I’m with Pete.
Two seemingly unrelated items:
Most financing operations from China to Ecuador have been tied to oil sales and several have been backed with presales of crude oil.
Mr. Herrera said the new loans aren’t linked with the selling of crude oil.
The minister said despite the decline of around 50% in oil prices, the Andean country plans to maintain its level of public spending this year, thanks to loans from China, credits from multilateral lenders and governments as well as the selling of Ecuadorean bonds in international markets and domestic debt.
The minister, however, ruled out that the country plans a new bond issue in international markets, citing high interest rates.
Last Thursday the country sold $750 million of five-year bonds at a yield of 10.5%.
In plain words, it sold $750 million worth of junk bonds.
According to Mil Hojas, Ribeney employees operate multiple social-media accounts dedicated to monitoring and attacking the Ecuadorian opposition.
At taxpayer expense, and perhaps a little help from junk bond sales and Chinese loans, too?
Simeon Tegel asks, Is Ecuador’s president using U.S. law to censor critics?
Ecuadoreans who dare to post content critical of Correa and his government on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook say they are finding their images and videos systematically targeted and taken down.
Even more unexpected is the justification being given time and again: the supposed violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), passed by Congress in 1998.
The law, intended to combat online piracy, holds Internet companies liable for copyright violations they host, however unwittingly. It also establishes a fast track “notice and takedown” process for rights holders to inform social networks and search engines when copyright is being breached.
As a result, those websites now automatically remove the content, and even close down repeat violators’ accounts. In practice, democracy activists say, that’s allowing a repressive government to shut down many of its online critics.
Human Rights Watch says this would be the latest move in Ecuador’s “deplorable free speech record.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists has more on Ecuador.
Using legislation, steep fines, pressure on advertisers and control of printing paper, the government during the past decade has corralled the mainstream press, says Carlos Lauria, who oversees the Americas for the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. He and other free-speech advocates say the intimidation has deepened since Mr. Maduro was narrowly elected in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, with dozens of reporters detained, beaten and censored, Mr. Lauria says.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders recently ranked Venezuela among the worst offenders on its press-freedom index.
As I reported yesterday, the OAS voted yesterday to shut out the media and the public from Maria Corina Machado’s testimony. Here’s the video she prepared for the OAS:
“34 OAS ambassadors didn’t see [the] video; 385,000 citizens have”
34 embajadores OEA no vieron video;385mil ciudadanos ya lo han visto http://t.co/Y5cmqFMUIq
— María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) March 22, 2014
In an unusual move, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition lawmaker whom the Venezuelan government is trying to put in prison, was made a temporary member of Panama’s delegation to have access to the organization, which so far has largely failed to act on, or even publicly debate, the continuing crisis in Venezuela.
“We did it!!! The voice of the Venezuelan people was heard at the OAS!!!”
— María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) March 21, 2014
The OAS’s closed-door vote is a shameful spectacle, a triumph of autocracy over democracy.
the representatives of these so called “democracies” had to start by protecting the repressor, Dictator Nicolas Maduro, violating not only the Charter of the OAS, but Ms. Machado’s rights and that of the opposition to be heard in a forum which is supposed to be there to defend the basic rights of people across the Americas.
And while I can understand the strong dependency of the weak Caribbean economies on the stupid (or is it?) largesse of the even more stupid revolution, I was most disappointed at how so many of these Latin American countries were ready to prostitute themselves in order to protect their mercantile interests. It is remarkable how low these mostly leftists Governments have fallen. Despite being democratically elected, they were not willing to give a voice to the over 50% of Venezuelans that find themselves discriminated against and repressed by the Maduro Dictatorship.
And in doing so, they are trying to defend the most repressive Government, save for Cuba, to have risen in the region in the last two decades. How these representatives and their Governments can sleep at night is beyond me, more so when some of them were victims of similar repression in the past.
But somehow they are short sighted enough in thinking that this will not happen again in their countries and that their commercial interests are being protected by their unethical actions. Both premises are actually wrong. As the world turns, their countries may swing back to repression and they may need the same type of solidarity Venezuela’ opposition deserves today. But more importantly, their belief that their actions in support of the Maduro Dictatorship will somehow lead to payment of Venezuela’s debts with their countries or companies is simply wrong. As stated by Minister Ramirez or the President of the Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, there is no money to pay anything but the foreign currency budget they have established for the year 2014.
So, forget it! You will not collect under Dictator Maduro. In fact, you would probably have a better chance under a change in Government that would put order in the economy and reduce some of the absurd subsidies present in the Venezuelan economy. Only in this case, could Venezuela receive loans and cut subsidies which would, with very strict management, allow it to pay its debts with these countries, that so easily supported what can not be supported under any moral framework.
While Maria Corina was allowed to speak at the OAS, a student, and the mother of one of the protestors killed were not, as the Brazilan ambassador labeled their presence “a circus“.
These countries voted for openness:
Daniel Duquenal sees the vote as a breakdown of the OAS.
Simeon Tegel of Global Post writes on Why the OAS doesn’t want you to hear what this woman has to say
The Organization of American States blocked press access to hear a staunch opponent of Venezuela’s government
Machado faces the prospect of being jailed like Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader who has encouraged the demonstrations against widespread food shortages, skyrocketing inflation and the horrendous violent crime wave engulfing Venezuela.
Separately, two opposition mayors have been arrested in the last 48 hours — with one already sentenced to 10 months in jail — for failing to remove the street barricades put up by some of the protesters.
Upon her return, Maria Corina will be facing charges of murder and treason,
The attempt to silence Machado on trumped up charges follows the pattern of treatment opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has experienced. Lopez was arrested in February on charges including murder, arson and incitement and immediately placed in a military prison. Some of those charges were later dropped but charges of incitement remain.
Venezuela journalist Nelson Bocaranda writes that Maduro’s paying Cubans to vandalize.
While this is going on, Maduro claims that Venezuela’s the country with the highest democratic participation, and that his government has eradicated hunger. I can’t wait for the US lefties to repeat those two gems, the way they tout how Hugo Chavez “improved the economy drastically and ameliorated poverty drastically”, and Cuba’s “excellent free healthcare”.
Food shortages in fact now run at 47.7% of what’s demanded, along with shortages of water and electricity.
Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto remembered the Venezuelan protesters:
To all the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight in places like Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to to say we are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen and live the impossible, we are thinking of you tonight.
Whoa! Kevin Spacey, too,
— Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacey) March 2, 2014
In Venezuela, most TV viewers could not watch the event as the private channel Venevision, for the first time in several decades of carrying the Academy Awards, did not broadcast the show Sunday night, which is hardly surprising, considering the Twitter campaign,
— Daniel Camarinha (@daracaca) March 3, 2014
Mexican Alfonso Cuarón was a double winner: Mark Sanger and he first won for Best Film Editing (a category close to my heart), causing Paco Almaraz to quip,
“And, as if were a livestock fair, the price of Alfonso Cuarón’s semen just quintuplicated . . .”
Y como si fuera feria ganadera, en estos momentos, el precio del semen de Alfonso Cuarón acaba de quintuplicar…
— Pacasso (@DrNetas) March 3, 2014
Once Cuarón took another Oscar for Best Directing, a commenter in Almaraz’s feed was wondering if Cuarón would get cloned.
Cristina Fernandez, viuda de Kirchner, is not happy that the country’s journalists are reporting about her smear campaign against Pope Francis, the real inflation figures ( >25%), and international investors’ loss of confidence in the country. Mary O’Grady has the story,
There have been criminal actions against newspaper officials for editorials it didn’t like, attempts to gain control of the country’s domestic newsprint supply, and the passage of a law that politicizes the granting of broadcast licenses and the sale of spectrum. Then there was the September 2009 raid by some 200 tax agents on the daily Clarín, and the deployments of pro-Kirchner mobs to block the distribution of some newspapers that do not toe the Kirchner line.
Now Mrs. Kirchner is trying to financially ruin her critics in the press. One tool is the government’s $100 million-plus advertising budget—excluding the much larger budget for soccer broadcasts. An analysis by the daily La Nación (which publishes some Wall Street Journal content) of 2012 spending over 2011 shows a 65.3% increase in the purchase of space for public announcements and, more commonly, government propaganda in the country’s newspapers and magazines. Yet the four most important independent newspaper publishers—El Cronista, Clarín, La Nación and Perfil—all lost business from the government in 2012. La Nación lost a whopping 83%. El Cronista was down 48%, Clarín lost 37% and Perfil 12%.
The punishment doesn’t end there. At a meeting on Feb. 4 the minister of domestic commerce, Guillermo Moreno, mandated that supermarket chains would have to freeze prices for 60 days. According to a March 3 report in Clarín, Mr. Moreno also instructed those merchants present to halt the purchase of print advertising in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area media outlets. According to the Clarín report, he said the boycott would include companies that sell appliances and electronics.
The government initially denied that it had decreed any such thing. But according to Clarín, merchants told the newspaper that they are under strict orders not to buy advertising from the independent newspapers in and around the capital. Clarín said that failure to obey such commands, even though they are not law, can be costly. Businesses fear government reprisals in the form of tax inspections, the withholding of import licenses, and lawsuits brought in the name of consumer protection.
A tad more subtle than the late Hugo Chavez’s closing RCTV and 34 other TV and radio stations and his attacks on Globovisión, for sure. Plus she can always blame forces beyond her control, like the Vicomte de Valmont, with the extra bonus of blaming capitalism.
Something like that could never happen here, of course.
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Jennifer Rubin posts on Hagel’s Cuba problem
Much of the focus on Chuck Hagel’s record has been on his views on Israel, Iran and sequestration. Equally troubling to those who have taken a forceful stand against Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba, however, has been his dismissive attitude toward the Castros and his enthusiasm to end the U.S. embargo with no quid pro quo.
The Castro regime, of course, has grown increasingly close to the Iranian regime and has allied itself with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. In seizing and imprisoning an American, Alan Gross, it has advocated a swap with the so-called Cuban five spies (a position strenuously opposed by the U.S. Senate).
Val Prieto posits his low hanging fruit theory,
The Obama presidency will need a legacy and given their leadership ineptitude, they’ll most likely go for the low hanging fruit: Barrack [sic] Obama, the President who single-handedly lifted the archaic, inhumane, and ridiculous US embargo on Cuba.
Regardless of whether the Cuban regime shows any human rights and political and economic openings as well as cooperation on anti-terrorism and drug interdiction
Cuba in 2012 and now? Zero reforms and growing religious repression
Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.