Republican Senators to Block Trump Pick for Colombia Ambassador

Republican Senators to Block Trump Pick for Colombia Ambassador

Several Republican senators are determined to blunt a State Department effort to fast-track the Senate confirmation of a career State Department official who served as a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a key ambassador post.

Three Republicans—Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), and Ted Cruz (Texas)—have publicly decried the nomination of Joseph MacManus, a 30-year veteran of the foreign service who was close to Clinton during her tenure, to become ambassador to Colombia.

The State Department is ...  

From revolution to ruin in Venezuela

From revolution to ruin in Venezuela

Not so long ago Venezuela, which stumbles along as if on a national breadline, was the wealthiest country in Latin America. And why not? It has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and abundant fertile farmland. Its governmental institutions were once efficient and largely free of corruption. With a few good funerals, times could be good again.

But things look rather different now. The country’s GDP has collapsed; it’s only 60 percent of what it was only four years ago. By ...  

The Top Target on Venezuela’s Purge List Is Holed Up in Manhattan

The Top Target on Venezuela’s Purge List Is Holed Up in Manhattan

In the past four months, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ramped up the arrests of high-ranking oil industry executives in an audacious purge, with 65 in custody so far.

But the one Maduro wants to nab the most remains free: Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations. The two have been intense rivals for years, dating to the days when the firebrand revolutionary Hugo Chavez was alive and rapidly converting Venezuela into a socialist economy. Back then, Ramirez was ...  

Venezuelan negotiations resume as financial pressures mount

Venezuelan negotiations resume as financial pressures mount

Venezuela’s socialist government and its opposition will seek Friday to jumpstart negotiations on resolving the country’s economic and political crisis, pressured by international sanctions and a looming presidential election.

The planned two-day session in the Dominican Republic is to be the first formal talks since anti-government protests collapsed in July with a toll of more than 120 dead and thousands detained. Given the scant results of previous attempts at dialogue, including talks last year mediated by the Vatican, expectations are low.

But ...  

Newly Exiled Venezuelan Opposition Leader Makes Rounds in Washington

Newly Exiled Venezuelan Opposition Leader Makes Rounds in Washington

WASHINGTON — The departure into exile of one of Venezuela’s main opposition leaders — the ousted mayor of Caracas — speaks of a crisis, humanitarian and political, that is reaching new proportions.

For most of the nearly two decades after the late President Hugo Chavez launched his Bolivarian revolution with the promise of spreading Venezuela’s vast oil wealth among all its citizens, Antonio Ledezma — like many Venezuelans — chose to stay, wait and see. …

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Venezuela’s Maduro strips rival of U.N. post amid corruption purge – sources

Venezuela’s Maduro strips rival of U.N. post amid corruption purge – sources

CARACAS/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Venezuela has ordered the removal of Rafael Ramirez, once a powerful oil minister and head of state oil company PDVSA, from his post as representative to the United Nations in New York, four sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

Though the decision will not affect the OPEC nation’s struggling oil industry, it may help President Nicolas Maduro shore up his position in crisis-stricken Venezuela as the country heads toward presidential elections in 2018.

Ramirez, an increasingly ...  

VP: Venezuela’s Maduro to Seek 2nd Term in 2018

VP: Venezuela’s Maduro to Seek 2nd Term in 2018

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro — who is battling a crippling economic crisis in his oil-rich, cash-poor nation — will seek re-election next year, Vice President Tareck El Aissami said Wednesday.

In 2018, “we will have, God willing, people willing, the re-election of our brother Nicolas Maduro as president of the republic,” El Aissami told a meeting of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Next year’s presidential election in the South American country — a member of OPEC — is scheduled for ...  

Evo Morales wants to change the law so he can remain president. Is Bolivia’s democracy in danger?

Evo Morales wants to change the law so he can remain president. Is Bolivia’s democracy in danger?

Bolivian President Evo Morales intends to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019 despite constitutional term limits — and despite losing a referendum last year to alter these limits.

Representatives of Morales’s party, the Movement Toward Socialism, or the MAS, have petitioned the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal to remove the term limits. As Bolivians wait for the court’s ruling — expected before judicial elections on Dec. 3 — it is worth assessing the state of Bolivian democracy. …

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New Venezuela oil boss to give military more PDVSA posts

New Venezuela oil boss to give military more PDVSA posts

CARACAS (Reuters) – A general appointed at the weekend to run Venezuela’s energy sector will name more military officers to senior management posts at state oil company PDVSA as part of a shakeup the government says is aimed at fighting corruption, two company sources told Reuters on Monday.

In a surprise move, unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday tapped Major General Manuel Quevedo to lead PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] and the Oil Ministry, giving the already powerful military control of the OPEC ...  

Odebrecht Case Casts Shadow Across Ecuador as Trial Begins

Odebrecht Case Casts Shadow Across Ecuador as Trial Begins

Ecuador’s National Court, the country’s highest, on Friday kicked off the trial of Vice President Jorge Glas and eight others accused of corruption in relation to the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht SA. Glas’s former boss, ex-President Rafael Correa, pledged to return from abroad and deal with “traitors” in his party.

“It’s the most important trial since the return of democracy” in 1979, said political scientist Simon Pachano at Flasco university in Quito. …

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Leftist challenger leads in Honduras presidential vote count

Leftist challenger leads in Honduras presidential vote count

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Early results from Honduras’ presidential election Monday showed leftist challenger Salvador Nasralla with a surprise lead over incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

David Matamoros, president of the electoral court, announced that, with 57 percent of the vote counted, Nasralla is polling 45.7 percent of the vote, to Hernandez’ 40.2 percent.

The late hour for the announcement of the votes had suggested a close vote between Hernandez, a conservative U.S. ally, and Nasralla, the candidate of the leftist Alliance ...  

Mexico Finance Minister to Resign as Presidency Race Looms: Sources

Mexico Finance Minister to Resign as Presidency Race Looms: Sources

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican finance minister Jose Antonio Meade will step down on Monday, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday, as the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) gears up to pick its candidate for the 2018 presidential election.

One of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said Meade would announce his intention to seek the presidency for the PRI when resigning.

The office of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto ...  

Brazil’s Wall Street Is Starting to Dabble in Politics More

Brazil’s Wall Street Is Starting to Dabble in Politics More

Frustrated with years of graft and economic malaise, big names from Brazil’s corporate and financial world are increasingly dabbling in politics as the watershed 2018 election draws nearer.

Take Gustavo Franco, one of the architects of the country’s historic economic stabilization program known as the Plano Real, who recently joined the Partido Novo — a champion of free markets founded by a prominent banker. Or Arminio Fraga, Franco’s successor at the central bank, who is backing Renova — or “Renewal” — ...  

Raúl Castro: Will he stay in power in Cuba or retire?

Raúl Castro: Will he stay in power in Cuba or retire?

Cuban leader Raúl Castro’s successor will face a perfect storm of challenges — starting with blustery winds coming from President Donald Trump’s White House.

As problems pile up — a deteriorating relationship with the Trump administration, Hurricane Irma, dwindling oil supplies from Venezuela and an economic malaise — the big question three months out from the expected transition is whether the threat of a return to the Cold War will keep Castro in power longer.

The communist island also will face an ...  

Bid for Power in Bolivia Is Just Another Reach for Autocracy

Bid for Power in Bolivia Is Just Another Reach for Autocracy

President Evo Morales of Bolivia seems obsessed with staying in power.

In 2016, he called a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would have eased term limits in the country’s Constitution and allowed him to run for a fourth time.

After 51 percent of the voters rejected the amendment, President Morales came up with a new plan. In September, his supporters in Congress brought a lawsuit in the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal seeking to revoke the Constitution’s term limit.

Mr. Morales had already brought ...  

Amid growing isolation, North Korea falls back on close ties with Cuba

Amid growing isolation, North Korea falls back on close ties with Cuba

In the midst of increasing international isolation, North Korea is sending its foreign minister to an old ally: Cuba. In a short message released Friday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency announced that Ri Yong Ho and his delegation departed on their journey to Havana.

The move comes after a number of North Korean trading partners announced that they would be suspending trade with North Korea. Pyongyang’s seventh-largest trading partner, Singapore, announced that it would halt its trade ties with ...  

Venezuela seems headed for more misery

Venezuela seems headed for more misery

FOR SEVERAL years Venezuela’s self-styled socialist government has been paying billions of dollars to Wall Street to avoid default on its staggering debts, even while starving its people of vital imports of food and medicine. Now that unlikely policy, one of the last ways in which the government of Nicolás Maduro distinguished itself from the world’s pariah regimes, appears to be crumbling. Last week, ratings agencies declared Venezuela and its state oil company to be in selective default, a step ...  

Oil expert Dan Yergin on why Venezuela could cause a ‘big shock’ to the markets

Oil expert Dan Yergin on why Venezuela could cause a ‘big shock’ to the markets

If the global oil market suddenly loses Venezuela’s 2 million barrels of daily oil production, it would be “a big shock to the system,” according to Dan Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit.

“It would certainly be a very tight market, because of course you already have production restraints by OPEC and non-OPEC,” Yergin told CNBC at the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference on Tuesday.

Oil markets are increasingly worried over potential supply constraints as the economic turmoil in Venezuela deepens. ...  

Cuba: Job sector, a tool of repression as perceived critics face jobless life

Cuba: Job sector, a tool of repression as perceived critics face jobless life

Ordinary Cubans perceived to be even subtly critical of life in the country face a future of harassment at work, or unemployment as authorities use their control over the job market as an additional tool of repression, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

Your mind is in prison explores how decades of arbitrary use of criminal laws and other unlawful practices — including discriminatory and wrongful dismissals from state-employment and further harassment in the emerging self-employed sector — translate ...  

Venezuela’s economy is on the brink of default. Here’s what that actually means.

Venezuela’s economy is on the brink of default. Here’s what that actually means.

Venezuela’s economy has been unraveling for years.

Citizens wait in long lines to buy food and other necessities. Hospitals lack basic supplies and medicine. According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation will hit 650 percent this year and a whopping 2,300 percent in 2018. Things are so bad that the average Venezuelan has lost nearly 20 pounds over the past year because of hunger.

This month, things hit a new low.

A week ago, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro invited investors to the country ...  

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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.