The Venezuelan currency — the Bolivar — has now been assigned three different values by Maduro’s economic ministers.
The official name for this institutionalized chaos is “Sistema Complementario de Divisas (Sicad)”.
This new “Sicad” system in Caracastan is much more than an open display of the Castronoid obsessios with acronyms for destructive and repressive government programs: it’s an acknowledgment of the existence of a black market. Under “Sicad” the Bolivar will have three distinct exchange rates. Right now, depending on what kind of financial transaction one is making, the Bolivar will be worth 10 cents on a US Dollar, or 6.3 cents on a US Dollar, or 3 cents on a US Dollar. The lowest of these three values is the real value of the Bolivar, for that is the value pegged to the black market, which is euphemistically referred to as the “parallel” market.
The purpose is to obscure the devalued currency’s worth so no one knows its worth.
One government, however, has chosen to toss Mr. Maduro a lifeline: the United States. Last week Secretary of State John F. Kerry took time to meet Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on the sidelines of an Organization of American States meeting, then announced that the Obama administration would like to “find a new way forward” with the Maduro administration and “quickly move to the appointment of ambassadors.” Mr. Kerry even thanked Mr. Maduro for “taking steps toward this encounter” — words that the state-run media trumpeted.
What did Mr. Maduro do to earn this assistance from Mr. Kerry? Since Mr. Chávez’s death in March, the Venezuelan leader has repeatedly used the United States as a foil. He expelled two U.S. military attaches posted at the embassy in Caracas, claiming that they were trying to destabilize the country; he claimed the CIA was provoking violence in order to justify an invasion; and he called President Obama “the big boss of the devils.” A U.S. filmmaker, Timothy Tracy, was arrested and charged with plotting against the government — a ludicrous allegation that was backed with no evidence. Though Mr. Tracy was put on a plane to Miami on the day of the Kerry-Jaua encounter, Mr. Kerry agreed to the meeting before that gesture.
“For most of the Korean War, the legendary 65th Infantry Regiment served as a segregated unit, consisting almost entirely of soldiers from Puerto Rico. Despite facing prejudice, ‘the Borinqueneers’ repeatedly excelled on the fields of combat in Korea. The unit played an essential part in some of the fiercest engagements throughout that war, thereby saving the people of South Korea from the scourge of Communist rule. By war’s end, the 65th was one of the most highly decorated units of the conflicts, having received 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, about 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, and nearly 3,000 Purple Hearts.
Soldiers from Puerto Rico have demonstrated their valor and loyalty to our nation in the many wars that the United States has fought in the name of freedom and democracy. The ‘Borinqueneers’ stand out for doing so at a time in which they also had to fight the prejudice of racism from within the Armed Forces they so loved.
If Farah is right that the economic fate of ordinary people in Argentina is largely in the hands of a few radical thirty-somethings nostalgic for Perón, it would go a long way toward explaining the country’s current state of affairs. Argentina is now well into the capital shortage phase of its latest, repetitive cycle of failure. The government has stolen all the money that wasn’t nailed down, and neither foreigners nor rich Argentines will voluntarily lend it any more.
The temporary answer is to go bottom fishing in world capital markets: to welcome dirty drug and arms money into the country in an era when bank secrecy in more respectable places is beginning to erode. This is what the Kirchner government is doing with its recent passage of a tax amnesty that would allow drug dealers and terrorists to put their money in Argentina without the usual formalities and queries. But we wouldn’t advise any international drug lords to trust Argentine politicians; precisely because their money is illegitimate, it will be easy for the authorities to confiscate the money through some clever trick.
This is the kind of desperate decision one might expect from a Peronist youth group that finds itself at the helm of a failing state; it’s unlikely to end better than any of the other gimmicks and dodges tried at similar stages of the Argentine failure process over the decades.
When President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced the general outlines of the freeze late last month, she also said that under the “Mirar Para Cuidar” (Watch to Protect) program, young political activists would fan out across the country to ensure that supermarkets hold prices down as agreed.
Unemployed young people, with an anti-business agenda in a corrupt country welcoming criminals – what could possibly go wrong?
By April 2007, when the Bush administration sent the U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement to Congress for ratification, the cut-flower export industry was thriving. One reason was preferential access to the U.S. market granted by Congress. Mr. Biden certainly is familiar with ATPA since he voted against its reauthorization in August 2002.
That year is memorable for Colombians because the country was being overrun by FARC terrorists, and Mr. Uribe was elected president. Over the next eight years the former governor of Antioquia, whose father had been murdered by the FARC, worked tirelessly and at great personal peril to restore order. As Mr. Biden notes in his op-ed, the road from Bogotá to flower farms was “impossibly dangerous ten years ago,” though he doesn’t give Mr. Uribe or the Colombian military the credit they deserve for that reversal of fortune.
In late December 2010 I had numerous conversations with Colombian officials who were sweating it out because a modified version of ATPA (called ATP-DEA) had not yet been renewed. The Obama administration was refusing to send the free-trade agreement to Congress for a vote, and Valentine’s Day—a crucial holiday for flower growers and by extension the economy—was less than two months away. An estimated 200,000 Colombian jobs were tied to the industry and a roughly equivalent number in the U.S.
Mr. Obama eventually signed the U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement in late 2011 after sitting on it for 3½ years. A Colombian official told me last week that he believes it was only completed because Mr. Uribe—whom Mr. Obama’s international-socialist friends hated—was no longer in office. There were two other crucial developments, he said. Congressional Republicans insisted that it be voted on together with the pending Panama and South Korea free-trade agreements, and Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) pushed for it in conjunction with the stipulation that Colombia would expand laws raising the cost of labor.
Mr. Biden voted against the U.S.-Chile free-trade agreement in 2003 and the Central American free-trade agreement in 2005. Mexican trucks still don’t have unfettered access to the U.S., in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, because the Teamsters and therefore Democrats won’t allow it. Mr. Biden doesn’t explain any of this.
Edward Snowden in Hong Kong — I’m glad we have this information; I am sorry we are getting it from Hong Kong. — Three points: — 1) I believe what I wrote two days ago: that the United States and the world have gained much more, in democratic accountability, than they have lost …
Booz Allen Grew Rich on Government Contracts — WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, has become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States.
Edward Snowden: saving us from the United Stasi of America — Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution — In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release …
In a recent report he claims Argentina has profited from a US-led clampdown on the Mexican drug cartels. They switched distribution routes via Argentina, which is now believed to supply 70 tons of cocaine a year to Europe, a thirds of annual consumption.
It is feared that Argentina’s ties with Iran could lead them to build missiles together
Argentina can no longer be seen as a reliable counter-narcotic partner, or a partner in any sense, for the US.
Douglas Farah, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center think-tank
Argentina also imports far more ephedrine, used in the making of many designer drugs, than its pharmaceutical industry needs, despite a US attempt at a crackdown in 2008.
This is said to be behind a flood of methamphetamine reaching the US.
According to Santos, Colombia has been collaborating with NATO for a long time. “We have always been clear about that,” he said in a press conference in London as reported by Los Angeles’ Hispanic newspaper La Opinión. “We will continue our relationship with the alliance.”
The Colombia president met up with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday, where the allusions to becoming a “partner” of NATO started pouring in. As vague as Santo’s remarks have been about his country’s possible candidacy for the alliance – there were no words uttered about the application process, time frame or how they would meet the requirements for such membership – the very thought of Colombia joining NATO has sparked alarm in other countries in Latin America. The Ministers for Defense of both Ecuador and Brazil expressed their reservations about such an event, and pointed out that this issue should be discussed “throughout the region.”
Santos, himself a former defense minister, announced over the weekend that “NATO is going to sign an agreement with the Colombian government, with the Ministry of Defense, to start a whole process of reaching out, of cooperation, also with a look at entering that organization.”
You’re not alone if you’re confused about the issue of geography,
That puzzled NATO officials because Colombia, as a country close to the equator, does not meet a NATO rule restricting membership to North Atlantic nations.
but at least it got a rise out of the Venezuelan regime (plus Bolivia and Brazil).
Bogota is also, among other things, implying that South American institutions lack seriousness and thus it prefers to look elsewhere for countries that may not love Colombia but at least will deal with Colombia on a serious basis. If you ask me, being a mere associate of the NATO group is definitely more reassuring than being a member of UNASUR where the only thing that matters is what Brazil says. The US of A may be the driving force of the NATO but it has been quite clear that in the last decade and a half its country members participate or not at will in NATO actions though the general aim is respected: democracy and freedom from tyranny.
Santos is sending out a message by meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, and now with the NATO statement: if the ALBA/Foro de Sao Paulo countries were counting on him simply because of the FARC negotiations taking place in Cuba, they need to think again.