The Global Liberty Alliance (GLA) is a legal and public policy NGO based in the United States dedicated to strengthening fundamental individual rights, free enterprise, and the rule of law. To advance the cause of justice worldwide, GLA advocates for human rights abuse victims in various forums, trains lawyers and human rights defenders, and holds human rights abusers to account. Stand for liberty and the rule of law. Invest in GLA today!
The road to justice is usually a very long one. Accountability for gross violations of human rights, such as crimes against humanity, can elude victims or family members, sometimes for a lifetime. This podcast is the first of several planned podcasts that will discuss how former Iranian regime officials have been offered lucrative posts at several American universities. In this episode, Jason talks with Ms. Lawdan Bazargan, whose brother was unlawfully imprisoned, tortured, and assassinated by the Iranian regime in 1988 during was has come to be called the 1988 Massacres.
An American and California resident, Lawdan explains how she and her family have sought to hold Iranian regime officials to account in Europe, and more recently, right here in the United States. So when she learned a former Iranian regime official was offered a job at Oberlin College in Ohio, Lawdan and other families whose loved ones had been killed in 1988 sprung into action. Lawdan explains that Americans should work for an education system "free of bigots, murderers, and people accused of crimes against humanity." "Professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati has no place in our higher education system," Lawdan said, and she hopes Oberlin college will reassess their decision to offer him a job.
Professor Mahallati is a Professor of Religion at the Department of Religion, Nancy Schrom Dye Chair in the Middle East and North African Studies of Oberlin College. In an Open Letter To Amnesty International on Oberlin College’s Appointment of Mahallati families urged Amnesty and other NGOs to "hold Mahallati accountable for his grave misdeeds on behalf of the Iranian regime. Anything less shows an inexplicable indifference to the mass murders and lies detailed in Amnesty’s report" that included Mahallati for his role in covering up the 1988 Massacres while he served at the United Nations.
Oberlin College: Take action against Professor Mahallati, Jewish News Syndicate, (June 15, 2021).
After [Jerusalem] 'Post' article, college reviews antisemitism of ex-Iran envoy prof, The Jerusalem Post (May 6, 2021).
In this episode, Jason Poblete talks with Dr. Danielle Gilbert, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Military & Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Gilbert received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she also served as a Ph.D. candidate-in-residence with the Institute of Security and Conflict Studies.
Her research on the causes and consequences of violence has been supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the United States Institute of Peace, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Cosmos Club Foundation, the Bridging the Gap Project, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, the Les Aspin ’60 Summer Fellowship, and the Georg W. Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy at Yale. Before beginning her doctoral work, she served four years on Capitol Hill, including as a Senior Legislative Assistant and Appropriations Associate, and worked as a policy advisor on presidential and congressional campaigns.
Jason and Dani talk about a wide range of issues in her field and hone on in recent developments in U.S. hostage policy.
Dr. J Michael Waller is Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy. His areas of concentration include propaganda, political warfare, psychological warfare, and subversion. He is the former Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school in Washington, DC. A former instructor with the Naval Postgraduate School, he is an instructor/lecturer at the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg.
Dr. Waller holds a Ph.D. in international security affairs from the University Professors Program at Boston University. He received his military training as an insurgent with the Nicaraguan contras. He was a co-founder of the Blue Team on China in the 1990s. For 13 years he was the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, where he designed and taught the world’s only graduate program on public diplomacy and political warfare and was part of the team that developed the first civilian Master’s degree program in Washington DC for US Army officers in lieu of attending the US Army War College.
He is President of Georgetown Research, a political risk and private intelligence company in Washington, DC. He is a frequent guest instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. His doctoral dissertation, written in 1993 and published as Secret Empire: The KGB In Russia Today (Westview, 1994), foresaw the rise of a KGB officer to seize political control of Russia. He is author or editor of books relating to intelligence, political warfare, public diplomacy, terrorism, and subversion. See his page on Academia.edu.
He has written for the Daily Beast, Daily Caller, The Federalist, Forbes, Insight, Investor’s Business Daily, Kyiv Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Real Clear Politics, USA Today, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
In February U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by 25 of their Senate colleagues from both political parties, strongly urged President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration's decision to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara. In the letter that was released to the public, the Senators asked the Biden administration to recommit America to its longstanding policy of a referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara.
To discuss this recent development in the Western Sahara matter, Jason will speak with Bill Flecther Jr., a human rights activist and supporter of self-determination for the Sahrawi. This is our second podcast on Western Sahara; the first was with Katlyn Thomas, an attorney, and international law expert who served on the MINURSO mission in the Sahara. In addition to discussing the most recent developments, Jason (on the right) and Bill (on the left) discuss how politically and ideologically diverse coalitions come together every now and then to advance common goals in complex matters.
Fletcher is a long-time human rights activist dating to his teen years. Upon graduating from college he went to work as a welder in a shipyard, thereby entering the labor movement. Over the years he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as a senior staff person in the national AFL-CIO. A former president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941”; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio, and the Web.
Senator Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Senate Leahy (D-Vermont) joined by 25 of their Senate colleagues from both political parties, urge President Biden to reverse course on Western Sahara (letter).
How the Western Sahara Became the Key to North Africa; And why Morocco’s apparent victory there will change regional politics, Foreign Policy (Dec. 18, 2020).
Why the Fight Over Western Sahara is Heating Up Again, Bloomberg (Mar. 17, 2021).
Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara is a serious blow to diplomacy and international law, former Secretary of State James Baker (Dec. 17, 2020).
Morocco escalates row with Spain over Western Sahara, Reuters (May 27, 2021).
Diane Foley is the Founder and President of the James W. Foley Foundation (JWFLF). She founded the JWFLF in September 2014, less than a month after the public execution by ISIS terrorists of her son, James Foley. Since 2014, she has led JWFLF efforts to fund the start of Hostage US and the international A Culture Of Safety Alliance, ACOS.
In 2015, she actively participated in the National Counterterrorism Center hostage review, culminating in the Presidential Policy Directive-30. This directive re-organized US efforts on behalf of Americans taken hostage abroad into an interagency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and a White Hostage Response Group.
Previously, Diane worked first as a community health nurse and then as a family nurse practitioner for 18 years. She received both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.
ISIS Militants Charged With Deaths Of Americans In Syria, including Jim Foley, US Dept. of Justice (Oct. 7, 2020).
The James W Foley Foundation
Jamshid Sharmahd, A Dissident Held Hostage in Iran (Global Liberty Alliance).
Alina Lopez, An American Unlawfully Imprisoned in Cuba (Global Liberty Alliance).
The persecution of Christians worldwide is at an all-time high. In this podcast episode, Jason Poblete addresses the crisis with Faith McDonnell, who has been on the frontlines of religious freedom advocacy since the 1970s. Faith is currently the Director of Advocacy at Katartismos Global, a 501(c)(3) organization that equips the Church for mission and ministry. From 1993 until 2021, Faith served as the Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Faith writes and speaks on the subject of the persecuted Church and has organized rallies and vigils for Sudan in front of the White House, the State Department, the Canadian Embassy, and the Sudanese Embassy. She has drafted legislation on religious persecution for the Episcopal Church and for the United States Congress. In June 2007, her book, Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’.s Children, was published by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Annual Report, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)
Religious Liberty Is Under Assault, Even in the United States—Interview with Faith McDonnell, The Epoch Times (Dec. 31, 2020)
International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA)
Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016
Retired Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has dedicated his life to public service, particularly in defense of fundamental human rights and religious freedom. In this podcast, GLA President Jason Poblete talks with Mr. Wolf on a variety of religious freedom issues such as the persecuted churches in Nigeria, China, and the Middle East.
Working across party lines Congressman Wolf helped lead the effort to enact the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. In 2016, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act was enacted. It amended the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) to state in the congressional findings that the freedom of thought and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion." The 2016 law amended IRFA in several ways including requiring the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom to report directly to the Secretary of State. This reporting structure was implicit in IRFA (1998) but clarified by the 2016 Amendment as not every Secretary of State had respected this arrangement.
The 2016 amendment also established an "entities of particular concern" list, a companion to the "countries of particular concern" classification for non-government actors, such as the Islamic State (IS), the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram, and Houthis. The amended act institutes a "designated persons list" for individuals who violate religious freedom and authorizes the President to issue sanctions against those who participate in persecution. Both of these provisions were already contained in the IRFA legislation (Section 402(2)) but are further detailed in what has been called the Wolf Amendment to IRFA.
Wolf represented Virginia's 10th Congressional District from 1981 until 2015. Wolf entered politics in 1968, at the age of 29, when he became a legislative assistant to Edward Biester, the Republican congressman from Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district. From 1971 to 1975, Wolf served as an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton. Wolf has traveled extensively to places around the world where people are suffering, including five times to Sudan since 1989. He has advocated for relief from the Darfur genocide and other cases of genocide. He has also convened conferences in his district to address human rights issues around the world. Wolf has vocally criticized the human rights record of China and has championed human rights for religious minorities and other believers the world over. You can read more about Wolf's remarkable career here.
Prisoner of Conscience: One Man's Crusade for Global Human and Religious Rights, Frank Wolf (Amazon).
"Fired for Liking a Tweet on Tibet, US Worker Feels China’s Reach," Voice of America (Mar. 31, 2018).
"Stop the Christian Genocide in Nigeria," Frank Wolf and Toufic Baaklini, National Catholic Register (Feb. 26, 2020).
Christian Persecution at All-Time High, Say Experts at Alexandria Conference," Arlington Catholic Herald (Sept. 16, 2020).
In this podcast, Jason speaks with Ms. Hollie McKay, journalist, foreign policy expert, and war crimes investigator. Formerly with Fox News, Hollie is currently a national bureau correspondent covering national and international news from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and Myanmar. Her most recent book, Only Cry for the Living: Memos From Inside the ISIS Battlefield is a chilling yet sobering and inspiring collection of stories that exposes the evil of ISIS and why it sought to wage terror on civilians in a desperate attempt to create an antiquated caliphate. As Jason and Hollie discuss in the podcast, to stare down evil is a reminder of how difficult life can be, but also a lot of good can come from this process, as Hollie captures in her writings.
Only Cry for the Living: Memos From Inside the ISIS Battlefield, Hollie McKay (Amazon)
Articles by Hollie McKay
In this episode, former Guatemalan Vice Presidential candidate, diplomat, and conservative liberty warrior Betty Marroquin joins Jason Poblete again to discuss the recent appointments to Guatemala’s constitutional court - the five permanent and five alternative judges that will take office on April 14, 2021 - as well as why the U.S. and Guatemala should be concerned about working with corrupt officials when fighting corruption.
In prior podcasts, Jason and Betty have discussed how rule of law and respect of private property rights are vital to Guatemala's future and how both the United States and Guatemala must find ways to work together to defend individual fundamental rights (including the right to life), free markets, and the rule of law.
This battle has divided, and still does, the people of Guatemala. It remains one of the most perplexing policy challenges not only for Guatemala but the region. The GLA supports jurists committed to the rule of law, however, it opposes imposing solutions on sovereign nations such as untested and United Nations imposed experiments.
The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) did the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do and it undermined Guatemalan sovereignty. We can and must do better. The process starts by trusting our partners in the region, seek out the best jurists committed to improving the situation, and, most importantly, being patient and impartial.
Finally, if you are a conservative in Guatemala and active in politics, you're targeted by the left with impunity. Betty has even had her Twitter account canceled over her work. There is a lot of work to do in Guatemala and the region.
Judicial Crisis: Guatemalan Constitutional Crisis Part 2, a podcast with Betty Marroquin
Guatemala at Crossroad with Appointments to Constitutional Court, Impunity Observer (Mar. 22, 2021).
The Odebrecht Scandal
Almost 30 years since the end of the Cold War, former Eastern Bloc nations such as Bulgaria are still struggling with Soviet ghosts, including the corruption of the legal system. That is exactly what is going on in Bulgaria, a NATO partner and strong U.S. ally. Rocked by street protests during much of last year, Bulgarians are tired of the corruption and are demanding reform of the legal system.
In this episode, GLA President Jason Poblete speaks with Dr. Radosveta Vassileva, an international lawyer speaking out against corruption in Bulgaria, and other human rights activists working to strengthen the rule of law. Radosveta has raised awareness of the rampant corruption and inadmissible human rights violations in Bulgaria. She describes her opinion that the EU Commission has abdicated its obligations and must do more to advance the rule of law. Radosveta's family has been subjected to unprecedented abuse by Bulgaria’s government.
Last week, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a joint bipartisan statement that if requested, the United States will "[a]ssist Bulgaria in tackling corruption, restoring an independent media, and promoting the rule of law. The steps Bulgaria takes to address these issues will only serve to strengthen our relationship further." Jason and Radosveta discuss how U.S. economic sanctions, such as the Global Magnistsky law, can help support reform efforts in Bulgaria and other countries where the rule of law is under assault. Radosveta has been working on applying Global Magnistsky sanctions against corrupt Bulgarian officials.
State Department fact sheet on Bulgaria.
Bulgaria, An Overview, Congressional Research Service (Jan. 13, 2021).
EU parliament chastises Bulgaria for rule of law deficiencies, Reuters (Oct. 8, 2020).
Bulgaria Expels Two Russian Diplomats Accused of Spying, The Epoch Times (Sept. 23, 2020).
Trump Meets With Bulgarian Prime Minister to Expand Strategic Partnership in Defense, Energy, and Trade, The Epoch Times (Nov. 26, 2019).
In this podcast, Jason Poblete speaks with international lawyer Ms. Emma Reilly, a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Human Rights Officer and whistleblower. Since 2013, Emma has been calling attention to a troubling practice at the UNHRC that has endangered the lives of dissidents and other human rights abuse victims who visit or testify at the UN. Despite well-documented evidence of wrongdoing by U.N. personnel, it took seven years for Ms. Reilly to secure whistleblower status. When she did, she was exiled to the U.N. bureaucracy's bowels to work on matters that appear designed to silence her and as retribution for standing up to Communist China and China’s supporters working in the UN system.
The UNHRC, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is made up of 47 member states, including the United States. Under U.S. law, the United States is supposed to withhold as much as 15% of our tax dollars from U.N. agencies that fail to provide mechanisms to protect whistleblowers and others who ensure the organization's responsible behavior. Emma has written to several U.S. policymakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Chris Smith. The Biden administration and Congress should take a close look at Emma's case. Current and former U.N. officials are endangering the lives of human rights victims and other civil society leaders. The practice must stop and those who put dissidents and their families in danger should be to account.
More than 37,000 employees work for the United Nations in offices in 193 nations. According to UN data, these men and women are supposed to "maintain international peace and security, foster sustainable development and promote human rights." Think of it this way, if the UN were a corporation it employs about the same number of employees as Hobby Lobby yet Hobby Lobby has annual revenues of $5 billion a year, the UN, nothing. The UN relies on charity or financial donations provided by taxpayers of the member nations - in other words, you! Corporations are held to account by markets, shareholders, and customers.
If a company delivers a bad product or service or fails to manage the bad employees, companies lose business. The marketplace is a powerful check on the private sector. Meanwhile, the UN operates, at times, with relative impunity, where no one is really held to account until it's too late; it is also so far removed from the people who fund it that, effectively, taxpayers have no way to reign in the bureaucracy.
Emma's efforts at the Human Rights Council is not the first time whistleblowers have been pressured by U.N. leadership and it will not be the last. The United Nations is broken and China is one of the leading manipulators of the system. By supporting whistle-blowers such as Emma or demanding that your Member of Congress vote to withhold your tax dollars from broken UN agencies are some of the ways you can hold the U.N. to account when its employees and management break the rules.
U.S. Funding to the United Nations System: Overview and Selected Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service (Mar. 10, 2020).
Leaked Emails Confirm UN Gave Names of Dissidents to CCP, Epoch Times (Feb. 25, 2021).
Members of Congress Demand Accountability at the United Nations (whistleblower, UN, WIPO), Congressional Record (Feb. 29, 2016).
The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action, 112th Cong., hearing transcript (Jan. 25, 2011).
On this podcast, Jason speaks with Juan Carlos Gomez, Associate Clinical Professor at the Florida International University College of Law and Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration Human Rights Clinic. They discuss the law as an instrument for good, especially when used to help those at the margins of society, such as the mentally ill.
Prof. Gomez has been defending the rights of individuals in immigration matters for over 30 years including in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, as well as the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. In immigration law, he has helped thousands of individuals in situations including removal and deportation proceedings, family immigration, and the transfer of professionals and executives to the U.S. He works with a wide range of clients: counseling corporations on compliance with immigration laws, as well as defending scores of mentally ill or criminal accused.
He also has coordinated teams of attorneys in multi-forum conflicts to effectively resolve clients’ problems. As an attorney for a Central American Refugee Project, he helped in the representation of thousands of individuals in the Southeastern United States in a national class action. He has represented refugees from every part of the world where there have been conflicts over the last three decades. As director of East Little Havana Legal Services, he led a team of attorneys to resolve the series of problems faced by clients.
This week on the GLA podcast, GLA President Jason Poblete speaks with Ms. Gazelle Sharmahd, the daughter of Mr. Jamshid Sharmahd. A U.S. Legal Permanent resident based with his family in California, Jamshid was kidnapped and taken hostage by the regime on or about August 1, 2020. A registered nurse working on the pandemic's frontlines, Gazelle is one of her father's strongest advocates for his release.
Jamshid, an Iranian-German national, has witnessed the hardship of an oppressive government, which has been ruling over Iran since 1979. He was forced to flee Iran because he did not share the same ideals as the Islamic Regime. Jamshid has always stood up for justice and basic human rights like freedom of speech. According to Gazelle and her family, America was only the country that wholeheartedly accepted Jamshid and her family.
Jamshid's recent abduction was not the first time the Iranians have intimidated or harassed this family. In 2011, as CNN reported, Iran attempted to assassinate him on U.S. soil, a plot foiled by the FBI. Despite the challenges, Gazelle shares with Jason how their family has persevered and remains singularly focused on liberating Jamshid from Iranian captivity.
Iran has been using hostage-taking and kidnapping as a tool of state since the 1980s. There are currently several Americans held hostage in Iranian prisons, as well as many other foreigners such as Jamshid. What is particularly disturbing about this case is that several foreign governments may have been involved, facilitated, or allowed Iranian agents to kidnap a dissident. Jamshid had not traveled to Iran, he was on his way back to the United States after a business trip and had traveled through Germany and the UAE en route to California.
Free Jamshid Sharmahd & GoFundMe campaign
Free our kidnapped father, Jamshid Sharmahd, from the Islamic Regime of Iran (Change.Org Petition).
Why Is Iran Kidnapping and Executing Dissidents? (New York Times, Jan 12, 2021).
How to Stop Iran From Terrorizing Dissidents Abroad (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 30. 2020)
On Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration's "Cuba policy is governed by two principles. First, support for democracy and human rights - that will be at the core of our efforts. Second is Americans, especially Cuban-Americans, are the best ambassadors for freedom in Cuba. So we’ll review the Trump administration policies." Dr. Andy Gomez, former Assistant Provost of the University of Miami and Director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (Retired), joins Jason Poblete of the Global Liberty Alliance and takes a deep dive into the history of U.S. Cuba policy and issues that the Biden administration should consider as it develops its Cuba policy.
- Dr. Andy S. Gomez Bio
- Social Challenges Facing Cuba, book by Dr. Andy Gomez (2014)
In this episode, Jason Poblete talks with South Florida attorney (and former GLA law clerk) Ms. Laura Jiménez about her journey to human rights and international law, especially through advocating for immigrants.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Laura started her legal profession in Mexico, where she obtained her Law Degree. After several years of practice, she moved with her family to Miami, where she studied at Florida International University (FIU) College of Law. Laura is a person sensitive to the dreams, expectations, fears, and specific needs of immigrants. She and her family have lived the experience of immigration to the United States.
Last year Laura and her team in Miami took on a very difficult case involving a Cuban dissident who was expelled from Cuba for his political beliefs. The Global Liberty Alliance supported the effort on behalf of Ramón Arboláez. You can read more about this case here: Cuban dissident, denied entry to the U.S., waits in a Mexican border town as cancer spreads.
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A Mom's Peace is a mission for mothers of miscarried and stillborn souls. Headquartered in Virginia and run by volunteers, it supports moms, and dads, of all faith and non-faith backgrounds during a very difficult time - the loss of a child. A Mom's Peace also helps provide dignity and respect in death for miscarried or stillborn babies, the youngest of our clients.
This podcast is the first in a series of podcasts on this subject, particularly as it relates to the rights of parents when a baby is stillborn or miscarried. In some states, such as Indiana, healthcare facilities and abortion providers are required to inform pregnant women or parents of their right to determine the final disposition of fetal remains and to document that decision in the woman’s medical record.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indiana law requiring healthcare providers to properly dispose of fetal remains and not treat unborn children as medical waste. "This Court has already acknowledged that a State has a "legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains." Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., 139 S. Ct. 1780, 1782 (2019).
In addition to Indiana, other states with fetal disposition laws include Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Georgia has had a law on the books for several years that regulates the disposal of fetal tissue. Last year, state legislators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin introduced legislation to amend state laws on fetal remains. Similar efforts are under review in Tennessee, Mississippi, South Carolina, and right here in Virginia.
In 2016, HB 970 was introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates that, had it been enacted, would have required hospitals and health care providers who provide abortion services to dispose of fetal remains by burial or cremation. In a future episode, we will further explore some of these laws and why the laws in a majority of U.S. states treat stillborn or miscarried babies as medical waste. We will also speak with other fundamental rights advocates to change that so that parents know their rights and the rights and dignity of our youngest clients are defended.
A Mom's Peace
A 29-year United Nations (UN)-brokered ceasefire in the ongoing conflict for Western Sahara came to an end last week in the Sahara Desert when Moroccan forces clashed with the nationalist Polisario Front. On today's show, Jason talks with Ms. Katlyn Thomas, a New York-based and practicing international attorney who served as the first legal advisor to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). She is also the former Chair of the United Nations Committee of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
Invaded and unlawfully occupied by Morocco in 1975, Western Sahara remains the only colonized African nation. For sixteen years, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and its people, the Sahrawi, have fought the Moroccan invaders. In 1991, when it appeared that the Sahrawi would win their freedom and Western Sahara would finally be free, the King of Morocco brought in the United Nations and pressed for a cease-fire.
In good faith, the Sahrawi laid down their arms and agreed to a cease-fire only because the United Nations promised them the only thing they had ever asked for: the right to vote on self-determination. The Sahrawi have been waiting since 1991 for the vote. A member of the African Union, the SADR has been recognized by over 80 nations. The United States does not recognize Moroccos's claim to Western Sahara.
Defense Forum Foundation, Free Western Sahara
Floor speech by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Stealing the Sahara, Sam T. K. Neel (Amazon)
The Legal Issues Involved In The Western Sahara Dispute, The Principle of Self-Determination and the Legal Claims of Morocco; New York City Bar (link opens a PDF file, June 2012)
UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
There has been a political reawakening in the United States of a new generation of voters and freedom advocates that has also been happening in other parts of the world, including Latin America and Europe. In this podcast, GLA President Jason Poblete talks with fellow attorney, María Herrera Mellado, about this liberty movement in Latin America and Spain.
Licensed to practice law in several U.S. states and Spain, María is an international business law expert who also is committed to defending and strengthening individual fundamental rights, free markets, and the rule of law. María is currently with the Kivaki Law Firm in South Florida, where she advises foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
María also teaches courses on comparative business law in Spain and Mexico and has written several articles on Financial Consumer Protection and Banking Law in Spain, Portugal, and Brazil. She has worked at the United Nations and is trained to represent matters before the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.
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During this podcast, Jason talks with a fellow international lawyer and human rights advocate, Mr. Hillel C. Neuer. Hillel is the executive director of UN Watch. UN Watch is a human rights NGO and UN watchdog group based in Geneva, Switzerland. Neuer is the founding chairman of the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a coalition of 25 NGOs from around the world.
Neuer is from Montreal, Canada. He holds a BA in intellectual history and political science from Concordia University, a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Laws from the McGill University Faculty of Law, which he graduated in 1997, and a Master of Laws in comparative constitutional law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neuer served as a law clerk to the Supreme Court of Israel and a Graduate Fellow at the Shalem Center think tank.
In 2007, Hillel Neuer’s banned U.N. speech became the most viewed and written-about NGO speech in the history of the United Nations. News reports described it as a “stunning rebuke of the U.N. Human Rights Council” and “a diplomatic moment to remember.” Why was Hillel called the 'most hated man at the United Nations'? Be sure to listen!
UN Watch, Bio
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In this interview, renowned international litigator Robert Amsterdam and Jason Poblete discuss topics related to Mr. Amsterdam's sensational international legal experience, including a near-death in a 2010 Bangkok massacre, U.S. foreign policy pitfalls in Africa, views on U.S. sanctions, the challenges of attorney-client confidentiality over Zoom, and the importance of international know-how in an increasingly shrinking world.
According to the former British Ambassador to Russia, Andrew Wood, “The word that best describes Bob is courage, both moral and actual. He raises questions that are not always welcome, and that is often the proper business of a lawyer.” Amsterdam is an international lawyer with 40 years’ experience working on high-profile cases in emerging markets. He is the founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP, a boutique international law firm with offices in London and Washington DC.
Robert Amsterdam's personal website
Amsterdam & Partners, LLP
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On the edition, Jason Poblete speaks with Ana Quintana, from the Heritage Foundation. Ana is a Senior Policy Analyst, Latin America, and the Western Hemisphere who leads Heritage's U.S. policy efforts toward Latin America. Ana has authored numerous policy studies included but not limited to Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Colombia, and Venezuela. Like Jason, Quintana was born and raised in Miami and also resides in Virginia. Jason and Ana discuss recent events related to Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
U.S.–Mexico White House Meeting: An Opportunity to Develop a North American Economic Reconstruction Strategy, Ana Quintana, Heritage Foundation (July 6, 2020)
Prospects for Freedom in Venezuela Are High Under Trump, Ana Quintana, Heritage Foundation (June 23, 2020).
After the illegal drug trade, slavery and human trafficking are two of the most profitable criminal activities in the world today. This gross violation of fundamental rights occurs on every continent, and the victims include men, women, and children from every walk of life imaginable. As part of its mission to defend fundamental rights and strengthen the rule of law, the Global Liberty Alliance is committed to helping uncover trafficking in persons in the Western Hemisphere and hold modern-day slave traders to account.
Just 90 miles from the United States, socialist Cuba, with the assistance of various Caribbean, South American, and Central American nations, has propped up an international network that traffics in persons who have been denied various fundamental individual rights. After several months of investigation, on July 16, 2020, GLA announced that a complaint was filed with Uruguay's National Institute of Human Rights and Ombudsman Office (INDDHH) - Uruguay's human rights agency - to compel the release of records related to Uruguay's contracting medical workers from Cuba and to urge the INDDHH to investigate the trafficking in Cuban medical professionals in that country.
The INDDHH can also take other steps to ensure compliance government agencies in Uruguay are abiding by labor laws and other human rights laws. In this podcast, GLA's Jason Poblete talks about the recent developments in the case in Uruguay.
Invisible Slaves, The Victims, and Perpetrators of Modern-Day Slavery, W. Kurt Hauser.
GLA's Uruguay efforts to unmask Cuban medical brigades in Uruguay.
Under Article 268 of Guatemala's Constitution, the main duty of the Constitutional Court of Guatemala is the defense of the constitutional order. The Court is supposed to do this by impartially and its functions are clearly outlined in the Constitution, particularly Article 272. It is supposed to the guardian of rule of law and constitutional order, yet jurists and rule of law activists in Guatemala claim it is operating illegally and Congress must act to restore constitutional order and hold lawbreakers to account.
One of several reasons Guatemalan lawyers are struggling to restore the integrity of this court is foreign meddling including the now, mostly defunct, International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an independent international organization created in 2006 to supposedly help the people of Guatemala deal. CICIG made matters worse, not better.
CICIG undermined Guatemalan sovereignty and rule of law, and in the process, U.S. interests in Guatemala and the region. It was a globalist experiment, backed by the left-leaning policy establishment in Washington, D.C., that went terribly wrong. It is an excellent case study of what not to do when combatting issues such as corruption, impunity, and other important matters every nation in the world must deal with, not just Guatemala. The solution lies in strong national institutions, backed by Guatemalan jurists, not foreigners or NGOs.
In addition to the United Nations-anchored CICIG that deployed foreign lawyers, some allegedly very corrupt ones, foreign NGOs, some based in the United States, Russia, and other meddlers have exploited a really difficult phase in Guatemala's history, its civil war period, and have derailed many anti-impunity and anti-corruption efforts. Meanwhile, these non-Guatemalan actors work against Guatemalan jurists seeking to reform the system by making outrageous claims in studies or media stories such as specious allegation Guatemala's democracy is in peril.
A better way forward is for foreigners to cease meddling in Guatemalan affairs and allow Guatemalan jurists to do their work without foreign interference. Guatemala needs liberty, not globalism.
Law Library of the U.S. Congress, Republic of Guatemala legal sources
Guatemala Constitution (English translation)
Constitutional Crisis in Guatemala Podcast, Part 1
Liga Pro Patria
On March 17, 2016, Ms. Nazanin Ratcliffe, a U.K. national, traveled to Iran with her newborn baby girl, Gabriella, to visit her family and celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian new year. Close to four years later, she remains a hostage in Iran. On this podcast, Jason talks with Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband (and Gabriella's dad), who has tirelessly waged a four-year campaign to secure Nazanin's release from Iranian captivity. Iran arbitrarily detains foreign visitors to exact political and economic concessions.
For decades, visitors to Iran from close to twenty nations have been unlawfully imprisoned or held hostage by the Iranian regime. Nazanin is one of the scores of foreign nationals unlawfully imprisoned or held hostage by Iran. The exact number of current hostages held by is unknown. While hostage-taking is a centuries-old practice, the Iranian regime has perfected it as a foreign policy weapon. Some Iranian leaders even openly brag about its effectiveness.
In January 2020, the former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp. (IRGC) commander, and leader of the Yaghin think-tank, Hassan Abbasi, explained in a speech how the IRGC derives benefit from hostage-taking. Abbasi said Iran should “generate income" by capturing Americans and demanding a ransom for their return (video). Iran is not the only country that uses innocent people in this manner. In addition to Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, China, and other nations use hostage-taking as a foreign policy tool. In this podcast, Richard discusses his family's experience these past few years, and the lessons he has learned along the way, which he hopes will be of value to similarly-situated families.
For example, governments usually advise family members to stay quiet when a loved one is taken hostage and, in some cases, that is a good idea. It depends on many factors; however, in some cases, silence empowers hostage-takers and endangers the life of this hostage. The use of laws and legal systems to unlawfully imprison innocent people is a gross violation of fundamental rights. While a lot has been done to cope with this problem, a lot more needs to be done to secure and prevent hostage-taking by foreign nations. Political will is needed to help secure the release of hostages in Iran, and in other nations too. Richard and Jason also discuss the importance of deterrence measures such as holding the hostage-takers to account for what they done in courts of law, sanctions, or combination of these and other measures.
Free Nazanin, Richard's Facebook campaign page.
"Richard Ratcliffe: What Fighting For Nazanin’s Freedom Has Taught Me." Article in Each Other, April 23, 2020.
International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages, G.A. Res. 146 (XXXIV), U.N. GAOR, 34th Sess., Supp. No. 46, at 245, U.N. Doc. A/34/46 (1979), entered into force June 3, 1983.
"Bringing Americans Home 2020: A Non-Governmental Assessment of U.S. Hostage Policy and Family Engagement," by The James Foley Legacy Foundation (2020).
In this edition, we head south to South Florida to speak with lawyer and human rights defender, Mr. Santiago A. Alpízar. A native of Cuba and born after the socialist takeover of Cuba in 1959, he became a lawyer in Cuba who managed a wide range of casework early in his career. Yet, Santiago paid a high price for refusing to join the Communist Party, and he talks about his journey to freedom and the practicing law in the United States. Santiago is one of four lawyers in South Florida who, over a decade ago, founded an organization dedicated to holding to account human rights abusers from Cuba who enter the United States. In 2019, Santiago and his fellow lawyers at Cuba Repression ID provided information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that led to the arrest and imprisonment of a former lieutenant colonel of a Cuban State Security officer.
Projects such as Cuban Repression ID are essential to helping advance the cause of justice in the United States and, perhaps someday, Communist Cuba, where the rule of law remains illusory. Working with the information provided by a variety of sources in the United States and Cuba, they help U.S. law enforcement identify, through photographs and film footage, individuals who beat or harass unarmed critics of Cuba's communist government. Many laws are making it increasingly difficult for foreigners who commit human rights abuses in foreign lands to hide in the United States.
In addition to his work in the United States, Jason talks to Santiago about the challenges of practicing law in Cuba. For example, did you know that most Cuban lawyers are required to work for law firms owned by the government? While there is some room for lawyering outside of the state system, it is illegal for lawyers to open a private law firm or represent clients in administrative hearings or court proceedings. However, Cuban lawyers, the brave ones, have used the Cuban legal system to do what they can and press cases in a variety of creative ways to advance the cause of justice. It is a form of civil resistance lawyering, and it is not for the faint of heart!
Cuba Repressor ID (website).
Santiago Alpizar's law firm in Miami, Florida (Alpizar Law).
The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).
A video of President Ronald Reagan's 1983 speech in Miami, Florida at a Cuban Independence Day celebration.
Ethiopian human rights abuser sentenced for fraudulently obtaining US citizenship by admitted a series of lies in the naturalization process, including failure to disclose participation in persecution during the Red Terror period in Ethiopia (DHS Press Release).
List of denaturalized former citizens of the United States (Wikipedia).
This week's GLA Podcast goes beyond Latin America's "Troika of Tyranny," Venezuela, Cuba, & Nicaragua, to explore the role of tyranny in transnational crime and U.S. national security interests throughout Latin America. Guest Dr. Ryan Berg is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on transnational organized crime, narco-trafficking, and illicit networks. He also studies Latin American foreign policy and development issues. Before joining AEI, Dr. Berg served as a research consultant at the World Bank, as a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil, and a visiting doctoral fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also worked in Peru and São Paulo, Brazil.
In this episode, you'll hear about the Cuba link to Nicaraguan troubles, Brazil, and transnational crime, how Mexican cartels continue to engage in cross-border criminal activities, including right here in Virginia. You'll hear how sanctions are a tool, not a policy, and how recent events in Venezuela could result in further destabilization of the Andean region. You can read more about Ryan and his work on the AEI website.
"Restoring Democracy in Nicaragua, Escalating efforts against the Ortega-Murillo regime," Berg, AEI (July 28, 2020).
"Checkmating Chavismo: An evaluation of US sanctions against Venezuela," Berg, AEI (August 19, 2020).
On this podcast, GLA's Jason Poblete talks with Washington, D.C. International Human Rights litigator, Ms. Abbe Jolles. Abbe represents clients worldwide, including in conflict zones. She has handled individual and corporate, criminal, and civil matters involving unlawful property confiscation, incarceration, or risk of incarceration, and other fundamental rights violations.
Ms. Jolles is admitted to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UNICTR), where she achieved a landmark decision; to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) - Discipline Council; the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL); and the Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL). She is also the first American woman admitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the first American admitted to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights.
The speakers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the ICC, international organizations in general, and their potential effects on American sovereignty, the Constitution, and the rule of law. Does the system work, or is there a better way to hold human rights violators to account?
Further reading: Hear Their Cries, Abbe's victims' rights organization | Global Legal, Abbe's law firm in Washington DC
A schoolteacher and former Florida state legislator who went on to serve in the Congress for almost 30 years, former U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), or Ileana, as she prefers to be called, has dedicated her professional life to public service. A long-time human rights champion, Ileana talks with Jason Poblete of the Global Liberty Alliance about the importance that Americans remain engaged in the world.
While in Congress Ileana served on several Congressional committees, but her favorite was the committee she went on to lead as Chairwoman, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ileana has championed the advancement of freedom and democracy throughout her career and to this day. She was a pioneer in developing policy solutions to hold human rights abusers accountable, leading the fight to enact keystone laws in the use of economic sanctions, such as the 2012 Global Magnitsky Act.
Before being elected by her peers as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana served as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia; International Operations and Human Rights; International Economic Policy and Trade; and Africa; and as Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Ileana also served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was a member of the CIA Subcommittee and the National Security Agency and Cybersecurity Subcommittee.
On this podcast, Ileana and Jason talk about the use of economic sanctions as a tool in foreign policy, especially to advance the cause of human rights, and the need for American policymakers to address these topics. They crammed a lot in one hour, but we expect another podcast with Ileana since there were a lot of issues they could not discuss, and, as you'll learn in the podcast, Ileana would like a tougher interview next time!
Congressional Bio, United States House of Representatives.
Global Magnitsky Law, US Department of the Treasury.
NICA Act (Nicaragua Sanctions), US Department of the Treasury.
In this GLA podcast, Jason Poblete speaks with Maria Werlau, the Executive Director of the Free Society Project. The Free Society Project is better known in these parts as Cuba Archive (“Archivo Cuba” in Spanish), a non-profit organization incorporated in 2001 in Washington, D.C, operating from Miami, San Juan, and other U.S. cities. Cuba Archives promotes the understanding, recognition, and observance of human rights through research and information. Over twenty years, Cuba Archive has helped gather and tell the story of pre- and post-1959 Cuba, gathering and telling the story of its victims.
Cuba Archive takes something terrible and turns it into something useful. They record human rights abuses in countries such as Cuba. The aim? There are many reasons to do this, and we explore them in this podcast. As Maria has shared widely over the years, there is profound unawareness of the enormous cost socialism and Communism have inflicted on Cuba and its people.
And with Cuba just 90 miles away, it has had an impact in our country as well. Jason, Maria, and others involved with issues such as these, have always stressed that knowing Cuba's victims is essential to understanding Cuba's current state. No matter your point of view on U.S. policy toward the region, if you want to understand current U.S.-Cuba policy, start by listening to this podcast.
Further Reading: Cuba’s Intervention in Venezuela: A Strategic Occupation with Global Implications by Maria Werlau (Jul. 2019). Cuba Archive database.
Religious liberty is a national security issue. Where the right of people to worship as they desire comes under assault, bad things, sooner or later, will most assuredly follow. In this podcast, we go to Central America, to Managua, to talk with a brave Catholic priest on the frontlines of an increasingly brutal war where several Americans have died too.
Indeed, religious liberty is under assault in Nicaragua, yet Father Raúl Zamora believes a lot of good can come of this crisis once democracy is restored and the people free again. Father Zamora counsel we must first shed indifference and bear witness to what has taken and will continue to take place. The Ortega-Murillo regime is resorting Cold War-era tactics of the Sandinistas and is waging an open war against people of faith, particularly the Catholic Church. According to the State Department's 2019 International Religious Freedom Report," [m]any of the same religious freedom violations and abuses committed by the Ortega regime and its supporters against the Church and its followers in the wake of the 2018 protests continued into 2019."
In this episode, Jason Poblete speaks with a Catholic priest in Managua, Nicaragua who is on the front lines defending religious liberty for persons of all faith traditions, Father Raúl Zamora. During the First Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on July 26, 2018, Vice President Mike Pence called Father Zamora who was also in attendance at the Department of State gathering, a "hero of the faith." The week before the Ministerial, the Ortega-Murillo regime laid siege to Father Zamora's Divine Mercy Parish, where more than 200 students sought sanctuary during peaceful protests against the Ortega-Murillo regime. Two students were assassinated, one in the Church, by snipers under the command of the Ortega-Murillo regime.
On July 31, the same day we recorded this podcast with Father Zamora, a chapel inside the Cathedral in Managua was firebombed with a Molotov cocktail by, as of this recording, unknown assailants. They spoke about that incident; however, the podcast talks more about the future, the importance of bearing witness to the mass crimes taking place, potentially politicide or genocidal act against groups of persons with specific political ideas and from distinct socio-economic backgrounds, and the need to restore democracy. Father Zamora shares his hopes and aspirations for Nicaragua as the people of that Central American nation weather a political crisis that could result in more violence in the months ahead.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Annual Report.
"Crucifix in Managua cathedral torched in ‘hatred of the Church," Vatican News (August 1, 2020).
Night of Terror: Inside the Catholic Church attacked by Nicaragua's paramilitary, Catholic News Service (Dec. 21, 2018).
State Department Condemns Cowardly Attack on Priests, Breitbart (July 25, 2018).
We invited former diplomat and Guatemalan vice-presidential candidate Betty Marroquin back to the podcast to pick up where we left off the last time we spoke a few weeks ago. You should listen to the first podcast too because it places in context a lot of what we talk about in this episode.
There is a link below that will take you to a short but informative interview at The Impunity Observer whose team consulted with a constitutional attorney and former Professor of Constitutional Law José Luis González. It is an overview of some of the leading legal issues Guatemalan jurists must contend in an ongoing political and legal battle to de-politicize the judiciary.
In addition to an overview of the recent history that gave rise to the current issues, Betty and I discuss how Russia has been meddling in Guatemalan affairs via the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs or non-profits). The sole aim of this meddling is undermining regional security and American interests. While we did not talk about it in this episode, the same can be said about Communist China and, to a lesser extent, the Iranian regime and its proxies.
With regards to meddling by NGOs and illegal organizations such as the former CICIG, the Guatemalan Congress should continue to assess the damage it has caused and its decisions, if they have any legal effect in Guatemala, quashed. Guatemalan courts, not international organizations, should be the final and only judges of crimes committed in Guatemala. There are plenty of Guatemalan jurists at the ready to help strengthen their legal institutions. If they want America's support, I'm certain we shall provide it. The foreign meddling by Russia, China, progressive NGOs must be exposed and stopped.
Guatemala is a beautiful country with a magnificent culture and people. For some bizarre reason, the left the world over has been obsessed with undermining Guatemalan institutions and their constitution. The reason? You decide. I think part of the reason why Guatemalan institutions have been under assault by cultural radicals on the Left since the end of their civil war in the 1990s is that the Guatemalan Constitution protects life from conception until natural death. More on that later.
We have another set of programs in the works with other Guatemalan civil society leaders and jurists.
Guatemala’s Constitutional Crisis Explained, A Legal Opinion on the Constitutional Court, Congress, Prosecutor General (Impunity Observer, July 17, 2020).
The Long Arm of Injustice: Did a United Nations Commission Founded to Fight Corruption Help the Kremlin Destroy a Russian Family? (2018 U.S. Congressional hearing).
In this podcast, I talk with August Wallmeyer, a former journalist, speechwriter, and energy trade lobbyist who spent many years working in the Virginia Assembly. A few years ago I read his book, the Extremes of Virginia, a book about areas of the Commonwealth that a majority of us rarely if ever visit or think about when it comes to politics or policy matters. Wallmeyer, who traveled hundreds of miles to complete his research, brings all his experiences to bear as he unpacks three “rural, poor, and largely unknown” areas of Virginia: Southwest, Southside, and the Eastern Shore.
I moved to Virginia in 1992 and never left. I first visited in the 1980s on a family visit and knew I would return, and stay. One of the first things we did when I relocated from Miami, Florida was, well, explore as much as I could. Over the years I have visited just about every single county and met people from all walks of life. One thing I noticed, however, was how different life was outside the northern Virginia region. I had a general understanding as to why, but not the politics or the policy reasons behind it. August's book helped fill the gaps.
For those of you who know me, I've always been skeptical of foreign assistance programs (the tax money you and I send as taxpayers to foreign lands). America has invested billions of dollars a year in other nations for all sorts of things. You name it, your tax dollars have likely paid for it including wars, some necessary, some not; nation-building, a terrible idea; and much more. These days it is much easier to know where your money goes because of the Internet. Yet, most voters don't know and, I think, don't want to know. Yet what about the policy challenges right here in America, in places such as the subject of this book?
Over the course of many years, I've talked with policymakers and civil society leaders throughout the Western Hemisphere. They, too, struggle with some of these issues in their homelands and, guess what, a lot of what happens in these places impacts us right here, in places such as the Extremes of Virginia where even Mexican drug cartels have tried to make a home base for their illegal drug activities and others, human trafficking. Where I live, we still deal with transnational crime rooted in Central America such as MS-13 and other gangs. Another show focusing on these issues is coming soon.
Tossing money at a problem is not the answer and, as August explains in the podcast, it can make things worse. Now I am not saying we should eliminate all foreign assistance or related programs. Some of these programs are needed to protect and strengthen U.S. national security and other interests; heck, we spent more money on domestic programs than we do on our military! I think the question is one of political will, not money. Where is the political energy I see from lawmakers on building nations for re-building our hardest-hit parts of the state and the nation? And it is not about charity either. We have plenty of it. People who can want jobs, not handouts. These are some of the questions and issues I explore with August.
Extremes of Virginia, August Wallmeyer (Amazon)
Health Wagon, A Nonprofit organization providing mobile health services to the medically underserved in Southwest Virginia since 1980.
The Rural Virginia Initiative at Virginia Tech
A Mexican cartel turned this rural Virginia area into a hidden cocaine hub (Courier-Journal)
Have you ever heard of the Northern Triangle? It's not the Bermuda Triangle, the Triangle of Terror, or the Tri-Border Area in South America. It's a region in Central America that, usually, includes including Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. By the way, why so many triangle references in the Western Hemisphere? We'll talk about it in a later episode.
This episode is about the rule of law, or lack of it, and how it impacts one of these three nations, Guatemala. If you're listening to this podcast from the United States, why should you care about Guatemala? Well, they're our neighbors and what happens there, sooner or later, impacts us here. The good and the bad. If you've never visited, you should. It's a great country with lots to do. However, they're going through challenging times right now and it impacts us.
Endemic poverty, corruption, and violence in the Northern Triangle region, sooner or later, become policy challenges of the United States. Illegal immigration, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and even terrorism, among other forms of transnational crime, divert tax dollars that could be used for other things, for starters. Transnational crime and corruption are investment kryptonite, meaning, American companies and investors tend to shy away from these high-risk markets.
In this episode, I talk with former a former Guatemalan Vice Presidential candidate and political analyst, Betty Marroquin. Betty has a unique perspective on U.S.-Guatemala relations and what should be done to improve how both countries work with one another. A businesswoman and former diplomat who served in Washington, D.C., she is a passionate defender of the rule of law. Betty has started and managed several companies focused on the prêt-à-porter industry, and, more recently, in the field of interior design. Currently, she owns a company that manufactures furniture and accessories with Guatemalan components in Guatemala.
A strong supporter of fundamental rights, including life from conception until natural death, Betty shares with us some of the challenges her country faces, especially from a certain non-Guatemalan managed NGOs that have been undermining the rule of law. We talk about a wide range of issues including the Foro de São Paulo, a group of socialist, anti-liberty political groups from throughout Latin Amerca. We also discuss how U.S. taxpayer-funded programs could be set up to better advance U.S. national and security goals in Guatemala and the Northern Triangle.
For more information about Guatemala, click on the following link for a background summary.
The Global Liberty Alliance is a non-government organization based in Alexandria, Virginia. Its mission is to strengthen the rule of law, empower human rights defenders, and advance the cause of justice. In the podcast, we talk with Mr. Roberto Bendaña an American businessman of Nicaraguan ancestry who paid a very high price for standing up to the Ortega-Murillo regime because of his political work in Nicaragua in a group he helped started called Hagamos Democracia (Growing Democracy).
Mr. Bendaña was falsely accused by Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime of various crimes because he dared to call for free and transparent elections in Nicaragua including a clean up of the voter rolls in that country. Warned of the impending politically motivated show trial against him, Mr. Bendaña with the help of friends, and what is left of the free press, as well as honest members of the police who sympathized with his situation, fled Nicaragua and arrived in the United States in December 2013.
On or about January 2, 2014, Nicaragua abused the INTERPOL mechanisms by requesting a Red Notice based on false charges and forced Roberto and his family to flee Nicaragua. Many regimes abuse INTERPOL including Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Russia. An INTERPOL Red Notice alerts law enforcement agencies around the world of an outstanding arrest warrant. You can read more about it here.
Roberto remains active in the family coffee business and currently resides in College Station, Texas where he also teaches Spanish. He has remained active in the freedom cause for Nicaragua. For one-page background and other summaries of the of nations discussed in this episode, follow the links:
The Global Liberty Alliance is a non-government organization based in Alexandria, Virginia. Its mission is to strengthen the rule of law, empower human rights defenders, and advance the cause of justice. In this first episode of a series on Iran & Hezbollah in Latin America, Jason Poblete, President of the Global Liberty Alliance, talks with Toby Dershowitz with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. about the long-time presence in Latin America of Iran, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups linked to the Middle East region.
Ms. Dershowitz is FDD's senior vice president overseeing FDD’s Communications Department, which yields thousands of print and broadcast media appearances each year. She has more than 30 years of experience in Washington, focusing on policy issues related to terrorism, cybersecurity, sanctions, the Middle East, and illicit networks in Latin America. She leads FDD’s policy road-mapping initiatives by identifying the conceptual issues and the strategy necessary to move the dial in various policy arenas.
Argentine Judge Who Accused Officials of Covering Up Iran Role in 1994 Attack Dies, Voice of America (Feb. 9, 2020).
Argentina's new leadership carries old baggage of corruption and conspiracy allegations, NBC (Dec. 23, 2019).
Iran is failing to adhere to Financial Action Task Force standards, The Hill, Op-Ed (Jun 17, 2019).
All Nations in the Americans Should Expel Hezbollah and Iran from the Western Hemisphere, Ban Travel from Iran, Global Liberty Alliance Blog (May 3, 2020).
For a one-page or background summary of the nations discussed in this episode, click on the following links: