Without a doubt, the week’s top story is the opposition’s continuing demonstrations in Venezuela, eclipsing even the capture in Mexico of Chapo Guzmán, the most-wanted criminal of the hemisphere (and who will face charges in at least three US federal courts), . You can click on #LaSalida for all my posts covering the story.
. . . three deep-lying explanations help to illuminate the country’s diminishment. Firstly, Argentina may have been rich 100 years ago but it was not modern. That made adjustment hard when external shocks hit. The second theory stresses the role of trade policy. Third, when it needed to change, Argentina lacked the institutions to create successful policies.
“We have spent 50 years thinking about maintaining government spending, not about investing to grow,” says Fernando de la Rúa, a former president who resigned during the 2001 crisis.
This short-termism distinguishes Argentina from other Latin American countries that have suffered institutional breakdowns. Chile’s military dictatorship was a catastrophic fracture with democracy but it introduced long-lasting reforms. Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party governed steadily for most of the 20th century. “In Argentina institution-building has taken the form of very quick and clientilist redistribution,” says Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The court, in a brief written order, agreed to hear an appeal by Argentina seeking to stop Elliott Management Corp.’s NML Capital Ltd. from obtaining records on accounts maintained by Argentina and leading public officials, including its president, Cristina Kirchner.
The first Cubans to arrive in Miami from a notorious migrant detention center in Bahamas this month alleged Friday that guards regularly beat some of the male inmates and sexually abused some of the women.
One of the women repatriated from the center to Cuba earlier this month arrived pregnant by a guard, according to the Democracy Movement, a Miami group that has been helping the undocumented migrants detained in Nassau.
The movement led a string of protests against the Bahamas government this summer after detainees at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre smuggled out cell phone images of inmates sewing their lips together in protest and an alleged guard kicking prisoners.
Haitians have also complained about the conditions at the infamous Carmichael Road detention center for many years.
Domestic and regional political repercussions will heavily influence Colombia’s response. The threat of a second territorial maritime loss to Nicaragua would further weaken President Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection prospects. Inaction against Nicaragua, when combined with slow-moving negotiations with the FARC rebel group could cost Santos’ political party the presidency in 2014.
The rise of the Peruvian cocaine trade has also been driven by market forces. In recent years, demand for the drug has fallen substantially in the US, which was traditionally served by the Colombian trade. Peru, on the other hand, exports the majority of its illicit product to Brazil (where it is turned into the cheaper and more addictive crack), and to Europe. Unlike their American counterparts, British appetite for cocaine almost doubled during the Noughties.
Maduro, who narrowly won an April election to replace his late mentor Hugo Chavez, says he is ready to change “all the laws” if necessary to stamp out widespread graft that is denting his popularity with some core supporters.
A Fortune Mag/CNN Money article out this week reports the latest, overwhelming evidence of horrendous skullduggery in a long-running environmental case, supported by the highly corruptible Ecuadoran government, against the U.S.-based Chevron oil company. In a Manhattan federal district court, reports Fortune’s Roger Parloff, “Chevron filed the declaration of a former Ecuadorian judge, Alberto Guerra, who describes how he and a second former judge, Nicolás Zambrano, allegedly allowed the plaintiffs lawyers to ghostwrite their entire 188-page, $18.2 billion judgment against Chevron in exchange for a promise of $500,000 from the anticipated recovery.”
Chávez-nomics has been even more devastating for doctors in the public hospitals. Dr. Douglas León Natera of the Venezuelan Medical Federation (FMV) told El Universal on June 16 that doctors earn a mere 2,600 bolivars (roughly $325 at the market exchange rate) monthly, and that even though hospitals have become targets of the country’s rising crime, the government has failed to provide protection for health-care staff. Doctors also cite scarce and low-quality resources and long hours. On June 30 the FMV called a strike to protest low pay and arduous working conditions. Last week Mr. Chávez offered them a 30% raise. They refused to yield. They are, however, continuing to treat urgent cases.
Pharmaceutical importers have been reluctant to complain publicly about their difficulties; large companies that offend Mr. Chávez can become targets of nationalization. It’s a bit more difficult to nationalize a doctor. A strike is just one option. Many of Venezuela’s best doctors have fled the country, which explains how it is, according to the FMV, that in public hospitals there are 130,000 patients waiting for surgery.
In its 2010 annual report, the ministry of health acknowledged the shortage of doctors, particularly in specialties such as anesthesiology, neonatal care, cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery and child cardiology. Private hospitals are also deteriorating now as the poor turn up for care with government medical insurance, but the insurer doesn’t fulfill its obligation to pay.
As you may recall, Colombian authorities dealt a huge blow to the FARC by killing its #2 guy and seizing 15 laptops, which will surely reveal much valuable intelligence on the criminal/terrorist organization. Here’s my article at Real Clear World: FARC’s Military Leader: He Died With His Boots On
We are supposed to conclude that Cuba is no longer a threat to global stability and that Fidel is a reformed tyrant. But how believable is a guy whose revolution all but wiped out Cuba’s tiny Jewish community of 15,000, and who spent the past 50 years supporting the terrorism of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Syria, Libya and Iran? And how does Castro explain Venezuela, where Cuban intelligence agents run things, Iran is an ally and anti-Semitism has been state policy in recent years? Mr. Goldberg doesn’t go there with Fidel.
It also is passing strange that we hear nothing from Mr. Goldberg about poor Alan Gross. Mr. Gross, a U.S. government contractor and a Jew, has been languishing in a Cuban prison since December. His crime: distributing computers to a handful of Cuban Jews who want to establish contact with the diaspora. Is that any way to show love for the Jewish people?
It never seems to cross Mr. Goldberg’s mind that he is being used in a manner Communists first learned at Lenin’s knee. Or perhaps he is happy to be useful. In a follow-up post he explains that since Fidel is not as bad as Pol Pot, Cubans should stop complaining.
Goldberg in turn says Mary’s “unhinged” because, after all, the Jews were not exterminated and can travel to Israel…only with permission of the government, Jeffrey.
Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. If you would like your posts included in next Monday’s Carnival, please email me: faustaw2 “at” gmail “dot” com.
The big stories last week were Hugo Chavez’s nationalizing American food producer Cargill in Venezuela, and the change in the Cuban Communist regime. Developing this week: Nicolas Sarkozy’s first state visit to Mexico, and Lula’s visit to the White House on Saturday.