The celebrity junket Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

September 22nd, 2014

LatinAmerI had another Capt. Louis Renault moment this week, provoked by Mia Farrow, of all people. The ex-Mrs Sinatra apparently received from PR firm MCSquared $180,000 for visiting Lago Agrio in Ecuador. Then Ecuador hired another PR firm, Ketchum (Putin’s American flack), to go after Paul M. Barrett for writing a book. Do read Barrett’s book Law of the Jungle, and Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, if you haven’t already.

ARGENTINA
Watch: man films attempted gunpoint robbery on GoPro
A tourist travelling to every country in the world captures the terrifying moment an alleged robber points a gun at him in Buenos Aires, Argentina

BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales has a dream … to open a barbecue restaurant
Bolivian President Evo Morales is slated to win next year’s election to serve a third term until 2020 but he’s already thinking about life after retiring from politics.

I was hoping for a bakery,

BRAZIL
Brazil cardinal robbed of crucifix at gunpoint
Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, held by three armed men as they steal his crucifix and ring

CHILE
Suspect in Chile Bombings Was on Parole

COLOMBIA
Colombia Tightens Borders to Keep Out Ebola

CUBA
It’s official: Raul Castro invited to Latrine Summit

ECUADOR
China and Ecuador Agree to Strengthen Military Ties

Where’s Preet? The unasked question in Chevron v. Donziger

IMMIGRATION
WATCH: Wait’ll You See What Obama’s DHS Boss Just Admitted About Terrorists At Our Border
DHS Secretary Johnson tried to argue that Republicans can be blamed…

JAMAICA
Jamaica on US drug list
Named among 22 major producing, transit countries by President Obama

MEXICO
Mexico Continues Airlift, Clean-Up After Hurricane Odile
State Authorities Report Three Deaths From Storm

NICARAGUA
She survived a plane crash. Now she’s revolutionizing health care in Nicaragua
After narrowly escaping plane’s wreckage, Vivian Pellas seeks to revolutionize medical care for other burn victims in the developing world.

PANAMA
Panama’s Supreme Court Confirms New Trial Against Noriega

PERU
Peru’s economy
Replacing the pilot
, as Alonso Segura replaced for his long-serving boss, Luis Miguel Castilla, on September 14th.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s main barrier for Caribbean trade and exports is logistics

URUGUAY
Guardian puff piece on José Mujica: is this the world’s most radical president?
Uruguay’s José Mujica lives in a tiny house rather than the presidential palace, and gives away 90% of his salary. He’s legalised marijuana and gay marriage. But his greatest legacy is governing without giving up his revolutionary ideals

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan cartoonist ‘fired’ over healthcare satire
Rayma Suprani says she was axed after representing Chávez’s signature as a flatline heartbeat in protest over health system

Venezuela’s economy
Of oil and coconut water
Probably the world’s worst-managed economy

S&P Downgrade Of Venezuela’s Debt To Add To The Noise

Venezuela’s Criminal Gangs: Warriors of Cultural Revolution

Les fraudeurs

The ongoing Damage to the Venezuelan Economy

The week’s posts:
Venezuela: Beyond-the-grave nepotism

Venezuela: What hemorrhagic fever? UPDATED

Argentina: Cristina’s vultures

Venezuela: Celebrities’ ire

Ecuador: Celebrities for hire

En español: Guillermo Padrés en la Unidad de Quemados

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Is ISIS at the border? UPDATED

Venezuela: What do El Puma & Ricardo Hausmann have in common?

Beethoven goes salsa

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
And now for something completely different

Why the game should stand tall, a review of When the Game Stands Tall


Haiti: Bill Clinton brags while the people suffer

September 22nd, 2014

Mary O’Grady looks at how Bill Clinton Spins His Haiti Intervention
Amid a probe of Aristide, the former president offers a new version of events.
(emphasis added)

Speaking after his wife addressed the Iowa crowd, Mr. Clinton explained his 1994 Haiti intervention: “The military dictator down there was putting tires around people’s necks and setting them afire, in an affectionate policy called necklacing,” he recalled satirically. “I was told that nobody gave a rip about Haiti.” But “we did it and no shot was fired. Nobody got hurt.”

That’s some tale. But as any Haitian knows, it was Mr. Aristide who championed Haitian “necklacing,” aka “Père Lebrun” after a domestic tire merchant. Governing a democracy with a national assembly was more difficult than he had anticipated and he urged his followers to give Père Lebrun to his opponents, as an Oct. 1993 Congressional Research Service report documented.

On Sept. 29, 1991, the military stepped in and kicked him out. It employed its own paramilitary, which also practiced repression—but guns, not necklacing, were its weapon of choice.

Mr. Aristide fled to Washington, where President George H.W. Bush released Haiti’s international telephone and airline revenues to him as the government-in-exile. There was never any accounting for those funds but they reportedly topped $50 million. Mr. Aristide lived the high life in Georgetown and mounted an aggressive and costly lobbying campaign for U.S. military intervention to restore his presidency.

Once Mr. Clinton put Mr. Aristide back in the palace in Port-au-Prince, his supporters picked up where they had left off. Opponents were hacked with machetes, set on fire and gunned down. Money disappeared.

The Clinton administration did nothing to contain these abuses. Instead, a company called Fusion, run by Democrats—including Joseph P. Kennedy II, Mack McLarty, who had been Clinton White House chief of staff, and Marvin Rosen, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee—went into the long-distance telephone business with Haiti Teleco, the government-owned monopoly.

As long as the spin holds, Hillary will ask, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Let’s hope the American public doesn’t put the Clintons back in the White House.

Related:
The Hillary Letters
Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky correspondence revealed

What does the Hillary-Alinksy letter reveal?

Movies: Schultze, and Caviezel as the Count of Monte Cristo

September 21st, 2014


The Showtime Family cable channel is playing Schultze gets the blues, a delightful movie I reviewed nearly nine years ago>. Here’s my review,

Minimalism comes to life in Schultze gets the blues.

The story starts when Schultze and his two friends Manfred and Jürgen are pushed into early retirement from the salt mines and receive salt lamps as retirement gifts. Schultze spends his retirement days playing the polka on his accordion, gardening (and polishing his garden gnomes), watching his friends fight over chess, riding his bicycle to get around, visiting his mother at the nursing home, and enjoying a beer or two. At the nursing home he meets whiskey-drinking Frau Lorant, who wants him to take her to the casino.

Then he listens to a Zydeco tune on the radio and his life changes completely.

Schultze’s played by Horst Krause, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Curly Howard, if Curly wore eyeglasses and a fedora, and had a deep voice. Not that Shultze is a man of many words.

Director Michael Schorr’s touch is light, slowand I mean slow –, and makes for a very very funny movie. Schultze is a lucky everyman (I was told once that Schultze is a way to refer to a “generic German” guy, and probably not very complimentary, but have never wanted to find out on my own) who manages to break away from his everyday rutine, and, as Amazon reviewer Donald Liebenson said, “While Schultze’s journey comes to a downbeat conclusion, the film manages to end on a lovely grace note”. That note will make you laugh, too.

———————————

I recently watched the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo through Amazon Instant Video.

I read Alexandre Dumas Sr.’s novels and all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books at the age girls read Nancy Drew’s mysteries (which never really caught my imagination), and have, over the years, watched many of the film and TV interpretations of their works. I’ve watched the 1934 Robert Donat, the 1975 Richard Chamberlain, and the 1999 Gerard Depardieu in the title role as the Count of Monte Cristo (or, as Prince would put it, the sailor formerly known as Edmond Dantes). All were different and good (as long as you suspend belief enough to think 13 years at the Chateau D’If could not decrease Depardieu’s avoirdupois), so Jim Caviezel’s Dantes would complete the set.

I loved the enjoyable, fresh, luscious production, and the very moving performances by Caviezel and Richard Harris. Don’t miss the Count’s grand entrance,

Venezuela: Beyond-the-grave nepotism

September 20th, 2014

Your country seeks a seat in the UN’s Security Council. Who better than the late dictator’s daughter, who has never held a job?

Security Council-ready!

Chávez Heir Lands First Job: U.N. Envoy
Some say María Gabriela Chávez, a daughter of Venezuela’s late Socialist leader Hugo Chávez, is unprepared to be deputy ambassador to the United Nations, as Venezuela seeks a Security Council seat on the world body.

Ms. Chávez, 34 years old, has never held a formal job and is known as a socialite—the Kardashian of Sabaneta, her father’s hometown—who posts “selfies” on social media, said former diplomats and political analysts. Unlike her older sister, Rosa Virginia Chávez, who studied international relations, the younger Ms. Chávez has demonstrated little inclination for geopolitics.

Rosa Virgina is not to be confused with her other sister, Rosinés Chávez who has demonstrated some, shall we say, unsocialistic tendencies,

while María Gabriela knows all the right people,

She’ll fit right in at the UN.

[Post corrected to add omitted text]


Venezuela: What hemorrhagic fever? UPDATED

September 19th, 2014

The Venezuelan government continues to deny it,VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT DISMISSES EXISTENCE OF DEADLY ILLNESS

An apparent viral disease causing fever and skin rashes has taken the lives of ten in Venezuela, according to hospital officials. While doctors have ruled out both Ebola and Chikungunya fever, they remain stumped as to what is causing the illness.

According to El Universal, the nation’s largest newspaper, the virus has hit hardest in the northern state of Aragua, where eight people died last week. Maracay’s Central Hospital in the region declared a “state of alarm,” noting that the disease could be either viral or bacterial, but tests have not confirmed its identity. Of the initial eight victims, half were children, all who died less than 72 hours after being admitted to the hospital. One of the ten victims died not in Aragua, but in the capital, Caracas.

As Venezuela and others follow the disastrous Cuban model, the open border presents new challenges.

Monica Showalter’s editorial at IBD:
As Obama Leads Anti-Ebola Charge To Save Africa, Little Done About New Diseases Coming Up From Border

Venezuela has confirmed 398 cases of chikungunya fever, 55,970 cases of malaria and 45,745 cases of dengue fever — all diseases that were either unknown or else had had been eradicated from the country two decades ago. There’s also 9 deaths from a strange new, unnamed hemorrhagic fever in Aragua state.
Meanwhile, in Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica, a monster dengue epidemic is raging through the region right now, with 120,000 cases, and 60 deaths, and public health emergencies declared in those countries.

Indeed,

The reality is, an unguarded border, a welcome-mat approach to illegals, well developed smuggling networks, and zero medical screening are virtually a guarantee of the spread of new diseases — and demand the political will to investigate it.

But the president’s focus is on Africa right now, and on the frightening disease that has caught the media’s attention and which may get his poll numbers up.

Yet the millions of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS cases far more rampant in those African countries are getting no attention. Nor are the illnesses that could easily come up here from the south.

It points to crass politics — a wag-the-dog bid to divert public attention from the president’s other political problems, and a pander for the Latino vote.

Add to that the rumors of terrorism, while the administration ignores the Danger at the Southern Border,

since Political imperative trumps national security.

UPDATE
Deadly Outbreak in Venezuela Deemed ‘Terrorism’
President Nicolás Maduro said he ordered the prosecution of doctors who had alerted the public to the recent deaths of nine people in a public hospital from an unidentified but possibly infectious disease.

Argentina: Cristina’s vultures

September 19th, 2014

Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez has taken time between Botox injections to indulge in more name-calling.

No longer satisfied to refer to Argentina’s creditors as vulture funds, she now has vulture airlines:

Cristina tilda de ‘buitres con turbinas’ a American Airlines Cristina dubs American Airlines ‘vultures with turbines’

Why?

American Airlines will not sell tickets in Argentina more than 90 days in advance. Cristina says this is an “attack against the country to cause uncertainty” about the currency.

Considering how Argentina joins the Venezuela School of Economics by passing laws

that cap consumer prices of goods, set profit margins for private businesses and levy fines on companies found to be making “artificial or unjustified” profits

AA is worrying about getting paid. Over in Venezuela, the government is withholding US$3.6 billion in airline ticket revenue.

UPDATE
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!


Venezuela: Celebrities’ ire

September 18th, 2014

While here in the U.S. we talk about Mia Farrow’s junket to Ecuador, in Venezuela two other celebrities are in the spotlight: Maria Conchita Alonso and Jose Luis Rodriguez El Puma.

Venezuela threatens citizenship of actress Alonso

The country’s foreign ministry announced in the official gazette that it would ask a judge to remove her Venezuelan nationality.

Alonso and her brother Robert are democracy activists, very much opposed to chavismo.

El Puma, now in Chile for today’s national holiday, and is calling for a military coup against the Cuban-run Venezuelan dictatorship so the country can leave behind the “dictatorial, perverse and diabolico” Cuban model (link in Spanish – my translation),

“I call on them to save a country from catastrophe. I look at Venezuela and I see Cuba 50 years ago.”
“I appeal to the men and women of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, who have prepared throughout their lives to defend and protect the country; honor your uniforms and don’t allow these people to continue to impoverish Latin America’s richest country, your children’s country.”

El Puma, who recently made public his incurable lung condition, clarified he wants a peaceful transition to democracy once the chavistas are ousted. Here’s the video (in Spanish),

In other Venezuelan news,
Acquisition of El Universal to be challenged in Panama 

When asked about his involvement in the purchase of El Universal on 10 July 2014, Carlos Odin Velazco expressed disbelief, and claimed he had nothing to do with it, nor did he have the funds to make such a purchase.

A week later, on 17 July 2014, the agent for Tecnobreaks Inc. (Jose Alejandro Quiodetis) registered a document of an “extraordinary shareholders meeting”, purportedly held on 14 February 2014, during which Carlos Odin Velazco was removed as company director. The three Spanish citizens referred to above, and related to Epalisticia in Spain, were appointed as company director, treasurer and secretary. Tecnobreaks capital was increased from $10,000 to $1,000,000.

When I ask Carlos Odin Velazco on 3 September 2014 about that “extraordinary shareholders meeting” -held in February according to registry documents- he said that he was never informed about it, and went on to say that Quiodetis had done so without his authorization. Odin Velazco went on to claim that Quiodetis had sold Tecnobreaks without his permission, and therefore none of the decisions purportedly reached during that meeting were legally valid.

Odin Velazco is now considering legal proceedings against Quiodetis in Panama, for the unlawful appropriation of Tecnobreaks. Alek Boyd has the full report here.

Ecuador: Celebrities for hire

September 18th, 2014

Well, it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who reads Paul M. Barrett’s book Law of the Jungle, but the Ecuadorian government paid celebrities to tour areas of the rainforest allegedly contaminated by Texaco.

Allow me a Capt. Louis Renault moment,

Apparently Mia Farrow received from PR firm MCSquared $180,000 and Danny Glover $300,000. As you may remember, Danny reportedly received US$18 million bucks from the late Hugo Chavez for making a movie about Toussaint D’Overture, the Haitian slave that led the revolt against the French and declared himself emperor.

We’re still waiting for Danny’s movie.

But back to Mia, she and filmmaker Phelim Mcaleer engaged in a discussion on Twitter,

after which she deleted the tweet and blocked Mcaleer, to the amusement of those following the exchange,

[Meme translation:
Danny, we're broke and forgotten.
Mia, let's go to Ecuador. The Boss is sure to give us dough
]

Bianca Jagger is another celebrity who headed to Lago Agrio, and later protested against Chevron in New York,

Is that a fur coat?

Daryl Hannah, Sting and wife Trudie Styler, and Al Gore also turned up at the old Texaco site, as Barrett reports in Law of the Jungle. No word on how much they got.

AND,
I posted yesterday on Law of the Jungle. For a full book review, read When oil first flowed through a new pipeline in 1972…


En español: Guillermo Padrés en la Unidad de Quemados

September 17th, 2014

Guillermo Padrés,

Luego de que se revelara que construyó una presa en su rancho familiar sin pedirle permiso a nadie, el gobernador de Sonora llega a la Unidad de Quemados… y en el Cineclub de Nicasio: Lucy

Why the game should stand tall

September 17th, 2014

My latest article, Why the game should stand tall, a review of the excellent When the Game Stands Tall, is up at Da Tech Guy Blog. Go read it, and hit Pete’s tip jar.