Content from IASW Contributors

Washington should not forget Venezuela


Russia’s annexation of Crimea is an egregious violation of international norms that demands a concerted international reaction. However, as foreign policy pundits settle into their Eurocentric comfort zone, Washington must not neglect its important strategic interests elsewhere in an increasingly interconnected world

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La MS-13 brinda apoyo secreto al partido de gobierno en El Salvador

Roger NoriegaLa ultra violenta Mara Salvatrucha, conocida como MS-13 – cuyos 10,000 miembros siembran el caos en decenas de ciudades de Estados Unidos – ha estado apoyando secretamente al partido gobernante de El Salvador desde hace varios años de acuerdo a evidencia que ha surgido en las últimas semanas.

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Carlos Alberto Montaner: Nicolas Maduro’s Failures All Too Apparent

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

Nicolás Maduro didn’t fare well in the first round of talks at Miraflores Palace. Man does not live by slogans alone.

He, his government and half of Venezuela for the first time had to (or could) listen in silence to the complaints and recriminations of an opposition that represents at least half of the country.

A revolutionary leader is a voracious and strange creature that feeds on empty words.

It is easy to spout revolutionary rhetoric in a pompous voice, gaze lost in space, perhaps looking for talking birds or miraculous faces that appear on walls, while accusing the victims of being fascists, bourgeois or any other nonsense that comes to mind.

The official team spoke of the revolution in the abstract. The opposition spoke of the daily life. For those spectators who are not dogmatic, the result was obvious: The opposition won sweepingly.

It is impossible to defend oneself from the lack of milk, from the ... Read More

Mexico pledges own anti-money laundering list

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY E. EDUARDO CASTILLO Mexico has announced plans to fight money laundering by using “kingpin” lists like those issued by the United States, although unlike the public U.S. list, Mexico will make its registry confidential, a Mexican official said Monday.Alberto Elias Beltran, the official in charge of implementing a new money laundering law at the Finance Department, said the list will be made available only to authorities, anyone accused of money laundering and financial institutions.

“There could be a person who follows the procedure to be excluded from the list and we don’t want them to affect their reputation by making this list public,” Elias Beltran said.

The criteria that will be used to put a person or a business on the list hasn’t yet been determined but the government hopes the first list will be ready by the end of April, he said.

Elias Beltran added that the list will be immediately sent ... Read More

Venezuela’s military admits excesses during deadly protests

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

The military in Venezuela has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left more than 40 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, Vladimir Padrino, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

But the general stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 (officers) are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen Padrino said.

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.


The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

But Vladimir Padrino insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, ... Read More

Venezuela, road to enslavement

| April 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

With the world’s attention focused on the foreign –sponsored revolution in Ukraine these past months, the violent protests in Venezuela yielded much less attention from news watchers.

This has been labelled the worst unrest to date since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year.  Also aggravating the situation has been the county’s economic woes and the depreciation of its currency against the US Dollar. Food shortages have been the result of both the violence and the economic downturn, although not helped by the fact that the country is one of the weakest economies on the South American continent.

An issue raised in an article by Associated Press (AP) entitled: Venezuela issues ID card to curtail food hoarding, bears highlighting.  Basically citizens won’t be able to buy food without this ID card, and the possible reason for this being to halt the black market food economy as well as prevent the hoarding of ... Read More

Governance in Central America and Criminality in El Salvador

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Mexi Data


With the most recent estimates of homicides reported by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (the latest data being for the year 2012), the northern cone of Central America continues to lead and set records for intentional deaths.

Honduras has the world’s highest rate of murder, with 90.4 per 100,000. Guatemala’s numbers were 39.9; El Salvador had 41.2 per 100,000; and, surprisingly, Belize homicides were reported at 44.7. All of which must alarm Mexico’s political leaders (where the rate per 100,000 intentional deaths was 21.5) as their southern borders, seemingly, continue to be elbow to elbow in violence, death and misery, with little progress showing from professed efforts to actively fight crime.

In the United States, the 2012 intentional homicide rate per 100,000 population was 4.7.

This report graphically and boisterously shows that the Americas’ homicide rates have been five to eight times higher than those of Europe and ... Read More

Venezuela’s Protest Movement Fights The Ghost Of Chavez

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From BuzzFeed


Hugo Chavez is dead, but he’s everywhere around Caracas: on billboards, posters, and graffiti. Sometimes it’s just his eyes, watching over this teeming city and the hillside slums packed with his supporters. “Peace Prevails,” blares graffiti with Chavez’s eyes perched above.

Chavez’s personality cult remains strong 13 months after his death, and his ideology, Chavismo, still holds a grip on many Venezuelans, especially the poor, many of whom viewed Chavez as a hero. Chavismo’s principles of populist socialism and anti-imperialism, and the allure of the Bolivarian Revolution (named after 19th-century Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar), dominate Venezuela’s political landscape. They also helped bring about severe economic and security crises that have pushed thousands into the streets of Venezuela’s cities for the past two months. And yet, the enduring popularity of Chavismo has proved a difficult problem for the Venezuelan opposition to solve. Protest organizers in both the political opposition ... Read More

Panama’s King Moves the Queen

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Center-right Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli is an outspoken critic of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. Back home in Panama, though, Mr. Martinelli is laying the groundwork for a power grab of his own. If he prevails the region will take another step backward on the freedom trail, yet the Obama State Department remains silent.

Mr. Martinelli’s term ends on July 1 and the constitution bars him from re-election. But the wealthy supermarket magnate is not letting go so easily. He has made his wife, Marta, the vice-presidential candidate on his Democratic Change Party (CD) ticket for the May 4 presidential election. The presidential candidate is José Domingo Arias, his former housing minister.

The Panamanian Constitution anticipates the caudillo who tries “moving the queen,” as this tactic is known elsewhere in the region, to get around a prohibition on re-election. Its Article 193 states that relatives within “the second degree of marital relations of ... Read More

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto slumps in polls despite policy wins

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


Plenty of world leaders would be thrilled to have the kind of executive hot streak blazed by Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto during his first 16 months in office.

In that short span, he and his administration have steered more than a dozen major new laws through congress, overhauling the country’s energy, banking and education sectors, among others.

Peña Nieto has stood up to powerful interests from Mexico’s business world and underworld. He has locked up drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the world’s most wanted trafficker, quieting doubters in the United States who questioned his crime-fighting mettle.

Yet for all the praise he has won in Washington and elsewhere in the world, Peña Nieto’s opening act is getting panned in the only place it really counts: Mexico.

After Time magazine put him on the cover of its international edition recently with the headline “Saving Mexico,” a flood of ridicule and derision followed.

Peña ... Read More

Colombia To Extradite Seven Accused Of Kidnapping, Killing DEA Agent In 2013

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

President Juan Manuel Santos announced Thursday that he signed the order to extradite to the United States the seven Colombians accused of the June 2013 kidnapping and murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Santos made the announcement in an interview with La FM radio, eight days after Colombia’s Supreme Court authorized the extraditions after determining that James Terry Watson, the agent who was killed, was a protected person in the United States.

“I already signed it,” the president responded to a question on the matter without making any further comment.

The measure affects Andres Alvaro Oviedo Garcia, Hector Leonardo Lopez, Julio Stiven Garcia Ramirez, Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, Wilson Daniel Peralta Bocachica, Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero and Edwin Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, and now they just need to determine the date of the transfer. They will face charges in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.

Watson was killed on June 20, 2013, in ... Read More

Everything you need to know about the Venezuelan protests

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Week-01

What are the protests about? A broken economy, crime, shortages of basic goods, and political repression. When the populist President Hugo Chávez died last year, he left Venezuela’s economy and civil society in shambles. Chávez’s handpicked successor, President Nicolás Maduro, has none of Chávez’s charisma, but essentially the same socialist policies and autocratic governing style, and the country has quickly deteriorated. Its murder rate of 25,000 per year is among the world’s highest, with a Venezuelan killed every 20 minutes. Crime is so bad that the government stopped tracking it, claiming the data was being “politicized.” Kidnappings and robberies are rampant, and the police have been corrupted by criminal gangs. Venezuela exports oil and imports nearly everything else, so when global oil prices stalled this year, it triggered a runaway annual inflation rate of 57 percent, as the bolivar currency lost much of its value. Families have been unable to buy ... Read More

Cat-and-mouse secrecy game plays out daily in Cuba

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


Cuban dissident Berta Soler says she and other members of the Ladies in White were handing out toys to children at Trillo Park in Havana when a State Security officer detained them and seized the 60 to 70 toys.

Soler said she protested that the women bought the toys legally in Havana with money received legally from supporters abroad. But the agent told her, “Berta, don’t play the fool, because you know those toys come from Miami, the terrorists.”

The March 15 incident reflected the cat-and-mouse game played almost daily by dissidents, supporters abroad who send them assistance and the security agents of a communist government that views most such aid — even toys — as “subversive.”

That’s why, several of the foreign supporters argue, they must use a measure of discretion when sending aid to democracy, human rights or Internet freedom activists in Cuba — enough to ensure it ... Read More

The Real Threat to Venezuela’s Democracy

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
New York Review of Books


Last week, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to counter the bad press his government has received for its crackdown on widespread protests over the past two months. He accused the international media of having “distorted the reality” of Venezuela by portraying the protests as peaceful and the country’s democracy as “deficient.” Yet the steps he’s taken to respond to the protests at home have shown that the deficiencies of Venezuelan democracy are all too real. Not only have his security forces abused unarmed protesters; his government has also censored news coverage of the demonstrations and jailed a prominent opposition leader who urged his supporters to join them.

President Maduro has faced major difficulties since his narrow election victory one year ago. A longtime deputy of Hugo Chávez, who died last March, Maduro inherited the support of roughly half the country’s voters, many of whom ... Read More

Venezuela’s Agony: Weak President, Strong Generals, Riots and Cocaine

| April 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

In the dark before dawn one night last February, Colonel Googlis Martín Caballero was driving a white Ford Explorer through the Venezuelan countryside not far from the Colombian border. With him were his wife, his daughter and roughly half a ton of cocaine. He probably felt sure nobody would question him, a ranking officer in the country’s National Guard, but, then, that much coke is hard to hide.

At a routine checkpoint, other members of the National Guard detained the colonel. The story of his arrest generated brief headlines in the national papers, making the point, perhaps, that there are limits to what a military man could get away with. But, if so, this was the exception that proves the rule. His capture could have been very bad luck for Col. Caballero. It could have been another officer out to get him, or mere confusion among the soldiers about whose orders to ... Read More

US foreign policy retreat – why?

| April 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

Just six years ago, U.S. foreign policy remained highly respected.  We were peacemakers and defenders of liberty.  Our allies trusted us and our record was unrivaled – and undoubted.   By way of example, the Colombian ambassador to the U.S. declared that the U.S. had saved her country, helped Colombia to restore order, deterrence and democracy to Colombia.  That particular ambassador declared Plan Colombia “the greatest U.S. foreign policy victory since World War II.”  Whether it is, leadership abroad was a bipartisan affair.  Today, we are in reverse mode.  The question is “why?”

Look at Colombia, example of a larger problem.  American leadership – particularly former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and then-President Bill Clinton – produced a consensus around commitments to rule of law, deterrence and not negotiating with terrorists.  Their resolve to defend a U.S. ally helped turn the tide of terror and lawlessness in Colombia into security and prosperity.   ... Read More

Why The United States Has Done Nothing About Venezuela

| April 11th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Business Insider


Forty-one people are dead in Venezuela, political leaders are thrown in jail for leading demonstrators through road-blocked streets, food shortages worsen, and inflation continues to rise. Yet the regional power to the north, The United States, says little and does less.

There’s a reason for this, and Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, outed it in an interview with The Guardian this month. He said:

“Is 100 years of intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean not enough: against Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Brazil? Is the coup attempt against President Chávez by the Bush administration not enough? Why does the US have 2,000 military bases in the world? To dominate it. I have told President Obama: we are not your backyard anymore.”

The United States is led by devils, according to Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez. It is trying to overthrow a Bolivarian revolution hundreds of years in the making. The ideology of the ... Read More

Flexible friends

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options

THE rise of China has changed every region. But it has reinforced patterns, too. China’s demand for commodities has entrenched Latin America’s position as a supplier of raw materials. The country guzzles oil from Venezuela and Ecuador, copper from Chile, soyabeans from Argentina, and iron ore from Brazil—with which it signed a corn-import deal on April 8th.

Chinese lending to the region also has a strong flavour of natural resources. Data are patchy, but according to new figures from the China-Latin America Finance Database, a joint effort between the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank, and Boston University, China committed almost $100 billion to Latin America between 2005 and 2013 (see chart). The biggest dollops by far have come from the China Development Bank (CDB). These sums are meaningful. Chinese lenders committed some $15 billion last year; the World Bank $5.2 billion in fiscal year ... Read More

Sheriffs warn of violence from Mexican cartels deep into interior of U.S.

| April 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times


Outmanned and outgunned, local law enforcement officers are alarmed by the drug and human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering that Mexican drug cartels are conducting in the U.S. far from the border.

U.S. sheriffs say that securing the border is a growing concern to law enforcement agencies throughout the country, not just those near the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

“If we fail to secure our borders, then every sheriff in America will become a border sheriff,” said Sam Page, sheriff of Rockingham County, N.C. “We’re only a two-day drive from the border and have already seen the death and violence that illegal crossings brings into our community.”

Sheriff Page, whose county has about 94,000 residents, noted that a Mexican cartel set up one of its drug warehouses about a mile from his home.

“These men are coming into our county with more firepower than I have,” he said Wednesday. “I’m literally outgunned.”

The sheriff in North ... Read More

Hoping for Asylum, Migrants Strain U.S. Border

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


HIDALGO, Tex. — Border Patrol agents in olive uniforms stood in broad daylight on the banks of the Rio Grande, while on the Mexican side smugglers pulled up in vans and unloaded illegal migrants.

The agents were clearly visible on that recent afternoon, but the migrants were undeterred. Mainly women and children, 45 in all, they crossed the narrow river on the smugglers’ rafts, scrambled up the bluff and turned themselves in, signaling a growing challenge for the immigration authorities.

After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, ... Read More

Huelga contra la inflación e inseguridad paraliza a Argentina

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Un vagón permanece estacionado en una estación de metro el jueves en Buenos Aires, Argentina. El país amanecióparalizado por la huelga general convocada por los sindicatos opositores al gobierno de Cristina Fernández.


BUENOS AIRES – Argentina se paralizó el jueves por una huelga de 24 horas ampliamente acatada por los transportistas, convocada por tres de las cinco centrales sindicales que reclamaron al gobierno de la presidenta Cristina Kirchner acciones contra la inflación y la inseguridad.

La huelga general paralizó el transporte público, sector clave para que la protesta sindical tuviera éxito en este país de 40 millones de habitantes con una de las mayores tasas de inflación en América Latina: más de 7% en el primer bimestre de 2014, según datos oficiales avalados por el FMI. En 2013 la cifra se situó entre el 25 y 30%, según consultoras privadas.

Los sindicatos que apoyaron la huelga van desde la centro-derecha hasta la ... Read More

Cuba – French minister must not ignore freedom of information during Cuba visit

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter about freedom of information in Cuba to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who is about to make the first official visit to the Caribbean island by a member of the French government since 1983.

Cuba’s violations of freedom of information must not be ignored during this visit. Improvement in relations between the European Union and Cuba must not be at the expense of Cuba’s journalists and bloggers.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Ministry of Foreign Affairs 37 Quai d’Orsay 75351 Paris

Paris, 10 April 2014

Dear Foreign Minister,

Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends freedom of information, would like to draw your attention to the plight of professional and non-professional journalists in Cuba.

All independent media, both traditional and online, are censored in Cuba, which is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in our 2014 press freedom index. Even defending the right to information is obstructed by President ... Read More

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