talking about Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week
Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category
Nicaraguan Marta Cecilia Aviles Asman addresses NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio,
Bill de Blasio Should Ask Me About the Sandinistas
The New York mayoral candidate still fondly recalls a regime that I fled in terror for my life. (emphasis added)
After the revolution in 1979, I joined the government. I was hired to help “humanize” Nicaraguan prisons. I was enthusiastic about the work—until I found out that Sandinista-style “humanization” often involved extrajudicial executions.
I once appealed to a prison warden to allow a diabetic prisoner his dose of insulin. The warden refused, telling me: “If it was up to you, we’d let them all out!” When I wrote a note to higher-ups complaining about all this, I was told by co-workers to get out of government before I was silenced permanently.
My moment of truth came at a meeting of government workers with Interior Minister Tomas Borge several months after the revolution. Borge was a confirmed Marxist but had been discreet until that moment. “Why not say it?” Borge said to the crowd. “We are going toward socialism.” The Sandinistas had already nationalized the banks and were confiscating property and executing opponents in the streets. I was scared to see what would come next.
Ponder for a moment, if you may, electing a mayor who openly praises such a regime.
for the Daily Beast:
Why do intellectuals hate democracy? Was Borges a fascist? The contentious 2010 Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa talks to Michael Moynihan about the big questions in literature and politics.
What about the middle way between authoritarianism and dictatorship? I know you have written about Hugo Chavez, for instance, and one can get Mario Vargas Llosa’s books in Caracas.
Oh, but with great difficulty. It is because in Caracas you still have a margin of freedom. But in Cuba—ask that Cuban journalist that is here [at the Oslo Freedom Forum]. He was telling me the way in which I am read in Cuba. It’s fantastic, you know? There are lists of people who want to read a certain book. Some times they are rented, sometimes it’s like a library, from individuals. [Dissident writer] Yoani Sanchez told me that she met her husband because she discovered that he had a novel of mine, The War of the End of the World. So she called him and said, “Is it true that you have a novel by Vargas Llosa?” He said, “Yes, but there is a list. But we can meet.” And they got married. I saw her recently and I said, “Is this story true?” She said, “Of course it is true. That’s why I am interested in what you are writing now. My sentimental future depends on it.”
In open societies you have the impression that you are just enjoying literature, that it won’t have any affect on your life. But literature always has an affect on life, even if it’s not so visible. But when you have a dictatorship, this is so immediately visible. Literature becomes an instrument to resist, to communicate things. And this is so in right-wing dictatorships and in left-wing dictatorships. It becomes a non-conformist activity, reading becomes a risk. It’s very, very important to keep alive this thing that can’t be controlled, because literature can never be totally controlled. Television can. Cinema can.
Read the whole thing.
While you’re at it, buy Vargas Llosa’s books through the above links.
The week’s big news: Cristina Fernández is recovering from brain surgery, which has generated a political headache.
Chevron asks judge to review mystery documents in Ecuador case
Emails anonymously provided to Chevron may show a “conspiracy against Chevron,” the oil giant claims, as well as leaks of confidential court materials to high-level Ecuadorian government officials in violation of court orders
After Chevron-Ecuador, Lawyer Defends Himself
It took lawyer Steven Donziger two decades to secure one of the biggest environmental verdicts in history: a $19 billion judgment against Chevron. Now he’s battling to salvage his reputation—and his financial stake in the winnings.
Paraguay will patch up differences with Venezuela that have paralyzed Mercosur — a trade and political association of several South American nations — and put free trade talks with Europe on the back burner.
Worsening Debt Crisis Threatens Puerto Rico
Maybe Jose Mujica didn’t want to miss a thing: Uruguay’s President Meets With Aerosmith
The week’s posts:
More on Vargas Llosa’s optimism
Last week I posted on the Krauze-Vargas Llosa chat, where Vargas Llosa pronounced himself an optimist on Latin America.
Andres Oppenheimer interviwed Mario Vargas Llosa recently, with similar results,
Andres Oppenheimer: Vargas Llosa’s optimism may be for real. Vargas Llosa, he writes,
is optimistic about the whole region because “today, most Latin Americans accept democracy as the framework in which one must fight the battle against underdevelopment, and that those who still dream with dictatorships, or with revolutionary or socialist governments, are a minority, and a really small minority.”
He added, “And there is something else that’s new, and that is a very wide consensus in support of a free economy. In the past, only a minority supported that modern option, while populism and socialism mesmerized the young generations. My impression is that that’s over.”
What about Venezuela and its Chavista allies? I asked him.
“Well, I think that Chavismo is crumbling,” he said. Referring to food shortages, massive corruption, record inflation rates and widespread public disenchantment with the government in Venezuela, he said that “the Venezuelan regime today is bankrupt, and the only thing we can hope for is that it disappears as fast as possible, and that it does so peacefully, through an electoral process.”
From his mouth to God’s ears, as the saying goes.
Read the rest of the interview here.
The big news this week: After a few years on the upswing, Latin America’s largest country and biggest economy has been downgraded from positive, to stable.
Mexico’s Grupo Elektra to Exit Argentina
Mexican retail and banking company Grupo Elektra said it is leaving Argentina after six years in the country because of government restrictions on business and high inflation.
Andres Oppenheimer: Miami officials should thank Argentine president
Miami officials should erect a statue to Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Thanks to her disastrous economic policies, Argentines are flocking to invest here and Argentine developers are building some of the city’s most spectacular real estate projects.
Calling Jesse Pinkman: More than $1 million tossed from a plane in Bolivia
Caribbean states seek slavery reparations from Europe, but apparently not from Spain, which is broke (h/t Gates of Vienna)
“Missing”: Ex-US Navy Officer Wanted for Murder Dies in Chile
678 cases & counting: Cholera (and Castro’s Cover-Up) on the Rise
Latin American cinema
Coming of age
Trade overrides ideology: Latin America’s Anti-Americanism Is All Talk
Anti-American rhetoric in ALBA countries has not prevented them from listing the US among their main trade partners. As of 2012, the US was the main import source for Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Honduras. Particularly striking is that 31.2 percent of Venezuela’s imports and 28 percent of Ecuador’s come from the United States. Adding to this list, the US is Bolivia’s fourth largest source of imports, producing up to 10 percent of its imports, and Argentina‘s second source after Brazil.
The United States receives the largest percentage of Latin American exports from Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras. In the case of Bolivia, it drops to second place after Brazil. Such significant flows of merchandise and capital will not stop overnight, no matter how many countries forced the Bolivian presidential plane to land for a few hours.
Armed Housewives In The Hills Of Southern Mexico Fight Back Against Organized Crime
Women in the Mexican town of Xaltianguis, an hour away from Acapulco, have joined the men in patrolling their streets and have managed to significantly reduce a local crime wave.
At the beginning of the year, town leaders reached out to the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State (UPOEG), an established statewide network of community police. Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest states, has a long-time tradition of sending waves of immigrants north to the U.S. in search of work. The state also has long history of guerrilla activity.
Historically, towns in Guerrero have had rather tenuous ties to the federal government. Many have taken advantage of provisions in Mexico’s constitution that grant indigenous groups the right to enforce their own “customs and practices,” and maintain their own semi-autonomous police and justice systems.
Pal of Peru cocaine mules Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum arrested in major drugs bust on party island Ibiza
CHELSEA Greaves, 20, her dad and uncle were among 15 people held in dawn raids last weekend. Cops seized more than 2000 meth pills as well as cocaine and ecstasy.
Mujica, an ex guerrilla fighter, and Hungarian-American magnate George Soros, believe that legalizing the drug would be a strike against drug trafficking, a better way to control drug consumption and an opportunity to help those who suffer any drug disorder or addiction.
While it makes them money, too.
It’s Time To Teach Venezuela A Lesson
The week’s posts and podcast:
Nicaragua: Bill de Blasio ignores the truth.
talking about Colombia and other US-Latin America stories.
Live now, and archived for your listening convenience.
“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” said President Morales at a press conference in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who violates international law.
Cuba to Let Its Athletes Play Professionally Abroad
In an effort to thwart the wave of top baseball players defecting to the U.S., Cuba will allow its athletes to play abroad as professionals, breaking with a decades-old policy.
Paco Almaraz (in Spanish)
The pair, both 20, have been told they could be released from custody in less than two months if they agree to help Peruvian authorities find and jail the criminal gang behind the £1.5m cocaine pick-up.
Life in Puerto Rico Becomes Costlier Amid Crisis
Who is Luis Oberto?
Venezuela jail search yields arsenalInmates at Sabaneta jail protest against being transferred on 18 September 2013
Guards searching a jail in Venezuela where 16 inmates were killed in fighting two weeks ago find tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition.
The week’s posts and podcast:
Dominican Republic: Haitians stripped of citizenship
The Economist’s op-ed looks at the factors why Brazil’s economy grew by only 0.9% in 2012:
- The world’s most burdensome tax code
- Absurdly generous pensions
- Spending only 1.5% of GDP on infrastructure, compared with a global average of 3.8%
- Gross public debt has climbed to 60-70% of GDP
The Economist recommends that Brazil do three things:
It needs to rediscover an appetite for reform by reshaping public spending, especially pensions.
. . .
Second, it must make Brazilian business more competitive and encourage it to invest
. . .
Third, Brazil urgently needs political reform
None of this is likely to happen; Carlos Alberto Montaner writes
“All you have to do is read the records of the São Paulo Forum and observe the conduct of the Brazilian government,” he said. “The friends of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, of Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party are the enemies of the United States: Chavist Venezuela, first with (Hugo) Chávez and now with (Nicolás) Maduro; Raúl Castro’s Cuba; Iran; Evo Morales’ Bolivia; Libya at the time of Gadhafi; Bashar Assad’s Syria.
“Cuban influence in Brazil is covert but very intense. José Dirceu, Lula da Silva’s former chief of staff and his most influential minister, had been an agent of the Cuban intelligence services. In exile in Cuba, he had his face surgically changed. He returned to Brazil with a new identity (Carlos Henrique Gouveia de Mello, a Jewish merchant) and functioned in that capacity until democracy was restored. Hand in hand with Lula, he placed Brazil among the major collaborators with the Cuban dictatorship. He fell into disgrace because he was corrupt but never retreated one inch from his ideological preferences and his complicity with Havana.”
Yesterday commenter Marcos stated,
please write more about the Forum of Sao Paulo, the organization created by Brazil’s Lula and Castro to change Latin America into an united Marxist region. Brazil has totally fallen to Marxism and is now engaged in the help of all marxist partners.
Brazil has already received the first of 4000 Cuban physicians who will come to indoctrinate Brazilian poor people on the wonders of communism. These guys are not even certified as doctors and are slaves who never see their salaries (money goes directly to Fidel).
Add to that the immense, structural corruption, and the drug trade from fellow Foro member Bolivia.
Back in 2009 The Economist had a picture of the Corcovado Christ as a rocket. Now the rocket is on a crash course:
Is The Economist’s image a good summation of the country’s situation?