Venezuela and Ciudad Juarez, on the other side of El Paso, Texas, have been in the news for several years. Ciudad Juarez was "ground zero" for the Mexican cartel war. Venezuela is slowly falling apart, a perfect storm of bad management and a determined effort to undermine democracy.
We actually got some "good news" from Ciudad Juarez, as reported by The New York Times;
"With violence down to a quarter of its peak, Ciudad Juárez, a perennial symbol of drug war devastation, is experiencing what many here describe as a boom.Frankly, that is wonderful news. I know people who left Ciudad Juarez because of the violence. It's been hell down there for quite some time. I am happy that things are turning around.
New restaurants pop up weekly, a few with a hipster groove. Schools and homes in some neighborhoods are gradually filling again, while new nightclubs throb on weekends with wall-to-wall teenagers and 20-somethings who insist on reclaiming the freedom to work and play without being consumed by worry.
"It's a different city," said Mr. Lujana, 31, who moved back a few months ago.
"The drug dealers have receded; it's not cool anymore to be a narco."
Venezuela is another story.
We've heard these allegations for some time. Could Venezeula's leadership be involved in drug trafficking? Fausta Wertz brought this Spanish story to our attention:
""This news confirms what many already knew about the significant and growing presence of drug trafficking in Venezuela and its important relations with the top echelon in the government and the Armed Forces," former Venezuelan ambassador to Sweden and Guyana, Sadio Garavini commented.Again, I am not surprised to read this. It simply points out how dangerous it would be for a communist dictatorship to take over in Venezuela. At the moment, dissent is under attack and there is little independent reporting of the regime's activities in drug traffic.
"Venezuela has become a center of command and control of international drug trafficking since the expulsion of the DEA (U.S. anti-drug agency) of the country and the indefinite suspension of the effective partnership with former United States cooperation in the fight against drugs."
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