Thursday, December 1, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Colombia Reports:  Colombia drops slightly in global corruption index.

Compared to countries like New Zealand (9.5), Denmark (9.4) and Finland (9.4) Colombia scored low in the annual index f Transparency International (TI), but within Latin America Colombia is the 5th least corrupt country after Chile (7.2), Uruguay (7), Costa Rica and Brazil.

A list of regional cases at the link.

Filed under: Colombia,Latin America | Comments Off|
Sunday, July 10, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Honduras Truth Commission rules Zelaya removal was coup

The Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded that the removal from office of former President Manuel Zelaya was a coup.


The Commission said Mr Zelaya broke the law when he disregarded the Supreme Court ruling ordering him to cancel the referendum.


The report said the Honduran Congress lacked a clear procedure to resolve power conflicts such as the one which arose in June 2024 between the president and Congress, but that it had acted beyond its limits by deposing the president.

The report further said that Congress overstepped its powers when it nominated Speaker of Congress Roberto Micheletti as interim president.

This pretty much sums up my conclusions on the situation at the time that 1) it was a coup (as I noted from the beginning), that 2) Zelaya acted illegally in refusing to stop the plebiscite (see discussion here and here), and that 3) the whole situation was made all the more problematic because of a lack of adequate institutional mechanisms to deal with Zelaya’s actions.

Now, it is worth noting that of the transgressions under discussion, the illegal removal of the president (and his exile) was by far the most egregious.

A major issue for the Honduran government ought to be constitutional reform to create a procedure for dealing with a president who ignores a court order as well as a functional impeachment process (as it stands, things are vague and dysfunctional).

Institutions, or the lack thereof, matter.

The Commission was appointed by the OAS and has no binding legal authority on the Honduran government.

Originally written for OTB.

Filed under: Latin America,OTB | Comments Off|
Sunday, June 26, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

(Originally written for OTB)

About a week ago I noticed the following headline, which I meant to blog but never go around to, via the AFP:  Colombia halves cocaine production capacity: US

Colombia’s capacity to produce cocaine fell by more than half in the past decade, according to the office of the US drug czar Thursday.

"There has been a sharp decrease in the amount of pure cocaine produced in Colombia… from an estimated 700 metric tons potential cocaine production in 2024 to 300 metric tons in 2024… a 57 percent drop," said a statement from the office of Gil Kerlikowske.

Colombian coca cultivation barely changed between 2024 and 2024 after major decreases in 2024 and 2024, it said. Colombia last year fumigated 101,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of coca and manually eradicated another 44,775.

Ninety-five percent of cocaine consumed in the United States comes from Colombia.

My immediate reaction was that we would soon find out at least one of the following:

1)  That cultivation would have grown in Peru and/or,

2)  That there was unaccounted migration of cultivation within Colombia (i.e., that the estimates were wrong because cultivators had found new places to grow within Colombia).

Well, what do I see a few minutes ago?

Via Bloomberg:    Peru Cocaine Output Rivals Colombia as World’s Largest, UN Says in Study

Peru’s production of coca, the plant used to make cocaine, has risen for a fifth straight year, putting pressure on incoming President Ollanta Humala to step up eradication efforts he has criticized.

A study by the United Nations published today shows that Peru now rivals Colombia as the world’s largest producer of cocaine after land dedicated to illegal coca production rose 2.2 percent to 61,200 hectares in 2024. Cultivation in Colombia, which receives $500 million a year in U.S. anti-narcotics aid, fell 15 percent to 62,000 hectares, according to the study based on satellite tracking by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

And so the cycle continues.  Back in the late 1990s the big triumph was the reduction of cultivation levels in Peru (which then led to a substantial increase in Colombia).  Now, just as the US and Colombian governments excitedly let us know that cultivation has diminished in Colombia we find that cultivation has shot up in Peru.

Speaking of patterns, the response from Washington will likely be a push for additional funds to be spent in Peru (lots of funds, in fact).  And then, in about a decade or so, I can write a post about how coca cultivation in down in Peru….and back up in Colombia.

The War on Drugs is the gift that keeps on giving, to be sure.

You can see the trend in the following graph, which tracks cultivation from 1987 to 2024.  Yes, it is a bit out of date, but it is one I had handy, plus the point I want to make requires looking at the 80s, 90s and early 2024s.  What we see is that Peru used to be the major source for coca leaf, but after increased pressure on that cultivation, it was eventually pushed in Colombia (note, too, that the general overall level of cultivation remained relatively steady in a given range).

As noted above, at the time the Drug Warriors proclaimed the effort in Peru a grand success.  Never mind that it had no significant effect on the overall cocaine market.


Filed under: Colombia,Latin America,OTB,War on Drugs | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

The normally loquacious Chávez has been almost silent since emergency surgery in Cuba on June 10th.

From me @OTB:  What’s up with Chávez?

Filed under: Latin America,OTB | Comments Off|
Tuesday, May 10, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Miami HeraldTop US Latin America Diplomat to leave post

In an email to staff members late Thursday, Arturo Valenzuela, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said he would be returning to his duties as professor of government at Georgetown University.

“As you may know the University gave me a two year leave of absence to serve in the Administration —and those two years have come to an end this spring,” he wrote in an email to staff, which was forwarded to The Miami Herald. “Although the exact date of my departure has not been set, it will take place sometime later this summer.”

I suspect that the experience has been rewarded (and frustrating), but I also suspect that life is a bit more enjoyable at Georgetown than it is at State.

Filed under: Academia,Latin America,US Politics | Comments Off|
Wednesday, May 4, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via Reuters:  Wal-Mart to Invest 1.2 billion Reais in Brazil This Year.

Brazil’s economy has been in good shape of late, and hence the investment:

Brazil’s economy grew 7.5 percent last year and may expand 4 percent in 2024, according to the quarterly inflation report published March 30 by Brazil’s central bank.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP:  Colombia capital’s mayor suspended

Colombia’s solicitor general has suspended Bogota’s mayor from office for three months for alleged negligence in overseeing public contracts.

The Mayor in question is Samuel Moreno Rojas of the Democratic Alternative Pole (PDA). 

This not been good times for the Moreno family:

The suspension of Mayor Samuel Moreno comes less than a week after his senator brother, Ivan, was arrested on influence-pedding charges. He is accused of soliciting payments from construction companies that won major municipal road-building contracts.

I have seen several stories on these events, but do not yet have full details.

I have a couple of impressions, such as that this can’t be good for the PDA’s party building efforts (and will likely help the Partido Verde in this year’s mayoral elections), but I need to collect some more information before launching forth on the topic).

Filed under: Colombia,Latin America | Comments Off|
Wednesday, April 20, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Fidel Castro at Cuba congress alongside Raul

It is the first time the two have appeared publicly together since Fidel, 84, handed over the presidency to Raul five years ago.

Congress also elected Raul, 79, to take over from Fidel as first secretary.

Communist Party stalwart Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, 80, was elected second secretary.

This was the first party congress held in 14 years.  Other highlights include:

the congress decided to allow Cubans to buy and sell their homes for the first time since the communist revolution in 1959.

For the past 50 years, Cubans have only been allowed to pass on homes to their children, or to swap them through a complicated and often corrupt system.


Raul Castro also told delegates that top political positions should be limited to two five-year terms, and promised "systematic rejuvenation" of the government.

He said the party leadership was in need of renewal and should subject itself to severe self-criticism.

We shall see how much severe self-criticism is deployed in the coming years.

Although I will say that when upper leadership is in its late 70s and early 80s, imposing two five-year terms shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish.

Filed under: Latin America | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  Chile to exhume former President Salvador Allende.

The question:  did Allende commit suicide on the day of the military coup of September 11, 1973 or was he murdered?

Filed under: Latin America | Comments Off|
Monday, April 18, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via CNN:  Government: Drug cartel leader ‘El Kilo’ caught in Mexico

Mexican authorities announced Saturday the arrest of a drug kingpin — nicknamed "El Kilo" — based in the country’s northeast and suspected of having links to the mass graves recently found in the region.

Security forces have captured Martin Omar Estrada Luna, who is a presumed leader of the Zetas drug cartel in San Fernando, a town in the border state of Tamaulipas, the government said in a statement.

Los Zetas are an especially nasty Mexican cartel founded by former members of Mexican special forces.

They are suspected in regards to a recently discovered series of mass graves.

Filed under: Latin America,War on Drugs | Comments Off|
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