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Fri Sep 13, 2019, 07:32 PM

A new face at the reins of US diplomacy toward Latin America

Last edited Fri Sep 13, 2019, 08:57 PM - Edit history (2)

Source: Associated Press

Luis Alonso Lugo and Joshua Goodman, Associated Press Updated 12:00 pm CDT, Friday, September 13, 2019



Photo: Jose Luis Magana, AP
FILE - In this March 13, 2019 file photo, Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor speaks during the release of the 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices at the Department of State in Washington. The State Department announced Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, that Kozak will take over responsibility for the Western Hemisphere department a month after Kimberly Breier resigned.


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is a seasoned envoy who once floated the idea of going into Chile unilaterally to snatch a politically powerful general who was behind the murder of a leftist politician in Washington in the 1970s.

The State Department announced Thursday that Michael Kozak will take over responsibility for the Western Hemisphere department a month after Kimberly Breier resigned.

The appointment suggests the U.S. will continue to pursue a hard line against socialist Venezuela, even after President Donald Trump fired hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, saying there were strong disagreements over Iran, Afghanistan and a cascade of other global challenges. Kozak has been deputy to Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy on Venezuela, and played a major role in shaping U.S. policy on Venezuela this year.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, said that throughout his long career focused mainly on Latin America Kozak has earned a reputation as a strategic thinker and forceful doer.

"He's among that rare breed of American diplomats who are fully aware of the U.S.' unique power and responsibility to use its muscle to promote democracy and human rights," said Vivanco. "That's been his mantra for decades."

Read more: https://www.chron.com/news/world/article/A-new-face-at-the-reins-of-US-diplomacy-toward-14436470.php

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 08:13 PM

1. A professional diplomat with a positive, accomplished record: who would've thought! (seriously!)

I must admit that Kozak's appointment was a quite a surprise, given his moderate record - and certainly his qualifications.

His appointment is no doubt related to the firing of John "new Pearl Harbor" Bolton, and may indeed signal a centrist shift in Trump's foreign policy.

One hopes, anyway.

In any case, Kozak is a far cry from the radicalized right-wing Miami exile types that have historically led the Western Hemisphere office under most GOP administrations.

All the best to him.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 09:05 PM

2. It's good to learn he is moderate, and it's good of you to mention it.

My assumption was that Trump NEVER hires anyone remotely humane, and diplomatic.

I really want to find out more, as I look for background, about his earlier connections with LatAm relations.

Considering the true monsters who've been scheming in the State Department regarding the Americas (everything south of the border) and having seen their godawful handiwork, and learned what U.S. Americans who are decent people have learned first hand, and witnessed, I'm sure it would take forever before I heard of a good one among them.

If he in anyway has been an influence in showing Bolton the door, he should be celebrated. John Bolton has been wild to shed Latin American blood a very long time, really raging to get started.

Thanks for shining a light which was clearly needed, sandensea.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 09:20 PM

3. Let's hope his appointment - and Bolton's firing - really do signal a foreign policy shift

As I'm fond of saying, one can only hope.

If Kozak does prove to be a moderate (as he's been in the past), he'll be a good partner for Argentina's likely next president, Alberto Fernández, to work with.

Fernández, as you know is inheriting a bankrupt Argentina - saddled with over $200 billion in public foreign debt, most of it owed over the next four years (!).

This, of course, includes, $45 billion lent so far by the IMF as part of Trump's effort to get his friend Macri re-elected (Macri no doubt manipulated him into making this happen - knowing it was all in vain).

Argentina will certainly need U.S. support to re-finance as much of this debt as possible - starting with the IMF debt.

Fernández has already indicated he'll ask the IMF to turn their 4-year standby into a 10-year extended loan facility, as it would be the only way they could be repaid.

But the IMF would never agree to it (even though they know they must) without support from the President of the United States.

Kozak could thus be instrumental in making it happen, by advising Trump of the plain truth: that refinancing is the only way.

Time will tell.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #3)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 09:33 PM

4. That's a huge responsibility which must be handled ethically or lives will certainly be lost.

So much is at stake.

Thank you for supplying the necessary depth for his place in this immediate situation.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #4)

Fri Sep 13, 2019, 09:52 PM

5. You're welcome, Judi.

And thank you for finding and posting this.

Hard to tell where it all goes from here - but w'll know soon enough.

If Kozak, who I understand I taking over as Asst. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on an interim basis, is replaced by some Otto Reich or Roger Noriega type, it'll prove Trump hasn't changed his stripes at all.

Indeed, it's a safe bet to assume he probably hasn't.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #3)

Sat Sep 14, 2019, 08:26 PM

7. New article today which relates to this:IMF may withhold Argentina billions until policy fog lifts

IMF may withhold Argentina billions until policy fog lifts
September 14 2019 09:13 PM

Bloomberg/Buenos Aires
The International Monetary Fund is unlikely to grant a $5.4bn disbursement to Argentina without knowing the economic policy plans of the government that takes over in December, according to people familiar with the situation.

The IMF can postpone the next disbursement in Argentina’s record $56bn credit line until having greater clarity on the policy landscape in South America’s second-largest economy, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorised to speak publicly.

Argentina’s loan with the Fund faces fresh doubts after President Mauricio Macri’s unexpected defeat in the August 11 primary vote to Alberto Fernandez triggered a major sell-off in the peso and sovereign bonds. IMF officials met Fernandez, who hasn’t spelled out his economic policies, in late August, and he later criticised the Washington organization in interviews and a statement.

On Thursday, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said “the complex market conditions and policy uncertainty going forward make the situation even more difficult.” The next disbursement is scheduled for on or after Sunday. The election is on October 27.

More:
https://www.gulf-times.com/story/641634/IMF-may-withhold-Argentina-billions-until-policy-f

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #7)

Sun Sep 15, 2019, 05:39 PM

8. Great find. With Macri all but out (and in a landslide), the IMF has no reason to lend him anymore.

It's no secret that the $57 billion bailout was intended solely to help guarantee Macri's re-election - and that it was granted only on Cheeto's orders.

The IMF knew from the very beginning this would be utterly unpayable in a country already facing $20 billion+ in annual foreign debt interest payments (it was just $5 billion in 2015). It's own board of advisers acknowledged as much.

But as you know, the real director of the IMF is the U.S. President.

So if Argentina defaults on the $45 billion lent thus far, and the IMF comes running to U.S. taxpayers for their bailout, it'll be almost entirely Cheeto's fault.

Of course, Trump could avoid this problem by simply ordering the IMF to work with Fernández to refinance the debt (10 years repayment, at the very least).

But will he?

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Sep 14, 2019, 09:47 AM

6. Chilean justice dealt with Manuel Contreras, eventually.

... At the time of his death in August 2015, Contreras was serving 59 unappealable sentences totaling 529 years in prison for kidnapping, forced disappearance and assassination...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Contreras

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Sep 17, 2019, 12:48 AM

9. We've been doing that in Latin America for 100 years. That's why it's in such good shape.

"He's among that rare breed of American diplomats who are fully aware of the U.S.' unique power and responsibility to use its muscle to promote democracy and human rights," said Vivanco. "That's been his mantra for decades."

Banana Republics is what we built in Central America.
We supported Noriega in Panama, the military overthrow of an elected Honduran President.
The military overthrow of the elected Chilean president and support of a military dictator there.
Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Etc., etc., etc..

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Response to SharonAnn (Reply #9)

Tue Sep 17, 2019, 04:04 AM

10. And those guys weren't playing beanbag, either. Completely evil. All to enrich the wealthy,

and stripped away from the poor any way they could get it, using kidnapping, tortures, assassinations, massacres as if there were no tomorrow.

Almost ALL of this was concealed from the U.S. citizenry. Like mushrooms, kept in the dark, and fed ####. Most people didn't bother to question what they had been told, still, and taught their children to be stupid, too.

Ignorance, and indifference keep populations completely neutralized. Too bad when they refuse to awaken as adults.

You are so right.

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