“Hope and Change, Change and Despair” as Costa Rica Gets Crossed Off My List of Possible Escape Routes…

By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Costa Rican Cloud Forest...Paradise Lost?

I haven’t posted in awhile…Life does get in the way sometimes.  And, quite frankly, I’m pretty turned off by what’s going on in this country.  Hope and Change got us Republican Lite;  now, we’re probably going to Change and Despair as the Republicans run on some sort of platform to “fix” what they had a large part of creating in terms of the bleak economic outlook for this country.

So, what’s person to do?  During the Bush years I longed to get the hell out of here.  During the Obama years, with debt crises all over the globe, there are few places that are worth looking at that would truly be considered “an escape.”  In the latest surge of desire to get out of this political hellhole of a country corporate  state (with way too many religious nutcases running around in D.C. and the military), I took the next step–I subscribed to International Living magazine after getting their dreamy free e-mail newsletter for years.

The folks over at IL actually discover places that are ripe for development that can lure Americans to the good life overseas.  One of the hottest places has been Costa Rica, which is now going  to be developed in the northern part of the country, complete with highway and airport, to facilitate the influx of ex-pats.

Costa Rica’s selling points are many:  lots of ecological areas preserved for eco-tourism; varied terrain, from beaches to mountains, temperate climate to tropical jungles; excellent healthcare (one facility has a direct link to Johns Hopkins back in the States), a commitment to renewable energy and a pacifist society which hasn’t used its resources to maintain a standing army.

Perfect!!!  HOWEVER, it seems the Mexican drug cartels are on the march in Costa Rica and….guess who may be offering “help”??

I haven’t gotten a mailing for ages from Truthout.org, but one popped in my box today with the story:

What the Heck Are US Marines Doing in Costa Rica? Obama’s Tilt to the Right on Latin America

Friday 06 August 2010

by: Nikolas Kozloff, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

SNIP

Perhaps, Costa Rica’s drug problem could be addressed through a combination of poverty alleviation and coastal interdiction. Indeed, for some time, Costa Rica has collaborated with the US Coast Guard. However, under the new arrangement, other branches of the American armed services are to be deployed. The US force which is called for is massive: a virtual flotilla of 46 warships accompanied by 7,000 Marines and five planes. Take a look at this footage of the USS Makin, and consider whether this huge aircraft carrier is best suited to combat drug trafficking or perhaps some other end.

According to the Navy’s own web site, the fearsome vessel “will also have secondary missions of sea control and power projection by helicopter and fixed-wing vertical short take-off and landing aircraft.” The euphemism “power projection” caught my attention in this instance. To be sure, the cartels are a menace, but there is also an increasingly inflammatory geopolitical context to consider. In light of military developments in Costa Rica, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder whether the US might have some kind of ulterior agenda.

The author has suspicions about the Obama Adminstration’s policies in Central America that echo what has happened in Latin America:

Moves to bring the US Navy to Costa Rica have sparked widespread suspicions that Washington is looking for a justification to remilitarize the Central American region.

“Power projection.” Doesn’t sound good to me…

Things are shifting down south…

For a brief moment, it might have looked like South America’s Pink Tide would sweep through Central America, propelling significant social and political change in the process. But with the South American left now facing its own significant challenges and internal problems, it’s unclear whether Central America’s social movements will get much of a long-term boost. Meanwhile, whatever Oliver Stone might claim about Obama’s true intentions, the US continues to play its same age-old game in Central America.

Sensing weakness, the pro-business right wing has made significant electoral inroads in Panama, Honduras and, now, Costa Rica. Allied to the military old guard and the US, this resurgent right poses a thorny problem for the left. You don’t need to tell that to Central American social movements, who recently met in the Nicaraguan capitol of Managua. There, activists denounced the “silent invasion” of US troops in Costa Rica, declared their opposition to worker repression in Panama and criticized the Lobo government in Honduras for its clampdown on the opposition.

So the question becomes, when does the “silent invasion” become something else? And Panama…well, that’s another haven that I seem to have to cross off my list…

Hey, I’m not a pot smoker, but if California does legalize marijuana use, I may have to move there and become one…it may be the only feasible way to escape!

Hope and Change; Change and Despair….seems to be all over the place these days…

***

Related Info:

U.S. Department of State section on Costa Rica

The Real Costa Rica (Blog by an ex-pat)

Costa Rica Photos from TrekEarth (gallery)

The Past Week: March 15-21, 2009 (Home Gardens on Alert?; “Practical” Democrats Group; Federal Education Stimulus $$ Going to Rich Schools; Soldiers Pledge to Refuse Illegal Orders; New Marxist President of El Salvador Compares His Message of Change to Obama’s)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

We really enjoy doing the “Saturday Sanity” post which gives us an excuse to talk about gardening and to post some pictures. But now we have to worry about whether we can even HAVE gardens!!

A huge hat tip to Deadenders again, this time for this bizarre, but in these times, totally believable story:

Your Home Garden May Cost You Your Home

Read the details on HR 785 being pushed by Rep. Rose DeLauro (D-CT) who receives about 200K in PAC money from the agricultural industry  has ties to Monsanto through her husband. Deadenders comments:  “This bill creates a new government entity to police the production of all food in our county, not just the big farms but even your home garden. The language of the bill is as vague a campaign speech by Obama and once signed into law could be interpreted anyway the powers that be would like.”

We better enjoy them our gardens while we can!!  Do you think Michelle Obama’s White House garden will be confiscated??

***

So Evan Bayh has formed his group of “moderate Democrats” that are supposed to be “practical” and full of  “common sense.” If there’s one name that sticks out in all this, it’s the presence of Claire McCaskill of Missouri.  Claire was a very strong supporter of Obama but lately has joined Russ Feingold as one of only two Democratic senators to oppose earmarks.  Claire must be getting an earful from the folks back home in the “Show Me” state…or she’s a mole.

***

Well, surprise, surprise!  All that federal money pouring into education is somehow getting distributed in ways that aren’t getting the cash to the places that need it the most. Apparently, old federal formulas are still in use and CHANGE hasn’t really happened:

Some Rich Districts Get Richer as Aid Is Rushed to Schools

RANDOLPH, Utah — Dale Lamborn, the superintendent of a somewhat threadbare rural school district, feels the pain of Utah’s economic crisis every day as he tinkers with his shrinking budget, struggling to avoid laying off teachers or cutting classes like welding or calculus.

Just across the border in Wyoming, a state awash in oil and gas money, James Bailey runs a wealthier district. It has a new elementary school and gives every child an Apple laptop.

But under the Obama administration’s education stimulus package, Mr. Lamborn, who needs every penny he can get, will receive hundreds of dollars less per student than will Dr. Bailey, who says he does not need the extra money.

“For us, this is just a windfall,” Dr. Bailey said.

MORE

This story reminds me of the story we reported last week about money going to Albuquerque and the new busses being bought with it being out of state and out of the country.  Seems the stimulus money is wandering around without any real direction at all…Get a compass, quick!

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A hat tip to Logistics Monster for this story:

The Tip of the Iceberg/Soldiers pledge to refuse disarmament demands

An invitation to soldiers and peace officers across the United States to pledge to refuse illegal orders – including “state of emergency” orders that could include disarming or detaining American citizens – has struck a chord, collecting more than 100,000 website visitors in a little over a week and hundreds of e-mails daily.

MORE

But will they defend my garden?  Well, read through the long list of things the group of mosty active soldiers will NOT do…

***

Meanwhile in El Salvador..last Sunday’s Presidential election was won by an ex-journalist with Marxist ties who is vowing closer ties to the Obama adminstration…

Ex-Guerrillas Win El Salvador Election

From the AP story:

Behind Mauricio Funes is a party of former Marxist guerrillas that fought to overthrow U.S.-backed governments in the 1980s and whose rise to power has raised fears of a communist regime in the war-scarred Central American country.

Funes, who gave up journalism less than two years ago to become the presidential candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, sought to quell those concerns after his historic victory Sunday.

SNIP

Funes, who was a TV reporter during the war, has stayed away from the firebrand anti-U.S. rhetoric that characterizes Ortega and Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez. Instead, he has compared his message of change to Obama’s.

Funes, who takes office June 1, promised in his victory speech that strengthening ties with the United States would be a priority. The Obama administration congratulated him Monday.

SNIP

The overture was a marked departure from the administration of former President George W. Bush, which suggested during the 2004 election that it could not trust an FMLN government.

SNIP
The overture was a marked departure from the administration of former President George W. Bush, which suggested during the 2004 election that it could not trust an FMLN government.

But, but…Funes is echoing Obama’s “message of change…”  Which makes Funes as completely trustworthy as Obama is…

***
Finally, be sure to check out two important stories:

House Passes HR 1388 Under Cover of AIG Diversion –The Linchpin in the Obama Plan to “BUY” Voters …Read What It Says and PLEASE SIGN PETITION TO SENATE NOW!!

The petition will be taking signatures through Monday.

Also:

Take a look at they story about Attorney Orly Taitz and her contacts with Chief Justice John Roberts and Antonin Scalia on the subject of Obama’s citizenship status that was included in the recent Scanner

The Scanner–Politics March 18, 2009: (Taitz-Supreme Court; Sharia Law in Minnesota re: Home Mortgages; Stimulus Money Wanders from the States; Privatizing Vets’ Healthcare)

***

THE PAST WEEK

*By American Lassie

**By Grail Guardian

***By Kenosha Marge

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (March 21, 2009) (Flowers, Fruit and a Miniature Spider Web)

House Passes HR 1388 Under Cover of AIG Diversion –The Linchpin in the Obama Plan to “BUY” Voters …Read What It Says and PLEASE SIGN PETITION TO SENATE NOW!!

*Get in the Mood…It’s SPRING!!

Have You RSVP’d For the DFA Birthday Party Yet?

The Scanner–Politics March 18, 2009: (Taitz-Supreme Court; Sharia Law in Minnesota re: Home Mortgages; Stimulus Money Wanders from the States; Privatizing Vets’ Healthcare)

**The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the North American Union: A Layman’s Overview of the Coming New World Order

ALERT: PLEASE SUPPORT ACTION TO OPPOSE CARD-CHECK NOW! W.A.M ALERT

***Left and Right and Silly

The Past Week: March 8-14, 2009 (Alaska Rivalry? Palin/Murkowski; Franken vs.Colemen=Bush vs. Gore?; China Gearing Up for It’s Own Second Stimulus Package; Sen. Gregg’s Parting Shot)

Secy. of Defense Robert Gates Downplays Possible U.S. Role as Fears of Mexico Collapse Mount; Don’t Be Fooled, There’s A Bush-Era Agenda Still Going On Here…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

A couple of days ago I posted a press release from W.A.M. (Wake Up America) on the impending demise of the “E-Verify Program” which has been operating since the 1990’s. (See URGENT PRESS RELEASE March 4, 2009 from W.A.M. RE: Expiration of the “E-Verify Program” Which Screens Employment of Illegal Aliens.)

You have to wonder why this is being allowed to die, especially with the news coming out of Mexico.  Living only about 50 miles from the border (the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area), I got to thinking.

On Monday (3/2) I saw a small AP article in the Albuquerque Journal hidden near the fold on page two which reported on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ appearance on Meet the Press the day before.  Since I don’t trust the AP to report anything anymore, I found the transcript of the show; here is the relevant passage:

March 1, 2009

Meet the Press

MR. GREGORY:  We’ve got a few more minutes, and I want to go through as quickly as we can some other really important topics.  The first is Mexico, a major threat on the border with Mexico because of a widening drug war there. The Economist magazine wrote this startling synopsis, and they call it “Who’s in charge?  The police chief in Ciudad Juarez, on Mexico’s border with America, resigned after drug gangs, who had murdered his deputy, threatened to kill one of his officers every 48 hours until he quit.” What’s going on there, and how big of a national security threat is this for the U.S.?

SEC’Y GATES:  Well, I think that what is important is that President Calderon of Mexico, perhaps for the first time, has, has taken on the battle against these cartels.  And because of corruption in the police and so on, he sent the federal army of Mexico into the fight.  The cartels are retaliating.  I think we are beginning to be in a position to help the Mexicans more than we have in the past.  Some of the old biases against cooperation with our–between our militaries and so on I think are being set aside.

MR. GREGORY:  You mean providing military supporting?

SEC’Y GATES:  Providing them with, with training, with, with resources, with reconnaissance and surveillance kinds of capabilities; but just cooperation, including in intelligence. But it clearly is a serious problem, and, and–but what I think people need to point out is the courage that Calderon has shown in taking this on, because one of the reasons it’s gotten as bad as it has is because his predecessors basically refused to do that.

This policy does not come out of the blue. The  plan was signed into law on June 30, 2008.

The Mérida Initiative (also called Plan Mexico by critics) is a security cooperation between the United States and the government of Mexico and the countries of Central America, with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering. The assistance includes training, equipment and intelligence.

In seeking partnership from the United States, Mexican officials point out that the illicit drug trade is a shared problem in need of a shared solution, and remark that most of the financing for the Mexican traffickers comes from American drug consumers. U.S. law enforcement officials estimate that US$12 to 15 billion per year flows from the United States to the Mexican traffickers, and that is just in cash, and doesn’t include all the money sent by wire transfers.[1] Other government agencies, including the Government Accountability Office and the National Drug Intelligence Center, have estimated that Mexico’s cartels earn upwards of $23 billion in illicit drug proceeds from the United States.[2][3]

U.S. State Department officials are aware that Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s willingness to work with the United States is unprecedented on issues of security, crime and drugs, so the U.S. Congress passed legislation in late June 2008 to provide Mexico with $400 million and Central American countries with $65 million this year for the Mérida Initiative. The initiative was announced on 22 October 2007 and signed into law on June 30, 2008.

Now, this plan raises a couple of alarm bells. First, some are speculating that we should expect some sort of terrorist attack on the U.S. that will allow the Obama Administration to do something that will complete their power grab.  George Bush took 911 and we got a spate of new laws regarding security, FISA, and a whole new Homeland Security office.  It doesn’t take much to see the conditions in Mexico as a potential source of  a “transnational crime” of some sort.  What Obama would do with this sort of situation has been widely discussed.  Reports of  “camps” being built, the continuation of FISA, the economic problems and greater government intervention…well, would you be surprised if we saw some more power grabbed by Obama?

Secondly, what could the “cooperation” that Gates describes actually lead to?  The use of the word “just”, as in “just cooperation” automatically raises suspicion, as if it’s all being minimized to sound simple and benign. Foreign Policy In Focus analyzed the plan this way:

From what’s known of it, the package — officially dubbed the “Mérida Initiative” but more commonly referred to as “Plan Mexico” — contains direct donations of military and intelligence equipment, and training programs for Mexican law enforcement officials. A White House fact sheet lists surveillance equipment, helicopters and aircraft, scanners for border revisions, communications systems, and training programs for “strengthening the institutions of justice.” An additional $50 million dollars is earmarked for Central American countries to support their fight against “gangs, drugs, and arms.”

The Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the “Overall Justification Document,” reported that more than a third of the package will be spent on aerial surveillance and facilitating the rapid deployment of troops.

But what has legislators and civil society worried on both sides of the border is not the money involved or the equipment to be sent. It’s the reach of Plan Mexico in recasting the binational relationship, to create what the Bush administration calls “a new paradigm for security cooperation.”

SNIP

The concept of a joint security strategy for North America goes back at least as far as the creation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) in March of 2005. Since that time, the Bush administration has attempted to push its Northern American trade partners into a common front that would assume shared responsibility for protecting the United States from terrorist threats and bolstering U.S. global hegemony in the region.

SNIP

Plan Mexico twists the plot by presenting Bush administration efforts to create a North American security strategy in the guise of a war on drugs.

And Gates is still there as a carryover in Obama’s cabinet.

On Monday( 3/9) this site will be featuring a post on a planned “community,” with many of the target dates for reaching certain goals set for 2010.  The demise of E-Verify may be part of a larger scenario that’s being played out.  Remember “SPP”–you’ll be reading about it in more detail on Monday.

Is the plan going to work? A recent article from the El Paso Times reports on some doubts:

Lawmakers to evaluate Merida Initiative’s success

Meanwhile, fears abound that money, materials and services from the Merida Initiative won’t make it to their intended recipients, with corruption getting in the way and the potential for worsening violence as drug cartels continue to clash.

Gee, no “indicators”?  Doubts about whether “benchmarks” have been established? Sounds sort of  like how the “stimulus package” and bailout money is set up…no real oversight!

I found a rundown of some recent news items at The Albuquerque Journal site which paint a pretty grim picture of what’s going on. Click on the following headline to get the full list.

Updated at 11:20am — Cartels Said To Have 100,000 Foot Soldiers

Pentagon source tells Washington Times rival drug organizations may be negotiating a merger…

Here are the other headlines, which are descriptive enough:

7:10am 2/9/09 – Texas Plans for Possible Mexican Collapse: ‘You hope for the best, plan for the worst,’ Gov. Perry’s aide tells El Paso Times.

6:45am 2/2/09 — Ambassador: Mexico Not Collapsing: Top envoy responds to chorus of alarms by current and former U.S. officials over border violence.

9:45am 1/29/09 — Joint Chiefs Chairman Worries About Mexican Violence: Navy Adm. Mike Mullen tells D.C. press briefing that border drug war ‘has all of our attention.’

11:25am 1/14/09 — Military Report: Mexico’s ‘Sudden Collapse’ Possible: U.S. Joint Forces Command study puts Mexico on a par with Pakistan as global security threat.

9:35am 1/9/09 – U.S. Says It’s Ready for Mexican Violence: Homeland Security has a ‘surge’ plan, including use of military, if drug wars spill over the border. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told The New York Times this week that if Mexico’s vicious and escalating drug war spills over the border, the United States has several response plans, including the use of the military, the El Paso Times reported.

10:00am 1/7/09 — Ex-U.S. Drug Czar Warns of Mexican Chaos: McCaffrey tells incoming Obama administration ‘millions of refugees’ could surge across border…The United States has provided only minimal support for the Mexican government to date, with Congress approving the $400 million Merida Initiative worked out by President Bush with Mexican and Canadian participation only “after a divisive and insulting debate,” the report said…”A terrible tragedy is going to take place in the coming decade if we don’t closely ally ourselves with the courageous Mexican leadership of (President Felipe) Calderon’s administration — and develop a resourced strategy appropriate for the dangers we face,” McCaffrey told the incoming administration.

***

See that mention of Canada in the last excerpt?  You’ll be reading more about Canada next week…

And please remember who Felipe Calderon is. Recall that during Mexico’s national election in July 2006, there was a great deal of scuttlebutt around about how Calderon was “selected.”    As reported at the time:

Mexico Vote Gives Bush New “Amigo” in Latin America

Catherine Bremer – Reuters

Felipe Calderon’s election victory in Mexico gives the U.S. government a much-needed conservative ally in Latin America, where it has lost influence in recent years as a string of leftist leaders took power.

For months, it seemed that Washington would have to work with a combative Mexican leader in Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a fiery leftist who led opinion polls and promised to end two decades of U.S.-backed economic reforms.

But Calderon won the narrowest of victories and Mexico’s electoral court named him president-elect on Tuesday, throwing out Lopez Obrador’s accusations of massive fraud.

MORE

Now, doesn’t that sound real familiar?

Reviewing all this information, it’s plain to see that E-Verify is just an afterthought these days.  Maybe bigger things are brewing…


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