Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Cuba/Venezuela: $10,000 “melange of Communism” trips

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Make sure you bring your own soap and toilet paper: “Get up close and personal with the locals that make up the melange of Communism.”

The Sydney Morning Herald calls it ‘Travel for the mind’ with George Negus – Venezuela & Cuba
READER OFFER: With George’s instinctive journalistic interest, this two-country excursion will awaken and engage your mind.

NO SEATS AVAILABLE 

SMH readers are flying to Venezuela for a $10,000 per head socialism celebration while Venezuelans are trying to fly out

“Of course, I’d rather fly,” he said. “But there are no seats available.” Cordova said that he had tried for a month to get a seat on an airplane, to no avail. That’s because the economic policies that have driven him to leave Venezuela have also made it exceedingly hard for people to depart by air.

That’s the “melange of Communism” for you.

Venezuela: Inspired by Marx!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Marxist Nicolas Maduro’s making a fashion statement inspired by Marx.

Groucho Marx, that is:

Nicolás Maduro introduced the new symbol of the revolution: The mustache cap.
The Venezuelan president surprised all during at event by showing the new icon of chavismo, by which all his followers can have his mustache.

Nicolás Maduro presentó el nuevo símbolo de la revolución: la “gorra del bigote”
El presidente venezolano sorprendió en un acto al mostrar un nuevo dispositivo del chavismo, gracias al cual sus seguidores pueden tener su bigote

The cap has a detachable mustache you can place under your nose.

I’m not making this up,

Maduro wore a blue one, but it’s also available in red or green.

Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Venezuela: No amnesty for jailed opposition

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Certainly not a khaki scout.

Venezuela rejects amnesty for jailed protest leaders

The Venezuelan government has dismissed calls by the opposition for an amnesty for jailed protest leaders.

Government and opposition representatives met for a second time on Tuesday to try to put an end to two months of anti-government protests.

Following the meeting, Ramon Aveledo of the opposition MUD coalition said his proposal for an amnesty law had been rejected.

It’s all par for the course: Having put the Cubans in charge of Venezuela’s public notaries and civil registries, and of the computer systems of the presidency, ministries, social programs, police and security services as well as the national oil company,

Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, has deepened Caracas’s dependency on Havana even further. As students have taken to the streets in protest against an increasingly authoritarian regime the government has responded with a brutal repression that relies on many of the tools and tactics perfected by the police state that has run Cuba for too long.

Among those who would be denied amnesty are 30 military officials arrested for conspiracy to topple Cuba-controlled dictatorship

Among those arrested are the brothers Riviera Lago, one a colonel and the other a lieutenant colonel. Also two members of the National Guard, two from the navy, and one from the army. These are added to the generals arrested three weeks earlier, Oswaldo Hernandez Sanchez, Jose Machillanda Diaz, and Carlos Millan Yaguaracuto. The generals are all from the air force, like the majority of those involved in the alleged conspiracy.

Up to now, there have been very few military showing support for the protesters.

Other Venezuela items:
[T]he supply of currency in the economy [has] dried up almost completely.

Venezuela’s delusional leader

Media Ignore How Maduro’s Death Squads Operate with Impunity Thanks to Gun Control

The Holy Week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 14th, 2014

LatinAmerIt’s Holy Week, and taxes are due tomorrow – not exactly the most cheerful way to start a week.

ARGENTINA
Federal police launch huge raid on Argentina’s ‘drug capital’
More than 3,000 federal agents involved in raids on around 80 ‘bunkers’ in the Argentine city of Rosario, plagued by violence between drug gangs

YPF, Chevron to Invest $1.6 Billion in 2014 in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta
Both companies will share equally in the investment outlay, which will go toward drilling 170 wells and building production facilities in Loma Campana, Neuquen
. Good luck with that.

Argentina hit by general strike over high inflation and taxes

Metro, train and bus services around the country have been paralysed, as Ignacio de los Reyes reports
Public transport in Argentina has been severely disrupted by a huge nationwide strike against the economic policies of the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

So, of course, Cristina’s trying to create a diversion: UK Falklands military exercises ‘provoke’ Argentina

BOLIVIA
Is There A Connection Between Hillary Clinton’s ‘Shoe-icide’ Attacker And Che Guevara?

But while everyone is talking about the shoe, little is talked about what the woman also threw along with it: a copy of a Department of Defense document labeled confidential and dated August 1967; it referred to an operation “Cynthia” in Bolivia. Operation “Cynthia” was a Bolivian army maneuver to capture Argentinean doctor and Cuban revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

BRAZIL
Brazil’s economic problems cloud 2014 elections
Brazil’s macroeconomic picture poses problems for the country’s 2014 elections, reports Bloomberg’s David Ingles

Fighting breaks out in Rio de Janeiro as police move to clear 5,000 squatters from buildings

Brazil 2014: less than half of country favour hosting World Cup
Just 48 per cent of Brazilians are in support of the country hosting this year’s tournament, which begins in June

CHILE
Fire destroys 500 homes in Valparaiso
Ambulance crews have treated residents for smoke inhalation but so far there have been no deaths

COLOMBIA
Keep FARC leader Timochenko alive for peace?

Colombia has a loose-tongued president.

Yesterday, Juan Manuel Santos told us he knew where FARC commander alias Timochenko is hiding, but claimed he’d “think twice” before ordering a shoot-to-kill.

COSTA RICA
Costa Rica Installs Coastal Radar to Monitor Drug Smuggling

CUBA
Families of Shootdown Victims: No Spies for Gross Exchange

UPDATED | Cuban political prisoner Lamberto Hernández Plana released after 23 years in Castro gulag

French Foreign Minister Visits Cuba
A French foreign minister visited Cuba for the first time in more than 30 years Saturday, traveling to the communist-run nation at a time when it is seeking to attract more foreign investment and improve ties with the European Union.

ECUADOR
It’s what you call a totalitarian democracy: Does Ecuador’s leader aspire to a perpetual presidency?
Ecuador’s constitution bars Rafael Correa from running for the fourth term. But this won’t stop him from seeking reelection if ‘the people’ want it, he hints.

JAMAICA
Entrepreneurs demand ‘respect’ in Jamaica

LATIN AMERICA
Chinese lending to Latin America
Flexible friends
China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options
and, while on the subject of China, A Pax Sinica in the Middle East? Some Conjectures

Andres Oppenheimer: Latin America’s forecasts may be too rosy

MEXICO
Mexico prepares first illegal drug financing blacklist
Mexico’s cartels launder billions of dollars a year made by shipping illegal drugs to U.S.
with a proviso,

[Mexican Finance Minister Luis] Videgaray said individuals identified by OFAC [the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control], or in a similar list put out by the United Nations, could end up being sanctioned in Mexico but that his administration would not necessarily implement all U.S.-identified targets.

NICARAGUA
Nicaragua Sees Series of Arrow Killings of Dogs using crossbows and custom carbon arrows.

PANAMA
Panama Canal expansion draws bigger customers, and criticism
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world. A massive building project is underway there to widen it for larger ships, but the expansion has not been undisputed.

PERU
Peru Arrests 24 for Alleged Ties to Shining Path Rebels

Bello
Peru’s Italian job
Economic success cannot indefinitely co-exist with political weakness
The “Italian model” holds that the important thing is that the economy was run by responsible technocrats. How’s that working out?

The real lesson from Italy is that if the political system is unable to act in the long-term interest of the majority, it ends up contaminating the economy with its failures. Peru is a democracy without meaningful parties. A regional election in October is likely to repeat the last one, in which 23 of the 25 regional presidents were independents. Thanks to mining and gas royalties, they command a big chunk of public money. One important region, Áncash, has become a mafia mini-state. Ten political opponents of the regional president, César Álvarez, have been murdered after denouncing corruption. His critics accuse Mr Álvarez, who denies all wrongdoing, of having bought off prosecutors. This month Mr Humala froze Áncash’s bank accounts.

It always amazes me that countless “models” – the Danish model, the Swedish model, etc. – are held as examples worth emulating in Latin America, instead of free market capitalism.

PUERTO RICO
Vatican Clears Puerto Rico Bishop Daniel Fernandez in Abuse Case

URUGUAY
Uruguay to make medical marijuana available to prisoners
Any inmates who have been prescribed marijuana to improve their physical or mental health will have access to it according to the country’s drug tsar

VENEZUELA
Venezuela: sector de la oposición rechaza diálogo

Venezuela Update: Violence, protests and … talks?

Massive repression against protestors in Venezuela by security forces of Cuba-backed dictatorship

Venezuela’s Protest Movement Fights The Ghost Of Chavez
The legacy of Hugo Chavez hangs over Venezuela — and the country’s protest leaders are having a hard time bringing his followers into their fold.
Especially with the armed motorcycle gangs threatening them.

Venezuela’s old men have a dialogue

Venezuela gives Cuba three aircraft to transport Raúl Castro
The aircrafts –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD 100-110 million

The week’s posts and podcast:
Venezuela: No food in the shops, but 3 jets for Raul

El libro que hay que leer: En español: Infobae entrevista a Casto Ocando, autor de Chavistas en el Imperio

And now for a Venezuela roundup

Ecuador: Rafael Correa at Yale UPDATED

Brazil: Airports not ready yet

Mexico: en español, Terapia Intensiva 203

Mike Hammer goes to Chile

New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Cuba: Alan Gross on hunger strike – later Gross ends hunger strike in Cuba

At Da Tech Guy:
Bye-bye, Elementary

Cuba’s American hostage

Podcast:
Dr Gross in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador & US-Latin America stories of the week


Venezuela: No food in the shops, but 3 jets for Raul

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

It’s a matter of priorities, people!


I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings
.

Venezuela gives Cuba three aircraft to transport Raúl Castro
The aircrafts –two Dassault Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900– are worth some USD 100-110 million

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.

En español: Infobae entrevista a Casto Ocando, autor de Chavistas en el Imperio

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

El libro que hay que leer:Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos

‘Chavistas en el Imperio’, el libro que “desnuda la gran mentira de la revolución bolivariana”

El discurso de la revolución chavista siempre tuvo un enemigo: “el Imperio”, representado por los EEUU y el capitalismo. Desde que Hugo Chávez llegó al poder, la retórica contra la potencia de América del Norte, la ideología “neoliberal”, “imperialista” y de “capitalismo salvaje” se convirtió en un argumento recurrente para justificar las injusticias del país, de la distribución de la riqueza, excusas que calaron hondamente en los sectores populares.

En paralelo con el discurso radicalizado anti los EEUU, los principales colaboradores de Chávez hicieron de la península de La Florida su paraíso terrenal para desarrollar los peores vicios de la corrupción del modelo bolivariano: ser socialistas en Venezuela y magnates en Miami, Wellington o Palm Beach.

Jorge Heili entrevista a Ocando,

Les recomiendo que lo lean.

And now for a Venezuela roundup

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Late on Thursday night, Nicolas Maduro held a televised “crisis talk” with members of the opposition. The Beeb says

Mr Maduro met his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, for six hours. More talks are scheduled for Tuesday.

The meeting was brokered by foreign ministers from South American nations.

The spokesperson of the Vatican, Federico Lombardi, noted he had “nothing to say” about the invitation sent on Wednesday by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Pope Francis for the Vatican to act as a mediator in talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

No matter the foreign ministers or the Vatican, the farce went on as expected: a guarimbalogue.

Francisco Toro calls it A Night of Epistemic Closure (emphasis added)

Fifteen years of sitting in front of a VTV screen have taken their toll. Chavismo has zero interest in reality outside the deep, cozy grooves of its ideological comfort zone. We’re talking about a movement that, when faced with a prominent figure claiming that Jews were using newspaper crossword puzzle clues to send each other coded messages, actually promotes the guy.

These people have all the power, all the money, all the rents, and all the guns. It’s going to take a lot more than having the Papal Nuncio sit through a six-hour meeting to get them to step outside that bubble.

In a way, chavismo doesn’t have an epistemic bubble - it is an epistemic bubble. The obdurate refusal to confront a reality it cannot control, to honor opposing points of view without necessarily sharing them, to treat others’ points of view as basically legitimate even if possibly wrong…these things aren’t features of chavismo as a belief system, they’re its essence.

Which is why, all told, there was just one figure who came out of last night looking relatively good: Maria Corina Machado, who called bullshit on the whole sad charade before it even started.

Miguel Octavio is more optimistic,

Short term, this is largely irrelevant, clearly Chavismo is stuck in its own imaginary world, trapped in its slogans and has no intention of yielding on anything, despite the scheduling of another session on the 15th., right in the middle of a nationwide vacation.

But the fact that this was shown on nationwide TV and the opposition had some very good interventions, is very important long term.

The Chavista militias known as “colectivos” are continuing their rampage.

Maduro’s latest slogan is “Venezuela is a country where the rich protest and the poor celebrate their social well-being,” which he stated to a Guardian reporter but was echoed by a chavista woman on the street.

While the protests are a recent development, the chavista disinformation war continues,

A chavista mouthpiece, infamous Minister of Housing Ricardo Molina, said, from Cuba of course, that there were two Venezuelas. In that, he is absolutely right. Indeed there are two Venezuelas: the imaginary one that exists only in chavismo’s ethereal world, and the other one. There’s no doubt, or disagreement about that. Maduro “lives” in a Venezuela where everything is rosy. So do his henchmen and cronies. Every other one of the 29 million Venezuelans, lives in a Venezuela of scarcity, uncontrolled crime, unemployment, abuse, corruption, uncontrolled inflation, crumbling infrastructure, and a long list of etceteras. I think one example will suffice to illustrate this point: in chavismo’s world, Hugo Chavez was “infected with a brutal and aggressive cancer in 2011​“; in the real world, well, you get the point.

I’ve been reading Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States). The depth and breath of the chavista disinformation war is beyond what I even imagined. Ocando reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars Chavez spent in the propaganda war.

Out on the street, the police mark people waiting in line to buy milk,

UPDATE:
Linked to by the Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Miguel Octavio reviews Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States):

Perhaps nothing summarizes better the book, as Ocando’s revelation in the introduction, that Chavez spent US$ 300 million in propaganda in the US during his first ten years in power. Thus, while Chávez was accusing Washington of trying to destabilize Venezuela, he was outspending Bush and Obama in promoting his revolution. And his buddies in Government, were always (or are?) trying to make friends in the US, to defend their money, their properties and even guarantee protection sometime in the future.

In fact, the promotion was not only of the revolution, but even paying companies in the US to regularly show that Venezuela’s economic numbers were doing well. ironically, while Chávez formed the Venezuelan Information Office and Eva Golinger was hired to show the US was conspiring in Venezuela, there was proof of all the money being spent very directly by the Venezuelan Government to promote itself in teh US and very little proof was ever shown that the US was ding the same thing in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In the end, the book just tells us how Chavismo went from corruption to drugs, joining forces with the FARC, the Iranians and drug cartels, showing that Chávez was willing to allow anything to his buddies in order for the revolution to survive.

This alone would make a valuable contribution to the literature of Latin America’s history.

Ocando, as his Twitter feed notes, is an

Investigative Reporter & Writer with Univision Network. Interests: Public Corruption, Narco-Terrorism, US-LatAm Relations, Venezuela. http://www.univision.com.

I bought the Kindle edition, and will post on it.

The Juan Boria Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Juan Boria was an Afro-Puerto Rican poet, teacher and actor whose joyful performances on television I used to watch when I was a child growing up on the island. You couldn’t not have fun listening to him, even if sometimes you didn’t understand the words. I dedicate this Carnival to him, in thanks for the delightful moments his work still brings us. I have not found any YouTubes videos of his performances, only of his audios. Here’s one:

ARGENTINA
Argentina’s economy
Creeping toward normality

BRAZIL
Which Path Will Brazil Choose?

CHILE
Big Earthquake In Chile, Not Many Killed

COLOMBIA
Vote for peace, vote for Santos?

COSTA RICA
The election results are a given, after the challenger stopped campaigning – he’s still in the ballot, though (video in Spanish)

CUBA
AP Considers Twitter “Subversive” — for Cubans

ECUADOR
Chevron Takes Battle To Radical Environmentalist Lobby

JAMAICA
‘Ganga Future Growers’: Pot-growers group launched in Jamaica

MEXICO
Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez admitted to hospital in Mexico City
Colombian author, whose works have outsold everything in the Spanish language except the Bible, is being treated for lung and urinary infections

PANAMA
Mexico, Panama sign free-trade pact

PERU
Visit Choquequirao, Peru
Explore Peru’s famous Incan ruins in the lesser-known but still breathtaking city of Choquequirao.

PUERTO RICO
Ft. Hood: Puerto Rico friends, family of Ivan Lopez shocked

URUGUAY
Move aside, president of Uruguay: We have a new ‘poorest world leader’. He’s still the worst-shod, though.

VENEZUELA

Spain Halts Sale of Riot Gear to Caracas
Madrid Seeks to Avoid Fanning Violence, As 200,000 Spaniards Reside in Venezuela

30 Spaniards have been arrested by forces loyal to the socialist administration of President Nicolás Maduro.

(Related: Who Is Killing Venezuela’s Protesters?
New evidence suggests that Chávez recruited today’s political militia from among the army.
)

Are Race and Class at the Root of Venezuela’s Political Crisis?

Killing dissent? One of Leopoldo López’s aides, and the brother-in-law of an opposition mayor have been murdered. Matan a allegado de Leopoldo López y a cuñado de alcalde opositor
Un allegado del líder opositor venezolano Leopoldo López y un cuñado del alcalde del municipio caraqueño de Sucre, Carlos Ocariz, fueron asesinados en un parque de Caracas, se informó el domingo.

GM Takes $400 Million Loss in Venezuela as Ford Loses $350 Million

Crash dummy policies

NEWS FROM VENEZUELA

The Market For Common Sense

Caracas chaos: Venezuelan general [Antonio Rivero] on the run
Death in the streets, rationing by fingerprints and a general on the run: how oil-rich Venezuela has descended into chaos

NYT Gives Print Op-ed Space to Venezuela’s Maduro, Ignores Growing Repression

The week’s posts:
Ecuador: Pass the Ketchum

Annals of Papal gift-giving, UPDATED

Venezuela; about that Maduro op-ed in the NYT, UPDATED

We interrupt our blogging on Latin America to bring you the latest on Putin

Vargas Llosa going to Venezuela

Ecuador: Looking for fools wanting to part with their money

#SOSVenezuela: Testing Venezuela’s sincerity

The Most Interesting Man in the World has spoken,

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
What Eich means

A makeover for . . . cream cheese?


Venezuela; about that Maduro op-ed in the NYT, UPDATED

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

The NYT published an article by Nicolas Maduro’s ghost writers, Venezuela: A Call for Peace on April 1.

Assuming it was not an April Fool’s joke, Maduro states

According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We havereduced poverty enormously — to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank’s data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent.

And where did the UN’s numbers come from? The Venezuelan government – which has not allowed its own numbers to be verified for almost a decade. Not only has Venezuela not held an held an Article IV consultation with the IMF in 100 months, it also stopped reporting a number of standard indicators several years ago.

Daniel Wiser does a Nicolas Maduro Fact Check:
On inequality:

Chavez’s family now reportedly owns 17 country estates totaling more than 100,000 acres in the western state of Barinas, as well as assets of $550 million stored in various international bank accounts. Residents in the same region wait as long as three hours for basic provisions at grocery stores.

National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello, a close confidant of Chavez and member of Maduro’s United Socialist Party, has allegedly amassed “a private fortune” through corruption and ties to regional drug traffickers. TheMiami Herald reported accusations last week that Cabello received at least $50 million in bribes to overlook lucrative public contracts that were overpriced, according to a recent lawsuit.

On healthcare (I posted about it last year):

The Associated Press reported in November that Venezuela’s health care system “is collapsing after years of deterioration.”

About 90 percent of the country’s public hospitals lack vital supplies due to government-imposed dollar shortages and price caps. The government was forced to suspend organ donations, transplants, and non-emergency surgeries.

On “extending a hand to the opposition” (and keep in mind Maduro’s been threatening to bomb the state of Táchira),

Opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado has been expelled from the legislature and faces imprisonment. Protest leader Leopoldo Lopez remainsconfined at a military facility.

Two opposition mayors elected by large majorities have also been sentenced to several months in prison, according to the Human Rights Foundation.

Maduro posits that “claims that . . . current protests represent mainstream sentiment are belied by the facts.” Here’s an aerial video of “sentiment” taken on the March 22 demonstration

Francisco Toro writes about The Most Outrageous Lie in Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s New York Times Op-Ed

Fact-checking the entire piece would be enough to cause an aneurysm. Instead, to give a sense of the depth of historical falsification involved, let’s focus on one particular line: Maduro claims that the Bolivarian revolution “created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide.”

This is roughly equivalent to President Barack Obama claiming that he created Social Security. Venezuela first established free universal primary education (for both boys and girls) back in the nineteenth century. It was 1870, in fact, when President Antonio Guzmán Blanco—the visionary military dictator who dominated politics at the time—created a mandate for the state to teach all children ”morals, reading and writing the national language, practical arithmetic, the metric system and the constitution.”

Granted, universal education remained more an aspiration than an on-the-ground reality for several decades, but by 1946 Venezuela’s first elected, social democratic government rode to power partly due to a commitment to enact that vision. Free education, including at the university level, was an ideological cornerstone of successive governments beginning in 1958. Under the leadership of the great educational reformer Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa, the government created one of Latin America’s first adult education institutions, INCE, in 1959, and in the 1960s pushed to increase adult literacy through the famous ACUDE program.

Maduro’s mentor, Hugo Chávez, might have told him a thing or two about that: As a teenager in the ’60s, Chávez volunteered as an adult literacy coach at ACUDE—one of the flagship education programs that Maduro claims didn’t exist until Chávez created them.

It’s much the same story with health: Already in 1938, still in the era of dictatorships,landmark public hospitals were being built and treating patients free of charge. The 1961 constitution—the one chavismo insisted on replacing, seeing it as a vehicle for neo-imperial domination—guaranteed free public health care in article 76. Even today, virtually every major hospital in the country was built before the Bolivarian revolution, whose contribution was limited to a secondary network of outpatient clinics staffed by Cuban medics and located inside poorer areas that, in the view of many, ended up largely diverting resources that would have been better spent upgrading theincreasingly ramshackle legacy hospital network.

Yes, both the school system and the hospital network were overstretched, underperforming, and in need of reform by the time Chávez came to power in 1998, and yes, chavismo‘s reforms of both systems have been broadly popular. There’s an interesting conversation to be had about the successes and failures of those reforms.

But that conversation can’t happen when the government insists on a wholesale falsification of history, simply erasing the long, rich history of health and education reforms that in 1999 bequeathed Chávez the large and ambitious, albeit flawed, health and education systems that Maduro oversees today.

Maduro also mentions the “new market-based foreign exchange system, which is designed to reduce the black market exchange rate.” That ended up getting lost in translation:

See if you can spot the difference in MINCI’s official translation of the same OpEd. It describes SICAD II as ”un nuevo sistema de cambio de divisas que ya ha reducido la inflación durante las últimas semanas.” [Fausta's note: "a new foreign exchange system which has already reduced inflation over the past few weeks"]

Did you catch that? Either SICAD II is somehow more market-based in English than it is en español, or the system’s market-basedness is locked in quantum indeterminacy, cycling in and out of existence over time.

Continuing to assume the NYT article was not an April Fool’s joke, The real question isn’t “what” Maduro is saying, but “why?”(emphasis added),

Why does Maduro display such concern about international public opinion, while putting on a show about being so above caring about his domestic popularity?

Chávez battled external demons fictional or not – usually fictional – to give himself ammo for his political battle back home. With Maduro, it’s the battles on the home front that are being submitted to the court of international public opinion for international validation.

It’s like he doesn’t actually grasp that, in accepting Venezuelans’ discontent only in a foreign tongue to a foreign newspaper and then blatantly ignoring those complaints in his actions, then pleading with gringo readers to be spared from the consequences, Nicolás Maduro is only incriminating himself.

All the same, expect the usual apologists to endlessly repeat Maduro’s talking points. The joke’s on the Venezuelan people.

UPDATE: Alek Boyd takes a jackhammer to the NYT piece, 

According to unaudited figures we provide to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously — to 25.4 percent in 2012, the World Bank’s data (again which no independent auditor has checked in the last 98 months), from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme povertydiminished to 6 percent from 21 percent. This incredible reduction was achieved overnight, after our commander in chief called the National Statistics Office to order lowering the figures.

And that’s just the warm-up. Go read the whole thing.

Linked to by Hot Air. Thank you!