Content from IASW Contributors

Rebuilding Venezuela

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
Venezuela is collapsing. President Nicolas Maduro’s dash-for-cash to Beijing last week was a humiliating failure. Half-mile food lines wind through the streets of Caracas and other cities. Maduro’s Cuban handlers are abandoning a ship they helped sink, while Venezuelan military officers are pondering the challenge of how to suppress angry, desperate protesters to buy time for an unpopular, incompetent regime.

Reconstruyendo Venezuela

Por Roger F. NoriegaPor Roger F. Noriega
Venezuela está colapsando. El viaje de Nicolás Maduro a China, donde pidió fondos para sobrevivir, fue un fracaso humillante; filas de casi un kilometro para conseguir alimentos se pueden apreciar en las calles de Caracas y otras ciudades; cubanos que manipulaban el gobierno de Maduro están abandonando un barco que ayudaron a hundir; y los militares están considerando el reto de suprimir a manifestantes enojados y desesperados para regalarle tiempo a un régimen incompetente e impopular. Read More-->

Juez de Nueva York declara a Argentina en desacato

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald



Un juez federal de Nueva York declaró el lunes a Argentina en desacato por rehusarse a pagar 1.500 millones de dólares a fondos de cobertura estadounidenses en una decisión que Buenos Aires consideró “violatoria del derecho internacional”.

El juez federal Thomas P. Griesa hizo el anuncio después que un abogado de esos fondos, encabezados por NML Capital Ltd., del multimillonario inversionista Paul Singer, alegara que el país desafió abiertamente durante más de un año la orden de pago que había emitido el tribunal.

El juez dejó pendiente cualquier sanción contra el país hasta que se realicen audiencias adicionales.

El gobierno argentino dijo que la decisión de Griesa carece de efecto práctico “salvo proveer de nuevos elementos que sirvan a la difamante campaña política y mediática llevada adelante por los fondos buitre” contra el país.

En un comunicado emitido en Buenos Aires, el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Argentina afirmo que el ... Read More

Brazilian Stocks, Currency Plummet as Presidential Election Looms

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

Real Falls to Lowest Level in Nearly Six Years After Poll Shows Rousseff Pulling Ahead of Challenger


SÃO PAULO—Brazil’s stock market and currency were sent reeling Monday by signs President Dilma Rousseff is pulling ahead of her main challenger in the country’s presidential election next month.

The Brazilian real weakened to its lowest level against the dollar in nearly six years Monday, declining 2.4% to 2.4777 reais, before paring losses to 2.4543 reais later in the day. The country’s benchmark Ibovespa stock index fell as much as 5% in early trading and was down 2.2% early in the afternoon.

Brazil’s losses were among the worst in a broad selloff that hit financial markets across the developing world. Developing economies have been caught up in fears the Federal Reserve is moving closer to raising interest rates, a move that would make higher-yielding currencies, ... Read More

Priest convicted of aiding El Salvador gang inmates says he acted on behalf of government

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Star Tribune

By Jorge Sainz

MADRID — Those who love Antonio Rodriguez know him affectionately as “Father Tony,” the Roman Catholic priest who spent 15 years working in El Salvador’s roughest neighborhoods to get vulnerable young men out of a gang lifestyle that often ends in death.

Others say he got too close to the gangs that plague the Central American nation, helping hardened inmates get special treatment and potentially enabling their prison extortion rackets. The detractors use a different nickname: The “gangster priest.”

Salvadoran authorities convicted Rodriguez of criminal association and other charges this month before immediately freeing him under a plea deal. The priest says he acted with the government’s blessing, and was made a scapegoat and cut loose when he was no longer needed.

Either way, Rodriguez’s murky case underscores the vast reach of organized crime in El Salvador, and his allegations of high-level backing point to a desperate bid to preserve a ... Read More

U.S. reaffirms opposition to Cuba attending Americas Summit

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

NEW YORK –  The United States reaffirmed Friday its opposition to Cuba’s participation in the Americas Summit, on grounds that only “democratic” countries should attend, but did not specify whether it would skip the regional conference if Panama goes forward with its intention to invite the Cuban government.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Roberta Jacobson, made the U.S. position known the day after Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said at the United Nations that he is making an effort to have all the region’s heads of state attend the 2015 Americas Summit to be held in his country.

Panama is the host country of the summit, Jacobson said at a press conference in New York, and as such it will decide who to invite.

She did not specify whether the United States would refuse to attend in case Cuba is there, because that is still a hypothetical situation.

But ... Read More

Will Latin American leaders give Obama an ‘earful’ on Cuba at Americas summit?

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

For the United States, the last Summit of the Americas was a fairly regrettable experience.

That 2012 event is probably best remembered for the prostitution scandal that embarrassed the Secret Service, its agents’ reputation for steely discipline wilted by the tropical heat of host city Cartagena, Colombia.

Things didn’t go much better for President Obama inside the conference hall. The region’s heads of state dog-piled on Washington over its Cuba policies, saying there should be no further meetings if the United States insisted on excluding Havana.

With the next summit scheduled for April 2015 in Panama, the Cuba issue is once more giving the administration some sweats.

Earlier this month, Panama’s foreign minister flew to Havana to personally invite Cuban leader Raul Castro to participate, even though the island was kicked out of the Organization of American States (OAS), which sponsors the events, in 1962.

Panama’s new president, Juan Carlos Varela, said at ... Read More

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro defends Clorox seizure

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has defended the seizure of a factory owned by US-based company Clorox.

“Socialist formula: any company that’s abandoned will be taken over by the working class,” Mr Maduro said.

Cleaning products maker Clorox closed its production facilities in Venezuela last week, saying government-imposed price freezes were crippling it.

The Venezuelan authorities have accused Clorox of illegally abandoning the country and have seized its facilities.

‘Economic war’

“The legal documents in various government and judicial institutions demonstrate the abandonment of their legal and constitutional responsibilities,” Mr Maduro said.

He said the closure of the plant was part of an “economic war” being waged against the socialist government by the opposition.

He warned the working class to be “alert to this new madness”.

Clorox, which sells bleach and other household cleaning products in Venezuela, announced in a statement on 22 September that it would cease its operations there immediately and try to sell its ... Read More

Brazil heads into white-knuckle presidential race — Bolivia, Uruguay follow

| September 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield and Jim Wyss

With less than a week to go before Sunday’s Brazilian presidential election, the only thing that seems certain is that it’s too close to call and is likely to be determined in a runoff.

Recent polls show President Dilma Rousseff in a virtual dead heat if the election goes to the second round with environmental activist Marina Silva. Silva wasn’t even in the running a few weeks ago, but she moved to the top of the Brazilian Socialist Party ticket after her running mate, Eduardo Campos, died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

A third candidate, Social Democrat Aécio Neves — the former governor of Minas Gerais, could squeak into an Oct. 26 runoff but it will probably be a contest between the two women if neither gets more than 50 percent of Sunday’s vote.

While the Brazil race is the closest and, perhaps most heated, it’s ... Read More

Petrobras Slumps Most Since 2008 on Growing Support for Rousseff

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Denyse Godoy

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4) fell the most in almost six years as President Dilma Rousseff gained support in a voter poll, sinking wagers that a new government will reduce intervention in the state-owned oil company.

Shares of Petrobras slumped 9.5 percent to 18.95 reais at 11:35 a.m. in Sao Paulo, its biggest decline since November 2008 on a closing basis. That loss contributed the most to the 4.1 percent drop in the benchmark Ibovespa today. Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras had gained 95 percent through Sept. 2 from its lowest level this year in March as support for the opposition candidate Marina Silva increased.

“There was a moment in the past weeks when a victory by the opposition was almost a certain thing, but this expectation seems now more and more distant,” Marcelo Varejao, an analyst at the brokerage firm Socopa, said in a phone interview ... Read More

A bombing in Chile: From irritation to threat

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist


RESIDENTS of Santiago have become somewhat immune to the bomb attacks that have dogged their city for the past decade. There have been about 200 of them, but most of the devices have been small and have exploded at night when the streets are empty. Santiaguinos have regarded them as a nuisance rather than a serious security threat.

But the bomb that went off on September 8th was different. It exploded at lunchtime in a packed underground food hall at a busy metro station. It injured 14 people, some seriously. One woman had her fingers amputated. Investigators say the device was made from gunpowder packed into a fire extinguisher and detonated with a timer. It was placed in a rubbish bin. The police are looking for two suspects caught on CCTV cameras.

The attack has shocked the residents of what is arguably the safest capital ... Read More

Brasil: Rousseff es blanco de ataques en debate

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald



La mandataria de Brasil, Dilma Rousseff, se convirtió en blanco de ataques en un debate presidencial el domingo rumbo a los comicios del 5 de octubre cuando sus contrincantes cuestionaron el descuido en el liderazgo de la paraestatal Petrobras que está envuelta en un escándalo de corrupción.

Rousseff, del Partido de los Trabajadores, llegó al punto de solicitar una respuesta fuera de protocolo a declaraciones de los otros candidatos que la criticaron por desconocer de una supuesta red de lavado de dinero y sobornos en la petrolera que salió a relucir en las últimas semanas. Medios locales citan testimonios del ex ejecutivo de Petrobras Paulo Roberto Costa, quien fue detenido en marzo por las denuncias de corrupción entre 2004 y 2012.

“La verdad. Una cosa tiene que quedar clara. Quien cesó a Paulo Roberto fui yo. Y la policía federal de mi gobierno investigó todos esas fechorías, crímenes ... Read More

Brazil’s evangelicals gain clout, close to electing first president

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s increasingly powerful evangelical Christians are tantalizingly close to electing one of their own as president next month in what would be a historic shift for the world’s largest Catholic nation.

Marina Silva, an environmentalist running neck and neck in polls with incumbent President Dilma Rousseff, is a Pentecostal Christian who often invokes God on the campaign trail and has said she sometimes consults the Bible for inspiration when making important political decisions.

Some 65 percent of Brazil’s 200 million people are Roman Catholics but evangelicals are rapidly gaining followers and power.

They grew from 5 percent of the population in 1970 to more than 22 percent in 2010 and the trend has continued. Evangelical groups have made particular inroads among urban working Brazilians who benefited from economic prosperity over the last two decades and are now demanding a greater say in politics.

Recent polls show evangelical ... Read More

Cuba hands down 15-year sentence to Canadian executive

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

A court in Cuba has sentenced the president of a Canadian transport company to 15 years in jail for bribery.

Cy Tokmakjian, 74, was detained in Cuba in 2011 as part an anti-corruption operation. He denies the charges.

The Tokmakjian Group said the court had seized its assets in Cuba, worth about $100m (£62m).

The company said the ruling was a worrying development for potential investors on the Communist-run island.

“Lack of due process doesn’t begin to describe the travesty of justice that is being suffered by foreign businessmen in Cuba,” the company said in a statement.

Two other executives from the Tokmakjian Group – fellow Canadian citizens Claudio Vetere and Marco Puche – were sentenced to eight and 12 years in prison.

The Ontario-based company sold transportation, mining and construction equipment to Cuba for more than 20 years.

There has been no comment on the case from the Cuban authorities.


Its ... Read More

Mexico politician Braulio Zaragoza gunned down in Acapulco

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

A regional Mexican political leader, Braulio Zaragoza, has been killed by gunmen at a hotel restaurant in the popular resort of Acapulco.

Mr Zaragoza was in a meeting with other politicians on Sunday morning when three gunmen approached his table and shot him several times in the back.

He was the leader of the conservative opposition National Action Party (PAN) in southern Guerrero state.

Several politicians have been targeted by drug cartels operating in the area.

Police say an investigation is under way but no arrests have yet been made.

Mr Zaragoza, 35, died before paramedics arrived at the El Mirador Hotel.

He was having breakfast with two local politicians before a meeting with regional leaders from his party in Acapulco’s port area.

Last week, a member of the Chamber of Deputies for the governing PRI party, Gabriel Gomez, was kidnapped south of the city of Guadalajara.

His burnt body was found a few days later ... Read More

Crisis económica amenaza la petrodiplomacia venezolana

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


La petrodiplomacia chavista, esquema de compras de lealtades de países vecinos a través de subsidios petroleros, le ha costado al Estado venezolano más de $44,000 millones en los últimos años, y aún cuando sus frutos políticos son cruciales para la estabilidad del régimen bolivariano, el colapso económico del país sudamericano han vuelto el programa insostenible, dijeron analistas.

Los subsidios que Venezuela otorga a los países de Centroamérica y del Caribe a través de Petrocaribe y a Cuba, a través del Convenio Integral de Cooperación (CIC) se están tornando difíciles de mantener para una nación cuya economía está en vías de implosión, advirtieron los expertos.

“Venezuela ya no puede seguir sustentando estos programas”, comentó desde Washington Antonio De La Cruz, director Ejecutivo de la firma de asesores Inter American Trends.

“Va llegar un momento, en los próximos meses en que ellos van a ... Read More

American Aid Props Up a Castro Ally

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

A French court has upheld an earlier arbitration court ruling that obliges El Salvador to honor a contract it signed in 2002 with the Italian renewable-energy company Enel Green Power (EGP). The contract, which designated the French court to handle disputes, allows EGP to gain majority ownership of the Salvadoran thermoelectric private-public partnership La Geo by increasing its investment in the company.

In other words, the court told El Salvador that it may not stop EGP from bringing more technical know-how to the impoverished country and adding some $127 million to a $100 million investment in its electricity infrastructure. The Sept. 18 ruling in Paris exhausts El Salvador’s legal pathways for halting the investment, which it has been doing since 2008. But it doesn’t necessarily alter the circumstances on the ground.

A poor country devoted to blocking an infusion of capital sounds crazy until you learn that El ... Read More

Presidential poll: Race for Brazil’s driving seat

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Joe Leahy

Marlly Maués Maciel has little doubt about how her poor riverside community is likely to vote in Brazil’s presidential election, which kicks off next Sunday.

“Here the river traditionally votes red,” says the resident of Rio Itacuruçá, a waterway in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará, referring to the colour of the ruling centre-left Workers’ Party, or PT, of incumbent President Dilma Rousseff.

The reason soon becomes clear. The 23-year-old, who lives in a wooden hut on stilts among açaí palms, has three daughters by three different fathers. The men chip in to help. But like many here, her income consists mostly of the R$306 ($125) she receives from Bolsa Família, a monthly stipend the government pays poor families that was introduced by the PT more than 10 years ago.

Most likely to be decided in two rounds, with a run-off scheduled for October 26, the election has turned into ... Read More

Venezuelan Army Enjoys Meat to Cars Denied Most Citizens

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Bloomberg News

Venezuela’s national parade ground at the Fort Tiuna military base presents a scene that local civilians can only dream of — stalls laden with goods and no waiting lines.

The market with everything from subsidized meat to baby strollers, along with loans, new cars and apartments, are perks provided to the armed forces as the economy contracts, poverty rises and President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity sinks to a record low.

The benefits help ensure the loyalty of the military, while siphoning reserves away from the poor who have seen wage growth fall behind inflation, according to analysts, citizen activists and academics.

Since Maduro came to power 17 months ago, the armed forces have created their own television channel, housing program and bank, the only military-owned one outside Iran and Vietnam. A third of Venezuela’s 28 ministers and half the state governors are now active or retired officers, mostly companions of former paratroop ... Read More

Almagro: Cuba should attend summit

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Andres Oppenheimer

Uruguay, Peru and Guatemala have nominated candidates to replace Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the 34-country Organization of American States. In the first of a three-part occasional series leading up to January’s vote, columnist Andres Oppenheimer interviews the candidates. Today, he asked Foreign Minister Luis Almagro of Uruguay five questions about his plans for the OAS and attacks from critics. Excerpts:

Which specific changes would you make at the OAS if elected Secretary General?

The OAS must regain credibility and relevance, and become a political convergence mechanism that complements and articulates other (regional) integration processes. In that context, it’s key that the strengthening of democracy and its institutions goes hand-in-hand with an unrestricted defense of human rights and inter-American (human rights) mechanisms, and that their independence be respected by all….

At the same time, it would have to address issues of this century, such as the lack of security among ... Read More

Judge Grants Temporary Stay in Argentina Default Case

| September 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By Alexandra Stevenson

A group of New York hedge funds that sued Argentina is now asking a New York court to lower the temperature a little on the long-running and acrimonious dispute.

The group, led by Paul E. Singer’s NML Capital, appealed on Friday to Judge Thomas P. Griesa of the Federal District Court in Manhattan to allow Citigroup to make a $5 million payment to bondholders by a Tuesday deadline.

After more than two hours of debate, Judge Griesa agreed to a temporary stay on his previous order that had blocked the payment. He also called for another hearing in 30 days to consider arguments from Citigroup that its activities related to the Argentine bonds were exempt from his rulings.

“We do not want to be here over and over again,” Judge Griesa added, referring to what has become an increasingly messy case.

One of the judge’s earlier ... Read More

Dan muerte a importante guerrillero de las FARC

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Las autoridades colombianas informaron el viernes la muerte en combate de un importante rebelde de las FARC que habría participado en al menos 15 tomas de poblaciones del suroeste del país y que fue jefe de seguridad de un alto dirigente de la organización guerrillera.

“Muerto en operaciones alias ‘Tomate’, sindicado del secuestro de los diputados del Valle y de 15 tomas guerrilleras”, escribió en su cuenta de Twitter el comandante del ejército colombiano, general Jaime Lasprilla.

Alias “Tomate”, cuyo verdadero nombre era Aníbal Guarín Herrera, de 37 años, fue muerto por militares y policías en la zona rural del municipio de Buga, departamento de Valle del Cauca y a 255 kilómetros al oeste de Bogotá.

“Murió al intentar escapar del área y enfrentarse con los uniformados”, indicó un comunicado de prensa del Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares.

Por su parte, el ministro de Defensa, Juan Carlos Pinzón, ... Read More