In concert at Covent Garden, 1962:
Faustam fortuna adiuvat
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture.
In concert at Covent Garden, 1962:
Following Justin Bieber’s acts of vandalism, Colombian and Brazilian authorities are having to deal with an outburst of graffiti. Maybe they ought to ban the little twerp from coming back, or better yet, make him clean it up with his own two hands.
Authorities have focused on seizing drugs, not dismantling the organisations that peddle them. “This strategy is futile,” says former under-secretary of security for Buenos Aires province, Diego Gorgal. “It doesn’t change the supply, demand, or price of drugs.” It is also poorly executed. According to the latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report produced by the US State Department, Argentine security forces seized 12 tonnes of cocaine in 2010; in the first six months of 2012 they confiscated only 3.4 tonnes. Operation Northern Shield, an initiative to improve Argentina’s border security through the installation of seven radars in the north, has flopped. Only three have been activated. Their backup? Forty-year-old aircraft.
Fire ravages Oscar Niemeyer building
Authorities in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, fight a major blaze at a landmark building designed by modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, The Latin America Memorial.
D.C. Jews press Obama to secure subcontractor’s release from Cuban jail Alan Gross was arrested in 2009 while on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet; a rally planned for Dec. 3 is meant to raise awareness for his cause.
Gay U.S. ambassador faces backlash in Dominican Republic
U.S. trial ends over Ecuador pollution judgment against Chevron: The case is Chevron Corp v. Steven Donziger et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-0691.
Uncovering Jamaica’s Jewish Past In the great Caribbean melting pot, one group is largely overlooked: Jewish refugees who settled centuries ago. Their descendants are unearthing graveyards to reclaim a piece of history.
EPN’s first year
Update on the Chong Chon Gang: Panama Reverses: North Korean Crew Not Freed
Organized crime prosecutor Nahaniel Murgas first said only the ship’s captain, first mate and a Korean official who watched the crew would continue to be detained and face charges of arms trafficking. He appeared later in the afternoon at the base where the crew members were being held and changed his version, saying only the ship was legally free to go. He left without further comment.
Mientras dice que “no defiende la marihuana”, Mujica pide que ‘el mundo ayude a Uruguay’ en su ‘experimento’ con marihuana.
Maduro’s government uses ambulances for posting flyers while hospitals lack ambulance service:
— German (@GerCortez) November 27, 2013
Venezuela elections: Empty shelves and a skyscraper squat
Venezuelans go to the polls in local and regional elections on 8 December that are being widely seen as a referendum on the six-month presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Opponents accuse him of leading the country to economic ruin, but he insists his reforms are essential and popular.
It’s [sic] means this entire thing, the whole of the macroeconomic mess, all the crazy dislocations of the last few years, the raspaíto, the impossible-to-find milk, the shoving matches for perniles, the cars that suddenly jump up in price as they roll out of the showroom, all of it (and, much worse, all of what’s to come) all of it is – to a much greater extent than almost anyone realizes – just a knock-on effect from the financial chasm left in PDVSA’s finances by the gasoline subsidy!
China + oil = deal CITIC Mining Survey Agreement With Venezuela: Another Boondoggle?
The week’s posts:
Venezuela: “21st Century socialism” = same old Communism
At Da Tech Guy’s Blog: Colombia: The controversy started by . . . Justin Bieber?
Linked to by Devil’s Excrement. Thank you!
Last month I referred to Maduro’s incarceration of business owners as the start of the really bad news: the mask dropped completely.
Must-read op-ed by Enrique Standish: Venezuela Finally Turns Communist
Maduro Follows Leninist Dogma to the Letter. Standish tracks the evolution in four stages:
passed 49 laws directed against the private sector. These laws eliminated private participation in the oil business, allowed for confiscation without payment of private lands, suspended constitutional guarantees for business owners, and established “military security zones” in major metropolitan areas — a de facto confiscation of prime real estate in Venezuela’s major cities. At the same time, he launched an all out attack against the country’s independent labor unions
Chavez nationalized the holdings of international corporations in all sectors considered essential by his Cuban advisers: telecommunications, mining, steel, construction materials, oil and oil services, energy generation, distribution and transmission, gas, agricultural services, and even glass companies. At the same time, Venezuela entered into a hugely expensive and disadvantageous agreement with China, with the sole purpose of diverting its oil exports from the United States to the Chinese market.
Now in the fourth stage, Maduro has declared “Economic War” by ending what was left of free markets in Venezuela as he approved a law setting price controls on all goods, and another law creating a National Foreign Trade Center monopoly that will handle all imports entering Venezuela.
and a Zara store after,
Enter the black market, in force.
trusts the state, “charged with vigilance for the common good.”
I hate to say this, but the Pope’s moral authority just went missing.
More on The Pope’s Rhetoric.
Over at CNN, “Venezuela is on a fast track to ruin:”
Linked to by Moonbattery. Thank you!
In Central America and the Caribbean, Petrocaribe — the Venezuelan institution that provides subsidized oil to friendly countries — has raised from 50 percent to 60 percent the cash payments it demands from member countries and is also raising interest rates on their long-term oil debts.
In early November, Guatemala announced its withdrawal from Petrocaribe, saying that the new payment conditions were no longer attractive.
Not enough money to buy the love.
Related: Voodoo economics in Cubazuela: Maduro’s Mojo kicks into high gear
The leftist Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD) has pulled out of the Pact for Mexico, creating an acute crisis (link in Spanish), according to Mexican daily El País.
But how much of a crisis is it?
The Pact for Mexico, created in 2012 by then-new president Enrique Peña Nieto’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the PRD, and the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, or PAN) ended 15 years of gridlock in the fractious congress,
allowing Mr. Peña’s administration to secure passage of wide-ranging bills on telecommunications, tax increases and education.
Congress is taking up the issue next week. But lawmakers from the PAN and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, are expected to rewrite the president’s bill to give private oil companies a bigger role in the state energy sector, including contracts that allow them to share oil production. The president’s August initiative called only for sharing the profits from the oil, but not the oil itself.
“If they insist on an energy reform that privatizes Mexico’s oil income, the government is going to generate a situation of enormous social and political instability,” said PRD president Jesús Zambrano in an interview. “We’ll have a very hot Christmas, we’ll launch protests on all fronts.”
Together, the PAN and PRI have the two-thirds majority in Congress required to pass the proposed constitutional changes for the energy overhaul. And the president has already passed most of his major initiatives under the pact.
Mr. Peña Nieto regretted the PRD’s decision to leave the Pact for Mexico, but vowed to press on with reforms.
From the PRI’s point of view,
The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is hoping its energy reform will spur faster economic growth, and the departure of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) from the accord is likely to push the debate closer to a more business-friendly proposal backed by the center-right.
The Senate is expected to vote on the political overhaul as early as Tuesday, with a vote on the energy bill soon to follow.
A crane collapsed this week killing two workers at Arena Corinthians, the stadium in São Paulo set to host the opening game of the 2014 World Cup.
Now Brazil Orders Partial Halt to Stadium Construction After Accident
Brazil’s government has ordered a partial halt to construction of a new sports stadium, following an accident that killed two workers, creating doubts about the venue for the soccer World Cup opening game in 2014. The stadium is expected to cost around $353 million, but it may not be finished on time:
Press reports Friday said Brazilian authorities were already searching for “a Plan B” in the event the São Paulo venue is unavailable.
A spokesman for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup Organizing Committee, however, said, “It is premature to talk about a Plan B when we have not yet fully assessed the situation at Arena Corinthians.”
other aspects of the project were moving ahead. Corinthians on Friday signed a loan agreement with state-run mortgage bank CEF for 400 million Brazilian reais ($172 million). The money will pay for the remaining construction work on the stadium.
What do the unions say? (emphasis added)
A labor union representative, although highly critical of conditions at the site, said the accident will cause a delay in the construction schedule of only eight to 10 days. “The cause of the accident was human error,” said Antonio de Sousa Ramalho, president of the São Paulo Construction Workers Union. “That can be fixed by putting adequate management procedures in place. Personally, I have no doubt Arena Corinthians will be the venue for the World Cup opener.”
There are a total of six stadiums not yet completed. The question is, will all of them be ready on time? (click on photo for large view)
Imagine an oil auction were the winners would have to contend with the following:
If you’re surprised that they received three bids (as opposed to none), bear in mind that
China’s Andes Petroleum Co. submitted offers for blocks 79 and 83, while Spain’s Repsol Cuba submitted an offer for block 29.
Repsol Cuba, by definition, is a sucker for punishment.
More on China and Ecuadorian oil at Petroleum World.
Cristina’s hitting the same old,
The Foreign Office added that hydrocarbons activities by companies operating on the continental shelf of the Falkland Islands are regulated by legislation of the Falkland Islands government, and in accordance with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
Cristina will resort to any distraction from her chaotic fiscal problems and deals with Iran.
I suggest she focus on this bit of old news instead, World’s oldest prehistoric toilet unearthed in Argentina.
Meir Soloveitch writes in the WSJ about the origins of the Shearith Israel synagogue: God Delivered the Pilgrims—and My People
Thanksgiving always had particular resonance for one group of religious freedom-seekers.
As with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, the origins of Shearith Israel trace back to a small group of religious freedom-seekers and a treacherous ocean passage to the New World. In September 1654, 23 Jews set sail from Recife, Brazil, where the Portuguese Inquisition had made practicing Judaism impossible. Intending to return to Europe but captured by pirates mid-voyage, they gave themselves up for lost—until, as a congregational history puts it, “God caused a savior to arise unto them, the captain of a French ship arrayed for battle, and he rescued them out of the hands of the outlaws . . . and conducted them until they reached the end of the inhabited earth called New Holland.”
Once arrived safely in New Holland, better known as New Amsterdam, the refugees formed the first Jewish community in North America. From the start, they remained loyal to their faith: praying together, ensuring the availability of kosher meat, and observing their holidays. For these individuals, the symbolism of lighting the Hanukkah candles in the dark of winter must have been especially resonant, at one with the dawning presence of Judaism in the New World.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Shearith Israel—the name means “the remnant of Israel”—was importing its clergy from Europe. But by 1768, it was ready to hire its first American-born minister, Gershom Mendes Seixas. And it is here that the story of Shearith Israel becomes forever intertwined with the story of Thanksgiving—and of America.
Read about how it did here
The Cuban government said Tuesday that it was shutting down nearly all of its consular services in the United States “until further notice” because it was unable to find a bank willing to handle its business. The decision threatens to disrupt a recent surge in travel between the United States and Cuba on the eve of the holiday season. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington said that it was informed by its bank, M&T Bank, in July that it would no longer be able to provide services to foreign missions.
Play me the world’s smallest violin. For decades, Cuba has defaulted and cheated on all debts, and is currently imprisoning foreign businessmen who tried to collect on unpaid bills.
The Castro regime will now issue all sorts of “threats” and “propaganda” in an effort to coerce the Obama Administration into compelling a private bank to do business with it.
$5 says they’ll find one.