Content from IASW Contributors

Washington should not forget Venezuela

BY ROGER NORIEGA & JOSÉ R. CÁRDENAS

Russia’s annexation of Crimea is an egregious violation of international norms that demands a concerted international reaction. However, as foreign policy pundits settle into their Eurocentric comfort zone, Washington must not neglect its important strategic interests elsewhere in an increasingly interconnected world

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La MS-13 brinda apoyo secreto al partido de gobierno en El Salvador

Roger NoriegaLa ultra violenta Mara Salvatrucha, conocida como MS-13 – cuyos 10,000 miembros siembran el caos en decenas de ciudades de Estados Unidos – ha estado apoyando secretamente al partido gobernante de El Salvador desde hace varios años de acuerdo a evidencia que ha surgido en las últimas semanas.

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What Should Investors Know About Political Risk And Violence In Venezuela?

| March 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

From March 10, 2014

Over the last few weeks, protesters have stormed through streets in Caracas Venezuela, and reports have surfaced of pro-government thugs on motorcycles assassinating dissidents. During a nationally televised speech, Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicholas Maduro, warned that the violent protests could take on a life of their own. “I don’t say this as a joke … it’s very dangerous. Anyone could take over who has violent plans, and that would be worse,” hesaid. The disturbances in the streets, however, are a short-term speed-bump in comparison to the mountain of longstanding economic imbalances Venezuela must now try to overcome. As of January 2014 Venezuela has the most expensive Big Mac in Latin America, according to The Economist’s Big Mac Index, an indicator of currency over-valuation. As Venezuela’s government struggles to both maintain currency controls and gain access to dollars to pay for imports, reports have surfaced that Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Bank of ... Read More

Venezuela Burns, Body Count Rises

| March 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Daily Beast

Venezuela’s political crisis is entering its second month. Scores have died in the violence, with many more detained, wounded, and, some say, even tortured. Yet the crisis on the streets is not the only one shaking the South American nation.

On the political front, there is little to no chance of constructive dialogue between the two equally determined factions. This dearth of constructive politics can be directly traced to the late Hugo Chávez, and to the venomous rhetoric employed by his heirs.

Crises heighten the need for dialogue, but at the same time they also make it less likely. When passions are enflamed, people will be less willing to sit down and negotiate with someone they view as an aggressor.

Take, for example, last fall’s government shutdown in the US. Just when it was reaching its apex, the New York Times editorial board said “[t]he two sides will eventually have to reach a reckoning on long-term economic issues, ... Read More

El Salvador’s election: an extraordinary result

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

FINAL results were released early this morning for El Salvador’s March 9th presidential election. They confirm that Salvador Sánchez Ceren of the ruling left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) won the narrowest of victories over Norman Quijano of the right-wing National Republican Alliance (Arena), with 50.11% to 49.89%. That’s a difference of just 6,364 votes, in an election with about 3m ballots cast.

Such a microscopic margin was always likely to be troublesome. Tensions, however, have been exacerbated by the seething mistrust that lingers between both parties 22 years after the end of the civil war in 1992.

That loathing is still palpable. It rings out loud and clear in ARENA’s anthem, sung at party gatherings with much pumping of fists. “El Salvador will be the tomb where the Reds end up.” The ruling FMLN is just as partisan, if not quite so chillingly. In the run-up to the election, Mauricio ... Read More

Head of Southern Command says he lacks resources to fight drug trafficking

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Ernesto Londoño

Dwindling defense budgets have been a boon to drug trafficking networks in Latin America as U.S. intelligence and interdiction assets in the Caribbean have been pared down, the top American commander responsible for the region said Thursday.

“Because of asset shortfalls, we’re unable to get after 74 percent of suspected maritime drug smuggling,” Marine Gen. John F. Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing about threats and military posture in the Western Hemisphere. “I simply sit and watch it go by.”

Kelly said that, because of tightening defense budgets, he does not anticipate getting additional assets for intelligence gathering and surveillance, even as some currently in use in Afghanistan are shipped home. Meanwhile, he warned, China, Russia and Iran have made a concerted effort in recent years to bolster their presence and influence in Latin America.

Kelly, who heads the Miami-based Southern Command, has been making a strikingly candid argument that the United ... Read More

John Kerry says Venezuela ‘terror campaign’ must end

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the government of Venezuela must end its “terror campaign against its own citizens”.

Mr Kerry said the Organisation of American States (OAS), allies and neighbours should demand accountability of Venezuela over the protests.

Authorities say 28 people have died since they began more than a month ago.

Venezuela accuses the United States of helping “right-wing fascists” to plot a coup with the unrest.

Mr Kerry’s remarks are the starkest from Washington since the protests began.

Engagement

“We are trying to find a way to get the [President Nicolas] Maduro government to engage with their citizens, to treat them respectfully, to end this terror campaign against his own people and to begin to, hopefully, respect human rights in an appropriate way”, Mr Kerry told a committee in the US Congress.

American legislators have been debating whether or not to impose sanctions on the oil-rich nation.

President Maduro said his week ... Read More

The crisis in Venezuela: Another day, more bodies

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

THICK clouds of teargas hung in the air over the north gate of the Central University (UCV) in Caracas on March 12th. A police helicopter clattered overhead; on campus, plain-clothes gunmen on motorcycles, some bearing the initials of the national guard, harassed student demonstrators.

A month after the government crack-down on protesters began, Venezuela’s crisis is deepening. This was the bloodiest single day since three people were killed in Caracas on March 12th. Eighteen injuries were reported at the UCV, after a previously peaceful student march to demand the resignation of the Venezuelan government ombudsman was halted on the orders of President Nicolás Maduro.

But it was the city of Valencia, 125km west of the capital, that bore the brunt of the violence. Three people were shot dead there, including a national-guard officer and two civilians. The government blamed “snipers”; opposition sources insist the only people seen shooting belonged to the pro-government colectivos some ... Read More

‘No quiero entrar en controversia con la ultraderecha’: Santos

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

POR MARÍA ISABEL RUEDA

En entrevista con María Isabel Rueda, Santos dice que no quiere entrar en controversia con Uribe.

¿Qué es más difícil: ser primíparo o repetir?

Ser primíparo. El aprendizaje es muy duro. Y como alguna vez me dijo Tony Blair, se da uno cuenta, casi al final del primer período, que no todo lo que uno pidió que se hiciera se hizo.

¿Y eso no es muy frustrante?

Precisamente para que eso no se repita hay que ir por el segundo gobierno.

Usted ha dicho que aspira a gobernar con todos: liberales, conservadores, verdes… ¿Pero es posible gobernar con todos, haciendo felices a todos, todo el tiempo?

No. Pero como decía Rafael Reyes, en muchos momentos la patria está por encima de los partidos. Por ejemplo: ¡cómo me gustaría que en el tema de la paz eso fuera cierto! Infortunadamente no lo es.

Pero hoy no veo a ningún candidato proponiendo que si gana, va a ... Read More

Soaring Prices Fuel Frustrations Among Weary Argentines

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY JONATHAN GILBERT

Diego Gómez scurried around the food market, a labyrinth of bustling stalls in a gritty neighborhood far from the elegant avenues of central Buenos Aires. He did not stay long.

“My salary isn’t enough for anything,” said Mr. Gómez, 58, a blacksmith and father of four who earns less than $800 a month. After a few modest purchases, he left the market and headed home.

“It’s unfair that we suffer,” he added, referring to the increase in prices that followed a 19 percent devaluation in January of Argentina’s currency, the peso, which sent shock waves through emerging markets.

Mr. Gómez’s situation is common in Argentina as residents grapple with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, tilling the ground for social unrest, including a strike by schoolteachers and police sit-ins that led to widespread looting.

“Society ... Read More

Mexico charges vigilante leader with murder

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

One of the main leaders of the civilian armed movement that formed to drive a drug cartel out of Mexico’s Michoacan state was charged Thursday with the murder of two members of a rival vigilante group.

State prosecutor Jose Martin Godoy said investigators had found enough evidence to link Hipolito Mora to the killings of two men whose bodies were discovered in the back of a burned pickup truck over the weekend.

The “self-defense” groups had a falling out and fractured into two factions in the town of La Ruana when Mora had a dispute over leadership with Luis Antonio Torres Gonzalez, another vigilante leader known by the nicknames of “El Simon” or “El Americano” because he grew up in the U.S.

The two dead men were allies of Torres Gonzalez. Prosecutors said witnesses testified that Mora had threatened to kill one of the men for opposing the way Mora wanted to collect ... Read More

Senador Menéndez presenta la Ley para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos y Sociedad Civil en Venezuela

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
US Senate

Comité del Senado de Estados Unidos para Relaciones Exteriores

WASHINGTON , DC

PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA:

13 de marzo 2014

Presidente Menéndez presenta la Ley para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos y Sociedad Civil en Venezuela

Legislación fortalece a la sociedad civil venezolana , pide sanciones enfocadas en respuesta a violaciones graves de los Derechos Humanos y de las Libertades Fundamentales

Washington, DC – El presidente del comité, Robert Menéndez (D -NJ ), se unió a los senadores Marco Rubio (R -FL ) y Bill Nelson (D -FL ) para impulsar la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Venezuela y la Ley de la Sociedad Civil de 2014.

Esta legislación bipartidista autoriza $15 millones en nuevos fondos en el presupuesto del año fiscal 2015 para defender los derechos humanos, el apoyo a las organizaciones democráticas de la sociedad civil , ayudar a los medios de comunicación independientes y fortalecer el buen gobierno y el imperio de la ... Read More

House Resolution to Support Democracy in Venezuela and Hold Accountable Maduro Regime Officials Responsible For Human Rights Violations

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives

H. R.

To seek international sanctions against the Government of Venezuela with respect to foreign persons responsible for or complicit in ordering, con- trolling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against citizens of Venezuela, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN (for herself, Mr. DIAZ-BALART, Mr. SIRES, Mr. SALMON, Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Mr. DESANTIS, Mr. DEUTCH, Mr. GARCIA, Mr. BILIRAKIS, and Ms. FRANKEL of Florida) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on _______________

A BILL

To seek international sanctions against the Government of Venezuela with respect to foreign persons responsible for or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against citizens of Venezuela, and for other purposes.

113TH CONGRESS 2D SESSION

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as ... Read More

Chairman Menendez Introduces the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
US Senate

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 13, 2014

 

Legislation Strengthens Venezuelan Civil Society, Calls for Targeted Sanctions in Response to Grave Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

 

Washington, DC – Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 today.

This bipartisan legislation authorizes $15 million in new funding in the FY2015 budget to defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, assist independent media, and strengthen good governance and the rule of law in the face of the massive violence and repression being carried out by President Maduro against peaceful protesters.

It also requires President Obama to impose sanctions on persons that have been involved in serious human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators and others in Venezuela or that have directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person due to their legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly.

Yesterday, the ... Read More

Southern Command: Venezuela on the brink of a catastrophe

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

(TRANSLATION BY IASW)

BY LUIS ALONSO LUGO

WASHINGTON – The Commander of the United States Southern Command, General John Kelly, testified Thursday that it is necessary that Venezuelans resolve the internal conflict before it gets out of control and violence escalates.

“It’s a situation that obviously is falling apart in front of us,” Kelly said during in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Unless there is some kind of miracle in which the opposition or Maduro’s government pull back, this will turn into a catastrophe in terms of the economy and democracy.”

To a question from Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Kelly expressed his hope that “somehow Venezuelans resolve this themselves, without [the situation] spiraling out of control with much more violence.”

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked if Southern Command may limit the possible Iranian and Cuban assistance to Caracas to “use cyber tools against Venezuelan citizens,” but Kelly did not answer the question ... Read More

Comando sur: Venezuela al borde de una catástrofe

| March 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
El Nuevo Herald

 POR LUIS ALONSO LUGO

WASHINGTON – El Jefe del comando sur de Estados Unidos, general John Kelly, afirmó el jueves que es necesario que los venezolanos resuelvan el conflicto interno antes de que se salga de control y aumente la violencia.

“Es una situación que obviamente se está cayendo a pedazos frente a nosotros”, dijo Kelly durante una comparecencia ante la comisión del Senado para asuntos militares. “A menos que haya algún tipo de milagro en el que la oposición o el gobierno de Maduro se replieguen, ellas irán a una catástrofe en términos económicos y de democracia”.

Ante una pregunta del senador demócrata por Indiana Joe Donnelly, Kelly expresó su esperanza de que “los venezolanos de alguna manera resuelvan esto ellos mismos, sin que (la situación) se salga realmente de control con mucha más violencia”.

El senador republicano por Texas Ted Cruz preguntó si el Comando Sur puede limitar la posible asistencia de Irán ... Read More

How Students Lay Siege To One Town In Venezuela — And Inspired Protesters Across The Country

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
From BuzzFeed

BY GRISH GUPTA

Teenagers strut around the state capital San Cristóbal, burning barricades on every street corner, wielding rocks and petrol bombs. They’ve been here on the streets now for more than a month. San Cristobal is a city under siege — by its own residents.

“We forced this city into collapse,” said Omar Martínez, a 28-year-old lawyer standing next to a burnt-out World War Two-era Greyhound armored car, once a monument to an “unknown soldier,” celebrating the state’s National Guard, now a destroyed focal point for the protesters. “Then came the repression, with rubber bullets and human rights violations. But us gochos are strong,” he said, using the once disparaging term used to describe people of this western region of Venezuela, a term they now wear with a badge of pride. “They can kill one of us but the rest will continue.”

San Cristobal, nestled in the Andes mountains, is where the ... Read More

To survive, Maduro must dismantle the Chavismo model

| March 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Miami Herald

By Antonio Maria Delgado

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, pressured by the most radical wing of Chavismo, has been forced to maintain a formula of totalitarian control that only accelerates his own collapse, analysts said. The aspirations of deepening the “Bolivarian Revolution” have led Maduro to a dead end. He is trapped between the clash of forces in Venezuela and he must make a 180-degree turn to be able to stay in power, the experts said.

This would be a step that Maduro could be considering to escape the political labyrinth he is in, the analysis said.

“I believe he began to realize that Venezuela is not Cuba and that the country cannot isolate itself from the world simply by shutting down the media,” said political analyst Orlando Viera. “Maduro might have already understood this.”

Still, the most important question is whether Maduro would be willing to produce a change that would dismantle the “21st century ... Read More

El Salvador Ratifies Sanchez Ceren Election Victory

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Eric Sabo

El Salvador’s election tribunal ratified Salvador Sanchez Ceren’s victory in the nation’s presidential election, rejecting opposition calls for a recount on allegations of fraud.

In the final tally, Vice President Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front defeated Norman Quijano, 67, of the Arena party by 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, according to results from the March 9 election released today by the tribunal. The final count put the margin of victory at 6,364 votes out of 3 million ballots cast, compared with 6,634 in the first tally, according to the tribunal’s website. Quijano has alleged the election was marred by fraud.

El Salvador’s dollar bonds plunged the most in emerging markets after Sanchez Ceren, a 69-year-old former rebel commander who vowed closer ties with Venezuela’s socialist government, narrowly missed a first-round victory, winning about 49 percent of the vote held Feb. 2.

The yield on bonds due in 2025 fell six basis ... Read More

Will Peru start shooting down suspected drug planes (again)?

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

Peruvian police officers recently pulled off a major drug bust, seizing 325 kilograms (715 pounds) of cocaine ready for shipment out of the central jungle.

The Mar. 7 operation was significant, representing nearly one-third of the cocaine seized so far this year in Peru. But authorities were even more pleased with the capture of a small plane for smuggling the drugs to neighboring Bolivia and, from there, to parts unknown.

In the 1980s and 1990s, cocaine-ferrying planes dotted Peru’s skies. Now they’re back: the US State Department says small planes are now the “primary method of transporting cocaine” out of the country, replacing sea transport. In its annual report on narcotics released earlier this month, the State Department estimated that upward of 180 metric tons were exported this way in 2013.

But how to stop these flights is a vexed issue. A significant number of countries in Latin America, most recently Venezuela in late 2013 and Honduras in ... Read More

Protests rage in Venezuela, one month on

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

By Catherine E. Shoichet

It’s been a month since violent clashes between opposition demonstrators and government forces in Venezuela first grabbed global attention.

Protests rage on, and demonstrators show no sign of backing down.

Medical sources at a hospital in Venezuela’s Carabobo state said a student protester and a 42-year-old man were killed in clashes there Wednesday. State media accused violent right-wing groups of attacking a worker’s march there. In a Twitter post, state Gov. Francisco Ameliach said a national guard captain had been killed in fighting, which he described as “terrorism.”

A government tally released Tuesday said at least 23 people had been killed nationwide and more than 200 others have been injured since protests started. The tally did not specify whether the casualties occurred among demonstrators or government forces, or both.

Student protesters on both sides packed streets in Caracas Wednesday.

State-run VTV showed pro-government demonstrators waving flags with the face of former President Hugo Chavez as they ... Read More

The Troubled Oil Company

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

 BY SIMON ROMERO (From April 20, 2005)

Ever since Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, the American executives at Citgo Petroleum, the large refiner and gasoline marketer that is owned by Petróleos de Venezuela and based here, have worried about their future under the mercurial leader.

Their fears may be coming true. Current and former Citgo executives have revealed in recent weeks that Mr. Chávez has shaken to the core the company’s once-staid culture, leaving Citgo in a state of near disarray. Nearly every high-ranking executive has resigned over the last two years, including the refining chief, the chief financial officer, the head auditor and the marketing director.

Geoff Reid, a former assistant treasurer, said in an interview that he left in part because it had become tough to track the company’s cash flow, and he had become concerned about his “personal liability” in approving Citgo’s financial statements.

All the upheaval means ... Read More

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