Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bolivia y su política en materia de hidrocarburos

Bolivia y su política en materia de hidrocarburos
Lunes, 14 Diciembre 2009
2009-12-14 07:59:55 Por Emilio J. Cárdenas Ex embajador de la República Argentina ante las Naciones Unidas - Evo Morales, como era previsible, acaba de ser re-electo como Presidente de Bolivia....

En 2006 Bolivia tenía autoabastecimiento de naftas e importaba un 30% de su diesel. Hoy la última cifra es del orden del 50% del consumo doméstico. Además, el año que viene se perderá la autosuficiencia que Bolivia lograra en 1954. No será nada fácil recuperarla. Se estima que tomará unos cinco años de hacer bien las cosas y unos 8.000 millones de dólares de una inversión que será difícil de obtener desde que pocos, muy pocos, confían en Bolivia. En rigor, ni los maltratados brasileños. Bolivia no ha reinvertido en el sector en el último quinquenio y las consecuencias estarán –muy pronto– a la vista de todos. En el futuro inmediato, Bolivia deberá importar el 20% de sus naftas y el 20% de su gas licuado. Porque lo cierto es que es poco, muy poco, lo que ha hecho el Estado en el sector. Entre el 2002 y el 2006 se perforaron 96 pozos. En los 4 últimos años, solamente 18. De horror como fracaso de gestión. Inocultable, por demás.

Top Gear goes to Bolivia!

Top Gear goes to Bolivia! BBC's Top Gear, IMHO the planets best car show goes to Bolivia - As in previous episodes, the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond are given a set of tasks. First off they buy cars - sight unseen - on the internet, off local websites. They then hit the Altiplano, salt flats, and the La Paz-Coroico road (aka road of death) most definitvely looks to be fun...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gas could be the cavalry in global warming fight

Pointing to Natural Gas as a clean (relatively speaking) form of energy. See if a re-elected Evo gets with the program and stops destroying Bolivia's natural gas industry

[N]atural gas, the same fossil fuel that was in such short supply a decade ago that it was deemed unreliable. It's now being uncovered at such a rapid pace that its price is near a seven-year low. Long used to heat half the nation's homes, it's becoming the fuel of choice when building new power plants. Someday, it may win wider acceptance as a replacement for gasoline in our cars and trucks.

If the market is increasing for natural gas in the US - and with new discoveries, that opens the gates for US production - as well as LNG depending on the price.

Energy experts believe that the huge volume of supply now will ease price swings and supply worries.

Gas now trades on futures markets for about $5.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. While that's up from a recent low of $2.41 in September as the recession reduced demand and storage caverns filled to overflowing, it's less than half what it was in the summer of 2008 when oil prices surged close to $150 a barrel.

Oil and gas prices trends have since diverged, due to the recession and the growing realization of just how much gas has been discovered in the last three years. That's thanks to the introduction of horizontal drilling technology that has unlocked stunning amounts of gas in what were before off-limits shale formations. Estimates of total gas reserves have jumped 58 percent from 2004 to 2008, giving the U.S. a 90-year supply at the current usage rate of about 23 trillion cubic feet per year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colombia - FARC control and infiltrations of some labor unions

Colombian blogger Rafael Guarin, publishes his "revealing interview done in 2007" with the secretary of a leading agricultural Union, Fensuagro.

Turns out that Juan Efrain Mendoza was captured by the Colombian Army in a raid on a FARC camp.

Una inédita y reveladora entrevista que le fuera hecha en el 2007 al secretario de Fensuagro, Juan Efraín Mendoza, capturado por el Ejército en un campamento en Sumapaz, muestra lo que las Farc busca conseguir en el campo político.*

Tratándose de un dirigente sindical, muchos se sorprendieron de su captura en combates contra las Farc. No fue mi caso. La entrevista que le hice a Juan Efraín Mendoza revelaba una inquietante cercanía con la organización guerrillera y el papel que Fensuagro cumple.

Read the original here.

Basically Mendoza is either an infiltrated, clandestine FARC member, or a complete useful idiot from his rhetoric.

No surprise there, the FARC and its predecessors, as good Leninists have always had front groups, and had infiltrated other organizations - gaining effective control of some. It was always Jacobo Arenas' strategy to use different forms of "mass struggle" to complement the armed insurgency.

Sometimes, the FARC would tip its hand when it was trying to infiltrate Unions, causing dissension within Union ranks - and often involving violence. Not surprisingly, this often resulted in paramilitary reprisals, escalating general violence further.

The bottom line of this whole situation is that, yes, there are some Unions in Colombia where the FARC wields its invisible hand.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

US Policy Towards Latin America - Populism and The Rise Of The Center

---Interesting paper circulating among government officials, think tanks, academics about Latin America populism and implications for US policy.

Dealing with Political Ferment in Latin America: The Populist Revival, the Emergence of the Center, and Implications for U.S. Policy

, Dr. Hal Brands. esearcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses

Can be read in full here

The current political dynamics in Latin America is analyzed, and their meaning for the United States is evaluated. The author argues that references to a uniform “left turn” in the region are misleading, and that Latin America is actually witnessing a dynamic competition between two very different forms of governance. Represented by leaders like Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, and others, radical populism emphasizes the politics of grievance and a penchant for extreme solutions. Moderate, centrist governance can be found in countries like Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Uruguay. It stresses diplomatic pragmatism, the protection of democratic practices, and the need to blend macroeconomic responsibility with a social conscience. To the extent that the United States can strengthen the centrists while limiting the damage caused by radical populism, the author argues it can promote integral growth, democratic stability, and effective security cooperation in Latin America. A clear understanding of the trends discussed is essential to devising appropriate U.S. policies toward that region.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Cuba's Own Craigslist

Local papaer, Miami Times article Cuba's black market moves online with Revolico-com talks about the emerging internet marketplace in Havana. Taking the online classifieds concept pioneered by Craigslist to country with an onerous command economy, and very likely making it even more obsolete.

The article describes Mateo a home mechanics experience

One of his three kids, 23-year-old Manuel, wanted to join some friends on a trip to the north coast. For months, father and son tried to unload some expensive rims to raise money. Though Manuel thought they were worth 300 pesos — about $325 — no one was biting.

"Dad," Manuel finally said, "have you heard about Revolico?"

Revolico? In Cuban slang, it means "a mess." Mateo had no idea what his boy was talking about.

So Manuel took his father to the house of a friend, an engineer with spotty Internet access at home. They logged onto and discovered a capitalist Valhalla. There was everything for sale: cars, tires, motorcycles, diapers, cell phones, laptops, massages, Chinese lessons.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bolivia, Mil Millones De Dolares De Regalo Para Yacimientos

La navidad de YPFB
Viernes, 25 Septiembre 2009
2009-09-25 08:02:33 Carlos Miranda Pacheco* Hace días la navidad llegó a YPFB con un espléndido regalo que se lo denominó préstamo. Mil millones de dólares, a 20 años plazo con el 1% de...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Interesting article - Racial Resentment, Authoritarianism and Health Care Reform

Interesting argument by professor Jonathan Weiler, backed by data.

In the just-published book that I have co-authored with Marc Hetherington, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, we argue that how Americans view political issues and establish partisan attachments is being increasingly driven by gut-level world views, which is best characterized by the term authoritarianism. Since levels of authoritarianism are powerful predictors of individuals' views on the hot button issues of the day like gay rights, immigration, and torture, they now explain whether people choose to be Republicans and Democrats, which is a key reason why our politics have become so rancorous and impervious to reasoned conciliation.

Weiler concludes:

In sum, there is reason to think that beneath the arguments about government intrusion into the health care market, death panels, and such, a much more visceral dynamic is at work. To be perfectly clear, it is far from the case that every opponent or skeptic of significant health-care reform is a racist or racially motivated in her or his thinking. But there is, at the least, very strong circumstantial evidence that views of race and beliefs about health care reform are linked significantly among many Americans, which probably explains why the debate on health care reform has caused a much stronger uproar in 2009 than it did in 1994.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO..... - Chavez Hypocritical posturing

Talk about arming a big brouhaha........Hugo Chavez complaining of US intervention, specifically the treaty to use Colombian bases.

The socialist leader called Colombia’s plan to host more U.S. soldiers a “hostile act” and a “true threat” to Venezuela and its leftist allies. He warned that a possible U.S. buildup could lead to the “start of a war in South America


shall we start with a couple of basics?

His invitation to Russia to "send ships, refuel long-range bombers and temporarily station anti-submarine aircraft in Venezuela", including the much publicized exercise held almost exactly a year ago with key parts of the Russian fleet

"Venezuela is a strategic ally of Russia. So let the Russian fleet come. It's welcome," Chavez basically invites a extra-territorial nuclear power to sail its main battle fleet into his waters, and says he welcomes them stationing personnel in Venezuelan bases.

Not to mention that Russia is the power selling sophisticated weapons to Chavez' dis-functional and corrupt military. This fuels a regional arms race. What is the purpose of all that offensive materiel? Venezuela has no real internal or external military threats - unlike Colombia which faces a ruthless insurgency that until recently controlled a lot of territory.

The most troubling part of Chavez arms buildup regardless of its origins, is that some of these weapons (i.e. shoulder-held Surface to Air Missles) can make it to Colombia, through coca-dollars or ideological sympathy. And Colombia is a country which does face an existential threat, the FARC.

The only "hostile" “true threat" to his neighbors is Chavez.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bernie Madoff, How did he do it?

for anyone puzzled about the Bernie Madoff ripoff, this Economist article and the NYT article on Bernie sidekick Frank DiPascali presents some basic info on key aspects of the scams. A complex Ponzi scheme, covered by loads of fake info cleverly designed to appear as legitimate trades.

Mr DiPascali was the main point of contact for investors, who ranged from Jewish charities to film moguls. He also oversaw the mechanics of the vast Ponzi scheme. It purported to be making steady, double-digit returns trading options on a share index. In fact, client funds sat in an account at JPMorgan Chase and were withdrawn only to meet redemptions or to be parked in Treasuries and the like. This was “nothing more than a slush fund”, according to the complaint against Mr DiPascali by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Though there was no actual trading, the conspirators were far from idle. They cooked up phantom trading records, client confirmations and account statements to corroborate the fictitious investment strategy. They made thousands of wire transfers between the firm’s London and New York offices to make it look like it was earning commissions from real transactions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Newsweek Says Latin America "Swings" Rightward

Interesting article in Newsweek Latin America Swings Right Not Left

First off, I am not so sure that there is anywhere near a general "shift" to the center and/or right in that very broad and generic "general" Latin American electorate as this article suggests.

But I do agree with the articles contention that the "Washington Consensus" approach is very much alive in many of the principal countries of Latin America. I have been saying that for a long time. Fact of the matter is that countries which are better off like Colombia, Peru, Chile and Brazil have continued policies that favor trade, fiscal responsibility, macroeconomic stability, foreign investment, private sector dynamism, and are much more succesfull than "Caracas Consensus" countries.

In the new Latin America, party affiliation and ideological inheritance may be heartfelt, but they are lousy compasses to the political future. And while neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus may be still be maldiciones below the Rio Grande, they are hardly dead or even out of fashion. In fact, with the exception of Mexico—whose fortunes are tethered to the faltering U.S. market—the nations faring best in the global financial downturn are those that have hewed closest to the free-market reforms that have proved so politically provocative. If onetime left-wingers are in charge in a dozen Central and South American states, most remain leftists in name only.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama's Speech to Africa

What Obama said in Ghana will resonate for a long time with not only that continents people, but also with people all over the developing world. It is also very consistent with what he said to the NAACP.
In the end the themes he raised about the culture of corruption, failure, and blaming the west for every wrong is a message that should be heeded in Latin America. The old/new leftist agenda (Chavez), besides being bankrupt ideologicially, subsists on churning out propaganda that fosters a culture of blaming others for its own failures.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

POWER, CORRUPTION & LIES- Bolivia follow blackout Venezuela

Evo Morales publically "nationalized" the energy companies in Bolivia on May 1st, forcing private investors and worker cooperatives to sell their ownership shares of jointly owned companies.   So the state assumes total ownership and management control over the production, transportation, and sales of power that these companies held, constituting 80 percent of the sector in Bolivia, with a few regional cooperatives outside State hands.  What in fact was a mixed-model of ownership is now becoming a solely state-run system.

By looking around the region, there is no more striking contrast as that presented by the energy policies and results of Colombia and Venezuela, which illustrates why Bolivia will likely end up in failure.

A Tale of Two Countries -

According to the CIA factsheets for Colombia and Venezuela, the neighboring countries are roughly around the same size, Colombia about a sixth bigger, and with more people 43.6m to 26.8 m, (est).. But, Venezuela with 17 million less people has almost double the GNP of its neighbor. ($353.5 billion 2009 est.vs. 228.6 billion) and has a higher per capital income $13,200 vs. $9,200 . Government revenue is roughly par, with Venezuela's government spending about 15 percent more ( $92.04 billion vs. 79 billion).

 "In 2008" Venezuela "was the eighth-largest net oil exporter in the world"; a petroleum powerhouse that co-founded OPEC and . Colombia may have a more diversified economy but it doesn't have the Orinoco oil belt or Lake Maracaibo in its territory. Historically, high oil prices mean Venezuelans are on the average richer than their more populated neighbors - in fact sometimes Venezuelan income levels have been first world - in the 50's the country had a GNP close to West Germany's. Venezuelas government can afford to spend much more per capita on its citizens than Colombia on infraestructure and social programs.

Venezuela not only has oil and gas to spare, and money, but it has a vast hydsroelectric potential (think monster rivers w/big elevation changes) and major infraestructure in place.he  Guri Dam Complex on the Caroni River, known officially as the Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar, one of the 3 largest hydroelectric plants in the world, either 2 or 3 behind Brazil's Itupi and China's Three Gorges Dam. Planning for the complex started under dictator Perez Jimenez, and the first stages were completed in the early 60's.

So with this kind of riches and government spending, why in the world is the electric power grid in Venezuela dangerously close to collapsing, threatening the country's future growth.

Blame it on El Niño, the climatic phenomenon that is causing a drought in that part of South America. Lower water levels in the rivers that drive generators means less power.

With this going on, you'd expect next-door Colombia also suffering the drought to be going through a similar energy crisis - Bogota and Medellin sharing Caracas-style blackouts.

Not the case by a mile, if anything Colombia has excess capacity it has offered to sell to Venezuela.

Sin embargo, El Niño no golpea con la misma fuerza a todos los países, pese a que los déficits de agua que produce son similares. Mientras en Ecuador y Venezuela los apagones de hasta ocho horas diarias empezaron a convertirse en cotidianos durante los meses de enero y febrero, en Colombia el país logró mantener sus luces encendidas, incluso con capacidad de sobra que podría vender a sus países vecinos

First of, Venezuelans of all classes, have benefited enormously from the oil boom, and they have more money to spend. That has driven demand for power way up. If you are poor and you suddenly are able to afford things like refrigerators, TV's, air conditioners, you buy them. Middle class folks, all the sudden can afford more goodies, TV's. Tony restaurants, night clubs, and fancy shopping malls spring up to cater to the new and old rich and they all use up power. That happens in an oil boom, and it has happened in Venezuela before in the 70's and again the early 90's.

El Nino, like an oil boom is cyclical, and comes through Venezuela.

And the chaotic response has included Chavez' emergency rolling blackouts, importing Castro's former-Interior Minister to advise on the crisis, government prayer meetings for rain, buying huge turbines from US Multi-National General Electric,

El caso de Venezuela es paradójico, pues se trata de un país prodigiosamente rico en recursos energéticos. No sólo cuenta con las consabidas enormes reservas de hidrocarburos. Además, tiene la segunda hidroeléctrica más grande del mundo después de Itaipú. Se trata de Guri, una represa que tiene una capacidad de 10 millones de kilovatios/hora, equivalente a 300.000 barriles diarios de petróleo, la que sólo es una de tantas represas del río Caroni, todas administradas por Electrificación del Caroni (Edelca).

lo inexorable en la situación energética no es el clima, sino la realización o no de inversiones adecuadas.

El Niñoes también una dura prueba para las matrices energéticas de los países andinos..

Lo que representa Edelca no es menor, pues la compañía abastece 70% de la demanda eléctrica, por lo que su incapacidad de generar energía frente a un fenómeno climático no habitual es síntoma de la ausencia de inversiones con las que planificar contingencias como ésta.

Actualmente Venezuela tiene una capacidad instalada de 23.642 mw, según informó el mismo presidente Hugo Chávez, una cifra que plantea oficialmente el ambicioso desafío de generar 10.000 nuevos mw en cinco años, amén de reducir drásticamente la demanda.

“Somos muy derrochadores, los que más gastamos electricidad en América Latina”, ha dicho Chávez. Pero la voluptuosidad del consumo venezolano es sólo una parte pequeña del problema. “En 11 años el gobierno sólo ha logrado incrementar la capacidad en 3.200 mw”, dice Guillermo Ovalles, ex presidente de la empresa transmisora de energía Elecentro y actual presidente de la comisión de energía eléctrica de la Federación de Cámaras y Asociaciones de Comercio y Producción de Venezuela.

meanwhile Colombia has adequate energy supplies, despite being twice the size and having half of the budget of Venezuela.  (not to mention 10's of thousands of crazies waging war on the state - and for control of drug routes) 

En Colombia Después del colapso energético de 1993, las autoridades empezaron a trabajar en un parque de generación eléctrica de bases hídrica y térmica. Gracias a esas inversiones, el país hoy tiene una capacidad instalada de 13.800 mw (53% proveído por plantas térmicas y 47% por hidroeléctricas). Una diversificación de la matriz eléctrica notable, más si se considera que en el reciente 2008 las plantas hidroeléctricas respondían por el 80%.

Hoy Colombia está iniciando su programa de ampliación del parque energético entre los años 2010 y 2018, mediante el cual desarrollará nueve proyectos, la mayoría de los cuales entrará a operar antes de 2015. Las inversiones sumarán más de US$ 6.000 millones y adicionarán 3.421 mw al sistema nacional.

This is what you get with sensible policies

Friday, July 03, 2009

La Palin Resigns

Sarah Palin just announced she is resigning as governor of Alaska, running for President in 2012?

Todd S. Purdum’s excellent Vanity Fair piece , It Came from Wasilla,, detailing La Palin's doings in Alaska and in the McCain campaign. that has Democrats laughing, Republicans fighting among themselves, and Independents glad that one of the most brainless of American politicians in recent memory is not a heartbeat away from the presidency.

She apparently didn’t like preparing for debates back then either. “In the campaign for governor, they’re prepping her for debate,” Curtis Smith’s former business partner, Jim Lottsfeldt, told me recently in Anchorage, “and Curtis says, ‘The debate prep’s going horribly. Every time we try to help her with an answer, she just gets mad.’” (Smith himself says, “Unfortunately, I don’t recall having that exact conversation with Mr. Lottsfeldt, nor do I recall my experience, including debate prep, with Governor Palin in the light he portrayed.”) But Palin’s lack of knowledge turned out not to hurt her. Andrew Halcro later remembered that he and Palin once compared notes about their many encounters, and she said, “Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I’m amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, Does any of this really matter?”

Thursday, July 02, 2009

MILLER: End Of The Tony George Era

Tony George's reign at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over after leaving the sport divided after forming the IRL and locking out CART in 96.
Robin Miller tells it right:
MILLER: End Of The Tony George Era

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Alexis Arguello, Nicaraguan 3-Time World Boxing Champ Dead

DAMN, this is a real bummer. I grew up watching Alexis' fights. "El Flaco Explosivo" was a national hero in Nicaragua and the whole country would shut down when he fought. Before the era of a bewildering number of "world championships" boxing had two sanctioning bodies which crowned a world champion for each weight class. Alexis won 3 separate titles. a major feat.

Alexis Arguello dies
.....from ESPN

MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Alexis Arguello, who fought in one of boxing's most classic brawls and reigned supreme at 130 pounds, was found dead at his home early Wednesday.

Coroners were conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Sandanista Party's Radio Ya and other local media were reporting it appeared to be a suicide.

[+] EnlargeAlexis Arguello
Getty ImagesAlexis Arguello was found dead Wednesday at 57. He is pictured in June 1981 after beating Jim Watt to win the WBC lightweight title.

The La Prensa newspaper reported that Arguello -- elected mayor of Nicaragua's capital last year -- was found with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The 57-year-old Arguello retired in 1995 with a record of 82-8 and 65 knockouts and was a champion in three weight divisions. He was perhaps best known for two thrilling battles with Aaron Pryor and fights with Ray Mancini, Bobby Chacon and Ruben Olivares.

"I'm kind of in a daze right now," Pryor told The Associated Press. "Those were great fights we had. This was a great champion."

Nicknamed "The Explosive Thin Man," Arguello was inducted in 1992 into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where flags were flying at half-staff in his honor Wednesday.

Hundreds of people lined up to say goodbye to Arguello Wednesday night at a memorial service at the Palace of Culture in the capital of Nicaragua.

pic/ ESPN/Getty

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bolivia: Coca Es Mostly Cocaina.....Cocaine Production Up In Bolivia & Peru Down in Colombia

According to Reuters

LIMA (Reuters) - Cocaine production is growing fastest in Bolivia while Peru is on its way to matching output from Colombia, the top global producer of the drug, U.N. officials said on Friday.

Coca plant cultivation in Bolivia, which expelled U.S. anti-drug agents last year after accusing them of meddling in domestic affairs, grew 6 percent in 2008, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's annual study of Andean nations.

Estimated cocaine production rose 9 percent to 113 metric tons in the impoverished South American nation.

This is what happens when you leave the fox in charge of the henhouse. The reality that Evo-pologists avoid or ignore is that Morales's main base of support is composed of people who grow coca that is almost exclusively used to make cocaine. They want to be able to avoid annoyances like the DEA so they can grow coca freely so they can sell it or make their own coca paste. So now it is easier to do such things as bribe cops/military people without the "gringos" there, and there is less incentive to do anything about it.


Meanwhile, the UN also found that production also increased in Peru, part which can be attributed to neo-Sendero Luminoso types. Meanwhile growing of coca and production of cocaine actually fell in Colombia. Part of this might have to do with successes against the FARC, who both directly control some of the production and export as well as critical smuggling routes. And also moving against top Paramilitary leaders, who often acted with semi-sanction from officials because they fought the FARC. Critical in the Colombian conflict(s) and efforts against traffickers is territory. The more space in control or disputed by non-governmental armed bands, the more space that could be used to grow and produce cocaine. In a larger sense the conflicts with the guerillas also acted as a buffer against government actions against all parties dealing cocaine. Taking those players out of the equation allowed both direct erradication - as well as for traditional law enforcement to work against drug dealer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Honduras Flies The Coup UPDATED

Poor Zelaya received an old-fashioned military coup d' etat, subject to wide condemnation. And the man is hardly a Chavez/Evo, at the very worst a very mild-wannabee. More to the point he is the Constitutional, freely-elected President of the Republic of Honduras, whose term has not ended. Military leaders arresting him and sending him to exile is just plain simply a coup d' etat. Too old-school and scary.

Funny that Cuba - a one-party totalitarian government for 50 yrs is protesting very loudly. As is Chavez who celebrates his own failed (and bloody)coup attempt in 1992 to this day. Ditto for Evo Morales who agitated and conspired actively to bring down two Constitutional Presidents in Bolivia, and who pretty much ignores parliamentary and legal niceties.
El mandatario venezolano, Hugo Chávez, quien al igual que Cuba venía advirtiendo sobre la posibilidad de un golpe de Estado en el país centroamericano desde hace días, fue uno de los primeros en salir en defensa de Zelaya. Chávez anunció una ´batalla continental´ a favor de la restitución de su homólogo.

En ese sentido, los medios de comunicación reportaron el desarrollo de una reunión extraordinaria de presidentes de la Alba en Managua, que empezó anoche con la presencia de Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua y Cuba, y a la que hoy se sumará Bolivia.


President Obama made the right moves and set a good tone:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dealing with the first Latin American crisis of his presidency, Barack Obama sought a swift, clear response that would not be interpreted as U.S. interventionism in a region that loathes it.

So he condemned a coup in Honduras by turning to the most reliable of friends: democracy.

"We stand on the side of democracy, sovereignty and self-determination," Obama said when asked Monday about the forced exile of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a takeover that has drawn international criticism and unnerved a part of the world that has worked to shed itself of strong-arm tactics.

The point could not be lost. Obama mentioned some version of the word democracy eight times. He even wound up referring to George Washington.

The response put Obama with much of the world as Honduras and its newly appointed leader, Roberto Micheletti, quickly found themselves isolated. Obama left sticky underlying issues in Honduras for its people to decide, but pledged that the U.S. would work with international bodies on a peaceful solution.

As the NYT reports countries "ideologically" divided, as diverse as Bolivia and Colombia have condemned the coup. Specially worth noting is the reactions of
Argentina, Brazil and Chile, the 70's "gorilla" countries.
Boz has four posts and analysis here, 2, 3, 4.

Here is the OAS declaration which Boz cites:

1. To condemn vehemently the coup d’état staged this morning against the constitutionally-established Government of Honduras, and the arbitrary detention and expulsion from the country of the constitutional president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, which has produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.

2. To demand the immediate, safe and unconditional return of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales to his constitutional functions.

3. To declare that no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bolivia Stalls On Negotiating With Obama Administration Over Trade Preferences

Latest news from Bolivia's Foreign Ministry is that it has "postponed" sending a delegation to Washington DC to negotiate the possibility of Bolivia renewing trade preferences under the Andean Trade Preferences act. Suspended by the Bush admninistration in part due to Morales expulsion of the US ambassador and the DEA, the door had opened under Obama.

The program started in 1992 and took off slowly before picking up after 2002. In 2006 and 2007 exports to the US were 172.1 million and 153.3 million. Textiles were a big part. It is a very large percentage of Bolivia's total manufacturing exports. One estimate is that it produces 26,132 jobs directly and 17,541 indirect jobs for a total of 43,670.

Why this isn't a priority for Morales' government? Could be ideological disdain both for the private sector actors and the US. More to the point, loudly trumpeting Chavez' well as punishing business owners opposed to his rule. Or also could be that there is one group of private sector exporters and producers that Morales is heeding. The ones who don't want the DEA poking in their business anymore.

Bolivia - No More High Court

Bolivia's Constitutional Court basically ceased to exist as the last Judge has resigned. The Court, which has jurisidiction to be the ultimate arbitrer regarding the Constitutionality of laws, has been esentially dead the last couple of years.

An undereported story internationally, is how Evo Morales' government has waged a war on the highest two Courts in the land, the Supreme Court and this Court. The executive, has brought the equivalent of sanction and/or impeachment proceedings in the legislature against individual Judge, who have resigned. For the past couple of years that has meant a failure to get a quorum of judges to hear issues that have come up over the changes occuring in society.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bolivia - Washington Consensus vs. Caracas Consensus -

Bolivia we are told was a battleground for the Washington Consensus, a poster-child for the "failure of neo-liberalism," of "popular resistance to the International Monetary Fund." This was illustrated by such episodes as the Water Wars in Cochabamba and the Gas War that brought down Sanchez De Lozada, and ultimately the surprise rise to power of Evo Morales. In this narrative it is mainly about resources, resistance to economic measures imposed from abroad that allowed multinationals to come in and extract natural resources to the detriment of Bolivia's poor.

Reality of course is much more complicated. The rise to Evo and the failure of the traditional political class, also owes a lot to the ethnic and regional cleavages in Bolivian society, and the long history of instability and self-destruction in Bolivian politics. Among other (numerous) factors you can also throw in the historical exclusion of a large part of the population, regional economic crisis, US drug policy,etc, etc.

But bring it back to economics, because that is what we were told this was about. If the evil IMF, the neo-liberals, and the multinationals were so bad, what was the alternative?
However many dumb things the IMF suggested (or forced) the country to do, the truth is the budget did become balanced, and the foreign debt was lowered. This was forecast by the Bolivian Government and the IMF when they reached a Stand-by deal in 2002. Privatizations of airlines, railroads, telcom companies wiped out hundreds of millions of dollars in obligations the Bolivian government carried. And due to the opening up of the oil and gas sector per the Washington Consensus/IMF/Neo-lib recommendations resulted in nearly 4 billion dollars in investment. Up to the 1990's Bolivia produced little natural gas, afterwards it held the 2nd gas reserves in the continent, filling 50 + percent of Sao Paulo's needs. Simply put, the gas industry exists because of foreign investment.

And Evo Morales' policies? Under the tutelage of loudmouth Hugo Chavez - who acts as a cheerleader and enabler of Morales worst instincts. Destroying transparency in government. The childish nationalizations, that resulted in massive mismanagement, corruption, and even over-payments to transnationals. Bolivia going from being the "gas hub" of South America, to the "black hole" of energy policy in the Continent as one analyst put it. So destructive and unreliable has Morales government become that Bolivia's gas clients like Argentina and Brazil have ponied up billions of dollars for re-gasification facilities, preffering to pay more to bring in gas from Trinidad and Tobago and eventually Africa. Cuba now has a more favorable environment for foreign oil and gas company than Bolivia, and Peru is drawing in billions in investments with much less gas.

While this has gone on, the same voices that constantly whined about the IMF, about the World Bank, about Goni, about Bechtel, are awfully silent. Nothing about Morales' amazingly inept and failed policies. The narrative shifts, it is now about the excluded indigenous majority trying to "change" the country under assault from the "light-skinned" elites in the east. Noting resistance to the "indigenous" Constitution - while failing to note how it crudely imposes a statist-centralized government-run economy, and pretty much bans foreign investment. Basic stupidity that goes far beyond, trying to force a bankrupt government to balance its budget. Whatever damage the "Washington Consensus" did, the Caracas Consensus is a real loser.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Classic Salsa - Hector Lavoe y Willie Colon - No Me Llores Mas

YouTube rocks!......Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon doing "No Me Llores Mas" for Panamanian TV. Classic tune sounds great.


its only starting with this Formula One stunner. It looks like the manufacturers are going thru with a breakaway series, and not cutting a deal with Max Mosely and tghe FIA.

Instant comparisons to US Open Wheel split in mid-90's can be misleading; Ferrari as one writer wrote is the Man-U of motorsports with a worldwide passionate fanbase. Penske not showing up at Indy in 96 is nowhere near the effect of the Scuderia not contesting the World Championship. But, what is relevant from that whole sordid story is the fact that splitting the sport dilutes the product in general. And the politics and nasty headlines take away from the racing and end up angering fans

Monday, June 08, 2009

Los Amigos Invisibles Commercial Gets Major US Media Love

Los Amigos Invisibles the wacky Venezuelans whose latin-house-funk-disco fusion is great on disc and absolutely rocking live, get shown major love from major US media. Critic James Reed at the Boston Globe gives a great review to their latest album "Commercial".

Eleven years since they appeared on the cover of their debut as poolside dudes gawking at a foxy lady in a bikini, the good-time guys in Los Amigos Invisibles are still insatiable party animals. The Venezuelan band has long been a favorite live act for people who normally don't even like Latin music; the songs are exuberant and vivacious enough to transcend language. But in the studio, Los Amigos Invisibles had been treading water since 2000's "Arepa 3000," turning out albums that locked into the same shopworn groove. It's a relief, then, to hear fresh ideas and rhythms on "Commercial," the band's newest cocktail of disco, funk, rock, and space-age lounge. While the album doesn't exactly break new ground, the songs at least amount to a summer soundtrack perfect for days at the beach, nights on the dance floor. Following a rave-up introduction that falsely suggests the album will rocket into orbit, "Mentiras" puts the band in funkafied party mode right away. "In Luv With U," sung in English, is cute if dispensable. "Viviré Para Ti," a love song, glides along to a breezy beat courtesy of featherweight vocals from Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade. Like the cream of Los Amigos Invisibles' music, it hits the sweet spot between the heart and the hips. (Out tomorrow)


Great stuff. Nice to see that Los Amigos are getting (belated and much deserved)recognition - much as another favorite Los Aterciopelados is. Hopefully this will also translate into airplay from US Spanish-language media. In part due to the Univision cartels' self-interest in promoting its own acts and the self-contented attitude of other media, they tend to be behind the curve on these things. Los Amigos latest tracks and the album has been a major download success on I-tunes, hopefully this will open them up to the air and videoplay they deserve here in the US.

New song Mentiras from the album

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A tres años de la “nacionalización”

A tres años de la “nacionalización” (Editorial)
Martes, 12 Mayo 2009
2009-05-12 07:58:56 Editorial.
Hace ya casi un par de semanas se conmemoró el tercer aniversario de la “nacionalización” de los hidrocarburos, “acontecimiento histórico” —como fue calificado en su momento— que ahora ya nadie quiere recordar. No hubo actos oficiales, ni discursos, ni festejos. Muy atrás quedaron los días cuando oficialistas y opositores se disputaban el mérito de haber “recuperado” la principal riqueza del país................Nadie sabe qué hacer para disimular algo que ya es inocultable: la “nacionalización” fue un monumental fracaso. Nada de lo que alguien pueda sentirse orgulloso.

Las consecuencias económicas negativas de tal medida son enormes. La exploración sigue paralizada, la producción de gas y petróleo no deja de caer. Ya no se perforan nuevos pozos que puedan compensar el paulatino agotamiento de los existentes, en los que siquiera se hace el mantenimiento correspondiente.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Petrobras nuestro aliado que no fue

Editorial: Petrobras nuestro aliado que no fue
Lunes, 11 Mayo 2009
2009-05-11 07:53:23 Según los resultados de una encuesta recientemente realizada por el Reputation Institute (RI), empresa privada de consultoría y encuesta de mercado con sede en Nueva York, la empresa brasileña Petrobras figura en el cuarto lugar entre las 200 empresas más respetadas del mundo.......pudiendo haber hecho de Petrobras una aliada estratégica de Bolivia, lo que hubiera significado que todas sus cualidades se pongan al servicio de un plan conjunto de aprovechamiento de tan importantes recursos, optamos por que su lugar sea ocupado por quienes están destruyendo YFPB.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bolivia: Evo Shows Genius Part - XIV "am a Marxist-Leninist"

Evo Morales has made some fairly outrageous comments in his presidency, which somehow don't get much attention from many international media too caught up in the whole "first-indigenous" president spin.

How bizarre, how bizarre....

Recently he has been on a roll: He blamed a "CIA plot", namely one functionary for the corruption in YPFB which in fact was done by his #2 man facilitated largely by Evo's own measures. In addition he called a Mexican-American US embassy functionary a "Mexican" in the "pay of the CIA". He has called for the "ending of capitalism". Not to mention his performance at the summit of the Americas where he said he was an assasins target and complained Obama wasn't as compliant in condemning the "plot". Said plot based on the utterings of some eccentric Bolivian-Hungarian his cops killed in Santa Cruz, where he was in contact with a few fringe Crucenos who charged him about a grand for antique weapons.

May Day - How Apropriate

it was precisely at the pre-summit of ALBA where Evo made declarations that he subsequently repeated to an Argentine Newspaper.

I can't understand that because of ideological reasons they expell someone from the OAS. I am also a marxist-leninist and what are they going to expel me?"

He also said that the principles of marxism are part of the struggle of the indigenous movement for liberation, equality and dignity"

Interesting. 20 years after the collapse of communism Evo says he is a Marxist-Leninist.

Not only a Marxist which is bad enough. You can argue that original Marxism (as in Marx himself)had humanist, rational, and democratic leanings and stood for progress. But key elements of Marxism have led interpreters to adopt anti-democratic and utopian positions. Particularly damaging is a Marxian socialistic viewpoint untethered to liberal democratic concepts of government, personal freedom and institutionality. The vision of a world headed towards inevitable revolution, societies in a constant dynamic of class struggle, and a mechanistic view of the economy as an input-output machine have caused much real damage.

But its the Marxist-Leninist vision that Evo allegedly subscribes to that is dangerous to the core. Lenin's ruthless logic (endorsed by Troskty) wrote out any "reformist" and democratic elements from its conception of socialism. Instead it became about an infallible party (la vanguardia), armed with scientific certainty of its cause, seeking to achieve power at all costs, destroying its class enemies in the process. Its practical application was totalitarian, as evil a force as any during the last century.

Reality is Bolivia, however fragile, is a democracy not a peoples republic. Evo is a constitutional president elected by a majority vote in a free election. His party of disparate personalities is hardly the Leninist mass party with top down revolutionary control that for example the Sandinistas were in the 80s.

But there is a lot of the Leninist in the way Evo and the core MAS group around the government wield their mandate. Starting with the unrelenting war of words and actions against the opposition, the Eastern business and landowning class, which is much more one-sided than what foreign correspondents let on. The absolute arrogance and certainty of the executive in the way it directs policies almost without concern for the facts. Further, the way it has conducted a scorched earth policy against institutions like the supreme court and superintendencies, almost paraphrasing the exact words of contempt that Marxist-Leninist used in the past (i.e. "bourgeois-democratic") And of course, the way it has conducted its foreign policy, literally costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars in order to further what is basically a Cold War anti-US policy sans the USSR.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oppenheimer on the "post crisis world", Latin America, and Capitalism

Andres Oppenheimer centers on a couple of key issues in his last column....Post-economic crisis world will be harder for Latin America

He talks about the "conventional wisdom" among some in the "developing world" that the world will be less capitalist, and less Washington-centered, once the economic crisis is over." He cites the more exreme holders of this position, notably Chavez who at the ALBA meeting before the Trinidad Summit held that the "recent U.S. moves toward greater state regulation of the economy proves that capitalism is on its way out." Not to mention the kind of statements Evo has been making about the "end of capitalism".

Oppenheimer makes the point that "The post-crisis world will be less U.S.-centered, but not necessarily less capitalist." In other words the same kind of market-centered rules on production and exports will apply whether the ultimate consumer is in the US, Europe or China. If anything it will be more competitive.

He cites Harvard Economic Professor Enrique Hausman

'Disciplined, market-friendly countries like Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay will recover,''......``Neo-populist countries with high taxes on exports and no access to credit markets, like Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, will do poorly.''

It seems reasonable to conclude that countries that adopted and institutionalized many of the key tenets of the so-called and much-maligned "Washington Consensus" (macroeconomic stability, fiscal responsibility, export-oriented policies), will be in better shape to confront the crisis than those that adopted he "Caracas Consensus" - which in the end has left places like Venezuela even more vulnerable to outside crisis. A point that rarely is made by even centrist pundits and academics.

Sure, populist leaders are right in stating there will be a U.S. shift toward greater state regulation to prevent financial bubbles. But they forgot that it was precisely this financial bubble that caused the artificial world expansion that allowed their countries to grow rapidly without becoming more competitive.

Populism is the offspring of good times. Now that the pie has shrunk for everybody, Latin American countries will need to become more competitive in a more frugal world.

Bingo, again, a point that is left out of many discussions of the "financial bubble" n- at least when it comes to its international effects. Fact is the "bubble" not only enriched Wall Street financiers and gave a financial, boost to homeowners in the US. It accelerated growth in China and India among other places and placed an enormous demand on the resources of Latin American countries. In many ways it pulled 100's of millions of people out of poverty worldwide - as well as enabled irresponsibility in many quarters whether Wall Street or Caracas. But those countries that used the "boom" intelligently to "crisis-proof" themselves will be the ones that best weather the bad times ahead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Existe YPFB

¿Existe YPFB?
Jueves, 09 Abril 2009
2009-04-09 07:59:01 Carlos Miranda Pacheco* YPFB nunca dejó de existir, en enero del 2006 este gobierno encontró un YPFB reducido a un poco más de doscientos empleados dedicados a la...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Puedes contar conmigo - Mago de Oz -

Gettin' Medieval....(or Rennaisance Fair)

Some things defy explanation....including Spanish folk-metal-band Mago de Oz, with their latest track Puedes contar conmigo, the theme to a Spanish TV show, Aguila Roja. Missing: dancing dwarves in period costumes. enjoy:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why Bolivia's Murder-Bribery Scandal Matters

It reads like a crime thriller: an oil company executive robbed and shot to death while carrying 450,000 dollars in cash to the house of the brother-in-law of an influential political figure. More than a month after the fact, the murder-bribery scandal involving Evo Morales former #2, Santos Ramirez continues to rivet Bolivians as more and more details come out about the widespread corruption and inefficiency not only in the oil company but in the entire Bolivia state. It poses the strongest challenge faced by the Morales government, and its future plans.

This crisis raises key questions about Bolivia's political and economic future. In some ways these issues are as important as the discussions on autonomy. It matters and will continue to matter for a long time for some of the following reasons:

Evo's Plans:Evo has said that natural resources are the "fundamental base of the countries development". He is in power in large part because of his calls for nationalization of the industry. Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia YPFB, the national oil and gas company. which (in theory) manages the hydrocarbon production which is at the heart of these plans. The government is going to appropriate a one billion dollar loan from the Central Bank this year to "strengthen" the company.

MAS Plans: YFBP is the building block in MAS conception of a centralized, state-directed economy, set out in the party's rhetoric, its 06 economic plan, countless decrees and laws, and meant to be enshrined in the approved Constitution. Many Bolivian experts see this as a return to the statist approach of the nationalist-military period that started in 1952 and ended in 1985 with the collapse of the economy.

Close to Evo: Santos Ramirez co-founded MAS with Evo, led the senatorial MAS block, helping draft and push through both the oil and gas nationalization and the new constitution. Ramirez got married recently, Evo was best man. He was seen as a potential VP candidate.

MAS Scandal - It is the biggest scandal in the oil industry in Bolivian history: Corruption at YPFB is nothing new - every government since the 50's used it as a piggy bank. Never has there been a case this big, involving the chief executive caught in flagranti. It is also the largest in scope, because revelations continue to come out involving all levels of the company starting with wrongdoing and incompetence at management to lower level employees kicking back portions of their salaries to the ruling party. In addition, the scandal is touching key government ministeries and regulatory agencies involved in the fiasco, as well as those where similar shenanigans are coming to light.

MAS big - For comparison: another soap opera in neighboring Peru, a scandal involving politicians and a VP of the national oil company rigging the bidding to favor a Norwegian company, caused the sacking of ministers, the entire cabinet resigning, protests in the streets and Garcia's popularity plummeting further. While that scandal showed the vulnerability of the the bidding process, and involved powerful figures in and around the government, Bolivia's scandal directly involves the CEO of the national oil company, one of Evo's 4 or 5 major collaborators, with his hands directly in the pot. Call it a blatant example of corruption 101- showing a total lack of transparency in the company and absolute impunity.

Evo's fault: While not directly linked to any ill-gotten gains, he pretty much put his "compadre" in a position where ripping off the state was easy as taking candy from a baby.. Evo signed A series of decrees granting the higher ups at YPFB authority to award no-bid contracts to outside suppliers, directly, and further giving the president of the company (Santos) the right to directly authorize payments without approval of the board, as well as directing that funds be available in the state bank for immediate disbursal. That is why Santos alone was able to sign a contract to build a 86 million dollar plant with a front company incorporated only 3 days before. Company being able to draw from a government bank without any proof of work done, and literally being able to withdraw nearly half a million dollars in cash. ,

As Carlos Miranda the Bolivian hydrocarbon industry expert put it, this set of measures - combined with the nationalization decree - did away with "20 years of contracting experience" set out in the previous hydrocarbons law, which required open and international calls for bids and approval at least by the board of directors of the company. Miranda was writing last October when he said that this new regime could lead to "graver" situations than the (then) unfolding Peruvian case. This results from the MAS governments attempts to erase the past, by deligitimizing institutions and laws from prior governments. Evo's government readily breaks existing laws -Evo himself admitted to doing. These laws are "neo-liberal" in his conception, tainted and therefore illegitimate.

MAS Incompetents: From the beginning of the Morales administration YPFB was staffed by political hacks, cronies and family of MAS bigshots. Santos Ramirez notched it up when he came in, adding almost 500 people to the 1000 person roster. "Administrators" replaced oil and gas professionals and technical people, at all levels of what is an organization dedicated to exploring, extracting, and commercializing hydrocarbons. To make matters worse, in the supposedly "autonomous" company, salaries offered were at first lowered making it uncompetitive with the regional standards. And people with experience in multi-nationals and previous governments were dissuaded and/or barred from working there. The result a brain drain of Bolivian hydrocarbons talent to places like the gas fields of Peru.

Even MAS Incompetents: Directing this lunacy is Evo and the handful of ideologues who are clueless. The MAS/officialist leadership has had SIX different presidents and five hydrocarbons ministers in only three years. The company once required its president to have 10 years of executive experience at a high level in the hydrocarbons industry. Now it seems enough to have a college education. Santos (prez #5), was a rural schoolteacher and lawyer. The current president Carlos Villegas - who at least is an economist - was most famous for authoring angry polemics against the multinationals using suspect numbers. He is also one of the main geniuses behind the disastrous nationalization process, and specifically authored decrees barring transnationals from the domestic hydrocarbons industry. In other words he now has to deal with the shortages and lack of investment caused by his own stupid advice. Not to mention the corruption that went on under his own watch as Minister of Hydrocarbons - when the actual contract in question was signed. Morales government is so low on qualified people it has to recycle people like Villegas to try to set the house in order. In Peru by comparison, everyone connected with the scandal was fired.

NO MAS Investment: Evo's war against multi-nationals, including Brazil's state company Petrobras has meant a significant drop in investments, causing production to level off the last couple of years, even at a time when demand in the continent was high,. That has the practical effect of making it hard to supply the internal market when demand grew, since associated products like diesel and keresone depend on gas production - and on infraestructure investments. Evo has placed YPFB in control of the entire cycle of production and commercialization internally, excluding the multinationals from the downstream side of the business . In the end that explains why there are chronic shortages of products like cooking gas, diesel, and gasoline in Bolivia a country that has been self-sufficient in the past.

MAS Irrationality and Improvisation: As a result of both the improvisation, ideological silliness and incompetence YPFB is a mess. Its mistakes are masked by the record earnings that are largely the result of sectorial policies of the governments Evo rails against. It lacks transparency, no more public information available on budgeting and contracting - it took a murder to publicize this crooked contract. Meanwhile the company seems to be acting on government whims, It is spending millions on building gas stations. Meanwhile, only four wells were drilled last year, in comparison to the 65 drilled annually at the beginning of the decade. Peru in contrast drilled 153 last year, with smaller gas reserves. All the while Evo continues feuding with multinationals, and presses forward with constitutional provisions that seem to doom international investors in the sector.

MAS Refounding: The chaos and corruption scandal is in big part a result of an ideological attitude that puts politics above practicality. This ideological obsession which attempts to re-impose the heavily statist economy and centralize government that operated in Bolivia for years. Attempting to recreate this model is silly in light of the obvious evidenceof its failure worldwide. Not to mention the fact that its spectacular collapse in Bolivia led to world-record inflation. Evo's schemes in ypfb show that a really bad idea, executed with incompetence is even worse. Simple reality shows that Bolivia needs foreign investment and expertise to properly manage its natural resources. And that continuing on this path is disastrous. It also resurects the demons of corruption and impunity that proliferated in Latin American countries with centralist governments whose economies were anchored by large state-run enterprises, before the type of reforms that made possible world-class companies like Petrobras.

The government still barely concedes mistakes in 3 years of mis-management . While they now will bring in experts from Norway, Holland, and Canada and GASP! the World Bank, Evo has so far refused to announce any change of direction, even reaffirming that the billion dollar loan will go ahead. They prefer to make big media productions of such events as a drilling rig arriving from Venezuela. Failing to note later that said drill has been sitting idle for months, while PDVSA is asking for money for rental. And underneath all the revolutionary bla, bla, bla, the government has only unlocked the oil company making it vulnerable to the same old school corruption that plagued Bolivia for years. And again it says something that it took a murder to uncover it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lula Smacks Down Evo Part 2 - Evo's Moods

This week Lula again took shots at Evo Morales while discussing Brazil's plans to become self-sufficient in natural gas. While he did clarify again that Brazil "will continue buying gas from Bolivia, we have a contract until 2019" he continued with this statement:

"It is important that the world knows that we will have gas, that we have other ways. We will not be dependent on anyone's good mood,

To make sure everyone understood whose "mood" he was talking about he further said:

At the peak of our crisis with Bolivia when there were only difficulties, when Evo had a lot of complaints against Petrobras and Petrobras had complaints about Evo, when there indications that we might or might not have gas, we had a meeting of the National Council of Energy Policy..[it was there the government decided] to make it a priority to find gas, because we can not have an important energy matrix dependent on another country.

En el auge de nuestra crisis con Bolivia, cuando sólo había dificultades, cuando Evo tenía muchas quejas de Petrobras y Petrobras tenía quejas de Evo, cuando había indicaciones de que podríamos tener o no tener gas, hicimos una reunión del Consejo Nacional de Política Energética........ [Fue allí que el Gobierno decidió] “transformar en prioridad, encontrar gas, porque no podemos tener una matriz energética importante dependiente de otro país

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lula Smacks Down Evo

At an event inagurating a natural gas processing plant, Lula had this to say about Evo Morales and Bolivia as a natural gas supplier

I am very happy. If Petrobras continues on this path, there will be a day when I will call Evo Morales "Dear Evo, now we wil leave you in peace to sell gas to whoever you want to, Brazil doesn't need any more. we are self-sufficient"
Its logical that strategically Brazil will continue buying, because for our own growth we have no interest in a poor neighbor. We need to our relation..its important that people understand, that when we fight less, we produce more..."

“Hoy estoy acá feliz de la vida. Si Petrobras continúa en el recorrido en el que está, va a llegar un día en que voy a poder decir a Evo Morales: ‘Evo querido, ahora nosotros te dejamos en libertad para vender el gas a quien quieras. Brasil no precisa más. Somos autosuficientes. Es lógico que estratégicamente Brasil va a continuar comprando, porque para nuestro crecimiento no nos interesa tener un vecino pobre. Tenemos que crecer. Pero para que tengas una dimensión de la relación entre nuestros países, voy a decir, y es importante que la gente comprenda, que cuanto menos peleamos, más producimos’”.

Not The First Time
Last February Lula in a very significant speech in front of the Argentine Congress....also had this to say in reference to Bolivia's request for a voluntary reduction in gas volumes in order to comply with Argentina's requests...

We don't have gas, those who do don't exploit it as they should.

El presidente Lula da Silva, que concurrió a la cita con unos días de anticipación, describió perfectamente la situación con la siguiente frase en su intervención ante el Congreso argentino: ´No tenemos el gas... Algunos que lo tienen no lo explotan como deberían´.

Et Tu Lula?

So what gives? Isn't Lula Evo's ideologically-attuned buddy? In public Lula is all smiles with Evo, praising him to high heaven. But Lula's policy is Brazil's long-term strategic interest in achieving self-sufficiency in hydrocarbons. And through Petrobras they are laying down billions in investments - at home and abroad. Specifically it is investing in natural gas exploration and production to achieve self-sufficiency. Lula's government has just passed a new natural gas legislation, strengthening the regulatory framework and ending Petrobras monopoly to permit competition both in downstream and upstream.

Bolivia was once considered a long-term supplier of natural gas and strategic partner of Brazil. At the government of Brazil's heavy prodding, Petrobras invested heavily in developing Bolivia's gas reserves and laying the pipeline to Sao Paulo. Bolivia now supplies 50 percent of Brazil's natural gas. But Evo's government after three years in power is unreliable, and unpredictable as El Deber says. Even after the rift caused by Evo's very public humiliation .of Brazil and Petrobras during the "nationalization" media theater, Evo has had 3 years to make it right. But through ideological intrasigence, incompetence, and simple idiocity the Morales government has mismanaged its hydrocarbons industry neither able to produce as a "nationalized" industry and uncertain and risky for foreign investment.

Lula's seemingly out of character comments might carry a bit of payback for the May 2006 "nationalization". Or it simply may be frustration at 3 years of trying to work Evo Morales behind the scenes to back off a bit and accept the fact that Bolivia's hydrocarbons industry needs technical know-how and investment from abroad. Evo only seems to have ears for Hugo Chavez, and Lula may have simply given up. And he can afford to. At the rate Petrobras is going it will also be in a position to export gas and oil in quantities rivaling those of Venezuela. Chavez should also be worried.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TV: Burn Notice Season Finale

USA Networks Burn Notice The filmed-in-Miami show had a hell of an ending. One of my favorite shows on TV. Smartly written spy story - with a dose of humor, very well acted by Jeffrey Donovan -fresh off an acclaimed role in Clint Eastwoods "Changeling", uber-hottie Gabrielle Anwar (Scent of a Woman), the one and only Bruce Campbell as the 3 main characters. Throw in the re-occuring characters played by Sharon Gless and Caprica 6 herself, Tricia Hefler blessing us twice a week in cable....

Ultimately what really worked was the resolution of the storyline that has been built up these two seasons. Really good shows like Heroes and Lost can get muddled and complicated - with spy stuff it can get out of hand. The writers of Burn Notice were really smart in making the solution to the Burn Notice question fairly simple. It is an off-the-books government operation that "recruits" the best intelligence operatives by first of all "burning" them and then bringing them into the fold on a limited knowledge basis. So there is a paper trail that says they were kicked out of the CIA or whatever, making everything deniable. And they are indebted to the shadow agency thinking it saved them. And it is easy to go rogue. Of course it was diabolically hard to figure out. And it keeps thB e story human and dependent on the characters. Elegant and not entirely implausible.

Boli Bonus Points
: Tricia Hefler....Gabrielle Anwar....and a black Saab 9-3 Turbo convertible as a kick-ass spy mobile!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Financial Times: Bolivia pays a high price for nationalisation

The financial Times has an article detailing how badly Bolivia's nationalization of the hydrocarbon industry has worked. This on top of the biggest scandal in the history of YPFB that just broke open shows the enormous price paid by the Morales governments ideologically-inspired policies.

Bolivia, the linchpin of gas supplies to the southern half of Latin America, is struggling to secure long-term investment for its hydro­carbons sector amid questions over its reliability as a supplier and uncertainty over demand from export markets.

Evo Morales, the country’s popular leftist president who faces a presidential election in December, travelled to Russia this week to sign an agreement with Gazprom, the state gas monopoly, to develop Bolivia’s gas reserves until 2030.

The government estimates the Gazprom agreement, which includes a joint project with Total of France, will be worth $3bn (€2.3bn, £2bn). It says Venezuela and Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), Bolivia’s state-owned gas company, will together invest a further $240m.

The fact that Bolivia has to go so far abroad highlights the damage it did by nationalising its energy industry in 2006, driving away technically able international companies with a proven ability to raise funds.

Monday, February 09, 2009



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bolivia's Constitution - Referfendum

The Economist gets it:

At heart, the constitutional referendum involves a choice as to whether or not Bolivia should graft on to an imperfect Western liberal democracy a socialist model that owes rather more to the corporatism of Spanish colonial rule (but with Amerindians, rather than conquistadors, in charge) than to Marx. A less confrontational president than Mr Morales might find a more harmonious way to blend the two. As it is, his probable victory risks setting his country on a path of chaotic conflict, government paralysis and continuing economic backwardness.