Content from IASW Contributors

Can Brazil overcome economic malaise and scandal?

By Roger F. Noriega and Felipe TrigosBy Roger F. Noriega and Felipe Trigos
While US policymakers, commentators, and the media have been distracted recently by the “historic” normalization of US-Cuban relations, the rest of Latin America is beset by extraordinary challenges—not the least of which is the economic malaise and governance crisis in Brazil, South America’s most populous country and the world’s sixth-largest economy. Read More-->

Can Obama Rescue His Failing Latin America Policy?

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
U.S. President Barack Obama has clearly noticed that many in Latin America and the Caribbean have an uncanny affinity for the myth of the Cuban revolution. What he has yet to realize, however, is that the vast majority of the region’s citizens would rather live in the Chile built by Augusto Pinochet than in the Cuba destroyed by Fidel Castro.

Petrocaribe: a legacy that is both blessing and a curse

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Andres Schipani

Shortly after the 2010 earthquake, Hugo Chávez, the late Venezuelan leader, said he would write off Haiti’s $395m debt for oil exports from his country and would continue to supply it on generous credit terms.

“Haiti has no debt with Venezuela, on the contrary, it is Venezuela that has a historic debt with Haiti,” he said. He cited Haiti’s support for Venezuela’s 19th-century revered independence hero, Simón Bolívar. Historical links between the two countries include Venezuela’s flag being designed and first raised in Haiti.

In 2010, oil prices were as high as Mr Chávez’s revolutionary fervour. Caracas could afford to supply Haiti’s energy needs by sending 14,000 barrels of fuel a day at favourable rates and lenient payment terms in return for political support. Now, oil prices have halved since the middle of last year and Venezuela’s economy is in recession, wrestling with galloping inflation and food ... Read More

Why Is Obama Parroting Castro Talking Points?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY MONA CHARENTwo relatively recent photos of Barack Obama with foreign leaders reveal much about his deep-dyed leftism. The first features President Obama and democratically-elected prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of one of America’s most loyal friends. Obama looks strained. His face is stiff, and his eyes are veiled. The second is a snap of Obama at the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama. He’s seated with “President” Raul Castro, leader of a bitter enemy, who has never received a single free vote. Obama is grinning, his eyes dancing with pleasure.In contrast to the bitterness with which Obama addresses Netanyahu, he is all honey with Castro. “So I want to thank President Castro for the spirit of openness and courtesy that he has shown during our interactions . . . President Castro earlier today spoke about the significant hardships that the people of Cuba have undergone over many decades. I can say with ... Read More

Obama: Cuba No Longer Terror Sponsor, Though It Harbors Anti-U.S. Terrorists

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »

Foreign Policy: By removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Obama is letting Castro get away with harboring and pampering anti-American terrorists on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

Earlier this week, Obama removed Cuba from the State Department’s blacklist — even though State documents Cuba’s long history of sponsoring terrorists. And even though Havana shelters and refuses to turn over American fugitives.

Obama chose not to seek their extradition from Havana in exchange for his latest gift to the communist thug. One of the terrorists sits on the FBI’s list — right alongside al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Joanne Deborah Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, has a $1 million bounty on her after escaping from a New Jersey prison while serving a life sentence for murdering a state trooper and shooting another with two comrades.

“One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range,” the FBI ... Read More

Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here?

| April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With this week’s perfunctory delisting of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, it is clear President Obama can’t give away the store fast enough. The apparently antiquated diplomatic notion that when engaging an adversary you use your leverage to try and exact concessions that get you closer to your objective is evidently not for him. Instead, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “Mr. Obama’s Cuban diplomacy has been one unreciprocated offering after another.”

Even worse than that, the administration now finds itself in the humiliating position where the Castro regime is placing conditions on the United States to upgrade diplomatic relations: i.e., ending the terrorism designation, returning the Guantánamo naval base, ending support for dissidents, and so on.

What we are witnessing is a truly remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, piece of statecraft. Give your adversary everything he wants and then see what happens, historical experience be damned. In his own ... Read More

Feds: Guardsmen sold military guns

| April 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego

By Kristina Davis

Two East County California National Guardsmen were arrested Wednesday, accused of selling a cache of military firearms for thousands of dollars to an undercover agent posing as a Mexican drug cartel operative.

Jaime Casillas, 22, of El Cajon, and Andrew Reyes, 34, of La Mesa, were arrested after search warrants were served at their homes, according to federal authorities.

Both worked at the National Guard Armory in La Mesa, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Reyes is accused of traveling several times to Texas to obtain numerous weapons, including assault rifles, magazines and ballistic plates for protective vests, which he then sold in San Diego.

The alleged scheme began in August, when an undercover agent working with a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force met with Casillas, who boasted of his ability to acquire ... Read More

Petrobras shows corruption is now a high-stakes game in Brazil

| April 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Samantha Pearson

In the 1980s, corruption in Brazil was a simple, albeit sweaty, affair. The first challenge for any executive entrusted with paying a bribe was to traipse up and down the streets to find enough black market money dealers willing to sell dollars, explains one former government contractor. In a decade when Brazil changed its currency more often than its president, kickbacks in greenbacks were considered the only ones worth having.

The second challenge was to take the cash to the meeting place, which often involved donning a long winter coat stuffed with banknotes under the tropical sun. “The biggest danger back then was passing out from heat exhaustion,” says the former contractor.

The multibillion-dollar corruption scandal engulfing Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras could not be more different. With cash allegedly siphoned through more than 300 Swiss bank accounts and laundered via everything from petrol stations to art works, the country’s largest ... Read More

Attack Roils Colombian Peace Talks

| April 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


BOGOTÁ—Colombia’s military moved to restart aerial bombing raids on rebel camps after Marxist guerrillas killed 11 soldiers in a rural attack, threatening peace talks the government had recently said could be completed this year.

The government blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for an attack with guns and grenades on an army platoon late Tuesday night. The rebels said government troops initiated the skirmish, which occurred in the Andean state of Cauca and injured at least 17 other soldiers.

The sudden escalation of hostilities seemed likely to undermine trust between negotiators who are now in Cuba trying to end a half century of conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

President Juan Manuel Santos staked much of his presidency on the promise of ending the insurgency and yielding the economic dividend that would result from peace. He has come under great political pressure to crush the guerrillas militarily ... Read More

Cuba human rights bill introduced; State says Cuba will talk about return of fugitives

| April 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


A House bill was introduced Wednesday that would tie an improvement in Cuba’s human rights record to any further removal of sanctions, and the State Department said the United States and Cuba planned to start a dialogue about U.S. fugitives living on the island.

The developments came a day after President Barack Obama informed Congress that there was no longer a justification for keeping Cuba on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But in the 45 days until his directive takes effect, Congress may seek to block the president’s action by enacting a joint resolution, which Obama could, in turn, veto.

South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen met late Wednesday with other members of Congress to discuss strategies about how to reverse “Obama’s unwarranted delisting of Cuba,” her office said.

Also coming on the heels of the delisting was a bill ... Read More

President Obama’s use of farce on Cuba

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »

President Obama issued a “certification” yesterday under US law that Cuba should no longer be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. He states, in part, “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Of course, Cuba has insisted for 30 years that it does not support terrorism, despite reams of evidence to the contrary, i.e. support for Colombian and Basque terror groups in addition to US cop-killers. So, yesterday, the president of the United States essentially certified his own gullibility.

Let’s just say that Obama’s White House is not a stickler for facts or the law. On March 9th, the president issued a detailed, formal declaration that the lawlessness in Venezuela “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States. Less than a month later, White House advisor Ben Rhodes flatly contradicted the president’s declaration. A State Department official ... Read More

Argentina, A Quiet Link In South American Drug Trade

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
World Crunch-01

By Jorge Ossona

BUENOS AIRES — Whether it’s poor kids sniffing coca paste, or middle class and wealthy youth indulging in refined cocaine, these are the hapless end users in a continental drug chain in which Argentina is now a critical link.

As in the late 18th century, when Spain turned this area into a viceroyalty with Buenos Aires as its capital, Argentina remains a corridor for goods destined for Europe. The trade then was in silver from the mines of Potosí in Peru, which the laws then mandated be exported via Buenos Aires, because it was the shortest route to Spain. The new route worked for decades, until Spain’s colonies began to revolt in 1810, and new states emerged on the continent. Two hundred years later, the country is again a strategic stepping stone, this time for drug cartels that want to ship cocaine from Peru and Bolivia back to the Old World. The decline of the Colombian cartels in the 1980s and 1990s and the problems their lackluster successors have had in taking their ... Read More

Argentina likely to return to capital markets

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Jan Dehn

Whatever the result of Argentina’s presidential election later this year, the country will be in a different place a year from now with a new and more pragmatic government running the country. All the main contenders for president in the next government have similar ‘four pronged’ approach to address Argentina’s economic problems. Investors should look through this election ‘noise’ and towards the new government’s coming macro-economic reforms which we believe will usher in a new Argentina.

The era of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president, is set to be remembered as a strange epoch that began with default and ended with default. The Kirchners oversaw the restoration of order in Argentina after the chaos that accompanied the 2001 default, but then became bogged down by unnecessary confrontations and economic mismanagement.

The upcoming presidential election later this year will not only decisively mark the end of ... Read More

Petrobras, Gazprom ink Bolivia gas deal

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
BN Americas

By Michael Place

Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras has agreed to invest up to US$2.057bn to develop new natural gas fields in Bolivia, officials in La Paz said on Tuesday.

The 15-year agreement forms part of a memorandum of understanding also involving Russian gas producer Gazprom for exploration projects in gas-rich Tarija department.

Under the deal, Petrobras will drill prospects in the Sunchal, San Telmo and Astillero areas, which hold estimated gas reserves of 4.88Tf3 (138Bm3).

According to Bolivia’s state hydrocarbons company YPFB, Petrobras has committed to invest in exploration and production, transport and storage facilities.

“These new areas will allow us to increase our reserves and consolidate Tarija department as Bolivia’s energy center,” YPFB chief executive Guillermo Achá said in a statement.

Achá denied that Bolivia faced an imminent decline in natural gas output due to a lack of new discoveries.

“Gas production is not ending. On the contrary, all these activities indicate that we will increase production,” he added.

Bolivia’s state ... Read More

Obama’s Move to Drop Cuba From Terror List Sets Up Showdown With Congress

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time


President Obama formally moved on Tuesday to remove Cuba from the short, brutish list of states supporting terrorism. The technical finding — that Havana had not offered material support to terrorists in the previous six months — is likely to trigger the first substantial political challenge to Obama’s decision to end the half-century of U.S. efforts to isolate the regime that has ruled Cuba since 1962. By law Congress has 45 days to pass a joint resolution blocking the change, a challenge that anti-Castro lawmakers and Republican critics indicated they would take up. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen promptly declared, “This unwise decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list illustrates that the Obama Administration is willing to concede to the demands of the Castro brothers in order to set up an embassy in Cuba.”

Indeed, if the removal stands, Havana and ... Read More

Panama VP travels to Venezuela on dollar-debt mission

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Panama’s vice president and foreign minister traveled to Caracas Tuesday to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and negotiate the settlement of roughly $1 billion in dollar debt owed to Panamanian companies.

Isabel De Saint Malo de Alvarado’s visit stems from a meeting between Maduro and Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos Varela at the just-concluded Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

The visit is aimed at settling the dollar debt Venezuela owes to companies in the Colon Free Trade Zone and Panama City-based Copa Airlines, the Panamanian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Venezuelan authorities have shown full willingness to make progress in the talks.

Although no figures were mentioned, previous estimates put the debt at around $1 billion, nearly half of which is owed to Copa Airlines and the rest to companies in the Colon Free Trade Zone – the largest free port in the ... Read More

Another Gift for Castro

| April 15th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

President Obama continued his so far unrequited courtship of Fidel and Raúl Castro on Tuesday by removing Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The decision, following Mr. Obama’s weekend meeting with Raúl in Panama, certifies that Cuba had provided no support for international terrorism for the past six months. The certification adds that “the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” Well, that’s certainly reassuring.

The reality is that Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Cuba was never in doubt. The State Department review was going through the motions. Raúl has made delisting a condition of normal diplomatic ties, as well as the presidential visit to Havana that Mr. Obama covets before he leaves office in 2017.

However, that doesn’t erase such realities as last month’s request by Spain’s foreign minister that the U.S. use its opening to Havana to obtain the extradition ... Read More

Una región que arropa la represión

| April 14th, 2015 | 2 Comments »
Felipe Trigos-01

La Séptima Cumbre de las Américas celebrada el pasado fin de semana en Panamá demostró de nueva cuenta la inhabilidad de superar la fascinación con el mito de la revolución cubana y la falta de comprensión sobre los daños que este movimiento trajo, no solo para Cuba, sino para toda la región.

Cuando líderes del hemisferio tienen la oportunidad de coincidir con Raúl o Fidel Castro en reuniones multilaterales, parecería que lo más importante en la agenda es rendir homenaje a los hermanos y aprovechar la oportunidad para la foto, quizás para no provocar la protesta clamorosa de izquierdistas que ven con ojos enamorados ‘la obra’ de los Castro, a pesar de 55 años donde se ha podido constatar la opresión, pobreza y sufrimiento que ha causado a millones que habitan la isla.

La Cumbre en Panamá, que se centraría en temas como la prosperidad y la equidad, acabó sirviendo de plataforma ... Read More

Why Does Everybody Love Chile?

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Alicia Chavy

As one of the most competitive economies and financial market in the region and worldwide, Chile projected itself as a strategic destination for foreign investments over the past two decades. Emerging from the disastrous Pinochet dictatorship in 1990, the Andean country established strict political and legislative safeguards to lower corruption levels and protect judicial processes, democratic values, and investments.

The new government’s efforts successfully created strong confidence in the new political system, improving transparency and corruption indexes, and solid financial and legal institutions. From these reforms, high inflows of FDI followed and Chile became the world’s 11th largest recipient of FDI in 2012.

Thus, over the past 10 years, it became clear that Chile had the potential to become a powerful player in the region, as its GDP grew at an average annual rate of 4.6% from 2005 to 2012. Chile’s flexibility to face international ... Read More

Normalizing Cuba Ties Doesn’t Erase Castro’s Legacy

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »

Leadership: The sight of President Obama glad-handing Cuban dictator Raul Castro showed just how far American diplomacy has sunk. Far from being a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, this was a craven capitulation.

There’s a reason 10 presidents of both parties kept Cuba’s Castros on America’s bad-guys’ list for more than 50 years. Each leader understood a basic truth: Totalitarian Cuba is a sworn enemy of the U.S., a violent threat to the Western Hemisphere’s peace and prosperity and an ally of our worst enemies — including the former USSR.

Hearing an American president now apologize — as Obama did over the weekend at the Summit of the Americas — for past U.S. efforts to protect our homeland and our militarily weak neighbors from Cuba’s aggression is bizarre and disgraceful.

No move to repair ties with the Castro regime should have been made until that country agreed to real, major reforms — including the release of all ... Read More

Voters rebuke Evo Morales and the ruling party

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

On winning power nine years ago, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president, touted his victory as the end of 500 years of colonial rule. Bolivia may have been independent since 1825, but its rulers had the outlook of the imperialists. Change came at last with Mr Morales’s indigenous resistance movement. It would govern “for the next 500 years”, he proclaimed.

The president’s mastery of theatre and symbolism, and his rewriting of the constitution to reinforce the rights of Bolivia’s large indigenous population, go a long way toward explaining his enduring popularity. In elections last October he easily won a third term. His Movement To Socialism (MAS) claimed two-thirds of the seats in both chambers of the legislature. Supporters began talking of a fourth term in office starting in 2020, even though under the constitution he is not eligible to run again.

So the results in regional and local elections held ... Read More

Obama’s deceptions on Iran and Cuba

| April 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Marc A. Thiessen

Remember Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who as caught on tape boasting how the president had taken advantage of the “stupidity” of American voters to pass his health-care law?

Well it seems, Obama is applying the “Gruber Doctrine” once again — this time to foreign policy.

The Gruber Doctrine is based on the premise that, in the words of the now infamous MIT professor, “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that the “basic exploitation of the lack of . . . understanding of the American voter” is “really, really critical” for enacting your preferred policies.

That is precisely what Obama is doing when it comes to Iran and Cuba.

With Iran, the administration is once again relying on a “lack of transparency” to ram through its nuclear deal. Even Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the administration’s talking points describing the framework ... Read More

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