Monthly Archives: May 2013

FP – Chávez propagandist in leaked recording: ‘We are in a sea of shit, my friend’

Posted By Elias Groll  Monday, May 20, 2013 – 6:08 PM

The Venezuelan opposition on Monday released a recording of what it says is a conversation between Mario Silva, a prominent Venezuelan television host and a favorite of the late Hugo Chávez, and a Cuban intelligence officer, in which Silva details a feud within the government between Chávez loyalists and Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Assembly.

In the conversation with Aramis Palacios, a lieutenant colonel in the G2, the Cuban intelligence agency, Silva, the host of the state television program “La Hojilla,” describes a government deeply divided against itself, with rival factions competing for power amid rampant corruption.

The conversation was allegedly recorded for the benefit of Cuban President Raúl Castro, but its authenticity has not been independently verified. Writing on Twitter, Silva dismissed the recording as a Zionist plot.

Assuming that’s not the case, set against the backdrop of the recent highly contested presidential election and Chávez’s death, Silva sketches a portrait of a government in turmoil marred by high-level corruption, shares rumors of a coup d’état against President Nicolás Maduro, and says he fears that Maduro is being manipulated by his wife. Additionally, according to Silva, on election day the Venezuelan National Electoral Council was the victim of a cyberattack that brought down its security protocol for at least an hour, an allegation that would seem to further call into question the integrity of the vote.

The full audio (a transcript, in Spanish, is here).

Prior to being selected by Chávez as his heir apparent, Maduro engaged in a bitter power struggle with Cabello, and if Silva’s account is correct, a great deal of tension remains between the two men. At one point, Silva, who might be described as the country’s de facto propaganda minister, says that “Maduro is obligated to follow the path of el Comandante and is obligated to put Diosdado Cabello against the wall,” a statement that is difficult to read as anything other than a suggestion to put Cabello before a firing squad.

But it’s not entirely clear that Silva trusts Maduro either. “I am afraid, Palacios, that Nicolás … is feeling manipulated by Cilia [his wife],” Silva tells the Cuban officer. “This is a continent of caudillos[strongmen], my friend, and the woman has to stay in the shade.” Silva then compares Maduro’s tendency to appear in public alongside his wife and to kiss her to the worst tendencies of an American poltician. “This isn’t a North American campaign,” he says. “This is a Latin American campaign.” Elsewhere in the conversation, Silva wonders why Chávez didn’t make a tape recording of his decision to anoint Maduro as his successor.

Although Chávez used the armed forces to consolidate his power, according to Silva, the army is now divided, with some factions in favor of staging a coup. According to Silva, Maduro has managed to alienate Diego Molero, the country’s defense minister, whom Silva describes as an “operator” and a “commando.” The strained relationship resulted in rumors circulating in Caracas that Molero was about to launch a coup attempt, leading Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, to dispatch Silva via intermediaries to find out if the rumours were true. They were not.

But for the man charged with selling the idea of the Bolivarian Revolution to the Venezuelan people, Silva speaks like a man who has become disillusioned with what has become of the government. He describes rampant corruption and officials dipping into public funds for their personal benefit. “We are in a sea of shit, my friend, and we have not yet realized it, Palacios,” Silva says.

Despite the explosive nature of the conversation between Silva and Palacios — never mind the crazy fact that he is having in-depth conversations with Cuban intelligence agents in the first place — it is far from clear what repercussions this recording will have on the ground in Venezuela.Writing at Caracas Chronicles, Juan Nagel makes a compelling case that this recording may strip some of the revolutionary veneer off Maduro:

The important thing to keep in mind is that we are not the target audience for this recording.


Yes, we all knew that Cabello was a crook, Maduro a nincompoop, Silva a marxist Cuban mole, Rangel an evil power broker, and Flores a scheming Lady Macbeth. But the important thing is that rank-and-file chavistas … didn’t. Up until now, they have been immune from these facts because of the messenger.

Either way, take a moment to revel in the sweet irony of the fact that Chávez’s favorite propagandist is now responsible for providing the most stinging critique to date of the Maduro government.

Find original article here.


Bolivia’s electoral law: the slippery slope into the Chávez’s path

BBC – Bolivia: New law backs President Evo Morales third term

Bolivia has passed a controversial law which paves the way for President Evo Morales to be elected for a third time.

The Bolivian constitution states that presidents can only serve two terms.

But Bolivia’s highest court ruled last month that, because the constitution was changed during Mr Morales’ first four years, that term did not count.

Opposition politicians say that the law is unconstitutional and that they will try to get it overturned.

The law was signed by Bolivia’s Vice President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, as Mr Morales is out of the country.

“He has the constitutional right to choose to be re-elected,” Mr Garcia Linera said in Bolivia’s main city, La Paz.

Mr Morales became Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006.

He was re-elected by a landslide in 2009, after changing the constitution.

But the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, ruled in April that the two-term constitutional rule did not apply to Mr Morales’ initial term because it had taken place before the new constitution came into effect.

Opposition politicians have however pointed out that, under the previous constitution, only one re-election was allowed as well.

Mr Morales still enjoys strong support among poor and indigenous Bolivians.

New elections are due next year, but the president has not said whether he intends to run again.

Political analyst Maria Teresa Zegada told El Pais newspaper that “it is clear that the will of the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism, Bolivia’s governing party) is to remain in power and opt for the re-election of Evo Morales”.

The president’s critics have accused him of using the courts to hold onto power indefinitely.

AS/CA – Brazil Wins Leadership of the World Trade Organization

Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo has been chosen over Mexican candidate Herminio Blanco as the newest director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 7. El Palenque, AnimalPolitico’s debate forum for experts, discusses the effects this win will have on Mexican diplomacy, Brazil’s role in trade liberalization, and the prominence of the BRICS on the world stage. Azevêdo will be the first Latin American to head the WTO.

Find original article here.

In Sight Crime – MS-13 Use of Guns in Guatemala Shows Modus Operandi

Forensic analysis has revealed that the MS-13 gang inGuatemala used 32 guns to allegedly commit 238 murders, offering insight into the gang’s modus operandi and highlighting some of the difficulties of tackling organized crime with gun control.

Members of Guatemala’s National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif) used the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (Ibis) to identify 1,133 guns that had been used in multiple crimes, reported Prensa Libre.

Of those weapons, prosecutors linked 32 to murders they believe were committed by the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) due to the style of execution and the relationship of the MS-13 to the victims — who prosecutors say were all members of rival gangs, prison guards, or victims of robbery or extortion.

Prosecutors will use the weapons as evidence in the case they are preparing against eight MS-13 leaders, who they accuse of ordering the hits.

According to Inacif, pistols were by far the most common weapon used to commit crime and 85 percent of those pistols were stolen from the National Police and law enforcement agents.

InSight Crime Analysis

In Guatemala, the street gangs known as Maras — principally the MS-13 and their Barrio 18 rivals — operate in small cells known as “clicas” (cliques), which have between 10 – 50 gang members. As the forensic analysis suggests, instead of all members of a clique being armed, the group will have a small number of weapons, which are stored in a secret place where only members can access them and use as needed. In some cases there could be as few as one “murder” weapon used by an entire clique.

There are over one million unregistered guns in Guatemala. The fact that so few of them are used in organized crime shows how difficult it will be to limit the activities of street gangs through gun regulation. What’s more, many of these weapons were stolen — or possibly bought, as happens elsewhere in the region — from the security forces, illustrating the challenge of controlling the gangs’ access to weapons.

Find original article here.

In Sight Crime – Venezuela to Use Military to Fight Crime

Venezuela will deploy the military to fight crime, a move that will likely increase concerns over the depth of corruption in the armed forces and the possibility that human rights could be compromised in the name of citizen security.

Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez announced that the army, navy, and air force would join National Guard troops in a new security initiative, reported The Associated Press. Rodriguez described the military as an “important tool that will bring peace to citizens” and would allow the public to “feel safe in the streets,” although he did not provide further details on how, exactly, the armed forces would be deployed.

Activist Rafael Uzcategui, a representative from human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) PROVEA, was critical of the announcement, stating that the military is not trained in fighting crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

In late April, Minister Rodriguez said that he would soon announce a series of new measures meant to tackle insecurity in Venezuela, now one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with murders in the first four months of the year reaching an average of 58 per day.

Turning to the military to help fight crime is a common phenomenon in Latin America. Under former President Felipe Calderon, Mexico made great use of its armed forces in taking down high-value criminal targets. Other countries have turned to the military in order to make up for a corrupt and under-trained police force. However, there are valid concerns that the armed forces are more inclined to use heavy-handed tactics at the expense of human rights, something clearly seen in Mexico, where the armed forces have been documented engaging in a wide range of abuses, including torture and disappearances.

There is also the issue of deploying a military plagued with corruption issues as a crime-fighting force. In Venezuela, the very highest levels of military command have been accused of complicity with organized crime.

Click here for original article.

MercoPress – Brazil and Argentina agree to jointly build two nuclear research reactors

Friday, May 10th 2013

Atomic power agencies from Brazil and Argentina signed an agreement to build two nuclear reactors for research and production of radioisotopes, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT).

The agreement, signed by the Brazilian National Commission for Nuclear Energy (CNEN) and the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA), is centred on the construction of two reactors: the Brazilian Multipurpose Research Reactor (RMB) and the RA-10 in Argentina, said a spokesman from the MCT.

The action meets the Bilateral Integration and Coordination Mechanism, established in the Joint Declaration of 2008 and signed by President Cristina Fernandez and Brazil’s former president Lula Da Silva, said the source.

To carry out the project, both sides created the Bi-National Commission on Nuclear Energy (COBEN) which will be in charge of the construction of both reactors.

The atomic agencies of the two countries have closely collaborated since 2008. Argentina provides Brazil 30% of the Molybdenum 99 (Mo99) radioisotopes which are indispensable in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Since 2011 both countries agreed to move forward on greater integration, and carry out a joint project to develop multipurpose reactors, demonstrating the mutual interest in increasing the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Both reactors, once manufactured and functioning, will have a total capacity to cover 40% of the world radioisotope market. At present only France, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Argentina have the technology to produce radioisotopes.

Más de 50 drones ya vuelan en Colombia

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Hacen seguimientos a grupos armados ilegales en las selvas. No tienen ninguna clase de artillería.

El general Tito Saúl Pinilla, comandante de la Fuerza Aérea (FAC), reveló uno de los secretos hasta ahora mejor guardados de las Fuerzas Militares: el país cuenta con más de 50 aviones no tripulados, también conocidos como drones.
Esta flota ya está siguiendo a la guerrilla y a otros grupos ilegales en las selvas, vigilando fronteras y con la mira en las amenazas de la infraestructura minera y petrolera.

Este jueves, EL TIEMPO reveló fotos de los modelos Scan Eagle, que la FAC compró a la Boeing Co.
Estos aviones son usados por EE. UU. en las guerras de Irak y Afganistán, donde han jugado un papel clave en la inteligencia a las redes de Al Qaeda.Aunque los que están en el país no tienen ninguna clase de artillería, en Medio Oriente sí han participado en bombardeos.

Los ART de la Fuerza Aérea tienen una autonomía de vuelo de más de 10 horas y la cámara que tiene incorporada realiza videos y fotos en alta definición, incluso de noche.

Estos drones vienen realizando operaciones desde hace más de un año, especialmente en la serranía de La Macarena, en Orito (Putumayo) la región del Catatumbo y Saravena (Arauca), todos territorios de alto conflicto.

Mientras tanto, universidades y las Fuerzas Armadas avanzan en la construcción de un avión no tripulado criollo. Lo que sí es tecnología local es un simulador de vuelo para los ART. Lo crearon en tres meses, en el sector de El Buque, en Villavicencio, y fue entregado este jueves en la noche.

“Se trata de un trabajo ciento por ciento colombiano”, dijo el general (r) Jorge Humberto González Ruiz, director de la Corporación de Alta Tecnología para la Defensa.

Lo que sigue siendo un misterio es el número de drones que tiene el Ejército.

Reciben simulador de vuelo
fue entregado al mindefensa en Villavicencio

En la noche de este jueves, en la base aérea de Apiay, en Villavicencio, el ministro de Defensa, Juan Carlos Pinzón, recibió el simulador para hacer volar aviones no tripulados.

En ese aparato, que apenas tiene 2 metros de alto por 3 metros de largo, y un software, una palanca y un control remoto, los pilotos pueden aprender a manejar esos aviones como si estuvieran en una cabina desde tierra.