Posts Tagged ‘Eric Olson’

Growing Crisis in Post-Chavez Venezuela

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy Initiative

BY PATRICK CHRISTY

As Venezuela passed the one-year anniversary of the death of strongman Hugo Chavez today, his successor Nicolás Maduro continued his crackdown against protestors demanding an end to corruption, rampant crime, and economic mismanagement.  Since nationwide demonstrations began a month ago, clashes between Venezuelan security forces and protestors have resulted so far in at least 18 deaths and over 250 injuries.

Chavez’s socialist experiment has left Venezuela’s economy and society in shambles.  A Gallup poll recently reported that the dire economic situation “pushed Venezuelan pessimism about the nation’s economy in 2013 to an all-time high—62% of Venezuelan adults said the economy is getting worse, while a record-low 12% said it was getting better.”  Even official Venezuelan government figures show that one in four basic household goods, such as milk or toilet paper, is in short supply.  What’s more, growth in violent crime has accompanied the oil-rich country’s economic slide.  The Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a non-governmental ... Read More

Military Role in Drug War at Stake in Honduras Presidential Vote

| November 22nd, 2013 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY ISABELLA COTA & ERIC SABO

Hondurans will choose between competing strategies for lowering the world’s highest murder rate this weekend in presidential elections that include the wife of Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup.

The final opinion poll last month showed a statistical tie between Juan Orlando Hernandez, 45, of the ruling National Party and the Libre Party’s Xiomara Castro, 54, who rose to prominence by leading protests after her husband was forced out of the presidential palace at gunpoint. Hernandez had 28 percent support and Castro 27 percent in an Oct. 9-15 survey by CID-Gallup. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points.

Violence in the Central American country of 8.3 million people has escalated in the coup’s wake as gangs tied to Mexican drug cartels use Honduras as a transit point between South America and the U.S. Hernandez backs President Porfirio Lobo’s strategy of deploying military police to curb ... Read More

VIDEO: Insecurity in Honduras and the Upcoming Elections: What’s at Stake for Central America

| November 20th, 2013 | No Comments »
Heritage Foundation

In the following year, Latin America will see over 12 elections that will determine the ideological landscape of the region. At the center of these changing dynamics is the Central American country of Honduras. The country carries the distinction of being home to the highest global murder rates, diminishing rates of economic freedom and is increasingly becoming the top transient point for South American drug traffickers. The outcome of the November 24th Honduran elections will determine the future of the country and by various accounts, Central America at large.

Join us as our guests discuss the problems facing Honduras and provide recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Ambassador Roger Noriega Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs

Eric Olson Associate Director of the Latin America Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Joseph Humire Executive Director, Center for a Secure Free Society

Click here for original ... Read More

Subcommittee Hearing: Regional Security Cooperation: An Examination of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI)

| June 17th, 2013 | No Comments »
US House of Representatives

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere | 2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Jun 19, 2013 2:00pm

Chairman Salmon on the hearing:  “The security situation in Central America and the Caribbean has deteriorated in recent years as drug traffickers, transnational gangs and other criminal groups have expanded their presence and activities in the region.  This not only threatens the governments and civil societies in those countries, but poses a security threat to the United States as well.  The U.S. government has been dedicating resources through Merida-like programming to try and build local capacity in the region.  This hearing will be an important opportunity for the Subcommittee to evaluate the progress of these U.S. taxpayer-funded programs and to determine how we can build on successes and improve where necessary.  It is critical to the national interests of the United States that Central America and the Caribbean are stabilized and have the ... Read More

Mexico says marijuana legalization in U.S. could change anti-drug strategies

| November 9th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

BY WILLIAM BOOTH

MEXICO CITY — The decision by voters in Colorado and Washington state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has left Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his team scrambling to reformulate their anti-drug strategies in light of what one senior aide said was a referendum that “changes the rules of the game.”

It is too early to know what Mexico’s response to the successful ballot measures will be, but a top aide said Peña Nieto and members of his incoming administration will discuss the issue with President Obama and congressional leaders in Washington this month. The legalization votes, however, are expected to spark a broad debate in Mexico about the direction and costs of the U.S.-backed drug war here.

Mexico spends billions of dollars each year confronting violent trafficking organizations that threaten the security of the country but whose main market is the United States, the largest consumer of ... Read More

Troubles Vex Mexico Crime-Fighting Force

| September 11th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY NICHOLAS CASEY

TORO DEL FIERRO, Mexico—The Federal Police was supposed to be this country’s answer to the FBI—a tough investigative and crime-fighting force.

But when Federal Police officers allegedly tried to kill two U.S. government employees outside this hillside village last month, doubts surfaced on both sides of the border about whether the agency can be trusted to lead Mexico’s charge against organized crime.

Mexican and U.S. investigators continue to sort through clues to reconstruct the Aug. 24 attack outside the capital that wounded two U.S. officials, which the U.S. called an ambush by Federal Police. Mexican officials haven’t classified the attack, but say they are holding a dozen federal police officers as investigators prepare charges against them for abuse of authority and attempted homicide.

The Federal Police said last week the officers were in the area investigating a kidnapping that took place hours earlier and mistook the car for kidnappers when they ... Read More

Mexico drug lord’s fate is focus of election year speculation

| March 13th, 2012 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times

BY KEN ELLINGWOOD

Reporting from Mexico City—

A tantalizing question is spicing up talk shows and opinion columns as Mexican voters prepare to elect a new president: Will the government spring a “June surprise” by finally nabbing Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman?

Guzman, you might recall, is the world’s most wanted drug suspect — on the lam since escaping a Mexican federal prison in a laundry cart in 2001. He allegedly sits atop a vast crime network reaching into the United States and across much of the globe, and is ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest men.

In other words, Guzman would be a sweet trophy for President Felipe Calderon, who could use a big score before voters head to the polls July 1.

Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, and its presidential candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, trail in the polls, even though formal campaigning hasn’t begun yet. Far ahead is Enrique Peña Nieto, ... Read More

Mexico Seizes Record Amount of Methamphetamine

| February 10th, 2012 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY DAMIEN CAVE

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities announced their largest methamphetamine seizure ever late Wednesday: 15 tons, found in pure powder form at a ranch outside Guadalajara. It was about 13 million doses worth $4 billion — more than double the size of all meth seizures at the Mexican border in 2011.

But while the authorities proudly showed off the seizure to local reporters, the sheer size of the find set off alarm among experts and officials from the United States and the United Nations. It was a sign, they said, of just how organized, efficient at manufacturing and brazen Mexico’s traffickers had become even after expanded efforts to dismantle their industry.

“The big thing it shows is the sheer capacity that these superlabs have in Mexico,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “When we see one lab with the capability to produce such a mass tonnage of meth, it ... Read More

Mexico party picks woman as presidential candidate

| February 6th, 2012 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

BY ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

MEXICO CITY—A major political party in Mexico has chosen a female presidential candidate for the first time, as the ruling party bet that a charismatic former congresswoman will help it erode the lead held by its powerful rival.

After easily winning the National Action Party’s primary Sunday night, Josefina Vazquez Mota vowed to unite a party battered by a bloody drug war and help it defeat the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years before being ousted by National Action in 2000.

“I will be the first woman president of Mexico in history,” Vazquez Mota, 51, told cheering supporters.

The party’s vote for Vazquez Mota over two other candidates sets the race for Mexico’s July 1 presidential election. The two other major parties had already selected their candidates.

Vazquez Mota faces an uphill climb against former Mexico State Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, the front-runner in the polls who could ... Read More

Mexico gangster crackdown nails dozens, but still falls short

| January 5th, 2012 | No Comments »
The Houston Chronicle

BY DUDLEY ALTHAUS

MEXICO CITY — So many gangsters, so little time.

Though President Felipe Calderon‘s five-year campaign has nailed dozens of crime bosses, many of Mexico’s kingpins remain at large. Despite 50,000 dead and tens of thousands of arrests the resilient gangs seem as capable of havoc as ever.

Calderon leaves office in 11 months. The crackdown he couches as crucial to Mexico most certainly will be left unfinished. Most of the leading candidates to succeed him promise strategy changes, but their proposals remain vague.

“What worries me is that you don’t have anybody getting to the heart of the matter,” said analyst Alejandro Hope, until recently a senior official in Mexico’s equivalent of the CIA. “What are we going to ask of the Americans? Is the intelligence interchange going to continue, an aggressive policy of extradition?”

Nearly 30,000 alleged gangsters have been arrested this year alone, though most will likely never be convicted of a crime. Security forces in ... Read More

U.S. Agencies Infiltrating Drug Cartels Across Mexico

| October 25th, 2011 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY GINGER THOMPSON

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement agencies have significantly built up networks of Mexican informants that have allowed them to secretly infiltrate some of that country’s most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations, according to security officials on both sides of the border.

As the United States has opened new law enforcement and intelligence outposts across Mexico in recent years, Washington’s networks of informants have grown there as well, current and former officials said. They have helped Mexican authorities capture or kill about two dozen high-ranking and midlevel drug traffickers, and sometimes have given American counternarcotics agents access to the top leaders of the cartels they are trying to dismantle.

Typically, the officials said, Mexico is kept in the dark about the United States’ contacts with its most secret informants — including Mexican law enforcement officers, elected officials and cartel operatives — partly because of concerns about corruption among the Mexican police, and ... Read More

Guatemalans live in fear again as drug gangs move in

| October 3rd, 2011 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY MICA ROSENBURG

Fifteen years after the end of a brutal civil war in Guatemala that sent tens of thousands of people fleeing to Mexico, refugees are again camping at the border.

But these days they are running from a new kind of conflict — the occupation by drug traffickers of large swathes of Guatemala’s territory.

Mexican cartels working with local gangs control around 40 percent of Guatemala, military experts say, a massive challenge for a new president set to be elected in November and a serious worry for Mexico and the United States.

Both candidates in the election run-off — a former general and a congressman from the largely lawless north — plan to beef up security forces to regain control although some worry the problem has already gone too far.

“There are parts of Guatemala that have been abandoned by the state, where there are no public services, that are being taken over by ... Read More

Mexico Widens Police Corruption Probe

| July 21st, 2011 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY DAVID LUHNOW

MEXICO CITY—Hundreds of federal detectives, prosecutors, forensics experts and other staff from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office are being investigated amid suspicion of links to organized crime, the latest corruption scandal to hit Mexico’s government.

Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales said late on Tuesday that the agency was in the process of firing 424 officials, the majority for failing to pass lie-detector tests and other measures aimed at rooting out corruption.

“We are strengthening our vigilance to make sure that our own officials abide by the law,” Ms. Morales said in a speech.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said she couldn’t give any further details of the investigation.

The move is the second large-scale purge by Mexico’s government in less than a year, coming on the heels of a mass firing last year of roughly 3,200 federal police by the country’s Ministry of Public Safety—equal to 10% of the entire federal ... Read More

Mexico Cartels Defy Onslaught

| June 24th, 2011 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

BY NICHOLAS CASEY

MEXICO CITY—As authorities lauded the capture this week of José de Jesús Méndez, leader of Mexico’s vicious La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, the country was faced with a familiar problem: The top kingpin of a drug cartel had fallen, but the violence he spawned had not.

On Thursday, police found a man who had been dragged, tortured and killed on the outskirts of a rural town where the cartel has a strong presence. A day earlier, another man was found dead not far from where Mr. Méndez was held with a message on his chest to Mr. Méndez, likely from enemy drug traffickers.

The capture of Mr. Méndez, known by his nickname of “El Chango” or the Monkey, marked the second major blow against La Familia, whose top leader, Nazario Moreno was killed in a firefight with security forces in December. As the news broke Tuesday, the government portrayed it ... Read More