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Monday, April 18, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

35

365.106 (4/16/11)

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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|
Friday, April 15, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB:

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Thursday, April 14, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

From me @OTB:

Filed under: OTB,US Politics | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

L Turn

365.93 alt

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

A couple of days late on my part, but here are the results from the first round in Peru’s presidential elections:

image

The second round presents and interesting choice for Peruvian voters:  Gana Peru’s Ollanta Humala, who was the second place finisher in 2006 and Fuerza 2011’s Keiko Fujimori.

Humala fits into the neo-populist, vaguely (or, at least, somewhat ill-defined) leftward space pioneered by Hugo Chávez and also occupied at the moment by such figures as Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.  However, as the BBC notes (Peru election: Humala, Fujimori court moderate voters), Peru is going through an economic upswing and Humala is apparently promising to cleave more to the Brazilian model than the Venezuelan (with which he identified more in his 2006 campaign).

Meanwhile, Fujimori is the daughter of an ex-president now in prison having been convicted of corruption and complicity in human rights abuses (including death squad killings).  This, one would think, would be a negative.  By the same token, there are many in Peru who still see the father as having saved the country from Sendero Luminoso.

As I said:  an interesting choice.

The run-off will be June 5.

Source for graphic:  ONPE.

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

So reports the BBC:  Ingrid Betancourt’s ‘kidnapper’ killed in combat.

Military officials said seven Farc members had died in combat in the southern province of Caqueta.

Among them was "Diomedez", wanted for allegedly taking part in the 2002 kidnapping of Mrs Betancourt.

The FARC continues to suffer numerous setbacks—a pattern that started in 2007.

Filed under: Colombia | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC:  No Farc in Venezuela, says Colombian President Santos

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says Venezuela is no longer harbouring Colombian left-wing rebels.

Accusations by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that Venezuela was giving refuge to Farc guerrillas led to a break-down in relations between the two neighbours last year.

President Santos also praised Venezuela for handing over two alleged rebels from another left-wing group on Monday.

This pronouncement was met with skepticism by former president Alvaro Uribe:

In three tweets sent from his Twitter account and tagged "terrorist hideaway", Mr Uribe asked where a number of Farc rebels were – implying they were in Venezuela.

My first reaction to this was that there was something amusing about Uribe tweeting his discontent, especially if one is familiar with Uribe’s time in office.  He doesn’t strike me, at least not from a distance, as someone who would be happy being reduced to tweeting—especially on this topic, as he was quite strident in his views on Venezuela.

My second reaction was bravo for democracy:  this is as it should be, i.e., once one’s term is done, one ought to recede to the background, even if one was the most popular president in modern Colombian history.

BTW, I never thought that there was rampant FARC activity in Venezuela, but also would hardly be surprised if there were members of the group taking advantage of the frontier still.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the Sacramento BeeCocaine lab in Honduras alarms anti-drug officials

The jungle complex was the first large drug-processing laboratory found north of South America’s Andean region, and it signals a major change in the cocaine business. Traditionally, the industry has processed leaves from the coca plant in hidden labs in Colombia, then shipped the cocaine to North America and Europe.

Now, however, some traffickers are shipping semi-refined coca paste, or cocaine base, to Honduras, where it goes through the final processing into white powder, police officials believe.

[…]

Counter-drug officials offered several possible motives for why traffickers would shift processing northward to Central America, including a Colombian crackdown on so-called precursor chemicals, the ingredients needed to turn coca leaves into cocaine powder.

Basically, this is the balloon effect for processing.   If the authorities are going to make it difficult for the traffickers to obtain chemical in one place, they will simply shift the process elsewhere.

Filed under: Latin America,War on Drugs | Comments Off|
Monday, April 11, 2011
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP:  US: FARC and Taliban are among largest drug trafficking organizations in the world

Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield said drug-trafficking organizations have aligned with political and ideological movements in recent decades.

He cited the followers of Osama bin Laden and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as examples. Brownfield said that although the two groups don’t exist for drug trafficking, it can no longer be considered separate from their political and ideological goals.

And the reason for this is quite simple:  drugs, especially with black market prices in place, are an excellent way to fund armed groups.

Filed under: War on Drugs | Comments Off|
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