Venezuela’s Descent

Venezuela’s Descent

A Venezuelan court on Friday upheld the conviction and 14-year prison sentence for opposition leader Leopoldo López. Mr. López is jailed for inciting violence during 2014 antigovernment street protests. But his real crime is that he’s a leader of the struggle to restore Venezuelan democracy and has shown no fear in confronting strongman Nicólas Maduro.

Mr. López was never going to have a fair appeal. Hugo Chávez, a disciple of Fidel Castro, corrupted Venezuelan institutions as part of his effort to ...  

Colombia is moving toward an important reform that businesses and investors have been calling for

Colombia is moving toward an important reform that businesses and investors have been calling for

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Friday that a long-awaited tax reform will be sent to the country’s congress in October and that it should pass before the end of the year.

The news is likely welcome to many of Colombia’s business owners and investors, as there was concern that such reforms would not get passed before the end of the year.

“Tax reform will be approved during this legislature, so it can come into force next year. It will be ...  

Venezuela Flaunts It’s Status As A Narco-State

Venezuela Flaunts It’s Status As A Narco-State

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro recently appointed Nestor Reverol as new Minister of Interior and Justice. Reverol, whose new position puts him in charge of the justice system and law enforcement has been recently accused by a Federal Court in New York of participating in a drug trafficking network and of aiding in the smuggling of cocaine into the United States.

Reverol is a former general in the Venezuelan Armed Forces, a former director of the national Anti-Drug Office and a former ...  

Venezuela food crisis deepens as shipments plummet

Venezuela food crisis deepens as shipments plummet

You name it, Venezuela is short of it: Meat, fish, fruits, sugar and bread. The government just doesn’t have enough money to pay for them. It’s created a staggering humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, where citizens don’t have enough food to eat. Looting and riots have rocked the country. The declines in exports of certain food categories are staggering.

Bread shipments to Venezuela fell 94% in the first half of 2016 compared to the the same period last year. That’s $216,000 worth ...  

Colombia: Sexual Violence By FARC Guerrillas Exposed

Colombia: Sexual Violence By FARC Guerrillas Exposed

“The worst thing is that you can’t have a baby,” Andrea told Human Rights Watch when we interviewed her in 2002. Andrea was describing her time as a 11-year-old girl in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. Two years before we interviewed her, aged just 12, FARC members had terminated Andrea’s pregnancy against her will, after telling her they merely wanted to check on her health.

Before leaving office last week, Colombia’s acting Attorney General Jorge ...  

Venezuelan opposition leader urges united regional front against Maduro

Venezuelan opposition leader urges united regional front against Maduro

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles urged regional leaders on Thursday to lend their support to opponents of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro and back a recall referendum that could remove him from power.

Capriles, who spoke ahead of meeting Peru’s new president, hailed growing support in South America as the economic crisis in Venezuela deepens and new market-friendly presidents have replaced former leftists in Peru and Argentina.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Peru and Mauricio Macri in Argentina are both vocal critics of ...  

Cuba is in trouble

Cuba is in trouble

Under the Castro brothers’ brand of feudal Marxism, Cuba has always needed a sugar daddy.

It hasn’t helped the island’s economic well-being, of course, that since Fidel and Raul Castro captured the island in 1959 the United States has imposed comprehensive travel and trade sanctions. The Soviet Union stepped in early on to support the Caribbean orphan and for 30 years was responsible for 80 per cent of the island’s imports and exports.

That subsidy came to an abrupt end with the ...  

Colombia’s Peace Talks Hit a Snag

Colombia’s Peace Talks Hit a Snag

Over the past few months, the Colombian government’s peace talks with the country’s largest insurgency have given many people cause for optimism. In addition to reaching a cease-fire deal with Bogota, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has already begun preparing to demobilize in parts of the country. One issue that has yet to be resolved, however, could hold up further progress toward peace: the lack of popular support for it. Unless the government can get its people on ...  

How Venezuela’s Repressive Government Controls the Nation Through Hunger

How Venezuela’s Repressive Government Controls the Nation Through Hunger

The Venezuelan government has become one of the world’s cruelest teasers. It has created unspeakable hardships for the populace and, at the same time, is taking advantage of those hardships to introduce new forms of political control.

The proliferation of food lines is a perfect example of this teasing. Lines to buy groceries have become longer and more widespread. In a country with plenty of irritants, these food lines, hardly seen before 2010, have become Venezuela’s most aggravating political problem today.

You ...  

Venezuela’s New Economy Czar Praised Soviet ‘Self-Sufficiency’

Venezuela’s New Economy Czar Praised Soviet ‘Self-Sufficiency’

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro confirmed Carlos Faria as the South American country’s economy chief in the official gazette distributed Wednesday after first appointing him as industry minister in a cabinet shakeup last week.

While not much is known about the 53-year-old engineer other than the fact that his brother heads the ministry of foreign commerce and investment, Faria, has been praised by Maduro as a “young professional” and appears to hold the former Soviet Union, where he studied, in high regard.

“The ...  

Brazil’s socialist party and left-wing allies tarred by new revelations

Brazil’s socialist party and left-wing allies tarred by new revelations

By Roger F. Noriega

August 10, 2016

Perhaps Brazil’s politicians, including recently impeached President Dilma Rousseff, may have hoped that the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro would distract the country from corruption scandals, but the crackdown against corrupt government officials continues.

Indeed, events of recent weeks have underscored Brazil’s political uncertainty. On Monday, the most prominent political strategists of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), João Santana (and his wife Mõnica Moura,) reached a plea bargain with Brazilian prosecutors to provide evidence of ...  

As Venezuela recall stumbles, opposition calls for ‘massive’ demonstration

As Venezuela recall stumbles, opposition calls for ‘massive’ demonstration

Venezuela’s opposition is calling for a national protest next month in hopes of forcing a presidential recall this year — even after authorities on Tuesday released an electoral calendar suggesting it might not happen until 2017.

The coalition of opposition parties, known as the MUD, is asking people from all over Venezuela to descend on Caracas Sept. 1 to agitate for the vote.

“We will have a recall referendum in 2016 because it’s technically possible, politically pertinent and socially necessary,” the organization’s ...  

Brazil’s Senate Votes to Advance Rousseff Trial to Final Stage

Brazil’s Senate Votes to Advance Rousseff Trial to Final Stage

BRASÍLIA—Brazil’s Senate voted on Wednesday to move the impeachment trial against suspended President Dilma Rousseff to its final phase, as expected, setting the stage for a final vote that could oust her later in August, after the nd of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Senators voted 59-21 to approve a report calling for her removal after 16 hours of often-angry speeches. The start of the final phase needed only a majority of senators to be present, but 54 of ...  

Venezuela officials dash hopes of 2016 presidential recall

Venezuela officials dash hopes of 2016 presidential recall

CARACAS, Venezuela — Electoral officials on Tuesday set a timetable for a recall drive against President Nicolas Maduro that makes it unlikely Venezuela will have an early presidential election that could put the opposition in power.

National Elections Council President Tibisay Lucena said critics of the socialist administration will probably be authorized in late October to try to collect petition signatures from the 20 percent of the country’s voters, or 4 million people, needed to force a recall.

Election officials would then ...  

Venezuela’s Deepening Crisis

Venezuela’s Deepening Crisis

The woman had left her home at 3 a.m. to arrive early at a market in Caracas where diapers would be sold at a subsidized rate. She stood in line for six hours with her 4-month-old baby—you have to have the baby or a birth certificate with you to buy the diapers—until members of the National Guard started shooting teargas toward the line. She didn’t know what was happening, but ran away to protect her son, she told us.

When she ...  

Documenting Post-Chavez Venezuela

Documenting Post-Chavez Venezuela

Since Hugo Chávez died in March 2013, Venezuela has spiraled into crisis.

The new president, Nicolás Maduro, has struggled to hold together the socialist coalition his predecessor formed. Shortages in food, electricity, and medicine has led to riots; crime has spiked the already astronomically high murder rate; meteoric inflation, corruption, and price controls have caused the cost of some basic necessities to skyrocket. “This work is about inequality,” says photographer Natalie Keyssar, “and a level of tension and sometimes danger so ...  

Young people don’t want to stay in Cuba

Young people don’t want to stay in Cuba

One thing never changes in relations between Cuba and the United States.

Each time Cuba has severe economic problems, it always opens up an escape valve and allows Cubans to leave the country by tens of thousands. This has been going on since the late 1960s.

First they opened the Port of Camarioca. President Johnson reacted quickly and turned what would have been a disorganized sea flotilla into a twice-a-day flight from Cuba to Miami. More than 225,000 Cubans came on these ...  

Venezuela’s death spiral is getting worse

Venezuela’s death spiral is getting worse

Venezuela is stuck in a doom loop that’s become a death spiral.

Its stores are empty, its people are starving, and its government is to blame. It has tried to repeal the law of supply and demand, and, in the process, eliminated any incentive for businesses to actually sell things. The result is that the country with the largest oil reserves in the world now has to resort to forced labor just to try to feed itself.

It gives new meaning to ...  

How Brazil’s Lula Conned the World

How Brazil’s Lula Conned the World

The 2016 Olympic Games kicked off in Rio de Janeiro on the weekend without major incidents. That seemed a near miracle after weeks of grim reports about shoddy construction, an unprepared security detail and monstrous traffic jams. Whether the athletes, visitors and Cariocas (as Rio residents are known) can get through the next two weeks without a catastrophe remains an open question.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Then again, when Rio won the competition in 2009 to host these ...  

Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children

Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children

Malnourished children who faint in class. Children who, in the worst cases, die from hunger, their bodies nothing but skin and bones, the outlines of their ribs visible.

Images like those have become common in Venezuela, where critical food shortages are pushing hundreds of thousands of children under a blanket of misery and hunger more often seen in the poorest countries in Africa.

“We are seeing cases not seen for 40 years,” said William Barrientos, a physician and part of the opposition ...  

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José Cárdenas Interview with Opinion Journal: "Hungry in Venezuela" Ambassador Noriega Analyzes President Obama’s visit to Cuba on PBS’ ‘Newshour’

Ambassador Roger Noriega discusses the implications and impact of the president’s visit to Cuba on PBS News Hour

Felipe Trigos habló sobre la visita del presidente Obama a Cuba

Testimony by Ambassador Roger Noriega before House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Latin America in 2015: A Year in Review

Jose Cardenas discusses Cuba's problematic ties abroad at the Center for Security Policy’s 4th Annual Latin America Symposium

About

During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.