Archive for the ‘Vladimir Putin’ Category

The Monroe Doctrine’s dead, but Putin’s alive and kicking

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Eight months ago I was blogging about Putin’s quiet Latin America play. Not so quiet anymore,
Russia’s long-range bombers to conduct regular patrols over Arctic Ocean, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

Russia’s long-range bombers will conduct regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, the military said Wednesday, a show of muscle reflecting tensions with the West over Ukraine.

To remind you,

Earlier this year, [Russian Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu said that Russia plans to expand its worldwide military presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere for replenishing supplies and doing maintenance. He said the military was conducting talks with Algeria, Cyprus, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.

Shoigu said Russia was also talking to some of those countries about allowing long-range bombers to use their air bases for refuelling [sic].

Almost a year ago to the day, John Kerry put a “Kick me” sign on America; now we have major cities, army bases, ports, and refineries at Russian-missile range.

Change!

Related:
Why Russia Has Reinvaded Ukraine
Aware that America lacks the resolve to impose sanctions, Putin has little incentive to back down.

Venezuela wins U.N. Council seat

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

I told you on October 13:

it’s very likely Chavez’s daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez will soon be sitting next to an American diplomat at the United Nations Security Council.

Sure enough, today:

Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola and New Zealand won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015, while a run-off vote between Spain and Turkey was taking place to decide who gets the fifth available spot.

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes in favor

Somewhere in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is laughing.

Could Mexico become the next Russia?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

In Russia, Putin is king. Paul Roderick Gregory writes that Putin’s Reaction To Sanctions Is Destroying The Economy And China Won’t Help

Things are not going well for Vladimir Putin. The price of oil and the ruble continue to fall. Top Russian officials admit that the economy is in big trouble, despite Putin’s denials. Likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has declared that Putin must be contained. Putin’s counter sanctions are making things worse. The most ominous sign, however, is that Putin is weakening the foundations on which his power is based. He is cutting off foreign investment by bailing out his friends, and he is breaking the social compact on which his KGB-Mafia state is founded.
. . .
Putin’s kleptocracy is based on the following principles of (mis)governance: 1) The state determines what is legal and what is not; there is no rule of law. 2) The state serves the interests of Putin and his inner circle, not of the people. 3) Putin’s kleptocracy uses its media monopoly to brainwash the people with Goebbels-like big lies. 4) Putin determines property rights – who owns what. 5) Disloyalty will be punished by confiscation of property, banishment, prison, or worse. Loyalists can rest easy, however. Their property is safe, or at least says their friend, Vladimir Putin.

Leon Krauze sees Russia as a cautionary tale for Mexico, and asks that Mexico’s President Must Not Ignore This Mass Grave of College Kids—or the Corruption It Represents. The mass grave refers to the 43 students missing since September 26

And then you have Guerrero, current epicenter of Mexico’s nightmare. For a while now, rival gangs have been fighting for control of the state. The result has been the usual parade of horrors: cities besieged (including Acapulco), governments infiltrated, journalists threatened, police corrupted. And death. And vengeance. The latest rearing of the beast’s head produced an atrocity: 43 college students were abducted by local policemen, reportedly under the order of both the police chief and the mayor of Iguala, a man allegedly in cahoots with organized crime (both are on the run). The whereabouts of the kidnapped students remain unknown, but authorities recently found a crude open grave filled with 28 severely burnt bodies. Some showed signs of torture. Forensics are still trying to figure out if the bodies are those of the kidnapped students. Relatives fear the worst.

Krauze points out,

Instead of trying to will reality into submission, the government should tackle Mexico’s biggest problem: corruption. Despite Peña Nieto’s penchant for structural change, his administration has failed to put in place even the most modest reform to fight the country’s deep-rooted corruption.

Updating the story yesterday, Mexico’s attorney general said that none of the 28 bodies found in a mass grave in Iguala belongs to the 43 missing students. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that nine mass graves exist in Iguala, or that none of the students’ remains have been found.

Iguala’s mayor Jose Luis Abarca (now missing, along with his wife and the town police chief), had numerous and serious complaints of corruption filed against him, which federal authorities ignored.

The thing is, Peña Nieto’s party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) was based, and ruled Mexico for over 70 years with impunity, on a culture built on widespread tolerance of corruption, which Krauze calls a “gigantic structure of perverse political convenience.” About the only thing preventing Mexico from a Putin-type of president was that the PRI insisted on changing presidents every six years.

When Krauze asked Peña Nieto (emphasis added)

how Peña Nieto planned to prevent Mexico from turning into Russia, especially now that billions of dollars will be in play due to the recent opening of the country’s energy sector to private investors. Peña Nieto shrugged off my concern. Corruption in Mexico “is a cultural matter,” he said, not realizing the implications of the sentence.

Until and unless Mexico tackles corruption, the country is not going to flourish, no matter what other changes the president du jour may attempt.

[Post edited for clarity]



Ecuador: If Correa ain’t happy . . .

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

. . . he hires Putin’s PR people.

Two items from Ecuador,

First:

I’ve been hesitating to review Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who’d Stop at Nothing to Win about fraudster Steven Donziger.

While the book is interesting, I find statements like “While not a materialistic person driven by financial rewards, Donziger sometimes groused about the cost of his career choices” (page 134) exasperating. Paul Barrett may believe that Donziger was not “driven by financial rewards” while setting up a Gibraltar corporation to hold proceeds of the judgment, but readers of Law of the Jungle should read Judge Kaplan’s 497-page decision, which quotes Donziger’s personal notebook on April 4, 2007:

. . . I sit back and dream. I cannot believe what we have accomplished. Important people interested in us. A new paradigm of not only a case, but how to do a case. Chevron wanting to settle. Billions of dollars on the table. A movie, a possible book.I cannot keep up with it all.

That said, Barrett is now under attack by the Republic of Ecuador’s U.S. public relations advisers, New York-based Ketchum. His article, What It’s Like to Be Attacked by Putin’s American Flack explains the latest,

Ketchum’s memo about my book connects the dots regarding why Ecuador cares so passionately about the case. Among the “difficult questions” Law of the Jungle raises, according to Ketchum:

Barrett’s book does raise many questions, among them,

• “Ecuador took the biggest part of the income obtained from petroleum extracted from the Amazon, approximately $23.5 billion against $1.6 billion for Texaco-Chevron.” The precise figures are subject to dispute, but according to government records, the split was roughly 90-10 in favor of Ecuador. This contradicts a central theme of the plaintiffs’ (and Correa’s) narrative: that Texaco derived all the benefit from industrializing the rain forest and left the host country with only the nasty side effects. The Ketchum memo warns the embassy that my reporting raises additional questions: How did Ecuador spend its majority proceeds from oil exploitation? Why wasn’t this money spent on environmental controls? Why was the money not used to help those harmed by the drilling?

Make sure to read Barrett’s full article. You can find all of his very interesting Business Week/Bloomberg articles here.

Ecuador engages in “widespread repression of the media”; now they try to export the repression to our shores via a public relations firm.

The second item:

As you may recall, president Rafael Correa has come up with a fake currency to cover up a fiscal deficit, including debt service, of some $9.2 billion.

Correa claims there’s no plan to replace the dollar. Steve Hanke, who 14 years ago was the chief intellectual architect of the nation’s switch to the dollar, is skeptical,
Ecuador’s Dollarization Architect Doubts Correa’s Pledge

“What Correa’s trying to do is kind of loosen the straitjacket that dollarization has him in,” Hanke said. “If you go off, the fiscal deficit gets bigger, the level of debt gets bigger, inflation goes up and economic growth goes down. All the economic indicators just go south.”

Correa is expected to run for a fourth presidential term in 2017, having changed the law on presidential term limits.

Ketchum may be looking forward to it.

RELATED:
For Ecuador’s PR Firm, Celebrity Backing Carries Hefty Price Tag
MCSquared paid more than $500,000 for Mia Farrow, Danny Glover junkets

UPDATE,
Linked to by Bad Blue. Thanks!


The semifinals Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, July 7th, 2014

LatinAmerArgentina and Brazil go to the World Cup semifinals, and that has been the top story all over the hemisphere.

ARGENTINA
Argentina running out of options in lose-lose debt battle with ‘vultures’

Murder verdict over Argentina bishop
Two former senior military officers in Argentina have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Bishop Enrique Angelelli in 1976 during military rule.

World Cup police cooperation leads to arrest of fugitive from Argentina’s ‘dirty war’
Salvador Siciliano, a leading member of the notorious Triple A anti-communist death squad in the 1970s, captured in Brazil thanks to heightened communications between international forces around the tournament

BOLIVIA
Bolivia sanctions child labour as young as 10
Bolivian congress passes laws that allow 12-year-old children to be employed in full-time work for others, with 10-year-olds permitted to work if self-employed

Bolivian Cops Occupy Command Centers to Demand Pay Hike

BRAZIL
Brazilian police link Fifa official to World Cup ticket gang

Brazil Tragedy Raises Doubts on Building Rush
Grief Descended on Belo Horizonte, a World Cup Host City, Following the Collapse of a Highway Overpass
Video here.

CHILE
Chile’s Bachelet Introduces $27 Billion Infrastructure Program

COLOMBIA
Colombia Taps World Cup Fever to Urge Guerrilla Defections

CUBA
Putin to visit Cuba and other LatAm nations

Media bias reaches new depths in reports on Castrogonian vehicle sales
Four motorcycles sold in Cuba, in addition to those fifty cars.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Dominican Authorities Arrest 137 Haitian Migrants

ECUADOR
NYT editorializes with this headline, Government of Ecuador Can Sue Fugitive Bankers in U.S.

GUATEMALA
Four Guatemalan Cops Accused of Extorting Olympic Athlete

HONDURAS
Honduras: Search for Miners Continues

HUMOR

JAMAICA
Jamaica selling out its paradise

MEXICO
New Telecom Rules in Mexico Clear Senate Hurdle
Mexico is near to completing its biggest overhaul of the telecommunications sector in more than two decades.

The telecom bill is a tough blow for Mr. [Carlos] Slim. It forces mobile unit Telcel to complete calls from competing networks without charge, and establishes that domestic long-distance charges made by Telmex will be phased out starting next year. The bill also gives powers to the new enhanced regulator to set some phone rates of dominant players.

Mexico’s reforms
The power and the glory
Foreigners enthuse over Enrique Peña Nieto’s reforms. Mexicans are warier

PANAMA
Venezuela restores ties with Panama
Relations were broke off after President Maduro accused Panama of joining the US in an “open conspiracy” against him.

PARAGUAY
Animals Take to Rooftops to Survive Floods in Paraguay

PERU
Hero of Peru’s Battle with Shining Path Arrested

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico: The New Detroit
Puerto Rico is moving to restructure a large slice of its debt. More trouble could be on the way. And, Mercado Libre is the eBay of Latin America. But it has a new competitor: eBay itself.

VENEZUELA
Spain’s €3,500 Epalisticia buys El Universal for €90 million

Che’s Battle Comrade Becomes Maduro’s New Economic Adviser
Cuba’s Dominance over Venezuela Out in the Open for All to See

The week’s posts and podcast:
Guatemala: When The Mountains Tremble to be corrected

Venezuela: Bye-bye, El Universal UPDATED

ISIS’s Chilean spokesman

Argentina: Pay up, Cristina

Invasion update: No visitors allowed on federal facilities, CDC opens Emergency Operations Center

Today’s update on the immigrant invasion

Venezuelan army protection racket at Guyana border

Obama to heal illegals with $2billion

Tinker, hacker, Snowden spy

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Bean-counting Catholic justices

Podcast:
Are Liberals Patriotic?


Chile: Bienvenido, Putin

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Now that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stopped in Chile during his tour of Latin America, Bachelet invites Putin to visit Chile

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday invited Russia’s Vladimir Putin to visit the Andean nation and the bases that both countries have in Antarctica with the aim of moving forward on scientific cooperation.

And it’s not just science,

[Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo] Muñoz also joined Lavrov at a meeting with Chilean Defense Minister Jorge Burgos to discuss “the potential for military exchanges.”

$5 says Russia comes out ahead on any of this.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!


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

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

if you have a strong stomach, that is,
Look out, ladies. Vladimir Putin is single now

Any chicks looking to hook up with the world’s most powerful bachelor will have to wait in line, however. He’s rumored to be dating former Olympic rhythmic gymnast (yes, that’s a real sport) Alina Kabeva, and the heat she and Vladimir were making outside of the ring is most likely why she (very conveniently) found herself among Russia’s top athletes called upon to light the Sochi Olympic flame. This all came about probably because she can do this:

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Then again, it’s unlikely a man who wrestles wildlife, rides horses shirtless and wrote a definitive book on martial arts is going to limit himself to one lady.

Indeed, since Vlad’s rather knowledgable about orgies, and has mused that group sex is better than one-on-one intercourse because participants can take a break.

If that’s not cringeworthy enough for you, here’s Vlad singing at a 2010 fundraiser, to a celebrity audience that includes newly-Russian Gerard Depardieu, and those lovely Americans Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Costner, and Kurt Russell.

Bonus:
Gérard Depardieu launches ‘Proud to be Russian’ line of watches
The French actor, who left his home country for Russia following a proposed change in tax law, has partnered with watch manufacturer Cvstos

Double bonus:
Go to the Depardieu link and look at his blouse.

Blogging on Latin America shall resume shortly.

Venezuela: Slingshots vs tanks

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

A demonstrator uses a slingshot against the National Guard during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in San Cristobal, about 410 miles (660 km) southwest of Caracas, February 27, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela’s Failing State, by Leopoldo López, jailed since Feb. 18,

For 15 years, the definition of “intolerable” in this country has declined by degrees until, to our dismay, we found ourselves with one of the highest murder rates in the Western Hemisphere, a 57 percent inflation rate and a scarcity of basic goods unprecedented outside of wartime.

Our crippled economy is matched by an equally oppressive political climate. Since student protests began on Feb. 4, more than 1,500 protesters have been detained and more than 50 have reported that they were tortured while in police custody. Over 30 people, including security forces and civilians, have died in the demonstrations. What started as a peaceful march against crime on a university campus has exposed the depth of this government’s criminalization of dissent.

Indeed. As the country goes up in smoke, the same government who claims to have been “democratically elected” is in full assault against elected representatives:

And it’s also jailing the military:

President Nicolás Maduro said Tuesday that three air force generals allegedly plotting to overthrow the government had been arrested amid antigovernment protests that have roiled the country for nearly two months.

While publishing Leopoldo López’s letter, the NYT did a “two newspapers in one” by sending two reporters to gather opinions about Cuba’s interference in Venezuela. Babalu explains,

But alas, this is the New York Times and the outcome of their so-called investigation had already been decided before the reporters were even assigned to the story. Of course the newspaper of record – the same one that has brought us so many honest and respectable journalists such as Herbert Matthews — found absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Cuba’s Castro dictatorship has infiltrated Venezuela. Instead, what they discover are “hardliners” who are “fixated” with going after Cuba. They even trot out Castro regime supporter Arturo Lopez-Levy, a former Castro-intelligence-agent-turned-American-academic who also happens to be a member of the Castro crime family to prove their point.

It’s not just Cuba; it’s also Russia. Back when he was alive, Hugo Chavez offered Putin the use of military installations as Russian bases. A Venezuelan general has even tweeted about it:
SECRET ACCORD with Russia signed in 2009 when Chavez unconditionally offered Russia the use of the Orchilla Island military base.”

Related: Putin’s quiet Latin America play, and it’s not only Russia,

With the American presence waning, officials say rivals such as Russia, China and Iran are quickly filling the void.

Iran has opened up 11 additional embassies and 33 cultural centers in Latin America while supporting the “operational presence” of militant group Lebanese Hezbollah in the region.

“On the military side, I believe they’re establishing, if you will, lily pads for future use if they needed to use them,” Kelly said.

China is making a play for Latin America a well, and is now the fastest growing investor in the region, according to experts. Although their activity is mostly economic, they are also increasing military activity through educational exchanges.

The Chinese Navy conducted a goodwill visit in Brazil, Chile and Argentina last year and conducted its first-ever naval exercise with the Argentine Navy.

It’s slingshots vs tanks.


Latin America: Putin gets his license

Friday, March 21st, 2014

The Economist‘s cover story:

Mr Putin’s new order, in short, is built on revanchism, a reckless disdain for the truth and the twisting of the law to mean whatever suits those in power. That makes it no order at all.

Some of the more unsavory heads of state in Latin America have been borrowing a page from Putin: Last year I posted on Mary O’Grady’s article on how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips

behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

It’s not only indirect “putinismo”: Putin has been interested in Latin America all along.

Russia has been cruising through the region for quite a while.

Read the rest at Da Tech Guy Blog.

UPDATE
Related: Putin’s quiet Latin America play

Linked to by Doug Ross. Thank you!

Putin, the new Evita

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Nina L. Khrushcheva takes out the big stick:
Putin the Perónist

Until recently, Putin’s resemblance to Evita was not so obvious (though his regular Botox treatments have given him the look that she took on after she was embalmed). But the similarities are becoming increasingly evident. Her passionate “messages for the suffering” resonated with Argentina’s poor in the way that Putin’s macho swagger appeals to a majority of Russians, mostly from the country’s hinterland and provincial cities.

Evita and Putin also share a streak of pettiness. Evita ruined the life of anyone who appeared to doubt her image as Argentina’s “godmother.” Putin takes revenge on anyone – whether the oligarch-cum-political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, members of the rock band Pussy Riot, or ordinary citizens joining anti-Kremlin protests – who challenges his status as “father of the nation.” Perhaps not coincidentally, capital flight is on the rise, and around 300,000 Russians – including many of the best educated – leave the country every year.

To top off this post, this:
Vladimir Putin claims Russia is moral compass of the world
Vladimir Putin asserts in his annual state of the nation address that Russia takes a morally superior world-view to the West and defended its Conservatives values
. Alexander Litvinenko could not be reached for comment.