Content from IASW Contributors

Central American insecurity fuels U.S. border crisis

By Roger Noriega The surge of illegal immigrants at the U.S. southwest border
should sound the alarm for the President and Congress to lead an
international rescue mission to confront murderous narco-traffickers
and street gangsters who threaten U.S. security along with the lives and
livelihood of millions of Central Americans. Read More-->

La inseguridad de Centro América intensifica la crisis en la frontera sur de Estados Unidos

By Roger NoriegaLa oleada de inmigrantes ilegales en la frontera suroeste de los Estados Unidos,  hizo sonar la alarma para el Presidente y el Congreso e impulsar una misión de rescate internacional para enfrentar a criminales, narcotraficantes y pandilleros que amenazan la seguridad de EE.UU., junto con las vidas y sustento de millones de centroamericanos. Read More-->

Venezuela: Dialogue unlikely to bring an end to protests

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

Two months into a political crisis that has cost dozens of lives and seen daily clashes between protesters, security forces and armed civilians, the government of the president, Nicolás Maduro, and the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) alliance, have at last agreed to the terms of a dialogue. However, with the government unlikely to concede any ground, the talks already appear doomed to failure.

The first formal meeting between the two sides is scheduled to take place on April 10th, and will be broadcast live. The foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador will be present, and the Vatican has been invited to send a “good-faith witness”, who will probably be the papal nuncio (the Vatican’s permanent diplomatic representative in Caracas).

A step in the right direction

The agreement, which was reached with the help of the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur), is a positive one, given that it was unclear ... Read More

Hope fades for Venezuela crisis talks

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

BY CHRISTOPHER SNYDER

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leaders are meeting this week for formal talks to end weeks of protests. Critics of Venezuela’s government believe no deal can be achieved because Maduro is not willing to give in to their demands.

Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to Jose Cardenas about the prospects of an agreement. Cardenas is a former State Department senior adviser and currently serves as an associate with Vision Americas.

“I’m very pessimistic that this dialogue will lead to anything credible and lasting,” Cardenas said. “These [talks] are mostly for international consumption.”

Cardenas sees the current protests as “spontaneous,” not organized by the country’s opposition as the government alleges. “These are students who have no overt political agenda,” Cardenas said.

“I’m very pessimistic that this dialogue will lead to anything credible and lasting.”- Jose Cardenas

The protesters are demanding Maduro loosen his control over the economy and media. “The government somehow needs to ... Read More

Venezuela government and opposition to begin peace talks Thursday on live TV

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

Venezuela’s government and factions of the opposition will sit down Thursday — on live national television — to try to dig their way out of a months-long political crisis that has paralyzed parts of the country and left dozens dead.

If the contentious and controversial talks do succeed, some of the credit will have to go to the long arm of late-President Hugo Chávez.

The organization that helped broker the meeting is the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, which Chávez helped create in 2008 to challenge the role of the Organization of American States in the region.

Unasur took center stage in the current crisis after a delegation of foreign ministers began trying to bring both sides together in March.

By most accounts, it was a savvy move by the administration of Nicolás Maduro, which has been under growing pressure to break the impasse. By letting Unasur take the lead, ... Read More

Peru: President Humala Should Push for More Economic Freedom

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

BY JAMES M. ROBERTS & EDWAR ENRIQUE ESCALANTE

When Peruvian president Ollanta Humala took office three years ago, some feared the worst. After all, during his first presidential run in 2006, Humala (a former Peruvian army officer) had donned the fire-breathing mantle of the populist, “Bolivarian” left that was personified by Venezuela’s then-president (and also ex-army officer) Hugo Chávez.

So although Humala lost the 2006 election and then moved to the center and won as a more moderate-sounding candidate when he ran again in 2011, no one knew for sure how he would govern. Would he remain a centrist (à la Lula in Brazil) or veer hard left? Now the world knows the answer.

Humala Has Stayed the Course for Economic Freedom

When Humala took office in 2011, the country was ranked 41st out of 178 countries worldwide in The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal 2011 Index of Economic Freedom[1] and had made steady progress, up from 45th ... Read More

Sending Ideas to Cuba

| April 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MIKE GONZALEZ

Cubans have lived on an information desert island for more than 50 years. Ten million people, once a vibrant part of the world — in tune with it and contributing to it, receiving information and even immigrants — were cut off soon after Fidel Castro took over in 1959. That the world has done nothing to help them after five decades of oppression is an outrage.

What is not an outrage is that the United States Agency for International Development tried four years ago to circumvent Communist censorship in Cuba by setting up a text-messaging network that Cubans could access. This “Cuban Twitter” was a ray of hope that should be celebrated.

Not apparently by the Associated Press and others who have cried foul. The news agency exposed the program last week under the headline “US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest.” This week the U.S. Senate got in on the ... Read More

Post-Chavez, Venezuela Enters a Downward Spiral

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
InterAmerican Security Watch

Beginning in mid-February, Venezuela has experienced a stream of social demonstrations that have left about 30 people dead and hundreds wounded or under arrest, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez among them. The incidents are being called the largest wave of protests in Venezuela in the last decade.

Much like the social revolts that have occurred elsewhere in the world, students were the first in Venezuela to take their frustrations to the streets. They were later joined by others who were similarly concerned with the country’s high crime rate, galloping inflation and chronic shortages of basic goods. According to the country’s Central Bank, nearly 30% of all products — or their substitutes — cannot be purchased in Venezuela.

These economic problems are not necessarily new — such imbalances already existed when Hugo Chavez, who had led the country since 1999, died of cancer last March. But the challenges have recently become more acute. “Venezuela ... Read More

Senadores Critican a Rafael Correa por Abuso a los Derechos Humanos

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
From BuzzFeed

Por Rosie Gray

Un grupo de senadores están pidiendo al presidente del Ecuador que rinda cuentas en términos de violaciones a derechos humanos y que repare su relación con los Estados Unidos con motivo de su visita al país esta semana, de acuerdo con una carta obtenida por BuzzFeed.

Los senadores Robert Menéndez , Marco Rubio , Richard Durbin , Mark Kirk , Tim Kaine , Jim Inhofe , Patrick Leahy , y John Cornyn firmaron una carta dirigida al presidente de Ecuador, Rafael Correa, para pedirle que ” tome medidas significativas para fortalecer el respeto de su gobierno a los principios democráticos y que reconstruya nuestras relaciones bilaterales de una manera que de prioridad a las aspiraciones compartidas de nuestro pueblo por la libertad, la seguridad y las oportunidades económicas”.

Los senadores criticaron a Correa por poner fin a la misión de la USAID en Ecuador y por el arresto de Clever ... Read More

Senators Criticize Visiting Ecuadorian President Over Human Rights

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »

BY ROSIE GRAY

A group of senators are calling upon the president of Ecuador to account for human rights abuses and mend his relationship with the United States on the occasion of his visit to the country this week, according to a letter obtained by BuzzFeed.

Senators Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Richard Durbin, Mark Kirk, Tim Kaine, Jim Inhofe, Patrick Leahy, and John Cornyn all signed a letter addressed to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Tuesday calling on him to “take meaningful steps to strengthen your government’s respect for democratic principles and rebuild our bilateral relations in a manner that prioritizes our people’s shared aspirations for freedom, security, and economic opportunities.”

The senators criticized Correa for ending the USAID mission in Ecuador and for the convictions of a trio of men — politician Clever Jimenez, journalist Fernando Villavicencio, and Dr. Carlos Figueroa — on charges of defaming Correa’s government. Villavicencio described the raid ... Read More

Venezuela factions agree to formal talks to end months’ long crisis

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY JIM WYSS

In what might be the first step toward ending Venezuela’s two-month-long political crisis, the government and opposition leaders agreed Tuesday to begin formal peace talks that will be mediated by the Vatican and the foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.

The agreement came after the two sides held an “exploratory meeting”’ earlier in the day to lay the groundwork for negotiations.

As he left the meeting, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said the talks would “touch on every issue that’s of interest to the country” and “lead toward justice and peace.”

Arreaza said the date of the first meeting would be set this week.

Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, the executive director of the coalition of opposition parties known as the MUD, said both sides had agreed to televise their first formal meeting.

“This process has to take place in front of the world and Venezuela,” he said.

Even at this preliminary stage, however, some opposition ... Read More

Salvadoran govt: Gang truce hasn’t worked

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

The government of El Salvador said Monday that the truce between the country’s main Mara street gangs hasn’t worked, and that killings and attacks against police have risen again.

The pacts between the Mara Salvatrucha and the rival Mara 18 gang had been widely hailed as a success in cutting homicide rates almost in half. But the Public Safety and Justice Ministry said in a statement published Monday in newspapers that the gangs have increased their violence and adopted a policy of attacking law enforcement officers.

“The National Police force has received information and evidence that the gangs have increased their criminal acts,” according to the ministry statement. “Some groups within the gangs have instructions to directly attack police, military personnel and public servants, with the aim of putting pressure on the incoming administration” of President-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is scheduled to take office in June.

Miguel Fortin, the director of the ... Read More

Mexico’s Energy Revolution: A Tank Half-Full

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

BY DWIGHT DYER, MICHAEL MORAN, & GAVIN STRONG

For the last few years, the challenging security situation has been the headline issue in Mexico. Turf wars between increasingly-fragmented cartels—enfeebled by the capture or killing of high-profile kingpins—not to mention the recent proliferation of vigilante groups, have overshadowed the remarkable progress that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government has made on other fronts. Last year, Peña Nieto forged a broad political consensus around a set of revolutionary constitutional reforms touching everything from the country’s economy to its educational system to its fiscal management. Reforms to the energy sector have generated particular excitement, opening the door to foreign participation in the country’s energy industry and raising hopes of a new round of growth that will benefit Mexico and foreign investors alike.

These are indeed exciting times for Mexico, but as we explain in a new report, any exuberance about the country’s prospects should be tempered ... Read More

Cuba Social Media Project Was No Plot, Agency Says

| April 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY RON NIXON

A Twitter-like social media site created and financed by the United States Agency for International Development for use in Cuba was an attempt to promote open communications among citizens on the island nation, not a covert attempt to overthrow the government, the agency’s top official told members of Congress during a hearing on Tuesday.

Appearing before both the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees, Rajiv Shah, U.S.A.I.D.’s administrator, told members that the program was similar to others that the agency has financed in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“These programs are part of our mission to promote open communications,” he said.

Dr. Shah said he did not know who had created the Cuban program, as it was conceived before his appointment as administrator. He insisted, however, that “there was no covert activity that took place.”

But Senator Patrick ... Read More

Harvard to Host Correa, but No Free Press in Ecuador Can Cover It

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Heritage Foundation

BY MICHAEL F. MO

The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that President of Ecuador Rafael Correa will address the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard’s Institute of Politics next week.

The director of media relations at Harvard, Doug Gavel, told the Free Beacon that a fundamental tenet of Harvard’s Kennedy School is the “free exchange of ideas.” He also pointed out “in keeping with that educational mission, the school has a long and proud tradition of providing a venue for leaders from around the world to speak to and interact with the community on important public policy issues.”

However, will anyone at Harvard ask Correa about the lack of political and economic freedom in Ecuador?

President Correa is known for his anti-American rhetoric and crackdown on press freedoms. According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Ecuador’s economic freedom score ranks 159th worldwide and 26th in Latin America. Its property rights score and freedom from corruption score ... Read More

U.S. helping Colombia quell Marxist guerrilla group

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

BY ABRAHAM MAHSHIE

This impoverished port town on the Pacific coast has become ground zero for the Colombian government’s U.S.-funded efforts to quell a Marxist guerrilla rebellion and eradicate the drug trade, which serves as the group’s main source of financing.

Caught in the middle are Tumaco’s 100,000 or so residents.

Half of them live in poverty in Colombia’s “red zone,” where deadly violence is a constant threat. Late last month, two police officers were kidnapped and executed on the outskirts of town. Two other officers met the same fate in February. Guerrillas pay $1,000 to anyone who kills a cop, police say.

“The national government has practically abandoned us,” said Santo Banguera, 50, an Afro-Colombian farmer who cultivates a small plot of land and lives with his wife and four sons in a wooden shack. “There is fear here.”

Focus on Tumaco has intensified amid peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces ... Read More

Alan Gross, U.S. contractor held in Cuba, goes on hunger strike

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

BY KAREN DEYOUNG

Alan Gross, the U.S. government contractor who has been imprisoned in Cuba for more than four years, began a hunger strike last week to protest his treatment by both the Cuban and U.S. governments, his lawyer said Tuesday.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a telephoned statement to his legal team.

As he has many times before, Gross called on President Obama to become personally involved in efforts to free him from “inhumane treatment” in a Cuban prison.

Gross was arrested in 2009 for distributing Internet and other communications materials in Cuba under a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was sentenced to 15 years for crimes against the Cuban ... Read More

Venezuela opposition set terms for talks with president

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

A coalition of Venezuelan opposition parties says it is willing to enter into talks with the government as long as certain conditions are met.

The meeting was proposed by foreign ministers of the Unasur regional group to put an end to two months of anti-government protests.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had earlier agreed to take part.

It is not yet clear though whether his government will agree to the terms demanded by the opposition.

‘True dialogue’

In a letter addressed to the Unasur delegation, the umbrella opposition group Table for Democratic Unity (MUD) said it was “willing to hold a true dialogue, with a clear agenda, equal conditions [for both sides] and the first meeting of which will be transmitted live on national radio and television channels”.

MUD Executive Secretary Ramon Guillermo Aveledo said the opposition said the presence of an independent arbiter would also be “indispensable to guarantee, facilitate and, if necessary, mediate”.

He said ... Read More

Venezuela: Two Of Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez’s Closest Friends Found Dead

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Two close friends of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López were found dead Sunday in a Caracas park, where they had gone cycling the day before. One of them, Luis Daniel Gómez, had actually grown up with Lopez in the same house and they were considered brothers.

Gómez, 36, and Gustavo Giménez, 40, were shot in the head and had their cell phones stolen. Giménez was a wealthy contractor and cousin of Lorenzo Mendoza, leader of Empresas Polar, the largest private group in the country. According to the Venezuelan website reportero24, he was also a relative of Lopez, who has spent the last month and a half in a military jail and was charged last week with several crimes, including criminal incitement.

Despite the connections with the jailed leader, so far Giménez and Gómez’s killings are being attributed to street crime. El Paísnewspaper reports that they were attacked Saturday evening while exercising, and that when the ... Read More

Venezuelan TV Journalist Kidnapped by Armed Men

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

The father of a Venezuelan TV journalist says his daughter has been kidnapped by armed, masked men in the western section of the capital of Caracas.

Luis Pinto said Monday that his daughter Nairobi Pinto was taken hostage Sunday afternoon at the entrance to the building where she lives. She is the chief of correspondents for the Globovision news channel and her whereabouts remain unknown.

The elder Pinto called on the kidnappers to free his daughter during an interview with the local broadcaster Union Radio.

Police have not commented on the case.

Venezuela is among the most violent countries in Latin America. During a month and a half of ongoing protests, demonstrators have complained about high crime rates, along with soaring inflation and the scarcity of basic goods.

 

Click here for ... Read More

Ecuador bonds: saying adios to China?

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Beyond Brics

BY ANDRES SCHIPANI

Wasn’t it the case, about five years ago, that Ecuador’s foreign debt was “illegitimate” and its bondholders “real monsters”?

Well, it seems time cures everything. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, said at the weekend his country was planning its first international bond issue since defaulting on $3.2bn of foreign debt in 2008 – and, six months later, buying most of it back at 35 cents on the dollar.

“We will place bonds in the international market,” he said in an interview broadcast by state television on Sunday. “There will be an operation on the open market this year, I think around $700m in bonds.”

This is not the first time there have been rumours in the past year of Ecuador’s impending return to global markets and it seems friendly overtures have been made to Wall Street. But this time, Correa sounded especially determined and is reported to be preparing meetings with investors. Analysts believe an issue could take ... Read More

The buzz in Cuba

| April 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

The Obama administration’s recently exposed program to provide a text-messaging service for ordinary citizens in Cuba is a commendable effort to break the Castro government’s information monopoly. We hope they don’t quit trying. Critics of the program like Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., called it “dumb, dumb, dumb” as soon as the Associated Press published a report last week on the short-lived Twitter-like program that ran out of funding in 2012. What would be really dumb, though, is to sit back silently and do nothing while Cuba’s 11 million people are kept from hearing or reading any information except what bears the government’s stamp of approval.

Keep in mind that among the most successful programs of the Cold War were those like Radio Free Europe and communications support for groups like Solidarity in Poland that gave citizens of Soviet bloc countries vital information they could not get elsewhere.

These programs managed to foil ... Read More