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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #50 on: January 04, 2010, 12:02:31 PM »

No argument from me.

The Obama-Clinton policy on Honduras has been unusually incompetent and/or malicious.
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captainccs
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« Reply #51 on: January 05, 2010, 06:35:06 AM »

Crafty:

The following article is not only about Brazil/Latin America so you might want to post it elsewhere but it says pretty much the same as i did, worldwide democracies are not necessarily American puppy dogs:

America is losing the free world
By Gideon Rachman
Published: January 5 2010 02:00 | Last updated: January 5 2010 02:00

Ever since 1945, the US has regarded itself as the leader of the "free world". But the Obama administration is facing an unexpected and unwelcome development in global politics. Four of the biggest and most strategically important democracies in the developing world - Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey - are increasingly at odds with American foreign policy. Rather than siding with the US on the big international issues, they are just as likely to line up with authoritarian powers such as China and Iran.

The US has been slow to pick up on this development, perhaps because it seems so surprising and unnatural. Most Americans assume that fellow democracies will share their values and opinions on international affairs. During the last presidential election campaign, John McCain, the Republican candidate, called for the formation of a global alliance of democracies to push back against authoritarian powers. Some of President Barack Obama's senior advisers have also written enthusiastically about an international league of democracies.

But the assumption that the world's democracies will naturally stick together is proving unfounded. The latest example came during the Copenhagen climate summit. On the last day of the talks, the Americans tried to fix up one-to-one meetings between Mr Obama and the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and India - but failed each time. The Indians even said that their prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had already left for the airport.

So Mr Obama must have felt something of a chump when he arrived for a last-minute meeting with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, only to find him already deep in negotiations with the leaders of none other than Brazil, South Africa and India. Symbolically, the leaders had to squeeze up to make space for the American president around the table.

There was more than symbolism at work. In Copenhagen, Brazil, South Africa and India decided that their status as developing nations was more important than their status as democracies. Like the Chinese, they argued that it is fundamentally unjust to cap the greenhouse gas emissions of poor countries at a lower level than the emissions of the US or the European Union; all the more so since the industrialised west is responsible for the great bulk of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

Revealingly, both Brazilian and Chinese leaders have made the same pointed joke - likening the US to a rich man who, after gorging himself at a banquet, then invites the neighbours in for coffee and asks them to split the bill.

If climate change were an isolated example, it might be dismissed as an important but anomalous issue that is almost designed to split countries along rich-poor lines. But, in fact, if you look at Brazil, South Africa, India and Turkey - the four most important democracies in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the greater Middle East - it is clear that none of them can be counted as a reliable ally of the US, or of a broader "community of democracies".

In the past year, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil has cut a lucrative oil deal with China, spoken warmly of Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, and congratulated Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad on his "victory" in the Iranian presidential election, while welcoming him on a state visit to Brazil.

During a two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council from 2006, the South Africans routinely joined China and Russia in blocking resolutions on human rights and protecting authoritarian regimes such as Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and Iran.

Turkey, once regarded as a crucial American ally in the cold war and then trumpeted as the only example of a secular, pro-western, Muslim democracy, is also no longer a reliable partner for the west. Ever since the US-led invasion of Iraq, opinion polls there have shown very high levels of anti-Americanism. The mildly Islamist AKP government has engaged with America's regional enemies - including Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran - and alarmed the Americans by taking an increasingly hostile attitude to Israel.

India's leaders do seem to cherish the idea that they have a "special relationship" with the US. But even the Indians regularly line up against the Americans on a range of international issues, from climate change to the Doha round of trade negotiations and the pursuit of sanctions against Iran or Burma.

So what is going on? The answer is that Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and India are all countries whose identities as democracies are now being balanced - or even trumped - by their identities as developing nations that are not part of the white, rich, western world. All four countries have ruling parties that see themselves as champions of social justice at home and a more equitable global order overseas. Brazil's Workers' party, India's Congress party, Turkey's AKP and South Africa's African National Congress have all adapted to globalisation - but they all retain traces of the old suspicions of global capitalism and of the US.

Mr Obama is seen as a huge improvement on George W. Bush - but he is still an American president. As emerging global powers and developing nations, Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey may often feel they have more in common with a rising China than with the democratic US.

gideon.rachman@ft.com


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/cd24b6ac-f999-11de-8085-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=ebe33f66-57aa-11dc-8c65-0000779fd2ac,print=yes.html


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Denny Schlesinger
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2010, 10:52:19 AM »

Interesting piece.  May I ask that you post it on the US Foreign Affairs thread?  I'd like to respond with some George Friedman based thoughts on Geopolitics.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #53 on: January 06, 2010, 10:56:34 AM »

Denny: "Brazil is and has always been Brazil centric. As far as they are concerned, Brazil is the center of the Universe."  - Same is true for Green Bay Packer fans, so maybe that lesson applies to some extent any direction we travel.

"Did Ms. Susan Kaufman Purcell think Brazil would be an American puppy dog? If so, she certainly does not know or understand Brazil."

From my point of view no one expects a lapdog or even an ally, just wishfully thinking that an independent democratic process far away might look at same or similar facts and come up with similar viewpoints and strategies.  But we can't get it right here, so our expectations elsewhere should be not much more than a curiosity, at least until they start partnering with our enemies.

Brazil congratulated Ahmadinejad, but the US under Bush with Sec. Powell using election observer Jimmy Carter wrongly congratulated Chavez.  More recently, as pointed out, we sided wrong in Honduras.

Still I favor the association of democracies.  To the extent that we all disagree, then the meetings could end without big press conferences or emissions treaties, but at least the participants would have some legitimacy.

ps. Are you still sailing?
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captainccs
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« Reply #54 on: January 06, 2010, 03:50:20 PM »

Still I favor the association of democracies.  To the extent that we all disagree, then the meetings could end without big press conferences or emissions treaties, but at least the participants would have some legitimacy.

ps. Are you still sailing?

There is much more to democracy than voting. We elected Chavez and the Germans elected Hitler, neither honored democracy. They used to vote in Cuba and in the Soviet Union but that does not make them democratic. Democracy is more a mental state than a set of rules. American democracy at this juncture looks rather weak. FDR used to say that democracy is the art of  muddling through and Churchill said that democracy is the worst possible system of government except for all the other that have been tried.

Honduras is an interesting case. Their elected president did something that called for his removal. In a more stable democracy he would have been impeached like Nixon was. The powers that be got nervous and did not follow procedure to the letter mostly out of fear of foreign intervention. Chavez had gained an ally in Zelaya and he was know to be a dangerous man. So the military packed Zelaya off to Costa Rica in his pajamas.

What is a foreign power to do? Chavez immediately denounced a coup because it was to his advantage to do so. On the other hand, Obama was in no rush. Obama could have put the issue on the back burner after issuing a statement that they were considering the case. That would have given him time to do whatever was in the American interest. Instead, he has egg all over his and Ms. Clinton's face. Rank amateurs!

How is that different from his insulting the Cambridge cop in the Gates case? Another amateurish action.

But getting back to important issues, no I have not sailed for several years.  I sold my boat and now I navigate the World Wide Web. I'm the webmaster of our marina's website:

http://bahiaredonda.com/

also available en español:

http://bahiaredonda.com.ve/



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Denny Schlesinger
DougMacG
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« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2010, 11:22:11 PM »

Thanks Denny, all valid points.  The vote fraud thread here alone would probably boot the US out of the hypothetical democracies group. Maybe the members of this club for the consent of the governed should be judged by whether they are moving toward or away from these ideals rather than by the name of their system, and that could be a way of exposing or sanctioning elected leaders for shutting down democratic systems. My hopes for this type of group are small, just a small step to try to diffuse the power of the thugs and cleptocrats with no legitimacy trying to establish world government at the UN.

I recall a Chavez election where the exit polls were 40-60 against him and the 'official' results were 60-40 for him, a 40 point swing.  My reaction was that the problem lied also with the 40 percent who actually voted for corruption, as much as it was the highly expected cheat.  As a tennis competitor, I know you avoid losing by one or two errors or a bad line call only by not letting your match get that close.   40% voting for Chavez was enough to create the confusion he needed to steal that election and still have the result honored.  On a different scale, same goes for the 60th D-Senator in the US; a 0.1% cheat only worked because of the nearly 50% who chose him legitimately.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2010, 11:25:04 PM »

------
In another Latin America story...

 Deep secrets of economic growth
 
January 6, 2010 (powerlineblog.com)

In an excellent editorial on December 4, Investor's Business Daily reported that Chile was expected to win entry to OECD's club of developed countries by December 15 -- "a great affirmation for a once-poor nation that pulled itself up by trusting markets." (The OECD followed up as expected on December 15.)

Chile is the first country in South America to win the honor. For Chileans, it symbolizes exit from the ranks of the Third World to the First. "For the rest of us," IBD writes, "it's a stunning example of how embracing free markets and free trade brings prosperity." It's an example that we could use in the United States right about now.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #57 on: January 06, 2010, 11:31:54 PM »

Great success story:
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0105/Latin-America-s-surprise-rising-economic-star-Peru

Latin America's surprise rising economic star: Peru

Peru's growth rate – 9.8 percent – was one of the fastest last year. It's poised to break with neighbors Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador with its center-left but pro-business governments.

By Matthew Clark / January 5, 2010
Lima, Peru

Often overlooked as a player in the global economy, Peru is determined to prove that it’s more than just llamas, bowler hats, and Macchu Picchu.

Its 9.8 percent growth rate last year was one of the world’s fastest. And record commodities prices, coupled with China’s insatiable demand for raw materials, are helping the mineral-rich nation weather the financial crisis better than most other countries in the region.

Now, Peru predicts that the construction of a new road between its Pacific coast and Brazil will replace the Panama Canal as the main passage for trade between rising superpower China and the agricultural juggernaut – adding a full percentage point to Peru’s gross domestic product. Add to that new oil and gas projects worth billions of dollars, and you’ve got a country poised for a giant leap.

Not since the height of the Spanish Empire, after Francisco Pizarro subdued Incan Emperor Atahualpa during his quest for the mythical golden city of El Dorado, has Peru been better positioned to play a key role on the world stage. But the country has long been dogged by a “resource curse” – vast reserves of gold, silver, tin, iron, zinc, and copper that have sparked more turmoil than development. Now the question is whether Peru – pound for pound, one of the world’s richest countries in terms of resources – can avoid repeating mistakes that have stunted its growth in the past.

The country has experienced decades of extreme left-wing and right-wing authoritarian governments and a brutal leftist insurgency waged by the Shining Path. But Peru’s past two pro-business, yet center-left governments have steered the country toward record economic growth, greater transparency, and rapid decentralization. The result: Peru has matured politically to the point where analysts – and investors – are beginning to talk about another regional powerhouse creeping up alongside Brazil.

“South America in general, and Peru in particular, are the region and country of the future,” says Francisco Sagasti, a senior associate at FORO, a development think tank based in Lima. “We’ve tried every macroeconomic model, and we’ve learned from our mistakes. No one is pushing for nationalization here. Everyone here knows that you have to have sensible economic policies from top to bottom.”

Indeed, Peruvians of all walks of life seem to agree that the country is not likely to follow its Andean neighbors Bolivia and Ecuador toward the “21st century socialism” of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. They’ve been there, done that. And, although President Alan Garcia’s approval rating now hovers near 30 percent, few quibble with the fact that Peru has enjoyed an average annual economic growth rate of 7 percent since 2003 or that per capita income has doubled and poverty plummeted from 50 percent to 35 percent in roughly the same time.

Peru’s ruling classes are almost giddy with excitement. “Latin America has the opportunity to be a major player like never before,” says former center-left President Alejandro Toledo, the country’s first indigenous leader and who is widely expected to be a top candidate again when Peru votes in a little over a year. “Peru is a hub for Pacific countries and China’s coming like a bulldozer.”

Barriers to a boom

But Peru’s rapid ascent is not a given. In some of its historically neglected mountain and jungle areas, social unrest lurks just beneath the surface, ready to thwart progress if people in those regions don’t feel more a part of the economic boom.

In June, clashes between indigenous protesters and armed forces killed more than 30 in the worst political violence since the Shining Path’s campaign of terror in the 1990s.

Native groups say the confrontation, which led to the resignation of Peru’s prime minister and the exile of a top indigenous leader, took place because the government refused to consult them before opening up their ancestral lands to oil and gas exploration.

Peru’s Congress quickly repealed two decrees by President Garcia that were aimed at opening wide swaths of the Peruvian Amazon to logging, dams, and oil drilling, and Garcia admitted that his failure to properly consult with indigenous groups on these matters was a mistake. Still, Garcia remains committed to the energy exploration that he and many others believe is crucial for the development of the nation. With half of the country identifying as indigenous, such conflicts are likely to come up again.

“Peru is very geographically fragmented,” says Mr. Toledo, explaining that Peru’s Andes are difficult to access and that two-thirds of the country is road-swallowing Amazonian jungle. “That’s its beauty, but also its challenge.”

The country is now in a race to spread decisionmaking power and largess from its recent boom to long-neglected rural areas.

“One of the weak points of [Peru’s economic] growth is that the interior of the country has been left behind,” says Epifanio Baca, the coordinator of the Citizen Watch Program, which has spent more than 20 years monitoring mining in Peru.

But that’s changing.

Mr. Baca says that one of the most important developments in the past few years is that the tax on mining has increased from 7 percent to 30 percent, and that half of that tax revenue is sent to Peru’s regional governments.

The fact that 15 percent of extractive industry earnings now goes to regional governments is hailed as Exhibit A in Peru’s aggressive moves to decentralize power away from Lima.

“Decentralization is vital, because [rural Peruvians] see effective governance and improvement of life at the national level – in Lima – but they don’t see it where they are,” says Vito Verna, who monitors social conflicts at the national ombudsman’s office.

Mr. Verna’s office, which was created earlier this year, keeps an eye on nearly 300 simmering local conflicts, almost half of which are related to mining, oil, or gas activities. The office plays the role of mediator in any conflict in which all the stakeholders have asked for dialogue.

“A year ago, only 25 percent of conflicts had dialogue. Now 50 percent have dialogue,” he says. “Peruvian society is evolving. Now, people who’ve historically been discriminated against are more a part of things.”

But as the central government devolves power from Lima, where one-third of the population lives, it’s finding that many regional governmental officials don’t have needed management skills.

“Competency training for regional officials is now vital,” says Verna’s boss and head of the ombudsman’s office, Eduardo Vega Luna.

And then there’s corruption. As regional budgets have exploded, so have the number of graft allegations against local and regional officials.

Still, by most accounts, there’s been tremendous progress on government accountability.

“Corruption affects all levels of government, but Peru has moved forward,” says Baca, of the Citizen Watch Program. “Any citizen can now see how money is being spent on a month-to-month basis.”

Peru is the only country in Latin America to sign on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which was started in 2002 by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to enable citizens to more closely monitor the flows of money from energy and mining companies to the host country’s local, regional, and federal government.

The goal of the initiative is to combat the government corruption that has plagued resource-rich countries, often leading to social unrest and deadly armed conflict.

Baca has been instrumental in coordinating efforts to independently audit willing oil, gas, and mining companies and ensure that payments by companies to the different branches of government – and revenues received by government – are widely publicized for any interested party to read.
A steep learning curve

Peru is nearing the end of the two-year process to become certified as completely EITI-compliant. It would be only the third such country.

The progress on transparency and accountability is “encouraging,” says Cynthia Sanborn, director of the research center at Pacific University in Lima. “There’s more learning from mistakes.”

But is Peru learning quickly enough?

During a visit to Peru earlier in December, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed 11 cooperation deals, mostly on trade and energy. Peru’s Garcia urged the scores of top-flight business leaders that accompanied Lula to invest his country.

“I’m deeply convinced that our peoples’ union and the road integration of our ports, flights, and trade will allow [us] to achieve both a very high level of well-being and [the] social justice we are all fighting for,” assured Garcia.

Coming months and years will reveal whether Peru’s political reforms will keep the “social justice” side of that equation on pace with its lightning-fast growth.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #58 on: January 14, 2010, 11:24:41 AM »

The Honduran Congress ratified interim President Roberto Micheletti’s decision to leave the Venezuelan-sponsored Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) on Jan. 12. This domestically significant move signals a reversal of the policies of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who had built economic and political ties to Venezuela, which was part of his opponents’ motivation behind the June 2009 ouster. However, Honduran dependence on imported fuels means legislators will attempt to keep an oil import initiative implemented under Zelaya intact for now.

The decision to exit ALBA was approved by 122 of 128 congress members, with the six opposing votes coming from five leftist Democratic Unity (UD) legislators and a single National Innovation and Unity Party-Social Democratic Party (PINU-SD) member. ALBA financial aid to Honduras will be terminated as a result of the withdrawal, including $185 million earmarked for social programs to be returned Venezuela. Honduras will keep a donation of 100 tractors. After the congressional vote, an official said Honduras will not dismantle existing crude oil supply agreements with Venezuela under the Petrocaribe oil supply alliance, of which Honduras became a member in March 2008. Petrocaribe offers crude oil to member states, allowing them to cover up to 60 percent of payments up front with shipments of goods.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suspended oil shipments to Honduras, which reportedly totaled 20,000 barrels per day, in July 2009 after demanding Zelaya’s reinstatement. Honduran legislators have made it clear that they expect oil shipments purchased from Venezuela with Petrocaribe credits prior to the political crisis will still be supplied, despite the Venezuelan cutoff — but this situation places any resumption of oil shipments firmly at Venezuela’s discretion. After Zelaya’s ouster, Honduran officials claimed that a rupture with Petrocaribe would not cause fuel shortages in Honduras, saying Mexico and other Caribbean nations could become alternate suppliers. Officials said there had been fuel supply problems before the political crisis, but the interruption of Venezuelan shipments does not seem to have caused significant problems.

The Honduran decision seems likely to heighten already-simmering tensions between the politically isolated Central American nation and ALBA members, particularly Venezuela and Nicaragua. ALBA members have yet to recognize the interim government, and the Honduran rejection of ALBA seems likely to sustain this polarization for the foreseeable future. The decision signals a firm shift away from relations with Venezuela, for now, and reflects the interim Honduran government’s continuing rejection of outside political interference.
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captainccs
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« Reply #59 on: January 25, 2010, 08:22:00 PM »

The Washington Post

How Hugo Chavez's revolution crumbled

By Jackson Diehl
Monday, January 25, 2010

While the world has been preoccupied with the crisis in Haiti, Latin America has quietly passed through a tipping point in the ideological conflict that has polarized the region -- and paralyzed U.S. diplomacy -- for most of the past decade.

The result boils down to this: Hugo Chávez's "socialism for the 21st century" has been defeated and is on its way to collapse.

During the past two weeks, just before and after the earthquake outside Port-au-Prince, the following happened: Chávez was forced to devalue the Venezuelan currency, and impose and then revoke massive power cuts in the Venezuelan capital as the country reeled from recession, double-digit inflation and the possible collapse of the national power grid. In Honduras, a seven-month crisis triggered by the attempt of a Chávez client to rupture the constitutional order quietly ended with a deal that will send him into exile even as a democratically elected moderate is sworn in as president.

Last but not least, a presidential election in Chile, the region's most successful economy, produced the first victory by a right-wing candidate since dictator Augusto Pinochet was forced from office two decades ago. Sebastián Piñera, the industrialist and champion of free markets who won, has already done something that no leader from Chile or most other Latin American nations has been willing to do in recent years: stand up to Chávez.

Venezuela is "not a democracy," Piñera said during his campaign. He also said, "Two great models have been shaped in Latin America: One of them led by people like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba and Ortega in Nicaragua. . . . I definitely think the second model is best for Chile. And that's the model we are going to follow: democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, alternation of power without caudillismo."

Piñera was only stating the obvious -- but it was more than his Socialist predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, or Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been willing to say openly. That silence hamstrung the Bush and the Obama administrations, which felt, rightly or wrongly, that they should not be alone in pointing out Chávez's assault on democracy. Piñera has now provided Washington an opportunity to raise its voice about Venezuelan human rights violations.

He has done it at a moment when Chávez is already reeling from diplomatic blows. Honduras is one. Though the country is tiny, the power struggle between its established political elite and Chávez acolyte Manuel Zelaya turned into a regional battle between supporters and opponents of the Chávez left -- with Brazil and other leftist democracies straddling the middle.

The outcome is a victory for the United States, which was virtually the only country that backed the democratic election that broke the impasse. Honduras is the end of Chávez's crusade to export his revolution to other countries. Bolivia and Nicaragua will remain his only sure allies. Brazil's Lula, whose tolerance of Chávez has tarnished his bid to become a global statesman, will leave office at the end of this year; polls show his party's nominee trailing a more conservative candidate.

Haiti only deepens Chávez's hole. As the world watches, the United States is directing a massive humanitarian operation, and Haitians are literally cheering the arrival of U.S. Marines. Chávez has no way to reconcile those images with his central propaganda message to Latin Americans, which is that the United States is an "empire" and an evil force in the region.

Then there is the meltdown Chávez faces at home. Despite the recovery in oil prices, the Venezuelan economy is deep in recession and continues to sink even as the rest of Latin America recovers. Economists guess inflation could rise to 60 percent in the coming months. Meanwhile, due to a drought, the country is threatened with the shutdown of a hydroelectric plant that supplies 70 percent of its electricity. And Chávez's failure to invest in new plants means there is no backup. There is also the crime epidemic -- homicides have tripled since Chávez took office, making Caracas one of the world's most dangerous cities. At a recent baseball game a sign in the crowd read: "3 Strikes-Lights-Water-Insecurity/President You Struck Out."

Chávez's thugs beat up those baseball fans. The man himself is ranting about the U.S. "occupation" of Haiti; his state television even claimed that the U.S. Navy caused the earthquake using a new secret weapon. On Sunday his government ordered cable networks to drop an opposition-minded television channel.

But Chavez's approval ratings are still sinking: They've dropped to below 50 percent in Venezuela and to 34 percent in the rest of the region. The caudillo has survived a lot of bad news before and may well survive this. But the turning point in the battle between authoritarian populism and liberal democracy in Latin America has passed -- and Chávez has lost.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/24/AR2010012402379.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #60 on: January 25, 2010, 09:59:27 PM »

Wonderful news!!!!! grin   Thanks Captainccs!
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captainccs
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« Reply #61 on: January 25, 2010, 10:13:25 PM »

Unfortunately the guy is still there. Today a student died from gunshot wounds. Mérida, which is a student state, is in an uprising. Three or four high ranking Chavistas quit the government.

Too much going on tonight in Venezuela to blog without emotions (Mostly Pictures)

Like Yogy said, it ain't over until its over.

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #62 on: January 30, 2010, 10:49:20 PM »

This post is quite long and full of pictures so I did not copy it, just took an excerpt.


SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 2010
Chavez Removes the Mask: It Will Be Dictatorship or Freedom
 
A Political Meltdown in Venezuela?

Things are heating up in Venezuela in ways we have not seen before.  After revoking the broadcast license for independent television station RCTV in 2007, which removed it from the public airwaves in 2008, Hugo Chavez has now forced Venezuelan cable television services to cease providing the RCTV channel to their subscribers, along with numerous other stations he regards as threatening to his regime. This comes on the heels of his closure of some 150 radio stations who did not offer what he deems to be the proper level of support for his policies. Protests have sprouted up all over the country, though the strongest have been very large student-led demonstrations in Caracas and also in the western state of Merida, as police and national guard units have violently responded to what appears to verge on a mass uprising.  There have been at least two deaths thus far, but the situation threatens to take a turn for the worse, particularly in Merida, where a new phenomenon has emerged within the Venezuelan resistance.



Read the rest at:

http://stjacquesonline.blogspot.com/2010/01/chavez-removes-mask-it-will-be.html

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Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #63 on: January 31, 2010, 09:53:16 AM »

Very interesting Capt.  In your opinion, what comes next?
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captainccs
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« Reply #64 on: January 31, 2010, 12:46:05 PM »

Very interesting Capt.  In your opinion, what comes next?



I don't know.

In Latin America we have democracy the military willing. It is not democracy because for one it is contingent on military permission and when they do allow it, it is more party dictatorship than the will of the people. The clearest  sign are the opening words of our Constitution.  Yours says:

Quote
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


By contrast, our says

Quote
The Congress of the Republic of Venezuela ... in representation of the Venezuelan people, for whom it invokes the protection of  God Almighty...


The word "bolivariano" is missing because I'm quoting the constitution of 1961, our fourth one. Some countries change constitutions like some women change shoes. But it's not on a whim, the new constitution is always designed to cement the power of whoever happens to be in command. It might have been written in our name but not necessarily expressing our wishes as free people. One of our presidents stated publicly, while in office, that laws were like women, designed to be raped (violadas).

Party dictatorship is further implemented by the way the voting is organized. While some posts are voted on by name half of congress and other legislatures are elected by lists (down from 100% in 1958) giving the parties that make up the lists inordinate power taking away from the ordinary people the right to nominate the people who they think are best. By the time the voting comes around, the travesty has already taken place. Only recently have we come around to using primaries and they are not always used. Anyone who doubts the need and benefits of checks and balances should study Latin American politics. (My preferred system is gridlock so that no party can do too much damage. I'm an anarchist at heart, a right wing anarchist, not a socialist anarchist.)

Our protest and revolutions are also surreal. We protest Monday to Friday but spend the weekend at the beach. Our street protest ended just in time so that people could go and watch the baseball finals. I have heard this story, probably apocryphal:  "Once a revolution was attacking the presidential palace in Buenos Aires from the park across the street. This, of course, created a traffic snarl. Every once in a while the shooting would stop to let the cars go through. Once traffic was relieved, the shooting would continue."

Dictators, for the most part, are long lived, Fidel Castro holds the world's record for longest living dictator. The secret is getting the job early in life because most of them die of old age. Mussolini, Hitler, "Chapita" Trujillo and Saddam Hussein are the exceptions. Back in 2002, when people were optimistic that we would get rid of Chavez soon, I collected information about all the dictators that came to mind and history reveals that they have staying power. Recently I read an article about this issue. The conclusion was that any dictatorship that shows any signs of weakness is doomed but the really cruel ones survive the longest. I have yet to see weakness in Chavez's repression of the people. In addition to the police and the National Guard, Chavez has his personal Círculos Bolivarianos, the modern equivalent to Hitler's Brown Shirts, organized killers.

At one time I believed that the military would not allow a Chavez militia to displace them and there was a push-back but Chavez managed to purge the armed forces and they are now subservient to the Castros of Cuba. They have even adopted the Cuban slogan: "Patria, Socialismo o Muerte." Dying is not what most Venezuelans want to do.

Rómulo Betancourt, the first elected president after the fall of Perez Jimenez, knew that democracy's biggest enemy was the military. To fend them off he devised the "Bozal de Arepa" policy (arepa is the local cornmeal bread)


I'm getting hungry!

The idea was to buy them off. It worked until it stopped working, Chavez had bigger ambitions.

While there are cracks in the Chavista ranks, that does not mean the end of the regime. Dictators usually just purge the dissenters, who are either murdered, jailed, exiled or sidelined in some other way. The military has been taken over by Cuba so I don't see how they would revolt against Chavez any time soon. Peaceful protests do not remove dictators and neither do rigged elections. The National Electoral Council is firmly in Chavez's hands. Besides, the opposition is still fragmented with no true leader. We don't trust the pre-Chavez politicians who we blame for Chavez's ascent to power. The newer generation is not quite mature yet.

Crafty: I'm an optimist but I'm also a realist and the deck is stacked against the people.

Denny Schlesinger
 

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« Reply #65 on: February 25, 2010, 05:10:00 PM »

In Venezuela there are no human rights and if Chavez has his way, there will be even less.



Chavez rejects report citing rights violations

AP – Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, …

By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 8 mins ago

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that Venezuela should boycott the Organization of American States' human rights body, saying the panel wrongly accused his government of political repression.

Chavez took issue with a report issued this week by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which cited widespread human rights violations in Venezuela. The socialist leader called the 300-page report "pure garbage" and described the commission's president, Santiago Canton, as "excrement."

"We should prepare to denounce the agreement in which Venezuela joined ... this terrible Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and leave it," Chavez said during a televised address.

Local rights activists applauded the account issued by the rights committee, saying it sheds light on widespread rights abuses.

The report released Wednesday at OAS headquarters in Washington complains of a lack of independence for Venezuela's judiciary, the closing of news media outlets that are critical of the government, and political discrimination and repression under Chavez.

"We don't recognize the commission as an impartial institution," said Gabriela Ramirez, the Venezuelan government's top rights guarantor. Ramirez said the report incorrectly concludes that "the Venezuelan state threatens democracy and human rights."

The report condemned the procedures for appointing and removing judges, saying the regulations "lack the safeguards necessary to prevent other branches of government from undermining the Supreme Court's independence."

Government opponents have long complained that the Supreme Court — whose members are appointed by the predominantly pro-Chavez National Assembly — has been packed with the president's allies, giving him nearly unlimited power. Chavez denies holding sway over justices.

The OAS commission also called attention to an increase in sanctions against news media, singling out the case of Globovision, a television news network that is fiercely critical of Chavez.

Globovision has been repeatedly fined for allegedly violating broadcast regulations, and Chavez has threatened to shutter the network.

"It is of particular concern," the rights commission said, "that in several of these cases, the investigations and administrative procedures began after the highest authorities of the state called on public agencies to take action against Globovision and other media outlets that are independent and critical of the government."

The report strongly condemned what it called "a trend toward the use of criminal charges to punish people exercising their right to demonstrate or protest against government policies," adding that more than 2,200 people have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from their participation in protests in recent years.

Carlos Correa, a leader of the Venezuelan human rights group Espacio Publico, welcomed the report. "It makes the violations that are occurring in Venezuela more visible" and should attract the attention of the international community, he said.

The report carries more weight than statements from independent rights watchdogs, because it "comes from an institution made up of the hemisphere's own states," Correa added.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100225/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_venezuela_rights_report

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« Reply #66 on: February 25, 2010, 09:50:50 PM »

Cuba's Doctor Abuse

Posted 06:47 PM ET

Health Care: Remember Cuba's vaunted medical missionaries — those who treated the poor abroad for nothing, supposedly out of selfless motives? A lawsuit shows they were nothing but a communist slave racket.

It ought to bear a few lessons for our own country as the role of doctors in the health care debate drags on.

Back in 1963, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro launched a much-praised initiative to share Cuba's medical doctors with the poor around the world. The idea, of course, was to appear to be acting on higher motives than the profit-driven doctors in free societies. It was small scale and propaganda-oriented.

But in 2003, Castro went big, and shipped 20,000 doctors and nurses to Venezuela's jungles and slums to treat the poor, doing the work "selfish" private-sector doctors wouldn't. Hugo Chavez touted this line and the mainstream media followed.

Now the ugly facts are getting out about what that really meant: indentured servitude to pay off the debts of a bankrupt regime.

This week, seven escaped doctors and a nurse filed a 139-page complaint in Miami under the RICO and Alien Tort acts describing just how Cuba's oil-for-doctors deal came to mean slavery.

The Cuban medics were forced to work seven days a week, under 60-patient daily quotas, in crime-riddled places with no freedom of movement. Cuban military guards known as "Committees of Health" acted as slave catchers to ensure they didn't flee.

Doctors earned about $180 a month, a salary so low many had to beg for food and water from Venezuelans until they could escape.

What they endured wasn't just bad conditions common inside Cuba. The doctors were instruments of a money-making racket to benefit the very Castro regime that has ruined Cuba's economy.

"They were told 'your work is more important to Cuba than even its sugar industry,'" their attorney, Leonardo Canton, told IBD.

That's because their labor was tied to an exchange: Castro took 100,000 barrels of oil each day from Venezuela's state oil company in exchange for uncompensated Cuban labor.

Most of the oil was then sold for hard currency, bringing in cash. Cuba also charged Venezuela $30 per patient visit, meaning a $1,000 daily haul per doctor. But the doctors never saw any of it.

In a situation like this, it's pretty obvious that when the state gets involved in medical care — telling doctors whom they can serve, what they can charge and what they can treat — it doesn't take long for slavery to result. The Cuban government has told other doctors, such as surgeon Hilda Molina, that her brain "is the property of the state" as reason to control her travel.

That ought to be lesson to those who seek to reform medical care in the U.S. on the backs of doctors. Free medical care is never free.

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=522289


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« Reply #67 on: September 21, 2010, 07:08:06 AM »

A Change of Course in Cuba and Venezuela?
September 21, 2010




By George Friedman and Reva Bhalla

Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR’s Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was “accurately quoted but misinterpreted” and suggesting that the economic model doesn’t work anymore but that the revolution lives on.

Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don’t know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro’s reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.


Sustaining the Revolution

There is little hiding the fact that Cuba’s socialist economy has run out of steam. The more interesting question is whether the Cuban leader is prepared to acknowledge this fact and what he is prepared to do about it. Castro wants his revolution to outlive him. To do so, he must maintain a balance between power and wealth. For decades, his method of maintaining power has been to monopolize the island’s sources of wealth. All foreign direct investment in Cuba must be authorized by the government, the most important sectors of the economy are off-limits to investors, foreign investors cannot actually own the land or facilities in which they invest, the state has the right to seize foreign assets at any time and foreign investors must turn to the government for decisions on hiring, firing and paying workers. Under such conditions, the Cuban leadership has the ultimate say on the social welfare of its citizens and has used that control to secure loyalty and, more important, neutralize political dissent.

But that control has come at a cost: For the revolution to survive — and maintain both a large security apparatus and an expensive and inefficient social welfare system — it must have sufficient private investment that the state can control. That private investment has not been forthcoming, and so the state, unable to cope with the stresses of the economy, has had to increasingly concern itself with the viability of the regime. Since Soviet subsidies for Cuba (roughly $5 billion per year) expired in the early 1990s, Cuba has been seeking an injection of capital to generate income while still trying to leave the capitalists out of the equation in order to maintain control. There is no easy way to resolve this paradox, and the problem for Castro in his advanced age is that he is running out of time.

Many Cubans, including Castro, blame the island’s economic turmoil on the U.S. embargo, a politically charged vestige of the Cold War days when Cuba, under Soviet patronage, actually posed a clear and present danger to the United States. There is a great irony built into this complaint. Castro’s revolution was built on the foundation that trade with the imperialists was responsible for Cuba’s economic turmoil. Now, it is the supposed lack of such trade that is paralyzing the Cuban economy. History can be glossed over at politically opportune times, but it cannot so easily be forgotten.

What many seem to overlook is how Cuba, in spite of the embargo, is still able to receive goods from Europe, Canada, Latin America and elsewhere — it is the state-run system at home that remains crippled and unable to supply the island’s 11 million inhabitants. And even if U.S.-Cuban trade were to be restored, there is no guarantee that Cuba’s economic wounds would be healed. There are a host of other tourist resorts and sugar and tobacco exporters lining the Caribbean coastlines aside from Cuba, which has largely missed the boat in realizing its economic potential. In other words, the roots of Cuba’s economic troubles lie in Cuba, not the United States.

But Cuba is in the midst of a political transition, and Fidel will eventually pass the revolution on to his (not much) younger brother, Raul. If Fidel is the charismatic revolutionary, able to sustain a romanticized political ideology for decades in spite of its inherent contradictions, Raul is the bureaucratic functionary whose primary purpose at this point is to preserve the regime that his brother founded. This poses a serious dilemma for 79-year-old Raul. Not only does he lack the charisma of his older brother, he also lacks a strong external patron to make Cuba relevant beyond Cuba itself.

It must be remembered that the geographic location of Cuba, which straddles both the Yucatan Channel and Straits of Florida, gives it the potential to cripple the Port of New Orleans, the United States’ historical economic outlet to the world. If these two trade avenues were blocked, Gulf Coast ports like New Orleans and Houston would be, too, and U.S. agricultural and mineral exports and imports would plummet.

Cuba has been able to pose such a threat and thus carry geopolitical weight only when under the influence of a more powerful U.S. adversary such as the Soviet Union. Though the Castros maintain relations with many of their Cold War allies, there is no middle, much less great, power right now with the attention span or the will to subsidize Cuba. Havana is thus largely on its own, and in its loneliness it now appears to be reaching out to the United States for a solution that may not hold much promise.

While Fidel has been making statements, Raul has been fleshing out a new economic strategy for Cuba, one that will lay off 500,000 workers — 10 percent of the island’s workforce. The idea is to develop private cooperatives to ease a tremendous burden on the state and have implementation of this plan in progress by March 2011. This is an ambitious deadline considering that Cuba has little to no private industry to speak of to absorb these state workers. The feasibility of the proposed reforms, however, is not as interesting as the message of political reconciliation embedded in the plan. Alongside talk of Raul’s economic reforms, Cuba has been making what appear to be political gestures to Washington through the release of political prisoners. But these gestures are unlikely to be enough to capture Washington’s attention, especially when Cuba is neither a significant geopolitical threat nor a great economic opportunity in the eyes of the United States. Cuba needs something more, and that something could be found in Venezuela.


The Cuban-Venezuelan Relationship

Cuba and Venezuela face very similar geographic constraints. Both are relatively small countries with long Caribbean coastlines and primarily resource-extractive economies. While Venezuela’s mountainous and jungle-covered borderlands to the south largely deny the country any meaningful economic integration with its neighbors, Cuba sits in a sea of small economies similar to its own. As a result, neither country has good options in its immediate neighborhood for meaningful economic integration save for the dominant Atlantic power, i.e., the United States. In dealing with the United States, Cuba and Venezuela basically have two options: either align with the United States or seek out an alliance with a more powerful, external adversary to the United States.

Both countries have swung between these two extremes. Prior to the 1959 revolution, the United States dominated Cuba politically and economically, and although relations between the two countries began to deteriorate shortly thereafter, there were still notable attempts to cooperate until Soviet subsidies took hold and episodes like the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco sunk the relationship. Likewise, until the 2002 coup attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela had long maintained a close, mutually beneficial relationship with the United States. With U.S. urging, Venezuela flooded the markets with oil and busted the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, helping bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. That energy cooperation continued with the U.S. sale of Citgo in the 1990s to Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA, a deal designed to hardwire Venezuela into the U.S. energy markets. Venezuela obtained a guaranteed market for its low-grade crude, which it couldn’t sell to other countries, while the United States acquired an energy source close to home.

For most of the past decade, Cuba and Venezuela have found themselves in a unique position. Both now have adversarial relationships with the United States, and both lack strong allies to help them fend off the United States. As a result, Cuba and Venezuela have drawn closer together, with Cuba relying on Venezuela primarily for energy and Venezuela turning to Cuba for its security expertise.

In trying to rebuild its stature in the region, Cuba has taken advantage of the Venezuelan regime’s rising political and economic insecurities as it set about entrenching itself in nearly all sectors of the Venezuelan state. Cuban advisers, trainers and protectors can be found everywhere from the upper echelons of Venezuela’s military and intelligence apparatus to the ports and factories. Therefore, Cuba has significant influence over a Venezuela that is currently struggling under the weight of stagflation, a precarious economic condition that has been fueled by an elaborate money-laundering racket now gripping the key sectors of the state-run economy. With the country’s electricity, food, energy and metals sectors in the most critical shape, power outages, food shortages and alarmingly low production levels overall are becoming more difficult for the regime to both contain and conceal. This might explain why we are now seeing reports of the Venezuelan regime deploying military and militia forces with greater frequency, not only to the streets but also to the dams, power plants, warehouses, food silos and distribution centers.

Venezuela’s open-door policy to Cuba was intended to bolster the regime’s security, but Cuba’s pervasiveness in Venezuela’s government, security apparatus and economy can also become a threat, especially if Cuba shifts its orientation back toward the United States. Cuba may now be in a position to use its influence in Venezuela to gain leverage in its relationship with the United States.


Washington’s Venezuela Problem

The list of U.S. complaints against Venezuela goes well beyond Chavez’s diatribes against Washington. Venezuela’s aggressive nationalization drive, contributions to narco-trafficking (in alleged negligence and complicity) and suspected support for Colombian rebel groups have all factored into the United States’ soured relationship with Venezuela. More recently, the United States has watched with growing concern as Venezuela has enhanced its relationships with Russia, China and, especially, Iran. Venezuela is believed to have served as a haven of sorts for the Iranians to circumvent sanctions, launder money and facilitate the movement of militant proxies. The important thing to note here is that, while Cuba lacks allies that are adversarial to the United States, Venezuela has them in abundance.

For the United States to take a real interest in signals from Havana, it will likely want to see Cuba exercise its influence in Venezuela. More precisely, it will want to see whether Cuba can influence Venezuela’s relationship with Iran.

We therefore find it interesting that Fidel Castro has been making moves recently that portray him as an advocate for the Jews in opposition to the Iranian regime. Castro invited Goldberg, an influential member of the Jewish lobby in the United States, to his hacienda for an interview in which he spent a great deal of time criticizing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his insensitivity to the Jewish people and their history. “I don’t think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews,” Castro said. “I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything.” He added: “The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.” Then, Castro asked Goldberg and Sweig to accompany him to a private dolphin show at the National Aquarium of Cuba in Havana. They were joined by local Jewish leader Adela Dworin, whom Castro kissed in front of the cameras.

Following Fidel’s uncharacteristically pro-Jewish remarks, Chavez, who has echoed his Iranian ally’s vituperative stance against Israel, held a meeting with leaders of Venezuela’s Jewish community on Sept. 18 in which he reportedly discussed their concerns about anti-Semitic remarks in the media and their request for Venezuela to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel. That same week, Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa Airlines, which has had an unusually high number of accidents and engine failures in recent days, cancelled its popular Tuesday roundtrip flight route from Caracas to Damascus to Tehran. This is a flight route frequented by Iranian, Lebanese, Syrian and Venezuelan businessmen and officials (along with other sorts trying to appear as ordinary businessmen). The route has come under heavy scrutiny by the United States due to a reinvigorated U.S. sanctions campaign against Iran and U.S. concerns over Hezbollah transit through Latin America. When STRATFOR inquired about the flight cancellations, we were told by the airline that the cancellations were due to maintenance issues but that flights from Caracas to Damascus would be re-routed through Madrid. The Iran leg of the route, at least for now, is out of operation. Whether Cuba is intending to reshape Venezuela’s relationship with Iran and whether these Venezuelan moves were taken from Cuban cues is unknown to us, but we find them notable nonetheless.


A Chinese Lifeline for Caracas?

Each of these seemingly disparate developments does not make much sense on its own. When looked at together, however, a complex picture begins to form, one in which Cuba, slowly and carefully, is trying to shift its orientation toward the United States while the Venezuelan regime’s vulnerabilities increase as a result. An insecure and economically troubled Venezuela will need strong allies looking for levers against the United States. Russia will sign a defense deal here and there with Venezuela, but it has much bigger priorities in Eurasia. Iran is useful for hurling threats against the United States, but it has serious economic troubles of its own that rival even those of Venezuela. China so far appears to be the most promising fit, although that relationship carries its fair share of complications.

China and Venezuela have signed a deal for Beijing to loan $20 billion to Caracas in exchange for crude-oil shipments and stakes in Venezuelan oil fields. The two are also discussing multibillion-dollar deals that would entail China investing in critical areas, such as Venezuela’s dilapidated electricity grid. China doesn’t have much interest in paying the exorbitant cost of shipping low-grade Venezuelan crude halfway around the world, but it is interested in technology to develop and produce low-grade crude. In many ways, China is presenting itself as the lifeline to the Venezuelan regime. Whether all these deals reach fruition remains a big question, and how far Beijing intends to go in this relationship with Caracas will matter greatly to the United States. A Chinese willingness to go beyond quid pro quo deals and subsidize Venezuela could lead to Chinese investments threatening existing U.S. energy assets in Venezuela, potentially giving Beijing leverage against Washington in the U.S. backyard. But subsidizing countries is not cheap, and China has not yet shown a willingness to take a more confrontational stance with the United States over Venezuela.

After claiming to have received the first $4 billion installment of the $20 billion loan from China, Chavez said China is lending the money because “China knows that this revolution is here to stay.” Like Cuba, Venezuela may not have the economic heft to back up its revolutionary zeal, but it is finding useful friends of the revolution in China. In this time of need, Venezuela’s challenge lies in finding allies willing to cross the threshold from economic partner to strategic patron.
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« Reply #68 on: October 01, 2010, 08:18:11 AM »

 shocked shocked evil grin

By MERCEDES ALVARO And ROBERT KOZAK

QUITO—Ecuador declared a state of emergency on Thursday as protests by police and some members of the military led to nationwide unrest, accusations of a coup d'etat, and the dramatic rescue by army troops of the country's president, who was holed up in a hospital after being tear-gassed by police.

Police Strike in Ecuador

View Slideshow

Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press
A police officer demonstrated next to a bonfire in Quito.

The troubles seemed to tilt dangerously when police protesting cuts to their benefits surrounded a hospital where President Rafael Correa was being treated after inhaling tear gas during an earlier visit to a police barracks. Mr. Correa's office said the police would not allow him to leave the hospital and were holding him hostage.

The showdown came to a dramatic climax as night fell, with soldiers clashing with police and storming the hospital. Minutes later, amid a barrage of gunfire broadcast live on Ecuadorean television, the army emerged with Mr. Correa safe and sound.

On Friday morning, the local press reported that the chief of Ecuador's national police had resigned. Mr. Correa vowed to push ahead with further purges in the police force saying that there would be "neither pardons nor forgetting" for what he deemed a failed attempt to oust him Thursday. Ecuador's attorney general said he had begun an investigation into the incident.

Reports said there had been at least one death, that of a police officer participating in the rescue. There several dozen were wounded in the fiefight, including a cameraman for Ecuadorian television.

Mr. Correa, a leftist and close ally of Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, had said earlier in the day that the unrest was an attempted coup d'etat, and blamed former president Lucio Gutierrez of being responsible for the troubles. Last year, Mr. Correa handily won a second term against his Mr. Gutierrez, a retired army colonel who was president from 2003 to 2005. But Mr. Gutierrez claimed that he was victim of a "monstrous fraud" and has since remained a vocal opponent of Mr. Correa's government.

The trouble began early Thursday when some members of the military and national police walked off the job, protesting wage cuts proposed by the government. Members of Ecuador's air force stormed the international airport in Quito and blocked the runway.


Ecuadorean President Correa is attacked by protesters as unrest grips the nation. Video courtesy of Reuters.


Ecuador President Rafael Correa stands defiant in the face of an attempted coup, following unrest brought on by unpopular austerity measures. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Protests quickly spread to other cities, leading to roadblocks and rioting. Banks were closed after several were robbed. In the country's two other principal cities, Guayaquil and Cuenca, police took over government buildings, burned tires and set off tear gas, according to local media reports.

After Mr. Correa was freed by the military, he lashed out at the police who staged the protests.

"These police – and not all of them, because we saw what was happening – rose up not to fight against a tyrannical government, not against an invasion by a foreign enemy, but to protect their benefits," Mr. Correa said after being freed, addressing supporters who had gathered in Quito's central square to celebrate his release.

His supporters also lashed out against Mr. Gutierrez, chanting "Lucio, murderer." Mr. Correa, hearing the chants, nodded, and said "that's right."

Mr. Gutierrez denied the accusations and said Mr. Correa was partly behind a coup attempt against Mr. Gutierrez's government years ago.

The unrest stemmed from a series of legal changes that came into effect Wednesday night after the opposition in the Ecuadorean Congress failed to pass changes that would have modified a law sent by President Correa to the legislature. Failure to pass the modifications meant that the law, which slows salary increases for police and the military, went into effect. Mr. Correa has been a principal backer of the overhaul, saying salaries have ballooned in recent years.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Correa's government declared a state of emergency for five days, mobilizing the armed forces that weren't on strike. Mr. Correa called the protests an attempted coup, which caused expressions of concern from several Latin American nations, as well as the U.S.

The country's top military leaders, however, didn't appear to be backing the protests: The chairman of Ecuador's joint chiefs of staff said the armed forces backed Mr. Correa. That became clear when troops freed the president later in the day.

Critics of Mr. Correa said he had exaggerated earlier in the day by calling this a coup attempt. Rubén Darío Buitrón, an editor with El Comercio, a leading Quito newspaper, said that no coup was under way and that the government was spinning the protests in order to gain support.

"It is a media show and things have been exaggerated by the government in order to make it look like a victim," he said, adding that the problems originated from low-ranking officers, not from any group of military generals wishing to take control.

The unrest is significant in a nation plagued by political instability, where no president has finished a full term since 1996. A number of presidents since then have been pushed out following unrest in the streets.

Analysts said Mr. Correa could use the crisis to further consolidate power. On Thursday, Mr. Correa said he was seriously considering dissolving Congress. Under Ecuador's constitution, however, that would mean he would have to call new elections for both the parliament and for his job as president.

"President Correa's uncompromising style, and today's press statements, suggest the president will not easily back down from what is turning into the most serious political crisis of his mandate," said Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos in a research note.

So far Mr. Correa, a U.S.-trained economist, has avoided the pitfalls of his predecessors. The president, who has pushed through a new constitution and boosted the government's stake in the local oil industry, appeals to many poor in Ecuador. But Mr. Correa is also facing strained public-sector finances, in part because of a shutoff of much international funding since his government defaulted on a series of sovereign bonds. He has been pushing through legislation by decree recently instead of relying on congressional approval, which has met with disapproval from various sectors of the cutbacks being implemented.
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« Reply #69 on: October 01, 2010, 01:36:15 PM »

Venezuelan National Assembly Elections: Turning Back Totalitarian Dictatorship?

Go to the original and read the comments!


Posted by José Kalosha Oct 1st 2010 at 5:23 am in Cuba, Latin America, Politics | Comments (36)

28 Sept, Wall Street Journal:
“Venezuela’s Chavez Loses Key Vote”; 28 Sept Guantanamo, Cuba, (Solvision)
“Fidel Castro Classifies the Venezuelan legislative elections as victories to the Bolivarian Revolution and its leader: Hugo Chavez.”

With the September, 2010, Venezuelan Congressional elections there is no middle ground- you either believe decisively Chavez won or you believe the Chavez Opposition won. The stark reality is Hugo Chavez’s grip on Venezuela has never been tighter. His goal is a totalitarian dictatorship.

Chavez has been Venezuelan president since 1998. Now he has tight control of the Venezuelan levers of power. In addition to the Presidency, Chavez controls the secret police, the military, the judiciary, the banking system, and increasing control of the media. He controls the 30 or 40 thousand Cubans, many DGI intelligence and military officers, he has stationed in Venezuela.

In 2005 the Opposition boycotted the perceived corrupt National Assembly election and Chavez received 149 seats out of 167 seats with the Opposition receiving 18 seats. In the current election Chavez’s Party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), support in the Congress fell from 149 seats to 98 seats. He has lost the key two-thirds majority. He gerrymandered the election districts so he won majority of the seats, but most important, he lost the popular vote 48% for PSUV to 52% for the Opposition. The Opposition notes this is a great moral victory, but moral victories mean little to Chavez. Although he has lost the two-thirds majority, Chavez will continue to have the two-thirds majority for the next three months. In the “Lame Duck” secession he will pass as much of his Socialist Bolivarian agenda as possible. He will probably attempt to create his appointed Communal Councils, which will continue to reduce power of elected state and municipal bodies. He will try to rule by Decree, totally by passing the Congress. In 2008 when the Opposition won state and mayoral races, he stripped them of actual power by creating a new level of his appointed bureaucrats.

The Chavez model is the Castro Cuban Socialist/Communist Revolution. Chavez’s actual announced goal is to be a Ruler for Life, like his mentor Fidel Castro. What Chavez is enacting is a Cuban Economic Revolution in slow motion. The difference is that when Castro took power Che Guevara signed death certificates to shoot at least two thousand Cubans; Castro sent tens of thousands to prison; and he forced hundreds of thousands in exile. Venezuela is not Cuba. Chavez cannot apply the Che Guevara “Castro or Death” mandate. Castro expropriated all the sources of wealth in Cuba; consequently today, decades later, the Cuban economy has totally collapsed. Castro in late September announced he will fire 500,000 state employees, which is probably an under estimate. Sadly, many of these State employees only earned from 20 to 30 pesos a month. Yet Chavez is moving ahead to follow the Cuban economic model, which will result in a destroyed Venezuelan economy.

The Opposition views this election as the start of the 2012 Presidential Election. Chavez will also view this as a wake up call for his 2012 re-election. He will do everything possible to prevent the at least 18 national anti-Chavez political parties from uniting behind an effective presidential candidate. Currently there is no charismatic Opposition candidate who will be a certain or probable anti-Chavez victor.

What Venezuela can expect will be more political arrests; more business expropriation; increased corruption; increased public safety criminal violence; falling oil production; more virulent anti-US rhetoric; failing infrastructure; falling food production; and increased foreign debts defaults. He will continue to attack personally the Roman Catholic Cardinal. Currency and export controls will tighten and the black market will increase. Chavez has nationalized most of the oil industry, including firing thousands of PDVSA experienced employees, replacing them with inexperienced, but loyal employees. Opposition groups claim the Chavez regime is a conduit for a massive drug trade. Chavez gives support and safe haven to international terrorists groups, especially those fighting in Colombia. He has threatened war with Colombia. A great concern is his military build up including jet fighters, tanks, an AK-47 factory, etc. The Opposition notes that the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran and Chavez are closely linked after numerous personal visits to and from Tehran and Caracas. There may be as much as $30 billion in the Caracas-Tehran business Axis.  The Opposition asks the key issue- will Chavez seek nuclear weapons from Iran when Iran develops nuclear weapons in the near future?  For more details Google “Chavez nuclear weapons.” According to some sources, which Chavez denies, Venezuela is a source of uranium for Iran. Chavez repeated stated goal is a united Gran Colombia, which would include hegemony over Colombia, Panama, Trinidad, and Ecuador. Chavez is an active member of the Latin American radical support organization “Foro de Sao Paulo.”

Chavez for the present wants to project an international image as an elected populist. In reality Chavez is a danger to his nation; his neighboring nations; and the entire region. The September, 2010, National Assembly elections are a small bump in the road to a brutal Chavez totalitarian Bolivarian dictatorship. The Chavez goal is to destroy democracy and become a totalitarian Dictator for Life.


http://bigpeace.com/jkalosha/2010/10/01/venezuelan-national-assembly-elections-turning-back-totalitarian-dictatorship/
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« Reply #70 on: October 01, 2010, 01:54:44 PM »

Please note that this editorial is not from some right wing pamphlet. It is The Washington Post no less.


How Chávez lost the popular vote -- and won by a landslide

Friday, October 1, 2010

HUGO CHÁVEZ must be feeling grateful to the number-crunchers who helped him redraw Venezuela's congressional districts. The strongman turned last weekend's National Assembly election into a referendum on himself; he inundated the country with propaganda via the state-controlled media and even refilled government food stores. The result was an unmistakable rebuff. On a day of heavy turnout, 52 percent of voters chose opposition parties, vs. 48 percent for Mr. Chávez's Socialists.

In a normal democratic country -- even in Venezuela itself up until this year -- that outcome would have produced something close to a tie between government and non-government deputies in the congress. Instead, thanks to the blatant gerrymandering he ordered, Mr. Chávez probably will have 98 seats, compared with 67 for the main opposition coalition and a small leftist party. That allowed the caudillo to claim victory in a news conference, during which he heaped abuse on a reporter who dared to ask about the discrepancy between votes and seats.

Mr. Chávez, however, didn't deliver the victory address he had planned from the balcony of the presidential palace -- an encouraging sign that he grasps the election's real implications. In addition to the popular repudiation, the result means that beginning in December, Mr. Chávez should no longer have the ability to rule by decree or to appoint supreme court justices and members of the electoral authority without the opposition's consent. He also faces the threat that his announced plan to rule Venezuela for at least another decade will be interrupted in 2012, when a presidential election is due that should be decided by majority vote.

There was good reason for Mr. Chávez's loss: Alone in Latin America, Venezuela is still deep in recession, and it leads the hemisphere in inflation and violent crime. A normal democratic leader might respond by correcting errant or highly unpopular policies, such as Mr. Chávez's steady nationalization of the economy or his import of Cuban advisers and intelligence operatives. His record, however, suggests that the president will merely step up his attacks on opposition leaders and journalists -- a number of whom have been imprisoned or driven into exile -- and seek to circumvent the new checks on his power.

Mr. Chávez's apologists will be pointing to the congressional vote as proof that he still leads a democracy. But in democracies, elections produce consequences in line with the results. In Mr. Chávez's Venezuela, they usually lead to less democracy.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/30/AR2010093006194.html

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« Reply #71 on: October 01, 2010, 02:15:36 PM »

Denny,  That is some serious gerrymandering!  That is a quite a good breakthrough here for the Washington Post to get the story straight after a previous election where the Bush administration took the word of Jimmy Carter and advice of Colin Powell and accepted a stolen election.  Still I am shocked by the fact that 48% think the Chavez path is acceptable.  Margin of victory matters.  It makes it harder to steal elections as we learned here where my newest senator is the same Al Franken that we defeated on election night.
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« Reply #72 on: March 21, 2011, 01:30:59 PM »

President Obama's trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador this week, while war rages in Libya, has been sharply criticized as proof of dangerous detachment from a world that badly needs U.S. leadership.

Yet there is a case to be made for going—to Brazil anyway. Arguably Santiago and San Salvador could have been postponed. Chile is already a stable ally and the stop in El Salvador, to mouth platitudes about hemispheric security while Central America is going up in narco-trafficking flames, only highlights the futility of the U.S. war on drugs.

Going to Brasilia to meet with Workers' Party President Dilma Rousseff on Saturday, on the other hand, was important.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama discredited his trip even before it began by peddling it as a trade mission to create jobs and boost the U.S. economy. With those goals in mind, he would have been better off staying home and lobbying Congress to drop the 54 cents per gallon tariff on Brazilian sugar ethanol, and to end all U.S. subsidies on cotton, which have been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization in a case brought by Brazil. Or he could have sent the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where they would be easily ratified.

Let's face it: Mr. Obama's reputation as a protectionist precedes him. If he believes otherwise, our silver-tongued president has a tin ear.

As to the good reason for such a trip, consider the shared geopolitical interests between the U.S. and the biggest democracy in Latin America. Although former President Lula da Silva, also from the Workers' Party, did almost nothing to deregulate a mostly unfree economy over his eight years in office, he did manage to respect the central bank reforms carried out by his predecessor, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. As a result, after decades of inflationary chaos caused by central bank financing of government deficits, Brazil has now had vastly improved price stability for more than a decade. Ending the cycle of repeated devaluations is enabling the formation of a substantial middle class, and it is shaping a nation that increasingly wants to be part of the modern, global economy.

Millions of Brazilians climbing out of poverty is something to celebrate. But it is troubling when the leadership of a formerly isolated sleeping giant announces that it seeks alliances with tyrants. That's what was happening during Lula's time in office.

Lula had a thing for thugs. Given his roots in the left-wing labor movement, his soft spot for Cuba's Fidel Castro was understandable. But his decision to act as a flack for Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the world stage was not. Fortunately, it was ineffective. On the other hand, his support for Hugo Chávez—who is antidemocratic at home and supports Colombian terrorists beyond his borders—damaged multilateral efforts to contain the Venezuelan menace.

Now Ms. Rousseff wants to shape a new foreign policy that, while far from aligning itself with the U.S., is not so likely to actively pursue dictators and authoritarians. The U.S. should nurture this effort. In the struggle for hemispheric stability, Brazil is a crucial player.

As president, Ms. Rousseff, who was once a member of a Marxist guerrilla group, was expected to be further to the ideological left than her predecessor and just as dangerously populist. But so far she has proven pragmatic. Whereas the charismatic Lula was fond of the limelight, she keeps a low profile. When she does speak, she is serious and measured. Lula complained loudly about media criticism and wanted to clamp down on press freedom. Ms. Rousseff has rejected the idea.

The Americas in the News
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.It is an old Brazilian tradition to reserve the foreign ministry for the country's crackpot left. That and the time-tested Brazilian ambition to defeat U.S. hegemony in the region is one way to explain the support for despots under Lula. Brazil also has valuable commercial contracts in Venezuela. But Ms. Rousseff seems to have decided that Lula's approach was counterproductive, especially to Brazil's goal of winning a permanent seat on the U.N.'s Security Council.

Shortly after she won the election runoff last Oct. 31, she began criticizing the human rights records of Iran and Cuba, something Lula never had the courage to do. Another important, though subtle, signal is the way in which Ms. Rousseff seems to be distancing herself from Mr. Chávez and his cohorts.

If Brazil is seeking rapprochement with the U.S., it is a welcome development for the entire hemisphere. As an ally on the fundamentals, like opposition to torture in Cuban jails, Brazil could be part of a long-awaited regional push to denounce human rights abuses. It might also come in handy next year when Venezuela holds presidential elections. Mr. Chávez has said that even if he loses, he won't step down, and the commander of the army has agreed.

That could make for a situation not unlike what is unfolding in Libya today. If the U.S. and Brazil are singing from the same hymn book, it will help. It's only too bad the commander in chief who was starting a war didn't have the good sense to return home after the meeting in Brasilia.

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« Reply #73 on: May 23, 2011, 08:18:12 AM »

Peruvian national-socialist Ollanta Humala and his center-right populist
rival Keiko Fujimori have finally agreed to a televised debate ahead of the
June 5 presidential runoff election. Perhaps the May 29 event will reveal
how genuinely committed each candidate is to preserving, refining and
strengthening the fragile democratic capitalism that has been moving the
country out of poverty for the past decade. This is, after all, the crucial
question for Peruvian voters.

Liberalization has been good for Peru. Its gross-domestic-product growth
averaged about 6.5% annually from 2002-2010. Poverty is half what it was 20
years ago. The government has opened markets, increased property-rights
protection, improved transparency in the state's fiscal accounts, and
restrained spending.

This success has helped sustain the case for Latin American freedom at a
time when Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and the Colombian terrorist group FARC are
using money, weapons and ideological outreach to try to overthrow democracy
and outlaw private property across the continent. Revolutionary ideals have
met with some success among the region's most vulnerable populations. Mr.
Chávez's Bolivarian movement was instrumental in bringing the antidemocratic
Evo Morales to power in Bolivia. Internal FARC documents indicate the
guerrillas helped finance the presidential campaign of Ecuadoran caudillo
Rafael Correa. In all three countries civil liberties, including free speech
and due process, have been dramatically abridged.

View Full Image


REUTERS
Peruvian presidential candidates Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala


Peru has mostly kept these destructive forces at bay. But the risk of a
revolutionary uprising, particularly in the southern sierra, remains real.
Discontent simmers in Peru's significant indigenous communities, where
people are less likely to be beneficiaries of economic modernization, and
where state inefficiency and corruption translate into abysmal public
services. Centuries of racial tension also persist in these areas, and the
U.S. war on drugs in the face of steady American demand has further
alienated the population.

This is the target market of Mr. Chávez, and it is also the stronghold for
Mr. Humala's national-socialist Gana Peru party.

A recent special-client report, "The Possibility of an Insurrection in the
Southern Andes" by the Peruvian security-consulting firm Peace Keeping
Solutions (PKS), lists 14 "acts of insurrection" since 2004, including one
led by Mr. Humala's brother Antauro on Jan. 1, 2005, that was supported at
the time by the candidate. The report points out that while Mr. Chávez's
political structures have played a role in fomenting this unrest, chavismo
"doesn't explain the existence of leftist and nationalist ideas among 40% or
more of the Peruvian population." That, PKS maintains, is a result of
ideological forces within national universities, professional organizations,
the Peruvian military and some political parties.

Chavismo has a limited capacity to "organize insurrection" in Peru, PKS
says. But that capacity is strengthened by the state's failure to counteract
radicalism. The army is "indifferent, bordering on complicity," the National
Intelligence Agency is "inefficient," police administration is deficient,
and police intelligence is starved for resources. Meanwhile, there has been
"a permissive attitude" in the prime minister's office and at times
cooperation with militant activists from regional authorities.

Mr. Humala's history is tied up in all this. He is an ex-army officer who
has built his political career by tapping into the resentment of the
disenfranchised with demagogic speeches against liberal economics and
threats of violence against the establishment. Mr. Humala even attempted his
own military coup in 2000, and there are credible allegations that he took
money from Mr. Chávez in his 2006 presidential bid.


Last week he tried to distance himself from this past by publicly swearing
on a Bible to refrain from dismantling the country's democratic institutions
if elected. His critics howled that it was pure theater and no more
believable than the recent rewrite of his policy agenda. The old one, dated
December 2010, was a 198-page anti-market, national-socialist rant. The new
one is eight pages of promises to "combat corruption," "reestablish public
ethics," and lay down the rule of law. It is as if Mr. Humala was knocked
off his horse on the road from Puno.

Either that or he has agreed to an image makeover so he can get elected. The
latter seems more likely. Nevertheless, he is being helped by a few Peruvian
elites who appear less enamored of him than they are obsessed with hatred
for Keiko Fujimori's father, former president Alberto Fujimori. Her defeat,
it seems, would be their long-sought revenge for his authoritarian style.
How else to explain so-called free-market types backing a national-socialist
who six months ago was pledging to eviscerate the liberal economic model?

Ms. Fujimori has a heavy responsibility to defend the measures that have
improved Peru's living standards and to explain how she would deepen
reforms. A lot is riding on how well she does in the debate. If the only
motivated voters come election day are those with scores to settle against
her father, the country is in deep trouble.
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« Reply #74 on: June 08, 2011, 01:41:54 AM »

Peru has been a rare Latin American success story, a growing economy in an Andes region deteriorating under left-wing populism. Peruvians have now taken a big gamble with that success by electing their own Peronist manque, in the form of national-socialist candidate Ollanta Humala. We'll soon find out how far left his turn will be.

Mr. Humala narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who began Peru's economic reform from 1990 to 2000. His government ended hyperinflation and improved property rights and fiscal accountability. Peru's economic growth averaged 6.5% a year from 2002 to 2010, and poverty is half what it was 20 years ago. But growth can often be taken for granted, and Mr. Humala tarred Ms. Fujimori with some of the rougher law and order practices that her father used to defeat Communist rebels.

The question now is which Mr. Humala will decide to govern in Lima. Until about two months ago he opposed the kind of democratic capitalism that has made Peruvians better off. In 2000, Comandante Humala, as he is sometimes known, led an unsuccessful military coup against the democratically elected Mr. Fujimori. In 2005 his brother Antauro led his own coup, which Mr. Humala endorsed from his post at the time as Peru's military attaché in Seoul.

Those incidents may seem like ancient history, but Mr. Humala's 198-page original party platform, dated December 2010, was in the same mold. It referred to market economics as "predatory" and called for the nationalization of strategic "activities." It also railed against "a foreign economic minority" that exploits natural resources and promised to "revise" free trade agreements that "oppose the exercise of our sovereign will." One of those trade deals is with the U.S.

Yet when Mr. Humala found himself in a runoff against Ms. Fujimori, he had some new advisers generate a more moderate, less detailed agenda. This agenda promised stable prices and responsible fiscal policy. It includes socialist vows to redistribute wealth and start a national airline, but it also promises to promote the rule of law, respect the division of government power and "reestablish public ethics and combat corruption and the squandering of public funds."

This pledge to govern with "honesty" seems to have been a deciding factor for many who associated Ms. Fujimori's father with graft. On election night, as it began to look like Mr. Humala had won, his spokesman told the world that private property would be respected.

Perhaps it will. The last decade has seen two kinds of left-wing populists come to power in Latin America. Those in the mold of Hugo Chávez—in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia—have politicized their economies and undermined democratic institutions to enhance their power. On the other hand, Brazil's Lula da Silva and Peru's current President Alan Garcia also had hard-left resumes, but they came to understand that free markets and property rights are crucial for growth that reduces poverty. Mr. Humala will now make his choice.

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« Reply #75 on: June 15, 2011, 12:22:19 PM »



http://www.mexidata.info/id2933.html
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« Reply #76 on: August 07, 2011, 02:24:34 PM »

http://southernpulse.com/_webapp_3945793/Ungoverned_Spaces_Part_II,_Cities
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« Reply #77 on: August 08, 2011, 12:50:15 AM »

After last month's debt-ceiling debacle, a critical mass of President Obama's harshest critics have gone from calling him socialism's evil genius to tagging him as merely a clueless community organizer who is in over his head.

Yet while the haggling over spending exposed many of the president's weaknesses, it seems a mistake to underestimate his collectivist instincts. It may be true that if he cannot accomplish what he wants by decree, he loses interest fast. But it also remains evident that his worldview is largely aligned with the eternal struggle for an all-powerful state.

Observe U.S. foreign policy in Latin America over the last two and a half years: In particular, consider how Honduras took a beating from the Obama administration over its decision to remove a law-breaking leftist president in 2009, while Ecuador is getting little pushback from Washington as it steps ever closer to dictatorship.

This contradiction became pronounced last month when Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, an ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, used his control of the judiciary to win a lawsuit against a columnist and three directors of the Ecuadoran daily El Universo. They will have to pay him a total of $42 million, and each has been sentenced to three years in jail.

View Full Image

Reutuers
 
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa
.Mr. Obama's State Department is treating the Ecuadoran incident gingerly. It issued a brief statement on the importance of a free press and said that it "join the Inter American Press Association, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others in expressing concern over the sentence in the El Universo case." There will be an appeal, and State said it "will closely follow the process." Yet with democracy in peril, that is downright timid—not to mention a little late—compared to the fury unleashed against Honduras two years ago.

In 2009, Honduras fought to save its democracy by removing then-President Manuel Zelaya, who had used street violence to try to extend his tenure in violation of his country's constitution. The Obama administration responded by pulling the travel visas of Honduras's Supreme Court judges, human rights ombudsman and members of Congress. It suspended most U.S. aid and supported the suspension of Honduras from the Organization of American States (OAS), which resulted in the cutoff of aid from international financial institutions.

As with Mr. Zelaya, the administration has given Mr. Correa a wide berth, despite his antidemocratic practices. Since he took office in 2007, he has used both state power and mob violence to enforce his will whenever other branches of government do not cooperate with his agenda. And he has used his primitive definition of democracy—majority rules—to destroy his opponents, stifle dissent and consolidate power.

In a May referendum that Mr. Correa organized, he asked voters, among other things, to give him control of the judiciary and the power to bar owners of media companies from engaging in other businesses. The narrow approval he won portends the end of pluralism in his country.

The president of a democracy might at least pretend to respect the independence of the judicial branch, but Mr. Correa has never bothered with appearances. "Yes, we want to put our hands in the court," he said in January as he prepared the country for the referendum.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.His determination to silence his media critics has been more overt, as the El Universo case demonstrates. The column in question called the president "a dictator" and challenged his claim that he was a victim of "a coup" in September 2009 when he went to a police barracks during a strike. Yet what most agitated Mr. Correa—and what he sued for—was the suggestion that he could be held accountable for giving the order to fire on the hospital across the street from the barracks, as part of his "coup" charade.

In a democracy, opinions are part of free speech and the president's attorney never showed that the columnist had lied. Moreover, the government has classified most documents related to the incident, and a report from the military command that says that Mr. Correa gave the order to fire was not permitted as evidence in the case.

With his court victory, Mr. Correa has established that those who cross him should expect to be financially ruined. Radio and television stations also have been reminded that the government controls the renewal of their licenses.

When I called the OAS press office for a statement on the travesty in Ecuador, the person who came to the phone would only say that the OAS has "no comment." It is hardly surprising. The credibility of that institution has been destroyed because, in the absence of U.S. leadership, Mr. Chávez and company have taken it over. OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, a washed-up Chilean Socialist, bends to every whim of his chavista task masters.

This brings us back to the question of where Mr. Obama's sympathies lie. A good clue can be found by comparing the aggression launched against Tegucigalpa with the timidity of the policy toward Quito.

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« Reply #78 on: October 10, 2011, 08:47:36 AM »

"Fernandez...vows to continue current policies that include a strong state hand in the economy, hefty energy and transportation subsidies and trade protectionism.  She is enjoying approval ratings of more than 60 percent"

And second place is a socialist.

One more place where freedom is not on the ballot?
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/09/us-argentina-election-idUSTRE7980TM20111009

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has a massive lead over opponents two weeks before a presidential election and looks set to win more than 50 percent of the vote, two polls showed on Sunday.

Fernandez's support now stands at 53.2 percent, according to the latest monthly survey by local pollsters Management & Fit showed. That puts her more than 40 points ahead of her nearest rival
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« Reply #79 on: October 22, 2011, 03:02:21 PM »

Aren't they cute?


Jaime Bayly - chavez maricon del siglo XXI

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« Reply #80 on: November 01, 2011, 12:42:00 PM »



Region - Small Arms Survey: Central America is the most violent region in the world

The Small Arms Survey declared during a presentation on 27 October 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva that Central America is the most violent region in the world. The study, conducted from 2004-2009, showed that there are 29 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and Central Americans are more likely to die a violent death than those countries at war. El Salvador showed the highest murder rate with 62 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Honduras and Guatemala showed 49 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
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« Reply #81 on: May 06, 2012, 03:27:47 PM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/world/americas/us-turns-its-focus-on-drug-smuggling-in-honduras.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120506
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« Reply #82 on: July 02, 2012, 06:50:54 PM »

Imperialists Gang Up on Paraguay After the small democracy constitutionally removes its president, Chávez and Castro call it a coup. Canada recognizes the new president; the U.S. is missing in action.

By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY

Paraguay may not have a lot going for it. But it does have this: a chief justice on the high court who is not intimidated by the left when asked to uphold the constitution. I know lots of people who wish they lived in a country like that.

The recent Paraguayan Supreme Court ruling, which unanimously allowed the lawful congressional impeachment of President Fernando Lugo on June 22 to go forward, was not without risk of special-interest backlash. But in making the decision, the top judge on the court's constitutional panel used the law as the guide, not a political weathervane.

Well, never mind the legal mumbo-jumbo. Latin America's imperialist powers do not approve. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Cuba's Raúl Castro and the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina—all members of Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (aka ALBA)—are calling it a "coup." And they are working feverishly to isolate the small landlocked country in retribution.

Cuba is also providing comic relief. It recalled its ambassador to Paraguay because it said Havana would not "recognize any authority that does not emanate from legitimate suffrage and the exercise of sovereignty on the part of the Paraguayan people."

So what's really going on in Paraguay and why should anyone care? Let's take the second part of that question first. After 9/11, U.S. intelligence devoted a significant amount of attention to Paraguay's "triple-border" area with Brazil and Argentina, because of its heavy Middle Eastern population and its reputation for lawlessness. At the time experts fretted that it was, or could become, an Islamic terrorist hotbed.

Where the U.S. sees the potential for crisis, Mr. Chávez sees opportunity. He wants to make Paraguay a satellite of his Bolivarian revolution—which seeks the destabilization and destruction of weak democracies through violence. Mr. Chávez also has a special relationship with Iran, and Bolivarian control of Paraguay would benefit both parties.

Mr. Lugo, who took office in 2008, was supposed to be Mr. Chávez's foot in the Paraguayan door. But the former Catholic bishop was a man without a party, and he never accumulated the power necessary to carry out his mentor's designs. Of the five charges brought against him in the impeachment process, two alleged support for violent land invasions by landless-peasant movements, and one accused him of fomenting radical left-wing politics inside the army barracks. A fourth said he had broken the law by signing an international agreement without getting it first ratified by Congress.

Yet in judging the question of a "coup" it is not Mr. Lugo's alleged crimes that ought to matter but whether the process was legal. Clearly it was.

When Paraguay designed its 1992 constitution after almost four decades of dictatorship, it sought a way to constrain the power of the chief executive. It did so with Article 225, which allows Congress to unseat the president for "poor performance of his duties" after a two-thirds majority vote in the lower house and in the senate. And so it was that a lower house vote of 76-1 and a senate vote of 39-4 ended Mr. Lugo's term. The country's vice president, Federico Franco, was elevated to the presidency as prescribed by law. The Supreme Court later found that Congress was within its rights.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.The Paraguayan congress has been a thorn in Mr. Chávez's side for years. Besides thwarting Mr. Lugo's revolutionary work, it has used its veto within the Southern Cone customs union Mercosur to block Venezuela's membership. Now Mr. Chávez has his revenge. After lobbying to get Paraguay suspended from Mercosur, Venezuela was allowed to join last week. This is a violation of the group's rules, because all such decisions require unanimous consent. But who cares? That's just more legal mumbo-jumbo.

There was a day when this kind of bullying by undemocratic thugs in the region would have been met with solidarity from free republics. And there has been some. Canada, Germany, Spain and the Vatican have all recognized President Franco. But missing, conspicuously, from the list are the U.S., Colombia and Brazil.

Colombia might be forgiven since President Juan Manuel Santos, living next door to Venezuela, seems to be afraid of Hugo Chávez and has to accept that the U.S. is no longer a reliable ally. But Brazil calling it a coup is disgraceful. The country of the future keeps saying it wants to be in charge on the South American continent but when it gets a chance to lead, it defers to the Venezuelan firebrand.

The U.S. isn't much better. The State Department says it is taking a multilateral approach. It is not calling it a coup but has stopped short of recognizing President Franco because it is concerned about the rapidity of the process. This shouldn't matter because Article 225 doesn't specify any preparation period for the trial. But then who reads constitutions in the U.S. anymore? That's just legal mumbo-jumbo.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com

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« Reply #83 on: July 03, 2012, 06:55:23 PM »



By JUAN WILLIAMS
April's Sixth Summit of the Americas generated salacious headlines about Secret Service agents and prostitutes. There was less attention to news that will have lasting impact on regional economies—the struggle over U.S. opposition to inviting Fidel Castro and Cuba to join the summit. The president of Ecuador boycotted the summit because of the U.S. stand. The presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are threatening to boycott the next one.

There is a temptation for U.S. policy makers to just give in on inviting Cuba. Fidel Castro is old and in poor health. The Cold War is over. Despite the official U.S. ban on travel to Cuba, American academics and tourists romanticize Cuba's revolutionary past and visit in growing numbers.

But it will be a mistake for the U.S. to welcome a nondemocratic nation run by a dictatorship to join the summit, which was first held in Washington in 1994 and brings together leaders from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Economic growth in Latin America—a region that is the U.S.'s fastest-growing trade partner—is at risk if dictators are welcomed as legitimate leaders.

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Fidel Castro in Havana in February
.Secure markets are necessary for successful trade policy, and investment cannot take root when dictators can usurp property rights. Real, vigorous trade also leads to global investors and an educated workforce—all of which threaten dictators' power. That is why the U.S. stance on Cuba is so important for the region.

This spring brought a personal reminder of how important it is. I was born in Panama, in a poor city, Colon. For my birthday this year, I walked around there for the first time since my mother brought three children, including me (as a 4-year-old), to Brooklyn, N.Y. No joke, we came to this country as added freight on a banana boat.

I was never quite sure why I waited so long to go back to Colon. My wife and sons also accompanied me and, ever wiser than his old man, my youngest son, Raffi, said my reluctance to visit might have had something to do with the fear of the intense, ugly poverty that eats up people.

There is a lot to fear about Colon. Crime and drugs are common. People live camped out on balconies. Huge bugs and vermin scurry down trash-strewn streets. I visited the apartment building where my mother took me as a newborn. It now looks like a jail: Iron gates cover individual apartment doors to stop robbery.

The Panamanian economy is growing but not fast enough to lift the people of Colon out of this crushing poverty. There's a widespread belief there that the government has given up on the city and would just as soon bulldoze whole sections so they can rebuild on top of the ruins. In fact, Panama has less poverty than most Latin nations. But even here economic hopelessness has a history of being a breeding ground for dictators playing to the frustrations of the poor.

The reason my father insisted that my mother take the children out of Panama in the 1950s was fear of a Castro-like, populist dictator, Arnulfo Arias. A Nazi supporter during World War II, Arias later took businesses away from U.S. and European investors by insisting on Panamanian ownership. He profited from stoking racial antagonism against Asian and black immigrants who built the canal and made Panama a center of international trade. Arias even tried to divest black West Indians, such as my father, of Panamanian citizenship.

Panamanian dictators Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega followed Arias's phony populist politics to enrich themselves. Noriega's corrupt regime encouraged the drug trade even as he denounced capitalism.

The U.S. Panama free trade agreement passed by Congress last year lowered tariffs to create new investment opportunities for American businesses. The agreement helps Panama by improving the local job market and it helps the U.S. by opening markets to American goods.

Even in Colon, with all of its problems, people see hope in capitalism. The local economy is helped by the commerce that comes with sitting on one end of the Panama Canal Zone. That free-trade zone is the largest free port in the Western Hemisphere and the second-largest in the world.

My life's major turn away from poverty came thanks to my father's vision of his children escaping a despot like Arias. That dream of a better life is alive throughout Latin America. To romanticize any dictator is to kill those dreams by condemning poor kids in Latin America, like me, to tyrants and the burden of limited education and economic opportunity.

When we Americans have the opportunity to help neighbors prosper while standing for freedom, we ought to take it. Global capitalism and defiance of dictators are not mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, they work best when they work together.

Mr. Williams is a political analyst for Fox News and a columnist for the Hill.

A version of this article appeared July 3, 2012, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street
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« Reply #84 on: July 18, 2012, 10:02:13 PM »


The Source of American Power by Robert D. Kaplan and Karen Hooper
July 18, 2012 | 0901 GMT
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Stratfor
By Robert D. Kaplan and Karen Hooper

American geopolitical power historically has its source not in Europe or Asia but in the Greater Caribbean. The Greater Caribbean is the world from Yorktown to the Guianas; that is, from the mid-Atlantic states to the jungles of northern South America. The Western Hemisphere, as the Dutch-American strategist Nicholas J. Spykman explained in 1942, is not divided between North and South America. It is divided between the latitudes north of the great barrier of the Amazonian jungle and the latitudes south of it. In other words, from a geopolitical point of view, Venezuela is not a South American country at all. It is a Caribbean country: Most of its population of 28.8 million lives in the north along the Caribbean Sea, secure from the jungles to the south.

While the headlines today are about the Middle East and Asia, for many U.S. presidents from the early 19th century to the early 20th century, foreign policy crises centered on the Greater Caribbean. It was a 100-year process for the young United States to truly wrest control of the Greater Caribbean from European powers. The Greater Caribbean -- the Gulf of Mexico plus the Caribbean proper -- is, in fact, a blue water territorial extension of the continental United States. Influence over it allowed for the building of the Panama Canal at the beginning of the 20th century. Once the United States could take the Greater Caribbean for granted, America became the hegemon of the Western Hemisphere, with only the Canadian Arctic and the southern cone of South America (including the shadow zones of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru) truly beyond the security belt carved out by the U.S. Navy in the West Indies. And with the Western Hemisphere under its domination, the United States was henceforth able to affect the balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. The American victories in the two world wars and the Cold War were originally built on the geopolitics of the Greater Caribbean.

But as distances have collapsed in a more crowded world increasingly united by technology, the Greater Caribbean has again come into play. It would be an exaggeration to say that the United States is losing control of the region. Indeed, the U.S. Coast Guard on its own is basically able to manage it, while the U.S. Navy is deployed for the most part elsewhere in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. Nevertheless, this is now a region beset by massive drug smuggling from Mexico and Central America into the United States and by a robust Chinese commercial presence in the Panama Canal and Venezuela, among other places. Meanwhile, the anomaly of a communist Cuba still staggers on, though arguably that is a problem that could have been effectively dealt with decades ago by a less ideological U.S. foreign policy.

Moreover, for two decades the United States has had to deal with partial state failure in Colombia, followed by the ascent of anti-American radicalism on the part of the government in Venezuela. Venezuela and Colombia are demographic and regional powerhouses in their own right, whose politics have themselves been partly subsumed by the drug trade. Each state is now in an important stage of political transition, with repercussions for America's position in the Western Hemisphere. The stakes are particularly high because of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014, which will increase global maritime traffic from Colombia and Venezuela all the way north to America's Gulf Coast.

At the moment, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may be dying. His colon cancer has spread to his bones, according to some reports. In power since 1999, Chavez has brought Venezuela far over to the anti-American left of the ideological spectrum, making ostentatious alliances with Iran, Russia and China. He is planning to run for re-election in October. If he is re-elected, and then dies, or if he dies at any point, Venezuela could be thrown into chaos, partly because of the way his strongman-style rule has eviscerated Venezuela's political institutions. This makes Venezuela, with its soaring crime rate, fundamentally unstable. Under Chavez, Venezuela is operating economically within a narrow margin of error. The country is severely politically estranged from the United States, even as half of its oil, mainly for geographical reasons, is exported to the United States. And because investment in the energy sector has slowed -- because of domestic nationalizations -- Venezuela is pumping only 2.4 million barrels of oil per day compared to 3.2 million barrels a decade ago. Venezuela's national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, has suffered a concurrent decline in efficiency, with a skyrocketing payroll and increasing diversion of oil revenue to finance social projects.

Venezuela badly needs capital to develop the sour and heavy crude oil fields near the Orinoco River in the country's jungled interior, given that output from lighter and sweeter deposits near the Caribbean city of Maracaibo have peaked. But negotiations with the Americans for a new bilateral understanding will be difficult because of Venezuela's complicity with the drug trade and its record of expropriating assets from U.S. companies.

In other words, Venezuela's present strategic direction, marked by  hostility to Washington and bad relationships with foreign investors, is probably unsustainable. If Chavez is succeeded not by chaos but rather by current opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, than we can expect a milder version of the current anti-American populism mixed with a more business-friendly climate. Yet another possibility is rule by Foreign Minister Nicholas Maduro, who would in the short run continue Chavez's policies but would face the same economic and structural constraints that have built up under the Chavez administration.

All possible successors are aware that Chavez has been popular with the poor and lower-middle class, a large percentage of the population. Thus, redistributive economic policies are likely to continue, even as they may pave the country's road to further ruin. In order to afford these programs Venezuela will have to reverse the trend of declining oil production. For that, the next government will have to reverse policies that make Venezuela a chancy investment. These changes will require not only guarantees to investors but also changing key factors in the labor market, risking unrest. Despite the challenge to Venezuela's domestic political structure, without these changes, Venezuela's future looks rather bleak and dangerous.

While Venezuela lurches along the political precipice, Colombia next door -- the other giant on the Caribbean's southern rim -- looks less hopeful than it did a few years back. Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's president during most of the last decade, aligned himself closely with Washington, delivered competent and progressive social and economic policies, and hit insurgent drug armies extremely hard, taking back significant swathes of territory from the guerrillas. But the insurgents, principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have staged a comeback, with a focus on attacking oil installations. The FARC has essentially lost its left-wing ideology and is now mainly about drugs and territory. Colombia's current president, Juan Manuel Santos (Uribe's former defense minister), has borne the brunt of the FARC's comeback amidst the growing consolidation of criminal bands that closely resemble dismantled paramilitary organizations of the past. Santos has now sharply broken from Uribe, whose achievements are increasingly in question as corruption cases from high-level officials in his administration continue to emerge. Santos has also rhetorically shifted his foreign policy away from outright friendship with the United States and more toward accommodation with the region, especially in regards to Chavez's Venezuela and Rafael Correa's vaguely anti-American regime in Ecuador.

Thus, Washington cannot count on stability in either Colombia or Venezuela, even as Mexico's drug war continues with 50,000 deaths since 2006 -- with most of the violence in northern Mexico near the U.S. border. The United States may dominate the Greater Caribbean in terms of its conventional military power. It may dominate the Greater Caribbean in the sense that no other significant power can challenge America there. But such American power cannot guarantee stability anywhere within the region itself.


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Read more: The Source of American Power by Robert D. Kaplan and Karen Hooper | Stratfor
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« Reply #85 on: July 19, 2012, 06:49:41 AM »

Quote
Venezuela badly needs capital to develop the sour and heavy crude oil fields near the Orinoco River in the country's jungled interior....

Given the STRAFOR is supposed to know geography, I find it strange they don't know that the area where the Orinoco sand tars exist is grassland, not jungle. The jungle starts a long, long way further south:

Los Llanos: http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=los%20llanos&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

In the following map, the Orinoco sand tars are marked by a blue line. Grassland is shaded light green and jungle darker green: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orinoco_Belt

Quote
All possible successors are aware that Chavez has been popular with the poor and lower-middle class, a large percentage of the population. Thus, redistributive economic policies are likely to continue, even as they may pave the country's road to further ruin. In order to afford these programs Venezuela will have to reverse the trend of declining oil production. For that, the next government will have to reverse policies that make Venezuela a chancy investment. These changes will require not only guarantees to investors but also changing key factors in the labor market, risking unrest. Despite the challenge to Venezuela's domestic political structure, without these changes, Venezuela's future looks rather bleak and dangerous.

Dictators don't allow themselves to be voted out of power. While Chavez still has a large following many of his former allies have defected. The Bolivarian street thugs are seldom seen these days. While I certainly don't know the details, the power structure has changed. Chavez is still the top dog but his potential successors have been maneuvering to gain strength for the coming power struggle. Lower oil  prices and lower crude production are taking their toll. After more than a decade the opposition has finally learned it can only have a chance united. The opposition is now behind Henrique Capriles Radonski (HCR) (Capriles: Sephardic Jews from Curaçao, Radonski: Ashkenazi Jews from Poland) who has held elected office during all the Chavez years and has been generally a well liked success. He is not associated with the old 4th Republic AD/COPEI parties.

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Henrique%20Capriles%20Radonski&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

Polls now suggest that HCR and Chavez are tied in popularity. Whether Chavez steals the election or not is still to be seen but hopefully by now the opposition has gotten to know all the dirty tricks it can expect. Ideologically many of us are disappointed by HCR's political proposals, in effect continuing the populist economy. On the other hand, the pragmatists realize that this is needed to win the presidency. Over seventy years ago Joseph Schumpeter made a very acute observation: "Liberal democracy is not about governing but about getting elected."

But populism and socialism need not be anti-American. Pragmatic socialist governments can be quite effective and, let's face it, Venezuelans love all the American toys and goodies from McDonald's to Disneyland, Nike shoes, iPhones and much more.

Denny Schlesinger

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« Reply #86 on: July 19, 2012, 08:08:05 AM »

Quote
Henrique Capriles Radonski (HCR) (Capriles: Sephardic Jews from Curaçao, Radonski: Ashkenazi Jews from Poland)

Some may wonder why I pointed out the double Jewish roots of the opposition presidential candidate. Venezuela has been an open society since independence. In the days of the divine right of kings the Church was all powerful. To gain prestige and position you first had to bribe the church, which held the records, and then the monarch. While in the thirteen colonies the cry was "no taxation without representation," in the south people were just as tired of being exploited by the mother country. Just as some of the Founding Fathers were said to be deists, Simon Bolivar was said to be a Freemason.

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The denomination with the longest history of objection to Freemasonry is the Roman Catholic Church. The objections raised by the Roman Catholic Church are based on the allegation that Masonry teaches a naturalistic deistic religion which is in conflict with Church doctrine.[72]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemasonry

Be that as it may, several instances of public anti-church behavior by Bolivar have been recorded, the most famous one after the Caracas earthquake which a priest said was god's punishment for the independence movement: "Si la naturaleza se opone a nuestros designios, lucharemos contra ella y haremos que nos obedezca." If nature opposes our designs, we will fight against her and make her obey us. In any event, the Church's power over Venezuelan politics was broken over the years.

Bolivar needed all the help he could get to fight the Spanish. He offered slaves their freedom to joint the patriots. There are parallels in Europe where weak kings offered citizenship to minorities in exchange of allegiance to the throne. This is how Hungarian Jews gained citizenship (and assimilated). This is how the Seclers became the border guards in Romania. [As told to me by my Hungarian cousin and a Secler friend]

Chavez's class and racial warfare are an aberration in Venezuela. It gained a few ignorant or hothead followers but the population at large is as open as it always has been. Chavez has tried to play the religious angle against HCR to no avail. Compare that to the difficulty of electing a Catholic or a black president in the USA. Civil rights came to Venezuela a long time before they landed in the USA.

Denny Schlesinger
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« Reply #87 on: July 19, 2012, 08:35:53 AM »

Good to see you here again Denny.  Thanks for your insider view of what's going on in V.
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« Reply #88 on: July 19, 2012, 11:52:09 AM »

http://pjmedia.com/blog/obama-doesn%e2%80%99t-understand-latin-america/?singlepage=true
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« Reply #89 on: December 12, 2012, 07:01:59 AM »


Stratfor
 
By Robert D. Kaplan
Chief Geopolitical Analyst
 
Many U.S. presidents begin their term in office vowing to pay more attention to Latin America and then fail to do so. Indeed, the first summit of a presidential term is often with the leader of Mexico, either in Mexico City or Washington. The new White House staff surely acknowledges the importance of Latin America; it is just that crises elsewhere in the world quickly get in the way. By the time an American president gets done dealing with the Middle East, East Asia and Europe, it is time for him to run for re-election, or retire, whatever the case may be. Latin America has been, once again, forgotten.
 
Meanwhile, the importance of Latin America to the United States continues to climb. U.S. trade with Latin America -- both in terms of imports and exports -- has grown from 18.9 percent of America's total worldwide trade to 21.6 percent over the past decade. At the same time, however, the percentage of trade between the largest Latin American economies -- Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina -- and the United States has decreased dramatically. For example, the United States accounted for nearly a quarter of Brazil's overall trade in 2002, but the figure was only 12.5 percent in 2011 -- a drop in half. And whereas three-quarters of Mexico's overall trade was with the United States in 2002, it went down to 64.2 percent in 2011. In other words, as Latin America becomes more important in economic terms to the United States, the United States becomes relatively less important to Latin America.
 
Europe, China and other parts of the world are clearly moving closer to Latin America in terms of trade, weakening slightly the influence Washington can wield in Latin American capitals (though Europe has been a significant trading partner of Latin America ever since Portuguese and Spanish colonialism). Concomitantly, ever since the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in the early 19th century, U.S. power in Latin America has remained simply too overwhelming for the development of truly healthy bilateral relationships. Make no mistake: Anti-Americanism lives on in Latin America. Do not dismiss it as a political force. The question is, what is its practical, functional effect?
 
For the moment, anti-American forces seem temporarily in retreat. The eventual passing of communist leader Fidel Castro in Cuba and anti-American populist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela will rob the Latin American left of highly symbolic poles of reference, especially since economic reality will eventually push both Havana and Caracas to moderate politically. And without Castro and Chavez as points of ideological orientation, leftist regimes in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua will see their relative diplomatic strength weakened. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Bolivian President Evo Morales will try to harness a particular Latin American-style populism in the service of retaining power -- that is, using the masses against the elite. And they may continue to succeed. But without the Cuban and Venezuelan leaders as charismatic lodestars, the populism of these two other countries will have less relevance in terms of hemispheric power struggles.
 
Brazil, the behemoth of South America, might be expected to lead a bloc of states presenting an alternative to U.S. leadership. To be sure, Brazil is a regional power, especially with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela joining the Brazilian-Argentinian trading bloc of Mercosur. But Brazil, despite all the trendy media reports, is nevertheless hampered by corruption, a weak judicial system and most important, falling economic growth (from 7.3 percent in 2010 to 1.03 percent in 2012), even as labor costs have gone up. The first generation of reforms that accounted for the Brazilian economic miracle must now be followed by a second generation. The challenges, therefore, for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are immense. For the moment, the United States does not feel really threatened by Brazil and in fact is quite comfortable with Brazil taking the lead on regional initiatives. Brazil's response to Washington is one of calculated cooperation.
 
Meanwhile, Argentina remains a self-contained mess. The country is strangled by economic distortions because President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's government keeps interfering in the markets to keep the costs of natural gas, electricity and other goods low for consumers. Another currency crisis looms amid rising labor unrest and limited access to international capital markets.
 
But perhaps the biggest trend working against a dynamic resurgence of anti-Americanism is the formation of the Pacific Alliance by Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile and maybe even Panama and Costa Rica. These are all countries whose organizing philosophical principle is the championing of economics over political ideology, and thus they want to take advantage of free trade with Asian markets.
 
In sum, the hard-core Latin American left is not only weakened by the imminent passing of Castro and Chavez, but by the domestic distractions of Brazil and Argentina and by the heightened proximity of Asian business opportunities. Were the United States and Mexico to forge an alliance based on energy cooperation and immigration reform -- with American firms able to invest in the Mexican oil sector -- you might almost imagine a distinctly pro-American dynamic in Latin America, except for the fact that Mexico's political influence in the region is both curtailed and compromised by its very proximity to the United States. Simply put, Mexico is too deeply enmeshed in its relationship with the United States to exert profound influence elsewhere in the hemisphere.
 
In all of these developments, there is no strong hint of the kind of crisis -- or opportunity -- that would give an American president the incentive to really concentrate on Latin America. Growing trade with the southern part of the hemisphere is an issue for business forums and the Treasury and Commerce departments; not so much for the National Security Council or the State Department. The truth is that foreign policy is driven by extreme diplomatic and military crises of the level that Latin America simply does not often provide. Yet this is not bad news for Latin America, but rather good news. Syria, for example, is important -- but it's a disaster. Chile is not important -- but it's a relative success story. Importance and success can be mutually exclusive in many cases.
 
If you really want to see the ironic rise of Latin America, consider Mexico: In much of the country, particularly in the north, drug cartels operate and the violence drones on there. But Mexico had the world's 14th-largest economy in 2011 according to the World Bank, and may edge higher over the next decade, even as large countries in Europe like Spain and Italy sink further into the economic and social abyss. A decade from now, even with its drug violence, Mexico could boast high-speed rail service, and deep-water harbors on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts linked by train. The dynamism you see in certain regions of Mexico like Queretaro are contrasted with the increasing decay and depressed atmosphere of an historically great city like Rome, the capital of a country mired in crisis.
 
To travel from Mexico to Europe is to see how the tectonic scales of power in the world are shifting, and how Europe is losing status compared to Latin America, even as the relationship between the United States and Latin America is becoming both more organic and subtle. Hard-core anti-Americanism in Latin America will not disappear, but it might well become less relevant. And as the United States becomes increasingly energy independent, it will have less incentive to be obsessed with the Middle East and may begin to rediscover its own hemisphere.


Read more: Evolving Latin America | Stratfor
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« Reply #90 on: December 12, 2012, 07:44:22 AM »

Hard core anti Americanism in Latin America is bogus. We love MacDonalds, Levi's, iPads, Disneyland, rap and all that jazz. What the writer is missing is that a charismatic leader can sway the masses. Pit Bush II against Chavez and Bush is bush league.

Latin America does have a propensity for populism and clientelism  which keeps left of center parties in power most of the time but that is not anti Americanism. Out slogan is not "American go home, leave us alone" it's

American go home, leave us a loan
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« Reply #91 on: December 12, 2012, 07:58:02 AM »

This "anti-Americanism" idea is bogus. A lot of foreign visitors come to our marina. Many use it as a base to explore Venezuela. Then they write about their experiences and publish it on the web. I have collected their "cruising logs." Read for yourselves what visitors on the ground, not in some Washington think tank, have to say about it. I stopped collecting stories in 2008 because crime, unchecked by local law enforcement, has been on the rise thanks to Chavez's mismanagement and piss poor government. Some of you might recall how Rudy Giuliani cleaned up NYC. Were New Yorkers really different before and after Giuliani? Were 8 million New Yorkers crooks or was it just poor law enforcement prior to Giuliani?

What are sailors saying about Venezuela?
http://bahiaredonda.com/ip/cruising-logs-2008.php
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« Reply #92 on: December 12, 2012, 08:34:49 AM »

Correct me if I'm wrong. Crafty Dog was originally a New Yorker. Crafty Dog took up martial arts because he saw violence on the streets against helpless people due to poor law enforcement. Generalizing that New Yorkers are violent criminals is just as wrong as saying that Latin Americans are anti-American.

When STRAFOR sticks to geopolitics they do fine. When they stray to mass psychology they are talking a bunch of bull.

Talking about trading partners, when America outsources to China, is it a surprise that Latin American also trades more with China? Does that have to do with politics or with economics? Recently I have been seeing Chinese made cars and busses in Caracas. If a Chery is cheaper than a Chevy, what would you buy, all else being equal?
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« Reply #93 on: December 12, 2012, 10:26:00 AM »

Stratfor is sometimes quite glib when it drifts outside its lane.
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« Reply #94 on: December 12, 2012, 01:40:38 PM »

Good counterpoints made by CaptCCS (Denny S), on the scene.  The term anti-American to me is mostly a reminder that people around the globe don't love us as much as we think they should. )  To generalize about either Latin Americans or about US Americans sets oneself up to be at least partly wrong.  To the extent that there are bad feelings anywhere, I don't know what part is aimed at people with views like mine, at people like Obama with views opposite to mine, at Americans of the past who treated them badly or just resentment aimed at success or arrogance.

My reaction reading the piece was that it isn't about what they think of us, I just hope to see them heading their own countries and economies in a good direction - toward individual freedoms, economic freedoms, free trade and to join us in opposing those who would attack us.

Latin Americans are obviously divided too.   In Venezuela,  what we see simplistically is that the leader who verbally attacks the US the hardest and buddies up with our enemies like Ahmedinejad wins elections.  In the US, the leader who opposed the US policies the strongest, war in Iraq, economic freedom etc., also won.

Stratfor's value is mostly to stimulate thinking since most US media has virtually no coverage of other regions or geopolitical forces.  Correcting their errors is important. 

Strat: "the importance of Latin America to the United States continues to climb. U.S. trade with Latin America -- both in terms of imports and exports -- has grown from 18.9 percent of America's total worldwide trade to 21.6 percent over the past decade. At the same time, however, the percentage of trade between the largest Latin American economies -- Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina -- and the United States has decreased dramatically. For example, the United States accounted for nearly a quarter of Brazil's overall trade in 2002, but the figure was only 12.5 percent in 2011 -- a drop in half. And whereas three-quarters of Mexico's overall trade was with the United States in 2002, it went down to 64.2 percent in 2011. In other words, as Latin America becomes more important in economic terms to the United States, the United States becomes relatively less important to Latin America.

Denny S: "when America outsources to China, is it a surprise that Latin American also trades more with China?"

Good point!  What we no longer build or build competitively, they will no longer buy from us.  They are trading more with many places and that is a good sign.  Our problems (U.S.) are internal.
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« Reply #95 on: December 29, 2012, 11:48:54 AM »



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXYEG5o1-5Q&feature=player_embedded
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« Reply #96 on: December 29, 2012, 04:47:12 PM »

Legalize drugs and be done with it. Did America learn nothing from Prohibition? Guess not!

Denny Schlesinger
 
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« Reply #97 on: December 29, 2012, 05:08:32 PM »

Denny:

Check out our War on Drugs thread.
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« Reply #98 on: March 07, 2013, 11:02:55 AM »

http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news-markets/international-news/portfolio/2007/09/17/Chiquita-Death-Squads.html?page=all 

The firm’s lawyers have struggled to explain publicly that Chiquita had to make a choice between “life and law” and that it chose the “humanitarian” route of protecting its workers. “This company was in a bad position dealing with bad guys,” says Eric Holder, a Washington attorney representing Chiquita. “There’s absolutely no suggestion of any personal gain here. It’s not a case like Tyco, where someone is squirreling money away. No one is out buying great shower curtains.”
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« Reply #99 on: June 24, 2013, 11:04:43 AM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/23/state-department-downplays-iran-role-in-latin-amer/?page=2
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