Happy belated birthday, Pres. Bush!
Faustam fortuna adiuvat
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture.
Happy belated birthday, Pres. Bush!
First, the triple currency:
Carlos Eire posts on how Maduro Institutionalizes Cuban-Style Economic Chaos in Caracastan
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.
Spain’s ABC has much more (in Spanish) on the 3-card Monty; the also point out that Argentina’s got the official and the black market rates. Clarín (in Spanish) has more on Argentina’s double currency.
And the lifeline,
Venezuela gets a lifeline from the United States
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.
As I mentioned last week, the Tracy kidnapping worked.
Press release from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,
Legislation To Award The Congressional Gold Medal To ‘Borinqueneers’ Soldiers From Puerto Rico Who Fought During Korean War Garnering Support In US House Ros-Lehtinen Proud To Support It & Honor Valor Of Patriots Who Helped Save South Korea From Communism
“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.
Their Congressional Gold Medal = Very good news.
talking about US-Latin America issues of the week. Live now, or archived for your convenience.
After running out of toilet paper, someone came up with an Android app,
Venezuelans use smartphone app to find toilet paper
Thousands of desperate Venezuelans have downloaded a smartphone app which helps them find toilet paper.
The new programme, launched last week, uses crowdsourcing technology to enable users to let each other know which supermarkets still have stocks of the tissue.
Called Abasteceme – “Supply Me” in English – the free Android app has already been downloaded more than 12,000 times.
Creator Jose Augusto Montiel said most downloads have been made by residents from the capital Caracas.
Think about the wasted manpower and talent in a country where the government’s mismanagement has caused the country to run out of toilet paper.
Meanwhile, inflation went up by a whopping 6.1% in May.
Over at the store,
Linked by Dustbury. Thank you!
Walter Russell Mead posts on the logical (?) result of Cristina Fernandez’s ruinous economic policy and her brand of radical peronista nepotism as described dy Douglas Farrah,
Argentina to Drug Lords: Money Wanted, No Questions Asked
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.
Meanwhile, the government continues to turn the screws on retailers, by freezing prices on several different brands of wine and liquor, six ice-cream desserts and 12 types of olives — as well as 22 deodorants. But that’s not the disquieting part,
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?
I’m sorry to hear that P.T. Gustan, long-time friend of this blog, has passed away. Ziva Sahl has a remembrance.
Last week Joe Biden, after decades of blocking it, sang the praises of free trade as if he had been championing it all along. Mary O’Grady lets the record stand on Joe Biden’s Free-Trade Epiphany
He discovers Colombia’s decades-old export of cut flowers—and credits the Obama administration.
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.
He never will.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden headed to Hong Kong after releasing a series of sensitive documents to the Washington Post.
Hong Kong is part of China, a country that has blocked access to my blog at times. Not the most transparent place for internet communications.
Now he’s seeking asylum in Iceland, which means he’s hoping that
Kristín Árnadóttir, Icelandic ambassador to Beijing, told the South China Morning Post that Snowden needs to be in Iceland in order to apply for asylum.
So far, he’s checked out of his hotel.
Memeorandum is abuzz,
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos got his neighbors in a flutter by hinting that he would like Colombia to join NATO, which conveys a message to the rest of South America – and not about geography.
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.
Brazil’s disappointing economy
Out of step (video below the fold since it starts immediately)
Mexico Soldiers Free 165 Kidnapped Migrants
Mexican soldiers stormed a residence near the U.S. border and rescued 165 migrants who had been kidnapped by criminal gangs and held for ransom for up to three weeks, a Mexican official said Thursday. The cartels control the border.
María Lourdes Afiuni, Three and a half years, some rapes, beatings and a forced abortion later, has not yet been released.
Chavez’s Folksy Style Proves to Be a Tough Act to Follow
President Nicolás Maduro does a good political impersonation of his predecessor Hugo Chávez. However, he’s missing a key ingredient: Mr. Chávez’s folksy, often ribald, sense of humor. Not to worry, Gustavo Ríos more than makes up for it,
The week’s posts and podcast,
George Galloway’s racism