Stark choice for Venezuela ‘first nephews’: Cooperate or spend decades in prison

Stark choice for Venezuela ‘first nephews’: Cooperate or spend decades in prison

The nephews of Venezuela’s president face 20 to 30 years in prison, experts say, for planning to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine to the United States.

Now convicted, they don’t have many options to reduce their sentences. But one way they might cut their prison terms might be to cooperate with U.S. officials who are eager for more information on the inner workings of drug trafficking through Venezuela and across the region.

Efrain Campo, 30, and Francisco Flores, 31, nephews of Venezuelan ...  

Why Washington Doesn’t Get Brazil

Why Washington Doesn’t Get Brazil

Donald Trump’s victory, and the emergence, in September 2016, of a new government in Brazil following President Dilma Roussef’s impeachment, provides a compelling opportunity to discuss important aspects of the U.S.-Brazil bilateral relationship.

The fact is that over the past fifteen years, both countries have turned their backs on each other and quietly boycotted initiatives undertaken by the other side.

Brazil does not have a coherent U.S. policy. Brazilian decisionmakers tend to believe that any form of alignment or alliance with the ...  

Santos: A New Agreement—and a Better One—for Peace in Colombia

Santos: A New Agreement—and a Better One—for Peace in Colombia

The Colombian people spoke on Oct. 2, and the government listened. After the public narrowly rejected the text of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, I acknowledged the result. Then I vowed to work with all Colombians—no matter how they voted, or if they didn’t vote at all—to negotiate a strengthened agreement. This new accord would reflect diverse viewpoints and ideas from all parts of Colombian society.

We went back to ...  

Experts recommend reforms to Panama’s financial sector

Experts recommend reforms to Panama’s financial sector

PANAMA CITY – A panel of independent experts says Panama must improve its information sharing with foreign nations and implement internal regulations to alter its image as a paradise for tax evaders.

Panel leader Alberto Aleman Zubieta said Monday that the recommendations aim to close “gaps” in the country’s financial services sector.

President Juan Carlos Varela formed the panel following the April leak of a huge trove of documents from a Panamanian law firm detailing offshore financial dealings. Many of the so-called ...  

Brazil Finance Ministry Says 2017 GDP to Be Lower Than Expected

Brazil Finance Ministry Says 2017 GDP to Be Lower Than Expected

SÃO PAULO—The Brazilian government lowered its 2017 annual gross domestic product forecast to 1.0% from 1.6%, a sign that Latin America’s largest economy is struggling to rebound from a deep recession.

Fabio Kanczuk, secretary of economic policy for Brazil’s Finance Ministry, made the announcement Monday at a press conference in Brasília.

Low oil prices and the lingering effects of a massive corruption scandal have hammered the key oil-and-gas sector, as well as state-run Petróleo Brasileiro SA. Petrobras, as the company is known, ...  

In Haiti, a long-awaited presidential election finally happens – with a few minor hitches

In Haiti, a long-awaited presidential election finally happens – with a few minor hitches

PORT-AU-PRINCE  Haiti’s high-stakes, on-again, off-again rerun of the presidential election finally happened Sunday.

Who will emerge the victor? With 27 presidential candidates and 179 others running for 16 Senate seats and 25 in the Lower Chamber of Deputies, the results won’t be known for days.

But this Election Day, like the new fraud-deterrent purple indelible ink, was much improved over the last year’s — when the results were so marred by allegations of fraud that Haiti chose to rerun the contests — ...  

Venezuelan 1st Lady’s 2 Nephews Found Guilty in Cocaine Case

Venezuelan 1st Lady’s 2 Nephews Found Guilty in Cocaine Case

Two nephews of Venezuela’s first lady who were charged with conspiring to send drugs to the United States were convicted on Friday by a jury that found evidence of the crime even though the government’s star witness came across to at least one juror as “slime.”

The Manhattan federal court jury returned its verdict against Efrain Campo, 30, and his cousin Francisco Flores, 31, after less than a day of deliberations. The nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores were charged ...  

President-elect Trump talks national security, diplomacy with retired Southcom commander

President-elect Trump talks national security, diplomacy with retired Southcom commander

Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, who until January was in charge of the Pentagon’s U.S. Southern Command, discussed national security and diplomacy with President-elect Donald Trump during a meeting Sunday, the White House transition team said.

Trump and Kelly “had a frank discussion about the global national security situation in the United States and various areas of conflict in the Middle East,” according to a statement issued by the presidential transition team Sunday night.

“Additionally, they discussed General Kelly’s diplomatic experience ...  

Venezuela’s Nemesis Is a Hardware Salesman at a Home Depot in Alabama

Venezuela’s Nemesis Is a Hardware Salesman at a Home Depot in Alabama

HOOVER, Ala.—Public Enemy No. 1 of Venezuela’s revolutionary government is Gustavo Díaz, a Home Depot Inc. employee in central Alabama.

On his lunch breaks from the hardware section, Mr. Díaz, 60 years old, does more than anyone else to set the price of everything from rice to aspirin to cars in his native Venezuela, influencing the inflation rate and swaying millions of dollars of daily currency transactions.

How? He is president of one of Venezuela’s most popular and insurgent websites, DolarToday.com, which ...  

Dozens of Bolivia Prosecutors Dismissed for Corruption

Dozens of Bolivia Prosecutors Dismissed for Corruption

Authorities in Bolivia say they have dismissed 60 prosecutors for corruption this year, a sign that corruption endures within the judiciary despite government efforts aimed at addressing the issue.

Speaking at a November 15 press conference, Bolivian Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero said that 60 prosecutors had been dismissed so far this year on suspicion of corruption, out of a nationwide total of 508 officials holding this position, reported the government press agency Agencia Boliviana de Información.

Guerrero also said that 200 prosecutors ...  

Sombrío final del legado de Obama en Cuba

Sombrío final del legado de Obama en Cuba

Por José R. Cárdenas

11/15/2016

A medida que el gobierno de Obama entra en su etapa final, la decisión “histórica” ​​del presidente de normalizar las relaciones con la dictadura de los Castro en Cuba no termina con bombo y platillo, sino con un lamento.

Días después de que el presidente de la Cámara de Representantes Paul Ryan declarara que no tenía ninguna intención de tomar en consideración la legislación anti-embargo, la administración ordenó petulantemente a los funcionarios estadounidenses de las Naciones Unidas que ...  

Venezuelan president approval slips to minimum, under 20 percent – poll

Venezuelan president approval slips to minimum, under 20 percent – poll

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s approval levels slipped under 20 percent for the first time last month amid a fierce political dispute over his ouster and a grueling economic crisis, according to a leading survey seen by Reuters.

Socialist-run Venezuela’s struggling state-led economic model and a fall in the price of oil, its biggest export, have led to acute shortages of everything from medicines to milk, galloping three-digit inflation, and a profound recession.

Some 19.5 percent of Venezuelans said they approved of Maduro ...  

Mexico pulls trigger on Trump ‘contingency plan’

Mexico pulls trigger on Trump ‘contingency plan’

Mexico just showed the first signs of its “contingency plan” to weather a Donald Trump presidency. To save the suffering Mexican peso, the central bank, known as Banxico, raised its key interest rate Thursday, citing the U.S. election as the main reason.

“The view for the global economy became more complex, among other factors, as a consequence of the election process carried out in the United States and its result,” Banxico officials said in a statement.

Banxico raised interest rates 50 basis ...  

Colombia peace accord hangs in the balance as ‘No’ camp reviews new text

Colombia peace accord hangs in the balance as ‘No’ camp reviews new text

The future of the new peace accord between Colombia and the FARC rebel group remained uncertain on Thursday as leaders who successfully campaigned against the original text postponed a key meeting with representatives of the government.

Senator Alvaro Uribe, a former president and staunch critic of the peace talks with the leftist guerilla group, requested that the first meeting with the government on the revised deal be delayed by a week, Colombian media reported.

Uribe and his allies in the Senate said ...  

Donald Trump’s win raises questions, stokes fears in South America

Donald Trump’s win raises questions, stokes fears in South America

BUENOS AIRES — More than a week after Donald Trump’s stunning victory, politicians and policymakers across South America are still scrambling to gauge what to expect from a president-elect who has taken few public stances on most of the continent’s most pressing issues.

Leaders from Bogota to Buenos Aires have long grown accustomed to finding themselves on the back burner of U.S. foreign policy, and — aside from an opening to Cuba that Mr. Trump has criticized — President Obama’s promise ...  

REP. ELIOT ENGEL REMARKS ON U.S.-LATIN AMERICAN RELATIONS

REP. ELIOT ENGEL REMARKS ON U.S.-LATIN AMERICAN RELATIONS

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, delivered the following remarks on U.S.-Latin American relations at the Inter-American Dialogue’s Leadership for the Americas Awards Gala:

“Thank you very much, María Elena.  Thank you for those kind words.  Michael Shifter, thank you for your leadership in the Inter-American Dialogue.  Carla Hills, Tom Shannon: thanks to both of you for being you.  And I want to thank everyone here this evening.  I always look forward to seeing ...  

Testimony at Venezuela drug trial ties plot to presidential hangar

Testimony at Venezuela drug trial ties plot to presidential hangar

One of the nephews of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, on trial for plotting to smuggle cocaine into the United States, promised that the cocaine would arrive before dark in Honduras because the plane carrying it would be departing from the presidential hangar at Caracas’ international airport, according to a recording played Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.

“I have control,” Francisco Flores can be heard saying. He refers to the drugs as “merchandise.”

The recording was the latest evidence to tie the nephews, ...  

Trump Trade Threats Prompt Canada and Argentina to Get Cozy

Trump Trade Threats Prompt Canada and Argentina to Get Cozy

Justin Trudeau’s Latin American tour this week was meant to showcase Canada’s long-established goodwill toward its trade partners in the region, crowned by the announcement of a business deal or two, and hopefully give a push to the much discussed and much delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

All of that was before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, casting a shadow over trade alliances throughout the Americas and adding urgency to Trudeau’s effort to break down barriers and boost investment.

“One ...  

Mexico, U.S. chamber of commerce vow to defend joint trade ties

Mexico, U.S. chamber of commerce vow to defend joint trade ties

Mexico’s government and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday vowed to step up efforts to defend bilateral trade worth more than $500 billion a year, attempting to quell concerns about the impact of a Donald Trump presidency.

U.S. President-elect Trump sparked fears of economic crisis in Mexico by threatening to ditch the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which comprises the United States, Mexico and Canada, if he cannot renegotiate it in his country’s favor.

Mounting a robust defense of NAFTA, ...  

Argentina extradites Colombia ‘drug lord’ Lopez Londono to US

Argentina extradites Colombia ‘drug lord’ Lopez Londono to US

A man suspected of being one of Colombia’s most notorious drug dealers has been extradited from Argentina to the US. Henry de Jesus Lopez Londono, known as Mi Sangre (My Blood), is believed to be the head of the Urabenos gang, which operates in northern Colombia.

He was arrested in Argentina in 2012 and is wanted in the US on drug smuggling and conspiracy charges. Police said he held passports from seven countries to evade capture. Argentine officials said that Mr ...  

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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.