Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Dozing U.S. Diplomats Let Venezuelan Narco-General Slip Away

| July 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

Although a retired Venezuelan general and confidante of President Nicolás Maduro just managed to evade U.S. extradition to face drug smuggling charges, the unsealed indictment in his case reveals that U.S. prosecutors have gathered compelling evidence of widespread criminality at the highest levels of the Maduro government. Dozing U.S. diplomats let Major General Hugo Carvajal slip away this past weekend, but the fact that Caracas pulled out the stops to keep him from facing U.S. justice has exposed a regime with a very guilty conscience.

U.S. diplomats were caught off-guard on Sunday when the Netherlands decided to recognize the dubious claims of “diplomatic immunity” by Carvajal, who was being held in Aruba since his arrest last Wednesday at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities. In court proceedings last Friday, Aruban authorities dismissed Carvajal’s claims of immunity, arguing that he had never been accredited as Venezuela’s consul general on the island.

After ... Read More

Russia’s Ambitious Energy Diplomacy in Latin America

| July 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Oil Price

By Nick Cunningham

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to build alliances to counter Western influence, signed several energy deals in Latin America this past week.

The first stop on Putin’s six-day tour was Havana on July 11, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro. The two sides reached an agreement that could see Russia exploring for oil in Caribbean waters, which would build up Cuba’s offshore oil industry. Putin also decided to wipe away 90 percent of the $32 billion worth of debt Cuba owes Russia, most of it dating back to the Soviet era.

The agreement was no doubt motivated by Putin’s desire to push back against what he views as U.S. meddling in Ukraine. Exploring for oil only a few dozen miles from the U.S. coast is a finger in Uncle Sam’s eye. “We will provide support to our Cuban friends to overcome the illegal blockade of Cuba,” Putin said on July ... Read More

Cómo Se Dice, “Lost in Translation”?

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

On immigration, drugs, and virtually every other pressing policy issue, why can’t the United States and Mexico stop talking past each other?

BY CARLOS PUIG

By now, the number is well known: From October 2013 to June 15 of this year, 52,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers were caught at the American border with Mexico, twice the number for the same period in the previous year. Responding to the influx of young migrants and the public outcry they’ve provoked, President Barack Obama has asked Congress to provide nearly $4 billion to establish new detention facilities, increase aerial surveillance capacity, and hire more immigration judges to speed up the processing of the detained. The proposal has been met with skepticism, not only from Obama’s political opponents, but also from immigration activists who argue that it is yet another example of the U.S. effort to stem the flow of migrants withoutaddressing systemic problems in Central America — gang violence, weak rule ... Read More

Russia ‘agrees to reopen Cuba spy base’

| July 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

Moscow (AFP) – Russia has provisionally agreed to reopen a major Cold War listening post on Cuba that was used to spy on the United States, a Russian daily reported Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin visited the island last week.

Kommersant reported that Russia and Cuba had agreed “in principle” to reopen the Lourdes base, mothballed since 2001, citing several sources within Russian authorities.

“The agreements were finalised while President Vladimir Putin visited Havana last Friday,” the respected daily wrote.

Russia had closed the Lourdes spy base south of Havana on Putin’s orders to save money and due to a rapprochement with the United States after the September 11 attacks.

But Moscow has since shown a new interest in Latin America and its Cold War ally Cuba and relations with the West have deteriorated amid the Ukraine crisis.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis ... Read More

Poverty, violence fuel exodus of youths from Honduras to U.S.

| July 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Dallas News

By ALFREDO CORCHADO

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Twelve-year-old Maynor Serrano points to the rows of houses where his friends and neighbors used to live. All are gone — many fleeing to the U.S.

Two of his friends were killed as 10-year-olds, their bodies chopped to pieces in a suspected gang vendetta.

He saw homes reduced to crumbling wrecks, their walls pockmarked with bullet holes. Entire neighborhoods were abandoned in hours — the result of monstrous gang violence.

Some houses became casas locas, crazy homes, for torturing families in this macabre city, which has the highest homicide rate in the world. Daily newspapers are filled with graphic photographs of bodies.

Like many, Maynor Serrano yearns to escape to the U.S., where he has relatives.

“It’s tough to live without hope,” he said. “If it’s not there, you go look for it.”

He spoke as he pulled weeds in one of the most violent barrios, Chamelecón, under the watchful ... Read More

CARDENAS: To secure Southern Border, U.S. must also help secure Central America

| July 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

President Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to cope with the humanitarian crisis along our southern border, which has been besieged by a surge in unaccompanied minors and thousands more trying to enter the United States from Central America through Mexico.

Clearly, the administration is scrambling to undo the damage caused in part by its own rhetoric and unilateral actions on immigration that, whether intentional or not, sent the calamitous message to desperate families across the region that if you want to get to the United States, then now is the time to come, because some sort of legal status awaits them.

Yet, notwithstanding the considerable sum of money requested from Congress, the administration’s current plan is merely stop-gap. It does nothing to address the primary driver of the problem: the escalating criminality in the region — most of it fueled by drug trafficking to the United States — that ... Read More

Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2013 still not back to pre-global-crisis levels

| June 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Mimi Whitefield

A study released Tuesday shows that the money sent home by migrants from Latin American and the Caribbean reached $61.3 billion last year, with three-quarters of those remittances coming from the United States.

The report by the Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, found that remittances to the Caribbean and Central America increased, but money flows to Mexico, which received $21.6 billion in remittances, and South America were down.

Overall, remittances — considered an economic lifeline for many families in the region — still haven’t recovered to the levels before the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. Remittances reached a high of $64.9 billion in 2008 before plummeting by more than 10 percent the next year.

Remittances began to grow again in 2011 but have remained fairly flat since then. There was virtually no growth between 2012 and 2013

The strengthening of the economies of European nations and the ... Read More

Peru Postpones Coca Crop Destruction

| June 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
From Time

BY FRANKLIN BRICENO

(LIMA, Peru) — Peru’s president says he is indefinitely postponing plans to forcibly eradicate coca fields in the world’s top cocaine-producing valley.

President Ollanta Humala’s announcement in a televised interview Sunday night came a week after he fired his drug czar, Carmen Masias.

She had announced in January that a militarized eradication effort — half-funded by the United States — would begin this year in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantauro river valley.

Critics said that strategy would only help drug-funded Shining Path rebels based in the region turn its coca-growers against authorities, with violent results. Coca is the remote valley’s lone cash crop and growers have already mounted protests and threatened resistance.

Humala said that while he is not ruling out forced eradication in the valley, he wants to first try crop substitution, led by the Agriculture Ministry.

An estimated 12,000 families live off coca in the valley, where authorities say more than ... Read More

Former Owner Of Bankrupt Mexicana Airlines Seeking Asylum In U.S.

| May 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

MEXICO CITY (AP) –  The fugitive businessman who controlled Mexicana airlines before it went bankrupt and was recently charged with illegal use of the airline’s funds has asked for asylum in the United States, a federal official said Wednesday.

Assistant Attorney General Mariana Benitez said that Gaston Azcarraga is in the United States and has applied for asylum following the expiration of his visa.

U.S. officials notified Mexico that Azcarraga is in their country a few days ago, Benitez said. She added that Mexico requested that he be extradited but U.S. authorities must first rule on his asylum request.

Mexicana declared bankruptcy in April, almost four years after it stopped flying because of financial problems.

The federal government promoted a restructuring process but of the investors that showed interest none demonstrated they had the money or a business plan to rescue the carrier.

Before it stopped flying in 2010 because of financial problems, the privately ... Read More

As Venezuela continues crushing dissent, a bipartisan push in Senate for sanctions

| May 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
McClatchy

BY CHRIS ADAMS

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said in a Senate hearing Thursday it was hesitant to use individual sanctions as a tactic in the Venezuelan political crisis, saying that doing so could escalate the situation into a fight between the Maduro regime and the United States rather than a struggle between that country’s people and their government.

In response, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sharply criticized the administration, indicating it was being far too timid in pushing back against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and its repressive tactics against political protesters.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, was among the sharpest critics, blasting officials from the State Department for failing to advocate for sanctions against individuals in Venezuela although sanctions have been used – and continue to be used – elsewhere.

Citing sanctions against individuals in Russia for that country’s actions in Ukraine, Rubio asked what the ... Read More

US will cut off anti-drug assistance to Ecuador: official

| May 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States will end decades of anti-drug trafficking assistance to Ecuador this month, pulling its staff from the INL office in the South American nation, a top official said Wednesday.

“I am quite prepared to acknowledge right now the INL section, which has been in Ecuador now for more than 30 years, is also going to close up shop,” Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), told a congressional hearing.

He said the office staff would be out of Ecuador by the end of September. Brownfield did not say how many US staffers were in place there.

Brownfield said the move was a reflection of the level of cooperation the United States has right now from Ecuador.

Leftist economist President Rafael Correa, whom Washington has criticized for his links to Iran, Belarus and WikiLeaks figure Julian Assange — has acknowledged there is an atmosphere ... Read More

Sugar war could sour US-Mexico trade ties

| April 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in The Christian Science Monitor

TIM JOHNSON

There’s nothing sweet in the sugar war that’s unfolding between Mexico and the United States.

The US industry, sometimes called Big Sugar, simmers over soaring competition from Mexico and argues that a doubling of Mexican exports triggered a collapse in the market price of sugar.

A reluctant Obama administration has opened a formal investigation into those exports that could result in new import duties on Mexican sugar – and ignite a broader trade dispute over sweeteners that might affect other US industries.

A spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, Phillip Hayes, says the sugar industry faces losses of up to $1 billion this year because of what it alleges is dumping – selling at prices lower than what it costs to produce – by Mexican sugar producers.

“We are far more efficient than Mexico’s sugar industry, yet we are losing market share because of Mexico’s predatory trade practices,” Mr. Hayes says.

The dispute ricochets ... Read More

Keystone XL’s continued delay is absurd

| April 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

IF FOOT-DRAGGING were a competitive sport, President Obama and his administration would be world champions for their performance in delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last Friday afternoon, the time when officials make announcements they hope no one will notice, the State Department declared that it is putting off a decision on Keystone XL indefinitely — or at least, it seems, well past November’s midterm elections. This time, the excuse is litigation in Nebraska over the proposed route, because that might lead to a change in the project that various federal agencies will want to consider. The State Department might even decide to substantially restart the environmental review process . This is yet another laughable reason to delay a project that the federal government has been scrutinizing for more than five years.

At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. After two thorough environmental analyses, State Department experts determined that the ... Read More

US Justices Seek Middle Ground in Argentina Case

| April 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
ABC News

By MARK SHERMAN

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to be searching for a middle ground Monday in the decade-long battle between Argentina and holders of its defaulted bonds.

The justices heard arguments on a relatively narrow aspect of the issue, the question of whether a sovereign nation can be forced to reveal assets around the world so plaintiffs can collect on U.S. court judgments.

The court seemed inclined to narrow lower court orders in favor of the bondholders to exclude diplomatic, military and national security property owned by Argentina. At the same time, the justices indicated they might uphold the orders as they apply to commercial property outside the United States.

The court offered few clues about the larger case involving the same players: Argentina’s appeal of a $1.4 billion judgment that it says could destroy the country’s economy and also damage the U.S. financial system. So far, lower courts ... Read More

An Odd Hostility in the Americas

| April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

BY ROGER COHEN

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Two vast countries in the same hemisphere, with the same can-do appetite for the future, populated by far-flung immigrants subsuming their differences into the same powerful sense of nationhood, with the same commitment to democratic governance and free enterprise, drawn to each other by the same mutual attraction among their peoples, find their relations at or close to an all-time low.

There may be more perplexing international relationships in the world than the troubled one between the United States and Brazil, but there are not many. A natural friendship has fissured under unnatural strain. A perverse estrangement prevails.

Brazil, a kind of tropical United States, finds it difficult to connect to Washington, and vice versa. The nation that might have been America’s closest ally (even without a formal alliance) among the rising powers is now ... Read More

Sheriffs warn of violence from Mexican cartels deep into interior of U.S.

| April 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

BY KELLY RIDDELL

Outmanned and outgunned, local law enforcement officers are alarmed by the drug and human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering that Mexican drug cartels are conducting in the U.S. far from the border.

U.S. sheriffs say that securing the border is a growing concern to law enforcement agencies throughout the country, not just those near the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

“If we fail to secure our borders, then every sheriff in America will become a border sheriff,” said Sam Page, sheriff of Rockingham County, N.C. “We’re only a two-day drive from the border and have already seen the death and violence that illegal crossings brings into our community.”

Sheriff Page, whose county has about 94,000 residents, noted that a Mexican cartel set up one of its drug warehouses about a mile from his home.

“These men are coming into our county with more firepower than I have,” he said Wednesday. “I’m literally outgunned.”

The sheriff in North ... Read More

Ignoring our Venezuelan Friends of Freedom

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Joe Kauffman

By Joe Kaufman

It can be argued that, in 2009, had President Barack Obama aided the Iranians demonstrating against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, there would be no need for talk of the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran today. Iran’s leaders had dedicated much of their existence to hatred of America, referring to the U.S. as “Satan” and supporting anti-U.S. terror. But instead of assisting those calling for regime change, Obama turned his back on the protesters and ignored their pleas.

This was not the case in other parts of the Middle East, where Obama announced his full support to rebels looking to overthrow their respective governments – in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Each of these revolutions, though, were led by Islamists, who unlike the overtly pro-U.S. Iranian demonstrators, have much enmity for the United States and her allies.

Now, in a reprise of his attitude toward Iran, President Obama has chosen ... Read More

John Kerry says Venezuela ‘terror campaign’ must end

| March 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the government of Venezuela must end its “terror campaign against its own citizens”.

Mr Kerry said the Organisation of American States (OAS), allies and neighbours should demand accountability of Venezuela over the protests.

Authorities say 28 people have died since they began more than a month ago.

Venezuela accuses the United States of helping “right-wing fascists” to plot a coup with the unrest.

Mr Kerry’s remarks are the starkest from Washington since the protests began.

Engagement

“We are trying to find a way to get the [President Nicolas] Maduro government to engage with their citizens, to treat them respectfully, to end this terror campaign against his own people and to begin to, hopefully, respect human rights in an appropriate way”, Mr Kerry told a committee in the US Congress.

American legislators have been debating whether or not to impose sanctions on the oil-rich nation.

President Maduro said his week ... Read More

After a year without Chávez, is Venezuela unraveling?

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

BY CARL MEACHAM

This week, amidst political turmoil that has gripped the country and left more than a dozen dead and hundreds more injured and detained, Venezuela commemorated the passing of President Hugo Chávez.

Chávez was best known for his “Bolivarian Revolution,” through which he pursued aggressive, state-centered approaches to alleviate the social, political, and economic challenges facing Venezuela. And by some metrics he was successful – between 2004 and 2012, the country’s poverty rate halved, and literacy and access to healthcare increased substantially.

But Chávez also left behind a country deeply divided along political and socioeconomic lines, one suffering from skyrocketing crime and violence and bogged down by economic instability. Is his successor, Nicolás Maduro, now reaping the seeds of discontent sown by Chavismo?

Certainly, under Maduro the grim reality of rising crime has only worsened – though not for a lack of official policies aimed at reversing it. In his first year, Maduro dispersed thousands ... Read More

Argentina Oil’s Bonanza Helping Too Few Led by Political Friends

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

BY MICHAEL SMITH & PABLO GONZALEZ

Explosions tear through the Vaca Muerta shale oil deposit, 3,100 meters beneath the desert in western Argentina, cracking open underground rock formations.

Oil workers, braving 40-degree-Celsius heat and vicious swarms of horseflies, operate a battery of massive pumps that roar into action. They force a gelatinous sluice of water, chemicals and sand into the openings created by the explosion, so they can tease out the oil.

“Success!” yells Osvaldo Alarcon, who’s supervising the hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for the site’s owner, YPF SA, Argentina’s state oil producer. His workers cheer. “The center of the earth is ours,” he says, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its April issue.

The crew of Shale Oil 28, or SOIL 28, as this tract is known, is on the frontline of a push by some of the world’s largest energy companies to unearth Vaca Muerta’s hidden riches.

The Belgium-sized layer of ... Read More

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