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-->

Reform drive puts strain on Chávez legacy

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Andres Schipani in Guarenas, Venezuela

A red graffito of the late Hugo Chávez is sprayed on walls around the Venezuelan capital and nearby towns. Its legend is an apparent warning from the comandante to his successor, Nicolás Maduro. “Ouch, Nicolás – I see disaster.”

The message resonates deeply in a country where the economy is so badly run that even recent presidential broadcasts have been interrupted by power cuts. The ruling socialist party, the PSUV, is also suffering from internal rifts ahead of its third congress at the end of July. The question there will be whether Mr Maduro and the pragmatists in his cabinet are strong enough to push for more reforms.

At stake is the economic survival of Chávez’s “21st-century socialism”. Since taking office in April 2013, Mr Maduro has struggled to unite the PSUV, where factional discord has pushed Venezuela deeper into the economic mire, despite the largest oil ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

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

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

China’s Shaky Latin American Liabilities

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest

By Matt Ferchen

China may have been a no-show for the 2014 World Cup, but at next weeks’ 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping. While the summit is likely to result in important announcements such as a Shanghai-based BRICS Bank, the rest of Xi’s Latin America visit, which will include stops in Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina, is bound to attract even more headlines.

Pundits inside and outside of China will either trumpet or decry the trip as a grand tour of China’s Latin American socialist and statist friends and a slap in the face to the United States. However, no matter how much socialist solidarity and “South-South” diplomatic back-slapping is offered up for public consumption, President Xi’s trip will actually be less about deepening already healthy ties with strong regional allies than seeking to mitigate deep anxieties about its commercial and diplomatic relations with dysfunctional friends.

In contrast ... Read More

Putin, Kirchner seek ‘multipolarity’ in Argentina visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Joshua Howat Berger

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner called for a multipolar world order as Moscow sought to boost ties with Latin America amid heightened East-West tensions.

Putin is on a six-day tour seeking to increase Moscow’s influence in the region at a time when the Ukraine crisis has eroded Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe to their lowest point since the Cold War.

His itinerary includes meetings with a string of leftist leaders critical of the United States and a summit of the BRICS group of emerging countries — an agenda that neatly aligns with his push for a multipolar world less dominated by the West.

Kirchner is meanwhile waging her own fight against Washington, battling a US court ruling that Argentina must pay more than $1.3 billion by the end of the month to hedge funds refusing to ... Read More

The Ongoing Expansion of Organized Crime in the Americas

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

Eroding the power, control and influence of violent transnational extremist organizations in this Hemisphere, over the last decade, has been at best a near total failure.

Attributable to this assessment of much more than the intense human carnage, manifested by record breaking murder rates, is the reality of near collapse of societies, instability and ineffective/ungoverned regions, and remaining vulnerable populations – demonstrated most graphically in Central America.

The world’s highest murder rates go to number one Honduras and number three El Salvador, both in Central America. Farther to the south, Venezuela holds the number two position.  And in Argentina violent deaths among youth are at a ten-year high.

Yet there are officials who blindly look south and argue that these threats are not necessarily existential, claiming that they pose no real challenge to borders or national security.

This organized crime-terror nexus has a nucleus and norm of fear, intimidation, extortion, kidnapping, murder, political tampering, and torture. The ... Read More

BRICS Fight Waning Clout With $150 Billion Deal in Brazil Summit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Raymond Colitt

The leaders of five of the world’s largest emerging markets will showcase a new currency reserve fund and development bank this week. Critics say neither is enough to revive the group’s waning clout.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as the BRICS, will approve the creation for the $100 billion reserve fund and $50 billion bank at a July 15-16 summit in Brazil’s coastal city of Fortaleza and the capital Brasilia.

The initiatives are born out of frustration with a lack of participation in global governance, particularly in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Arvind Subramanian, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The measures aren’t big enough to boost growth or cohesion in the group as foreign investor sentiment sours and member states focus on issues close to home, such as Brazil’s elections, the conflict in Ukraine and new economic policy plans in India.

“It’s hard to see a lot of impetus at this stage ... Read More

Poverty, violence fuel exodus of youths from Honduras to U.S.

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Dallas News

By ALFREDO CORCHADO

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Twelve-year-old Maynor Serrano points to the rows of houses where his friends and neighbors used to live. All are gone — many fleeing to the U.S.

Two of his friends were killed as 10-year-olds, their bodies chopped to pieces in a suspected gang vendetta.

He saw homes reduced to crumbling wrecks, their walls pockmarked with bullet holes. Entire neighborhoods were abandoned in hours — the result of monstrous gang violence.

Some houses became casas locas, crazy homes, for torturing families in this macabre city, which has the highest homicide rate in the world. Daily newspapers are filled with graphic photographs of bodies.

Like many, Maynor Serrano yearns to escape to the U.S., where he has relatives.

“It’s tough to live without hope,” he said. “If it’s not there, you go look for it.”

He spoke as he pulled weeds in one of the most violent barrios, Chamelecón, under the watchful ... Read More

Financing still a mystery as Nicaragua plans giant canal

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
seattle-times-logo

What went unanswered were two basic questions: Who’s going to pay for a canal with an estimated cost of $40 billion? Is China’s hidden hand at play?

By Tim Johnson

MEXICO CITY — The Chinese tycoon behind a plan to build a mammoth interoceanic waterway to compete with the Panama Canal whisked into Nicaragua last week and, in several appearances, including one with President Daniel Ortega, affirmed that “the biggest construction project in the history of mankind” has a green light.

In a lengthy appearance on state television Tuesday night, Ortega sat next to Wang Jing, the Chinese telecommunications magnate who has been pushing the plan, and pledged that the proposed canal “will permit the country to eradicate poverty and misery.”

The two promised that environmental damage during construction of the canal — at 173 miles long, more than three times the length of the one in Panama — will be minimal. Construction is scheduled ... Read More

Venezuela Feud Over Trapped Cash Spurs United to Cut Flights 43%

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Ed Dufner and Pietro D. Pitts

Venezuela’s isolation from the global air traffic network deepened as United Airlines joined the roster of carriers cutting flights in a dispute with the government over cash trapped in the country.

Service will be pared to four round trips a week from the current daily offerings, a 43 percent reduction, effective Sept. 17, United said yesterday. The unit of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. flies between Caracas and its hub in Houston, a center for the U.S. energy industry.

United’s move completes a sweep among the three biggest U.S. carriers in pulling back in Venezuela, following American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta (DAL) Air Lines Inc. More than a dozen airlines have trimmed capacity, sales or service in protest over strict currency controls that require government authorization to repatriate earnings from tickets sold there.

“It is making it difficult for anyone, including oil executives, to travel to Venezuela for business,” said Andy ... Read More

Chinese President leaves for Latin America

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Xinhuanet

BEIJING, July 13 – Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Sunday morning for statevisits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

Xi will visit the four countries at the invitation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff,Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba.

Xi will attend the sixth BRICS Summit and the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Brazil.

Xi’s entourage includes Wang Huning, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Policy Research Office of theCPC Central Committee; Li Zhanshu, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC CentralCommittee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and director of theGeneral Office of the CPC Central Committee and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

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Putin Meets With Fidel Castro During Latin American Visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

HAVANA (AP) –  Russian President Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region with a stop Friday in Cuba, a key Soviet ally during the Cold War that has backed Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The two countries signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island’s north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits, Cuban government website Cubadebate said.

Another agreement covered infrastructure at a big new port project that Cuba hopes will become a regional shipping center and attract much-needed foreign investment.

“We are talking about the possibility of creating in Cuba a grand transportation hub with a possible modernization of the maritime port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport with its ... Read More

Cuba cracks down, arrests 100 women dissidents

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
msn

Cuban authorities arrested an unusually large group of about 100 dissident marchers Sunday, breaking up a march by the Ladies in White opposition activists.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!,” the women offered no resistance as they were put on buses by dozens of police and plainclothes agents of the only communist-ruled country in the Americas.

A group of about 100 government supporters, who arrived along with the authorities at the scene in Havana’s Miramar district, angrily shouted “Viva Fidel, Viva Raul” as the women were whisked away.

The women’s group, formed in 2003 by wives and relatives of political prisoners, marches with the government’s permission every Sunday in the Cuban capital after hearing mass at Santa Rita parish church.

Since theirs is the only group that has government permission for a regular protest, arrests are few and infrequent.

But on Sunday, dozens of police moved in and surrounded the large crowd of marchers two blocks from ... Read More

Ocho organizaciones lanzan la Convergencia, una propuesta opositora de centroizquierda

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Acento

“Durante catorce años de gobierno, esa nefasta maquinaria política encabezada por Leonel Fernández y Danilo Medina, ha concentrado grandes recursos económicos, establecido y desarrollado un sistema de corrupción pública, que le ha permitido agenciarse un electorado cautivo sobre la base de políticas clientelistas sustentadas en el control hegemónico de las instituciones del Estado”

SANTO DOMINGO, República Dominicana.-Ocho organizaciones formalizaron este domingo y presentaron al pueblo dominicano el frente opositor Convergencia por un mejor país, que se propone conquistar el poder en las elecciones del año 2016 y cambiar el modelo económico y político, haciendo frente a la corrupción, ampliando las libertades y derechos civiles para todos los grupos sociales y democratizando las instituciones estatales, incluyendo a las Altas Cortes.

Forman la Convergencia por un mejor país el grupo denominado Partido Revolucionario Mayoritario, liderado por Luis Abinader e Hipólito Mejía; el Frente Amplio, liderado por Fidel Santana; La Multitud, liderada por Hecmilio Galván; ... Read More

How to Tame Argentina’s Debt Vultures

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg By Mac Margolis For the superstitious, the Aerolineas Argentina jet that taxied onto the runway in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this week, straight across the path of an inbound Utair Boeing, forcing the Russian airliner to pull up, might have been an omen.

The same day, across the Atlantic, another potential disaster involving airborne Argentines was on the radar. Negotiators from Buenos Aires had landed in New York for further talks over the country’s unpaid debt. And every time Argentina’s economy minister, Axel Kicillof, boards a plane, bourses and boardrooms quake.

The whip-smart 42-year-old economist, with the tango master’s sideburns and Lord Keynes in his book bag, is the bane of international bondholders, some of whom have been at dagger point with the South American nation for the last decade.

For their palate for dud bonds and reputation for preying on debtors in distress, these lenders are often called vultures. Kicillof has been point man in President Cristina Fernandez ... Read More

Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By FRANCES ROBLES

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Anthony O. Castellanos disappeared from his gang-ridden neighborhood on the eastern edge of Honduras’s most dangerous city, so his younger brother, Kenneth, hopped on his green bicycle to search for him, starting his hunt at a notorious gang hangout known as the “crazy house.”

They were found within days of each other, both dead. Anthony, 13, and a friend had been shot in the head; Kenneth, 7, had been tortured and beaten with sticks and rocks. They were among seven children murdered in the La Pradera neighborhood of San Pedro Sula in April alone, part of a surge in gang violence that is claiming younger and younger victims.

“The first thing we can think of is to send our children to the United States,” said a mother of two in La Pradera, who declined to give ... Read More

Nicaragua Plots a Rival for the Panama Canal

| July 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Newsweek

By Lucy Westcott

There are a lot of doubts about whether a proposed canal in Nicaragua will ever be built, but the route of the waterway that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and potentially radicalize the world’s trading routes has been settled on.

The proposed route of the 173-mile-long canal cuts a path through Nicaragua at a cost of $40 billion, which is nearly four times the annual GDP of the Central American country. The Chinese company contracted to build the canal is expected to start construction in December. HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group), which is in charge of the building the canal, has said it will be completed in five years.

The construction of Nicaragua’s canal represents a second chance to reap the rewards a major shipping channel can bestow on a country after losing out on the opportunity to build one more than a century ago. With statements from government officials that ... Read More

CARDENAS: To secure Southern Border, U.S. must also help secure Central America

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

President Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to cope with the humanitarian crisis along our southern border, which has been besieged by a surge in unaccompanied minors and thousands more trying to enter the United States from Central America through Mexico.

Clearly, the administration is scrambling to undo the damage caused in part by its own rhetoric and unilateral actions on immigration that, whether intentional or not, sent the calamitous message to desperate families across the region that if you want to get to the United States, then now is the time to come, because some sort of legal status awaits them.

Yet, notwithstanding the considerable sum of money requested from Congress, the administration’s current plan is merely stop-gap. It does nothing to address the primary driver of the problem: the escalating criminality in the region — most of it fueled by drug trafficking to the United States — that ... Read More

Argentine Bonds Jump on Prospect of Settlement With Holdouts

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Katia Porzecanski

Argentine bonds surged the most in emerging markets on speculation the South American nation is moving toward settling with holders of defaulted debt.

Global dollar bonds due 2017 jumped 4.94 cents on the dollar to 97.16 cents at 3:51 p.m. in New York after Argentine online news service Infobae reported a government plan to pay investors including hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. in full. Infobae cited unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Economy Minister Axel Kicillof will offer the hedge fund securities due in 2024 and 2028 in exchange for bonds that weren’t tendered in the nation’s two debt swaps following its 2001 default, Infobae reported. The government will pay the full amount a U.S. judge said was owed to the holdouts to avoid triggering a clause that would require the nation to extend a voluntary offer to investors who accepted losses of 70 percent in the bond exchanges in 2005 and 2010, Infobae ... Read More

Brazil’s World Cup Humiliation Threatens Dilma’s Reelection

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Crunch-01

By Natuza Nery and Valdo Cruz

BRASILIA — What will be the political and economic reverberations of Tuesday’s historic humiliation of Brazil’s soccer team?

The government of President Dilma Rousseff is already on alert, fearing that the national bad mood left by the 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany may deepen the already rather bleak Brazilian economic forecast, and have an impact on the upcoming presidential election slated for October.

Up until this week, Rousseff had been riding the wave of a successful World Cup, both on and off the pitch, as Brazil’s team kept advancing, sometimes with difficulty, towards the final. She attacked “pessimists” and “vultures,” lumping together critics of the World Cup organization and those who voiced their low expectations regarding Brazil’s sporting performance.

A prompt public reaction to the defeat came from the President herself. She wrote on Twitter, “Like all Brazilians, I’m very, very sad about the defeat. I am immensely sorry for us all, the fans and ... Read More

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Heritage Foundation

By Ana Quintana

Current proposals in Congress would cut foreign assistance in response to the crisis at the border. As Congress considers any measures, it should be careful not to disrupt programs that serve U.S. interests and address the security conditions that have contributed to this problem.

In particular, programs such as those run by the Department of Defense and other relevant federal agencies also contribute to security assistance efforts.

Regional Security Conditions

It cannot be denied that Mexico and Central America’s Northern Triangle countries—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—are all facing chronic citizen and economic insecurity crises. Rampant corruption and weak state institutions have made it virtually impossible to combat threats posed by violent transnational gangs and organized criminal groups. Coupled with the issue of endemic corruption, the regional debt crises and weak state institutions plague the region. Honduras has the world’s highest homicide rates, averaging 91 per 100,000 citizens. El Salvador is fourth in ... Read More

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