Archive for the ‘Fausta’s blog’ Category

Argentina: The #tucumanazo, stories of a fraud foretold?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

This does not bode well:
Riot police suppress protests calling for new elections in Tucumán

Allegations of electoral fraud bring demonstrators out on the street in Argentinean province

At stake was the governorship of Tucumán, where Alperovich and his associates from President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Front for Victory (FPV) coalition manage a $3 billion dollar budget as they please. If no new elections are held, his vice-governor, Juan Manzur, will soon take over.
. . .
Though the province is the nation’s smallest, it has the fifth largest population and has now become the site of a landmark moment in this election season. According to preliminary results, presidential election favorite Daniel Scioli’s center-left FPV coalition won Tucumán by 14 points but this victory may cost him, with images of irregularities on the day of voting and other fraudulent maneuvers threatening to damage his standing.

Twitter #tucumanazo:

The sign reads, “I don’t fear the state’s repression.
I fear the people’s silence
.”

Bolivia: What’s with the proposed nuclear plant?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

The Bolivian government has authorized the construction of a nuclear power plant and research center near La Paz. The mayor of La Paz is requesting more information on the project from the Hydrocarbon and Energy Ministry.

The project will cost an estimated US$1.75 billion and would take 10 years to complete.

Only three countries in Latin America – Brazil, Argentina and Mexico – have operating nuclear power stations.

It’s a curious project to have in a country with one of the second-largest natural gas reserves in South America (second only to Venezuela).

However, following last year’s visit to Iran, Evo Morales declared that Iran was to help it build a nuclear power plant, for peaceful purposes of course.

Bolivia is one of Iran’s hubs for its expansion into our hemisphere, and it has become one of Iran’s most important strategic partners in Latin America, and vice versa.

According to this report,

Bolivia is one of Latin America’s most resource-rich countries, and possesses some of the world’s largest reserves of lithium chloride. Knowing this, Iran made a move to become Bolivia’s co-developer of this resource, to include the production of lithium batteries. This resource exploitation project, in turn, has prompted speculation that other strategic minerals, namely uranium, would be exploited. To date, however, there is no evidence that Iran has effectively received any uranium ore from Bolivia.

In addition to natural gas, half the world’s reserves of lithium are buried in the Salar de Uyuni salt plain. That alone makes it strategically important.

The $40/barrell oil Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Oil breaks $40 barrier for first time in six years, which is very important news for our hemisphere.

ARGENTINA
Menem vows to reveal evidence that could shed light on AMIA attack

The defence of Menem today requested the Federal Oral Court No. 2 (TOF 2), that is leading the investigation into the cover-up of the 1994 deadly attack, to have the Senate withdraw Menem’s state secrets privilege warning the release of the information “could affect” the interests of the Nation and “the breaking of peaceful coexistence” with other countries.

Argentineans Launch Petition against “Donald Trump” Wall with Paraguay
Locals Dry [sic] Infrastructure as Wasteful, Bad for Relations

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Police Drag Indigenous Protesters Out of Their Homes
Guaraní Pledge to Resist Evo’s Oil Exploration on Their Lands

BRAZIL
Translation: Merkel reminds Rousseff that Germans want to get paid. Merkel calls for a free trade accord between the Europe Union and Mercosur. During the “surprise” visit,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Brazil’s government on Thursday to further open its markets to foreign companies, and said she saw an opportunity to reach a free-trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur trade bloc. Merkel is on a two-day visit to Brazil with a large delegation of government officials and representatives from German companies.

CHILE
Study: Chile likely to draw from stabilization fund due to copper price drop

COLOMBIA
Colombia slashes gold holdings by two-thirds amid July rout

The reason for and timing of the move are not known, but it came as institutional and speculative investors pulled more cash en masse from commodities, ending a decade-long boom, as the stock market crash in China reignited concerns about demand from the world’s biggest consumer of industrial raw materials.

CUBA
Obama Plays the Clinton Vietnam Card to Normalize Relations With Cuba, but Turns it On Its Head

Before restoring full diplomatic relations with Vietnam, President Clinton eased a majority of the economic sanctions. A mistake. However, by the time he did this, the Soviets were mostly gone from Vietnam; Vietnamese forces had pulled out from Cambodia and replaced with a UN peacekeeping force; and thousands of former South Vietnamese officials had been freed from political prisons and exiled to other nations including the United States.

What ultimately made it politically palatable for Clinton to remove sanctions was a 1993 Senate Select Committee report on POW matters that afforded Clinton the domestic political cover he needed to move forward to ease sanctions. Vietnam also started to return POW remains and allowed U.S. inspectors as part of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTF-FA) to visit various places throughout the country to investigate POW/MIA claims.

ECUADOR
Ecuador Protests: Correa’s Oil Crisis, Policies Could Spell End Of Latin America Success Story

Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano roars back to life, locals speak of lava flow fears and damage to tourism

GUATEMALA
Prosecution requests impeachment of Guatemala president Otto Perez

JAMAICA
IMF Considering Adjusting Some Measures Under Deal With Jamaica

International Monetary Fund (IMF’s) Mission Chief to Jamaica, Dr Uma Ramakrishnan says the fund is considering relaxing some of the targets under Jamaica’s economic support programme

MEXICO
Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, Mexican who led search for mass graves found shot to death
Activist’s group had unearthed 129 bodies in Guerrero, where students went missing last year.

He worked for the politically active group called the Union of Towns and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (known as UPOEG)

Previously Deported Illegals Caught Smuggling Thousands of People Across Border

3-Time Deported Top Mexican Drug Trafficker Caught Illegally Re-Entering Texas

Investigation Lifts a Cloud Over President of Mexico
A seven-month conflict-of-interest investigation into the purchase of luxury homes by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s wife and his finance minister from a government contractor found no wrongdoing, Mexico’s comptroller said Friday.

NICARAGUA
Why am I not surprised? China’s Building a Huge Canal in Nicaragua, But We Couldn’t Find It

PANAMA
Turkey’s new direct connection to Panama may facilitate terrorist financing for Hamas

Turkey and Panama have no international trade to speak of, raising questions as to why, of the 28 countries not served by the airline, is Turkish Airlines expanding to Panama.

Likewise, New nonstop flight from Dubai to Panama a terrorist financiers’ dream? (h/t JC)

Financiers for Hezbollah and a number of other sanctioned Middle East terrorist groups must be jumping up and down for joy, for their jobs will become much easier. The amount of international trade between Panama and the Middle East is nominal, but the nonstop flights will greatly facilitate both illicit (i.e. money laundering) transactions, and terrorist financing operations.

Expect more of that if Obama’s Iran deal goes through.

PARAGUAY
Rogelio Livieres Plano, ousted bishop in Paraguay, dies at 69

PERU
The migrant nation
Urbanisation in Peru has brought citizenship but also a host of problems

Peruvian newspaper cancels cardinal column after papal ‘plagiarism’
Peruvian newspaper says it will not publish any more articles by Roman Catholic cardinal Luis Cipriani after papal plagiarism revelations

Now Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has been unceremoniously dumped from his occasional column at El Comercio, Peru’s oldest privately-owned newspaper, after his writings were proved to include plagiarised words of popes.

PUERTO RICO
Governor Luis Fortuño On The Lessons The US Must Learn From Puerto Rico

The former Governor of Puerto Rico explains that “bottom line, you can never tax yourself out of a hole.”

Hurricane Danny Has Begun Its Weakening; Drought Relief For Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico?

VENEZUELA
Good luck with that: Venezuelans Launch Mises Institute to Take Down ChavismoLibertarians Offer Ideological Cure to Economic Crisis

The week’s posts and podcast:
Nicaragua: Where’s the canal?

Argentina: Wheelchair tango

The Falklands: Pope Francis, what fresh hell can this be? UPDATED

Venezuela: Circling the drain

Somebody tell Al Sharpton Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens

Venezuela: Cuban doctors stuck in limbo, as the country collapses

Cuba: Air-travel, credit cards next . . . by executive action?

Menendez on Iran: Failure Theater, or not?

Cuba: “Who fears the billboard?”

“Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Brazil: Will Dilma get it?

Mexico: @Leon_Krauze looks at the big White House

Podcast: Cuba, marches in Brazil & other US-Latin America stories of the week

The foreign policy house of lies


“Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

This morning, while dealing with a brand-new washing machine spewing out soapy water all over the garage floor, I’ve come across a number of articles bemoaning the death of culture.

The first one was at American Digest’s Sidelines,

Our culture has continued to slide giggling into the pit.

It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song.

Concerts of serious music rarely include anything less than half a century old. Very few of us could name a living painter or architect. Entire years pass when no American outside the academy spontaneously quotes a line of verse written by any American poet younger than Elizabeth Bishop (b. 1911), or a British poet younger than Philip Larkin (b. 1922). The middlebrow novel is slipping into extinction. Movies are an extension of the comic-book industry; only TV drama shows occasional flashes of brilliance. The churches are branch offices of Globalist Multiculturalism, Inc.: the Episcopal church in my sleepy, 360-year-old Long Island town advertises Misa en Español. A Report from the Conservative Movement’s Dustbin – The Unz Review

Inclined as I am towards ancient music, non-fiction books, and not going to church, the moaning about “It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song” tells me that the person who wrote that doesn’t have young children incessantly playing the brainworm-inducing Happy and Let It Go. Never mind that up until a couple of years ago the only living painter most people could name was Thomas Kincaid, the Leonardo of QVC.

The second is Joshua Cohen’s review, Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘Notes on the Death of Culture’. Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society is Vargas Llosa’s latest book, where he bemoans “our” lack of common culture, deploring “The Civilization of the Spectacle,” an essay I read while my mom was looking at Vargas Llosa himself on the cover of ¡Hola!. Don Mario was having lunch with his latest mistress, Julio Iglesias’s first wife, and pop! the paparazzi caught the spectacle.

The third was this beaut from Boer Deng at the WaPo, Ballet is more diverse than ever. Why is the audience still so white?
Changes to American ballet go beyond Misty Copeland.
Ms Deng is uniquely ignorant of the several principal dancers of Spanish and South American ancestry at the NYCB & the ABT over the decades, and insultingly ignorant of this.

Yes, there is a coarsening of society in general. If you, my gentle reader, are bothered by it, don’t sponsor and don’t frequent those engaged in what bothers you. Continue to engage and support that art which feeds your soul, and bring a friend or two when you do. (While you are at it, you may buy Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society through my Amazon links.)

If you want to be more proactive, The Western Canon and The Educated Child are two good resources. Dress up, including during travel. Come up with something that promotes the culture you appreciate.

As for the rest, I agree with Joshua Cohen when he says, “Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Blogging on Latin America shall resume shortly.

UPDATE
Linked to by American Digest. Thank you!

Nicaragua: Is China actually behind the canal?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Mary O’Grady thinks so:
China Wants to Dig the Nicaragua Canal

The economics don’t add up, but the project serves both governments’ larger interests.

The Chinese government denies it is behind the concession held by HKND. But with more than $3.5 trillion in foreign reserves, it’s the logical candidate to foot the bill. Beijing has been flexing its geopolitical muscles in the Americas for more than a decade, and it hasn’t hesitated to work closely with corrupt dictatorships like those in Ecuador and Venezuela. According to HKND, the Nicaragua canal will require a labor force of 50,000. Many can be expected to be Chinese. The company says the China Railway Construction Corporation is conducting feasibility studies of the project.The HKND concession includes the rights to develop “two ports, a free-trade zone, holiday resorts and an international airport.” Canal or no canal, each is a business opportunity not only for China but also for Mr. Ortega, who is bound to ensure that he gets a piece of the action.

There’s action already: Last year Ortega made a $300 million telecommunications deal with Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, of which Wang Jing is chairman.

The canal, a project of Dubious Plans and Abundant Unknowns, cannot come about (as I have been saying from the start) without major support from the Chinese government. As O’Grady puts it,

China may still see the ditch as part of a military strategy,

A Nicaragua canal may fit as part of a military strategy along with the South China Sea projects.

Brazil: File this under “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas”

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Inside Royal Bank of Canada’s Latin Misadventure

Dilemma surrounding RBC’s star Brazilian client highlights regulatory risks of potentially lucrative emerging markets (emphasis added)

As Royal Bank of Canada mounted an aggressive campaign to reel in business from Latin America’s growing class of superrich, a Miami-based banker made a big catch: Gilberto Miranda Batista, a former Brazilian senator with a $500 million fortune, three houses, four farms and a Rolls Royce.
. . .
In 2013, Mr. Miranda’s accounts attracted the attention of a U.S. banking regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which that year deemed RBC’s anti-money-laundering controls unsatisfactory, according to people familiar with the matter.

Dude.

RBC moved to close down this business late last year after facing government investigations in several countries, including the U.S., Uruguay, and France. Just as it was unwinding its operations, RBC was contacted by the Department of Justice and by the Department of Homeland Security about separate Venezuelan accounts, according to people familiar with the matter. Those people said the Venezuelan accounts had, like Mr. Miranda’s, been previously flagged by internal compliance officers.

This is a huge problem, as the prospective clients may likely attained their financial status by being involved in “troublesome” transactions.

Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

(See Argentina’s Cabinet Chief Refutes Drug Trafficking Allegations as Extortion

With a week to go for the primaries in Argentina, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez was accused of involvement in drug trafficking by those implicated in ephedrine trafficking in a television program, Periodismo para Todos (Journalism for Everyone), or PPT.)

Here’s Lanata’s Sunday show of Aug. 2 (in Spanish but NSFW),

Full show here,

Following which, Police: Lanata building damaged during street fight

Brazil: How to make coxinhas

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Found this at my friend Augusto’s Facebook feed:

conxinha minionMoney doesn’t buy happiness.

But it buys coxinhas, have you seen anyone uhnappy while eating a coxinha? It’s impossible to be unhappy with a coxinha.”

Of course I had to ask Augusto for a recipe. Augusto, in turn, asked his friend, chef Ripp Cozzella (a chef!) for advice. Ripp kindly replied,

A cozinha autêntica não tem muita frescura,
Coloca-se em uma panela óleo (pode ser azeite), alho esmagado (algumas pessoas colocam cebola ralada) e caldo de galinha.
Quando levanta fervura, faz como a Patê a Choux e coloca de uma vez a farinha.
Mexe até soltar do fundo. Espera amornar e molda.
Passa pela farinha de rosca fina.
O recheio é o frango desfiado ou picado temperado a gosto.

Which Augusto beautifully translated,

He said that authentic cuisine is not and needs not be fussy or complicated.

The dough is simple: you sauté crushed garlic (some people used grated onions) in oil (it can be olive, or plain vegetable oil) and add chicken stock. When it boils, you proceed like in a pâte a choux, dumping the wheat flour all at once. You stir until it comes off the bottom of the pan, then wait until its just warm. You can then mold the coxinhas then. The filling is simply shredded checken (breasts or even thigh meat), sauteed with regular seasoning (salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, onions).

I’m heading to the supermarket this weekend to get the ingredients.

Warmest thanks to Augusto and chef Ripp.

Bon appetit!

Madrid’s City Hall and the man on the Moon: Tales from a socialist mindset

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Taking time out from Latin American news stories to look at a news item that illustrates one more instance of government overreach:

Edificio España is a 25-floor, 384′ high building that took 5 years to build, and at the time of its inauguration in 1953 was Europe’s tallest hotel, office and apartment building. If you are in Madrid, you can’t miss it.

It has been vacant since 2007.

Last year the Chinese real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group bought it for €265 million from Banco Santander, who had paid constructor Metrovacesa €389 million. Under the deal,

the city allowed the proprietor to tear down part of the 25-story structure but stipulated that the façade and side wings should remain intact.

Dalian Wanda proposes tearing down the whole thing, and rebuilding

the façade to make it look exactly the same again, using similar materials that comply with modern building standards.

But noooo! (emphasis added)

The request was not well received in Madrid City Hall, now in thehands of a leftist bloc named Ahora Madrid after a quarter century of conservative rule by the Popular Party.
. . .

Local government sources have told EL PAÍS that the department of city planning will instruct Dalian Wanda to maintain as much of the main body of the building as necessary to prop up the façade, which may not be demolished in any case.

The company, which is chaired by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, says that “the consolidation of the façade is not viable under safe conditions. There are no prior references or similar experiences relating to maintaining a structure of similar height and dimensions, which additionally lacks bearing capacity.

To which City Hall found a former head of the Madrid Professional Association of Architects and a university professor who teaches structure calculus, who compared tearing down the building while preserving the façade with putting a man on the Moon,

But if we’ve been to the Moon, there’s almost nothing that is technically impossible.

Last time I looked, Spain didn’t send anyone to the Moon, but you can be sure any foreign investors thinking of doing business in Madrid (with an unemployment rate of 17.53 % in 2014) will be looking elsewhere.

In the meantime, Dalian Wanda is left holding the bag.

El Chapo’s new song: Gimme shelter

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

BREAKING: Joaquin “#ElChapo” Guzman Offers $10 Million To Any U.S. Citizen Who Provides Shelter For Him

“It’s time for us to ban together to protect El Chapo. It’s important for our people to remain strong through the American media disrespecting our people and culture. El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people.

The Sinaloa Cartel, with permission from El Chapo, is offering $15 Million Dollars to any Mexican-American willing to provide a safe haven for El Chapo. We will give $10 Million Dollars to any other American person willing to assist El Chapo, and $7 Million Dollars to anyone who can successfully get El Chapo across the Mexican-American border without detection. Send this message to everyone affiliated.”

Interesting nationalistic wording (“El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people“) aside, the announcement leads to conjecture on what factors may be behind it:

  • El Chapo’s already in the U.S. and the announcement is a red herring
  • El Chapo’s US$10 million offer counters the Mexican government’s 60 million pesos  reward (almost US$4 million) to show who’s boss
  • The person(s) running top day-to-day operations are not too willing to relinquish their positions of power
  • Competing cartels (Zetas, Nueva Generación, etc.) may not want him back in action and be heating things up enough to make him/his organization want to get him out of the country
  • El Chapo may have decided to move closer to where the consumer is
  • Mexican authorities may have abetted his escape on the condition that he leave the country

None of these are mutually exclusive.

Plus, of course,

there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Sing it, Mick!

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away