but these scenes from a Summit:
President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva (L) embraces his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales at the end of the South American Community of Nations summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, December 9, 2006.
From left to right, President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, President of Brazil Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Bolivia Evo Morales and President of Chile Michele Bachelet throw clay pots filled with cider on the ground in an ancient Indian blessing ritual as they pose for the family portrait before the first session of the South American Summit, Saturday, Dec. 9
Not speed, coca:
Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez, left embraces Nicaragua’s president-elect Daniel Ortega as they are welcomed with coca leaves during a rally in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Those are coca leaves leis they’re wearing.
But seriously, folks,
South American nations end summit with an integration appeal
Andres Oppenheimer offers some perspective.
Publius Pundit has nothing to laugh about: VENEZUELA AND RUSSIA: DEMOCRACY’S ACID TEST
According to the Human Development Report for 2006 issued by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), life expectancy, literacy, nutrition and access to basic utilities have showed no improvement during the last two years in Venezuela. The extreme poverty rate has fallen by 7% in the past year, but 8% of the population continues to live in extreme poverty, with more than 2 million people living on an income of a dollar a day. Venezuela fell two places on the developing country ranking compared to the 2006 UNDP report. Its per capita GDP of just over $6,000 was 25% lower in constant dollars than it was three decades ago. Income inequality grew by 11%. Under eight years of Chavez governance while oil prices boomed, the regime constructed 100,000 fewer homes for the impoverished than the previous administration built in five years of low oil prices. Venezulea recorded over 13% consumer price inflation during just the first three quarters of 2006 despite government-imposed price controls on a basket of of 145 staples, 242 personal care and home cleaning products, as well as public utilities such as power, land phone service and education. Consumers have been facing shortage of some products such as milk, sugar, coffee, and beef, among others. Since Chavez took office, Venezuela’s homicide rate has doubled, with as many as 10,000 people murdered annually out of an overall population smaller than that of Canada. Venezuela is #4 in the world in homicides per capita with a rate of 0.316138 per 1,000 people.
If we turn to Russia, the picture is eerily similar. Its UNDP score is only slightly better than Venezuela, and when we look beneath the surface we see that Venezuela actually exceeds Russia in several important criteria. Venezuela ranks #72 out of 173 countries surveyed by UNDP while Russia hovers just above it at #65; their scores (0.797 for Russia and 0.784 for Venezuela) are virtually identical, and bested by such countries as Mexico, Bulgaria and Malaysia (all of which make it into the lofty category of “highly developed” nations while both Russia and Venezuela languish as “medium development” countries). Russia was #62 on the 2005 UNDP report while Venezuela was #75, so over the past year Russia actually got slightly worse on the overall list while Venezuela got slightly better. Like Venezulea, Russia experiences double-digit consumer price inflation on items that matter to ordinary people. The average life expectency in Russia is 65.2 years and its “purchasing power parity” per capita GDP is $9,902; Venezuela, with 30% less per capita GDP, has an a life expectency of 73, so Russia is behind Venezuela here as well. Venezuela also vastly exceeds Russia in gender equality. Russia ranks 62nd out of 75 countries in the UNDP’s Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), while Venezulea ranks 46th. Russia’s 2006 score on the UNDP study of 0.797 is not radically different than in was in 1990, when it reached 0.818 or in 1995 when it was 0.771. This gives the lie to the Russophile propagandist claim that Russia under Putin is doing dramatically better than Russia under the “disastrous” kleptocracy of the Yeltsin era. Russia is right behind Venezuela at #5 on the homicide rate list, with 0.201534 per 1,000 people.