April 28, 2017

ENGLAND: A Female Terror Suspect Resisting Arrest Shot By Police And Six Other (Dare I Say? Islamist) Arrested During An Anti-Terror Operation In London. Police Making Arrest On Almost Daily Basis.

Sky News, Australia
written by Staff
Friday April 28, 2017

A woman has been shot by police and four people were arrested during an anti-terror operation in north west London and Kent.

Armed officers entered a property in Harlesden Road, Willesden, shortly before 7pm on Thursday evening.

During the raid the woman, who was among a number of people under investigation, was shot. No other people were injured.

In unverified footage from the scene, specialist firearms officers can be seen outside a house and several gunshots were heard.

The woman, aged in her 20s, was taken to hospital where she is under police guard.

Police said she has not been arrested "at this time" due to her condition, which is said to be 'serious but stable'.

As part of the operation, four people have been arrested on suspicion of terror offences.

A 16-year-old youth and a woman, 20, were detained at the property, while a 20-year-old man was arrested nearby.

A 43-year-old woman was held in Kent a short while later.

They are in custody at a south London police station.

Police said the Willesden property and people connected to it had been "under observation by counter-terrorism officers as part of an ongoing intelligence-led operation".

Detectives are carrying out searches there as well as at other addresses across the capital.

The shooting has been referred to the Metropolitan Police's Directorate of Professional Standards as well as the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The raid was not connected to the arrest earlier in the day in Whitehall of a man who police say was carrying a rucksack containing several knives. [News about this Islamist terrorist arrest is explained in the two videos I shared below. (emphasis mine)]

The Telegraph, UK
written by Rozina Sabur Martin Evans
Friday April 28, 2017

A police operation in north London during which a woman was shot, foiled an active terror plot, Scotland Yard has said.

Armed officers raided a property in the Willesden area shortly after 7pm on Thursday evening and a woman in her 20s was shot by police.

Six people were arrested during the operation and police said the woman remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, who is the senior national coordinator for Counter Terror Policing said the operation had foiled an "active plot" and he paid tribute to the officers involved.

It is understood the police had been watching the property as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism operation, but decided to go in after receiving specific intelligence.

The raid took place at a Victorian property on Harlesden Road and locals reported hearing a number of shots as heavily armed officers from the Met's Counter Terror Specialist Firearms command stormed the house.

The operation took place just a few hours after a man was arrested in Westminster on suspicion of terrorism offences after being stopped close to Downing Street carrying a rucksack packed with knives.

But Scotland Yard said the two matters were unrelated.

Mr Basu said: "Our highly trained firearms officers carried out a specialist entry into an address in Harlesden Road that we had under observation as part of a current Counter Terrorism investigation.

"An armed entry was necessary due to the nature of the intelligence that we were dealing with, and involved armed officers firing CS into the address.

"During the course of that operation one of the subjects of that operation - a woman - was shot by police - she remains in hospital.

"Her condition is serious but stable. Because of her condition she has not yet been arrested. We are monitoring her condition closely."

He added: "In total six people have now been arrested in connection with that investigation - five at or near the address and one in Kent.

"The two further arrests were made when a man and a woman - both aged 28 - returned to the address later last night.

"Searches are ongoing at three London addresses - including Harlesden Road - as part of this investigation.

"Due to these arrests that we have made, I believe that we have contained the threats that they posed."

Locals described how they saw heavily armed officers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the address just after 7pm.

They said the house was occupied by a family of three who were occasionally visited by a an older woman in her 40s.

Neighbours said the injured woman was brought out of the house on a stretcher, wearing a (black) burka.

One said she shouted "don't touch my body" as paramedics tried to tend to her wounds.

Ruth Haile, 40, who has lived in the area for nine years and who witnessed the raid said: "I heard a shot and I looked out my window and there were dozens of police.

"The woman was being arrested, she was on the floor wearing an long dress and covered in a head scarf. She was shouting, 'Do not touch me, do not touch my body.'

"She was injured, she had a wound on her right side and doctors were trying to help her. There was a bandage on the wound. She was lying in the street and there were about five or six police around her, some of them were carrying guns."

Another neighbour said: "It's so scary, I don't know the family but I heard the gunshots. I never expected something like this."

Police said six people had been arrested including a 16-year-old boy and a 20-year-old woman who were detained at the address.

A 20-year-old man was arrested near to the address and a 43-year-old woman was arrested in Kent a short while later.

Two further people, a man and woman both aged 28, were arrested when they returned to the address last night.

All four have been arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts under section 41 of the terrorism act 2000.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been informed of the incident, as is routine for police shootings.

ITALY: Muslim Man Who Threatened To “Roast Non-Believers On Skewers” Arrested.

Jihad Watch
written by Robert Spencer
Tuesday April 25, 2017

Mouner El Aoual should be taken immediately to Pope Francis, who would explain to him that true Islam and the proper understanding of the Qur’an reject every form of violence. How fortunate we are to have imams such as Francis to explain it all for us. Now if they could only convince the Mouner El Aouals of the world.

“ISIS sympathizer who threatened to ‘roast non-believers on skewers’ arrested in Italy,” RT, April 25, 2017 (thanks to the Geller Report):

Italian police have arrested an “extremely dangerous” Moroccan man who had reportedly planned terrorist attacks in Italy and used social media to recruit accomplices, according to media reports.

Mouner El Aoual, 29, was arrested in Turin on Monday in an operation which included Italy’s Special Operations Group. It followed seven months of surveillance after an FBI tip-off.

According to media reports, the man used the app Zello to discuss plans to carry out attacks in Italy.

In one chat group online, El Aoual referred to himself as the spokesperson for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Italy. He used the handle ‘ibn dawala7,’ meaning ‘son of the state,’ and swore allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

El Aoual, who has lived illegally in Italy since 2008, also shared images of IS on Facebook, and praised recent terrorist attacks across Europe.

He also promoted Islamist extremism online, calling for “non-believers” to be “roasted on kebab skewers” and fed to dogs, according to a police report.

The 29-year-old reportedly shared material about various combat techniques and how to throw investigators off track, as well as behaviors which could make a person “invisible” while living in a Western country.

A judge for preliminary investigations called El Aoual an “extremely dangerous subject” who posed a “very high risk of moving on to carrying out serious acts of violence.”

Investigators said he had been living with an Italian mother and son who had come to think of him “almost as an adopted child.”…
The Mackensie Institute
Libya: The Islamic State’s Launching Pad Into Europe (part 2)
written by Dr. J. Paul De B. Taillon
April 27, 2016

Strategic Implications for Italy

Italy, in particular, is concerned both about the steady flood of migrants from Libya and the security of the Libyan oil and gas on which Italy is heavily dependent. A subsea pipeline from Tripoli supplies more than 10% of Italy’s natural gas requirement and a 2012 study reports that 21% of Italy’s oil requirements came from Libyan oil fields. The dependence on Libyan energy is epitomized in Italy’s biggest oil producer ENI which is heavily invested in Libya and continues to pump out the crude despite the security situation in the interior. Interestingly, international energy companies such as Shell and Total departed Libya in the wake of Qaddafi’s fall [that Obama and Hillary Clinton helped to facilitate (emphasis mine)], due to the security threat. Notwithstanding, the Italian ENI company remained, producing 300,000 barrels of oil per day, which is higher than the pre-Civil War output of 280,000 barrels. Although there is some question as to how this company continues to operate, it would appear that ENI has struck a deal to maintain its business interests. The interdiction or severing of energy supplies would undoubtedly have serious economic and strategic implications for Italy but also for countries dependent on Libyan energy sources. Italy’s historic relations with Libya, as well as its strategic interests of ensuring Libyan stability, may result in the proposed Italian-led security stabilization force involved at some point in the future. However, such a stabilization force would only be sent at the request of a UN-backed Libyan national unity government, and that is unlikely given, “The biggest obstacle to peace is not that Libyans cannot find common ground, but that they dare not trust each other to share the same ground at the same time.”

Over the past year (2015/2016), the presence of the IS in Libya has expanded. According to a UN Security Council report, IS fighters have engaged GNC and HOR aligned forces. IS forces have planned and executed attacks against Libya’s largest oil terminals and staged suicide bombings throughout the country. Libya has become one of a number of launching pads for the migrant stream intent on reaching Europe. For the EU, the reestablishment of a viable and effective Libyan government could do much to stem the tsunami of migrants that is wreaking political, economic and social havoc throughout Europe.

Published on Nov 14, 2015: Obama gave this interview 9 hours before the Paris attack. Obama said, "ISIS is not getting 'stronger,' We have 'contained' them".

A Complex Internal Political Situation

The political, religious, and tribal factions resident in Libya are not easily explained. Like other interest groups, they are opportunistic and consist of loose coalitions of political parties and ad hoc militias that inhabit the cities, towns and rural areas, representing various local, regional and national interests. The future government will have to embrace a spectrum of interests and persuade them to negotiate and come to a political compromise. The key to a new plan will be the security arrangements that will have to be forged between the various Libyan factions. More importantly, arrangements must be made as to how the various political parties will control and demobilize their respective militias or possibly integrate these into a national military force. A UN-brokered agreement to address these complex and problematic issues would bring international weight and objectivity to ensure that the future in Libya is aligned with geostrategic realities. The 2015 appointment of a supreme commander of the Libyan military is already a point of contention due to the move by HOR to designate General Khalifa Haftar, a Gadhafi-era general and now an anti–Islamist crusader, into this position. His intent to reclaim Libya from extremism, resonates with a substantial number of Libyans. However, his campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and all Islamists has been plagued due to his indiscriminate use of violence as well as a bombing campaign that is seen causing collateral damage. His blunt use of force plays into the hands of the extremists who desire the psychological dislocation of the population from the elected government. Haftar leads the so-called Libyan National Army with the political intention of being Libya’s new strongman. He commands regular Army units but has relied upon proxy forces of local militias. In addition, he has a loose alliance with neighbourhood Zintani militia forces that control Tripoli International Airport. Haftar’s appointment did not meet with general acceptance as he is a divisive figure who is reviled by the Islamists and their Turkish and Qatari allies.

A January 2016 meeting between Haftar and the head of the Presidency Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, brought about the suspension of participation by a key GNC member of the Council. Such key leadership appointments must be seen as credible, legitimate and acceptable by all parties as they could easily usurp any national/international progress in creating a sustainable unity government aimed at establishing a lasting peace. Even the location of Libya’s new unity government remains contentious. While the UN agreement identifies that the government will reside in Tripoli, the city is home to hardline Islamist militias that are allied with the GNC and remain hostile towards the agreement. Libya’s other key cities have various factions, with the HOR protected by Haftar’s militias in Tobruk, while HOR aligned militias in Benghazi are fighting groups like ASL and IS. Although the Presidency Council was briefly lodged in Tunisia, and most recently moved to Tripoli.

Preparing For the Possibility of a Foreign Stability Force Intervention

To address the Libyan political and security dilemma, a third-party military power could establish security to reassure Libya’s nascent unity government and the respective factions. This option has been widely discussed in Italy, the EU47 and the United States (US), particularly over the fears caused by the IS presence and expansion within Libya. However, there is little possibility of inserting a large-scale intervention force to provide security under the auspices of the UN or NATO without an official request from an internationally recognized Libyan government.

A Libyan national unity government will not be able to act against the IS anytime soon. In the interim, France has been contributing special forces and intelligence support to the Libyan military, according to Libyan commander Wanis Bukhamada. While it was reported by Le Monde that the French forces were working along American and British elements engaging in a “secret war” against the IS, the French government declined to comment. Meanwhile, the Italian government quietly provided permission for armed American drones to fly out of its NATO airbase in Sigonella, Sicily, with the caveat that the drones were to protect US special operations forces in Libya and beyond. Apparently, American officials are continuing to argue for their use to be expanded for offensive operations against IS training camps and senior operatives. However, such a move could spark the Italian antiwar movement, as well as realizing the potential of collateral damage.

Notwithstanding, these Italian government concerns, this could be a first step in building a multinational coalition employing armed drones and special forces to assist Libyan forces in combating extremist elements. Interestingly, these revelations appear as the Obama administration searches for a comprehensive strategy to be employed against the IS in Libya and elsewhere. These initiatives are taking place while America and its allies patiently await the talks in Libya on forming a unity government, which is a vital first step in creating a viable and united Libyan government determined to fight the IS. The Italian government has stated that if a unity government was to be formed, it would voluntarily send a stabilization force of 5,000 or more troops. Both the US and Great Britain have suggested they were willing to provide support to an Italian-led mission.

Understanding Cascading Consequences

The removal of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, where the US, France, Great Britain, Canada and other NATO partners, toppled the government under the auspices of the UN, underscores the problems that arise in the wake of an intervention. The forces involved removed Qaddafi’s government without really putting themselves in harm’s way. The strategy of employing airpower combined with ground operations utilizing Libyan proxies, albeit with a modicum of support from Western special operations forces meant that Libya’s regime change was inexpensive in terms of ‘blood and gold.’ This combination of air power, proxies and special operations forces is reminiscent for many of the toppling of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. The failure to plan for a transitional government or to provide assistance to ensure the creation of a stable Libyan government contributed to the creation of the vacuum now being filled by extremists.


The situation in Libya is a salient lesson for both the United States and Europe, for they are both paying a bitter price for not planning for or implementing a Libyan-led transition government, once Qaddafi was removed from power. Undoubtedly, preparing and facilitating such plans for interim governance is fraught with risk. Nevertheless, failing to act has its own dire consequences as witnessed since 2012.

This failure of the international community and initial interim Libyan government to provide governance acceptable to the population at large, in a timely manner, brought about a Libyan political vacuum. Recent events, specifically the arrival of the Presidential Council for Libya and the UN backed Government of National Accord (GNA) arriving in Tripoli on March 30, 2015 have exacerbated an already tense domestic power struggle. This arrival subsequently sparked the National Salvation Government’s appointed prime minister Khalifa Gweil reported departure and re-location to Misrata, while his government refused to relinquish their authority in contrast to initial media reporting. Follow on reports have noted that the National Salvation Government in Tripoli has stepped down enabling the GNA to assert itself in Tripoli. At present it is unclear how the new GNA government led by the PC will be able to effectively assert its authority with respect to the political divisiveness of the country at large. This situation underlines the tenuous and complex nature of Libya’s fragmented and topsy-turvy domestic scene which could easily usurp any hope of forging an acceptable political solution so that the country may commence addressing the serious security and economic challenges it must face.

Libya today is confronting an IS-sponsored insurrection, as well as a disparate group of armed domestic militias operating unrestrained throughout Libya.The West is therefore reaping the results of its NATO led Libyan intervention and once again must learn a lesson reminiscent of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that,

“By rushing heedlessly into battle in 2011, with no clear, long-term strategy, the Western powers have helped create a Frankenstein monster out of the corpse of Libya, a creature that may before long wage jihad against both Europe and the Middle East.”

PAKISTAN: Public Warned Not To Invest In Thalian Housing Scheme Near The New Islamabad International Airport. Wow, This Is Crazy! :o

The Express Tribune Business, Pakistan
written by Shahbaz Rana
Friday April 28, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Following up on doubts of a multibillion rupees fraud, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday asked authorities to freeze all bank accounts of a government-supported under-construction Thalian housing project while warning the public against investing in the scheme.

The parliament’s watchdog also constituted a subcommittee to further probe the matter and reprimanded Secretary Ministry of Housing and Works, Shahruk Arbab, after he showed complete ignorance about the existence of any such scheme. A committee member demanded the government to immediately remove Arbab from his post and termed him a “thoroughly corrupt officer”.

“The Thalian housing scheme Islamabad is a big fraud and people should not buy plots in the scheme,” warned the PAC.

It directed the finance ministry to make sure that all bank accounts opened for receiving funds from the public should be immediately blocked.

The PAC constituted a four-member subcommittee to further probe the matter comprising Senator Azam Swati of PTI, MNA Raja Javed Ikhlas of PML-N, MNA Arif Alvi of PTI and MNA Sardar Ashiq Gopang of the PML-N.

At this stage, the quantum of fraud is estimated at Rs24 billion but the exact size will be known only after the details are shared with the sub-committee, said Swati. He said that there were 80,000 members of the FGEHF and it is not yet clear how many of them have paid the first tranche of up to Rs550,000.


The Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF), a department working under the Ministry of Housing, had launched the housing scheme near the New Islamabad International Airport in collaboration with a private party. Federal bureaucrats, journalists and the general public have deposited money to acquire plots in the scheme.

A twist in the story came when Secretary Housing denied the existence of any scheme despite the fact the FGEHF and private party widely publicised the scheme and used the picture of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on these advertisements.

The Secretary Housing’s claim that he was not aware of any such housing scheme shows what an incompetent person he is, remarked Syed Khursheed Shah.

“Billions of rupees in investment is at stake and the Secretary Housing is fully involved in this corruption,” alleged Swati. “I say with full authority that Secretary Housing is a thoroughly corrupt officer and the government should immediately remove him from the post,” he added.

Swati raised the issue of Thalian Housing society in the PAC meeting, alleging that the Ministry for Housing and Works was undertaking work through its front company. PML-N’s Senator Chaudhry Tanveer Ahmad asked whether the contractor used prime minister’s picture in the advertisement with permission of the housing ministry. Secretary Housing did not have an answer.

Senator Tanveer also inquired under what authority the private party was collecting funds from the people. There is no access road to Thalian and the land has been acquired in dubious manner, said Swati.

Bhara Kahu project

The PAC also showed its annoyance over irregularities and corrupt practices surfaced in yet another project of FGEHF -the Bhara Kahu Housing project, Islamabad. The committee snubbed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Ministry of Housing and Works and FGEHF for protecting the culprits.

Against prevailing market rates of only Rs100,000 per kanal at that time, the contractor charged Rs950,000 from the government, minting Rs2.4 billion in the process, said Director General of the Department of Auditor General of Pakistan. Green Tree Private Limited is the contractor.

However, the NAB official claimed that there was no element of criminality in the deal, an assertion that the PAC unanimously rejected.

The sub-committee of the PAC that was investigating the deal has again recommended criminal investigation against the contractor. The PAC sought final reply from the NAB chairman in next 15 days.

BRAZIL: Brazilian Unions, That Work For Government-Run Institutions, Led The Nation's First General Strike In Over Two Decades To Protest (RIOT) The President's Austerity Measures.

Reuters News
written by Brad Brooks and Anthony Boadle, Sao Paulo/Brasilia
Friday April 28, 2017

Brazilian unions on Friday led the nation's first general strike in over two decades to protest President Michel Temer's austerity measures, hitting public transport and closing schools, factories, banks and other businesses in every state.

Even so, analysts and government officials said the strike would have little impact on Temer's efforts to push economic reforms through Congress, which are widely expected to be approved given the president's continued support among legislators.

Police clashed with demonstrators in several cities, firing tear gas in efforts to clear roadways blocked by burning barricades. Protesters also obstructed the entrances of airports and metro stations.

Brazil's last general strike took place in 1996, in protests over privatizations and labor reforms under former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

"It is important for us to send a message to the government that the country is paying attention to what they are doing, taking away workers' rights," said Marco Clemente, head of the 4,000-strong radio and TV workers union in Brasilia as he led a picket line outside the headquarters of state broadcaster EBC.

Government spokesman Marcio de Freitas said the strike was strategically concentrated in public transportation so that even people who might want to get to work could not, and otherwise it appeared "weak."

He said there was "no turning back" from reforms.

Temer's efforts to pass pension and labor reforms have deeply angered many Brazilians. Temer has proposed a minimum age for retirement, which would compel many employees to work longer to receive a pension and reduce payouts in a country where many workers retire with full benefits in their 50s.
Marxist Socialist throughout history always end up devouring their host. Then they kick and scream, raise hell when the party's over and there's no one left to leech off of anymore. Take a look at the Greece economy, Venezuela economy, Cuban economy, etc. (emphasis mine)
The lower house of Congress approved a bill this week to weaken labor laws by relaxing restrictions on outsourcing and temporary contracts, further inflaming union resistance.

The government argues that economic reforms are needed to pull Brazil out of its worst recession on record, cut a huge budget deficit, reduce record unemployment and modernize the economy.


The strike had a large impact on auto production in Sao Paulo, which concentrates the bulk of the industry in Brazil.

General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co (F.N), Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) all halted production, according to company officials, unions and market analysts. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), the No. 1 car seller Brazil, said it was operating normally.

Union officials said most workers at state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), known as Petrobras, joined the strike, but the company said the stoppage had no significant impact on output. Iron ore miner Vale SA (VALE5.SA) said the strike did not affect its operations.

The 24-hour strike started after midnight on Friday, ahead of a long weekend with Labor Day on Monday. The streets of several major cities showed noticeably less traffic, and Globo TV reported strikes hitting all but one of Brazil's 26 states and the Federal District.

The benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP was up nearly 1 percent while the nation's currency, the real BRBY BRL=, was little changed as investors assessed the impact of the strike.

In Brasilia, the capital, authorities boarded up windows of government buildings, fearing disturbances, which typically intensify after sundown.

Protests have frequently turned violent in the past four years amid political turmoil and corruption investigations that uncovered stunning levels of graft among politicians.

Nearly a third of Temer's Cabinet and key congressional allies came under investigation in the scandal this month, dragging approval of his government as low as 10 percent in a public survey last month.

EL SALVADOR: On Thursday This Tiny Impoverished Drug Cartel Gang Infested Central American Nation Became The First Country In The World To Ban The Mining Of Metals.

The Times of India
written by AFP staff
Friday April 28, 2017

SAN SALVADOR: El Salvador on Thursday became the first country in the world to ban the mining of metals in what campaigners called a landmark move for environmental protection.

The law bans "prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of metallic minerals in El Salvador," according to the text published Thursday in the official journal.

"This is more than just a novelty," the president of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit, Mauricio Sermeno, told AFP.

"It is a law that is necessary in the face of an industry which, far from bringing any benefit to communities, brings serious pollution to water sources and the environment."

When lawmakers approved the bill in March, non-government campaign group MiningWatch Canada said El Salvador had "made history, becoming the first country to ban metal mining outright."

Some Latin American countries thrive on mineral exports but local communities complain of environmental risks from toxic metals used in the process.

The new law entered into force after being signed by President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

El Salvador says it will protect poor rural communities threatened by proposed mining projects.

The country has had disputes with powerful foreign mining firms in the past.

MiningWatch has said it hopes the Salvadoran legislation will set an example for other countries in the region.

This month it seized assets belonging to an Australian-Canadian gold mining group, OceanaGold, for legal fees the company owed after losing a lawsuit over mining permits.

In neighboring Guatemala, rural communities are challenging mining projects by Goldcorp of Canada and two US firms, Tahoe Resources and Kappes, Cassidy & Associates (KCA).

Nicaragua has rejected projects by Canadian company B2 Gold.

Central American countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are among the poorest in the region.

But mining accounts for a minimal portion of their economies and jobs, a recent study by various NGOs showed.
Insight Crime
Sinaloa Cartel-Linked Drug Network Dismantled in El Salvador
written by David Gagne
Tuesday February 7, 2017

Authorities in El Salvador have captured nearly two dozen members of a criminal network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, highlighting the importance of Central America's Northern Triangle region to the hemisphere's most powerful drug trafficking organization.

Members of El Salvador's Attorney General's Office (Fiscalía General de la República - FGR) and National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil - PNC) made the arrests on the night of February 5 and morning of February 6 following 14 months of investigation, the FGR announced in a statement. A total of 22 suspects were captured, including the alleged head of the network in El Salvador, José Leonidas Gómez Cuellar, alias "Pepe."

The group worked under Guatemalan national Marlon Francesco Monroy Meoño, alias "Fantasma," a high-level drug trafficker who was arrested in April 2016 and extradited to the United States in November. In addition to allegedly acting as a middleman for Colombian drug traffickers and Mexico's Sinloa Cartel, Monroy Meoño has been linked to scandals connected to current Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his jailed predeccessor, Otto Pérez Molina.

According to the FGR, the Salvadoran network pretended to be small-scale fishermen but were in fact carrying out a variety of tasks for drug traffickers moving through El Salvador's Pacific coast on go-fast boats. This included refueling the boats and protecting them as they reached shore, as well monitoring the location of patrol ships. Between January and June 2016, authorities confiscated some 400 kilos of cocaine connected to the group during two interdiction operations.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrests draw attention to the crucial role that El Salvador, along with the other Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala and Honduras, play in sustaining the drug trafficking operations of Mexican organized crime. According to a 2012 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mexican cartels have moved 90 percent of their cocaine trafficking operations to Central America.

The Sinaloa Cartel in particular, widely considered the most powerful in the Western Hemisphere, has deep roots and extensive contacts in the region. In January 2015, the US Treasury Department designated as a "kingpin" the cartel's former leader in Central America, Cesar Gastelum Serrano, who US officials believe was influential enough to negotiate directly with top Sinaloa bosses. And it was in Guatemala that legendary Sinaloa drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was arrested for the first time, back in 1993.
Insight Crime
written by Leonardo Goi
Friday April 28, 2017

A breakaway faction of El Salvador's MS13 gang has reportedly been the source of increasing conflict, underlining how gang rivalries and violence can contribute to cycles of retaliation.

Authorities in El Salvador said the high command of the MS13 has instructed members to step up the fight against a splinter group known as MS503, also known as the "revolucionarios," reported El Diario de Hoy.

The MS503 reportedly broke away from the MS13 after some gang leaders allegedly received money during negotiations with former President Mauricio Funes’s government, but chose not to share the perks with the rest of the group.

In January 2016, a leader of the dissident group, Walter Antonio Carrillo Alfaro, alias "El Chory," was killed in the prison of Izalco, allegedly on orders from the MS13 high command.

But the conflict did not stop with his death, and violence within the gang seems to have recently intensified both inside and outside El Salvador's penitentiaries.

On March 24, a grenade exploded in the Ciudad Barrios prison, injuring three MS13 members, including Wilfredo Tejada Erazo, an alleged MS503 leader, according to another report by El Diario de Hoy.

According to the agency that oversees the country's prisons, the order to target the MS503 also applies to the dissidents' families -- a policy that breaks with a longstanding tradition that barred gang members from targeting family members as retaliation. Over the past five weeks, the assassinations of women and elderly people allegedly linked to the MS503 have reportedly increased.

The dissident MS503 is largely comprised of two "programs," which are clusters of gang cells known as "clicas." Authorities believe the two programs, the Fulton and the Normandis, control part of the departments of Chalatenango, Ahuachapán, Sonsonate and San Miguel.

InSight Crime Analysis

The MS13's internal divisions could lead to increasing violence in El Salvador, particularly as the traditional ban on targeting family members appears to have been revoked. Murder rates in El Salvador have reportedly decreased in 2017, a continuation of a trend that began last year. Authorities have attributed the decline to the extraordinary measures enacted against the country's gangs, but this explanation has been subject to debate, as the gangs themselves have taken credit for the reduction in murders after publicly ordering their members to stop homicides at the end of March 2016. The escalation of the MS13's internal feud could lead to the reversal of that trend.

The MS13 is not the first Salvadoran gang to separate into rival groups. In 2005, the Barrio 18, fractured into two factions, the Sureños and the Revolucionarios. It is possible that the current split within the MS13 might similarly result in the formation of two separate groups evolving in different ways.

INDIA: India Bans 22 Social Media Sites to Calm Tensions in Kashmir

written by Aijaz Hussain, AP
Thursday April 27, 2017

(SRINAGAR, India) — Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have banned 22 social media sites in an effort to calm tensions in the disputed region after videos depicting the alleged abuse of Kashmiris by Indian forces fueled protests. But the sites remained online Thursday as the local telecom company struggled to block them.

The government said Wednesday that the one-month ban was necessary for public safety because social media were being "misused by anti-national and anti-social elements."
"It's being felt that continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the state," the public order said.

Pranesh Prakash, policy director for the Indian advocacy group the Center for Internet and Society, called the ban a "blow to freedom of speech" and "legally unprecedented in India."

An official with Kashmir's state-owned telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., said engineers were still working on shutting down the 22 sites, including Facebook and Twitter, but so far had been unable to do so without freezing the internet across the Himalayan region. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give technical details of the effort to the media.

Meanwhile, 3G and 4G cellphone service has been suspended for more than a week, but slower 2G service is still available.

Residents of Srinagar, the region's main city, were busily downloading documents, software and applications onto their smartphones which would likely be able to circumvent the social media block once it goes into effect. Many expressed relief to still have internet access Thursday morning.

"It was a welcome surprise," said Tariq Ahmed, a 24-year-old university student. "It appears they've hit a technical glitch to block social media en mass."

While the government has halted internet service in Kashmir in previous attempts to prevent anti-India demonstrations, this is the first time they have done so in response to the circulation of videos and photos showing alleged military abuse.

Others mocked the government. A Facebook post by Kashmiri writer Arif Ayaz Parrey said the ban showed "the Indian government has decided to take on the collective subversive wisdom of cyberspace humanity."

Indian police and paramilitary officials accuse agitators of using social media to instigate violence.

An international journalists' rights group urged Indian authorities to immediately revoke the "sweeping censorship of social media," saying it "will bring neither peace nor order" in the region.

"Such broad censorship clearly violates the democratic ideals and human rights India purports to uphold," said Steven Butler, Asia Program coordinator at the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

The statement quoted a 2016 report from the U.S. think tank the Brookings Institution saying that India blocked access to the internet in various regions to prevent demonstrations 22 times in the 12 months starting in July 2015, "more often than did Syria, Pakistan and Turkey combined."

Pavan Duggal, an Indian lawyer and expert in cyberlaw, said the government can block social media "if it is necessary and expedient to do so in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India."

But such "blocking is of no consequence, given the intrinsic ability of people to use proxy servers and access the said blocked websites," he said. "Blocking websites is like trying to fix a leaking roof by Band-Aid."

Kashmiris have been uploading videos and photos of alleged abuse for some years, but several recently posted clips, captured in the days surrounding a violence-plagued local election on April 9, have proven to be especially powerful and have helped to intensify anti-India protests.

One video shows a stone-throwing teenage boy being shot by a soldier from a few meters (yards) away. Another shows soldiers making a group of young men, held inside an armored vehicle, shout profanities against Pakistan while a soldier kicks and slaps them with a stick. The video pans to a young boy's bleeding face as he cries. Yet another clip shows three soldiers holding a teenage boy down with their boots and beating him on his back.

The video that drew the most outrage was of young shawl weaver Farooq Ahmed Dar tied to the hood of an army jeep as it patrolled villages on voting day. A soldier can be heard saying in Hindi over a loudspeaker, "Stone throwers will meet a similar fate," as residents look on aghast.Protests and clashes are an almost daily occurrence in Indian-administered Kashmir, where anti-India sentiment runs deep among the mostly Muslim population after decades of military crackdowns. Disputes over control of the Kashmir region, claimed by both India and Pakistan, have sparked two wars between the nations since 1947.

THAILAND: Thai Court Seeks Red Bull Heir Arrest After Five Years On The Run Accused Of Killing A Policeman While Speeding In Bangkok In 2012.

BBC News, England
written by Staff
Friday April 28, 2017

A Thai court has issued an arrest warrant for Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhaya, in a move critics say is long overdue.

Mr Vorayuth is accused of knocking down and killing a policeman while speeding in Bangkok in 2012.

He has repeatedly failed to meet police to face charges, which include reckless driving causing death.

The closely watched case has fuelled criticism that Thailand's elite enjoy special treatment by the authorities.

Mr Vorayuth is the grandson of Chaleo Yoovidhaya, who co-founded the Red Bull empire with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz.

He was first arrested shortly after the incident and later let go.

He was subsequently summoned repeatedly to face charges, but each time his lawyers said he was unable to do so, citing overseas work commitments and illness. A charge for speeding has since expired.

Prosecutors asked police to request the arrest warrant after he failed to meet another deadline on Thursday.

"A court in Bangkok has approved the request and we've entered the arrest warrant into the system, meaning that police all over the country will be searching for him," Police Col Kajohnpong Jitparkpoom, the superintendent of Thong Lor police district, told the BBC.

"But if he is found to be overseas, then the prosecutors will have to initiate the procedure to have him extradited, if possible."

If found guilty of reckless driving causing death, a charge which expires in 2027, he could be jailed for up to 10 years.

Many Thais have questioned why the police have not tried to arrest Mr Vorayuth before now to face charges.

Before the arrest warrant was issued, the office of the attorney-general said it would explore applying for extradition of Mr Vorayuth, who it said was recently seen in London, if a warrant was issued.

April 26, 2017

Taurus New Moon On Wednesday April 26th. Exciting Positive Developments by Tania Gabrielle.

Exciting Positive Developments
written by Tania Gabrielle
contact her at www.TaniaGabrielle.com
[source: CrystalWind.ca]

You’re in for a pleasant surprise!

The New Moon in Taurus coming up on Wednesday arrives with many enchanting blessings.

Taurus is a strong, sensual Earth sign – peaceful, secure and reliable. This New Moon on April 26 (at 8:16 am Eastern, 5:26 am Pacific and 1:16 am Universal Time) captures your heart. At 6° and activating the 4 and 8 code of fate and destiny, you’ll feel a strong purpose to get out and manifest projects that attract prosperity.

Here are just a few of the highlights:
  • This Taurus New Moon is ruled by Venus and happens right after Venus moves direct again – magnifying the theme of beauty, love and abundance.
  • Venus, ruler of Taurus is conjunct (joined with) Chiron in Pisces – helping you to heal a relationship or your relationship with money.
  • Venus is at 29° Pisces the LAST degree of Zodiac – a powerful critical degree in astrology – a big magnification for Venus… so you can EMBRACE and ACCEPT love, sensuality and joy.
  • A magnificent Grand Trine is in place during the New Moon: Uranus conjunct Mercury are trine the North Node and trine Saturn attracting new positive relationships, a sudden positive turn of events, new perceptions, excitement about the future.
And that is just a taste of the wonderful beautiful alignments happening during this New Moon.

You will feel a major spiritual healing about the way you have built your life. Focus on what structures and beliefs you have you’ve carried with you that now need to be released, so you can make room for a healthy new way.

That’s why it’s so important to be clear, open and honest with yourself and in tune with the moment-to-moment guidance from your intuition.

Enjoy this Taurus New Moon – filled with exciting positive developments!

Love and Blessings,

Tania Gabrielle

New Moon In Taurus On April 26th. The Power Of Creation by Vivienne Micallef-Browne.

The Power Of Creation
written by Vivienne Micallef-Browne
contact her at EmpowerAstrology.org
[source: Crystal Wind]


New Moon in Taurus, 26th April 2017 at 6 degrees, 12.16 UT.

This New Moon and Sun in Taurus, are a powerful creative force and catalyst to manifest our hearts desire into reality. Making no major aspects to other planets, they create a sanctuary and safe haven. A place for us to rest and find inner peace and serenity, away from the noise and turmoil of the other planets and commotion of life.

A time for us all to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, especially welcome after the upheaval of the past few weeks during the Venus retrograde.

Create your own inner Sanctuary, a haven where you can relax, rejuvenate and revitalize body and mind. Taurus is an earth sign and can instill us with a sense of groundedness.

Its a wonderful time to spend with loved ones and indulge the senses and create an oasis of beauty. With good food, wine, music, meditation candlelight and healing aromas.

The New Moons creative power is intensified as no other planets weaken the energy and is, therefore, an especially fertile time to set intentions. The Earth sign of Taurus represents Springtime in the northern hemisphere and the very power of creation that enables the bursting forth of nature, giving new life to mother Earth.

The growth of spring points towards a divine power of creation, the ability of which, lies within each and every one of us.

We too can harness this creative power, helping us to manifest important changes as we step into a new 19-month cycle on the 9th of May. On this date the North Node of fate changes signs from Virgo to Leo. This represents a huge shift in energy that promises success for all of our creative talents and projects. Helping us to shine confidently and brightly, gaining popularity and recognition. There never was a better time to manifest your creativity and power of attraction.

We now have time to reflect and ground ourselves before we enter the new exciting and dynamic cycle of the the North Node in Leo.

The planet Venus, the ruler of Taurus, can help you create and manifest especially all Venus ruled themes of love, finance, art and property.

The patient, reliable and steady Moon in Taurus is helping us to build new solid foundations for our life. Important now, as we are at a karmic turning point in our lives after the Venus retrograde. Venus is now at the last degree of Pisces and the North Node is at the last degree of Virgo, a time of endings and powerful new beginnings.

Venus and the South Node in Pisces at the last degree bring a culmination of the past 18 months and with it, a need to let go of feeling stuck in Pisces negativity, such as delusion of ourselves and other, addictions, martyrdom and the Savior syndrome.

Its time to make a conscious decision to let go of any pain and suffering, especially in matters of love. Chiron the wounded healer close to Venus teaches us, that healthy love doesn’t and shouldn’t hurt. It’s time to heal and let go of what causes you pain. We need to stop idealizing and romanticizing those that hurt us. These are the karmic lessons we need to embrace now before the next big shift and new karmic cycle on the 9th of may. To awaken to our power of co-creating.

Only what you allow will continue.
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”― Bob Moawad
As Venus moves into Aries on the 28th April, we will feel a major shift and the weight of release, as we leave any unnecessary karmic baggage behind us.

Sometimes you don’t realise the weight of something you’ve been carrying, until you feel the weight of it’s release.

No one can escape the powerful force of Pluto, Uranus and Jupiter, pushing for change and evolution, energies that dominates most of this year. We can use this New Moon in Taurus to use the power of change.

Harnessing change is the most valuable tool available for creating the reality that you desire.

We can channel the energies of the New Moon to create greater wealth in our health, finances and environment, honoring the power of nature and Mother Earth.

We are the creators of our own perceived reality. We need to decide exactly what we want. It’s time for us to take full control of our destiny instead of being a creation of circumstance and fate.

We don’t need to find and follow a path, when we are the path creator.
“Every creative act, however small, enriches our species and the world around us. To find and nurture talent, is to be truly wealthy.”
― Stewart Stafford
It’s time to restore an inner sense of balance and harmony. Reconnect with inner peace and serenity and a renewed sense of purpose.
Let the Love and Peace that dwells within take center stage.

Peace is more than the absence of war or violence. Peace is a state of mind, a way of being. Peace is how one feels inside. One’s state of inner peace affects personal health and well-being as well as the world outside. To counteract the tendencies that sabotage our health, we need to find ways to clear our minds and restore our spirit.
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without”.-Buddha
The New Moon is reminding us of our pure magnificence and our power to co-create the life we desire.

The future is not something we enter; the future is something we create.

Find your passion, visualise and co-create your potential future, dare to believe in miracles.
“A Creator is vision-focused and passion motivated. To really live into your Creator self, you are called to do the inner work necessary to find your own sense of purpose—whatever touches your heart and holds meaning for you.”
~ David Emerald Quotes from The Power of TED
The Universe is shouting out loud and clear a definite, yes you CAN, promising us ample support, rewards and abundance on our way.

Every dream come true, starts with a vision. The law of attraction starts by a visualisation of our potential future.
Louise Hay, on the law of attraction:

“You have to start saying things that you feel really good about yourself. ‘I love who I am. I love life. Life loves me. It’s going to be smooth and easy. Life works for me.’ And you just start doing that—it’s planting seeds. You’re not going to get it the first day, but you plant a seed, and you water it, and you continue the affirmations, and things start to shift and change in your life.” Louise Hay

April 23, 2017

♥ A Love Story! ♥

"Love knows only one time: NOW and only one place: HERE" ~ by Osho

A Love Story
~Author Unknown~

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived; Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment.

When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said "Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of silver in my boat. There is no place here for you." Love decided to ask Vanity who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel. "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered. Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, "Sadness, let me go with you." "Oh....Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself." Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder his name. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went his own way. Love realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder. "Who helped me?" "It was Time," Knowledge answered. "Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?" Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because, only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."

Beautiful Message By Osho On How To Stay Centered... ♥

How to Stay Centered

I am not saying leave the world and become hermits somewhere in the Himalayas - no. But sometimes leave, relax, be useless, be alone, exist like a rock, be independent, free from the world, be a part of nature - and you will be rejuvenated, reborn. Then come back and move in society and in the crowd again. And try to carry that beauty, that silence that happened to you when you were alone. Now carry it, don′t lose contact with it. Move deep into the crowd but don′t become a part of it. Let the crowd be there outside you - you remain alone.

And when you become capable of being alone in the crowd, you have achieved real aloneness. It is easy to be alone on a hilltop. The whole of nature helps you, and nothing is a barrier. To be back in the market-place, in the shop, in the office, in the family, and to remain alone - that is an achievement. Then it is something you have achieved and it is not just accidental, something that happened because of the hills. Now the quality of consciousness has changed. So remain alone in the crowd. The crowd will be there outside but don′t allow it to enter in. Protect whatsoever you have gained. Defend it, don′t allow it to be disturbed.

And whenever you feel that the feeling has become dull, that you are missing it, that society has disturbed it, that the dust has gathered around, that the fresh spring is no longer fresh, that it is polluted - move again. Fall out of society to renew it, to make it alive again. Then come back and move in the crowd.

And then a moment will come when that original spring will remain fresh and no one will be able to pollute it or contaminate it. Then there is no need to move anywhere.


Let Your Life Become A Celebration! 😊

Let Your Life Become A Celebration

Life has the potential to become a song of bliss, but there is every possibility of missing it too. It is not a certainty, there is no inevitability about it. It depends: you can make it, you can destroy it. Out of one hundred, ninety-nine point nine percent of people destroy their song of bliss. Then their life is nothing but a cry, a scream of pain and agony. But they have chosen it that way; nobody else is ever responsible.

This is the first truth to be learned in life: that you are always responsible, nobody else. With that comes great FREEDOM, because with that all alternatives are open. If you think that somebody else is responsible then you are a slave; then nothing is open. Then you have to be what you are. If your life is a tragedy then it has to be a tragedy, because others are responsible; unless they change, nothing can be done about it. You don’t have any freedom.

And that is the reason why millions of people live in misery: they think others are creating their misery. Nobody is creating your misery, nobody can create it; and nobody can create your bliss either. It is a totally individual phenomenon. It is just your work upon yourself. And the most strange thing is: to create misery is difficult and to create bliss is easy, but people always choose the difficult thing, because the difficult thing always gives them an ego-trip.

The ego is not interested in easy things; the ego is interested only in difficult things. The more impossible a thing looks, the more attractive it feels for the ego, because the ego feels a challenge, and only through challenge can it conquer, can it prove to the world ’I am somebody special.’

Misery gives you challenge: bliss is very simple. Trees are blissful, birds are blissful. It needs no special talent to be blissful. To be miserable needs talents, one has to be really very very clever to be miserable. Bliss is innocent; you can be blissful without any education, but you cannot be miserable without any education, remember! It is very difficult. You need degrees, universities, mm? then only do you become skilful.

So the first TRUTH has to sink deep in the heart: "I am always responsible for whatsoever I am. Bliss or misery, this is my choice. If I have chosen to be miserable, then there is no need to be sad about it; this is my choice and I am doing my thing." Feel happy that you have succeeded in being miserable! If this is not your choice, drop it immediately, drop all those patterns that create it and start creating new patterns, new doors from where bliss starts flowing.

For example, the person who wants to be miserable has to think in terms of fighting with life; that is his gestalt. He is always fighting. The person who wants to be blissful has to be a non-fighter, surrendered to life, in a kind of let-go. The person who wants to be miserable has to create great ideals, has to make impossible demands upon himself. Then only can you be miserable; otherwise you will not be miserable. You have to be this, you have to be that, and when you cannot be, frustration settles in. The man who wants to be blissful has no ideals at all, he is a non-idealist; he is a REALIST. The miserable person is always an idealist. The happy person, the blissful person, is a REALIST: he lives moment to moment with no ideals. You cannot frustrate him because he has no expectations.

The miserable person always condemns himself because he is not rising high enough to fulfil the demands. He is a constant condemnor; he lives in self-condemnation.

The blissful person is very accepting of himself. He makes no demands. He is relaxed, at ease with himself; he loves himself as he is. So you have to watch: that which creates misery, drop; and that which brings bliss like a flood, create that space in you. And my whole effort here is to make each of my sannyasins a song of bliss: not miserable saints, not long faces, but celebrants! I am interested in celebrants, not in saints at all.

So let your life become a celebration; and it is up to you!

Mulan Is On Freeform Channel, Just Started At 11:55pm. I LOVE This Movie. Great Inspiration! :) ♥

Mulan Movie Quote
The Emperor gives Shang some advice about Mulan:
"The flower that blooms in adversity
is the most rare and beautiful of all."

April 22, 2017

MUSIC BREAK: As If We Never Said Goodbye...❤ I'm Listening To Barbra Streisand's 'Back to Broadway' Album. This Is How I'm Feeling Right Now Blogging Again. So Happy To Be Back! :) I Missed You.

As If We Never Said Goodbye
from the Broadway Musical: Sunset Boulevard
Music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics written by Don Black, Christopher Hampton, Amy Powers
Original lyrics written by Alan Ayckbourn
this version sung by Barbra Streisand

I don't know why I'm frightened
I know my way around here
The cardboard trees, the painted seas, the sound here
Yes, a world to rediscover
But I 'm not in any hurry
And I need a moment

The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
The atmosphere as thrilling here as always
Feel the early morning madness
Feel the magic in the making
Why, everything's as if we never said goodbye

I've spent so many mornings just trying to resist you
I'm trembling now, you can't know how I've missed you
Missed the fairy tale adventure
In this ever spinning playground
We were young together

I'm coming out of make-up
The lights already burning
Not long until the cameras will start turning
And the early morning madness
And the magic in the making
Yes, everything's as if we never said goodbye

I don't want to be alone
That's all in the past
This world's waited long enough
I've come home at last!

And this time will be bigger
And brighter than we knew it
So watch me fly, we all know I can do it
Could I stop my hand from shaking?
Has there ever been a moment
With so much to live for?

The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
So much to say not just today but always
We'll have early morning madness
We'll have magic in the making
Yes, everything's as if we never said goodbye
Yes, everything's as if we never said goodbye
We taught the world new ways to dream!
I wanted to make you smile, so I threw in a lovely Disco reference for your AND my enjoyment. ;)


VENEZUELA: A Coalition Of Opposition Parties Encouraged Tens Of Thousands Of Freedom Loving Venezuelans To Flood The Streets In 'Mother of all Marches’ Against 18 YEARS Of Marxist Dictatorship!

The Antifa Anarchist/Communist group in America are like the Marxist para-military armed thugs that murdered this opposition protester in broad daylight.

Bloomberg News
written by Andrew Rosati and Fabiola Zerpa
Thursday April 20, 2017

Caracas faced another tense day after massive protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, with barricades of trash and debris in the streets, shuttered businesses and sporadic blossoms of tear gas.

A coalition of opposition parties called for continued demonstrations Thursday like those the previous day in the capital and major cities. Hundreds of thousands turned out to rally against Maduro’s grip on the country’s institutions, and his policies that have left the economy in tatters. Clashes between protesters, security forces and pro-government gangs left three dead, bringing the toll to seven since demonstrations began three weeks ago.

On Thursday, smaller crowds of protesters piled garbage, branches and other refuse to block motorcycles ridden by national guardsmen and militant government supporters. Many residents stayed home from work in anticipation of further clashes. While crowds persisted, they were more dispersed and some wondered what would come next for the movement.

“Everyone is asking what the plan is,” said David Marval, a 23-year-old engineering student as he marched across eastern Caracas for a second day. “For me, you have to paralyze the entire city.”

Maduro remained silent a day after calling the protests a right-wing coup attempt and threatening opponents with prosecution even as he also held out the possibility of negotiations.

Observers saw a long siege ahead. “People understand better that resistance will take time,” Oswaldo Ramirez, director of the Caracas-based ORC consultancy. “Political change will not be immediate.”

More than 300 people were arrested across the country during Wednesday’s protests, according to the nation’s public prosecutor. Two foreign channels disappeared from the airwaves after transmitting images of demonstrators skirmishing with police.

The current unrest rivals the 2014 wave of anti-government protests that withered in the face of a government crackdown that left more than 40 dead and dozens of opposition leaders, party members and students behind bars.
Venezuela inflation is at 720%

Triple-digit inflation and the economy’s steep contraction have left Maduro’s support hovering around 20 percent and the government far weaker than it was three years ago, according to Dimitris Pantoulas, a Caracas-based political analyst.

“The opposition, even with fewer people than yesterday, can still exert serious pressure on the government,” he said.

Maduro maintains that this month’s demonstrations are tantamount to a coup d’etat. Vice President Tareck El Aissami blamed the opposition for Wednesday’s violence and called for a probe of the organizers. “This right wing, made up of terrorist leaders, has led their people to fascist violence,” he said.

Eurasia Group said that protests were not yet at a tipping point, but showed worrying signs for Maduro. “A more unified opposition, high social discontent, mounting international pressure, and fissures within chavismo suggest that Venezuelan politics are entering a more fluid phase and that Maduro’s grip on power is weakening,” analysts Risa Grais-Targow and Agata Ciesielska wrote in emailed note.

Late Thursday, Freddy Guevara, vice president of the National Assembly, called on Venezuelans to protest from their neighborhoods on Friday, march on Saturday and rally on the country’s main roads on Monday. Maduro, speaking on state television, claimed the opposition had communicated to him that they would sit down for another round of talks.

For now, at least, the opposition is undeterred.

“We will not rest until constitutional order is reestablished,” Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state and a main opposition leader, said Wednesday.