US Officials Must Keep Their Eyes on the Prize in Cuba

Nothing Less: Free Elections, Accountability for Murdered Activists

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson made a historic visit to Cuba, but serious doubts about real democracy and stability on the island remain.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson made an historic visit to Cuba, but serious doubts remain regarding any prospect for democracy and stability on the island. (OAS)

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At the time of writing, I’ve been in Washington, DC, for 12 hours: just enough to accept Senator Marco Rubio’s kind invitation to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech with him.

It’s winter here, but dusk saw a warm glow fall on the nation’s capital. In Capitol Hill I had the chance to speak with several Democrat and Republican legislators on Cuban affairs. I told them two points, in particular, which continue to be crucial when weighing up the developing talks between the United States and Cuba.

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Why We Can Break the Grip of Latin America’s Incumbents

Commodity Revenues Are Drying Up, and So Must Vote Buying

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On January 22, 2016, Evo Morales began his third consecutive term as Bolivian president, set to govern until the year 2020. Meanwhile, on March 1, Tabaré Vázquez will return to power in Uruguay, after having left office only five years ago.

In addition, Dilma Roussef was recently reelected in Brazil; likewise was Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, Cristina Fernández in Argentina, and Michelle Bachelet in Chile. That means almost half of the presidents who will preside this year — and more than half in South America — have already served as president.

El "caudillismo" no ha muerto en Latinoamérica, pero adopta ahora ropajes "democráticos" (Flickr)

Ecuador’s Rafael Correa (center) and Bolivia’s Evo Morales (right) are two of the many Latin-American presidents who have marched on to reelection. (Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry)

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The Nisman Trilogy: Justice Can Still Be Served

A Fearless Prosecutor, a Glimmer of Hope for Argentina

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By Gustavo D. Perednik

Editor’s note: this article was written before the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

In my book, To Kill Without A Trace (2009), I tried to underline the significance of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, whose life’s work will deserve a chapter in Argentina’s history books.

Surrounded by the resented, mediocre, and deluded; pitted against the apathetic, reactionary, and cynical, Nisman has once again helped the truth prevail over the vacuous insults and attempts to discredit him.

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After so much skepticism and defeatism regarding justice ever being served, with Nisman’s latest accusation there’s renewed hope for the future of a fair and free Argentinean society. (Prensa Islámica)

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Terrorists Rule the Roost in Guatemala

Murderous Fanatics: Condemned in Paris, Sponsored Here

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The new year began with plenty of unpleasant news. Two major events, similar in theme, demanded attention worldwide.

The judicial process against Guatemala’s General Efraín Ríos Montt and José Rodríguez Sánchez, both accused of genocide, restarted on January 5. Then, two days later on January 7 in Paris, three gunmen affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked the office of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, previously unknown to most of the world’s population, and a Jewish shop in the suburbs of the French capital. Seventeen people were killed, including the journalists, policemen and the hostages of the store.

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All We Are Saying: Give ZEDEs a Chance

Don't Listen to the New Republic: Honduras Needs Rational Debate, New Solutions

La Isla de Amapala en el sur de Honduras ha sido objeto de constantes rumores sobre la creación de una ZEDE. (Flickr)

The fishing village of Amapala on Honduras’s Pacific coast is to be the site of a new free trade port. (Flickr)

EspañolThe first I heard of Honduras’s plans to create Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDEs) didn’t bode well. I was on my way to work, when I heard the following question on the radio:

“How do you feel about Honduras being sold, piece by piece?”

At first, I thought it was a joke. But this was the information, or rather the opinion, being circulated in local press when talks on the issue first began in 2011. At that time, ZEDEs were known as Regions for Special Development, but the vision has remained the same, if details have changed. Honduras is set to host designated areas under distinct regulatory and fiscal frameworks, designed to compete for outside investment.

Despite my original staunch opposition to the creation of ZEDEs in national territory, I’m now inclined to give them a chance. They could prove to be extremely positive, and kick-start a wider change across the country. What successive administrations have tried thus far to end economic and societal failure has failed to work altogether. ZEDEs could help to change all that.

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Chavista Sympathizers: Why Not Come Join Us?

While Venezuelans Suffer, International Loyalists Turn a Blind Eye

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“A big oil producer unable to pay its bills during a protracted oil-price boom is a rare beast,” began a feature piece in the Economist on September 20, 2014, amid worries that Venezuela may enter a default. This article, however, won’t dwell on Venezuela’s economic outlook, but rather on the rare beast’s critical situation due to a perverse and utterly failed system.

Por no ahorrar durante los años de "vacas gordas" Venezuela no está preparada hoy para la caída de los precios petroleros (Flickr)

Since Venezuela didn’t save up during the good years, now with low oil prices it’s struggling to keep afloat. (Flickr)

The problem with stories told from only one perspective is not that they’re false, but rather that they lack the other side. One can only be amazed by articles, such as the recent one in CounterPunch, that call for solidarity with the Venezuelan government, while they portray those in power as crusaders for equality. Even more amazing is their ridiculous anti-imperialist babble.

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Myths of Cuban Socialism: Part III

Cuban Doctors Are Money-Making Machines for Castro Regime

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Editor’s note: Read the first and second part of this series by the same author.

Médicos cubanos de la Misión Barrio Adentro en Venezuela. La medicina es un negocio más que lucrativo para los Castro.

Cuban doctors on at a mission in Venezuela: another lucrative business for the Castro regime. (Flickr)

In the previous instalments of this series, we analyzed various aspects of dysfunctional Cuban socialism (although dysfunction is the rule rather than the exception when it comes to socialism). We demystified the manipulative concepts used by the Castro regime, such as the false idea of the “Revolution” and the misinformation spread about the genuine causes of the US economic embargo of the island. We concluded that the famous Cuban education system is nothing more than a vile process of indoctrination of children and young people, typical of any totalitarian regime.

The field of medicine is another key area in which the illegitimate government of the Castro brothers has deceived the world. Progressives worldwide praise to the heavens the “achievements” of Cuban medicine, the “quality” of its doctors and the “disinterested aid” that the Cuba gives underdeveloped countries though sending specialists to combat illnesses. But these three claims are as false and deceitful as any propaganda that comes out of Havana’s Palace of the Revolution.

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Pope Francis, Freedom Is My Religion

Violence is the Limit to Speech, Not Offense

EspañolOn Thursday, January 15, the Catholic Church’s highest authority commented on the Paris terrorist attacks. Pope Francis said that while freedom of speech is a “fundamental human right,” it should have its limits and not be used to offend. He added: “You cannot provoke people, or insult other people’s faith. You can’t make fun of someone’s faith. You just can’t.”

Pope Francis's comments on the Paris terrorist attack ignore the Bible's commandment to "turn the other cheek."

Pope Francis’s comments on the Paris terrorist attack ignore the Bible’s commandment to “turn the other cheek.” (Taringa)

Moreover, he said “it is true one cannot react violently,” but that it’s “normal” for people to react to certain provocations. He even gave an example: “If Dr. Gasbarri [Vatican official in charge of the pope’s travels], a great friend of mine, curses my mother, he should expect a punch. It’s normal!” the pope exclaimed, apparently without realizing what he’d just said.

I don’t quite agree with the pope’s statements. Truth is, an ideal society where no one is ever offended does not exist, and will never exist. A perfect society can’t exist because humans aren’t perfect.

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Timeline: The Events Leading to Alberto Nisman’s Death

Prosecutor Foresaw Grave Consequences of Pursuing Alleged Cover-Up

El fiscal fallecido tenía 51 años y dos hijas adolescentes. No dejó nota de suicidio (lanacion.com)

Nisman, 51, is survived by two teenage daughters. No suicide note has been found. (lanacion.com)

EspañolA lawyer by profession, prosecutor Alberto Nisman was 51 years old. He was divorced and had two teenage daughters. He was a specialist in international terrorism, narcotrafficking, money laundering, state corruption, and weapons smuggling. Alongside his work heading up the special commission investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA center, he was a university professor in Buenos Aires and Belgrade.

Nisman was a close associate of the late President Néstor Kirchner during his 2003-07 term in office. However, he began to fear for his life when he became a thorn in the state’s side, as he demanded an investigation into the role of current President Cristina Kirchner in covering up those responsible for the terrorist attack that claimed 85 lives.

“Prepare yourself for the worst. They’re going to say anything and everything about me on the radio and television,” he told his eldest daughter, days before he issued a public call for Kirchner to be investigated. Nisman was born in a middle-class home, and from his student days excelled in his discipline. He took courses in Hindu-based meditation after a back injury prohibited him from physical exercise.

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Québec offre des opportunités pour les travailleuses du sexe

Projet de réintégration dans un climat de respect et de non-jugement ainsi que la formation et le respect de la condition humaine

79 % des travailleuses du sexe aimeraient participer à un projet de réinsertion, alliant formation et emploi. Mais, la volonté ne suffit pas, pour changer de vie, elles ont besoin de soutien et d’aide pour combler leurs besoins de base et régler leurs problèmes psychosociaux.

Ce pourcentage élevé montre la volonté des travailleurs du sexe pour transformer leur vie; cependant, besoin d’aide pour couvrir les besoins de base et de résoudre de nombreux problèmes psychosociaux.

Le rapport « Profil socioprofessionnel et portrait des besoins en employabilité de travailleuses du sexe (TDS) à Québec », une enquête sur le terrain a été réalisé en partenariat par Emploi-Québec et le Projet L.U.N.E. (pour libres, unies, nuancées et ensemble, un groupe de défense des droits sociaux par et pour des travailleuses du sexe, actives ou non, qui agissent à titre de paires-aidantes).

Projet L.U.N.E. (pour libres, unies, nuancées et ensemble)

Projet L.U.N.E. (pour libres, unies, nuancées et ensemble)

Sans surprise, le rapport indique que les participants ont un grand besoin de soutien, avant de penser à rejoindre le marché du travail.

L’enquête montre également des conclusions réelles, particulièrement au niveau du potentiel des travailleuses du sexe. «Elles possèdent énormément de capacités et de potentiel. Il est possible de croire à leur inclusion.

Cela dit, ce processus peut en être un à long terme et il faut s’adapter aux rythmes des travailleuses du sexe, dans le respect de leurs volontés, de leurs forces et de leurs limites, car les réalités de chacune sont multiples et complexes», peut-on lire dans le rapport. [Read more…]