Saturday night tango: Matteo & Patricia

December 6th, 2014

Dancing to Duerme, mi amor by Carlos Di Sarli

No one does a better molinete.

Puerto Rico: In search of roast pork

December 6th, 2014

Where to Find the Best Roast Pork in Puerto Rico
Crispy, tender, salty, smoky lechón asado—whole pig roasted slowly on a spit—is a holiday specialty on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Here’s where to find the ultimate places to indulge

Then there is the charcoal vs. gas debate. Many purists say that to find the best lechoneras, you should look for the smoke, which means they are cooking with charcoal. “When you cook with gas, the residue of the gas lingers on the meat,” said Junior Rivera, proprietor of Lechonera Angelito’s Place in Trujillo Alto, a laid-back town southwest of the capital. “Charcoal is natural wood and is always going to give a better flavor.” Yet some veterans, such as the Lopezes of El Paso, use propane. “It’s faster, more efficient, cleaner and more economical,” said Ms. Lopez, who believes seasoning is more important than fuel.

I drool just thinking of it.

Venezuela: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?

December 5th, 2014

There go the family jewels!

Venezuela to Use Diamonds to Boost International Reserves
Central Bank to Also Incorporate Easily Convertible Foreign Currencies

Venezuela, facing default fears amid an economic crisis and falling oil prices, will use diamonds as well as other precious stones and metals stored in its central-bank vaults to boost international reserves, the central bank said Thursday.

It will also incorporate easy-to-convert foreign currencies into its reserves, the bank said in a statement explaining changes to a law regulating its activities. Venezuela’s international reserves have dropped 28% in the last three years to $21.7 billion.

Meanwhile, the monthly minimum salary of 4,859 bolivares equals $31.54 (link in Spanish).

Maria Corina Machado is A living reminder of their failure. When dictatorships have nothing left to lose: Machado on the spike.

Is The White House Planning To Kick Venezuela When It’s Down? Let’s Hope So

“Talk to me, Harry Winston!”

Russia aims at Latin America

December 5th, 2014

“Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft,” along with long-range bombers conducting regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and military bases in Nicaragua (not a member of UNASUR), that is.

Read all about it at Da Tech Guy Blog

Cuba: Londoño meets with dissidents

December 4th, 2014

After four editorials and three blog posts in less than two months, NYT unofficial lobbyist against the embargo editorial board member Ernesto Londoño met for two hours with Cuban dissidents from Yoani Sanchez’s 14ymedio:
Times writer gets Earful from Cuba dissidents

And for two hours the staff of 14ymedio gave him an earful about life in Cuba, the lack of democracy or a free press; how changes in Cuba were more in name only and not meaningful; how young Cubans are continuing to flee the island in ever greater numbers because they don’t see a future in their own country.

One of those asking questions was Eliécer Avila, the student who, in 2008, asked Ricardo Alarcon, the President of Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power, several difficult questions:
Why do Cubans have to work several days to earn enough money to buy a toothbrush? Why can’t Cubans travel freely? Why is access to the Internet restricted and censored?

Those are questions the American editorialist should try to answer when he publishes an account of his encounter with these dissenting Cubans. I am sure he will, and he will explain that all this can also be blamed on the embargo. Sorry, I shouldn’t presume what Londoño is going to write — even if what he had written before has been slanted to an anti-American, pro-Cuban point of view.

The group tried explaining to Londoño why the embargo would not solve the problems of the ordinary Cubans, who according to Sánchez “have fear ingrained in their genes.”

“People in this country are very scared,” Sanchez said. They fear those who tell the government what they say in private; they are afraid of not being allowed to leave the country; of being rejected for a better job; of being told that their children cannot go to the university because “the university is for revolutionaries,” Sánchez added.

Miriam Celaya, an independent journalist, pointed out the government had allowed foreigners to invest in Cuba and grants them permits to import what they need. The same benefits are not granted to Cubans, she told Londoño.

Recently more than 30 Cuban dissidents explained why they did not agree with the premise that the solution to Cuba’s problems was for the United States to lift the embargo. They all pointed to many of the same reasons this group of six staffers from 14ymedio told Londoño.

Additionally, Sánchez’s point was that focusing on the embargo focuses on a decision outside Cuba, while she’s focusing on Cuban civil society, “on when we’ll have freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and when will the straijacket will be taken off economic freedom in this country.”

Let’s see if he paid attention.

(h/t Babalu)



Today’s podcast: Adrian Plasencia

December 4th, 2014

Talking about art with artist Adrian Plasencia in Silvio Canto’s podcast

and, Art Basel‘s on this weekend.

Venezuela: Maria Corina charged; falling oil prices

December 3rd, 2014

It wasn’t enough to break her nose on the floor of the National Assembly, now Venezuela indicts opposition leader Machado, alleging plot to kill Maduro; she has not been arrested yet.

Watch her response, translated by Global Post,

We know what’s going on in Venezuela.
Our country is collapsing. It’s total chaos. And those clinging to power and are responsible for this situation have decided to respond by repressing and persecuting.
They’re trying to silence everybody, from union members to journalists, tweeters, mayors, human rights defenders, anyone of us who fights for truth.
Today that’s what I’m charged for. They accuse me of a monstrous crime that everyone in Venezuela and the world knows is a big lie.
They charge me because I tell it like it is. Because I tell Maduro every day that he must resign. …
… Because we denounce the corruption and the abuse. Because we accompany the students and workers in their protests and their demands.
They charge me because we are organizing a formidable citizens platform … to carry out the urgent transition to democracy in peace.
Many ask me, why am I turning myself in?
I’ll respond with what I told my own children when they asked me the same question.
I am not turning myself in. I am presenting myself to defend the truth.
What’s the option? Flee, keep quiet, give up?
Our only option is to fight. It’s to confront lies with the truth, because truth always prevails.
The weapon these dictatorial regimes have for remaining in power is the fear they sow in citizens.
… In Venezuela the people are rebelling. We are an enormous majority that wants profound change.
Pain and anguish unite us, but so do our dreams and our democratic convictions.
That’s why it’s time to fight and go forward. My message to all right now is: Rise up, because we are going to succeed.

The trending Twitter hashtag is #YoEstoyConMariaCorina (#IAmWithMariaCorina).

Juan Cristobal Nagel is Live-blogging Maria Corina’s day

—————————————

Earlier today I posted some questions on Venezuela and the falling oil price

Post title changed.

En español: Unidad de quemados

December 3rd, 2014

Tras ser detenido en forma ilegal y después liberado, el estudiante de la UNAM que luego admitió que sí usa la violencia en las manifestaciones por Ayotzinapa llega a la Unidad de Quemados… y en el Cineclub de Nicasio: Quiero Matar a mi Jefe 2

Venezuela: Oil break-even price?

December 2nd, 2014

Tom Bemis looks at Breakevens for most major oil-producing countries (emphasis added)

A widely used measure of the impact of oil prices on major producers’ governments is the fiscal breakeven price. That’s “the average price at which the budget of an oil-exporting country is balanced in a given year,” according to Standard & Poor’s. Estimates of fiscal breakeven prices can vary considerably based on a variety of factors including actual budget expenditures, and differences in oil production forecasts.

In most cases, the oil price necessary to balance the budgets of major oil producing countries is above $100 a barrel in 2015, according to data from Citi Research’s Edward Morse.

Venezuela, already facing serious fiscal woes and rampant inflation, needs oil at $151 a barrel next year to balance its budget, according to the data.

Iran, which has yet to agree to curb development of nuclear weapons and heavily subsidizes gasoline for its citizens, needs oil at $131 a barrel.

And Russia, whose seizure of Crimea and continuing aggression towards Ukraine has raised tensions throughout Europe and inspired western financial sanctions, needs oil at $107 for a chance of getting its finances in order.

Silvana Ordoñez:

Venezuela’s future? ‘Barbarity and people looting’One analyst at Nomura recently estimated that Venezuela may need oil prices to hit $200 a barrel to balance its budget. (The precise figure is difficult to determine, because Venezuela doesn’t disclose as much economic data as other countries do.)

Will The Minister Come Back Empty Handed From China?

It seems as if President Maduro really believed that OPEC would cut production after he sent Ramirez to visit a few countries, including Russia, who happens not to be a member of OPEC. But as most analysts expected, OPEC did not cut production and scheduled the next meeting for next June, bringing a lot of people back to reality, including Maduro. It was only after Ramirez reportedly left the meeting “red faced”, that it sunk in that maybe Plan A was not going to work. Thus, Maduro switched to Plans B and C. Plan B is to “hope” that oil prices bounce back and plan C was to send Minister of Finance Marco Torres to Beijing to see if he can get some money there. Plan D was to name a commission to cut salaries and luxurious expenses. Yeah, sure!

I have been arguing with a bunch of friends about the probability that Torres will come back with a significant loan, which I peg to be around 0.00001, but they seem to think it is somewhat higher. You see, they actually believe that Venezuela has something to offer the Chinese, like oil or oil fields. But the reality is that Venezuela has little to offer at this time and the Chinese know it, so that Minister Torres is very likely to come back empty handed.

Related:
María Corina, and a unified theory of rationed repression



Colombia: Gen. Alzate resigns UPDATED

December 2nd, 2014

Following the FARC’s release of Gen. Alzate, Capt. Jorge Rodriguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego, Alzate resigned:
Colombian General Captured, Released by Rebels Resigns
Gen. Rubén Darío Alzate Had Come Under Pressure for How He Ventured Into Guerrilla Territory

General Rubén Darío Alzate said in televised remarks that he was resigning after violating security protocols by straying too far into a dangerous area without sufficient protection.

Former president, now senator Uribe is demanding that Pres. Santos explain to the country (##SantosExpliqueleAlPaís) the photo-op of Alzate with a former terrorist, which Uribe finds demeaning,

Here’s the photo, which was taken prior to Gen. Alzate’s release, showing him with Félix Muñoz Lascarro, alias ‘Pastor Alape’, one of the FARC’s negotiators in Havana. The caption reads, “Commander Pastor Alape and General Rubén Darío Alzate. Peace will triumph.”

Uribe’s tweet,

#SantosExplainToTheCountry Telesur’s presenting and organizing a TV show showing Gen. Alzate as the terrorist’s sidekick

UPDATE:
Why Colombia’s War Against the FARC Isn’t Over Yet