Content from IASW Contributors

Close vote in Brazil reveals a deeply divided nation

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff won a second four-year term yesterday, defeating challenger Aécio Neves by a margin of 51.6% to 48.4%. Rousseff waged one of the most negative campaigns in memory, conjuring fears that Neves would cut government anti-poverty programs rather than explaining how she plans to pull the world’s seventh largest economy out of recession.
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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-->

Flow of Central American immigrants through Mexico shows no signs of slowing

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
FoxNews

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico –  Mexico is promising to stem the flow of Central American migrants to the United States by tightening control at its notoriously porous Guatemalan border.

But messages from the country’s top two leaders in little more than a week have provided few details on how. And the scene on the ground is business as usual.

Dozens of Central Americans who paid $1.50 a head could be seen this week crossing the broad Suchiate River on improvised rafts of inner tubes and wooden boards, in full view of Mexican police on the shore and immigration agents posted on a bridge overhead.

“I don’t see anything has changed,” Guatemalan Luisa Fuentes, 56, said as she rode a raft to Mexico.

“La Bestia,” a decrepit freight train that carries migrants north from the border state of Chiapas, still carried many riders on its roof.

President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government says it is catching and deporting ... Read More

Putin’s surprise visit to Nicaragua fuels canal rumors

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Nicaragua Dispatch

BY TIM ROGERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Nicaragua as a “very important ally for Russia in Latin America” during a surprise stopover in Managua last night as part of his political/World Cup tour of Latin America.

In brief comments broadcast on Sandinista media outlets, Putin — the first Russian President to ever visit Nicaragua — noted that the two countries are celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations, but that “we have to do a lot to continue developing our relations, especially economically.”

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, seated next to his wife and his favorite son, Laureano, called Putin’s visit “historic.” He compared it to a “lightning strike” — apparently meant in a happy way.

“We are very happy to have you in our land, which is your land,” Ortega told his Russian counterpart through an interpreter.

Ortega lauded Putin for his efforts to fight the war on drugs and to “fight for peace.”

Putin’s surprise ... Read More

Peru Looks to Restart Aerial Interdiction Program, Antidrug Chief Says

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

By RYAN DUBE

LIMA, Peru—Peru’s antidrug chief says the government is working on restarting an aerial interdiction program that was abandoned over a decade ago when an air force fighter accidentally shot down a civilian aircraft, killing two American citizens.

The move comes as Peru, the world’s top exporter of cocaine, is ratcheting up its war on drug traffickers. Peru significantly decreased the area used to grow coca last year through the forced manual removal of crops by teams of government workers, but has struggled to stop drug-laden planes in its top cocaine-producing region.

Luis Alberto Otárola, the head of Peru’s antidrug agency, the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs, or Devida, says the government is in the process of acquiring radars to track small airplanes that currently enter Peru undetected from countries like Bolivia to smuggle cocaine to markets in Brazil, Argentina and Europe.

“There should be aerial interdiction, as an issue ... Read More

Republicans push Obama to secure US-Mexico border

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Examiner

BY ZACK COLMAN

Republicans called on President Obama to dispatch National Guardtroops to the United States-Mexico border while Congress works out potential fixes to policies some say have contributed to a rash of Central American immigrants arriving through Mexico.

GOP Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Obama should “pick up the phone” — a reference to the president’s pledge to take action on an array of issues if Congress doesn’t — to send 1,000 National Guard members to the border.

“Here’s his opportunity to truly lead,” Perry said on “Fox News Sunday”.

More than 52,000 children and teenagers have been caught by Border Patrol agents since last October, with many of them are fleeing violent Central American nations wrapped up in the illegal drug trade.

The White House has asked Congress to approve a $3.7 billion package to address the issue, but the House doesn’t look likely to approve it. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the lower chamber might be amenable to a “targeted approach,” but that ... Read More

Juan Manuel Santos: Colombia is ripe for investment

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

By Mimi Whitefield

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was in Miami on Monday, prospecting for foreign investment as his country puts an era of drug violence and guerrilla conflict behind it.

Santos came to Miami with three key members of his economic team — Finance Minister Mauricio Cárdenas, Luis Fernando Andrade, president of the National Infrastructure Agency, and Clemente del Valle, president of the National Development Finance Co. — to take part in a private Goldman Sachs investor conference on Colombia at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Making his first U.S. trip since winning reelection on June 15, Santos noted at a later news conference that “practically half the country is ripe for investment.” He said Colombia had a very ambitious development agenda that added up to investment opportunities of $26 billion. Santos will be sworn in to a new four-year term on August 7.

As Colombia’s political environment has stabilized, economic growth has increased. ... Read More

Bolivia: Morales officially candidate for 3rd term

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivian President Evo Morales’ candidacy for a third consecutive term is now official.

Bolivia’s electoral council announced Monday that the Andean nation’s first indigenous president will be on the Oct. 12 ballot.

The 54-year-old coca growers’ union leader is heavily favored to win.

Bolivia’s new constitution, ratified in 2009, sets a two-term limit for presidents, but the country’s Supreme Court ruled last year that Morales’ initial 2006-2009 term was exempt.

The main opposition candidate is currently cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina, who got less than 10 percent of the votes in the last three presidential elections.

Click here for original ... Read More

Endless wave of illegal immigrants floods Rio Grande valley

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
FoxNews

By Jana Winter

EXCLUSIVE: McALLEN, Texas — Life jackets of all sizes and the occasional punctured raft are strewn along the banks of the Rio Grande, just south of Mission, Texas, where a relentless onslaught of illegal immigrants eagerly surrender to beleaguered Border Patrol agents around the clock.

It’s a cycle for which there is no end in sight.

“You’re going to be out here a long time,” Fernando, an El Salvadoran child, told FoxNews.com shortly after surrendering to Border Patrol authorities after midnight Saturday. “There are thousands of us.”

With most of the men and women charged with securing the Mexican border busy processing some of the 60,000 illegal immigrants who have made the harrowing – and sometimes deadly -journey to the American border in the past nine months, only a handful of Border Patrol agents drive the riverside loop in a small town called Granjeno just south of Mission, in the Rincon peninsula.

“You’re going ... Read More

Sale of Paper in Venezuela Raises Fears on Freedom

| July 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By WILLIAM NEUMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — One of Venezuela’s leading pro-opposition newspapers has been sold in a transaction shrouded in mystery, fueling growing concerns here over the independence of the news media.

The newspaper, El Universal, whose sale was announced this month, is the third major media outlet to change hands here since the death last year of the country’s longtime socialist president, Hugo Chávez, and the election of his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela is a deeply divided country, where propaganda and the news media have long been part of the political battleground between a powerful leftist state and an opposition concentrated in the middle class and the elite. The government operates at least 10 television stations and more than 100 radio stations, and critics say that independent media outlets increasingly feel pressured into silence or self-censorship.

The two other recent ... Read More

Reform drive puts strain on Chávez legacy

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

By Andres Schipani in Guarenas, Venezuela

A red graffito of the late Hugo Chávez is sprayed on walls around the Venezuelan capital and nearby towns. Its legend is an apparent warning from the comandante to his successor, Nicolás Maduro. “Ouch, Nicolás – I see disaster.”

The message resonates deeply in a country where the economy is so badly run that even recent presidential broadcasts have been interrupted by power cuts. The ruling socialist party, the PSUV, is also suffering from internal rifts ahead of its third congress at the end of July. The question there will be whether Mr Maduro and the pragmatists in his cabinet are strong enough to push for more reforms.

At stake is the economic survival of Chávez’s “21st-century socialism”. Since taking office in April 2013, Mr Maduro has struggled to unite the PSUV, where factional discord has pushed Venezuela deeper into the economic mire, despite the largest oil ... Read More

Citizens’ security is Latin America’s biggest problem

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ, head of Nicaragua’s youth-affairs police, grabs the shoulder of 17-year-old Axel Matus and gives it a shake. “He was one of our worst cases,” he says. In most of Latin America, a youth with Axel’s background—gangs, drugs, knife-fights, joblessness—would cringe at such attention from a burly police commander. But Axel stands bolt upright and admits: “My life was utter chaos.”

Not any more. Axel now attends the Juvenile Affairs police headquarters in Managua, where he is given free meals and tuition every day. Besides subjects like maths and English, he is learning how to be a barber (his blade skills now applied with scissors). Hundreds of troubled kids voluntarily study with him, and the police chief knows most of them by name. They are neatly dressed and ooze self-esteem.

Nicaragua’s police force is in danger of giving socialism a good name. The country is one of the poorest in the ... Read More

China’s Shaky Latin American Liabilities

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest

By Matt Ferchen

China may have been a no-show for the 2014 World Cup, but at next weeks’ 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, all eyes will be on President Xi Jinping. While the summit is likely to result in important announcements such as a Shanghai-based BRICS Bank, the rest of Xi’s Latin America visit, which will include stops in Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina, is bound to attract even more headlines.

Pundits inside and outside of China will either trumpet or decry the trip as a grand tour of China’s Latin American socialist and statist friends and a slap in the face to the United States. However, no matter how much socialist solidarity and “South-South” diplomatic back-slapping is offered up for public consumption, President Xi’s trip will actually be less about deepening already healthy ties with strong regional allies than seeking to mitigate deep anxieties about its commercial and diplomatic relations with dysfunctional friends.

In contrast ... Read More

Putin, Kirchner seek ‘multipolarity’ in Argentina visit

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

By Joshua Howat Berger

Buenos Aires (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner called for a multipolar world order as Moscow sought to boost ties with Latin America amid heightened East-West tensions.

Putin is on a six-day tour seeking to increase Moscow’s influence in the region at a time when the Ukraine crisis has eroded Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe to their lowest point since the Cold War.

His itinerary includes meetings with a string of leftist leaders critical of the United States and a summit of the BRICS group of emerging countries — an agenda that neatly aligns with his push for a multipolar world less dominated by the West.

Kirchner is meanwhile waging her own fight against Washington, battling a US court ruling that Argentina must pay more than $1.3 billion by the end of the month to hedge funds refusing to ... Read More

The Ongoing Expansion of Organized Crime in the Americas

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data

By Jerry Brewer

Eroding the power, control and influence of violent transnational extremist organizations in this Hemisphere, over the last decade, has been at best a near total failure.

Attributable to this assessment of much more than the intense human carnage, manifested by record breaking murder rates, is the reality of near collapse of societies, instability and ineffective/ungoverned regions, and remaining vulnerable populations – demonstrated most graphically in Central America.

The world’s highest murder rates go to number one Honduras and number three El Salvador, both in Central America. Farther to the south, Venezuela holds the number two position.  And in Argentina violent deaths among youth are at a ten-year high.

Yet there are officials who blindly look south and argue that these threats are not necessarily existential, claiming that they pose no real challenge to borders or national security.

This organized crime-terror nexus has a nucleus and norm of fear, intimidation, extortion, kidnapping, murder, political tampering, and torture. The ... Read More

BRICS Fight Waning Clout With $150 Billion Deal in Brazil Summit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Raymond Colitt

The leaders of five of the world’s largest emerging markets will showcase a new currency reserve fund and development bank this week. Critics say neither is enough to revive the group’s waning clout.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as the BRICS, will approve the creation for the $100 billion reserve fund and $50 billion bank at a July 15-16 summit in Brazil’s coastal city of Fortaleza and the capital Brasilia.

The initiatives are born out of frustration with a lack of participation in global governance, particularly in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Arvind Subramanian, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The measures aren’t big enough to boost growth or cohesion in the group as foreign investor sentiment sours and member states focus on issues close to home, such as Brazil’s elections, the conflict in Ukraine and new economic policy plans in India.

“It’s hard to see a lot of impetus at this stage ... Read More

Poverty, violence fuel exodus of youths from Honduras to U.S.

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Dallas News

By ALFREDO CORCHADO

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Twelve-year-old Maynor Serrano points to the rows of houses where his friends and neighbors used to live. All are gone — many fleeing to the U.S.

Two of his friends were killed as 10-year-olds, their bodies chopped to pieces in a suspected gang vendetta.

He saw homes reduced to crumbling wrecks, their walls pockmarked with bullet holes. Entire neighborhoods were abandoned in hours — the result of monstrous gang violence.

Some houses became casas locas, crazy homes, for torturing families in this macabre city, which has the highest homicide rate in the world. Daily newspapers are filled with graphic photographs of bodies.

Like many, Maynor Serrano yearns to escape to the U.S., where he has relatives.

“It’s tough to live without hope,” he said. “If it’s not there, you go look for it.”

He spoke as he pulled weeds in one of the most violent barrios, Chamelecón, under the watchful ... Read More

Financing still a mystery as Nicaragua plans giant canal

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
seattle-times-logo

What went unanswered were two basic questions: Who’s going to pay for a canal with an estimated cost of $40 billion? Is China’s hidden hand at play?

By Tim Johnson

MEXICO CITY — The Chinese tycoon behind a plan to build a mammoth interoceanic waterway to compete with the Panama Canal whisked into Nicaragua last week and, in several appearances, including one with President Daniel Ortega, affirmed that “the biggest construction project in the history of mankind” has a green light.

In a lengthy appearance on state television Tuesday night, Ortega sat next to Wang Jing, the Chinese telecommunications magnate who has been pushing the plan, and pledged that the proposed canal “will permit the country to eradicate poverty and misery.”

The two promised that environmental damage during construction of the canal — at 173 miles long, more than three times the length of the one in Panama — will be minimal. Construction is scheduled ... Read More

Venezuela Feud Over Trapped Cash Spurs United to Cut Flights 43%

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Ed Dufner and Pietro D. Pitts

Venezuela’s isolation from the global air traffic network deepened as United Airlines joined the roster of carriers cutting flights in a dispute with the government over cash trapped in the country.

Service will be pared to four round trips a week from the current daily offerings, a 43 percent reduction, effective Sept. 17, United said yesterday. The unit of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. flies between Caracas and its hub in Houston, a center for the U.S. energy industry.

United’s move completes a sweep among the three biggest U.S. carriers in pulling back in Venezuela, following American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta (DAL) Air Lines Inc. More than a dozen airlines have trimmed capacity, sales or service in protest over strict currency controls that require government authorization to repatriate earnings from tickets sold there.

“It is making it difficult for anyone, including oil executives, to travel to Venezuela for business,” said Andy ... Read More

Chinese President leaves for Latin America

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Xinhuanet

BEIJING, July 13 – Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Sunday morning for statevisits to Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Cuba.

Xi will visit the four countries at the invitation of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff,Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro, president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba.

Xi will attend the sixth BRICS Summit and the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit in Brazil.

Xi’s entourage includes Wang Huning, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Policy Research Office of theCPC Central Committee; Li Zhanshu, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC CentralCommittee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and director of theGeneral Office of the CPC Central Committee and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

Click here for original article.

Read More

Putin Meets With Fidel Castro During Latin American Visit

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

HAVANA (AP) –  Russian President Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region with a stop Friday in Cuba, a key Soviet ally during the Cold War that has backed Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The two countries signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island’s north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits, Cuban government website Cubadebate said.

Another agreement covered infrastructure at a big new port project that Cuba hopes will become a regional shipping center and attract much-needed foreign investment.

“We are talking about the possibility of creating in Cuba a grand transportation hub with a possible modernization of the maritime port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport with its ... Read More

Cuba cracks down, arrests 100 women dissidents

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
msn

Cuban authorities arrested an unusually large group of about 100 dissident marchers Sunday, breaking up a march by the Ladies in White opposition activists.

Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!,” the women offered no resistance as they were put on buses by dozens of police and plainclothes agents of the only communist-ruled country in the Americas.

A group of about 100 government supporters, who arrived along with the authorities at the scene in Havana’s Miramar district, angrily shouted “Viva Fidel, Viva Raul” as the women were whisked away.

The women’s group, formed in 2003 by wives and relatives of political prisoners, marches with the government’s permission every Sunday in the Cuban capital after hearing mass at Santa Rita parish church.

Since theirs is the only group that has government permission for a regular protest, arrests are few and infrequent.

But on Sunday, dozens of police moved in and surrounded the large crowd of marchers two blocks from ... Read More