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-->

Colombia sends more troops to ELN rebel stronghold

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

The military in Colombia says it is sending more troops to the eastern province of Arauca, a rebel stronghold, to deal with a recent wave of attacks.

The announcement comes hours after gunmen shot dead a local politician, Pedro Antonio Bohorquez, and his bodyguard in the city of Saravena.

Earlier on Tuesday, eight soldiers were also injured by a homemade explosive device in a separate incident.

The area, which borders Venezuela, is a stronghold of left-wing ELN rebels.

With an estimated 2,500 members, the ELN is Colombia’s second biggest rebel group.

It has been fighting the Colombian state for five decades.

On Tuesday, Colombia’s police chief, Rodolfo Palomino, offered a reward for information on the attackers.

“Reward of up to 50 million [Colombian pesos; $26,600, £15,800) to those who help us arrest the criminals who brought terror to Saravena,” Colonel Palomino tweeted after arriving in the city.

Attacks continue

Earlier, Colombia’s ministry of defence announced it was ... Read More

Muere candidato presidencial brasileño en accidente aéreo

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Excelsior

Eduardo Campos se encontraba en tercer lugar en las preferencias electorales; junto a él murieron dos de sus asesores y su fotógrafo oficial.

AO PAULO, 13 de agosto.- Un avión privado que llevaba al candidato presidential brasileño Eduardo Campos se estrelló este miércoles en la ciudad de Santos, informaron fuentes de su campaña.

El avión que lo transportaba, un Cessna 560XL, se estrelló cuando se preparaba para aterrizar, informó por su parte la Fuerza Aerea Brasileña.

Rede Globo informó que de acuerdo con fuentes de la campaña, Campos murió en el accidente.

La compañera de Campos, Marina Silva, no se encontraba en el avión. En el accidente también murieron su fotógrafo oficial así como dos asesores de su campaña.

Campos, de 49 años y exaliado de la presidenta Dilma Rousseff, era exgobernador del estado de Pernambuco.

Campos se encontraba en tercer lugar en las encuestas con un 9% de las preferencias, por detrás de Rousseff, que tiene ... Read More

Argentina Expanding Russian Exports Thanks To Putin’s Spat With U.S., Europe

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
EFE

The government of Argentina said Monday that it will expand exports to Russia by taking advantage of “the opportunity” created by Vladimir Putin’s ban on importing food and raw materials from the United States and the European Union in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington and Brussels.

“Russia has a significant need for food products and the Argentine Republic can supply them,” cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich said during his regular press conference.

Argentina “will create the conditions so the private sector, with the backing of the government, can increase exports and satisfy the demand of the Russian market,” he said.

The relevant government ministries will establish “mechanisms to allow specific trade missions to take advantage of the opportunities created by this additional market opening,” the cabinet chief said.

The Russian government decreed last week a ban on imports of raw materials and ... Read More

FARC: Peace Agreement In Colombia Won’t Happen This Year

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Negotiators for the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group will not meet President Juan Manuel Santos’ goal of finalizing a peace accord by the end of this year, the leader of the guerrillas said Monday.

The peace process, which began in November 2012, will be delayed by the complex nature of the debate on the fourth point of the peace agenda dealing with the recognition of – and reparations to – the victims of the conflict, Rodrigo Londoño, known as “Timochenko,” said on the FARC Web site.

The agenda calls for the creation of a so-called historic commission made up of six experts from each party and two rapporteurs, who will be tasked with establishing the causes and factors that contributed to the duration of the strife and the impact on the population.

“The Historic Commission will be tasked with elaborating the reconstruction of ... Read More

Chavez Friends Get Rich After His Death as Venezuela Slides Into Chaos

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MICHAEL SMITH & ANATOLY KURMANAEV

Retired Venezuelan Army Captain William Biancucci paces around his sparsely furnished Caracas office, clutching a red, bound copy ofHugo Chavez’s socialist constitution. He’s discussing his plans to buy a private jet to ease travel to and from his cattle ranch in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. From a sprawling stretch of pastureland, he packs cows by the thousands on ships headed to Venezuela.

Biancucci, 55, who grew up poor, says he won contracts to supply Venezuela with livestock thanks to friendships with military officers now in the government. His voice rises with emotion as he says he’s been a devotee of Chavez since military college, when the late leader was his history professor.

In 1992, Biancucci joined 140 other officers in staging a coup attempt led by Chavez. Although the coup failed, Chavez was elected president six years later — and Biancucci’s business thrived. Socialism, Biancucci says, is the ... Read More

Why Sanctions Are Right in the Case of Venezuela

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

BY SERGIO MUÑOZ BATA

I beg to differ with liberals who say the recent U.S. sanctions against individual members of the Venezuelan government are counterproductive. By the same token, I disagree with conservatives who dismiss them for being too light and applaud the White House and Congress’ efforts to punish Venezuelan drug traffickers and human rights violators for a very simple reason: in the rigged system of justice that Hugo Chavez set up in the country, it is impossible for any member of its repressive political system to ever face justice in a court of law.

The latest sanctions controversy came about last month after a period of relative calm in the stormy relationship between the United States and Venezuela and should serve as a reminder that the interactions between the two countries continue to be prickly and could get worse.

The first confrontation came when the State Department requested the government of ... Read More

Peru’s New Cocaine

| August 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
ViceNews-01

BY MICHAEL MULLADY

Peru has the second-largest amount of rain forest in the world, but swaths of it are rapidly disappearing. Illegal gold mining — farmers digging up ore and selling it on the black market, so that it may eventually end up wrapped around your fiancée’s finger — is one major cause. According to former environmental minister Antonio Brack Egg, gold mining has devastated nearly 370,000 acres of the Peruvian Amazon. That’s an elevenfold increase since 2000. Because of the devastation, criminality, and profits that have risen in tandem with the illicit trade, some analysts have started calling gold South America’s “new cocaine.”

This April, during a turbulent thunderstorm, I arrived in the city of Puerto Maldonado, a hub of the industry located in the southwestern Amazon jungle. With no taxis in sight, I asked a woman selling snacks outside the airport for directions. She pointed east, toward the city. I ... Read More

Victims’ issues come to the fore in Colombia peace talks

| August 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

BY ALINA DIESTE

Farmer Elver Montano has a long tale of pain and uprooting to tell as Colombia’s peace talks turns to the 5.3 million victims of Latin America’s longest armed conflict.

His eyes well with tears as he recalls the day, March 22, 2007, when a military operation forced him to abandon all his belongings in the town of El Charco.

“There were 8,500 of us who just had to run for it, during a clash between the army and the FARC,” he said.

Montano’s fate, and those of other civilian victims of the conflict, will finally get a hearing when negotiators sit down in Havana August 12 to begin discussions of how they should be compensated for their loss.

What next for peace?

It is the latest chapter in peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government that have been underway since November 2012.

The conflict has claimed the lives ... Read More

Venezuela to close Colombia border each night

| August 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Venezuela says it will close its border with Colombia at night from Monday, to try to stop large-scale smuggling of petrol and food.

The government says that tonnes of goods – produced in Venezuela and heavily subsidised – are sold in Colombia at much higher prices.

The shortage of many staples in Venezuela’s western border area this year led to anti-government protests.

The border closure was agreed with the Colombian government.

President Nicolas Maduro discussed the measures with his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, at a summit on 1 August.

The 2,200km-long (1,360 miles) border will be closed between 22:00 local time and 05:00 every night.

Cargo vehicles, including vans and lorries, will be banned from crossing from Venezuela to Colombia between 18:00 and 05:00.

‘Failed policies’

The cross-border smuggling is also a problem for Colombia, with a big loss in taxes and complaints of unfair competition by local businessmen.

The profits are often used ... Read More

Human Rights NGOs dispute AP report on Cuba Democracy Program

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon

Group says AP “manipulated” information about the program to fit preconceived narrative

BY DANIEL WISER

A Costa Rican human rights organization is disputing a report by the Associated Press (AP) this week that its activities in Cuba were covertly designed to foment a revolution against the communist government.

Fernando Murillo, founder and CEO of Fundacion Operacion GAYA Internacional (FundaOGI), accused the AP in a statement of “manipulat[ing]” information about the group’s HIV-prevention workshop in Cuba. The AP reported on Monday that the workshop was part of a “clandestine operation” overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of “ginning up rebellion” on the island.

“[The AP] manipulated information in order to make it look like FundaOGI had instructions to set up cultural and artistic activities in an undercover way for destabilizing ends, which is totally false,” Murillo said.

Additionally, other defenders of the USAID program have raised concerns about ... Read More

Gobierno de Argentina demanda a EEUU ante la Corte Internacional

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

BUENOS AIRES – La decisión de Argentina de recurrir ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia en la Haya las decisiones de los tribunales estadounidenses sobre la reestructuración de su deuda tensa sus relaciones bilaterales.

Argentina ha sido un aliado de Estados Unidos a lo largo de los años, pero con graves disensiones en momentos concretos, más frecuentes desde comienzos de este siglo.

Desde las presidencias de Juan Domingo Perón hasta las de Raúl Alfonsín, Washington negoció con vehemencia con Argentina el desmantelamiento de su programa nuclear, que consiguió finalmente.

La adhesión de Argentina al Movimiento de los Países No Alineados también fue objeto de roce entre ambos estados. En septiembre de 1991, el presidente Carlos Ménem anunció la retirada de su país de este grupo y, desde entonces, Argentina mantiene el estatuto de observador.

En el 2003, la guerra de Irak hizo resentirse las relaciones ... Read More

Argentina Sues U.S. in International Court of Justice Over Debt Dispute

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY KEN PARKS

Argentina has asked the International Court of Justice to hear a lawsuit it wants to bring against the U.S. in a high-stakes legal battle between the South American nation and some of its creditors over unpaid debts.

Argentina’s petition says that decisions by U.S. courts in the dispute have violated its sovereignty, The Hague-based tribunal said Thursday.

However, the U.S. would have to accept the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction for a lawsuit to move forward, something that has happened in only 22 cases since the tribunal began working in 1946.

The Obama administration is unlikely to grant the request in the absence of a bi-lateral treaty that would require the U.S. to accept the court as a venue to hear disputes with Argentina, said Paz Zarate, an international law expert at Oxford Analytica.

“From the point of view of the U.S. government, the New York court system has dealt with a ... Read More

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sworn in

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said peace talks could falter if left-wing Farc rebels do not halt attacks, as he was sworn in for a second term.

“Gentlemen of the Farc: you have been warned,” the president said, to a crowd of more than 2,000 guests, including foreign delegations from 73 countries.

The 62-year-old was re-elected for a second term in June.

His victory was a resounding vote of confidence for the peace process he began with the rebels in November 2012.

Colombia has suffered more than five decades of conflict which has led to more than 200,000 deaths.

Challenges ahead

President Santos reiterated his commitment to peace talks at his inauguration ceremony in Bogota on Thursday.

“Acts of peace, that’s what the Colombian people ask for today… I will employ all my energy to bring peace during this mandate,” he told the crowd.

The challenges facing President Santos are many.

First he will be ... Read More

Colombians losing faith in peace process: poll

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

Colombians are increasingly pessimistic about the eventual outcome of ongoing peace talksbetween the government and rebel group FARC, a poll showed Wednesday. 

A survey conducted by Datexco for Colombian newspaper El Tiempo and radio station La W in July showed that 48% of Colombians do not believe that the government and the FARC are able to make peace. Another 45% said they were confident peace will be signed at the end of the negotiations that have been ongoing since late 2012.

The same poll showed that 50% disapproved of how Santos was conducting the peace talks. Some 46% said they approved.

Sixty-one percent of the respondents said to believe in the FARC’s desire for peace against 29% who do. The pollster failed to ask whether Colombians had faith in the government’s desire for peace.

The number of skeptics has reportedly increased from 50% in June, after a recent spate of violent attacks by the FARC.

President Juan Manuel Santos said last Tuesday that the FARC ... Read More

Emails: Mary Landrieu, Citgo fend off Venezuela sanctions

| August 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Politico

BY BYRON TAU

Oil company Citgo teamed up with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu to block a package of Venezuelan sanctions that senators were considering last week, emails obtained by POLITICO reveal.

Citgo — the wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s national oil company — raised concerns that the package targeted at human rights abusers would hurt the company’s ability to import crude oil to its Gulf Coast refinery in Port Charles, La., eliminating jobs, according to the documents.

Landrieu’s office confirmed her involvement in heading off the sanctions package. The Louisiana Democrat faces a tough reelection fight and is under pressure to show she can wield her energy chairmanship to help her state.

According the emails, Citgo’s concerns set off a last-minute scramble on Capitol Hill to determine what Landrieu’s objections to the bill were and whether they could be resolved before Congress left town. Her concerns ultimately resulted ... Read More

Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

| August 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Foreign Policy

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. The news agency evidently believes it has stumbled upon a vast, sinister U.S. conspiracy to overthrow the Castro regime, calling to mind those halcyon days of exploding cigars and poisoned wetsuits. It is nothing of the sort.

Previously, AP reported that USAID sought to foment an uprising in Cuba by introducing a rudimentary Twitter service for Cubans to utilize free of regime snooping. Now, we are told that USAID sent hapless youths from Latin America to Cuba to recruit agents to lead that national uprising.

Such assertions are ridiculous on their face. Moreover, it is distressing to see how easily people can apparently accept the notion that their government would involve itself in such lunacy.

The ... Read More

Argentina admite que la crisis por pago de deuda afecta al país y prepara medidas

| August 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

BUENOS AIRES – El ministro de Economía argentino, Axel Kicillof, admitió el miécoles que el conflicto abierto con fondos especulativos por el pago de deuda soberana en mora desde el 2001 afecta al país y anunció que preparan nuevas medidas económicas.

Mientras que la agencia Moody’s puso en negativo la perspectiva de la calificación de depósitos bancarios argentinos por el “debilitamiento del entorno” a consecuencia del “default (cese de pagos) de Argentina”, informó la calificadora.

“Esa es una batalla que por supuesto afecta a la Argentina pero tiene implicancias para el sistema financiero mundial muy complejas”, dijo Kicillof en Radio del Plata.

“No voy a negar dificultades. Las dificultades reales, como lo es el crecimiento del comercio internacional a un 2.1% el primer trimestre del año, cuando era del 4% en el 2013. Hay una desaceleración brutal. Donde haya un problema va a haber un gobierno ... Read More

Consuman en 98 días la Reforma Energética

| August 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Excelsior

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO, 7 de agosto.- Con el voto de los senadores del PRI, PAN y Partido Verde, el pleno del Senado aprobó ayer, sin cambios, el total del paquete de reforma fiscal y hacendaria en materia energética y lo envió al presidente Enrique Peña Nieto para su promulgación y entrada en vigor, a fin de que la riqueza petrolera contribuya al desarrollo del país y sea el Fondo Mexicano del Petróleo, ya no la Secretaría de Hacienda, quien la administre.

Así, después de 201 horas 15 minutos de debate en sus plenos y 98 días, el Congreso de la Unión concluyó el envío de nuevas leyes y reformas de ley al Ejecutivo federal, quien podrá promulgar la nueva etapa de la industria energética nacional a partir de este jueves, a fin de que comience a caminar la construcción de condiciones para la entrada de competidores extranjeros en extracción de petróleo, ... Read More

Colombia’s Santos takes office hoping to end 50 years of violence

| August 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

When Juan Manuel Santos dons the presidential sash Thursday it will mark the beginning of a four-year, high-wire political act that could bring an end to the hemisphere’s longest-running and deadliest civil conflict.

Santos, 62, a former minister of defense known for some of the most effective and controversial strikes against the nation’s guerrillas, is playing the role of peacemaker in an uneasy nation. While the country wants the bloodshed to end it’s also concerned about making concessions at the bargaining table.

Santos is also facing a feisty new opposition in the form of his old boss, ex-President Álvaro Uribe, who took a Senate seat last week and could play spoiler as an eventual peace deal is put up for referendum.

“The great challenge is peace,” Santos said recently. “And the next four years are going to be an enormous challenge for all of Colombia.”

As world leaders arrive for the inaugural ... Read More

Mexico Opens Energy Sector to Private Investors

| August 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

BY JUAN MONTES

Mexican lawmakers late Wednesday completed an historic opening of the country’s energy sector to private investors after 76 years of state monopoly, in a move with far-reaching implications for the sector and the country’s economy.

Completion of the overhaul is a political victory for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who made it the cornerstone of a reformist agenda intended to improve Mexico’s competitiveness and stimulate economic growth. The victory seemed unthinkable to many when he took office in December 2012. Over the past quarter century, every Mexican president had tried but failed to secure political support to diminish the state energy monopoly.

The opening of the energy sector is the culmination of a decades-long effort to liberalize the Mexican economy that began in 1982, when then-President Miguel de la Madrid took the first steps toward ending decades of state control. Energy had remained as the one important economic sector still in ... Read More

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