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Argentina, Peru, and Brazil Promise New Era at UN Meetings

By: Adriana Peralta - @AdriPeraltaM - Sep 21, 2016, 2:17 pm
Argentina, Brazil and Peru's renovation at the UN
Flags fly at the United Nations (UNFPA).

EspañolMauricio Macri, Michel Temer and Pedro Pablo Kaczynski (PPK) are the new political faces of South America.

The newly elected presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Peru have new political plans that may mark a shift to the right in Latin America.

Each made their debut in the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization (UN) on Tuesday, September 20.

Brazil: the country looking to move on from corruption

President Michel Temer was the first president to intervene in the General Assembly, taking over permanently earlier this month. In his speech, he sold an optimistic image of Brazil.

“Confidence is being restored, a more prosperous horizon is taking shape,” he said while defending the “path of fiscal and social responsibility” of his government, which this month launched an ambitious program of grants, as well as plans to privatize public enterprises.

Temer defended the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and called it a reflection of the “strength of institutions under the supervision of a plural society.”

“The rules apply to everyone, even the most powerful,” he said. “This is what is what Brazil is proving to the world.”

Rousseff is not the only Brazilian politician accused of corruption. Ignacio Lula da Silva will also be prosecuted for corruption, along with one of Temer’s cabinet ministers.

Temer gave his speech while the delegations of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica left the General Assembly in protest of his position in office and the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.

Peru talks Venezuela

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski did not forget Venezuela in his speech at the UN. The official called for “absolute respect” of democratic rights and the need for a dialogue process.

“It is essential to express our concern about the critical political, economic and social situation of the friendly country of Venezuela,” he said. “The full force of democracy requires complete respect for human rights, fundamental rights and respect for the separation and balance of powers.”

Venezuela is currently experiencing extreme violence and shortages of medicine and food. Kuczynski made a firm call to initiate  an internal political dialogue without political conditions.

“Peru is willing to make all necessary efforts to help reach a solution to their problems,” he said. “We will work with the countries of the Pacific Alliance in this endeavor, particularly with neighboring Venezuela and Colombia.”

Kaczynski said his country has a “strong commitment to the definitive consolidation of democracy.”

The president stressed his adminstration’s commitment to “modernization” and free trade amid growing “protectionist temptations” in the world.

Argentina: leaving behind 12 years of Kirchner

Argentinean President Mauricio Macri took office in December, immediately trying to distance himself from his predecessor Cristina Kirchner.

“The Argentineans are ready to enter the 21st century and assume our role in international society,” he said.

Macri said the results of the new international relations policies of Buenos Aires are already paying off, especially in investment. Last week, he welcomed 1,900 entrepreneurs from around the world to a meeting to promote investment in the country.

He also called for “greater international cooperation” to clarify the details of the attacks that happened in in the ’90s in Buenos Aires, which some blame to Iran.

Sources: El País

Adriana Peralta Adriana Peralta

Adriana Peralta is a freedom advocate from El Salvador and a @CREO_org board member. She is a PanAm Post reporter and blogger, a 2005 Ruta Quetzal scholar, a trained engineer, and an SMC University masters student in political economy. She is also a Pink Floyd fan. Follow @AdriPeraltaM.

UN Diplomats Lived Large on Smuggled Tobacco

By: Yaël Ossowski - @YaelOss - Sep 21, 2016, 11:47 am
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Flashy BMWs, a pristine villa in downtown Geneva, United Nations diplomatic credentials and close to $2.4 million in profit. Welcome to the lucrative life of a UN cigarette smuggler. Two employees on a diplomatic mission from Iraq to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland were caught abusing their diplomatic status last month by illegally funneling over 600,000 cigarettes into France. The two employees had been allegedly making the transactions over the course of three years with the aim of making sales on the black market. The plan involved using a German firm to acquire duty-free cigarettes, only to have them stored in a warehouse near the Geneva airport and eventually trucked to the Rennes region of France for sale on the street. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); The accused were able to purchase duty-free cigarettes due to their diplomatic status on the Iraqi mission, according to the Swiss Federal Customs Administration, which first gave news of the incident in the Sonntags Zeitung newspaper. It was later confirmed by the Iraqi Embassy through a press release. The two staff members were fined $170,000 and $120,000 for cigarette smuggling, a fraction of the $2.4 million in tax savings they were able to acquire. Geneva, where the operation is said to have originated, is the seat of the World Health Organization, which has organized its own crusade of tobacco products. The authorities say they were tipped off by local diplomatic officials from Hong Kong, who noticed large shipments of cigarettes purchased with their credentials without their knowledge. The men are also reportedly accused of abusing the duty-free status of the embassies in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain in order to order cigarettes. The Iraqis were swift in condemning the employees accused of smuggling the cigarettes, but also saved criticism for media coverage, claiming news reports hurt the image of the country and weaken it amid struggles with ISIS. “The published news in its current inaccurate form caused a severe pain for the people and the Iraqi government,” the Iraqi Embassy wrote on their website on August 25th, “in addition to the suffering of our people from the genocide and the destruction done by international terrorism, particularly as we gather our strength to expel Daesh gangs from our country.” Smuggling would reportedly leap from 12 percent of all cigarettes consumed to a stunning 36 percent, a tripling of the smuggling rate to go with the tripling of the excise tax. Half of those smokes would come from casual smuggling and half from commercial smuggling. What causes such a lucrative market for cigarette smugglers? It’s all in the taxes, according to statistics pulled together by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan-based nonprofit public policy think tank. Read more: US Congress Already Knew About DNC Hacks from Russia Read more: Clinton foundation hires cyber-security firm after suspected hacking In analyzing the effect of an additional excise tax on cigarettes currently on the referendum ballot in the American state of Colorado this November, the institution concluded that tripling the tax would ensure that smuggling would “leap from 12 percent of all cigarettes consumed to a stunning 36 percent.” “Half of those smokes would come from casual smuggling and half from commercial smuggling,” they added in a guest column in the local Post Independent newspaper this week. In India, which is set to host the seventh Conference of the Parties, the largest international gathering on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control implemented by the World Health Organization, there have been claims that incessant warning label requirements have actively led to increased smuggling in the Indian market. “Since smuggled cigarette packs will not carry the necessary health warnings, people can consider them safe leading to their widespread consumption,” said a spokesman from the Tobacco Institute of India, a representative body of tobacco makers. Yogesh Deveshwar, the head of India’s largest tobacco company, has even accused U.S.-based NGOs of fueling cigarette smuggling in the country by proposing burdensome regulations, he told the International Business Times. But regardless of the complaints from industry, various government bodies will be taking very differing stances of how to approach illicit trade. The European Union partners with all major cigarette producers internationally to help combat cigarette smuggling and eradicate illicit tobacco. This past July, the EU let the first of these agreements to expire. And more could be on the way very soon.

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