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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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


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


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




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