Content from IASW Contributors

New face may scramble Brazil’s presidential campaign

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
Brazil’s presidential campaign took a tragic turn Wednesday morning when Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, was killed when the private plane he was traveling on crashed in the Brazilian port city of Santos; four other passengers and the two pilots also were killed. Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva Vaz de Lima, will likely be designated to assume the top spot on the Socialist alliance ticket.
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Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

By José R. CárdenasBy José R. Cárdenas
For the second time in four months, the Associated Press has published a gross distortion of USAID’s Cuba Democracy Program that has made it the subject of unjust derision from the legions of U.S.-Cuba policy critics. Read More-->

Bipartisan Lawmakers to Admin: Please Oppose Venezuela’s Security Council Bid

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
PJ Media

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the Obama administration to oppose Venezuela’s effort to land a non-permanent, two-year seat on the UN Security Council.

A week ago, Reuters cited diplomatic and administration sources as saying they were resigned to Caracas securing a seat at the 15-nation table and wouldn’t oppose the bid. Venezuela is the only Latin American country in the running and needs a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly next month.

President George W. Bush led a campaign against a Venezuelan bid in 2006. That was during the reign of Hugo Chavez, but this Venezuelan bid comes after Nicolas Maduro’s violent crackdowns on peaceful demonstrators and other human right abuses.

“There should be no place for Venezuela at the UN Security Council. Nicolas Maduro and his regime have been the cause of instability in Venezuela and the Western Hemisphere region and allowing it a seat on the ... Read More

Peru seeks to revive economic miracle as supercycle slows

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Andres Schipani in Cusco and Vivianne Rodrigues

During an impromptu ceremony in the ruins of Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel of sun worship, investors on a recent business trip pleaded for only one thing: prosperity for Peru.

“We need to recover the greatness, beyond economic cycles. We need to recover the faith,” said a Peruvian asset manager to the gathering, following a capital markets conference in Lima.

Growth in what was Latin America’s fastest growing major economy is slowing below 5 per cent for the first time since 2009. Some are saying the Andean economic miracle is at an end.

This week President Ollanta Humala made his pilgrimage to another citadel in search of higher help: to the centre of capitalism in New York.

“We are still facing the future with optimism,” he told the Bloomberg Latin America forum. “We are preparing measures to reactivate” the economy.

Peru has made huge ... Read More

Brazil’s Real Leads Emerging-Market Declines on Election Outlook

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Paula Sambo and Filipe Pacheco

Brazil’s real fell the most in emerging markets on concern the economy will struggle to recover as polls show more support for President Dilma Rousseff amid speculation the U.S. will start raising interest rates.

The real dropped 1.8 percent to 2.4278 per U.S. dollar at the close of trade in Sao Paulo, the worst performance among 24 developing-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It extended its decline this month to 7.9 percent, which would be the biggest loss since September 2011.

“The market doesn’t like to see Rousseff rising in polls, and beside that there is broad concern about rates being raised in the U.S.,” Reginaldo Siaca, a foreign-exchange manager at Advanced Corretora de Cambio in Sao Paulo, said by phone.

The real’s swings between gains and losses have heightened as the Oct. 5 election approaches. One-month implied volatility on options for the real, reflecting projected fluctuations, rose for ... Read More

Middle Class Brazil Lifts Voice

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Loretta Chao, Reed Johnson and Luciana Magalhães

SÃO PAULO— Juliana Oliveira is enjoying a life that seemed unimaginable during her childhood in Brazil’s poor northeast. She has two college degrees, a good salary at a multinational jeweler, and an apartment in this pricey, cosmopolitan city.

The 33-year-old, however, is rethinking her support of the ruling Workers’ Party in the October presidential elections. The party oversaw a decade of rapid economic growth that propelled millions like her into a growing middle class, but has been tainted by corruption, she said.

“Brazil has improved, but we can do much, much better,” said Ms. Oliveira, who voted for President Dilma Rousseff in 2010 but was also one of a million Brazilians who took to the streets last year to protest corruption and poor public services.

Ms. Oliveira personifies the rising expectations and sharper demands of Brazil’s ... Read More

Mexico Plans Roadshow to Promote Oil Bidding Round

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Juan Montes

MEXICO CITY—Mexico’s government is starting meetings this week with local and foreign investors to promote the country’s first public oil tenders after opening its state-run energy sector to competition.

Top officials of the Energy Ministry are expected to meet Thursday with Mexican companies interested in participating at an event organized by the main business group CCE, said Lourdes Melgar, deputy minister for hydrocarbons, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

That meeting will be followed between now and the end of October by trips to Houston, New York and London to meet investment bankers, fund managers and senior executives at foreign firms.

An estimated $8.5 billion in annual investment will be needed in the next four years to develop the 169 blocks of reserves that are subject to bids. The roadshow is intended to explain firsthand the details of the ... Read More

The battle for Brazil

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

TO DESCRIBE the final weeks of Brazil’s presidential campaign as dramatic would be putting it mildly. There was tragedy, when Eduardo Campos, leader and candidate of the centrist Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), perished in an aeroplane crash in mid-August. There were tears: Marina Silva (pictured left), Mr Campos’s running-mate-turned-candidate, broke down after being criticised by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in whose cabinet she had once served as environment minister but whose protégée and successor, Dilma Rousseff (pictured centre), is seeking a second term. This being Brazil, there was also scandal, as a former executive at Petrobras, the statecontrolled oil firm, alleged that politicians from Ms Rousseff’s left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) and some coalition allies were involved in a kickback scheme there.

The twists and turns have led to lots of head-scratching among pollsters and pundits. With days to go before the first round of voting on October 5th, firm predictions ... Read More

Blackout hits parts of capital, western Venezuela

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s government says parts of the capital and seven western states were left without electricity after two generating plants had technical problems.

The blackout began at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Caracas and lasted about an hour. It caused traffic jams in parts of the capital as street lights stopped working and office buildings were evacuated, causing hundreds of people to walk in the middle of streets because sidewalks were overflowing.

Electrical Energy Minister Jesse Chacon said frequency fluctuations caused problems in “two large generating machines” in the Andean region. He said seven of Venezuela’s 23 states were affected.

The socialist country suffered major blackouts in 2012 and 2013. The administration blamed those outages on sabotage, while opponents said they were the result of government incompetence.

Click here for original ... Read More

Was North Carolina Used as an Ecuadorean Money-Laundering Hub?

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger

What happens when an Argentine businessman and Ecuador’s central bank chief select Newton, population 13,000, just outside Hickory, North Carolina, for their financial transactions?

Certainly not business as usual. And why is that? The story begins in December 2011 when Argentine businessman Gaston Duzac touched down in Ecuador to collect a highly irregular $800,000 loan from a local state-owned bank called Cofiec. The stated intent of this credit line was to create a so-called “mobile payment” system. At the time, an Ecuador public trust called Fideicomiso AGD managed hundreds of firms seized by the Ecuadorean government, including the Cofiec Bank. This public trust was presided by Pedro Delgado, who was also Ecuador’s central bank chief and cousin to President Rafael Correa.

The existence of the irregular credit came to light in Ecuador by mid-2012, spurring a swirl of controversy in Quito.

Not least of which was the controversial discovery that Iran made suspicious cash deposits ... Read More

Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America’s New Man at the United Nations?

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean have chosen the troubled government of Venezuela to represent them in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member whose term begins next January. When the U.N. General Assembly elects new UNSC members in mid-October, Latin America’s nominee to debate matters of “peace and security” will be a country that is among the least peaceful and most insecure in the Americas. Although the region’s image may suffer as a result, at least President Nicolás Maduro’s regime will be conspicuous as its economic mismanagement collapses Venezuela’s oil-rich economy and as its repression intensifies in a desperate bid to hold to power.

The Security Council has five permanent members (France, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States) and 10 non-permanent members, elected to represent one of five regional groups of countries. Venezuela seeks to be one of two members representing the ... Read More

Silva to seek trade deals for Brazil

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Joe Leahy

A government under Marina Silva will seek to strike trade deals with the US and the EU even if there is resistance from its partners in South America, according to one of the main economic advisers to the Brazilian presidential candidate.

Eduardo Giannetti, a respected economist and lecturer at São Paulo’s Insper business school, said Brazil would seek to shake off restrictions imposed by Mercosul, the South American trade bloc that also includes Argentina and Venezuela, which require all partners to agree on trade deals with outside parties.

“I believe Brazil cannot continue to have its hands tied in this way by Mercosul,” said Mr Giannetti in an interview with the Financial Times. “We have to move towards trade agreements with other blocs and if Mercosul doesn’t accompany us we will have to find a way out.”

Brazil is widely believed to be one of the world’s most protectionist countries. ... Read More

Under pressure at home, Venezuela’s Maduro calls for a more ‘democratic’ U.N.

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

BOGOTA- Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time since taking office 17 months ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said it was time to make good on the dreams of his late boss Hugo Chávez and shake up the staid body.

Echoing other regional leaders, Maduro, 51, said the United Nations had been co-opted by imperialist powers and needed a dose of democracy.

“The U.N. charter is one of the most beautiful poems you can read,” he said. “But it’s turned into a document that has been thrown aside and is trampled permanently.”

“The countries of the world are clamoring for their voice to be heard,” he said, noting that the 15-member Security Council needs to be more representative.

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Maduro also used his speech to denounce the U.S. blockade of Cuba, one of Venezuela’s staunchest allies, and its continued attacks on Syria and Iraq. While Maduro ... Read More

Honduras Leader Rails Against Ineffective Drug War

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

The president of Honduras blamed the flight of migrant children to the U.S. on a drug war his country didn’t start and demanded the world pay as much attention to displaced Central American families as it does to those terrorized by wars elsewhere.

In an impassioned speech before the U.N. General Assembly, President Juan Orlando Hernandez railed against international drug policies he said lunge incoherently between “proposals based on legalizing drugs on the one hand” and others “based on waging a ceaseless war on all fronts without regard to the costs.”

He urged the world to agree on an international strategy and proposed creating “a multinational force” to fight drug trafficking cartels “just like the one that this morning, President Obama asked for to confront radical fundamentalists.”

“Today, we talk about what is happening in other regions to children, young people, families displaced by war, violence and radical extremists,” he said. “But little ... Read More

Argentina calls holdout funds ‘terrorists,’ says Germany ‘hostile’

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
CNBC-01

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez accused hedge funds suing the country for full repayment of defaulted debt of practicing “economic and financial terrorism,” heightening the rhetoric in the country’s years-long legal battle with the investors.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Fernandez said “terrorists are not only those who set off bombs, but also those who destabilize economies, causing hunger, misery and poverty.”

The comment came just hours after Fernandez’s cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich accused Germany of having a “hostile attitude” toward Argentina’s debt restructuring effort, citing an advertisement by the hedge funds which quotes a German official criticizing Argentine policy.

Both flights of rhetoric stem from a case that has become a rallying cry for Fernandez, who often characterizes the funds as “vultures” out to wreck Argentina’s finances in their pursuit of astronomical profits.

“The vulture funds,” Fernandez told the General Assembly, “are ... Read More

Mexico to Take Part in UN Peacekeeping Missions

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced Wednesday that his country has decided to participate in U.N. peacekeeping missions again for the first time in decades.

That includes the possibility of sending military personnel, more than 60 years since the last time they were included on such missions.

“With this determination, Mexico, as a responsible actor, takes a historic step in its commitment to the United Nations,” Pena Nieto said.

He said Mexico “supports and values peacekeeping operations, a U.N. instrument that helps countries overcome conflicts and create conditions for lasting peace.”

Pena Nieto’s office said Mexico’s participation would happen gradually and could include both military and civilian personnel, including engineers, health workers, military and political observers and other specialists.

The president’s office said there is no impediment in the constitution and no legislative change will be necessary. Mexican law gives the country’s Senate the power to authorize military deployments beyond the nation’s borders.

According to the ... Read More

Colombia to Create New Congressional Seats Under FARC Peace Deal

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Andrew Willis

Colombia will create new seats in its House of Representatives for war-torn regions of the country, according to the text of a draft agreement between the government and Marxist rebels published today.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the government was publishing the texts, which had hitherto been secret, to counter misinformation from opponents of the talks. The texts show that the government isn’t discussing its economic model with the rebels, Santos said.

“This should end all the misinformed speculation that people who aren’t friends of the process have been spreading,” Santos said today in New York. “The whole world will understand that there we are not negotiating our democratic system, our economic model, our development or our institutions.”

Government negotiators have held talks in Cuba since 2012 with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, seeking a deal to end a 50-year conflict that has ... Read More

Chevron sues another funder of Ecuadorian litigation

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Fortune

BY ROGER PARLOFF

The oil giant has sued Woodsford, a litigation funder, for investing in the allegedly fraud-tainted Ecuadorian environmental suit against it.

Chevron has sued Woodsford Litigation Funding Ltd. for financing the lawyers who are trying to enforce a $9.5 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant that was obtained in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011.

Chevron  CVX -0.62%  contends—and, last March, a federal judge in Manhattan held—that the judgment was procured by fraud, bribery, and many other crimes.

Chevron’s suit against the funder—filed in Gibraltar last June, but not previously reported—alleges that Woodsford conspired with the leaders of the Ecuadorian litigation to advance “a dishonest and fraudulent prosecution of a claim” against the company. The allegedly fraudulent claim in question is the one that led to the billion-dollar judgment, which purports to compensate residents of the Ecuadorian Amazon for contamination left behind by Texaco, after it drilled for oil there from 1964 ... Read More

A Contraband Crackdown Is Rattling the Border Between Colombia and Venezuela

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
ViceNews-01

By Meredith Hoffman

Venezuelan soldiers have been on an aggressive hunt for smuggled gasoline along the border with Colombia in recent weeks, contraband that Remedio Pana, a 42-year-old indigenous woman who lives on the Colombian side of the shared border, stores in her front yard.

Pana has watched Venezuelan soldiers sprint into her border town and rough up her neighbor, and she’s heard their gunfire. But, as she explained to VICE News outside her hand-built mud home in Paraguachon, in northeast Colombia, she needs money from the illicit sale of fuel to feed her ten children.

Pana is just a tiny part of the massive contraband industry that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames for his country’s current shortage of food and consumer goods.

Since August 11, Maduro’s government has tried to seal the roughly 1,300-mile-long Colombia-Venezuela border by closing it at night, between 10pm and 5am, and also by deploying troops and dynamiting illegal ... Read More

Crisis in Venezuela worsening

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY MARK SCHNEIDER

The lull in the street battles that raged across many of Venezuela’s cities this spring belies the violent civil conflict still threatening the country. From February to June, dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded and several thousand more were detained during conflict between protesters and government security forces.

Repression, exhaustion and disorganization have quieted protesters for the moment, but they will certainly return given the government’s failure to address the causes of the country’s polarization. With its vast oil reserves — by some measures the world’s largest — and its complex network of regional relations, Venezuela’s meltdown would be a disaster not only for its people but for the entire hemisphere.

Hugo Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has largely clung to his controversial policies, worsening the country’s multifaceted economic, social and governance crises. Recent opinion polls show that President Maduro is losing popular support, ... Read More

Fernández despotrica contra fondos buitres en ONU

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

NACIONES UNIDAS - La presidenta argentina Cristina Fernández no ahorró adjetivos para condenar a los “fondos buitre”, el enemigo número uno de su gobierno, y los acusó de ejercer “terrorismo económico y financiero” durante su presentación del miércoles ante la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas.

Fernández dedicó la primera mitad de su discurso a los fondos de cobertura que motivaron un default técnico de su país y agradeció a la Asamblea General por la sanción de resolución 68/304 del 9 de septiembre, de abocarse a la creación de una convención multilateral que genere un marco jurídico obligatorio en materia de restructuración de deuda soberana de todos los países.

“Cuando se debe el 161% del PBI, la culpa no es sólo de los deudores”, sostuvo la presidenta argentina. “Asumimos la responsabilidad, pero pedíamos que el Fondo Monetario Internacional y los acreedores que habían prestado a tasas usureras también asumieran parte de la responsabilidad ... Read More

Venezuela opposition names new head to fight Maduro

| September 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Corina Pons

(Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition parties on Wednesday named a 56-year-old journalist and teacher to head their coalition ahead of 2015 parliamentary elections where they hope to weaken President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

“It was a unanimous decision to elect me, we’re all rowing in the same direction,” Jesus Torrealba said in a speech accepting leadership of an opposition movement that narrowly lost the presidency to Maduro last year and has been squabbling since.

He replaces outgoing Democratic Unity coalition executive-secretary Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, who resigned in July, and faces a mammoth task to unite moderates and radicals who differ in their views on how to oppose Maduro.

Torrealba, who was a member of the Communist Party in his youth, founded a non-governmental organization called “Neighborhoods’ Radar” and later had a program of the same name on a pro-opposition TV station to denounce grassroots problems from ... Read More

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