The New York Times reported Saturday on U.S. drug efforts in Honduras. Following a series of bungled raids and downed airplanes, the Times reports that “All joint operations in Honduras are now suspended,” while U.S. officials develop a new plan which will encompass other areas of reform. On the deadly raid in Ahuas, which CEPR policy analyst Alexander Main and Annie Bird of Rights Action documented in detail here, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the Times, “This operation was bungled in its conception, in its implementation and in its aftermath.”
Many former recipients of IMF loans spoke out at the annual meetings this week against the conditionalities imposed by the IMF, Reuters reports. The IMF released new research last week showing that the austerity policies they imposed as lending conditions caused up to three times more economic damage than they had previously estimated. Argentina, which defaulted on their debt after an economic crisis triggered in part by IMF austerity policies in the early 2000s, noted the IMF’s admission was a “first step”, but Finance Minister Hernán Lorenzino added, “Once again... the IMF is endorsing policy conditionalities and reform strategies that are bound to fail, worsening recession and unemployment levels in programme countries and leading to unsustainable debt paths and social failure.” A CEPR report in 2009 looked at all the IMF’s borrowing agreements, finding that 31 of 41 contained pro-cyclical policies that could lower economic growth.
At the annual IMF meetings in Tokyo, Colombia announced it would leave the voting bloc aligned with Brazil in favor of Mexico, reports Bloomberg. Brazil, a member of the BRICS countries, has been one of the most vocal advocates of IMF reform. An agreement to shift more voting rights to developing countries has been held up for years as the traditionally dominant European countries have resisted moving their voting shares more in line with their share of world economic output. Colombia’s Central Bank chief Dario Uribe commented on the move to Mexico’s voting constituency, “It’s a group where there’s a receptivity toward a country like Colombia, where there are great historical and commercial ties.”
Last week a “vulture fund” belonging to American Task Force Argentina, a lobbying group seeking to recoup the “full” value of Argentina’s defaulted bonds which were bought for cents on the dollar, detained an Argentine naval ship in Ghana to try and force repayment. The lobbying group lists some 40 members of their organization on their website, including many farmers associations, yet this weekend the Wall Street Journal reported that many of them had no idea how they became affiliated with the group. "We don't have anything to do with Argentina's debt,” Larry Matlack president of the American Agriculture Movement told the Journal.
Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez played a critical role in bringing the Colombian government and the FARC together for peace negotiations reports The Observer. Peter Beaumont reports that Colombia president Santos had traveled to Cuba ostensibly to plan for the Summit of the Americas, but “the purpose of that trip was to discuss the peace initiative," with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez who was in Cuba for cancer treatment. The peace negotiations are set to begin this week in Oslo, Norway with Chile and Venezuela participating as observers.
Documents released on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis show the back-channel diplomacy that went into resolving the crisis, reports EFE. The documents, released by the National Security Archive (NSA) from the newly declassified papers of Robert F. Kennedy “reinforce the key historical lesson of the missile crisis: the need and role for creative diplomacy to avoid the threat of nuclear Armageddon,” according to NSA Cuba analyst Peter Kornbluh.
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