Russia’s courting of Nicaragua concerns Washington

Russia’s courting of Nicaragua concerns Washington

Russia’s cozy military relationship with Nicaragua, which is rapidly evolving into a single-party regime, is raising concerns in Washington.

Russia recently sold Nicaragua 50 tanks, won access to Nicaragua’s airspace and ports, and is building a law enforcement center near the Pacific coast.

The Obama administration is “closely monitoring” Russia’s presence in Nicaragua and is expressing concern about the lack of democratic space. The White House tried unsuccessfully to pressure President Daniel Ortega to host international observers for the critical November elections. ...  

TSA admits Cuba hasn’t signed agreement for air marshals

TSA admits Cuba hasn’t signed agreement for air marshals

A top TSA official divulged Wednesday that Cuba has yet to agree to allow U.S. air marshals aboard scheduled airline flights between the two countries — meaning there have been no air marshals on board thus far, despite representations officials made previously.

At a House hearing, TSA Deputy Administrator Huban Gowadia confirmed that air marshals are currently only allowed on charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba because the Cuban government has yet to sign the agreement U.S. officials provided in ...  

Venezuela: The Opposition Mobilizes for the Presidential Referendum

Venezuela: The Opposition Mobilizes for the Presidential Referendum

Venezuela is suffering from a combination of severe crises — political, economic, social and humanitarian — that require urgent attention if an implosion is to be averted. However, President Nicolás Maduro and the ruling Chavista United Socialist Party of Venezuela, following their overwhelming defeat in parliamentary elections last December, have had a radically different priority: survival. From that date, their main objective has been to prevent the opposition from fulfilling constitutional requirements for holding a recall referendum that would end ...  

Top Investigator in Case of Missing Students in Mexico Resigns

Top Investigator in Case of Missing Students in Mexico Resigns

The chief of criminal investigations for Mexico’s attorney general resigned late Wednesday amid an internal affairs inquiry into his office’s handling of the case of 43 college students who vanished nearly two years ago.

A brief government statement said the attorney general, Arely Gómez González, had accepted the resignation of Tomás Zerón de Lucio from his post as head of criminal investigations, and “wished him success in his personal and professional projects.”

The statement did not explain the reasons for the resignation, ...  

Rubio Calls For Suspension of Cuba Flights After TSA Admits No Agreement on Air Marshals

Rubio Calls For Suspension of Cuba Flights After TSA Admits No Agreement on Air Marshals

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida excoriated the TSA and the Obama administration on the Senate floor Wednesday, just hours after a government official admitted that there are no air marshals on non-charter flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

The revelation came about earlier in the day during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting attended by TSA officials.

Questioned by Rep. John Katko, a Republican serving upstate New York, Huban Gowadia, deputy administrator at the TSA, confirmed that there currently aren’t any air ...  

In a hungry Venezuela, buying too much food can get you arrested

In a hungry Venezuela, buying too much food can get you arrested

The hunt for food started at 4 a.m., when Alexis Camascaro woke up to get in line outside the supermarket. By the time he arrived, there were already 100 people ahead of him.

Camascaro never made it inside. Truckloads of Venezuelan troops arrived in the darkness, arresting him and nearly 30 others seemingly pulled from the queue at random, according to his lawyer. Camascaro, 50, was charged with violating laws against interfering “directly or indirectly” with the production, transportation or sale ...  

Brazilian ex-President Silva charged in corruption probe

Brazilian ex-President Silva charged in corruption probe

Brazilian federal investigators have charged former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with money laundering and corruption.

The charges announced Wednesday are in connection with a sprawling corruption investigation at state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Silva, his wife and five others are accused of illegally benefiting from renovations at a beachfront apartment in the coastal city of Guaruja, in Sao Paulo state. The improvements were made by constructors involved in the kickback scheme emanating from Petrobras.

Silva acknowledges having visited the penthouse but says ...  

Brazil Set to Escape Its Economic Malaise

Brazil Set to Escape Its Economic Malaise

Not all of the recent drama in Brazil was caused by U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, who got into trouble after claiming he was held up at gunpoint. Actually, for investors, the main spectacle in Latin America’s largest economy was somewhere quite different: the government.

In late August, long after the athletes returned to their home countries, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was impeached following a lengthy process.

The good news, unless you are Rouseff, is that the political commotion may augur in ...  

Conference Pushes for Cuba to Move Forward, Expand Internet Freedom

Conference Pushes for Cuba to Move Forward, Expand Internet Freedom

Cuba must enter the 21st century: that is the message at the first Cuba Internet Freedom Conference held Monday and Tuesday in Miami by the U.S. funded Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB).

The conference brings together digital innovators and other personalities from Cuba and the U.S. to talk about the lack of Internet freedom on the island and the innovative ways being used by some to get around the censorship and the technological limitations.

Cuba has taken some small steps toward making ...  

Venezuela Faces Mercosur Suspension on Human Rights Record

Venezuela Faces Mercosur Suspension on Human Rights Record

The South American trade bloc Mercosur will suspend Venezuela if it fails to meet a December deadline to comply with the group’s human rights and immigration standards.

Venezuela failed to meet commitments it made when it joined in 2006 and was given a Dec. 1 deadline to avoid suspension, according to a statement by the four foreign ministers of the founding members Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Caracas won’t hold the bloc’s rotating presidency this year either, according to the ministers, ...  

Maduro ofrece liberar presos políticos para bloquear revocatorio

Maduro ofrece liberar presos políticos para bloquear revocatorio

El régimen de Nicolás Maduro le ofreció a la oposición venezolana liberar a algunos de sus dirigentes encarcelados a cambio de que deje de insistir en que el referendo revocatorio sea realizado este año, durante controversiales reuniones sostenidas a puerta cerrada que están acentuando las fricciones entre los adversarios al chavismo.

Fuentes familiarizadas con la situación confirmaron que el principal objetivo que busca el régimen a través del diálogo auspiciado por el ex presidente del Gobierno español, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, ...  

Argentina’s Macri Expresses ‘Disgust’ With Venezuelan Government

Argentina’s Macri Expresses ‘Disgust’ With Venezuelan Government

Argentine President Mauricio Macri expressed his“disgust’ with Venezuela’s human rights record, adding to increasing criticism President Nicolas Maduro has received from once close regional allies.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Macri faulted his Venezuelan counterpart’s refusal to let plans for a recall referendum against his rule to move forward expeditiously, indicating that the political gridlock is only furthering the ongoing crisis in the country.

“The process is killing Venezuelans every day,” Macri said on the sidelines of a business forum in ...  

Will Obama Abandon Venezuela?

Will Obama Abandon Venezuela?

President Obama believes the opening to Cuba is one of his great foreign-policy successes. He’d accomplish a lot more if he helped Venezuela before it closes down. Caracas came to a standstill Wednesday as residents stopped what they were doing for 10 minutes to protest the government’s refusal to allow a presidential recall referendum before year’s end. A million Venezuelans marched on the capital Sept. 1 demanding the vote.

President Nicolás Maduro, who took power in 2013 after the death of ...  

Dominican Republic Questions Why US Annulled Diplomatic Visa

Dominican Republic Questions Why US Annulled Diplomatic Visa

Authorities in the Dominican Republic announced Monday that they will demand an explanation from the U.S. government for why it annulled the diplomatic and tourist visas of the Caribbean country’s electoral commission president.

Commission officials said the U.S. should also share any relevant information that would explain the action taken against Roberto Rosario, who said the U.S. consul notified him of the decision late last week.

The U.S. Embassy declined to provide details, except to say that it had the right to ...  

Peru’s New Leader Breaks Tradition and Looks West for Investment

Peru’s New Leader Breaks Tradition and Looks West for Investment

Peru’s new President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a veteran of Wall Street and the World Bank, will make his first visit abroad as head of state to China this week as he looks to drum up investment in mining and infrastructure. It is a sign of the times — his three predecessors had all headed to the White House on assuming office.

Kuczynski will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday in Beijing and Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, and also plans ...  

Ex-speaker latest to fall in Brazil’s corruption scandals

Ex-speaker latest to fall in Brazil’s corruption scandals

RIO DE JANEIRO – The once powerful speaker of Congress’ lower house is the latest top politician to fall before the mammoth corruption scandals that have caused widespread anger among Brazilians.

In a 450-10 vote late Monday, the Chamber of Deputies stripped the congressional seat from Eduardo Cunha, who has been accused of corruption and obstruction of justice. Nine legislators abstained.

Although prosecutors allege Cunha received millions of dollars in bribes linked to the mammoth corruption case at state-run oil giant Petrobras, ...  

Unidad no tolerará abusos del CNE en la semana decisiva para el revocatorio

Unidad no tolerará abusos del CNE en la semana decisiva para el revocatorio

Hoy comienza una semana decisiva para la posibilidad de que el referéndum revocatorio se realice este año. Luego de dos grandes protestas opositoras en todo el país, en las que se exigió al Poder Electoral que fije la fecha de la recolección de firmas del 20% de los electores, paso que activa la consulta, el CNE informará entre el 14 y el 16 de septiembre los detalles sobre ese proceso, publica El Nacional.

Aunque la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática aseguró ...  

Almost 60 percent of Venezuelans say they want out

Almost 60 percent of Venezuelans say they want out

Venezuelans of all political stripes want to abandon the country in record numbers, as the socialist nation continues its downward economic and political spiral, according to a poll released Friday.

A survey by Caracas-based Datincorp found that 57 percent of all Venezuelans said they want to leave the country, up from 49 percent in May 2015. Broken down by political affiliation, the poll found that 24 percent of all government supporters and 71 percent of those who consider themselves the opposition ...  

OFAC issues stiff fines against pro-Cuba activist

OFAC issues stiff fines against pro-Cuba activist

In a case that appears to represent a shift in policy, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has opened legal proceedings against a longtime pro-Cuba activist based in Tampa.

Albert A. Fox Jr., who has extensive ties with the Cuban government, faces a $100,000 fine for alleged violations of the U.S. embargo during two trips to the island over the past six years.

The sanctions are the first issued by OFAC to an individual at least since 2013.

According to ...  

Implementing Colombia peace deal ‘impossible’ without US aid

Implementing Colombia peace deal ‘impossible’ without US aid

The government of Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) concluded a final deal on August 24, heralding the end of a 52-year armed conflict that has killed around 250,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

Colombian voters must now approve the agreement in an October 2 referendum. The popular vote has bitterly divided Colombians, even if recent opinion polls suggest support is growing for the “Yes” camp.

The referendum is widely seen as the final, decisive ...  

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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.