December 2nd, 2013
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:
- The first stage entailed obtaining total control of all institutions of the Venezuelan state.
- In the second stage, Chavez
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
- Third stage:
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.
Venezuelan blogger Miguel Octavio sees A Confusing Future Ahead For Maduro And Venezuela. Let’s look at a Zara store in Venezuela, before price controls,
and a Zara store after,
Enter the black market, in force.
The Pope, the State and Venezuela
Nicolás Maduro needs cover for an economy in free fall. He gets it from an unlikely source. Pope Francis
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.
And, Maduro Now Set To Regulate Car (???) Sales.
Over at CNN, “Venezuela is on a fast track to ruin:”
Linked to by Moonbattery. Thank you!
December 1st, 2013
Andres Oppenheimer: Venezuela losing clout in region.
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
November 30th, 2013
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.
November 30th, 2013
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.”
I predict Arena Corinthians will hold the 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)
November 29th, 2013
Imagine an oil auction were the winners would have to contend with the following:
Ecuador Receives 3 Offers in 11th Oil-Licensing Round
Analysts Say Contract Model Was Obstacle in Attracting Interest in the Auction.
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.
November 29th, 2013
Cristina’s hitting the same old,
Argentina issue threats over Falkland oil
Argentina threatens fines and imprisonment for oil companies and their executives for any “illegal exploration” of hydrocarbons off the Falkland Islands
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.
November 28th, 2013
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
November 27th, 2013
Cuba, Lacking Bank, Closes U.S. Consular Services
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.
But don’t feel bad for the communist regime,
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.
November 27th, 2013
17 yr old El Ponchis is back in the US:
Mexico: Teen hit man freed, sent to U.S.
Mexican authorities set free a former teen cartel hit man on Tuesday and sent him back to the United States.
The release of Edgar Jimenez Lugo, a U.S. citizen known as “El Ponchis” or “The Cloak,” comes less than three years after a Mexican court found him guilty of torturing and beheading at least four people and kidnapping three others as an operative for the South Pacific Cartel.
On Tuesday, Mexican authorities said he had served his three-year sentence and had been sent back to the United States.
This was a very high-profile case at the time, and parts of El Ponchis’s interrogations were shown on TV.
He’s certainly not the only one; earlier this year a 13 yr old hit man was executed. Prior to his release, El Ponchis had requested police protection, which was denied, and he was deported to the US.
In a somewhat lighter mode, Paco Almaraz had the burnt-out El Ponchis (in Spanish).