Posts Tagged ‘Fausta’s blog’

Venezuela: #1 in misery index

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

In an upcoming article in Globe Asia Magazine, Prof. Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins is Measuring misery around the world. Venezuela is on top:

When measured by the misery index, Venezuela holds the ignominious top spot, with an index value of 79.4. But, that index value, as of 31 December 2013, understates the level of misery because it uses the official annual inflation rate of 56.2%. In fact, I estimate that Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate at the end of last year was 278%. That rate is almost five times higher than the official inflation rate. If the annual implied inflation rate of 278% is used to calculate Venezuela’s misery index, the index jumps from 79.4 to 301, indicating that Venezuela is in much worse shape than suggested by the official data.

Argentina’s on the #4 spot, also because of inflation.

Daniel Duquenal looks at How to admit failure in Venezuela: by threatening further and blaming others

Video: What It’s Like to Live in Venezuela Now

In Venezuela, shortages are such that there’s a shortage of the plastic used for making the electronic rationing cards . The CNE (the elections commission, run by Cuban intelligence) is behind the rationing cards:

With their ID cards, and by providing the fingerprints for their index fingers and thumbs, any Venezuelan can register in the system.

Registration also requires providing a series of detailed personal information: is the person a public employee, do they belong to a communal council, do they shop at government stores, and whether or not they have participated in the government’s social programs. They also have to leave their phone number and an email, where in 45 days they will receive a message saying their caard is ready.”

Juan Cristobal Nagel wonders, Is Venezuela a middle class country? My question is, what middle-class country imposes food rationing on its citizens?


Colombia: Gustavo Petro back in city hall

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro reinstated
Reins of Colombia’s biggest city change hands for third time in just over a month as court order forces backdown by president

The court, in giving Santos 48 hours to return Petro to his job, cited the president’s failure last month to heed a ruling by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission that Colombia’s inspector general violated regional human rights charter by ordering Petro’s removal and barring him from politics for 15 years.

In last night’s podcast, I incorrectly stated that president Santos had reinstated Petro by his own initiative, so my apologies for my error.

Mr. Petro,

a leftist and former member of the now-defunct militant rebel group M19, was thrown out of office five weeks ago on a ruling from the country’s inspector general, who alleged the 54-year-old politician mismanaged Bogota’s trash-collection system when transferring it from private hands to a public service.
. . .
But in another twist, the newly-returned Mr. Petro is facing a public referendum that could force his recall, meaning he might be booted out of office again in just a few weeks

As Drudge says, “developing” . . .

In Silvio Canto’s podcast

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

talking about Cuba, Venezuela & US-Latin America stories of the week. Live at 8PM Eastern, and also archived for your listening convenience.

“Positive discrimination”

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

My latest at Da Tech Guy, “Positive discrimination”,

But I pose to Justice Sotomayor this question, does race matter when Asian (East Asian and Indian) students are denied admission to top colleges because quotas favor a different minority?

Go read the whole thing.

Argentina: SCOTUS hearing Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

As previously mentioned, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on the defaulted debt case, Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital. NML is trying to collect $1.6 billion in judgments it has won in U.S. court cases against Argentina.

The justices were skeptical:

Argentina got a skeptical reception at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices considered whether two banks must turn over details about the country’s assets as part of a multibillion-dollar fight over defaulted government bonds.
. . .
The bondholders’ attorney, Theodore Olson, told the justices that Argentina, when it issued the bonds, agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Had it not done so, “it never would have been able to borrow any money in the United States,” Olson said.

However, there’s The problem when a pitfall opens

The Supreme Court spent most of a half-hour on Monday staying entirely away from a pitfall in the law that governs debt collection, but then that trap suddenly opened widely, and nearly swallowed the case of Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital Ltd. What made the difference? The Court began worrying a lot about the identity of the debtor — the sovereign nation of Argentina.

To a remarkable extent, this was an argument in which the front half and the second half did not seem to be on the same page. In the end, though, it appeared that the second part might well turn out to be controlling, and Argentina could get some special treatment as a debtor — because it is a nation, not an ordinary debtor.

Read the rest of Lyle Denniston’s post here.

En español: Terapia intensiva #204

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

@DrNetas regresa esta semana, y el mejor chiste es el último,

Well, there’s at least one person out there who dislikes Gabriel García Márquez more than I,

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

and it’s The Diplomad,

One of the great phonies and bootlickers of leftist dictators has passed from the scene. Those who love freedom can only be grateful.

I will speak ill of the dead. It is hard to exaggerate the damage that GGM has done to the image of Latin America and Latin Americans, portraying the region and the people as some sort of quasi-magical place, a place filled with ethereal, mystical beings without logic, common sense, and ordinary human emotions and foibles. For all his “magical realist” vision, he could not or would not see, for example, the horrors brought to Cuba and Cubans by the Castro brothers. On the contrary, he had an enormous house in Havana provided by the regime, with servants and cars at his beck-and-call, and a ready chummy access to the bloodstained brothers and their rule of terror. He convinced generations of gringo academic Latin American “specialists” that the region could not be understood in conventional terms; that supply-and-demand economics did not work there; and that ordinary people did not want individual liberty and political democracy. He helped perpetrate and perpetuate a horrid stereotype of Latin America, one in which the atrocities of leftist regimes could be ignored because the region operated on another level of consciousness, one beyond our poor powers to comprehend. Good riddance to this poseur and his unreadable sentences! An enemy of freedom is gone.

The late great Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas dared to ask, Gabriel García Márquez: ¿Esbirro o es burro? (Tool or fool?) (emphasis added)

Now then, that a writer like Mr. Gabriel García Márquez [GGM or GM henceforth], who has lived and written in the West, where his work has had tremendous impact and acceptance, which has guaranteed him a certain lifestyle and intellectual prestige, that a writer like him, benefiting from the freedom and possibilities such a world offers him, should use them to be an apologist for the communist totalitarianism that turns intellectuals into policemen and policemen into criminals, that is simply outrageous. And that is the attitude of GGM, who has apparently forgotten that the writing profession is a privilege of free men, and that by taking the side of dictatorships, whether Latin American or eastern ones, he’s digging his own grave as a writer and playing along with the lackeys of official power, who climb with hope, but are later reduced to the sad state of a beleaguered rat forced to applaud incessantly its own prison and its supreme warden. On various occasions Mr. GM, golden boy of the western press, full beneficiary of the comfort and guarantees offered by the so-called capitalist world, has made statements condemning the millions of Vietnamese who, in a desperate and suicidal act, throw themselves into the sea fleeing communist terror. Now, to the great indignation of all freedom-loving Cubans, GM, as Fidel Castro’s guest of honor at the recent May Day celebrations, has condemned with his attitude and words the ten thousand Cubans who have sought refuge in the Peruvian embassy, attributing this act and situation to the direction or instigation of so-called American imperialism. In fact, GM also condemns the million Cubans who, risking their lives, take to the sea like in Vietnam to perish or be free, even if that freedom consists of no more than being able to reach a strange country alive and half naked. Apparently, GM likes concentration camps, vast prisons and muzzled thinking. This star of communism is irritated by the flight of the prisoners, just as the great Cuban landowners of the 18th and 19th centuries were irritated by the flight of slaves from their plantations. Enriched by his material earnings in the capitalist world, it bothers GM that other men aspire to or dream of having the same rights he enjoys, the right to write and speak, the right to be, above all, a human being and not an anonymous slave, numbered and persecuted, condemned in the best of cases to retract himself incessantly, and also to inform on himself incessantly.

Arenas, who committed suicide in 1990 while ravaged by AIDS, was a brilliant writer who used magical realism to describe the horrors he endured by the Cuban communist regime.

Today’s GGM headline, Mexico editor: Garcia Marquez left manuscript

The manuscript has a working title of “We’ll See Each Other in August,” (“En Agosto Nos Vemos”).

An excerpt of the manuscript published in Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper contains what appears to be an opening chapter, describing a trip taken by a 50-ish married woman who visits her mother’s grave on a tropical island every year. In the chapter, she has an affair with a man of about the same age at the hotel where she stays.

Hmmm . . . woman of a certain age, tropical island, heat, landscape, music, local inhabitants . . . Wasn’t that How Stella Got Her Groove Back?


Colombia: Santos throws the towel

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Methinks he’s really hankering for a Nobel Peace Prize:
Colombian President Santos Seeks New Path on Drug War
Leader Says He Hopes for Breakthrough on Drug War in Peace Talks With FARC Guerrillas

The Colombian leader, who faces a critical re-election test in May, said that an important breakthrough in the war on drugs would be achieved if, as expected, negotiators for his government and for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, reach an agreement on stamping out drug trafficking by the guerrillas, the third point in a proposed peace plan.

The FARC, which the U.S. considers to be a terrorist and drug trafficking organization, relies heavily on cocaine trafficking to finance its activities. The two sides have been locked in tough negotiations for the last 17 months in Havana to end the five-decade guerrilla insurgency.

“I expect to reach an agreement on that third point in the near future,” he said. If the FARC stops drug trafficking and becomes a partner with the government in eradicating drugs, it would have “enormous implications repercussions for Colombia and the world,” he said.

It sounds like Santos believes that the FARC will throw away its hugely profitable main source of revenues, everybody will hold hands, and a choir of potheads stoned on legal pot will Kumbaya as peace breaks out all over the land.

Forgive my cynicism, dear reader, but I visualize a slightly different scenario: The FARC signs whatever agreement will get them into congress (since Santos wants them in congress without being elected), legalizes all its drug activities consolidating power, and Colombia kisses the rule of law good-bye.

Álvaro Uribe’s not buying Santos’s tripe:
Pres. Santos forgot to tell the BBC that he promised secure democracy and he has allowed terrorism to advance

The Easter Week Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 21st, 2014

LatinAmerYesterday was Easter Sunday, and we celebrate it, and, possibly, Spring.

ARGENTINA
How Argentina’s Default Could Be New York’s Loss
The commercial capital depends on U.S. courts to hold governments to their promises.

Battle over Argentina’s debts heads to Supreme Court

HACER’s Amicus Brief Filed with U.S. Supreme Court

BOLIVIA
Cónsul de Bolivia en Nueva York: Personajes emblemáticos del narcotráfico y la corrupción representan a Bolivia

BRAZIL
The road to Rio… by scooter
Shunning traditional air travel, one England fan has decided to take the scenic route to Brazil for the World Cup – making the journey on a Vespa scooter

Police in Brazil’s Bahia State End Strike
Police in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia on Thursday called off a strike after accepting terms offered by the state government.

CUBA

Easter No. 3 for a Prisoner of Castro
Bearing witness to Cuba’s political persecution costs Sonia Garro her freedom.

MLB’s Next Headache: Cartels, Gangsters, and Their Cuban Superstars
The baseball world has been stunned by reports the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig was smuggled from his homeland by a drug cartel, and a Miami gangster allegedly now owns 20% of his astronomical contract.

Did USAID Wander Into CIA Territory by Running Cuba Op?
A rudimentary Twitter-style app crafted to stoke protests in Cuba is making some on the Hill screech.

HAITI
Housing Effort Said to Lag
A post-earthquake housing program in Haiti financed by the United States Agency for International Development has delivered only a quarter of the planned number of houses.

HONDURAS
US Air Base in Honduras Delivers Supplies to Mountain Village

JAMAICA
Govt’s plan to raise $6.7 billion

LATIN AMERICA
World leaders pay tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Colombian author praised as a literary giant who changed Latin Americans’ thinking, after his death at the age of 87

MEXICO
Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

NICARAGUA
Earthquakes diminish in Nicaragua, but country remains on red alert

PANAMA
The election is scheduled for May 4: Panama’s Seven Presidential Candidates Debate Before Vote.

PARAGUAY
Paraguay Busts International Drug Trafficking Ring

PERU
Thousands evacuated in Peru after volcano warning
Increased activity of Ubinas volcano in southern Peru leads to state of emergency with 4,000 people and their 30,000 animals told to evacuate

PUERTO RICO
Vice: Legalize Prostitution or Marijuana? Puerto Rico Is Looking for Ideas to Solve Debt Crisis

This is What Happens When You Register Your Guns

Salsa legend Cheo Feliciano dies
Puerto Rican salsa singer and composer Cheo Feliciano dies in a car crash in his native island aged 78.

URUGUAY
In pictures: Gauchos at Criolla Week rodeo in Uruguay

VENEZUELA
Maduro [sic] First 365 Days As President Of Venezuela

Venezuela’s Unending Ordeal

Someone in Maduro’s government must be held responsible for the deaths

¿Cómo conquistó Cuba a Venezuela?
La respuesta es Hugo Chávez. Dejar entrar a los cubanos fue la expresión de su poder absoluto

Desde su inicio en 1959, una prioridad de la política exterior del régimen cubano ha sido la creación de vastas redes de apoyo a su causa. Sus servicios de espionaje, su diplomacia, propaganda, ayuda humanitaria, intercambios juveniles, académicos y culturales, y el apoyo en otros países a ONG, intelectuales, periodistas, medios de comunicación y grupos políticos afines han sido pilares básicos de su estrategia internacional. Esto lo hacen todos los países, pero pocos han tenido la necesidad de darle tanta prioridad y durante tanto tiempo como Cuba. La supervivencia económica y política del régimen ha dependido de su éxito en tener aliados en otros países que, a su vez, puedan influir sobre sus gobiernos en apoyo a la isla.

Incitatii Bolivariani

Students add Easter twist to dwindling Venezuela protests

The week’s posts and podcast:
Mexico: 7.5 earthquake on Good Friday had warning

Cuba/Venezuela: $10,000 “melange of Communism” trips

Cuba: The great unwashed, by governmental decree

Venezuela: Inspired by Marx!

Venezuela: No amnesty for jailed opposition

Panama: Martinelli strikes back

Chile: 15 dead in #Valparaiso

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, RIP, with additional comment here.

Mad Men’s somber final season opener

The week’s podcast:
The latest from Colombia plus other US-Latin America stories of the week with Silvio and Cecilia Torres.


Mexico: Fracking time

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Along Mexico’s oil frontier, a fracking divide
After the passage of a landmark energy bill, a new mother lode from the south beckons U.S. companies.

Here’s the divide:

The geological marvel known to Texas oilmen as the Eagle Ford Shale Play is buried deep underground, but at night you can see its outline from space in a twinkling arc that sweeps south of San Antonio toward the Rio Grande.

The light radiates from thousands of surface-level gas flares and drilling rigs. It is the glow of one of the most extravagant oil bonanzas in American history, the result of the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Curving south and west, the lights suddenly go black at Mexico’s border, as if there were nothing on the other side.

This is a reflection of politics, not geology. The Eagle Ford shale formation is believed to continue hundreds of miles into Mexico, where it is known as the Burgos Basin. But while more than 5,400 wells have been sunk on the Texas side since 2008, Mexico has attempted fewer than 25.

There’s the Texas oil boom:

The shale boom is the main reason the United States is challenging Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s top oil producer. Texas pumps more than a third of U.S. output, and on its own the state would rank as the world’s ninth-largest oil producer.

The situation in Mexico gets complicated by the Batial-1 well site being in an area controlled by the Zeta drug cartel. All the more reason for the US to strive for full energy independence.