Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. The top story in our hemisphere this week: the announcement of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’s death. While the government has announced a presidential election for April 14th, don’t expect chavismo to give up power anytime soon.
The cult of adoration is now under way, which fills a need peculiar to Latin America, as Enrique Krauze explains,
In Latin America the need to turn politicians into secular saints is due to the distrust many feel for the region’s weak institutions and a worship for so-called men on horseback—heroes who come to the nation’s rescue, said Mr. Krauze. The region’s deep Catholic tradition of anointing and then venerating saints is also an important factor, he said.
When Congress finally decided in 2012 to allow people to obtain the salary information of its employees, it also required them to find the name of each employee and submit it online. In other words, if someone wanted the information on the legislature’s 25,000-strong work force, then that person had to independently identify them and submit 25,000 separate online requests.
If only it were that easy here in São Paulo. One clerk at the state’s high court, Ivete Sartório, was reportedly paid about $115,000 after convincing her superiors that she should be compensated for not taking leaves of absence. But when asked recently about her wages, a spokesman for the court, Rômulo Pordeus, said that Ms. Sartório’s “matriculation number” was needed to request the information.
When asked how any curious taxpayer could get that number, he replied that it was in Ms. Sartório’s possession, and that he did not want to bother her about it.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lionization of his Venezuelan friend Hugo Chávez caused a political firestorm in the Islamic Republic, as doubts arose over whether the two countries could carry on their tight alliance now that Mr. Chávez is dead.
11) The Bay of Pigs (1961): After training a Cuban militia to overthrow Castro, Kennedy got cold feet and didn’t give the men all the air support they were promised. As a result, they were easily defeated by Castro’s men and today, Cuba is still ruled by a hostile, anti-American dictatorship.
The Baker Institute’s 2007 “Empirical Evidence of the Operational Efficiency Of National Oil Companies” study impartially demonstrated that private companies operate better than public enterprises.
The objectively calculated study of more than 80 companies concluded that relative to economically efficient producers, a national oil company is likely to under-invest, over-employ, sell oil products at subsidized prices, and shift extraction of resources from the future to the present.
“Technical inefficiencies,” the paper concluded, “are largely the result of governments exercising control over the distribution of rents.”
The government announced the price freeze on the first business day after the International Monetary Fund formally censured Argentina for putting out inaccurate economic data. The IMF has given Argentina until September to bring its statistics up to international standards, or face expulsion from the world body in November.
When I was in Argentina the neighborhood supermarkets stocked only four kinds of vegetables, plus apples and oranges. Contrast that with what Mr. Bingley found in Brazil, where the government is staying away from regulating food prices,
Government intervention leads to shortages, inflation, and eventually to poverty.
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.”
Venezuela’s $100 billion oil industry is seeing the first drop in funding in five years from some of its closest partners, as concern mounts President Hugo Chavez’s battle with cancer is creating a political vacuum, people familiar with the matter said.
The government, which for a decade has disclosed credit lines from China when they’re signed, has announced none since April, according to a report released Jan. 13 by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, known as UNAM. Russian and Indian companies are withholding planned investments in Venezuelan oilfields, according to eight oil company executives and consultants who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk about the matter publicly.
The first two-dimensional bar codes, or QR codes, as they’re known, were installed Friday at Arpoador, a massive boulder that rises at the end of Ipanema beach. The image was built into the sidewalk with the same black and white stones that decorate sidewalks around town with mosaics of waves, fish and abstract images.
This is in preparation for the World Cup and the Olympics.