Archive for ‘English’

September 7, 2011

Colombia expects oil output to hit 1 MMbpd this year

from: Latinpetroleum

Hugo’s destruction of Venezuela is by far one of the best things that has hapen for Colombia, Panama and Brazil among other countries. Colombia received most of the Oil Industry professionals that Chavez fired. As result, in less than a decade, they have duplicated their oil output, and it is clear that are going to keep increasing.

MEDELLIN – Colombia’s oil production is expected to reach 1 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of this year, Energy and Mines Minister Carlos Rodado Noriega said.

“We believe that we could be getting close to the desired goal of 1 million barrels (per day) by the end of the year,” Noriega said in a press conference held during a mining conference last week in the northwestern city of Medellin.

Colombia’s production totaled 953,000 bpd in August, marking an increase of 21.7 percent from the July 2010 level of 783,000 bpd, the Energy and Mines Ministry said.

“This is a clear and convincing sign that we can reach 1 million barrels (per day),” Noriega said.

The government’s goal is to achieve average production of 920,000 bpd this year and 1.35 million bpd by December 2014.

State oil company Ecopetrol plans to push output to 1 million bpd in 2015.

Colombia’s total petroleum production includes output from private oil companies, such as Canada’s Pacific Rubiales and Spain’s Repsol YPF.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said on numerous occasions that he wants to turn the energy industry into one of the five engines of Colombia’s economic growth.

Colombia’s hydrocarbons production has risen at an average rate of 14 percent over the past six years, well ahead of average economic growth of 4.5 percent.

July 12, 2011

The denial of medical treatment as a tool of torture in Venezuela

By Tamara Suju Roa
“La Razón”  June, 14th 2011
Comment and translation into English by Enrique ter Horst

A number of unjustly imprisoned Venezuelans – political prisoners – have had recourse to public scandal and international protection mechanisms, hunger strikes and other forms of protest in order to secure permission from the Venezuelan state to receive urgently needed medical treatment. The cases that come to mind immediately are the ones’ of Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni, whose bleeding was allowed to continue for months before she was permitted to have the hysterectomy she needed, as well as the case of Wiiliam Saud, operated for four heart bypasses and treated for skin cancer only after the peaceful protests by the students of Operacion Libertad pressured the government to relent and allow the operation.

The right to health, however, is consecrated in article 83 of the Constitution of Venezuela as part of the right to life and as an obligation of the state, but its arbitrary and systematic denial to those unjustly imprisoned for political reasons clearly constitutes a form of torture. To deny medical attention to someone already psychologically weakened by arbitrary detention, as well as entirely dependent on the whim of those in power, is certainly a form of cruelty. One must imagine someone in such a situation, closed-in between four walls, fearing that treatment quite probably will be denied on purpose, his or her family fearing that the perversion of the power of the state can lead to his death and only able to scream to the world the outrage he or she is being subjected to. That is, if the scream can be heard beyond the prison walls.

The Government of Venezuela not only violates Venezuelan laws ordaining the protection of the right to life and health, but all international conventions and treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and I dare also  include the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Demeaning Treatment or Punishment, as the concept of torture included therein is applicable to the treatment Venezuelan political prisoners are subjected to.

Indeed, according to this Convention, by “torture” shall be understood “…any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity….” (Article 1). I ask the reader if under this concept the denial by the Venezuelan state to allow Alejandro Peña Esclusa, imprisoned in the dungeons of the SEBIN, the political police, to be treated for his prostate cancer is not torture, in addition to cruel and inhuman treatment? Let us recall that a month before his detention Peña Esclusa was operated for a radical prostatectomy and could not receive the necessary radio therapy for the complete eradication of his illness, and has suffered a relapse of the cancer. In order to benefit from this therapy Peña Esclusa requires a judicial authorization to receive such treatment in an aseptic environment only available in an appropriate health center, a measure of surveilled liberty for humanitarian reasons foreseen in the Criminal Procedure Code and which an independent judge would accord as a matter of routine but which now is arbitrarily denied to him. Is the government waiting for his cancer to methastasize?

Police Commissioner Lázaro Forero  urgently requires medical examination to determine the extent of his prostate enlargement and treatment for posible glaucoma. Metropolitan Police Officer Erasmo Bolívar requires to be operated on a knee and to be treated on his left eye after having been operated on his retina. Rolando Guevara suffers from a lumbocyatic hernia since August 2007 (diagnosed by doctors of the SEBIN and the Investigative Police) which has not been treated, and Jose Sanchez suffers from cronic gastritis and severe lumbago and needs rehabilitation treatment.

The government, in particular the Minister of the Interior and Justice, is in full knowledge of all of the above, as the provision of medical attention to the political prisoners mentioned by name are part of the agreement the government reached with the students of the so called Operación Libertad protest organized in front of the OAS office in Caracas. The Venezuelan State is the custodian of each of these prisoners of the Venezuelan “justice” system and is therefore responsible, by action and/or omission, of what might happen to them. These particular cases entail a special responsibility for the government, as in spite of its knowledge of their situation it denies them the right to health.

June 9, 2011

Is Hugo Chavez an idiot?

By William J. Dobson

When I was in Moscow last year, I paid a visit to Boris Nemtsov, one of the leading figures of the Russian opposition. Naturally, I had come to Nemtsov to discuss Russian politics. But the conversation quickly turned to, of all things, Venezuelan economics.
Nemtsov has no love for Vladimir Putin and his regime. The Russian government has arrested him and thrown him in prison, and it strangles the political movement he leads. But Nemtsov saw one bright side: At least he didn’t have to live under the economic policies of Hugo Chavez. “Putinism will survive if oil prices are huge. Frankly, it is the same with Hugo Chavez, but Hugo is more stupid than Putin. Chavez nationalizes industries. He establishes price controls. Putin looks cleverer. He doesn’t touch the real economy much . . . he doesn’t touch small, average businesses,” Nemtsov told me. “Economically, he looks closer to Chinese authoritarians than to Hugo. Because Hugo has no ideas about the economy at all. He is a real idiot.”
Ouch. Harsh words. But then again, Nemtsov has the numbers to prove it. Venezuela was the only country in South America to see its economy shrink last year. By many reports, it now suffers from the world’s highest inflation. In 2010, Venezuela was the only South American country to have a negative balance of foreign investment. (It dropped by $1.4 billion.) The International Labor Organization says that Venezuela was one of only five countries in the region to see job growth fall. (The others were Barbados, Jamaica, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago.) Power outages, rolling blackouts, and water shortages have become common as state infrastructure crumbles. And, in perhaps the most stunning achievement, the state-owned oil company has reported falling profits — even as oil prices rise.
When I mentioned these and other signs of economic decline to members of Chavez’s political party last year, they scoffed. What I didn’t understand, they said, was that Venezuelans were some of the happiest people in the world. Okay, maybe. But I didn’t meet anyone happy about the shortages of basic staples like milk, sugar and meat. And I didn’t meet anyone happy about the fact that crime has reached epidemic levels. Experts estimate that there were more than 19,000 murders in 2009. It is hard to know the precise number because the government stopped publishing the figure after it began to soar.
But fortunately all of this is about to end. Chavez just announced that he is raising the minimum wage by 25 percent. He is also going to end unemployment by creating 3 million jobs in the next eight years. And he will build 150,000 houses this year and another 200,000 in 2012.
Of course, he has made these promises before. In 2005, he was going to build 120,000 houses. A government ministry later said 21,400 were built, less than 20 percent of the promised total. In fact, over the duration of Chavez’s time in office, the government builds an average of 12,500 homes a year.
But Chavez will reach his goal. Because his real goal isn’t meeting housing targets he has failed to meet before. It is to inject enough short-term cash into people’s wallets to raise his chances for reelection in 2012. Never mind that that cash will disappear from their wallets as the minimum wage hikes fail to keep pace with inflation. Indeed, Chavez’s newly announced measures will make inflation worse. But he isn’t concerned with that. As he told a crowd this week, “I have a year and a half more in this government, then six more in the next one.” That is Chavez’s main consideration. Six more years. Because, whatever he does to Venezuela’s economy, the man is no idiot.

By William J. Dobson  |  01:32 PM ET, 05/06/2011

March 7, 2011

Airline Price Fixing Fines: Prosecutors Target 21 Companies Over Passenger, Cargo Fees

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Published without permission nor knowledge of the authors. With the sole intention of sharing with my friends, and keep it the record on our own list of very interesting articles.

Where else in the world powerful people like these go to jail.

—-

ALICIA A. CALDWELL   03/ 6/11 01:22 AM   AP

WASHINGTON — When the airline industry took a nose dive a decade ago, executives at global carriers scrambled to find a quick fix to avoid financial ruin.

What they came up with, according to federal prosecutors, was a massive price-fixing scheme among airlines that artificially inflated passenger and cargo fuel surcharges between 2000 and 2006 to make up for lost profits.

The airlines’ crimes cost U.S. consumers and businesses – mostly international passengers and cargo shippers – hundreds of millions of dollars, prosecutors say.

But the airlines caught by the Justice Department have paid a hefty price in the five years since the government’s widespread investigation became public.

To date, 19 executives have been charged with wrongdoing – four have gone to prison – and 21 airlines have coughed up more than $1.7 billion in fines in one of the largest criminal antitrust investigations in U.S. history.

The court cases reveal a complex web of schemes between mostly international carriers willing to fix fees in lockstep with competitors for flights to and from the United States.

Convicted airlines include British Airways, Korean Air, and Air France-KLM. No major U.S. carriers have been charged.

The price-fixing unraveled largely because two airlines decided to come clean and turn in their co-conspirators.

read more »

December 10, 2010

The Myths Behind Microfinance

You can find the original and complete report here

This article is published here without knowledge nor authorization from the copyright owners … this is our own collection of articles we would like to save in case one day we want to come back to them.

Jude L. Fernando , 12.09.10, 04:45 AM EST

Debate over the value of microfinance in the developing world appears to be long overdue.

Recent revelations about the role of Nobel Prize winner Muhummad Yunus in the alleged misuse of $100 million by the Grameen Banks (and the cover-up of that misallocation) have begun to provoke overdue discussions on the value of microfinance in the developing world. Arguments against microfinance center around the claim that it is a development strategy increasingly forced on the poor, and that those who are claimed to benefit from it the most–poor women–are actually its chief victims. Critics have long sought a platform to reveal the weaknesses and explode the myths supporting microfinance.

The first myth is that microfinance requires no collateral. That is nonsense. Microfinance group leaders and NGO field officers take control of all the household assets of the borrower (land, home, jewelry, equipment, food reserves, animals, remittances, savings, furnishings, etc.), and force borrowers to convert those assets to cash if there is the slightest threat of default of any borrower within the group. Peer-group pressure is combined with the threat of being stripped of essential belongings, and becomes a powerful disciplinary. Borrowing households lose control over physical assets, the ability to determine its pattern of consumption, and use of labor, ceding them all to the community and the microfinance lending agency. Given a model like this, it is no surprise that those viewed as potential defaulters are harassed not only by the lenders, but by their peers, sometimes to the point of physical violence and suicide as has been the case in India.

Complete article

December 10, 2010

WikiLeaks: Money is running out for Venezuela

Venezuela’s tottering economy is forcing Hugo Chávez to make deals with foreign corporations to save his socialist revolution from going broke.

The Venezuelan president has courted European, American and Asian companies in behind-the-scenes negotiations that highlight a severe financial crunch in his government.

Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, is the engine of the economy but buckled when given an ultimatum by its Italian counterpart and has scrambled to attract foreign partners, according to confidential US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The memos depict an unfolding economic fiasco and suggest some of Chávez’s key allies – Argentina, Brazil and Cuba – are gravely concerned at Venezuela’s direction. “President Chávez, for his part, is acutely aware of the impact the country’s general economic trajectory has had on his popularity,” says one cable.

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June 3, 2010

Robbed! Blown call costs Armando Galarraga a perfect game

Robbed! Blown call costs Armando Galarraga a perfect game

By ‘Duk

It was a bang-bang play that left two victims dead. The first was the masterful perfect game bid of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga(notes). The second was the reputation of major league umpire Jim Joyce.

Galarraga will likely move on with his major league career with the stinging Harvey Haddix-type knowledge that only one of the worst blown calls in baseball history prevented him from becoming the 21st pitcher to throw a perfect game — and, even more incredibly — the third perfecto this season and second in four nights.

You can’t say the same for Joyce, a 23-year veteran who coupled his name with Don Denkinger when he inexplicably called Cleveland’s Jason Donald(notes)  safe at first with an infield hit. Replays clearly showed that Galarraga’s foot beat Donald to the bag by a full step and Tigers manager Jim Leyland chewed Joyce out — deservedly so — both directly after the play and right after Galarraga retired the next Indians batter for what basically amounted to a 28-out perfect game.

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September 18, 2009

Memo to Sarah Palin: Four Reasons Why You Will Never be in Teddy’s League

By Jacqueline-castes

From:  www.huffingtonpost.com

Sarah – there is a lot you could learn from the life of Ted Kennedy – that is, if you were someone who saw value in learning new things (more on that later):

#1: While Senator Kennedy was a man who may have been less than perfect, he never blamed others for his flaws and errors in judgment. In contrast, you seem to blame the media for your every blunder, including your disastrous unscripted speeches and interviews, and even every scandal that has been your family’s in the making. No one is buying it.

#2: Another important Ted Kennedy quality was his strong respect for his opponents. While he may have disagreed with certain of their ideas, he still stated, “Republicans love this country just as much as I do.” It was one of the secrets of his success – the ability to reach across the aisle and acknowledge the patriotism of others instead of questioning their loyalty to America. Sarah, when you told a group of small town conservatives how nice it was to be among “good Americans like yourselves”, the rest of us were left speculating as to just what kind of “bad Americans” you must think we are.

#3: Another key trait of Senator Kennedy’s was the one we all heard about from his sons and his niece, Caroline, in their eulogies. While they all jokingly reminisced about how lengthy and arduous some of his “history tours” were for them as children, they learned from him the need for a serious understanding of history if one ever plans to make history oneself. You, however according to published accounts from insiders in the McCain campaign, couldn’t be bothered putting in the time to learn about the complex chain of events that shaped many of the issues you would be handling as the second most powerful person in our government

#4: And finally, as was obvious from his longevity in office, from his tenacity on certain issues such as universal health care and from the way he taught his son to make it up the hill after his leg amputation, Teddy obviously knew that you don’t throw in the towel. “My dad was never bowed, he never gave up, and there was never quit in dad,” his son Patrick said. Sarah, when you were sworn in as Governor of Alaska, you accepted a full term of office. Did someone suddenly spring the concept of “lame duck” on you after a couple of years in office? Are you setting the new protocol for all politicians when their lame duck status looms on the horizon? We are still waiting to see your bigger, better impact on society you have told us you intend to make now that you are free of the barriers of being the highest elected official in your state. Something tells me that if Ted Kennedy had been in your shoes, he would have stayed in that office. But as we all too well aware, he wasn’t and you were…. and sadly for us all, Sarah Palin, you’re no Ted Kennedy.

July 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

JULY 1, 2009

The Wages of Chavismo

The Honduran coup is a reaction to Chávez’s rule by the mob. As military “coups” go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn’t oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact. We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it’s time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats. Associated Press The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter — and better off — not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he’d be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law. Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America’s decade of chavismo . Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary. In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked. Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He’s succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency. In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide. Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that “Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn’t happen.” It’s no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez’s planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn’t readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy. As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to “meddle” in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush’s foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election — a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It’s a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America.

July 1, 2009

Honduras’s Coup Is President Zelaya’s Fault

By Alvaro Vargas Llosa
Updated: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Any time a bunch of soldiers break into a presidential palace, pick up the president and put him on a flight to exile, as happened in Honduras last Sunday, you have a “coup.” But, unlike most coup targets in Latin America’s tortuous republican history, Honduras’s deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, bears the biggest responsibility for his overthrow.

A member of the rancid oligarchy he now decries, Zelaya took office in 2006 as the leader of one of the two center-right parties that have dominated Honduran politics for decades. His general platform, his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and his alliances with business organizations gave no inkling of the fact that halfway into his term he would become a political cross-dresser.

Suddenly, in 2007, he declared himself a socialist and began to establish close ties with Venezuela. In December of that year, he incorporated Honduras into Petrocaribe, a mechanism set up by Hugo Chávez for lavishing oil subsidies on Latin American and Caribbean countries in exchange for political subservience. Then his government joined the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), Venezuela’s answer to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, ostensibly a commercial alliance but in practice a political conspiracy that seeks to expand populist dictatorship to the rest of Latin America.

Last year, following the script originally laid out by Chávez in Venezuela and adopted by Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Zelaya announced that he would hold a referendum to set upa constituent assembly that would change the constitution that barred him from reelection. In the next few months, every legal body in Honduras — the electoral tribunal, the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the human rights ombudsman — declared the referendum unconstitutional. According to the Honduran constitution (articles 5, 373 and 374), presidential term limits cannot be changed under any circumstance; only Congress can modify the constitution; and political institutions are not subject to referendums. Honduras’s Congress, Zelaya’s own Liberal Party and a majority of Hondurans (in various polls) expressed their horror at the prospect of having Zelaya perpetuate himself and bring Honduras into the Chávez fold. In defiance of court orders, Zelaya persisted. Surrounded by a friendly mob, he broke into the military installations where the ballots were kept and ordered them distributed. The courts declared that Zelaya had placed himself outside the law, and Congress began an impeachment procedure.

This is the context in which the military, in an ill-advised move that turned a perfectly legal mechanism for stopping Zelaya into a coup, expelled the president. The fact that the constitutional procedure was subsequently followed by having Congress appoint the head of the legislative body, Roberto Micheletti, as interim president, and that the elections scheduled for November have not been canceled, is not enough to dissipate the cloud of illegitimacy that hangs over the new government. This factor has disarmed Zelaya’s critics in the international community in the face of a well-coordinated campaign led by Chávez to reinstate him and denounce the coup as an oligarchic assault on democracy.

That said, the international response, seeking to reinstate Zelaya without any mention of his illegal acts, has been highly inadequate. The Organization of American States, led by its secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, has acted like Venezuela’s poodle. At Chávez’s request, Insulza went to Nicaragua, where a summit of the anti-democratic ALBA group became the hemisphere’s political center of gravity after the coup. Insulza and other populist presidents said nothing about Zelaya’s dictatorial conduct leading up to last Sunday’s events and simply echoed Venezuela’s self-serving stance. Efforts by other countries, including the United States and many South American governments, to put some nuance into the public statements were neutralized by the spectacle unfolding in Nicaragua, which was widely reported across the Spanish-speaking world. It was sad to see Insulza suddenly remember his organization’s Inter-American Democratic charter in relation to Honduras — the same rules of democratic conduct that Chávez, Morales, Correa and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega have violated on numerous occasions while the OAS looked the other way.

The crisis in Honduras should bring to people’s attention this truth about Latin America today: The gravest threat to liberty comes from elected populists who are seeking to subject the institutions of the law to their megalomaniac whims. Given that scenario, the hemisphere’s response to Honduras’s crisis has undermined those who are trying to prevent populism from taking the region back to the times when it was forced to choose between left-wing revolution and military dictatorships.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa is the editor of “Lessons From the Poor” and director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute. He is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. His e-mail address is AVLlosa@independent.org .