All about Steve: a review of Birdman

February 25th, 2015

Rather than a flight of imagination, a philosophical and magical-realism clunker big enough to fuel dozens of film studies thesis for years to come.

Read my review at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Today’s podcast

February 25th, 2015

Live at 10AM Eastern, and archived for your listening convenience, in Silvio Canto’s podcast, talking about the LatAm stories of the week.

Argentina: Pope Francis worried about “Mexicanization”

February 24th, 2015

Pope Francis is concerned that the increase in the drug trade may drive Argentina to the same terrifying conditions as Mexico (link in Spanish, my translation)

Ojalá estemos a tiempo de evitar la mexicanización. Estuve hablando con algunos obispos mexicanos y la cosa es de terror”,

“Hopefully we’re still on time to avoid Mexicanzation. I was talking to Mexican bishops and it’s a terrifying situation”

You can read the Pope’s email to legislator Gustavo Vera at the Alameda website.

En español: Mares de infelicidad, por Enrique Krauze

February 24th, 2015

Mares de infelicidad
La lógica de Hugo Chávez obedecía a una combinación de poder y delirio: quería ser el heredero histórico de Castro. Y quería demostrarle al mundo que el socialismo cubano, el original, el fidelista, sí podía funcionar

Nunca dejará de sorprender el daño que el poder absoluto, concentrado en una persona, puede causar en la vida de los pueblos. Pero aún más misteriosa es la incapacidad de muchos pueblos para ver de frente el fenómeno, comprenderlo y evitarlo. Es el triste caso de un sector del pueblo venezolano, ciego al desmantelamiento de su propio país perpetrado por Hugo Chávez y su Gobierno en beneficio del régimen dictatorial más longevo del mundo actual: el de los hermanos Castro.

Leerlo completo.

Y me gusta el dibujo,

English article here (but rather watered-down for a NYT audience?).

Colombia: Aronson special envoy to FARC peace tallks

February 24th, 2015

U.S. Names Aronson Special Envoy to Colombia
Former assistant secretary of state will help Colombian government and FARC in negotiations

On Friday, President Barack Obama named Bernard “Bernie” Aronson, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for inter-American Affairs from 1989 to 1993, as the envoy. He will help the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, overcome roadblocks in the final stretch of negotiations.

Let’s hope it’s not another case of “not wanting anything in return.”

But they do look glum, don’t they?

Colombia: Hello FARC, good-bye rule of law

February 23rd, 2015

Colombia’s new Supreme Court president is not quite in Marie Harf’s “jobs for ISIS” class, but comes close: When it comes to ending FARC violence, he thinks that

denying justice to the FARC’s victims and offering the rebels minimal penalties (e.g., community service in lieu of prison) for their war crimes solves the problem.

Mary O’Grady has the story of how the FARC wants amnesty by claiming that Colombia’s military is as guilty of war crimes as they are.

Kidnapping, murder, extortion, drug trade, child soldiers, raping women and forced abortion: what the FARC stands for.

Nice going, judge.

The Putinesco Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

February 23rd, 2015

Everything old is new again, so this week’s word is Putinesco, the 21st century non-Soviet.

ARGENTINA
DEBKA investigation: A fake Iranian “defector” assassinated Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

Witness is latest in string of false ‘leaks’

Argentina, Iran and the strange death of Alberto Nisman
The death of a prosecutor investigating links between Buenos Aires and Tehran has quickly gone from being a criminal case to a political affair
It always was.

BOLIVIA
Bolivia’s “spaceship architecture” showcases the new wealth of indigenous people

BRAZIL
Brazil Rio carnival: Beija-Flor wins despite ‘Obiang link’
A Brazilian samba school, which is alleged to have received funding from Equatorial Guinea, has been crowned champion of Rio de Janeiro’s carnival.
Equatorial Guinea?

CHILE
Bachelet’s Virtuous Facade
Hypocrisy Runs Deep Throughout Chile’s Political Elite

COLOMBIA
A court in Colombia rules that same-sex couples can adopt children, but only if the child is the offspring of one of the partners.

Colombian teacher changes her name to ABCDEFG HIJKLMN OPQRST UVWXYZ

CUBA
Whitewashing & Policy Laundering Cuban Terrorism

ECUADOR
No Referendum on Correa’s Indefinite Reelection in Ecuador
National Electoral Council Denies Request for Popular Vote

MEXICO
Mexico to stop shipping ready-to-use fuel to curb thefts

Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex has announced it will stop shipping ready-to-use petrol and diesel through its pipelines, in an effort to curb fuel thefts.

Pemex says it will use its pipelines across Mexico only for unfinished fuel.

That fuel will go through a last phase of mixing when it reaches the company’s storage plants.

More than $1bn (£650,000) worth of fuel was stolen by Mexican gangs in 2014, an increase of 70% over the previous year.

TOWERS OF SECRECY
Mexican Political Family Has Close Ties to Ruling Party, and Homes in the U.S.
The properties stand in contrast to the working-man image promoted by José Murat Casab, a longtime party insider, and his son, a top housing official.

NICARAGUA
Trouble Brewing in Nicaragua

PUERTO RICO
Race to the bottom: Moody’s Cuts Puerto Rico Rating Further into Junk
Two-notch downgrade brings the rating on Puerto Rico’s general obligation bonds to Caa1

VENEZUELA
Turmoil in Venezuela
Sliding toward dictatorship
The arrest of the mayor of Caracas is a sign that the regime will do whatever it takes to hold on to power.
Sliding?

The sudden rise of the bodyguards



Machiavellian? No, Putinesco!

February 21st, 2015

Old: Machiavellian

New: Putinesco.

Russia Boosts Arms, Training for Leftist Latin Militaries
Moscow defense minister inks deals with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua for joint exercises

Shoygu met with defense and military leaders in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and signed several agreements on warship visits and military training during the visit, which ran from Feb. 11 to 14. It is not clear whether any new arms deals were completed during the visit.

Of course, everything old again,

Dan Goure, a Russia expert with the Lexington Institute, said Russia’s current moves into Latin America “are like a page Xeroxed from the Soviet political-military playbook.”

But, hey, the Monroe doctrine is dead, so there.

Cuba: Nancy at the Saratoga

February 20th, 2015

Ah, for the optics!

My friend Silvio Canto, Jr. was keeping track of how many times the Hotel Saratoga, where Nancy Pelosi stayed during her Havana junket, had been expropriated by the Communist regime. He found out it was expropriated twice: once in 1959, and again in 2011:

in 2011, Castro confiscated Coral Capital’s minority stake in The Hotel Saratoga.

And for giggles, he had Coral Capital’s two senior executives in Cuba, Amado Fahkre and Stephen Purvis, imprisoned in the notorious torture facility known as Villa Marista (akin to Moscow’s infamous Lubyanka).

Fahkre and Purvis spent nearly two years arbitrarily imprisoned, had all their assets confiscated and were finally expelled to Britain.

Purvis, as you may recall, does not hold fond memories of the sixteen months he was jailed, and Coral was contemplating suing the Cuban regime for the $20+million it seized.

Indeed, the Saratoga ought to be an object lesson to all who contemplate investing with the Cuban regime; a lesson lost on Nancy.

Venezuela: Criminalizing dissent

February 20th, 2015


As the Communist dictatorship in Venezuela sinks the economy into further chaos, it resorts to criminalizing dissent.

The latest victim is Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who yesterday was arrested and dragged out of office ‘like a dog’ by the police.

Read my article at Da Tech Guy blog.

UPDATE
In other Venezuela news,
Head of the Defense and Security Committee of the National Assembly (AN) deputy William Fariñas said that pro-government deputies would request the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) to remove the parliamentary immunity of opposition deputy Julio Borges.

Liliana Tintori, Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, states that there was an attempt to remove Lopez from Ramo Verde prison to place(s) unknown.