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Posted on on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.



Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.


Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.


Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.




Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.


Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014


unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).


Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.


International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.


The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.


Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.

Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.

The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.

For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.




International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.


International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.


Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.


Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).


Source: PATA


Posted on on October 13th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climat : la réunion de Panama maintient l'incertitude sur l'avenir des négociations

Climat : la réunion de Panama maintient l’incertitude sur l’avenir des négociations

Après une semaine de discussion, l’issue des négociations apparaît toujours aussi incertaine. Le prolongement du protocole de Kyoto et l’adoption d’un nouveau mandat de négociation sont au centre des divergences.

Réunis du 1er au 7 octobre 2011 à Panama City (Panama), les délégués des Etats membres de la Convention-cadre des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques (CCNUCC) ont une nouvelle fois tenté de progresser sur les principaux sujets qui doivent être tranchés lors de la 17ème Conférence des parties (COP 17) qui se tiendra à Durban (Afrique du Sud) du 28 novembre au 9 décembre.

Cette réunion est la dernière rencontre officielle organisée par le CCNUCC dans le cadre de la préparation de son sommet annuel.…


L’UE, seul soutien au protocole de Kyoto:

{it says the EU is the only body backing Kyoto but as we wrote already, in reality this backing, by its demand that makes it contingent on the US and China coming on board – is effectively burrying the subject as things are at this time.}

L’avenir du Protocole de Kyoto reste toujours aussi hypothétique. Le Canada, le Japon et la Russie ont d’ores et déjà indiqué être opposés à une deuxième période d’engagement. Les Etats-Unis, qui n’ont pas ratifié le protocole, appellent à négocier sur la base de l’accord signé à Copenhague (Danemark), laissant de côté le protocole.

Seule l’Union européenne (UE) ne ferme pas la porte à une nouvelle période d’engagement. Une position qui doit beaucoup au fait qu’elle devrait respecter l’objectif assigné pour la première période et à la place prise par lesmécanismes de flexibilité du protocole dans la mise en œuvre de son marché carbone. En effet, un débat oppose les négociateurs sur la possibilité de préserver ces mécanismes sans prolongement du protocole. Pour les pays émergents, le sujet est entendu : sans prolongement du protocole, il n’est pas possible de les préserver.


Vers un nouveau mandat de négociation ?

Par ailleurs, l’UE conditionne le prolongement du protocole à la poursuite des négociations en vue d’“un accord mondial équilibré”. L’adoption à Durban d’un mandat clair vers un tel accord pourrait constituer un point de départ satisfaisant. Une hypothèse qui prend corps avec la publication mi-septembre d’une proposition rédigée par l’Australie et la Norvège. Les deux pays proposent d’adopter d’ici 2015, pour une entrée en vigueur en 2018, un accord global contraignant qui inclurait les principales économies. Onjectif :fixer des engagements standardisés de limitation des émissions de GES et établir un mécanisme de vérification commun. Les engagements pourraient prendre la forme d’objectif d’intensité carbone des économies en se basant sur des indicateurs communs et des années de références communes.

Reste que la proposition australo-norvégienne met fin au protocole de Kyoto au profit d’un cadre unique d’engagement et de mesurabilité, reporting et vérification (MRV) des actions entreprises. Des défauts qui pourraient être rédhibitoires pour les pays émergents.


Le respect des engagements reste problématique

Comme à l’accoutumé, pays en développement et pays développés se sont opposés sur la mise en œuvre contraignante des engagements affichés par les parties à la Convention dans le cadre de l’accord de Copenhague en 2009 et confirmé à Cancun en 2010. La différence de nature des engagements, les procédures de vérification et la révision à la hausse des engagements actuels restent les principaux points de blocage vers l’accord contraignant recherché depuis la conférence de Bali en 2007.

Parmi ces sujets, la question de la mesurabilité, du reporting et de la vérification (MRV) des engagements reste la pierre d’achoppement qui entrave la voie vers un futur accord. En l’état, il est envisagé que pays développés et en développement rendent compte du respect de leurs engagements tous les deux ans. Les pays industrialisés se plieraient à une procédure internationale d’évaluation et d’examen (IAR) et les pays du Sud se conformeraient à une procédure internationale de consultation et d’analyse (IAC). Deux mécanismes MRV parallèle dont la similitude irait à l’encontre du principe des responsabilités communes mais différenciées qui constitue une des bases de la CCNUCC.


L’objectif de Copenhague s’éloigne

S’agissant des engagements proposés par les principaux émetteurs, les délégués ont pu une nouvelle fois mesurer l’écart qui les sépare de l’objectif visant à maintenir en deçà de 2°C la hausse de la température moyenne mondiale en 2100 par rapport à l’ère préindustrielle. Selon le Climate Action Tracker, qui synthétise l’ensemble des engagements, la planète se dirige vers une hausse de 3,2°C (avec une fourchette comprise entre 2,6°C et 4°C).

En l’état, les chercheurs d’Ecofys, de Climate Analytics et du Potsdam Institute for Climate, estiment que si les engagements les plus ambitieux sont tenus, les émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) devraient atteindre en 2020 quelque 54 milliards de tonnes de CO2 équivalent (tCO2eq), soit 10 à 14 milliards de tonnes d’excédent par rapport à l’objectif fixé.

Toujours selon le Climate Action Tracker, la Chine “est sur la bonne voie pour respecter, voire dépasser, certains de ses engagements pris à Cancun même si actuellement ses émissions augmentent plus rapidement que prévu” du fait d’une croissance économique supérieure aux attentes. Pour leur part, les Etats-Unis affichent “un retard persistant dans l’application de leur objectif”. Le Brésil a pour sa part rehaussé de 18% ses prévisions tendancielles d’émissions de GES pour 2020, rehaussant d’autant le niveau qui serait atteint si elle respectait ses engagements.


Dernières actualités sur la CCNUCC

Révision du système national d’inventaires des émissions à l’atmosphère – 14/09/2011Réchauffement climatique : +2°C en 17 ans au Canada – 08/09/2011Climat : les pays émergents épinglent l’Union européenne avant la conférence de… – 30/08/2011NKM lance le comité “Trajectoires 2020-2050 – Vers une économie décarbonée” – 28/06/2011Politique climatique de l’UE : aucun progrès attendu sous la présidence polonaise – 23/06/2011Toutes les infos sur la CCNUCC


Posted on on October 4th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Interactive users’ guide to climate planning tools
23 September 2011 – A new, interactive users’ guide to tools for climate and development planning has now been launched by Ecofys and the Institute of Development Studies, with the support of CDKN. It helps developing country decision-makers figure out how climate compatible development can be planned and implemented in different contexts. There are many dozens of tools and methodologies to help guide decision-makers through the challenges of development planning in a changing climate. More on the project Visit the users’ guide

Rural areas show major potential for reducing greenhouse gases in Europe
21 September 2011 – Europe’s rural areas can play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A switch from heating oil and coal to renewable energy sources or low carbon fuels in rural areas could reduce carbon emissions from households and services in five EU countries by up to the equivalent of 3500 small towns (35 megatonnes CO2). These are the main findings of a study carried out by global consultancy Ecofys and commissioned by the FREE initiative (Future of Rural Energy in Europe). The results are presented in Brussels today. Please read the press release. The full report is available for download.

CDKN stands for  Climate and Development Knowledge Network

ECOFYS is a company of consultants out to make profits by doing the right things called for by the climate change reality and economics and acts according to the –

Rgough it all looks as if a new alphabet-soup is being cooked up – we find in all of this a path to salvation and want thus to publicize a meeting that was called for at the Panama City ongoing exercise:

All participants to the Panama Climate Change Conference are invited to a side event hosted “Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions – an overview”, which will be held on

Tuesday, 4 October, from

20:00 to 21:30, in

Room Miraflores (Hotel Sheraton, in front of the ATLAPA Convention Centre).

Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) are currently developed in many countries. The side event will launch the, provide an overview of the activities worldwide and present some lessons learned.

We are looking forward to meeting you there.

Best regards.

Niklas Höhne for


What above means to us is that the UNFCCC was able to bring out the need to deal with Climate Change by decreasing energy use dependence on fossil fuels – but obviously – at the UN as such no solution is possible. Nevertheless, the locus of UNFCCC became a magnet for private people that are capable to consult individual governments and true environmental and socio-economic NGOs to move in the right direction.

Now, with the creation of a network of countries ready for National programs, there might indeed be born that nucleus for action that we are all waiting for.

True – from Durban we will get no satisfaction – but the meeting of the minds of people on the periphery there, and on the sidewalks of the road to Durban, there might be enough interest to start activities in States with positive attitudes to life and the future of mankind.

NAMA stands for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions on Climate Change. They will meet on the sideline in Panama City, Tuesday, October 4, 2011.



Posted on on September 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

to open the UN General Assembly. “It is with personal humility, but with my justified pride as a woman, that I meet this historic moment,” said Rousseff as she opened the general debate. “I share this feeling with over half of the human beings on this planet who, like myself, were born women and who, with tenacity, are occupying the place they deserve in the world. I am certain that this will be the century of women.”   —-    Rousseff can also be found on the cover of this week’s Newsweek, with a profile by Mac Margolis.


l aunched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) while in New York on Tuesday. The OGP’s goal is to give citizens tools to monitor   elected leaders and achieve more transparent governance. Mexico is one of the additional six founding members and other Latin American countries that have pledged to sign on to the partnership are: Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay.
This is a smart program for U.S. policy in the hemisphere and a great leadership role for Brazil to play,” reports Bloggings by Boz, who links to commitments and plans from Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.


Colombia, a member of the Security Council, is very important in this because an attempt is being made to negate to the Palestinians a simple majority in the SEcurity Council in order to avoid a US veto.
This attempt revolves around three Member States and Colombia is one of them.  Rather then attending President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu  was at that time in a meeting with the President of Colombia promoting such a move.


drilling for oil in the Florida Straits between the Florida Keys and Cuba as early as mid-December. It is estimated Cuba may hold anywhere from 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil in offshore reserves.

In a piece for CNN’s Global Public Square program and blog, Fareed Zakaria warns: “Our trade embargo on Cuba not only prevents us from doing business with our neighbor but it also bars us from sending equipment and expertise to help even in a crisis. So, if there is an explosion, we will watch while the waters of the Gulf Coast get polluted.”

We watched that program on Sunday, September 18th and it is crystal clear that the US has now to end the embargo on Cuba. We know that election season in the US has just started – but it seems that moves by President Obama on this issue would be right in place and would improve relations within the Western Hemisphere where all countries now side with Cuba.


Posted on on July 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is a sequel to:

“Will a new Energy Policy Institute, by studying complex systems, to be established at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, be a factor in the saving of the US and the World?”

It is written after we received two very interesting documents:

(a) The Workshop Summary of the Washington December 8-9, 2009 meeting on “Developing Sustainable Human Space Exploration Policy.”

(b) the powerpoint part of a June 22, 2010 presentation titled “JOULE: Joining Our Understandings to Leverage Energy Analyses, Decisions, Engineering, Technology, and Policy” at the University of Alabama Huntsville Center for Eystems Studies, the Shelby Center, Huntsville.

First let me say that I love this new meaning for JOULE – “JOINING OUR UNDERSTANDING TO LEVERAGE ENERGY – analysis, decisions, engineering, technology and policy.”

This is actually exactly what we started out by hoping that it might take hold of the opportunities that became available at Huntsville.

The workshop makes it clear that the present situation of Huntsville is under attack in Washington, and the powerpoint presentation shows that Huntsville is looking at acceptable new outlets and they came up with a start.


From the December 2009 very defensive Washington workshop, that by the way happened by coincidence at the same time the Climate meeting was going on in Copenhagen, but made no single reference to anything that could have been helpful to the US position in Copenhagen, we pick up, talking just of Human Space Exploration – the following points – and please note – not in any original order:

“The human space exploration program is a highly visible, although very small, percentage of federal expenditures, engaging a highly technical workforce nationwide. Human space exploration amounts to approximately 2/3 of NASA’s budget which itself is less than 1%  of the total federal budget.”

“The country has strategic, geopolitical interests in being a leader, that is, in sustaining or increasing its capacity to act independently, effectively, and impressively on the world stage. Nations which operate on frontiers create power, influence, and propagate values. Space exploration is one such frontier.”

“Research and development programs carry strategic implications as demonstrations of national vision, will, and organizational and human capital prowess, and as sources of technology which can yield a competitive advantage militarily and economically.”

“Historically every presidential administration since Eisenhower has re-examined the purpose, value, and direction of human space exploration, without meaningfully departing from the original rationale and plan.”
“Human space exploration is one of a very limited number of ways for the country to demonstrate technological leadership in a non-military way (that is, to do difficult things well, to advance knowledge, and to provide quality-of-life improvements for its citizens). “There are ways to compete without pointing missiles at each other.””

“Technological leadership motivates other countries — developed and developing — to collaborate with the United States, on scientific, economic, and military fronts. These partnerships promote a longer term form of (inter)national security through complementary, trust-building pursuits and economic interdependence. Space exploration can be a policy tool to create a multi-lateral world of nations with stakes in each others’ success.”

And the complaints:
The nation now finds itself in the position of having a $75B+ international space station without a credible plan to sustain or, worse, access it after completion. The situation could not have been envisioned 15 years ago, especially if following a rational investment strategy. It is fair to ask: could a process be defined that fosters continuity of investment in human space exploration?” “In addition to the financial toll, there are opportunity costs: the erosion of the aerospace workforce, the ceding of strategic ground, and the creation of a reputation for unreliability among international space partners.”
“Election turn-over challenges policy continuity because it introduces the need to inform and educate newcomers on programs’ purpose, value, and needs.” “Annual appropriations and the norm of ‘divided government’ (split party control of the White House and Congress) create yearly opportunities for change.”
“The level of scientific/technological literacy in government can create a gap in understanding and in values
between the Agency and its governing stakeholders. For example, scientists and engineers are common in
Chinese and Indian governing bodies. By way of contrast, the {current} U.S. Congress has fewer than a half-dozen
scientists or engineers.”
The Agency is not currently viewed widely as an effective instrument for addressing foreign and domestic policy
priorities. The tenuous or indirect relevance of its mission to significant problems of the day — energy, climate
change, health, resources management, global development — threaten to diminish further the Agency’s position in the country’s research and development portfolio.”

And the plea for a modicum of rationality being asked from Washington, and the example of scientific thought:

The United States Science Decadal Survey Process.
The United States astronomy community for five decades has used a self-governing survey process to achieve unity of thought leadership on scientific priorities for the next decade and to accomplish significant scientific progress.

Three agencies (NASA, NSF, and Department of Energy) sponsor the work by the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council, which has a reputation for independent, objective, and non-partisan scientific and technical advice.
“Each decadal survey incorporates unstarted projects from the previous survey and considers the changed economic and political environment. A select number of scientific questions are posed to organize the priorities within five sub-disciplines.”

“Scientists are the end-users or customers for the federal investment in science programs and they are directly involved in setting the priorities.” “The process effectively corrals divergent opinions and encourages ‘self-policing’ of consensus; the opportunity for everyone to be heard and considered creates consensus behind the recommendations.” “The process is viewed as independent from the implementing agencies (the public and agencies are informed simultaneously), and the decadal committee is highly respected; and the process helps develop a sustainable story and case for Congress and the public because compelling scientific questions are posed.”

The decadal process can break down when the scientific community ‘breaks ranks’ and works outside the process to secure funding (e.g., by ear-marking). This break-down may occur when members of the science community lose faith that the plan will be followed or when the science budget faces dramatic changes (such as cuts or reallocations between missions).”

In discussion, it was pointed out that the ’policing’ of the community by its own members can lead to undesirable conformity and the exclusion of scientists with worthy, iconoclastic ideas. It was also noted that defining “good” exploration is more difficult than defining “good” science and that the science discipline communities represent narrow special interests, in contrast to the human space exploration community.”

We feel that he above brings us back full circle and the question opens up – are we doomed to a political “cul de sac” that will not let us make progress anymore unless a Kennedy comes and lays down the rules? We think that the Alabama people that participated at the Washington Workshop –  Dr. Michael Griffin and Dr. Elizabeth Newton felt the same way.

We think that the second document came about as a reaction to the above, and it shows an effort to break with the past and look for new vistas in a situation that creates not just dangers for the existing Space Program, but what is even worse,  for the existing well trained technical personnel that if not given new jobs that can use their technical expertize, will dissipate to never reconstitute again.

Also,  just think of what could have happened to the Soviet nuclear personnel had not one man – George Soros – not moved in and tried to provide for them, when the Soviet Union collapsed,  and they would have picked places of the worst kind in uncontrolled regimes?
On the other hand, we are missing some aspects of plans for the future that hardly came up in Washington. Frankly – all what we hoped to see is what we marked in color above – energy, climate change, health, resources management, global development – and that was the only time these words were mentioned.

Joining Our Understandings to Leverage Energy Analyses, Decisions, Engineering, Technology, and Policy.

A Straw-man Program/Project Concept in Energy Domain Awareness and Understanding for DOE.

David B. Williams, Ph.D., Sc.D.

John M. Horack, Ph.D.

Michael D. Griffin, Ph.D.

Elizabeth K. Newton, Ph.D

University of Alabama in Huntsville

June 22, 2010

Dr. David B. Williams, the President of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and his team looked at the 20th Century Energy Decisions and discovered the obvious – whatever was talked about was pedestrian indeed – the effort to continue the “is” with minimum effort at thinking of alternatives. it started with the Sweater and the Thermostat and moved to ethyl gasoline versus regular gasoline. it stayed at coal, hydroelectric and nuclear  – these might be oversimplified views of life – but this was life  at the 1970s and not much was changed in our thinking since. You know what ?  They are right!

They look at the movie “It’s Complicated” and say the same.

Then they turn around and suggest we tackle the Complexities of our current Energy Systems: Partly Comprised of Complex Systems created by Humans, Partly Comprised of Complex Systems created by Mother Nature, and Partly Comprised of the Complexities of Human Interactions. We have a complex triangular system in which above three complex circles intersect. So far so good.


Then we find: The suggestion comes here…to create Improved Energy Domain Understanding with the:

UAHuntsville Center for System Studies

In partnerships with:

Department of Energy
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

UT Baker Center for Public Policy

University Science, Engineering, and Research Partners

  • SERVIR, in partnership with NASA, USAid
      • Environmental Domain Awareness, for climate change, disaster response, and sustainability in Central America
      • Core Nodes in Alabama, CATHALAC/Panama, expansion to Africa and Nepal.
      • Decision support for governments and first responders across the region, in the presence of complexity.
  • PEOPLE, JCTD Program, in partnership with VCSI, AMRDEC, others
      • Arctic Environmental and Security Domain Awareness
      • Sponsored by NorthCom and EuCom for FY11 start
      • Integrates Observation, Analysis, Partnership Capacity Development, Research, and relationships for decision-making in the presence of complexity.

JOULE could be a collaborative next-step in the integration of observations, analysis, and input from multiple disciplines, to address the complexities of energy domain decision-making.

No other university is meeting the need for such workforce training & the advancement of the state-of-practice.

Mission: To contribute to national policy-making by framing issues, performing analysis, articulating options & priorities, and providing ‘institutional memory’ for policies of national importance.

They talk of Sustainability, Aerospace, and Innovation.

and offer their –

  • New $25M flagship building to house Center for System Studies ($8M state of Alabama investment; $17M federal)
Our own reaction to the above, is that we think it would be more beneficial for JOULE to establish a relationship with DOD – The Department of Defense – as the people on the Pentagon know a thing or two about Security issues of Climate Change, as well as of dependence on oil – be it produced around the US or in potentially hostile countries. This besides the obvious – DOD also has a thing or two to say about the military bases around Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.

So, as we described in our original posting,  The Energy Policy Institute,  to be part of the Huntsville Center for System Studies,  within the Washington bureaucracy,  would best be positioned at DOD.

Further, the question of the manned Space Flights is one thing,  but the issue of Energy from Space is a new mission that obviously was not part of the original space mission. This, and the problems of Climate Change, when specifically included in the lingo of complex systems and energy policy,  would make the DOD based Huntsville Center a true global focal point for the 21st Century.
All of this can be introduced in the refinements to the first proposed,  two-weeks old, Straw-man Program/Project Concept.


Posted on on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

UNEP leads 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean on  “land-based pollution” at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Panama City based on the ISTAC of Kingston, Jamaica (Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee to the Cartagena Convention. Will they touch nevertheless the menacing Deep-Water Oil-Well Blow-Out?

from: James Sniffen <>


Panama City, 24th May, 2010:

Over 50 pollution control experts from 27 countries of the Wider Caribbean
gather today (Monday 24th May) in Panama City at the invitation of the
United Nations Environment Programme’s Caribbean Environment Programme
(UNEP CEP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The gathering of experts for the 5th Meeting of the Interim Scientific, Technical and Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to the Protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources, commonly known as the LBS Protocol, will last for five days.  The CEP is the Secretariat for this Protocol and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

The LBS Protocol is one of three agreements under the Convention for the
Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean
Region (the Cartagena Convention).  It establishes regional guidelines and
standards for reducing the impact of pollution on the coastal and marine
environment, and on human health.   Over 80% of the pollution of the marine
environment of the Wider Caribbean is estimated to originate from land
based sources and activities.

Panama, the host country, is one of only six countries to have ratified the LBS Protocol.  The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Saint Lucia, France and the United States.  Discussions during the meeting will focus on measures to increase the region’s commitment to ratify the Protocol, and have it enter into force and become international law as soon as possible.

In support of regional cooperation, UNEP CEP is partnering with the IMO and their joint Regional Activity Centre for Oil Spills (RAC REMPEITC) to bring together experts from environmental agencies, maritime authorities and port administrations for this 5th LBS ISTAC.

Delegates are expected to identify practical measures to improve the implementation of marine environmental agreements including the IMO London Convention on the control of pollution from dumping of wastes at sea and the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships.

According to Nelson Andrade, Coordinator of UNEP CEP”   “It is vital that
Governments adopt a more integrated approach to reducing pollution from
land and marine based sources”.  He noted that the continued partnership
between UNEP and IMO will help to effectively implement the Cartagena
Convention and its three Protocols and to reduce marine contamination.

Meeting Participants are also expected to review recent achievements of the
UNEP CEP to reduce and control marine pollution and to endorse a new work
plan and budget for 2010-2011.

For additional information, please contact:

Christopher Corbin,Programme Officer,
Assessment and Management of Environment Pollution (AMEP),
Regional Co-ordinating Unit, UNEP CEP
Kingston, Jamaica
Telephone: (876) 922-9267 — Fax: (876) 922-9292;;

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) –  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1976 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme.   It was based on the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems including an abundant and mainly endemic flora and fauna,

A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Caribbean countries and led to the adoption, in 1983, of the only current regional, legally-binding agreement for the protection of the marine environment, the Cartagena Convention.  The Convention and its first Protocol (Oil Spill) entered into force in 1986.

Two other protocols were developed by the region – the Protocols on Special Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) and the Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (LBS) in 1990 and 1999 respectively.

The SPAW Protocol entered into force in 2000, whereas three ratifying countries are still needed for the LBS Protocol.

The Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU) serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

Each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre.  These Centres are
based in the Netherlands Antilles (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency
Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for
the Oil Spills Protocol, Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW) for the SPAW Protocol, Cuba
(Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays) and
Trinidad & Tobago (Institute of Marine Affairs) for the LBS Protocol.

Jim Sniffen
Programme Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210


Posted on on April 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

CLIMATE CHANGE: Native Peoples Reject Market Mechanisms.
By Daniel Zueras

SAN JOSÉ, Apr 1, 2010 (IPS) – Solutions to global warming based on the logic of the market are a threat to the rights and way of life of indigenous peoples, the Latin American Indigenous Forum on Climate Change concluded this week in Costa Rica.

Proposals from governments and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as the Clean Development Mechanism and the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), “are new forms of economic geopolitics” that endanger indigenous rights enshrined in treaties, says the final declaration of the forum, which ended Wednesday.

These proposals allow states and transnational corporations to promote dams, agrofuels, oil exploration, tree plantations and monoculture crops, that cause expropriation and destruction of indigenous peoples’ territories and the criminalisation, prosecution and even murder of native people, the document says.

The Forum, which opened Monday, included the Indigenous Council of Central America (CICA), the Meso-American Indigenous Council (CIMA), the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, the Coordinating Body for the Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network (IWBN), the South American region of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women (ECMIA), the Intercultural Indigenous University (UII) and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (IIWF).

Indigenous people and their organisations are putting forward holistic solutions that respect the rights of human beings and of Mother Earth, and that are not limited to Western scientific knowledge but include traditional wisdom, indigenous practices and innovations that have contributed to efforts to preserve ecosystems and biodiversity, the Forum declaration says.

There are some 400 different native groups in Latin America, totaling about 45 million people.

“We discussed indigenous peoples’ strategies and positions with respect to climate change,” the general coordinator of the Guatemala-based Sotz’il – Centre for Maya Research and Development, Ramiro Batzin, told IPS. Governments talk to each other without taking civil society into account, but indigenous people must be listened to, because they are the most affected by global warming, he said.

Climate change is due to “a model of development that has forced indigenous people into extreme poverty,” he said.

The worst harm they are suffering is lack of food, because of drought and floods, and the loss of their cultural identity.

The UN-REDD Programme provides for rich countries to pay for maintaining tropical forests in the developing world, in compensation for their carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

The native peoples say that the great majority of places being proposed by governments and some NGOs to participate in the REDD programme are located in indigenous territories.

This shows that these territories are well preserved, but it is urgent to defend guarantees contained in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly territorial rights and the right to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent, the forum declaration says.

“States do not want to acknowledge this; their approach is based purely on the bottom line,” said Batzin.

People here pinned their hopes on the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, to be hosted this month by the Bolivian government. The meeting is conceived as an alternative approach to the solutions explored to date by the international community.

Official climate negotiations will be resumed at the next United Nations conference in Mexico in November, after the failure of the Copenhagen meeting last December.

“The failure was to expect an outcome from such a meeting. In the midst of an economic crisis, industrialised countries do not want to sacrifice production,” Pascal Girot, Mesoamerica and Caribbean coordinator for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), told IPS.

The present model “is exterminating Mother Nature,” said Batzin, who criticised the governments of Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala for not protesting against the documents that emerged from Copenhagen, which he said were “not very democratic and lacked transparency.”

Costa Rica, for instance, is planning to be a carbon neutral country by 2021, and to sell greenhouse gas emissions mitigation mechanisms to industrialised countries.

“It’s a licence to pollute. It may be a solution for Costa Rica, taking a very utilitarian view. But it’s the principle that the polluter pays, and that is all we have at the moment,” said Girot.

Mechanisms like the REDD programme must guarantee the long term survival of the world’s large forests. But to achieve that in Central America is very difficult, because of the pressures on forested areas, and because “investors want guarantees that the mechanisms will be measurable,” Girot said.


Posted on on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following as received from CanalIssues@

Seemingly there is a controversy brewing in Panama regarding the expansion of the Canal. It has environmental implications because of the fresh-water lake – Gatun.


Since Panama announced the Panama Canal expansion project, enormous investments have been made to create an image that is far, far,  from representing the true impact this project will have on the world’s economy, shipping and the environment.

A safe and sustainable expanded Panama Canal using proven alternatives can, and must, be built instead of the travesty that is underway in Panama right now.  An article that appeared in Iowa a couple of months ago can give you a brief perspective of what is truly at stake and the possible solutions.  It is copied below, along with a letter (in Spanish) sent to the President of Panama requesting an unbiased review of the project.

The future of the Panama Canal along with the economic future of the country of Panama should not be jeopardized, nor should that of world shipping which relies on the service it provides.  More information on alternative designs for the Panama Canal system expansion in English and Spanish, can be found at, and I hope you will feel free to contact me directly.

Yours sincerely,
Leila Shelton-Louhi
Director, Gatún Lake Defense Committee
Comité ProDefensa del Lago Gatún
 AlianzaProPanama at

The Gatún Lake Defense Committee advocates for a genuinely responsible and sustainable expansion of the Panama Canal, where its valuable resources are used effectively and left undamaged for the benefit of this and future generations.


Panama Canal expansion.
Posted on Nov 01, 2009 by Jeff Tecklenburg.

By Bert G. Shelton
Announced at the beginning of 2003 and receiving the go-ahead from the people of Panama, the Panama Canal expansion project has reached the stage where design and construction of its new locks has begun.
Expanding the Panama Canal is generally seen as good, as more and bigger ships will be able to benefit from that shipping shortcut.
Although the project kicked off before the global market crash, and shipping is not growing at the pace that precipitated its launching, there is merit in continuing the project. The canal is a key piece of world infrastructure, overdue for enhancement, regardless of momentary market conditions.
Proven by experience, investing in infrastructure during down markets is a wise move. Building then typically reduces project costs — supplies usually costing less — plus it generates jobs in an otherwise depressed environment. Such investments often pay off sooner, as markets revive, which strengthens recovery.
This, of course, assumes that the investment is well planned.
Problem is, the present Panama Canal expansion is not.
The project’s most critical step — identifying the lock system that best fits the conditions and characteristics of the canal — was skipped.
As a consequence, requests for clarifications flooded the project and lock-design bid deadlines were repeatedly extended. Required to warranty designs for complex and high-risk elements, some bidders withdrew from what had been promoted as a “simple concrete construction project.”
Per the current plan, the canal gains one new lane having a three-step lock unit at each end, with three water-saving tanks per step (18 in total).
Of greatest concern is the building of a risky dam — across known geologic faults — to link the new Pacific locks directly to higher elevation Gatun Lake, skirting Miraflores Lake. Its failure would empty Gatun Lake, wiping out homes and businesses lining the canal’s Pacific approach.
That would close the canal for years, deeply affecting U.S. interests.
Another concern is with excessive volumes of salt intruding through the new locks, altering Gatun Lake’s freshwater ecosystems and gravely threatening coastal sea life of both oceans, turning it into a migratory pathway across the Isthmus of Panama.
Yet, our independent research identified existing lock arrangements that avoid these risks and increase efficiency by combining the same components and operations differently.
For instance, a two-lane lock arrangement of comparable cost — requiring only two steps at each end of the canal — uses about 13 percent less water per transit and assures effectively uninterrupted large-ship transits.
Like the Pacific lock arrangement of today’s canal, each end’s two steps would be separated by a short stretch of channel, canceling the risky dam and virtually eliminating the threat of salt reaching Gatun Lake.
This two-lane arrangement preserves conditions of Gatun Lake, and of both oceans, and the livelihoods of those dependent on those waters.
With the current plan’s water availability already “iffy”, the unpublicized plan — to build yet another lane like it — will require annexing and flooding neighboring areas, displacing a lot more people and wildlife.
That’s totally unnecessary.
The two-lane arrangement can reduce its per transit water use significantly (to 57 percent of the current plan) by adding two water-saving tanks to its lock units. That permits maximizing its transit capacity with water available today.
The need for development to be sustainable gets a lot of lip service these days. Yet, this major canal’s expansion proceeds unquestioned.
Improving return on investment by maximizing efficiency, service and reliability, while minimizing impacts to others and to the environment, appears irrelevant to a business model reminiscent of those that collapsed world markets.
With attainable short-term profits already guaranteed, no incentive for improvement exists.
That incentive must be created with political pressure — soon — else suffer unnecessary permanent environmental damage, reducing the Panama Canal’s potential forever.
Bert G. Shelton is Texas-based research scientist and engineer with a lifelong interest and study in the Panama Canal’s function and structure.


To: Ministerio de la Presidencia
Subject: Ampliación del Canal de Panamá – Carta Abierta al Presidente de la República
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 2009

Carta Abierta al Presidente de la República de Panamá

12 de julio de 2009

Excelentísimo Señor Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal

Presidente de la República de Panamá

Primeramente deseo felicitarlo por su victoria rotunda al ser elegido al puesto máximo del país.

No hay quien envidie los retos que Usted enfrenta, pero reconocemos que todos debemos estar dispuestos a darle nuestro apoyo para poderlos superar.

Siendo el Proyecto de Ampliación del Canal de Panamá sin igual en términos del uso de los recursos del país, considero que – como ingeniero e investigador científico, especialista en el diseño y la construcción de estructuras masivas y con una trayectoria que incluye la creación de varios sistemas avanzados para alzar naves, y, como ciudadano comprometido con el futuro del país – es mi deber informarle que existen arreglos de esclusas que atienden de manera efectiva a los retos del proyecto que aún no han sido superados.  Los riesgos y daños graves que resultarán al ser incorporado y operado el arreglo actual, el cual se fundamenta en el concepto presentado al anunciarse el proyecto, pueden ser evitados usando un arreglo más apropiado.

Como resultado de un estudio independiente de los retos de la ampliación y de los métodos más efectivos para superarlos – efectuado junto con un asesoramiento de los múltiples métodos para reducir la cantidad de agua desgastada por tránsito, del cual adicionalmente nacieron arreglos de esclusas aún más eficientes – se han identificado varios arreglos de esclusas que serían más apropiados para nuestro canal porque ofrecen beneficios mucho mayores.

Al combinar más efectivamente los mismos componentes ya aceptados por la ACP, y al aplicar las mismas operaciones en secuencias optimizadas, se logran importantes incrementos en capacidad sin un aumento proporcional en los costos de construcción y en los gastos de operación y mantenimiento.

Entre varias posibles, el arreglo de esclusas más recomendable para la ampliación es uno compuesto de 4 unidades parecidas a la unidad de esclusas de Pedro-Miguel, pero más grandes.  Sin tina alguna, y al ser operado debidamente, este arreglo de dos carriles – el cual incluiría dos escalones en cada extremo del canal – usaría 13% menos agua por tránsito que el arreglo asignado y ofrecería la posibilidad de incrementar el número de tránsitos diarios por hasta dos tercios.

Importantemente, este arreglo evitaría el riesgo de que se cierre el paso a naves posPanamax, algo que puede ocurrir si sólo hay un carril.  Además, haría innecesaria la construcción de un dique sumamente riesgoso a lo largo de la ribera oriental del Lago Miraflores, el cual si colapsa – al desplazarse alguna de las varias fallas geológicas sobre las cuales será construido – causará la pérdida del Lago Gatún y de los poblados y las industrias ubicadas a los costados de la entrada del Pacífico.

También, el pueblo y el medioambiente beneficiarían con este arreglo porque no permitiría el ingreso de la cantidad de sal al Lago Gatún que ingresará por el arreglo actual; y, su método práctico de mitigación permitiría eliminar la sal contaminante antes de llegar al lago.  No hay un método práctico que haga esto con el arreglo actual.

Es más, con el arreglo recomendado existe la opción de agregarle dos tinas por escalón ahora o en el futuro para reducir su uso de agua aún más, a casi la mitad de lo que el arreglo actual desgastará.  Esto representa un uso de tinas altamente superior comparado a cómo las usa el arreglo actual, que no tiene una opción similar para ahorrar agua.

En el internet, en hay más información relevante a este tema.

El aporte de Panamá al mejoramiento del canal debe ser un avance real – que nuestras generaciones futuras puedan contemplar con orgullo – y no un paso hacia atrás, tomado al adicionarle esclusas de un diseño antiguo que fue superado por el diseño de las esclusas de nuestro propio canal.

No sería aceptable incorporarle al canal un arreglo de esclusas que introduce los riesgos notados y que – en perpetuidad – usará casi el doble del agua por tránsito comparado a lo que usaría un arreglo de primera línea, en vista de que – con esfuerzos y gastos comparables – se pueden evitar esos riesgos usando un arreglo más eficiente y de más capacidad.

Señor Presidente, en vista de los resultados de estos estudios, no permita que este proyecto de tan gran importancia al mundo proceda sin hacerse un asesoramiento abierto y transparente, por expertos incontrovertibles e imparciales, de las alternativas para sus esclusas – lo clave del sistema.

Como el diseño detallado de las esclusas apenas ha empezado, y aún no están en construcción, la selección todavía puede ser reemplazada.

Lo que me motiva es obtener para el país y el mundo la mejor ampliación por lo que nos costará y asegurar el uso más efectivo de los recursos hídricos del Canal de Panamá.

Me mantengo a su disposición,


Ing. Bert G. Shelton L.


Posted on on October 22nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.S. agrees to debt-for-nature swap to preserve Peru rainforests.

In a bid to preserve some of Peru’s biologically diverse rainforests, the United States agreed this week to a $25 million debt-for-nature swap with the country, Peru’s second since 2002. Over the next seven years, in exchange for erasing millions of their debt, Peru will fund local non-governmental organizations dedicated to protecting tropical rain forests of the southwestern Amazon Basin and dry forests of the central Andes.

“This agreement will build on the success of previous U.S. government debt swaps with Peru and will further the cause of environmental conservation in a country with one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet,” said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Other debt-for-nature agreements have already been brokered with Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, and the Philippines.

This week’s swap makes Peru the largest beneficiary of such deals with the U.S., with more than $35 million dedicated to environmental conservation in the country.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Colombia rescues Ingrid Betancourt
and three Americans held by the FARC

From: New York based Americas Society/Council of the Americas Media contact: Caitlin Miner-Le Grand, +1.(212).277.8384;  cminerlegrand at

July 2, 2008—The Americas Society and Council of the Americas hail Colombia’s rescue of 15 captives, including Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans, held by the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerilla group. The rescue is a victory not only for all the captives and their families, but also for the institutional strength of a government besieged by the FARC for over 40 years.

The rescue of Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate captured in 2002, as well as of three American military contractors taken in 2003, is a decisive strike against the FARC and an important step toward the continued reassertion of the rule of law and state authority.

“Over time, President Uribe has considerably weakened the territorial control of the FARC. By rescuing four of its highest profile hostages, he has significantly reduced the FARC’s ability to bargain internationally,” said Susan Segal, President and CEO of AS/COA.

The United States must do all it can to support nations such as Colombia, which has proven itself a willing and able partner and a leader in the region. At AS/COA’s 2008 Washington Conference on the Americas, Colombia Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos emphasized Colombia’s transition to a model of democratic security, a transformation assisted in part through its partnership with the United States. With this historic event, Colombia has again demonstrated its determination to actively shape its future.

Americas Society (AS) is the premier forum dedicated to education, debate, and dialogue in the Americas. Its mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social, and economic issues confront Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.

Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Council’s membership consists of leading international companies representing a broad spectrum of sectors including banking and finance, consulting services, consumer products, energy and mining, manufacturing, media, technology, and transportation.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008, a Press Release From The Council on Hemispheric Affairs – The Washington DC based COHA.

FARC Must Now Begin To Think About Its End Game.

In recent weeks, COHA has issued a number of communiqués to the press that have explored various aspects of Colombia’s domestic and regional policies. This material, in addition to that which is available on its website, can be obtained by contacting COHA’s office at  coha at or calling 202-223-4975. To contact COHA director Larry Birns, please call 202-215-3473.

FARC’s Fatal Blow
In yet another blow to Colombia’s leftist guerrilla group Las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (FARC), former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and fourteen other hostages were freed in a brilliant military operation on 2 July 2008. Betancourt was taken captive six years ago and was, for the duration of that time, the FARC’s highest profile hostage. Among the other detainees rescued are three American defense contractors and members of the Colombian security forces.

According to Colombia’s hardline Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, whose star is very much in ascendancy in a movie-script fashion, Colombian intelligence forces managed to infiltrate the FARC’s Secretariat and intercept the transfer of key hostages from one area of the country to another. The operation, termed jaque, after the Spanish word “check,” as in “check mate,” was the culmination of a year’s worth of preparation. The rescue of the hostages represents a huge victory for the Uribe government and yet another in a series of crucial defeats for FARC forces. It may also signal the successful impact of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been pumped annually into the Colombian military by the U.S. under Plan Colombia. Such funds already have been used to persuade hundreds, if not thousands, of FARC fighters to demobilize and certainly provided a strong motivation for the murder of Ivan Ríos (for which his renegade personal bodyguard was rewarded $2.5 million).

FARC’s Precarious Future
With Betancourt’s release, the FARC has lost its highest profile hostage and now is in a very precarious position for negotiation and may have to bow to the demands of the Colombian government. Hopefully, its recent fate will be a clear signal to the FARC that Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was correct when, on June 10 of this year, he urged “Enough of so much war, it is time to sit down and talk of peace. […] The guerrilla has passed into history.”

Recalling the abrupt decline of Peru’s Shining Path guerrilla movement after the 1992 capture of its leader Abimael Guzman, it is unlikely that FARC will be able to survive in its present form given the natural death of its leader, Manuel Marulanda, and the series of crippling blows it has experienced at the hands of the Colombian army. Undoubtedly, Colombia’s military has been assisted by the CIA and the hundreds of U.S. armed forces advisors and trainers now in the country.

Political Implications
Uribe has benefited immensely from the rapid decline in the FARC’s vitality and relevance. Only time will tell how Uribe’s military exploits and his astronomical approval rating will affect the possible de-legitimization of his 2006 run for office. It will also be interesting to see if Betancourt, immensely popular during her run for Senate and the presidency, will present a very strong challenge to the president if she decides to run for office either in a possible re-run election or the official elections slated for 2010.

It is true that Uribe’s hawkish democratic security policy has resulted in significant progress for the country. Homicide and kidnapping rates have fallen dramatically and Colombians have resumed many of their ordinary activities without fear of suffering violence caused by the conflict. His popularity is a result of these advances, however, this success may unfortunately lend credibility to those who have supported Uribe’s iron-fist approach and substantive program from the beginning: members of the Bush administration and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. The danger in attributing Uribe’s accomplishments to U.S. foreign policy achievements in Latin America is that it reaffirms strategies that are overly simplistic and ill-informed. It should not be ignored that upwards of twenty percent of Uribe’s legislature is currently under investigation for its links to paramilitary groups, who are historic human rights violators. Even Uribe himself has been accused of links to the illegally armed groups. Mindless U.S. support of a regime that tacitly allowed such groups to function should not be applauded nor should the hundreds of trade union leaders that have been murdered during the Uribe presidency be forgotten.

Additionally, cocaine’s effect on the trajectory of the conflict cannot be underestimated. In the 2008 World Drug Report, the United Nations reported that coca cultivation in Colombia increased 27% in 2007. Assistant secretary of State Thomas Shannon attributed these statistics to the growing sophistication of coca cultivators. This is certainly true for many aspects of the conflict. For every bit of progress that the Colombian government makes, various actors will try to stay one step ahead, driven by vast cocaine profits which provide an incredibly strong incentive for the continued destabilization of Colombian institutions. No matter what the ultimate fate of the FARC, it will be quite some time before Colombia can claim victory for the quality or depth of its democracy.

This analysis was prepared by Research Associates Erina Uozumi, Jessica Bryant, Elizabeth Reavey, Chris Sweeney, Michael Katz, and Aviva Elzufon.


But also in the news:

Banana-gate: McCain Backer’s Firm Pleaded Guilty To Funding Anti-FARD Terrorist Group In Colombia.The co-host of a recent top-dollar fundraiser for Sen. John McCain oversaw the payment of roughly $1.7 million to a Colombian paramilitary group that is today designated a terrorist organization by the United States. Former Chiquita CEO oversaw $1.7 million payoff to right-wing paramilitary group.
Posted by Nico Pitney, Huffington Post at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2008.

Carl H. Lindner Jr., the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International from 1984 to 2001, and remained on the company’s board of directors until May 2002. Beginning under his tenure, Chiquita executives paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym AUC), which is described by George Washington University’s National Security Archive as an “illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country’s most notorious civilian massacres.”

Following a Justice Department indictment last year, Chiquita admitted to illegally funding the paramilitaries and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. Chiquita’s payments to the AUC began in 1997 and lasted seven years; roughly half of the funds came after the group was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in 2001.

According to the Justice Department, the payments “were reviewed and approved by senior executives” of Chiquita, who knew by no later than September 2000 “that the AUC was a violent, paramilitary organization.”

Late last week, Lindner co-hosted a $25,000-per-person fundraiser for McCain and the Republican Party in the wealthy Indian Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. The event raised about $2 million; Lindner also serves on McCain’s Ohio Victory Team.

While Lindner was CEO of Chiquita, the company began sending money to the AUC through its shipping subsidiary Banadex. A report by the Organization of American States states that Banadex also engaged in arms trafficking, helping to deliver 3,000 Nicaraguan AK-47 rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition to the AUC in 2001. According to federal prosecutors, when company officials realized the arrangement was illegal, they switched to making the payments in cash.

“We believe they saved people’s lives,” a Chiquita spokesman told Time magazine last year, alleging that the company was simply trying to avoid violence against their employees.

Chiquita’s funding of violent paramilitaries does not end with the right-wing AUC. The fruit giant “had been making similar payments to the leftist FARC and ELN guerrillas” since 1989, also on Lindner’s watch. Those payments ended in 1997 as “control of the company’s banana-growing area shifted” to the AUC, according to the Associated Press.

McCain, who is currently visiting Colombia to promote free trade, has described FARC as “one of the worst” terrorist groups and accused his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, of being unwilling to support Colombian President Uribe’s anti-terrorist efforts.

That the Arizona Republican is raising funds from a man whose company once paid that very same terrorist group seems likely to sully his charge.

Aides to the Senator did not return request for comment, though they have repeatedly argued that the campaign does not have direct connections to companies represented by such fundraisers or advisers and, as such, should not be held accountable for their actions or presumed to be persuaded by their interests.

However, in the past, McCain has done favors on Lindner’s behalf. Last May, the Washington Post reported that in the late 1990s, McCain “promoted a deal in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest involving property part-owned by Great American Life Insurance, a company run by billionaire Carl H. Lindner Jr., a prolific contributor to national political parties and presidential candidates.”

Moreover, McCain’s chief political adviser, Charlie Black, lobbied for Chiquita on two separate occasions in 2001. According to records, Black was paid $80,000 to work on foreign trade issues.

Black, as the Huffington Post reported on Tuesday, has represented other controversial clients with operations in Colombia. From 2001 through 2007, his work brought his firm more than $1.6 million in lobbying fees from Occidental Petroleum, a company whose security arm was accused of bombing a Colombian village and killing 17 civilians in 1998.

[ED: The families of the victims of the paramilitary are suing Chiquita for arming the terrorists.]




Posted on on June 2nd, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Washington Revives the Fourth Fleet: The Return of U.S. Gun Boat Diplomacy to Latin America.

What does Ecuador’s President Correa know that Colombia’s President Uribe also knows?

This is What The Council On Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Asks In an e-mail of June 2, 2008.…
President Correa’s persistence in terms of pursuing the validity of the data found on the laptops seized by Colombian forces during their March 1, 2008 raid on the FARC camp located just inside the Ecuadorian border, raises questions on the motivation for his stand. Is it that Correa feels that he has little to lose if the whole story comes out because the facts will vindicate him? If he felt that Ecuador would be in any way be compromised as a result of full disclosure, why would he drill away at the incident?

Both Colombia’s President Uribe and Venezuela’s President Chávez have exhibited conflicting attitudes over downgrading the exposure being given to the present confrontation between Bogotá and Caracas. At times, they throw gasoline at the fire, while at other times, they seemingly attempt to snuff out the flame. President Correa, however, has never relented on his insistence that Colombia not only make restitutions for the cross border incursion, but also apologize for Bogotá’s current media campaign and allegations against his country.

Relations between the two countries, already strained by the longtime issue of toxic herbicide spraying of Ecuadorian territory along the Colombian border, have been further exacerbated by the bitter mistrust between the Colombian and Ecuadorian leaders regarding the FARC files. Correa claims that the only contact that Ecuador has had with the FARC was of a humanitarian nature, and that guerrilla infiltration across the borders is impossible to totally control by either side. Uribe has countered that Ecuador was harboring terrorists, thus implying that Quito was explicitly protecting the FARC.

Therefore, Correa ´s committed campaign against Colombia and his unwillingness to yield in his insistence in obtaining President Uribe’s public acknowledgement of Colombia’s culpability, which would exonerate Ecuador’s good name, raises a specific question. Why would Correa so relentlessly stick with the issue if he were not convinced that he possessed a strong hand in arguing that Ecuador had no compromising relationship with the FARC, that the laptop revealed no embarrassing information regarding that relationship (at least from Quito’s perspective), and that, at best, Colombia’s case against Ecuador is weak and deserves little sympathy either from the region or the international community. Or could it be that the FARC computer scandal has been largely contrived by Colombia to discredit any number of South American left-leaning administrations as part of a larger conservative campaign to isolate these governments and reinforce Washington’s assessment of the situation and the way in which it would like to have the script read?
Prepared by COHA Research Associate Erina Uozumi
• Administration not bothering to conceal implicit threat to the region

• After ignoring Latin America for most of his Presidency, Bush dispatches the Navy

• The steady remilitarization of Panama may provide a safe haven for the revitalized fleet

• FTA with Panama could grant U.S. access to canal zone military facility for Fourth Fleet

• Correa facetiously suggests that Manta be moved to Colombia

The dearth of diplomatic content in the April 24 Pentagon announcement left little mystery regarding the purpose behind Washington’s decision to reestablish the Fourth Fleet to patrol Latin American and Caribbean waters. As Washington shifts its attention back to the Western Hemisphere, it will have to grapple with issues that have been on the back burner for more than a decade. The return of the Fourth Fleet, largely unnoticed by the U.S. press, appears to represent a policy shift that projects an image of Washington once again asserting its military authority on the region, coincidentally coinciding with the announcement that Brazil has just launched a military initiative, the Conselho Sul-Americano de Defesa, embracing two of its neighbors with whom Washington has chilly relations.

The Rise of an Autonomous Latin America During a Period of U.S. Neglect:

While Washington has been involved in the Middle East, a number of Latin American governments have been enjoying a degree of de facto freedom from the State Department’s traditionally pervasive influence. This has given regional policymakers the opportunity to implement economic models, trade patterns and ideological commitments contrary to the liking of the U.S. Certainly, Venezuela’s Chavez stands out as the most energized and driven anti-U.S. regional leader, easily outranking Castro’s Cuba in regards to their contemporary influence. Not without his critics, the boldness of Chavez’s challenge to U.S. hemispheric supremacy and his willingness to duke it out mano-a-mano with the most powerful country in the world has aided his ascent to becoming a pivotal hemispheric leader. The surge in crude oil prices worldwide that began soon after Chávez took office, vaulting from $8 in 1998 to over $130 a barrel has today allowed him to implement an aggressive and foreseeing foreign trade and aid policy. Chávez single-handedly upgraded Venezuela’s military by using surplus petro-dollars to purchase large quantities of sophisticated Russian and Spanish military hardware.

In an apparent victory for Washington diplomacy, the socialist Chilean diplomat José Manuel Insulza was elected in 2005 to head the Organization of American States. Initially supporting the State Department’s perspective on trade strategy, he, in practice, asserted himself as a fairly reliable defender of Latin American autonomy. In 2006, Venezuela had fought a determined campaign against Washington favorite, Guatemala, to gain a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. To the dismay of both countries, a relatively “neutral” Panama eventually won the seat. While Washington campaigned to prevent Caracas from being seated, countries with compromised international standing such as Libya and Iran were chosen by their regional caucuses to the Security’s Council’s 2007-2009 term, without concerted U.S. opposition, indicating a lack of consistency in U.S. policy.

The Region’s Array of Ideologies and Balance of Forces:

The most significant legacy for Washington arising from its recent absence from American policy is the rise of ideologically left-leaning governments. This group of often like-minded leaders, sometimes referenced as the Pink Tide nations, is now considered a threat to Washington’s regional supremacy. At the forefront leftward shift are Venezuela’s Chavez, Bolivia’s Morales, Ecuador’s Correa, Cuba’s Castro, and Nicaragua’s Ortega. Comprising a more moderate left are Uruguay’s Vasquez and Paraguay’s Lugo. Brazil and Argentina, generally considered charter members of the Pink Tide countries, continue to deal with matters pragmatically, usually influenced by their status as regional heavyweights.

The U.S. only has two reliable allies in South America, Colombia’s Uribe and Peru’s Garcia. As these two leaders see it, it is in their best interest to not join the Pink Tide. Uribe, whose high domestic approval ratings reflect successes in his combating of the FARC, is receiving financial support from the U.S. Garcia, who tends to engage in “chameleon” politics, has made domestic policy rather than foreign policy his priority. This is in his best interest as he faces waning approval ratings that reflect the divisions within his ruling APRA party and the complex fall out from the trial of former dictator Alberto Fujimori.

The White House Does Not Get It When it Comes to Latin America:
The inattention to Latin America by the Bush Administration has created a debacle in recent years. The White House and the State Department did not place seasoned Latin Americanists at the top of the policymaking ladder. In spite of his Jamaican descent, for example, Colin Powell never demonstrated a strong interest in the region as Secretary of State. During Powell’s term, policy initiatives regarding Cuba were left almost exclusively to Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich, U.S. Diplomat Roger Noriega, and United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. These Cold War-era hawks continued to center regional policy on a decidedly anti-Cuban bias, while focusing a comparably hostile posture toward Hugo Chavez. Visits to the Latin America by U.S. leaders including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice from April 25-30, 2005 to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and El Salvador; President Bush in March 2007 to Brazil; and by then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to Paraguay in April 2005, tended to be photo opportunities that did little to improve relations in any significant manner..

Recent U.S. policy initiatives in Latin America include the debut of the Central American Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR). Gaining the backing of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, CAFTA-DR will expose signatory countries economies to an influx of cheap U.S. subsidized agricultural produce and the domination by multi-national corporations that may stamp out local competition. Also, the shadowy, coerced ousting of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in February 2004 had several members of the Caribbean Community upset with the U.S. and France of helping bring about the de-facto coup against the Haitian president.

Navy Prepares for the Fourth Fleet:
The revived Fourth Fleet will be headquartered at the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) base at Mayport Naval Station in Florida. Rear Admiral Joseph Kernan, current commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, will direct it when it becomes operational on July 1, 2008. The degree of integration among the Fourth Fleet, SOUTHCOM, the U.S. Coast Guard and other Homeland Security agencies in carrying out discreet operations in the area of anti-terrorism remains to be seen. The precise size of the fleet is also unclear. An April 24 Bloomberg report mentions that the fleet will be lead by the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS George Washington. SOUTHCOM presently has eleven vessels that could potentially be placed under the authority of the Fourth Fleet. The head of SOUTHCOM, Admiral James G. Stavridis, is also a ranking naval officer. The working relationship among fleet commanders in terms of coordinating forces and missions could prove to be problematic.

This past April, vessels from the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina participated in UNITAS Atlantic “a SOUTHCOM-sponsored multi-national naval exercise to enhance security cooperation.” Part of the series of international exercises that are emerging in the region, participating Latin American militaries saw UNITAS Atlantic as a way to train their personnel and gain access to greater military technologies The USS George Washington was among the participating U.S. warships. In March-April of 2008, another military exercise, TRADEWINDS 2008, took place off the coast of the Dominican Republic and involved a number of Caribbean countries, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Some Latin American and Caribbean military personnel may be excited by the arrival of the units of the Fourth Fleet at their docks with the possibility of obtaining valuable instruction from their U.S. and British counterparts while others will uncomfortably recall the days of the era of U.S. Naval supremacy.

Friendly Ports:

The emerging geopolitical situation in the Western Hemisphere calls into question where the friendly ports will be available for the Fourth Fleet to harbor.

Ecuador’s Correa adamantly insists that he will not tolerate any renewal of the U.S. lease of Manta, a multipurpose facility located on Ecuador’s Pacific coastline, which expires in 2009.

Rumors have been circulating that Peru is the next candidate for the U.S. to negotiate moorage rights, but President Alan Garcia repeatedly denies such speculations.

With the loss of Manta, what other friendly harbors will exist in the region? A close ally of the U.S., President Uribe of Colombia, could invite the Manta base operation to relocate to Guajira, near the border with Venezuela. Although the rumor received some validation by U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield, who previously served as ambassador to Venezuela, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos emphatically has denied the possible move.

Panama instead has emerged as one of the U.S.’s most plausible candidates. Recently, there have been steps taken which indicate that the country is cautiously militarizing.

Panamanian President Martín Torrijos appointed military man Jaime Ruiz to the head of the police force on May 13 even though the country’s constitution states that it should be a civilian post. The Panamanian Minister of Government and Justice, Daniel Delgado Diamante, in reference to Merida Initiative (passed by the U.S. House of Foreign Affairs on May 14th and currently awaiting senate action, its goal is to combat crime and narco-trafficking in Mexico and Central America), has stated that Panama deserves a greater quantity of U.S. monetary aid since it previously seized 70 tons of cocaine, as opposed to Mexico’s 46 tons.

If Panama is militarizing under the cover of its anti-drug efforts, then the government is likely to welcome U.S. economic aid, technology, equipment, and expertise. There is potential for the perfect swap; military aid for a naval haven for the Fourth Fleet.

If U.S. anti-drug and anti-terrorism operations are moved from Manta, the next step could very well be relocating to La Gaujira or the Panama Canal among other possibilities.

The Fourth Fleet from a Geopolitical Point of View:

The revival of the Fourth Fleet may do little more than attempt to introduce a quick fix to Bush’s failed U.S. policy towards Latin America. The Fleet’s rebirth implies that Washington’s gun boat diplomacy represents a new call to arms.

The U.S. may again be prepared to use the prospect of military force if it is found necessary to protect U.S. national interests in Latin America. In particular, the possibility of using the Fourth Fleet already seems to be involved in a calculated and provocative move against Washington’s current bete noir, Hugo Chávez. As Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, stated, “this change increases our emphasis in the region on employing naval forces to build confidence and trust […] through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests.” The senior naval commander’s ominous words evoke sentiments akin to the collective security provisions of the Rio Pact of 1947, rather than a civic action template that stresses the use of military assistance mainly to provide humanitarian aid and relief. Traditionally organized along other lines, requires a different type of explanation than the rationale given for the revival of the Fourth Fleet.

Left-leaning Latin America has good reason to question the motives behind over the renewal of the U.S. notion that the Caribbean Sea is virtually mar Americanus.

The Pentagon’s aspirations – particularly during the tenure of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, to improve ties with militaries throughout the Americas by regular “ministerials,” could inadvertently encourage its Latin American counterparts to initiate similar scenarios of expansion, modernization, and the revival of their dangerous central roles plagued by past military juntas in their respective societies.

The Dispatch of the Fourth Fleet: A Turn to Style, not Substance – Washington’s Fourth Fleet initiative is mainly not a welcomed development in U.S. Latin American policy relations. While raising apprehensions of covert U.S. military and intelligence ranks to the armed forces of hemispheric leftist regimes, as voiced by Correa of Ecuador in April 2008, the Fleet’s presence could also lead to the diminishment local funding for broad social and humanitarian needs as Latin America’s defense establishments will seek to bolster their budgets in response to the growing threat posed by neighboring militaries which are building up their armed forces.

The return of gun boat diplomacy is only a confirmation to Latin America that the U.S. is unaware of some of the new realities as the region seeks out its destiny without the White House at its helm.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Director Larry Birns and Research Associate Aviva Elzufon
June 2nd, 2008


Posted on on March 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Columbia Business School, March 28, 2008, Hosted LABA (Latin American Business Association) Conference 2008.

The Topic – “LATIN AMERICA: Growth Perspectives in a Shifting Political Landscape.” posted the announcement as we received it from YPIC – the UN affiliated “Young Professionals for International Cooperation.”

The meeting had 5 Sessions – serious business advice – Growth Oriented – and networking.
I will restrict the reporting to a star studded Fifth-Session actually titled: “THE SHIFTING LATIN AMERICAN POLITICAL LANDSCAPE.” This was indeed the special thing about this year’s meeting.

Interestingly, the two stars of the panel were both “Have-Be-ens” of sorts – Ex-Presidents of their countries. But – and watch this – they actually were those that put things in motion that are part of the present developments in their respective countries – though the emergence of the China factor came after them. From their “freedom to analyse” now – their presentations were enlightening indeed.

The Former Presidents were – President Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, and President Alexandro Toledo of Peru.

Further, President Gaviria is also Former Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The Chairman was also an important “EX-” and now Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University. Jose Antonio Ocampo, who was put in place of the previously announced Mr. Andres Oppenheimer, 1978 Graduate of The Columbia School of Journalism, now Latin American editor and syndicated foreign affairs columnist, The Miami Herald – The Newspaper for the Americas in the city that calls itself the capital of Latin America.

Professor Jose Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian national, teaches now courses in the Ph.D. program in Sustainable Development and has an active role in the Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought. He came to Columbia from the UN where he was UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) under UN Secretary-General Kofi Annanappointed September 1, 2003 to suceed Mr. Nitin Dessai of India. He was replaced by the new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, as the rumors are at the UN, because he had to promise that slot to China. So – Ocampo went from Colombia to UN and from there to Columbia (the “U” changed to “u” but we are glad he still will be involved in Sustainable Development – as the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was part of his domain at the UN – who knows – he might be able to do more good in his new job then in the previous job).

Professor Ocampo, prior to his coming to the UN, served in various positions in the government of Colombia as Minister of nearly every economic topic, and head of agrarian banks. He was also Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 1998 – 2003, before coming to the UN, and that position gave him the overview of all of Latin America. His recent publications include “Stability with Growth: Macroeconomics, Liberalization and Development,” with Joseph E. Stiglitz, Shari Spiegel, Ricardo French-Davis and Deepak Nayyar, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Professor Ocampo was also a Professor in the Advanced Programme on Rethinking Development Economics at Cambridge University, a Professor of Economics at Universidad de los Andes of Bogota, a Professor of Economic History at the National University of Colombia, as well as a Visiting Fellow at Yale and Oxford.

Introducing the Session, Ocampo said that Gaviria was his boss. Ocampo said that both men had successful periods even though there were controversies in Toledo’s days at helm. There is now a shifting Political Landscape and people talk of two different lefts in Latin America. Ocampo would like to hear from the two Presidents what they think of these changes, and what they think the US elections would imply for Latin America?

President CESAR GAVIRIA TRUJILLO is currently National Director of the Colombian Liberal Party, and is a member of the Advisory Commission of External Relations of Colombia, where, it is said, he recently contributed mediation in the diplomatic incidents between the Colombian Government and the States of Ecuador and Venezuela.

He studied at Universidad de los Andes in the 1960’s and established there AIESEC (the local chapter of the International Association of the Students of Economics), and then in 1968 he was elected President of AIESEC in Colombia. This began his public service career. { Personally I found this interesting, because sometime in the begining of the 80’s I came to Medellin, Antioquia, as a speaker at a Global AIESEC meeting, and most probably had then the chance to meet him.} At 23 he was elected councilman of his hometown in Pereira, in the Coffee famous Risaralda State. 4 years later he became Mayor. In 1974 he was elected into the House of Representatives, before rising to the top in 1983. Three years later he became co-chair of the Colombian Liberal Party.

He was first elected to Congress in 1974; 1986 – 1990 he served in Virgilio Barco’s government, first as Minister of Finance and later as Minister of the Interior, then when Liberal Candidate Senator Gallant was assassinated, he became the Presidential Candidate, and President, August 7, 1990 – August 7, 1994. The period of Presidents Barco and Gaviria was marked by a process of trying peace with the M-19 and other rebells.

As President he did economic reforms to bring Colombia into the International economy; his time saw growth, the convocation of a Constituent Assembly to fortify Colombian Democracy, Human Rights laws, he made the Central Bank independent, and privatized many public service and infrastructure institutions.

He was followed in offfice by Ernesto Samper Pizano also from the Liberal Party who had a difficult campaign against Andrés Pastrana Arango, the candidate of the Colombian Conservative Party. Opinion polls were sharply divided. The elections for President took place on 29 May 1994. Ernesto Samper was elected president by a very narrow margin. Strangely eventually Ernesto Samper became also 16th Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement (October 20, 1995 – August 7, 1998). Andres Pastrana and the Conservatives won the Presidency in 1998.

But, there is another parallel story here. Samper was accused shortly after his presidential victory by his opponent and future successor, Andrés Pastrana Arango, of having received campaign donations from the Cali drug cartel in an excess of $6 million US dollars. Samper initially denied the allegations and deemed his political adversary as a sore loser, but soon afterwards a series of tape recordings were released to the public, the so called narco-cassettes. The Prosecutor General at the time, Alfonso Valdivieso, personally led the investigation. Valdivieso was cousin of the late Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a charismatic presidential candidate assassinated by the Medellín Cartel in 1989 for his political views, particularly for favoring the extradition of drug dealers to the United States. Soon, the investigations led by Valdivieso unveiled a more than evident connection between the Cali drug cartel and top figures of Colombia’s society including politicians, journalists, athletes, army and police officers, and artists, among others.

A corollary to the Samper story: As a consequence of the political turmoil, the U.S. government withdrew any political assistance to Samper’s government. For consecutive years, Samper’s administration was lambasted by the US for its supposed failure to make every effort to effectively fight the war against cocaine and the Cali Cartel. Additionally, the US revoked Samper’s visa and thereby effectively banned him from entering the country. Then in July 2006, the present Colombia President, Álvaro Uribe, offered Samper Colombia’s ambassadorship to France. This led to the resignation of Former President and Colombian ambassador to the U.S., Andrés Pastrana, who criticized the decision. Opposition was also expressed by the media, political groups and other parts of Colombian society. In the end, Samper did not accept the offer.

Andres Pastrana was President August 7, 1998 – August 7, 2002, and 17th Secretary General of Non-Aligned Movement only between August 7, 1998 – September 3, 1998 when he was succeeded by Nelson Mandela. In 2002 he was succeeded as President by Álvaro Uribe Vélez who started out as a Liberal Party member, and is now in his second term (till August 7, 2010) as President, seemingly as an Independent.

The International Herald Tribune of May 29, 2006 wrote: “Colombian president wins 2nd term.”
By Juan Forero, BOGOTà , Colombia: “President Álvaro Uribe, considered by the Bush administration to be an unswerving caretaker for Washington’s drug war in Latin America, was re-elected Sunday in a landslide to a second four-year term. Colombians gave Uribe 62 percent of the vote, with nearly all of the votes counted. Voters were apparently satisfied that he had made headway during his first term in wresting control of this country from Marxist rebels and drug traffickers. He overwhelmed the second-place finisher, Carlos Gaviria, a left-of-center former Constitutional Court justice who received 22 percent of the vote, and Horacio Serpa, the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer, who garnered less than 12 percent. “

We wrote this lengthy introduction in order to be able to say that seemingly – the Branco-Gaviria times in Colombian recent history were probably the best days the country has seen for a long time – though, it is now the tough hand of President Uribe that is most appreciated by Washington.

Dr. ALEXANDRO TOLEDO was democratically elected President of Peru from July 2001-July 2006. He was elected by narrowly defeating former President Alan García. It was Toledo’s second presidential race in just 13 months. A year earlier he ran against incumbent Alberto K. Fujimori. Toledo dropped out of the runoff election amid widespread allegations that the election was rigged in Fujimori’s favor. Months after being reelected, Fujimori fled to his native Japan and resigned via fax after the broadcast of Fujimori’s chief spy, Vladimiro Montesinos, evidently bribing an opposition congressman to switch parties.

Toledo was born in a small and remote village in the Peruvian Andes, 12,000 feet above sea level. He is one of sixteen brothers and sisters from a family of extreme poverty. His father was a bricklayer and his mother sold fish at markets. At the age of six, he worked as a street shoe shiner and simultaneously sold newspapers and lotteries to supplement the family income.

At age 16, with the guidance of members of the Peace Corps, Toledo enrolled at the University of San Francisco on a one-year scholarship. He continued his education, obtaining a partial soccer scholarship and making up the difference by pumping gas.

In addition to two masters degrees, he earned a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford, where he met his wife, Elaine Karp, a Belgian-born American anthropologist. Dr. Toledo was able to go from extreme poverty to the most prestigious academic centers of the world, later becoming one of the most prominent democratic leaders of Latin America. He is the first Peruvian president of indigenous descent to be democratically elected in five hundred years.

Dr. Toledo attributes his academic and political accomplishments as being the result of a statistical error. His most precious dream and work now is that other men and women of the large socially excluded Peruvian and Latin American population can also become presidents of their respective countries by having access to quality health care and education.

On the stump, like the most experienced politicians, Toledo knows how to work a crowd, whether addressing peasants or potential foreign investors. Seamlessly transitioning from a buttoned-down, eloquent economist to a rebel outfitted in jeans, a t-shirt, and a bandana, Toledo is well versed in international trade and promises to give voice to the labor movement.

Mostly, though, Toledo has preached a centrist platform, pledging to award small-business loans to farmers, balance the budget, lure foreign investment, and create jobs. Toledo’s moderate campaign and carefully selected issues have found broad appeal.

President Toledo first appeared on the international political scene in 1996 when he formed and led a broad democratic coalition in the streets of Peru to bring down the autocratic regime of Alberto Fujimori. This coalition had the support of the international democratic community.

During the five years of Dr. Toledo’s presidency, the Peruvian economy grew at an average rate of 6 percent, registering as one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Inflation averaged 1.5 percent and fiscal deficit went as low as 0.2 percent. While markets in China and Thailand were opened, free trade agreement negotiations with the United States, Chile, Mexico and Singapore were about to conclude. These markets were generating new investments and jobs for the most poverty-stricken Peruvians.

The fight against poverty through health and educational investment was the central aim of Dr. Toledo’s presidency. As a result of sustained economic growth and deliberate social policies directed to the most poor, extreme poverty was reduced by 25 percent in five years. Employment grew at an average rate of 6 percent from 2004-2006.

Before becoming President, Dr. Toledo worked for the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, and the United Nations in New York.

During his academic years, Professor Toledo was a visiting scholar and a research associate at Harvard University and Waseda University in Tokyo. He is currently an economics professor (on leave) at the University of ESAN in Peru.

1986-1991: Director, Economic Development Institute (IDE/ESAN), Lima, Peru.

1989: Leader of the PNUD/OIT mission for the evaluation of: “Impact of Macroeconomic Policies on Growth, Employment and Salaries” in six Central American countries, UNDP/ New York.

1981- 1983: Chairman of the Economic Advisory Committee to the President of the Central Reserve Bank and the Labor Minister in Peru under President Fernando Belaunde.

1981-1983: General Director, Institute of Economic and Labor Studies, Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Lima, Peru.

Current Activities:

-Payne Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies (FSI – Stanford University) and Visiting Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) for the 2007-2008 academic year.

-Distinguished Fellow in residency at the Center for Advanced Studies and Behavioral Science (CASBS) at Stanford for the 2006-2008 academic years.

-Founder and President of the Global Center for Development and Democracy (GCDD), which studies the interrelationship between poverty, inequality, and the future of democratic governance.

To read more about this amazing man who is an unusual giant hidden in a diminutive figure – see please:…
Gaviria was the first to make an introductory speech. He said he was happy to be here with Toledo, because of Toledo’s attempt to bring back democracy to Peru. This is needed now in Colombia. Toledo, was first of the great number of the mestizo/Indio people to be able to head an administration that will be recognized in time as successful.

Latin American governments are – some say are from the right others from the left – but this is an oversimplification – this is true also in the US. The solutions are not only in the programs they say but in the markets.

(1) We had failed the race for growth – we had a lost decade then we saw optimism in the 90’s with 7-8% growth/year – then down to 2%. We still have many problems – do not think we are OK. A main problem is structural – the rate of saving. We had the Argentina crisis – started there – we did not solve it. The Financial Globalization – it is critical in LA.

Financial, Trade Globalization – it is useful as trade but the vulnerability in LA is from the Financial Globalization.We are all citizens of the World. The way NGOs work and bring up issues like child labor, discrimination against women – this changes us. A Colombian decision in Ecuador has disturbed the whole region.

(2) We need to understand that the political problems in LA are not just economic – they are social problems. The Quality of the Institutions – i.e. education – that is what is important – in order to enable to deal with the problems from globalization.

The US Ambassador in 1971 ( we assume he was talking about the Ambassador to Bogota) thought markets will solve the problems of LA – but political problems are more important. In India people organized themselves to supply the services that the government did not supply.

Toledo followed by saying that he had not the privilege to belong to Gaviria’s party, but he had the chance to study his leadership in Colombia and at the OAS. Now he said: “You have described the history, I will start with this as a base to build for the future.” He said upon himself that he feels he was intelligent before he got into politics, and will now take the five years of experience in his job (that is his five years as President), to look for the future.

LA has an opportunity to make a “qualitative jump” in the World Economy in the next 10-15 years. This is cautious optimism. He saw a growth of 6% LA average for 6 consecutive years . Peru had 9.1%/year. We are changing in relation to the internal composition of growth. WE SELL MANGOES TO CHINA. That is much better then the mineral commodities we used to export. These exports are much better because they are less dependent on the fluctuations of the market. We now have China & India of 2.3 billion people. The EU 500 million, our region 500 million. WE HAVE DIVERSIFIED FROM THE DEPENDENCE ON THE US.

Addressing the students – In the last 60 years we got a stock of human capital dispersed in the diaspora -if you do not lose your heart to Merrill-Lynch or JP Morgan. All we need is intelligent policy to recuperate. In the next 10 -15 years the region could become a player in the economy.

Today the G8 talk BRICs (Brazil Russia, India, China). I disagree: May be LARIC (Latin America, Russia, India, China). It is our responsibility to take in our hands the construction of the investments.

1. if we are capable we do not have to see 110 million people trying to survive on $1/day. This is not the environment that assists investment for growth and we do not reduce poverty.

2. Poverty and inequality of institutions – democratic government is in danger.

3. Cheap empty populism is the danger – it can emerge.

Toledo said that he has too much respect for the left to believe that Hugo Chaves is on the left. These types (the populists) were not able to obtain Sustainable Growth and distribute the gains to build up the countries.

Lack of access to clean water, medication, education … are the indicators. 122 million people included in the production cycle will buy more bread, socks and more yahoo – make a market. This besides the inclusion.

INVESTING IN REDUCING INEQUALITY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS AND PROFITABLE FOR THE MARKET. You in the business school are tempted by Wall Street. A modest suggestion – don’t lose the opportunity, the region is waiting for you. Colombia, Peru are waiting for you. It is a regional opportunity – if you don’t do it – nobody else will do it.

Toledo, before politics he was teaching econometrics. Don’t stay in the US – he repeated. I know you will forgo 20-30% of salary if you made a difference in your country.

Free Trade Agreements are of enormous importance. I sent a letter of Congratulation. I decided to work for the Colombia, Panama FTAs. This all makes sense if you integrate this with the medium and small companies – not only the big ones.

The busines of inclusion is god for democracy and business. Toledo goes now to Kiev to talk about democracy.


Answering to a question from Ocampo about the US in LA?

Toledo said that there is check & balances in Venezuela. True – there was significant set-back in the country.

On Bolivia – yes it had a good economic policy for years, but it collapsed because of lack of representation of indigenous people. Morales was very important in Bolivia.

When the Argentinian crisis came – the devaluation – the US was disengaged. The Argentinians never got a visit from the US treasury, IMF. They got an Anti-Americanism that was not there before.

The American government supported the coup in Venezuela.

The crisis in Brazil came from the Asia Crisis. The US did not show interest.

There were great mistakes on the US side. Mistakes in US foreign policy.

On the US elections?

We Need A New Relationship Based On Respect Of LA Governments And Public Opinion.

This is not a question of left – but of mistakes.

I think NAFTA was good. But Mexico is going bankrupt even with NAFTA. It should grow 6%. It is like Portugal, Greece, Spain.

Brazil had last year the first good year 5%. Colombia had 7%, Peru 8%.

Globalization & Trade do not check with distribution of income. One must look into that. We need to do a lot more about these people.

Ocampo summing up:

(1) Hugo Chaves? He is not a problem – he is a consequence. Try to confront poverty by giving official aid.

(2) Professionally, going back to Colombia is a great opportunity.

(3) The need for strong democratic institutions and a just judiciary institution, Freedom of the Press, a strong curriculum – and these strong democratic institutions will solve the accountability problem. Lack of democracy thus lack of accountability.

Clean Water is strongly associated with poverty and democracy.

WE NEED MORE LEADERS THEN PREDICTIONS. Leaders that have the capacity to do investments.

The difference between leaders and politicians? Politicians make a decision for next election and profitability is not in the next 3-4 years. In LA one must make decisions so that accountancy is not dependent from selling mineral commodities.

We need an economy of knowledge that depends on other products.



Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo.

Colombian President César Gaviria

Columbia University Professor José Antonio Ocampo, Former USG at UNDESA


Posted on on June 5th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

As if harm to life on this planet was not a complete justification that we must do something to change our ways that cause destruction, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon thought he had to stress   the homocentricity of the problem. He spoke at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Panama City, on his way to the G8+5 meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany and mention the implication to the UN established MDGs.

Projected changes in Earth’s climate present more than just an environmental concern, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told the Organization of American States (OAS), warning of the “serious social and economic impications.”
A UN DPI Press Release says: Addressing last night’s opening session of 37th OAS General Assembly on its theme   “energy for sustainable development,” (the quotation marks are in the text) Mr. Ban said the adverse effects of climate change were already being felt in areas ranging from agriculture and food security to human health and energy, transport and industry.

Global warming, he added, could seriously impair the ability to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the set of eight internationally agreed targets for reducing social and economic ills, and could even reverse achievements in human development.

“Today all countries recognize that climate change requires a long-term global response, in line with the latest scientific findings, and compatible with economic and social development,” he said.

Mr. Ban’s participation in the annual gathering was part of a two-day visit to Panama – his first trip to Latin America as Secretary-General.

During his speech he stressed the need for partnerships to combat climate change, adding that he believed that members of the OAS were “already on the right track” in this field.

“Your region has become a world leader on biofuels, which is an area, if treated carefully,   has significant potential. You are successfully implementing national energy efficiency programmes to promote a better use of resources, greater environmental sustainability, and economic growth.” (Thus we feel good about the positive nod the UN Secretary-General gave to national programs that involve conservation and renewables and the Brazilian ethanol program – to be replicated whenever possible.)

The OAS, which brings together the nations of the western hemisphere, is the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and confronting shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs and corruption.

Today he heads to Madrid for the second leg of his three-country tour. In the Spanish capital he is scheduled to meet King Juan Carlos, Prime Minister José Luís Rodriguez Zapatero and senior officials, and he will also visit the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization.

The last leg will be in Germany, where Mr. Ban will attend the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) nations at Heiligendamm and hold a series of bilateral meetings during his two-day visit Thursday and Friday. He will return to New York next weekend.


Posted on on April 14th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (







Posted on on February 7th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cheney’s banker attacks his policies, by Andrew Buncombe for The Independent of London – February 7, 2007.

The investment manager who looks after an estimated $5m ( £2.5m) of Vice-President Dick Cheney’s money has criticised America’s energy policy.

In an email to clients – presumably Mr Cheney among them – Jeremy Grantham rails against the country’s refusal to confront climate change.

“The US is the only country in which environmental data is steadily attacked in a well-funded campaign of disinformation,” writes Mr Grantham, whose comments were revealed by the website

Of George Bush’s call to replace 20 per cent of petrol with ethanol, Mr Grantham says: “US corn-based ethanol, as opposed to efficient, Brazilian sugar-based ethanol, is merely another US farmer-protection programme, made very expensive both directly and indirectly by inflating real agricultural prices.”

————————— would like to make further comment: It is interesting that Mr. Cheney invests his money via a London based brokerage house – this meaning presumably in British Currency. We think he knows something about US policies as part of the White House, and the impact of these policies on the value of the US dollar – and he knows the direction of the conversion rates as a function of the US deficit and ballooning debt this White House engineered. After robbing his people – now he invests in London – that is in our opinion the real news.