Archive for March, 2009

March 31, 2009

Chavez opposes arrest warrant for Bashir

of course what a surprise …


21:50, March 31, 2009

Chavez opposes arrest warrant for Bashir
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez here Tuesday voiced objection to the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Upon his arrival at the Doha International Airport to attend the 2nd Arab-South American Summit scheduled for Tuesday, Chavez told reporters that the ICC should be requested to prosecute former U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli President Shimon Peres, according to Spanish EFE news Agency.

“Why (the ICC) not order the capture of Bush? Why not order the arrest of the president of Israel?” he was quoted as asking.

Leaders of the 22-member Arab League who held a summit on Monday passed a communiqué on rejecting the ICC’s arrest warrant for Bashir.

Chavez said the ICC “has no power to make a decision against a sitting president, but does so because it is an African country, the third world,” said Chavez, whose country is a signatory to the ICC.

The ICC has requested all its signatory members to arrest Bashir.

The Second Summit of Arab-South American countries will be held in the afternoon, with the participation of leaders and senior officials from 12 South American countries and 22 Arab states, plus delegates from the Arab League.

Source: Xinhua

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March 23, 2009

Lula Wants to Fight

Invigorated by the crisis, Brazil’s president says he’s praying for Obama.
Fareed Zakaria
From the magazine issue dated Mar 30, 2009

Once a leftist firebrand, brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva turned to free-market liberalism and helped make his country Latin America’s biggest economic success. Earlier this month he became the first Latin leader to visit President Barack Obama at the White House, and in April he’ll head to London for the G20 summit on the global financial crisis. He met with NEWSWEEK’s Fareed Zakaria in New York. Excerpts:
Zakaria:Your meeting with President Obama went longer than expected. What did you talk about?
Da Silva: We talked a lot about the economic crisis. We also decided to create a working group between the U.S. and Brazil to participate in the G20 summit meeting. I told Obama that I’m praying more for him than I pray for myself, because he has much more delicate problems than I. He left a huge impression on me, and he has everything it takes to build a new image for the U.S. with relation to the rest of the world.
You got on pretty well with President Bush. How are they different?
Look, I did have a good relationship with President Bush, it’s true. But there are political problems, cultural problems, energy-grid problems, and I hope that President Obama will be the next step forward. I believe that Obama doesn’t have to be so concerned with the Iraq War. This will permit him to explore the possibility of building peace policies where there is no war, which is Latin America and Africa.
You are probably the most popular leader in the world, with an 80 percent approval rating. Why?
Brazil is a country that has rich people, as you have in New York City. But we also have poor people, like in Bangladesh. So we tried to prove it was possible to develop economic growth while simultaneously improving income distribution. In six years we have lifted 20 million people out of poverty and into the middle class, brought electricity into 10 million households and incr eased the minimum wage every year. All without hurting anyone, without insulting anyone, without picking fights. The poor person in Brazil is now less poor. And this is everything we want.
There are people who credit high oil, gas and agriculture prices. Can you manage with prices going down rather than up?
The recent discovery of oil is very important, because part of the oil we find will help resolve the problem of poverty and the problem of education. Brazil does not want to become an exporter of crude oil. We want to be a country that exports oil byproducts—more gasoline, high-quality oil. The investments were calculated at the price of $35 per barrel. Now, at $40, we still have enough margin.
Critics say that during this period of high commodity prices, you did not position Brazil to move economically up to the next level.
This doesn’t make sense. When I became president of Brazil, the public debt was 55 percent of GDP. Today it is 35 percent. Inflation was 12 percent, and today it’s 4.5 percent. We have economic stability. Our exports have quadrupled. The fact is that the growth of the Brazilian economy is the highest it has been in 30 years.
Will Brazil’s economy grow this year?
I’m convinced we’ll reach the end of the year with a positive growth rate. But we did not foresee that the crisis would have either the size or the depth that it has today in t he U.S. Now we need new political decisions that depend on the rich countries’ governments. How are we going to reestablish credit, reestablish the American consumer and the European consumer? Now we have to prove we are worthy.
I was even getting a little bit disappointed in political life. I’ve already had my sixth year of my term, and you start getting tired. But this crisis is almost like something—a provocative thing for us, to wake us up. It’s giving me enthusiasm. I want to fight. The more crises, the more investment you have to make. So we’re investing today in what we never invested in for the last 30 years, in railroads, highways, waterways, dams, bridges, airports, ports, housing projects, basic sanitation. We have to be bold, because in Brazil we have many things to do that in other countries were already done many years ago.
Last December you had a meeting of the 33 countries of the Americas except the United States. Why? It seemed that the United States was pointedly excluded.
We have never had such a meeting among only the Latin American and Caribbean countries. So it was necessary to have this meeting without super economic powers, a meeting of countries that face the same problems.
You’ve said you hope this crisis will change the politics of the world, to give countries like Brazil and India and China a greater say. What specifically—what power do you want that you don’t have now for Brazil?
We want to have much more influence in world politics. For example, we want that the multilateral financial institutions not be open only to the Americans and Europeans—institutions like the IMF and World Bank. We want more continents to participate in the Security Council. Brazil should have a seat, and the African continent should have one or two.
You are regarded as a great symbol of democracy in the Americas. And yet some people say you have been quiet as Hugo Chávez has destroyed democracy in Venezuela. Why not speak out? If Brazil wants a greater role in the world, wouldn’t that be one part, to stand for certain values?
Well, maybe we cannot agree with Venezuelan democracy, but no one can say that there is no democracy in Venezuela. He has been through five, six elections. I’ve only had two.
He has gangs out on the street. This is not real democracy.
Look, we have to respect the local cultures, the political traditions of each country. Given that I have 84 percent support in the public-opinion polls, I could propose an amendment to the Constitution for a third term. I don’t believe in that. But Chávez wanted to stay … I believe that changing the president is important for the strengthening of democracy itself.

March 13, 2009

La crisis que enfrenta PDVSA

Por Federico Alves

Mucho me temo que esta crisis que nos espera en pocas semanas o días no es como las demás: esta es diferente. Me informan que PDVSA no sabe cómo hacer para garantizar el suministro interno de gasolina, gas doméstico, etc., mucho menos el cumplimiento de los contratos de exportación de crudo. Nadie le quiere decir a Chávez lo mal que estamos, pero voy a intentarlo. Las plantas de refinación requieren un constante mantenimiento que, de hecho, es tan caro, tan caro, que muchos economistas han calculado que es m á s barato cada diez años abandonar una refinería y construir una nueva, en vez de reparar la vieja.

Pues bien, las plantas de refinación de PDVSA están casi acabadas, y pronto habrá que pararlas para mantenimiento mayor, que de hecho las deja fuera de juego por unos meses. El problema es que se requiere de muchos millones de dólares para el “revamping” de una refinería, y PDVSA ni tiene los reales, no tiene crédito(*), y las contratistas que podían hacer el trabajo mayor, como la Fluor, Bechtel o quizá Sade, ni de casualidad van a venir a trabajar sin pago por anticipado, ya que todo el mundo sabe que PDVSA no paga una factura desde hace muchos meses.

Dudo que las empresas de ingeniería criollas como Tecnoconsult, y otras del mismo rango, tengan cómo afrontar esos proyectos sin ayuda externa. Es decir, léanlo de nuevo: no habrá plantas de refinación funcionando porque PDVSA ni tiene real ni tiene crédito para repararlas. Como se dice en inglés: “a perfect storm”.

Pero es solo el comienzo. El país tendrá que importar gasolina y gastar las reservas preciosas de dólares para quemarlas con la gasolina más barata del mundo, en vez de conservar esos dólares para comprar comida, ya que es más importante comer que manejar, así que ni habrá comida ni habrá gasolina. Si alguien le dice a Chávez que es imperativo multiplicar por cuatro el precio de la gasolina para asegurar su uso más racional, éste no quiere escuchar nada, porque sabe que ahí se hunde su revolución. Así que no habrá gasolina porque los vendedores internacionales van a pedir un giro de los reales por adelantado, no el usual “te pago en 30 días” que se le otorga a compañías solventes.

Los términos que se le otorgan a PDVSA son estricto contado, ya que el mundo entero sabe que no paga no una resma de papel, y sus bonos se cotizan a 50% de su valor nominal, es decir, la confianza en la capacidad de pago de PDVSA a largo plazo está seriamente en duda, o descartada.

¿Todo esto por qué? ¿Qué nos sucedió? Nos agarró la revolución, como le cayó la misma peste comunista a Cuba, a Nicaragua; como le está cayendo encima al Ecuador, etc. Una vez que entra el comunismo “mental”, todo se derrumba, porque la ideología sustituye a la realidad. El comunismo es un problema psicológico antes que se vuelve un problema político. El afectado por el virus cree, con seriedad, que se puede repartir pan sin producirlo, arroz sin sembrarlo, vender gasolina sin tener refinerías, o refinar petróleo sin ingenieros, solo con “comisarios políticos”. Esa nube mental es lo que acabó con la URSS, lo que tiene postrada a Cuba, lo que tiene contra la pared al Ecuador.

Es la peste negra que le cayó a Venezuela, y que ahora, gracias a una recesión económica mundial, nos afectará antes de lo esperado. El país votó por Chávez, es verdad, no hubo más fraude que el uso descarado de los dineros públicos para apuntalar la campaña del tirano, pero fundamentalmente, Chávez vendió una idea: es posible vivir sin trabajar, subir en la vida sin estudiar, sin esforzarse, etc. El señor que nos gobierna vendió la idea imposible de que el estado puede mantener a la población en estado de dependencia de subsidios, misiones, etc., en vez de hacer lo que tiene que hacer: apoyar a la empresa privada y garantizar los servicios públicos, nada más.

En vez de eso, la expropia y la persigue. Pero ya vemos como en Caracas asesinan a una persona por hora, mucho más que en Bagdad, en Kabul o en Gaza, así que el más importante de los servicios públicos no se presta: la seguridad. Todo viene de lo mismo: la falta de seguridad y la quiebra de PDVSA son causadas por el mismo virus cerebral, llamado “socialismo bolivariano”. El culpable es Chávez, nadie más, y Fidel Castro, quien ha pervertido tanto a la población cubana que, muéranse, muchos de los que vienen a Miami escapando se regresan a Cuba porque en los EEUU hay que trabajar, y eso no les “entra en la cabeza”.

No es broma. Cuando me lo contaron yo tampoco no lo podía creer. El socialismo es el enemigo público número uno de Venezuela, y del mundo. Acabar con esta peste una cuestión de salud pública: este virus mató este fin de semana 60 personas en la capital, mucho más que la malaria, el ébola o cualquier otra epidemia del África.

March 7, 2009

Salud… ¿Un derecho?

Rafael Muci-Mendoza

El país adopta un sistema basado en la torcedura de la verdad y la propaganda En la ciudad de Boston, y específicamente en la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Tufts, el fin de semana pasado se armó la tramoya: “El cuidado de la salud como derecho humano. La experiencia venezolana”. Allí, disertantes tarifados hablaron con desgano de las bondades de la Misión Milagro “que ha restaurado la visión a cerca de 700 mil personas en treinta países”. Todos los ponentes, ilustres desconocidos para nosotros, todos autoengañados en su mentira o por virtud del buen dinero, pues en EEUU, según el Nobel Milton Friedman, “no existe almuerzo gratis”. !Qué cinismo!

Mientras nuestros pacientes hacen interminables colas para obtener mendrugos de salud y los hospitales públicos están en la más espantosa ruina, y nuestros bebés -los “niños de la patria”- malparidos y malnutridos, sin defensas, proclives a infecciones y sin ayuda especializada para su atención, estos perversos engañan al mundo en celestinazgo con el ministerio de salud cubano y algunos lunares de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud. Tal ocurrió con el hambre en Cuba en los noventa; un grueso de la población encegueció y la nomenklatura forjó un virus que los gringos habrían sembrado en la isla. Descubierta la boñiga, se hicieron los locos, el cubano común nunca se enteró y ahora, nuestro país adopta un sistema similar basado en la torcedura de la verdad y la millonaria propaganda.

Vayan a nuestros hospitales y vean los períodos de estada de pacientes traumatológicos o neuroquirúrgicos, vayan a ver los efectos de la pobreza y la exclusión: la tuberculosis y el sida campeando en las salas de medicina, apenas punta de un iceberg de vergüenza, vayan a las maternidades a ver embarazadas de 13 años que apenas vieron su primera regla para no verla más en 9 meses.…-un-derecho_1287568.shtml

March 2, 2009

Big brother, little brother

By David Roberts

One year after Raúl Castro officially took over as head of state from his brother Fidel, Cuba has made precious little progress in opening up to the world, either politically or economically.

Admittedly, ordinary Cubans are now allowed to have a mobile telephone and some other electronic goods that were previously restricted, and there have been some limited land reforms implemented to encourage private agriculture. Some of Cuba’s taxis are even now run as private businesses, and the island’s government has shown some, albeit very hush-hush, interest in learning about Chilean and Uruguayan public works concessions, particularly for airports, highways and ports.

But Cuba remains a political and economic backwater. While enjoying relatively high health and educational standards, and no one need die of starvation, the Cuban people are mired in poverty and repression. The Castros may blame the US embargo for the country’s economic plight, but that’s no excuse. If they gave their people the opportunity to elect their own government, the embargo would quickly disappear.

Looking at the string of foreign presidents who have visited the island recently, it’s also pretty clear that Fidel still wields considerable influence. In fact, most of his recent visitors, such as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, appeared keener to meet the tracksuit-clad Fidel than his brother. Maybe we’ll have to wait until Fidel – who’s looked remarkably sprightly in the few photos of him released to the media recently – is off the scene altogether before Raúl dares to make a serious move to open up the country and establish genuine democracy and a regulated market economy, or maybe we’ll have to wait for Raúl to go too. But sooner or later, it must happen.

Read full article here

March 2, 2009

Chavez blames Obama for US report alleging spike in Venezuelan drug trafficking

By Associated Press 8:05 PM EST, February 28, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez on Saturday rejected a U.S. report alleging that drug trafficking is soaring in Venezuela, stepping up his criticism of President Barack Obama following the U.S. leader’s Jan. 20 inauguration. The State Department report, which covers global anti-drug efforts in 2008, was compiled while President George W.

Bush was in office but approved this month by the Obama administration. “Is there really a new government in the United States, or is Bush still in charge?” Chavez told supporters in a poor Caracas neighborhood. “Don’t mess with me, Mr. Obama.” The report asserts that drug trafficking soared fivefold in Venezuela from 50 metric tons (55 tons) of illegal drugs in 2002 to an estimated 250 metric tons (275 tons) in 2007 as cartels took advantage of the country’s “geography, corruption, a weak judicial system, incompetent and in some cases complicit security forces and lack of international counternarcotics cooperation.”

It said Chavez’s government had refused to cooperate on most joint anti-drug efforts, rejected U.S. criticism and accused the U.S. government of working with drug traffickers. Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in 2005, accusing its agents of espionage. Two DEA agents still work in Venezuela, but embassy officials say their efforts have been severely restricted. Chavez on Friday dismissed an annual State Department assessment of human rights around the world that highlighted what it called Venezuela’s politicized judiciary, corruption and harassment of the political opposition and the news media.