Posts Tagged ‘Fausta’s blog’

And now for a Venezuela roundup

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Late on Thursday night, Nicolas Maduro held a televised “crisis talk” with members of the opposition. The Beeb says

Mr Maduro met his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, for six hours. More talks are scheduled for Tuesday.

The meeting was brokered by foreign ministers from South American nations.

The spokesperson of the Vatican, Federico Lombardi, noted he had “nothing to say” about the invitation sent on Wednesday by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Pope Francis for the Vatican to act as a mediator in talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

No matter the foreign ministers or the Vatican, the farce went on as expected: a guarimbalogue.

Francisco Toro calls it A Night of Epistemic Closure (emphasis added)

Fifteen years of sitting in front of a VTV screen have taken their toll. Chavismo has zero interest in reality outside the deep, cozy grooves of its ideological comfort zone. We’re talking about a movement that, when faced with a prominent figure claiming that Jews were using newspaper crossword puzzle clues to send each other coded messages, actually promotes the guy.

These people have all the power, all the money, all the rents, and all the guns. It’s going to take a lot more than having the Papal Nuncio sit through a six-hour meeting to get them to step outside that bubble.

In a way, chavismo doesn’t have an epistemic bubble - it is an epistemic bubble. The obdurate refusal to confront a reality it cannot control, to honor opposing points of view without necessarily sharing them, to treat others’ points of view as basically legitimate even if possibly wrong…these things aren’t features of chavismo as a belief system, they’re its essence.

Which is why, all told, there was just one figure who came out of last night looking relatively good: Maria Corina Machado, who called bullshit on the whole sad charade before it even started.

Miguel Octavio is more optimistic,

Short term, this is largely irrelevant, clearly Chavismo is stuck in its own imaginary world, trapped in its slogans and has no intention of yielding on anything, despite the scheduling of another session on the 15th., right in the middle of a nationwide vacation.

But the fact that this was shown on nationwide TV and the opposition had some very good interventions, is very important long term.

The Chavista militias known as “colectivos” are continuing their rampage.

Maduro’s latest slogan is “Venezuela is a country where the rich protest and the poor celebrate their social well-being,” which he stated to a Guardian reporter but was echoed by a chavista woman on the street.

While the protests are a recent development, the chavista disinformation war continues,

A chavista mouthpiece, infamous Minister of Housing Ricardo Molina, said, from Cuba of course, that there were two Venezuelas. In that, he is absolutely right. Indeed there are two Venezuelas: the imaginary one that exists only in chavismo’s ethereal world, and the other one. There’s no doubt, or disagreement about that. Maduro “lives” in a Venezuela where everything is rosy. So do his henchmen and cronies. Every other one of the 29 million Venezuelans, lives in a Venezuela of scarcity, uncontrolled crime, unemployment, abuse, corruption, uncontrolled inflation, crumbling infrastructure, and a long list of etceteras. I think one example will suffice to illustrate this point: in chavismo’s world, Hugo Chavez was “infected with a brutal and aggressive cancer in 2011​“; in the real world, well, you get the point.

I’ve been reading Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States). The depth and breath of the chavista disinformation war is beyond what I even imagined. Ocando reports on the hundreds of millions of dollars Chavez spent in the propaganda war.

Out on the street, the police mark people waiting in line to buy milk,

UPDATE:
Linked to by the Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!


Bye-bye, Elementary

Friday, April 11th, 2014

My latest article at Da Tech Guy Blog, Bye-bye, Elementary, on CBS’s Sherlock Holmes and the Second Amendment.

Please read it and leave a comment.

Ecuador: Rafael Correa at Yale UPDATED

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Rafael Correa wants your money. Carlos Eire reports:

He demanded the “hegemonic” industrialized nations pay Ecuador and all other nations with rain forests for the oxygen produced by the trees in those forests. I let out a chuckle. Much to my surprise no one else laughed.

He also demanded that Ecuador be paid for all of the petroleum that he refuses to extract from its soil in order to keep the rain forest pristine. Not drilling for oil costs Ecuador billions of dollars, he complained. Some clapped enthusiastically.

And he demanded that the “hegemonic” industrialized nations pay fines to the non-industrialized nations as recompense for the air pollution caused by their industries and vehicles. More applause.

Even more applause greeted his proposal to abolish intellectual property and patents. No one should charge for what they invent, and perhaps not even for what they manufacture, he argued.

He called these proposals “a new distribution of labor” and railed against the present “world order” as unjust and “immoral.”

Maybe I ought to demand that Ecuador pay me for the oxygen produced by the trees in my yard, and for not fracking on my property, for the sakes of “a new distribution of labor” or something.

UPDATE:
The Five questions for President Correa that Dr. Eire was not allowed to ask.

4. Mr. President, it is common knowledge that Ecuador wants to return to international financial markets to borrow money again following its 2008 default. Yet you yourself have publicly attacked bond holders, calling them “true monsters.” Outside institutions tend to think that the rule of law and protection for investors is weak in Ecuador. So what is the case you make for investing in Ecuador today?

You can watch the whole lecture here (the YouTube starts right away) below the fold:

(more…)

Mike Hammer goes to Chile

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Not this Mike Hammer,

this one:

Grew up in Latin America,
Georgetown U international relations graduate,
100% fluent in Spanish,
and personable.

Photo of Ambassador @MikeHammerUSA at a meeting presenting credentials to Pres. Bachelet at La Moneda.

Certainly a much more qualified diplomat than the Noah Mamet guy they were thinking of sending to Argentina!

Tonight’s podcast 8PM Eastern

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

talking about Dr Gross in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador & US-Latin America stories of the week with Silvio Canto. Live, and also archived for your listening convenience.

Cuba’s American hostage

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

My latest article at Da Tech Guy’s, Cuba’s American hostage, Alan P. Gross.

Brazil: Airports not ready yet

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Oh-oh:

Brazil’s Latest Airport Project Not Fully Ready For FIFA World Cup

The Brazilian media have been almost gleefully picking on its country’s lack of preparedness for the FIFA World Cup matches that begin in June, with the latest news being that an airport won’t be fully functional as planned.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. The Viracopas International Airport in the interior São Paulo city of Campinas will surely be opened for its usual flights, but its newest R$2 billion ($800 million) terminal will not be ready as promised.

The airport terminal is not the only problem.

Expanding the roadway in and out of the airport, including areas for taxi service, also requires some new construction. But, again according to Folha, the consortium was only granted its go-ahead environmental permit on March 28. Ownership said that is enough time to expand the roadway before the May 11 deadline, and surely before the World Cup opening.

Not to worry – Putin’s team will get there

For now, team aircraft from Russia, Japan and Portugal, among four others, as well as TAP Airlines will be the only aircraft allowed at the new terminal when World Cup soccer begins on June 12.

Still, the developer says the project will be “fully operational” by May 11.


Mexico: en español, Terapia Intensiva 203

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

@DrNetas habla sobre “maestros aviadores”, y otros temas,

New book: Chavistas en el Imperio

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Miguel Octavio reviews Casto Ocando’s new book, Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (Chavistas in the Empire: Secrets, Tactics, and Scandals of the Bolivarian Revolution in the United States):

Perhaps nothing summarizes better the book, as Ocando’s revelation in the introduction, that Chavez spent US$ 300 million in propaganda in the US during his first ten years in power. Thus, while Chávez was accusing Washington of trying to destabilize Venezuela, he was outspending Bush and Obama in promoting his revolution. And his buddies in Government, were always (or are?) trying to make friends in the US, to defend their money, their properties and even guarantee protection sometime in the future.

In fact, the promotion was not only of the revolution, but even paying companies in the US to regularly show that Venezuela’s economic numbers were doing well. ironically, while Chávez formed the Venezuelan Information Office and Eva Golinger was hired to show the US was conspiring in Venezuela, there was proof of all the money being spent very directly by the Venezuelan Government to promote itself in teh US and very little proof was ever shown that the US was ding the same thing in Venezuela or elsewhere.

In the end, the book just tells us how Chavismo went from corruption to drugs, joining forces with the FARC, the Iranians and drug cartels, showing that Chávez was willing to allow anything to his buddies in order for the revolution to survive.

This alone would make a valuable contribution to the literature of Latin America’s history.

Ocando, as his Twitter feed notes, is an

Investigative Reporter & Writer with Univision Network. Interests: Public Corruption, Narco-Terrorism, US-LatAm Relations, Venezuela. http://www.univision.com.

I bought the Kindle edition, and will post on it.

Cuba: Alan Gross on hunger strike

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Very bad news:
Alan P. Gross, the American who’s been in prison for over four years, has started a hunger strike.

Gross, 63, had already lost over 100lbs and has a large lump growing on his back, which under the “excellent free healthcare” Cubans endure are considered “chronic illnesses that are typical of his age.” He said in a statement (h/t Babalu)

that he was frustrated by the continued lack of effort by the U.S. government to orchestrate his release.

“I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal,” Gross said in a statement released by his attorney. “Once again, I am calling on President Obama to get personally involved in ending this stand-off so that I can return home to my wife and daughters.”

In practical terms, the Cuban government is holding Gross hostage over the release of the Cuban Five, men convicted in federal court on espionage charges. Two of the men have been released from prison and returned to Cuba.

Sen. Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke about Gross on the Senate floor,

“And the clock is ticking for Alan Gross. On December 4th, 2009, Alan Gross, a private sub-contractor for the U.S. government, working to bring information to the Cuban people, was arrested in Cuba. Mr. Gross is a 64-year old development professional who worked in dozens of countries around the world with programs to help people get access to basic information.

“Since 2009, he has been detained in Villa Marista – a prison in Havana notorious for its treatment of political prisoners by the Cuban National Security Agency. This is not a minimum security prison where foreigners are routinely held. It is a harsh, repressive prison –reserved for Cuban dissidents.

“He is still being held at Villa Marista, and so I come to the floor to urge my colleagues – indeed, to urge the Administration – to do all it can to free Mr. Gross, and keep pressure on the Castro regime.

“After serving four years of a 15 year sentence, this 64 year old American’s mental health is reported to be deteriorating and his life may well be in danger.

“The case of Alan Gross is only one example of why we cannot let up until the dead weight of this oppressive regime is lifted – once and for all — from the backs of 11 million Cubans living on that island nation, isolated from the world.”

Gross’ situation is desperate.

Related:
A Cuban immigrant to Ecuador attempted suicide when denied entry.

Castro’s “Murder, Inc.”

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!