Content from IASW Contributors

Securing the border: Understanding and addressing the root causes of Central American migration to the United States

By Roger F. Noriega Testimony by Roger F. Noriega
Mr. Chairman, I commend you and your Committee for organizing a series of hearings this week to focus attention on the fundamental responsibility of securing our borders. I also would like to begin my testimony by recognizing the service of the U.S. government officials who testify before you today. I know from experience that their jobs are critical to our security, and I thank them for their service to our nation.

Washington’s $1 Billion Central America Challenge

By José R. CárdenasBy José R. Cárdenas
The Senate Homeland Security Committee is holding a series of timely hearings this week revisiting the summer 2014 border crisis to ensure that, should there be a next time, the Obama administration won’t get caught napping again. That crisis saw thousands of illegal Central American immigrants, including many unaccompanied minors, surging across the United States’ southern border, overwhelming local authorities and inflaming the broader debate over immigration. Read More-->

A vote could cost President Correa his job—in 2017

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

ECUADORIANS have not been gentle to leaders who seek to prolong their hold on power beyond what the constitution allows. Past presidents who tried have been shot or even hacked to death by angry citizens (though not since 1912). Rafael Correa, the leader today, runs no such risk with his attempt to change the constitution to allow him to run again when his term expires in 2017. But he has galvanised the opposition.

On November 6th a coalition of centrist and conservative parties launched a drive to collect the 584,000 signatures needed to force a referendum on Mr Correa’s plan to eliminate term limits for elected politicians. Although Mr Correa, a left-wing populist, is personally popular, polls show that a large majority of voters want the referendum to go ahead. It may be the opposition’s best chance to unseat him.

Mr Correa’s foes have long suspected that he ... Read More

China’s tie with Latin America expands to security

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
China Daily


China’s tie with Latin American countries have exceeded from trade to security cooperation as China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation (CEIEC) is helping Local countries to build their national security control centers.

“We can say now, very proudly, that Ecuador is one of the most security countries in Latin America,”said Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado this September.

CEIEC, the state-owned company specialised in engineering and defence electronics, built an ECU-911 system for the Latin American country including two national centres, five regional centres and eight provincial command and control centres.

The project, initiated from 2011, aims to unify seven security departments of Ecuador including police system, transportation, fire control and medical treatment in order to better arrange rescue operations in limited reacting time.

By now, the system has helped the crime rate of Ecuador decreased by 24 percent, ... Read More

Most of Latin America Has Adopted Democracy. Will Cuba?

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Huffington Post

By Michel Kelly-Gagnon

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the greatest writers of our time, whose collection of novels earned him the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.

He’s also someone with the curiosity and the intellectual courage to change his mind when faced with evidence that contradicts his beliefs, as detailed in a new trilingual booklet entitled My Intellectual Journey: From Marxism to Liberalism that has just been released in bookstores across the province of Quebec.

This booklet is based on a very moving and fascinating talk Mr. Vargas Llosa gave in Montreal last year at an MEI gala event, in which he explained how he came to be an admirer at one time of Fidel Castro’s Cuban experiment, as were many Latin American and other intellectuals of his generation. Understandably, though, his enthusiasm began to wane somewhat when he learned of the concentration camps to which were sent a mix of dissidents, common criminals, and ... Read More

With goods scarce in Caracas’s stores, street sales boom and officials glower

| November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

CARACAS, Venezuela — The sprawling street market that radiates outward from the metro station in Petare, Caracas’s largest slum, is the retail equivalent of an anti-Target.

There’s no organization to it. Tube socks and school supplies are sold beside giant pyramids of pineapple and piled yucca. Leopard-print hot pants stretch over mannequin buttocks next to the stinky stalls of fishmongers.

The bazaar was known until this month as one of the city’s biggest open-air black markets, the place to find all the scarce items that shoppers must queue up for hours to get in supermarkets, or can’t find at all. Earlier this year, toilet paper and corn­meal were scarce; lately it’s diapers and deodorant that have “gotten lost,” as Venezuelans say.

Authorities mostly turned a blind eye to the informal commerce, but late last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro went on TV to decree a ban on street sales of coffee, eggs, shampoo and ... Read More

Brazil’s Real Falls to Nine-Year Low Before Finance Appointment

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Filipe Pacheco

Brazil’s real dropped to the lowest level in nine years as investors awaited President Dilma Rousseff’s appointment of a new finance minister amid a slowdown in Latin America’s largest economy.

The currency lost 0.2 percent to 2.5733 per U.S. dollar at 11:55 a.m. in Sao Paulo, the weakest level on a closing basis since April 2005. Swap rates, a gauge of expectations for changes in borrowing costs, climbed 0.05 percentage point to 12.82 percent on the contract maturing in January 2017.

The replacement for the departing Finance Minister Guido Mantega will face the challenge of reviving growth, slowing above-target inflation and stemming deficits that are threatening the country’s investment-grade status. One-month implied volatility on options for the real, reflecting projected shifts in the exchange rate, remained the highest among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

“There are too many uncertainties, and the new economic team will have the ... Read More

Russia to send bombers on Gulf of Mexico ‘reconnaissance missions

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

By Douglas Ernst

A top Russian official said Wednesday the country plans on conducting patrols with its bombers that extend into the Gulf of Mexico.

“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday in Moscow, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Shoigu’s remarks were in response to accusations by NATO that Russia was once again sending military personnel into Ukraine.

The Russian official did not provide specifics on the patrols, but said planes will conduct “reconnaissance missions to monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications,” AP reported.

Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told AP he would not characterize Russia’s actions as a provocation, as the nation has a right to operate in international airspace.

Large-scale Russian maneuvers along European airspace forced NATO members to scramble jets in ... Read More

Mexico: Violent Protests Hit Acapulco’s Tourism

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


Mexico’s president has tried to keep the issue of violence issue separate from his focus on the economy, but the two are converging as violent protests over 43 disappeared students squelch tourism in Acapulco just before a major holiday weekend.

As Mexico prepares to commemorate its 1910 revolution Monday, hotels in the Pacific resort city have seen a wave of cancellations after demonstrators temporarily shut down the airport, blocked highways and attacked government and political offices in the southern state of Guerrero.

Acapulco hotel occupancy rates are currently at 20 percent, well short of the 85 percent expected for this long weekend when Mexicans typically flock to the beaches, Joaquin Badillo, president of the Employers’ Association for Guerrero state, said Wednesday.

More cancellations have been registered for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year for Acapulco tourism, and Badillo said one company that operates 10 hotels has cut about 200 ... Read More

If Colombia’s guerrillas sign a peace deal, will the guns go silent?

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Several weeks ago on the outskirts of the northwestern town of Montelíbano, a police caravan was ambushed. By the time the firefight was over, seven police officers were dead and another seven were wounded, making it the second most lethal attack on the armed forces this year.

However, what worried the authorities was who they claim was behind the attack: a joint assault by the 58th front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and their sworn enemies, the Urabeños — the country’s largest criminal gang, also known as the Úsuga.

Government negotiators and the FARC have spent the last two years in Havana trying to hammer out a peace deal that would allow the 50-year-old guerrilla force to lay down its arms and re-enter society. The negotiations are taking place without a cease-fire, and attacks are frequent.

But the Sept. 16 ambush fueled skeptics’ worst fears: What if ... Read More

Counting Pennies In Venezuela

| November 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Daniel Bases

It was a gloomy, rainy night in Boston last week where emerging market analysts and portfolio managers huddled together before an audience of 75+ people to discuss an equally gloomy situation in Venezuela, specifically whether or not the nation, with the biggest proven oil reserves in the world, is on the precipice of defaulting on its debt.

Trying to figure out what economic and fiscal policies the administration of President Nicolas Maduro will follow to alleviate rampant inflation and shortages is akin to trying to read tea leaves. But a panel put together by EMTA laid out the scenarios and discussed the implications of any potential default. The talk of default really kicked off Sept. 5, 2014 after anarticle published by former Venezuelan planning minister Ricardo Hausmann and Harvard research fellow Miguel Angel Santos asked whether or not Venezuela should default.

Maduro is the hand-picked successor of former President Hugh ... Read More

Farc son el tercer grupo terrorista más rico del mundo: Forbes

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Colombiano

Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc), con 600 millones de dólares al año, son el tercer grupo terrorista más rico del mundo, según un ranquin publicado este miércoles por Forbes Israel.

El escalafón lo lidera el Estado Islámico con dos mil millones de dólares al año, escoltado por el movimiento islamista Hamás que según Forbes recauda mil millones de dólares.

Luego de las Farc, el grupo chií libanés Hizbulá, con 500 millones; los Talibán con 400 millones y Al Qaeda y sus afiliados con 150 millones, completan el listado.

Según la publicación, estos grupos financian sus operaciones con métodos similares a aquellos empleados por organizaciones criminales, tales como el tráfico de drogas, robos y extorsión, pero también logran dinero a través de la caridad, donaciones y en algunos casos, agencias gubernamentales.

Una organización terrorista, precisa, como cualquier otra, tiene un modelo de negocio y financiación de sus actividades: desde su mantenimiento, salarios y entrenamiento, a la adquisición de armas, ... Read More

La advertencia del general Cienfuegos

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

Por Jorge Fernández Menéndez

Toda acción genera una reacción. El lunes en Monterrey, el secretario de la Defensa Nacional, el general Salvador Cienfuegos, en un acto donde se estaba colocando la primera piedra de un nuevo cuartel para la Policía Militar, dijo que los militares ‘‘aportaremos nuestros mejores esfuerzos al servicio de los ciudadanos sin amedrentarnos por juicios injustos, algunos sin duda erróneos, carentes de fundamento, malintencionados y que la institución armada nacional no merece’’.

Dijo mucho más, en una intervención que buscaba, sin duda, interlocutores políticos, me imagino que dentro y fuera del propio gobierno. Pidió tomar “decisiones acertadas para ponderar desafíos y para consolidar el rumbo” e insistió en que ‘‘la indolencia, la insensibilidad, el silencio, la violencia desmedida y la complicidad, obstruyen y limitan la verdadera esencia de la justicia’’. Agregó que ‘‘el rumor, la intriga y la deslealtad corroen cimientos, mancillan convicciones, frenan el potencial que ... Read More

Organized crime could undermine benefits of Mexico’s energy reform programme

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times


How much of a risk are Mexican drug lords and the country’s volatile security situation for the landmark energy reform? The head of one company that has a services contract with Mexican state giant Pemex smiles ruefully.

At its worst point – some three to four years ago – a full 40 per cent of the acreage the company is working on was a no-go area, and that was despite some of the processes being automated, says the executive, who asked not to be named.

Things have improved somewhat, but it is all relative: the proportion of the area his company is working on that can only be visited with the army, in helicopters, has shrunk to 20 per cent.

“Security will be a problem,” says the executive, highlighting the elephant in the room when it comes to the industry’s otherwise rapturous reception of Mexico’s energy reform.

... Read More

Rapid returns required from Mexico’s energy reform

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Jude Webber

There is a simple way to measure the success of Mexico’s energy reform to date: just look at the number of private companies considering investments of $1bn.

To name just three: Canada-based Pacific Rubiales says it has $1bn to spend in Mexico; new kid on the block Sierra Oil & Gas started up with $525m but has options to double that; and Alfa, a Mexican company with experience in shale in Texas, is hoping to issue stock this year to raise $1bn for energy projects at home.

Sami Iskander, BG Group’s chief operating officer, used to be a sceptic about the prospect of Mexico pulling off the long talked-about reform to an energy sector shackled to the state since nationalisation in 1938. Now he is a convert.

“It will be bumpy for sure. But it will be absolutely fantastic,” he told the Financial Times at a recent energy ... Read More

Analysts sceptical Opec will halt fall in oil prices

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times


Oil prices will continue to fall even if Opec countries agree to cut production later this month, according to one of the market’s most influential analysts.

Gary Ross, chief executive of Pira Energy Group, said there was an “imbalance” between supply and demand that would force prices down next year regardless of any output cuts that could be announced by the oil exporters’ group at its meeting in Vienna on November 27.

“Opec cannot and will not take the pain necessary to correct the imbalance,” he said.

Other market watchers are also predicting further falls in prices, including Philip Verleger, an energy economist who wrote at the weekend that he expected the cash price of internationally-traded Brent crude to drop to about $70 a barrel or lower.

Brent crude for delivery in the following month was trading at about $81.01 a barrel on Wednesday, down more ... Read More

Mexicans have had enough as Iguala galvanises opinions

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By John-Paul Rathbone

Mexico has had enough. The country’s attorney-general said as much last week at a press conference about the 43 “disappeared” students, presumed killed by police in Iguala last month. His unguarded comment – “Ya me cansé” (a phrase meaning “Enough, I’m tired”) – became a trending topic on Twitter because it so captured how many Mexicans feel.

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s telegenic president, also appears tired. His difficulties are multiplying. Oil prices are falling, and economic growth remains elusive in spite of a series of radical economic reforms. There is also growing protest over his lacklustre response to the disappearances.

These domestic problems are echoing abroad. On Monday, Mexican protesters clashed with police in Acapulco, where Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi is due to attend an energy conference. Beijing has protested over Mexico’s abrupt cancellation of a $3.7bn contract won by a Chinese consortium to build a high-speed bullet train.

... Read More

In Mexico, Still No Justice

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


On Friday, Mexican officials announced that three members of a drug cartel had confessed to burning the bodies of 43 students who were abducted in Iguala, a town in the southern state of Guerrero, on Sept. 26 and then killed. The mayor of Iguala and his wife are in custody, accused of ordering the seizure of the students by local police, who then handed them over to the drug gangs. The discovery, during the search for the students, of other mass graves in the area has reinforced the picture of a catastrophic local breakdown of law and order.

But this is much more than the story of a small town, or even a country, in thrall to drug gangs. The response to the Guerrero abductions over the past six weeks underscores the central problem that President Enrique Peña Nieto now needs to ... Read More

What the Ayotzinapa tragedy says about Mexico

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »


Mexico is a nation of stark contrasts. A country where obesity and acute malnutrition coexist;  the home of the world’s richest man and 53 million people living under the poverty line, almost half of the population.

Nonetheless, there is a historic gap that explains Mexico better than any other disparity. This is the fracture created by the absence of the rule of law, one that divides those who infringe norms with ease and the victims that suffer from rampant impunity.

In some countries, justice in the court system can be bought, in Mexico it has become a luxury that only a few can afford. Those that don’t have the money or the influence are left defenseless, at the mercy of savage criminals and corrupt government officials, who occasionally act like one and the same, as we’ve seen in Iguala where six students ... Read More

Mexico Leader’s Woes Follow Him to China

| November 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


MEXICO CITY—Revelations that a mansion used by President Enrique Peña Nieto ’s family was held by a Mexican company whose owner has won big government contracts reverberated from Mexico to China on Monday.

Social networks exploded with photos of the first family’s residence, valued at $7 million, as a video about the president’s family home was seen more than 1 million times on YouTube.

The president’s office defended the home by saying it wasn’t the president’s property, but rather the first lady’s, who was paying the home in installments. It declined to give more information.

But the president’s opponents—including student groups and leftist politicians—called for his resignation and new elections on Twitter using the trending hashtag #Articulo39RenunciaEPN.

In Acapulco, students clashed with police, injuring 18 officers and forcing the brief shut down of the airport, officials said. The clashes were linked to the weekslong saga of 43 college students whom the government says ... Read More

“Está en juego” el desarrollo del país: Cienfuegos

| November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Milenio Diario


El secretario de la Defensa Nacional, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, dijo ayer que el desarrollo y el progreso de la nación “están en juego” ante los problemas actuales que “impregnan la agenda diaria”.

Por ello hizo un llamado a población y autoridades de todos los niveles para lograr una unidad nacional que, dijo, es lo que ha sacado avante al país en momentos complicados para la patria, como los que se viven recientemente.

“El desarrollo y el progreso de la nación están en juego; es así que este presente que vivimos nos da la oportunidad invaluable para sumar y tomar decisiones acertadas para ponderar desafíos y consolidar el rumbo”, señaló el general Cienfuegos en su discurso ante gobernadores de la región noreste y tropas de la cuarta Región Militar en la ceremonia de consolidación del proyecto de la construcción de una brigada de la Policía Militar en Nuevo León.

El titular de ... Read More

Mexican President’s Reputation Takes A Further Dive Thanks To Reports About A Luxury Home

| November 11th, 2014 | No Comments »


Over the past six weeks, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has gone from being internationally acclaimed for his bold economic reform agenda to finding himself mired in one of the worst crises the country has confronted in recent times.  The disappearance of 43 students and the poor handling of the case has raised questions about his ability to run the country. Now reports of a $7 million  luxury house owned by Mexico’s First Lady have the potential to be equally devastating to Peña Nieto’s credibility.

Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam confirmed many Mexican’s worst fears: The 43 students missing since late September in Guerrero, Mexico’s second poorest state with the nation’s highest homicide rate in 2013, were killed and burned by gang members after corrupt local police from the town of Iguala, 120 miles from Mexico City, handed them over to the gang members. In a ... Read More