Posts Tagged ‘Panama’

European Union adopts blacklist of 17 tax havens

December 5, 2017

© Jewel Samad, AFP | Tourists play on the water along a beach as the sun sets in Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 24, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-12-05

European Union finance ministers adopted on Tuesday a blacklist of tax havens which includes 17 extra-EU jurisdictions seen as not cooperative on tax matters, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates are the countries listed, officials said.

Le Maire said that another 47 jurisdictions are included in a public “grey” list of countries that are currently not compliant with EU standards but have committed to change their tax rules.

Following multiple disclosures of offshore tax avoidance schemes by companies and wealthy individuals, EU states launched a process in February to list tax havens in a bid to discourage setting up shell structures abroad which are themselves in many cases legal but could hide illicit activities.

Blacklisted countries could lose access to EU funds. Other possible countermeasures will be decided in coming weeks, Le Maire said.

(REUTERS)

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Panama eyes trade deal with China after ditching Taiwan

November 17, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | ‘China-Panama relations have turned over a new leaf,’ Chinese leader Xi Jinping said during talks with Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela

BEIJING (AFP) – 

Panama and China agreed Friday to study the possibility of reaching a free trade agreement after the Central American nation ditched Taiwan and recognised Beijing.

The memorandum of understanding was among 19 cooperation agreements signed by the two countries as Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The two nations also reached agreements related to agriculture, civil aviation and maritime transport, as well as tourism to facilitate visits by Chinese tour groups to Panama.

After the United States, China is the second-most frequent user of the Panama Canal.

“China-Panama relations have turned over a new leaf,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said during talks with Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Varela was treated to a state visit as he met Xi at the massive Great Hall of the People. On Thursday, Varela inaugurated his country’s new embassy in Beijing.

With Panama establishing relations with China in June, Taiwan is now only recognised by 20 nations.

Mainland China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949 and while Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation, it has never formally declared independence.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province that is part of Chinese territory and will be brought back into the fold at some point.

The power of China’s checkbook diplomacy

September 10, 2017

There are many ways a government can assert its interests on the international stage. Some use military muscle. Others use subversion or bluster. In Asia, Africa, Latin America, and even in Europe, China is using investment to get what it wants from countries and governments in need.

The most obvious examples are in Asia. Pakistan’s relations with the United States have deteriorated sharply in recent years for many reasons, and President Donald Trump’s warmer ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have given Pakistan’s government and military good reason to invest more deeply in strong relations with China. In turn, Beijing’s investment in Pakistan has gathered momentum. An infrastructure development project, the US$55 billion (S$73.6 billion) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China’s broader One Belt, One Road Initiative, is generating growth and creating much-needed jobs in Pakistan. In return, China is developing the port of Gwadar, which will provide China a stronger presence in the Indian Ocean.

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte does not like criticism from the US and Europe, and Beijing has pledged to help him improve his country’s underdeveloped infrastructure. So far, China hasn’t delivered much, but the promise alone has persuaded the Philippine President not to push hard against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. He has also added the Philippines’ voice to a more pro-China stance from the 10-member Asean. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also added to Asean’s tilt towards China and likewise backed off rival claims in the South China Sea because his country also needs investment in roads, bridges and especially rail lines – and because the scandal involving misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a sovereign wealth fund, has left Mr Najib and his government short of cash.

China’s deep pockets have long bought influence in Africa, where President Xi Jinping has pledged billions more in investment in coming years. China is also amplifying its voice across Africa via StarTimes, a state-backed, though privately owned, Chinese media and telecoms firm that beams Chinese content – and a Chinese worldview – via subsidiaries in 30 African countries into African households.

As a member of the Brics group since 2010, South Africa has given China a gateway into the Southern African Development Community, which provides access to natural resources that support China’s growth and boosts its political influence across the region. China is South Africa’s largest trade partner, and the two countries signed commercial deals in 2015 worth US$6.5 billion. South Africa’s government has rewarded China’s willingness to invest by denying Tibet’s Dalai Lama, who is persona non grata in China, entry into South Africa on three separate occasions since 2009, though South African officials deny this.

Chinese trucks at Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Pakistan. Beijing’s investments in the South Asian nation has grown, with China developing the port and the $73.6 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. PHOTO: DAWN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was one of just two African leaders offered a seat at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing earlier this year, and Kenya can expect to be a major recipient of Chinese infrastructure investment as part of the maritime route of the One Belt, One Road project. China has already built a high-speed rail connection between the Kenyan cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, and Kenya’s government has expressed thanks with support for China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and for Beijing’s bid to persuade the International Monetary Fund to add China’s currency to its Special Drawing Rights basket.

China has also spent considerable time and money building its influence in Latin America. China has become the largest export market for Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Peru, and Uruguay. But this is no longer simply a story of China buying commodities. These same countries, plus Bolivia, now import more from China than from anywhere else. Panama has also become part of the story, in part because China’s investment in the expansion of the Panama Canal has allowed Chinese mega-freighters to reach the Atlantic and eastern seaboard of the US. Earlier this year, Panama announced it would no longer recognise Taiwan, providing China with another diplomatic victory.

Beijing has even extended this strategy into Europe, where leaders still act as though the world is hoping to follow their lead. The most recent Chinese investment is in cash-strapped Greece, a country fed up with imposed austerity and bitter criticism from the European Union. Greece has won Chinese investment through the One Belt, One Road project. In particular, a Chinese state-owned firm now operates the Greek commercial port at Piraeus, the busiest in the Mediterranean. Earlier this year, Greece blocked an EU statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council that criticised Mr Xi’s crackdown on domestic political dissent and joined Hungary to support China’s South China Sea territorial claims at The Hague.

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A senior Greek official last month said: “While the Europeans are acting towards Greece like mediaeval leeches, the Chinese keep bringing money.”

There is a lesson here for the US, the EU and any other international player that would condition badly needed investment on domestic political behaviour. Mr Trump boasts of American power, but he has made clear he has no interest in writing large cheques. Now look at China from the recipient’s point of view. China offers good deals for governments and countries that need them – and it does not demand risk and sacrifice in return.

The only question about this strategy’s future is where it will succeed next.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/the-power-of-chinas-chequebook-diplomacy

The writer is the president of Eurasia Group and author of Superpower: Three Choices For America’s Role In The World.

Related:

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Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

Magnitude 8 earthquake strikes off Mexico’s southern coast

September 8, 2017

The shock of the quake was felt as far away as Mexico City. The government has said that at least five people were killed in the country’s south as a result of the tremor.

Rescue workers standing in rubble in Mexico (picture-alliance/ZumaPress/A. Salinas)

The quake struck late on Thursday, and was recorded as a magnitude 8.4 on the Richter scale according to Mexico’s National Seismological Service. Government officials said that at least five people died in the country’s south.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said that the quake, the biggest the country has seen in a century, had caused major damage and caused 1 million people to lose power, though it has been restored to about 800,000 already.

The US Tsunami Warning Center has cautioned that widespread, devastating tidal waves were possible on Mexico’s coast, as well as in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and Ecuador.

Shortly thereafter, authorities reported a tsunami was indeed headed towards the coast, fortunately only 0.7 meters (2.3 feet) tall.

The quake’s epicenter was about 123 km (76 miles) south of the town of Pijijiapan in Chiapas state, but the shock was felt 1000 km (650 miles) as far away as Mexico City, sending residents fleeing swaying buildings and knocking out electricity in parts of the city. The quake was also felt in much of Guatemala, which borders Chiapas.

Mexico’s civil protection agency reported that the last comparable tremor was a 1985 earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed entire buildings in the country’s heavily populated capital.

Impresionante, un hotel en Matías Romero, OAXACA esta inclinado, huéspedes y personal al interior. Están evacuando huéspedes. Vía @rioaxaca

Civil Defense officials wrote on Twitter that their personnel were patrolling the streets in Chiapas aiding residents and looking for damage. They also issued a warning for aftershocks, several of which themselves registered a 5.0 magnitude according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Chiapas Governor Manuel Velasco told broadcaster Televisa some homes had been damaged and a shopping center had collapsed in the town of San Cristobal.

“Homes, schools and hospitals have been affected,” Velasco said.

In Tabasco state, next to Chipas, Governor Arturo Nunez said two of the dead were small children who were residents of his state. One child was crushed by a falling wall while the other was an infant who perished when his ventilator stopped functioning after a power outage in a hospital.

There were also reports of bad damage in Oaxaca state, with buildings collapsed and reduced to rubble. Throughout all three southern states, rescue workers rushed to check for anyone trapped by the debris.

Karte Mexiko Erdbeben ENG

es/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/magnitude-8-earthquake-strikes-off-mexicos-southern-coast/a-40409831

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Deadly earthquake hits off the coast of southern Mexico

September 8, 2017

Updated 4:05 AM ET, Fri September 8, 2017

(CNN) — A massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of southern Mexico early Friday morning, killing at five people and triggering tsunamis.

The quake, which was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City, struck 74 miles (120 kilometers) off the Pacific Coast at 12:49 a.m. ET Friday, when many people would have been sleeping.

Latest updates

— Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said three people died in the state of Chiapas and two in Tabasco. Gov. Manuel Velasco said two of them died in a house collapse.
— Some 23,000 people likely experienced violent shaking, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS Pager system, which predicts economic and human loss following earthquakes, issued a red alert. “High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response,” it said.
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— A tsunami has been confirmed in Mexico, with one wave coming in at 3 feet (1 meter), according to a tweet from the National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center’s verified account.
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— The main quake had a depth of 69.7 kilometers (43 miles), according to the USGS. It was a particularly shallow quake, according to Jana Pursely, a geophysicist at the USGS.
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— The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, close to both the Mexican states of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, and Oaxaca, in the Middle America trench.
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— The USGS has reported multiple aftershocks, including four with tremors measuring above 5.0 in magnitude.
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— Gov. Velasco told Foro TV that there have been reports of damage, including hospitals that have lost power and buildings with collapsed roofs. He said that he will cancel school on Friday.
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— A tsunami threat is being evaluated by the Tsunami Warning System. The Tsunami Warning Center advised the public that tsunami waves could hit within three hours off the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and even Ecuador.
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— Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales activated security personnel to assess the damage.
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A dark street can be seen in the street in Mexico City.

Chiapas hit hard

Gonazalo Segundo was awoken by the shaking.
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“I was already in bed. I was in my place so we were expecting to have a tranquil night but suddenly … everything breaks apart, glasses, furniture and everything,” he told CNN over the phone from Chiapas.
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The states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to at about 9 million people, are both located close to the earthquake’s epicenter. They are two of the impoverished areas in Mexico, and were likely hit the hardest.
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First responders at the scene after the quake.

“We have experienced earthquakes before, but not like this. It was so intense,” Segundo said. “We are alive, that’s the important thing.”
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Many of those in Chiapas may not have been so lucky. The earthquake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people would have been sleeping. Chiapas is Mexico’s poorest state.
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Pursely of the USGS told CNN she expects damage along the coast, meaning a costly cleanup could be on the way. These types of shallow quakes have the potential to be very dangerous, she said.
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CNN attempted to contact two seaside hotels in Chiapas but the lines appeared to be down.
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People gather on a street in downtown Mexico City during the quake.

Mexico City shakes

On his verified twitter account, Mexican President Peña Nieto tweeted, “Civil protection protocols are activated, including the National Emergency Committee.”
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It appears even the capital, hundreds of miles away, was not spared from the quake’s tremors. Mexico CIty Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said parts of the city are without in an interview on Foro TV.
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Videos on social media showed significant tremors in various parts of the country as well as major damage to buildings and infrastructure, including traffic lights shaking.
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Paulaina Gomez-Wulschner was driving when it struck. She heard an earthquake alarm go off on the radio, parked her car and joined others stood in the middle of the street to avoid falling objects.
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“This was a very, very strong earthquake, one of the strongest I’ve felt, and I was here in 1985 when that earthquake collapsed Mexico City,” she told CNN.”It was very scary,” she said.
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Gomez-Wulschner said she could hear sirens, ambulances and helicopters in the aftermath, but did not see any immediate damage near her.
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But a receptionist at the Intercontinental in Mexico City said he only felt light shaking.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/08/americas/earthquake-hits-off-the-coast-of-southern-mexico/index.html

See also:

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Southern Mexico; Tsunami Warning Issued

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mexico-city-shaken-by-strong-earthquake-1504848320

In Latin America, VP Pence Threads Needle on Venezuela

August 14, 2017

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Vice President Mike Pence is demonstrating the delicate balancing act that has thus far defined his term, walking a line during a trip to Latin America between the region’s opposition to possible U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, and President Donald Trump’s surprising refusal to rule out that option.

Speaking during a joint news conference with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos shortly after his arrival Sunday, Pence also declined to rule out possible military action against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whose efforts to consolidate power in the country have drawn alarm. Still, Pence stressed the U.S. would much prefer what he called a “peaceable” solution to the growing political and humanitarian crisis.

“President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says,” Pence said. “But the president sent me here to continue to marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America to achieve by peaceable means the restoration of democracy in Venezuela, and we believe it is achievable by those means.”

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence listens to Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos during a joint press conference at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Cartagena is the first stop of Pence’s weeklong trip to Latin America, that will also take him to Argentina, Chile and Panama. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara).

Trump’s startling comments Friday sparked backlash across the region, including from Venezuela’s chief opposition coalition and the Colombian government.

Standing at Pence’s side in Cartagena after the two met, Santos said he had repeatedly told Pence in no uncertain terms that the U.S. must not even consider military action in response to Venezuela’s crisis.

The two countries are important allies, Santos said. “But since friends have to tell each other the truth, I have told Vice President Pence that the possibility of a military intervention shouldn’t even be considered, neither in Colombia nor in Latin America,” Santos said through a translator. “America is a continent of peace. It is the land of peace. Let us preserve it as such.”

Analysists said Trump’s comments played into Maduro’s hands by awakening dark memories of U.S. intervention in the region and making it harder for other Latin American countries to join the anti-Maduro coalition. “The phantom of military interventions in Latin America disappeared a long time ago, and we don’t want it to return,” Santos said.

Pence emphasized the U.S. will work together with many nations in Venezuela’s “neighborhood” to pressure Maduro so that democracy can be restored. “We simply will not accept the emergence of a dictatorship in our hemisphere,” he said, continuing the tough talk that has been Trump’s approach to Maduro. “The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” he said.

Pence also addressed the deadly violence that broke out Saturday during a march by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, using words the president would not. “We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Pence said. “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

Trump has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for not singling out those groups directly in a lengthy Saturday statement and instead blaming “many sides” for the violence.

Pence also addressed a spike in coca production in Colombia, saying the worsening crisis required “swift action to protect the people of both our countries.” A July report from the United Nations showed that coca production in Colombia had reached levels not seen in two decades, complicating Colombia’s efforts to make its vast, lawless countryside more secure.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, shoes and outdoor
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos, arrive to give a joint press conference at the presidential guesthouse in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Cartagena is the first stop of Pence’s weeklong trip to Latin America, that will also take him to Argentina, Chile and Panama. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara).

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami lashed out at Pence, rejecting what he called “interventionist” comments intended to hide the failure of US anti-narcotics policies in Colombia. He dismissed Pence’s meeting with Santos as “an encounter between the world’s largest producer of drugs and the nation with the most consumers.”

El Aissami was sanctioned by the Trump administration in February for allegedly running a drug trafficking network of corrupt officials in Venezuela.

Pence and his wife, Karen, arrived Sunday in Colombia for a six-day, four-country trip through the region. Pence has other stops scheduled in Argentina, Chile and Panama, giving speeches and meeting with leaders.

White House officials tried Sunday to explain Trump’s decision to raise the prospect of possible military action in Venezuela. CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Trump was trying “to give the Venezuelan people hope and opportunity to create a situation where democracy can be restored.” Pompeo told “Fox News Sunday” that Venezuela “could very much become a risk” to the U.S. if it descended into further chaos.

Yet a Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee who calls himself “a pretty hawkish guy” expressed skepticism about the idea of American troops in Caracas.

“I have no idea why we would use military force in Venezuela. I’m open-minded to a reason, but at the end of the day, our military should be deployed when there’s a national security interest that can be articulated to the American people,” South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham told “‘Fox News Sunday.”

Trump’s national security adviser, who has previously warned against military talk, said the Trump administration wants to get a handle on the current situation under Maduro’s embattled government and “understand better how this crisis might evolve.”

“The president never takes options off the table in any of these situations and what we owe him are options,” H.R. McMaster told ABC’s “This Week.”

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Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

US Vice President Mike Pence Starts Latin American “Reassurance Tour” — Following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela

August 13, 2017

AFP

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | US Vice President Mike Pence’s tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said

BOGOTA (AFP) – US Vice President Mike Pence launches a Latin America tour Sunday that has taken on new significance following President Donald Trump’s threat of a possible “military option” against Venezuela.

The weeklong trip, aimed at coordinating a regional diplomatic action to the political crisis in Caracas, begins in Colombia, a strong US ally that takes hundreds of millions of dollars a year in funding from Washington and which has little liking for leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The other stops were Argentina, Chile and Panama.

The tour would be dominated by the crisis in Venezuela and how US “partners and friends” were looking to the “future” regarding that country, while others were stuck in the “past,” a senior US administration official said.

“We’ve been firm in both word and deed against the Maduro regime, and it’s important to get others in the region. And these four countries have, but we want to continue to put the pressure on the Maduro regime,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“We’ll talk to economic options, diplomatic options — every tool that’s available. It’s not only the United States putting forth pressure on Maduro, but that he’s getting it from all sides of the region as well.”

But, thanks to Trump’s warning on Friday that he was considering various measures to tackle Venezuela “including a possible military option if necessary,” Latin American nations — including those who are scolding Caracas for “breaking democratic rule” — are united against the use of American force.

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru all issued messages rejecting such a step.

– Bitter memories –

For many Latin American countries, bitter memories of past US military adventures in the region have resurfaced as a result — including the 1989 invasion of Panama to topple and capture its leader, Manuel Noriega — as well as CIA involvement in bloody guerrilla and counter-guerrilla campaigns, and Washington’s propping up of military dictators.

The United States has slapped sanctions on Maduro — an extremely rare punishment against a head of state — as well as two dozen of his officials.

The measures were for the establishment of a new assembly of Maduro loyalists that bypasses the legislature controlled by opposition. The body, which started work this month, has set about clamping down on dissent and opposition politicians.

With Trump’s threat of possible military action, Maduro’s regime has intensified arguments that the United States is plotting with the opposition to oust the president and grab Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest in the world.

It also said the threat was not just against it, but against all of Latin America.

“The reckless threat by President Donald Trump aims to drag Latin America and the Caribbean into a conflict that would permanently alter stability, peace and security in our region,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told a news conference on Saturday.

The defense minister, General Vladimir Padrino, called Trump’s talk “craziness.”

– Force rejected –

Leftist allies Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua have backed Venezuela in a confrontation against its “imperialist” foe.

Other Latin American nations strongly opposed to Venezuela’s political move have also condemned the prospect of the US military being deployed to impose Washington’s will.

“The repudiation of violence and whatever option involving the use of force is resolute and constitutes a fundamental basis of democratic cohabitation, both in domestic contexts as well as in international relations,” Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The crisis in Venezuela can’t be resolved through military actions, internally or externally,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray wrote on Twitter.

China Says Taiwan Should Make ‘Wise Choice’ on One China Principle — Panama cuts diplomatic channel to Taiwan

June 13, 2017

BEIJING — China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Tuesday that Taiwan should make a “wise choice” on recognising the one China principle, after Panama dropped ties with the self-ruled island in favour of formal relations with Beijing.

The Taiwan Affairs Office posted the statement to its website.

China distrusts Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling party, which traditionally advocates independence for Taiwan. Soon after Tsai took power, Beijing cut official communication channels with her government to try to pressure her to concede that Taiwan is part of China.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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Panama Establishes Ties With China, Further Isolating Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Panama has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of recognizing China, the latest in a series of developments adding to the island’s isolation on the world stage.

Only 19 countries and the Vatican now recognize Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China. Many of those countries are in Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and the decision by Panama, announced on Monday, appeared to put those relationships in doubt.

China refuses to have diplomatic ties with countries that officially recognize Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory and has threatened to annex by force, if necessary. Since 1945, Taiwan has been ruled by the Republic of China government, which lost the Chinese civil war and fled the mainland in 1949.

The news is a major setback for Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen. She visited Panama last summer, shortly after taking office, for the inauguration of President Juan Carlos Varela and the opening of an expanded Panama Canal. The first ship to sail through the expanded canal was a Chinese one.

In January, Ms. Tsai returned to the region to attend the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. She also made stops in Guatemala and Honduras, during a trip that was presented domestically as shoring up Taiwan’s alliances in Central America.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “indignation and regret” at the decision. It said that in addition to withdrawing its diplomatic mission, it would cease all bilateral cooperation and aid.

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Pope Francis’ Homily for Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017 — “We must carry our own cross, not refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily.”

April 9, 2017

The Vatican

Today’s celebration can be said to be bittersweet.  It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time.  We celebrate the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem to the cries of his disciples who acclaim him as king.  Yet we also solemnly proclaim the Gospel account of his Passion.  In this poignant contrast, our hearts experience in some small measure what Jesus himself must have felt in his own heart that day, as he rejoiced with his friends and wept over Jerusalem.

For thirty-two years now, the joyful aspect of this Sunday has been enriched by the enthusiasm of young people, thanks to the celebration of World Youth Day.  This year, it is being celebrated at the diocesan level, but here in Saint Peter’s Square it will be marked by the deeply moving and evocative moment when the WYD cross is passed from the young people of Kraków to those of Panama.

The Gospel we heard before the procession (cf. Mt 21:1-11) describes Jesus as he comes down from the Mount of Olives on the back of a colt that had never been ridden.  It recounts the enthusiasm of the disciples who acclaim the Master with cries of joy, and we can picture in our minds the excitement of the children and young people of the city who joined in the excitement.  Jesus himself sees in this joyful welcome an inexorable force willed by God.  To the scandalized Pharisees he responds: “I tell you that if these were silent, the stones would shout out” (Lk 19:40).

Yet Jesus who, in fulfilment of the Scriptures, enters the holy city in this way is no misguided purveyor of illusions, no new age prophet, no imposter.  Rather, he is clearly a Messiah who comes in the guise of a servant, the servant of God and of man, and goes to his passion.  He is the great “patient”, who suffers all the pain of humanity.

So as we joyfully acclaim our King, let us also think of the sufferings that he will have to endure in this week.  Let us think of the slanders and insults, the snares and betrayals, the abandonment to an unjust judgment, the blows, the lashes and the crown of thorns…  And lastly, the way of the cross leading to the crucifixion.

He had spoken clearly of this to his disciples: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).  Jesus never promised honour and success.  The Gospels make this clear.  He had always warned his friends that this was to be his path, and that the final victory would be achieved through the passion and the cross.  All this holds true for us too.  Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds.  Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily.

This Jesus, who accepts the hosannas of the crowd, knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry: “Crucify him!”  He does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos that circulate on the internet.  No.  He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases…  They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike.  Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded…  Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.

It is not some other Jesus, but the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amid the waving of palm branches.  It is the same Jesus who was nailed to the cross and died between two criminals.  We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.

Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170409_omelia-palme.html

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Related image

Jesus gets help from Simon of Cyrene by Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, known in English as Titian.

Art below by Anatoly Shumkin

Pope Francis Tells Young Catholics To “Lead the Church’s Future” — Referred to his own mortality twice — Celebrated The Family

April 9, 2017

By NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press

ROME (AP) – Pope Francis urged young people to lead the church’s future Saturday even as he voiced doubts that he’d be around much longer to see it.

The 80-year-old pope referred to his own mortality twice in the span of a few minutes during a vigil service to rally enthusiasm for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, to be held in Panama in 2019.

“I don’t know if it will be me, but the pope will be in Panama!” he told the crowd at the St. Mary Major basilica.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino). Pope Francis prays in front of a portrait of the Virgin Mary as he arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Pope Francis prays in front of a portrait of the Virgin Mary as he arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino).

A few minutes earlier, he drew gasps from the pews when he teased: “At my age, we (old people) are about to pass away.”

Sensing their pained reaction, he added: “Who guarantees life? No one. At your age, you have the future ahead of you.”

Francis is known for his casual, self-deprecating remarks and has said repeatedly he didn’t expect to be pope for very long. Early on in his four-year papacy he predicted two to five years would do it. He has also not ruled out the possibility of resigning like his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, did.

At the same time, there’s nothing indicating that Francis is slowing down.

Later this month, he begins the first of his 2017 foreign travels that are expected to bring him to Egypt, Portugal, Colombia, India, Bangladesh and perhaps South Sudan. He is also gearing up for the next big meeting of the world’s bishops this fall, dedicated to young people.

The Vatican has solicited direct input from young people to inform its work and participate in the synod. Francis took that request further Saturday, saying he wanted to involve not just dedicated Catholics but all young people, atheists included.

“The future is in your hands,” he said.

The synod lets bishops make proposals to the pope that inform a future papal document. Francis’ last synod on the family was highly divisive on the issues of marriage, divorce and access to the sacraments.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at http://www.twitter.com/nwinfield

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino). Pope Francis arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino). Pope Francis arrives in at St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome to preside over a vigil prayer, Saturday, April 8, 2017.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Honour thy father and thy mother”

ARTICLE 4
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.4He was obedient to them.5

The Lord Jesus himself recalled the force of this “commandment of God.”6 The Apostle teaches: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ (This is the first commandment with a promise.) ‘that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.”‘7

2197 The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority.

2198 This commandment is expressed in positive terms of duties to be fulfilled. It introduces the subsequent commandments which are concerned with particular respect for life, marriage, earthly goods, and speech. It constitutes one of the foundations of the social doctrine of the Church.

2199 The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.

This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons.

2200 Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”8 Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.

I. THE FAMILY IN GOD’S PLAN

The nature of the family

2201 The conjugal community is established upon the consent of the spouses. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The love of the spouses and the begetting of children create among members of the same family personal relationships and primordial responsibilities.

2202 A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.

2203 In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity. For the common good of its members and of society, the family necessarily has manifold responsibilities, rights, and duties.

* The Christian family

2204 “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church.”9 It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.10

2205 The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task.

2206 The relationships within the family bring an affinity of feelings, affections and interests, arising above all from the members’ respect for one another. The family is a privileged community called to achieve a “sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children’s upbringing.”11

II. THE FAMILY AND SOCIETY

2207 The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.

2208 The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”12

2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.

2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society13 entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty “to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity.”14

2211 The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure especially:

– the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions;

– the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family;

– the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children in it, with the necessary means and institutions;

– the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate;

– in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits;

– the protection of security and health, especially with respect to dangers like drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc.;

– the freedom to form associations with other families and so to have representation before civil authority.15

2212 The fourth commandment illuminates other relationships in society. In our brothers and sisters we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors; in our fellow citizens, the children of our country; in the baptized, the children of our mother the Church; in every human person, a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called “our Father.” In this way our relationships with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character. The neighbor is not a “unit” in the human collective; he is “someone” who by his known origins deserves particular attention and respect.

2213 Human communities are made up of persons. Governing them well is not limited to guaranteeing rights and fulfilling duties such as honoring contracts. Right relations between employers and employees, between those who govern and citizens, presuppose a natural good will in keeping with the dignity of human persons concerned for justice and fraternity.

III. THE DUTIES OF FAMILY MEMBERS

The duties of children

2214 The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood;16 this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother17 is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God’s commandment.18

2215 Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. “With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?”19

2216 Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. . . . When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”20 “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”21

2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”22 Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so.

As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

2218 The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus recalls this duty of gratitude.23

For the Lord honored the father above the children, and he confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure. Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays he will be heard. Whoever glorifies his father will have long life, and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother.24O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. . . . Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord.25

2219 Filial respect promotes harmony in all of family life; it also concerns relationships between brothers and sisters. Respect toward parents fills the home with light and warmth. “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.”26 “With all humility and meekness, with patience, [support] one another in charity.”27

2220 For Christians a special gratitude is due to those from whom they have received the gift of faith, the grace of Baptism, and life in the Church. These may include parents, grandparents, other members of the family, pastors, catechists, and other teachers or friends. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.”28

The duties of parents

2221 The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.”29 The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.30

2222 Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.”31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33

2224 The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.

2225 Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.34 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.

2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.35 The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.

2227 Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.37

2228 Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.

2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 Public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.

2230 When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary restraint does not prevent them – quite the contrary from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family.

2231 Some forgo marriage in order to care for their parents or brothers and sisters, to give themselves more completely to a profession, or to serve other honorable ends. They can contribute greatly to the good of the human family.

IV. THE FAMILY AND THE KINGDOM

2232 Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”39

2233 Becoming a disciple of Jesus means accepting the invitation to belong to God’s family, to live in conformity with His way of life: “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”40

Parents should welcome and respect with joy and thanksgiving the Lord’s call to one of their children to follow him in virginity for the sake of the Kingdom in the consecrated life or in priestly ministry.

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a4.htm