Cocaine Is Booming in Colombia and the President Is Tanking

Cocaine Is Booming in Colombia and the President Is Tanking

 By José R. Cárdenas

8/11/2017

When Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Colombia next week, he will find a country no longer celebrating its widely touted success story of rising from a near-failed state under the thumb of narco-terrorists to a secure, confident, and vibrant democracy. Instead, he will find a nation unnerved by a controversial peace process initiated by an unpopular president and dispirited about its future ahead of elections next year.

Moreover, storm clouds are brewing on the U.S.-Colombia bilateral front, ...  

US oil industry challenges sanctions on Venezuela

US oil industry challenges sanctions on Venezuela

CARACAS, VENEZUELA—The Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to slap sanctions on eight members of Venezuela’s all-powerful constitutional assembly brings to 30 the number of government loyalists targeted for human rights abuses and violations of democratic norms since anti-government protests began in April.

But even as the list of targeted individuals grows longer, promised economic sanctions have yet to materialize amid an outcry by the United States oil industry that a potential ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela – the third-largest supplier ...  

U.S. sanctions eight more Venezuelan officials, including Chavez brother

U.S. sanctions eight more Venezuelan officials, including Chavez brother

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on eight more Venezuelan officials, including the brother of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, to punish them for helping President Nicolas Maduro to create a new legislative superbody, U.S. officials said.

The United States targeted individual politicians and security figures but stopped short of placing broader financial or “sectoral” sanctions on its vital oil industry – though such actions, the officials told Reuters, are still under consideration.

The new measures announced by ...  

US embassy employees in Cuba possibly subject to ‘acoustic attack’

US embassy employees in Cuba possibly subject to ‘acoustic attack’

The US believes several State Department employees at the US embassy in Havana were subjected to an “acoustic attack” using sonic devices that left at least two with such serious health problems they needed to be brought back to the US for treatment, several senior State Department officials told CNN.

One official said the employees could have suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.

The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of ...  

Bolivia Defense of Legal Coca Cultivation Likely to Boost Cocaine Trade

Bolivia Defense of Legal Coca Cultivation Likely to Boost Cocaine Trade

President Evo Morales of Bolivia has again defended his administration’s plans to expand legal coca cultivation, a move that aims to please some of his biggest political supporters ahead of a reelection bid even though it may increase cocaine trafficking in the country.

Morales defended his decision to increase legal coca cultivation during a speech commemorating 192 years of Bolivian independence on August 6, El Diario reported.

In February, the Bolivian government and coca farmers agreed to allow for 22,000 hectares of ...  

Regional top diplomats reject Venezuela assembly

Regional top diplomats reject Venezuela assembly

Foreign ministers from 17 Western Hemisphere nations are condemning Venezuela’s new constitutional assembly, saying their governments will refuse to recognize the all-powerful body.

The statement came Tuesday evening after the Venezuelan assembly declared itself superior to all other branches of government.

The top diplomats met in Peru’s capital to discuss Venezuela’s political upheaval. They expressed support for renewed negotiations between the government and opposition, though previous talks have failed.

The ministers represented Mexico, Canada, Argentina and other regional nations. But while many Latin ...  

Venezuela inches closer to default

Venezuela inches closer to default

The country, which is engulfed in crisis, owes $251 million to bondholders on Monday. The payment comes after a weekend in which the attorney general was kicked out of office, a controversial legislature took power, and the military thwarted an alleged attack by a small paramilitary group.

Experts anticipate that Venezuela will make the payment to bondholders. But it has other payments coming due in the near future and could fall short on those if the economy continues to tailspin and ...  

The coming collapse of Venezuela

The coming collapse of Venezuela

As U.S. policymakers fret about Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and North Korea, far too little attention is being paid to the powder keg to the south of us that may be about to blow. Once-prosperous Venezuela has been coming apart for years, but the roundly condemned Constituent Assembly election engineered by presidential strongman Nicolas Maduro lit the fuse that could ignite a civil war in his country. With a Sunday attack by uniformed insurgents on a military base, the internecine battle ...  

U.S. Plans to Sanction More Venezuelans Tied to Maduro

U.S. Plans to Sanction More Venezuelans Tied to Maduro

The U.S. is preparing to expand sanctions against Venezuela by freezing assets of 10 to 20 additional people tied to the government of President Nicolas Maduro, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The action could come as soon as Tuesday, though it may be delayed as the Trump administration seeks a coordinated international response in imposing penalties on the Maduro regime for undermining democracy in the South American country, the people said.

The U.S. is pressing to enlist European and ...  

Venezuela launches manhunt for leaders of attack on army base

Venezuela launches manhunt for leaders of attack on army base

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela launched a country-wide manhunt on Monday for the men who assaulted an army base the day before, using state TV to flash pictures of the accused rebels who escaped with weapons after a gunfight with soldiers.

The attack came just hours after the first session of a new legislative superbody created by President Nicolas Maduro, which opponents say will cement dictatorship after months of deadly protests in the oil-rich but economically-ailing country.

Those who attacked the base near ...  

Venezuela’s attorney general is ousted by new assembly and replaced with a Maduro loyalist

Venezuela’s attorney general is ousted by new assembly and replaced with a Maduro loyalist

In a unanimous vote, Venezuela’s newly installed constitutional assembly fired Atty. Gen. Luisa Ortega Diaz during its first official session on Saturday.

Ortega has criticized President Nicolas Maduro in recent weeks for calling the assembly, which she said was illegal.

In a letter to assembly president Delcy Rodriguez after the 545-0 vote, Venezuela’s Supreme Court said it also has disqualified Ortega from holding any public office for an indefinite period and prohibited her from leaving the country, opening the way to her ...  

Venezuela quells anti-government uprising on military base

Venezuela quells anti-government uprising on military base

Venezuela squashed a small uprising on a military base Sunday, the first inkling of armed unrest in the beleaguered South American country after a new all-powerful legislative body condemned by the international community began targeting opposition foes.

Though the would-be rebellion, which left at least one man dead, appeared short-lived, it reignited spontaneous anti-government protests that had been absent for days after nearly four months of prolonged street tumult. Security forces once again repressed the demonstrations with tear gas and rubber ...  

Venezuelans watch the military for signs of fraying loyalty

Venezuelans watch the military for signs of fraying loyalty

CARACAS, Venezuela — As Venezuela’s political crisis spins further out of control, many are looking to the military to see if its once-unflinching loyalty to the socialist revolution might be fraying.

On Sunday morning, Venezuelans awoke to news that a small group of armed men tried to take over a major military base in the central city of Valencia after a long-mutinous national guard captain appeared in a video calling for rebellion.

The government said what it described as a “terrorist attack” ...  

Bringing Democracy Back to Venezuela

Bringing Democracy Back to Venezuela

By Roger F. Noriega

8.04.2017

This week in Venezuela, the corrupt regime of Nicolas Maduro is unveiling a “constituent assembly” comprised of 545 of his fanatical followers, which will dissolve all of the country’s institutions and write a constitution establishing one-party rule. By eliminating the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Maduro hopes to consolidate absolute power in the hands of his Socialist Party. This brazen power grab, micromanaged by Cuban advisers hoping to make a dictatorship in Venezuela to match their own, may backfire ...  

All-powerful Venezuelan assembly to open amid protests

All-powerful Venezuelan assembly to open amid protests

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is heading toward a showdown with his political foes, promising to seat a new constituent assembly Friday that will rewrite the country’s constitution and hold powers that override all other government branches.

Leaders of the opposition urged Venezuelans to fill the streets of the capital Friday, hoping to provide a strong showing that many people object to the assembly.

The body’s 545 delegates were expected to be installed at the legislative palace in a room ...  

Venezuelan corruption seen aiding South American illegal drug surge

Venezuelan corruption seen aiding South American illegal drug surge

Corruption in Venezuela is a key factor in the surge in cocaine production in neighboring Colombia, complicating U.S. efforts to aid Bogota as it struggles to recover from a half-century of civil war, the State Department’s point man on illegal drug trafficking told a Senate hearing Tuesday.

William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, spoke at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the state of anti-drug efforts in Colombia, where ...  

How Brazil’s most hated president clung to his job

How Brazil’s most hated president clung to his job

SAO PAULO, Brazil — His political career hung by a thread, but Brazilian President Michel Temer spent Wednesday afternoon working on a victory speech. Just a few miles away, 500 lawmakers in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies would hold a vote to decide whether to suspend his mandate for six months and approve a corruption trial in the Supreme Court.

At the end of the day, the decision was clear. By a vote of 263 to 227, Brazil’s lawmakers shrugged off the ...  

A journalist’s murder underscores growing danger in Mexico

A journalist’s murder underscores growing danger in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The absence of editor Javier Valdez Cardenas is deeply felt at the weekly newspaper he co-founded, but his presence is everywhere.

A large photo of Valdez displaying his middle finger, with the word “Justice,” hangs on the facade of the Riodoce newspaper building in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan. Two reporters in their 30s, Aaron Ibarra and Miriam Ramirez, wear T-shirts that display his smiling, bespectacled face or his trademark Panama hat. The masthead of the paper ...  

Newly jailed Venezuelan opposition leader is cut off from family, whereabouts unknown

Newly jailed Venezuelan opposition leader is cut off from family, whereabouts unknown

The lawyer for one of Venezuela’s most prominent opposition leaders, who was dragged in his pajamas from his home on Tuesday in a police raid, says that the Maduro administration has refused to tell him where his client is or allow him to speak with him.

Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of a Caracas district, was first arrested in 2015 when President Nicolas Maduro accused him of scheming – with the knowledge of the United States — to overthrow his government. ...  

Editorial: In Venezuela, the despotic Maduro has got to go

Editorial: In Venezuela, the despotic Maduro has got to go

The ongoing collapse of Venezuela’s economy, and the official demise of its democracy this past weekend, have brought the South American country to the brink of anarchy.

Those who can are fleeing the country, while President Nicolas Maduro consolidates his power and rounds up his opponents. Those who remain are preparing to fight back, and there is a growing dread that the violence that has killed more than 100 people since April is about to turn into something far worse.

The response ...  

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Latest Tweets by @IASecurity

Videos Featuring Our Experts

Kingpins and corruption: Targeting transnational organized crime in the Americas Roger Noriega on the Crisis in Venezuela: The world's response | IN 60 SECONDS

Venezuelan crisis: A brief history by Roger Noriega | IN 60 SECONDS

WAC Philadelphia: Latin America’s Role in 2017 and Beyond, feat. José R. Cárdenas

Promo for CNN's AC360°: "Passports in the shadows", feat. Roger Noriega

Ambassador Roger Noriega on PBS NewsHour discussing U.S.-Mexico relations under Trump

José Cárdenas Interview with Opinion Journal: "Hungry in Venezuela"

Ambassador Noriega Analyzes President Obama’s visit to Cuba on PBS’ ‘Newshour’

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.