Interamerican Watch Newsletter – Issue 60

Interamerican Watch Newsletter

Inter-American Watch

Monday, February 21st, 2022

The Americas

Former dictators, Latin America public officers and drug traffickers: the names in the Credit Suisse bank account leak

Switzerland’s draconian banking secrecy laws have made it nearly impossible for other government or journalists to hold the industry to account. Until now. OCCRP obtained leaked records on more than 18,000 Credit Suisse accounts, the largest leak ever from a major Swiss bank.
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project: https://www.occrp.org/en/suisse-secrets/

Black gold in Swiss vaults: Venezuelan Elites hid stolen oil money in Credit Suisse

More than two dozen Venezuelans linked to four corruption schemes in the state oil company, PDVSA, amassed assets worth at least $273 million in 25 accounts. Nearly all of them were opened between 2004 and 2015, when billions of dollars were embezzled from PDVSA, including for people who had already been publicly implicated in corruption schemes.
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project: https://www.occrp.org/en/suisse-secrets/

Russian Presence in Venezuela Reaches Colombian Border

In Colombia’s Arauca department, on the border with Venezuela, not only are armed groups waging a merciless battle under the protection of the Nicolás Maduro regime, but on the Venezuelan side, Russian service members are spying on Colombia, says Border Wars, a new investigative video series of the national security think tank Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS).
Diálogo Américas: https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/russian-presence-in-venezuela-reaches-colombian-border/?amp=1

What Bolsonaro’s huddle with Putin says about BRICS

Founded in a bygone geopolitical era, the economic grouping complicates great-power competition today.
Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/02/18/bolsonaro-putin-brazil-russia-ukraine-brics-lula/

Man admits role in NJ/NY network that laundered $27 millions for Central and South American cartels

The takedown of a New Jersey and New York network that laundered more than $27 million for Central and South American drug cartels has produced another guilty plea, federal authorities announced.
Daily Voice: https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/southpassaic/news/man-admits-role-in-njny-network-that-laundered-27m-for-international-drug-cartels/826356/

Bolivia

International hit against Brazilian narcos shipping Bolivian cocaine to the EU

Authorities from the US, Brazil, Spain and Paraguay discovered a production infrastructure based in Bolivia with logistical and supply lines in Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The investigation also uncovered the command and control centers of the organization in Dubai. The members of the network used encrypted communications to coordinate their criminal activities.
https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/international-hit-against-brazilian-narcos-shipping-bolivian-cocaine-to-the-eu/

Drug trafficking in Bolivia, a “stain’ on the uniform

There are five cases of former police chiefs involved in drug trafficking that have caused great controversy in recent years: René Sanabria, Maximiliano Dávila, Omar Rojas, Óscar Nina and Gonzalo Medina.
Opinion.com: https://www.opinion.com.bo/articulo/escena-del-crimen/trafico-drogas-bolivia-mancha-uniforme/20220219202904856011.html

Pakistanis settled in Chile control the sale of ‘grey’ vehicles in Bolivia

They operate from Iquique and offer options to underbill or lower the nominal price of motorized vehicles. They buy in Dubai, Oman and the United Arab Emirates with an “extra commission” that they recover when they finally do business with the country.
El Deber, in Spanish: https://eldeber.com.bo/pais/pakistanies-asentados-en-chile-controlan-la-venta-de-vehiculos-grises-en-bolivia_268116

Bishops of Bolivia demand a judicial system that “return trust” to the people

The bishops of Bolivia have raised their voices to demand a “suitable and impartial” judicial system that restores confidence and hope to so many people who are victims of the delay and manipulation of justice.
Vida Nueva: https://www.vidanuevadigital.com/2022/02/21/los-obispos-de-bolivia-demandan-un-sistema-judicial-que-devuelva-la-confianza-en-la-gente/

Ecuador

US Ambassador asks Ecuador to take action against narco-traffickers

“Last week the United States announced that Wilder Emilio Sánchez Farfán, from Guayaquil (from the city of Guayaquil), who is a strategic partner of the Sinaloa cartel, uses a fleet of small planes to transport cocaine to the United States, Mexico and other parts of the world. You have to go against him, against all his henchmen and officials in his gang,” said Michael Fitzpatrick.
Confirmado.net, in Spanish: https://confirmado.net/2022/02/20/ecuador-embajador-de-estados-unidos-pide-tomar-acciones-contra-narco-ecuatoriano/

Gangs are hanging bodies from bridges as Ecuador’s drug violence soars

Colombia, she said, is producing “incredible amounts of cocaine” which is being sent to Ecuador. Because Ecuador closed its ports for long periods during the pandemic, the drugs had nowhere to go. They are finally being shipped, heightening the violence.
Vice: https://www.vice.com/en/article/v7dpnb/ecuador-drug-war-bodies-hanged-bridge

Peru

Peru’s Castillo says he doesn’t want to remain in power forever

“On July 28, 2026, I will give the post to whoever this country designates as the president who succeeds me” and “I will return to school and to my community,” said the Peruvian president.
Deustche Welle, in Spanish: https://www.dw.com/es/perú-castillo-asegura-que-no-quiere-eternizarse-en-el-poder/a-60845336

Peru’s Congress accused Attorney General for not investigating president Castillo

The Subcommittee on Constitutional Accusations of the Congress of Peru denounced the National Prosecutor, Zoraida Ávalos, for alleged violation of the Constitution for not investigating the leftist president, Pedro Castillo. Specifically, she is accused of the crimes of omission, refusal or delay of acting as a prosecutor, which will be studied by the sub-commission for ten days to prepare qualification reports.
Ambito, in Spanish: https://www.ambito.com/mundo/peru/el-congreso-acuso-la-fiscal-la-nacion-no-investigar-pedro-castillo-n5376648

Peru government changes anti-narcotics strategy and promotes a social pact with coca growers

“The social pact is to agree on a voluntary, peaceful and progressive eradication of coca crops and the commitment not to replant,” says Ricardo Soberón, Peru’s Drug Czar. 80 percent of Peruvian cocaine is destined for Europe and 20 percent for the U.S.
Pagina12.com, in Spanish: https://www.pagina12.com.ar/402799-peru-cambia-la-estrategia-antidrogas-y-propone-un-pacto-soci

Expert warns that “in Peru there are signs of Cuban interference”

“The indicators of the interference of Cuban intelligence in Peru are very similar (to what has happened in other countries), and if one compares it with the historical model of the military government of Juan Velasco Alvarado, we realize that they are policies, behaviors and very similar situations,” said historian and lawyer Fernán Altuve.
Expreso, in Spanish: https://www.expreso.com.pe/politica/fernan-altuve-en-el-peru-existen-senales-de-injerencia-cubana/

Argentina

‘May be soon’: Argentina’s $40 bln IMF deal trundles closer despite push-back

Argentina’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to refinance over $40 billion in debts is trudging closer to the finish line, despite protests in the South American country that has a long and uneasy history with the global lender.
Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/may-be-soon-argentinas-40-bln-imf-deal-trundles-closer-despite-push-back-2022-02-18/

Former President Macri warns of a historic “flood” of emigrants from Argentina

Former Argentine president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), warned this Sunday about the “flood of emigrants” that implies “a fracture in Argentine history” and assured that it is due to the “fed up with the negative cycles” that are repeated in the South American country and “the total lack of future” produced by the government of Alberto Fernández.
EFE, in Spanish: https://www.efe.com/efe/america/portada/el-expresidente-macri-advierte-sobre-un-aluvion-de-emigrantes-argentina/20000064-4744331

Analysis

Carlos Sánchez Berzaín: Will sectarian politics deliver the presidency to castrochavismo in Colombia?

The concept that “politics is the art of doing what is possible” is complemented by another that says “survival is the art of doing what is necessary”. These concepts are intertwined when we face dictatorships that wield power with crimes against humanity in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, but also to countries with electoral processes where Castrochavismo has, as one of its options, the wrecking of democracy, just as is now happening in Colombia where the proliferation of candidates boils down to the fact that sectarian politics may end up delivering the presidency to Castrochavismo.
Interamerican Institute for Democracy: https://intdemocratic.org/will-sectarian-politics-deliver-the-presidency-to-castrochavism-in-colombia/

Peru: boom, stability or deterioration?

With constant changes in key positions and an unresolved dispute between the president and Congress, there is no end in sight to the climate of institutional precariousness, and yet, in recent years, Peru has been seen from the outside as an example of success and a rare model of stability in the convulsive panorama of Latin American economies.
BBC, in Spanish: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-60426385

Taking Ukraine would finish Putin

Never interrupt your enemy,’ said Napoleon, “when he is making a mistake.’ A Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine would prove (perhaps, by the time this Spectator is published, “will’ prove) a terrible mistake. Were it not for the death and despoliation such a mistake would bring — an outcome one could never welcome — the response to Vladimir Putin’s implicit threats should surely be: bring it on! When we told Russia they’d only be hurting themselves, did we not mean it?
The Spectator: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/taking-ukraine-would-finish-putin