Archive for March, 2014

The Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 31st, 2014

LatinAmerARGENTINA
Argentina Is Joined In The Supreme Court By The Coalition Of Weasels

Why Argentina Is Struggling to Find Lifelines

Argentina Moves to Trim Subsidies
Argentina will cut expensive natural-gas and water subsidies this year as it struggles with growing deficits that have been financed through inflation-fueling money printing.

BARBADOS
US Congress honours T&T and Barbados born judges

BOLIVIA
Bolivia clashes over anti-drugs base
Dozens of people in Bolivia clash with police in a protest against the construction of a military anti-drugs base in a coca-growing area

CHILE
Chile’s Codelco 2013 profit halves

COLOMBIA
Colombia current account deficit ends 2013 at 3.4 percent, “as lower prices for some key exports contributed to the near halving of the Andean nation’s trade surplus.”

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica’s two top political parties agree to runoff presidential debate, with or without candidates

In lieu of a candidate to support, PLN lawmaker Luis Villanueva said the campaign was about “ideas, programs and the emphasis” of each party.

CUBA
Azuuuucar !!! Chong Chon Gang returns for another load

Ukraine Angle to Cuba’s “Purchase” of Russian Antonov Planes

Tread carefully in Cuba’s ‘open’ economy: Experts

ECUADOR
Ecuador President Rafael Correa to Speak at Harvard
Has been criticized for anti-American rhetoric, crackdown on press freedoms

Correa has long pursued a multi-billion dollar judgment against oil company Chevron for alleged pollution that occurred in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region. A U.S. federal judge ruled earlier this month that the judgment could not be enforced in America because the plaintiffs’ attorneys bribed a judge in Ecuador, ghostwrote purportedly neutral scientific studies, and conspired to break the law.

Correa in December dissolved a nongovernment organization protesting state oil drilling in the Amazon. He previously called the Free Beacon“corrupt” for reporting on the Chevron case.

Correa has also emulated Chavez by frequently decrying the alleged “imperial” influence of the United States in Latin America. He has expelled an American ambassador, shut down a joint U.S. anti-drug base, and grantedasylum to WikiLeaks founder and privacy advocate Julian Assange despiteallegations that Correa’s government has spied on reporters.

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador opposition admits defeat
El Salvador’s Arena party finally accepts the defeat of its candidate to former rebel leader Salvador Sanchez Ceren in a tight vote earlier this month.

JAMAICA
The Petrocaribe Trap

LATIN AMERICA
Life after the commodity boom
Instead of the crises of the past, mediocre growth is the big risk—unless productivity rises

As Obama Dismisses Russia As “Regional,” It Expands Its Reach

Latin Leftists with Blood on Their Hands

MEXICO
Stranded: In One Week Authorities Found 370 Abandoned Immigrant Children Wandering Around In Mexico

Mexico Intercepts 63 Guatemalans Headed for U.S.

OIL
Here Comes $75 Oil
Lower energy costs will have a salutary effect on the U.S. economy. Not so Russia, where oil provides 50% of government income.

PANAMA
Crimea: The Panama precedent

PARAGUAY
Cocaine Distribution Hub Dismantled in Paraguay

PERU
Peru Received $2.7 Billion in Remittances During 2013

PUERTO RICO
Census Reveals Population Drop Across Puerto Rico by 3%

URUGUAY
Uruguay To Track Pot By Genetic Markers

VENEZUELA
The Obama Administration seems indifferent to the crisis in Venezuela. Why?

US Senator Menendez Calls for International Condemnation of Venezuela

Lawsuit filed in Miami accuses Venezuela top official, Diosdado Cabello, of bribery
A lawsuit filed in Miami accuses the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly of receiving at least $50 million in bribes from a company doing business in that country.

Venezuelan government takes on crossword writers in protest crackdown
After expelling an opposition parliamentarian and arresting three air-force generals, the Venezuelan government has now taken aim at a new enemy: crosswords

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: How Hugo Chávez turned the country over to Cuba

Brazil: We shall soon be hearing about the “excellent healthcare”

Venezuela: more censorship, in “one of the most democratic nations on Earth”

#ThanksLarry: In praise of Larry Kudlow

The Isaías, on @Instapundit’s post

#SOSVenezuela: Marco Rubio’s speech

Mexico: Navigators helping people sign up for Obamacare regardless of citizenship

Mexico’s Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

Venezuela: Slingshots vs tanks

En español: Terapia intensiva #201

Venezuela: Leopoldo López, Hun School alumnus

Uruguay: Gitmo releases will be free to leave

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
No, Joe, illegals are not citizens

Book review – Eyes On Target: Inside Stories from the Brotherhood of the U.S. Navy SEALs

Venezuela: How Hugo Chávez turned the country over to Cuba UPDATED

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Cuba and Venezuela’s disproportionate relationship:
Cristina Marcado of Spain’s ABC.es writes about the disproportionate relationship in Las relaciones desmedidas (article in Spanish – my translation):

  • It all started with 29 agents who arrived in 1997 to help Hugo Chávez 
  • Now thousands of Cubans work and control Venezuela’s public administration
  • Not allowed to have Venezuelan friends.

Thousands of Cubans currently work in Venezuela’s public administration. In the presidency, ministries and state enterprises. As bureaucrats, doctors, nurses, dentists, scientists, teachers, programmers, analysts, farm technicians, electricians, laborers, and cultural collaborators. Also in security, intelligence, and, including, the Armed Forces.

Most of them also belong to the militia. “In Venezuela we have over 30,000 Cuban cederristas from the 8.6 million members of our organization,” Juan José Rabilero, then-chief of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution [Comités de Defensa de la Revolución, or CDR, from which the word for its members, cederristas, originates] disclosed in 2007 during a public event in the state of Táchira, in western Venezuela. There is no reason to believe this number has decreased. Nearly 70% of Cuba’s population belongs to this system of vigilance and denunciation.

The Cubans manage Venezuela’s ID system, its identity cards and passports; its mercantile registries and oublic notaries. They also know who owns what properties and what transactions they conduct. They also jointly manage its ports and maintain a presence at the airports and immigration control, where they do as they please. The Cuban organization Albet, SA, of the Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas (Information Sciences University, or UCI), which manages the systems for the SAIME (which translates to Management Service for Identification, Immigration and Foreigners), is so powerful that it does not allow Venezuelans access to the top floor of SAIME headquarters in Caracas. The computer systems for the presidency, ministries, social services, police, and state oil company PDVSA are also Cuban, run by the Guardián del Alba joint venture.

The name of the article, Las relaciones desmedidas (Disproportionate Relations) refers to the ban on friendships with Venezuelans.

This is a must-read.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Extrano’s Alley and Babalu. Thank you!

UPDATE 2:
Capitol Hill Cubans translated also,

According to the latest official figures, in mid-2012, in Venezuela there were a total of 44,804 collaborators in so-called social missions; 31,700 in health care (11,000 doctors, 4,931 nurses, 2,713 dentists, 1,245 optometrists and 11,544 non-specified), 6,225 in sports, 1,905 in culture, 735 in agricultural activities, 486 in education and 54 in handicapped services. Yet, it is believed the actual numbers could be double. There are no officials statistics regarding those who work in the electricity sector, construction, information technology and security advisers to the government, among others.

“The Cuban doctors are sent in a form of modern slavery,” according to the NGO, Solidarity Without Frontiers.

Retired General Antonio Rivero, a former Chavez collaborator, assures that there are currently more than 100,000 Cubans in Venezuela, among them 3,700 in the intelligence services, the G2. “Just in security and defense, we estimate there are around 5,600 of them.” And he confirms that there are Cubans in the most important military bases in the country. “In the Armed Forces, there are some 500 active Cuban military officers serving as advisers in strategic areas, such as intelligence, weaponry, communications and military engineering. Also, in operations and in the office of the Minister of Defense, which has a permanent Cuban adviser with the rank of General.”

According to Rivero, which served chief of communications for the presidency and was the national director of Civil Protection, the presence of Havana goes back to 1997, when 29 undercover Cuban agents established operations in Margarita and in 1998 helped Chavez’s electoral campaign with intelligence, security and information technology.


Brazil: We shall soon be hearing about the “excellent healthcare”

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Government Health Program Hires 41 Semiofficial Doctors
Semiofficial, you say?

Despite not fulfilling all the Ministry of Health´s requirements, 41 Brazilian community doctors recently trained in Venezuela were chosen to work for the government´s More Doctors (Mais Médicos) program.

They graduated in November from the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) founded in 2007 by former president Hugo Chávez. Most are linked to left leaning organizations such as the PT or Landless Workers´ Movement. The group has returned to Brazil without fulfilling all the requirements stipulated in article 8 of the Venezuelan Law for the Practice of Medicine.

“After graduating they must practice as a rural doctor for a year or do a two year internship. If not, the ministry won´t sign the diploma and they won´t be able to do a post graduate degree, practice privately or anything else. They are incomplete doctors,” said Fernando Bianco, the Chávez supporting President of the Caracas College of Doctors to Folha.

Ooops,

The non compliance with this requirement contradicts the hiring norms of Mais Médicos as published on January 16. The legal document stipulates that Brazilian doctors trained abroad must prove they are “qualified to practice abroad.”

In fact, they’re not qualified to practice anywhere.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Dustbury. Thank you!

Venezuela: more censorship, in “one of the most democratic nations on Earth”

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

American leftist websites proclaim that “Venezuela is one of the most democratic nations on Earth.” So democratic, that now the government may censor crossword puzzles:
Venezuelan newspaper accused of devising revolutionary crossword clues
Delcy Rodríguez, minister of information, calls for investigation of El Aragueño for allegedly printing anti-government puzzle

She tweeted that beaut, after which dozens of Venezuelans tweeted back mocking her. Some even made up a crossword (no hay means “there isn’t any”) listing shortages of staples – sugar, rice, milk, meat – and “what supermarkets have”, number 15 across, is “shortage”:

Here’s the crossword they’re sending Delcy Rodríguez

Let’s point out that Twitter and other social media have not been successfully blocked by the government – unlike print, radio and TV. Which, of course, the Left can’t believe because Mark Weisbrot says it ain’t so, just as they believe that Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically”:

This in NOT a demonstration, this is a line to buy food in Venezuela. The result of 15 years of Chavismo.

Those who believe that Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically”, on the other hand, will affirm that he had nothing to do with shortages, no matter what the Venezuelans themselves have been saying on the matter for the past four years.

Over in Miami, Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation filed a lawsuit accusing the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, of receiving at least $50 million in bribes from Derwick Associates for kickbacks on electric plants.

Alek Boyd posts on Diosdado Cabello & Wikileaks

 Wikileaks provides examples of how American authorities perceive Cabello, and so it is relevant to showcase these opinions, to get a measure of the man. I have chosen a few, among the 116 cables (2003-2010) that mention Cabello.

Go to his blog Infodio more.

If you check Alek’s twitter feed, you’ll see that he posts links specifically for Venezuela that bypass the government’s censorship, which of course Mark will have you believe doesn’t exist – no matter that Alek was banned in Caracas,

 It seems, though, as if Infodio has been rocking a few too many boats – a few weeks ago, the site was banned in Venezuela.

At this point even Dilma – who is facing falling approval ratings and is not impressed with Venezuela’s government public relations b.s. – is getting tired of the regime’s shenanigans, and wants to get paid: Brazil grows wary of Venezuela under Maduro, reduces support

Rousseff is worried the Venezuelan government’s repression of recent street protests, and Maduro’s refusal to hold genuine dialogue with opposition leaders, may make the political crisis worse over time, the officials said.

Worsening turmoil could, in turn, endanger the sizeable interests of Brazilian companies in Venezuela. They include conglomerate Odebrecht SA.

Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported this month that Venezuelan public-sector companies already owe Brazilian companies as much as $2.5 billion in debt.

You know you’re in trouble when Odebrecht starts complaining.

UPDATE:
Linked to be Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!

#ThanksLarry: In praise of Larry Kudlow

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

“We believe that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity!”
@larry_kudlow

I met Larry Kudlow at the Rainbow Room on Wednesday, November 16, 2005, at the Pajamas Media rollout party. Pajamas Media was having a momentary identity crisis, and we found out almost then that it was making its debut as OSM: Open Source Media instead.

There were a hundred people or so at the event, so I’m sure Mr. Kudlow doesn’t remember me, but here’s how it went:

Milton Friedman and Louis Rukeyser were instrumental in my transformation from a socialist to a capitalist, and I must partly thank PBS for that. As an economics/business major, I had read Friedman’s books, and they were pivotal to my change. (Years later, PBS aired Friedman’s Free to Choose series – which you can now watch on YouTube for free by courtesy of the Palmer R. Chitester Fund). While I was still in college, I started watching Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street Week (W$W), which aired on PBS every Friday at 7:30PM. Friedman was a guest in the show.

I was a fan of the show for its entire run, from 1972 to 2002. There’s even a photo of me with my newborn son watching W$W on the day he was born.

In 2002 Rukeyser moved to CNBC, and he ended his show in 2004 due to his battle with cancer.

Larry Kudlow was a regular panelist in both shows, and, at the Pajamas party, I went over and introduced myself. Mr. Kudlow looks exactly as he does on TV, he’s shorter than I expected, and was (characteristically) very well dressed.

I started by asking him to tell Mr. Rukeyser, if he had a chance, that he was in my family’s prayers and convey our best wishes. Mr. Kudlow was most gracious, and he described how Mr. Rukeyser was the only person who would invite him to their show after Mr. Kudlow’s recovery following a scandalous and very public fall from grace due to his addictions. Mr. Kudlow also explained his conversion to Catholicism, as Catholics took him in during the time when he struggled to pry himself away from his disease. It was a remarkable conversation, and before we parted he mentioned again he’d convey my message to Mr. Rukeyser, whom he saw often.

CNBC started a show, Kudlow & Cramer, which I didn’t watch too often because I find Cramer annoying. Later on Kudkow got his own show, and I watched frequently (mostly while preparing dinner).

The Kudlow Report (and its earlier version, Kudlow and Company) was, without a doubt, the best moneypolitics show on the air. Differing, opposite, views were discussed civilly, and with clarity. It is entirely to Mr. Kudlow’s credit that he maintained such high standards on each and every broadcast.

Last night was The Kudlow Report’s last show. During his closing speech, Mr. Kudlow gave witness to his faith, movingly saying he “replaced addiction with faith.” He will continue as a CNBC contributor in other shows.

I wish Mr. Kudlow the best, and thank him for inspiring and encouraging Americans to prosper and grow.


This Is a Generic Brand Video

Friday, March 28th, 2014

by Kendra Eash,

No, Joe, illegals are not citizens

Friday, March 28th, 2014

My latest, No, Joe, illegals are not citizens at @DaTechGuyBlog.

Check out also Chris Muir’s cartoon,

The Isaías, on @Instapundit’s post

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Today on the esteemed Instapundit,

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: U.S. Investigates Brothers From Ecuador Who Donated $90,000 to Obama.

The link goes to a NY Times story on Ecuadorian brothers William and Roberto Isaías, who are here legally, having fled Ecuador ten years ago after the government allegedly confiscated media outlets they owned which were critical of the government.

The case recently resurfaced when an NBC station in New York reported that Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, was under federal investigation for helping the Isaias brothers with their immigration problems after their relatives contributed to his campaigns. Several other members of Congress also helped the family by writing letters urging the State Department to resolve bureaucratic delays that kept several of the family members from obtaining residency in the United States.

I posted about the Isaías last January. I pointed out then that

Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s chancellor, has said he thinks campaign donations to American politicians have helped the brothers stay in the country.

Let’s ponder that for a moment: The Correa regime thinks something, so NBC NY runs a story on it?

As it is, the Justice Department says Ecuador’s government has not provided enough evidence to warrant extradition.

So, no, I wouldn’t rush to include the Isaías on a “culture of corruption” post.


#SOSVenezuela: Marco Rubio’s speech

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Rubio Delivers Floor Speech On Crisis In Venezuela (emphasis added)

In fact, it is now known that the Interior Ministry of Venezuela authorized snipers to travel to Táchira state and fire on demonstrators. Here is a picture of a government official, of a law enforcement or army or National Guard individual, or Interior Ministry individual, on a rooftop with a rifle and a scope aiming into a crowd. Here is a picture of a sniper. It doesn’t end there. Those aren’t the only pictures we have. Here are more pictures of more snipers on rooftops. Here is another sniper aiming into the crowd, with a spotter next to them. Here is another picture of the same sniper blown up.

These are government-sponsored individuals. What civilized [country] on Earth sends the National Guard and the Interior Ministry of their own government, of their own country, with snipers to fire on their own people who are demonstrating because of the lack of freedoms and opportunity and economic degradation that exists in a country? They cannot deny this. Here are pictures taken by demonstrators themselves of the snipers ready to shoot down people. In fact, 36 people have lost their lives.

But it doesn’t end just with the government snipers. Because what the government is trying to do here to hide their involvement is they have organized these pro-government militia groups, basically, these militant groups that they hide behind. These groups don’t wear uniforms. They’re called ‘colectivos.’ They drive around the city in motorcycles, and they assault protesters, they break in and vandalize their homes, they have weapons that they use to shoot into the crowds and kill or harm people.

There are three main groups. By the way, these groups began under Hugo Chavez’s reign, and these groups are actually organized around a concept that has existed for years in Cuba — these committees to defend the Revolution. These are neighborhood groups, so they know your family, they know who you are, they’re always watching, and they organize themselves into armed militias. The government’s claim is, ‘Well, these groups are on their own, we’re not coordinating with them,’ but in fact, there have been multiple reports that these groups coordinate with the National Guard to take down barricades set up by protesters, to break into the homes of protesters, to vandalize homes, to terrorize people, and to kill.

There are three main groups that I want to point out, these ‘colectivos.’ La Piedrita is one of them, it’s based in a working class neighborhood of Caracas. It has a far-left ideology, it is armed, it is comprised of radicals, who claim to be willing to die for their revolutionary ideals, whatever those are. In January, this group, by the way, tweeted that Henrique Capriles, the opposition party’s nominee for president in the last elections, is a racist and a fascist and accused him of intending to launch attacks on the poor and on impoverished neighborhoods.

Read the whole thing.


Mexico: Navigators helping people sign up for Obamacare

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

regardless of citizenship:
OBAMACARE NAVIGATORS HELPING PEOPLE ENROLL AT MEXICAN CONSULATES

“Whether they’re Mexican nationals or whether they’re United States citizens or whether they’re in transition– and if they’re there it is our responsibility within all of America to educate on the Affordable Care Act,” Enroll America Field Organizer Jose Medrano told Breitbart News on Wednesday.

Health Care insurance navigator groups hosted an Obamacare enrollment fair on Tuesday in the Mexican Consulate’s Brownsville office, The Rio Grande Guardianreported last Friday, where Mexican nationals among others were counseled about enrolling in the ACA.

This is not the first time the Mexican Consulate has been used to enroll individuals into Obamacare. Get Covered Illinois announced in late February that the Erie Family Health Center hoped to increase its enrollment numbers at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, The Sun Times reported.

More at the links.

But hey, you people ought to sign up.