Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Susan Kaufman Purcell: The New Normal in Latin America

| May 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
Latin American Herald Tribune

By Susan Kaufman Purcell

At the recent Summit of the Americas in Panama, the topic that received the most attention was the U.S. decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. This allowed the historic handshake and the official talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that ended half a century of diplomatic isolation.

Various polls have shown, however, that that the diplomatic problems between the United States and Cuba have not been a major concern of Latin Americans. Why then were the Latins so enthusiastic about this particular change in U.S. policy toward the region?

The answer was not that normalization would bring an end to the Castro dictatorship, since Latin America has not cared whether Cuba remained a dictatorship. Nor were Latin American governments preoccupied that the inflow of dollars to Cuba following the normalization of relations would mainly benefit Cuba’s unelected and wealthy rulers, especially the military, which controls the ... Read More

US companies are rushing to insulate themselves against Venezuela’s sinking currency

| May 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BY BRIAN ELLSWORTH, DENA AUBIN AND TIM MCLAUGHLIN

CARACAS/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A growing number of U.S. companies say they can’t cope with Venezuela’s sinking bolivar currency, prompting some of them to remove their operations in the South American nation from their consolidated financial reports. In other cases, they have exited the country altogether through a sale or by simply shuttering their businesses there.

Many of those recently taking such action are medium-sized or small companies, which means that the tumbling currency and a deeply troubled Venezuelan economy have tended to have a disproportionately greater impact on their results than suffered by bigger entities with business in the country.

The restructuring moves can shield the financial results of parent companies such as batteries and razors maker Energizer Holdings, automated teller machine and bank vault provider Diebold Inc and printing and publishing company RR Donnelley & Sons from Venezuela’s economic troubles. ... Read More

Experts Fear Surge in Cocaine Supply to U.S. as Colombia Mulls Ending Coca Eradication

| May 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Time

By John Otis

American officials are trying to persuade Colombia to continue spraying coca crops with herbicide despite fears that it damages human health

o destroy the raw material for cocaine, Colombian police crop dusters have sprayed herbicide on more than 4 million acres of the country’s coca fields over the last two decades. But the controversial U.S.-backed program could soon be grounded in the wake of a new World Health Organization finding that glyphosate, the active ingredient in that herbicide, may cause cancer.

Citing the WHO report, President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday urged the country’s National Narcotics Council, which is made up of government ministers, to phase out aerial spraying within a few months, a decision that the council could make as soon as Thursday. “The risk does exist,” Santos said. “We need a system that is more efficient and less damaging.”

But amid signs that cocaine production is ... Read More

Guatemalan drug ‘Queen of the South’ jailed in US

| May 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

Marllory Chacon Rossell, who was called the Queen of the South by the Guatemalan press, surrendered to US authorities last year.

She is reported to be helping them with key information.

In return, the judge agreed to keep her sentence and release date under seal for five years for her safety.

Prosecutors agreed in December to recommend that Rossell should serve less than a 10-year sentence in return for pleading guilty.

The US Treasury Department described her as “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America”.

Based in Guatemala but also operating in Honduras and Panama, Rossell’s organisation supplied cocaine shipments to Mexican drug enterprises including Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel.

Her organisation was also believed to have laundered tens of millions of US dollars in drugs proceeds each month, making her the most active money launderer in Guatemala.

... Read More

Two border tunnels found in two days

| April 29th, 2015 | No Comments »
UT San Diego

By Sandra Dibble

Two underground tunnels dug beneath the California-Mexico border have been discovered in a two-day period. The first was found Monday near Calexico across from Mexicali. The second was an incomplete passageway discovered early Tuesday in the Tijuana River Valley across from Tijuana’s Avenida Internacional.

The Mexicali-Calexico tunnel measured 230 feet in length, was about four feet high and four feet wide, and had lighting and ventilation, according to a statement Tuesday from the U.S. Border Patrol.

The passageway led from a residence in Mexicali and was discovered on Monday by members of the patrol’s Border Search Trauma and Rescue unit. The group had been searching an area near the All-American Canal after agents on Sunday had intercepted four men trying to cross the canal with 25 vacuum-sealed packages containing 69 pounds of methamphetamine worth $694,000.

Three of the ... Read More

The U.S. is not being a good neighbor

| April 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Richard G. Miles

In a world full of bad news, North America has been having quite a good run lately. Energy production is off the charts in the United States and Canada, and much-needed political and economic reforms are steadily advancing in Mexico, while fewer Mexicans are moving to the United States. Given the Obama administration’s lack of progress in other parts of the world, one might expect it to seize on the obvious opportunities on our nation’s doorsteps. It has not.

During his six years in office, President Obama has been to Saudi Arabia more times than he has to Canada. In February, a panel of former top Canadian diplomats was asked to comment on the state of U.S.-Canadian relations. “Unfortunately,” said one former emissary, “of modern presidents, Barack Obama appears to have the least appreciation of the strategic importance of Canada to the U.S. He ... Read More

Guest Opinion: Beware of investing in Cuba

| March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Brainer Dispatch

Minnesota farmers and business owners should beware of investing in Cuba. Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, have been the only communist dictators of Cuba, all while the U.S. elected presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama to the office of U.S. President. The Castro dictators have never stopped working to spread communism and socialism into South and Central America. Particularly in Venezuela, Fidel Castro has mentored Hugo Chavez and his designated successor Nicolas Maduro in the methods of “nationalizing” western businesses. In the 1960s Fidel Castro nationalized 382 U.S. businesses, including banks and factories, under communism in Cuba.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Fidel Castro actually urged the Soviet leader, Khrushchev,, to launch a nuclear weapon strike against the U.S. using Soviet missiles based in Cuba. As Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara revealed many years later, the U.S. did ... Read More

Securing the border: Understanding and addressing the root causes of Central American migration to the United States

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
US Senate

Statement before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

United States Senate

Ambassador Roger F. Noriega

Visiting Fellow

American Enterprise Institute

   March 25, 2015

Mr. Chairman, I commend you and your Committee for organizing a series of hearings this week to focus attention on the fundamental responsibility of securing our borders. I also would like to begin my testimony by recognizing the service of the U.S. government officials who testify before you today. I know from experience that their jobs are critical to our security, and I thank them for their service to our nation.

No event in recent years has underscored the vulnerability of the United States’ southwest border as dramatically as the wave of illegal immigrants—many of them children—crossing our border in a five-month period beginning last March. Overall in FY 2014, 51,000 “unaccompanied alien children” (UACs) were detained ... Read More

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

Colombian army nabs drug suspect wanted in U.S.

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

A Colombian man wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges was detained by soldiers near the border with Panama, Colombia’s army said Monday.

Special forces of the army’s Air Assault Division captured Juan Carlos Portela Noriega in Chigorodo, a town in the Uraba region. He is reputed to be a leader of the Clan Usuga gang, which operates in the area.

The U.S. government has requested that Portela be extradited for trial before a federal court in Texas, the Colombian army said.

Authorities in Colombia say Portela has connections to the Mexico-based Los Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels and that he has coordinated exports of cocaine and other banned substances.

The drugs were transported via speedboat to Panama, where they would be loaded onto cargo vessels bound for Central American, used by the Mexican cartels as a staging area for shipments to ... Read More

The Maduro Smokescreen

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
The London Economic

By Max Bluer

The sweeping presidential powers, the detention of political opponents, even the troop mobilisations are empty gestures. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela’s main goal is now to distract his people, and the world, from his country’s problems.  

Highly dangerous. A power grab. A smokescreen. The response from internal opponents and the international community to the Venezuelan Congress’ decision to grant President Nicolás Maduro new decree powers has been overwhelmingly critical. The law, which in its preamble specifies its objective as ‘protecting national sovereignty from foreign interventions’, allows the executive to bypass Congress in areas of ‘freedom, equality, justice and international peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national self-determination’.

The vague wording of the new legislation – freedom, equality and independence are terms that can mean just about anything – has scared many both within and outside Venezuela. The fear is that Maduro will go beyond the law’s ... Read More

Mexico steps up migration enforcement, but is it working?

| March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
USA TODAY

BY DAVID AGREN

SALTILLO, Mexico — Eulio Iglesias, 50, spent eight days traveling through Mexico last year in a bid to cross into the United States before he was stopped at the Texas border and returned to his native El Salvador.

This year, the same attempted journey — an effort to get back to New York City where he worked in hotels and restaurants for 20 years, and still has children — took him twice as long. That’s because Mexican authorities have increased immigration enforcement, forcing him to ride rickety vans and buses down back roads, bribe police to avoid being detained and ply circuitous paths on foot to evade patrols and checkpoints.

“Everyone is out to catch you,” he said after arriving at a shelter for migrants here in Saltillo, 190 miles south of Texas.

For years, Central American migrants have taken risky paths to reach the USA through Mexico. Now, the government ... Read More

Venezuela’s Maduro Sees Only Plots As His Economy Crumbles

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
NPR

As the U.S. prepares to reopen its embassy in communist Cuba, relations with another Latin American nation — oil-rich Venezuela — are crumbling.

President Nicolas Maduro accuses the U.S. of plotting a coup against him, and is expelling most U.S. diplomats from Venezuela. He is also demanding that Americans secure visas to enter the country.

The visa requirement is still so new that upon my arrival in Caracas this week without one, the immigration official doesn’t even notice. She stamps my U.S. passport and says, “Welcome.”

I’m here in time for the second anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez, who led Venezuela’s socialist revolution until he succumbed to cancer. The events include military parades and a modern dance performance about Chavez, whom many Venezuelans still adore.

By contrast, Maduro is struggling. He has failed to tame one of the world’s highest inflation rates, food shortages are getting worse and the economy last year ... Read More

Venezuela’s Desperate Times and Maduro’s Desperate Measures

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

BY CARL MEACHAM

On March 1, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the latest in a series of claims accusing the United States of meddling in Venezuela’s affairs: an unspecified number of U.S. citizens, among them an American pilot, arrested in Táchira were, according to Maduro, conducting espionage operations for the U.S. government.

This all comes just one day after his government released four U.S. missionaries arrested earlier in the week.

Over the weekend, Maduro also announced a series of new measures supposedly designed to counter U.S. influence in Venezuela, including visa requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela, significantly downsizing the U.S. embassy in Caracas, and banning a number of prominent U.S. officials (some already retired) from entering Venezuela. In recent weeks, Caracas has also accused Vice President Joe Biden of conspiring to overthrow the Maduro administration and alleged that U.S. officials helped to plan an attempted attack on ... Read More

Detained American Missionaries Leave Venezuela

| March 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY  WILLIAM NEUMAN

CARACAS, Venezuela — Ratcheting up tensions with the United States, President Nicolás Maduro on Saturday ordered a sharp reduction in the number of diplomats at the American Embassy here, said Americans would now need visas to enter the country and took other measures to retaliate for sanctions imposed by Washington on Venezuelan officials.

Mr. Maduro announced the steps at a rally at the presidential palace, hours after four missionaries from North Dakota who had been held and questioned by Venezuelan authorities since Wednesday left the country.

Venezuela, a major oil exporter to the United States, is mired in a deep economic crisis marked by recession, high inflation and shortages of basic goods and medicines. Mr. Maduro, a leftist whose popularity is slumping, blames capitalist enemies and the United States for the country’s troubles and has accused Washington of plotting ... Read More

US pressures Cuba to turn over fugitives

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Sun Sentinel

By William E. Gibson

U.S. officials will continue this week to pressure Cuba to turn over fugitives wanted for Medicare fraud and other crimes in the United States.

Closer cooperation between the two old adversaries could disrupt a criminal pipeline that has funneled ill-gotten gains from Florida to Cuba, an organized crime network disclosed last month by the Sun Sentinel after a year-long investigation.

Some members of Congress are demanding the return of fugitives, hoping to halt Cuban crime rings and discourage scams.

“I would hope that if those who wish to violate American law understand that they can’t hide from prosecution in Cuba, it would help to deter people from ripping off American taxpayers,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties.

The issue will be raised Thursday when Cuba’s alleged links to terrorist groups are discussed at a House subcommittee hearing.

Chairman Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said Cuban spying ... Read More

Dissidents Say as Many as 200 Arrested in Cuba

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

Cuban dissidents say that more than 100 anti-government activists have been arrested and they are awaiting word Monday on how many have been released.

Berta Soler, leaders of the group Ladies in White, said that 53 members of her group and 36 other dissidents were arrested Sunday during the group’s traditional march through Havana after Sunday Mass.

Elizardo Sanchez, head Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, one of the country’s largest human rights groups, said that between 150 and 200 dissidents had been arrested across the country Sunday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said on Twitter that the U.S. is “concerned about violent silencing of peaceful voices for change.” She meets with Cuban officials Friday for the second round of talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations.

Click here for original ... Read More

Brazil Aims to Boost Economic Ties with U.S.

| February 19th, 2015 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01

By Tim Ridout

WASHINGTON – Fresh off a narrow victory in a contentious election, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has signaled an interest in restoring momentum in Brazil’s ties with the United States as well as a renewed focus on the European Union. Brazil’s growth is collapsing due to continuing infrastructure, regulatory, and fiscal problems, as well as tightening external credit and low global commodity prices. The cumulative impact of these factors is encouraging tighter fiscal and monetary policies at home, and a trade agenda that focuses on a Mercosur-EU free trade agreement with Brussels and trade facilitation and regulatory convergence with Washington.

These initiatives are being pursued in the context of negotiations over a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and EU, a mega-trade deal that Brazil worries will leave it outside global value chains. Given its similar fears regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, stagnant domestic economic ... Read More

US-Funded News Station Wants to Bring Free Press to Cuba. But Raúl Castro Wants to Shut It Down.

| February 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
Daily Signal-01

By Josh Siegel

MIAMI—Carlos García-Pérez, who heads the U.S. government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting, is used to his news station being a target.

The Miami headquarters of Radio and TV Martí is protected as if it is one. Located randomly off the side of an expressway, the building is guarded by a barbed-wire gate.

Signage outside confirms the news station as U.S. government property, and visitors are asked by a uniformed guard to not bring their cell phones into the building.

The federal government launched Radio Martí in 1983 and TV Martí in 1990 with the hope to combat communism by exposing Cubans to freedom and democracy, providing uncensored information from Miami to Cuba.

Since the beginning, the Castro regime, notorious suppressors of free press, has worked hard to block the station’s programs.

Today, the Cuban government sometimes successfully jams its transmissions, especially in ... Read More

Why Castro’s demand for reparations from US could backfire

| January 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

By Howard LaFranchi

WASHINGTON — Cuban President Raúl Castro had a surprise for the Obama administration when he issued a new and considerably tougher set of demands this week for reaching normalized relations with the United States.

Return of the Guantánamo Bay naval base to Cuban sovereignty was perhaps the most stop-and-take-notice condition Mr. Castro set in a speech Wednesday. But it was the brother of Fidel Castro’s demand concerning reparations that could end up stirring the bitterest pot and posing the highest obstacle to normalization.

Castro said United States payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic reparations for damages caused by the five-decade-old embargo, and indeed a lifting of the embargo Cuba considers a “blockade,” would also have to take place before the two adversaries can renew relations that were severed soon after the Cuban revolution of 1959.

But Castro’s reparation demands also carry a risk. That’s because ... Read More

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