Content from IASW Contributors

New face may scramble Brazil’s presidential campaign

By Roger F. Noriega By Roger F. Noriega
Brazil’s presidential campaign took a tragic turn Wednesday morning when Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, was killed when the private plane he was traveling on crashed in the Brazilian port city of Santos; four other passengers and the two pilots also were killed. Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva Vaz de Lima, will likely be designated to assume the top spot on the Socialist alliance ticket.
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Don’t Believe Everything You Read About the United States’ Cuba Democracy Program

By José R. CárdenasBy José R. Cárdenas
For the second time in four months, the Associated Press has published a gross distortion of USAID’s Cuba Democracy Program that has made it the subject of unjust derision from the legions of U.S.-Cuba policy critics. Read More-->

The Deadly, Invisible Borders Inside El Salvador

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New Republic

BY OSCAR MARTINEZ

Last April, in the town of Izalco in the western state of Sonsonate, El Salvador, a group of families decided to dismantle the makeshift houses of wood and tin where they had been living for up to 26 years. The scene unfolded on a rural stretch of land known as the San Luis Ranch, where the families had built up a shantytown. The Mara Salvatrucha gang, which isblacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department, had targeted one of the residents, and that meant all the families felt they had no choice but to move.

n the United States, you are having a debate over immigration. But many of the Central Americans now coming into the United States never wanted to leave their country. For them, the proper verb is not migrar, but huir—to flee. The breaking point for the residents of San Luis Ranch came when members of the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, ... Read More

Brazil: Marina Silva ‘to replace’ late candidate Campos

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

The former Brazilian Environment Minister, Marina Silva, is expected to be named in the next few days to run for president in October.

She would replace former presidential candidate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash on Wednesday.

A close adviser to Ms Silva, Bazileu Margarido, told the BBC that she had agreed to run.

But the decision still needs to be officially approved by Mr Campos’s Socialist Party (PSB).

The Socialists – the major partner in the opposition coalition established to run against President Dilma Rousseff – are expected to announce their decision after a meeting on Wednesday.

Evangelical environmentalist

Ms Silva had decided to run for vice-president alongside Mr Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).

She fell out with the Workers’ Party government and left office to run against Ms Rousseff in 2010.

An environmentalist and devout ... Read More

Julian Assange speaks of ‘leaving’ Ecuador embassy

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving London’s Ecuadorean embassy “soon”.

He said he understood from Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson he would be “leaving the embassy” after two years’ refuge but gave no more details.

Mr Assange is wanted for questioning over alleged sex assaults in Sweden and faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Mr Hrafnsson later said the plan “as always” was for Mr Assange to depart when the UK “calls off the siege”.

“The world is not coming to an end,” Mr Hrafnsson told reporters inside the embassy.

“The plan, as always, is to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements.”

Mr Assange, 43, faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010. He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after the UK’s ... Read More

Morris Beschloss: Venezuela Abandons Citgo-Petroleum Corp. and Supplemental U.S. Holdings

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Desert Sun-01

The unofficial announcement by Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, that it is in the process of selling major U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation in addition to three refineries, representing a combined 750,000 barrels per day conversion capability, has geopolitical, as well as energy-oriented ramifications.

Caracas is already closely allied with fellow U.S. antagonist Cuba, while providing Iran with a strong footprint in the Western Hemisphere. The late dictator Hugo Chavez, who first “socialized” Venezuela and seems to have established that energy rich nation in the Sino/Russian/Iranian world camp, has also perpetuated a distinct anti-U.S. point of view, leading to a breakdown with America economically, as well as politically.

While Venezuela harbors South America’s largest crude oil reserves, it also sits on a huge additional complement of Canada-like “oil sands,” second only to Canada in tar-sands reserves in the Athabasca region of its Alberta Province.

Citgo’s refineries are located in Chicago’s suburb of Lemont, IL, ... Read More

US Sees Surge in Cuban Rafters Aiming for Florida

| August 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

One early morning this April, Dairon Morera climbed onto a raft of aluminum tanks with 22 other people, revved up a Volvo car motor and pushed off the Cuban shore, joining a never-ending stream of islanders desperate to reach the United States.

“The biggest dream a Cuban has is to leave,” said Morera, who was frustrated by government limits on his pizza business. He had no money for airplane tickets or smugglers, so decided to risk his life at sea.

Morera’s journey was so turbulent that many people vomited, but all made it alive in just 20 hours. They ran ashore in the Florida Keys, hugging each other and shouting “Libertad!”

The number of Cubans trying this perilous journey is up sharply this year, with nearly 3,000 picked up by U.S. authorities so far, double last year’s pace.

The special status Cuban migrants have thanks to U.S. efforts undermine their communist government is a ... Read More

Deadly Plane Crash Turns Green Evangelical Into Brazil Kingmaker

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Raymond Colitt and David Biller

She’s an environmental activist and an evangelical abortion opponent. She’s been called pro-market and a socialist. And now Marina Silva is the kingmaker in one of Brazil’s most-contested presidential elections.

Silva, 56, became the wild card in Brazilian politics after her running mate, presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, died in a Aug. 13 plane crash. While political analysts and investors say she will probably replace him on the ballot, her stance on the environment clashes with vested interests in a party she joined after failing to form her own, said Andre Cesar, director at public policy and business strategy consultants Prospectiva.

Silva stands to upset the campaigns of her two leading contenders if she jumps into the race. She could divide the vote enough to rob President Dilma Rousseff of a first-round victory, while denying candidate Aecio Neves a spot in the second round, UBS AG said. A candidate needs ... Read More

Colombia overtakes Peru to become the region’s fastest-growing big economy

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

AS HE prepared to begin a second term as Colombia’s president on August 7th, the first name that Juan Manuel Santos inked in for his cabinet was Mauricio Cardenas, who keeps his job as finance minister. That was no surprise: helped by an investment boom, the country’s economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. Mr Cardenas says the second quarter was strong, too. The government will be raising its growth forecast for this year from 4.7%.

This is a welcome exception to a regional trend: Latin America as a whole looks likely to grow by less than 2% this year, the worst figure since 2009. The end of the commodity boom that lifted the region for more than a decade, the fading of the era of cheap money as central banks in the rich world prepare to raise interest ... Read More

Brazil’s Election Draped in Mourning

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MAC MARGOLIS

Twenty years ago, when he debuted in national politics, Eduardo Campos, the Brazilian presidential hopeful who died in a plane crash yesterday, was easy to underestimate. With his elegant suits, camera-ready smile and pale-blue eyes as big as fog lights, the junior legislator from the northeastern state of Pernambuco seemed a better fit on the set of a soap opera than in the two-fisted arena of Brasilia.

He was nothing like his congressional colleague and close friend, Aldo Rebelo, the ambitious Communist Party chieftain who I’d arranged to meet one night in a tony Brasilia restaurant favored by power brokers. Campos was by his side that evening, but clearly as entourage. As it happened, Rebelo would go on to occupy second-rate jobs in service to leftwing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, where his most memorable offering was a legislative bill to banish foreign words (delivery, sale, shopping center) from Brazilian ... Read More

Mexican mayor detained for alleged links to cartel

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

A mayor in the western state of Michoacan was detained for allegedly ordering the killing of a friend and extorting her employees and street vendors in her city on behalf of a drug cartel, authorities said Thursday.

Michoacan state prosecutors said in a statement that Huetamo Mayor Dalia Santana told her friend to meet her for breakfast at a Chinese restaurant, where a gunman shot him to death last year. The gunman was a member of the Knights Templar drug cartel, which is based in Michoacan.

Officials said Santana demanded 20 percent of her employees’ salaries and also extorted street vendors and gave the money to Servando Gomez, the alleged leader of the Knights Templar cartel.

Santana is the fifth official detained in Michoacan this year for alleged links to organized crime. Authorities have also arrested the mayors of Aguililla, Apatzingan and Lazaro Cardenas. In April, federal investigators detained Jesus Reyna, Michoacan’s former ... Read More

Venezuela as a Distressed Seller

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY CHRISTOPHER SWANN

Venezuela is digging its way to distressed seller status.

The country wants to offload Citgo, its American refinery and pipelines unit. It may be worth up to $15 billion, money that’s sorely needed because of President Nicolás Maduro’s foolish economic policies. And the drop in value of heavy-oil assets like Citgo owns makes it a bad time to sell.

There can be advantages to getting rid of refining businesses.ConocoPhillips, for example, spun out its fuel-processing plants as a standalone company in May 2012. The two separate companies are now worth a total of 61 percent more.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA has a different motive. Mr. Maduro’s administration is running out of cash. That’s the result of anti-business policies — including price controls and nationalization — that have depressed local production and increased reliance on imports. Access to dollars is rationed ... Read More

First National Guard troops at Texas-Mexico border

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

The first wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border.

Several dozen soldiers deployed in the Rio Grande Valley are part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Gov. Rick Perry last month, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday.

Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge.

This first batch of soldiers was specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Walker said. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

State officials have estimated the deployment, which they’ve called a “deter and refer” mission will cost $12 million per month.

On Wednesday, during a visit to Camp Swift Army National Guard Training Center outside Austin, Perry said the troops were needed to ... Read More

New owners of leading Venezuelan newspaper fire columnists and change editorial line

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Journalism in the Americas

BY DYLAN BADDOUR

A leading Venezuelan newspaper that was recently sold to anonymous investors appears to be shifting its opposition editorial line weeks after pledging not to. The managing editor at El Universal, Elides Rojas, told the International Press Institute (IPI) that the newspaper’s new president had “ordered a complete revision of the opinion section” and had suspended or dismissed editorial staff.

El Universal has been a vocal critic of the Venezuelan government, especially on its editorial pages.

Weeks ago, the spokesman for the group of unknown buyers who bought the 105-year-old newspaper last month, Jose Luis Basanta, dismissed fears that the buyers had a political agenda in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“The editorial line is not going to be touched but only the days, the weeks and the months ahead will be able to demonstrate that,” he told Bloomberg.

... Read More

New face may scramble Brazil’s presidential campaign

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
AEI

Brazil’s presidential campaign took a tragic turn Wednesday morning when Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos, 49, was killed when the private plane he was traveling on crashed in the Brazilian port city of Santos; four other passengers and the two pilots also were killed. Campos’ running mate, Marina Silva Vaz de Lima, will likely be designated to assume the top spot on the Socialist alliance ticket. Silva, 56, grew up poor in the heart of the Amazonian jungle, but went on to serve as environmental minister under popular former president “Lula” da Silva (no relation) and finished third in the 2010 presidential race that was won by current president Dilma Rousseff. Although the Socialist ticket was running a distant third in recent polls, Silva’s rags-to-riches story may scramble a race that has been tightening in recent weeks due to dour economic news.

Recently, economists once again lowered projections for Brazil’s 2014 economic growth to around ... Read More

Argentina’s Financial Troubles Pile Up

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

BY NICOLE HONG & KEN PARKS

Argentina’s financial turmoil intensified Wednesday as a hedge fund seeking to collect on defaulted bonds played down settlement hopes, and the peso tumbled to a record low following a surprise interest-rate cut.

Aurelius Capital Management LP said Wednesday that “there is no realistic prospect” that its standoff with the Argentine government will be resolved in a deal led by outsiders.

Banks in Argentina and the U.S. have sought to strike a deal to help Argentina pay off the debt it owes a small group of hedge funds and resume interest payments to other bondholders.

Many investors and analysts view such a deal as the best hope to pull Argentina out of a July 30 default potentially affecting some $29 billion of outstanding debt.

Early Thursday, the country’s dollar bonds due 2033, which were among the ones in default, fell to 83.25 cents on the dollar early Thursday, down from 84 cents ... Read More

Death of Presidential Candidate Shocks Brazil

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Time

Brazil was thrown into mourning Wednesday by the unexpected death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash. The popular former governor of Pernambuco State in northeast Brazil’s was just 49 and his death threw October’s election wide open.

“The whole of Brazil is in mourning. Today we lost a great Brazilian,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement on the loss of her presidential rival — a former member of her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s left-wing Workers’ Party’s coalition government. Lula and Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) have run Brazil since winning in 2002.

Campos and six others were killed when the small Cessna plane they were traveling in from Rio de Janeiro to an event in Guarujá on the São Paulo state’s coast crashed in port town Santos after hitting bad weather, the Brazilian air force said in a statement.

... Read More

Mexico Outlines Plan to Open Oil Fields to Private Companies

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

BY LAURENCE ILFE & JUAN MONTES

Mexico on Wednesday set aside the bulk of its currently active oil fields for Petróleos Mexicanos but said private companies will be allowed to bid on four-fifths of prospective resources as the government ends the national oil firm’s seven-decade monopoly.

Officials hope that the bidding, starting as soon as next year, will spark an energy boom.

Pemex’s chief executive said the new competition will help the company, making it more efficient. “Pemex has been waiting for these changes for decades,” CEO Emilio Lozoya said in an interview at its headquarters here. “We’re committed to making sure that Pemex continues to be not only the largest company in Mexico, but to regain the largest spot in Latin America and be also one of the leaders worldwide.”

Pemex lost the top spot in Latin America a few years ago to Brazil’s Petróleo BrasileiroSA PETR4.BR +1.18% . Revenue for Petrobras was $141 billion last year, ... Read More

Virginia M. Bouvier: Has Colombia’s time come?

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

BY VIRGINIA M. BOUVIER

With violence exploding in Gaza, airstrikes in Iraq, armed groups terrorizing Nigeria, Syrian extremism spilling into Lebanon, and the return of war in Sudan, the cause of peace can seem daunting. Closer to home, however, there is cause for hope.

Prospects for peace in Colombia are looking better than they have in years. If successful, the current peace process would put an end to an internal armed conflict that has lasted half a century. The conflict has taken the lives of some 200,000 Colombians, forcibly displaced 6 million more (granting Colombia the dubious honor of world record holder for the highest number of displaced), and destroyed countless livelihoods. Peace in Colombia would open a new era for growth and prosperity and contribute to regional stability.

... Read More

Colombia Wins Investors’ Favor—And That’s the Problem

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

NICOLE HONG & DAN MOLINSKI

When Colombia undertook an extensive tax overhaul, Wall Street rewarded it by making the country a bigger piece of one of the most widely used emerging-market bond indexes, handing fund managers a mandate to buy more of the nation’s debt.

For Colombian plantain farmer Paula Martinez, the ripple effects of that decision have felt more like a punishment.

The index reshuffling prompted investors to redirect billions of dollars to the country’s local-currency-denominated debt, causing the value of Colombia’s peso to surge against the dollar. That, in turn, has made it more difficult for Ms. Martinez, 57 years old, to compete with growers in other countries. A highly valued currency makes a country’s exports more expensive and reduces profits for exporters when they convert overseas earnings back to pesos.

Ms. Martinez joined hundreds of other struggling banana and plantain farmers in protests last week. Among their demands: ... Read More

Bolivia, Peru Aim to Set Up Radar for Drug Flights

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

BY ROBERT KOZAK

Bolivia and Peru are working on a plan to install radar stations on their border, aiming to use the information to help authorities intercept airplanes smuggling drugs and to possibly shoot them down, if both governments move ahead to set up flight interdiction programs, an official said.

Bolivia’s Deputy Minister for Social Defense and Controlled Substances, Felipe Caceres, said on a ministry Web page Wednesday that the governments are studying a proposal for Peru to run five or six radar stations on the border, while Bolivia would run three or four radar stations.

“The radars provide accurate information on the flights that occur at the border and on their legal status,” Mr. Caceres said.

The chief of Peru’s Interior Ministry antidrug branch recently said half of the cocaine that leaves Peru now goes out on small airplanes, with 95% of that moving through Bolivia, mainly to Brazil. The U.S. State Department’s ... Read More

Opposition Fails to Exploit Venezuela’s Woes, Leader Says

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

BY JUAN FORERO

Venezuela’s de facto opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said the country’s opposition movement was divided and unable to take advantage of the government’s inability to improve a deeply troubled economy.

“There’s like a short circuit, with the opposition apparently not in tune with the problems of a majority of Venezuelans,” said Mr. Capriles in a Tuesday interview. “The government is weak, unpopular, but there’s an opposition that is not capitalizing on the discontent, because the opposition is in this internal debate that doesn’t interest Venezuelans.”

That political scenario comes despite months of student protests this year against rampant crime, food scarcity and soaring inflation that shook President Nicolás Maduro’s government and resulted in a crackdown that left dozens dead and hundreds jailed before it fizzled in April, rights groups say.

Mr. Maduro’s popularity has plummeted in recent months to 35.4%, as four of every five Venezuelans believe the oil-rich nation is headed in ... Read More

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