Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

Venezuela: Exxon wins $1.6 billion settlement

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Back in 2005, then-dictator Hugo Chavez started to expropriate assets in Venezuela’s energy, mining and telecommunications industries under the pretext of development and sovereignty.

Energy companies were given until late-2007 to accept proposed contract and compensation terms from Chavez’s government or risk having their assets seized.•

Exxon and ConocoPhillips rejected the terms, and Exxon took Venezuela to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID. The ICSID ruled for Exxon, which Chavez promptly, and predictably, rejected. At the time there were 20 other cases against Venezuela at the World Bank’s tribunal, all triggered by the wave of state takeovers.

Now Exxon Wins $1.6 Billion Settlement for Venezuela Seizure

The ICSID award includes $1.4 billion for expropriation of the Cerro Negro project, $179.3 million for expropriation of the smaller La Ceiba project and $9 million in compensation for production and export curtailments, ICSID said. It will incur compound interest of 3.25 percent dating back to June 2007.

In a similar complaint, the ICSID ruled Sept. 23 that Venezuela must pay $740 million to Spokane, Washington-based Gold Reserve Inc. (GRZ) for taking its Brisas gold and copper project in 2008. Gold Reserve said on July 23 that it was seeking $2.1 billion for the nationalization.

About 28 cases filed by mining and oil companies remain unresolved at the ICSID, including those filed by Phillips 66 and Highbury International AVV.

Venezuela calls it “a favorable end for the republic,” (h/t Caracas Chronicles)

Which tells you Venezuela has no intention to pay Exxon. The thing is, the country must honor ICSID rulings to avoid default of sovereign bonds. The only certain outcome in the short term is that a lot of lawyers are going to make a lot of money.

Just don’t expect any payments any time soon.

The Top Gear Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, October 6th, 2014

The Top Gear lads got ‘chased by thousands and ordered out of country’

“When we saw people on Twitter getting upset we took the plate off. But they still attacked us so we made a break for it to our hotel in Ushuaia.

“The mob just descended on the hotel and encircled us. State representatives came and ordered us out of the country.”

Here’s the car that caused the fracas,

Video of the police escorting them.

ARGENTINA
Barcelona star Lionel Messi to face tax evasion trial
Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi is to face trial for alleged tax evasion, a Spanish judge has ruled.

Argentina central bank governor resigns amid economic woes
Argentina’s central bank governor Juan Carlos Fabrega has resigned after less than a year in office.

BOLIVIA
Bolivian Couple Arrested in Argentina Accused of Killing Their Daughter

BRAZIL
With election Sunday, Brazil deals with oil scandal
With election Sunday, Brazil deals with oil scandal
Corruption charges in a refinery project complicate the race for the ruling party
.

They include corruption, political machinations with the state-controlled oil company, and delays and overspending on a multibillion-dollar oil refinery that Brazil needs desperately.

CARIBBEAN
20141004_AMC803PetroCaribe and the Caribbean
Single point of failure
Venezuela’s financing programme leaves many Caribbean countries vulnerable

CHILE
Extreme skiers Auclair and Fransson die in Chile avalanche
Police in Chile have found the bodies of two extreme skiers who had been missing since an avalanche struck a mountain in southern Chile on Tuesday.

COLOMBIA
Colombian Attorney General Says Conflict Cases Could Be Shelved

Prince Charles and Camilla to Visit Colombia and Mexico

Who will save Bogota?

CUBA
Keep Cuba out of hemispheric summits

Prosecutors seek 5-year prison term for Cuban opposition activist Ciro Alexis Casanova

Fraternal Relations, Part III

ECUADOR
The Dark Side of Green Justice
Review: ‘Law of the Jungle’ by Paul Barrett

HAITI
Former Haiti president Duvalier diesJean-Claude Duvalier
Haiti’s notorious former ruler Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has died of a heart attack in the capital Port-au-Prince, reports quoting official sources say.

JAMAICA
Jamaica Gets Help Preparing for Possible Ebola Cases

MEXICO
Leader of Cartel Is Captured
The leader of one of Mexico’s largest cartels, Héctor Beltrán-Leyva of the Beltrán-Leyva gang, has been captured, the authorities said Wednesday night, giving President Enrique Peña Nieto another high-profile victory against organized crime.

Indeed, How Dare We Leave Andrew Tahmooressi Behind?

PANAMA
Is Panama’s President Being Coerced by Cuba’s Regime?

1,400 Cops Occupy Unruly Panamanian Prison

Panama President Demands That Judge Explain Growing Wealth

PARAGUAY
Rutherford B. Hayes: An OK President but a hero in Paraguay

Hayes agreed to negotiate a long-held border dispute between Argentina and Paraguay, and the decision gave the nation 60 percent of its land.

PERU
Spanish Speleologist in Hospital after 12 Days in Peruvian Cave

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico Offers Itself as a Gateway to U.S. Market, Official Says

VENEZUELA
Venezuela Oil Price Continues Tumbling
Venezuela’s Ministry of Energy and Petroleum reports that the average price of Venezuelan crude sold by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) during the week ending October 3 fell to its lowest price since January of 2011. The Latin American Herald Tribune notes that the Ministry continues to post an inaccurate average for the year and reduced the average price for the whole of 2013 by $1.41 without explanation

Venezuela: Lawmaker Killed in His Home, Police Say
A day after Robert Serra, a rising star in Venezuela’s governing party, was stabbed to death in his home, officials said Thursday that it was a carefully planned murder.

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Brazil: Aécio goes to the runoff

Argentina: Top Gear fracas

Brazil: More of the same?

En español: El Alcalde de Iguala en la UdQ

Argentina: Hoping it’s hit rock bottom

Cuba: Risky business

Taxes, and a book

Brazil: Dilma up in the polls

En español: Últimas noticias del idiota iberoamericano

Venezuela: Why the military won’t rise up

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
I’m a tax exile, and proud of it

And now for something completely different: A book on Cuban history

The week’s podcast:
Let’s chat with Alina Garcia-Lapuerta, author of “La Belle Creole”

Venezuela: Why the military won’t rise up

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

While El Puma and a few others call for Venezuela’s military to rise up against the Cuban-run dictatorship, there’s a big reason why that’s unlikely: perks.

Perks, and the likelihood they already are running the country:

New Cars for the Army as Venezuelans Line Up for Food

The market with everything from subsidized meat to baby strollers, along with loans, new cars and apartments, are perks provided to the armed forces as the economy contracts, poverty rises and President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity sinks to a record low.

The benefits help ensure the loyalty of the military, while siphoning reserves away from the poor who have seen wage growth fall behind inflation, according to analysts, citizen activists and academics.

Since Maduro came to power 17 months ago, the armed forces have created their own television channel, housing program and bank, the only military-owned one outside Iran and Vietnam. A third of Venezuela’s 28 ministers and half the state governors are now active or retired officers, mostly companions of former paratroop commander and late President Hugo Chavez.

This echoes the Cuban model, where most businesses that cater to tourists are own by the military. In fact, Venezuela is now a military regime:

The rise in prices is not the only kind of inflation affecting Venezuela. Bloomberg reports that “its military now has between 4,000 and 5,000 generals” for a ratio of one general for every 34 servicemen (in the United States the ratio is one general per 1,490 servicemen). As expected, generals enjoy higher salaries and many other benefits. Moreover, the intelligence community believes that high-ranking army officers control most illegal activities in Venezuela, from smuggling to drug trafficking. In other words, military men are profiteering from the status quo.

Juan Cristobal Nagel:

Count the Armed Forces alongside Wall Street and China as the three groups Maduro will never default on. That´s why it pains me to read simplistic stuff such as García Mora’s latest, where he wonders out loud when the country will finally break.

The missing aliens Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 29th, 2014

LatinAmerSome 45,000 illegals released during the border crisis didn’t show up for their immigration hearings, provoking another Capt. Louis Renault moment.

ARGENTINA
While the government sends drones and goes into travel records, who does the UN Human rights Council complain about?
Argentina uses drones to root out wealthy tax evaders
Drones deployed by tax inspectors near Buenos Aires found 200 mansions and 100 swimming pools that hadn’t been declared

Argentine Government Defends Centralizing Air Passengers’ Data

Hedge funds condemned over Argentina
The United Nations Human Rights Council passes resolution backing Argentina in its debt battle against US hedge funds.

BOLIVIA
Indigenous Bolivians Demand Unwritten “Community Democracy”
Campesinos Draw on Native Customs to Elect Officials

BRAZIL
Fallen Mogul Eike Batista Faces Securities Charges in Brazil

CHILE
Chile Investigating Thursday’s Bombing
Chile officials said they were unsure who made a homemade bomb that exploded yesterday in central Santiago that killed a 29-year-old man but were vowing to track down those responsible.

COLOMBIA
Anibal Guarin Herrera, a.k.a. “Tomate,” Colombian Military Kills Important Rebel Commander

CUBA
Cuba’s Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian Activities

South Africa gives $ 31 million gift to Castro Kingdom

ECUADOR
More on Law of the Jungle:
La Ley de la Jungla
¿Cómo pudo un abogado americano graduado en Harvard lograr una sentencia judicial por más de 19 mil millones de dólares en contra de la segunda empresa petrolera más grande de EE UU?

The Global Lawyer: A Review of Paul Barrett’s ‘Law of the Jungle’

Behind the Chevron Case

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador’s total abortion ban lethal, says Amnesty

JAMAICA
Ebola in Jamaica?
Health ministry official dismisses Ebola claim in Jamaica

MEXICO
Laundering Mexico’s drug money
Washing up
Drug kingpins turn to trade-based money-laundering

On September 10th roughly 1,000 law-enforcement officials raided the Garment District of Los Angeles, seizing at least $65m in cash and arresting nine people. According to court documents, several garment businesses allegedly helped drug traffickers ferry proceeds from sales back into Mexico. The scheme is relatively simple. Black-market peso brokers contact Mexican importers who want to buy goods from a business in Los Angeles. The broker then finds a gang associate in the United States to pay the bill on behalf of the Mexican importer, using dollars from drug sales. The importer pays the broker in pesos; the broker takes a cut and passes along the remainder to the gang in Mexico.

Kidnapped Mexican Congressman Gabriel Gomez killed
The Mexican authorities say one of two burned bodies found in a car in the central state of Zacatecas is that of a federal Congressman abducted on Monday.

NICARAGUA
Hundreds protest against Nicaragua Canal

PANAMA
It Must Be The Inequality That Makes Panama The Happiest Country In The World

PARAGUAY
Pope sacks Paraguay bishop accused of protecting abuser priest
Pope Francis’s latest crackdown on clerical sex abuse comes days after Vatican ordered Polish archbishop to be put on trial for allegedly abusing young boys

PERU
Peru: Suspects Arrested in Killings of 4 Environmental Activists
Peru has arrested two loggers suspected of murdering four environmental activists to keep them from opposing timber extraction on native lands near the border with Brazil.

PUERTO RICO
Chikungunya Kills 3 in Puerto Rico

VENEZUELA
Venezuela announces ‘temporary occupation’ of US firm Clorox

Clorox Questions Safety After Venezuelan Takeover
Company Closed Facilities Due to Country’s Economic Crisis

The week’s posts and podcasts:
Venezuela: Nothing to dance about

Just what the world needs: Eau de Hugo!

Maduro goes to the South Bronx

FIFA follies

In case you missed them

En español: Miley Cyrus en la Unidad de Quemados

Mexico: La Tuta’s newest YouTube

Argentina: What do Pope Francis and George Soros have in common?

Venezuela: Don’t talk about the Chikungunya

Podcasts:
Rick Moran’s show, Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war

This morning’s podcast with Silvio Canto, Jr., US-Latin America stories of the week

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Pretty good news from Latin America: the Pacific Alliance

Up next: A mercenary army?


Venezuela: Nothing to dance about

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Nicolas Maduro was in NYC for the climate change summit and the UN General Assembly – ignoring protesters, but he also took the Mrs. dancing in the South Bronx, where he indulged on the congas,

Over in Venezuela, while the cat was away the mice had nothing to dance about:

The opposition are beginning to collect signatures to force a constitutional assembly and remove Maduro before the 2019 presidential elections.

Unions Confront Venezuelan Leader
Workers are increasingly striking to protest President Maduro’s Labor policies; ‘the state is the new big boss,’ complains one union leader.

The discontent has spread to unions representing hundreds of thousands of state workers. The National Federation of Public Sector Workers, which represents administrative workers and teachers, this month publicly criticized the government for delaying contract renewals. Some of them expired as long as 10 years ago, leaving workers with devalued salaries.

Venezuela’s Bolívar Currency Hits Record Low on Black Market
The plummeting Venezuelan currency breached a new, symbolic low of 100 bolívares per dollar on the black market Friday.

The central bank’s international reserves meanwhile are down 29% to $21 billion since the start of 2013.

Francisco Toro writes about The Routinization of Barbarism:

Secret public spending is fundamentally unacceptable. Public spending not approved by a legislature is by its nature unconstitutional. The routinization of secret public spending is an outrage no minimally law govern country would yield an inch to, even by implication.

Small wonder that The Economist refers to Venezuela as Probably the world’s worst-managed economy.


Just what the world needs: Eau de Hugo! UPDATED

Friday, September 26th, 2014

UPDATE

I guess Raul’s not getting a cut,
Insólito escándalo en Cuba: Raúl Castro prohibió los perfumes “Ernesto” y “Hugo” [Incredible scandal in Cuba: Raúl Castro forbids “Ernesto” and “Hugo” perfume]

Earlier post:

No, not the German designer, the Venezuelan dictator:
“Eau de Revolution”: Cuba scents honor Che, Chavez

Cuba’s biggest producer of natural products has come up with a pair of colognes for the discerning supporter of international socialism who wants something more than just the iconic “Che” T-shirt.

A woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder called “Ernesto” honors guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara. For those seeking something softer and fruitier, there’s a blend with hints of mango and papaya called “Hugo,” for the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“Cuba’s biggest producer of natural products” ought to produce some soap and shampoo that the locals could afford, but I digress.

I can’t imagine why death would smell like “a woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder” in the bottles of Che stink, but the fruitier Chavez ought to have some notes of sulfur, in honor of Hugo Chavez’s 2006 appearance at the UN and his 2009 Copenhagen speech, where he went heavy on the sulfur. In 2006 he said George W. Bush smelled of it, and by 2009 it was Barack Obama’s turn.

The sulfur scent can be easily replicated – back when I was a kid, you could buy this, and what could be more suitable for the “discerning supporter of international socialism”?

Tip of the hat to the esteemed Carlos Eire, who finds the news completely nauseating,

Creating a line of perfumes that honors dead tyrants and sociopaths is the last thing that would have ever crossed my mind, but I’m no genius and am only 1/16th French.

Clearly neither Carlos nor I are “discerning supporters of international socialism.”

And,
My late uncle Ernesto, were he still alive, would surely have made several off-color jokes about Che stinking of a “woodsy and refreshing citric scent with notes of talcum powder.” I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination.

NOTE: If anyone has a clip of the Pinky and the Brain Calvin Brain Subjugation ad, I’d love to post it!


Maduro goes to the South Bronx

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Carlos Eire tells us that Maduro visits Chavistas and Useful Idiots in the South Bronx

Apparently, Maduro found plenty of admirers, both among the natives and the Birkenstock-sandal-Mother Jones-and-Subaru crowd, most of whom seem to revere him as the current incarnation of the spirit of Hugo Chavez.

That, and an influx in millions of dollars in Venezuelan charity and free heating oil; Communists don’t live on Birkenstocks(*) alone.

In a dazzling display of smart diplomacy, the U.S. is copacetic,
Maduro recalls Chávez with trip to South Bronx as country makes bid for U.N. security council seat

Maduro, a year and a half into his term, arrived in New York with unanimous backing from Latin America and Caribbean nations to represent the region on the council beginning next year. The U.S. is uneasy with the nomination but says it has no plans to try to derail the bid, as it did in 2006.
. . .
Venezuela is expected to defend U.S.’ archenemies if it wins a seat on the council.

(*) Disclosure: I own Birkenstocks, too. Comfortable when you need them, and owned by capitalists.

Venezuela: Don’t talk about the Chikungunya

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

A new turn on government-controlled healthcare:

Venezuela Seeks to Quell Fears of Disease Outbreak
The government is seeking the arrest of a doctor for saying a string of deaths in a Maracay hospital could point to a mosquito-borne disease

A string of deaths in a hospital here has sparked fears of a potent, mosquito-borne disease and led authorities to seek a doctor’s arrest for allegedly sowing panic, leaving residents wondering how to explain their symptoms.

Angel Sarmiento, president of the College of Doctors in Aragua state, told reporters on Sept. 11 that a virus or bacteria may have been responsible for the deaths of eight patients in quick succession at the Central Hospital of Maracay. A ninth patient died three days after Dr. Sarmiento’s comments.

Insisting there was no cause for general alarm, President Nicolás Maduro last week accused Dr. Sarmiento of “psychological terrorism.”

The confusion in Maracay over the deaths—and over who to believe on their cause—shows how difficult it has become to arrive at a rational approach to public health in Venezuela. Part of the problem, doctors here say, is that the silencing of independent media has squelched the flow of information.

“To dissent, to have a position different from the government, leads to a witch hunt,” Dr. Sarmiento said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I am not a terrorist. I am a doctor.” He said he was still in Venezuela but was in hiding because he worried he would face a politically motivated prosecution.

Much of the fear has been focused on Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites that has been present in Africa and Asia for decades but only recently spread to the Americas. Though there is no cure for the disease, its symptoms can be alleviated with medication. The disease has killed at least 113 people this year in the Caribbean region, according to the Pan American Health Organization, with the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe hardest hit.

Two cents’ worth: bring back DDT.


The celebrity junket Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

LatinAmerI had another Capt. Louis Renault moment this week, provoked by Mia Farrow, of all people. The ex-Mrs Sinatra apparently received from PR firm MCSquared $180,000 for visiting Lago Agrio in Ecuador. Then Ecuador hired another PR firm, Ketchum (Putin’s American flack), to go after Paul M. Barrett for writing a book. Do read Barrett’s book Law of the Jungle, and Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, if you haven’t already.

ARGENTINA
Watch: man films attempted gunpoint robbery on GoPro
A tourist travelling to every country in the world captures the terrifying moment an alleged robber points a gun at him in Buenos Aires, Argentina

BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Evo Morales has a dream … to open a barbecue restaurant
Bolivian President Evo Morales is slated to win next year’s election to serve a third term until 2020 but he’s already thinking about life after retiring from politics.

I was hoping for a bakery,

BRAZIL
Brazil cardinal robbed of crucifix at gunpoint
Cardinal Dom Orani Tempesta, archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, held by three armed men as they steal his crucifix and ring

CHILE
Suspect in Chile Bombings Was on Parole

COLOMBIA
Colombia Tightens Borders to Keep Out Ebola

CUBA
It’s official: Raul Castro invited to Latrine Summit

ECUADOR
China and Ecuador Agree to Strengthen Military Ties

Where’s Preet? The unasked question in Chevron v. Donziger

IMMIGRATION
WATCH: Wait’ll You See What Obama’s DHS Boss Just Admitted About Terrorists At Our Border
DHS Secretary Johnson tried to argue that Republicans can be blamed…

JAMAICA
Jamaica on US drug list
Named among 22 major producing, transit countries by President Obama

MEXICO
Mexico Continues Airlift, Clean-Up After Hurricane Odile
State Authorities Report Three Deaths From Storm

NICARAGUA
She survived a plane crash. Now she’s revolutionizing health care in Nicaragua
After narrowly escaping plane’s wreckage, Vivian Pellas seeks to revolutionize medical care for other burn victims in the developing world.

PANAMA
Panama’s Supreme Court Confirms New Trial Against Noriega

PERU
Peru’s economy
Replacing the pilot
, as Alonso Segura replaced for his long-serving boss, Luis Miguel Castilla, on September 14th.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico’s main barrier for Caribbean trade and exports is logistics

URUGUAY
Guardian puff piece on José Mujica: is this the world’s most radical president?
Uruguay’s José Mujica lives in a tiny house rather than the presidential palace, and gives away 90% of his salary. He’s legalised marijuana and gay marriage. But his greatest legacy is governing without giving up his revolutionary ideals

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan cartoonist ‘fired’ over healthcare satire
Rayma Suprani says she was axed after representing Chávez’s signature as a flatline heartbeat in protest over health system

Venezuela’s economy
Of oil and coconut water
Probably the world’s worst-managed economy

S&P Downgrade Of Venezuela’s Debt To Add To The Noise

Venezuela’s Criminal Gangs: Warriors of Cultural Revolution

Les fraudeurs

The ongoing Damage to the Venezuelan Economy

The week’s posts:
Venezuela: Beyond-the-grave nepotism

Venezuela: What hemorrhagic fever? UPDATED

Argentina: Cristina’s vultures

Venezuela: Celebrities’ ire

Ecuador: Celebrities for hire

En español: Guillermo Padrés en la Unidad de Quemados

Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Is ISIS at the border? UPDATED

Venezuela: What do El Puma & Ricardo Hausmann have in common?

Beethoven goes salsa

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
And now for something completely different

Why the game should stand tall, a review of When the Game Stands Tall


Venezuela: Beyond-the-grave nepotism

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Your country seeks a seat in the UN’s Security Council. Who better than the late dictator’s daughter, who has never held a job?

Security Council-ready!

Chávez Heir Lands First Job: U.N. Envoy
Some say María Gabriela Chávez, a daughter of Venezuela’s late Socialist leader Hugo Chávez, is unprepared to be deputy ambassador to the United Nations, as Venezuela seeks a Security Council seat on the world body.

Ms. Chávez, 34 years old, has never held a formal job and is known as a socialite—the Kardashian of Sabaneta, her father’s hometown—who posts “selfies” on social media, said former diplomats and political analysts. Unlike her older sister, Rosa Virginia Chávez, who studied international relations, the younger Ms. Chávez has demonstrated little inclination for geopolitics.

Rosa Virgina is not to be confused with her other sister, Rosinés Chávez who has demonstrated some, shall we say, unsocialistic tendencies,

while María Gabriela knows all the right people,

She’ll fit right in at the UN.

[Post corrected to add omitted text]