The aircraft –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD [$]100-110 million, and are regularly used for transporting ministers and even Cuban President Raúl Castro, sources said as reported by the Miami Herald reported.
A new stage in the Cubanization of Venezuela: the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) have now arrived.
I received an email from Venezuela describing a new situation: Neighbors in the same buildings reporting anyone who protests to the National Guard, who then tear down the front door and arrest all the people in the apartment of the alleged protesters.
Fidel Castro’s “collective system of revolutionary vigilance,” in a new country.
So, rather than having to appear at an OAS meeting and look like a brutal repressive fool, it is better to turn over the table and refuse to play. See, Maduro and its Cuban masters are understanding that the regime image is so deteriorated that they cannot count on a favorable OAS verdict no matter how much they have spent to buy its votes.
In other words, pushed against the wall, Cuba ordered Maduro to start breaking up with the OAS, a long held dear dream of Castro and Chavez, with already sabotage to the OAS by supporting someone like its incompetent secretary Insulza or creating CELAC and UNASUR to annul OAS cover.
I need to add a footnote probably lost in translation. After the electoral fraud of April 2013 Panama’s president was one of the rare few to travel to Caracas and visit Maduro as the real elected president. The reason was that Venezuela owes, I understand, more than a billion USD to Panama and that is a lot of money for a small country. Martinelli simply had to think of his people. But I suspect that he did not get paid anything for his troubles since Venezuela is bankrupt. So, he decided to screw Maduro by having Panama’s ambassador called an OAS meeting on Venezuela. After all, breaking with Panama is going to cost Maduro more than what it may cost Panama. Probably it will aggravate our economic crisis and make corrupt chavista upset that their assets risk being sort of frozen in Panama.
In a report issued by Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico, Brazilian construction corporations’ portfolio in Venezuela accounts for USD 20 billion, affected by serious “delays” in payment in recent days
For decades, we’ve been subjected to numerous reports on Cuba’s “excellent free healthcare”, when in fact it is an apartheid system where poor Cubans have to provide their own sutures, supplies, and sheets if they’re in the hospital (video in Spanish)
Now we’ve been hearing about Raul Castro’s “reforms”; Mary O’Grady writes about the reality:
It was only two years ago that Castro boasted a loosening of the rules in the state-owned economy. He did it under duress: The bankrupt government couldn’t continue to pretend to pay people who pretend to work. The dictatorship forecast that it had to unload more than a half-million Cubans from state payrolls. To ease the pain and potential social unrest, Castro pronounced 178 trades “legal.”
A gullible foreign press swooned over Castro’s words as if he was getting ready to admit the defeat of the 55-year-old communist revolution and let the market take over.
Which, as we have seen, is not the case.
The regime, he [Raúl Castro] said, is not about let “private business people” go around “creating an environment of impunity and stimulating the accelerated growth of activities that were never authorized for certain occupations.” Illegal activities like “competing excessively with state enterprises,” will not be tolerated, he warned. In other words, Cuban poverty is here to stay.
The fiction of “reform” has once again been in full swing since 2010, as President Raúl Castro has introduced a new set of policy changes labeled as an “updating” of Cuba’s socialism. The purpose of the exercise is to inject the economy with homeopathic doses of capitalism — the very capitalism that the regime took so much care to wipe off.
A cornerstone of the “updating” exercise relates to the creationof a “special economic zone” in the west designed to host foreign firms and expected to operate according to criteria other than those applied in the rest of the country.
These kinds of special economic zones have been tested already in a country ruled by another staunch communist regime: the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, where some 100 South Korean enterprises, staffed by 50,000 North Korean workers, are allowed to operate. The complex has not halted the continued decline of the North Korean economy, nor the recurrent famines. And there is no reason to believe that the Cuban version will perform any better.
And much like North Korea, the Cuban regime fails to realize that it is not by insulating several hundreds of square miles from the rest of the country — so as to keep the bulk of the population immunized from the “virus” of capitalism — that an economy can possibly take off.
Still more unfounded are the expectations that the Cuban regime is trying to nurture the political realm. While Raúl Castro proposes to President Obama to establish a “civilized relationship” between their two countries, the Cuban regime continues to repress members of the dissidence, denying them the right to express their views, beating them brutally and submitting them to recurrent arrests.
Arrests of dissidents have in fact been on the rise: 4,000 in 2011, 5,000 in 2012 and more than 5,300 in 2013. Some leading dissidents — such as Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá — lost their lives under strange circumstances.
Yeah, yeah, now the Pope’s given another Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square, right under the Che monument (Che monument soon to get a Galway branch, like a bank). Benedict gave lip service to hope and change.
The meeting followed Benedict’s open-air Mass in the same public square where a younger, healthier Castro once delivered official speeches that lasted for hours and frequently railed against the United States.
Here’s a photo,
For Christ’s sake.
Benedict turned a deaf ear to the people clamoring for freedom – in the video above you can hear the chant of “libertad, libertad” (freedom, freedom).
The alleged meeting, which Bocaranda first reported was in the works on March 25, was arranged by Venezuelan diplomats who used to work at the South American nation’s mission to the Vatican, the journalist said. All participants agreed the brief meeting would be without media coverage, Bocaranda said.
Plenty of time to meet the Communists, no time for anyone else.
After creating the ALBA with Cuba ten years ago, Hugo Chávez now is hosting the inaugural for the CELAC (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe – Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).
ALBA is mostly dependent on Venezuelan oil, and its current members – Bolivia, Nicaragua, (Honduras dropped out), Ecuador, Dominica, St Vincent and Antigua – are not exactly the largest economies in the world. Another Chávez brainchild, the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur) has tanked, so far, due to liquidity issues and lack of reserves.
But Chávez knows how to get publicity, and he also knows that his fellow heads of state in Latin America love to travel all-expenses-paid-by-their citizenry to other countries since it gives the appearance of doing something, everybody gets to badmouth the USA, the local media (which he controls) will lap up the meeting, Mexico wanted to be included in something, and, who knows, there may even be slush fund opportunities in the bargain.
Voilá, CELAC was born, created in Mexico last year.
The map shows the purported growth in GDP for 2010 in each country’s economy. Let me dampen your enthusiasm over these numbers by pointing out that anyone who believes Cuban government statistics deserves to be called a fool. I leave it to you to verify other statistics, for instance, Argentina’s, where their government is prosecuting independent economists.
Raúl Castro turned up for the opening, crowing “for the first time, we’ll have an organization for our America“, conveniently forgetting that his brother said more or less the same thing about ALBA a decade ago. Venezuela rolled out the red carpet and lined up the military in full tin soldier garb, but Hugo couldn’t make it to the airport to greet him,
Because it lacks any formal charter or mandate, however, Celac will be more effective as a forum for left-wing figures like Mr. Chávez to “pontificate” and fan anti-U.S. sentiment, said Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York.
It’s a good photo-op, but
“It’s a good show for Chávez. It boosts his standing and shows Venezuelans that he is a regional leader and that other heads of state will come to Venezuela,” Mr. Shifter said.
But beyond photo opportunities, Mr. Shifter says he doubts Celac will be able to distinguish itself from the slate of existing regional organizations such as Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Andean Community of Nations, and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
“There are very significant problems among the subregional organizations,” Mr. Shifter said. “It’s hard to imagine that an organization that includes all of Latin America and the Caribbean will have fewer obstacles.”
On paper CELAC will try to co-ordinate among trade blocks, such as Mercosur and the Andean Community (but UNASUR is also supposed to do that). It will also try to stimulate regional trade and speak with one voice in international forums. If only. The lesson of ALBA is that regional clubs based on political ideology rather than national interest do not get very far.
The USA is the major trading partner for most of these countries.
It’ll be interesting to see what the heads of state end up signing, if anything, at the end of this summit.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he’ll return to Cuba today to receive chemotherapy, ending rumors he was considering Brazil as an alternative venue for cancer treatment.
“I’m going to begin the second stage of this slow and complex process of recuperation,” Chavez, 56, said yesterday on state television. “The second stage will start with chemotherapy that has already been planned in scientific detail.”
He should be on his way right now,
Congress voted unanimously today to approve Chavez’s plan to depart for Cuba at 3:30 pm New York time.
That’s the Venezuelan Congress, who had to approve Chavez’s remaining in power while being abroad for extended periods of time.
“In Cuba, he has the security that nobody will ever know exactly what he has,” said the former official, who added said that he had been told by a senior Spanish diplomat that two Spanish doctors will be attending Mr. Chávez in Havana.
Pajamas Media posts the video of the announcement, where he purportedly quotes Nietzsche, adding also that he had a “baseball-size tumor” operated on,
Considering that the announcement from Brazil had to have been in the works for a while, and that Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has traveled to Brazil for his own cancer treatment, Fidel may be the one calling the shots (emphasis added),
It is unclear what tipped the decision. From a technical point of view Chavez would be better off in Brazil, Venezuela or a country like Canada, the quality and size of cancer treatments in these three countries is considered to be much more advanced than that of Cuba, even if in Cuba, he could be taken care off by doctors of other nationalities. It is likely that in the end ideology tipped the decision Cuba’s way. I am sure that Fidel Castro and Chavez’ brother Adan put a lot of pressure on the Cuban choice. An isolated Chavez in Havana is much more under control than one in Sao Paulo in a private hospital. Those that have the most to lose, will now control the day to day life of the Venezuelan President and, indirectly, over the country.
Analysts said Mr. Chávez may have decided to go to Cuba for treatment for political reasons more than medical ones. Seeking medical treatment at a private hospital in São Paulo could offend Mr. Chávez’s Cuban allies, Fidel and Raúl Castro, who have long touted their hospitals as a socialist success story.
While Mr. Chávez often lauds Cuban doctors, switching from Cuban to Brazilian care would have suggested the Cubans aren’t capable of world-class care.
Chavez is touting Cuba’s medical reputation at his own country’s expense,
Still, the fact that Mr. Chávez is leaving Venezuela to continue his treatment suggests that hospitals in Venezuela weren’t considered a serious option. That, analysts said, underscores the turmoil in both the public and private medical sectors during the Chávez years—and a deep animosity between Mr. Chávez and the country’s highly educated doctors.
A parallel network in Venezuela of free primary-care clinics, called Barrio Adentro, staffed by Cuban doctors, has provided quicker access to millions of poor. At the same time, it has pulled much-needed resources from the mainstream hospital system, says José Félix Oletta, a Venezuelan health minister under a previous administration.
Deteriorating working conditions coupled with notoriously low pay has driven Venezuelan doctors to jobs overseas, he said. “Venezuela medical professionals who are well-qualified are receiving very little money compared to other countries,” he added.
Despite the brain drain, top Venezuelan doctors say Mr. Chávez would get excellent treatment in Venezuela for all but the rarest sort of tumors. Although Mr. Chávez has attacked private doctors during his term in office, calling them mercenaries, his animosity toward them wouldn’t affect his treatment, doctors insist. “We are physicians,” said one prominent doctor.
While you can rest assured that the Castros will ensure that their pupil gets the best medical care Venezuelan oil money can provide, it would be ironic that Chavez’s undoing comes as a consequence of this decision.
I do not know about you but never have I felt as much a Cuban colony as I am feeling this week, and it is only Tuesday. Not only now our orders come directly from Cuba where Chavez prefers receive treatment that he could perfectly receive at home, and probably of a much better quality, but his latest decisions reek of old style colonialism.
First, that he prefers to receive treatment in Cuba. The pictures of him arriving there were of a very smiling, very upright Chavez, not someone in pain that would receive within hours “emergency” medical treatment. I, for one, could not are less about what ails Chavez, nor would I begrudge that he receives medical treatment for emergency wherever in the world he is. However, I, for one, do not buy for a second the emergency status. For me, it looks like those African presidents that fly to Europe even for dental treatment. To Paris, preferably.
Second, the 1999 constitution, written mostly by Chavez, has very specific provisions to deal with temporary absences of the president.
Third, he appoints his baby brother as the new tsar of electricity. What merits Argenis Chavez may have are not the point. The point is that in time of crisis, outside of the country, in a sector where huge investments are required urgently if he wants to be reelected in 2102, Chavez can only trust a sibling which has already been amply tainted with accusations of corruption. Just as ancient Spanish Viceroys traveled to the Americas with family and friends to occupy the key posts in their new charges.
Everybody is speculating as to Chavez’s malady, particularly since Chavez, who for years has done his interminable TV and radio shows several times per week (averaging 43 minutes per day since he took power in 1999), has limited himself to a single telephone call into state-run television.
Cuba on Tuesday made the most significant change to its leadership since the 1959 revolution, naming someone other than the Castro brothers for the first time to fill the second-highest position in the Communist Party and possibly setting the stage for their eventual successor.
The “new” leader is eighty year old José Ramón Machado, an old crony who managed to stick it out all these years without going the way of Camilo Cienfuegos or Che Guevara.
Gives new meaning to “everything old is new again”.