Friday, March 27, 2015

Top Latin America Stories, March 27, 2015


There are a myriad of stories related to drugs in Latin America.

In Uruguay, the report, Regulación del Mercado de Marihuana. Evidencia desde Uruguay a las Américas (12pp), was presented this week (see power point) at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, according to a press release (3/25), La Red 21El Observador, and a wire report in Diario Las Americas. The English version of the report, Marijuana Legalization in Uruguay and Beyond was released at Florida International University in February.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had "sex parties" with prostitutes hired by drug cartels, presumably in Colombia, according to a Justice Department’s watchdog report (131 pp), and reported by many media including the Miami HeraldWashington Post and Politico.

"Hezbollah is among the terrorist organizations that are benefiting from the illegal drug trade in Latin America," said U.S. Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo (Southcom), at a Senate hearing on Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Central American Migration to the United States which was reported out in conservative website Breitbart.

Finally, former Colombian Pres. Pastrana (1998-2002) resurrected his accusation that former Peruvian Pres. Fujimori used money from a Brazilian drug trafficker to purchase Jordanian arms which were then given to the FARC in 1999, according to EFE. He made his comments at a conference in Lima, organized by the Fundación Internacional para la Libertad.  

  • The Human Rights Council will appoint a new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, according to the Electronic Frontier FoundationAmnesty, and Access Now (3/26).  This was in response to calls from civil society, and the leadership of Brazil and Germany and recognizes the need for "a long-lasting, singular authority to guide governments and companies on how to protect and respect privacy rights," according to one expert.
  • Political reform "has moved to the top of the regional agenda" in Latin America, according to The EconomistBrazil's dysfunctional "coalitional presidentialism" with 13 parties in parliament is a case in point - Pres. Rousseff heads a coalition of nine parties and "an absurd cabinet of 39 ministries to accommodate them." A forth-coming study recommends measures "to strengthen parties and to reform their financing to reduce corruption and influence-peddling." Separately, Francis Fukuyama asks, Why is Democracy Performing so Poorly, in a short essay (9pp) in the Journal of Democracy (Jan 2015). He argues that there is "little evidence that current donor and NGO efforts to promote good governance through increasing transparency and accountability have had a measurable impact on state performance."
  • An Argentine appellate court dismissed a criminal case against Pres. Kirchner that accused her of conspiring to hide Iranian officials’ involvement in a bombing here in 1994, according to the NY Times and the Christian Science Monitor (3/26). The Times says the case was "thrown out" because evidence presented by the late Alberto Nisman "was too flimsy to open an investigation." Still, it was not a unanimous ruling as one of the three judges voted in favor of pursuing Mr. Nisman’s allegations suggesting that the controversy may not recede quickly.
  • The upcoming Summit of the Americas will include the Vatican, though they denied this was "an attempt to smooth over the tensions between Venezuela and the U.S.," according to the Associated Press (3/26).  Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, will attend next month's event.  Parolin was as the Holy See's ambassador to Venezuela until 2013. Separately, the Summit's civil-society events will include Cuban dissidents, including blogger Yoani Sánchez, according to the Miami Herald.
  • Farmworkers in Mexico's Baja California marched "in a peaceful but angry show of force after growers refused to meet their demands to boost wages," according to the LA Times (3/26).
  • China and the Group of 77 have added their names to opposing Obama's executive decree on Venezuela, according to El Universal (3/26). 

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