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-->

Venezuela’s unrest: stumbling towards chaos

| May 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Economist

THE grim gauges of Venezuela’s protests, now in their fourth month, steadily rise. The official death toll has reached 44. Around 3,000 demonstrators have been arrested, over 1,600 face criminal charges and about 160 are in pre-trial detention. Allegations that detainees have been tortured have brought condemnation from human-rights groups. And the prospect of a negotiated end to the crisis is receding.

In April the moderate wing of the opposition Democratic Unity (MUD) alliance and the government of Nicolás Maduro agreed to talks facilitated by the Vatican and foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur). The student movement and the more radical wing of the MUD, led from a prison cell by Leopoldo López of the Popular Will party, stuck to street protests. They said their participation depended on tough conditions, including the release of political prisoners and an end to repression.

On May 13th the co-ordinator of the ... Read More

Jacobson dice que se confundió

| May 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
La Patilla

La subsecretaria de Estado para el Hemisferio Occidental Roberta Jacobson dijo a reporteros que ella incurrió en una confusión cuando dijo la semana pasada al comparecer ante un panel del Senado que Washington considera prematuro sancionar a funcionarios venezolanos porque integrantes de Mesa de la Unidad Democrática así se los había pedido.

“Yo he dicho mal en el hearing (audiencia). Hay personas que han dicho que no, pero son personas fuera del diálogo”, dijo Jacobson en español a periodistas en la embajada de Uruguay tras firmar un memorando de entendimiento para promover la igualdad social, étnica y racial con esa nación sudamericana.

“Yo hice mal. Fue una confusión durante el hearing (audiencia) cuando yo recordé mal” (sic), agregó.

Un empleado del Senado que pidió el anonimato por no estar autorizado a hablar con los periodistas dijo el miércoles a The Associated Press que Jacobson envió al Senado una carta solicitando que su error ... Read More

Brasil se prepara para extendidas protestas contra el dispendio

| May 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Excelsior

SAO PAULO, 15 de mayo.- En varias ciudades brasileñas se esperan este jueves protestas contra el gobierno con muchas manifestaciones contra el elevado gasto para albergar la Copa del Mundo del próximo mes.

Las manifestaciones más grandes se anticipan en Sao Paulo la ciudad más poblada de Brasil donde se jugará el partido inaugural del Mundial el 12 de junio y en Río de Janeiro que será la sede de la final en julio.

El año pasado las protestas masivas contra el gobierno a lo largo y ancho de Brasil eclipsaron la Copa Confederaciones un torneo de preparación para el Mundial cuando más de un millón de personas llegaron a echarse a las calles en una sola noche.

De click aquí para tener acceso a artículo ... Read More

Tighten the screws on Venezuela

| May 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

The failure of Venezuela’s government to bargain in good faith with leaders of the pro-democracy movement strengthens the case for imposing U.S. sanctions on President Nicolás Maduro’s cronies and the beneficiaries of his corrupt regime.

Given the government’s slide into authoritarian rule, there never seemed to be much chance that it would use the talks to engage in political healing, but opponents gave it a try. On Tuesday, however, the head of the democratic umbrella group, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, labeled the talks a farce and said the negotiations had yielded little except insults from the government side.

And, while the government paid lip service to its supposed desire to ease the crisis, security forces stepped up political repression against its foes, and Mr. Maduro’s bureaucrats imposed new economic measures that offer fresh evidence of their incompetent management.

Police last week raided four makeshift camps in Caracas set up by anti-government demonstrators and detained ... Read More

Treasury Targets Major Money Laundering Network Operation Based In Panama

| May 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
US Treasury

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated eight individuals and 20 entities connected to Jorge Fadlallah Cheaitelly as specially designated narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).  The individuals designated today act on behalf of, or provide support to Fadlallah Cheaitelly, the leader of a Panama-based drug trafficking and money laundering organization that stretches across the globe, who was arrested in Costa Rica in 2011 for his significant role in international money laundering activities and extradited to the United States in 2012.  As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which these individuals and entities have an interest are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

Key associates in the Fadlallah Cheaitelly organization include Panamanian attorney Jorge Plata McNulty, his ... Read More

Tight poll points to a paradox in booming Colombia

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

By Andres Schipani

It should be an easy ride. Colombia’s economy is growing fast, peace talks may soon end a 50-year rebel insurgency and a vast infrastructure programme is under way. Yet President Juan Manuel Santos’s re-election attempt is struggling.

Rebel attacks on oil pipelines, judicial bungling, bribery allegations and a nationwide farmers’ strike have sapped support for the centrist Mr Santos ahead of the May 25 presidential vote, seen as a plebiscite on the peace talks.

Further complicating the picture for Mr Santos are vitriolic attacks by popular former president Álvaro Uribe, who has criticised the peace talks even though the majority of Colombians appear to be in favour of ending a conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives and contributed to hemispheric drug trafficking.

“Peace would help us and any business in Colombia a lot,” says Javier Gutiérrez, chief executive of national energy company Ecopetrol, which has suffered from repeated rebel attacks on pipelines that have cost the ... Read More

Venezuela protests heat up amid opposition rift

| May 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan security forces arrested scores of people during a sweep of a busy Caracas avenue as protests against the government heated up amid a widening split within the opposition over whether to back possible U.S. sanctions.

The student-led protest Wednesday came a day after the opposition froze talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, saying dialogue was impossible after the arrest last week of more than 200 student protesters who had been camping for weeks outside the United Nations offices and three plazas in the capital.

Many political observers believe that by halting the talks, moderate opposition leaders were caving to pressure from their own radical base, which is fuming following the mass arrests and confusing statements about sanctions by the top U.S. diplomat to Latin America.

Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affair, testified last week in the Senate that some members of Venezuela’s opposition are ... Read More

Venezuela detains dozens of anti-government protesters

| May 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Police in Venezuela have detained at least 80 demonstrators who were demanding the release of those arrested in recent anti-government protests.

Hundreds of people, mostly students, had marched peacefully through the streets of the capital Caracas.

But security forces later clashed with a group of demonstrators who threw stones and home-made explosives, and tried to erect barricades.

More than 40 people have been killed during three months of unrest.

Wednesday’s march was called by university students to demand the release of more than 200 people who were detained after security forces broke up protest camps last week.

The government said the camps were being used as bases to launch “violent attacks” and to hide “drugs, weapons, explosives and mortars”.

‘No proof’

But a university student at the march, Alex Gomez, rejected the accusations, saying “there was never a problem due to drugs, weapons, or alcohol”.

“We are demanding that they show us the reasons why they arrested ... Read More

Leaderless in Venezuela

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Juan Nagel

Venezuelans have been hitting the streets en masse since early February, protesting against the government’s inability to tackle the nation’s soaring inflation and crime. The protests have left dozens of people dead, and hundreds have been detained. Yet one of the curious things about this movement is that it is not the brainchild of the political opposition to President Nicolás Maduro. Quite the contrary, people are in the streets in spite of their leadership. Many of them have even given up on the established political opposition altogether.

Venezuela’s political opposition has been engaged in tenuous dialogue talks with the government since early April, at the behest of South American foreign ministers eager to see the crisis end. But after anauspicious start in which both parties aired their grievances honestly on live TV, the opposition umbrella group, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), has announced that it will no longer participate – unless the government halts repression.

Since talks began, several people ... Read More

Venezuelan Political Talks Halted as Side Trade Blame

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Corina Pons

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused political opponents of rejecting the legitimacy of his government after the opposition suspended talks to end nationwide demonstrations that have left at least 42 dead.

“We will return to meetings with the government if they show interest,” Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, general secretary of the opposition alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable, known as MUD, said at a news conference in Caracas yesterday. “The government is only increasing the repression. They have to decide whether they want to win war or peace.”

National guardsmen on May 8 arrested 243 students who had been sleeping in tent camps for the past month, according to the Interior Ministry. The raids reignited demonstrations in the capital, where protesters threw up new street barricades, and clashes left one policeman dead.

The opposition alliance and the government held two sessions of talks last month to end the protests that started Feb. 12 over rising ... Read More

Venezuela’s petty socialism

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Commentator

By Rafael Fiallo

The film An Average Little Man, of Italian moviemaker Mario Monicelli, ranked high among the box-office successes of the 1970s. Alberto Sordi plays the picture’s leading role, namely that of a mediocre public officer who reaches retirement age.

At an early stage of the film, we see him at the cocktail party organised by his department on the occasion of his departure. The time of the toast arrives. He thus readies to say a few words, but his colleagues hasten to quit the place, indifferent to what he may tell them.

His family life isn’t any brighter. His son is caught in the middle of a street shootout and dies, although some details lead the audience (at least this author) to believe that the killing might be a hallucination of the bureaucrat, who refuses to admit that the son merely ran away from home so as to emancipate himself. Be that as it ... Read More

Venezuela: Futile “Dialogue” and Correcting Roberta Jacobson on the Need for Sanctions

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
PanAm Post

By Luis Fleischman

On May 8, while Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela was arresting 240 student protestors.

In fact, since the beginning of the dialogue, the government has arrested more than 500 protestors. Protests in Venezuela have been going on for the last four months due to shortages of basic goods, a spectacularly high crime rate, a 57 percent inflation rate (officially), and an increasingly oppressive government.

Since the protests began in February, both chambers of Congress have sponsored bi-partisan legislation to promote human rights in Venezuela and to sanction specific individuals in the Venezuelan government responsible for repression and violations of human rights in Venezuela, as well as the torture and murder of at least 41 protestors. The irony here is that while members of the Foreign Affairs Committees in both houses of the United ... Read More

Venezuela Opposition Says Peace Talks In Crisis

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal By KEJAL VYAS CARACAS, Venezuela—Talks between President Nicolás Maduro’s government and some opposition leaders to defuse three months of protests that have cost 42 lives are in danger of falling apart, a top opposition official warned Tuesday.

The Maduro administration has failed to respond to opposition peace talk proposals while continuing a crackdown on street demonstrations, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, general secretary of the opposition alliance, told reporters.

Last week, authorities raided several student protest camps in Caracas, arresting 243 people and again setting off clashes between protesters and state security forces after weeks of relative calm. A national policeman was killed that day in a separate incident involving protesters.

“The dialogue is in crisis and it’s because of the national government,” Mr. Aveledo said. “If they want dialogue, they have to show it.”

Talks began last month, mediated by the Vatican as well as the foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. But Mr. Aveledo ... Read More

Guatemala eyes alternative crop subsidies to dampen poppy allure

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

By Mike McDonald

 ANTIGUA, Guatemala (Reuters) – Guatemala is considering subsidizing alternative crops for poppy farmers in order to curb the production of narcotics and raise funds for social programs, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

The government could offer seeds for potatoes, corn and peas to farmers who grow poppies in northwestern Guatemala along the border with Mexico, where powerful drug cartels buy the plants and convert them into heroin, said Eunice Mendizabal, anti-narcotics deputy minister.

The Central American nation, with tight budget constraints, spends close to $2 million annually eliminating poppy plants. It is struggling to contain cartels that use the isthmus as a transit point to ship drugs to the United States.

“Every time we perform an operation to eradicate poppies, that area becomes more conflictive,” Mendizabal told Reuters at a conference to discuss alternatives to the drug war.

“The idea is to bring together all the commissions (studying drug ... Read More

Mexico sets security plan for violent Tamaulipas state

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

The government in Mexico has pledged to deploy more security forces and boost intelligence in Tamaulipas, one of the country’s most dangerous states.

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio admitted that the government had not done enough to deal with insecurity in the north-eastern state.

But he promised that a “new phase” against powerful drug cartels would restore peace there.

Last week, Mexican intelligence chief Salvador Haro Munoz was killed there.

His car was ambushed by armed men in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria.

’24-hour patrols’

Mr Osorio announced that the state would be divided into four regions, each with an army or navy officer in charge of implementing the government’s security plan.

“We will strengthen surveillance at ports, airports, customs and border crossings, as well as the major land routes,” he told a news conference.

Mr Osorio said security forces would “patrol 24 hours, every day of the week, in main urban areas”, and would conduct ... Read More

Oliver Stone’s Disgraceful Tribute to Hugo Chávez

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

How the renowned director’s latest film distorts history and whitewashes an authoritarian thug.

BY JEFFREY TAYLER

Oliver Stone has rarely shied away from highly creative finagling with the truth.  The avowedly leftist filmmaker’s 1995 epic Nixon provoked outcries from the Nixon family over its depiction of the former president (as alcoholic and unhinged), as well as detailed objections from Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor and secretary of state. But even the progressive the Guardian has trashed Stone’s work, calling his 1991 JFK a “magic bullet … veering erratically between misconceptions and outright lies in a determined effort to avoid the facts.” There has been much more faultfinding of this sort from both iberals and conservatives, but the upshot is that Stone cannot be trusted to present the truth, even when shooting biographies of people who matter.

Stone has countered that his films are meant to spark reflection and cause viewers to “start investigating on [their] own.” This surely would be easier for them to ... Read More

New arrest in case of money laundering to Cuba

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Jay Weaver and Juan O. Tamayo

A Miami man has been arrested in an unprecedented money-laundering case that alleges some part of $238 million gained from Medicare fraud was secretly pumped into the Cuban banking system.Eduardo Perez de Morales, 26, was arrested by FBI agents Monday on one charge of conspiring with his fugitive brother, Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales, who owned an offshore remittance company, Caribbean Transfers.

The company is suspected of bankrolling a Florida check-cashing business that prosecutors say cashed checks for Medicare fraud offenders and transferred the dirty dollars through Canada to Cuba.

Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales, who owns a seaside home in Havana, is wanted by the FBI and was last reported to be living in Cuba. Charged in 2012, he also could be in the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Spain, authorities said.

The revised indictment now charging his brother alleges that as much as $238 million in stolen ... Read More

Fistfights amid long bread lines in Venezuela

| May 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

(CNN) — Shoppers in Venezuela know that shortages of staples like cornmeal, milk and chicken are a harsh reality of life, but now — amid violent protests and strikes — shortages have spread to that most basic of basics: bread.

Lines are forming, and fights have broken out outside bakeries as politicians and business leaders point fingers.

In recent days, people have had to wait in line for hours under the scorching sun. Ricardo Rodriguez, a Caracas resident waiting for the chance to buy bread, described the queues as “extraordinary.”

“It’s like embarking on an odyssey,” he said.

The problem stems from labor, social unrest and currency regulation that ties to difficulties importing raw ingredients, according to Tomas Ramos Lopez, president of the Venezuelan Federation of Bread Producers.

Ramos told CNN en Español that the problem started last year when a strike stopped production at a flour mill in Monagas state that supplies 35% of ... Read More

Mexico Oil Opening May Release Gusher for Foreigners

| May 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Adam Williams

When Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto arrived at the March 18 rally, he was greeted like a rock star. Hundreds of local residents and employees of Petroleos Mexicanos had gathered in the eastern state of Veracruz for the annual celebration of the 1938 expropriation of foreign oil wells and the founding of Pemex. The workers, all dressed in white shirts and guayaberas bearing the Pemex logo, leaned over waist-high barriers to try to touch the photogenic president. They cheered and sang, breaking frequently into a chant normally reserved for the national soccer team, Bloomberg Markets will report in its June issue.

An outsider would never have guessed that, just three months earlier, Pena Nieto, 47, had signed into law a constitutional amendment that Pemex, its powerful union and its political backers had fought against for decades. The amendment opens up Mexican oil and gas fields to foreign and private investment for the first ... Read More

The Last Communist City

| May 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
City Journal

By MICHAEL J. TOTTEN

Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 science-fiction film Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, takes place in Los Angeles, circa 2154. The wealthy have moved into an orbiting luxury satellite—the Elysium of the title—while the wretched majority of humans remain in squalor on Earth. The film works passably as an allegory for its director’s native South Africa, where racial apartheid was enforced for nearly 50 years, but it’s a rather cartoonish vision of the American future. Some critics panned the film for pushing a socialist message. Elysium’s dystopian world, however, is a near-perfect metaphor for an actually existing socialist nation just 90 miles from Florida.

I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba—not because I’m nostalgic for a botched utopian fantasy but because I wanted to experience Communism firsthand. When I finally got my chance several months ago, I was startled to discover how much the Cuban reality lines up with Blomkamp’s dystopia. In Cuba, ... Read More