9:23 AM, Oct 8, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Those looking for good news on the fight against Ebola will not find much encouragement from Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command. As Jim Garamone of Department of Defense News reports, Kelly told an audience at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday that, if the disease reaches Central America, "it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States." He also said with certainty that "there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa."
“By the end of the year, there’s supposed to be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola and 62 percent of them dying, according to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]..."
“So, much like West Africa, it will rage for a period of time,” Kelly said.
This is particularly possible scenario if the disease gets to Haiti or Central America, he said. If the disease gets to countries like Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador, it will cause a panic and people will flee the region, the general said.
“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”
Kelly said that human trafficking could be an additional wrinkle in the battle to contain the disease. He related a disturbing anecdote from a recent visit to Central America where some men from Liberia were headed to the United States:
Also, transnational criminal networks smuggle people and those people can be carrying Ebola, the general said. Kelly spoke of visiting the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with U.S. embassy personnel. At that time, a group of men “were waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north,” he recalled.
“The embassy person walked over and asked who they were and they told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week,” Kelly continued. “They met up with the network in Trinidad and now they were on their way to the United States -- illegally, of course.”
Those men, he said, “could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.”
Earlier this year, General Kelly gave some chilling testimony about the limitations on the United States's ability to protect the southern border:
In spring hearings before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Kelly said that budgets cuts are “severely degrading” the military’s ability to defend southern approaches to the U.S border. Last year, he said, his task force was unable to act on nearly 75 percent of illicit trafficking events. “I simply sit and watch it go by,” he said. But the potential threats are even greater. Kelly warned that neglect has created vulnerabilities that can be exploited by terrorist groups, describing a “crime-terror convergence” already seen in Lebanese Hezbollah’s involvement in the region.
While Centers for Disease Control director Tom Frieden recently expressed some optimism in the fight against Ebola in West Africa, he acknowledged that "globally, this is going to be a long, hard fight."
4:04 PM, Oct 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new report from the Jewish Telegraph Agency details that the Argentine congress will be fundraising for the terror group Hamas.
"A fundraising campaign for Palestine by the Argentine National Congress is being seen by one Jewish group as an endorsement of Hamas," reports JTA.
3:45 PM, Jun 18, 2014 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
The world’s eyes may have been trained on the World Cup this weekend, but a different heated contest also took place in South America on Sunday night. In Colombia, incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made “peace” talks with leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas the center of his campaign, was reelected in a runoff. He defeated his assertive challenger, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a staunch opponent of the negotiations, by a margin of 51 to 45 percent.
2:20 PM, Mar 26, 2014 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Late last month, the Spanish energy giant Repsol agreed to accept $5 billion worth of Argentine bonds as repayment for the government’s confiscation of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil company, which was formerly controlled by Repsol until its April 2012 seizure by President Cristina Kirchner. With the South American country mired in financial turmoil and flirting with yet another sovereign default, the true value of its bonds remains to be seen. But for now, President Kirchner appears to have resolved a longstanding dispute that had polluted Argentina’s image and accelerated capital flight.
The World Court’s new role: real estate broker.10:01 AM, Jan 28, 2014 • By JOHN LONDREGAN
The World Court resolution of Peru’s petition to change its border with Chile didn’t catch much attention beyond the Pacific coast of South America, but it matters, a lot. A century and a half ago la Guerra del Pacifico, in which Chile opposed both Bolivia and Peru, left Chile holding several hundred miles of coastal plane previously claimed by its opponents. Subsequently, in the 1929 Treaty of Lima, Peru conceded Arica to Chile, but got Tacna back. The marine border between the two countries, settled the following year, began at the coast, and extended due west at 18˚21′03′′, and there it stayed until this week.
12:20 PM, Dec 12, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Sometimes a handshake is more than just a handshake. When President Obama warmly embraced the late Hugo Chávez at the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, he lent respectability to a brutal autocrat who had crippled Venezuelan democracy, terrorized his political opponents, and supported both the Iranian theocracy and the Colombian FARC. When then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hugged Ecuadorean leader Rafael Correa during a visit to Quito in 2010, she made Correa seem like a normal democratic president, rather than a thuggish Chávez acolyte who had persecuted independent journalists and gravely weakened his country’s public institutions.
7:05 AM, Nov 20, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Not so long ago, the fate of democracy in Central America was a prominent and deeply controversial issue in U.S. politics.
12:20 PM, Sep 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House today announced Música Latina, a concert featuring performers Natalie Cole, Lila Downs, Gloria Estefan, Raul Malo, Ricky Martin, Price Royce, Arturo Sandoval, Romeo Santos, Alejandro Sanz and Marco Antonio Solis. The event will take place at the White House next week on September 16.
9:25 AM, Aug 15, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
In late June, the State Department issued a controversial report on Iranian activity in the Western Hemisphere. Its most notable conclusion was that “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.” Critics immediately pointed out that, just a month earlier, Argentine special prosecutor Alberto Nisman had released a 500-page report showing that Tehran has “clandestine intelligence stations and operative agents” scattered across the region. The obvious question was: Why hadn’t Foggy Bottom considered the Nisman dossier before publishing its recommendations?
10:46 AM, Jul 15, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
If you’re concerned that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism has been expanding its strategic footprint in the Western Hemisphere, the Obama administration has a reassuring message for you: “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.” That’s the conclusion of a State Department report issued late last month. (The report itself is classified, but Foggy Bottom released an unclassified summary of its policy recommendations, from which the above quote is taken.)
8:26 AM, Jun 6, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Guatemala on Wednesday, reminisced about his first trip to Latin America as a U.S. senator back in 1985:
8:15 AM, Jun 5, 2013 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Socialists around the world have their own traditions for celebrating “International Workers’ Day,” and Evo Morales is no exception. Each year, the Bolivian leader uses May 1 to make a big announcement, typically regarding the military-backed seizure of a given industry or company. In 2006, during his first May Day as president, he nationalized his country’s enormous natural gas reserves. Since then, he has grabbed control of telecom companies, energy companies, and more. On May 1, 2012, he had Bolivian troops seize an electricity firm (owned by the Spanish multinational REE) that operates most of his nation’s power lines.
7:22 AM, May 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden is in Latin America meeting with foreign leaders. His first stop was in Colombia, where he landed yesterday and met with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
The vice president was diplomatic. "We understand that some real progress appears to have been made yesterday on the agrarian front. We applaud every advance -- every advance -- that gets Colombians closer to the peace they so richly deserve. And we look forward to the day when Colombia can fully enjoy a genuine peace dividend."