Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin America stories of the week with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

 

Guest:    Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog…….we will look the mess in Venezuela…..Maduro’s weekend with Raúl Castro……..In Argentina, Cristina Fernandez’s 4th indictment…..Down in Brazil, documents show that  Odebrecht paid ex-President Lula $5 million……El Salvador’s VP involved with “Chepe Diablo” (not to be confused with El Chapo)……Kate del Castillo’s new Netflix series, “Ingobernable”…………….Mr. Krause calls on the US to accept Mexicans as a consequence of US-Mexican history from the 19th century……..the latest on the election in Ecuador…….A new post by Fausta about Mexico and Putin………plus more stories………Click to listen:

 

 

More “samba politica” in Brazil!

Don’t be surprised if your Brazilian friends refer to every politician as a “crook.” Frankly, he’s got good reasons to reach that conclusion.

Down in Brazil, where the last president was impeached for corruption, the new man is now sitting under a huge cloud of his own.    President Temer faces his own scandal.    It seems that every “politico” in Brazil faces a scandal.

Brazil has been Exhibit A of crony capitalism for some time. It is a terrible drain on the economy, one of the Top 10 GDP’s of the world.

Graft is so common that it is an accepted cost of doing business or no different than having good coffee around when your customers come in for a plant tour.
According to a 2013 report by Forbes:

A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country’s total GDP.

The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.

If the numbers of the FIESP study are to be believed, just in 2013 something between $32 billion and $53.1 billion can be accounted as “corruption money,” which, it is important to remember, gets out of circulation that hits growth.

To put into perspective, if that money was invested in Brazil’s precarious education system, the number of Brazilian students enrolled in elementary school could be improved from its current 34.5 million to 51 million.

Better schools and better bridges and better roads and so on.

Last, but not least, let’s not  forget about the voters. In other words, they voted for these people. Yes, they voted for them when the economy was booming and there was plenty of money to pay for all of those campaign promises.

The investigation pf President Temer will take months so don’t expect an impeachment or resignation any time soon. Nevertheless, it just makes Brazilians more cynical and they were pretty cynical before all this started a couple of years ago.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Cristina singing a new tango

Down in Argentina, where tango is king and fútbol is the national religion, the ex-first family is back in the news:

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina was indicted again on corruption-related charges on Tuesday, and this time her son and daughter were also charged in a case involving a family real estate company.

The federal judge, Claudio Bonadio, said there was enough evidence to indict Mrs. Kirchner for conspiracy over allegations that businesses rented properties from the real estate company, Los Sauces, in exchange for public works contracts and other favors.

For the first time, Mr. Bonadio also indicted the former president’s children, Máximo and Florencia Kirchner, in the case that includes charges of money laundering and negotiations incompatible with public office.

The charges could lead to prison sentences of up to 10 years if the Kirchners are convicted. Mr. Bonadio also ordered the freezing of assets of about $8.5 million each for Mrs. Kirchner and her son, and $6.5 million for her daughter.

As my friend from Argentina said yesterday, “diós mío – where did they get all of that money?”  Then he answered his own question: “El sistema.  ¡La corrupción!”

The answer is sadly obvious.  As my friend said, it’s the corrupt system that started many years ago.  We call it “crony capitalism” up here, and they call it “el sistema” down there.

The allegations include kickbacks involving the renting of rooms in a hotel owned by the Kirchner family.  By the way, the name “Kirchner” refers to her late husband, the man she followed in the presidency.

The ex-first family has been indicted on fraud and corruption charges relating to public works projects in Santa Cruz Province in southern Argentina.  I guess there is always a public works project when we talk about corruption in Latin America.

First, there was Evita Perón, although she never became president.  Second, there was the second Mrs. Perón, who did become president in the 1970s and resigned over corruption.  Third, there is now President Cristina, who is apparently going down with her kids as well.

It all makes for some rather remarkable political drama, with President Cristina now tweeting her innocence and calling everything a witch hunt.

At least Evita had a Broadway play named after her.  They still love her down there!  She never became president, and that may have been a blessing.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Correa and “the deep state” in Ecuador just stole an election

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We’ve been talking a lot about the “Obama’s deep state”, or the leftovers in the federal bureaucracy waging guerilla warfare against the Trump administration.

Welcome to the “deep state” in Ecuador or how the Correa administration filled the bureaucracy with partisans loyal to him rather than a nation.

In the US, the deep state leaks and unmasks the names of citizens.    In Ecuador, it manipulates votes and steals elections.

Ecuador is bitterly divided over the presidential election last Sunday. Some experts are saying that Ecuador is bucking the movement to the right that we saw in Argentina and Brazil. Frankly, I would not jump to conclusions about an election that half of the country is not accepting. There are some rough days ahead for this little country in South America.

The current score is Lenin Moreno 51%, Guillermo Lasso 49%, with 99% of the vote reported. The raw numbers are roughly 200,000 out of 4.8 to 5 million votes.

Lasso is challenging results because several exit polls had him up, one by 5-6 points.

The right is pointing out that there were serious problems with the official website counting votes, i.e. memories of 1988 Mexico when the official computer crashed.

Furthermore, violence was also reported in some provinces and it may have been related to voter suppression.

The other issue is that the right just does not trust the bureaucracy put together by incumbent President Rafeal Correa, a leftist leader who has divided the country terribly. Let’s call it “Deep state Ecuador style”.

We also learned this:

Part of the problem is the opposition’s distrust of the National Electoral Council, which it says has become an appendage of the executive in the way the electoral board in Venezuela has all but lost independence under President Nicolas Maduro, a key ally of Correa.

“We’re looking at an unprecedented situation: those behind the fraud are the judges themselves,” Lasso told foreign reporters, adding that his campaign would seek a recount once the results are certified. “We expect they’ll deny our requests but in doing so they’ll be confirming the fraud.”

Despite such heated rhetoric Lasso so far has failed to present any evidence of vote tampering except for a single voting act of 248 ballots from a rural area whose tally is says was reversed in favor of Moreno when official results were computed.

The left will probably win this one thanks to the “deep state”.

Again, it’s not what the country needs. Mr. Assange in London may be the only person in the world who feels good about this count.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

“El dictador” Maduro, the ghost of Chavez & the worthless OAS

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Over the last few days, whatever was left of Venezuelan democracy collapsed.   We can finally say that Venezuela is a leftist dictatorship.     Furthermore, the ghost of Chavez is roaming all over!
The bad news is that the rule of law is a thing of the past.   The good news is that the people are not taking it, as Sabrina Martin reported:
Venezuelans are blocking highways and taking to the streets in response to an apparent Coup d’Etat.
Though Maduro’s regime arranged anti-riot measures in several Venezuelan cities, hundreds of Venezuelans turned out to express their opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling that dissolved the powers of the country’s congress.
Caracas, Los Teques, Vargas, Carabobo and Anzoátegui are just some of the states where protests are taking place.
In Urbina, Caracas — a popular area that has traditionally been faithful to Chavez —  is now flooded with protesters.
“No more dictatorship,” they are reportedly chanting. “We want freedom.”
We are also finally hearing from other Latin American democracies through the OAS.    The US is also speaking out loudly:
The besieged leftist government of Venezuela is under mounting pressure after the United States and 13 of the hemisphere’s other leading nations demanded the release of political prisoners and other pro-democracy concessions.
The Organization of American States, the region’s main collective body, has threatened to suspend Venezuela because of what it called the autocratic repression imposed by President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro’s foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, will appear Monday before an OAS panel in Washington to plead her government’s case. This comes after members of the Venezuelan delegation stormed out of OAS meetings last week, according to diplomats.
OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, in a report on Venezuela, noted that Maduro canceled both a referendum that could have recalled his government and later regional elections, after the opposition made huge gains in parliamentary voting in 2015. A Maduro-controlled Supreme Court then stripped the parliament of much of its power.
In addition, thousands of people have been arrested for their political beliefs, Almagro said, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been in jail for three years.
The OAS is demanding Venezuela hold elections or risk suspension from the group, a drastic measure. The last time a country was suspended was when the military and right-wing politicians staged a coup against the elected president in Honduras in 2009.
Under OAS regulations, a country can be suspended when the “democratic order” is “altered.”
Frankly, I don’t put a lot of stock on the OAS.
Over the years, Latin American countries have always been very careful to meddle in their neighbors’ affairs.
As a Colombian professor told me years ago: “We say nothing because we don’t want them to say something about our elections”.   This is why the OAS is nothing but a lunch club where diplomats tell each other how smart they are!

So what happens now?

We will continue to watch the Maduro regime stay in power with whatever means at their disposal.

At some point, I do hope that the soldiers understand that they are the only ones who can bring about change.

Only the military has the power to force Maduro to leave the country or resign.

Last, but not least, I sure hope that all of those “Hollywood movie stars” who embraced Chavez and his socialism stay away from Caracas.  It’s probably not a good idea to be seen in Venezuela as a friend of Hugo these days! 

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Assange will be watching Ecuador’s election results

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My late father taught me to follow Latin American elections on La Voz de America, the Spanish edition of Voice of America.  He would tune in the short wave radio and we would hear reports from correspondents in whatever country was voting.  We listened to a few over the years, such as the historic 1970 election from Chile when a three-way race gave Salvador Allende a controversial plurality victory.  In Cuba, we heard the Kennedy funeral that way.

On Sunday, Ecuador will hold a presidential election.  So far, the polls are too close the call.  The candidates represent the left and right, a classic battle of ideas.

The left, under President Correa, has lost steam because of an economic slowdown.  Correa cannot run for re-election, so Lenin Moreno is representing his side.  A leftist with the first name of Lenin?

Sunday’s election will mean a great deal for that fellow Assange whom we’ve seen in our news report lately.  His future, or safe haven, is very much on the line, as we see in this report:

There’s more at stake in Ecuador’s presidential election on Sunday than whether the leftist legacy of outgoing President Rafael Correa will be extended with a victory by his former vice president.

If pro-business candidate Guillermo Lasso upsets former Vice President Lenin Moreno, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy for five years, is likely to lose his safe haven.

Again, the polls are too close to call, but the left is getting hysterical, a sign that maybe they know something the pollsters don’t.  For example, leftist partisans disrupted a soccer game Lasso was attending and attacked him and his family as they left the stadium (via Fausta’s Blog).

So I will tune in to La Voz de America and get some reports.  We probably won’t have final results for a day or two, but Mr. Assange will be very interested, indeed.  He may be looking for a new residence soon.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

“La crisis” in Venezuela

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There are two types of humanitarian crisis.

The first one is a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or bad hurricane. Most countries generally survive these crisis with decent leadership and some help from the outside.

The second type is what happens to a country that flirts with socialism, as we read recently in Forbes:

The economic horror in Venezuela continues to unfold — the Bolivarian socialists have achieved the entirely remarkable feat of making Cubans flee the country in search of a better life. Seriously,

Cubans, from a poverty stricken socialist dictatorship are now leaving an oil rich nation in search of a better life. It takes a serious level of economic mismanagement to achieve that. That serious level being exactly the one thing that Venezuela has lots of, of course.

So much so that Nicolas Maduro has just appealed to the United Nations to come and organise the supply of medicines for the country. This being something that normal places can manage on their own and usually rather well too.

The cause of all of this is that Maduro, and his predecessor Chavez, decided that the way to run an economy was to do everything that the textbooks say you shouldn’t do to an economy:

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked for help from the United Nations to boost supplies of medicine.

Mr Maduro said the UN had the expertise to normalise the supply and distribution of drugs in the country.

Venezuela’s Medical Federation said recently that hospitals had less than 5% of the medicines they needed.

The president blames the problems on an economic war against his government and the sharp fall in oil prices.

There is indeed an economic war going on here. And it’s one being waged by the Bolivarian socialists against the Venezuelan population. The tactic is simply to destroy the price system and thus the market. Given that non-market economies do not work this ensures the destruction of Venezuela’s economy.

What a mess. You can read about it or exchange Facebook messages with someone living in Venezuela. Of course, your friend in Venezuela will often go dark on you. This is because the lights go out and come back on at random.

What a sorry state of affairs down in Venezuela.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

March 11, 2004: We remember “Las bombas en Madrid”

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We remember the day that terrorism came to Spain:

 

On this day in 2004, 191 people are killed andnearly 2,000are injured when 10 bombs explode on four trains in three Madrid-area train stations during a busy morning rush hour. The bombs were later found to have been detonated by mobile phones.

The attacks, the deadliest against civilians on European soil since the 1988 Lockerbie airplane bombing, were initially suspected to be the work of the Basque separatist militant group ETA.

This was soon proved incorrect as evidence mounted against an extreme Islamist militant group loosely tied to, but thought to be working in the name of, al-Qaida.

 

By March 11th noon, candidate Rodriguez-Zapatero of the left was running around blaming Pres. Bush for the dead in Spain.

He blamed it on the Spanish government’s support of the Iraq war. He blamed everybody but the criminal terrorists who killed 200 and injured 1500.

Three days later, the left was back in power with a plurality of the vote.

Today,  Spain will celebrate another anniversary of the terrible train massacre.

There are no Spanish troops in Iraq this time around.  Unfortunately, there are lots of active terrorist cells in Spain!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

It’s Cuba all over again in Venezuela

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It’s always refreshing to see the truth about Cuba and Venezuela in the U.S. media. We’ve had our share of great “health care” stories abour Cuba or movie stars embracing Hugo Chavez.

Let’s thank Ioan Grillo for pulling the curtain and exposing the truth about Venezuela:

In Venezuela the food lines are only the most visible evidence of a nation in free fall. Known as las colas, the lines form before dawn and last until nightfall, several bodies thick and zigzagging for miles in leafy middle-class neighborhoods and ragged slums alike. In a country that sits atop the world’s largest known petroleum reserves, hungry citizens wait on their assigned day for whatever the stores might stock: with luck, corn flour to make arepas, and on a really good day, shampoo.

“I never dreamed it would come to this,” says Yajaira Gutierrez, a 41-year-old accountant, waiting her turn in downtown Caracas.
“That in Venezuela, with all our petroleum, we would be struggling to get corn cakes.”

This is insane and makes you want to scream. It is a such a shock for those of us who knew pre-Chavez Venezuela. As I recall, it was a nation with a large middle class who loved life, talking baseball and beauty pageants. Yes, in Venezuela they love their baseball players and all of those beautiful women who appear in the Miss Universe pageants.

For Cubans like my parents, as well as those of us who grew up here, it is like watching a horrible movie remake.

The article talks about “las colas” or the lines outside stores to buy the basic items. Or the people who cross the Colombia border to buy anything for their families. Or the repressive nature of the state. It is Cuba all over again!

President Trump has a great opportunity to put the U.S. on the side of the Venezuela people, specially all of those marchers calling for change.

I’m not talking about a military invasion.

I am talking about an invasion of “ideas” and “messages” that change must come and that the U.S. does not stand with the corrupt dictatorship. It may be just what the opposition needs to bring down the Maduro regime.

In the meantime, share this article with the next clown that you see wearing a Che T-shirt.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The left is loud about some deportations and silent about others!

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Over the last few days, we’ve heard a lot of outrage about deportations.    Let me recommend to the raid’s critics that they get informed about the way most countries handle illegal immigration, as Seth Barron wrote:

In virtually any other country, the deportation of aliens who have overstayed their visas or who are working in the underground economy might merit a brief mention in the newspaper.

Deporting aliens who have committed serious crimes is understood in most nations to be a necessary duty of the state, like sanitation or the licensing of medical professionals. Nobody thinks twice about deporting criminals in these countries, and immigration enforcement is an uncontroversial aspect of national life.

Canada — often cited by progressives as a model of civilized multiculturalism — deports aliens at almost twice the rate that the U.S. does. Between 2006 and 2014,
Canadian immigration authorities deported, on average, 35 people per day, or about 13,000 annually.

The United States, with nine times the population of Canada, removed about 65,000 illegal aliens from within the borders of the country in 2016.

Then there is Mexico, the country that leads the league in deportations!    They deported Cubans back to the island without regard for what the Castro dictatorship may do to them.

It is very surprising for me to hear all the outrage from Democrats and their friends in the media, about these raids underway. In many cases, the people being arrested are engaged in criminal behavior while others who have refused to obey a court order.

As Mr. Barron pointed out:

The indignation of activists and progressive politicians about the enforcement of our immigration laws is perhaps predictable, but acquainting themselves with global norms regarding legal migration and deportation might help keep their blood pressure under control.

So how did we get here?  I place the blame for this confusion on the Obama administration and their politicization of immigration laws. It was shameful and a correction is desperately needed!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

 

Venezuela: From shortstops to asylum seekers

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Most people know about Venezuela because of a string of Major League shortstops, from Luis Aparicio to David Concepcion to others.

Today, Venezuela is known for asylum seekers, as we saw in news reports:

New data shows Venezuelans are leading asylum requests to the United States for the first time, as the middle class in the country are fleeing the crashing, oil-dependent economy.

The U.S. government’s Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that 18,155 Venezuelans submitted asylum requests last year, a 150 percent increase over 2015 and six times the level seen in 2014.

Data showed China in second place, with 17,745 requests coming from the country’s citizens.

In 2014, a large number of Venezuelans sought asylum following months of protests seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

All of this about people seeking asylum has a familiar tone to Cubans who went through a similar experience years ago.

Why are they seeking asylum?

It starts with a failed state, a country that does not work anymore. It was not long ago that Venezuela was a destination for people looking for a better life.  Today, they are desperately trying to leave.

Secondly, a failed economy, where the shelves are empty and a loaf of bread is a luxury.

Third, indifference from Latin American leaders who refuse to call for change in Venezuela.

Once upon a time, we looked forward to that young kid with a glove destined for the major leagues.  Today, we greet Venezuelans at the airport leaving their failed homeland.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

A Christmas tree story from Communist Romania

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(My new American Thinker post)

It was Christmas week 1989, and the old Soviet bloc was falling apart and undergoing a birth of freedom.  In Romania, a communist dictatorship collapsed this week:

The end of 42 years of communist rule came three days after Ceausescu’s security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Timisoara. After the army’s defection, Ceausescu and his wife fled from Bucharest in a helicopter but were captured and convicted of mass murder in a hasty military trial. On December 25, they were executed by a firing squad.

Watching all of this was Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh, who left in the late 1970s looking for freedom.  She left her family behind.

She wrote about her Romanian memories, her parents, and a Christmas tree.

Here is the beginning of the article:

As long as I can remember, my Dad came home every December with a scraggly blue spruce, fragrant with the scent of winter, tiny icicles hanging from the branches. The frozen miniature crystal daggers would melt quickly on Mom’s well-scrubbed parquet floor. I never knew nor asked where he had found it, or how he could afford it.

His modest salary of $70 a month barely covered the rent, utilities, and food.

Mom had to work as well to afford our clothes. Prices were subsidized by the government and salaries were very low for everybody regardless of education and skill. We had to make do with very little.

It is a great article and should be read in full.

Merry Christmas!  It is especially meaningful to those of us who understand communism and efforts to celebrate Christmas.

Merry Christmas, and remember those who are not as fortunate as Americans are.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.