talking about the US-Latin America stories of the week.
Live, and also archived for your listening convenience.
Faustam fortuna adiuvat
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture.
talking about the US-Latin America stories of the week.
Live, and also archived for your listening convenience.
While the court in NYC listens how the plaintiff’s attorney lied and defrauded to obtain the $19billion judgement, Ecuador’s highest court affirmed an environmental verdict against Chevron Corp. but cut the judgment against the oil giant in half to $9.5 billion:
The judgment “is as illegitimate and unenforceable today as it was when it was issued two years ago,” Chevron said. The oil company says that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and their lawyers used fraudulent means to influence the judgment, including secretly writing an opinion presented by a court-appointed expert and agreeing to pay off a judge.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that
Chevron has never operated in Ecuador. It inherited the lawsuit with its 2001 acquisition of Texaco Inc.
The NY trial continues.
Getting rid of the evidence?
Here’s what happened: On Monday a private jet with a Mexican registration number was forced to land in Venezuela. Its passengers apparently fled. The Venezuelan military burned down the plane.
Now Nicolas Maduro says the plane was carrying cocaine.
Este incursor aereo fue inmovilizado por medios aereos de nuestra AMB, 7 MN al norte Buena vista del Meta, Edo. Apure pic.twitter.com/VlKscAotWA
— Vladimir Padrino (@vladimirpadrino) November 5, 2013
“This intruder was immobilized on air by our Air Force 7 MN north of Buena Vista del Meta, Apure state”
A Mexican plane forced down and destroyed in Venezuelan territory earlier in the week was full of cocaine, President Nicolas Maduro said.
Maduro said he was surprised that Mexico had asked for an explanation of the November 4 incident through diplomatic channels.
Mexican officials said Friday that the seven people aboard the plane — two crew members and five passengers — flew from the central Mexican state of Queretaro under false identities.
Apure state is well known as a place where airplanes take off packed with Colombian cocaine bound for points north, typically Central America. From there, the drug is typically moved by Mexican cartels north to the United States.
Who had been in the plane? What had it been doing in Venezuela? Was it involved in the drug trade? Why had it gone up in flames? And where was the crew?
And, if the plane was “full of cocaine,” as Maduro said, what happened to the cocaine?
An exhumation and testing of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s body did not find any evidence he was poisoned, a forensic team said on Friday, despite accusations he was murdered 40 years ago by a military dictatorship.
Neruda, who had been under treatment for prostate cancer, died of heart failure at age 69, but the Chilean Communists are not happy with today’s news and demand further investigation.
Maduro: air defense systems to be set up in the slums
The goal, said Maduro, is to “prevent any enemy, foreign, and imperialist military aircraft from entering the city. It is about securing life peacefully”
He’ll probably have to come up with some way they don’t get stolen. The operating parts would go to the bad guys; what’s left would sell for scrap.
Equally Clueless in Caracas, on economic matters,
The “things” Maduro said he would do are:
-A great fight against hoarding and price speculation.
-A new framework for price controls.
-A new fund to stabilize prices of essential consumer items.
-A new National Center for Foreign Commerce to oversee foreign currency policies.
-A budget for foreign currency (They did not have one?)
-A new National Corporation for Service, Logistics and Transportation.
That’s it. Period.
And he’ll have money left for air defense systems? Who’ll pay for them, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea?
You may recall that last month a swarm of 300 motorcyclists looted a truck, some climbing over the fatally-injured driver,
At that time, Daniel Duquenal pointed out that
the society of motorbikes is a creation of chavismo who has subsidized them heavily in the early years because they were their storm troopers to quickly go around town to crush any anti Chavez protest. Remember Lina Ron? Now they are out of control, a threat to regime itself. One shudders at the idea that suddenly 300 bikes could appear in a neighborhood and start looting while the cops look helpless. Because they are armed, you know, the bikers, better than the cops probably.
Now it looks like things are so out of hand, the government is looking to regain some control:
Venezuela seeks to tame ‘Wild West’ motorcycle chaos. Good luck with that,
[Nicolas] Maduro was handpicked by Chavez, but he only narrowly won the election to succeed him. He faces a huge test to crack down on the lawlessness often associated with the motorizados while still retaining their many working-class votes.
“They’re a problem,” Interior Minister Miguel Torres said, launching a strategy last month to control Venezuela’s hundreds of thousands of bikers. “Not all of them, but there are lots who think they’re in the old Wild West.”
Many behave atrociously, he said, riding on sidewalks, knocking off mirrors as they weave in and out of traffic, and hurling abuse whenever challenged. Some are involved in much more serious offenses, including abductions and drive-by shootings.
In recent months, funeral corteges of dozens of motorcycles have become regular flashpoints, with bikers creating gridlock in order to smash windows and rob drivers at gunpoint.
Things are not much better in the Caracas metro,
Oil revenues dwindle, anarchy reigns.
Grupo Clarín, known for its criticism of kirchnerismo and Cristina Fernandez, will likely have to sell its profitable cable-TV and Internet businesses:
Argentine Court Clears Media Breakup
Argentina’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a law that could allow the government to dismantle Grupo Clarin SA, the country’s largest media company.
The decision caps a four-year battle against Clarín by Mrs. Kirchner, who has made dismantling the media giant a top priority of her administration. Relations between both sides began to fray shortly after she took office in 2007. The newspaper was critical of her handling of a farmers strike in 2008.
The following year, she stripped Clarín of lucrative soccer-broadcasting rights and later seized control of a newsprint maker in which Clarín is a shareholder. Her administration also filed criminal charges against executives from Clarín and competing newspaper La Nación, accusing them of colluding with Argentina’s 1976-83 dictatorship to obtain control of the newsprint company. Clarín and La Nación denied the allegations and called them an effort to silence critical voices.
In one particularly bitter episode, Mrs. Kirchner’s government and human-rights groups teamed up against Clarín’s owner, Ernestina Herrera de Noble, and accused her of adopting children who may have been stolen during the 1970s dictatorship. DNA tests later confirmed that the children, Marcela and Felipe, couldn’t be tied to a database of people that had been “disappeared” during the dictatorship. The government never apologized.
This year, Mrs. Kirchner compared the media to military coup-mongers, saying journalists fire “ink bullets” in their bid to overthrow governments and pursue their own vested special interests. Some of her government’s top officials stormed Clarín’s annual shareholder meeting in April to heckle company officials. Mrs. Kirchner once acknowledged using the federal tax agency to investigate a critic of hers that had been quoted in Clarín.
“It’s a blood vendetta,” said Riordan Roett, professor of Latin American politics at Johns Hopkins University. “Both Kirchners, dead or alive, were and are very thin-skinned.”
Mrs. Kirchner’s husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner, died in 2010.
The decision could mark a turning point in freedom of expression in Argentina. Clarín has long said that income from cable and Internet businesses allows it to maintain its editorial independence by giving it the financial security to withstand the loss of advertising from hard-hitting articles against business or government leaders.
Interestingly, the Court made its decision after Sunday’s election:
The legal victory for the government comes only two days afterPresident Fernández’s administration took a beating in Sunday’s mid-term legislative elections, raising the spectre of a “lame duck” presidency for the ailing Fernández until the next presidential elections in 2015.
Supreme Court judge Eugenio Zaffaroni claims it was “so it wouldn’t look like they were trying to influence the outcome.”
Zaffaroni also stated that the law will be carried out (i.e., Clarín will have to sell its cable-TV and Internet businesses) regardless of whether the company appeals.
Mounting Chaos in Rio Sparks Worries Over World Cup
As Rio gears up for next year’s FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, the summer uprising shows no signs of slowing the city, as reflected by vandalized storefronts and burned vehicles. Money quote:
“The hope brought by the World Cup and the Olympics has run out,” said Doriam Borges, a researcher at the University of the State of Rio’s Laboratory of Violence Analysis. Citizens realized that “for projects related to the World Cup and the Olympics, investment was huge, but not for health and education.”
And let’s keep in mind that both projects were sold as not needing government financing.
Then there’s the anarchists by any other name,
And protest marches are now attracting smaller groups of anarchists and so-called black bloc anticapitalist demonstrators clad in black hoodies and masks.
Rio’s black bloc organizers couldn’t be reached to comment. On their Facebook page, which has nearly 63,000 followers, the group quotes Italian anarchist Pietro Gori and say they see property destruction as part of their fight against capitalism.
And let’s not forget the PCC, too.
So, to answer the question above, no, not ready yet.
A former Ecuadorean judge testified Wednesday that he was paid $1,000 a month to ghostwrite rulings and “expedite” proceedings in an environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corp. in Ecuador that ultimately resulted in a $19 billion judgment against the oil giant
On the witness stand on Wednesday, the former judge, Alberto Guerra, said he met in 2009 with Donziger and other representatives of the villagers at Honey & Honey, a restaurant in Quito.
Guerra said another lawyer representing the villagers had already agreed to pay him $1,000 a month to ghost-write court orders for the presiding judge, Nicolas Zambrano. Zambrano, who was also being paid, agreed to expedite the case and limit procedural avenues by which Chevron could delay it, Guerra said.
Donziger was fully aware of the arrangement, Guerra said.
“Mr. Donziger thanked me for the work that I was going to do,” Guerra said of the restaurant meeting.
In late 2003, Guerra presided over the initial stages of a lawsuit against Chevron that Donziger engineered on behalf of thousands of rain-forest residents who allege massive harm from oil contamination. Later, supervision of the case shifted to other judges. Guerra testified that he essentially went into business with one of those subsequent judges, ghostwriting interim rulings that generally—although not always—favored Donziger’s clients. Guerra said that he received monthly $1,000 cash payments from Donziger’s legal team in Ecuador.
Guerra also asserted under oath that he and the other judge, Nicolas Zambrano, offered their services to both Chevron and the Donziger team. Chevron turned them down, but Donziger agreed to play ball, according to Guerra.
Bloomberg: Ecuador’s Worn-Out War on Chevron
David Russell, an environmental consultant who formerly served as a witness for Ecuador’s lawyers, testified that his original damage estimate of $6.114 billion stemmed in large part from assumptions that Donzinger instructed him to use. “I came to learn that my cost estimate was wildly inaccurate and had no scientific data to back it up,” Russell noted in written testimony.
Racketeering aside, the case also looks rather weak on its own merits. For starters, Texaco operated as a minority partner under state-owned Petroecuador when the pollution occurred, so it is difficult to argue the damage is all its doing. Through agreements in 1995 and 1998, the Ecuadorian government also freed the company of further liability following a $40 million cleanup. An arbitration panel in The Hague cited the government’s sign-off when it ruled last month that Ecuador’s lawsuit should have never proceeded in the first place.
And Rafael Correa barked at The Economist, who replied,
Oil, Ecuador and The Economist
A volcano erupts
Rafael Correa lambasts us and “the empire of capital”
Los #EBT cardos no can buyo el breado? Leto it buyo los cake!
— Miguel Bloombito (@ElBloombito) October 13, 2013
Not busy enough with New York’s problems, Michael Bloomberg is expanding his nanny empire to Mexico in Another Soda-Tax Squabble
Bloomberg Takes Center Stage in Debate in Mexico,
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken center stage in a heated debate in Mexico over whether to slap a special tax on sugary soft-drinks to help the country curb growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
Having been tripped up in his efforts to get New Yorkers to cut back on soda, Mr. Bloomberg has brought his campaign south of the border, where he has backed a government proposal to tax sugary drinks in a country that is a huge market for Coca-Cola Co. and other soft drink companies.
as if Mexicans didn’t have enough on their plates:
Bloomberg Philanthropies, the umbrella organization for Mr. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, has donated $10 million over the past two years toward combating obesity in Mexico under a three-year program. The organization’s website lists “raising taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages” as one way to combat obesity in Mexico.
One of Bloomberg’s beneficiaries, a group called El Poder del Consumidor, is a leading supporter of the soda tax.
Back in the 1970s Communist comic book Los Agachados hated Coca Cola. Maybe they’ll dedicate a special issue to the meddling American millionaire.