Archive for South America
A man who shot two U.S. Embassy employees in a Caracas strip club has been convicted of attempted murder by a Venezuelan court and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. The chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Carlos Mejias was convicted of shooting Paul Marwin and Roberto Rosas, both of whom worked in the embassy’s military attache’s office. A second Venezuelan, Windy Fabiani, was accused of being an accessory to attempted murder. His case is pending. The prosecutor’s office says Mejias and Fabiani had “a discussion” with the Americans that led to a firearm being drawn and both Americans being shot in May. Police at the time said there was a brawl. U.S. officials said neither victim sustained life-threatening wounds.
Bolivian Senator Roger Pinto, who had taken refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in La Paz, left the country in an official Brazilian vehicle escorted by soldiers, Brazilian Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Ricardo Ferraço said on Sunday. Ferraço denied that – as La Paz claims – Pinto is a fugitive from Bolivian justice, although he is accused of various crimes of corruption, for which he was sentenced last June to a year in prison. “He was taken in by Brazil as a (person who was being) politically persecuted,” Ferraço – of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, said. Pinto had taken refuge in the Brazilian Embassy on May 28, 2012 and 10 days later the Rousseff administration granted him the status of political asylum. “He was persecuted in Bolivia for denouncing drug trafficking,” Ferraço said. Upon his arrival in Brasilia, Pinto made no political statement, but he thanked Brazil and its “authorities” for their “efforts” in allowing him to leave Bolivia.
Today the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, sent a group of experts to assist Costa Rican authorities to investigate a shooting attack on Colombias’s embassy in San Jose, which left no casualties. According to Santos the government wants to see “what is behind this fact”, recalling that the delegation was attacked with “a burst of shots”. Referring to the attack, it explained that this morning unknown vadals fired at the embassy of Colombia in San Jose, leaving no casualties. The Costa Rican authorities reinforced security in the Colombian Embassy. The Security Minister of Costa Rica, Mario Zamora, stated that at least two people fired from a car at the headquarters of the Colombian Embassy.
No one was hurt when assailants in a passing car fired shots at the Colombian Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica’s security minister said. Six shots were fired, apparently from an AK-47 assault rifle, Mario Zamora told a press conference. Four of the shots hit a guardhouse on the grounds and two struck the embassy itself. “Fortunately, there are no casualties,” the minister said. The attack occurred around 2:40 a.m. Friday and the assailants were traveling in a gray sedan, according to the official report. The embassy remained cordoned off to allow investigators to collect evidence. Colombian Ambassador Hernando Herrera was present early Friday to view the damage, but did not talk to reporters. Costa Rican authorities did not suggest a motive for the attack on the embassy, which is located in a residential neighborhood of San Jose.
Nine of Ecuador’s embassies around the world, including its embassy in Portugal, are to close due to a lack of reciprocity and a desire to cut costs, President Rafael Correa announced. “We have 49 embassies around the world but eleven of these countries do not have any reciprocity and thus without any ambassadors accredited to Ecuador,” explained Correa before identifying the Ecuadorian Embassies to Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Austria, Australia and Malaysia as among those slated for shutdown. “There will be a significant reduction in costs and savings to the country,” the president emphasised before adding that he was being “realistic” as while India might not need an embassy in Quito, Ecuador needed representation to New Delhi.
During a debate on the “Malvinas Question”, Argentine ambassador to the United Kingdom Alicia Castro launched a strong attack on Prime Minister David Cameron describing him as “a fool, dumb, and completely useless” politician, because of his comments when the election of Pope Francis. ”We are extremely lucky to have an Argentine, ‘Malvinero’ Pope. Above all because Prime Minister Cameron was so foolish, dumb and completely useless when (Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge) Bergoglio was named Pope: because he let slip that Bergoglio had made a historic speech about the Malvinas” the ambassador underlined. At the time of Francis election President Cristina Fernandez and her foreign policy strategists were ecstatic because they had a pope whom they described as “a strong supporter of the Argentine Malvinas claim”. It emerged that a year before (30th anniversary of the Argentine military invasion and occupation of the Falklands), as Buenos Aires cardinal, Bergoglio held a special mass for Malvinas veterans in which he was quoted saying that: “We have come to pray for those who have fallen far from the motherland; who left to defend the motherland and to claim what was usurped from them”. Following the exchange there was an official comment saying that the Vatican’s long-held position is of non intervention in the Falklands/Malvinas dispute between Argentina and the UK, because it is a matter for sovereign states, and ‘this position has not changed’.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recalled his ambassador to Cairo on Friday and called for Egypt’s ousted president Mohammed Morsi to be reinstated. He also urged the restoration of constitutional order in Egypt, where more than 600 people have been killed in protests since Wednesday. The Venezuelan president accused the United States and Israel of being behind Morsi’s July dismissal as well as revolts in other countries such as Syria. The Venezuelan government has maintained close relations with Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iran.
Paraguay, which closed its embassy in Israel in 2005 for budgetary reasons, will reopen its mission here in the coming weeks in a sign of interest in closer bilateral ties, the Foreign Ministry announced. Newly elected Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes informed Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the move during a meeting in Asuncion. Elkin represented Israel at his inauguration ceremony on Thursday. Israel closed its embassy in Asuncion in 2002 as a cost-saving move, and is represented in the South American country by its ambassador in Buenos Aires. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that, despite the Paraguayan announcement, Israel had no intention at this time of reopening its embassy in Paraguay. “We are closing consulates and embassies, not opening them,” the official said, adding that the decision to open a consulate in the Chinese city of Chengdu will necessitate the closing of a mission somewhere else. Paraguay and Colombia were the only South American countries that did not vote for granting the Palestinians non-member statehood status in the UN General Assembly last year.
The Irish embassy in Mexico will be the main point of contact for a young Irish woman held by in Peru by police on suspicion of drug trafficking. Michaella McCollum Connolly (20), from Belfast, was arrested on Tuesday at Jorge Chávez International Airport in the Peruvian capital, Lima. She and a Scottish national, Melissa Reid (19), were trying to board a flight to Madrid in Spain, which was travelling on to Palma Mallorca. Peruvian police said the two were being questioned following the discovery of more than 11.5kg of cocaine – estimated to be worth about €1.7 million – in their luggage. Together with the consular team in Dublin, the Irish embassy in Mexico will provide support and diplomatic assistance to Ms McCollum Connolly and her family. A spokeswoman from the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that officials from the embassy had been in contact with the photography student. She said staff of the British embassy in Peru had also been to visit her and would be providing assistance, particularly “on the ground”, as Ireland doesn’t have an embassy in the country. The most recent honorary consul for Ireland, Michael Russell, finished his term at the end of July. Two girls were charged for carrying half of the cocaine each and found guilty they would face a sentence of about seven years. The pair were likely to get parole after doing about a third of their term and would have to finish their sentence in their home countries, if at all. Under Peruvian law, the women can be held for up to 15 days without charge. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it could not comment on the specific circumstances because it was providing diplomatic assistance.
The wife of Israel’s ambassador to Chile has confirmed to the Foreign Ministry’s internal auditor suspicions that they submitted expense accounts that were padded by thousands of dollars. The ambassador, David Dadon, says he was not aware of the matter. A source in the Foreign Ministry said local employees of Israel’s embassy in Chile reported suspicions regarding reimbursements to Dadon and his wife. According to the information, the expense accounts that were submitted did not match the embassy’s actual spending on events held at the embassy. After the alleged misconduct was reported, the Foreign Ministry’s internal auditor, Jacob Keidar, dispatched a representative to Santiago to examine the embassy’s books. According to a source at the Foreign Ministry, evidence was allegedly found of expense-account fraud in the amount of $5,000. When questioned, local employees at the embassy implicated Dadon and his wife in the alleged misconduct. The ambassador’s wife initially claimed some of the local employees were trying to frame her. But when she and the ambassador were confronted with the allegedly incriminating evidence, she confirmed some of the claims. The ambassador said he was not aware of the suspected actions. Keidar’s representative did not make do with the admission of the actions by the ambassador’s wife and the return of the money, but also insisted that the ambassador’s wife admit her actions to the embassy employees and apologize to those she had accused. She did so, and then, also in the presence of the staff, Dadon criticized his wife’s alleged actions and said he knew nothing about them. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Primor said: “Examinations revealed irregularities involving reimbursement of expenses and for reasons of confidentiality we will not disclose the identity of the people. The case is being dealt with by the Foreign Ministry according to the appropriate procedures.”