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The ongoing Damage to the Venezuelan Economy

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela’s annual inflation rises to 63.4% Venezuela’s annual inflation rate has risen to 63.4%, the highest in Latin America, according to official figures published on Tuesday. The figures are the first released by the central bank since May, which has led critics to accuse the government of withholding data for political reasons. […]

Mexican State Approves Same-Sex Marriage

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Via the BBC:  Mexican state of Coahuila approves same-sex marriage The northern state of Coahuila has become the second region in Mexico to officially allow same-sex marriage. Coahuila’s congress approved changes to the civil code which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including adoption. In Mexico, laws on same-sex unions fall under […]

Santos Sworn in

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Via the BBC from last week:   Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sworn in. Santos was re-elected to a second term back in June and is the second Colombian president to be re-elected (after the constitution was reformed to allow Santos’ predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, to run for and win a second term). The main issue confronting […]

Debt Default In Argentina

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To our south, the nation of Argentina has just defaulted on billions of dollars in loans thanks largely to a dispute with at U.S. hedge fund: The hedge fund firm of billionaire Paul E. Singer has about 300 employees, yet it has managed to force Argentina, a nation of 41 million people, into a position where it […]

Some Facts for the Immigration Crisis Discussion

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NBC Bay Area has a pretty good run down of the situation here:  Kids Crossing the Border: What to Know About the Immigration Crisis. A key fact that is useful in trying to determine whether the simplistic narrative that is all about Obama administration policies on immigration or not is the following: Migrant children aren’t […]

Delay in Legal Marijuana Sales in Uruguay

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Via the BBC:  Uruguay legal cannabis sale delayed to next year, says president Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has said the start of legal cannabis sales will be delayed until next year due to "practical difficulties". Sales in state-owned pharmacies were due to begin as early as November. Under the new law the following will be […]

Tally me Banana?

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Via the BBC:  Cocaine valued at £25m found in banana delivery Cocaine with an estimated street value of £25m has been found hidden in a consignment of bananas from Colombia. Scotland Yard said 150kg of the drug was found packed into plastic bananas following an "intelligence-led" operation. Day-o, indeed.

Institutional Design and Governance

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A piece at Foreign Policy provides a chance to give some thought to institutions.

Another Capo Caught

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Via the BBC:  Mexican Tijuana cartel boss Sanchez Arellano ‘captured’ The Mexican army says it has captured the leader of the once-powerful Tijuana cartel, Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano. In the 1990s, the cartel controlled much of the drugs flow from the northern Mexican city of Tijuana to the United States. But it was dealt a […]

Significant Drug Gang Arrest in Colombia

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Via the BBC,  Colombia: Rastrojos members held in Barranquilla raid: Colombian police have arrested 46 members of the Rastrojos criminal gang in northern Atlantico department. They are accused of extortion from shop owners and selling illegal drugs in the coastal city of Barranquilla. President Juan Manuel Santos described the operation as "the biggest blow against […]

Colombia’s Presidential Elections

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Looking back at the first round and forward to the second.

Colombia’s Presidential Elections, First Round 2014

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A Photo Essay.

New President in Panama

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Via the BBC:  Outsider Juan Carlos Varela wins Panama election Opposition leader Juan Carlos Varela has won the presidential election in Panama with almost 40% of the votes. Mr Varela, who is currently the vice-president, had distanced himself from outgoing President Ricardo Martinelli. I must confess, it is a bit odd to call the Vice […]

Escobar’s Hippos

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Via Worldcrunch:  Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Are Running Wild.

Talks in Venezuela

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Via Reuters:  Venezuela’s Maduro meets opposition as death toll from protests rises Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cautioned opposition leaders to keep their expectations modest on Thursday as he hosted them for mediated talks intended to stem two months of deadly political unrest. Maduro has held similar meetings previously but this was the first to include […]

More Rhetoric over the Falklands

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Via the BBC:  UK Falklands military exercises ‘provoke’ Argentina Argentina has accused the UK of provocation over plans to hold military exercises in the Falkland Islands. It said drills by British forces would include missile launches and were part of a "pattern" of "hostile acts". The British ambassador in Buenos Aires has been summoned by […]

Confrontation Between Rio Police and Squatters

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Via the BBC:  Clashes as police evict squatters in Rio de Janeiro A huge police operation to evict hundreds of families from abandoned buildings in Rio de Janeiro has ended with violent clashes and some injuries. More than 1,500 police officers had arrived at dawn to evict nearly 5,000 people from the site, belonging to […]

New President in Costa Rica

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Via the BBC:  Leftist Luis Solis wins Costa Rican presidential poll Luis Guillermo Solis of the centre-left Citizen Action Party (PAC) has won the presidential election in Costa Rica. With almost all the votes counted, Mr Solis had 78%. He had been expected to win after his rival – governing party candidate Johnny Araya – […]

New Argentine Peso Features the Falklands

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Via the BBC:  Argentina launches Falklands currency note to mark anniversary Argentina has launched a new 50-peso currency note featuring a map of the Falkland Islands to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the invasion of the British archipelago. First, given the debacle that was the invasion of the Falklands/Las Islas Malvinas by the Argentine military, […]

Salvadoran Presidential Election Results Confirmed by Court

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Via the BBC:  El Salvador ex-rebel’s presidential victory confirmed El Salvador’s electoral court has confirmed the victory of former left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren in a tight presidential run-off election. It said Mr Sanchez Ceren won 50.11% of the votes in the 9 March poll, defeating conservative candidate Norman Quijano, who polled 49.89%. Mr Quijano […]

Thinking about the Opposition in Venezuela

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Some thoughts and links about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela.

Air Canada Suspends Flights to Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Air Canada suspends Venezuela flights over ‘civil unrest’ Air Canada has suspended flights to and from Venezuela, citing concerns over security. [...] It operated three return flights between Toronto and Caracas per week. Other airlines are also reacting, although unrest is not the main motivator: Several international airlines have reduced operations in […]

Bachelet Sworn in

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Earlier this week, Michele Bachelet was sworn in to start her second (non-consecutive) term as president of Chile.  Her first term was 2006-2010. Via the BBC:  Michelle Bachelet sworn in as Chile’s president Ms Bachelet is the first Chilean president in over half a century to return for a second term. [...] Ms Bachelet won […]

More Deaths in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela protests: Three killed in fresh unrest Three people have died in fresh protests in Venezuela, this time in the central city of Valencia. A policeman and two other men were shot dead in separate incidents. In Caracas, Venezuelan government supporters and opposition demonstrators took to the streets to hold rival marches. […]

Protests Continue in Venezuela

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Via the BBC:  Venezuela opposition holds anti-Maduro rally in Caracas Thousands of Venezuelan students and opposition supporters have joined an anti-government rally in the capital, Caracas. The government deployed hundreds of government security forces to prevent a crowd banging pots and pans from marching towards the food ministry. There were similar marches in at least […]

An Overview of the Venezuelan Economic Situation

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Via CNBC:  Venezuela after Chavez: An economy on the verge. The short version:  not good.

Maduro isn’t Chavez

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One thing is clear: Maduro lacks Chavez’s political skills.

Questions about Venezuela?

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Since I figure most folks only have a passing knowledge of Venezuela, I was curious if there were any specific questions about that I could attempt to answer.  I cannot guarantee that I can provide the answers, as I am not a country-expert on this topic, but ask away and we will see. 

One Illustration Regarding Venezuela

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Despite good intentions, I have not had time to devote to a story that is quite important and is not receiving enough attention:  the events unfolding in Venezuela.  I hope to address some of the relevant issues over the weekend, but instead of trying to do it all in one mega-post, I will also draw […]

Paper Covers Rock!

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Sorry, that was what immediately came to mind upon seeing this photo in a piece in The Atlantic:   Pictured:  the late President Hugo Chávez (Ven), President Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), President José Mujica (Uruguay), and  President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Arg).

The More Things Change… (Argentine Debt Edition)

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Via the BBC:  Argentina tries to delay $1.3bn repayment to creditors Argentina will on Tuesday petition the US courts to try to stall a $1.3bn repayment to its creditors. If the petition to the Supreme Court is not successful, the country risks triggering a default and debt crisis. [...] Argentina has already defaulted on its […]

Constitutional Changes Ratified in Nicaragua

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Via the BBC:  Nicaragua’s new constitution becomes law Changes to Nicaragua’s constitution have gone into effect, paving the way for its leader, Daniel Ortega, to run for a third consecutive term in 2016. [...] The constitutional changes were approved by 64 votes to 25. The reform scraps the previous rule that the winning candidate needs […]

Elections in Central America

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Via the BBC:  El Salvador votes for new president The main rivals are current Vice-President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the left-wing FMLN party and Norman Quijano of the conservative Arena alliance. Neither is expected to win outright because a third candidate standing for a new independent party is likely to make a strong showing. [...] […]

Ortega to be Allowed Re-election Bid in Nicaragua

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Via the BBC:  Nicaragua: Ortega allowed to run for third successive term The Nicaraguan National Assembly has approved changes to the constitution that would allow President Daniel Ortega to run for a third successive term in 2016. The bill scraps limits to the number of terms Nicaraguan presidents can serve. [...] The reform also scraps […]

How not to Deal with a Congressional Hearing

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Via the BBC:  El Salvador ex-leader ‘tried to flee country’ amid probe El Salvador’s former president, Francisco Flores, tried to flee the country on Tuesday, according to the current president, Mauricio Funes. Mr Flores is under investigation for allegedly misusing millions of dollars in funds from Taiwan, which he denies. He rejected suggestions he was […]

Settling the Chile-Peru Maritime Border

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Via the BBC:  Peru-Chile border defined by UN court at The Hague The United Nations’ highest court has defined the maritime boundary between Peru and Chile after an acrimonious dispute between the two neighbours. Judges at The Hague awarded Peru parts of the Pacific Ocean but kept rich fishing grounds in Chilean hands. At stake […]

Fidel Makes Public Appearance

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Via the BBC:  Cuban ex-leader Fidel Castro in rare public appearance. Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in nine months. Mr Castro, 87, attended the opening of an art studio in the capital, Havana, on Wednesday night. Photo at the link—he is really looking his age these days.  […]

The Nicaragua Canal

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Via the BBC:  Nicaragua canal construction ‘will not begin until 2015′ The head of the canal authority, Manuel Coronel Kautz, says more time is needed to carry out feasibility studies and choose a route. The estimated cost of the projected waterway is $40bn (£25bn). I will believe this when I see it. The notion of […]

Sticker Shock in Cuba

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Via the BBC:  Cubans shocked at prices as foreign cars go on sale Cubans have reacted with shock after foreign-made cars went on sale for the first time since the 1959 revolution at what some termed "crazy" prices. The state has a monopoly on new car sales and has set massive mark-ups. A Peugeot 508 […]

Banner Year for Drug Seizures in Paraguay

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Via the BBC:  Paraguay drug seizures up by 39% in 2013 Officials in Paraguay say the amount of drugs seized in the country in 2013 rose by 39%. Paraguay’s national counternarcotics body (Senad) said it had seized 461 tonnes of marijuana and 3.3 tonnes of cocaine, up from 176 and 3.1 tonnes respectively. [...] According […]

When 3 Ks is not Enough

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Doing some prep for the Spring semester and came across the following, of which I was previously unaware:  the KKKK. That would be the Ku Klux Klan Kubano (as in the Cuban KKK), which was formed in 1933 in emulation of the US group.  An unfortunate export, to put it mildly.

The USA v. the FARC

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Newly disclosed details about the US role in Colombia.

Bolivia has its Own Satellite

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Via the BBC:  Bolivian crowds cheer Tupak Katari satellite launch The satellite is named Tupak Katari, after an indigenous hero who fought Spanish colonial rule. Bolivia is one of the last countries in South America to have its own satellite. President Evo Morales, who was in China for the launch, said it would end Bolivia’s […]

Snowden Appeals To Brazil For Asylum

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Edward Snowden is offering to help Brazilian government officials in their investigation of U.S. surveillance of their country in exchange for asylum: National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says he would be willing to help Brazil investigate NSA spying on its soil, but could not fully participate without being granted political asylum because the U.S. […]

Bachelet Cruises to Second Round Win in Chile

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Via the BBC:  Ex-president Michelle Bachelet wins Chile poll run-off With almost all the votes counted, Ms Bachelet had 62% against 38% for Evelyn Matthei, a former minister from the governing centre-right coalition. Ms Bachelet first served from 2006 to 2010, but under Chile’s constitution she could not stand for a second consecutive term. This […]

Dumb Things Senators Say

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"If he was going to shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba."—Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Because, as we all know, if POTUS just had some well planned zingers prepared for these sorts of situations that US foreign policy goals would flourish.  […]

The Ongoing Illogic of US Policy Towards Cuba

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The Obama-Castro handshake at Mandela’s funeral has caused a bit of an uproar.

Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana

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Via WaPo:  Uruguay votes to legalize marijuana Under the law, marijuana users will be allowed to buy a maximum of 40 grams ­(1.4 ounces)­ each month from government-regulated outlets, provided that they are at least 18 years old and registered in a database to monitor their cumulative purchases. Growers will be allowed to cultivate up […]

Obama Shakes Castro’s Hand

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And let the fallout in certain corners of the internet begin… Via The Telegraph:  President Barack Obama shakes Raul Castro’s hand at Mandela memorial service. This is the second such US-Cuban shake: The gesture – which comes despite half a century of hostilities – came as Mr Obama made his way to a podium to […]

Taking to the Pitch for Peace (The FARC are “Fanatical about Football”)

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Via the BBC:  Colombia Farc rebels to play Valderrama peace match Colombia’s biggest rebel group, Farc, has accepted a challenge from national football great Carlos Valderrama to play a match for peace. [...] In an open letter, the left-wing rebels said they were happy to play matches that helped foster reconciliation. The first leg would […]

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