Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

The cone of uncertainty Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Ariel Velázquez: Young Activist’s Murder Becomes Political Football in ArgentinaAs Elections Near, Rival Parties Rush to Claim Slain 20-Year-Old as Their Own

Insight – Manufacturers in Argentina starved of dollars ahead of election, hurting output

Oil Exploration Campaign Kicks Off in Bolivia’s Amazon Region

Río de Janeiro bars poor black youths from its most famous beachesPolice arrest slum youngsters en route to Ipanema and Copacabana in bid to fight theft

Brazil’s Recession Marks The Beginning Of A Long, Painful Contraction: Argentina, Venezuela, Rest Of Latin America Could Be Affected

Head of Brazilian State Bank Rebuts Accusations against Lula

Clashes erupt as truck drivers protest arson attacks

The more you give them, the more they want: FARC Slams Santos-Backed Plans for Implementing Possible Colombia Peace Deal

Colombia will face 10 years of economic slowdown, analysts predict

Human rights activists fear arrest ahead of Pope’s visit to Cuba

When Was This Cuba Story Written?, Pt. 2

Tropical storm Erika heads for Florida after killing 20 on island of Dominica

Sweden and Ecuador to begin Julian Assange talks next weekEcuador seeking formal agreement on judicial cooperation before Swedish prosecutors can interrogate WikiLeaks founder

Britain orders £46m air defence radar to protect Falklands from ArgentinaThe new vehicle-mounted radar will be able to spot threats up to 75 miles away and the first systems will be delivered before the end of the year

Guatemalans Rally Against PresidentTens of thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets Thursday to demand that President Otto Perez resign, amid the country’s biggest political crisis since the end of the civil war nearly two decades ago.

Mexican Film Defrocks the Political Pimping of a Massacre
Young Idealists Serve as Cannon Fodder in Petty Power Struggles


Panama Canal suspends planned draft restriction due to recent rains

11-year-old Paraguay rape victim has baby, stokes abortion debate

The Fascinating Afterlife of Peru’s MummiesFrom atop bejeweled thrones and sacred mountaintops, the Inca dead continued to wield incredible power over the living

Puerto Rico bond deadlines loom: What you need to know

Ten things you never knew about… UruguayToday is Independence Day in Uruguay, celebrating the country’s independence from the Brazilian Empire on August 25, 1825.

Woman, 80, trampled to death in Venezuelan supermarket stampedeRush for subsidized goods sees 75 people injured as thousands besiege supermarket

Scapegoating: Crime in VenezuelaJustice decayedThe government wrongly blames Colombia for its high murder rate

The government has paved the way by allowing the institutions of law enforcement to decay. The police force is underfunded and mistrusted. Venezuela has many fewer prosecutors and judges than it should. Chile, a country with much lower levels of violent crime, has a third more prosecutors than Venezuela in relation to the size of its population. Courts are reluctant to sentence criminals to serve time in crowded and violent jails: 90% of murders go unpunished. Gun control is weak.

And it all came to that

The week’s posts:
Brazil and other fallen BRICs

Why the knives are out on Menendez

Cuba: Getting Gitmo closed

What about the Trump/Ramos thing?

Argentina: The #tucumanazo, stories of a fraud foretold?

Heading to the World Meeting of Families in a VW bus . . . all the way from Buenos Aires

Crisis at the Venezuela-Colombia border

Bolivia: What’s with the proposed nuclear plant?

Brazil: Cunha charged with corruption and money laundering

En español: Los spots de campaña de Sergio Massa

Bolivia: The catch in the numbers

Puerto Rico: Don’t expect payment anytime soon

Crisis at the Venezuela-Colombia border

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Deploys Army to Deport ColombiansPresident’s critics say he is seeking scapegoat as he deports more than 1,000 citizens of neighboring country

In recent days, Venezuela deported more than 1,000 Colombian citizens and closed key border crossings in the frontier state of Táchira, where Mr. Maduro declared martial law in several municipalities. The actions were allegedly aimed at cracking down on rampant smuggling of price-controlled Venezuelan goods into Colombia, a flow that aggravates shortages in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s armed forces were also deployed to root out what the government called a host of illegal activity. Mr. Maduro blamed that on what he said was an inflow of more than 10,000 Colombian immigrants a month.

Colombians flee homes in Venezuela amid border crackdown

The Colombians, many of whom have lived in Venezuela for years, said they were abandoning their cinder block homes in a riverside shantytown community known as “La Invasion” — the Invasion — fearing for their safety after they said they were given 72 hours to pack up and leave by Venezuelan security forces.

With makeshift pedestrian bridges between the two countries destroyed as part of a weeklong security offensive, police from Colombia helped migrants, including children and the elderly, ford the 10-meter wide Tachira River with mattresses, TVs and kitchen appliances slung across their backs and shoulders. Left behind were homes spray-painted in blue by security forces with the letter “R,” for reviewed, while those marked with a “D” are believed to be slated for demolition.

Venezuela border closing hurts innocent people: Colombian president, a rather lame reaction.

At the blogs:
Maduro Declares State of Emergency In Parts of Tachira State

Maduro plays the victim

Will it hold?

Video in Spanish,

Press Determined Not to Blame Venezuela’s Social and Economic Calamity on Its Chavista Government

The $40/barrell oil Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Oil breaks $40 barrier for first time in six years, which is very important news for our hemisphere.

Menem vows to reveal evidence that could shed light on AMIA attack

The defence of Menem today requested the Federal Oral Court No. 2 (TOF 2), that is leading the investigation into the cover-up of the 1994 deadly attack, to have the Senate withdraw Menem’s state secrets privilege warning the release of the information “could affect” the interests of the Nation and “the breaking of peaceful coexistence” with other countries.

Argentineans Launch Petition against “Donald Trump” Wall with Paraguay
Locals Dry [sic] Infrastructure as Wasteful, Bad for Relations

Bolivian Police Drag Indigenous Protesters Out of Their Homes
Guaraní Pledge to Resist Evo’s Oil Exploration on Their Lands

Translation: Merkel reminds Rousseff that Germans want to get paid. Merkel calls for a free trade accord between the Europe Union and Mercosur. During the “surprise” visit,

German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Brazil’s government on Thursday to further open its markets to foreign companies, and said she saw an opportunity to reach a free-trade deal between the European Union and the Mercosur trade bloc. Merkel is on a two-day visit to Brazil with a large delegation of government officials and representatives from German companies.

Study: Chile likely to draw from stabilization fund due to copper price drop

Colombia slashes gold holdings by two-thirds amid July rout

The reason for and timing of the move are not known, but it came as institutional and speculative investors pulled more cash en masse from commodities, ending a decade-long boom, as the stock market crash in China reignited concerns about demand from the world’s biggest consumer of industrial raw materials.

Obama Plays the Clinton Vietnam Card to Normalize Relations With Cuba, but Turns it On Its Head

Before restoring full diplomatic relations with Vietnam, President Clinton eased a majority of the economic sanctions. A mistake. However, by the time he did this, the Soviets were mostly gone from Vietnam; Vietnamese forces had pulled out from Cambodia and replaced with a UN peacekeeping force; and thousands of former South Vietnamese officials had been freed from political prisons and exiled to other nations including the United States.

What ultimately made it politically palatable for Clinton to remove sanctions was a 1993 Senate Select Committee report on POW matters that afforded Clinton the domestic political cover he needed to move forward to ease sanctions. Vietnam also started to return POW remains and allowed U.S. inspectors as part of the Joint Task Force for Full Accounting (JTF-FA) to visit various places throughout the country to investigate POW/MIA claims.

Ecuador Protests: Correa’s Oil Crisis, Policies Could Spell End Of Latin America Success Story

Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano roars back to life, locals speak of lava flow fears and damage to tourism

Prosecution requests impeachment of Guatemala president Otto Perez

IMF Considering Adjusting Some Measures Under Deal With Jamaica

International Monetary Fund (IMF’s) Mission Chief to Jamaica, Dr Uma Ramakrishnan says the fund is considering relaxing some of the targets under Jamaica’s economic support programme

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, Mexican who led search for mass graves found shot to death
Activist’s group had unearthed 129 bodies in Guerrero, where students went missing last year.

He worked for the politically active group called the Union of Towns and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (known as UPOEG)

Previously Deported Illegals Caught Smuggling Thousands of People Across Border

3-Time Deported Top Mexican Drug Trafficker Caught Illegally Re-Entering Texas

Investigation Lifts a Cloud Over President of Mexico
A seven-month conflict-of-interest investigation into the purchase of luxury homes by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s wife and his finance minister from a government contractor found no wrongdoing, Mexico’s comptroller said Friday.

Why am I not surprised? China’s Building a Huge Canal in Nicaragua, But We Couldn’t Find It

Turkey’s new direct connection to Panama may facilitate terrorist financing for Hamas

Turkey and Panama have no international trade to speak of, raising questions as to why, of the 28 countries not served by the airline, is Turkish Airlines expanding to Panama.

Likewise, New nonstop flight from Dubai to Panama a terrorist financiers’ dream? (h/t JC)

Financiers for Hezbollah and a number of other sanctioned Middle East terrorist groups must be jumping up and down for joy, for their jobs will become much easier. The amount of international trade between Panama and the Middle East is nominal, but the nonstop flights will greatly facilitate both illicit (i.e. money laundering) transactions, and terrorist financing operations.

Expect more of that if Obama’s Iran deal goes through.

Rogelio Livieres Plano, ousted bishop in Paraguay, dies at 69

The migrant nation
Urbanisation in Peru has brought citizenship but also a host of problems

Peruvian newspaper cancels cardinal column after papal ‘plagiarism’
Peruvian newspaper says it will not publish any more articles by Roman Catholic cardinal Luis Cipriani after papal plagiarism revelations

Now Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has been unceremoniously dumped from his occasional column at El Comercio, Peru’s oldest privately-owned newspaper, after his writings were proved to include plagiarised words of popes.

Governor Luis Fortuño On The Lessons The US Must Learn From Puerto Rico

The former Governor of Puerto Rico explains that “bottom line, you can never tax yourself out of a hole.”

Hurricane Danny Has Begun Its Weakening; Drought Relief For Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico?

Good luck with that: Venezuelans Launch Mises Institute to Take Down ChavismoLibertarians Offer Ideological Cure to Economic Crisis

The week’s posts and podcast:
Nicaragua: Where’s the canal?

Argentina: Wheelchair tango

The Falklands: Pope Francis, what fresh hell can this be? UPDATED

Venezuela: Circling the drain

Somebody tell Al Sharpton Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens

Venezuela: Cuban doctors stuck in limbo, as the country collapses

Cuba: Air-travel, credit cards next . . . by executive action?

Menendez on Iran: Failure Theater, or not?

Cuba: “Who fears the billboard?”

“Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Brazil: Will Dilma get it?

Mexico: @Leon_Krauze looks at the big White House

Podcast: Cuba, marches in Brazil & other US-Latin America stories of the week

The foreign policy house of lies

Venezuela: Circling the drain

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Today’s roundup:

Leopoldo Lopez, from his cell,

I mentioned this in last night’s podcast:
Grisly killing of Caracas woman becomes political battleground in hyper-polarized Venezuela

The two men, Jose Rafael Perez and Carlos Trejo, had been photographed alongside Venezuela’s best-known opposition leaders and at various political sites, with the snapshots leaving the impression that they were present, Forrest Gump-like, for virtually all of the milestones in the opposition’s protests over the past two years.


El Universal, the nation’s largest newspaper, reports that deaths of newborns at the hospital are common. One set of parents told the newspaper that their child had died on a Thursday, but they were not told until Friday. Others who have used the hospital’s services tell El Universal that the situation resembles that of a year ago, when 15 newborns died of an infection and became a rallying cry for the opposition against the socialist government’s recurring inability to provide adequate medical care.

Venezuela closed 2 of its borders with Colombia after a violent shoot-out; that is, 2 border crossings,

The members of the military were attacked during an anti-smuggling operation in the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio in the state of Tachira, according to the government.

Venezuela: Cuban doctors stuck in limbo, as the country collapses

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Francisco Toro of Caracas Chronicles calls it

the sprawling state-sponsored human trafficking ring known as Barrio Adentro

Barrio Adentro was the Cuban-doctors-for-Venezuelan-oil scheme Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro cooked up,

Governments pay the communist island for the doctors, making them an important source of revenue. And perhaps nowhere is the program more vital than in Venezuela, which in 2003 established the “Barrio Adentro” program — free healthcare centers staffed by Cubans.

In exchange, Venezuela sends crude oil and cash back to Cuba. During 2003-13 the state-run PDVSA oil company pumped $22.4 billion dollars into the program. Venezuela Health Minister Francisco Armada told state-run VTV television there are more than 10,000 Cuban health professionals in Venezuela

Not surprisingly (and as reported earlier)

The working conditions are those of slave labor:

Several Cuban defectors interviewed in Bogota said that they fled not only because of oppression in their own nation, but also because of unreasonably poor and demanding work conditions in Venezuela. Andres said that he could not stand the conditions in Venezuela, where he lived in a crowded house with a leaky straw roof which he shared with fifteen other Cuban doctors waiting to be put to work.

The doctors also said that in Venezuela, Cuban minders monitored their movements, prohibiting non-work contact with Venezuelans. When not at work, the Cubans were required to be at home after 6 pm. One couple said that after they pointed out some problems with the programme, officials threatened to send them back to Cuba in retaliation.

The doctors who risked their lives to leave Venezuela and crossed the border into Colombia are now facing delays after applying for asylum in the U.S.

What about the money they are due from the Cuban government for their work in Venezuela? Forgddabouit!

Internacionalistas are given modest stipends but the bulk of their salary is held in Cuba. When they’re sent home early — as he was being threatened with — they’re denied even those modest savings. Without that money, there was nothing to go home to, he said.

If you’re wondering why the internacionalistas don’t want to stay in Colombia, read Miguel Octavio’s post on Venezuela And Colombia: A Joint Future.

Bloomberg News editorial board:
If Venezuela Implodes, Will Its Neighbors Be Ready?

Perhaps you’re aware that Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation rate, a collapsing currency and every prospect of defaulting on its debts next year. You may have read about shortages of consumer goods (everything from milk and bread to beer and condoms), and the effort required to obtain hard currency (kidnapping purebred dogs to sell in Brazil is one way).

Here are some things you might have missed. In the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, transplant patients have resorted to veterinary medicines to stay alive. Coagulants for treating hemophilia are available only for emergencies. Medicines of every kind are getting hard to find outside the cities. Malaria and dengue fever are on the rise; so is malnutrition, although the government stopped publishing weekly epidemiological bulletins last November and denies that thousands of doctors are resigning and emigrating.

Every day, Venezuelans form lines at stores that are almost bare. On July 31, a man was killed and several dozen people arrested in the city of San Felix as angry shoppers looted grocery stores and attacked state-owned vehicles. The potential for more frequent and deadlier breakdowns in public order is plain, especially now that Maduro has stepped up military raids on “hoarders” who amass “contraband” goods.

Venezuela’s currency is now so worthless that people are using it as napkins

As for the upcoming December 6 elections, I fully agree with Bloomberg:

Venezuelans pinning their hopes on December’s parliamentary elections will likely be disappointed. Leading opposition politicians have been jailed or disqualified from running. Maduro has promisedto exclude election monitors from the European Union or the Organization of American States. He has said he’ll refuse to accept the ruling party’s defeat.

Let me spell it out for you: December 6th is the anniversary of the date Hugo Chavez was first elected president. The regime won’t let go.

Bond roulette: Puerto Rico, Venezuela

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Which Puerto Rico Bond Defaults Next? 46% Yields Provide a Clue Bloomberg lists the most recent trading prices of bonds that aren’t insured against default:

Puerto Rico defaulted for the first time on Aug. 3, when a little-known agency, the Public Finance Corp., paid investors just $628,000 of the $58 million they were owed.

The Finance Corp. is only one of the 17 arms of the U.S. territory that have sold tax-exempt bonds, according to the Government Development Bank. Unlike debt typically issued by countries, the securities carry varying degrees of risk because they’re backed by different sources of funds and legal safeguards.

So as the island burns through cash, there’s the obvious question: which bonds could be next?

By Insurer’s Calculation, Puerto Rico Debt Burden Is Lowest, but I’d listen to Moody’s,

Excluding the island’s utility bonds and adding the U.S. debt to each state based on their population, Puerto Rico has a lower debt-to-income ratio per capita than even Maryland or Virginia, which have top credit ratings, National [Public Finance Guarantee Corp.] said.

The analysis is in stark contrast with data from Moody’s Investors Service, which gives Puerto Rico the third-worst credit rating and says its net tax supported debt per capita is the highest among U.S. states and 11 times greater than Virginia’s. Moody’s projects recovery rates from 35 percent to 80 percent on commonwealth bonds.

VENZ/PDVSA: The Mixed Martial Arts of Bond Trading

To be clear, trading VENZ is to normal bond investing what mixed-martial-ats is to thumb-wrestling. It’s a crazy, high-risk world where a good day in the WTI oil market, or a couple of anodyne bureaucratic announcements, are enough in to set off a mad bull-rush, with venny traders tripping over one another to snap up paper.

For the rest of us, it’s all gambling. I could only find this scene dubbed in French – lay down your bets, ladies and gentlemen,

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s daughter, richest person in the country

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Socialists in the U.S. proudly proclaim that the dead dictator “improved the economy, reduced inequality,” most likely in the Orwellian sense,

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Hugo Chávez daughter is the richest individual in Venezuela, report claims

According to the Miami-based Diario Las América, Venezuelan media sources will soon publish materials showing that María Gabriela Chávez has bank accounts in the U.S. and Andorra with assets totaling nearly $4.2 billion.

If the claim is true, Chávez’s daughter would be the richest person in Venezuela, a country with industrialists like telecommunications magnate Gustavo Cisneros (worth $3.6 billion, according to Forbes) and food and beverage mogul Lorenzo Mendoza ($2.7 billion).

. . .

Last July, Venezuelan outlets reported that she was involved in a scheme that favored an Argentinean rice company, Bioart, by importing 37,000 tons of greatly overpriced rice to Venezuela – a deal that reportedly contributed $15 million to her personal accounts.

. . .

In September of 2014, according to La Tribuna, the Cuban-American television journalist María Elvira Salazar showed on the air a receipt purported to be from a U.S. bank account in María Gabriela’s name that held nearly $737 million. The address on the account was that of the Venezuelan consulate in New York City.

MGC currently is permanent deputy representative to the United Nations, where she fits right in.

In other Venezuelan news, would-be kidnappers broke into an American’s apartment and murdered him:
Well-Known American Lawyer John Pate Murdered in His Apartment in Venezuela

The well-known American lawyer John Pate, a US citizen, was stabbed to death by assailants in his apartment at the Vista Real on Avenue Panorama in Lomas de San Román section of Caracas on Sunday evening.

Pate, 71, was a member of the Editorial Board of the Caracas Daily Journal, the predecessor of the Latin American Herald Tribune, and had helped build the fabric of Caracas society. His first wife, Gertie Paez Pate, was a well-known Peruvian painter who died of cancer in 2007.

According to police, the criminals reportedly entered his apartment with the intent to rob him, but instead killed him with multiple stab wounds. His girlfriend, Sally Evan Oquendo, 67, was wounded and is hospitalized.

According to early police reports, the perpetrators entered through a bathroom window and police suggest that they knew the building well. There are apartments being remodeled in the building and police are interrogating workers.

The Caracas expat community has shrunk as homicide rates rise and foreign companies pull out of Venezuela, citing economic difficulties.

Pate’s primary business was in representing multinational companies doing business in Venezuela, and he was sometimes critical of the country’s 16-year-old socialist revolution.
In 2005, he told the Christian Science Monitor he had lost half his international clients in the six years since the now-deceased President Hugo Chavez came to power.

24,980 people were murdered in Venezuela last year.

Money-wise, a billion here, a billion there, Ravaged by Oil’s Collapse, Venezuela Now Has a Big Gold Problem

The South American country, which is trying to stave off a bond default in the wake of oil’s swoon, had 68 percent of its international reserves in bullion as of August, according to the World Gold Council. That’s a big worry because the price of the precious metal has tumbled 15 percent from this year’s high in January as the global slump in commodities deepened.

At the blogs:
Daniel has A guide to Venezuela eateries around the world

Devil’s Excrement looks at The Uncertain Outcome Of The Venezuelan Parliamentary Election

Chavismo will do anything to manipulate and obtain an edge in the upcoming election.

The outcome does not look uncertain to me: Venezuela’s first lady Cilia Flores to run for congress while opposition figure barred

Hours after election officials reject María Corina Machado’s attempt to register as a candidate, President Nicolás Maduro announces his wife will run

The Swedish model Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Contrary to what the uninformed Left would believe, the Swedish model won’t be working in LatAm any time soon.

Whale appears alongside yachts in luxury Argentine area
News of the whale quickly spread on social media and was broadcast live by local stations, prompting hundreds to line up along the port area to catch a glimpse

Post-Kirchner Argentina Promises More Populist MiseryNo Matter What Party Tops the Election, the Welfare State Wins

Argentine Tango With Creditors Takes a TwirlArgentine officials are hinting at a thaw in a long-running standoff with hedge-fund creditors, boosting investors’ interest in the struggling South American nation ahead of a New York court date Wednesday.

El narcotráfico salvó la campaña

After some delays in early voting, Argentineans cast their ballots to elect presidential candidates

Law Requires Bolivian Officials to Speak an Indian Language

Delivering a message, with a hit, Brazilian anti-corruption radio DJ shot dead live on air
Gleydson Carvalho gunned down in studio as he broadcast
; Two Arrested in Killing of Brazil Radio Host

Brazil’s space programme
Ten, nine, ten…
Rocket science is hard. Rocket diplomacy is harder

Brazil’s space programme suffered a blow in July when President Dilma Rousseff scrapped an 11-year-old agreement with Ukraine to launch satellites aboard Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rockets from Brazil’s Alcântara spaceport in the northeastern state of Maranhão. The official explanation implied that the much-delayed project, which had been budgeted at 1 billion reais ($290m), had become too expensive. Brazil may also fear that Ukraine will not fulfil its part of the deal, not least because its space industry is located near Donetsk, which is controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

8%: Brazilian President’s Approval Rating Hits Record Low
The country’s economy is struggling and nation faces a growing corruption scandal

Gunmen shoot Spanish convict dead in front of his home in Brazil
Galician Anxo Antono Valiño had been convicted of murdering a businessman in 2007

Chile ex-spymaster, Manuel Contreras, dies at 86

Santos: Colombia Government Negotiator Met Twice with FARC’s Top Leader

Santos Pisses Away Colombian Tax Dollars on His Own BrandingState Propaganda Makes Mockery of Accountable Presidency

Havana’s hottest spot is a crowded ramp to WiFi bliss
At one the world’s most unusual Web lounges, Cubans have been trying WiFi for the first time

Locarno: Andy Garcia on Hemingway, Family, Directing and Cuba

“The political situation is Cuba has not turned,” Andy Garcia said politely, but very adamantly. “There is one government, a dictatorship. The Castros are still in power. There’s never been a popular election in Cuba. Nothing will change in Cuba until the Castro regime leaves and the people are free.”

Leaked Documents Blow Rafael Correa’s Spying Ways Wide OpenEcuadorian Watchdog Alleges Long-Term Surveillance, Infiltration of Opposition

String of Driver Murders Invoke Militarized Transport for El SalvadorSánchez Cerén Will Not Negotiate with Narcos

Haitians vote in delayed elections
Haitians vote in legislative elections that have been repeatedly delayed since 2011, in a test of stability for the impoverished nation.


Mexico’s economy was supposed to soar. It’s starting to flop.
President Peña Nieto’s economic reforms have yet to produce growth, and the peso has been battered.

6 Tons of Cocaine Seized in Homemade Submarine

Convicted rapist arrested in Mexican journalist murder case
Still no official motive as to why Rubén Espinosa and four women were brutally killed

US Lifts Restrictions Over Seized Property in Nicaragua

Panama Canal to limit ship draft due to drought

Peru’s Shining Path Rebels still Enslaving Around 200 People

Pain of Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Is Weighing on the Little Guy, Too

St. Lucia to Launch Citizenship-by-Investment Program

Venezuela shortages: ‘Take away beer and things get risky’
Venezuelans facing prospect of heatwave without their favourite beer, latest in a series of shortages from disposable nappies to light bulbs

Obama’s failed ‘charm offensive’ in Venezuela

The week’s posts and podcast:
Sunday palate cleanser: Carlos Copello & Anabela Brogioli

Saturday essay: The Swedish model again, and why it won’t work in Latin America

Venezuela: Food riots

Don’t call that a debate

Another Capt.Louis Renault moment, Mexico: People’s disbelief at official story of El Chapo’s escape

Today’s must-read: It’s Time for an Encyclical on Christian Persecution

Brazil: File this under “Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas”

Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Hillary’s sinking, roll out Princess Chelsea

Cuba: Hillary’s ignorance

Running out of people’s money: Puerto Rico UPDATED

Venezuela: The shocking state of its health service

Saturday essay: The Swedish model again, and why it won’t work in Latin America

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

No, not this Swedish model,

the socialist economic model, instead.

Socialists sooner or later bring up the exemplary Nordic economies when one talks about the failures of Communism; in my case, when I post on Latin America.

For instance, just this week,

That person assumes I have ignored Scandinavia. I don’t know about “the right” in general, but after hearing for decades how the Scandinavian models would work, today I’ll look at three factors:

  • Taxes and spending
  • Work ethic
  • Rule of law

Each of those factors explain why a Scandinavian economic model can’t work in Latin America.

Taxes and spending:

Venezuela: Food riots

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Food lines in Venezuela are getting worse

Shortages have reached the point where people are rioting for food. Here’s a roundup:

Looting Sweeps Venezuela as Hunger Takes Over132 Incidents Tell of “Desperation and Discomfort” Sinking In

During the first half of 2015, the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict (OVCS) registered no fewer than 132 incidents of looting or attempted looting at various stores throughout the country. In addition, Venezuelan consumers staged over 500 protests that condemned the lack of available products at state-run grocery stores, markets, and pharmacies

Death In Venezuela: Food Fights

Food riots and looting in Venezuela Friday left one person dead and exposed the combustible nature of the country’s imploding economy.

Bloomberg News

Venezuelan soldiers seized a food distribution center in Caracas, Venezuela, July 30 rented by global companies including Nestle, PepsiCo and Empresas Polar.

A day earlier, Venezuelan soldiers took over a food distribution center in Caracas, rented by companies including Empresas Polar, Nestle(NSRGY) and PepsiCo (PEP), Bloombergreports. The industrial real estate is to be converted to subsidized housing — a crowd-pleasing government effort ahead of December elections. But the move followed months of accusations by President Nicolas Maduro that Polar, Venezuela’s largest private employer, is working to sabotage the economy. The company denies this, Voice of America reports. Maduro claims the U.S. is to blame for food shortages and warehouse looting, Al Jazeera reports.

A Not So Subtle Change In Venezuela

. . . the two most significant factors are the rate at which prices are moving up (previous post) and the ease with which angry mobs (above) have decided to loot and riot at the smallest excuse. Yes, the problem is the Government controls the media and few people see what is going on, but the looting is taking place in traditional Chavista strongholds. And they don’t occur because people are fed up of lining up to get something, they take place because people are fed up of standing in line and getting nothing: Neither bread, nor Harina Pan, nor diapers, nor contraceptives. It used to be a moment of triumph to find something, now the moments of victory are few and far between.

And every day, there is a new item that can´t be found, last week, as I was visiting, it was bread and toothpaste. Great for my diet, no sandwiches for the Devil! Nor Cachitos, nor bombas, nor palmeras.

We are talking serious scarcity here!

Like there are also no Bills to pay things for. Despite an 80% increase in monetary liquidity (M2), the largest Bill is still Bs. 100, US$ 15.9 at the official rate, 50 cents at the Simadi official rate, but a scant 14 cents at the parallel rate.

These days, if you’re looking for reasons to be alarmed about Venezuela you’re spoilt for choice. But if I had to pick one, just one signal that’s freaking me the hell out right now, it has to be the government’s dogged refusal to issue larger denomination bank notes.

Reinforcing Failure

Venezuela should have been rich what with being the “12th largest oil producer in the world … and a beneficiary of the most sustained oil price boom in history”. Instead it is flat broke. It’s currency, the Bolivar is worth 1% of its official rate on the black market and 1/1000th of what it was before Hugo Chavez assumed power.

Venezuela is basically bankrupt again, and will continue being,

. . .the government doesn’t just decide who gets cheap dollars, but also how much they and everyone else can charge. Companies that don’t get dollars at the official exchange rate would lose money selling at the official prices, so they don’t—they leave their stores empty. But even ones that do get low-cost dollars would make more money selling them in the black market than using them to sell goods at the official prices, so they don’t as well—their stores stay just as barren. In other words, it’s not profitable for unsubsidized companies to stock their shelves, but not profitable enough for subsidized ones to do so, either. That’s why Venezuela’s supermarkets don’t have enough food, its breweries don’t have enough hops to keep making beer, and its factories don’t have enough pulp to produce toilet paper. That’s left Venezuela well-supplied with only one thing: lines.