Saturday, December 22, 2007

Venezuela: Suitcase Of Money, Fun With Fernandez

The Chavista money in a suitcase to Argentina scandal is now a Federal indictment and international tension between the US and Argentina, with Chavez. I had a feeling a couple of months ago, that something was going to happen. The suitcase guy -Guido Antonioni- has been talking to the Feds as everyone knew. And as I predicted the Chavista 'establishment' offered him $$$ to shut up, and it looks like the FBI caught it all on tape.

Don't Cry For Me Argentina.
Apparently one of these characters did say the money was destined for President Fernandez' campaign, though it is not clear if its on tape, and if whoever said it, stated it as fact or just in normal Venezuelan over-excageration and innuendo.

The Argentine government is pretty ticked off, says its the White House doing it. Kind of hard to figure out if this is just posturing or the Argentine government doesn't have a good understanding of the US political system - or at least knows how to follow the news from debates.

had this happened while Alberto Gonzalez or Ashcroft at Justice, I would have been inclined to see the hands of the Bush White House behind this.

As it stands now after the Gonzalez hearings that exposed the Bushites machinations, it is unikely they would press this hard. It could well be a more or less independent action by the local Federal Prosecutor and the FBI. If they notified the State Department - given how far down the chain Latin American is - who knows if it even got through.
There is an alphabet soup of agencies that would have interest/jurisdiction, FBI, State, Justice, CIA, Treasury, the White House, Immigration. We all know how badly they coordinated intelligence on something crucial like people coming to blow buildings up. Now their interagency process is supposedly better - for chasing after guys who want to blow up buildings. Chasing guys with suitcases of money from Venezuela is not really a priority.

And if it was the Bushies/CIA? They really are incompetent. You do this before the elections!!!!!

Hows this for a conspiracy theory....what if the Bushies knew, told Fernandez they were going to hold on till after the election.

Again, that does pressupose competence to the Bush white house, and even a passing interest in Latin American affairs.

Tip Of The Hat to
Boz

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CHAVEZ THREATENS BOLIVIAN OPPOSITION =====AGAIN


Chavez is really out of control, La Razon today quotes what he had to say in Uruguay :

....to those people planning [protests] - behind them the north american empire - need to be warned: that in Bolivia, if something were to happen to this man who is here [Evo], that if the legitimate government were overthrown, Venezuela will not stay with crossed arms.

I pray to God this doesn't happen, because it could be an earthquake that shakes the entire region".......................................

He concluded by warning the U.S. to not "force us to make a violent revolution" in Bolivia


“Evo, que Dios te cuide y que Dios cuide a Bolivia. Ahora, a la gente que está planificando (las protestas) —y detrás de ellos el imperio norteamericano— hay que advertirles: Si en Bolivia, si a este hombre que está aquí llega a pasarle algo, si a aquel Gobierno legítimo llegaran a derrocarlo, Venezuela no se va a quedar con los brazos cruzados”, dijo Chávez.

“Le pido a Dios que eso no ocurra, porque eso puede ser un terremoto que sacuda todo el continente”, concluyó.

El presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez advirtió ayer a EEUU que “no nos obliguen” a hacer “una revolución violenta” en Bolivia, al margen de la Cumbre del Mercosur, en Montevideo.

Chávez dijo a los periodistas: “Kennedy dijo una vez que las revoluciones que no son pacíficas terminan siendo violentas. Nosotros somos dos y queremos hacer la revolución en paz. No nos obliguen a hacerla en forma violenta”. Y agregó, “desde Montevideo quiero advertir al Gobierno de Estados Unidos”.

El presidente boliviano, Evo Morales, se refirió a la situación política de su país y afirmó a la prensa que “el imperialismo creía que este indiecito iba a durar tres meses, pero este indiecito va a durar muchos años”.


Chavez is a tool, it is not enough that his people get busted with suitcases full of dollars on Bolivian soil, that Evo gets "Chavez-checks" to hand out, that Venezuelan troops wander around with impunity in military facilities. He struts around and threatens Bolivian politicians. That is why people stoned his damn planes.

BOLIVIA: AUTONOMY OR SEPARATISM?

Carlos Toranzo - a well respected and very sensible Bolivian political and economic commentator. In this article he criticizes foreign press headlines which make it look like Santa Cruz autonomy is "Separatism". Even some Morales allies, like former energy minister Soliz Rada, agree that the Departments are not asking to separate from Bolivia.

Toranzo points out that Autonomy "simply means political decentralization within a unitary framework." And it is part of "social demands" 150 years in the making, not some simple opposition strategy against Evo. In a country where cities can be 1000km from the capital, it was only till recently that departments could elect their "Prefects" (or governors) by direct vote. What the residents of departments like Tarija and Santa Cruz are asking for is the ability to elect their own 'governors' and for them to have more authority in day to day aspects of government, instead of it being directed from La Paz.

The Spanish left a legacy of centralist rule, and attempts to reform or modify this structure have been a staple of Bolivian political history. Federalism was the excuse for a civil war in 1899 and when subject to a congressional vote lost by a tie-breaker; administrative decentralization was written into the 1930 Constitution but the enabling legislation was vetoed due to the Chaco War. Direct Election of prefects has been argued repeatedly for the past 20 years. Since the return to democracy 25 years ago autonomy for departments has gained momentum, in part spurred on by municipal decentralization and successes in other Latin American countries such as Peru and Venezuela.
As Toranzo points out Evo Morales rise to power was an uncontrolled river, nobody could stop him; departmental autonomies are an equally wide river, it also looks like nobody can stop them. Evo is a "reality" so is Autonomy.

Fue un río incontenible la llegada de Evo Morales al poder, nadie lo pudo detener; un río igual de ancho es el de las autonomías departamentales, tampoco parece que nadie lo podrá parar.



What they say?

If anyone actually bothered to read the statutes, a lot of it is not bad and actually progressive: there is indigenous autonomy (in line with the LPP), free meals for schoolchildren, a percentage split of hydrocarbon revenues, 50 to producing provinces, 40 to non-producing 10 to indigenous peoples.

Problems come up with such things as the ability to create a unique police force - in a country where the state should have the monopoly on the military, any claims of exclusivity on apportioning land ( a huge issue in Santa Cruz), as well as any claim to control of the resources.

That being said the statute on the most part is in line with Bolivia's constitution, laws, and legal thinking. It is much more coherent than the insane MAS-stitution. Powers allocated to the department, are at most "co-equal" with the state. Seems to me that is where the bargaining should be over, what powers are reserved exclusively to the central government, which ones it will delegate to the State. And there might actually be a real Constitutional Assembly, where real issues are discussed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

BOLIVIA: AN ANTI-LIBERAL CONSTITUTION - Fernando Molina

Fernando Molina is a well known Bolivian intellectual. Prof. James Dunkerely, an academic authority on Bolivia, cites Molina in a recent essay, describes him as "a leading a leading liberal critic of both Evo Morales and the traditional political class that he has displaced from office." Molina is basically independent.

Molina just wrote in Revista Pulso, on the MAS text that was steamrolled through as Bolivias new constitution. It is a very incisive article that in my opinion should be read by Bolivian's and translated into English. The text itself is so muddled and contradictory that Molina does a service just by breaking it down in several categories.

He sees three Western fundamental rights the right to life, to liberty, and the right to property, and concludes that the Constitution protects the first one, less so the second, and much less the third.

Summary of Some Arguments I will flesh this out more later, and add some of my own comments.

Powers of Central Government - It centralizes a lot of power to the central government - including administrative functions, power of the purse.

Property rights
- recognized so long as they serve the "collective interest" as well "contributing to the development of the nation", on top of the existing qualification of "social purpose". which as Molina reminds us, has been around since the Busch Constitution of 1938. (Ironically Chavez 1999 Constitution offered more protections to private property) Foreign investment - heavily restricted. Contracting with other

Monopoly and Private Investment - The State gets a monopoly on energy - might not even subcontract privately. It dissuades ANY future government from ever signing any sort of deal with any foreign corporation.

Autonomy-The document pretty much indicates that only indigenous tribes will get any form of real "autonomy" if we think of autonomy as being able to assert sovereign rights over a territory with your own law.

Judicial Branch-It does re-designs the judiciary, as it exists now. Creates a new judicial branch, based on 'communal law'. (While tribal laws co-existing with traditional justice is nothing new, this scheme here appears to give it co-equal value countrywide)

Overall - He concludes that underneath all the inconsistencies there is a political program at its core, that while not socialist, it is nonetheless "illiberal" and has implications for the country.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bolivia: New Constitution, Change For Change's Sake,

So MAS "passed" its "new constitution", steamrolling it through the assembly.
Which brings me to this piece by Jim Schultz of the Democracy Center, a general pro-Evo, pro-MAS group. Seemingly as a rebuke to the Prefect of Cochabamba and many urban residents who have opposed the government, Schultz describes the large pro-MAS pro-MAS constitutional assembly.

Jim quotes some of Bolivia’s poorest citizens, marching through Cochabamba, showing their “agreement with the new constitution”, “recover and industrialize natural resources.” As he warns us to not “underestimate” the “passion” of Bolivia’s rural poor, which is expressed in their demanding “changes vital to their children’s future.”

What makes this whole affair tragic, is that these poor folks are putting their hopes and aspirations into the hands of radicals, whose program (both through the constitution and writings) is utterly and completely destined for failure.

There is no middle ground here. In this era to reduce poverty you need: laws and regulations to impartially and fairly mediate the rights of all actors in society, foreign investment to spur the growth necessary; a vibrant private sector to serve as the engine of the economy to create jobs; an openness towards the world economy; and a “small but muscular” state to provide for the basic human needs, including education, health, basic sanitary needs, and to take care for those who cant help themselves, all done in a decentralized and efficient manner.

MAS’ constitution wants to permanently enshrine in the constitution, an obsolete centralist vision of the State. A state-owned, and planned economy, with some small concessions made for the private sector. This is the same corporatist vision which might have seemed right (and new) in 1952, but in many ways reinforced the old traditional clientilism among the middle class and crony capitalistism Ultimately, it led to a situation where Bolivia went into debt and hyper-inflation fueled in a significant part to pay for state-owned enterprises.

THIS IS NOT CHANGE!!! How is returning to this progressive? How on earth can anyone think this will lead to something better? This is revolutionary sloganeering acting as reality. Wishful thinking of the most perverted form.

All it will do is destroy the chances of those who have joined –or aspire to join- the 21st century, dragging the country down to even more mediocrity. And the poor, the poor will be the ones who will always pay the most.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

SODA!!!! Soda Stereo Live


Had the chance to catch Soda Stereo's reunion tour here in Miami on Tuesday night, and it rocked!

The place was pretty full (7/8's) according to the Herald's Levine.

It was great hearing their older and newer classics such as Cuando Pase el Temblor, Nada Personal, Primavera Cero. The crowd went absolutely bonkers when they played Persiana Americana, and of course, De Musica Ligera.

Unlike the Herald's Levin, I actually thought the older songs, from their "new wavish" fase held up quite well.

It was a hell of a show, there is a reason why they reached the heights they reached, and had such a dramatic impact among Latin American crowds. You could see it in the crowd, from parents with their kids to teens, every hue of the Latin American rainbow. I could pick out accents from Argentina, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Central America. It was Una Noche De Roqueros - a night for the rockers.Music that is loud, rowdy, powerful, edgy, melodic, played by excellent musicians. Soda is music that will never suck, unlike the cheesy balladeers, pre-fabricated pop bands, and every other tacky indignity that was heaped on us then, and that still gets thrown at us now. Every now and then some "cultural icon" (and this applies to the entire continent) would despair at the youth not listening to local or Latin American artists. Well, give us sommething that is good and then we will, and then came Soda... Soda Stereo rock now and they rocked 20 years ago!

EDIT: Set List

JUEGOS DE SEDUCCION
TELE - K
IMAGENES RETRO
TEXTURAS
HOMBRE AL AGUA
CIUDAD DE LA FURIA
PICNIC EN EL 4 B
ZOOM
EL TEMBLOR
FINAL CAJA NEGRA
TRATAME SUAVEMENTE
SIGNOS
SOBREDOSIS DE TV
DANZA ROTA
PERSIANA AMERICANA
FUE
EN REMOLINOS
PRIMAVERA 0
NO EXISTES
SUELES DEJARME SOLO
SEPTIMO DIA
UN MILLON DE AñOS LUZ
DE MUSICA LIGERA

DISCO ETERNO
CAE EL SOL
PROFUGOS

ZONA DE PROMESAS
NADA PERSONAL
VITAMINAS

Monday, December 03, 2007

NO! Chavez Denied

So with all the resources of the petro-kleptrocracy, including media, state offices, army, Bolivarian "Circles", and with a divided and squabling opposition, Chavez loses.

Credit to the students who woke up the slumbering and defeatist opposition, many whom were boycotting this vote. Students who stayed ahead of the Chavista machine by planning protests through text messages. Who kept an upbeat and inclusive message, even in the face of officialist threats.

Lets see what happens next, but the Lt. Colonel will not have it easy

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bolivia: Founding Fatalism, MAS' Bloody Constitution


This article in El Deber is a first-hand, rather gripping, blow-by-blow account of how the the officialist group, in Constituent Assembly managed to steamroll through the initial text of the Constitution while opponents fought police. Evo's allies did this by convening in a military school custodied by the police, the army - and crucially - by pro-MAS mobs brought into the city. As I had posted earlier, these officialist groups explicitly threatened the opposition in the assembly, claimed they were going to block the entire city, and to hammer the points home home, allied groups killed two dogs symbolizing the "opposition".

What happened was effectively a lock-out of the opposition, those entering would have to face the angry mob, something that happened later in the Congress in La Paz.

But in Sucre, upon hearing the news of the convening of the "assembly" the students - rose up against the police and set off to confront the assembly. They were joined by a good number of Sucre's citizens in what in effect turned into a battle of two mobs. Even the hardened veterans of Bolivia's street violence - the MAS cocaleros and El Alto activists & the cops who used to beat them up - could not contain the students and residents.
And when the word came down that a protestor was killed, the MAS assembly leader - herself a veteran of many a disturbance, suddenly threw it into overdrive, calling for a quick vote to formalize approval of all the articles. On the outside, even local MAS supporters had joined in, and were close to breaching the gates of the military school. But, it was too late, the assembly had voted, and its members fled.

And that is just another tragic and bizarre chapter in Bolivia's crazed political life. A constitution, which in theory should be the starting point of the Nation's legitimacy, passed by an officialist convention, while opposing mobs and the cops fought it out just outside.

EDIT Here is a first hand account from a Bolivian blogger in Sucre. Here is a good compilation of videos from the events from another person. The writings of a Sucre Blogger.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bolivia: What Up Willca? Siege In Sucre, Dog Days

By last Thursday (the 22nd) supporters of the government: ocaleros, rural unions, and members of El Alto's neighborhood federation were congregating around Sucre to "shut down" the City, and blockading routes into it. They demanded that the Senate be shut down and the Contitutional Assembly get to work, and forget about the Sucre demands for capital.

The claim against the Senate, is over Evo's cynical ploy re-naming the existing old-age pension, and funding it by cuts to the budgets of (opposition governed) departments. MAS for the record, was vehemently opposed to the original BONOSOL program. After coming to power Morales unilaterally stripping the pension of its most valuable assets: the stock in the oil companies. The government claimed it would have no problems funding it, despite not counting on the dividends. Now at the very end of the current year, Evo again by decree, orders a drastic reduction of the departmental governments share of a hydrocarbon tax to cover the reduction in the pension plan he himself was responsible for. So some people in places like Santa Cruz are understandably upset about this, which places large and well-populated departments in disadvantage to those with less population given the current formula.

The capital argument, or Sucre's pretensions, looks silly in many ways. But the governments arrogance was exposed when the officialist side blocked attempts to even discuss it within the constitutional assembly. It seemed to confirm this governments Chavista-like mania for centralizing power in the capital at the expense of the departments. And re-writing the constitution to institutionalize MAS positions, including Evo re-election, seems like a very bad idea to many of these people.

Dog Day Afternoon

In order to show their dissaproval with the positions of the opposition and Sucre, and doing their best Sendero Luminoso imitation, pro-MAS activists, killed 2 dogs and hung them up as a warning to Bolivia's " oligarchs." No threats to China's current leadership or Michael Vick haters went on the unfortunate canines, but the slit throats implied pretty much what they wanted to do to the opposition leaders.

Students Vs. Cocaleros

Many marchers stayed at the University, and students battled the pro-MAS crowd -
Might be a bit of historical memories, since the last time La Paz and Sucre got into a beef over the capital, the 19th century version of the "indigenous movements" ended up slaughtering many of Sucre's university students.

But even the students at the "Pedagogica" were not quite unified. A minority of the teaching students wanted to allow the strikers to stay at the school, but were voted down and accused of being "Troskyists". Anywhere else, that kind of accusation would draw blank stares. But in Bolivia, since from the 40's, there has been a continuing "Trosko" influence in the teachers and mining unions. Many of the cocaleros and El Alto residents are former miners and come out of that syndicalist tradition; the teachers union has a presence in the teaching university.

And that bit of trivia in many ways symbolizes the whole problem. MAS-istas are mobilizing, arguing, and threatening civil war to press for a new constitution drafted by fools whose point of reference is 60 year old Troskyist arguments. This document is not going to magically "empower" Bolivia's poor and indigenous peoples and make the misery of the past 500 years go away.

Foreign admirers of Morales can repeat his worn mantra of acting on behalf of an 'exploited majority' who voted 'for change', blocked by 'the oligarchs who lost power.' But in its most benevolent interpreation, this "change" is a backwards step to recreating the 1952 model, whose painful collapse led the country to hit rock-bottom 32 years later. To make it worse, they are mobilizing their most radical supporters to try to ram this agenda through by intimidation of the opposition. Playing to inter-ethnic resentment and class warfare is dangerous, and once that genie is out of the bottle it can really get ugly.


Tip Of The Hat to
Norman

Porque No Te Callas? Songs & Videos Around The Internet..

Inevitably (and immediately), the whole King of Spain smackdown on Chavez makes its way through the wonders of commonly available software to the web. Some videos, mainly taking the "original" words and remixing them.
LOL...The Song "Porque No Te Callas




REY-GETTON, sampling Don Omar


A "REMIX" VERSION



UPDATE:

Here is the more appropriate "Spanish" song, which got play in Miami through Jaime Bayly's show.


hahahaha...one where the King himself "sings"...


THE REAL WAY TO SHUT UP CHAVEZ, FIDEL, & EVO



PORQUE NO TE CALLAS? VERSION BENNY HILL




PORQUE NO TE CALLAS? VERSION "EL CHAVEZ DEL OCHO"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bolivia: MAS, Evo's Minions Feud, Attack NGO's, hilarity ensues

Watch Out For The Friendly Fire While Evo is aping (no pun intended) Chavez by firing up anti-US hysteria his underlings and associates are taking it a bit further, and even going after their own. The target Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's). While Evo has made threatening noises against NGO's funded by the US Agency For International Development and some Western governments, others in and around MAS are going after NGO's closely linked to the MAS government.

Bolivia's current Water Minister, Abel Mamami, in words of one leading academic a voice of "constant complaint..[but] irregular proposal", accused Bolivia's ambassador to Spain and 2 MAS senators of corruption and conflict of interest. This is based on their being on the board of a Spanish NGO, which has a consulting contract with the superintendency of water - a regulatory agency separate from the ministry. This sounds like a turf war, or even a sloppy attempt at finding Spanish misdeeds to follow up on King vs. Chavez. Or both.

El ministro de Aguas de Bolivia, Abel Mamani, denunció a la embajadora boliviana en España, María del Carmen Almendras, y a dos senadores del oficialista Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS), en la firma irregular de un contrato entre el Estado y una organización no gubernamental.

Mamani denunció que el hecho, registrado en agosto de este año, tiene que ver en la prestación de servicios de consultoría de la organización no gubernamental "Agua Sustentable" a la estatal Superintendencia de Aguas, informaron este lunes medios locales.

El ministro explicó que la diplomática y los senadores del MAS, María Esther Udaeta y Omar Fernández, son miembros del directorio de la ONG Agua Sustentable.

Manami acotó que se cometieron los delitos de "uso indebido de influencias, negociaciones incompatibles con el ejercicio de las funciones públicas, contratos lesivos al Estado y conducta antieconómica".

"Yo soy ministro de Estado, soy funcionario público, y como dijo el presidente de la República (Evo Morales), tengo toda la obligación respecto a irregularidades, sin importar quién sea", dijo Mamani,


then there is this fun example:

Former energy minister Soliz Rada is the architect of Evo's "nationalization", so he does have some weight. in this interview he sounds more like a classics professor complaining about deconstructionists in the faculty, when discussing intramural conflicts in the ruling coalition over the new constitution. Soliz Rada claims that indigenista fundamentalist positions of some MAS allied social movements are pretty much an "invention" of US and European NGO's that work with them. Ultimately these NGO's are instruments of the "sources of world power" - meaning the US/Europe/Capitalists. Demands for tribal "autonomy" and for pressing separate identities, are nothing more than a foreign-directed conspiracy to "atomize" and split Bolivia, so foreign powers can seize these resources by dealing with "sub-groups" rather than with a state.

Previamente se necesita derrotar a las corrientes fundamentalistas del indigenismo, detrás de las cuales se encuentran ONG norteamericanas y europeas que simulan olvidar que el Viejo Continente no ha adoptado el camino del plurinacionalismo sino del supranacionalismo. Las ONG, con excepciones, forman parte de la estrategia de los centros de poder mundial por apropiarse de los recursos naturales de nuestros países, mediante la parcelación de nuestros estados nacionales.


The former minister says that in the constitutional assembly these demands create conflict and stall the process. They also carry a heavy political price since they alienate the nationalist Mestizo-indigenous middle class. While the international press talks about the "indigenous President", Soliz Rada pointedly describes Morales as an "Indo-Mestizo", culturally (and racially) pretty indistinguishable from many urban middle class voters that were crucial in his election.


Since this is Bolivia, there is of course a very real political argument going on here. Some of the social movements claim they were shut out of the Constituent Assembly by MAS. Soliz Rada, on the other hand, uses the term of art "Stalinist" to describe these "sectors" , recalling the bickering between Troskos and Pro-Moscow Communists.

This reveals a cultural cleavage between the Bolivian hard-left which is at the core of the MAS coalition. On the one hand, the old-school Bolivian left-nationalist in the tradition of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, claiming the mantle of the 1952 revolution. On the other are some social and indigenous movements, which are identified with indigenous and community groups of more recent movilization and who Soliz Rada says tend to be more "single issue" oriented.

Typical of Bolivia's mess nothing fits neatly in one category, there are similarities, grey areas and contradictions. Both "sides" back nationalization and Evo's position against regional claims. Morales' core support is the cocaleros, strongly influenced by mining nationalist traditions, but who also adopted indigenist talk, and who have been supported by some NGO's. Radical middle class elements are present in the social movements and arguably guide their "discourse." Mamami himself is all over the place, coming from the capitals version of the "water wars", having a native surname, and denouncing his erstwhile allies in traditional language straight out of "Bolivian Political Bickering 101".

Foreign-funded NGO's in Bolivia, cross the spectrum in terms of patrons, mission and methods. Some assist in very narrow technical areas, while others are more like think tanks. Then you have some who seem to be nothing more than anti-globalization platforms for Western activists. It is these groups that work with indigenous and social movements, who speak in terms of post-modern, post-colonial, identity politics and link them to a larger anti-capitalist struggle. For that matter, so do many of leftist Bolivians like Vice-President Garcia Linera who are in power.

That kind of stuff makes for some real intense sectarian fun, specially when combined with traditional Bolivian paranoia, suspicion of outsiders, and plain nasty politics and bickering. Once the nationalist genie gets uncorked it can get out of control.

Bolivia: Evo Claims US & Aznar Out To Get Him P.28888

Who Really Hangs Out With Criminals?


Even before his mentor Chavez made a fool of himself, Evo in Chile for the same conference, was working pretty hard at it too. In comments made during the Ibero-American Summit he claimed that the US was conspiring against him. Evidence? Nuttier than usual - even for his government. US Ambassador Goldberg attends a big Trade Show, apparently poses for a picture with some random Colombian guy and a Santa Cruz leader. Turns out the Colombian guy is a crook. So in the current Bolivian leaderships mind it is all part of a massive plot. Evo brings up "past evidence" - the 500 rounds of .45 caliber ammo found on the girlfriend of a US embassy employees son entering the country. Turns out the staffer is an avid target shooter who owns a .45 pistol, and stupidly requested that the girl buy the ammo in Miami and bring it down with her. Given how easy it is to ship stuff to Bolivia and the availability of diplomatic pouches, the embassy would be really stupid to arm any "plotters" this way, specially with this caliber weapons, retired from military use and found mainly among civilians - in the US. And the ambassador would be pretty dumb in posing with his "fellow conspirators" at a very public export fair.

But Evo, and government spokesmen, continue to vehemently support the "threat" to Bolivia, and the actions of the ambassador.

And they also take a separate approach against the US. A top government spokesman announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was going to be expelled because of its support for the opposition. Then Evo back in Bolivia, tries a different tack, saying that USAID "has a wide open door" to leave, if it doesn't provide "transparency" in the way its disburses funds - including its purchasing policies. That "mystery" policy simply means you buy US-made stuff for a US funded project. Hmmmm. Evo might want to ask the many MAS members who have received training in things like budgeting from US-AID grants.

One thing Evo might consider doing is hiring a Foreign Minister who actually read a book or two in the past 15 years, instead of the current ignoramus to avoid diplomatic gaffes.

Maybe its all irrelevant--Could it be that Evo needs fresh excuses so he can keep up with Chavez demands? Bolivia - according to Venezuela's foreign ministry -is now part of the ALBA "axis" with Venezuela and Cuba, its mission is to fight the "empire." Picking fights with Goldberg, and threatening to kick USAID out seems to be consistent with that.

Reign In Spain, No sooner was Evo back in Bolivia than accusations flew out against former Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar for allegedly supporting Bolivia's opposition. The timing hardly seems a coincidence fresh after Chavez got smacked down by King Juan Carlos. The Amen chorus of Evo, Daniel Ortega, and Fidel piped up as on cue, bringing out whatever alleged Spanish misdeeds they had lying around in their fertile imaginations.

Evo talking about foreign plots, sovereignity and dignity is laughable while he bends over backwards for Chavez. Evidence is plentiful: Chavez lands AGAIN in Trinidad even after Senate complaints. Venezuelan troops wandering around airports at odd hours of the night. Not to mention Evo cavorting with Cuban survivors of the only real "foreign-directed" military invasion of Bolivia the past 50 years..

No "controls" or transparency over foreign aid? Evo gets checks from Chavez to buy support in the military and municipalities, that are off the books.

Evo would be better served by not listening to "advice and consent" from motormouth in Caracas.

Evo and Chavez' relationship is like a 2 year old holding the leash to a 100 lb over-friendly hyper labrador. Guess who is leading that walk through the neighborhood? It usually also ends really ugly.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Venezuela: KING TO CHAVEZ "SHUT UP"


Chavez, in an international conference, seated on the same stage as the King of Spain and Prime Minister Zapatero tears into Zapatero's predecessor, Aznar, calling him a fascist. After his turn was up, he kept on blabbing, and King Juan Carlos tells him: "Why don't you shut up" - "porque no te callas" The King, many people agree was indispensable in helping his people transition from Franco to Democracy, and begin to recover from the dark legacy of the Civil War, Fascism and the Franco era. Throwing around the term "fascist" loose and easy, like Chavez does must have really annoyed the King.
In Latin America, the King is well respected, has a high profile, and has cultivated his image carefully the past decades. Some people seem to think he is sincere in caring the area and its peoples - who after all are the ones guaranteeing the future existence and vitality of the Spanish language. King Juan Carlos by Spanish law has to avoid politics, left to elected officials. This can be difficult, but in the Americas he meets and has met with leaders across the spectrum like Fidel Castro, Uribe, Fox, Evo, and makes standard royal pronouncements.

In Europe, Chavez vulgar display might turn off some people, who otherwise enjoyed his anti-US tirades.

In Latin America however, one problem is that Chavez is a media creature. He is like an American radio shock jock or TV commentator, who plays the common-sensical, irreverent, common man, dealing with the high-thinking, corrupt elites. Chavez "makes his bones" going after regional and international players to get coverage on TV, inspire reactions mentioning him, and ultimately winning votes. Not much different from a Stern or Oreilly feuding with celebrities and politicians to pump up ratings and get tabloid coverage. It makes it harder to figure out the backlash. Some people in Venezuela -and other Latin American countries, might think it hilarious he exasperated the King to such a level he broke protocol. Or see it as pure bravado. "Keeping it Real." One persons vulgarity is another persons irreverence. But, even some ideologues might be put off by Chavez latest display. It reveals an impulsiveness, mixed with a dangerous mix of demagogic certainty, intolerance, and agression. A bully, a loud-mouth, and only 3 weeks from becoming the King of Venezuela.



www.Tu.tv

Sunday, November 04, 2007

CUBA: New Evidence on East German Stasi - Cuba Links

Como Stasi?

Castro's Cuba was an eager adopter of anything Communist Block. Under Soviet "nation building", where everyone has the same system, and speaks the same version of Marxist-Leninist jargon, all sorts of practices transfered over quite easily. The Miami Herald finds, there is new evidence of how the most sinister aspects of Eastern Block rule made their way to Cuba.

Recently found East German documents show the tight relationship between Castro's Ministry of the Interior and the Stasi East German Secret police. Honnecker and Castro had a natural affinity, a relationship that lasted right up to the day the Wall fell. East Germany was a repressive bastion of orthodoxy till the bitter end, the dreaded Stasi with German efficiency kept the population in line. It is hardly surprising that Castro wanted his Interior Ministry patterned on the Eastern Blocks most dreaded secret police.


''East Germany had a major role in building up Cuban counterintelligence as well as its foreign intelligence services, providing training for decades . . . right up to the final days of East Germany,'' said Chris Simmon, a career U.S. counterintelligence officer and expert on Cuban intelligence.


Basically, Cuba's system of State Security was patterned closely on that of a system, who employed hundreds of thousands of informants to keep track on dissidents and everyday citizens.

''The repressive system that existed in East Germany . . . is the same one that exists today in Cuba,'' he says. ``What MININT learned from the Stasi has not been forgotten. On the contrary, [the strategies and techniques] are alive today despite the fall of the Berlin Wall.''



Amazing, Cuba is still a one party dictatorship ruled by the Communist Parts, and committed to Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy by its own admission. With a Stasi-trained secret police repressing its people, its hard to not call the place a totalitarian police state.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Venezuela: Stay Hungry,

Hunger and Hummers - Plenty of Both


A top UN official gave a progress report, on Latin American countries committed to the 1996 Global Food Summit goals on reducing hunger by half by the year 2015. Buried in the EFE article, is news that the petro-kleptocracy in power in Venezuela, is lagging the furthest behind in meeting the goals among Latin Americans, joining Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay.

The UN agency (FAO)reported 11 percent of Venezuelans were suffering from malnourishment in 90-92, a number that went up by the late 90's and was at 18% in 2001 and 17% in 2002, already several years into Chavez rule. Since then, and with big fanfare, the Chavista government has enacted and financed all sorts of anti-poverty/anti-hunger schemes. On paper, it looks like the Petro-state, flush with oil revenue, has directed significant resources to try and tackle the problem. The Venezuelan supremo boasts about how much his government has helped the poor the past 9 years, a sentiment echoed by lemmings everywhere who loudly claim that socialism ala Venezuelais the alternative to "evil neo-liberalism." In places like Bolivia this is actually taken seriously.

But according to the regimes own publications, as of November of 06, the number of people suffering malnutrition was still hovering at 19 percent. So it looks like the present government has barely managed to catch up with the population growth, much less do anything to resolve such a basic problem.  Chavez is supposed to be an agent of change. Despite much lower oil prices, dealing with food riots, and coup-happy Teniente Coroneles, less Venezuelans went hungry under Chavez nemesis Carlos Andres Perez.

You can argue about the percentages and population increases, but you can't argue with oil prices: a barrel of oil was $25 dollars in 03, and it is nearing $100 now. The governments revenues wildly exceed its own forecasts, and it has more power over it than previous governments. It should have something to show for it. Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru - besides the usual chaos - at least have somewhat of an excuse, since they took a huge pounding with the Argentina/Brazil crisis, and are slowly recovering.

In a bizarre twist, Venezuelan writer, Marianella Salazar points out in this blog, Chavez petro-dollars somehow enabled miserable, broken, Cuba to meet its goals. Truth is, when you are scraping the bottom of the barrel, two slices of bread a day counts as an improvement over one. But still is ironic, considering how backward the place is, that it still tops the country that bankrolls it.

It may be gifted with a once-in-a-lifetime oil bonanza, but disfunction, delusion, and plain waste sums up Chavez' Venezuela. A government that combines the efficiency, incentives, and rationality of central planned economies with the transparency and honesty of crony capitalism. A leader who boasts about being a large donor to eliminate hunger in Africa, but can't do it at home. Where price controls mean the poor do not find milk in stores, but imported cheese and whiskey are available with cash. Where subsidized oil means the rich fill up their Hummer(s) with gas for under a dime a gallon. Don't expect much to change, Chavez new constitution will simply enshrine his way of doing business permanently.

Venezuela: The Hummer Revolution


No this is not an offshoot of the 1960's Free Love Movement. It rather has to do with GM's large SUV, and a quote by Hugo Chavez picked up by the NYT...

“What kind of a revolution is this?” the president said on his television show this month, after a report here that General Motors was planning to import 3,000 Hummers to meet a rising demand. “One of Hummers?”


This is hilarious.....In the disfunctional "Boliviarian 21st Century Socialist" Republic there are enough people scamming the Venezuelan governments coffers directly or indirectly - or selling stuff to the first two groups, to be able to import these monsters, which they then fill up with subsidized gas at 7 cents a gallon.

This is typical of the lunacy of the Chavista "robber-lution". On the one hand oil rent is purposefully filtered to the rich in order to keep them happy with the Coup-plotter in chief. On the other hand, many of Chavez' "anti-neo-liberal" policies of centralizing power over finances and oil production and expanding the state, have enabled crazy levels of corruption to go unchecked. More bling for the new and old rich alike.

The poor on the other hand, get good old fashioned socialism: they have to wait a long time for buses.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chavez Threatens Bolivian Opposition

Looking for proof Chavez has his claws into Bolivia, and that Evo Morales seems almost a puppet of the Venezuelan strongman? Yesterday Chavez directly threatened the Bolivian opposition on his weekly show, broadcast from Cuba of all places. Saying that Venezuelans "will not sit still" if Evo is overthrown or killed by the Bolivian "oligarchy", and that it would be a "Vietnam of machine guns" they would face. He also helpfully indicated that "compromise" with "oligarchs" was impossible.

While the lemmings who are quick to chime in about all sorts of abuses of soveirgnity by the US, World Bank, and IMF, they ignore the Chavista petro-kleptocracy's heavy handed diplomacy. And heavy handed it is. Petro-dollars and bad advice are spread around to ideological allies. And the Boliviarian Supremo then takes a paternal interest in seeing his schemes go through. Take the case of Bolivia's Constituent Assembly - which Chavez brought up in his tirade. The MAS "proposal" is almost a cliff notes version of Chavez own "revisions" to Venezuelas Constitution. That Evo Morales has to contend with an effective opposition, which knows what lies in store if the document is approved, must drive Chavez nuts.

Morales selectively appeals to Bolivian's strong nationalism only when convenient. It is clear he will put his ideological preferences over sovereignity, as when he shamefully celebrated Che and the Cuban communist invaders of 1967 over the protests of his own Army. A U.S. Ambassador making comments about Bolivian politics is a sin, but allowing Evo's ideological mentor and paymaster to bully his opponents is perfectly ok within this context. One word for that: hypocrisy.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Suitcase-Gate" Venezuelan Government Now Wants Crony Extradited To Argentina

Remember Guido Antonini Wilson? He is the Key Biscayne, Florida, Venezuelan-American caught in Buenos Aires with 800k in cash in a private plane full of top Venezuelan and Argentinian functiona ries. The Chavez government, through Venezuelan attorney General weighs in on

They are asking the US to extradite Antonini to Argentina where he is sought in charges of money laundering. The official, Isais Rodriguez, claims they want to "clear up why he did not declare that money, establish why he brought it, for what it was [meant] for....whether he was there to "launder money or launder consciences".

In Argentina this is a major scandal; if came right after multinational execs, and a Kirchner cabinet member in separate events were caught with large sums of cash. Argentina wants Antonini extradited to the US.

While Chavez has avoided much of a scandal at home, it has been an international embarrasment, followed up by a report by Transparency International naming Venezuela as one of the most corrupt governments in the world. It also raised the issue of Chavez involving himself in political campaigns, and financing of hard-left groups. But up to now they have managed to contain the damage, by distancing themselves from Antonini. They have also claimed not having jurisidiction over Antonini, a US Citizen and residing in Florida.

Why Venezuela suddenly changed course is unclear. What is clear is that Antonini did business with a circle of companies and individuals close to the Chavista leadership, who got large contracts with the oil-rich state. The businessman obviously beneffited; he went from a modest distributor of tractor parts, to owning millions of dollars worth of condos in luxurious Key Biscayne in a couple of years.

Had this money been on route to Miami or the Caymans, you could chalk it up to money laundering. But it was going to Argentina on a plane full or Venezuelan and Argentinian officials. Some theorized it was a campaign contribution to Mrs. Kirchner, payments to radical mass movements allied of Chavez, or to pay some sort of business deal. Antonini told customs in Argentina that right before this trip, he had been at a luncheon with Chavez and was then and there told to go to Argentina, not even having time to bring a coat along. Antonini - by many accounts an affable fellow - had some level of confidence with top government officials in Venezuela, since he had made several trips to Uruguay and Argentina - accompanied by top Venezuelan officials.

This is a messy picture, it is hard to tell Chavista Official from pro-Chavez businessman, sanctioned or un-sanctioned business, official foreign policy from covert foreign policy, international trade or bribery.

It all boils down to what Antonini knows, and to who he says it to. At the moment the FBI (and one imagines the CIA) are talking to him - and Venezuela's government has a lot of reasons to be concerned. There is an unconfirmed report in South Florida's Venezuelan (anti-Chavez)press, that Antonini has already told them that he was not the "bagman", but was the designated fall guy when it became clear the passengers were going to be searched. That would directly place Argentine or Venezuelan officials with the 800K in cash.
These same reports in Miami also say that Antonini has already given up quite a bit to the Feds: not only Chavista corruption, but also payoffs to foreign governments and leaders. Venezuela's government has million$ of ways to convince him, and something might be worked out with Argentina. You never know, but the guy knows enough to have both governments worried.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

CIA Tried Killing Castro......Um....We Know....Too Bad They Failed

Too bad they failed. Every now and then I go through the obituaries
in the Miami Herald. Each days tally is invariably full of older
Cubans, forced to leave by Castro's stupidity, who died in exile after
waiting for 50 years for something to change in the island. Just the other day, Dr. Emilio Ochoa the last drafter of Cuba's well-renowned (in Latin America) 1940 Constitution passed away here in Miami. He is emblematic of the parents and grandparents of many Miamians who are slowly dying in exile. All the while Fidel continues to rot away, much like the island he has suffocated for 50 years.

Castro
was not "forced" into his Banana Leninistic rule by US policy, and
given how stubborn the guy is, doubt he would have "changed" in any way
to allow for an opening, at least while the Soviets were around.

At
the time the CIA was plotting to kill and overthrow Fidel, people who
originally sympathized with the revolution and commited democrats like
the late Mr. Ochoa. were leaving in droves. Non-communists were being
purged from the army, civil society was being shut down, prisons were
filling up.

Killing Castro in 61 or 62 might have changed the
internal dynamics of the revolution, which in the long run has depended
on the charisma, leadership, and strategic vision of one person. We
will never know now. But things might have been a lot different, and
older Cubans in Miami might have the confort of living the last days in
their country of birth -- under a democratic government.




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Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Real ex-Revolutionary Says Chavez Wants To "Buy" a Revolution

Courtesy of the Devils Excrement, a translation of an article by Joaquin Villalobos. Villalobos was the leader of one of the main factions of the Marxist-Leninist FMLN during the civil war in the 80's. Probably the most ruthless of FMLN guerilla commanders, he is alleged to have personally executed poet Roque Dalton in the 70's. But he was also its most skilled field commander, who is respected even by former adversaries as a tactician and leader.

After the war he renounced Marxist-Leninism and moved to the center, and has been an adviser to Colombia's government. Leading a Marxist Insurgency that went from less than 100 to thousands in the space of ten years, gives him "revolutionary credentials." His take on Chavez is pretty interesting to read. Originally published in El Pais, here is the translation. Chavez wants to buy himself a revolution translated by The Devil's Excrement:

Chavez wants to buy himself a revolution
Joaquin Vilalobos

With a lack of conditions and credentials to make a revolution, the Venezuelan President relies on provocations. The closure of RCTV, his last act of brave arrogance, has reverted against him the process of
accumulation of strength and revitalizes an opposition that was demoralized. Normally parents punish their kids banning them from watching TV, however Cubans when their kids behave badly, are forced to
watch state TV. Chavez has made a grave error in shutting down a pro-opposition TV station that had been on the air for more than half a century. Like it or not, this was not an attack on the capitalist mediatic power, but a direct hit to the cultural identity of Venezuelans that will have severe implications for the Government.To pretend to replace soap operas and the entertainment of the poor with pathetic "revolutionary" programming is as grave as leaving them without food. The starting point of this and other mistakes by Chavez is to believe that he has made a revolution, while all he has done is simply to have won elections and this did not happen because of his accomplishments, but for the errors and arrogance of an opposition that has many jewels and not much popular backing. This helped him get an electoral majority that allowed him to control institutions and change some rules, but it has not given him sufficient correlation to impose a drastic ideological turn like he is pretending. There has been no revolutionary rupture in Venezuela, like there was in Cuba and Nicaragua, where democracy had no precedent. In Cuba the change was violent and complete, all of the institutions were founded again and up to today, there is no opposition, nor elections, nor freedom of the press, nor private property. In Nicaragua the change was equally violent, even if it damaged freedom of the press, elections and private property survived. Venezuela may have an extreme crisis of polarization or a prolonged period of unrest, but not a revolution. When that happens political violence takes preeminence first as a rebellion and later with a counter-revolution. In Venezuela, political violence continues to be more verbal than real. Sleeping with the enemy. Forty years of pacific alternation built a democratic culture among Venezuelans that up to now has managed to block political violence. In Venezuela there is a weakened legality, but there is legality. The mistake of the opposition coup in 2002 was precisely to ignore the importance of this. It is not easy to overthrow Governments and it is also not easy to radically and coldly modify the pillars of a preexisting system. A revolutionary rupture creates a situation of great social exaltation that, for better or worse, opens spaces to change many things, including ideological or cultural topics, very sensitive in a society, however, these are the hardest to change. Anti-capitalist revolutions emerged more from dictatorships than from poverty. In Venezuela there was no dictatorship and poverty was not important in Chavez' ascent, even if is today to defend him. All revolutions are austere and this is not known by Venezuelans from either the right or the left. Venezuela is neither an industrial, nor an industrious capitalist country, but rentist and consumerist. Chavez is strengthening the economic role of the State redistributing oil income and forming new economic elites via populism, business opportunities and corruption. All of this is neither new, nor a revolution, nor is it socialism. Chavez does not have a revolutionary party but a fragmented political structure, composed by a diverse ideological mix. To his right are the military, to his left some intellectuals and below him a multicolor base. To turn that into a party implies to confront a whole bunch of leaders who are accustomed to express their dissent. Chavismo has done something positive in giving power and identity to thousands of Venezuelans that were excluded but its political structure is not cohesive neither by its ideology, nor by its history, but by oil income. Chavez does not have a revolutionary army; on the contrary, the Army has defeated him twice (1992 and 2002). The current complicity of the Army depends on weapons purchases, which are not in preparation for combat but lucrative corruption, and are precisely these privileges that shutdown the path to revolutionary ideas. The Venezuelan army will not kill nor die for Chavez. Fidel Castro survived innumerable attempts on his life, Ortega led a triumphant insurrection and Evo Morales jumped from the barricades to the Presidency. Chavez, on the other hand, sells oil to the Americans, in two occasions has surrendered without fighting and sleeps with an enemy's army. This pushes him to use provocations that allow him to obtain his revolutionary credentials, at least with an insult of Bush. The attacks strengthen him and his tolerance weakens him. He needs external enemies that help him hide the corruption of his civil servants, the incompetence of his Government, the divisions among his ranks and the insecurity in the streets of the country. With the closure of RCTV, Chavez is reverting against him the process of accumulations of strengths and is revitalizing a demoralized opposition. Perhaps Chavez may make changes in Venezuela, but he will never be able to eliminate elections and in these, there are no unmovable majorities, nor eternal alliances, nor insurmountable fraud. The money from oil can help Chavez to do many things, but it will never allow him to buy a
revolution

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Chavez Buddy Has 5 Million Dollar Jet Busted

Shopping Trip Cut Short

So a five million dollar private jet arrives in Ft. Lauderdale on May 17. The DEA is suspicious, since it is wrongfully registered as belonging to US Nationals. Normally, characters like Dope dealers, arms traffickers and money launderers prefer US registration because it means less nosy customs and DEA people lookin at your Lear Jet. The DEA ends up seizing the plane, after talking to the passengers.

Passenger included the wife of the owner, a certain, Mrs. Daniela Steppa Martín. And the owner ends up being a certain Ricardo Fernández Barruecos, who it turns out is not only a Venezuelan national, but he happens to be a major Chavez crony, a "Boliviarian Businessman" as The Nuevo Herald put it. He is the owner of "Industria Venezolana Maicera Pronutricos", and a partner in the Proarepa conglomerate, that has been making crazy money off the regime's dispensing of petrodollars to friends.

I wonder if the Mrs. was here to do some shopping or maybe to look after their properties? She is not the only Chavista-friend who flies into South Florida in a private jet.

Friday, June 08, 2007

EVO WATCH: Morales Meets With Mr. Humanitarian" Castro

OH BROTHER

Noah Rudovsky / AP Photo

Bolivia's leader, who describes himself as "very much an admirer of Fidel" meets with his hero for nearly 3 hours. According to the Miami Herald Evo left the nearly 3 hour meeting feeling "very satisfied," after an "intense and productive" meeting Morales told state media before boarding his flight home Thursday night. He found the aged dictator "fairly recovered" from his health woes.

And what did the Marxist-Leninist tyrant and his eager coca-growing disciple talk about? Evo on Cuban TV, seen here in Miami on Jaime Bayly's TV show, and reported by the Nuevo Herald they talked about "advances in the integration....through the so-called "Bolivarian Alternative For The America's" Where Bolivia - whose trade with the island was worth about 10,000 dollars last year- and Cuba will become "solidarity" trade partners.
But above all and due to Castro's "preocupations with life and with humanity" they discussed "energy, about economic development of countries, about health, and above all,thinking about all of humanity, on the environment."

This is hilarious stuff. A leader of a democratic country jets off -hopefully on Chavez dime- to visit the longest running dictator of Latin America, who has pretty much ravaged his country economically. To talk about global warming, development, and healthcare. The only good advice Castro can give about 3rd World Development is to do completely opposite to what he did. You do not learn economics from Marxists, the only thing they know how to do is destroy them. And Bolivia's economy is based on gas, the only gas Castro knows about, is the one that rises up from his colostomy bag.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tragedy, Inevitable Media Overreaction








Now, it is time for some media outlets to get really annoying. Though, to be fair they partly respond to a public that loves this shit and expects and demands all day coverage.

How This Happened hysterics:Endless reconstructions about the shooting, A barrage of clips aboiut the killers every damn moment of existence, and twenty million motives, by twenty million experts, 33 life stories of dead, another 30 of the wounded, and about 1000 about everyone traumatized, including the kid who at the last moment chose to get his engineering degree at Georgia Tech, and the guy who used to play the mascot at Virginia Tech games.


Why This Happened hysterics Every single bit of pandering and whining by gun control advocates, the NRA, Hokie alumni, South Korean groups, anti-immigrant types, date rape campus survivor groups, atheist groups and Christians, 911 conspiracy nuts,....et al.

This Could Happen Again...and Here By far the most nefarious and obnoxious of all of the above. Everyone thundering about how fucking unsafe our larger college campuses are, calls for commissions, spot checks of the Theta Chi house at GW to see if it could happen there. Classrooms examined. Every single news affiliate going to their local college and asking stupid questions of everyone, including the rent-a-cop head of university security, and interviewing hot chicks in Quads.
__________________






Tip Of The Hat to

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Miami: No Habla English, Whats The Real Scoop.

Ironically enough, became aware of this information only because it appeared in the Spanish version of the Miami Herald here. Haven't heard much about it in the media recently.

If we were to believe the likes of Tom Tancredo and Lou Dobbs Miami, is pretty much a Spanish-speaking Quebec, where most people can't even speak English. Some variation of that view is no doubt shared by many former Miamians and folks living in other parts of South Florida. Anti-immigrant types take the core issue of language to the next level. Tancredo (whose obviously ghost-written piece steals liberally from Samuel Huntington) sees Miami as an "independent, cultural, political and linguisticc enclave", foreshadowing what will happen in other predominantly latino areas of the US, ultimately leading to "fragmentation" of the country as a whole.

Well since we are talking about who speaks what language in Miami, lets turn to the marketers and advertisers who depend on accurate information in their never-ending quest to sell stuff to the public.

Just this week English-language TV stations (ABC, CBS and FOX) dethroned Spanish-language Univision affiliate, which was #1 in absolute ratings in Miami. Univision lost a staggering 27 percent of its audience in a year, and its chief rival Telemundo 25%

As the article states, some of this fall is probably due to the rise of local spanish-language stations who have gained on the Univision & Telemundo. But, that hardly explains the fact that not one, but three English language stations all moved ahead of Univision. The CBS affiliate has seen its audience increase an astounding 31 percent during the past year.

What??? The bottom line is that most people in Miami prefer to watch English TV to Spanish TV. Fear mongerers like Tancredo, Dobbs and Pat Buchanan are just plain damn wrong. It is speaking a different language that is at the core of their arguments. If you don't speak the language you will not get the culture and will be on the outside looking in.

Heck what is more American than watching hours upon hours of TV???? Culture??? The spike in CBS ratings was actually explained by the Superbowl??? For better or worse many of the common points of reference for Americans of the same age groups come through what they see in the mass media. In that sense, young Miamians (and new immigrants) are getting the same "American culture" not only on TV but also on the internet (Myspace anyone??) People overseas complain about the strong influence of American culture through the media, anyone ever thought about how strong the pull of this same media is within the United States????


Most of the younger kids coming up in Miami speak English primarily and Spanish 2nd. Surveys show this is a nationwide trend among second and third generation Latinos. You do not have to be a genius to figure that out, just sit for a day in the common areas of the local colleges or clubs where young people hang out.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Robin Millers Latest Piece

Robin Miller lays the Truth Down, in an extremely eloquent piece, that appears on the Speed webpage Handling The Truth



The title of this column could be “Career Suicide 101,” because I’ve
become somewhat of an authority on the subject and hopefully it will
enlighten some people on the consequences of trying to tell the truth.





And I want to thank my bosses at SPEEDTV.com in advance for indulging me and letting me explain why I can’t hold a job.





For 32 of my first 50 years I had the good fortune to be a
reporter/columnist at The Indianapolis Star, which was somewhat of a
miracle since I’d flunked out of that academic pillar at Ball State.





I covered my first Indy 500 for The Star in 1969 and by 1975 I was
racing midgets in USAC and writing a racing column 52 weeks a year
(mostly on USAC). By 1977, I’d become the lead racing writer for the
only newspaper in the country that truly cared about motorsports.





From ’77 until 2000, my May ritual was write the daily lead, a column
every other day and contribute to our Pit Pass notebook. When you threw
in the Bob Tom radio show every morning (I worked with the
irreverent Jay Baker on Dick’s Picks from Gasoline Alley) and the
trackside TV show I did every night, it was a long but fun day that I
loved. And it got even better the Thursday before the race when I
emceed The Last Row Party (an event that roasted the 31st, 32nd and
33rd starters).





All this background is necessary to illustrate what happened in 1996.





When Tony George divided open wheel racing with the formation of the
Indy Racing League, changed the qualifying procedure (you surely
remember 25/8) at Indy and replaced Andretti, Fittipaldi, Rahal,
Sullivan and Unser with Bronco Brad Murphey and Racin’ Gardner, I went
on the attack. In print, on local television and on my nightly radio
show on WIBC, I railed against the IMS pres almost daily and he
explored pulling my credential but was wisely talked out of it.





Now, I still covered Indy like always, writing the news and
accomplishments of the day along with feel-good columns on Tony Stewart
and Mark Dismore, but continued to pound T. George. I treated the
competitors like any other May because they put on the show and it
wasn’t their fault Indy had been forever damaged.





Of course the interesting thing was the rest of my local media
brethren. They all knew this wasn’t the real Indy 500 but nary a
disparaging word came out of their mouths. Just all that happy talk and
gushing about Joe Gosek and those big crowds watching qualifying. It
was see-no-evil on TV and hear-no-evil on radio for a solid month and I
was the ONLY voice speaking out on the obvious emasculation of May.





That summer I got gassed from my five-night-a-week radio gig at WIBC
because management claimed the “ratings” were disappointing from 7-10
p.m. on AM radio. Yeah right. I got gassed because IMS officials told
owner Jeff Smulyan that WIBC could become the official station of IMS
but not until they got rid of me.





The Star had tried to become business partners with IMS since the
mid-’90s but its marketing staff was told “never” as long as that
$# Miller was still writing for the paper. In January of 2001,
the Gannett Nazis showed me the door because, drum roll please, I’d
tainted the paper by helping Kenny Brack start his website, supposedly
broke a racing story on CART’s website, borrowed money from Tom Sneva
(after he quit driving) and used vulgar language in some emails
(really, me?).





A week after I was escorted out of the building, The Star and IMS became partners. What a coincidence.





Channel 13, the local NBC affiliate that I’d worked for since ’95, kept
me through 2001 before becoming “news gathering partners” with The
Star, who demanded I get the boot and, naturally, I did in 2002.





Oh yeah, I wasn’t allowed on Bob Tom anymore either, because I’d
lambasted Tony once when those two radio jocks had suggested the “buzz”
had returned to the Speedway.





But let’s fast forward to 2007. The Indy media is all a bunch suck-ups
who either want to keep their pace car, free Indy tickets or jobs with
the IMS network so they’ve never uttered a discouraging word about May
during all these years despite the fact they privately acknowledge it’s
lost its crowd, luster and pedigree.





And many of my old racing “friends” who turned on me and called me a
Commie bastard for criticizing Tony have since admitted the obvious,
Indy has been reduced to a one-day event and is never coming back like
it was in 1995.





Owners, mechanics and drivers who praised Tony and cursed me in the
late ’90s now take his name in vain because they’ve all been left
behind as the IRL morphed into CART Lite, to quote A.J. Foyt.





I worked for ESPN from 2001-2004 before it stopped covering motorsports
and went to work for SPEED while continuing to freelance for Autosport
and Champ Car’s website. How can he be objective on open wheel racing
if he gets money from Champ Car, was the question many IRL zealots
asked.





When either series did something stupid and needed to be reminded, I
wrote about it on SpeedTV.com and talked about it on SPEED Report or
Wind Tunnel. Even though Champ Car agreed to let me be semi-critical a
few times about schedules, venues and decisions, I’m sure SPEED would
have preferred if I only wrote for them.





Well, now I’m all theirs.





After last Sunday’s critique of Champ Car’s state (which by the way was
mild compared to some of the commentaries I’ve written about T. George
over the years) on SpeedTV.com, I was informed my services were no
longer required on Champ Car’s website. (For the record, I’d predicted
my dismissal to a couple of friends on Sunday night).





So let’s recap. For reporting the demise of the Indy 500, I lost four
jobs, lots of money, several friendships and to this day I’m persona
non grata on every Indy radio and TV station except the ABC affiliate
during May. Oh, and the Indy Star acts like I never existed on their
pages for five decades.





For pointing out that Champ Car has a shortage of common sense, cars,
leadership and good judgment on this web site, I lost a nice
supplementary income.





Of course this is the big difference between myself and intelligent
life. Obviously, I understood the potential consequences of my actions
in 1996 and again this past weekend. Keep my mouth shut, toe the party
line and collect my checks – facts and reality be damned.





But I can’t play that game of looking the other way when Champ Car
tries to fire Tony Cotman or lying about how much drama there is on
Bump Day at Indy nowadays.





My problem is that open wheel racing is my family, my job and my
passion. Watching it be destroyed is maddening and frustrating. Nobody
in this country has written more positive stories about Indy, Indy cars
and open wheel than myself. And nobody has been as critical. A healthy
faction of CART owners hated me in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and
the IRL brain trust has felt that way most of the past 11 years. Now
they both loathe me and that’s perfect – I must be doing my job.





Naturally, I understand a lot of people in my business maybe can’t
always say what they feel because they’ve got families to feed and
can’t afford to lose their job. Telling the truth in the media is
usually risk vs. reward. You risk losing money, friends and stability
for taking a stand while the reward is the conviction of your
reporting.





Auto racing has always been driven by bitching, cheating, lying and
stealing other’s peoples drivers and sponsors – it’s the nature of the
beast. Indy car racing has always been mismanaged regardless of the
call letters. NASCAR has always written its rule book in pencil. USAC
has always been stuck in the 1950s. The AMA has always ripped off its
riders. Sure there are some great people and stories in motorsports and
telling them is the most enjoyable part of our jobs.





But it’s a cut-throat business that demands more honest analysis and
usually settles for saccharine shows on TV complete with cheerleading
or insulting features about Michael Waltrip’s pain over the cheating on
his team.





Thankfully, there are old rippers like Ben Blake, Ed Hinton, Monte
Dutton, Gordon Kirby and Brock Yates who are never afraid to hold
people’s feet to the fire. Thankfully, SPEED provides me a national
forum and doesn’t tell me what to say or write.





In the movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character said: “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.”





And the truth is, not many racing people can.



































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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Beauty School Terror

Something about Southern Florida, celebrities, and plain weirdness...



This time its MC, Foxy Brown (real name Inga Marchand) complaining of her treatment in this Herald article, after being involved in an alleged brawl :









Rapper Foxy Brown is speaking out about the beauty store brawl that led to her arrest in Pembroke Pines earlier this month.



Speaking

to reporters in New York yesterday, Brown denied allegations that she

squirted glue at the store owner and spat at him after closing time.









Now she must have something against the entire womans beauty industry:

Brown also has a history of run-ins with the law.

She was

previously sentenced to three years probation and anger management

classes for attacking a pair of manicurists in New York City.











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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

US: Colbert on Congresswoman Lorena Sanchez "Whore"

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez from California has quit the Hispanic Caucus after being allegedly called a whore by her fellow Latino California Congressman, Baca. Sanchez is famous for sending out wacky Christmas cards featuring her and Gretzky the cat: definitively weird and this other one is begging 4 double entendre. 40 something real estate brokers in places like Dallas and Broward County Florida come up with worse/tackier/weirder than this, but the lady is a Congresswoman. Then again the people in the OC (and next door San Diego) who bitch the most about Loretta, sent wack-jobs like Dana Rohranbacher and "B-1"Bob Dornan to Congress. If anything Loretta fits right in with the kind of stuff that goes on behind the Orange Curtain. Orange County bad boy Gustavo Arellano, (of "Ask a Mexican") thinks It’s about time someone called Loretta Sancheza whore

Stephen Colbert makes it national...




Loretta is kind of sexy in a wacko-MILF kind of way.





Tip Of The Hat to
Adventures Of The Coconut Caucus

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Brain By Castro, Car By Cadillac


Funny, idiot Chavez getting driven around in a Caddy, celebrating the anniversary of his bloody coup attempt.














Tip Of The Hat to

CUBA, VENEZUELA: CASTRO AND HIS NEW ASS















"Here Hugo, Use This Stick To Check Out My New Ass"

Monday, January 29, 2007

NYT: ON MEXICO HANDLING CENTRAL AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS

Interesting article on the brutal treatment and crackdowns on Central American immigrants entering Mexico's southern borders. Pretty ironic.












Tip Of The Hat to

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

LATIN AMERICA: LA INDIA MUESTRA EL CAMINO?

En el continente Americano los tres chiflados de Chavez, Morales y Correa predicen el fin del"neoliberalismo", alaban abiertamente al socialismo, y estan o planean estatizar sus economias.

Conviene ver el ejemplo de la India. Despues de su independencia Nehru adopto una economia planificada basada en el modelo Sovietico que es visto como un fracaso. Despues de la caida del muro de Berlin, la India se lanzo en un ambicioso programa que en Latinoamerica seria tildado de "neoliberal". El ministro de Planeación de la India, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, explica que implicaba:

''liderar un alejamiento de un sistema de excesivo control estatal y movernos hacia un sistema que les da más juego a las fuerzas del mercado y al sector privado'',

Esos comentarios citados por Andres Oppenheimer fueron dados casi simultaneamente con los de Chavez en la conferencia de Mercosur insto a sus colegas sudamericanos a ''recuperar la propiedad nacional", citando su reciente movida de re-nacionalizar las telecomunicaciones.

Mientras Chavez expropria los telefonos y luz electrica de Venezuela, es interesante ver que hizo la India en los 90's. Se redujeron impuestos a actividades comerciales, empresas del estado fueron abiertas a competencia externa, se quitaron restriciones al capital externo, y regulaciones redundantes fueron eliminadas. A corto plazo India fue de un 3 a un 7 por ciento de crecimiento del 91 al 94. A largo plazo el pais se esta convirtiendo en un poder economico mundial.

Andres Oppenheimer explora la ciudad de Bangalore en su columna del Miami Herald.
















Thursday, January 18, 2007