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Preview: BOLI-NICA On Bolivia, Nicaragua, Latin America, US Politics, Globalization

BOLI-NICA On Bolivia, Nicaragua, Latin America, US Politics, Globalization

COMMENTARY on Bolivia, Nicaragua, US, Latin America, Latino Issues, Miami Populism, Populismo, Evo, Chavez, and Castro, Globalization, Anti-Globalization, Immigration, World Politics, Culture, The War On Terror, Sports, coming from the slightly warped vi

Updated: 2018-03-05T15:45:59.373-06:00


Panama Papers


Venezuela had the single largest oil boom in its history.  Several years ago it was estimated 200 billion in pre-tax dollars escaped state coffers to Venezuelan-held accounts overseas.  Venezuelans became the single largest buyers of Miami investment properties.    And Venezuela's economic situation has gone from bad to worse.  

The Panama Papers are finally allowing us to connect the dots.   To see just how people in and around the regime have basically looted the country.  And while this massive flow of cash was going down, drug cartels took advantage to launder untold billions of their cash too.

Inside the Cuban Hospitals That Castro Doesn’t Want Tourists to See


Inside the Cuban Hospitals That Castro Doesn’t Want Tourists to See

This is the healthcare system that Senator Bernie Sanders praised



" resolving this situation shouldn’t be hard. Although nobody knows it, Greece has actually made great progress in regaining competitiveness; wages and costs have fallen dramatically, so that, at this point, austerity is the main thing holding the economy back. So what’s needed is simple: Let Greece run smaller but still positive surpluses, which would relieve Greek suffering, and let the new government claim success, defusing the anti-democratic forces waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, the cost to creditor-nation taxpayers — who were never going to get the full value of the debt — would be minimal."

Tom Friedman on Islamism


Hamas Charter


To understand Hamas you can not avoid its Charter or Covenant, the 1988 document that enough of their spokesmen quote from, though they sometimes deny it or downplay it. IIt is a sweeping statement of political, military and religious ideology that explains its worldview and its strategic goals    Islam guides the whole document, as it cites extensively (and selectively) from the Q'ran and other texts. It wants to establish a theocratic regime.  This vision of Islam is heavy on the Islamist rhetoric of Sayyid Qutb and others who inspired the Muslim Brotherhood and Osama Bin Laden, but unlike that Islamist line which is Universalitst, this is Palestinian-centric.  Appeals to secular Palestinian nationalism are mixed with the reminders of how Holy Jerusalem to Islam, and on the goal "raising the banner of Islam over every inch of Palestine".  The most non-controversial part is its goals of Social Service to the community, which is something it practices for decades, and has been a key to its political success.  Throughout the document you also hear the language of 60's and 70's anti-colonial National Liberation Movements.  That is the  PLO influence with its anti-colonialist and Marxist rhetoric..  Finally, it has some of the ugliest anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish language, incorporating even cites from the Elders of the Protocols of Zion.   Taken as a whole it is a disturbing call to action, dedicated to establishing a theocracy and loaded with hate.  

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

"With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there."

Alek Boyd: Hugo Chavez’s corrupt cronies find GOP friends


Interesting, the Chairman of the American Conservative Union - organizer of CPAC - boutique law firm represents several Chavista Oligarchs.

Alek Boyd: Hugo Chavez’s corrupt cronies find GOP friends: A prominent Washington conservative’s law firm is representing a shady Venezuelan company that has close ties to the Chavez regime, meanwhil...

What Chile Could Teach The United States About Preventing Government Shutdowns


What Chile Could Teach The United States About Preventing Government Shutdowns

Chile’s urgency provision is rooted in an important insight in constitutional design. It recognizes that legislation sometimes arises that is so important it must become the immediate business of the legislature, and that a forcing mechanism is sometimes necessary to ensure that such legislation receives a timely vote. Were a similar provision inserted into the United States Constitution — one allowing the president to bring a bill to the House floor and force a vote even against the House leadership’s will — that would likely be enough to end our current impasse and prevent leaders like Speaker Boehner from unilaterally vetoing legislation that enjoys majority support in the Congress.

Opinion: Republicans can’t ignore minority voters - Rob Paral -


according to my research, based on U.S. Census Bureau age and citizenship data, Asian and Latino youth and newly naturalized U.S. citizens will make up 34 percent of newly eligible voters at the time of the 2014 elections in 55 Republican-held congressional districts.

Opinion: Republicans can’t ignore minority voters - Rob Paral -

US denies it’s targeting Venezuela candidate


The Chavista government is insane!

US denies it’s targeting Venezuela candidate

Hugo Chavez is Dead


So what can you say about this?  Tragic, yes, but his legacy casts a shadow over Venezuela and Latin America.Chavez was very popular with common people and spent a lot of money on projects to help them. But with little transparency, lack of political checks and balances and no accountability, hundreds of billions of dollars were wasted and stolen. First that means many projects were never completed - casting doubt on official poverty-reduction figures. if a clinic or hospital is never completed you can't count those hospital beds; the same goes for tons of containers of food that rotted in warehouses. Also it created a new class of multi-millionaires and further enriching Venezuela's traditional oligarchs. Chavez' State Capitalism enriched a lot of people at the very top.Remember in a decade of historically high oil prices Chavez presided over a country with the biggest oil reserves in the world. He came into power with a barrel of oil at $10 dollars it climbed to $150 With this unprecedented bounty poverty SHOULD HAVE been reduced. You could hand out cash to poor people. Indeed, in previous governments during oil booms social spending was about the same percentage of GDP. People forget Venezuela had Social-Democratic governments that subsidized housing, education and health, well before Chavez.  Chavez spent a lot of money and poverty did go down, but with the kind of money available and spent you would expect a stronger overall picture, which still is not true, due to waste, corruption and inefficiency. He has plowed through a trillion dollars in oil revenue and somehow left a country with the regions highest inflation, food scarcities, weak currency, indebted, infrastructure collapsing[...]

Corruption in Chavez Venezuela - The Caracas Consensus Part 1 - Capital Flight


Some see the Chavez regime as a benign entity that shares the oil wealth of the country with the poor for the first time in Venezuelan history.  Amazing how some will excuse away authoritarian tendencies or wasteful incompetence with an argument that seems to boil down to what I would call " has its heart in the right place."Truth of the matter is that the Chavez government has become one of the most corrupt governments in Latin America in recent times.   It has also enjoyed a windfall of one trillion dollars in oil revenue, since the price of a barrel of oil has gone from 8 bucks a barrel to 100+ while Chavez is in office.   Sure, it claims it has directed 300 billion dollars to social programs, which on paper might be true, but its hard to see where all that money goes.   With  little oversight or accountability  hundreds of billions of dollars are not accounted for, and are prime candidates for corruption by government officials and friendly businessmen.Which Brings Us To Capital Flight - And Hugo's Big Mouth.Opposition  newspaper Tal Cual, editorial called  El Saqueo "The Plunder", by Carlos Diaz,  reported on statements President Hugo Chavez on September 11, 2012.   President Chavez stated there was more than 400 Billions of Venezuelan dollars in foreign fiscal paradises. President Hugo Chavez was citing statistics from the Tax Justice Network, an English NGO whose issue is concern with unrecorded, untaxed private wealth being squirreled away in offshore havens.   The latest and very publicized TJN report in 2012 was The Price Of Offshore Revisited. by James S. Henry, which used new criteria to measure the amount of untaxed private wealth that has accumulated in offshore tax havens and the largest 50 banks in the world the past 40 years.     The reports appendix had statistics on estimated "private Venezuelan funds directed to fiscal paradises during the period 1970-2010.' according to Diaz. TJN measures pre-tax private wealth that flows to tax havens including First World banks.When Chavez was probably referring to was the sum of 400 Billion dollars which is estimated to be the dollar amount of  the value of off-the-books private capital that has fled Venezuela the past 40 years plus what this capital it has earned in returns.   Diaz correctly notes that while Chavez uses the data to "demonize" prior governments, the reports findings are especially damning to his government.Chávez se agarró de esta cifra para demonizar el esquema institucional previo a su gobierno que mantenía un cambio libre y obligaba a Pdvsa a entregar al Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV) todos sus ingresos en moneda extranjera. Según el mandatario, estos mecanismos sólo facilitaban que los venezolanos sacaran dinero del país. Pero como suele ocurrir, a Chávez le echaron mal el cuento.De la lectura del reporte se concluye que Venezuela no está sola en la problemática de la fuga de divisas. En términos nominales nuestro país ocupa el tercer lugar detrás de Brasil y México, y apenas por encima de Argentina; mientras que en términos reales sólo nos supera Brasil. Ahora bien, el aspecto importante a considerar es cuándo se produjeron esas fugas.Basically, if you look at the report, most of the Capital Flight has been continuous under Chavez. Not only is Chavez off-base, he is damned by the report.   He is responsible for 55% of the total capital flight for the period 1970-2010.   Venezuela government corruption and economic mismanagement were notorious before Chavez, and the charts reflect that fact.  There was massive plunder of oil revenues in the 70's, during the 90's bank [...]

Cry for Yourself Argentina



Cristina Kirchner expropriating Repsol's holding in YPF is just about the boldest and dumbest thing you can do.   Bold in the sense that she herself and her hubby were major backers of YPF being privatized in the early 90's and as of 2010 praised Repsol for its work in Argentina.

As for helping Argentina, it is just a short term desperate measure.   She claims that Repsol did not invest, and that the country had to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

The reason production and investment is down is pretty much due to the complex Kirchnerian web of regulations, price controls  and subsidies in the hydrocarbons sector.

Gasoline prices are kept under international prices, while exports of crude are tightly controlled by the State.   Natural Gas - a cornerstone of the energy and heating needs of Argentinians - is subject to price controls and heavy regulation.  This means less money for exploration in oil and gas since you can't sell at market prices domestically and even abroad.     Less production meant the Argentine State went abroad to buy things like natural gas at market rates - selling them domestically at subsidized rates at a price of billions a year. Perversely, this lower prices also meant increased demand for oil and gas.

In the end it looks like another disastrous decision to remedy a situation the Kirchners themselves are responsible for in large parts.

Evo's Gasolinazo - Morales Finally Does Something Right Then Cancels


From the Economist, 

The logic behind the increase was impeccable. Fuel prices in Bolivia have been frozen since before Mr Morales came to power in 2006, even as the world price of oil has surged. The result has been rising demand, falling oil output and a mounting bill for fuel imports and subsidies. The price freeze cost the government $380m last year, a bill that would rise to $660m this year, according to Álvaro García Linera, the vice-president.

Words of Wisdom


Mario Vargas Llosa on his Nobel acceptance speech making the claim for Liberal Democracy

No debemos dejarnos intimidar por quienes quisieran arrebatarnos la libertad que hemos ido conquistando en la larga hazaña de la civilización. Defendamos la democracia liberal, que, con todas sus limitaciones, sigue significando el pluralismo político, la convivencia, la tolerancia, los derechos humanos, el respeto a la crítica, la legalidad, las elecciones libres, la alternancia en el poder, todo aquello que nos ha ido sacando de la vida feral y acercándonos -aunque nunca llegaremos a alcanzarla- a la hermosa y perfecta vida que finge la literatura, aquella que sólo inventándola, escribiéndola y leyéndola podemos merecer. Enfrentándonos a los fanáticos homicidas defendemos nuestro derecho a soñar y a hacer nuestros sueños realidad.



Interesting cables from around election time

Did Evo steals votes?   when he clearly did not need to, in order to win the constitutional referendum, the US Embassy has some interesting thoughts on that.
Summary: With the January 25 constitutional
referendum rapidly approaching, all signs point to victory
for President Morales and his ruling Movement Toward
Socialism (MAS) party. Although the opposition has made

inroads into the MAS lead, most national polls point to
between 54 and 60 percent support for the proposed
constitution (with one government poll showing 66 percent),
and the MAS appears set to leverage its considerable rural
base to victory. After a series of national news articles
raised questions about significant fraud in the August 2008
recall referendum, the National Electoral Court has taken
pains to advertise the electoral rolls as secure. However, a
recent poll shows less than half of the public shares the

court's confidence, and the opposition believes significant
electoral fraud is likely. While cheating seems unnecessary
to secure victory for the MAS, padding their lead would give
the party leverage in congressional negotiations regarding
legislation implementing hundreds of vague constitutional
clauses. Opposition leaders continue to fear the MAS will
use any stalemate in these negotiations to close congress and
institute rule by decree. At both the national and regional
levels, the margin of victory matters. A landslide for the

MAS nationally, or large victories for the opposition in the
eastern departments, could spark more conflict. End summary.

The State Department Cables - Evo is Difficult Says Christina


Revelations about US-Bolivian relations from the infamous State Department CablesChristina and Nestor Kirchner had good relations with Thomas Shannon Undersecretary of State during the Bush administration.  acting as a secret go-between for the US Government with Evo.Colaboración en BoliviaLos telegramas intercambiados entre la Embajada en Buenos Aires y la Secretaría de Estado muestran las buenas relaciones que llegaron a mantener Néstor Kirchner y la presidenta con la Administración de George Bush y su secretario de Estado adjunto para Asuntos de América, Thomas Shannon, y la difícil comunicación que existió, al menos hasta marzo-abril de este año, con la Administración de Obama y, sobre todo, con Arturo Valenzuela.La confianza con Shannon llegó hasta el punto de que la presidenta aceptó "cooperar con el Gobierno de Estados Unidos en Bolivia". "CFK afirma que Argentina cooperará con el USG [Gobierno de Estados Unidos] en Bolivia, pero que tenemos que ser cuidadosos para que no parezca que existe una 'operación política' contra el Gobierno, dadas las sospechas de Evo", asegura el telegrama norteamericano. Shannon ya había dado seguridades a la presidenta argentina de que Estados Unidos garantizaba la integridad territorial de Bolivia e intentaba, con muy poco éxito, convencer a Evo Morales de que Washington no tenía nada contra él. "Evo no es una persona fácil, nos confía CFK, haciéndonos notar que Argentina tiene problemas para conseguir que Bolivia le abastezca de gas natural. Todos necesitamos paciencia, nos dijo", relata el entonces embajador Wayne. Poco antes, un telegrama informa de las gestiones que ha hecho el ministro de Exteriores argentino, a solicitud del embajador de Estados Unidos, para bajar la tensión en Bolivia respecto a Washington y garantizar la seguridad de su Embajada en La Paz. "Taiana nos informa de que ha llamado tres veces al viceministro boliviano para insistir en esos dos puntos".Un despacho enviado por la Embajada en Buenos Aires antes de la visita de Shannon en agosto de 2008 expone claramente cuáles son las demandas de Estados Unidos al Gobierno argentino: "Esperamos que Argentina desempeñe un papel positivo en evitar un conflicto y llevar a buen puerto la democracia en Bolivia; que influya en el presidente ecuatoriano, Rafael Correa, para que se comporte con más moderación; que tome una posición más constructiva, madura y equilibrada en el conflicto colombiano y que influya positivamente en su contraparte venezolana". So much for Evo being threatened by the US:* Shannon asked the Kirchners to reassure Evo that the US guaranteed Bolivia's territorial integrity (this was during the time that Evo was accusing the US of supporting the regional opposition in Santa Cruz which he claimed wanted to split the country)* Shannon asked the Kirchners to try to convince Evo that the "US didn't have anything against him". trying to lower tensions* The American Embassador in Buenos Aires asked Argentinian Foreign Minister Taina to intercede with Bolivian authorities to  "lower the tension in Bolivia" vis a vis the U.S. and to guarantee the "safety" of the American Embassy in La Paz. (This coming after mobs of Evo-supporters - with at least some officialist connivance- attacked the U.S. Embassy and nearly set it ablaze).  * Christina Kirchner describes Evo as "not an easy person"What emerges at least from this series of cables is a State Department from the past couple of years actually using diplomacy to deal with and get along with a rather prickly ideologue like Evo[...]

Bolivias Shrinking Gas Reserves - The Price of Evo's Nationalization Part 1


 Bolivia's government has finally confirmed what Bolivian analyst Hugo Del Granado reported a month ago,  tthat the country's natural gas reserves have dropped precipituously.From Merco Press According to a recent audit commissioned by the Bolivian government and conducted by US-based consulting firm Ryder Scott allegedly shows that the country has only 8.3 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, sharply lower than the range of 12.8 trillion to 26.7 trillion that has appeared in contradictory official versions. “It's a blow to the expectations that have been built up since the start of the decade concerning ... (factors) that gave Bolivia an economic advantage in the regional context,” energy sector analyst Hugo del Granado is quoted in La Paz press. Del Granado caused a stir days ago when he published an article about a preliminary yet reliable report he had seen concerning a sharp drop in proven gas reserves, noting the government has been keeping the information secret since June. Apparently the recent audit commissioned by the government and conducted by U.S.-based consulting firm Ryder Scott shows that Bolivia has only 8.3 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, sharply lower than the range of 12.8 trillion to 26.7 trillion that has appeared in contradictory official versions. Bolivia is “resisting the truth” because acknowledging the reality would mean losing its status as the second-leading natural gas power in South America, Del Granado said, adding that the country currently ranks fourth in the region in terms of proven reserves. Venezuela has 200 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, followed by Argentina, with 13.2 trillion; Brazil, 12.7 trillion; Peru, 11.2 trillion cubic feet; and Colombia, 4.4 trillion, according to figures cited by the expert. Bolivia's former superintendent of oil and gas, Carlos Miranda, told the media that, if the drop in reserves is officially confirmed, Bolivia would be faced with “the nation's biggest-ever natural resources disaster.” Its A Gas -- Bolivian law requires an annual certification of its proved natural gas and oil reserves for the previous year ending December 31st, by an independent certification firm.   Proved reserves of natural gas are "estimated on the basis of geological and engineering data that make it possible to determine with reasonable certainty if the oil and gas found in known fields could be recovered in current economic and operating conditions", to use the widely accepted SEC definition.    In order to perform the certification,  certifiying company would send personnel to the country, go on-site to the gas fields and headquarters of everyone involved in oil and gas, and pore over seismic, production and financial data and present a certification report.But Who's Counting?  Carlos Villegas - President of YPFB, very recently Morales' Hyrocarbons Minister, a main architect of Evo's nationalization strategy, finally admitted that the gas reserves were at 12.8 Trillion Cubic Feet, after months of dodging the question of what the results of the 2009 certification were.  Amazingly enough during his tenure running the nationalized hydrocarbons sector there has been no certifcation of reserves.  Ironically, the same "neo-liberal" governments Villegas made a career out of vilifying complied with this certification rather scrupulously..     Bolivia previously used,  De Goyler & MacNaughton,  until 2006 when  Evo's government fired them.  Using [...]

How FDR Banning Sales of Airplanes To Bolivia Led To Landmark Supreme Court Decision And To Bolivian mythology


At issueOn April 1934 a joint resolution of Congress was passed giving President Roosevelt the power to forbid the sales of arms to Boliva or Paraguay in the Chaco War.Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That if the President finds that the prohibition of the sale of arms and munitions of war in the United States to those countries now engaged in armed conflict in the Chaco may contribute to the reestablishment of peace between those countries, and if after consultation with the governments of other American Republics and with their cooperation, as well as that of such other governments as he may deem necessary, he makes proclamation to that effect, it shall be unlawful to sell, except under such limitations and exceptions as the President prescribes, any arms or munitions of war in any place in the United States to the countries now engaged in that armed conflict, or to any person, company, or association acting in the interest of either country, until otherwise ordered by the President or by Congress.Sec. 2. Whoever sells any arms or munitions of war in violation of section 1 shall, on conviction, be punished by a fine not exceeding $10,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both. President Roosevelt then issued an executive order Now, therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, acting under and by virtue of the authority conferred in me by the said joint resolution of Congress, do hereby declare and proclaim that I have found that the prohibition of the sale of arms and munitions of war in the United States to those countries now engaged in armed conflict in the Chaco may contribute to the reestablishment of peace between those countries, and that I have consulted with the governments of other American Republics and have been assured of the cooperation of such governments as I have deemed necessary as contemplated by the said joint resolution, and I do hereby admonish all citizens of the [p313] United States and every person to abstain from every violation of the provisions of the joint resolution above set forth, hereby made applicable to Bolivia and Paraguay, and I do hereby warn them that all violations of such provisions will be rigorously prosecuted.And I do hereby enjoin upon all officers of the United States charged with the execution of the laws thereof the utmost diligence in preventing violations of the said joint resolution and this my proclamation issued thereunder, and in bringing to trial and punishment any offenders against the same.And I do hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the power of prescribing exceptions and limitations to the application of the said joint resolution of May 28, 1934, as made effective by this my proclamation issued thereunder. Curtis Wright Corporation, sold machine guns and airplanes to Bolivia, and was charged with a violation of the act.   It defended itself in Court arguing that Congress' resolution and President Roosevelts order were unconstitutional granting of power to the Executive and an overextension of power in commerce.After the lower Court ruled against the government, the issue was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the landmark case, U.S. v. Curtis Wright  the Supreme Court ruled in its full decision that the President had supremacy in national security and foreign affairs  This case is required reading in Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law classes in U.S. Law Schools.   [...]

Mono Jojoy Meets His Maker


Top FARC military commander and member of the directorate whose nom de guerre was Mono Jojoy a/k/a Jorge Brice~o, was killed in Colombia by the military after a concerted effort of several years to contain and isolate his command.

He literally grew up with the FARC. He was raised among the backwoods Stalinist bands that split from the Liberal Party rural guerillas of the Violencia period. Jacobo Arenas, the FARC's top ideologue and strategist, knew him from childhood, and became a life-long mentor and booster. Besides Communist indoctrination, a teenaged Mono Jojoy received plenty of on-the-job training as a guerilla fighter. By the 80's he had risen through the ranks to commmand large formations. Eventually he led the powerful East Front (Bloque Oriental) for years, Mono Jojoy was known as a top battlefield commander who in the 90's delivered strong blows to Colombia's military.

During the Zona De Despeje/Cease Fire period, he was all over the press and television, roaming around in a 4x4 with a posse that included many female guerillas.

In a country that has produced legendary (and telegenic) sociopaths like Pablo Escobar and Carlos Castano, Jojoy is right up there. He was a ruthless killer who ordered terror killings and kidnappings of thousands of Colombians. He was up to his neck in the drug racket the FARC ran, as well as their policy of keeping military and civilian hostages. Basically, he bears a lot of blame in the FARC's crimes of the past 30 years that have extended the conflict and ungovernability in Colombia

His death is a blow to the FARC. Directorate members - once considered invulnerable- have died like flies since 2007. Jojoy's reputation of a top commander leading the strongest guerilla columns will be extremely demoralizing to rank and file guerillas as well as middle and top leaders.

The noose also tightens on Cano, and the other directorate members. They have nothing to bargain with.

Daniel Ortega Places Himself All Over the Sandinista Revolution


via Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog : Quote of the day: Nicaragua this story from the LA TIMESAt museum, Nicaragua president's favorite masterpiece is himselfGo to the Museum of the Sandinista Victory, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is everywhere. There he is on the northern front of the revolutionary war — and the southern front, and the western front.Ortega has Forrest Gumped himself onto all the major battle lines of the struggle that dethroned dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, carried the Sandinista movement to power and radically changed Nicaraguan history.As for all the other comandantes and major figures who shared in those events with similar or even more important roles?"We have been erased," said Sergio Ramirez, the renowned writer and a member of the Sandinista government who served as vice president during Ortega's first term as president, from 1985 to 1990.Ortega lost in 1990 — the first post-revolution democratic election — and lost three more times before finally returning to power by winning the presidential election in 2006.The museum, a government-run project about a year old, is an open-air display that purports to illustrate the historic fight of the Nicaraguan people to rid their nation of decades of "gringo invasions" and other onerous shackles (as the young tour guide put it).It is also but one example more of what many here see as the cult of personality surrounding Ortega.In the age-old tradition of dictators including Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein (not to mention Somoza, whom Ortega did help depose), the Nicaraguan president has built a national homage to himself. Billboards dot this sprawling, haphazard capital with a larger-than-life picture of him alongside national heroes Ruben Dario and Augusto Sandino. Nicaraguans speak less of Sandinismo and more of Danielismo.This reminds me of Stalin's image appearing in official pictures denoting October Revolution moments, where he had never been, or closer to Lenin.Fact is, Daniel was the Sandinista's main polical tactician, his brother Humberto one of the main military tactician.But, he was hardly a top battlefield commander during the main phases of the war which were the insurrection in 78 and the final offensive in 79, in any of the main fronts - Frente Norte, Frente Sur or Frente Interno.And as a matter of policy after the triumph of the revolution the 9 commanders of the Sandinista National Directorate including Humberto and Daniel were co-equal in directing the affairs of the party, the army and the state. That was the result of a power sharing agreement, brokered by Fidel Castro, where the 3 main factions or "tendencias" within the FSLN would be represented at the top and theoretically co-govern equally. Even as president later in the mid-80's Daniel was still in theory accountable to the other 9 commanders.Having spent years watching and seeing Sandinista propaganda on a daily basis, I can say that their message always focused on the party directorate and less on indviduals.One of the main slogans of the FSLN, chanted by its cadres at rally's and propaganda was:"Direcion Nacional Ordene!"The only individuals they propped up in propaganda were dead - "martyrs".The bottom line is that there was in the FSLN a tendency to not elevate individual commanders or politicians. Some of that due to them wanting to keep the peace internally, after the sectarian conflicts in the FSLN in the 70's. The other political one, was to avoid creation of a cult of pers[...]

Brazil's Bolsa Familia - The Economist Article


Brazil's Bolsa Familia has been a great success in reducing poverty in Brazil thru payments to poor families, based on whether their children stay in school. The Economist finds that it is a rousing success in rural areas, and succesful though slightly problematic in urban areas

Great Ayrton Senna Tribute From Top Gear


The excellent BBC Car Program Top Gear has a great tribute to Ayrton Senna.  What makes it stand out is how it focuses on Senna's technical abilities and talents as a driver, which sometimes gets overlooked in the mythology.   The Brazilian is presented warts and all. 

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Evo's Witch Doctor Gets Busted!!!


The so-called Aymara "Priest" who presided over Evo Morales' Presidential Inauguration  in Bolivia was found red handed with many kilos of some sort of cocaine derivative at his house.  Allegedly he was wearing his ceremonial robes.  The sorcerer apparently was casting an ancient Chapare spell of purification over about 500 pounds of cocaine base, when the police rudely interrupted the Amauta..

Valentín Mejillones, 55 años, fue quien entregó el bastón de mando a Morales cuando éste juró a su segundo mandado en enero en un rito andino celebrado en el mayor templo arqueológico del país.
Ostenta el título de amauta que en la religiosidad andina es el máximo líder espiritual. El martes en la noche, la policía allanó su domicilio en una barriada de la ciudad de El Alto, vecina a La Paz y lo sorprendió elaborando cocaína.
Llevaba su poncho ceremonial el momento de la detención. Fue detenido junto a su hijo y a una pareja de colombianos que no fueron identificados por la policía, según el informe del director de la fuerza antidroga, coronel Félix Molina.