Germany won’t rule out EU sanctions against Venezuela

Germany won’t rule out EU sanctions against Venezuela

BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is refusing to rule out European Union sanctions against Venezuela following a meeting with senior opposition figures.

Merkel’s office said she met briefly Wednesday in Berlin with Julio Borges, president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, and Freddy Guevara, the legislature’s first vice president. It said Venezuela’s current domestic political situation, its “worrying human rights situation” and worsening economic conditions in the country were the focus of talks.

Merkel pledged to support “the Venezuelan people and all democratic ...  

Brazilian Corruption Case Ensnares Ex-Presidents da Silva and Rousseff

Brazilian Corruption Case Ensnares Ex-Presidents da Silva and Rousseff

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil’s attorney general on Tuesday charged former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; his successor, Dilma Rousseff; and several other senior figures of the Workers’ Party with running a “criminal organization” that raked in hundreds of millions in bribes during the party’s nearly 14-year reign.

The case is the first in which Ms. Rousseff, who was impeached last year for violating budgetary rules, stands accused of partaking in the kickback schemes that have cast a pall over ...  

Debt, sanctions and disrepair: Venezuela’s oil sector in agony

Debt, sanctions and disrepair: Venezuela’s oil sector in agony

Caracas (AFP) – After decades of being Venezuela’s cash cow, the state oil company PDVSA is a ragged shadow of its former self: overburdened, underfed, and in hock to Russian and Chinese creditors.

The woes of the group, whose full name is Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., look set to worsen because of US sanctions imposed last month restricting its access to credit.

Oil production keeps declining and much of what is exported goes to repay billions of dollars in loans. That puts ...  

Venezuela leader won’t attend UN rights council meeting

Venezuela leader won’t attend UN rights council meeting

The United Nations says Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won’t attend a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting next week as originally planned.

Council spokesman Rolando Gomez said in an email Tuesday to reporters that Maduro “will not address the Human Rights Council.”

Gomez said the Venezuelan government had indicated in a diplomatic note a day earlier that the president would speak to the council at the start of its new session on Monday. …

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Guatemala’s president tried to shut down a U.N. commission that announced it was investigating him

Guatemala’s president tried to shut down a U.N. commission that announced it was investigating him

On Aug. 27, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales ordered the immediate expulsion of the head of the U.N. Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, Iván Velásquez. Within hours, the country’s Constitutional Court had blocked the move.

Morales’s sudden announcement sent shock waves throughout Guatemala and the international community. Representative Eliot L. Engel, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, issued a statement calling for closer scrutiny of Guatemala’s commitments vis-à-vis U.S. assistance.

What’s the story here? And what does it mean for ...  

Colombia says nation’s top drug fugitive eyes surrender

Colombia says nation’s top drug fugitive eyes surrender

BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia’s president says the country’s top drug fugitive has expressed interest in turning himself and ending a life on the run with a $5 million U.S. reward offered for his capture.

President Juan Manuel Santos says Dairo Usuga sent word that he is interested in surrendering Sept. 3. Usuga’s top lieutenant was recently killed in an encounter with security forces.

Santos did not provide further details Tuesday. But his vice president said Usuga sent authorities a document that his ...  

Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico: Jobs depend on success of NAFTA renegotiation

Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico: Jobs depend on success of NAFTA renegotiation

There is little doubt that the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, needs to be updated and improved. This despite the fact that virtually every independent economist who studied the results has called its first 23 years of existence a success in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The first round of negotiations to modernize NAFTA finished after five days of discussions in Washington. The second round began in Mexico City on friday. As is usual in such negotiations, nothing of ...  

Brazil engulfed in a corruption scandal with plots as convoluted as a telenovela

Brazil engulfed in a corruption scandal with plots as convoluted as a telenovela

For more than three years Brazilians have been following the almost daily headlines of a corruption investigation that takes its name, Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash), from a Brasilia gas station where illicit gains were being laundered through a money exchange service.

But the investigation, which began on May 17, 2014, has now moved far beyond money-laundering to probe corruption at the state-controlled oil company Petrobras and bribes paid by some of the biggest companies in Brazil to politicians at the ...  

Rebel faction in Colombia reaches peace deal ahead of Pope Francis’s visit

Rebel faction in Colombia reaches peace deal ahead of Pope Francis’s visit

Ahead of a historic visit by Pope Francis, Colombian officials signed a temporary cease-fire deal Monday with the leftist rebels of the ELN, potentially putting the long-troubled nation on track for a broader era of peace.

The deal with the ELN marks Colombia’s first cease-fire with an armed group founded in the 1960s with the aid of radical Catholic priests. It comes on the heels of a peace accord reached last year with what was Colombia’s largest armed guerrilla group, the ...  

Venezuelan opposition prepares to state its case in Europe

Venezuelan opposition prepares to state its case in Europe

Top Venezuelan opposition leaders plan to meet with European leaders this week to denounce human rights abuses under President Nicolás Maduro, as his government continues a crackdown on dissent.

Julio Borges and Freddy Guevara — the president and vice president of the National Assembly, a body dispossessed of its power by Maduro loyalists — have scheduled a meeting Monday in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron. Later in the week, they expect to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in ...  

Fitch says ‘default is probable’ for Venezuela, lowers country’s credit rating

Fitch says ‘default is probable’ for Venezuela, lowers country’s credit rating

Venezuela is more likely to default on its debt because its ability to raise money is being hampered by U.S. sanctions, according to ratings agency Fitch. Fitch said in a statement Thursday that a Venezuela default is “probable given the further reduction in financing options” stemming from the latest round of U.S. sanctions.

The Trump administration took aim at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government with an August 25 executive order barring trading in certain Venezuelan bonds. The order aims ...  

Mexican president likens leftist rival to Venezuela’s Maduro

Mexican president likens leftist rival to Venezuela’s Maduro

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto likened the front-runner for next year’s presidential election to Venezuelan leftist leaders in an interview published on Thursday, suggesting the opposition candidate could unleash economic chaos if he wins office.

Former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has led early opinion polls for the 2018 election. Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) earlier this year sought to brand Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party an ally of Venezuela after the Venezuelan Embassy suggested ...  

Here Are the 41 Websites You Can’t Access in Cuba

Here Are the 41 Websites You Can’t Access in Cuba

Want to access Skype in Cuba? Without a VPN, you’re out of luck. The service is blocked in the country, along with dozens of other websites, according to new report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), which works under the Tor Project. The study, published this week, shows just how censored Cuba’s internet still is.

Researchers from OONI monitored eight different internet access points in three different Cuban cities (Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Santa Clara) between May 29 ...  

Can Brazil Trim the Fat From Its Bloated Political System

Can Brazil Trim the Fat From Its Bloated Political System

The number of political parties in Brazil’s legislature has long been one of the government’s biggest problems. Unstable, unreliable coalitions and corruption scandals have become regular features of the country’s political system, thanks in large part to the more than 30 parties registered in Brazil today. Calls for a change in the system have grown louder in recent years, particularly in the wake of the latest corruption probe — the largest to date — and the government is starting to ...  

Trump’s Impatience Emerging as Biggest Threat to Nafta Agreement

Trump’s Impatience Emerging as Biggest Threat to Nafta Agreement

President Donald Trump won’t be in the room when negotiations resume on Friday to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, but his threats to blow up the talks could figure prominently.

Since the first round of discussions wrapped up Aug. 20, Trump has threatened to withdraw from Nafta four times — during speeches in Arizona and Missouri, in a Twitter post and at a news conference with the Finnish president. While Mexican officials have dismissed the comments as a scare ...  

Can Europe Stop a Venezuelan Civil War?

Can Europe Stop a Venezuelan Civil War?

Since April, more than 130 civilians have died in near-daily protests against the Venezuelan regime. As President Nicolas Maduro continues to cement his dictatorship, the European Union finally seems to be taking the situation in Venezuela more seriously. Targeted sanctions are being considered at a high level. Despite an increased sense of urgency to act, the European Union has yet to pass from words to action. But how can Europe at this stage act effectively to prevent a full-scale armed ...  

A Scion of Mexico Fights Corruption, and Becomes a Target

A Scion of Mexico Fights Corruption, and Becomes a Target

MEXICO CITY — President Enrique Peña Nieto sat before the nation’s titans of industry and allowed himself a smile.

Mexico’s business elite had invested record amounts of money in the country, giving life to the president’s promise of an economic renaissance and a welcome bright spot in an otherwise bleak landscape of scandals hovering over his administration.

But the president needed more from the nation’s top business leaders, perhaps his most important ...  

Brazil’s Petrobras Not A Victim Of Corruption, But A Participant

Brazil’s Petrobras Not A Victim Of Corruption, But A Participant

Brazilian oil company Petrobras likes to tell U.S. courts that it is a victim of corruption. It’s not their fault, it’s those nasty politicians and their friends in the private sector. Petrobras is the poor, gentle giant that funds Brazilian movie studios and wildlife conservation programs. They were pillaged and ransacked by pirates, hands up, with no one to save them.

Tell it to the judge.

In 2015, after the fall of Petrobras’ first female CEO, Maria das Gracas Foster, Brazilian president ...  

Venezuela: New assembly approves treason trials for opposition

Venezuela: New assembly approves treason trials for opposition

Venezuela’s new constituent assembly has unanimously voted to put opposition leaders on trial for treason. The assembly said it would pursue those it accuses of supporting US economic sanctions against the country.

Washington approved the measures last week in response to what it called the “dictatorship” of President Nicolás Maduro. President Maduro has accused the US of trying to cripple Venezuela’s economy amid an ongoing economic crisis.

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on 25 August to ban trade in ...  

Merino’s Network of Front Men

Merino’s Network of Front Men

By Moisés Alvarado

[Translation by IASW]

When he had to return to San Salvador, to begin preparing the descent of the hill of the “compas,” Jose Luis Merino bought a soda while waiting for his contact in the area to arrive. It was the beginning of 1992, and the ink on the Peace Accords was still fresh.

He received the drink and left without paying. More than a decade on the hills, where daily life was combat and survival, where each guerrilla received ...  

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About

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.