Earlier this week I mentioned that Venezuela needs to sell its oil between $150-$200/barrel in order to break even. While the country’s economy is increasingly dependent on oil revenues since oil accounts for 95% of all exports, Venezuela ships cut-rate oil to Cuba and 13 other countries. For the last year, Venezuela’s had to cut back:
For a decade, the 13 beneficiaries of Venezuela’s largess have depended deeply on the oil to finance social spending and infrastructure, and rewarded Caracas with diplomatic support on the international stage, regional diplomats said in interviews.
Even as Venezuela pledges to continue the program, the country’s oil exports to the countries fell about 20% through October compared with the same period last year, says ClipperData LLC, a New York data tracker. And last year, Venezuela’s cut-rate oil exports declined 15% from 2012, the International Monetary Fund says.
Petrocaribe may become a thing of the past, which curtails Venezuela’s influence at the OAS and the UN,
The program has cost Venezuela $22.1 billion, with Petrocaribe countries accumulating more than $11 billion in debt through 2013, said Mr. Piñon, basing his calculations on PdVSA data.
In return, Venezuela got loyal allies that voted with Venezuela at the United Nations, the Organization of American States and at other regional bodies, diplomats and officials from four countries said.
Let’s hope the US State Department recognizes this as an opportunity, especially as Russia and Iran widen their scope in our hemisphere.
In many ways Latinos face less prejudice than Jews or Italians did in the 1880s, and have more opportunities to integrate into American society at large than those earlier generations of immigrants did. The evidence if anything suggests that Hispanic immigrants are more open to the cultural influences of American political and social ideas than were earlier waves. While very few Italian, Jewish or Greek immigrants, for example, converted to evangelical Protestantism, 24% of hispanic adults in America are now former Catholics. Hispanics are a large and varied group, but by and large they are learning English, starting businesses, joining Protestant churches and voting Republican at levels that suggest that they are anything but a permanently alienated racial underclass in formation.
And then there’s the Democrats’ assumption that “Hispanics” are a homogeneous group.
Authorities are investigating allegations that the companies formed a cartel to drive up the value of contracts with state-controlled energy giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR +11.89% and paid bribes to the Petrobras executives and Brazilian politicians.
The prosecutors’ targets include Brazilian-based multinational construction companies Odebrecht, Queiroz Galvão and OAS, who together are partners in billions of dollars of contracts for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In an unusual move, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition lawmaker whom the Venezuelan government is trying to put in prison, was made a temporary member of Panama’s delegation to have access to the organization, which so far has largely failed to act on, or even publicly debate, the continuing crisis in Venezuela.
“We did it!!! The voice of the Venezuelan people was heard at the OAS!!!”
the representatives of these so called “democracies” had to start by protecting the repressor, Dictator Nicolas Maduro, violating not only the Charter of the OAS, but Ms. Machado’s rights and that of the opposition to be heard in a forum which is supposed to be there to defend the basic rights of people across the Americas.
And while I can understand the strong dependency of the weak Caribbean economies on the stupid (or is it?) largesse of the even more stupid revolution, I was most disappointed at how so many of these Latin American countries were ready to prostitute themselves in order to protect their mercantile interests. It is remarkable how low these mostly leftists Governments have fallen. Despite being democratically elected, they were not willing to give a voice to the over 50% of Venezuelans that find themselves discriminated against and repressed by the Maduro Dictatorship.
And in doing so, they are trying to defend the most repressive Government, save for Cuba, to have risen in the region in the last two decades. How these representatives and their Governments can sleep at night is beyond me, more so when some of them were victims of similar repression in the past.
But somehow they are short sighted enough in thinking that this will not happen again in their countries and that their commercial interests are being protected by their unethical actions. Both premises are actually wrong. As the world turns, their countries may swing back to repression and they may need the same type of solidarity Venezuela’ opposition deserves today. But more importantly, their belief that their actions in support of the Maduro Dictatorship will somehow lead to payment of Venezuela’s debts with their countries or companies is simply wrong. As stated by Minister Ramirez or the President of the Central Bank, Nelson Merentes, there is no money to pay anything but the foreign currency budget they have established for the year 2014.
So, forget it! You will not collect under Dictator Maduro. In fact, you would probably have a better chance under a change in Government that would put order in the economy and reduce some of the absurd subsidies present in the Venezuelan economy. Only in this case, could Venezuela receive loans and cut subsidies which would, with very strict management, allow it to pay its debts with these countries, that so easily supported what can not be supported under any moral framework.
While Maria Corina was allowed to speak at the OAS, a student, and the mother of one of the protestors killed were not, as the Brazilan ambassador labeled their presence “a circus“.
These countries voted for openness:
Machado faces the prospect of being jailed like Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader who has encouraged the demonstrations against widespread food shortages, skyrocketing inflation and the horrendous violent crime wave engulfing Venezuela.
Separately, two opposition mayors have been arrested in the last 48 hours — with one already sentenced to 10 months in jail — for failing to remove the street barricades put up by some of the protesters.
The attempt to silence Machado on trumped up charges follows the pattern of treatment opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has experienced. Lopez was arrested in February on charges including murder, arson and incitement and immediately placed in a military prison. Some of those charges were later dropped but charges of incitement remain.
Among the countries voting with Brazil to keep out the press were Nicaragua, Uruguay, El Salvador, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and all but one of the Caribbean countries. Barbados abstained.
Panama had accredited Venezuelan lawmaker Maria Corina Machado to its delegation so she could speak about the situation in Venezuela where 31 people have been killed anti-government protests since February 4.
Voting with Panama against closing the OAS session were the United States, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.
Machado said the vote against opening the session reflected “the totalitarian vocation of the Venezuelan regime.”
Machado is a proponent, along with jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, of an opposition strategy called “the exit” which seeks to force President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation under pressure of street protests.
The government is threatening to strip her of her parliamentary immunity and charge her with murder over the street protests.
The Venezuelan case was discussed two weeks ago at the OAS in a special session of its permanent council, which also was held behind close doors.
Out of the 17 Spanish speaking countries in OAS, 9 voted against the Maduro regime, just 8 for it.
In fact, all we saw today was the payoff from a long-running strategy by the Chávez regime to buy off small, weak Caribbean island states with oil subsidies. The thirteen smallest countries in OAS voted as a block to support the government, including every Caribbean statelet and every non-Spanish speaking country except for the U.S. and Canada.
All today’s vote really shows is that the government went on a shopping spree in the Caribbean, buying off weak states on the cheap. But it’s a funny kind of Bolivarian alliance, isn’t it, where 14 out of 22 countries supporting you don’t speak Bolívar’s language.
11:07AM EDT: Session closed. No more video.
Will democracy survive the OAS today?
I was attempting to connect to the Organization of American States hearing where Venezuelan Assemblywoman and national opposition leader Maria Corina Machado is scheduled to speak. Surprise! The http://www.oas.org/ website is down:
Sources in DC say that the servers in the US government and Congress cannot access the OAS site, either.
Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua want the meeting closed to the press.
Panama demanded this meeting three weeks ago. Canada, the US, and Peru insist on proceeding according to OAS rules. Allan Culham, the Canadian ambassador, was particularly eloquent.
They are voting now (watch at OAS Live). 22 votes in favor of closing, 11 against, 1 abstained.
On the streets of Argentina and Venezuela, many asked what their leaders were doing in Cuba when they were struggling with Latin America’s highest rates of inflation and the palpable fear that things could worsen when private investment is veering toward a recovering American economy.
Apparently, the first objective of that organization, as declared, is: “To reaffirm that the preservation of democracy and democratic values, the validity of the institutions and the Rule of Law, a commitment to the respect for, and the validity of, all human rights for all, are the essential objectives of our countries.”
What do these people understand democracy to be? Cuba, like the other countries hatched by the now-extinct Soviet Union, is a one-party dictatorship older than half a century where no individual freedoms exist and no human rights are respected. While the CELAC is being held, the political police harasses and bashes the Ladies in White and the opposition democrats who dare to protest. Is anyone unaware of this?
Cuban dissidents and activists plan to hold a forum on democracy in Havana on Jan. 28, parallel to the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, opposition sources told Efe on Saturday.
Organized by the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America, or CADAL, and the dissident group Arco Progresista, the forum hopes to bring together members of the opposition like Guillermo Fariñas and Jose Daniel Ferrer, Ladies in White leader Berta Soler, blogger Yoani Sanchez and activist Antonio Rodiles, among other representatives of civil society on the island.
Washington backed a similar resolution in June last year, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear in a joint press conference with Cristina Kirchner in Buenos Aires in March 2010 that the Obama administration fully backs Argentina’s calls for negotiations over the Falkands, handing her Argentine counterpart a significant propaganda coup. The State Department has also insultingly referred to the Islands in the past as the Malvinas, the Argentine name for them.
There are a few things to consider:
The Falklanders are British, and wish to remain British.
Britain won the 1982 war.
Additionally, Cristina Fernandez needs both oil, and a distraction.
The declaration calls for Argentina and Great Britain to enter into negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, a position which London has long viewed as completely unacceptable. It also comes in the wake of increasing aggression by the Kirchner regime in the past 18 months, including threats to blockade British shipping in the South Atlantic.
the OAS declaration comes in response to a threat of military action from Argentina, which has publicly talked about a blockade of British shipping in the region over sovereignty claims by Buenos Aires.
Argentina is now run by the Peronist Party, whose founder, Juan Peron openly sympathized with America’s fascist enemies in World War II, and knowingly gave refuge to fleeing Nazi war criminals. Argentina’s recent Presidents, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, have nationalized private pensions and plundered the private sector to pay for big government and welfare schemes. The OAS declaration “comes in the wake of increasing aggression by the Kirchner regime in the past 18 months, including threats to blockade British shipping in the South Atlantic.”
Residents of the Falkland Islands have eminently sound reasons for wanting to remain in Britain, the birthplace of parliamentary democracy, rather than Argentina, which has too often been ruled by authoritarian strongmen like Peron or by military governments. The United Kingdom scores higher on international measures of property rights and the rule of law than Argentina does.
Former President Manuel Zelaya is expected to return to Honduras within a month, ending an exile that began nearly two years ago when he was ousted in a coup, an aide and a key supporter said Wednesday.
Conditions are right for Mr. Zelaya to return from the Dominican Republic after the Honduran Supreme Court dropped corruption charges against him, said Rasel Tomé, a senior aide of the former president.
Mr. Zelaya’s return could pave the way for Honduras to be reincorporated into the Organization of American States, which suspended the country after the coup in June 2009.
The United States and many other countries in the hemisphere have long since restored diplomatic ties with Honduras, but some nations, including Venezuela and Brazil, have declined to do so.
The protestors, mostly university students and youth activists, have been calling for the OAS to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Venezuela as well as for the release of jailed opposition figures they believe are political prisoners. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has said that he could not meet with the protesters in Caracas without an invitation from the Venezuelan government.
Maduro said the protest should be handled internally, without the intervention of the U.S. or international organizations. He also alleged that right-wing opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government were operating from Miami and playing a part in orchestrating the hunger strike.
About a dozen students and activists began a fast Jan. 31 outside the local Caracas office of the OAS. Some news reports have stated that the protest has grown to include as many as 65 protestors.
The protesters have called for the release of several jailed opposition figures including two jailed members of the national parliament. One of the officials faces corruption charges while the other has been found guilty of being complicit in a homicide.
On Friday, the hash tags #OperacionLibertad, and #HuelgaDeHambre saw feverish activity as tweets supporting the Venezuelan hunger strike poured into those conversations.
“#OperacionLibertad is for all Venezuelans!,” Milagros González tweeted in Spanish. “They aren’t in a hunger strike for nothing! They are using their bodies as a tribute to the survival of Venezuela.#OperacionLibertad,” Rafael Marín wrote.
Hoewver, Llenas’s article trivializes the plight of the hunger strikers by comparing them to the University of Puerto Rico students striking over a $800/yr tuition increase. I am also doubtful that the strike will lead to Egypt-like riots at this time.
The fact of the matter here is that the regime has long ago placed human life in the bargain department. How can you explain that Chavez does not lose any sleep over the thousands and thousands of violent murders taking place every year in Venezuela? When someone has the chutzpah to say that those murders are not his responsability then you know he is not hurting whatsoever.
The way the regime has managed the natural disaster victims since 1999 is another telling sign: they are simply exploited for political purposes and real help is barred if it does not serve the regime purposes. For memory, the refusal of help from the US in 1999 or the confiscation of the relief truck of Voluntad Popular last year.
And equally as damaging if not as bloody, is the total ignorance by the regime of the brain and energy drain that Venezuela is suffering. For all practical purposes these people leaving Venezuela in search of better hopes under other skies should be also accounted with the “death toll” of the people we will never see again.
The reality here is that we are dealing with a regime who is not afraid to eliminate its opponents. It has not been that obvious so far in an era of Internet and CNN, but all the signs are there, do not be mistaken, elimination is an ever present option for these people.
The US media’s attention is elsewhere, which makes the possible outcome all the more unpredictable.
In a two-hour presentation before the permanent council at the Organization of American States, Colombian OAS ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos laid out a series of photos, videos, maps, satellite images and computer documents that Colombia claims show the rebels using Venezuela as a safe haven much the same way they were using Ecuador.
Mr. Hoyos also charged that Venezuela knows about the guerrilla camps—some of which have been there for a long time—and has done nothing about them. Indeed, the Venezuelan National Guard sometimes consorts with the rebels, Mr. Hoyos said.
Given this new information, Mr. Chávez’s reaction to Colombia’s 2008 incursion into Ecuador now looks logical. Bogotá justified that raid on the grounds that its appeals to Quito to go after FARC taking rest and relaxation in its territory had gone nowhere. Now we know that Mr. Chávez had reason to believe he would be next.
But Mr. Uribe launched a different sort of offensive on Thursday. Instead of a military operation, he bundled new intelligence on the FARC’s Venezuelan outposts and dropped it like a bomb on the OAS permanent council.
The facts were no surprise. For years, Bogotá has been complaining—with no shortage of proof—about the friendly treatment Venezuela gives the guerrillas. But by packaging and delivering the new evidence as he did, Mr. Uribe put Mr. Chávez, very publicly, on the spot. More importantly, he has forced the issue with his hemispheric counterparts.
Mr. Hoyos told the OAS that there are some 1,500 rebels across the border in more than 75 camps. There they regroup, organize, train and prepare explosives. This safe-haven status, he explained, produces more kidnapping and drug trafficking on both sides of the border. And more carnage in Colombia: Graphic photos of rebel victims flashed on a screen while he spoke.
Mr. Hoyos did not call for sanctions against Venezuela. Instead he asked for an international commission to verify Colombia’s claims. He promised that his government could provide the “precise coordinates” of farms and haciendas where the rebels are ensconced. “If what is there is only a little school and humble peasants, there would be no problem with an international commission to verify if Colombia’s accusation is not true,” Mr. Hoyos argued.
The gang at Gomez Palacio were responsible for 33 murders in three incidents, including the massacre of 17 people at a rented hall filled mainly with young adults. They fired more than 120 rounds into the crowd; it was the bullet casings that led investigators back to Gomez Palacio. The prison director and three of his henchmen have been placed under house arrest, although considering this story, that may wind up being more secure than prison anyway.
This should impress the truth on people, which is that the problem in Mexico isn’t American guns, or any kind of guns at all. The problem in Mexico is corruption.
The director, who recently met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, also slammed the U.S. policy toward Iran as “horrible.”
“Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy,” said Stone. “[B]ut we don’t know the full story!”
The Scarface screenwriter had even more encouraging words for socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who Stone called “a brave, blunt, earthy” man. The director has recently been promoting his Chavez-praising documentary called “South of the Border.”
When the interviewer pointed out that Chavez has had a less-than-stellar record on human rights, Stone immediately dismissed the criticism.
“The internet’s fully free [in Venezuela],” said Stone. “You can say what the hell you like. Compare it with all the other countries: Mexico, Guatemala, above all Colombia, which is a joke.”
While Stone has not been as blunt about his views on Jews and the Holocaust in the past, he has been outspoken in his fondness for Chavez and his disagreements with the U.S.’s policy on Iran.
On ABC’s Good Morning America on July 28, the director told anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “absolutely” believes Chavez is a good person, and claimed that there was “there’s no pattern of censorship in this country [Venezuela].”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said his country will sever diplomatic ties with Colombia over claims he harbours militants.
“We have no other choice but to totally break our relations with our brother nation of Colombia,” he said on TV.
The Venezuelan president made his announcement while standing next to the Argentina football coach, Diego Maradona, who was visiting Caracas.
Mr Chavez said that he was acting “out of dignity”.
“I have ordered maximum alert on our border, maximum vigilance on our border which we do take care of,” he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.
During the OAS meeting, the Colombian ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, accused Venezuela of harboring 1,500 terrorists in 39 camps, and provided video evidence, eyewitness accounts, coordinates of the camps’ locations, and photographs, which will be verified by third parties. Here’s part of the video (in Spanish) presented at the meeting:
Colombia demanded that Venezuela stop harboring terrorists and that Venezuela allow an international commission to visit the sites. Venezuelan ambassador to the OAS Roy Chaderton declared the Colombian allegations “a lie”.
Colombia had previously recalled its ambassador to Caracas, Maria Luisa Chiappe.