The BBC reports that Venezuela has received its first delivery of tens of thousands of Russian assault rifles.
Rodolfo Soriano Núñez, author of México desde fuera, has resumed updates of his English-language blog Social Change In Latin America, now retitled Latin America: Economy and Society. This is a good information resource, for while one may occasionally find oneself at variance with Rodolfo's take on current events, it is quite obvious that he has a far-reaching grasp of the history and sociology of the region, surpassing much of the discussion of Latin-American society and politics that's currently available in the blogosphere. His latest post concerns today's presidential election in Peru, which is a run-off between Alan García and the Chávez-style populist Ollanta Humala. As RSN points out,
the election has been deeply affected by Venezuelan interventionism and, strangely enough, by the ability of García to gather unexpected expressions of support from those who, few years ago, were their fiercest critics.
Public figures like Mario Vargas Llosa, who lost in a similar runoff to Alberto Fujimori back in 1990, and many others have expressed, one way or the other, their support for the former President García.
The fact that they are doing so is not so much an expression of belief in García’s proposals or because of “happy memories” associated with his presidential term. Quite the opposite. They express one of Peru's most dramatic and painful paradoxes.
Read the whole thing, both for its analysis of Peruvian democracy and for its personal exploration of the often complex and trans-national links between Latin American politics, literature and society.
See also: Migrating to Reality
There are reports that Russia may relocate its Black Sea warships from the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol to a new base at Tartus, in Syria. From RIAN:
Vladimir Zimin, a senior economic advisor at the Russian Embassy to Syria, said Russia had simultaneously launched a modernization project at the port of Latakia, 90 km to the north of Tartus.
The paper quoted an anonymous source at the Defense Ministry as saying that Moscow was planning to form a squadron led by the Moskva missile cruiser within the next three years to operate in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis, in particular for joint antiterrorist exercises with NATO forces.
Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in the Crimea under a 1997 agreement that allowed Russia to continue its presence in its neighboring former Soviet republic for rent of $93 million per year.
The fleet is scheduled to withdraw in 2017, but Ukraine has recently voiced concerns that Russia is not paying enough for the facilities and also demanded that a new agreement be signed on inventorizing the bases. Russia has said it will make no concessions over rent or withdrawing the fleet and talks have stalled.
The Defense Ministry source told Kommersant that a Russian naval base in the Mediterranean would not only help Moscow strengthen its position in the Middle East – where it is currently also involved in negotiations on the Iranian nuclear crisis and the Israel/Palestinian issue – but also ensure Syria's security.