Colombia, U.S. continue war on drugs amid shifting battlefield

Colombia, U.S. continue war on drugs amid shifting battlefield

BOGOTA - The White House on Tuesday requested $450.6 million for fiscal year 2017 to support Colombia’s anti-narcotics campaign and peace-building efforts in a program it’s dubbing Paz Colombia, officials said.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, William Brownfield, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said the money would be roughly split 50-50 between economic and social programs and the fight against narcotics.

The renewed commitment (it’s roughly $150 million more than previous years) comes ...  

Venezuela: ‘The most miserable country in the world’ is slipping toward default

Venezuela: ‘The most miserable country in the world’ is slipping toward default

Over the past few days, the talk among those who watch “the most miserable country” in the world has turned to default. This year, it seems, is Venezuela’s year. “Unless the Chinese pull something out of the bag or PDVSA [Venezuela's state oil company] exercises a voluntary bond swap it’s happening,” said Brian Dean, a partner at ACG Analytics.

“There’s going to be a default in my view unless there’s some kind of political disruption … They can sell assets but ...  

Argentina Debt Deal Faces Hurdles Despite Bond Offer

Argentina Debt Deal Faces Hurdles Despite Bond Offer

An end to a stalemate over Argentina’s defaulted debt faces a number of hurdles despite the country’s new $6.5 billion offer to U.S. bondholders Friday, said people familiar with the matter. An agreement would have to contend with a number of thorny issues in the U.S. and Argentina as large debt owners haven’t yet signaled their approval, these people said. Argentina is trying to settle with these holdouts so it can return to the global bond market.

The government’s proposal was ...  

Mexico replaces state oil chief amid sinking prices

Mexico replaces state oil chief amid sinking prices

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s president replaced the head of troubled state energy giant Pemex on Monday amid a steep fall in world oil prices that have caused the company to lose millions. Emilio Lozoya, who has led Pemex since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, was succeeded by Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, director of the Mexican Social Security Institute.

In a ceremony at the presidential residence, Pena Nieto instructed Gonzalez Anaya to “strengthen the finances and production (of the ...  

Supporting ‘Paz Colombia’: Why we need referees, not cheerleaders

Supporting ‘Paz Colombia’: Why we need referees, not cheerleaders

By Roger F. Noriega

February 9, 2016

President Obama’s recent pledge of $450 million to support Colombia’s peace process (dubbed “Paz Colombia”) is a significant political boost. However, it is a drop in the bucket in terms of what that South American country will need to demobilize and resettle guerrillas and develop swaths of territory isolated by 50 years of armed conflict. I explained the complex challenges in an AEI research paper published last week, noting the need for private sector to ...  

Haiti avoids crisis at the last minute, but what happens next?

Haiti avoids crisis at the last minute, but what happens next?

IN HAITI, it has too often been the case that what can go wrong does go wrong. That’s why it’s such a relief that Haitian leaders, with a critical assist from the Organization of American States, were able to agree on an 11th-hour deal, just before President Michel Martelly was to leave office Sunday with no successor in place, to avert a power vacuum.

It’s also why there remains cause for concern, and the pressing need for international vigilance, as the ...  

Crude Tumbles With Equities as Venezuela Fails to Achieve Deal

Crude Tumbles With Equities as Venezuela Fails to Achieve Deal

Oil dropped below $30 a barrel in New York as equities tumbled and no agreement emerged from Venezuela’s tour of crude-producing nations. Futures fell 3.9 percent. No steps to shore up the market were announced after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi met his Venezuelan counterpart Sunday in Riyadh. Speculators’ short positions on crude were near a record while longs were at the highest since June, increasing total wagers to unprecedented levels, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission show.

Oil ...  

Lecciones aprendidas del Plan Colombia

Lecciones aprendidas del Plan Colombia

Por Roger F. Noriega y Peter F. Romero

Con un número creciente de Estados que colapsan en conflictos alrededor del mundo, sentimos la tentación de caer en la desesperanza con respecto a los esfuerzos para reconstruir sociedades destrozadas por la violencia. Esta semana, sin embargo, el presidente Juan Manuel Santos, de Colombia, estuvo en Washington para celebrar el 15.° aniversario del Plan Colombia, un plan audaz y bipartita que ayudó a este país a salir del borde del fracaso. Gracias a ...  

Venezuela flirts with default, could be worse than Argentina

Venezuela flirts with default, could be worse than Argentina

Venezuela, a country that has endured nearly three continuous years of economic and social crises, is all but certain to touch off a new round of instability — one that is not altogether unfamiliar territory for emerging markets.

With inflation logging near triple-digit gains and crude oil — the lifeblood of the Bolivarian Republic’s economy — deeply entrenched in a bear market, market observers are bracing themselves for the prospect of a calamitous debt default sometime this year. Last month, Venezuelan ...  

SPIES AND MISSILES: CASTRO CONTINUES TO MOCK THE U.S.

SPIES AND MISSILES: CASTRO CONTINUES TO MOCK THE U.S.

The efforts of the Obama administration to “normalize” relations with Cuba have been mocked this past week. The U.S. Southern Command holds an annual regional security conference. For decades, one of its main purposes was to protect the region against Cuba, but this time the Obama administration made sure that Cuba was invited to attend. The conference was held at the very end of January.

What did the Cubans do? They sent as their representative a man who spied against the ...  

Trans-Pacific Partnership Extends America’s Prosperity And Influence

Trans-Pacific Partnership Extends America’s Prosperity And Influence

To only minor fanfare, a treaty encompassing 40% of the world’s trade was quietly signed by 12 of the world’s most desirable export nations. It’s a ticket to prosperity for all.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is maligned by many on the left and some on the right as a job killer, a threat to U.S. sovereignty, or a giveaway to China. It’s none of those things — it’s a deal to cut 18,000 taxes and chop away thousands of nontrade barriers, ...  

AEI Report: Beyond war and revolution: Dramatic developments in the Andean region

AEI Report: Beyond war and revolution: Dramatic developments in the Andean region

 

By Roger F. Noriega

February 5, 2016

 

 

Colombia is making ambitious plans for implementing a historic peace agreement to end a 50-year conflict with leftist guerrillas. Ensuring the guerrillas end their lucrative drug trafficking and creating economic opportunity in post-conflict zones are crucial to success. The economic chaos, political unrest, and potential refugee crisis brewing in neighboring Venezuela can be minimized by advocating an orderly transition of power. The same energy and creative leadership required to support complex transitions in Colombia and Venezuela can ...  

Will Peace Destabilize Colombia?

Will Peace Destabilize Colombia?

A long-running, largely ignored civil war that has roiled Colombia for more than half a century appears close to an end. Now the biggest threat to the stability of the South American nation is peace.

Colombia is facing what President Juan Manuel Santos calls an “irreversible moment” – on the verge of a monumental achievement in signing a comprehensive peace agreement with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. At the White House on Thursday, Santos and President Barack ...  

Venezuela president vows to resist ouster

Venezuela president vows to resist ouster

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro vowed Thursday the opposition’s attempts to drive him from power would not prosper “by fair means or foul” in a political crisis gripping the oil-rich nation.

Opposition leaders have called for Maduro to be ousted by constitutional means, accusing him of dragging the country close to economic ruin. Despite having lost control of the National Assembly legislature Maduro dug in his heels as he rallied supporters near the Miraflores presidential palace.

The rally commemorated a ...  

Washington Must Remedy Colombia’s Flawed FARC Deal

Washington Must Remedy Colombia’s Flawed FARC Deal

For fifty years, the Colombian government has been locked in armed conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. But for the last four years Bogotá and its nemesis, an internationally recognized narco-terrorist group, have been engaged in peace talks as well.

With the deadline fast approaching, the two parties have agreed to finalize a peace agreement on March 23. But before that happens, President Barack Obama will host a February 4 “official working visit” with Colombian President ...  

Hezbollah in business with Colombian drug cartels, DEA says

Hezbollah in business with Colombian drug cartels, DEA says

The Lebanon-based extremist group Hezbollah has business connections with South American drug cartels, and has been using them to enter the narcotics trafficking business, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week.

The DEA said the terrorist group’s External Security Organization Business Affairs Component has established business relationships with drug cartels, such as Colombia’s La Oficina de Envigado, to bring large quantities of cocaine from Latin America to markets throughout Europe.

The group is also allegedly responsible for laundering drug proceeds as ...  

Haiti urgently needs international help overcoming its political crisis

Haiti urgently needs international help overcoming its political crisis

AFTER MONTHS of mounting instability and political violence, Haiti now is days away from a full-bore leadership crisis. The way out of the impasse is unclear. What is clear is that the current, failed president, Michel Martelly, must go.

Under Haiti’s constitution, Mr. Martelly, who took office in 2011, must step down when his term ends Sunday. However, a runoff election to choose his successor was canceled amid street protests and political upheaval last month, leaving no alternate date for a ...  

Colombian president arrives in D.C. as a peace accord appears imminent, but some grumble at the cost

Colombian president arrives in D.C. as a peace accord appears imminent, but some grumble at the cost

On a hot, steamy evening 15 years ago, Bill Clinton donned a sombrero, ignored his nervous presidential security detail and joyfully danced his way through cheering crowds in the 16th- century central plaza of Cartagena, Colombia’s graceful Caribbean city.

Leading a congressional delegation that included the Republican House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, and Joe Biden, then the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton had just formalized a deal to provide Colombia with $1.3 billion in aid. It was the ...  

Oil-rich Venezuela is now importing U.S. oil

Oil-rich Venezuela is now importing U.S. oil

A ship carrying half a million barrels of oil that was pumped in the U.S. docked at a terminal owned by Venezuela last week, according to oil data research firm ClipperData. The shipment was sent to a facility located on the Dutch island of Curacao in the Caribbean.

The fact that Venezuela is importing American oil is raising eyebrows because Venezuela has 298 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s more than Saudi Arabia, Russia ...  

OAS mission chief hopeful Haiti can settle political crisis

OAS mission chief hopeful Haiti can settle political crisis

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — After three days of meetings, the chief of a regional mission is hopeful but not necessarily confident that Haiti’s political crisis can be resolved before the scheduled end of the president’s term this weekend.

At outgoing President Michel Martelly’s request, the Organization of American States authorized the special mission to Haiti following the indefinite suspension of a runoff election to choose a successor before the Feb. 7 constitutional deadline for him to leave office. Since arriving Sunday, the ...  

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Testimony by Ambassador Roger Noriega before House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Latin America in 2015: A Year in Review

Jose Cardenas discusses Cuba's problematic ties abroad at the Center for Security Policy’s 4th Annual Latin America Symposium

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.