Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bolivia, Evo: US Out To Git Me! Warns of Murder Plot!

Uh oh! Evo Morales now claims the US has a plot to kill him, according to his good friend Hugo Chavez.

Is Evo being set up for execution by the US?

I seriously doubt it.

He has been targeted for investigation by US agencies in the past. DEA tried for years -without success- to find evidence of a direct link between him and drug dealers. When you lead the union of coca growers, which supplies those drug dealers, you kind of bring that on yourself.
So, maybe Evo is suspicious of US intentions, from his past history. But as far as being directly targeted for death as President now, that is plain paranoia and/or political.
It does not do well for a modern Bolivian president to be saying these things. This just same days after he closed a speech saying "Death to the Yankees," and had Chavez spouting off next to him. The Venezuelan says all sorts of crazy things against the US, but Evo can hardly afford to do so. If anything, maybe Evo should stop listening to Chavez.
While relations with the US are tense, the US administration has been fairly measured in approaching Bolivia's new government. While Evo has been launching invective against the US, the response has been two paragraphs of Bush talking about the erosion of democracy in Venezuela and Bolivia. The contentious issue of eradication of coca fields, the biggest US concern in Bolivia, has been kept very low key.

This is just another example of Evo shooting himself (and Bolivia)in the foot. In 3 months, through actions and statements he has angered the leaders of critical nations like Brazil, Peru, and Spain. They do not trust him, since he has said one thing in private then done and said other things in public. Now, he is adding "erratic" (if not idiotic) to his reputation.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bolivia: Chavez Visits, Tells Bolivians How To Vote, Suggests Constitutional Language and Who To Obey

These are direct quotes of a speech that Chavez gave in the town of Shinahota in Bolivia on Friday, and which appeared in El Mundo In addition, he also did his weekly radio show from Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, and had other choice comments.


"Evo came to power to say, the bolivian revolution is here to stay, and the Constituyente is only the first step"

"if the revolutionary forces do not get a smashing majority, the process of drafting a new constitution is not viable through peaceful means"

"if the right wins in the Constitutional Assembly....."it is capable of stopping nationalization"


there is a conspiracy to overthrow Evo" "be alert...and take to the streets" (in case there is a coup)
If Bush says he is worried about the erosion of democracy, that means he gave green light to start conspiring against the government of Evo and its institutions."


disobey if anyone orders you to overthrow Evo" "you must not obey that order, what you must do is detain the coup instigators and throw them in jail immediately.


The New Consitution, in my judgement, should prohibit the privatization of hydrocarbons, closing the door, definitively to that possibility.

I remember hearing Fidel Castro give a speech in Sandinista Nicaragua on the first anniversary of the overthrow of Somoza. Even that Communist windbag would not in public tell Nicaraguans what to do, much less tell their army officers who to obey - that's the kind of instruction that he gave behind closed doors. Chavez really seems to have no internal brakes, and is erratic.
A leader of a country does not just go to another country and directly tell its citizens and army these kinds of things. There are diplomatic ways of saying things and getting your message through. The Bolivian publics frustration and resentment with the US, was fueled by dumb comments out of the US Embassy the past 15 years - particularly over the coca erradication issue. What Chavez just said, goes even further, since he did not even make a pretense of couching it in diplomatic language.

HYPOCRITES OF THE WEEK: Chavez apologists who are shamefully quiet now that the Venezuelan publically is interfering in Bolivian internal affairs. That did not stop many of them about bitching about two paragraphs Bush said in a (probably scripted) Q and A session. The US President said he was "concerned about the erosion of democracy" in the two countries mentioned by the questioner. (Venezuela and Bolivia). Given Morales government threats to confiscate land and seize assets of some companies, that is not unreasonable - and m many left-of-center leaders have also said so recently. It is hardly to the level of telling Bolivians how to vote in order to consolidate the revolution, as done by Chavez.

Where are they now??? . Chavista apologist of the week, Jim Schultz who immediately after Bush's statements came up with no less than three tortured articles denouncing Bush's statements, and trying to obscure Chavez blatant interference in Bolivian affairs.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bolivia: Evo: "Death To Yankees"

Great stuff from D-Evo-lution, with Chavez in attendance he closes his speech with the following in Quechua:
"Huañuchun yanquis" or "Death to the Yankees" the cocalero slogan

When probably the worst US policy towards Bolivia: the hardline effort to erradicate all Coca is at least paused, maybe calling for the death of the yankees is hardly smart politics.

Source Bolivia Lo Mejor Que Tenemos

Bolivia: D-Evo-lution Spokesman Calls Out Peruvian President

Bolivias presidential spokesman, Alex Contreras, repeated the substance of earlier statements President Morales against Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo.
Contreras called Toledo a "hypocrite" by negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the US. The spokesman said that he could see why Colombia's Álvaro Uribe would do so, but not President Toledo "who claims he represents the interests of indigenous peoples."

Just another great example of current Bolivian diplomacy. Basically calling the ruler of Bolivia's traditional ally, a sell-out. And meanwhile, Evo, will not even consider negotiating a free trade pact with one of Bolivia's largest trade partners, in favor of joining a joke of a trade block with Venezuela and Cuba -- a country with which Bolivia does less than 10,000 dollars in trade with.

Who is the sell-out Evo???


La República de Perú (

Esta vez no fue el presidente Evo Morales, sino el vocero de la presidencia de Bolivia, Alex Contreras, quien insistió en reiterar las duras críticas contra el presidente Alejandro Toledo por haber negociado con Estados Unidos un Tratado de Libre Comercio.
"Es una actitud hipócrita. Nosotros entendemos que la conducta del presidente Alejandro Toledo ha tenido esa característica y la actitud del gobierno nacional va a ser absolutamente diferente", refirió el funcionario.
El vocero de Morales agregó que podía entenderse que el presidente de Colombia Álvaro Uribe negocie un TLC con Estados Unidos, pero no el presidente Toledo, quien dijo muchas veces que representaba los intereses de los pueblos indígenas.Adelantó que su gobierno no responderá la queja presentada por el gobierno peruano frente a los calificativos que le endilgó el mismo presidente Evo Morales en la reciente Cumbre de Viena. "El gobierno mantiene invariables sus críticas", insistió Contreras.
Que Bolivia no impida diálogo
El ministro de Comercio Exterior, Alfredo Ferrero, señaló ayer que si Bolivia no tiene "voluntad" de negociar un acuerdo comercial con la Unión Europea, no debe arrastrar en esa decisión a los demás países andinos que sí quieren hacerlo. La voluntad de la Declaración de Viena implica que se lanzará la negociación con o sin Bolivia, e incluso sin Venezuela, que ya anunció su retiro de la Comunidad Andina, el bloque de naciones integrado también por Perú, Colombia y Ecuador.

Chavez in Bolivia...Part 1...

The Good...

A plan to build refineries for crude, petrochemicals and fertilizers, with a proposed investment of 1,500 million bucks.

By all means take the characters money, would be stupid not to. Money is money, and infraestructure investments is great.

If Evo had any brains, he would get Chavez to a. fund any "refunding" of YPFB, and b. fund the compensation of the pension system.

Este proyecto, con una inversión inicial de 1.500 millones de dólares, implica la construcción a corto plazo de plantas de refinación de crudo, de petroquímica y fertilizantes, además de producción de gas natural y petróleo en diversos puntos del país andino, donde 20 poderosos consorcios mundiales gestionan hidrocarburos desde 1996.

Para llevar a cabo el mismo, la estatal venezolana PDVSA y la boliviana Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPFB) se asocian para industrializar el gas natural, principal riqueza de Bolivia, dueña de la segunda reserva de Sudamérica (1,55 billones de m3) en el marco de la reciente nacionalización de hidrocarburos ordenada a principios de mayo por Morales.

Evo better be sure that Chavez signs an ironclad contract, because he has a real short attention span and you never know he might be kicked out at some point. Anyway, make sure stuff gets built so a next government can expropriate the Venezuelan part and/or privatize it. :p

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New York Times Article on Cesar Milan "The Dog Whisperer"

The New York Times Has an Article From The Dog Whisperer a Howl Of Truimph. about Cesar Millan the Mexican-born host of National Geographics show The Dog Whisperer.

I thought this show sounded goofy/new age at first, but now I am hooked on it. Most dog people will appreciate it.

Millan fixes some real psychotic dogs and the people who own them. He has a pack of 40 dogs, including pitbulls and chihuahas, all hanging out together.

Interesting fact, he crossed the border mojado - but he is legal now. Self-made guy started working at a pet grooming place, eventually started his own business and now has a highly rated TV show.

And he takes care of his business too, turning himself into a brand

"This is not a flash-in-the-pan sort of thing," said Jim Milio, one of the three founders of MPH Entertainment, which produces Mr. Millan's show along with Emery/Sumner Productions, and who has helped to guide Mr. Millan's efforts to build an ambitious business enterprise. "This is not one year and he's gone. We're making him into a long-lasting brand," with more books and videos and dog-training aids and, well, who knows?

It was thanks to the efforts of his producers, for example, that Mr. Millan kept all the home video and foreign syndication rights to his television show. That has allowed him to create, in addition to the 10-hour complete collections, which retails for nearly $50, several shorter collections that will be widely available for less than $10 each. Wal-Mart and Sam's Club are expected to feature them at the front of their stores.

Milan basically says: act and think like you are boss, (projecting the calm and "assertive" energy) make dog submit -- heel or lie down, wait till animal is relaxed, then lead it to do stuff you want it to do, do over and over again.

It isn't about fancy tricks, it is about getting fido to quit yapping at the mailman and the other dogs at home.
The energy flow stuff, sounds silly but makes sense, reality is that dogs pick up quickly on body language showing fear, nerves,hostility -- and they will most likely not obey you.

Working with Americans and their dogs, he said, "I was surprised and a little confused by what I saw." Where he grew up, in Culiacan, Sinaloa, in Northwest Mexico, "everybody walks dogs," Mr. Millan said during a recent visit to New York. "But where I am from, the dog is always behind. Here the dog is always in front. I thought maybe you guys were doing it right and we were doing it wrong. Because to me America is the country where everybody is always doing it right. I thought you knew and we were wrong."

He quickly discovered: no. Americans were letting the dogs, rather than the humans, be the pack leaders, in almost every respect. "Americans work against Mother Nature, and that's why dogs don't listen to the general population of America," he said. "Why are dogs growing up on a farm much happier than a dog living in the city? Because on a farm, it gets to be a dog. And in the city they become a child, they become a husband, they become a soul mate. They become something the human wants before they are willing to do what is best for them."

"It's like cowboys," he said. "They grow up around the horse and the cow; they are not afraid of them. You can be a huge dog lover, you can have a passion for it, but that doesn't mean you can develop the strong assertive state of mind that is required to be around hard-core cases. These cases I work with, they are coming after me........What makes you become a pack leader is being in a calm, assertive state 100 percent of the time."

Bolivia: Is Nationalization Decree Unconstitutional

Bolivian author,Francisco Justiniano Suárez, examines the constitutionality of the Nationalization Decree Decreto Supremo Nº 28701 . His conclusions are very interesting.

The current nationalization of oil and gas of May 1st was done by Presidential decree, which modifies the Hydrocarbons law passed last year by Congress after it had been approved by a referendum. Under Bolivian law, laws passed by Congress have supremacy over decrees. Ironically, the contracts between Bolivia and the multi-nationals, were ratified by decree in the 90's, and were just recently found unconstitutional.

Article 1: The decree states that the Bolivian state retakes "the property, possession, and absolute control of these resources", based on what was approved by the referendum of June 2004. But the author points out that the referendum itself, did not "ask about nationalization of hydrocarbons", only about the ownership of hydrocarbons "at the wellhead". There was no question regarding the "ownership, possession or control of hyrdorcarbons" so this decree on its face is wrong.

Article 2. "YPFB is responsible for defining volumes and prices of hydrocarbons for the internal market as well as export and industrialization". The author states that the Hydrocarbons law on the books, does not authorize the state to establish prices of export for gas, so "the law is being changed by a decree" which is unconstitutional according to Justiniano Suarez.

Article 4. "Participation for [foreign] enterprises is fixed at 18 percent when it involves large fields (more than 100 million cubic feet daily)" This is against what is in both the Hyrdrocarbons law and the referendum, that fixes in 50 percent the ownership share for foreign companies. On its face the decree is unconstitutional.

Article 5 "The Ministry of Hidrocarbons and Energy is the one that must regulate and normalize all the hidrocarbon activities in the country (production, transport, refining, storage, etc.). This goes against the "Ley De Sirese", that establishes that this responsibility is of the "Superintendent" for Hydrocarbons. Consequently this would also be invalid and unconstitutional.

Article 6 "It is hereby transferred to Yacimientos, for no consideration, all the stock that formed part of the Collective Capitalization Fund of the capitalized oil companies, and that are being administered by the AFP (Pension Administrators)."

The author says that this is an expopriation of the benefits of all Bolivians who over the age of 21 when capitalization was approved. While the hydrocarbons law of 2005 does transfer the stock to Yacimientos, he says it can not be done without paying fair compensation, since that would contitute expropriation under the Bolivian Constitution. He states that every Bolivian citizen can potentially ask for an indemnization. Further, he finds that the decree interferes with the rights of the Pension Fund Administrator. who also have a right to a defense. The contract between the Bolivian State and these entities were ratified by three Bolivian laws.

All in all, this shows that the current government is taking a very heavy-handed approach, and ignoring the rule of law. When Morales starts his administration by appointing a non-lawyer to run the justice department, complains about the high courts, and then tries ruling by decrees it is clear his administration has nothing but contempt for the rules.

Monday, May 22, 2006

South America: Telling Jokes at The Funeral

This Op-Ed piece brings up important points. In Latin America, populist and anti-globalization types have so skewed the public discussion of developement back to the stone age. Sometimes you need to be reminded of basic realities in the world.

Michael Rowan :
Telling jokes at the funeral

The recent news photo of presidents Morales, Chavez, Kirchner and Da Silva gleefully celebrating the nationalization of oil and gas resources symbolizes the most profound tragedy of South America in our time. As investment and exports plummet, poverty and chaos loom, while populist presidents smile for the camera. South America lays ashen in the coffin as its leaders tell jokes behind the bier.

Well the facts of life and death in South America are no joke. The region has 8% of the global population and 3% of its exports. Hong Kong has one tenth of 1% of population and 3% of exports. Japan has 2% of population and 6% of exports. Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore are becoming rich because of exports. Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand are already rich because of exports. China has reduced poverty by 210 million people in one generation because of product exports. India's economy is booming because of information technology exports. Bananas and oil are not as valuable to export as knowledge and technology - take a look at the global trade numbers.

Exports result from adapting to global investment and trade, which means the knowledge and technology people have used to succeed at life in modern times. In the last seven generations, the income of the developed world increased 19 times and the developing world 5.4 times through that adaptation while global population increased 6 times. But South American leaders are rejecting that success in favor of self-imposed failure and then blaming it on the US - the fireman is blamed for the fire. The region has failed miserably since 1980 as it rejected modern success cases, notably China and India, but including Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia. Now it is celebrating failure by making a populist religion out of being the victim of success.

No one is making South America fail but its own populist leaders. The US, foreign investors and free trade are not the cause of South America's failure - they may not be helping it succeed, but they are definitely not making it fail. If China and India can succeed in the presence of the US, foreign investors and free trade, why can't South America? Rather than telling jokes at the funeral, wouldn't a little thought about giving life to exports be more respectful to the family of the deceased?

Michael Rowan's column is published by El Universal ( Caracas) every Tuesday ( Petroleumworld not necessarily share these views.

Source: Petroleumworld

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Remember Edgar the falling kid? In Mexico an online movement is trying to draft him as a presidential candidate, under the PPW party. Partido Pinche Wey , under the Slogan No Dejes Que Edgar Caiga -- Don't Let Edgar Fall.

According to the authors, Edgar would make a great President because.

1. Edgar is honest...not afraid to show feelings and his passions..
2. Edgar is the living image of Mexicans.....who[didn't think]'kid reminds me of me at his age' 3. Edgard simply doesn't have the heart to hurt the people, you can see it in his face. 4. Edgar is incapable of stealing.....all he wants in life is the respect he deserves. 5...No international leader would dare become Edgar's enemy...

Edgar also goes Jedi...LOL

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Latin America: Populismo - Catchphase For A New Era - The P Word


Latin American politicians, media, and political consultants have adopted a new negative buzzword to denounce the new wave of leftist politicians and their policies. Populismo, in case you missed the connection, translates quite directly populism in English. And yes, it is a common word, but it has a distinctive twist to it. In this new era of competitive elections and mass media all across the continent, this is a native phenomenon and not an enemy or doctrine imposed or imported from abroad. And its symbolic figureheads are elected officials, or running for office and not golpistas.

The NL Word

The last au courant term was neoliberalismo, almost as dreaded a label in recent times, as the "L word" was among US Democrats. And no, the term is not a direct translation of the "Neo-Liberals" associated to certain Democratic politicians like Gary Hart in the 80's - though Hart -as well as every Democrat Presidential nominee since 1988- would certainly be considered neoliberales in Latin American today. In Latin America the liberal part applies to the 19th Century classical liberalism of a la John Stuart Mill, which stood for individual liberty, free markets and free trade. In the 1990's to be a Neo meant believing in a smaller state role in the economy, keeping balanced budgets, and encouraging foreign investment - what any sensible Democratic governor of Arkansas would do.

But in Latin America these policies provoked bitter reactions from many sectors of society. Opposition to neoliberalismo became a rallying point for post-Cold War leftists, nationalists angry at IMF policies, coca growers, unemployed syndicalists, indigenous rights activists, former state workers. In many ways this mimicked the loose collection of groups under the "anti-globalization" banner outside of the region. And in fact, foreign activists became sort of a "globalized constituency" (and source of funding) for many of these Latin American struggles.

Populist firebrands turned the term neo-liberalismo itself into a negative catch-all in the public imagination,identifying it with scandals from privatizations, U.S. anti-drug policies, job loss, foreign multinationals taking over companies. Repeat something enough times and it becomes true through repetition. At its core the spin was simple and effective: blame neoliberalismo for the failure of Latin American countries to reduce the gap between the have and the have-nots in the 1990's - and anything else that went wrong too. Facts be damned! Who cared that the public sectors in many countries dragged their countries economies down, that restructuring was needed, or that free market policies were making Asian countries rich. It didn't matter what you actually stood for, so long as you were against neoliberalismo. But, in the new era you also needed to deliver this effectively through mass media as well as to an international audience.

Evo Morales became the poster child for anti-neoliberalismo movement, both in Bolivia and abroad. He started out leading coca farmers angry at US-funded erradication, and shrewdly linked their struggle to opposition to free trade pacts, the indigena movements, squatters rights, and the intense nationalism of Bolivians. But that is not enough in the new era, he worked the mass media in Bolivia as well as abroad. In the end it worked, by promising to erradicate the Neoliberal model from the country, Evo went from a fringe leader to elected President in a landslide.

Gracias Evo

Time to thank Evo again. His recent meltdown in Vienna in front of a global audience, was a defining moment for the new populismo. Chavez gets a big assist, and deserves most of the credit, after all he has been doing it from the bully-pulpit of the Venezuelan Presidency since 99, now amped up even more by 70 dollars a barrel of Venezuelan crude. He did his best to mess with just about every major Latin American government and Spain right before the conference, guaranteeing fireworks at the meeting. But it was Evo who stole the show, even before it officially started. The party started with May day decrees nationalizing foreign oil and gas interestsay, and sending troops to occupy oil company headquarters including Petrobras much to Lula's annoyance. That was quite a prelude to an eresting summit between Latin American leaders (including Evo and Hugo) and the European Union, now the international press had a neat buzzword to throw around as the angle to the story: its all about that populismo thing.
And the actual show really did deliver! Evo's tirades became the hook, the first big TV moment followed by the tidal wave-like backlash. Just about every major player in Latin America and Spain, got in their soundbites condemning populismo including the Socialist leaders of Brazil and Spain. It became a dirty word, losing any positive connotation left. The contempt with which a Fox or a Toledo pronounced the very word populismo just made it that more dramatic.

What Does It Mean?

One the one hand, it doesn't matter what the dictionary says populismo means, for political purposes it has already been defined. Populismo es bad. Search a little further, and you find it represents both a personal style and actual politics.

What I mean by personal style is Chavez and Morales, whose effective use of mass media and international projection is partly responsible for getting them to where they are. But once the backlash starts, they have become the highly visible poster children, Willie Hortons for an entire continent. What they represent politically is a return to caudillos, the demagouges who pander to voters worst fears to get elected, promise the world, whip their supporters into frenzies against enemies real and imagined to keep power. If the neoliberal was the suit-wearing, technocrat at the mercy of big corporations, the populist is the blowhard who tells everyone what they want to hear, and the prisoner of his own promises to everyone. The old Latin American strongman with little concern for formalities like laws and rules of good governance. Throwbacks who have so little respect and understanding for what makes their economies work that Socialists call them out for it.
So now populismo is a personal insult and a blanket condemnation of whatever it is the populistas stand for. Irony of ironies, you now have populists condeming others for being populistas! When the average Peruvian or Mexican voter, sees Lula, Zapatero, and Alan Garcia(!), condeming the populismos, suddenly Chavez stops being the kind wacky uncle with petro-dollars, and anyone endorsed by him now seems scary. "Define your opponent before he defines you" is a maxim of politics. Politicians like Humalla and Obrador have made careers of fighting the neoliberal bogeyman, now they are getting slammed by the same strategy. Hey, live by the sword, die by the sword, could not have happened to a nicer bunch of guys.

Bolivia: Country Will Not Negotiate With Oil Companies That Litigate

Andres Soliz Rada, Bolivia's Oil and Gas Minister stated in front of the Bolivian Congress that any Oil company which goes to international arbitration in protest of Bolivia's Nationalization decree and new Hyrdocrabon laws, will not be allowed to negotiate new contracts. It goes without saying they will not be allowed to operate and face having their holdings seized.

That is pretty heavy-handed, and not that bright. This government has a short and very selective memory. Companies like Petrobras, Total, BP, et al. were extremely wary of investing in Bolivia in the first place, due to instability and lack of judicial protection. That is why they and the previous government agreed on submitting to international mediation in case of disputes, to provide some sort of security.

These companies can certainly state a case that they entered into binding contracts with the constitutionally elected government of Bolivia at the time, that Bolivia's subsequent governments ratified these contracts by acting under contractual terms (price, etc.), and that relying on the documents singed and behavior the oil companies spent money in production facilities.
Under that view, it well within their rights to file for international arbitration. And Bolivia does have defenses and arguments, they could claim the contract terms are not binding on them, since the contracts themselves are unconstitutional, and hence are not subject to the jurisidiction of any international tribunal.
What Morales government is doing is nothing less than threatening retaliation against any company which acts under its rights. The consequences are huge, if they can not renegotiate within a set period of time, their holdings will be expropriated under the current law. All this attitude does, is prove critics right when they say that the current Bolivian government does not offer and does not intend to offer any security for investments.


"Advierto a las empresas petroleras: no se puede seguir juicios de arbitraje a Bolivia y al mismo tiempo negociar nuevos contratos", aseguró el ministro boliviano de Hidrocarburos.

El Mostrador de Chile (

El gobierno de Bolivia advirtió que no negociará nuevos contratos con las empresas petroleras que recurran a arbitrajes internacionales contra el decreto de nacionalización de los hidrocarburos firmado el pasado 1 de mayo.
"Advierto a las empresas petroleras: no se puede seguir juicios de arbitraje a Bolivia y al mismo tiempo negociar nuevos contratos. La empresa que va a un arbitraje, se va no más al arbitraje, pero no discute nuevos contratos", remarcó el ministro de Hidrocarburos, Andrés Soliz Rada.
El secretario de Estado hizo esta advertencia ante el pleno de la Cámara de Diputados, donde ofreció un informe sobre los alcances de la medida dictada por el presidente Evo Morales.
"El primer requisito para quedarse en el país es reconocer la nacionalización", dijo Soliz entre los aplausos de los legisladores de una cámara donde el partido de Morales, el Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS), es mayoría. No obstante, el ministro también sostuvo que estaba esperanzado en que las compañías no apelarán a tribunales internacionales porque aseguró que los contratos se están trabajando con "un gran blindaje jurídico".
Señaló además que las empresas petroleras se sentirán "obligadas e impelidas" a negociar nuevos contratos en 180 días, porque el decreto establece que si no acceden a ello deben abandonar el país.
"De manera que hemos pasado de la mera abstracción a una cosa muy concreta", apuntó Soliz Rada en alusión a la diferencia entre el decreto nacionalizador y la Ley de Hidrocarburos aprobada en mayo del 2005 que fijaba el mismo plazo, pero que fue incumplido por las firmas y por el anterior ejecutivo de La Paz. Con la nacionalización, el Estado boliviano también conminó a todas las empresas a entregar su producción a la estatal Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) y tomó el control del 50 por ciento más uno de las acciones de cinco empresas, tres de ellas mixtas y dos privadas.

US: English As Official....Um..Customary...Umm.....

So the Senate says that English is now our official language. My feeling is that this is mostly symbolic, and is a bone tossed at the haters.

Latina Lista has an interesting piece on this, there might be more to this, particularly with respect to the Voting Rights Act:

The latest example that there are some members in Congress who don't just want to stop with undocumented Latinos are those Southern lawmakers who have banned together this week to halt a routine vote in the House of Representatives to extend the Voting Rights Act.

According to an Associated Press article, for 40 years, Texas and eight other states have had to get permission for any change in election law or procedure. Justice department lawyers have had to review proposals to guard against any veiled efforts to discriminate against minorities.

It's been with good reason. The states most affected by the Voting Rights Act were the ones who were the most guilty of trying to deprive people of color from voting.

And now with the English amendment, it adds a new element to the debate of whether or not to provide bilingual ballots, a provision of the Voting Rights Act that bans discrimination against "language minority" voters.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn has gone on record saying that, "In order to be an American citizen, you have to learn English. Why would we continue to publish ballots in a language other than English?"

Yet, nobody ever said that to be a citizen a person has to be Berlitz-proficient. Basic English has always served everyone well. Representative Solomon Ortiz from Corpus Christi reminded Cornyn that "If we want to have these people emerge into our system, we need to also allow them to understand how our system works and have them understand what they're voting on.".

Thoughts to ponder.

As far as English it is the "official" language by law....the law of the marketplace that is. You need English not only to get ahead, but also to deal with things that pop up in everyday life. Many immigrants with trouble in English are either new arrivals or are older. That is common sense, younger immigrants tend to learn English much quicker. And as LL says in her article, people of all ages do make efforts to learn the language. There is a reason why Spanish TV is inundated with commercials for Ingles Sin Barreras. And on the topic of Television, interesting how the most popular cable channel among Latinos - including immigrants- is in English. This is blown way out of proportion.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Racing: Indy 500 paying price for diluted series... USA TODAY

Jon Saraceno in todays USA Today, writing about how the Indianapolis fallen.

Indianapolis 500 is paying price for diluted series
Posted 5/18/2006 11:16 PM ET

Paul Dana has been dead for eight weeks and, not surprisingly, the racing landscape that helped dig his asphalt grave hasn't modified one iota. That not only is tragic, it should be unacceptable for one of the wealthiest families in Indiana and those who mourn the passing of successful open-wheel racing in America.

Saturday is Pole Day for the Indianapolis 500, but the fissure in a bifurcated racing series seems wider than ever. With its talent and fan base diluted and two series choking on the financial fumes of declining sponsorship and television ratings, the race no longer can be considered the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

That title, trademark or not, belongs to the Daytona 500.

Rather, it has denigrated into a sorry sight, reflecting an ailing industry and the ineffective unification attempts between IndyCar founder Tony George — his grandfather Tony Hulman bought the track after World War II — and Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven.

That is why this time of year no longer carries the cachet it once did, when entry lists, grandstands and hotels were full. Names such as Andretti, Foyt and Unser sprinkle a watered-down, shrunken field. Those famous names merely serve to jog our memories, generational remnants of a bygone era when open-wheel racing was king of the road and NASCAR sucked tailpipe, when delivering money wasn't the prerequisite for climbing into the cockpit of an Indy-style car.

E-mail Jon Saraceno at

Rest of article here

What is unusual about this article is that it appears in the mass media at all. Open wheel racing in the U.S. is now a niche sport at best, hardly rates a blip on the screens of most sport fans in the US. This fall from grace happened after Tony George split the sport by starting the Indy Racing League, reserving most of the spots in the Indy 500 field to his series, freezing out the CART teams. Not only have both series struggled, but the Indianapolis 500, once known as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing -with its largest one day crowds for a sporting event can not even sell out the race. The last 500 before the split, my friends tickets had been passed down by his in-laws, who had waited years to finally upgrade to the Turn 4 location, ticket was easily worth several hundred dollars. Last time I was there to watch Juan Pablo Montoya smoke the field, we just showed up and paid something like 20 bucks for some good grandstand tickets.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

US: Immigration..Who Said This?

"It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do?"....."One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters."

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here."


* Ronald Wilson Reagan, in a 1977 radio speech talking about an apple harvest that was lost because there was no workers to pick them.
* President Reagan Farewell Address.

Mr. President, thank you for those words, and may your optimism continue to shine in this land well beyond my lifetime as well.

Cite Cato Institute, found by Conductor

US: Latinos Stand Up! Spokespersons Needed!

I am fed up with media coverage of the Immigration issue, particularly when gems like this one from Fox News come up.

Latina Lista has a post about a new group I Am An American. Their purpose is to organize Latinos who are citizens:

"I Am A Proud American," seeks to utilize technology in order to build a grassroots coalition for pro-active advocacy. We also hope to educate our community about critical issues of our time in hopes of empowering individuals and groups to combine efforts to participate in the civic process. Finally, we will work in partnership to peacefully break down barriers, and to positively participate and affect our respective communities in a meaningful way. We take pride in who we are, and where we come from. We love our country, we are proud to be Americans.

This is a start, but SOMEONE should get on TV and represent.

Lou Dobbs and the rest of the haters can say anything on immigration for hours straight and not get called out.

CNN prime time yesterday, was pretty much one-sided immigrant bashing. During two hours of Lou Dobbs/Anderson Cooper. Lou Dobbs, apart from reporters, hadtwo Latinos on, the Mayor of L.A., and Miguel Perez a columnist - who was the only one who was on for a significant amount of time, and that was as one of three commentators in a panel. Anderson Cooper, meanwhile outside of a blurb of Governor Bill Richardson had no one. Cooper interviewed the scary-sounding Sheriff Arpai of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has formed his own private "posse" to round up, jail and charge undocumented workers with a felony. That is scary, and yet he had no one on to say anything against this craziness.

We need articulate, smart, moderate sounding, reasonable, spokespeople who also have a backbone and can bring it on, when the time comes.

So where are the Latino writers, politicians, lawyers, business types, academics, the marketing and advertising types???? There are enough of them out there.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Venezuela: Oil Company A Mess, Still Needs Foreign Money

Interesting piece in Houston Chronicle.

Companies began investing in the Orinoco belt in the 1990s when oil prices bottomed. Eager to increase production, Venezuela offered generous terms like 1 percent royalties. Houston-based ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, ChevronTexaco and other firms sunk $17 billion in four major projects in the Orinoco basin that produce 600,000 barrels per day.

Now, Venezuela wants more.

Last week, Chavez announced that his government will increase taxes from 34 percent to 50 percent on petroleum from the Orinoco basin and that royalties will double to 33.3 percent. On Thursday, the Venezuelan Congress, dominated by Chavez allies, recommended that the state convert the four Orinoco projects to joint ventures with the state oil company — known by the acronym PDVSA, pronounced pay-day-VAY-sa — assuming majority control and management.

Fair enough...Prices have what, gone up by 700 percent.

Playing the fine balancing between bombast, and reassurance...Oh hell, who are we kidding its Baby Hugo, the loudmouth.

Still, some critics say the Chavez government may be overplaying its hand and discouraging private investment.Chavez recently denounced the multinationals as criminals when his tax agency sought to collect fees dating back to 2002. Ramirez has told the foreign firms to expect the unexpected, and Chavez has threatened to torch the oil fields if the U.S. military ever invades.

"The government should just keep its mouth shut," said Mazhar al-Shereidah, an Iraqi who teaches oil economics at Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. "Can you imagine the oil minister of Saudi Arabia talking so much to the press?

But the multinationals expect to make that money back. Its all about a barrel of oil at 70 + bucks a barrell, then it makes sense to take less of a share, if profits are higher. And Venezuela would be stupid not to try to cut a bigger deal.

Question is, who is minding the shop>????

Questions also surround PDVSA, which used to be considered one of the top state-run oil companies in the world.

Charging that PDVSA ignored the plight of the poor, who make up his base of support, Chavez has skirted the Central Bank and directly spent billions of petrodollars on health clinics and subsidized food. Largely as a result, Chavez is heavily favored to win another six-year term in December's elections.

"We've had oil for more than 100 years, and this was the poorest of countries," said Alfredo Salazar, a supervisor of mechanics at PDVSA's port operations in Puerto La Cruz. "The new PDVSA dedicates more to the needy."

A 30-year employee, Salazar is one of the few veterans left at PDVSA. During the nine-week national strike that tried to force Chavez from office in 2003, the president fired 19,000 oil workers for joining the work stoppage. The strike failed, mainly because key PDVSA supervisors remained on the job, including Salazar.

Chavez then packed PDVSA with loyalists.

Even pipelines carry pro-Chavez graffiti.

Incompetentence, not in the new PVDSA??
Trouble for joint ventures?

But political fervor sometimes seems to outstrip technical know-how, said Victor Poleo, a Caracas oil analyst.

PDVSA workers used to average about 15 years on the job, but since the strike, that number has dropped to about four years. A recent report in the Caracas daily El Nacional said that nine PDVSA workers had been killed in fires and explosions at refineries over the past six months, an unprecedented number, Poleo said.

"This country lives on oil, but its best people are gone," Poleo said.

That could spell trouble for the new joint ventures because PDVSA, rather than private companies, will manage the operations. The company plans to ramp up production to 5.8 million barrels per day by 2012. But since the pre-strike days of 2002, daily production has dropped from 3.3 million barrels to 2.6 million.

Although some foreign oil executives are concerned that Chavez may one day confiscate their companies' assets, Poleo says that PDVSA's lack of expertise and investment stands as the best argument against nationalizing the oil industry.

"They can't nationalize," Poleo said of Chavez's government, "because they don't have the money or the knowledge.

Cuba: Fidel Quits If Fortune is Proved

Boli-Nica is offering a $100.00 gift certificate to either Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Borders, or Barnes and Noble, (or an international money order to anyone outside the US) to anyone who can find a bank account which can be tied directly to Fidel Castro Ruz. Said proof will then be sent to Fidel directly, with a transcript of his statements.

Among the funniest thing ever. The bearded one is really incensed over reports of his personal fortune, and went on TV to loudly proclaim his innocence.

He doesn't need to have a penny in a bank, he has all the equity. Guy is top dog in a country with a centrally controlled economy, and his brother runs the military. A defector in the 80's talked about how Fidel would call up a helicopter to flush out ducks, when hunting.

The best part is he took the bait and blabbed about it on TV. When you live in such a controlled society, you look for little clues in the daily blatherings in the newspaper and what the ruler says. When the ruler keeps on denying having a huge personal fortune, people start thinking maybe he does.

Cuba's Castro says he'll resign if proven he has money in Swiss bank accounts

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said he'll resign the day critics prove he has money in foreign accounts, in a special television appearance to rebut a Forbes magazine report naming him one of the world's wealthiest rulers.

The 79-year-old leader said Monday on the communist government's daily public affairs program Mesa Redonda, or ``Round Table,'' that he has showed throughout his life that he's uninterested in material possessions.

``Why would I want money, especially now that I'm going to be 80 years old?'' Castro said. ``Why would I want money now, if I never wanted it before?''

He called the report ``rubbish,'' saying ``all this makes me sick.''

In its May 5 article, ``Fortunes Of Kings, Queens And Dictators,'' Forbes put Castro in 7th place in a group of 10 world leaders with ``lofty positions and vast fortunes.''

The magazine estimated Castro's personal wealth to be $ 900 million (euro700 million) -- nearly double that of the $ 500 million (euro390 million) of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and just under Prince Albert II of Monaco's estimated $ 1 billion (euro780 million).

The article also referred to rumors of Castro having ``large stashes in Swiss bank accounts.''

``I've been listening to this wickedness for nearly half a century -- I don't pay much attention,'' said Castro, dressed in his trademark olive green military uniform. ``Neither lies nor slander are worth anything.''

Yet later on the program, which lasted four-and-a-half hours, Castro pounded the table emotionally, saying, ``If they can prove I have an account abroad ... containing even one dollar I will resign my post.''

In explaining its calculations, Forbes said it assumed Castro has economic control over a web of state-owned companies including a convention center, a retail conglomerate and an enterprise that sells Cuban-produced pharmaceuticals.

Central Bank President Francisco Soberon said, however, that all the money made from those companies is pumped back into the island's economy, into sectors including health, education, science, security, defense and solidarity projects with other countries.

Forbes acknowledged in its article that the estimates for all the leaders are ``more art than science.''

Source Babalu

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bolivia: Government To Seize Pension Assets

In what has become an under-reported scandal, Bolivia's new government not only wants the Pension funds stock handed over to it, without payment, it just passed a decree that threatens to take over any fund that does not obey its order to unilaterally transfer the stock to the government directly, without any compensation.
VP Garcia Linera, who emitted the decree, also made verbal promises that the old-age pension, Bonosol, will be paid by the government, substituting for the dividends that the pension funds ownership interest in the capitalized oil and gas companies. This is the second decree that the government emits in this respect, and as the pension director pointed out, nowhere in Bolivian laws, including the hydrocarbon laws, does it authorize the government to simply seize these assets without compensation.

In one fell swoop the government will empty out most of the equity of the pension fund. It is undisputed that the airline privatization was a disaster, most of the value is in this ownership interest in the oil fields, valued by Bolivia's ministry in 1.5 billion dollars.

The point of this whole exercise was to keep the state from doing such short-sighted things. And if it did so, to pay the fair market value of the shares, and leave it in trust for the Bolivian people.

Bolivia Vs. Brazil: Vienna..Name..Calling

This past week has seen a really big row in South America involving Bolivia against Brazil over the nationalization of certain oil and gas holdings. One view has Evo in the middle of a tug of war between Chavez and Lula, but he did a pretty good job of making headlines and aggravating the Brazilians further. Lula and the Brazilian foreign ministry have taken an increasingly critical stance with Morales government over the nationalization decree.

Separating Spin From Fact - War of Words v 1.0

Before the nationalization decree of May 1, 2006, Bolivia passed a its Hydrocarbon law, based on the popular referendum, which raised the tax on natural gas exports. One of the most affected companies was Petrobras, the Brazilian oil and gas giant which is partially owned by the State. After Morales was installed as President, Brazil and Bolivia began negotiating over price, volume and taxation. More or less out of the blue, came the nationalization decree, which was done loudly on May day with plenty of bells and whistles, speeches and troops.

That next week, a photo-op meeting of Presidents Evo and Lula, took place to smooth things out in Argentina. The two were joined by the host President and also, Chavez of Venezuela. According to Reuters, Brazils foreign minister, Lula and Evo were working on "an accord to guarantee natural gas supplies, and Lula said that ultimately they recognized Bolivia's sovereign rights, a Lula aide quoted by Reuters said that "gas prices was the central issue for Brazil." So the message here was that Brazil accepted the nationalization as fait accompli, the bottom line here was over price and any compensation. The week after, a high level Brazilian delegation, consisting of Petrobras President and the Minister of Energy arrived in La Paz, and serious negotiations began, according to all concerned.

So basically they took care of it right??

Not quite, behind the scenes, this mini-summit annoyed at least some in the Brazilian government, due to the presence of Hugo Chavez. What business did he have there??

The week after, Evo Morales in what could be seen as a crowd-pleasing stump speech accuses the oil companies of conspiring with the "mafias" that own media outlets to reverse nationalization. Problem is this ends up in that same media outlets and is read outside as a slight. The largest company is Petrobras, you can not talk about the multi-nationals without talking about the Brazilian company.

Brazil increasingly starts accusing Hugo Chavez of Venezuela of directly interfering in Bolivia. Celso Amorim, the Brazilian foreign minister in front of a congressional committee said President Lula himself had warned Chavez that his interference in Bolivia, jeopardized the proposed South American gasoduct program. Amorin also stated plainly that Chavez wields a huge influence on Evo Morales. In addition, one of President Lula's advisors, accused the Venezuelans of interfering in Bolivia. One clue to what had particularly irked them, was the presence of PDVSA officials at Evo's nationalization decree speech. Venezuela of course, denies it. But it shows an increasingly stronger tone by Brazil before Venezuela.

Vienna Calling

So then this circus moves to Vienna for the EU conference with Latin American leaders. It is here where Evo, makes controversial statements to the World Press. At a press conference on Thursday the 12th, when asked about the Bolivia-Petrobras contracts he responded:

Si quiere hablar de los contratos, le voy a demostrar que son ilegales e inconstitucionales y si quiere saber sobre Petrobras le voy a informar cómo ilegalmente operaron sin respetar las normas de Bolivia

If you want to talk about the contracts, I will demonstrate that they are illegal and unconstitutional, and if you want to know about Petrobras I will show you how they operated illegally without respecting Bolivias norms.

Interestingly enough, he also admittedhe did not consult with/or give advance warning to leaders of countries affected. That is contrary to a claim made, that he was unable to get through to Lula or those close to him, in the critical couple of days prior to the announcement. He also happened to be meeting with Castro and Chavez those days too. This could be taken as a further slight to Lula personally.

Bolivia's foreign ministry tried to put out the fire, claiming President Morales was talking about Bolivia's mulitple contracts with approximately 20 multi-nationals, never ratified by congress and therefore unconstitutional. No dice there, the direct quote is taken from this AFP article. This initial press conference seemed to set the tone for the war or words that cast a shadow over what would otherwise be a boring meeting, according to some articles in CNN and the New York Times

Soliz Rada, Bolivia's dogmatic oil minister further stoked the fire by stating that Petrobras should be left out of Chavez pet project to run a natural gas pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina, ironically via Brazil.

Then Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim came out swinging and said his government was outraged at Evo's statements, and even considered pulling its ambassador Other statements were issued by Petrobras and Gas Minister. It seemed that when the Brazilian government was concerned about the security of Brazilian gas and oil interests, it had let Petrobras go public, keeping itself above the fray. Here, they took the initiative.

Still More...

Now we also need to go back to what was happening on the ground in Bolivia. Bolivian and Brazilian negotiators were simultaneously negotiating not only the price of gas, but also any compensation which Bolivia might have to pay Brazil. That would be because Bolivia might have to pay the value for a small percentage of the stock, to obtain a majority interest in the mixed-ownership companies that Petrobras operates. Evo said that Thursday that there would be no compensation for any assets seized, since they had recouped their investment. That is in stark contrast to what Evo, and other s in his cabinet had said earlier.

So this mini-crisis heats up on Thursday and Friday, and then you have the spectacle of Blair, Chirac, Javier Solana, and assorted Euro-types making all sorts of statements, but basically telling Morales and Chavez to mellow out, and try to work with the evil multi-nationals. While BP is a UK concern, Blair does represent the Labor Party of Great Britain, for whatever that is worth to Evo.

Solved on Saturday or Photo Op??
So on Saturday, Lula and Evo have breakfast and essentially say to the world it all was a misunderstanding blown out of proportion by the media.
But consider this story in the AP out of Brazil.
Lula firmly told Evo that he would not live under the sword of Bolivia's gas over him. Clearly this is leaked by the Brazilian government to show that not all was hunky dory.

And Brazil Now??

This has shaken Brazilian policy-makers. The country
s foreign policy the past 60 years has been fairly independent, very measured, and prudent. Its foreign policy establishment takes pride in its professionalism and sophistication; it is undoubtedly very experienced in dealing with governments in the third world. Brazil has cultivated the image of a relatively benign big neighbor, even during its authoritarian military governments, and by and large many South Americans view the giant positively, outside of rival Argentina. And Lula's work behind the scenes with Morales seemed to be a good course of action.

This row with Bolivia is hurting Lula's image in an election year, as he gets slammed in the media:

''Lula for President . . . of Bolivia,'' read a headline of a column in the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo. This week's Veja, Brazil's largest-circulation news magazine, carries a cover showing Lula with a painted oil-stamped shoe on his rear end, and a headline reading, 'Lula went to bed as the `big leader' of Latin America, and woke up as the fool of the court of Venezuelan [President] Hugo Chávez, who plotted the theft of Brazil's assets in Bolivia.''

But beyond, electoral politics and headlines, there seems to be palpable nervousness in the Brazilian public about gas prices. Celso Lafer, Brazil's ex-foreign minister, claims he has not seen this kind of public reaction over a foreign policy issue'in many decades.' according to Andres Oppenheimer. Lafer says this hurts Brazilians national pride, regardless of class. (Bolivia national pride, is at issue too, though) Since the conventional wisdom in Brazil according to Oppenheimer seems to be that this is something that Chavez provoked, Bolivia can still be seen as more of a satellite or pawn (and a victim) in this beef.
More ominous - and undereported- is the fact that some in Brazil's military establshment has taken notice, and considers the nationalization and the potential expropriation of Brazilian-owned farmers a threat to its "national security" and is urging the government tomove troops to the Bolivian border area. And long term they are asking for a re-armament of Brazil's military to protect from future wars resulting from new enemies and allainces.
People like Lafer represent the foreign policy elite of Brazil, and what is emerging is a consensus to shift how Brazil does business in the area. This consensus seems to be shared by the military establishment, as the recent comments from military intelligence shows. Short term, it means that Chavez is seen as its most dangerous rival, and it will be more vocal in seeking to curb his influence. Long term, this new rival is seen as leading to unknown outcomes and complicating life for Brazil.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush On Immigration Speech

Bush was actually ok.

So we get 6,000 national guard at the border??

Was that a bone tossed at the right and the anti-immigration lemmings?

Better hope they have geiger counters and chem weapon detection capabilities. That is the "unsafe" part of the border that concerns me.

Is this guest worker program comprehensive??? Seemed to me he is simply arguing for a "temporary" with no measures so folks can become permanent residents. The id card is not a bad idea.

If he is arguing for a temporary worker program, providing for 400,000 permits, split 75-25 b/ween Mexico and Central and South America, that might be a start.

Then, you can bring down the enforcement, and then you get Mexico aboard to seal the border.

Nice response by Dick Durbin, sounded tough enough and noncomittal either way on immigration, got in a dig at Dubya over the National Guard, then got out of there quick. Let the Republicans beat their brains out over it, it will be fun to watch. Could not have happened to a nicer bunch.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

US: Latino Home Ownership Increases Dramatically Nationwide

While this hardly is a surprise to anyone who has done any real estate work in places like California or Illinois, the numbers are staggering.
Across the country, the number of Hispanic homebuyers is climbing dramatically, especially if you look at the name game.

An analysis of public records by San Diego-based DataQuick reveals the top 10 most common homebuyer names in 2005.

On this list appear four Hispanic names, double the amount of 5 years ago.

Included on the list are: Rodriguez, Garcia, Hernandez, and Gonzalez.

The story in California is even more revealing, where the five most common surnames are Hispanic.

Almost 28 percent of all homebuyers in the state are Hispanic, according to a 2005 study.

Undoubtedly, it also means that many undocumented workers are also buying houses, much to Lou Dobbs horror (he did a piece about it some months ago). There is nothing wrong with foreign nationals acquiring equity in the US, paying property taxes, and adding to banks portfolios of loans, right Lou? Sometimes it is done through third parties, usually a close relative either acting as the buyer or co-signer.

Anyways, this is a really good thing.

Source Hispanic Trending

Latin Drivers: Alonso is King of Spain, Super-Mario Throws it Away in Houston, Viso Victory in Barcelona

Image: Speedtv LAT Photography
Image: Photo by Brad Bernstein, USA LAT Photographic
Image: Speedtv LAT Photography

Formula One World Champion, Fernando Alonso delights the huge home crowd at the Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona, Spain. The Asturian first got pole position, and then winning from Michael Schumacher. Colombia's JPM gets messed up by team in qualifying then spins it during race, DNF.

Mexico's Mario Dominguez gets the pole in Houston in that city's Champ Car race, leads most of the laps, over 2-time Champ Sebastian Bourdais, but throws it away through an unforced error on lap 66, still makes it to podium.

Venezuela's Ernesto Viso, takes his second win in the GP2 season at the Sprint race, which is the undercard for the Barcelona Spanish Grand Prix.

Pics from Speed TV..

Saturday, May 13, 2006


This has a taken a life of its own. So some kid named Edgar in Mexico gets messed with by his friends, falls in stream.
but, they tape it, put it on web...

A cult hero is born..before you know it there are edited versions of it, mix tape versions of the audio, its own fan web page, MySpace page and now it has become a ringtone in Mexico...

Remix With Effects

Edgars Revenge

Edgar Dance Remix

Edgar Super Freak Remix

Edgar Scene Re-enactment

Friday, May 12, 2006


My son, I am afraid there is nothing I can do for you.

See I am two Simon's...Bolivar and Simon Peter the Apostole

Rock N' Boli Friday: The Replacements Live

The'Mats: fast, loud, sometimes sloppy, but always great

If you like basic rock n' roll and want to see a great band, when they were just starting out this is how you do it.

1981 figuring out how to play their instruments, some shindig for the label, so they prolly weren't that wasted. Pretty much a chunk of Sorry Ma and some other stuff that ended up in Stink. Great footage...

Goddamn Job(off Stink)/Junior's Got A Gun<

Takin' A Ride/Staples In Her Stomach/Careless

kick your door down

86 mainly a sound check before a show, not the greatest recordings either......I almost didn't wanna include 'em......but it prolly is one of the last times they played w/Bob Stinson. So you know they were wasted and pissed at each other. A Buddy Holly Cover and Bastards of Young.

Color Me Impressed

That'll Be The Day


Bastards Of Young

Did Evo Really Blow it With Lula --- And Zapatero???

So say you happen to be Evo Morales and you want to change your country's policies, you need friends right? So isn't it great that the president of the biggest country in the area -and a neighbor- happens to be a working class guy who started out as a trade union leader, just like you? Lucky you, the one Spanish-speaking country in Europe - the gatekeeper to the EU- happens to be ruled by the Socialist Worker party. Zapatero, reminds you more of your vice-president than Lula, but he is heir to that PSOE tradition of working class militance, these guys did not back down, paid the cost with blood in the past. Only problem, the largest multinationals in Bolivia happen to be Brazilan and Spanish, and you need to change the rules of the game.

But that is ok too. Because these guys really, really GET IT! The struggle for the means of production, class warfare, fighting big corporate interests, organizing workers and the dispossesed, fiery rhetoric, organizing strikes, boycotts, blockades BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! . Even better all three of you understand what it takes to get to the next level; you are so good at the nuts and bolts of politics you made it to the top through the ballot box. Quite a feat when you start with nothing!

So you know when the time is right you can call Lula. Tell the companero that you made electoral promises to nationalize the hydrocarbons industry. Hey, you want Petrobras as a partner, it represents all Brazilians, no? The real deal here is about the price for gas, and how much you tax it. You gently remind Lula that for the Bolivian electorate this is a done deal, since they voted in droves for the measure increasing taxation and royalties. But, prices, taxes, and volume, that can be fixed the old fashioned way by negotiation, old hat for old union leaders, just need to make sure it looks good for the public.
With a firmer -but still- friendly tone you also tell him about how some companeros in your own party are openly questioning your committment to the program and even your leadership. The population, they tell you, still sees Petrobras signs on the oil companies property and think nothing has changed. Other popular sectors, ones outside your control, are also getting louder in calling for complete nationalization of anything foreign. Lula and Zapatero both know all about the ones at the fringe, the ones who don't shut up. But, you are still in control - for now.

How to fix this? What you need to do is mount a show for the benefit of your voters. Lula understands campaign promises, and if anyone knows about the importance of symbolism it is him. Something can be done that looks great for TV. Maybe send a token force of army troops, raise some flags, make speeches, and change some signs "YPFB-Petrobras." Hey, after all it is 50/50 partners, it is just decorating. Why not have Petrobras' marketing people there to make some tapes to show to Brazilian TV? Throw in a Brazilian dignitary or two, joint communiques just to show it is ok. Lula is after all campaigning too! Nothing is really going to change, things will go on as normal. This is nothing different than one big campaign commercial, you both know it isn't personal.

Even if Lula does not go along with this production, the least you can do is give him a heads up, a days notice to brief some of his people on the ground, get the spin ready on the TV to cover his rear end in Brazil. It is not like he is going to call you out on it publically; if you do it despite his bitching, you will look like a hero in Bolivia, if you don't do it, he looks silly and Chavez makes fun of him. Same goes for Zapatero, maybe Alvaro can go over there and talk to him, he isn't half as tough as Lula.

You would not want to mess it up with Brazil and Spain, specially with understanding government like Lula's and Zapatero If you play your cards right, you can look like a hero, make a better deal for your country on prices, and still get the Brazilians to put more money in the industry. Same with Zapatero, he likes you.

That is done, time to go talk to Hugo Chavez and Fidel on some stuff....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Whose Your Papi? Name Lou Dobbs Love Child

These jokers out of Los Angeles' top rated English language Latino radio talk show, The Pocho Hour of Power on KPFK 90.7 FM , Fridays at 4pm, have a contest for undocumented workers:


[The] first undocumented immigrant to name their U.S. born child "Lou Dobbs," before September 16 th, 2006, will win $500.00 worth of baby nursery items from participating East Los Angeles merchants supporting the Name Your Baby Lou Dobbs Challenge."


Lou Dobbs is the pompous windbag who unloads on undocumented aliens every f!%cking day on CNN. At one point it appears he was a decent business reporter, but just started getting wackier starting with an anti-trade and protectionist crusade that at first won him props on the left, but his dogmatic views and lack of balance weirded them out pretty quick. When bad economist populism didn't produce monster ratings -and as his feeble mind rotted away - he added an equally relentless anti-immigration crusade to the mix. Dobbs continues to be strident and bombastic, makes no pretense of objectivity, puts questionable guests whom he identifies as experts and/patriots.
This lunacy has people across the political spectrum wondering variously about the guys sense, views, and sanity. FAIR on the left calls him out, and on the other side the National Association of Manufacturers has an on-going blog Dobbs Watch that chronicles the madness. The normally measured, Andres Oppenheimer, has referred to him openly as leading the "wave of Latin bashing that has filled the air waves over the past two years," angering Latinos and energizing them across the country.

[H]ow would you feel if you were an undocumented Mexican gardener returning home after a 12-hour workday, turned on the TV set, put your feet on the coffee table and came across CNN's Dobbs warning America that you are a potential health risk, in addition to being a potential terrorist, a possible secessionist agent, who on top of everything is taking away American jobs?
On March 30, an alarmed Dobbs informed his audience that ''diseases are making an unfortunate comeback in the United States'' because of illegal immigration. On March 31, Dobbs alerted America that some Mexicans ''want to see California, New Mexico and other parts of the southwestern United States given over to Mexico,'' and that they are using illegal immigrants ``as an army of invaders to achieve the takeover.''

Dobbs is a world-class idiots, who takes statements by three idiots, and blows it way out of proportion. Worst part is, this character is on CNN, which has that whole Darth Vader-voice-credibility. Anti-immigration lemmings all over the US get ammunition for their cause by repeating the rants of their hero.

.....Anyway...I will get off my soapbox and say that this contest rocks!! certainly be a proud PAPI. Maybe he can hire a fine American worker to change both Juniors diapers and daddy's Depends (tm) and colostomy bag.

Hey The Baby comes with warranty!!

•Baby promises to gurgle adorably, work cheaply
Baby Lou Dobbs thanks you and sends you his love! Baby Lou Dobbs promises to work hard for the American dream, even at below minimum wages for extended hours with no overtime. Baby Lou Dobbs promises to pay his taxes, to diligently report for jury duty and to always wash his hands before returning to work.

Helpful Suggestions:

Other acceptable nicknames for "Lou Dobbs" in the Name Your Baby Lou Dobbs Challenge are, Potato Head, Beaner Town Boogie Man and Y.T. Bashaspick.


Dobbsh@t, works great too.

Source: Vivir Latino

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bolivia: Did Evo, MAS Loot Bolivia's Old Age Pension Fund???

Bolivia's Pension Fund Administrators, who administer the fund on behalf of all Bolivians, are demanding that Bolivia's government pay the fund the value of the stock it held in the newly nationalized oil and gas companies. Soliz Rada, Bolivia's rather strident gas and oil minister, has publically refused, claiming the fund is not entitled to any money under the new decree.


When Evo Morales' government decreed the "nationalization" of Bolivia's Oil and Gas companies, it stated its claim based on Bolivia's ownership of half the stock of these companies. This statement on who owns the stock is the crux of this problem.

Capitalization and Pensions

Under the innovative capitalization law in the 90's, the Bolivian government did not privatize YPFB (the oil company) outright. What it did was separate the company into several upstream and downstream units, and spun each one off. In return for a 50 percent capital investment, private buyers could acquire half the stock and get management control. In effect, what they paid had to go specifically towards investments in the company.

YPFB's 50 percent share of the equity, as Economist Rosemary Thorp describes it, "was [now] formally owned by all Bolivians of voting age, and was held in new collective pension funds, with the legal obligation to provide a universal and equal annual pension, a 'bonosol', to all Bolivians of 65 and over."

This was a unique approach, meant to avoid the problems of privatizations in Eastern Europe and Latin America, and to provide a viable system of social security. In order to accomplish both goals it ensured that capital coming in went straight to needed investments. Had funds gone to the treasury, it could have ended up as a quick fix for budget and foreign debt problems, besides being subject to sticky fingers.

While capitalization did not go right in the case of the airlines, in oil it looks very succesful. The mixed ownership companies were until fairly recently, autonomous bodies and could operate as efficiently and profitably as is possible in Bolivia. And it is undisputed that YPFB attracted several billion dollars in investment into the country, and the gas industry has increased hugely.

The reasoning behind making Bolivias pension fund the sole beneficiary of the ownership interest of the YPFB, was to eliminate YPFB as a source of patronage, cronyism, and theft for whatever government happened to be in power in power. It also ensured that the pension funds held assets, that were outside of the grasp of the same greedy politians. If a future government wanted to divest Bolivia of these assets, it was not entitled to the proceeds by the same logic, and any proceeds went directly to the fund. Conversely a government re-nationalizing the companies or at least assuming a bigger role in ownership, would be required to pay the pension fund the fair market value of the shares or risk the very integrity and soundness of the fund.

Under Bolivian Law, the pension fund administrators hold these shares, under a a constitutional mandate based on three Bolivian laws: the Bonosol Law the capitalization law , the law of popular credit and property PCP laws have preeminence over decrees in the Bolivian system. So now the present nationalization decree calls for the stock in these entities to be transferred from the pension funds to the government, and without compensation. Soliz Rada's claims that stock never was never formally transferred is wrong, since the decree itself admits the funds held the assets. In addition, there is ample documentary evidence that this has been recognized as fact by Bolivia's Government and Courts. Further, it is written into the law and the contracts and the corporate charters of the individual companies - which even the government is following in attempting to appoint new directors.

Morales and MAS want to ignore laws, and impose their will on everything by decree - like most tin-pot authoritarians. And there is a hint of pure ideological hatred and resentment in these actions. While Evo and Soliz Rada were as expected among the loudest critics of capitalization, MAS also opposed the pension scheme and the pre-natal care laws, on grounds of fiscal responsibility!! And this coming from the left!

Ideas like capitalization and the Bonosol, were just too much for the dogmatic ideologues around MAS like Soliz Rada. Beyond the deep hatred of Goni, they deeply resented new ideas they could not undersand, and were outside their narrow frames of reference, and which they suspected might actually work. So now they go about trying to erradicate these concepts from the Bolivian mind and polity with a vengeful single-mindedness, and they forget who they are really hurting - the Bolivian people.

Colombia, How Some FARC Members Indicted in US

This indictment and the affadivit in support, alleges that certain FARC members conspired to send Cocaine to the US. What really gives this some teeth is the fact the feds have the FARC people on tape. The Miami Herald article says a snitch on DEA payroll, sold the FARC several supposedly untraceable Satellite Phones, which actually had listening devices.

One of the counts also mentions that one of the indicted was responsible for FARC cocaine laboratores in Paramilitary (AUC) territory. Production facilities within an avowed enemies territory??? Sounds like active cooperation to me; a labratory requires protection of facilities and free transit.

Carlos Mencia Is Damn Funny - And Latino

As I said last year, I think Carlos Mencia is funny as shit, watched him back when he did Loco Slam. And his comedy show on Comedy Central Mind of Mencia, has become much better this year, his monologues and skits are hilarious and topical.

On the handicapped, Way Un-PC, but dropped dead hilarious, and even sneaks in a point or two

Mencia on Terrorism, Jingoistic?? Yeah, But Funny as Hell

On People's Music Tastes

I dig everything....all types of music...and I don't mean that I'm like one of those stupid people that say..."I LOVE ALL TYPES OF MUSIC EXCEPT RAP AND COUNTRY MUSIC..." Well guess what???? YOU DON'T LOVE ALL TYPES OF MUSIC SO STOP SAYING THAT YOU DO!!! That's like saying..."I love neopolitan ice cream...BUT I HATE CHOCOLATE AND STRAWBERRY...

Not Mexican?
What is funny, is that comedian Joe Rogan called Mencia out for "not being Mexican" (in addition to stealing material).

He sells himself as being mexican, but the reality is his real name is Ned Holness, and he's actually half German and half Honduran. The mexican hook is something he did to ingratiate himself with the local Mexican population of LA where he started.

Since I can remember Carlos has always said he was born in Honduras, that his mom was Mexican and that he was raised in East LA. As this Washington Post article says: He was born in Honduras as Ned Mencia, son of Magdalena Mencia, a Mexican, and Roberto Holness, a Honduran. When he was 7 months old, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was raised by his mother's sister and her husband in East L.A.. He also lived in Honduras as a teenager.
Carlos himself inhis blog
My birth father’s name is Roberto Holness. When I was born, my mother was pissed off at my father and decided not give me his last name. She had a brother who was married but unable to have children. (Her brother is the one in my family that came to America first and then went back to Honduras to get the rest of his family). My mother did the most amazing thing a parent could do; she gave me to her brother and his wife to be raised as their own. I grew up with my biological mother and father, brothers and sisters living just next door. Out of respect for my birth father, my mom and dad decided I should still use his name even though my legal name (the one on my birth certificate) is Ned Arnel Mencia. All through school I was known as Ned Holness. I’ve never try to hide this, but only people who know me personally or have heard and or read all of my interviews and articles would know this.

So the guy's dad has a German last name, or maybe even is German.BFD, still makes Carlos/Ned, Honduran by birth. Heck, my maternal last name is Irish, doesn't make my moms family any less Nicaraguan. If anything Mencia's origins, represents what Andres Oppenheimer has called the trans-national identity of some Latino immigrants. We move back and forth across borders, might have parents of different nationalities. We navigate fairly seamlessly between different cultures and nationalities as a matter of everyday life; culture surfing as a friend once referred to it. If anything, it probably helped to turn Carlos Mencia into such a sharp observer of everyday life among the different groups that make up the American - and Latin American fabric of life.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Venezuela: Good Article on Oil "PDVSA The Dispassionate Story"

The story about how Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. or PDVSA has been run into the ground by Chavismo needs to be told, and is very relevant today with what is happening in Bolivia, and potentially Argentina.

At its height, it was considered one of the best-run state enterprises in Latin America. By and large people attribute this to the quality of its work force. It recruited some of Venezuela's best and brightest, and sent many of its employees to graduate schools in the U.S. and Europe all expenses paid. This meritrocratic approach ran against the grain of the traditional crony system, and unfortunately it set up clashes that only worsened as Chavismo with its single-minded vision took power.

The Author of the article:

Luis A. Pacheco earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Imperial College, University of London. He then worked at PDVSA for 17 years, leaving in 2003 after serving as the executive director for corporate planning.

This article appeared in Petroleumworld

Luis Pacheco :
PDVSA, The Dispassionate Story

The Energy Tribune has run several pieces on Venezuela and PDVSA and I feel the dispassionate story must be told.

When PDVSA was created in 1975, as a result of the nationalization process, there was a natural apprehension that it would follow in the steps of all the other failed Venezuelan state enterprises. Against the grain, the company evolved – from a loose coalition of E&P companies into a major integrated oil company and a relevant factor in the world energy scene – through a succession of governments.

But that evolution was not without its price – a very important political price. The technical and commercial success of PDVSA left in its wake a number of tense situations. For example, the OPEC quota policy was always a contentious issue between Venezuela’s oil ministry and the company. But there were other sources of irritation: among them, the salaries of oil workers, the investment overseas, and the debate on what to do with its generated revenue. Most of these issues were never resolved to the satisfaction of the political establishment, and they re-surfaced years later with a vengeance.

Of course, this is all hindsight. The PDVSA managers were raised in an environment that strived only for technical prowess and were ill-equipped to be sensitive to the potential political nuances of their activities. In modern management speak: PDVSA was not very adept at managing its stakeholders. In turn, there is no doubt that the political actors cared very little about understanding the details of the oil industry, so long as it was generating enough revenue.

The success of the “Apertura” (the opening up) strategy in the 90s, which allowed the controlled participation of the international oil companies in the upstream business, gave Venezuela access to capital and technology. And that technology was necessary to fulfill the potential of its huge hydrocarbon resource base. The Apertura helped thrust PDVSA into a competitive environment, which was instrumental in counteracting the inevitable inefficiencies resulting from its legally designated isolation. All of these events created political friction.

When President Hugo Chávez came into office in 1998, he did not arrive alone. He brought with him a prejudiced opinion about the oil industry and its workers, borne from all the previous tensions and misunderstandings, and he was accompanied by a cadre of PDVSA’s historical enemies. Not surprisingly, the PDVSA establishment was apprehensive about its new political masters. These two forces were bound to clash sooner or later, and after some skirmishes, the tensions exploded destructively in the widely reported but little understood PDVSA crisis that boiled up in the spring and winter of 2002.

PDVSA is no longer the proud company that it once was. Thanks to the firing of more than half of its workforce, it has lost its former vitality. As modern economists and managers have come to understand, the soul of any corporation, in particular one as complex as PDVSA, resides in its people and their expertise. Without that, no modern organization has a sustainable future.

Surprisingly, the PDVSA name still remains. The oil keeps flowing, although at a steadily decreasing rate. The people left inside, old and new, still retain their spirited hubris. It comes with the territory. But the life force of the organization has been irretrievably lost. Today, PDVSA is little more than a political tool in the hands of the shrewdest political operator Venezuela has ever known, and a blunt instrument with regard to the future of the Venezuelan oil industry.

After more than 80 years of oil industry, Venezuela has not yet discovered how to live harmoniously with it. From unrestricted private participation to unbridled state intervention, we have not managed to grow beyond the primitive stages of rent-seeking behavior. Sooner or later, the state-owned enterprises are bound to fail, either through inefficiency or as victims of political expediency. PDVSA will not be an exception.

The company is like a wounded giant, dizzy and without a sense of direction, running around in circles. It appears to be incapable of moving forward under this or any other government. Sadly, it doen’t seem that the story will have a happy ending. The state has proven to be an incompetent manager of the oil resource. Venezuela has to start thinking anew, while there is still time left for its oil.