Combat Photographer Catherine Leroy about to jump with the #173rdAirborne during operation “Junction City”, Vietnam, 1967 .
Cathy at War is a 72-minute documentary featuring the words and pictures of Catherine Leroy, arguably the greatest female photographer of the Vietnam War.
Despite being less than five-feet tall and 90 pounds, Leroy set the record for operations undertaken with the US Marines, was the first woman to parachute into combat, was seriously wounded in action, captured by the North Vietnamese, and for three years made some of the most iconic images of the war.
Through letters written to her parents, interviews, and her photographs, the film tracks the conflict from its early gung-ho optimism to its slow descent into quagmire and futility. It also documents Leroy’s personal battles, as a woman and a human being. The result is an intimate meditation on war.
Vietnam War 1967 – Battle for Hill 881 – Photo by Catherine Leroy. Battle of Hill 881, US Marine Vernon Wike, with a dying comrade, near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, April – May, 1967.
The Strait of Hormuz is once again a center of global tensions. The Middle East’s crude oil and natural gas flow through the narrow sea conduit to international markets, making it the world’s most critical transportation “chekepoint.”
Incidents there — such as Iran’s seizure of a British tanker and attacks on ships in 2019 — can whipsaw energy prices and send shipping and insurance rates rocketing. Regional tensions flared again after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in January 2020 and some shippers briefly avoided sending vessels through the strait. The Islamic Republic has periodically threatened to shut the vital waterway, prompting the U.S. and U.K. to step up their military presence amid calls to ensure it stays open.
1. Where is the Strait of Hormuz?
Shaped like an inverted V, the waterway connects the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean, with Iran to its north and the United Arab Emirates and Oman to the south. It’s about 96 miles (154 kilometers) long and 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, with the shipping lanes in each direction just two miles wide. Its shallow depth makes ships vulnerable to mines, and the proximity to land — Iran, in particular — leaves large tankers open to attack from shore-based missiles or interception by fast patrol boats and helicopters.
Attacks on oil tankers in 2019 raised tensions around the Strait of Hormuz.
2. What’s the strait’s role in global shipping?
It’s essential to the global oil trade. Tankers hauled about one third of the oil moved at sea through the strait – 20.7 million barrels a day of crude, condensate and refined fuels in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The strait is also crucial for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, with more than a quarter of the world’s supply, mostly from Qatar, passing through it annually.
Oil Tanker Chokepoints
Volume of crude oil and petroleum liquids transported in 2018
Sources: Bloomberg Intelligence, EIA
3. Why would Iran disrupt the strait?
U.S. sanctions, particularly those aimed at stopping oil sales, have pushed Iran’s economy into recession, prompting President Hassan Rouhani to accuse the U.S. of waging “economic war” against his country. Disrupting the strait demonstrates that Iran has the power to inflict pain in return on the U.S. and its allies by restricting the flow of energy and driving up prices. Any boost in the price of oil can also help make up for the revenue Iran is losing from lower sales due to sanctions. “We certainly have the ability to” shut the Strait of Hormuz, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in July 2019, adding that Iran wouldn’t want to do so “because the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are our lifeline.”
4. Could Iran really close the waterway?
Closing the waterway entirely would be self-defeating, preventing Iran’s own exports of petroleum and starving it of revenue. Oil traders doubt the country would ever go that far. Iran’s navy also is no match for the U.S. Fifth Fleet and other forces in the region. Iran is still capable of considerable disruption. In July 2019, its Revolutionary Guard, which is charged with maintaining the security of the Persian Gulf for the country, seized a U.K.-registered tanker, owned by Sweden’s Stena AB, in the strait. Iran said the ship had violated maritime rules. It also suggested the move was in retaliation for the U.K.’s seizure of an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria. The vessel was freed more than two months later, after the Iranian tanker was released from custody in Gibraltar. Earlier in July, the British Navy had intervened to prevent a tanker operated by BP Plc from being blocked by Iranian vessels as it passed through the strait.
Strait of Hormuz – A Timeline of 2019 Events
5. Has the strait been closed to traffic before?
No, but it has seen its share of conflict. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, Iraqi forces attacked Iran’s oil export terminal at Kharg Island, in the Persian Gulf northwest of the strait, in part to provoke an Iranian retaliation that would draw the U.S. into the conflict. Although Iran didn’t try to shut the strait, there followed a so-called Tanker War during which culprits from both sides attacked 451 vessels, most carrying oil or refined petroleum products. That significantly raised the cost of insuring vessels, increasing the cost of oil exports. When sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2011, threats were again made to close the strait, but these were subsequently denied by Iran’s foreign ministry.
6. Can the strait be protected?
During the 1980s Tanker War, the U.S. Navy resorted to escorting vessels through the Gulf. In 2019, the U.S. dispatched an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf, but repeating the 1980s operation would tie up large parts of U.S. and allied fleets. President Donald Trump, in a Twitter posting in June 2019, questioned why American forces should be responsible for protecting ships from other countries as they make the “dangerous journey.” The U.K., Australia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct, formerly known as Operation Sentinel, which was established in response to the 2019 attacks. South Korea is contributing personnel and Japan is sending a ship to waters outside the Strait of Hormuz. Owners of tankers that ply the Gulf face spiraling costs. War risk premiums paid every time a ship enters the region surged from $30,000 in early 2019 to $185,000 in June, while cargo rates more than doubled to $26,000 per day. The rates remained elevated into 2020.
7. Who relies most on the strait?
Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain export all their exports of oil and, in the case of Qatar, LNG through the strait. Ninety percent of Iraq’s exported oil goes through it as well. The U.A.E. can partly bypass the strait by sending 1.5 million barrels a day via a pipeline from its oilfields to the port of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. Saudi Arabia has the greatest ability to divert flows from the risk zone, by using a 746-mile mega-pipeline across the country to an export terminal on the Red Sea. Saudi Aramco said the capacity of that line would be increased to 6.2 million barrels a day by the end of 2019 and would be able to transport 7 million barrels on a “temporary” basis. Aramco transported 2.1 million barrels a day of crude through the link in 2018. The East-West pipeline was attacked in May 2019 by an unmanned aerial vehicle carrying explosives, shutting it down briefly. While the higher oil prices triggered by any closure of Hormuz would hurt consumers everywhere, the biggest impact would be felt in Asia; two thirds of the crude passing through the strait in 2019 ended up in China, India, Japan or South Korea.
El sistema aduanero se moderniza para mantenerse al ritmo del intercambio comercial, con el modelo Aduana
*La Confederación de Asociaciones de Agentes Aduanales
Desde que se creó la figura del agente aduanal hasta ahora, el comercio exterior se ha multiplicado por 1,500, y ha contribuido al crecimiento de la productividad de las empresas mexicanas y al avance del país.
El creciente volumen del comercio exterior representa un reto para mantener la seguridad del país, vigilar la salud de los mexicanos, lograr que el gobierno recaude las contribuciones adecuadas y apoyar la productividad, y alcanzar todas esas metas sin entorpecer las operaciones. En México se realizan 31 operaciones de comercio exterior por minuto, 95% de ellas por medio de los agentes aduanales.
Para atender este reto, el gobierno y los particulares están comprometidos en la modernización del sistema aduanero, con la visión de Aduana del Siglo 21.
La Aduana del Siglo 21 es un proyecto de modernización y un esfuerzo que se construye en forma conjunta entre los agentes aduanales y el SAT, a fin de lograr un sistema fiscal y aduanero cada vez más eficiente.
Los pasos firmes que ha dado este sector se reflejan en datos fehacientes: la transformación comenzó en abril de 2016 con 17 compañías y en diciembre de ese año se inscribieron 64. Dichas instancias efectuaron 14,181 operaciones. Hasta mayo de 2016, 93 empresas operan bajo ese modelo y han efectuado 8,066 operaciones.
Otro ejemplo de los beneficios que aporta la Aduana del Siglo 21 es que la importación de autos usados es más segura y sencilla con el uso de sistemas y tecnología avanzados y con nuevas reglas publicadas por el gobierno federal.
Ahora se sabe con mayor certeza el historial de los vehículos a importar, se conoce a detalle las condiciones físico-mecánicas de los automóviles, si cumplen cabalmente con la norma ambiental, si tienen algún problema con el título de propiedad, entre otros. El uso de la tecnología refuerza los controles y a la vez hace más sencilla la importación segura de los vehículos usados.
En 2017, con más de 40 tratados de libre comercio firmados, México es un país abierto al mundo, comercia más de 14 billones de pesos anuales, esto es 1,500 veces más que hace 150 años y recauda en las aduanas casi 800,000 mdp, 256 veces más que en 1870, según datos de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público. Las aduanas y sus agentes son pilar de estos datos positivos.
Elementos de la Aduana del Siglo 21
Este modelo tiene cinco elementos que generan un nuevo sistema que facilita y atiende puntualmente al comercio exterior:
1. Aduana inteligente. Permite la automatización de procesos para hacer eficientes y seguras las operaciones de comercio exterior. Hay, por ejemplo, 14,000 cámaras de video-vigilancia con sensores que emiten alarmas. La Ventanilla Única de Comercio Exterior facilitará el cumplimiento de las obligaciones.
2. Aduana transparente. Destacan dos acciones innovadoras: la incorporación obligatoria del código QR en los pedimentos, y el Nuevo Manual de Operación Aduanera. Con el código, la autoridad puede tener información de la mercancía con mayor facilidad que antes, lo que hace más ágiles las operaciones. Los usuarios, los agentes aduanales y la autoridad pueden revisar en tiempo real el estatus legal de la mercancía.
3. Aduana competitiva. El uso de la tecnología mejora la infraestructura aduanera. Hay 38 proyectos a los que se han destinado más de 9,500 mdp desde 2013 y hasta 2018. Hay 15 de ellos concluidos, por un monto superior a los 3,000 mdp.
4. Aduana colaborativa. Se refiere a trabajar en coordinación con los usuarios para, por ejemplo, evitar que ingrese mercancía subvaluada.
5. Aduana globalizada. La adopción de las mejores prácticas internacionales gracias al intercambio de información con nuestros principales socios comerciales.
*La Confederación de Asociaciones de Agentes Aduanales, fundada en 1938, es el organismo que representa y defiende los intereses gremiales de los agentes aduanales, al tiempo que vela por el comportamiento ético y apoya la mejora continua de los agentes y promueve la regulación que atañe a las actividades aduaneras. La integran 99% de los agentes aduanales y 37 asociaciones.
Agencia Aduanal con amplia experiencia en trámites de importación y exportación, que brinda servicios dedespacho aduanal y asesoría en comercio exterior.Siendo nuestra principal característica la integración de estos servicios, que se convierten en una herramienta necesaria y una ventaja competitiva para todos nuestros clientes.
GRUPO ADUANERO PENINSULAR S.C.P. es una empresa mexicana con presencia nacional, con base en el sureste del país. Contamos con una amplia experiencia en la integración de servicios en materia aduanera, consciente de que en estos momentos la integración de estos servicios se convierte en una herramienta necesaria y una ventaja competitiva para un gran número de empresas.
Tramites de Importación y Exportación.
Asesoría Aduanera, Fiscal y Defensa Legal.
Almacenaje y Depósito Fiscal.
Cobertura en las principales aduanas del país.
Emplayado, Paletización y Embalaje.
Rastreo de Embarques en Línea.
Consulta-Descarga de Pedimentos y Cuentas de Gastos en Línea (hasta 5 años de antigüedad).
Consulta de Fracciones Arancelarias, Calculo de Impuestos, Reportes y Gráficas en Línea.
Reportes de Catálogos de Mercancías,Proveedores y Clientes.
Tony Mendez, the “Argo” spy who in 1980 smuggled U.S. hostages out of Iran during the embassy takeover, died Friday at an assisted-living center in Frederick, Md., at age 78. He had Parkinson’s disease
A CIA forgery artist and disguise master, Mendez once transformed a black agent and an Asian diplomat into a pair of white business executives, using masks that gave them an uncanny resemblance to the movie stars Victor Mature and Rex Harrison. Another time, he devised an oversize “jack-in-the-box” — a spring-loaded mannequin — that enabled a CIA source to sneak out of his car while a dummy popped up in his place.
Mendez, a 25-year veteran of the spy agency, was effectively in the business of geopolitical theater. Pulling techniques from magicians, movie makeup artists and even the TV show “Mission: Impossible,” he changed one person into another, transforming agents into characters with back stories, costumes and documents that helped them evade detection and avoid capture in foreign countries.
Appropriately for a man whose career seemed drawn from a Hollywood thriller, his greatest triumph hinged on a bogus sci-fi film, a sham production office in Los Angeles and a fake location-scouting expedition to Iran. Disguising himself as an Irish filmmaker, Mendez successfully smuggled six State Department employees out of Tehran during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis, passing them off as a Canadian movie crew in a daring mission that formed the basis of the Oscar-winning movie “Argo” (2012).
Mendez was portrayed by Ben Affleck in the film.
A painter of impressionistic landscapes and outdoor scenes, Mendez was working as a draftsman when he was recruited by the CIA in 1965, and ran an art studio after he retired. “I’ve always considered myself to be an artist first,” he once said, looking back on his career, “and for 25 years I was a pretty good spy.”
After stints in Laos, India and the Soviet Union, he was serving as the CIA’s chief of disguise when the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by a militant Iranian student group on Nov. 4, 1979. The attack came months after the Islamic revolution forced out the country’s leader, the Western-backed shah, and replaced him with the hard-line cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Sixty-six Americans, including six CIA officers, were taken hostage, while six other U.S. diplomats managed to evade capture and took shelter in the homes of two Canadians, ambassador Ken Taylor and embassy official John Sheardown.
In the 444 days that followed, the hostage crisis drew unflagging news coverage, crippled Jimmy Carter’s presidency and resulted in the deaths of eight service members during a failed rescue mission in the Iranian desert. Mendez completed his rescue operation Jan. 28, 1980, but it took one more year before the last 52 hostages were released, on the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in January 1981.
The idea for the “Canadian caper,” as Mendez’s mission came to be known, was born out of desperation. A specialist in “exfiltration,” the art of whisking people out of harm’s way, Mendez initially worked on a plan to free the American hostages by exchanging them for a dead body double of the shah, who was being treated for cancer in the United States.
That plan was nixed by the White House, according to a Wired magazine account by Joshuah Bearman, and when Mendez was promoted to chief of the agency’s Authentication Branch in December 1979, his efforts shifted to rescuing the six Canadian “houseguests,” as the American diplomats were euphemistically called. Their very existence was kept hidden from the public in an effort to protect them from the Iranians.
While one Canadian minister suggested the diplomats head for the Turkish border, possibly on bicycles, only a departure through the air seemed viable. Mendez just needed to settle on a story that would enable the escapees to board a plane. Schemes centered on teachers, crop inspectors and oil technicians all seemed flawed. So Mendez decided to “reverse the rules and create a distraction.”
“A cover should be bland, as uninteresting as possible, so the casual observer, or the not-so-casual immigration official, doesn’t probe too deeply,” he wrote in a 1999 memoir, “Master of Disguise.” His solution, the film gambit, was the opposite of bland — an idea so bold, he believed, that Iran would never consider that it might be fake.
Mendez called his friend John Chambers, a makeup artist who had won an honorary Oscar for his work on “Planet of the Apes,” gave Spock his pointy ears and had assisted the CIA on old assignments. With another makeup artist, Bob Sidell, who later worked on “E.T.,” they opened a production office in Los Angeles; created business cards for their fictional company, Studio Six Productions; and developed backstories and career histories for the six escapees.
Mendez and Chambers named their purported science-fiction film project “Argo,” for the raunchy punchline to a knock-knock joke and in a sly nod to the mythological ship that Jason used to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Advertisements in Variety and the Hollywood Reporter promoted the film as a “cosmic conflagration.”
With a Canadian passport in hand, Mendez flew to Tehran on Jan. 25, under the name Kevin Costa Harkins. (He chose an Irish identity, he later said, because the Irish are “nonthreatening” and “ubiquitous around the world.”) Supported by a second CIA agent known as Julio, he spent a few days preparing the six diplomats, teaching them their new identities – including as a cameraman and set designer – and preparing them for potential interrogations at the airport.
Before dawn on Jan. 28, they headed to Tehran Mehrabad International Airport for an early Swissair flight to Zurich. After being delayed for an hour because of a mechanical problem, the flight took off and cleared Iranian airspace, leading Mendez to celebrate by ordering a bloody mary and delivering a toast: “We’re home free.”
The diplomats returned to a heroes’ welcome in the United States, where Canadian flags were flown from town halls, and billboards reading “Thank you, Canada” cropped up around the country. Mendez met with Carter in the Oval Office and received the Intelligence Star, one of the CIA’s highest honors. But his and the CIA’s role in the rescue operation was concealed until 1997, when Mendez was honored as one of 50 “trailblazers” who shaped the agency’s first 50 years.
Antonio Joseph Mendez was born in Eureka, Nevada, on Nov. 15, 1940, to a mixed-heritage family (Italian, Mexican, Welsh) that he later credited with helping him blend in around the world. He was 3 when his father died in a copper-mining accident; his mother worked several jobs.
The family had little money, and Tony contributed by digging up bat guano in caves, loading it onto a toy wagon and selling it to his Mormon neighbors as fertilizer, $1 per gunny sack. He sometimes dated his covert operations experience to an incident in which he posed as a girl to gain entrance to a couples-only school dance.
Mendez graduated from high school in Denver and, unable to cover tuition, quit the University of Colorado after one year. He was an illustrator at Martin Marietta, drawing parts for an intercontinental ballistic missile, when he saw a help-wanted ad in a newspaper: “Artists to Work Overseas — U.S. Navy Civilians.” Consumed by wanderlust, he went to interview and was handed a CIA recruitment guide.
Mendez retired in 1990 with a rank equivalent to that of a two-star general. He wrote several memoirs including “The Master of Disguise,” co-authored with Malcolm McConnell. The book, along with Bearman’s article in Wired, served as the source material for “Argo,” which won the Oscar for best picture. (It took some liberties with the facts, Mendez said, including adding a chase scene and writing out two of his children.)
Mendez’s first wife, Karen, died of lung cancer in 1986. In 1991 he married Jonna Hiestand, an expert on clandestine photography who also served as the CIA’s chief of disguise. In addition to his wife of Reston, Virginia, who confirmed his death, survivors include two children from his first marriage, Amanda Mendez of Smithsburg, Maryland, and sculptor Toby Mendez of Knoxville, Maryland; a son from his second marriage, Jesse Mendez of Charleston, West Virginia; several sisters; and two grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son from his first marriage, Ian Mendez.
Makeup, Mendez often said, was typically one of the easier parts of developing a disguise. Behavioral tics needed to be adjusted, credible backstories invented.
“There are occasions when you’re getting ready to put your name on the hotel ledger,” he told The Washington Post in 2000. “You’ve got reservations made for you in an alias. You’ve just flown 10 hours. There’s that moment when you put the pen down and you think, ‘Oh, jeez, what’s my name?’ ”
“Once you go into the netherworld like that, by yourself,” he added, “it’s like going into another dimension. It’s like being a time traveler. How do you get back?”