Yesterday, the Venezuelan government conducted the test launch of an Otomat missile, model MK2.
Eighteen of these missiles have been restored, thanks to Cuban specialists, for use by Venezuela’s Bolivarian Armed Forces.
Venezuela’s appointed leader, Nicolas Maduro, announced the launch (and Cuba’s support) with much fanfare, as well as the upcoming restoration of AMX 3 light tanks and EE-11 Urutú armored personnel carriers.
Nothing to look here; Of course, the countries within firing range and the users of the now-expanding Panama Canal may have reason to worry.
Surely the Venezuelan regime will claim it’s all for peaceful purposes, like their soon-to-be-nuclear pals the Iranians, who still have their direct flights to Caracas.
The big news for the past day or two has been a leaked tape of a conversation between Mario Silva, the hardcore Chavista spokesman anchorman of “La Hojilla” [The Razor] (a TV show on state-run TV channel VTV), and Aramis Palacios, a lieutenant colonel of Cuban G2.
In it, Silva suggests that the military – at the prodding of Diosdado Cabello – is plotting against Maduro.
Plus, in the scorecard,
100 points to Diosdado Cabello for being Darth Vader AND Hannibal Lecter on the same day. And then showing up at Miraflores just to mug for the cameras and rub it in Maduro’s and Silva’s face. Cue in Destiny’s Child “Survivor.”
And finally, a negative 857 points to the Venezuelan people, for if Diosdado gets his way and it’s true that he has, to quote Mario Silva, “all the power without being President,” we are about to enter a world of pain that no Cuban doctor can cure.
Caracas Chronicles concludes,
What’s clear, folks, is that Diosdado Cabello is untouchable. He is the pillar upon which “chavismo sin Chávez” is built. The evidence that Cabello is undermining the Revolution with his corrupt ways is staring Maduro in the eye just as clearly as that picture in the Museo Militar. When faced with the choice of throwing Silva or Cabello under the bus, Maduro chose Silva.
Indeed, Mario Silvia is off the air “for health reasons“, the Latin American equivalent of “spending time with his family.”
Lawyers filed a notice of the settlement Thursday in federal court in Washington. The settlement amount was not disclosed, and the agreement only covers Development Alternatives Inc., also known as DAI, not the government.
DAI’s chief executive officer said in a statement that settling the lawsuit, in which neither party admits fault, allows the company to work together with Gross’ family to bring him home.
Gross’ wife Judy, who has traveled to Cuba on several occasions to see her husband, said in the same statement that the family is “very pleased that DAI has committed to help address the injuries sustained by our family.
The $60million lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
Cuban officials have suggested they would be willing to free Gross in exchange for the men. Four of the men remain in prison in the United States. One man who completed his sentence but was serving probation in the U.S. was recently allowed to return to Cuba permanently.
Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.
“State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
Then the government raised prices by 20%, which will eat up the 20% raise in minimum salary that went in effect on May 1st.
According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, the Maduro dictatorship is blaming its opponents for Caracastan’s toilet paper shortage.
“The Revolution will import around 50 million rolls of hygienic tissue… so our people can calm down and realize that they should not allow themselves to be manipulated by media campaigns that speak of shortages,” said Minister of Commerce Alejandro Fleming, through the state-run Venezuelan News Agency.
Minister Fleming cited facts and figures to prove that the production and importation of toilet paper was more than adequate in Caracastan, and then claimed that a “sobredemanda” — a sudden spike in demand — fiendishly orchestrated by the government’s opponents had caused the product to disappear from store shelves throughout the country.
Considering the disastrous state of what’s left of the Venezuelan economy, it’s no wonder people may have the runs,
Finance Minister Nelson Merentes said the government was also addressing the lack of foreign currency, which has resulted in the suspension of foreign supplies of raw materials, equipment and spare parts to Venezuelan companies, disrupting their production.
“We are making progress … we have to work very hard,” Merentes told reporters Wednesday.
Many factories operate at half capacity because the currency controls make it hard for them to pay for imported parts and materials. Business leaders say some companies verge on bankruptcy because they cannot extend lines of credit with foreign suppliers.
Speaking of runs, consumers who had spent hours waiting in line were stampeding in Caracas when they heard chicken parts and flour were finally available,
accusing him of hoarding products as part of an “economic war” on the state by private business.
Mendoza, whose company is Venezuela’s biggest beer- and flour-maker, denied that and pointedly challenged the government to sell production plants nationalized under Chavez back to the private sector to boost efficiency.
Mendoza would not be intimidated, and at least for now, Maduro backed off.
Toilet paper buyers continue to wait in line,
Fleming, the commerce minister, said monthly consumption of toilet paper was normally 125 million rolls, but that current demand “leads us to think that 40 million more are required.”
“We will bring in 50 million to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.
Hmmm… 125 + 40 – 50 still leaves you 115 million rolls short, Minister Flemimg.
A group of Cubans attending AfricAmericas, a six-day event being held here through today, told stories that most U.S. blacks would find familiar, “but it is not like here,” said Manuel Cuesta Morua, who has been a tour guide, history teacher and a museum director whose political activism cost him his job. “In Cuba, we are all equal, but [blacks] can’t be in the media. We have the same education, but we can’t have that job.
“Here there are civic tools” and a justice system that can work, he said. “We have no political or symbolic representation, no access to the emerging economy” and no avenues to leadership positions.
4. Barbara Walters is retiring. Back in 1977 she spent 10 days in Cuba as Fidel Castro’s guest.
She came back with an interview that aired on TV, and a very persistent rumor that she boinked the dictator. Then she went back 25 years later, asked the same questions and got the same BS answers, like “we [Cuban Communists] don’t have the same notion of freedom as you”,
Since Fidel’s not available for interviews, but the regime needs money, expect more dissidents being allowed to travel abroad and that Mariela will get more awards.
Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.
Soler handed the pope two letters from the wives of political prisoners, according to the French news agency AFP. Soler later told the media that the pope had given her a blessing and asked her to continue her fight.
It may seem like an insignificant encounter to some, but this is a big deal, and the rulers of the Castro Kingdom will gnash their teeth when they see this photo. The Cuban flag draped between the two figures in white will be a great irritant to the tyrants, because they refuse to accept the fact that Cuba belongs to all Cubans, not just to their slave-drivers and those slaves who agree to submit to the lash. .
So, even though this was a brief encounter, it delivers a potent message.
Tracy, a director and producer at Los Angeles-based Freehold Productions, had filmed retired general Antonio Rivero when the general was advising students how to protect themselves from armed chavista gangs who roam in motorcycles during opposition protests.