Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

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

Cleaning up Latin American democracy

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the multitudinous demonstration against Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, in São Paulo on March 15th, a lunatic fringe chanted for a return to military rule. That was sad more than worrying. The rightists were shouted down. Their isolation served to underline how routine democracy has become in many Latin American countries in the third of a century or so since the generals returned to barracks.

That outcome was not inevitable. Compared with Europe or North America, democracy in Latin America must struggle against big obstacles, including poverty, gaping income inequality and corruption. Another is poor institutional design. Latin America combines directly elected presidents, as in the United States, with multiparty legislatures chosen by proportional representation, in the manner of many European parliamentary systems. The result has often been gridlock: weak governments have lacked majorities in legislatures unthreatened by dissolution, which induces consensus in parliamentary regimes.

These ... Read More

AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

By Linette Lopez

From 2007 to at least 2010, there was a flight from Caracas, Venezuela to Tehran, Iran that made a stop in Damascus, Syria.

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly called it ‘Aeroterror.’ Only government officials with a special clearance were permitted to fly on it, and there were often very few passengers.

Instead, according to US government testimony and a report by Brazilian paper Veja, the plane was laden with drugs, weapons, and cash.

Since the mysterious death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman in January, Iran’s presence in South America has come into focus. Nisman died the day before he planned to testify that the Argentine government had covered up Iran’s involvement in a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack. He had spent about a decade investigating Iran and Hezbollah’s growing presence in the Western hemisphere.

High-level Venezuelan defectors then started talking to Veja journalist Leonardo ... Read More

The left must speak out about the horror in Venezuela

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
New Statesman

Venezuela is a mess. Inflation is running at 70 per cent or higher and in the capital Caracas citizens have to stand in queues for hours just to pick up the basics from increasingly empty shops. This comes on the back of a decade-long oil boom in which Venezuela earned over $800 billion in oil revenues. Accusing the government of profligacy somehow doesn’t cut it.

But Venezuela isn’t just a crumbling mess teetering on the brink of economic and social collapse. It also happens to be a country in which many western leftists have over the past decade invested their hopes for a better future.

The governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro certainly have achievements to their name. Between 1998 and 2012 there was a reduction in the poverty rate from 50 per cent to approximately 30 per cent. The closeness of the Venezuelan government’s ties to Cuba, and the ... Read More

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

The Maduro Smokescreen

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
The London Economic

By Max Bluer

The sweeping presidential powers, the detention of political opponents, even the troop mobilisations are empty gestures. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela’s main goal is now to distract his people, and the world, from his country’s problems.  

Highly dangerous. A power grab. A smokescreen. The response from internal opponents and the international community to the Venezuelan Congress’ decision to grant President Nicolás Maduro new decree powers has been overwhelmingly critical. The law, which in its preamble specifies its objective as ‘protecting national sovereignty from foreign interventions’, allows the executive to bypass Congress in areas of ‘freedom, equality, justice and international peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national self-determination’.

The vague wording of the new legislation – freedom, equality and independence are terms that can mean just about anything – has scared many both within and outside Venezuela. The fear is that Maduro will go beyond the law’s ... Read More

Venezuela: Lack of justice for protest abuses gives green light to more violence

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Amnesty International

Venezuela’s failure to effectively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people and the injury and torture of hundreds during protests in 2014, is effectively giving a green light to more abuses and violence, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

The faces of impunity: A year after the protests, victims still await justice examines the stories of those who died or were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in detention during and after the protests that rocked the country between February and July 2014. Amongst the dead and injured were protesters, passers-by and members of the security forces. Some are still behind bars pending trial.

“Every day that passes without addressing the catalogue of human rights abuses that took place during the protests is another day of heart-breaking injustice for the victims and their families. This must stop.”

During the protests 3,351 people were detained, ... Read More

Iran and Argentina: The Defectors’ Tale

| March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Did Hugo Chávez act as a bagman for Iran in its effort to get nuclear technology from Argentina? That’s the claim made by three former members of the Venezuelan dictatorship’s inner circle cited anonymously in a March 14 story in the Brazilian magazine Veja.

The magazine says it didn’t name the defectors, interviewed in Washington, to protect their family members back in Venezuela. But it reported that they were questioned separately and each said there was a deal in January 2007 between Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas. Venezuela would deliver Iranian money to Argentine officials in exchange for two favors for Tehran.

The first favor they described, according to Veja, was that Argentina would cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center (known by its Spanish initials as AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The second favor was that Argentina would “share their long experience in [a] ... Read More

Venezuela’s military exercises put spotlight on its MANPADS missiles

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

When Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered a 10-day military exercise over the weekend, soldiers and civilian loyalists deployed countrywide in a show of strength. Since then, the exercise has showcased the force’s inventory of jets, armored trucks and other weaponry. It has also made a conspicuous display of something else in Venezuela’s arsenal: shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

According to U.N. arms control data, Venezuela has imported at least 1,800 of the anti-aircraft weapons since 2008, when Hugo Chavez, then the country’s fiery anti-American leader, crowed that the missiles could “deter whatever aerial aggression against our country.”

In the intervening years, the spread of the missiles, known as MANPADS – short for Man Portable Air Defense Systems – has become a subject of increasing concern in the Middle East and North Africa, with claims that the Islamic State and other Islamist militants have acquired the weapons. Those fears have largely overshadowed scrutiny of the ... Read More

Opinion: Obama’s policy toward Venezuela – The sanctions and the real threats

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Leopoldo Martínez Nucete

The burning issue of the moment in Venezuela is the set of sanctions announced by the government of the United States against seven senior officials from the President Nicolás Maduro administration who have been accused of human rights violations. This has given rise to a week of inflamed nationalist rhetoric, calls for military manoeuvres and screaming denunciations of supposed plans of invasion and other violations of sovereignty.

This week Maduro wrote an Open Letter to the People of the United States in the New York Times, in which he calls for action demanding: 1) The U.S. government immediately cease hostile actions against Venezuelan people and democracy; 2) President Obama abolish the Executive Order that declares Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security, as has been requested by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); and, 3) the U.S. Government retract its libelous and defamatory statements ... Read More

Questions over US-Cuba talks amid Venezuela dispute

| March 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

By PETER ORSI and ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) — It has been a strange few days for U.S.-Cuba relations that are meant to be on the mend.

First, the two sides emerged from surprise talks in Havana on Monday with nothing to say about progress toward reopening embassies after more than a half-century hiatus. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson returned to Washington as quietly as she arrived.

Cuban President Raul Castro, meanwhile, jetted off to a summit of leftist leaders in Venezuela on Tuesday to lambast U.S. policy toward Venezuela, his island’s top ally. The U.S. recently declared the South American nation a threat to its national security and levied sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.

The whole thing had some observers scratching their heads, wondering whether there is now an obstacle blocking the road to detente.

The two countries announced their intent to ... Read More

Communiqué from the Venezuelan Student Movement

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Movimiento_Estudiantil

Dear representatives of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR),

The Venezuelan Student Movement takes this opportunity to address the UNASUR and express our rejection to the resolutions issued on Saturday March 14 by this organization regarding the sanctions implemented by the United States against officials from the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the classification of our nation as a threat to the national security of the United States.

These biased resolutions make us question the assumption that UNASUR is a privileged mechanism for dialogue. In the resolutions the systematic violations of our rights are not recognized, which include repression, persecution, imprisonment and unfortunately the loss of 44 lives so far, adding to the latter the death of the student Kluiberth Roa, who was murdered by state security forces protected by Decree 8610. Isn’t this precisely the sort of political persecution that UNASUR should condemn? Isn’t the mission ... Read More

Venezuela: Comunicado del Movimiento Estudiantil

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Movimiento_Estudiantil

Estimados Representantes de los Estados Miembros de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR),

En esta oportunidad el Movimiento Estudiantil venezolano vuelve a dirigirse a ustedes para pronunciarse en rechazo a las resoluciones emitidas el sábado 14 de marzo del presente año, respecto a las sanciones aplicadas por los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica contra funcionarios pertenecientes al gobierno de Nicolás Maduro Moros, así como el señalamiento de esa misma decisión de colocar a nuestra nación como un riesgo para la seguridad interna de Estados Unidos.

Estas resoluciones, parcializadas con un solo factor de la realidad venezolana, cuestionan seriamente el postulado de que UNASUR es un mecanismo privilegiado para el diálogo. En las resoluciones no se reconocen las violaciones sistemáticas a nuestros derechos, a través de la represión, persecución, encarcelamiento y desgraciadamente la pérdida de 44 vidas, hasta la fecha, sumando el último caso del joven bachiller Kluiberth Roa, asesinado por fuerzas de seguridad ... Read More

New photos reveal expanding reach of Iran in Venezuela and other parts of Latin America

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Catherine Herridge

As the Obama administration seeks a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, new congressional testimony, documents and photos show Tehran is expanding its reach into South America by advising rogue regimes on suppressing anti-government protests and financing secretive military facilities.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, cited this evidence when questioning the notion that Iran has changed its ways as President Barack Obama and his team advance negotiations which may include dropping Iran from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

“We have a negotiation going on with Iran,” Duncan told Fox News. “We don’t want anything to interfere with that.”

“And so we’re going to say their influence in this hemisphere is waning,”  Duncan said, referring to the administration’s argument. “The narrative doesn’t work when you start looking at all the pieces of the puzzle that fit together of Iran’s ... Read More

Rubio, others push more White House action on Venezuela

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
McClatchy

By Chris Adams

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan panel of the U.S. Senate applauded a recent move by the White House to sanction the Venezuelans cracking down on protesters in that country, but they said much more could be done.

Members of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a Tuesday hearing that the action last week to apply sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials – including the heads of military intelligence and the police – was promising. Still, they urged more names be added to the sanctions list, and said the U.S. should do a better job explaining to Latin American countries why the move was necessary.

The executive order freezes the assets of officials implicated in the crack-down on protests last year that left more than 40 people dead on both sides and sparked the jailing of prominent opposition figures.

Led by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Democrats Barbara Boxer ... Read More

Obama’s Wake-Up Call to Venezuela’s Neighbors

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

The White House’s executive order on Monday authorizing sanctions on Venezuelan officials names only seven people. Its real target may be Venezuela’s neighbors, whose tacit acceptance of the Bolivarian Republic’s bad behavior undermines U.S. efforts to change it.

No one can accuse the U.S. of acting hastily. Even as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cracked down on anti-government protesters and opposition members last year, U.S. President Barack Obama let other Latin American nations take the lead in trying to ease tensions, with nugatory results. Only in July, as Congress considered sanctions legislation, did the State Department restrict travel to the U.S. by Venezuelan officials it deemed complicit in human-rights abuses. In February, it expanded that list to 56. Monday’s executive order comes three months after Congress passed a law calling for sanctions, and goes beyond it by also taking aim at those involved in corruption.

Predictably, Maduro has responded to escalating U.S. pressure by blaming it for ... Read More

The Teheran-Caracas-Buenos Aires Connection

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
By Rodrigo Rangel VEJA Brazil

By Leonardo Coutinho

Argentinians have been wondering for the last two months what happened on January 18, the day in which federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in Buenos Aires. Only four days previously, he had presented the justice ministry with an indictment against president Cristina Kirchner and another four people he accused of covering up Iran´s participation in the terrorist attack which resulted in 85 deaths and 300 wounded in the headquarters of the Israeli Argentina Mutual Association (Amia) in 1994. Nisman explained in his document that, besides the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow Iran to interfere in the investigation of the case, the Islamic Republic wanted the Argentinians to remove the names of five Iranians and one Lebanese from the list of people wanted by Interpol. The Argentinian government went out of its way to disparage his ... Read More

Why Venezuela is the world’s worst performing economy, in three charts

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Quartz

By Jason Karaian

There is a roaring trade in Venezuelan goods along the country’s border with Colombia. That is in stark contrast to the general malaise of the economy in the rest of the country.

By many measures, Venezuela’s economy is the most sickly in the world. From the value of its currency (sinking), to its inflation (scorching) and GDP (shrinking), Venezuela ranks at or near the bottom of just about every important financial indicator out there, performing worse even than Argentina, Greece, or Ukraine.

The battered bolívar

The most striking sign of the country’s financial crisis is its rapidly weakening currency, which has lost more than 60% of its value against the dollar on the black market over the past six months. This is not immediately apparent in official figures. Venezuela’s convoluted three-tier exchange system suggests that the bolívar is much stronger than this, thanks ... Read More

Kicking it with Hezbollah

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Center for Security Policy

By Sebastian De Luca

In the coming weeks, Tareck el Aissami will make his professional debut for Aragua FC, a Venezuelan soccer team located roughly sixty miles southwest of the capital city of Caracas.

At 40 years old, it is hard to believe that any individual would be making a professional sports debut; however, thus is the case of this one part Chavista, one part Hezbollah operative, and current Governor of the state of Aragua.

Tareck el Aissami was born in Venezuela to Syrian-Lebanese parents. While attending the Universidad de los Andes, Tareck studied criminology and law, graduating magna cum laude for his class.

El Aissami was very active in the school community, serving as President of the student body, a position that gave him control over the student dormitory operations. Thus begins Tareck el Aissami’s journey from star student to Hezbollah agent.

It has been reported that under Tareck’s supervision, the student dorms turned into ... Read More

Venezuela’s chickens come home to roost as falling oil prices expose socialist country’s economic weakness

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Post-01

BY MATTHEW FISHER

Standing at the tail end of a long lineup to buy a few kilograms of sugar, the 66-year-old pensioner shouted Venezuelans had once been slaves to Spain but were now slaves to the Venezuelans who governed them.

“Our rulers have been mugging us,” he said. “They hide food and medicine from us. Armed groups won’t let us be in the streets after 6 p.m. It is horrifying what we live through in this country.”

Mr. Hernandez was giving voice to what millions of Venezuelans think as they wait for hours to buy meagre amounts of staples such as toilet paper, corn flour and cooking oil. Runaway inflation has driven the price of other products beyond the means of many.

The grave economic problems that have confronted Russia and Iran since global oil prices were sliced in half over the past year have received a lot of international attention. Far less has ... Read More

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