Colombia and ELN rebels announce historic peace talks

Colombia and ELN rebels announce historic peace talks

The Colombian government and the country’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), have announced the beginning of formal peace negotiations later this month. The talks will be launched in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, on 27 October. President Juan Manuel Santos urged both sides to be realistic in their demands, saying: “Time is the biggest enemy.”

Mr Santos is trying to salvage a peace accord with Farc rebels, which was rejected by voters earlier this month. Informal talks with the ...  

Venezuela on the brink: a journey through a country in crisis

Venezuela on the brink: a journey through a country in crisis

The proud face of the revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar gazes from a stack of banknotes dumped in a grubby box on the floor of a supermarket that doubles as a foreign exchange bureau in a small border town in the Amazon.

No disrespect is intended: there is simply not enough space in the till for the thick wads of cash. Nor is it practical to treat the 100 bolivar bills with more care: they are worth barely more than the paper ...  

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva Faces New Corruption Charges

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva Faces New Corruption Charges

SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s federal prosecutors on Monday filed new corruption charges against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, this time for allegedly using his influence to obtain government loans for a Brazilian construction company in exchange for kickbacks paid to his nephew, prosecutors said.

Mr. da Silva was charged with corruption, money laundering, influence peddling and conspiracy. If found guilty of the charges, Mr. da Silva, who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, could face up to 35 years in prison.

A ...  

What Investors Still Like About Colombia

What Investors Still Like About Colombia

All did not go according to plan for President Juan Manuel Santos’ this weekend. Wall Street got yet another surprise from voters. Bond prices fell. The peso fell. Credit default swaps rose.

Santos’ referendum vote on a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia lost by a fraction of votes. It sent the market lower, but not much lower, suggesting that investors still believe a yes vote is around the corner if Santos, the FARC, and opposition politicians – ...  

Venezuela Bonds Tank as PDVSA Extends Swap on Low Participation

Venezuela Bonds Tank as PDVSA Extends Swap on Low Participation

Venezuelan bonds plunged the most in almost two years after state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA extended an early deadline for bondholders to exchange notes due next year for longer-dated ones after investor demand fell short of the required level.

Price on the government’s $4 billion of notes due in 2027 sank 4.33 cents to 52.8 cents on the dollar at 8:54 a.m. in New York, headed for the biggest decline since January 2015. PDVSA’s notes due in November 2017, ...  

White knight? Colombia peace deal hinges on hardliner Uribe

White knight? Colombia peace deal hinges on hardliner Uribe

Former President Alvaro Uribe fanned widespread resentment of Colombia’s largest rebel group as he crisscrossed the country, campaigning for weeks against a peace deal he said would appease “terrorists” or lead the country down the path of communist Cuba.

But Colombians now look to the conservative hardliner as a potential savior of the accord that hangs by a thread following voters’ shocking rejection of the deal in a referendum Sunday.

Colombia’s political landscape was upended by the referendum. President Juan Manuel Santos, ...  

Russian Military Considers Return to Cuba, Vietnam

Russian Military Considers Return to Cuba, Vietnam

The Russian military is considering the possibility of regaining its Soviet-era bases on Cuba and in Vietnam, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a statement that comes amid growing U.S.-Russia tensions over Syria.

Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov told lawmakers Friday that the ministry is considering the possibility of establishing footholds far away from Russia’s borders.

Responding to a lawmaker’s question if the military could return to Cuba and Vietnam, Pankov said the military is “reviewing” a decision to withdraw from them, but ...  

Brazil’s reform agenda boosted by swing right at polls

Brazil’s reform agenda boosted by swing right at polls

BRASILIA, Oct 6 (Reuters) – A shift to the right in Brazil’s municipal elections should help President Michel Temer’s government enact unpopular legislation to curb public spending and avert a budgetary crisis after 13 years of profligate leftist governments.

Temer’s main coalition ally, the right-leaning Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), emerged as the winner from Sunday’s voting. Its resurgence was symbolized by media businessman Joao Doria’s mayoral election victory in Sao Paulo.

A political outsider who is an outspoken advocate of privatizations ...  

In boost for faltering process, Colombia’s Santos wins Nobel Peace Prize

In boost for faltering process, Colombia’s Santos wins Nobel Peace Prize

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to end a 52-year-old war with Marxist rebels, a surprise choice and a show of support after Colombians rejected a peace accord last Sunday.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Santos had brought one of the longest civil wars in modern history significantly closer to a peaceful solution, but there was still a danger the peace process could collapse.

The award excluded FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono, ...  

Homeland Security Chairman McCaul: Venezuela’s life threatening “Maduro diet” is no joke

Homeland Security Chairman McCaul: Venezuela’s life threatening “Maduro diet” is no joke

“The Maduro diet gets you strong … no need for Viagra.” Recently, after noticing that one of his senior advisers had lost a significant amount of weight due to food shortages, President Nicholas Maduro uttered these disturbing words and laughed.

It is troubling he considers the current crisis in Venezuela a laughing matter. With severe food shortages affecting 82 percent of the population, hospitals lacking 85 percent of essential medicines, and growing social protests and violence, I can assure you it ...  

Brazil Changes Petrobras Oil Law, Paving Way For Investment Grade

Brazil Changes Petrobras Oil Law, Paving Way For Investment Grade

As expected, Brazil’s government made changes to its deepwater oil concessions law late Wednesday. It paves the way for Petrobras to become investment grade again.

Under the law, Petrobras is no longer required to participate in offshore auctions, allowing the company to stand-down on investing where it no longer needs to. Petrobras can finally save some money. This not only bodes well for its stock, but is especially good for its debt profile. It is only a matter of time before ...  

Mexico gang ‘used women to lure kidnap victims over the internet’

Mexico gang ‘used women to lure kidnap victims over the internet’

Two alleged members of a gang that used women to lure victims before kidnapping them have been arrested, Mexican police say.

The gang held the victims for ransom and in most cases killed them even after money had been paid, according to the authorities. The suspected leader and another member were arrested in the eastern town of Coatzacoalcos. Up to 12 kidnappings have been linked to the group.

They operated by “using female members of the organisation to attract victims through social ...  

Billions in Brazil Jets, Buses for Iran Stall on U.S. Sanctions

Billions in Brazil Jets, Buses for Iran Stall on U.S. Sanctions

Brazilian companies such as Embraer SA and Marcopolo SA are scrambling to close multi billion-dollar deals to sell planes and buses to Iran, seeking to navigate remaining U.S. financial sanctions, senior officials have said.

The plane-maker is in advanced negotiations to sell at least 20 E195 jets with a total list price of more than $1 billion, while the bus manufacturer is in talks to supply part of the 27,000 units Tehran is seeking, according to Mahdi Rounagh, a senior official ...  

U.S. envoy to Colombia’s peace process to join talks on salvaging agreement

U.S. envoy to Colombia’s peace process to join talks on salvaging agreement

The Obama administration on Wednesday sent its special envoy to Colombia’s peace process back to Havana, where representatives from the Colombian government and the FARC rebels met to determine whether it was possible to salvage the agreement rejected last weekend by that country’s voters.

Both the government and the FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — said they would continue to abide by the cease-fire currently in effect and to implement parts of the peace deal, including removing land ...  

Venezuela’s Maduro Touts Progress in Financing Talks With China

Venezuela’s Maduro Touts Progress in Financing Talks With China

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said financing talks with China were “going well” after the opposition-led parliament dismissed the idea of any fresh support from the country’s largest creditor.

“We are now working with China on new, big tranches of financing. It’s going well, very well,” Maduro said on Venezuelan state television Tuesday. “If it weren’t for those accords with China, we would have a harder time.”

Maduro’s remarks came as the National Assembly stepped up efforts for a recall vote to remove ...  

Mexico says 4 youths disappeared, cartels may be involved

Mexico says 4 youths disappeared, cartels may be involved

MEXICO CITY — Prosecutors in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz say four young people have disappeared and drug cartels may be involved.

The prosecutor’s office says two young men and a young woman disappeared last Thursday near the port city of Veracruz. Another young man disappeared separately the same day.

The office said Tuesday in a statement that no ransom demands had been made. It said it will present the case to federal prosecutors “because of the existence of indications of ...  

Colombia to end ceasefire with guerrillas Oct. 31 amid peace crisis

Colombia to end ceasefire with guerrillas Oct. 31 amid peace crisis

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – President Juan Manuel Santos Tuesday said a ceasefire with the country’s largest guerrilla group will end Oct. 31, adding additional pressure to rescue a peace deal that was rejected by voters Sunday.

In a brief statement after meeting with religious groups that opposed the deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Santos said the government’s ceasefire, which took effect Aug. 29, would be lifted at the end off this month.

While the announcement is likely to ...  

Rubio focuses more attention on Nicaragua

Rubio focuses more attention on Nicaragua

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio joined growing chorus calling for a stronger push against the Nicaraguan government’s “assault on democracy.”

“We are concerned with the systemic actions taken by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to circumvent the Constitution and the legislature to rule in favor of his unlawful actions by naming his wife as his running mate,” Rubio said in a joint letter with Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to the State Department.

It’s not Rubio’s first run-in with Ortega. Two years ago, Ortega banned Rubio ...  

Brazil hit by more punches amid historic recession

Brazil hit by more punches amid historic recession

Amid its historic recession, things are getting worse for many Brazilians since an impeachment trial began last May against former President Dilma Rousseff, who was forced to step down in late August.

About 12 million Brazilians are now out of work, up from 8.8 million a year ago, recent government figures show. On Tuesday, officials announced that Brazil’s industrial production declined so much in August, it wiped out the gains from the past five months.

The International Monetary Fund gave a rough ...  

Colombia in unchartered territory with peace deal’s defeat

Colombia in unchartered territory with peace deal’s defeat

BOGOTA, Colombia – After a stunning referendum defeat for a peace deal with leftist rebels, Colombians are asking what comes next for their war-torn country, which like Britain following the Brexit vote has no Plan B to save an accord that sought to bring an end to a half century of hostilities.

The damage from Sunday’s vote is still sinking in. Instead of winning by an almost two-to-one margin as pre-election polls had predicted, those favoring the accord with the Revolutionary ...  

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.