Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Senate Democrats balk at $1-billion aid plan for Central America

| February 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

Senate Democrats on Tuesday unexpectedly challenged the Obama administration’s plan to pour $1 billion into Central America to try to slow the flow of unaccompanied minors and others who enter the United States illegally.

In two hearings on the State Department budget, Democrats as well as Republicans warned that previous administrations have spent billions in the region without substantially reducing its violence or easing its poverty.

“We’ve spent billions of dollars there over two decades,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, told Secretary of State John F. Kerry. “And we’ve seen conditions get worse in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador.”

The plan, which would triple U.S. aid to the region, was devised in response to an unprecedented influx last summer of tens of thousands of children and teens who arrived without parents on the Southwest border. Most immediately surrendered to Border ... Read More

Migrants’ remittances to Latin America grew 4 pct. in 2014

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Expatriates’ remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean increased 4 percent in 2014 to $62.3 billion, the biggest jump since the global economic crisis in 2009, the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think-tank, said Tuesday.

The largest gains went to Mexico and Central America, while several South American countries saw a decrease in remittances, due largely to the persistent economic crisis in Spain.

The overall advance in remittances to Latin America reflects improvements in the U.S. labor market, new migration patterns and the proliferation of new ways to transfer money, according to the report.

Remittances to Mexico increased 8.8 percent over 2013, while funds sent to Honduras increased 12.5 percent, and to Guatemala, 9 percent.

The Spanish economic crisis, with high levels of unemployment and falling pay, is largely responsible for decreases in remittances to Bolivia, 2.4 percent; Peru, 2.3 percent, and Colombia, which saw ... Read More

Self-Inflicted Misery and Tyranny among Latin America’s Left

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

It is astonishing that with so much focus and dialogue on demands for world freedom, self-expression and human rights, many tend to ignore or simply fail to do their homework on repressive dictatorial-like regimes floundering throughout Latin America and oppressing their citizens.

It was certainly no secret that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s 14 years in office was a tired precursor to a near failed state in Venezuela today. Chavez spent his entire rule in office working to recruit and support leftist presidential candidates throughout the hemisphere, touting his Bolivarian Revolution – that is quite simply the more exhausted Cuban Revolution that remains in Venezuelan to this very day.

Chavez demolished independence in Venezuela’s institutions, seized control of the economy, militarized the government, and virtually destroyed private enterprise. Death, destruction and insufficiencies in Venezuela remain rampant.

If there was even a modicum of value to add to the history of Venezuela from ... 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

The retreat of U.S. interests from Latin America has left a vacuum for the Chinese to fill

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY ILAN BERMAN You have to feel a bit sorry for the Obama administration. The White House in December announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, including establishing a U.S. Embassy in Havana and formally revisiting Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. The move was a clear effort by Washington to distinguish itself in a new international theater.

But that gambit was soon eclipsed by another: In a meeting that could herald a significant shift in the Western Hemisphere’s balance of power, China hosted a high-profile summit earlier this month with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac.

Celac is a relatively recent invention. Conceived in 2010 at a meeting in Caracas hosted by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez , it is designed to deepen integration among Central and South American states—while excluding the U.S. and Canada. The 33-member bloc explicitly styles itself as an alternative to the U.S.-led Organization of ... Read More

Race on the high seas: Cartels feature new, faster smuggling boats

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

By Perry Chiaramonte

Latin America’s drug cartels are leaving the U.S. Coast Guard in their wake, with new and faster speedboats law enforcement officials say are virtually undetectable by radar.

The new boats, nicknamed “Picudas,” after a tropical fish whose long, thin bodies they resemble, are made of fiberglass, making them invisible to radar and efficient with fuel. While older smuggling vessels took as long as three days to make the trip from Costa Rica to Jamaica, the Picuda can make the trip in two.

Dialogo, a newspaper published by the Pentagon’s Southern Command, quoted one Coast Guard source that called the craft “a wave-breaking go-fast wonder that defies radar detection.” The boats give the bad guys a leg up on authorities trying to cut off the flow of South American drugs, according to the article.

“They [cartels] are being forced to do something that they would rather not,” Adam ... Read More

Latin America 2015: Time for Reform

| January 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Brookings

By Daniel Zovatto

Latin America is starting off 2015 with a clear economic slowdown. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects a modest recovery (2.2 per cent) with respect to last year (in 2014 growth was only 1.1 per cent, the lowest since the 2009 crisis), though these calculations may vary due to several factors.

The world economy is not helping. The downward trend in raw materials prices, scant dynamism in global demand, and the appreciation of the dollar are three factors that work against the region today.

Venezuela and Argentina, are facing very complex economic contexts. Venezuela is in the midst of stagflation (aggravated by plummeting oil prices); and Argentina is experiencing negative growth, high inflation, and the unresolved conflict with the “vulture funds.”

The two largest economies of the region, Brazil and Mexico, are facing their own demons. Brazil President Dilma ... Read More

U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua voices concerns over Chinese-led canal

| January 7th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

MANAGUA (Reuters) – The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua said on Tuesday it was concerned by a lack of information surrounding the planned $50 billion, Chinese-led canal that would bisect the poor Central American nation.

Work began in late December on the 172-mile (278-km) waterway, which its Hong Kong-based developer HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group) says will be operational by 2020, but so far it has been met with widespread skepticism.

HKND Group is controlled by a little-known Chinese mogul, Wang Jing, who said the Chinese government is not behind the project. But his reluctance to reveal his financiers has led many to speculate he enjoys Beijing’s tacit backing.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular press briefing on Wednesday that the government requires Chinese firms to abide by local laws when operating abroad, but dismissed any connection ... Read More

Nicaragua Starts Canal as Critics Lambaste It

| December 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By  JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA

A Chinese-led consortium began construction work on a controversial canal across Nicaragua that backers say will rival the Panama Canal but which critics say is economically unfeasible—with its $50 billion price tag—and environmentally disastrous.

The ceremony was more show than substance—held to officially begin work on an access road aimed at paving the way for heavy machinery to begin digging out the proposed 172-mile waterway. A top aide to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega recently said the start of the canal work would be a “Christmas present” to the Nicaraguan people.

“This moment will surely be inscribed in history,” said Wang Jing, a little-known Chinese telecommunications executive who would oversee the project and round up the financing.

Nicaraguans waved blue and white flags and shouted out “Daniel, Daniel,” after Mr. Ortega.

Nicaraguan government officials have said the canal will be the engine that lifts the country out of poverty. Mr. Ortega has said ... Read More

Violence in Mexico and Central America

| December 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

FROM the age of 13 Victor Toruño walked the dirt streets of Hialeah, a slum in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, with a shotgun in his hands. His gang, Los Cancheros (a cancha is a sports pitch), ruled the neighbourhood. “We felt that with guns we were like gods, we could do anything we liked,” he says. Gang members were his only friends; a tattoo of a skull on his left arm commemorates one whose head was cut off with a machete. “I was machista. I was the one who told everyone what to do. I was like a psychopath,” he says.

Mr Toruño, now 27, absorbed the codes of machismo from infancy. While he hid under the bed, his father would beat up his mother. His father later abandoned the family. Mr Toruño developed the same traits. He abused his partner, Martha, yelled at his two children and felt hatred for ... Read More

Central America ready to commit $5 billion to migration plan – Guatemala

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

BY ALEXANDRA ALPER

(Reuters) – Three Central American nations that have sent a flood of migrants to the United States are ready to provide $5 billion (£3.2 billion) between them to match a sum Washington says may be needed to help solve the problem, Guatemala’s president said on Tuesday.

Struggling to stop the migrant exodus that sparked a crisis in the summer, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador presented U.S. officials with a plan in September to boost their economic growth with infrastructure investment.

Addressing the problem on Nov. 18, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson told Congress it could take $5 billion over five years to implement a plan for Central America that the United States has backed.

“It would fall to us to at a minimum put up the same amount, if not more,” Guatemalan President Otto Perez told Reuters in an interview in the Mexican ... Read More

A Dubious Chinese Link To The Grand Nicaragua Canal

| December 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Crunch-01

MANAGUA — If it actually gets built, the Interoceanic Grand Canal — which would stretch for 278 kilometers between Venado on Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast to Puerto Brito on the country’s Pacific side — would be the most impressive work of infrastructure in the world.

This gigantic ship canal would be larger than Panama’s — 30 meters deep, ranging from 230 to 520 meters wide, and splitting Nicaragua in two. It would pass mountains and go through rivers, and use the great Cocibolca Lake, the largest body of fresh water in Central America, to shorten its course.

The government here claims the Nicaragua Canal will be completed by 2020 at an estimated cost of around $50 billion, four times the size of the entire Nicaraguan economy — and some observers say that pricetag is grossly underestimated. It would create at least 50,000 jobs for construction and 200,000 more upon ... Read More

Latin America, Caribbean 2014 Growth Likely Reached Only 1.1%

| December 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By ROBERT KOZAK Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean likely reached only 1.1% this year, the slowest rate of expansion since 2009, but will jump back up to twice as high next year, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said.

The organization, known as Eclac, said Tuesday that Central America, including the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Haiti, will post the best expansion in gross domestic product in the region next year, rising by 4.1%. The English-speaking Caribbean will lag with an expansion of 2.2%. South America will expand 1.8% next year, it added. Overall the area will expand 2.2% in 2015, it said.

A slump in demand in developed economies and the slowing of growth in emerging economies, especially China, hit Latin America and the Caribbean nations hard this year. China has become an important trading partner, especially for raw materials, for many countries in the region.

The agency said an economic deceleration became ... Read More

Republicans Should Signal Leadership, at Home and Abroad

| November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Roll Call

The 2014 midterm elections were a rejection of the policies of President Barack Obama. And the Republican takeover of the Senate is a repudiation of the gridlock in Congress symbolized by the bare-knuckles tactics of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The new Republican Senate leadership should move swiftly to seize the high ground and signal it is ready to do the peoples’ business. Quick action on several international issues — the Keystone XL pipeline, trade promotion authority and long-delayed ambassadorial nominations — are bipartisan actions that Republicans should put on the table even before they take over in January.

Although opinion polls show voters favor Republican positions on the economy, foreign policy and security, the party’s brand needs burnishing. As Obama hints at a more confrontational tone that could undermine any hope of making Washington work, Republicans can rise above Obama’s blame game by working with Democrats on tangible initiatives to bolster America’s ... Read More

Las Naciones ‘Sumergidas’ de Latinoamérica

| November 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

Líderes políticos y diplomáticos de América Latina y el Caribe saben más sobre Cuba y Venezuela que incluso los observadores más astutos en Washington. Por lo tanto, deberían saber lo que le conviene más a su región ¿no?

Entonces, ¿por qué el Grupo de América Latina y el Caribe en la ONU le dio su apoyo a Venezuela para ser el próximo representante de la región ante el Consejo de Seguridad? Y, ¿por qué están determinados en invitar a el déspota cubano Raúl Castro a la Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá en la primavera?; haciendo caso omiso de las objeciones por parte de sus socios comerciales más importantes, como Estados Unidos y Canadá.

Para muchas generaciones de latinoamericanos, Cuba fue el hogar de algunas de las mejores editoriales de lengua española en el mundo, cientos de periódicos y estaciones de radio de calidad, derechos laborales progresistas, altos niveles de alfabetización y ... Read More

Latin America’s ‘submerging nations’

| November 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Folha de Sao Paulo

The political leaders and diplomats of Latin America and the Caribbean know more about Cuba and Venezuela than even the keenest observers in Washington. So, they should know better, right?

Then why did the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN designate Venezuela to take the region’s non-permanent Security Council seat?

And, why are they determined to invite Cuban despot Raúl Castro to the Summit of the Americas in Panama next spring, ignoring the objections of the leaders of the consequential trade partners in the United States and Canada?

For generations of Latin Americans, Cuba was home to some of the world’s best Spanish-language publishing houses, hundreds of quality newspapers and radio stations, progressive labor rights, the region’s highest rates of literacy and nutrition, and a robust middle class.

Then came the Castro revolution. Although some may have been caught up ... 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

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

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