made in peace negotiations before killing Rodrigo Londono.

“We know more or less where he is,” Santos said in an interview with local radio LaFM. “I’m not going to say I would take the decision or not take it, but I think that at this stage of the process I’d think twice.”

Londono, known by his war alias as Timochenko, is the chief of the FARC’s seven-member secretariat. Intelligence sources have said he ... Read More

Venezuela protest crackdown threatens region’s democracy, warns Vargas Llosa

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK


The Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa has warned that Venezuela‘s crackdown on anti-government street protests is a threat to democracy across Latin America.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the Nobel laureate saidNicolás Maduro‘s government was becoming a “messianic dictatorship” intent on spreading its influence across the region.

“If the regime in Venezuela crushes the resistance and becomes a totalitarian regime, I think all democratic Latin American countries would be threatened because the explicit goal of the Venezuelan government is to expand,” he said from his home in the Peruvian capital, Lima. “As our democracies are quite fragile and weak this threat is extremely worrying because it can succeed.”

The 78-year-old lambasted the Organisation of American States’ response to the crisis in Venezuela as “absolutely unacceptable”, adding that the “logical reaction from democratic governments [which make up the OAS] would be a very strong condemnation of what is going on in Venezuela”.

The pan-American ... Read More

Venezuela lacked good faith in ConocoPhillips seizure – World Bank

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


Venezuela failed to act in good faith or properly compensate ConocoPhillips for three big oil assets the country expropriated in 2007, a World Bank arbitration panel said on Wednesday

The partial ruling, which limited the scope of the company’s claims by excluding future tax credits, did not determine how much money Venezuela must pay the U.S.-based company.

The company’s projects were taken over during the leftwing administration of deceased former President Hugo Chavez, who led a wave of nationalizations that included the oil, electricity and steel industries.

“The respondent breached its obligation to negotiate in good faith for compensation for its taking of the ConocoPhillips assets in the three projects on the basis of market value,” said the ruling by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The company claimed victory, but a final ruling on damages could take one or two more years, according to experts.

“This ruling sends a ... Read More

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