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Posts tagged ‘Panama Canal’

Panama to Release NKorea Ship Held for Smuggling Cuban Weapons.


Image: Panama to Release NKorea Ship Held for Smuggling Cuban Weapons

The North Korean vessel Chong Chon Gang at Manzanillo harbour in Colon, Panama.

PANAMA CITY — The North Korean crew and ship detained in Panama for smuggling Cuban weapons three months ago will soon be returned to the reclusive Asian nation, Panama’s foreign minister said Thursday.

The crew’s return would mark the end of a bizarre chapter between the three countries that provoked international controversy after the ship was seized in July for smuggling military-style arms under 10,000 tons of sugar.

Repairs to the ship are nearly completed so the crew can sail back in the same vessel, Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega told Reuters.

While the U.N. Security Council has yet to decide on penalties against Cuba, given a 7-year-old ban against arms transfers to North Korea due to the country’s nuclear weapons program, the arms will likely be sold or given away, Nunez Fabrega added.

In July, the North Korean crew sabotaged its electrical system and bilge pumps after Panamanian investigators stopped the ship near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal on suspicion it was carrying drugs after leaving Cuba.

The North Korean flagged ship, known as the Chong Chon Gang, will be returned after the vessel’s owner formally signs off on the plan, Nunez Fabrega said.

Panama has issued visas for two North Korean diplomats to arrive shortly and complete the procedure.

Meanwhile, 33 of the 35 crew members, held at a former U.S. army base on charges of threatening Panama’s security, “appear to be ignorant of what was in the cargo,” Nunez Fabrega said.

“As a result, if the Attorney General determines they are not criminally responsible for their actions, they cannot be prosecuted,” he said.

Both the captain, who tried to slit his throat after Panamanian investigators seized the ship, and his deputy consistently refused to give statements during their detention, officials said. As a result, they might still face trial.

The whole crew refused efforts to put them in contact with their families, said Nunez Fabrega.

“Their families in North Korea must think they sunk with the boat,” he said.

After the ship was seized, Havana requested that Panama release it, claiming the vessel carried only the sugar cargo as a donation to the people of North Korea.

But once the arms were discovered beneath the sugar, the Cuban government acknowledged it was sending “obsolete” Soviet-era weapons, including two MiG jets, 15 MiG engines and nine anti-aircraft missiles, to be repaired in North Korea and returned.

An analysis by 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland, found the weapons shipment was larger than Cuba acknowledged and that many of the weapons were in “mint condition”.

The analysis concluded the arms were intended for North Korea’s own use.

Inspections of the equipment show they were “obviously not obsolete” as Cuba maintained, said Nunez Fabrega.

“One of the jets had kerosene in them, showing it was recently used,” he said. “Of the 15 jet engines, 10 were in immaculate condition.”

Since then, Panama has had “zero” communication with Havana, although it made at least four attempts. Havana also canceled a scheduled meeting between government officials from both countries at the United Nations last month.

“It was like talking to a brick wall,” Nunez Fabrega said.

A six-member U.N. team inspected the weapons in August but still seeks answers from Cuba about the shipment to provide a U.N. sanctions committee a full report.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

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Will Obamacare Be the New Panama Canal for Conservatives?.


Paul Tryan, Eric Cantor
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (3rd left) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (4th left) hold a photo opportunity with fellow members of an unrequited conference committee they proposed to the Democratic-controlled senate over the current budget impasse at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst )

The establishment media and Washington’s permanent political class continue to try to sell the idea that taking the fight over defunding Obamacare to the point that it has caused a partial government shutdown is a losing proposition for Republicans because 17 years ago the polls showed that the public held the GOP more responsible than Democrats for such inconveniences as the closure of the national parks and the national aquarium.

Conservatives must continue to think strategically and look beyond this week’s news cycle at what is really at stake in the Obamacare battle. And it isn’t who “wins” or “loses” in the short term according to the vote count on the next continuing resolution; it is which side comes out of the fight having educated the voters, energized and enlarged their base, and branded their opponents as dangerously wrong onhealth care.

In that respect the lessons that conservatives should take away are not those learned in the budget battles with President Clinton in the 1990s, but the battle conservatives fought over the Panama Canal Treaty with President Jimmy Carter—and the Republican establishment—in the 1970s.

Unsophisticated establishment critics will argue that conservatives lost the Panama Canal Treaty fight.

But the truth is, while conservatives lost the Senate vote to save the Panama Canal, 70 percent of the American people agreed with us. And over the next two elections (1978 and 1980), 21 senators who voted on the Panama Canal Treaty lost in a primary or general election. Of those 21 senators, 20 voted with Jimmy Carter and against the conservatives. Many old-time liberals in the Senate such as George McGovern, Frank Church, Tom McIntyre, Dick Clark and liberal Republican Clifford Case (in a primary) were defeated.

We were and are interested in building a movement and getting grass-roots Americans engaged in that movement; the Panama Canal Treaty battle grew the New Right movement in the 1970s and the fight over defunding Obamacare is growing the limited government, constitutional conservative movement today.

In the fall of 2013, dozens of conservative organizations are mailing tens of millions of postal letters and even more emails to educate voters and enlarge their supporter base—all pointing toward 2014.

Know of any Democrat or establishment Republican groups doing anything similar? I didn’t think so.

It is fair to say that the 1980 Republican takeover of the Senate and Ronald Reagan’s landslide presidential election were set in motion, and in large measure defined by the grass-roots reaction to the Panama Canal Treaty vote.

The Viguerie Co. in the late 1970s mailed to tens of millions of Americans letters explaining that national Democrats, by giving away the Panama Canal, had a dangerously weak foreign policy.

Tuesday’s vote on defunding Obamacare is similarly defining.

Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and dozens of Tea Party-backed House members understand that this strategy is not for today’s news cycle. The battle is focused on bringing constitutional conservatives to power by 2017.

And they also understand that the Republican establishment is as great—or greater—an adversary in this fight than are President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. So expect conservatives to redouble their efforts to defeat establishment big-government Republicans in the primaries next year, including John Cornyn, Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell as well as establishment House Republicans.

Sens. Lee and Cruz have, through their principled opposition to funding Obamacare, re-energized millions of grass-roots conservative voters who were turned off by the Republican establishment’s content-free technocratic campaign in 2012.

While it was liberals who invented single-issue politics in the 1960s, in the 1970s conservatives became a national political force by adopting the tactic and organizing millions of Americans around single, hot-button issues.

Opposition to Obamacare is the hottest of hot-button issues among conservatives today. So it is past time for limited government, constitutional conservatives to recognize that by returning to single issue politics, they can dominate the 2014 and 2016 elections, and govern America in 2017.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Richard A. Viguerie is the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com and author of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause and the forthcoming book, Takeover.

Castro Praises NKorea for Cold War Arms Aid.


Image: Castro Praises NKorea for Cold War Arms Aid

HAVANA — Fidel Castro credited North Korea Wednesday with supplying Cuba with free weapons in the 1980s after the Soviet Union said it could no longer defend the island against a U.S. invasion.

Castro’s reminiscence in an article published Wednesday came as U.N. experts were scrutinizing a shipment of Cuban arms to North Korea to determine if they violated a U.N. ban.

Castro has dismissed the discovery of the undeclared arms aboard a North Korean freighter transiting the Panama Canal as an attempt to smear Cuba.

In an article marking his 87th birthday, Castro did not mention the case but praised North Korean leader Kim Il Sung for coming to Cuba’s aid near the end of the Cold War.

Castro said then Soviet leader Yuri Andropov had told him that Cuba would have to defend itself it were invaded by the United States.

“He told us that if were attacked by the United States we would have to fight alone,” he said.

“We asked him if they could supply us with weapons free of charge as they had in the past. He responded that they would.

“We then communicated to him: ‘Don’t worry. Send us the arms and we will take care of the invaders ourselves.”

Castro said North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, “a veteran and unimpeachable combatant, sent us 100,000 AK rifles and [ammunition] without charging a cent,” he said.

Andropov, a former KGB chief, was the Soviet leader from 1982 until his death 15 months later in 1984 as the Soviet Union entered into a period of crisis that ended with its collapse in 1989.

Kim Il Sung died in 1994. His grandson now rules the Stalinist state.

Castro stepped down as Cuba’s president in 2006, handing over the reins to his younger brother Raul after becoming ill.

“I was far from imagining that my life would extend for another seven years,” he said.

© AFP 2013

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxworld.com/TheAmericas/cuba-nkorea-weapons-aid/2013/08/14/id/520319#ixzz2bxSvzAPQ
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Panama Finds MiG Fighter Jets on North Korean Arms Ship.


Image: Panama Finds MiG Fighter Jets on North Korean Arms Ship

OLON, Panama — Panamanian investigators unloading the cargo of a seized North Korean ship that carried arms from Cuba have found the two MiG-21 fighter jets the Cuban government had said were on board, the government said on Sunday.

Alongside the two supersonic planes, originally produced by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, officials found two missile radar systems on board the Chong Chon Gang, President Ricardo Martinelli told reporters in the Atlantic port of Colon.

The discovery, which included cables and electrical equipment, was made inside containers on the ship Panama had feared might contain explosive material. None was found.

After stopping the vessel bound for North Korea last week, Panama revealed it had found weapons in the cargo hold late on Monday. In response, Cuba said the shipment contained a range of “obsolete” arms being sent to North Korea for repair.

Panama has asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate the ship and its contents amid suspicion that the vessel is in breach of a wide-ranging arms embargo on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

“One can’t take undeclared weapons through the Panama Canal below other cargo,” Martinelli said, adding that he had not spoken personally to any Cuban officials since they first asked for the ship to be released last Saturday.

Javier Caraballo, Panama’s top anti-drugs prosecutor, said the planes gave off a strong odor of gasoline, indicating that they had likely been used recently. So far, Panama has not found anything not on the Cubans’ list of ordnance, he added.

The U.N. team is expected to arrive in early August once Panama has finished unloading the 155 meter (510 foot) ship.

The weapons were hidden under thousands of sacks of sugar on the freighter. Before the arms were discovered, Cuba told Panama the cargo was a donation of sugar for the people of North Korea.

The isolated Asian nation has asked Panama to release the ship and its 35 member crew, who were arrested and charged with attempting to smuggle undeclared weapons through the canal.

Panama has so far dismissed North Korea’s requests.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Panama Detains NKorea-Flagged Ship; Seizes Weapons.


PANAMA CITY — Panama has detained a North Korean-flagged ship coming from Cuba as it approached the Panama Canal with undeclared weapons, President Ricardo Martinelli said.

The weapons, hidden in containers of brown sugar, were detected after Panamanian authorities stopped the ship, suspecting it was carrying drugs. The vessel was pulled over near the port of Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal.

“We’re going to keep unloading the ship and figure out exactly what was inside,” Martinelli told Panamanian television late on Monday, without giving further details.”You cannot go around shipping undeclared weapons of war through the Panama Canal.”

Martinelli said the captain of the vessel tried to commit suicide after the ship was stopped. Panamanian authorities have detained some 35 crew members.

A spokeswoman for the canal said she did not have any more information and referred questions to the attorney general.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately return requests for comment.

Javier Caraballo, Panama’s top anti-drugs prosecutor, told local television the ship was en route to North Korea.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Nicaragua Rushes China Deal to Build Massive Canal.


MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua is plowing ahead with a plan to dig a Chinese-funded rival to the Panama Canal across the midriff of the country, fast-tracking a proposal through the ruling party-controlled congress despite a lack of details about the $40 billion project.

A China-based consortium says it will finance the project and turn over control of the infrastructure to Nicaragua in exchange for a majority of the earnings, which it would share with the Nicaraguan government.

Proponents have said the project could capture 4.5 percent of world maritime freight traffic and double the per-capita gross domestic product of Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

The canal has won the enthusiastic backing of President Daniel Ortega, whose Sandinista Front controls the national legislature with 63 out of 92 lawmakers.

Many outside observers and Ortega opponents point out that nearly every key detail of the project remains a mystery, from the sources of its funding to Nicaragua’s share of the profits to the route it would take between the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Many have been asking whether Central America needs two canals, even in an age of growing world trade.

The Nicaraguan congress’ infrastructure committee voted unanimously Monday night in favor of the project, with four opposition lawmakers on the 12-member body abstaining. Committee president Jenny Martinez said the bill was immediately sent to the National Assembly, which is expected to approve it Thursday.

Feasibility studies have indicated six potential routes across Nicaragua, many connecting with Lake Nicaragua in the western half of the country, but the legislation approved Monday does not specify which one would actually be dug.

“Since there is no defined path, we can’t measure the degree of seriousness of this project,” said opposition lawmaker Javier Vallejos. “This is like putting the cart before the horse.”

Ortega also hasn’t presented an economic feasibility study or an environmental impact study for the project. He said last month that it would start in Bluefields Bay in the southern Caribbean coast, go through the center of the country and into Lake Nicaragua and stop at the southern Pacific coast.

The project would include digging about 130 miles (200 kilometers) of waterway, and proponents say it could create 40,000 construction jobs over the 11 years estimated for completion.

The government plans to grant the Chinese HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. a concession for an initial 50 years, with the possibility of extending it another 50.

Jaime Incer, an environmentalist and adviser to the presidency on environmental issues, said authorities should be defining a specific route for the canal before approving a concession.

“There are at least six proposed routes and five of them include Lake Nicaragua, but there is nothing definite, that’s all part of the unknown,” he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel, who is chairman of the country’s Grand Canal Authority, said Monday that he had no doubt the Chinese company would carry out the project.

“It’s a very serious company, very responsible and recognized,” Coronel said. “To doubt [the company] is to oppose the project for political rather than realistic issues.”

The Hong Kong-registered company has said that it is willing to fully study the technological, economic, environmental and social impact of the project.

“This is a great project that has the potential to transform international trade and bring significant economic and social benefits to Nicaragua, their neighbors and Latin America,” company spokesman Ronald Maclean-Abaroa said Monday on the group’s website.

Under the deal, the Chinese company would pay Nicaragua $10 million annually during the first decade, then pay it a share of canal revenues — an amount that would begin at 1 percent and rise to an unspecified percentage over the life of the concession.

After completing the concession, the Chinese company would have to turn over to Nicaragua all buildings and other canal infrastructure.

Jose Aguerri, who heads an association of Nicaraguan chambers of commerce, said the lack of details released about the project would slow investment.

“Until you define the path that the canal will have, it will be difficult to attract investment to the area because there is no legal certainty,” Aguirre said after meeting with committee members.

Another Hong Kong-based company has been operating port facilities on both ends of the Panama Canal.

The Nicaraguan canal‘s construction would mark the end of a long push that began at least as far back as the 19th century when U.S. industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt won the right to build a waterway across the country but gave up amid political turmoil.

Other U.S. interests then studied building a canal in Nicaragua before settling on Panama as the crossing point.

Panama is nearing the end of a seven-year, $5.2 billion expansion project to allow bigger ships to use its waterway. That project is scheduled to be finished next year.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

China Firm Gets Concession for Massive Nicaragua Canal.


Nicaragua has reportedly awarded a Chinese company a 100-year concession to build a canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans across the Central American nation, with a capacity that dwarfs that of the Panama Canal.

Investigation: China Secretly Stockpiling Gold

The Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega said the canal should be able to allow passage to mega-container ships that are more than double the size of the vessels that will be able to pass through the Panama Canal after its ongoing $5.2 billion expansion, according to The Guardian.

The name of the Chinese company was not released.

But the Guardian observed that the proposed 178-mile canal would have “profound geopolitical ramifications” and “reinforce Beijing‘s growing influence on global trade and weaken U.S. dominance over the key shipping route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jim Meyers

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