May 28, 2011

The Week in Review from "Just The Facts"


Friday, May 27, 2011

By Abigail Poe

Week in Review
  • The Houston Chronicle reports that only 59% of Mérida Initiative aid appropriated since 2008 to Mexico has been delivered. And, according to U.S. officials, only 75% of the spending is due to be completed by mid-2012. As the delivery of assistance to Mexico "slows to a crawl," violence, and the number of people displaced from their homes, is growing in Mexico. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Norway estimates that 230,000 people fled their homes in 2010 in Ciudad Juarez alone.
  • The U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control released a report on aid to Mexico this week. "U.S. and Mexican Responses to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations" outlines "key steps and initiatives to combat Mexico's brutal drug trafficking organizations and reduce violence in the country." The report makes recommendations that include tackling money laundering, expediting the delivery of Mérida Initiative aid, reforming the justice system, and improving border security.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos unveiled his new security policy this week, in which he sets out the government's plan to end the country's conflict. The new security policy aims to completely dismantle, by 2014, guerrilla groups and BACRIM (emerging criminal groups). According to InSight's Hannah Stone, the new plan "aims to bring military action into closer coordination with action carried out by other branches of the state, with social development as a focus," which reinforces the ideas behind the country's existing Consolidation Plan. The Colombian Government's new policy can be downloaded here.
  • Colombia's Senate passed the Victims' Law this week, after six months of debate, which must now be reconciled with the House version. The new law aims to return land to up to four million Colombians forced to flee from their homes and creates a process for providing reparations to those whose rights were violated as a result of Colombia's ongoing armed conflict. In an interview with Semana, Marco Romero, director of CODHES and victims-rights advocate, calls the Victims' Law a great achievement, in that it "recognizes victims and their rights," but warns that armed groups and development could threaten the success of the project.
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro will travel to Colombia and Brazil next week. In Colombia, Shapiro will visit Tolemaida Airbase and will meet with senior officials "to build on security cooperation initiatives aimed at meeting shared security challenges." In Brazil, Assistant Secretary Shapiro will lead the U.S. delegation at the U.S.-Brazil Political-Military Dialogue in Brasilia, and will deliver a speech at the Superio War College in Rio de Janeiro.
  • U.S. diplomatic sources told the Mexican media that Earl Anthony Wayne, currently serving as U.S. deputy ambassador to Afghanistan, will be nominated by President Obama as the new U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. If approved, Wayne will replace Carlos Pascual, who resigned in March after harsh criticism from Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
  • Yesterday, the South American Defense Council met in Argentina, where they launched the UNSAUR Defense Board and a Center for Security Studies.
  • On Wednesday, a husband and wife team, who worked for assassinated leader Chico Mendes' organization, CNS, were killed by gunmen in Brazil's northern Amazon state of Para. The couple had been receiving death threats since 2008 as a result of their work to save the rainforest in the state, and their death coincided with legislation being passed by Brazil's lower house on Tuesday night that relaxes protections for the Amazon.
  • The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, for trading with Iran. According to a senior administration official, "The specific sanctions adopted for PDVSA would prohibit the company from competing for U.S. Government procurement contracts, from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States and from obtaining U.S. export licenses. The sanctions do not apply to PDVSA subsidiaries and do not prohibit the export of crude oil to the United States." Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the moves were "imperialist aggression."
  • U.S. Southern Command updates:
    • Frigates USS Boone and USS Thach arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile, May 20, as part of their six-month deployment in support of Southern Seas 2011. On May 23rd, over 30 Chilean navy junior officers toured each ship and exchanged ideas and information with U.S. sailors. Boone and Thach will also participate in the Pacific phase of the multinational exercises, UNITAS 52, hosted by the Chilean navy.
    • Southcom has a new Military Deputy Commander. Navy Vice Admiral Joseph Kernan, replacing Army Lt. Gen Ken Keen, was Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet from 2008 - 2009
  • With just a little over a week to go until Peru's presidential run-off election on June 5th, candidate Keiko Fujimori has been pulling ahead of Ollanta Humala in the polls, with up to a 7 point lead according to some polls. As Keiko Fujimori consolidates her lead, former President Alejandro Toledo voiced his support for Humala, and 10,000 people took to the streets against Fujimori.

    For additional analysis about the upcoming elections, check out WOLA's Peru Elections 2011 blog. Today they posted a "look" at Fujimori, with a look at Humala to follow shortly.


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