Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

BY DANIEL WISER

Latin America is now the world’s most violent region but is receiving less U.S. military and financial assistance, according to a recent report and other figures.

Latin America surpassed Africa as the region with the most murders per 100,000 people, according to the new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Several countries in the Western Hemisphere had murder rates that eclipsed 25 per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to the global average of about six.

The report said 30 percent of the homicides in the Americas could be attributed to a proliferation of organized crime and gang-related violence.

For example, Honduras had one of the world’s highest murder rates with 90.4 per 100,000 people. Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street gangs have infiltrated the country in recent years.

Some of the violence is fueled by those groups’ drug smuggling operations into the United States. ... Read More

Nicaragua looks to Russia to modernize army

| April 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

BY TIM ROGERS

The Sandinista government is turning to its old cold war arms benefactor to modernize its military and beef up its national defense capabilities.

In a speech to the Nicaraguan Army on April 4, President Daniel Ortega insisted that Nicaragua has the right to arm itself with modern weaponry, and again is looking to Russia to supply its military buildup.

Comparing today with the cold war, Ortega said Russian military support for Nicaragua is as important as ever.

“It’s just as important now to defend our right, the right that we Nicaraguans have to arm ourselves, to strengthen ourselves militarily; we have to modernize the army to provide these services,” Ortega said. “It’s just that simple.”

Since Nicaragua acquired an additional 100,000 sq km of territorial waters in the 2012 ruling by the International Court of Justice, the impoverished Central American nation has been trying desperately to beef-up its ill-equipped army to better ... Read More

BERMAN: Russia pivots toward Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua

| March 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

BY ILLAN BERMAN

With all eyes on Ukraine, where Russia’s neo-imperial efforts have raised the specter of a new Cold War between Moscow and the West, another alarming facet of the Kremlin’s contemporary foreign policy has gone largely unnoticed; namely, its growing military presence in, and strategic designs on, the Western Hemisphere.

On Feb. 26, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu formally announced his government’s plan to expand its overseas military presence. Russia, Mr. Shoigu outlined, intends to establish new military bases in eight foreign countries. The candidates include five Asian nations and three Latin American ones: Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Negotiations are underway to allow port visits to each, and to open refueling sites there for Russian long-range aircraft.

Just one day later, in a throwback to Cold War military cooperation between the Soviet Union and client state Cuba, a Russian warship docked in Havana. As of yet, neither Moscow nor Havana has issued a formal explanation as to why the Viktor Leonov, a Meridian-class intelligence vessel, ... Read More

House group demands update on US aid to Nicaragua

| March 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

A bipartisan group of House members is demanding an explanation of how the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are making efforts to promote democracy in Nicaragua.

In a letter led by senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the members said democracy “continues to be under threat in Nicaragua,” chiefly from President Daniel Ortega.

“Daniel Ortega has repeatedly violated the Nicaraguan constitution in order to stay in power and now was granted new constitutional changes seeking to abolish the two-term limit for presidents, eliminate the requirement that a candidate must receive 35 percent of the popular vote to become president, and help Ortega rule by decree,” the letter said.

It added that in 2009, Nicaragua’s Supreme Court let Ortega run for reelection and said Ortega is serving a third term despite a rule in the country’s constitution that says only two terms are allowed.

“We would like to ... Read More

Sandinistas aim to change Nicaragua’s political system

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

BY TIM ROGERS

After years of suffering a death by a thousand cuts, Nicaragua’s beleaguered constitution is about to get an extreme Sandinista makeover.

The ruling party is embarking on an aggressive campaign to overhaul the constitution in a way that will legitimize the administration’s previous oversteps, pave the way for President Daniel Ortega’s indefinite perpetuance in power, and replace Nicaragua’s representative democracy with the first lady’s version of “direct democracy.”

Sandinista lawmakers, whose supermajority status in the National Assembly absolves them from the need for serious consultation or compromise, presented the constitutional reforms this week with the goal of hurrying them into law before Christmas. If all goes according to plan, Nicaragua will have an entirely new political system at the beginning of the New Year.

“These constitutional reforms will institutionalize a model of government that has been applied in his country, in the context of a democracy that’s taking a new turn…we ... Read More

La OEA ausente en Venezuela

| March 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »
The American

La Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) se mantiene inerte en Venezuela, y la inestabilidad política, la crisis económica y la violencia del gobierno contra los manifestantes estudiantiles son hechos que están apunto de colapsar al país sudamericano. Desde hace años la OEA fue secuestrada por la petro-diplomacia de Venezuela y ha sido atada y amordazada.

El “consejo permanente”, compuesto por los embajadores de la región, tenía previsto reunirse la semana pasada para revisar los eventos en Venezuela a solicitud del presidente de Panamá, Ricardo Martinelli. La reunión fue abruptamente “pospuesta” después de que el presidente de la Republica Dominicana, Danilo Medina,  le pidiera a su representante ante la OEA, quien preside el consejo permanente, que no regresara a Washington para postergar la reunión. Medina siguió las instrucciones de Venezuela. El embajador dominicano regresó a Washington ayer y convocará al consejo con la venia del gobierno venezolano.

Los estados miembros de la OEA ... Read More

The Roots of Venezuela’s Disorder

| March 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY MARY O’GRADY

On Wednesday, as Venezuelan strongman Nicólas Maduro was promising more repression to crush relentless student protests, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Moscow plans to put military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. A few days later a Russian spy ship arrived in Havana harbor unannounced.

The usual Cold War suspects are back. More accurately, they never left. Former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is warning President Obama that Russia can make trouble in the Americas if the U.S. insists on solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, Latin America’s aging Marxists are lining up behind Mr. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez.

Russia and Cuba are finally reaping the benefits of the revolution they have long sown in Latin America. Any chance of defeating them requires setting the record straight about how Venezuela got so poor.

Venezuelan politicians sold left-wing populism like snake oil for decades before Chávez came to power in ... Read More

Maduro y sus chivos expiatorios

| February 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Universal

POR RUBÉN M. PERINA

El presidente Maduro, acorralado por la debacle económica que tiene encima y por las protestas estudiantiles no tiene otra salida que la de buscar chivos expiatorios. Así lo vemos culpando de esos hechos a la “oligarquía” o “la burguesía”, a los inescrupulosos y acaparadores industriales y comerciantes venezolanos, a los “fascistas” conspiradores y golpistas de la oposición; y en el frente externo, por supuesto, al gobierno de Estados Unidos por financiar a la oposición y las protestas, por su propensión imperialista, así como al de Colombia, Chile y Panamá por su supuesta injerencia en los asuntos internos del país. Toda una cortina de humo para ocultar la realidad.

Similares acusaciones han hecho sus aliados de rigor, los gobiernos de Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua y Ecuador. Por otro lado, algo más mesurados, organismos regionales como la Unasur, Mercosur, la Celac y el Secretario General de la OEA han expresado su ... Read More

Cuban Strategy in Venezuela

| February 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
University of Miami

BY BRIAN LATELL

Last Sunday Raul Castro set out the essence of Cuban policy toward the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela. Speaking to the Cuban labor confederation he described it as “a complex crisis,” indicating considerable alarm in Havana about how Cuba’s vital economic and security interests might be affected.

Memories of the outcomes of three earlier crises in Caribbean and Latin American countries tightly allied with Cuba must be worrying Raul and others in the leadership.

In September 1973 Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile in a savage military coup as the Marxist upheaval that he led for three years in a partnership with Fidel Castro ended. Allende’s death in the coup was a devastating blow to Cuban prestige and a significant personal loss for Castro. Allende was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a submachine gun Fidel had given him when he committed suicide in the presidential residence. Ten years later in ... Read More

Netanyahu: Iran engaged in ‘subversive activities’ in Latin America, world

| February 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Jerusalem Post-01

BY HERB KEINON

In meeting with Peruvian president, PM claims that nuclear talks have already allowed Iran to escape from sanctions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Peruvian President on Monday in Jerusalem, where the two discussed relations between Israel and Peru and spoke of recent developments with regards to the Iranian nuclear program.

Speaking about Iran’s global influence, especially in Latin America, Netanyahu accused Iran of inflammatory behavior, saying  that “Iran is engaged subversive activities around the world, including in Latin America.”

The two leaders met on the eve of nuclear talks between world powers and Iran due to re-start Tuesday in Vienna, and Netanyahu told the Peruvian president that a different policy is required than what is currently in place.

“A policy that requires Iran to stop its aggression, to stop its nuclear military program, and to become a nation among the nations, not a rogue state that arms itself with nuclear weapons.” he said.

The prime minister continued: “I think it is important ... Read More

Latin America has democracy, but lacks democrats

| February 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

BY MAURICIO CLAVER-CARONE

Latin America’s democratically elected leaders paraded through the last remaining dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere and paid homage to its totalitarian rulers.

They were in Havana for a summit last week of the Community of Latin American States (CELAC, in Spanish), an anti-U.S. concoction of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Currently the organization’s rotating presidency is held by Cuban dictator, Gen. Raul Castro.

Seemingly these elected leaders were neither interested nor concerned that Cuba’s government had threatened, beaten and arrested hundreds of the island’s democracy advocates who had tried to plan and hold a parallel summit to discuss the lack of freedom and human rights in Cuba.

In regards to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, this would seem to be particularly unfortunate. Both were once themselves victims of military dictatorships and scorned dignitaries who coddled their repressors.

So why would Latin America’s democratically elected leaders willingly participate in ... Read More

Nicaragua’s Revolution Heads Toward Dictatorship

| February 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY JAMES GIBNEY

Nicaragua’s National Assembly just approved changes to the constitution allowing President Daniel Ortega to run for a third successive term in 2016. Somewhere, Ortega’s former arch-enemy, the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza DeBayle, is having a good laugh.

Ortega has been in office since 2007 and won re-election in 2011, following an election that observers from both the European Union and the Organization of American States deemed flawed. During this most recent eight years in power (Ortega was also president in the 1980s), the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, aka the Sandinistas, has consolidated single-party dominance over the country’s legislative and judicial institutions, including its Supreme Court, whose Sandinista-friendly members helpfully ruled in 2009 that a ban on consecutive presidential terms was unconstitutional. Now Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo, a poet who also serves as the government’s spokesperson and its cabinet chief on all social issues, exercise a level of control that, as one recent ... Read More

Testimony of Douglas Farah: Terrorist Groups in Latin America: The Changing Landscape

| February 5th, 2014 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives

Testimony of Douglas Farah

President, IBI Consultants LLC

Senior Non-Resident Associate, Americas Program, CSIS

Before the House Foreign Affairs

Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade

“Terrorist Groups in Latin America: The Changing Landscape”

February 4, 2014

2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Sherman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on the FARC and lessons learned.  The U.S.-Colombia partnership is one of the most successful in recent times.

I have had the privilege of working in Colombia since 1989. I have seen the nation teeter on the edge of the abyss in the 1990s, to emerge as a regional model of democracy and economic development.

The FARC, despite the ongoing peace talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos in Cuba, remains engaged in criminal enterprises ... Read More

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega: President-for-life?

| February 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

After an earthquake devastated Managua, Nicaragua, in 1972, rightist dictator Anastasio Somoza took advantage of the crisis to declare martial law. He also set out to resell relief supplies that had been sent to the ailing country. This brazen corruption, at a time when hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans were struggling to survive, sparked broad political opposition, spurred the Sandinista Front’s armed struggle, and led to Somoza’s ouster. In recent years, Nicaraguans have witnessed the political reincarnation of Somoza in Sandinista Daniel Ortega—a new caudillo who has governed the country during four decades and is pushing to make it five.

Ortega has used fraudulent elections to win control of state institutions and to engineer changes to the Nicaraguan constitution that would allow him to seek a 3rd consecutive term in 2016. Coupled with a change he secured years ago requiring the winning candidate to win a mere 35% of the votes cast, the Sandinista caudillo seems assured of a fourth term in office. With ... Read More

CELAC: Incluyente o excluyente?

| January 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Felipe Trigos

Por Felipe Trigos

Esta semana, los jefes de Estado de treinta y tres países se reunieron en La Habana, Cuba para la cumbre de la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC). Esta organización, a diferencia de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), excluye a Estados Unidos y Canadá en lo que se supone es un esfuerzo regional para: promover la igualdad, la pluralidad y la diversidad.

La Habana se preparó para que los visitantes a la cumbre pudieran percibir una visión de “la Cuba real ” y la llamada apertura del régimen de Raúl Castro. La realidad sigue siendo sombría para la mayoría de los cubanos que viven bajo el régimen autoritario de los hermanos Castro. Yoani Sánchez, connotada disidente Cubana, expreso que “No puede ser que invitados a #CumbreCELAC se muestren indiferentes y “desinformados” ante arrestos y amenazas de la #OperacionLimpieza”. La representante permanente de los Estados Unidos ante la ... Read More

Nicaragua’s Sandinistas consolidate power further

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

BY LUIS MANUEL GALEANO

Nicaragua’s congress on Wednesday approved allowing the military chief of staff to hold his post indefinitely and letting the army take a bigger role in the economy, further concentrating power in the hands of longtime President Daniel Ortega and his allies.

Ortega helped lead the 1970s uprising against dictator Anastasio Somoza and served as president until losing an election in 1990. Since returning to the presidency in the 2006 election, he has engineered a series of legal changes allowing him to remain in power indefinitely, leading his opponents to warn of a return to dictatorship.

The vote on the military came a day after the congress controlled by Ortega’s Sandinista party altered the constitution to erase presidential term limits and eliminate a requirement for a candidate to receive at least 35 percent of the vote in order to win presidential election. Both measures are widely seen as easing Ortega’s ... Read More

CARDENAS: A corrupt deal threatens El Salvador elections

| January 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

Voters in El Salvador will go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president from two decidedly opposite ends of the political spectrum. Former guerrilla and current Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, of the hard-line wing of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), is facing off against San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano of the pro-U.S. opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party.

As if the stakes were not high enough already — for the Salvadoran people and for U.S. interests in the region — the election is being complicated by the unhelpful role of a third-party candidate, Antonio Saca, the former president of the country who served under the ARENA banner from 2004 to 2009.

Once a favorite of the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Saca was subsequently expelled from ARENA in 2009 for his conspicuous corruption while in office. Today, many in El Salvador think he is running again ... Read More

Nicaragua: Ortega allowed to run for third successive term

| January 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

The Nicaraguan National Assembly has approved changes to the constitution that would allow President Daniel Ortega to run for a third successive term in 2016.

The bill scraps limits to the number of terms Nicaraguan presidents can serve.

The opposition says the changes are a threat to democracy in the impoverished Central American nation.

Mr Ortega’s Sandinista Party argues that Nicaragua needs long-term stability to deal with its problems.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the region. Its main export is being threatened by coffee rust, a fungus affecting plantations across Central America.

“This constitution is not the solution for our problems – poverty or coffee rust – but it allows us to move forward,” said the Sandinista leader at the assembly, Edwin Castro.

The constitutional changes were approved by 64 votes to 25. One independent lawmaker and 63 Sandinistas voted in favour; only three members of the assembly missed the vote.

The National ... Read More

Hernandez Takes Honduras Presidency Vowing Drug War Fight

| January 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY ISABELLA COTA

Honduran President-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez takes office today with a fragmented Congress after vowing to rely more on the military to help stem the highest homicide rate in the world.

Hernandez, 45, will oversee an $18.4 billion economy that has struggled under violence fueled by drug gangs with ties to Mexican cartels and an agricultural virus that cut coffee output in Central America’s biggest producer. The economy will expand 2.8 percent this year, up from a four-year low of 2.6 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Hernandez defeated Xiomara Castro, wife of deposed former President Manuel Zelaya, to win the Nov. 24 vote. Yet with his National Party holding just 47 seats in the 128-member Congress, down from 71 under outgoing President Porfirio Lobo, Hernandez will have to build alliances to rein in a widening deficit, fight crime and boost growth. Castro’s Libre Party has 39 seats, while the Liberal Party holds 26.

“It’s clear that ... Read More

The Future of the Bolivarian Revolution in the Post-Chávez Era

| January 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
University of Miami

BY DOUGLAS FARAH

Throughout his years in power, but particularly beginning in 2004, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez spent a significant amount of political and economic capital creating a structure to carry out his dream of establishing a regional alliance of countries espousing his “Socialism for the 21st Century” doctrine and enmity toward the United States.

Grouped under the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and including Iran as an observer, the alliance was largely sustained by Chávez’s vision and Venezuela’s largess in the form of petroleum and petroleum products at steeply discounted prices, as well as other economic benefits for member nations. In return, Chávez received international solidarity and a platform for launching a new regional defense doctrine in which the United States was identified as the primary external threat.[1]

A key question in the post-Chávez era is what will become of the Bolivarian edifice now under construction and whether ... Read More

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