Archive for the ‘Vladimir Putin’ Category

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.

Cuba: Putinesca

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

The new political sauce:

Mary O’ Grady discusses how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips
If Havana uses a Russian recipe for clinging to power, investors beware.

The Putin model offers a way out. It permits nominal elections in which the opposition gets some seats in the parliament. On the economic front, Mr. Putin has created a loyal cadre of oligarchs who do business with foreigners.

The former KGB operative can say that Russia is no longer shaped by communist ideology. But behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

Writing from Russia in April 2012, development economist Deepak Lal described this mix of profits for the politically correct and repression for everybody else. His essay, in the Indian daily Business Standard, explained that “ordinary profit making has been criminalized.” Citing the work of Russian lawyer Vladimir Radchenko, Mr. Lal wrote that “there are three million small and medium-scale business entrepreneurs in jail for economic crimes.”

Mr. Putin is reportedly planning on forming his own personal national guard, Mr. Lal wrote. The Federal Security Service is more interested in running businesses than putting down dissidents and the hoodlums hired to do the job are unreliable. Mr. Lal also briefly described the state’s renewed alliance with the Orthodox Church.

Putinismo has meanings, as Gusano points out,

“Putinismo” funny word for a Cuban…loosely translated to “whorinism,” thus the late night double-take. It was too late too click and read so I just put the phone on the charger.

And as I tried to drift off to sleep, I thought about Cuba’s “putinismo.” Yep, it’s “putinismo” alright. Pimp [f]idel over the last 54 years has prostituted our future, our country and our people. The whole place is an obscene shrine to “putinismo.”

Our country was pimped out to the Russians; our men pimped out to fight and die in meaningless proxy wars fought in far-away third world crapholes that weren’t worth fighting for.

Doctors and nurses, pimped out to work in third world countries and in places where local doctor refuse to work.

Our women and children pimped out to foreigners for a meal or a bar of soap.

A whole people has had to prostitute their dignity in order to survive in an undignified and corrupt society.

One big difference, as WSJ commenter Brian McDougall points out, is that

Putin’s Russia is awash in oil/gas revenues, essentially a subsidy that can absorb the losses in economic efficiency that the oligarch system naturally creates. Cuba has no such natural goldmine to prop up it’s shamble of an economy beyond what it is currently receiving from Venezuela.

In turn, Venezuela is on an accelerated path to Putinism . . . if only it had a strongman in charge.

Putin on TV

Friday, September 6th, 2013

We interrupt our blogging on Latin America to comment on Putin’s speech at the G20, live on France24. Salient words:
“Supply and demand
“Business stimulation
“Foreign investment
“Promoting investment climate
“Curb protectionism
“Increase openness of regional trade agreements
“Bolster transparency”

Who’s the grown-up?

UPDATE:
During the Q&A press conference, Putin vowed to help Syria if Syria’s attacked. He also asserted the rebels used the gas to provoke the US to intervene.

Putin, Maduro, and Snowden: A deal in the making?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Well, Edward Snowden is starting to look like the guy in the Tom Hanks movie: stuck at The Terminal.

Ecuador is not in a hurry to take him in, Rafael Correa: we helped Snowden by mistake
Ecuador’s president reveals the whistleblower was granted a temporary travel card at 4am ‘without authorisation or validity’
, which makes one wonder, is Subroto Roy right? He said,

Daniel Kaufman asks “In one phone call over the weekend, what did US VP Biden may have said to President Correa to reverse Ecuador’s protection of Snowden? Telling interview to the Guardian, but no answer to the riddle”, to which I say

Easy… Ecuador’s flower export industry had had it… Ecuador could choose between importing Snowden and exporting flowers..

But that’s water under the bridge by now.

On his part, Snowden has requested asylum in the

Republic of Austria, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Plus Russia (which he later withdrew), Iceland and Ecuador, but who’s counting.

Be that as it may, Edward Snowden’s options dwindle after political asylum rejections
Several countries have denied whistleblower’s request to seek asylum and others say he must be on their territory to apply

Putin will take Snowden in on the condition that “he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound on my lips,” indeed, all the while meeting with his Venezuelan, Iranian and Bolivian counterparts Nicolas Maduro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Evo Morales respectively on Tuesday as part of a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

Deals will be made, which brings us to this headline: Venezuela Defends Snowden but Hedges on Offering Sanctuary

Only Venezuela and Bolivia appeared to offer him a hint of hope for a way out of his limbo inside the international airport transit lounge at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, where he has been ensconced out of public view for nine days.

So, if Putin turns the screws sweetens the pot enough on Nicolas Maduro, they may channel J. K. Simmons and “put him on the next flight to Venezuela” after all.