Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. As the title indicates, it’s been a year since Mel Zelaya was thrown out of office. He and his teddy bear are also gone from his tin foil-lined room at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern:
The UN Office for Drugs and Crime’s report
Lula’s adventure in Tehran smacks of the overconfidence of a politician who basks in an approval rating of over 70% and who sees the Iraq war and the financial crisis as having irreparably damaged American power and credibility. But the United States is still Brazil’s second-largest trading partner. Although some American and Brazilian officials are keen to prevent ill-will over Iran from spoiling co-operation in other areas, it nevertheless may do so. The United States Congress may be even less willing to support the elimination of a tariff on Brazil’s sugar-based ethanol, for example.
Lula wants the UN reformed to reflect today’s world, with Brazil gaining a permanent seat on the Security Council. But by choosing to apply his views on how the world should be run to an issue of pressing concern to America and Europe, and in which Brazil has no obvious national interest, Lula may only have lessened the chances that he will get his way.
PUERTO RICO Students approve strike pact. Back in the olden days when I was a student at the UPR they were striking, too, but no one slept in cute little tents on campus. Either way, the strikes are a total waste of time.
The report launched by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) expresses concern about Venezuela due to the existence of cells of armed insurgent groups, such as the Bolivarian Liberation Front and civilian militias supported by the government.
While the film’s major focus is on Mr. Chávez, it also covers Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul. By Mr. Stone’s lights, all of these heads of state should be celebrated for daring to take on our country, the imperialist giant. “It is the big story that hasn’t been told,” Mr. Stone said. “These leaders are being trashed as dictators because our leaders don’t like them.”
The film depicts the ups and downs of Mr. Chávez’s rise to power, including his failed 1992 coup. It recounts how he was saved from death by armed forces loyal to him, and was brought back to power in large part by Gen. Raul Baduel. The general is shown discussing the role he played in Mr. Chávez’s restoration.
A small detail Mr. Stone conveniently leaves out is that in 2009, Gen. Baduel, who Mr. Chávez had appointed as defense minister, was stripped of power, indicted for corruption, and imprisoned because he had opposed Mr. Chávez’s attempts to institute constitutional changes that would transform Venezuela into a formal dictatorship.
What Mr. Stone and his writers have presented is a standard far-left narrative that is part of a long line of propaganda films, a modern American version of the old agitprop. There are no dissenting voices in this film. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Mr. Chávez has closed down television and radio stations that disagree with him and arrested dissenting political figures.
Another sin of omission: Mr. Stone makes no mention of Chile, which in the 1970s embraced economic liberalization and successfully reduced poverty much more than Mr. Chávez has managed to do in his own country. As writer Tariq Ali argued after the film ended, even under the recent socialist government Chile did not make the kind of structural Marxist changes that he and Mr. Stone believe is necessary for real change. Thus moderate leftist countries south of our border simply don’t count as “progressive.” Perhaps that’s why the filmmakers only praise those regimes that use their elected office to quickly institute an end to all limitations on their power.
Those interested in the truth about Latin America should save their money when “South of the Border” opens this weekend, and rent Ofra Bikel’s “The Hugo Chavez Show” from Netflix, or watch it for free on the PBS Frontline website instead.
Speaking of which, here’s FrontLine’s The Hugo Chavez Show, and the first part in YouTube,
The bit in the [New York Times] article that caught my attention though, was this:
Instead Mr. Stone relies heavily on the account of Gregory Wilpert, who witnessed some of the exchange of gunfire and is described as an American academic. But Mr. Wilpert is also the husband of Mr. Chávez’s consul-general in New York, Carol Delgado, and a longtime editor and president of the board of a Web site, Venezuelanalysis.com, set up with donations from the Venezuelan government, affiliations that Mr. Stone does not disclose.
For years I have been following the activities of Gregory Wilpert, arguing that he was nothing more than a paid propagandist, for I was convinced that, unless some benefit was derived, no one with a right mind would risk reputation defending Chavez so passionately, as Wilpert has done. Then I found out that the site he edits was registered and set up by Chavez’s Consul in San Francisco, and it was further revealed to me that Wilpert was married to a chavista: Chavez’s Consul in New York. I got to admit, some fanatics, Wilpert included, did write to me to say that my expose of Wilpert’s connections meant nothing. I guess now that it has been printed in the New York Times I can feel vindicated.
According to recent Heritage economic analyses, the costs of the proposed global warming bill will kick in when it takes effect in 2012. By 2035, a family of four’s energy costs will increase dramatically.
· 90 percent — increase in electricity costs
· 58 percent — increase in gasoline costs
· 55 percent — increase in natural gas costs
Lieberman points out that these are only “low-ball estimates” and that the burden of these increased costs will disproportionately affect the poor.
No Sheeples posts about Lex Barker. One of Barker’s ex-wives, Tita Cervera, later married Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and convinced him to leave a large part of his sizeable art collection to Spain. The collection is now at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which is part of El Prado.
ROME (AFP) — Iran is using its warm relations with Venezuela to dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday.
Citing US and other Western intelligence agencies, La Stampa said Iran is using aircraft from Venezuelan airline Conviasa to transport computers and engine components to Syria for use in missiles.
The material comes from Iranian industrial group Shahid Bagheri, listed in the annex of UN Security Council Resolution 1737, adopted in December 2006, for involvement in Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
The resolution instructed all nations to “prevent the supply, sale or transfer” of all material or technology that could be used for Iran’s nuclear enrichment programme and the development of weapons to carry nuclear warheads.
Syria is a close ally of Iran in the Middle East, with the two nations having signed a military cooperation pact in June 2006.
In return for providing aircraft, Iran has made available to Caracas members of its Revolution Guards and the elite Al-Quds unit to train and reinforce the Venezuelan police and secret services, La Stampa reported.
Iran denies Western and Israeli suspicions that it is developing nuclear weapons, asserting that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. It nevertheless defies a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez — who share deep hostility towards the United States and the outgoing Bush administration — have signed several agreements on economic cooperation.
Chavez has also voiced support for Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,280 miles), capable of hitting Israel as well as US military bases in the Middle East.
San Juan, Puerto Rico is 552 miles from Caracas. One of those Iranian missiles, when they work, can strike American soil.
An advisor, Daniel Kurtzer, to Barack Obama says that Obama didn’t realize what he was saying to AIPAC when he used the term “undivided” in reference to Jerusalem. According to Kurtzer, Obama had “a picture in his mind of Jerusalem before 1967 with barbed wires and minefields and demilitarized zones.” Kurtzer says that only after the speech did Obama realize it was a “code word” to use the phrase, “but it does not indicate any kind of naivete about foreign affairs.”
As Rubin says,
Once again, this suggests that there is too little adult supervision of a candidate unaccustomed to speaking on the world stage about issues in which there are lots of code words, indeed in which every word (e.g. “preconditons,” “immediate withdrawal”) has meaning to Americans’ foes and friends.”
Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly preparing an unprecedented meeting with the leader of Hamas, an organization that the U.S. government considers one of the leading terrorist threats in the world.
The Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Carter was planning a trip to Syria for mid-April, during which he would meet with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, on April 18. … Meshal, who lives in Syria to avoid being arrested by the Israeli government, leads Hamas from his seat in Damascus, where he is a guest of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Well, while Jimmy’s in the vicinity, he might as well drop by Bashar’s, who Nancy remembers so fondly:
Because, after all, few things spread the virtues of democracy like kissing up to murderous thugs.