Miami: Oasis for corrupters in Latin America?

This city shows the odd modality of sheltering and serving as a springboard to fugitive politicians and entrepreneurs, who seek to evade sanctions.

Last Sunday, Miami Herald’s section “Undertone” published an article on the issue signed by Kyra Gurney.

She begins her article writing that Miami “is still a magnet for those charged with corruption in Latin America”.

Then, she endorses her opinion detailing a large number of specific examples. One approaches the case of Alejandro Lyons Muskus, former Colombian governor who is facing 20 charges linked to this kind of dirty businesses.

He committed those offenses while he led the department of Cordoba between 2012 and 2015.

Prosecutors say it was a misappropriation scheme linked to payments made for the right to extract natural resources.

According to Gurney, since former governor Lyons Muskus left office, he has been trailed by allegations of corruption in Colombia.

“Now, the specialist writes, he could be the latest example of a long tradition in Florida:

What? Officials who chose to flee after plundering their homelands and settle down in this place “beyond the reach of their authorities”.

Later, to the surprise of many, she writes with great naturalness:

The climate of South Florida and its waterfront condos make it a prime spot for those who are under an investigative microscope.

An investigative report published by the Miami Herald in December outlined some examples. Last week, the most strident turn around Ricardo Martineli, former President of Panama, by the way, a bitter enemy of Cuba.

He was arrested in Miami near his $8.2 million home in Coral Gables.

“This practice is extremely common”, said José Miguel Cruz, research director of Florida International University’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center.

What was Cruz referring to? Firstly, to very influential politicians from elsewhere fleeing to Miami and added:

“Florida has a long history with regard to cases of corrupt officials who came to U.S. not only to evade charges in their own countries, but basically to retire with the dirty money they made during their tenure”. But without embarrassment they have slammed in diverse scenarios

the lack of human rights in Cuba.

And right now, they organize and wage a low-intensity war against Venezuela, because it does not do what they do.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Venezuela to Send Troops to Train at Bolivia’s ‘Anti-Imperialist’ Military Academy

The school is seen as the anti-School of the Americas, which the U.S. used to train Latin American soldiers in torture and counterinsurgency methods.

Venezuela will send troops to train at Bolivia’s "anti-imperialist" military academy, the country's defense minister announced Monday.

RELATED: Bolivia Opens New 'Anti-Imperialist' Military Academy

"I have been instructed by Mr. Pdte @ NicolasMaduro to send FANB military professionals to train in Bolivia's Anti-imperialist School," Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced on his Twitter account.

The announcement came shortly after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met briefly with Bolivian President Evo Morales at the airport in Maiquetía, Venezuela, with Morales en route to New York for the U.N. Oceans summit.

Morales expressed his solidarity with Maduro, as Venezuela continues to suffer from political turmoil and sometimes violent anti-government protests that have resulted in the deaths of at least 73 people since April.

The Juan José Torres Anti-Imperialist School was created in November 2015, but officially opened in August of last year. Soldiers from Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Armed Forces, known by its Spanish acronym FANB, will attend the school that seeks to change the "repressive and imperialist" doctrines of military entities.

“We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies,” said Morales at the opening of the school.

The School of the Americas, later renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, was started during the Cold War to provide "anti-communist counterinsurgency training" to soldiers from U.S.-allied right-wing nations. Its graduates have gone on to be dictators, war criminals and death squad members, with notorious alumni including former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, and former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez. In 1996 the New York Times, in an editorial titled the "School of Dictators," revealed that the school taught torture.

"A training manual recently released by the Pentagon recommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail and arresting the relatives of those being questioned," the newspaper reported.

RELATED: Bolivia to Prioritize Occupation of Palestine During UN Security Council Presidency

The "anti-imperialist" school was built as a political and ethical commitment to the country and teaches history, geopolitics and military strategy. It also prepares pupils in the specialties of piloting, air defense and operational support.

Last week, Morales delivered a new Jatun Puma helicopter and two Cessna aircrafts to the military school and announced plans for more training aircraft to train cadets and officers of the Bolivian Air Force.

“All this is possible because we have changed the economic model of our country, thanks to the struggle of social movements,” Morales said.

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The family: The best thing that has ever been invented!

The International Day of the Family is held every May 15th and everything is allowed in this space/refuge, even to dream.

A simple glimpse into our lives, memories, what we have done or achieved, always leads us to the family; essential core that generally, guides, supports, boasts aspirations and the aims of those who make it up.

Little could be achieved without its support, so maybe it’s acknowledged that behind a successful outcome —in whatever sphere or sector of life— there are almost always husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, siblings and even children. Often, the latter, aware of the important work their parents do, take over daily responsibilities at home, among others.

The family is something unique, unequalled. It’s true that it cannot be chosen, and it is a real “fortune” when such an institution fulfills the aforementioned attributes. If it is not so, then it’s hard to figure out that victories can come true or be possible.

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Having it —in all what that implies— is to have support (economic and spiritual), relief on many occasions, refuge of love and affection. Counting on it is just to have and enjoy a home.

Family, education and wellbeing

I approach this issue on the occasion of this May 15, when the world —since 1994— celebrates the World Family Day. The date was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, taking into account the importance granted by the international community.

This year’s commemoration highlights the performance of families and the policies directed at them in the promotion of the education and wellbeing of all their members, particularly, early childhood education and continuous education for children and youngsters.

It also remarks the importance of family members devoted to the care of others, either parents, grandparents or siblings.

Moreover, it aims to highlight good practices in family and work life; to assist parents in their role as educators and caregivers, and to support working mothers and fathers.

The celebration seeks to foster debate on the importance of theoretical and practical knowledge needed to promote sustainable development, among other things, through education and the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, and promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence, global citizenship and assessment of cultural diversity.

“Attached” to the “family”

After searching the internet about the subject I found some criteria from PhD in Psychological Sciences Patricia Arés that I would like to share with you on a date like today.

Devoted throughout several decades to investigate on this issue, the professor commented in the article “A look at Cuba’s model of wellbeing” that the Cuban family is interwoven in social networks of interchange with neighbours, organizations, schools and relatives, including emigrants.

“The characteristic thing of the way of life of Cubans are the socialization spaces or the social network that neither excludes nor unnames anybody”.

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According to the expert that “social networking” represents one of the major and invisible strengths of the Cuban model of wellbeing. It’s here where the main achievement of our social process lies, taking the forms of solidarity, social containment and permanent social interchange. “That capital is only perceptible to those who lose it and begin to live another lifestyle outside the country”.

She acknowledged that although we have economic difficulties and unresolved problems, Cuban families exist and begin to live intensively after their children, teenagers and young people return from school.

Here, family life —the expert commented— does not take place behind closed doors, because they are frequently knocked at by fumigation agents, neighbours, family nurses, grassroots leaders, or self-employed vendors. People need to leave home daily, to go to the store, visit their neighbours to pick some food items, take out the garbage, go to the pharmacy and fetch the kids from school.

So she assured that family life in Cuba is multigenerational, where all ages interact, and most senior people do not live in old people’s homes, but in their own community.

Contrary to that situation, Patricia commented —from her experience as a professor— that many realities from other Latin American nations have left her “puzzled”, because of the burden of accumulated social problems, not just in poor families, but of any social class.

“From what I hear I realize that we are light years apart, because the issue is not about economy, but about ignorance, accumulated mental poverty, social stigmas, class, gender and race prejudices, violence against women, magic solutions to problems without scientific basis, child sex abuse, polygamy, genetic defects due to irresponsible sexuality or incestuous relationships, these are all daily problems. They are problems associated to social neglect, the lack of social prevention programs. What is daily life for them is exception for Cubans.

Regarding its functions, an essential one

A lot has been said in recent times about what the family should fulfill. The specialized bibliography states they are aimed at meeting important needs of its members, including the sexual-affectionate ones, but not as isolated individuals but in tight interdependence.

It’s not the same to do something on the street, such as eating or listening to favorite music, or talking about a problem, for self-satisfaction, than doing it at home accompanied by a relative.

Among its functions highlights go to the educational, economic, biosocial and cultural-spiritual ones.*

Let’s focus on the latter, which is related to the activities linked to the cultural and recreational likes and interests of every person and the family as a whole; the wellbeing caused by their satisfaction or the frustration for being unable to achieve them, as well as the spirituality of its members.

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The biosocial function is linked to procreation and children’s upbringing, as well as sex and affectionate relationships of the couple. Meanwhile, the economic function, as its name implies, has to do with home supply tasks, consumption, satisfaction of a series of individual material needs, expense budget based on the income of its members, among others.

For its part, the educational function has a key importance and is closely linked to other functions previously mentioned.

Today, it is necessary to go deeper into it, because parents are the ones, so to speak, who build a family educational curriculum and have a decisive influence on the creation of the family educational scenario.

Likewise, the family participates in the full development of children’s personality, as well as the adaptation of children to social and school life.

At present, when countless distorting tendencies prevail and a crisis of values is acknowledged, family education plays a very important role.

Scholars on the subject talk about an overvaluation of the family’s economic function, from the financial situations that are lived worldwide and the fight for survival inside the homes. However, education must be at the forefront.

Communication with children, direct and systematic surveillance of their behaviour, concern for their problems and conflicts should not be overlooked. In addition, it’s essential to take into account that girls and boys, teenagers and young people do more what they see their parents doing than what they are told. Family education cannot be left aside; we must grab it by the hand and walk with it.

*Thus included in the leading book of UNFDA-MINED Project, by a group of authors.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff 





ECLAC Foresees Growth of 1.1% in Latin America, Caribbean

The Latin American and Caribbean region will register an economic expansion of only 1.1 percent in 2017, mainly due to a decline of prices of South America''s primary goods, the Latin America and the Caribbean Commission (ECLAC) has projected.

In its new report, the UN agency confirmed the trend for improvement, after two years with red numbers, but reduced the expectation of growth of the region's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1.3 to 1.1 percentage points.

According to ECLAC, the GDP of the South American nations will show an average rise of 0.6 percent due to the deterioration of income from exports of commodities such as oil, minerals and food.

On average, Central America will achieve a GDP increase of 3.6 percent, taking into account domestic demand and favorable expectations in the United States, that region's main trading partner.

For the English-speaking and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, is estimated an average increase of 1.4 percentage points, the report says.

In ECLAC's view, investment needs to be encouraged, productivity increased through innovation and employment protected in order to ensure a better target for 2017.

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Alicia Alonso Willing to Strengthen Ballet in Latin America

Havana, Apr 6 (Prensa Latina) Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso said thar today it is a priority to increase the presence of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) in Latin American countries and show the skills of the region in ballet.

Alonso just returned from a tour across Costa Rica and El Salvador, where the BNC performed under her direction and was given the Doctor Honoris Causa degrees at the universities named after the two countries.

Presidents Luis Guillermo Solis, from Costa Rica, and Salvador Sanchez Ceren, from El Salvador, attended the BNC performances starred by Viengsay Valdes, Grettel Morejon, Sadaise Arencibia, Anette Delgado, Dani Hernandez, Rafael Quenedit, Patricio Reve and Raul Abreu, amid others.

During a press conference at the BNC headquarters in Havana, Alonso appreciated all the expressions of gratitude given to her and the BNC, which in her view moved the audience in the two countries with works like the second act of Giselle and a piece of the classic Don Quixote.

The BNC will perform at Mella Theater in Havana city next Saturday and Sunday, during La Huella de España Festival, an event chaired by Alonso.

  • Published in Culture

ALBA Countries Agree to Strengthen Regional Integration

Caracas, March 6 (Prensa Latina) ALBA-TCP member countries agreed to work with the purpose of strengthening the unity and integration of Latin America and the Caribbean and establishing conditions to guarantee the economic growth of this Latin American bloc.

This was proclaimed by Caracas Declaration at the conclusion of the 14th Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - Peoples' Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP), which was held on Sunday at the Miraflores Palace, headquarters of the Government of Venezuela.

The Alliance is composed of eight countries, with two special guests and three observers. The full members are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela.

Special guests include Suriname and Saint Lucia, while observers include Haiti, Iran, and Syria.

The unity and regional integration of Latin America and the Caribbean is an urgent need in this complex environment. ALBA-TCP, along with blocs such as MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CARICOM, and others that regained their leading role in the last decade, should continue to contribute to regional integration.

'The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is our most precious work. It is the mechanism to forge unity in diversity through political agreement. The Community has had to face the resistance of the defenders of failed Pan-Americanism. We must preserve it,' the statement stresses.

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Observers Praise Transparency, Deny Fraud in Ecuador Elections

Without evidence, opposition candidates have accused the government of trying to meddle with the election results, whipping up discontent.

Observers from international organizations have reported that Ecuador's elections Sunday were transparent and asked Ecuadoreans to calmly wait for the final results, as opposition candidates have launched accusations of fraud and threatened destabilization if the left-wing front-runner Lenin Moreno wins in the first round.

RELATED: Sore Loser? Ecuador's Opposition Candidate Says It's Fraud if Moreno Wins

The electoral mission of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, said that there was no attempted fraud during the final count of votes for the presidential election.

According to the head of the mission, Alexander Vega, the delay in the release of final results is a normal vote-counting procedure and called for people to be calm and wait for the final results.

"No one has denounced a fraud," Vega said, adding that it is difficult to believe "that the National Electoral Council would have invited more than 200 observers for a fraud."

He added that the Ecuadorean system is "so transparent that whoever wins can download the transcripts, add the votes and will get the same result."

With 93 percent of votes counted, Alianza Pais' Lenin Moreno leads the race with 39.11 percent of votes, close to the 40 percent that he needs to avoid a second round, and more than 10 percent ahead of conservative banker Guillermo Lasso of the right-wing CREO party, who has 28.38 percent.

RELATED: Lenin Moreno: 'We Will Continue to Offer Our Hand to Everyone'

With those numbers, Moreno has received a higher percentage of the vote in the first round of the election than any other president in Ecuador in past 40 years, with the exception of President Rafael Correa, who won the election in the first round with more than 50 percent of the votes in 2009 and 2013.

If Moreno doesn't reach the threshold he will have to face Lasso in a runoff vote on April 2. The National Electoral Council, CNE, said the final result of Sunday's presidential election will be released by Thursday.

Moreno said that although polls say he could win in the first round, his team is still waiting for the final confirmation of the CNE, and he called on other candidates to do the same.

"It has caught my attention that some loser politician is calling for violence. That can not be tolerated, we are a country of peace, we have learned to live in peace and we want to continue like this," said Moreno.

The ballots that have not been processed yet have errors in the scanning process, are illegible, have inconsistencies, lack corresponding signatures of the members of the voting tables, or come from areas of the country that don't have the right conditions to digitally transmit results to the main processing center.

The special representative of the electoral mission of Unasur, former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, also called Ecuadoreans to remain calm and wait patiently for the results.

RELATED: Right Wing Provokes Lenin Supporters During Voting in Ecuador

"The tranquility and peace of society is such an important value that one does not realize when one loses it," said Mujica.

A total of 47 delegations for the electoral councils of 11 countries in South America participated in the elections. 

The head of the electoral mission of the Organization of American States, OAS, Leonel Fernandez, stressed that the CNE is the only institution authorized to present the final results.

He called for political parties and candidates to "act with prudence and responsibility" and to "provide citizens with truthful, timely and objective information from the CNE."

The calls for calm come as some opposition politicians, including second-place candidate Guillermo Lasso, have accused the government of attempting to meddle with the election results, whipping up expectations of electoral fraud among his supporters, which some fear raises the specter of violence in the wake of Sunday's elections.

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USAID-Funded Freedom House Report Casts Leftist Latin American Governments as "Not Free"

The assessment is unsurprising given the U.S. history of pushing for regime change in leftist governments in Latin America. 

The Washington-based, USAID-funded research group Freedom House recently released its annual “Freedom in the World” report, which promoted a definition of "freedom" bent towards U.S. interests in the region. The report cast Venezuela and other left-wing Latin American governments as “not free,” while marveling at Brazil’s Michel Temer government, which ousted elected President Dilma Rousseff in a parliamentary coup last year.

RELATED: Venezuelans Remember Chavez's War Against Imperialism

“Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s combination of strong-arm rule and dire economic mismanagement pushed his country to a status of Not Free for the first time in 2016,” the organization warns in their report. Its assessment of the country, however, grossly overlooks that the opposition-controlled parliament has long attempted to, and prioritized, ousting Maduro through constitutionally dubious means.

Since the report was published, leaders have spoken out against the conclusion. Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez quelled the mainstream hysteria surrounding Venezuela, telling Deutsche Welle Tuesday that "there is democracy because there are three powers working.”

The Uruguayan president recalled that in that country "there is a functioning judicial power, a legislative power in operation (where the opposition is majority) and there is an executive branch with its president and vice president … this is the cold figure of the Venezuelan state."

While the report rebuked Maduro’s rule and other leftist governments in the region, such as Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia, it remained unconcerned with Brazil, ranking the country’s freedom with a high ranking of 79 in its 100-point ranking system.

“History may judge the impeachment itself. The process impeded government functions by absorbing executive and legislative attention for months, and it did little to resolve a broader corruption crisis,” they write of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. The report, however, made no mention of Temer regime’s criminalization of social movements, its 20-year freezing of social spending, and Temer’s history of corruption himself.

The assessment is unsurprising given the United States’ alignment with the Temer government and history of pushing for regime change in the leftist governments in the region.

While Freedom House claims to be an “independent watchdog organization,” it is financed through “grants from USAID (US Agency for International Development) and U.S. State Department.”

RELATED: Only Progressive Governments Attended CELAC Summit

As Venezuela Analysis reported, the NGO has conducted “democracy promotion” projects across the region, funded by USAID. Between 2012 and 2015, the organization received US$2,160,000 in grants for its activities in Venezuela alone.

In leaked U.S. State Department documents from 2006, U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield explicitly laid out U.S. objectives in the South American nation: “The strategy's focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez' Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital U.S. business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.”

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