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Author Topic: Venezuela  (Read 49860 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #250 on: February 21, 2014, 08:39:01 AM »

http://caracaschronicles.com/2014/02/20/the-game-changed/  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFS6cP9auDc

« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 08:43:56 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #251 on: February 22, 2014, 05:55:11 PM »


Summary

Venezuelans gathered in the streets in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, Feb. 22, in the third major protest in 10 days. Demonstrations are ongoing in Caracas and throughout the country, including in San Cristobal, Valencia and Maracaibo. The list of grievances is long, but there is no single unifying theme behind the protests beyond a staunch rejection of the status quo in Venezuela. The country's leadership appears to be holding on, but it is showing signs of stress.

Analysis

The high-velocity Venezuelan rumor mill is filled with reports that Cuban troops have arrived in the country to help manage the protests, but such rumors are sketchy at best. Several photos of Venezuelan-owned Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft with troops offloading have been published in social media. The first such image was posted Feb. 16, and the most recent may show troop movements as recently as Feb. 21. The photos show the troops carrying substantial baggage, as if prepared for a long stay. There is nothing in the photos that clearly indicates that the soldiers are Cuban as opposed to Venezuelan, but the arrival of Cubans to aid the Venezuelans would not be out of the realm of expectation. The two militaries cooperate closely, and Cuba maintains a strong interest in the stability of the Venezuelan regime.
Venezuela's Protests Could Mark a Turning Point

What is clear at this point is that though the unrest is generally loosely organized, anger is widespread and intense enough to mobilize a broad swath of Venezuelans. But in a country as polarized as Venezuela, even the continuous appearance of tens of thousands of protesters is not a clear indication of widespread loss of support. The base of voters who supported the election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in many cases have little in common with the opposition, and most have benefited in some way from the redistributive policies of the populist government. So these protests in no way prove that the government has lost control. Nonetheless, the persistence of the unrest could cause problems that cannot be dismissed.

Scarcity of basic goods is already a major challenge in Venezuela, and where protesters are disrupting traffic, delivery of essentials could be further threatened. Although acts of vandalism have been widespread, they have mostly targeted subcritical government-owned assets such as vehicles, stores and regional offices. Venezuelan protesters have not yet attempted to take over government buildings. Major infrastructure disruptions have been limited to road and highway blockages, including one on the Francisco Fajardo Highway in Caracas. Most of Venezuela's energy infrastructure is located far from the major urban centers and unlikely to be disrupted by regular protests.

Military deployments have so far been limited to San Cristobal, a city where the opposition managed to significantly disrupt commerce and transport. If the geographic spread or violence of the protests increases and the police and national guard become stretched thin, further military deployments could deemed necessary.

Still, the Venezuelan government is showing signs of stress. Maduro has blamed the U.S. government for sponsoring the protests, yet he has also called on U.S. President Barack Obama to send a high-level emissary to negotiate with the Venezuelans in order to end the crisis. Such a negotiation seems unlikely, since the United States has thus far attempted to refrain from public intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs. The Catholic Church has offered to negotiate, but there has not been a sign that it will be allowed to do so.

At this point, the crisis does not seem to have reached a critical peak, and the protests seem likely to intensify going forward. The government likely will not reach a breaking point until parts of Maduro's support base join the protests. However, the fact that essentially none of the issues that sparked the protests have been addressed indicates that Venezuela may be headed in that direction.

Read more: Venezuela: Mass Protests Continue to Intensify | Stratfor

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #252 on: February 25, 2014, 08:15:51 AM »

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2014/02/24/
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G M
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« Reply #253 on: February 25, 2014, 09:44:01 AM »


Heh.
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captainccs
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« Reply #254 on: March 06, 2014, 02:56:55 PM »

Not since 2002 has there been so much political violence on the streets. Back then it was led by the PDVSA employees upset that Chavez had fired their CEO. Later Chavez said he did it to incite them to have an excuse to fire them which he did. This time around the protest is much more grass roots, led by students. Back then threatened opposition leaders quickly went to exile. Now they are staying and defying the state to arrest them. Back then the protest were peaceful. Now there are burning barricades. Back then the Chavista militia were called Circulos Bolivarianos, now they are called "colectivos," the same armed thugs on state supplied motorcycles. When they fire on protesters the Bolivarian police and the Bolivarian national guard just watch. Venezuelans never lose their sense of humor.



Today the violence was at a high point. Even though the press is censored there are plenty news and pictures on Twitter. Today every citizen with a cell phone is a reporter. If you follow me on Twitter @captainccs you'll get to see a lot of them. I retweet them as often as I can.

Follow @captainccs
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #255 on: March 06, 2014, 08:54:55 PM »

There is another report of the same news by Reuters and it says the exact opposite of what happened. Not strange at all. Reuters published doctored photos during the Israeli Palestinian confrontations to show Israelis to be baby murderers. Don't ever trust Reuters, they are highly biased.


2 dead as Venezuelans clash at protest barricades

 By JORGE RUEDA and EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A National Guardsman and a civilian were killed Thursday as gangs of government supporters on motorcycles rode into east Caracas neighborhoods to remove street barricades placed by opposition protesters.

The pitched battle in a mixed industrial and residential district heightened tensions on the same day the Venezuelan government expelled foreign diplomats for the second time in a month.

More than 100 men on motorcycles carrying pipes and rocks swarmed Los Ruices in the incident, trying to force their way into some buildings. Residents screamed "murderers, murderers" from rooftops and the motorcyclists taunted them from below, urging them to come down and fight.

Venezuelans fed up with food shortages and unchecked violence have been staging nearly daily street protests since mid-February, snarling traffic with barricades of garbage, furniture and burning tires. At least 21 people have been killed in related violence, by government count, in the country's worst unrest in years.

President Nicolas Maduro's administration shows no signs of crumbling from several weeks of nearly daily demonstrations, but the country appears in a stalemate. Protesters are mostly from the middle and upper classes although they do include poorer Venezuelans who don't protest in their home districts for fear of pro-government paramilitaries.

Sucre Mayor Carlos Ocariz said residents of Los Ruices reported hearing gunshots after motorcyclists began dismantling the barricades. Some apartment dwellers began banging pots and raining down bottles to express their anger, he said. In the melee, a 24-year-old motorcycle taxi driver was shot dead.

"I'm not going to be irresponsible and accuse anyone," Ocariz said. "I condemn the violence and the shots must be investigated, but I also reject the brutal repression" of security forces.

When National Guardsmen arrived to secure the area, a 25-year-old sergeant was shot through the neck and killed. Ocariz said that according to district police, who report to him, in both cases the men's wounds seemed to indicate the shots came from above.

Pro-government motorcycle gangs who reside in slums served as street-level enforcers for the late President Hugo Chavez and continue to menace opponents of the ruling socialists. The opposition claims they are bankrolled by the government.

Maduro, meeting with U.S. actor Danny Glover, said on state TV that the slain motorcyclist, Jose Gregorio Amaris, used his motorcycle as a taxi and was clearing debris in order to do his job.

He called those who build street barricades "vandals who hate the people" and said a second motorcyclist was seriously injured.

Among opposition demands is that the government disarm the motorcycle-riding paramilitaries, called "colectivos."

A day after Maduro said he was breaking diplomatic relations with Panama over its push for Organization of American States-sponsored mediation in the crisis, his government expelled Panama's ambassador and three other diplomats, giving them 48 hours to leave.

Last month, Venezuela expelled three U.S. diplomats, accusing them of conspiring with the opposition, a claim that Washington denied.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Venezuela also had suspended debt negotiations over $1 billion owed to Panamanian exporters.

In the latest development affecting what the opposition calls a full-scale government assault on freedom of expression, a newspaper critical of the government said it was the target of a criminal defamation suit filed by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

Editor Teodoro Petkoff wrote in the paper, TalCual, that the Caracas judge overseeing the case had ordered him and three other executives as well as columnist Carlos Genatios not to leave the country without permission.

Cabello accused the newspaper of printing something he claimed never to have said: That if people don't like crime they should leave the country.

A conviction would carry a prison sentence of two to four years.

___

Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman and cameraman Marko Alvarez contributed to this report.


http://news.yahoo.com/2-dead-venezuelans-clash-protest-barricades-015253136.html

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #256 on: March 08, 2014, 11:14:24 AM »

Oliver Stone caricature by Rayma



https://twitter.com/raymacaricatura/status/442332089544105984/photo/1

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #257 on: March 09, 2014, 09:31:38 PM »

Biden says Venezuela 'concocting' bogus stories
 By FRANK BAJAK
23 minutes ago


Demonstrators lie on the ground holding statistics about the people murdered in the 14 years of Chavista government, at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 7, 2014. Venezuela is coming under increasing international scrutiny amid violence that most recently killed a National Guardsman and a civilian. United Nations human rights experts demanded answers Thursday from Venezuela's government about the use of violence and imprisonment in a crackdown on widespread demonstrations. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)



CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden calls Venezuela's situation alarming in remarks published Sunday, suggesting its government is using "armed vigilantes" against peaceful protesters and accusing it of "concocting false and outlandish conspiracy theories" about the United States.

Biden's remarks, issued in writing to a Chilean newspaper in response to questions, drew an angry rebuke from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

"We reject their aggression," President Maduro told supporters at a rally the socialist-led government held at the presidential palace. "They were defeated in the OAS and now they want revenge."

The U.S. had strongly objected to a declaration of solidarity for Venezuela issued by the Organization of American States on Friday night.

Washington said the declaration contradicted the OAS charter, in part, by stressing non-intervention in Venezuela over guaranteeing that human rights and free speech are respected there. Twenty-nine states voted in favor of Friday night's declaration with only the United States, Canada and Panama objecting.

"The situation in Venezuela reminds me of previous eras, when strongmen governed through violence and oppression; and human rights, hyperinflation, scarcity, and grinding poverty wrought havoc on the people of the hemisphere," Biden told El Mercurio.

"The situation in Venezuela is alarming," he wrote. "Confronting peaceful protesters with force and in some cases with armed vigilantes; limiting the freedoms of press and assembly necessary for legitimate political debate; demonizing and arresting political opponents; and dramatically tightening restrictions on the media" is not what Washington expects from a signatory to international human rights treaties.

Rather than engaging the opposition in a "genuine dialogue," Biden added, "Maduro has thus far tried to distract his people from the profound issues at stake in Venezuela by concocting totally false and outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States."

Maduro claims student-led protests that ignited Feb. 12, mostly peaceful but including almost daily street clashes with security forces, are an attempt by the extreme right to overthrow him.

The demonstrations have been joined mostly by middle-class Venezuelans fed up with inflation that reached 56 percent last year, chronic shortages of some food staples, and one of the world's highest murder rates. But some poorer Venezuelans, students in particular, are taking part. The government says 21 people have died.

On Sunday afternoon in eastern Caracas, about 100 demonstrators threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon. Some protesters tore a bus kiosk from the sidewalk and set it ablaze, providing authorities with an opportunity to repeat on state media its accusation that anti-government activists are vandals.

Despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary, Maduro on Sunday denied that armed paramilitary supporters of the government have employed violence against protesters.

"The only violent armed groups in the street are those of the right," he told the crowd.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Maduro also accused the opposition was "receiving financing from the United States" to undermine "a solid democracy that has had the popular backing in 18 elections over 15 years." He offered no evidence.

The statement said Venezuela was nevertheless interested in renewing" full diplomatic relations with the United States based on "mutual respect" and "non-intervention."

The two nations have been without ambassadors since 2010 and Venezuela has expelled eight U.S. diplomats in the past 13 months for alleged meddling.

Maduro, the hand-picked successor of the late Hugo Chavez, later met at the presidential palace with actor-activist Sean Penn and Haiti's prime minister. Penn is an ambassador-at-large for Haiti, where he runs a nonprofit aid group. He was shown on state television and made no public comments.

Biden and Maduro are both scheduled to attend Tuesday's swearing-in of Michelle Bachelet as Chile's president.

Bachelet, who was also Chile's president in 2006-10, recently said her administration will support Maduro's government and the Venezuelan people so they can "search for the democratic means to social peace."

___

Associated Press writers Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas, Josh Lederman in Washington and Luis Andres Henao in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/biden-says-venezuela-concocting-bogus-stories-232842054.html

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #258 on: March 10, 2014, 07:30:42 AM »

For the record, this is not yet the time for talks - Denny Schlesinger.


Protests and talks widen rifts in Venezuela opposition
By Daniel Wallis

CARACAS (Reuters) - As violent protests in Venezuela alienate moderates in the opposition and show no signs of toppling President Nicolas Maduro, the socialist leader's call for talks is deepening divisions between his rivals.

The country's worst civil unrest in a decade has killed at least 20 people, including supporters of both sides and members of the security forces, since early last month.

Day after day, thousands of opposition supporters march peacefully in cities around the nation, demanding political change and an end to high inflation, shortages of basic foods in stores, and one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Then every night, hooded opposition militants emerge around a square in eastern Caracas brandishing rocks and Molotov cocktails, clashing with riot police and turning one of the capital's most affluent neighborhoods into a battlefield.

The violence is fueling tensions inside the opposition, with moderates scared it could spin further out of control and tarnish the cause of peaceful political change in the future.

Maduro appears to have weathered the worst of the demonstrations on the streets for now and is repeatedly offering talks, creating a new dilemma for opposition leaders.

So far, they have put tough conditions on any discussions, saying they refuse to be part of a "photo opportunity" and that they fear the government has no intention of addressing issues such as corruption, impunity and political prisoners.

The Democratic Unity opposition coalition said on Friday it would only sit down for dialogue with Maduro if the meeting were mediated by someone "of good faith" - and broadcast live.

"We're sick of violence. Everyone is being attacked," it said in a statement. "We're showing our hand to the public ... (We want) true dialogue, a clear agenda, and equal conditions."

But with pleas for talks coming from as far afield as the White House, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis, the refusal to attend any discussions to date has drawn criticism, including from within the coalition's ranks.

Opposition lawmaker Hiram Gaviria quit his party Un Nuevo Tiempo (A New Time) and the coalition on Friday over its ban on attending talks at the Miraflores presidential palace.

Gaviria blamed the unrest on the government, which he said had imposed a broken social and economic model and used 15 years of "hate speech" to undermine its opponents.

But he said he would meet anyone, anywhere, to try to avoid more violence, even if dialogue stood little chance of success.

"How many more deaths must there be before we talk and find understanding?" asked the legislator from central Aragua state. "There has to be dialogue."

The opposition was deeply divided for years until it showed remarkable cohesion ahead of the 2012 presidential election and again last year when a new vote was called to succeed socialist leader Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer.

The current protests, however, have reopened old rifts between those who advocate street action to force the president from power, and others with a slow-boil strategy of building support in the cities and states they govern while letting the dysfunctional economy weaken the government.

'VERY DANGEROUS'

Maduro's critics, some of whom have vowed to stay in the streets until he resigns, are demanding the release of political prisoners, justice for victims of what they call repression, and the disbandment of armed pro-government militant groups that are accused of attacking opposition protesters.

Another opposition lawmaker, Ismael Garcia, said the majority of Democratic Unity were in favor of serious talks.

"Nobody has rejected dialogue, but there have to be very clear rules to the game, and we must work together," he said.

But it is not clear how opposition leaders want to handle the demonstrations. Though Maduro's opponents condemn the violence by a small but vocal minority, they continue to support street mobilizations that often lead to such clashes.

Plaza Altamira, site of the nightly battles with riot police, once enjoyed its reputation as one of the capital's nicest spaces. Now the street corners are piled with burnt trash and charred wires, broken bricks and shattered glass.

The barricading of roads by demonstrators has led to fist-fights, fatal shootings, more teargas, and incensed cries of "repression" from more shrill voices in the opposition.

While they understand the frustration, others disagree.

"Rejecting the barricades doesn't mean one supports the government," said local political analyst Luis Vicente Leon.

Maduro appears to have survived the short-term challenge to his rule. Coinciding with the emotional anniversary of Chavez's death, the protests have even given him a chance to unite the ruling Socialist Party against a common threat.

At an event to mark International Women's Day on Saturday, Maduro consoled the sobbing wife of a pro-government actor who described how they were screamed at in a Caracas restaurant by dozens of opposition supporters who walked in banging pots and pans and yelling that her husband was a murderer.

Maduro offered again to sit down with the opposition.

"If you want, we'll do a closed-door session first and tell each other everything we need to say, and then we'll speak to the country together," he said in a nationally televised speech.

He was worried, he said, that the opposition's leadership was crumbling and creating an unpredictable power vacuum.

"I don't say this as a joke ... it's very dangerous. Anyone could take over who has violent plans, and that would be worse."

In a sign of increasing confidence, an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour that many in the opposition had hoped would prove to be a disaster for Maduro, pleased the president so much that state TV has re-run it in its entirety two nights running.

The answer which most outraged his foes in the opposition: when Amanpour asked Maduro what kept him awake at night, and he replied that he slept "peacefully, like a child."

"It was a very good interview, forgive my immodesty," he told Saturday's rally. "But any of you, if you sat with Amanpour, would answer as well or better than me, because it's the truth of the people, the true story of Venezuela."

(Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Kieran Murray and Eric Walsh)

http://news.yahoo.com/protests-talks-widen-rifts-venezuela-opposition-050600262.html
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #259 on: March 13, 2014, 06:27:23 AM »

World Bank's ICSID Rejects Venezuela "Appeal" over ConocoPhillips


CARACAS -- In a 2-1 decision, the World Bank's arbitration panel, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), has rejected Venezuela's request for "reconsideration" of ICSID's September 2013 finding that it had jurisdiction and that Venezuela was liable for the expropriation of ConocoPhillips' investments in the Latin American nation.

ConocoPhillips originally brought the biggest case to date against Venezuela in December of 2007, seeking $30 billion in compensation for stakes in two Orinoco projects - Petrozuata and Hamaca - and two joint venture exploration agreements in the Gulf of Paria, all of which Venezuela expropriated in 2007.

After years of briefs and hearings -- including an attempt by Venezuela to disqualify one of the 3 arbitrating judges and the death and replacement of another -- on September 3, 2013, ICSID ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the claim and that Venezuela had indeed breached its obligations under the Netherland's Bilateral Investment Treaty "to negotiate in good faith" to compensate ConocoPhillips for the expropriation and was therefor liable to pay damages for the expropriation.

In an unusual move that the majority of the panel ruled was not allowed, Venezuela sought to have the panel "re-consider" the jurisdiction and liability decision, after writing a letter 5 days after the decision, on September 8, 2013 (below), and claiming that new evidence had come to light via a U.S. Embassy cable leaked by Wikileaks that Venezuela had not stopped negotiating.

After examining the ICSID treaty and past rulings, "the majority of the Tribunal concludes that it does not have the power to reconsider the Decision of 3 September 2013," the majority made up of Judge Kenneth Keith, President, and L. Yves Fortier, CC, QC, wrote. "Section 3 of Part IV of the ICSID Convention sets out the Powers and Functions of the Tribunal, with nothing among its provisions even hinting at such a power."

The judge appointed by Venezuela, Egyptian Professor Georges Abi-Saab, dissented.

Abi-Saab, who replaced English barrister Sir Ian Brownlie after Brownlie died in 2009, has a law degree from Cairo University, an MA in Economics from the University of Paris, an MA in Economics from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Law (LLM) and SJD from Harvard Law School, and Doctor of Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, according to his biography.

"A strong case can be made for the existence of a general power of reconsideration by an ICSID tribunal of its interlocutory decisions (within certain limits or under certain conditions all the same) in a case still pending before it," wrote Abi-Saab in his lone dissent, that contained many typographical and grammatical errors. "However, if the answer to the question whether such a power exists or not were to be in the negative, there remains the possibility ... that the Tribunal possess a specific power for dealing with requests based on a particular or certain particular legal grounds."

The ICSID panel then ordered Venezuela and ConocoPhillips to move on to arguing over how much the award should be. ConocoPhillips, which says it invested over $4.6 billion in the oil ventures starting in the 1990s, is now reportedly seeking $6.5 billion for the siezed assets. Venezuela has offered $2.3 billion.

ConocoPhillips is to file their damages brief ("Memorial on Quantum") by May 19, with Venezuela's damages brief due 10 weeks later. After that, both sides will have another 8 weeks in which each will file Reply Briefs, with ICSID fixing a hearing for oral arguments after that.

Another U.S. oil giant, Exxon Mobil Corp, has been seeking up to $10 billion at ICSID also for the expropriation in 2007 of a large heavy crude project in the Orinoco region. In February of 2012, Venezuela was ordered to pay ExxonMobil about $908
million in compensation by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in lost contractual earnings because of the expropriations (decision below).

"The ICSID decision on the actual losses suffered by ExxonMobil from Venezuela's expropriation is expected soon," says Russ Dallen, an international lawyer and banker who follows the cases and studied under ICSID judge Sir Ian Brownlie at Oxford University. "Venezuela and ExxonMobil filed their final post-hearing briefs almost 2 years ago in May of 2012."

In the ConocoPhillips case, Venezuela may keep stalling for time, says Dallen. "Apparently, Venezuela now intends to try to disqualify the 2 judges that ruled against them on the panel -- even after they had already challenged one and lost."

In October of 2011, Venezuela filed a challenge to Canadian Judge L. Yves Fortier, QC, who had been appointed by ConocoPhillips. A tribunal heard the challenge and ruled against Venezuela 4 months later in February of 2012.


http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=1756923&CategoryId=10717
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Denny Schlesinger
captainccs
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« Reply #260 on: March 15, 2014, 08:00:19 AM »

Narrated in Spanish but the images need no translation. In America a video such as this would have a warning label.

I'm amazed that it has taken some people fifteen years to realize that peaceful elections is not the practical solution to dictatorship any more than prayers are the cure for cancer.  Cancer is fought with deadly force, surgery and chemotherapy. Dictatorship is a social cancer that needs to be destroyed with deadly force.

Denny Schlesinger


To Those That Think Maduro Is Not A Dictator: ¿Qué Pasa en Venezuela? by Foro Penal Venezolano
March 14, 2014



I am still amazed by the number of people that are still saying we should wait for elections, bla, bla bla. The video above proves beyond any doubt that Nicolas Maduro has become the Dictator of Venezuela. He has to go. Period.

And if you still have doubts, read Gustavo Coronel’s article “Approaching the Unthinkable” about Venezuela importing oil and you will realize that indeed, under Chavismo, all that oil underground will always stay there.


http://devilsexcrement.com/2014/03/14/to-those-that-think-maduro-is-not-a-dictator-que-pasa-en-venezuela-by-foro-penal-venezolano/#respond




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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #261 on: March 15, 2014, 11:33:45 AM »

Denny,

Didn't you used to post on the infamous Gilder Tech Board yrs ago?

Do you ever feel in danger in Venezuela?

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captainccs
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« Reply #262 on: March 15, 2014, 01:40:50 PM »

Denny,

Didn't you used to post on the infamous Gilder Tech Board yrs ago?


I most certainly did!


Quote
Do you ever feel in danger in Venezuela?


No more than elsewhere if you know how to stay out of unnecessary trouble. But on occasion one does feel a terrible pressure of not being in control. You have to remember that good news is not news and sells no papers. The lost Malaysian plane is getting hundreds of headlines but the thousands of flights that arrive safely get none at all.

Life goes on.

Denny Schlesinger
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Denny Schlesinger
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #263 on: March 15, 2014, 04:51:07 PM »

BTW Denny,  I want you to know, and I think I speak for the collective effort here, that your posts are greatly appreciated. I would chalk up the rather small number of rejoinders to the fact that we do not have much to add-- but note that the read to post ratio on the Venezuelan threads (about 150/1 on this one) is quite strong. 
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ccp
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« Reply #264 on: March 15, 2014, 06:55:00 PM »

"your posts are greatly appreciated"

Agreed.

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captainccs
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« Reply #265 on: March 16, 2014, 09:08:07 AM »

BTW Denny,  I want you to know, and I think I speak for the collective effort here, that your posts are greatly appreciated. I would chalk up the rather small number of rejoinders to the fact that we do not have much to add-- but note that the read to post ratio on the Venezuelan threads (about 150/1 on this one) is quite strong. 


When one is not in the trenches or in the command post there is not much one can say beyond reporting what one perceives as the facts specially if the news are about a distant land. I'm not expecting replies to my posts, I'm quite happy that in a small way I'm able to overcome the tyrant's censorship. If the members of this forum were to rebroadcast these news to other forums and social networks, that would be highly appreciated.

Marc, I appreciate your continued friendship.

Denny Schlesinger
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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #266 on: March 16, 2014, 09:19:04 AM »

I just got this email:

Quote
I just signed this petition -- will you join me?

United Nations: Issue a resolution condemning Human Rights violations in Venezuela
To: To The Office of The United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay

The petition is really important and could use our help. Click here to find out more and sign:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/To_The_Office_of_The_United_Nations_High_Commissioner_of_Human_Rights_Issue_a_resolution_condemning_Human_Rights_violati/?kOUtfhb

Thanks so much,

The link

United Nations: Issue a resolution condemning Human Rights violations in Venezuela

Post it to your favorite social network!



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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #267 on: March 25, 2014, 10:36:58 PM »

Many in the opposition were wishing Chavismo would disappear with the death of Chavez. They may get their wish. Chavez was a smooth and charismatic operator, something which Maduro most certainly is not. Last year while riding on the subway I heard  a Chavista lady saying that Maduro would be  disaster because he was not like Chavez, whom she adored. Her words are turning out prescient. Many of us figured that the succession wars inside Chavismo would weaken the regime. I don't recall anyone predicting the violent protests that are taking place. I don't recall ever seeing urban warfare in Venezuela with Molotov cocktails. Never before had a judge admitted being pressured to jail a political opponent (it went viral on Twitter). While I would not bet on "The death of ‘Chavismo’" the odds are growing.


The death of ‘Chavismo’ in Venezuela

Under Nicolas Maduro, student protests against the late Chávez’s policies have boiled over into violent street battles

by David Agren


Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters


Caracas-based bond trader Russ Dallen looks for small signals with which to gauge Venezuela and its economy. He found one last year when he ran out of toilet paper and searched for it unsuccessfully in three stores. “I found this great Argentine wine,” he recalls, but no toilet paper. The government subsequently ordered 50 million rolls of the stuff, including some from Costco, which, according to Dallen, it bought retail in the U.S. and imported—all of which sold out in short order.

Such shortages are common in Venezuela, and spark discontent in the long lines that form at supermarkets running low on everything from paper products to corn flour to cooking oil. Inflation, meanwhile, registered at 56 per cent last year, among the highest rates in the world, although the unofficial tallies reach the triple digits.

For the past five weeks, anger has boiled over into deadly street protests, with 25 lives lost and the government cracking down hard. In one instance this month, a group of armed men on motorcycles fired into a crowd of protesters, killing three.

The backlash started with a protest over an attempted rape on a college campus in the city of San Cristóbal. Police forcibly broke up the protest and jailed a handful of students in faraway prisons, which provoked even more protests throughout the country. The situation quickly spiralled beyond outrage over a sexual assault and into a fight for the future of Venezuela and the consequences of 15 years of “Chavismo,” the political and economic policies of the late president, Hugo Chávez.

Students see limited opportunities in a country with a state-controlled economy and increased insecurity. “It’s about students realizing that for them it’s a very difficult path after university,” says Carlos Cárdenas, deputy head of Latin America forecasting with IHS in London. Protesting law student Agnly Veliz recently told Reuters, “What’s the point of graduating while the country is in chaos?”

President Nicolás Maduro, who won a tight 2013 election and claims Chávez has appeared to him in prayer as a “little bird,” has dismissed the protests as an attempt to overthrow his government and called the students “Nazi fascists.” But he sees a growing threat in the student protests to the “chavista” system and he has used the unrest as an excuse to censor the media. He pulled the plug on Colombian cable news channel NTN. Many Venezuelans took to Twitter, only have the Internet cut and the site allegedly blocked.

The regime Maduro inherited from Chávez, who succumbed to cancer last year, appears to be teetering after years of mismanagement. Chávez promoted “21st-century socialism” and showered money on the poor from what was treated as a bottomless barrel of petrobucks. He also gave oil to allies in the region—allowing them repay with beans, if they bothered to repay at all. “Chavismo is durable because it tapped into a deep history of economic divide in Venezuela,” says Eric Farnsworth, vice-president of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. “But the model is financially unsustainable.”

State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s output is down by nearly a million barrels per day since Chávez took office in 1999. Venezuela sells fewer barrels to the United States, which pays more than other customers but has needed less oil from Venezuela due the growth in North American production. Venezuela has borrowed some $40 billion from China since 2008, says Dallen—with some of the money going toward providing poor households with Chinese-made appliances on the eve of elections. Venezuela now sends the country 650,000 barrels per day as repayment—half of which are sold at steep discounts. “Venezuela borrowed beyond its ability to pay,” Dallen says, adding that enormous amount of refined petroleum products are consumed domestically, with gasoline selling for just pennies a litre.

Maduro’s response to the protests has reinforced the former bus driver and union boss’s reputation as a brute—unlike Chávez, who maintained his own popularity (to the point there are St. Hugo shrines) while keeping the opposition off balance. “There were things that kept Chávez from being so overly authoritarian and openly violent: his rhetorical prowess and money,” says Francisco Toro, a Montreal-based author of the Caracas Chronicles blog. But with Venezuela’s troubles worsening fast, “it’s obvious that Maduro isn’t going to have either.”

The political opposition is split between hardliners supporting the students and those encouraging dialogue. Chávez could manipulate the opposition: “He knew how to push our buttons,” Toro says. But with Maduro, the crackdown may be a sign of what’s to come. “The point of increasing the pressure, from the government’s point of view, has been to create a new normal,” Toro says. “If you go out and protest, you will be repressed and thrown in jail.”

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/worldpolitics/the-death-of-chavismo-in-venezuela/


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« Reply #268 on: April 01, 2014, 11:50:50 PM »

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-04-01/venezuela-wants-to-spread-the-suffering
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« Reply #269 on: April 02, 2014, 12:00:22 AM »


Andrez needs to explain to the Venezuelian people that marxism is scientific!
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« Reply #270 on: April 02, 2014, 01:15:24 PM »

Dismembering frogs to find out what makes them tick is scientific.

Yesterday I almost found myself in a protest being dispersed by government assassins using tear gas and other means of violence. The protest had started out peacefully enough, the violence was started by the government assassins sadly misnamed Bolivarian National Guard and Bolivarian National Police. Clearly Bolivarian means wicked.

On the way home I passed a group of some six open trucks of Bolivarian National Guards waiting for their turn to crack skulls. They were smiling and apparently having a good time. If you take the time to have a good look you see that their  vehicles are brand new as are their uniforms and weapons. There is no lack of dollars to buy protection for the illegitimate state but not enough to buy food for the people they swore to serve.

Machiavelli states that an unpopular Prince will tumble. Not if he has enough violence on his side which clearly the illegitimate Venezuelan state has. Some ten or twelve years ago several soldiers were killed with flame throwers during "exercises." It was claimed to be an unfortunate accident and the killers were never tried. In my opinion it was part of an indoctrination campaign to scare the soldiers into unquestioning obedience under threat of torture and death. At higher levels officials are allowed to commit crimes but these are zealously recorded. Should in time an officer refuse to follow orders the evidence against him is used for blackmail. Just recently a judge confessed to her childhood friend that she ordered Leopoldo Lopez jailed under order to do so and under threat to lose her job if she didn't.

One has to question where such well oiled machinery of repression came from. Did the local Chavistas dream it up or was it imported from Russia, Cuba and China? Again a bit of history is illuminating. In his early years as president a globe trotting Chavez visited every long lived tyrant he could find including Mugabe, Gadaffi, Saddam Hussein not to mention his dearly beloved Castro brothers. What was Chavez looking for? What had these failed states to offer? One must be naive to think anything besides how to stay in power come hell or high water.

A regime based solely on the ideology of staying in power cannot be removed with flower power and peaceful marches. Socialism in Venezuela is a red herring but there is not enough time and space  here for a full discussion. As martial arts practitioners you must realize that the time comes to counter force with force. Against well armed military and police that means bloodshed, bloodshed that does not guarantee success, only suffering. A dozen years ago I didn't want foreign help but the realization that the tyranny in Venezuela has global roots, global backers, has made me change my mind. A little bit of help from our friends would be appreciated. Not that it's likely to come from the OAS or the UN which are dominated by petty tyrants.

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #271 on: April 02, 2014, 08:11:59 PM »

Denny says,

"the tyranny in Venezuela has global roots, global backers"

Besides Sean Penn who are these global roots and backs?
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« Reply #272 on: April 02, 2014, 08:50:54 PM »

http://www.latimes.com/la-fg-obama-americas20-2009apr20,0,1717554.story

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« Reply #273 on: April 03, 2014, 05:22:31 PM »

Sorry for the delay in replying but I'm breaking in my new Mac and it's taking up a lot of my time. I have to buy new version of just about all my software and get used to all the changes.


Denny says,

"the tyranny in Venezuela has global roots, global backers"

Besides Sean Penn who are these global roots and backs?

In LatinAmerica the socialist governments of Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua at a minimum. In Africa, Mugabe. Putin loves to replace America in arms sales. China loves to buy our oil. Belarus is erecting the "dignified housing" projects in Caracas (their workers are transported in luxury air conditioned busses). Iran set up car and bicycle factories that so far have produced nothing but it is rumored that they are buying our uranium, there is a lot of traffic between our two countries. The countries that are getting cheap Venezuelan oil. And just about any nation that loves tweaking America's nose. Many American Democrats have recanted their support for the Venezuelan regime but Jimmy Carter is not one of them.

Socialism, as opposed to nationalism, is an international movement. There is very much of that "new age" idea of world government of world order. In Europe you see it in the huge powers Brussels has collected for itself. The guys in Brussels mostly are not elected but appointed (like the most powerful person in America the Fed chair[wo]man). Just imagine what the UN would to the the USA if it were not for the veto power. Countries can put criminals in jail but the UN won't sanction most criminal nations. How do you put North Korea in jail?

Denny Schlesinger
 
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« Reply #274 on: April 05, 2014, 07:47:36 AM »

Thanks Denny.

With regards to the New Age World Government it does seem Obama is a true believer.

Wikipedia's One World Government history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_government

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« Reply #275 on: April 05, 2014, 07:14:34 PM »

New Age World Government is about the Elite (a self selected group of people) lording it over the rest of us for our own good. It is not only the Socialists who think this way. To a lesser extent, the Founding Fathers didn't trust the electorate and created the Electoral College to make sure no "mistakes" were made. And, of course, they didn't thrust women, poor people and other substandard specimens of Man to vote at all.

If you haven't already, you might want to read

The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell 

Sowell presents a devastating critique of the mind-set behind the failed social policies of the past thirty years. Sowell sees what has happened during that time not as a series of isolated mistakes but as a logical consequence of a tainted vision whose defects have led to crises in education, crime, and family dynamics, and to other social pathologies. In this book, he describes how elites—the anointed—have replaced facts and rational thinking with rhetorical assertions, thereby altering the course of our social policy.
 

Democracy has its limits and its dangers but for all that I would not replace it by a tyranny of the Elite. Yet some people welcome such tyrannies. Some are so stupid as to become suicide killers or martyrs for some celestial spaghetti monster. Or they go to their death like the ones did with "revered" Jones in Guyana. It does have a plus side, stupid dead genes don't reproduce. Wink

The most capitalist group is not immune. The Fed is an unelected Elite of Rich Bankers. Read The Creature from Jekyll Island : A Second Look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin

Or watch the video. If you want to skip the Fed part and see the New World Order part, skip to 1:30



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« Reply #276 on: April 06, 2014, 03:09:48 AM »

Health Care "policy" is all about the elites as well.
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« Reply #277 on: April 12, 2014, 07:37:04 AM »

Not the best way to attract foreign investors...

Nor the best way to improve the country...

Lomas de Niquel as apparently not fared well under its new management. An investigation last year by former planning minister Teodoro Petkoff's newspaper Tal Cual found that, after one year of government management, Lomas de Niquel's furnaces were "operating at minimum capacity for lack of electrode paste, an important input to produce nickel," that they were unable to sell the nickel abroad "because it does not meet international standards," that "heavy equipment stood idle due to lack of oil and filters," and that "the purchase of supplies, spare parts and raw materials is paralyzed by lack of money."



Anglo American Files Suit Against Venezuela at ICSID
Venezuela now has 28 cases pending against it – the most of any nation in the world. Argentina, which had previously held the number one spot, now has only 24 cases listed as pending.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Global mining company Anglo American PLC has become the latest corporation to file suit against Venezuela over its treatment of investors.

The World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has accepted a request for arbitration against Venezuela filed by Anglo American’s lawyers, powerhouse law firms Baker & McKenzie and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

According to the ICSID docket, Venezuela now has 28 cases pending against it – the most of any nation in the world -- after a rash of expropriations and nationalizations by Venezuela's late firebrand President Hugo Chavez. Argentina, which had previously held the number one spot after defaulting on $100 billion in debt, now has only 24 cases listed as pending.

Anglo American, one of the world’s largest diversified miners, had held a 91.4% share in the Loma de Niquel mine in Venezuela until 2012 when the Chavez government cancelled 13 concessions and refused to renew 3 others. “Despite attempts to enable a continuation of operations, our last application for renewal was refused and the concessions and permits granted by the government expired on 10 November 2012,” the company explains. “As of 10 November 2012, therefore, Anglo American’s mining and production activities at Loma de Niquel ceased permanently.”

Loma de Niguel had accounted for 13,400 metric tons of Anglo’s 29,100 tons of nickel production in 2011. The mine’s proved and probable ore reserves totaled 4.6 million metric tons at the end of 2011, Anglo American said in 2011's annual report, adding that it took an $84 million charge “mainly arising” from the Venezuelan concessions.

“The accelerated depreciation charge at Loma de Níquel has arisen due to ongoing uncertainty over the renewal of three concessions that expire in 2012 and over the restoration of 13 concessions that have been cancelled,” the company said at the time.

Anglo American, which had revenue of $33.063 billion last year, had been the largest investor in Venezuelan mining. In 2010, Anglo sold its 25.5% ownership in Carbones del Guasare S.A. which operates the Paso Diablo Mine to Peabody Energy. Paso Diablo is a surface operation in northwestern Venezuela that produced thermal coal for export primarily to the U.S. and Europe.

Lomas de Niquel as apparently not fared well under its new management. An investigation last year by former planning minister Teodoro Petkoff's newspaper Tal Cual found that, after one year of government management, Lomas de Niquel's furnaces were "operating at minimum capacity for lack of electrode paste, an important input to produce nickel," that they were unable to sell the nickel abroad "because it does not meet international standards," that "heavy equipment stood idle due to lack of oil and filters," and that "the purchase of supplies, spare parts and raw materials is paralyzed by lack of money."

Venezuela had been a member of ICSID since 1993, but Chavez formally removed the country from ICSID jurisdiction in January of 2012, saying he would not accept any further rulings from the arbitration court. However, clauses in bilateral investment treaties and individual contracts continue to give ICSID jurisdiction to hear cases against Venezuela.

Other companies with pending ICSID arbitrations against Venezuela include Gold Reserve Inc., Rusoro Mining Ltd., Tidewater Inc., Williams Cos. Inc., Koch Industries Inc., Owens-Illinois Inc., Tenaris SA, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

ICSID is an autonomous international institution established in 1965 under the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the ICSID or the Washington Convention) with over one hundred and forty member States. The Convention sets forth ICSID's mandate, organization and core functions. The primary purpose of ICSID is to provide facilities for conciliation and arbitration of international investment disputes.


http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=1926189&CategoryId=10717


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« Reply #278 on: April 19, 2014, 08:59:44 AM »

We Protest In Style!

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« Reply #279 on: April 29, 2014, 07:35:58 AM »

Chavez's Farming Utopia Withers as Pet Projects Abandoned
By Anatoly Kurmanaev  Apr 28, 2014 11:11 AM GMT-0430



Photographer: Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg
Rows of new farm equipment, imported from Belarus, sit unused at the "William Lara" agro-industrial commune in the... Read More


The harvesters imported to overcome food shortages are gathering cobwebs near a burnt corn field in central Venezuela. A short distance away is the shell of a fertilizer plant and rows of empty red-roofed bungalows.

This is the William Lara agricultural commune, the first of five such projects that former President Hugo Chavez said were going to reverse a 11-year rise in food imports and put products back on the nation's shelves. One year after his death, the last 30 workers on the site are removing equipment, surrounded by 4,300 soccer fields-worth of cleared land baking in the savanna heat.

"The president dies and the project dies with him," Eumir Perez, William Lara's former coordinator, said in an interview in Calabozo, a town in Guarico state 60 miles (97 kilometers) from the project. "The government is too busy staying in power, fighting against the capitalists' economic war. No one dreams big anymore."

The $300 million commune is one of the many projects on which the government has squandered the $50 billion Venezuela receives each year from oil exports, said Anabella Abadi, an analyst at public policy consultancy ODH Grupo Consultor. The national comptroller office's 2013 annual report says there are 4,381 unfinished public infrastructure projects in Venezuela, a quarter of them started before 2006.

The projects include 100 kilometers of an elevated train line from Valencia, Venezuela's third biggest city, to Cagua that was halted in 2010, and Steel City -- a town with houses, shops and steel plants in Bolivar state, which remains flatland.

No Water

Work on William Lara, the rural version of the Steel City, stopped last year after about $120 million was spent on clearing the land and building the first 176 houses.

The construction will resume after the government figures out a way of bringing water to the site 125 miles south of Caracas, Agriculture Minister Yvan Gil said.

"This is a technical problem, that our specialists are working to resolve," Gil, 41, said in an interview in his Caracas office on April 10. "The project is advancing."

Perez said construction began without checking water availability and now a dam would have to be dug to make the project viable.

Spokesmen for Maduro's office and the Information Ministry declined to comment on project delays in Venezuela.

Chavez set up off-budget funds that are not subject to parliamentary oversight to finance infrastructure projects. The funds have spent $112 billion since 2005, including the resources for the William Lara project, according to the Finance Ministry's annual report.

Broken Promises

"These are part of this government's unfulfilled promises," Abadi said in an interview in Caracas.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies at new housing blocks and playgrounds helped Chavez's hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro win election in April 2013, while failing to revive industry, said Abadi. Non-oil exports fell to 4 percent of the total in the first nine months of 2013 from 19 percent 10 years earlier, according to central bank.

The decline of local industry and dollar shortages pushed inflation to 59 percent in March and emptied shelves of basic goods such as milk and soap, fueling two months of protests that have left at least 41 people dead.

Venezuela's dollar bonds trade at the highest risk premium in the world, with investors demanding 10.41 extra percentage points to own the country's notes instead of U.S. Treasuries. The country's bolivar slumped 88 percent against the dollar when the government opened a new currency market last month to ease trading restrictions.

Belorussian Communes

Chavez's plans for agricultural communes began with a visit to Belarus in 2007, when his counterpart Aleksandr Lukashenko took him on a tour of projects dating from the Soviet Union's 1930s collectivization, said Perez, who now advises the president of Venezuela's state agriculture fund.

Belarus shares similar economic problems with Venezuela. The country, which former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the "last dictatorship in Europe," has seen its currency weaken 70 percent against the dollar since 2011 and has the world's third fastest inflation after Venezuela and Iran, according to its central bank.

Belorussian construction company BelZarubezhStroy, known as BZS, began work on William Lara in 2011 and was scheduled to complete the project by the end of 2012, according to the Agriculture Ministry's annual report for that year. The plan envisaged 500 houses, a school, grain silos, sports grounds, shops, a power substation, a milk factory and a slaughterhouse. The project is named after a Guarico governor and Chavez ally who died in 2010 when he drove his car into a river.

Setting an Example

The commune would "set the example for the development of agro-industry of Venezuela," Chavez said in July 2012 after meeting a Belorussian delegation.

Farmers from the nearby towns of Calabozo and El Sombrero never came to the project amid the water and funding shortages. Meter-high dry grass now covers acres of fields cleared of stones and spindly dwarf trees, as new gravel roads snake across the featureless terrain. Some corn fields were burnt to chase away rodents because local workers weren't sure how to use the Belorussian machines to harvest the crop.

Agriculture and food supply were at the heart of Chavez's poverty reduction campaign during his 14 years in power, including land redistribution, farm credits and investment in rural infrastructure, Agriculture Minister Gil said.

Grains and corn production has doubled in the past 15 years as a result, he said. "Very few countries in the world can say this."

Food Security

Higher grains volumes have failed to make up for the stagnant production of more expensive products such as milk and beef, said Alejandro Gutierrez, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of the Andes in Merida. Venezuela imports 70 percent of its food today, compared with about 50 percent in the late 1990s, according to the National Agriculture Industry Association, known as Fedeagro.

"Production hasn't kept up with demand, pushing the country's food security to critical levels," Gutierrez said by telephone on April 21.

A decade of price controls on basic goods has exacerbated the situation. A kilogram of meat costs 8 bolivars (12 U.S. cents at the black market rate) and rice is 3 bolivars a kilogram in the Mercal state supermarket chain, fueling hoarding and smuggling to neighboring Colombia and leaving shelves bare.

More than one in four basic goods was out of stock in Latin America's fourth-largest economy in January, the most since records began, according to the central bank. The bank stopped publishing up-to-date scarcity data last month.

"The legacy of this government is a very low rate of execution," Jose Guerra, economics professor at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, said by phone April 21. "They have tried to do too many things at the same time, causing inefficiency and waste."

To contact the reporter on this story: Anatoly Kurmanaev in Caracas at akurmanaev1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net; Philip Sanders at psanders@bloomberg.net Philip Sanders

 
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-28/chavez-food-utopia-withers-as-development-plans-left-unfulfilled.html




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« Reply #280 on: April 29, 2014, 08:00:25 AM »

"Perez said construction began without checking water availability and now a dam would have to be dug to make the project viable."

We here of government project over runs here too.  I don't know the statistics but we here all the time of defense cost "overruns" on basically every single project.

Stadiums always cost more to build then "projected".  I don't understand why we don't have contracts that limit the amount available and the entity that accepts the contract must meet those limits.  Or they borrow money privately and then pay the overdrawn balance back.
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« Reply #281 on: April 29, 2014, 08:25:28 AM »

I don't understand why we don't have contracts that limit the amount available and the entity that accepts the contract must meet those limits.


You would wind up with a lot of unfinished projects and bankrupt contractors. The solution is to go back to basics, get government out of where it does not belong. As Ayn Rand suggested, the proper roles for government are limited to security, defense and the arbitration of disputes.
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« Reply #282 on: April 29, 2014, 09:10:03 AM »

Governments are the same the world over, inefficient because the people who work there have no incentives to be frugal, quite the contrary. Take American public education, where did all the loan money go? To teachers? No, to school administrators. Yesterday I read about Japan, same thing. It's all about the Tragedy of the Commons.


Things That Make You Go Hmmm... by Grant Williams

“Everything makes sense once you realize Japan is a communist country.”

Aki Wakabayashi’s book Komuin no Ijona Sekai (The Bizarre World Of The Public Servant) sprang from her 10 years working at a Labour Ministry research institute and lifted the lid on some of the peccadilloes of Japan’s civil service.

Wakabayashi told of being scolded for saving her department ¥200 million, as her effort put that amount in jeopardy for the following year’s budget allocation; of senior managers taking female subordinates on first-class, round-the-world trips to “study labour conditions in other countries”; and of the mad dash by all departments to spend unused budget before year-end — the collective result of which saw monthly total expenditures by government agencies jump from ¥3 trillion in February to ¥18 trillion in March.

The facts unearthed by Wakabayashi are remarkable:

(Japan Times): The national average annual income of a local government employee was ¥7 million in 2006, compared to the ¥4.35 million national average for all company employees and the ¥6.16 million averaged by workers at large companies. Their generosity to even their lowest-level employees may explain why so many local governments are effectively insolvent: Drivers for the Kobe municipal bus system are paid an average of almost ¥9 million (taxi drivers, by comparison, earn about ¥3.9 million).

School crossing guards in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward earned ¥8 million in 2006. (Such generosity to comparatively low-skilled workers may explain why in the summer of 2007 it was discovered that almost 1,000 Osaka city government employees had lied about having college, i.e., they had, but did not put it on their resumes because it might have disqualified them from such jobs!) Furthermore, unlike private sector companies, public employees get their bonuses whether the economy is good or bad or, in the case of the Social Insurance Agency, even after they lose the pension records of 50 million people (2008 year-end bonuses for most public employees were about the same as 2007, global economic crisis notwithstanding).

In addition to their generous salary and bonuses, public servants get a wealth of extra allowances and benefits. Mothers working for the government can take up to three years’ maternity leave (compared to up to one year in the private sector, if you are lucky). Some government workers may also get bonuses when their children reach the age of majority, extra pay for staying single or not getting promoted, or “travel” allowances just for going across town. Perhaps the most shocking example Wakabayashi offers is the extra pay given to the workers at Hello Work (Japan’s unemployment agency) to compensate them for the stress of dealing with the unemployed.

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/ttmygh/gyver-guffin

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« Reply #283 on: April 30, 2014, 06:50:31 PM »

Shortages

The shortage problem is not universal as the following picture shows:



That truck is full of locally grown produce, generally of good quality, that farmers are free to sell with no price regulation. Prices swing wildly, last December a kilo of white onions was selling at close to BsF. 100 and earlier this year it had dropped to BsF. 35. The shortages exist in regulated wares such as coffee. But the coffee shortage was easily solved by rebranding the coffee "Gourmet" (it's the exact same coffee) which sells for BsF. 87 for a half kilo vs. the non existent regulated coffee at BsF. 26 for half a kilo. Regulated plain white rice is nowhere to be found but you can get plenty of parboiled and flavored varieties at prices well above the regulated stuff. Most of what is scarce are industrialized products like milk, flour, vegetable oil, and toilette paper because often the regulated price is below cost or because it is made or imported by the government. There are also shortages of imported goods for which the government is not willing to sell regulated dollars.

I've lost track, I think we have three oficial exchange rates plus the black market. To figure out the black market price you look at a Colombian website which shows their rates for dollars, euros and bolivars. There is a new exchange but it is so complicated and the government wants so much information that many people are quite willing to pay 20% more in the black market.

Some examples: There used to be a good local brand of canned tuna which was taken over by Chavistas. I bought a can of it made under the new management and it was a kind of paste, not "chunky" which is what you expect. For a while there was a Cuban brand of rice but it cooked into such an ugly mush that not even the poorest people were willing to buy it. There is no wheat flour but there is plenty of bread and pasta -- figure that one out! After 15 years of Chavismo I have finally run out of powdered milk and now I make home made soybean milk. Oh well.

Some good news, razor blades are back!

I just got this email today. Water shortages in the East where my marina is:

Quote
Interesante a ver que el problema del agua esta afectando a todos

LECHERÍA 29 DE ABRIL DE 2014
CONVOCATORIA
 
Se convoca a los propietarios y residentes del Parque Residencial Villamar Lecheria Barcelona a Reunión Extraordinaria que tendrá lugar el Sábado 3 de Mayo de 2014.
 
LUGAR: Oficina de Administración
 
PUNTOS A TRATAR:
 
1. Problemas con el suministro de agua por parte de Hidrocaribe
2. Vigilancia

Hora:   10:30 A.M:
 
Junta de Condominio



Queues, shortages hit Venezuela's homeless and hungry
Reuters By Carlos Rawlins
April 29, 2014 7:32 AM



A voluntary worker gives a bowl of soup to a man at the Mother Teresa of Calcutta eating center in Caracas .


CARACAS (Reuters) - Huge queues at supermarkets and shortages of basic products have become the norm in Venezuela over the last year - and the most needy are increasingly at the sharp edge.

Workers at soup kitchens for the homeless and hungry face an ever-more difficult task to find rice, lentils, flour and other staples to provide a free daily hot meal.

"I queue for hours every day because you can only get one thing one day, another the next," said Fernanda Bolivar, 54, who has worked for 11 years at the church-supported "Mother Teresa" soup kitchen in a back-street of downtown Caracas.

"The situation's got terrible in the last year," she said, in a dingy kitchen at the center named for the Roman Catholic nun who helped the poor and dying in India.

Inspired to help because of her own experience of going hungry a decade ago, Bolivar cooks lunch every day for the 50 or so people who sit on long concrete tables inside the dimly-lit refuge that often gets flooded during the rainy season.

To get the ingredients, like many other Venezuelan shoppers, she rises at 4 a.m. to start queuing - normally for several hours - at a supermarket nearby with hundreds of others. A number marking her place in the queues is scrawled on her hand.

Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's government say the queues are a national embarrassment and symbol of failed socialist economics similar to the old Soviet Union.

But officials say businessmen are deliberately hoarding products as part of an "economic war" against him. They point to popular social welfare programs, and a halving of poverty levels since Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, as evidence that Venezuela's poor are better cared for than ever.

The government this month began an ID system that tracks shoppers' purchases at subsidized prices in state-run supermarkets. Officials say that will thwart hoarders and guarantee an equitable distribution of cheap food to those who need it, but critics are decrying it as a Cuban-style ration card that illustrates the shocking state of the economy.

Venezuela's government runs a network of shelters and feeding centers known as the Negra Hipolita mission, which operate alongside church institutions like the Mother Teresa center under a bridge in the San Martin district of Caracas.

There on a recent day, some of those eating a free lentil soup grumbled that there was no meat - but still gratefully wolfed down several bowls of food each.

"I've been coming every day for years, I'm one of the family here," said jobless Vladimir Garcia, 56, taking his time over a large bowl of soup.

Garcia has been helping organizer Bolivar to queue for the center's food. "Maybe socialism has done a lot for Venezuela, but we never had these huge long lines for everything before. Nor this scarcity of food products," he said.

"It's madness for such a rich nation."

(Writing and additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Kieran Murray)

http://news.yahoo.com/queues-shortages-hit-venezuelas-homeless-hungry-113232960--business.html

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« Reply #284 on: April 30, 2014, 07:30:19 PM »

Venezuela currency woes hit Herbalife and other US consumer brands

Venezuela's convoluted currency exchange system – which has one 'official' rate for the government and another for importers of non-essential goods – has hurt foreign companies.
Christian Science Monitor By Stephen Kurczy
8 hours ago
 
The actions of the Venezuelan government are undermining earnings for foreign companies and the positions of US investors.

The latest example came Monday evening when the nutritional-supplements maker Herbalife reported that first-quarter profit fell 37 percent due to a foreign-exchange loss tied to the devaluation of Venezuela’s bolívar. The loss was a hit to Herbalife’s 17 percent owner Carl Icahn, the activist investor who has in recent months taken to defending Herbalife from accusations that it’s a pyramid scheme.

Herbalife’s first quarter earnings, however, suggest that Mr. Icahn might have been wise to watch Venezuela more closely.

“I don’t think US Investors are exactly itching to get involved,” says our correspondent in Caracas. “What I’m taking away from all this is that US companies that are still here are in it for the long run. They’re willing to incur these losses as they weather out the storm that is ‘21st Century Socialism’ as they likely posses a huge market share.”

Herbalife, which competes with Weight Watchers International, Nutrisystem, and Medifast, has benefited from a focus on emerging markets such as Venezuela and its well-known “Miss” culture, says our correspondent in Caracas, referring to beauty pageants, such as Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe.

“Herbalife is very popular down here,” our correspondent says.

But Venezuela’s convoluted currency exchange system has hurt foreign companies, which was forewarned last year by US hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP’s William Ackman.... For the rest of the story, continue reading at our new business publication Monitor Global Outlook.


http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-currency-woes-hit-herbalife-other-us-consumer-155051214.html

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« Reply #285 on: May 01, 2014, 09:08:02 PM »

This Hilarious Slide Perfectly Demonstrates Corporate America's Venezuela Strategy
 SAM RO   
MAY 1, 2014, 10:36 AM    1,815 2

Emerging market economies offer fantastic growth opportunities for multinational corporation.

But conducting business in these markets comes with all sorts of risk. They tend to experience high inflation rates and volatile currency swings.

In February, Venezuela undertook a massive currency devaluation that instantly wreaked havoc for companies doing business in the country. In Q1, Coca-Cola took a $247 million charge because of Venezuela's bolivar.

Most of the companies that dodged this were probably quietly celebrating.

The executives at Church & Dwight — the owner Arm & Hammer, OxiClean and Trojan — celebrated quite vocally during the CAGNY Conference earlier this year.

"I wanna talk about our entry strategy into Venezuela," teased Matt Farrell, Church & Dwight's CFO. "Come on! We're not doing it! What're you stupid?!"

"I'm writing a letter to the president of Venezuela to thank him for all of the pain and suffering and distraction he's causing all of my major competitors," he said.

Farrell said that Church & Dwight would not be going into Venezuela in his lifetime.

Here's the blunt slide Farrell used to communicate his sentiment.


Venezuela

Church & Dwight


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/church-and-dwight-venezuela-map-2014-5#ixzz30WI1SJ00
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« Reply #286 on: July 26, 2014, 08:08:23 AM »

Sometimes one needs a break but I'm still here


Venezuela official seeks immunity in Aruba ruling
Associated Press By DILMA ARENDS GEERMAN and JOSHUA GOODMAN
14 hours ago
 
ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) — A judge in Aruba was expected to rule Friday on whether the highest-ranking Venezuelan official ever arrested on a U.S. warrant will remain behind bars pending an extradition request on drug charges.

Hugo Carvajal, a former head of Venezuelan military intelligence and close confidant of the late president Hugo Chavez, was arrested Wednesday upon arriving at Aruba's airport. U.S. authorities allege he's one of several high-ranking Venezuelan military and law enforcement officials who provided a haven to major drug traffickers from neighboring Colombia and helped them export large quantities of U.S.-bound cocaine through Venezuela.

Carvajal's surprise arrest is casting a spotlight on what's known in Venezuela as the "Cartel of the Suns," a reference to rogue, high-ranking military officers believed to have grown rich from drug-running. Top Venezuelan officers wear sun insignia on their uniforms.

Together with the unsealing Thursday of a drug indictment against two other Venezuelan officials, Carvajal's arrest is likely to ratchet up tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela's socialist government, which frequently accuses Washington of conspiring against it and using the drug war to exert pressure on Latin America.

"Carvajal's only option to avoid going to jail for a long, long time is going to be to cooperate, and that is going to be devastating for a lot of senior Venezuelan officials," said Frank Holder, a Miami-based expert on narcotics trafficking who is chairman for Latin America of FTI Consulting, a business advisory firm.

President Nicolas Maduro has already threatened to retaliate against Aruba, just 15 miles off Venezuela's coast, unless Carvajal is freed. The president likened Carvajal's arrest to an "ambush" and "kidnapping" that violates international law because he had been appointed the country's consul to the Caribbean island. Prosecutors in Aruba say that while Carvajal was carrying a diplomatic passport he isn't entitled to immunity because he was not yet accredited by the Netherlands, which runs foreign affairs for its former colony.

"We won't let our honor or that of any Venezuelan be sullied by campaigns orchestrated from the empire," Maduro said in a speech Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, judge Yvonne van Wersch emerged from the hearing to announce that she would take several hours to decide whether Carvajal had immunity.

"I want to make my own decision," she said.

Carvajal, who earned Chavez's trust as a military cadet in the early 1980s, has long been a target of U.S. law enforcement.

In 2008, he was blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury along with two other senior military officials for allegedly providing weapons and fake Venezuelan identity papers to Marxist rebels in Colombia so they could travel easily across the border. The U.S. has classified the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as a terrorist organization and has indicted its top leadership on narcotics charges.

While Chavez always denied that officials in his government were aiding the FARC, material retrieved from a computer belonging to a senior rebel commander and seized by Colombian forces in a 2008 air raid seemed to place Carvajal front and center in what appears to have been a fluid relationship between the rebels and Venezuela's military.

In one communication from January 2007, the rebel leader known by his alias Ivan Marquez recounts for fellow commanders how he met with Carvajal and another army general and was promised delivery of 20 "very powerful bazookas."

The indictment against Carvajal doesn't discuss ties to the FARC. Instead, it focuses on payments he and other senior military officials allegedly received from Wilber Varela, one of Colombia's biggest kingpins before his 2008 murder in Venezuela.

Carvajal's attorney Chris Lejuez told The Associated Press on Friday that his client denies all charges against him and will seek diplomatic immunity from extradition. Even if freed, a final ruling on the U.S. extradition request could take several days.

Carvajal was being held in the central town of Santa Cruz in Aruba. Heavily armed officers were posted outside the police station where Friday's hearing will take place, due to security concerns. A reporter noted what appeared to be a sniper on the roof.

Carvajal's arrest follows the unsealing in southern Florida this week of an indictment against two other Venezuelan officials for allegedly working to protect another Colombian drug trafficker.

According to a criminal complaint, police officer Rodolfo McTurk was serving as the director of Interpol in Venezuela when he confronted an unnamed trafficker arrested in February 2009. After negotiations, the trafficker allegedly agreed to pay McTurk $400,000 in cash immediately and $75,000 a month to be released and allowed to continue his activities.

Three traffickers told a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that the operations could not have continued without McTurk's help.

Each month, McTurk allegedly went to the home of the trafficker and received $75,000 in cash, once demanding payment in the form of armor-plated SUVs.

The Colombian trafficker was later arrested again and extradited to the U.S.

McTurk is believed to be residing in Venezuela. But his co-defendant, Benny Palmeri-Bacchi, was arrested last week trying to enter the U.S. with his wife and 5-year-old son for a two-week vacation at Disney World, his attorney, Edward Abramson, told The Associated Press. A former judge and attorney, Palmeri-Bacchi pleaded not guilty at a Thursday hearing. His attorney declined further comment on the allegations against his client.

A spokeswoman for the Miami U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

___

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman reported this story from Bogota, Colombia, and Dilma Arends Geerman from Oranjestad, Aruba. AP writers Christine Armario in Miami, Hannah Dreier in Caracas and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-official-seeks-immunity-aruba-ruling-174006174.html
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« Reply #287 on: July 26, 2014, 08:46:56 AM »

"Carvajal's only option to avoid going to jail for a long, long time is going to be to cooperate, and that is going to be devastating for a lot of senior Venezuelan officials,"


Or... the Venezuelan government could grow a pair, invade Aruba on grounds of hostility toward Venezuelan citizens, and tell the US to pound sand.

The US does use the drug war to push their agendas and influence in other countries, and as an employee to one of the parties, I can say, many view US intrusion as unwlecome, and not always due to corruption either... sometimes it's just called minding your own business and taking care of problems that actually have to do with one's own citizens.


My two cents.
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« Reply #288 on: July 26, 2014, 09:48:26 AM »

DDF:

American "intrusion" is both welcome and not welcome, depending on what it is and depending on who minds and who does not mind.  In any case, The US is losing LatAm with Obama's extreme "flexibility."


One day's Yahoo Latin-America headlines:

Japanese PM opens LatAm tour with Mexico energy deals

Chinese president ends regional tour in cradle of Cuban Revolution

Chinese leader signs accords, wraps up Cuba visit

Chinese president backs Cuba's economic reforms

China, Venezuela deepen economic ties during visit

Cuba hopes for more investment as Chinese president arrives

China, Russia leaders seek South American inroads

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

Brazil, China sign several trade, business deals

Russia set to reopen Soviet-era spy post on Cuba: source

China seeks to build railways in Brazil to ship out commodities

BRICS meet South American leaders after bank deal

Putin, Kirchner seek 'multipolarity' in Argentina visit

China's leader Xi departs for South America tour

Putin signs nuclear energy deal with Argentina

Putin in Argentina, building Russian ties

Putin in Cuba, Nicaragua to rekindle Latin America ties

BRICS to launch bank, tighten Latin America ties

Putin kicks off Latin America tour with Cuba stop

Putin pledges to help Cuba explore for offshore oil

Putin in Cuba to rekindle Latin America ties

http://news.yahoo.com/latin-america/



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« Reply #289 on: July 26, 2014, 11:32:17 AM »

DDF:

American "intrusion" is both welcome and not welcome, depending on what it is and depending on who minds and who does not mind.  In any case, The US is losing LatAm with Obama's extreme "flexibility."

Obama is a chump. I can't state the disdain I have for him.
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« Reply #290 on: July 27, 2014, 08:22:55 PM »

Too bad Aruba ket the guy go.  Sad

Aruba releases Venezuelan diplomat sought by US
Associated Press By JOSHUA GOODMAN and DAVID McFADDEN
22 minutes ago
 
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A former Venezuelan general detained in Aruba on U.S. drug charges was released by the Dutch Caribbean island and sent home Sunday night, authorities said.

Venezuela's government said Hugo Carvajal was flying to Caracas with Deputy Foreign Minister Calixto Ortega.

Earlier in the day, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua read parts of what he said was a letter from the Netherlands' ambassador in Caracas agreeing with Venezuela's position that Carvajal's detention violated international law because he had been sent to Aruba as Venezuela's consul and was carrying a diplomatic passport.

Authorities in Aruba had argued previously that Carvajal didn't have immunity from arrest because he had yet to be accredited by the Netherlands, which manages the foreign affairs of its former colony that sits off the coast of Venezuela.

But at a hastily called news conference in Aruba's capital, the island's justice minister said Carvajal was being let go under a decision Sunday by the Dutch government. Dowers said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans had decided Carvajal did have immunity but also declared him "persona non grata" — a term used by governments to remove foreign diplomats.

"The fact is that Mr. Carvajal was granted diplomatic immunity, but he is also considered persona non grata. He has to abandon our territory as soon as possible," Dowers told reporters at a news conference in Oranjestad that was streamed live on the Internet.

Aruba's justice minister and Chief Prosecutor Peter Blanken stressed that Carvajal had no accreditation to serve as a diplomat locally on the island so officials had decided to comply with the detention request from Washington based on an international treaty between the U.S. and the Dutch Kingdom.

"But that information changed today based on what Minister Timmermans of the Netherlands said. And Aruba has to follow instructions," Dowers said.

He said U.S. officials were "very disappointed" with the decision to free Carvajal.

Carvajal served for five years until 2009 as the late President Hugo Chavez's head of military intelligence. The two met in the early 1980s at the military academy in Caracas and later took up arms together in a failed 1992 coup that catapulted Chavez to fame and set the stage for his eventual rise to power.

His arrest Wednesday and possible extradition to the United States had threatened to further damage already fractious relations with Washington.

Carvajal was the highest-ranking Venezuelan official ever arrested on a U.S. warrant. In 2008, he was one of three senior Venezuelan military officers blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for allegedly providing weapons and safe haven to Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are classified a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. U.S. prosecutors have indicted all of the movement's top leadership, including senior commanders with whom Carvajal purportedly conspired, on charges of smuggling large amounts of cocaine.

Carvajal has denied any wrongdoing on those counts as well as charges unsealed this week in southern Florida that he was an associate of Wilber Varela, a major Colombian drug trafficker who was murdered in Venezuela in 2008.

The U.S. warrant has rallied supporters of Maduro's socialist government, who regularly accuse the United States of conspiring against it.

Maduro this week condemned Carvajal's arrest as a "kidnapping" orchestrated by the U.S., while Jaua on Sunday said the former general's only crime "is having defended the life of ex-president Chavez during 15 years."

___

Associated Press writer Joshua Goodman reported this story in Bogota, Colombia, and David McFadden reported from Kingston, Jamaica.


http://news.yahoo.com/aruba-releases-venezuelan-diplomat-sought-us-005342920.html


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« Reply #291 on: August 27, 2014, 09:50:18 AM »

 Venezuela's Faltering Oil Sector Could Drag Down Petrocaribe
Analysis
August 27, 2014 | 0414 Print Text Size
Venezuela's Faltering Oil Sector Could Drag Down Petrocaribe
The Petrocaribe summit in Managua in June 2013. (INTI OCON/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

The decline of the Venezuelan oil sector could have wider effects in Central America and the Caribbean. Venezuela supplies crude oil and refined fuel shipments at reduced cost to 15 countries in the region under the Petrocaribe pricing mechanism. Some of these countries depend on Venezuelan supplies for most of their energy use. Caracas has so far been able to maintain fuel supplies to these states because their low energy demands do not strain Venezuela's refining capacity. However, as Venezuela's energy sector declines -- and public finances deteriorate -- Venezuela eventually could change its terms for financing such shipments or reduce them altogether.
Analysis

The Petrocaribe oil financing scheme began in 2005 under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Petrocaribe was conceived as a means of securing political allies among Caribbean and Central American states that depend heavily on fossil fuel imports. From the start of Petrocaribe, Venezuela offered financing that varied according to the international price of Venezuelan crude oil. The amount financed by Venezuela drops as the price of oil falls and rises as the price increases. For example, when Venezuelan oil prices equal or exceed $80, the buying nation pays 50 percent of the total cost of each oil shipment agreed upon, and the remainder is payable over 25 years at a 2 percent yearly interest rate. Under the current terms of Petrocaribe financing, member states must pay 40 percent of each shipment's cost up front, and 60 percent can be paid off over 25 years. Venezuela has accepted food, services and goods as payment for the oil, leading to undisclosed accumulated debts from pending payments.
Venezuela's Export Priorities

Overall, Petrocaribe is a small part of Venezuelan oil exports. In 2013, the outflow of oil products to Cuba, Petrocaribe and an additional preferential deal with Argentina totaled only about 240,600 barrels per day of the country's 2.1 million bpd of overall exports. Petrocaribe that year accounted for nearly 112,000 bpd. Because many Petrocaribe client nations lack the refinery capacity to effectively process Venezuela's heavy crude oil, more than half of products shipped to Petrocaribe countries are more expensive refined products such as fuel oil, diesel or gasoline. Since 2002, Venezuela has maintained an agreement with Cuba that currently provides the island with 99,000 barrels of oil and refined products per day -- more than half the country's oil consumption. The energy relationship with Cuba is crucial to the security of the Venezuelan government and is a higher priority than the Petrocaribe shipments. Unlike Petrocaribe, most of what Cuba receives is crude oil. In 2012, 85,000 of the 91,000 bpd that Cuba received were crude oil.
Venezuela Oil Production
Click to Enlarge

Venezuela continues to supply oil and refined fuels under the Petrocaribe scheme because those shipments do not significantly burden state-owned energy firm Petroleos de Venezuela, which is known by its Spanish acronym, PDVSA. However, Venezuela's depleted public finances and declining energy production have cast some doubt over the company's future willingness and ability to continue providing these shipments. Because of the fear of public backlash, Venezuela is unlikely to take decisive economic measures to alleviate the financial pressure on the energy sector anytime soon. Venezuela likely will continue Petrocaribe for as long as it can but will not hesitate to raise prices or reduce shipments if they threaten supplies to Cuba or its domestic market.
Domestic Financial Difficulties and Petrocaribe

The Venezuelan government's growing need for cash could eventually force Caracas to decide on the future of Petrocaribe shipments. Venezuela's reduced public finances mostly resulted from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela's using Petroleos de Venezuela to fund high levels of social spending. This has placed significant pressure on the company, which has increasingly required transfers from the central bank to plug gaps in its finances. Despite reducing direct social spending from $30 billion in 2011 to $13 billion in 2013 and having Venezuelan oil prices steady at around $100 per barrel for most of 2013, the company still required assistance from the Venezuelan central bank. For 2013, the company posted a $15.8 billion net profit, of which about $12 billion appeared to be a direct transfer from the central bank.

Petroleos de Venezuela President Rafael Ramirez has promoted a series of economic reforms to turn around the company's deteriorating finances, one of which is cutting down on cash transfers to off-budget funds. However, the government has shied away from implementing more decisive measures, largely because of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's reduced popularity, caused by rampant inflation and growing food shortages. For several months, Ramirez has promoted economic adjustments, such as raising the price of subsidized gasoline, which costs Petroleos de Venezuela about $12.5 billion yearly. However, key members of the country's economic Cabinet -- such as Vice President Jorge Arreaza, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua and Central Bank President Nelson Merentes -- oppose major decisions because of their potential to cost the party public support ahead of the December 2015 legislative elections. With no decisive economic measures on the horizon, reductions in Petrocaribe shipments could free up cash to benefit the public sector.

The most immediate impact of a reduction in Petrocaribe shipments would be energy supplies rapidly becoming more expensive for small states. Because of their extreme dependence on Petrocaribe for energy, Nicaragua, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Haiti likely would be the most affected by such a measure. Of the four countries, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica appear to be the best positioned to withstand a reduction or cutoff of Petrocaribe shipments. The Dominican Republic relies on Petrocaribe supplies for about 23 percent of its imports, and Jamaica relies on the discounted energy from Venezuela for about 32 percent of its imports. The other two receive more than 90 percent of supplies from Venezuela. In case of changes to Petrocaribe financing or volumes, these countries would be able to procure oil from the United States, although it would be at full price.

In the case of Nicaragua, the removal of Petrocaribe pricing or supplies would likely result in the loss of a significant source of off-budget funds. The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front relies on Petrocaribe to fund Albanisa, a joint venture held by Petroleos de Venezuela and the government of Nicaragua. In 2013, Nicaragua paid Venezuela $1 billion for imports of crude oil and refined products and received half that payment back in the form of a direct transfer to Albanisa. Under the terms of Albanisa, 40 percent of this total can be employed directly by Nicaragua, and the remainder is used for projects approved by Petroleos de Venezuela. This arrangement likely left Nicaragua with at least an additional $200 million in 2013, and with Nicaraguan budget expenditures for 2013 at $2 billion, the infusion of cash from Petrocaribe likely provided the ruling party with an additional financial cushion. The loss of this financing would force Nicaragua to finance public spending using government revenue and the undisclosed amounts saved in Albanisa accounts.

Petroleos de Venezuela likely will continue supplying Petrocaribe energy supplies under the current terms for as long as it can. A reduction in Petrocaribe shipments probably is not imminent but will become more plausible if the Venezuelan government does not relieve the financial burden on Petroleos de Venezuela. Some of the financial measures under consideration, such as moving dollars from off-budget funds to the country's foreign reserves, could give Petroleos de Venezuela room to continue Petrocaribe, but such moves will not have a decisive effect on Venezuela's overall decline. If Venezuela experiences problems in maintaining oil exports under its political agreements, it is likely to reduce supplies to Petrocaribe members before it chooses to reduce similar shipments to Cuba.

Read more: Venezuela's Faltering Oil Sector Could Drag Down Petrocaribe | Stratfor
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