Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

The Cost of Corruption in Latin America

| May 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Mac Margolis

Guatemalans are steaming. Crowds of them have poured into the streets this month —  some 60,000 on May 16 alone  – to protest  corruption and demand the ouster of President Otto Perez Molina.

Triggered by the scandal over a giant scheme of import tax fraud, the widening crisis already has toppled the nation’s vice president, the energy minister, the Central Bank governor and interior minister.

Social upheaval has a deep history in Guatemala, where Marxist-inspired guerrillas battled security forces from 1960 to 1996, leaving 200,000 dead.

What’s new, and encouraging, is the popular revolt against resurgent corruption, which has reignited partisan feuds and sapped confidence in the country’s still-wobbly democratic institutions at a time when this nation of more than 14.6 million may need them most.

Latin America is no stranger to bureaucrats on the take. The region traditionally merits dismal ratings on Transparency International’s annual corruption perception ... 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

Nicaragua expels human rights activists

| May 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Tico Times

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua on Friday expelled two human rights activists allegedly without justification as they tried to enter the country, according to the human rights organizations involved, which demanded an explanation.

Peruvian Luis Carlos Bour and Spanish citizen Marta González were denied entry into the country at Augusto César Sandino International Airport by immigration officials who demanded that they return to the plane, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), in Managua.

The Immigration Office’s spokeswoman, Magda Pineda, said that she would find out what had happened but did not initially offer an official version of the incidents.

Boub and González, who were forced to travel to Costa Rica, are members of the nongovernmental Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), an international human rights organization.

“It was a deportation. Boub was assaulted by immigration officials and they threatened to handcuff him, took his ... 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

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

As Venezuela struggles, Nicaragua feels a chill

| May 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

MATAGALPA, NICARAGUA — Laura Estela Leclair has been serving ice cream for 35 years at Chupi’s, the shop she owns and the first sorbeteria in this northern mountain city. Behind its three chrome tables glow the fluorescent lights of several glass-topped freezers.

“We used to have eight tables,” Ms. Leclair says. “Because electricity was so expensive we couldn’t continue.”

She started renting out space to a mobile phone business, but even sharing utility bills and investing in smaller freezers hasn’t substantially dented her high electricity fees, which amount to about $225 a month.

About half of Nicaragua’s electricity is fueled by oil from Venezuela, which for many years has been highly subsidized. In return, Venezuela gained political influence. But as oil prices plunged globally last year, the negligible interest rates that Venezuela charged Nicaragua went up.

What that means is that even as ... 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

Chávez condonó secretamente millonaria deuda de Nicaragua con Venezuela

| May 11th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Por Antonio Maria Delgado

Según documentos internos obtenidos por el Nuevo Herald, Chávez ordenó al Fondo Nacional para el Desarrollo Nacional (FONDEN) que realizara el pago de la deuda contraída por el país centroamericano ante el Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES).

Los documentos, obtenidos a través de integrantes del equipo del FONDEN encargado de la auditoria interna, también documentan una serie de curiosos desembolsos a organizaciones africanas vinculadas al fallecido dictador libio Muamar Gadafi, operaciones el personal también consideraba violatoria de los estatus del organismo.

Aun cuando el fondo era administrado por Chávez sin que sus gigantescos desembolsos fuesen supervisados por la Asamblea Nacional, las actas de constitución del FONDEN limitan el uso de sus recursos a proyectos para el desarrollo económico y social de Venezuela.

El FONDEN, alimentado por los excedentes de la renta petrolera cuando los precios del barril superan los calculados en el presupuesto nacional, administró más ... 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

Nicaragua Lawmakers OK Russian Satellite Ground Station

| April 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua’s parliament on Wednesday authorized the establishment of a Russian satellite ground station in the Central American nation.

Officials say the base will permit the operation of a system similar to GPS for peaceful uses, such as mitigating natural disasters.

Opposition legislators object that the measure, which originated as an urgent presidential decree sent to parliament this week, was fast-tracked through without proper time for study.

The lawmaking body is dominated by President Daniel Ortega’s ruling party.

Nicaragua and Russia signed an agreement in 2012 to cooperate on space exploration and activity including ground installations for GLONASS, a satellite navigation system designed to be an equivalent of the United States’ GPS.

Cooperation between Managua and Moscow has increased over the last decade with the ... 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

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