Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Sanchez Ceren continues his Cuban visit

| April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

Salvadoran President-elect, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, and his wife Margarita Sanchez, still remain in Cuba, where they traveled the week before the Easter holidays. It is expected that upon his return, Sanchez Ceren will begin forming his cabinet and transitional government.

Sanchez Ceren and his wife met yesterday with two Cubans arrested in Miami in 1998, both of which were accused by the U.S. government of acting against national security. The Cuban government claims they are innocent and has branded them as “heroes”.

In total there were five Cubans arrested, three of who remain imprisoned in Miami.

According to an official statement from the FMLN, Cuban citizens Fernando Gonzalez Llort and René González ” thanked Sanchez Ceren for his full support to their cause. During the meeting, which took place in a fraternal and supportive environment, accompanied by their wives, they thanked the Salvadoran people through Sanchez Ceren for their support and fight for ... Read More

What’s been the fallout from the ‘Cuban Twitter’ revelations?

| April 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Inter-American Dialogue

Q: The U.S. Agency for International Development created and operated “ZunZuneo,” a communications network similar to Twitter that had the aim of destabilizing the Cuban government, the Associated Press reported on April 3. USAID responded by saying the purpose of the program was “to create a platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves, period,” while the White House denied that it was a covert program. How much of an impact will the revelations have on U.S.-Cuban relations? What does the controversy mean for bilateral issues such as the imprisonment in Cuba of former U.S. government contractor Alan Gross? Are social media programs such as these a good use of USAID funding and the U.S. government’s resources?

A: Roger Noriega, managing director of Vision Americas LLC, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs: “Most conversations about U.S. policy toward Cuba involve ... Read More

Murders soar in Brazil World Cup city during police strike

| April 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY SILVIO CASCIONE

A police strike ended on Thursday after unleashing a surge in violent crime in Brazil’s third-largest city just two months before it is due to welcome hordes of football fans for the World Cup, authorities said.

At least 39 homicides were committed during the two-day strike in and around the north-eastern city of Salvador that added to fears about Brazil’s ability to ensure public safety during the global football tournament.

Violence swept the city after state police went on strike on

Tuesday night to demand better pay and other benefits, prompting the federal government to dispatch troops to restore order in Salvador and nearby towns.

Local media reported looting at supermarkets and stores, leading shop owners to close their businesses in a city that is one of Brazil’s most popular tourist destinations.

A coastal city of about 3.5 million people, Salvador was the first colonial capital of Brazil and is home to some ... Read More

Dialogue Progress (Ironically) Returns MUD to Helm of Venezuelan Opposition

| April 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Dialogues between the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) opposition coalition and the government yielded its first results this week. In the process the MUD seems to be regaining its leadership over the unruly forces of the opposition.

On Tuesday government and opposition representatives agreed to expand the “Truth Commission” to include “recognized national leaders trusted by all” to be selected by mutual agreement. While they have not agreed upon the names nor upon the actual competencies of the commission, Vice President Jorge Arreaza suggested they would have the ability to carry out interviews and form their own conclusions.

There was no agreement however, on an amnesty law for political prisoners. This was not a surprise as the MUD’s proposal called not simply for the release of those arrested over the last two months of conflict but for the release of all political prisoners arrested over the past fifteen years—including people like the Guevara brothers who were ... Read More

Argentina considers crackdown on street protests

| April 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Argentina’s populist government is proposing a crackdown on street protests amid increasing unrest over the souring economy. The new rules dismayed many of its natural allies Thursday, who called it a worrisome retreat after a decade of permissive policing.

Governing party lawmaker Carlos Kunkel wrote the proposed law at the request of President Cristina Fernandez.

It would require every protest’s leader to notify police 48 hours in advance, describing the place, duration and goal of any demonstration. It would be illegal to block traffic, including public services and the circulation of vehicles and people. Anyone who broke the rules would be forcibly removed.

However, the police officers doing the evicting would not be allowed to carry firearms, and no protesters would be removed until a government official was given two hours to negotiate a resolution.

“It seems reasonable to seek some way of establishing how you can demonstrate, and to see what we’ll do ... Read More

Cuba says ‘investors welcome,’ but the investors aren’t buying

| April 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Global Post

With all the fanfare of the boy who cried wolf, the Cuban government has published a new foreign investment law.

It’s making good on a promise by President Raul Castro to update a 1995 law that produced more failed investments than successes, never managing to draw more than a few hundred million dollars a year to the cash-starved island’s economy.

The new law, published Wednesday after approval by parliament on March 29, promises an eight-year tax holiday to new investors and theoretically cuts in half a 30 percent tax on profits — a feature of the 1995 law blamed for the withdrawal of many foreign investors.

US investment, of course, remains banned by the Kennedy-era trade embargo that draws increasing criticism — even among some Cuban-Americans — as self-defeating. But with Florida’s Cuban community a key constituency for both Democrats and Republicans, no one’s rushing to mint a medal for the Florida politician ... Read More

Brazil’s Leader Holds Wide Lead Six Months From Election: Survey

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

Despite a mushrooming scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras and bad news on the economic front, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is still the hands-down favorite to win the elections in October, according to a new poll on Wednesday.

If the vote were held today, Rousseff would win 40 percent of the ballots, while her two main rivals put together would get only 24 percent, not enough to force a run-off, the poll showed.

The survey last week by local polling firm Vox Populi indicated that rising inflation in a stagnant economy, coupled with bribery, money laundering and overpricing investigations at Petrobras have not undermined Rousseff’s popularity as yet.

The number of voters intending to back the left-leaning president for a second four-year term has fallen off just one percentage point since the previous Vox Populi poll in February.

But the expected candidate of the main opposition party, centrist Senator Aécio Neves also slipped one ... Read More

Guillermo Martinez: Democracy a real sham in Correa’s Ecuador

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Sun Sentinel

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador since 2007, is undoubtedly the best-educated leftist president in Latin America. He has two masters degree — one from Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and another one from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a PhD from the same university.

He speaks four languages: Spanish, English, French and Quechua.

This allows Correa to present himself as a reasonable politician. One who in his Op-Ed column for the Boston Globe can rationally argue, “Real freedom requires justice.” He quotes from Abraham Lincoln‘s Gettysburg Address: “All men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (sic) Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

In Ecuador and across Latin America, Correa wrote, we also hold these truths to be self-evident, and we must make them a reality not just for certain people or at some future time, but right now and for everybody.

No doubt ... Read More

El Salvador to use terror charges against gangs

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

El Salvador’s government on Wednesday said it would charge gang members who attack police and military personnel under anti-terrorism laws, which impose longer prison sentences, to crack down on rising homicides in the poor Central American nation.

Justice Minister Ricardo Perdomo blamed a faction of the country’s Barrio 18 gang for ordering attacks against government troops, saying there had been 60 so far this year.

“These criminal plans have produced a higher level of murders and a chain reaction of vengeance and violence that requires a unified and coordinated response from the state,” Perdomo said.

Terrorism charges carry maximum penalties of up to 60 years, compared to up to 20 years for homicide or up to 50 years for aggravated homicide.

A truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang and rival Barrio 18 had cut the murder rate in El Salvador down to a 10-year low in mid-2013, but homicides started ... Read More

Mexico Arrests Mayor for Drug Cartel Extortion

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Prosecutors in western Mexico arrested the mayor of a city that once served as a stronghold of the Knights Templar drug cartel on charges that he helped the gang extort money from city council members.

Prosecutors in Michoacan state said late Tuesday that they arrested Uriel Chavez Mendoza, the mayor of Apatzingan, after three city council members claimed he forced them to gather in a rural area, where cartel gunmen demanded each hand over 20,000 pesos (about $1,500). The gunmen allegedly said the money was to buy weapons.

The meeting was held in January 2012, when the cartel was at the height of its power, according to prosecutors.

The “self-defense” vigilante movement that sprang up last year to fight the cartel had long claimed the Knights Templar controlled, or extorted money from, municipal governments in the western, largely agricultural state.

Some town governments were forced to hand over 10 ... Read More

Venezuela rejects amnesty for jailed protest leaders

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

The Venezuelan government has dismissed calls by the opposition for an amnesty for jailed protest leaders.

Government and opposition representatives met for a second time on Tuesday to try to put an end to two months of anti-government protests.

Following the meeting, Ramon Aveledo of the opposition MUD coalition said his proposal for an amnesty law had been rejected.

More than 40 people have died in recent protest-related violence.

‘Slow progress’

Hundreds of people have been detained since the protests began in early February.

The majority have since been released but a number of high-profile opposition politicians are still in detention.

Among those still in jail are Popular Will party leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been charged with inciting violence, and the mayors of the cities of San Cristobal and San Diego, Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano.

Mr Aveledo said the opposition would now “seek other ways” to address the problem of “political prisoners”.

Vice-President Jorge Arreaza said ... Read More

Venezuela Raises Iron Hand Against Protesters

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

During his 14 years in power, the wily and charismatic Hugo Chávez unnerved his adversaries with bluster, intimidation and the occasional jailing of opponents.

But his successor, President Nicolás Maduro, has taken more severe—and many say violent—measures to stamp out dissent during the past 10 weeks of turmoil caused by a protest movement.

The president has deployed National Guard troops and intelligence agents, buttressed by armored personnel carriers and bands of paramilitary motorcyclists, who beat protesters and have at times fired at them, say witnesses, alleged victims and Venezuelan and foreign human rights groups.

“Day after day, there is more repression, there is more brutality, more fury,” said Alfredo Romero, head of the Caracas-based group Foro Penal, whose 100 lawyers represent people who say they were victims of government brutality. “I think there are orders to repress and attack demonstrators.”

The accusations come as Mr. Maduro’s government and opposition leaders met on Tuesday for a second ... Read More

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 »
BBC

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.

‘Repression’

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 | 1 Comment »
News24-01

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

BY JERRY BREWER

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

BY ROSIE GRAY

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

BY MARY O’GRADY

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

BY NICK MIROFF

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

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