China and the United States are also encountering a more confident and more unified Latin America. It is a region that has sought autonomy in its own affairs by way of rising blocs such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, MERCOSUR, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), among others. Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, also seeks a prominent role the region with large investments in research and development and the introduction of social programs to revamp the middle class.
Over the past five years, Chinese businesses have been expanding their footprint in Latin America in a number of ways, beginning with enhanced trade to ensure a steady supply of bulk commodities such as oil, copper and soybeans. At this year’s Boao Forum for Asia, for the first time a Latin American sub-forum was created that included the participation of several heads of state from the region.
Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System
Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro
Iran agreed with Venezuela on Monday to build some oil reservoirs and refineries in the Latin American country, semi-official Fars News Agency reported.
Iran has inked agreements with Venezuela to invest 200 million U.S. dollars in building four reservoirs for storing oil products. In addition, Iran will design and construct some small refineries in Venezuela, Fars News Agency said.
The ‘School of the Americas’ (SOA) occupies a very dark place in Latin American history.
The U.S. military academy, based in Fort Benning, Georgia, has been training Latin American soldiers for well over half a century. More than 64,000 have passed through its doors, a significant number of which have been accused and convicted of human rights abuses. It has educated 11 dictators, including Panama’s former drug-dealing strongman, Manuel Noriega, and El Salvador’s Roberto D’Aubuisson, who controlled that country’s infamous death squads.
The United States urged African nations to pool their air force assets in a NATO-style effort to take on terrorists and international criminals rather than struggle to fund costly independent operations.
Many African air forces are small components of the national military and Washington, concerned about Africa-based al Qaeda agents, traffickers and illegal fishing, wants to help improve cooperation across the continent.
General Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. Air Forces, Europe, told African air chiefs meeting in Senegal the situation meant any one nation would struggle to tackle groups operating across borders.
Monday marks a significant anniversary in recent economic history for it was on this day in 1982 that Mexico announced a moratorium on its international debts. The default marked the start of what became known as the third world debt crisis.
Three decades later that crisis is now the first world debt crisis. For Mexico read Greece. For American, British and Japanese banks recycling the 1970s windfall profits of oil producers to sub-prime Latin American governments read US and European banks pumping out cheap credit to sub-prime mortgage holders.
A year ago this month, Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated the College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) with a speech in which he called for the expulsion of U.S. intelligence agencies, a new military doctrine based on “asymmetrical war” against “imperialism” and the “abolition” of the U.N. Security Council. He also attacked the press, calling CNN a “tool of capitalism”,
ALBA is a Venezuelan-led association of anti-U.S. governments which also includes Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and some Caribbean island states dependent on Venezuelan oil subsidies. The fledgling alliance has been given little importance by U.S. intelligence analysts, who tend to dismiss it as a purely ideological entity.
Argentina is intensifying its campaign to block oil development in the Falkland Islands, announcing on Thursday it will pursue “administrative, civil and criminal” penalties against the dozens of companies involved.
“We are going to defend the resources of the South Atlantic, which are the property of all the Argentines,” Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said at a news conference. He said that includes any oil found off the shores of the islands they call the Malvinas, which have been controlled by Britain since 1833.
Illinois’ financial problems are forcing it to choose between its pensions and its teeth.
Governor Pat Quinn says the state needs to face its “rendezvous with reality” and tackle its dysfunctional budget habits. Top of the list, Mr Quinn says, is to slash spending on Medicaid, a federal programme that provides healthcare to poor Americans.
To save a system he says is “on the brink of collapse”, Mr Quinn proposes cutting $2.7bn from Illinois’ $11.5bn Medicaid bill. Few would dispute that the state needs to change its behaviour.
Bangladesh’s Men in Black
Image has always been an integral part of the RAB setup. They are quick to stress the “elite” part of “elite paramilitary force.” RAB’s members are drawn from the army, navy, air force, police force and border guards.
“We only consider the best from them, and we only pick the very best of the best,” said Sohail.
RAB takes this Men in Black ethos literally. They are an intimidating and visually striking sight, men and women patrolling the streets of Dhaka armed with assault rifles while dressed in all-black from the boots up to the bandanas and of course, sunglasses.
What if they threw a giant party for the Americas and didn’t invite the United States or Canada? That’s what Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is doing with a two-day, 33-nation summit starting Friday, welcoming nations from Brazil to Jamaica in what he hopes will be a grand alliance to counter U.S. influence.
Many presidents have less sweeping goals in mind, seeing the new Community of Latin American and Caribbean States mainly as a forum for resolving regional conflicts, building closer ties and promoting economic development.
Yet the bloc’s creation is also a sign that for many countries, the United States is no longer seen as an essential diplomatic player in regional affairs.
The Russian official arms trader carries on its aggressive marketing campaign on the Latin American weapon market, which it considers as one of the most promising and important for Russia, especially following the significant rise of Russian weapon supplies to the region over the past few years.
Unlike many other weapon suppliers Rosoboronexport does not offer only ready-made pieces of military hardware to its Latin American partners, but also a wide range of after sale services, repairs, component supplies, upgrades, armor reinforcement and license production in the form of direct or indirect offset agreements, including with technology transfer.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a research arm of the US intelligence community, is sponsoring the work under the Open Source Indicators (OSI) programme. The three-year project, with an unspecified budget, is designed to gather digital data from a range of sources, from traffic webcams to television to Twitter. The goal, according to IARPA, is to provide the intelligence community with predictions of social and political events that can “beat the news”.
Initially, the OSI project will focus on Latin America, which has abundant publicly available data and offers a convenient test bed for researchers’ models.