Archive for January 7th, 2013

Venezuelan Roulette

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

With cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez clinging to life in a Havana hospital, an intense struggle for power is under way in Caracas, pitting Cuban-backed ideologues against narcogenerals. Venezuela’s inept democratic opposition has no strategy for defending its interests, while career U.S. diplomats are stumbling toward legitimizing an authoritarian narcostate without getting anything in return. The future of Venezuela is hanging in the balance.

Two factions have now emerged within Chavismo. The first is led by Nicolás Maduro, who served for six years as Venezuela’s foreign minister and heads a clique of ideologues loyal to Havana. In October, Chávez named Maduro as vice president and called upon his followers to support him in the snap elections that would take place if the president dies.

But even with the ailing president’s blessing, Maduro will face competition. Diosdado Cabello, a military veteran and long-time collaborator of Chávez’s who has fallen out of favor with the ... Read More

Ruleta Venezolana

| January 7th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Foreign Policy

Traducción por IASW

Mientras el presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, se aferra a la vida en un hospital de la Habana, en Caracas se desata una intensa lucha por el poder;  los ideólogos con respaldo del régimen cubano contra los narco-generales venezolanos. Mientras tanto, la inepta oposición democrática venezolana no cuenta con una estrategia para defender sus intereses y los diplomáticos de carrera estadounidenses torpemente se acercan a la legitimación de un narcoestado autoritario sin recibir nada a cambio. El futuro de Venezuela cuelga de un hilo.

Dos facciones han emergido dentro del chavismo. La primera está liderada por Nicolás Maduro, quien se desempeño durante seis años como ministro de relaciones exteriores de Venezuela y que encabeza un grupo ideológico leal a La Habana. En octubre, Chávez nombró a Maduro vicepresidente y llamó a sus seguidores a apoyarlo en las elecciones anticipadas que se llevarían a cabo en caso de su muerte.

Pero incluso con ... Read More

Catholic leaders warn that Venezuela’s stability at risk amid uncertainty about ailing Chavez

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
FoxNews.com

CARACAS, Venezuela –  Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela are warning that the country’s stability is at risk due to President Hugo Chavez’s complications after cancer surgery in Cuba.

Catholic leaders in the Venezuelan Bishops Conference are criticizing the government for not providing more details about Chavez’s state nearly a month after his Dec. 11 operation.

Government officials have called Chavez’s condition delicate and say he is fighting a severe respiratory infection.

The Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that the country faces a potentially dangerous situation amid uncertainty about Chavez’s condition and that “the nation’s political and social stability is at serious risk.”

Chavez describes himself as Christian but has had repeated verbal clashes with Catholic leaders, who have previously accused the president of being increasingly authoritarian.

Click here for original ... Read More

Venezuela’s endgame approaches

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

A VENEZUELAN government statement Thursday said that President Hugo Chavez, who has been secreted inside a Cuban hospital since undergoing surgery on Dec. 11, was facing “complications” from “a severe lung infection.” As has been the case throughout his nearly two-year bout with cancer, details of the strongman’s condition, treatment and prognosis are unavailable. But Venezuelans are bracing themselves for the death of the caudillo who has ruled them — and wrecked their once-prosperous country — over the past 13 years. The United States and its Latin American allies need to prepare, as well.

Mr. Chavez’s critical condition arrived at a critical moment: He is due to be sworn in next Thursday for another six-year term in office. Having won reelection in October after assuring Venezuelans that he was fully cured, the president disappeared soon afterward; in his last appearance before departing for Cuba, he appointed foreign minister Nicolas Maduro as his vice president and ... Read More

Report: John Kerry Held Secret Talks with Cuba to Free Alan Gross

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Cuba Confidential

BY JUAN O. TAMAYO

Sen. John Kerry, nominated as the next secretary of state, held a secret meeting with Cuba’s foreign minister in 2010 in a failed bid to win the release of jailed USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, according to a published report. A senior state department official also met in secret with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez to discuss the Gross case, but the foreign minister lectured the U.S. official for an hour, added the report in the respected magazine Foreign Affairs.

José Cardenas, a former top official at the U.S. Agency for International Development, wrote that the article amounted to a “lesson on the folly of attempting to appease dictators.” A knowledgeable Senate aide also challenged the article’s description of the role that Fulton Armstrong, a senior staffer in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former CIA analyst, played in the campaign to free Gross.

Gross was arrested in Havana in late 2009 ... Read More

Opinion polls anticipate a windfall re-election vote for Correa in Ecuador

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
MercoPress

“In an electoral process you can never give as a fact what polls show months or weeks ahead but currently the percentage support of Correa ensures his victory in the first round next February”, said Paulina Recalde head of the polling company.

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for next 17 February and if no candidate manages 50% of the vote a run off takes place 7 April. The national opinion poll was completed before Christmas with a plus/minus 1.4 percentage point error margin.

“Correa’s hard core vote in the ruling party Alianza Pais was 87% while for Lasso it reached 64% in his Creating Opportunities party”, pointed out Recalde.

Of the other presidential hopefuls only two, former president Lucio Gutierrez and Alberto Acosta have a vote intention of 4.5% and 3.5% while the rest of candidates don’t make it to the threshold of 2%.

The poll also included a perception of the current ... Read More

Hugo Chavez mentor says he doubts ailing president will rule Venezuela again

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
McClatchy

BY TIM JOHNSON

MEXICO CITY — A former mentor to Hugo Chavez who maintains close contacts with officials in Venezuela said Friday that he doesn’t believe the ailing Venezuelan president will ever leave Cuba to govern his homeland again – and may not even leave a Havana hospital.

Heinz Dieterich, a German sociologist and ideologue who lives in Mexico City, said a succession battle already is playing out within Chavez’s socialist party.

“It’s absolutely illusory to think that the president may return to exercise a post that is so exhausting as leading a country in modern times,” Dieterich said in an interview at his office at a Mexico City university. “It’s not even sure that he will leave that Cuban hospital alive.”

Dieterich, a leftist thinker, invented a slogan he called “Socialism for the 21st Century,” which was adopted by Chavez. The two met in 1999, nurturing a friendship over debates at Miraflores Palace in ... Read More

If Hugo Chavez Succumbs, a Dangerous Limbo for Venezuela

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

BY MAC MARGOLIS

Ever since he underwent surgery to remove a baseball-size tumor in his pelvis in June 2011, the prospect of Hugo Chavez’s demise has dominated political talking points on Latin America. Nineteen months and four operations later, the Venezuelan patient, who has survived coup attempts, palace intrigue, a resurgent opposition, and international outrage, appears finally to be running out of luck.

And for the first time in the last decade and a half, this oil-rich, politically fevered nation that has stoked acrimony and imaginations across the map is without a clear political script to follow or a narrator to tell it.

Whatever else can be said about Chavez’s 14-year run as president of Venezuela, the honchos of the corporate world stand humbled. Since Fidel Castro was in his prime—and that was decades ago—no other chief executive in the Western Hemisphere has managed a brand the way Chavez has.

Secular saint and clown-prince, the Venezuelan ... Read More

Hugo Chavez remains hospitalized in Cuba as Venezuelan inauguration approaches

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

BY JUAN FORERO

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez’s fervent followers still assemble in the capital’s main public square, decked in the bright red of their leader’s movement, to chant revolutionary songs that envisage the president leading the country far into the future.

But Chavez, who has dominated public life here since the late 1990s, is nowhere to be seen. He no longer gives his trademark bombastic speeches, nor does he hold forth on television like a game-show host. On Sunday, he remained in Cuba, where he has been for nearly a month, presumably convalescing after undergoing surgery to remove what he called “some malignant cells” in his pelvic region, from which doctors have struggled to extricate a cancerous tumor.

To Venezuelans, it is becoming clear that Chavez may well not return by Thursday, a key day in the political calendar. The 58-year-old former paratrooper is supposed to be inaugurated that day for a ... Read More

Conflict Brewing in Venezuela’s Ruling Party, Says Hugo Chavez Foe

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

CARACAS, Venezuela –  The conflict brewing between two of Hugo Chávez’s key political confidants is, according to one of the Venezuelan ruling party’s political opponents, the real reason the Presidential inauguration has been postponed.

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges said in a news conference on Sunday that a rivalry between Vice President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello is behind the postponement of Chávez’s swearing-in ceremony. Chávez has not been able to return to Venezuela from Cuba following a Dec. 11 operation, his fourth surgery for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.

“While the president is sick in Havana, they have a power conflict,” Borges said. “That’s why they are engendering this violation of the constitution.”

The Venezuelan Constitution states the presidential oath should be taken Jan. 10 before lawmakers in the National Assembly. But it says that the president may also take the oath of office before the Supreme Court if the ... Read More

What the death of President Hugo Chavez means for Venezuela, US

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article Appeared in The Washington Times

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, January 6, 2012 ― Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dying.

Despite the secrecy from Venezuela and Cuba, all signs point to the likelihood that 58-year-old dictator Hugo Chavez is dying from the cancer he has battled since June 2011. Chavez underwent a fourth round of treatment for unspecified cancer in Cuba in early December, and uncharacteristically has not stepped in front of the cameras since that time.

Also uncharacteristically, Chavez named an heir before the latest operation – something he has avoided doing at any previous time in his presidency.

The latest statements from anointed successor and Vice President Nicolas Maduro say Chavez’s condition is “delicate” and that he is suffering from a serious respiratory infection as well as “other complications” from the surgery  He insists, however, that the bombastic president will recover and run the country.

Chavez won a fourth presidential term in October. His inauguration is scheduled for January 10, but ... Read More

Opinion polls anticipate a windfall re-election vote for Correa in Ecuador

| January 7th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
MercoPress

“In an electoral process you can never give as a fact what polls show months or weeks ahead but currently the percentage support of Correa ensures his victory in the first round next February”, said Paulina Recalde head of the polling company.

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for next 17 February and if no candidate manages 50% of the vote a run off takes place 7 April. The national opinion poll was completed before Christmas with a plus/minus 1.4 percentage point error margin.

“Correa’s hard core vote in the ruling party Alianza Pais was 87% while for Lasso it reached 64% in his Creating Opportunities party”, pointed out Recalde.

Of the other presidential hopefuls only two, former president Lucio Gutierrez and Alberto Acosta have a vote intention of 4.5% and 3.5% while the rest of candidates don’t make it to the threshold of 2%.

The poll also included a perception of the current ... Read More

Hugo Chavez mentor says he doubts ailing president will rule Venezuela again

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
McClatchy

TIM JOHNSON

MEXICO CITY — A former mentor to Hugo Chavez who maintains close contacts with officials in Venezuela said Friday that he doesn’t believe the ailing Venezuelan president will ever leave Cuba to govern his homeland again – and may not even leave a Havana hospital.

Heinz Dieterich, a German sociologist and ideologue who lives in Mexico City, said a succession battle already is playing out within Chavez’s socialist party.

“It’s absolutely illusory to think that the president may return to exercise a post that is so exhausting as leading a country in modern times,” Dieterich said in an interview at his office at a Mexico City university. “It’s not even sure that he will leave that Cuban hospital alive.”

Dieterich, a leftist thinker, invented a slogan he called “Socialism for the 21st Century,” which was adopted by Chavez. The two met in 1999, nurturing a friendship over debates at Miraflores Palace in Caracas. ... Read More

Venezuela After Chávez

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Hugo Chávez’s battle against cancer could serve as a learning experience for admirers of the Cuban health-care system, held up by the likes of American filmmaker Michael Moore as a model for the U.S. Apparently it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

There are other lessons too. If the day soon comes that he can no longer govern, it will not necessarily be good news for Venezuelans. Indeed, the country’s long-term decline is likely to continue. That’s because his early demise could make chavismo a near religion in Venezuela, much as the death of Eva Perón gave birth to her messianic image and the Argentine worship of peronismo . Pity the nation that falls prey to a demagogue.

Mr. Chávez’s health is a state secret, albeit one that a lot of people seem to know about. When he first had surgery in June 2011, he did not readily admit that doctors had removed ... Read More

If Hugo Chavez Succumbs, a Dangerous Limbo for Venezuela

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
The Daily Beast

MAC MARGOLIS

Ever since he underwent surgery to remove a baseball-size tumor in his pelvis in June 2011, the prospect of Hugo Chavez’s demise has dominated political talking points on Latin America. Nineteen months and four operations later, the Venezuelan patient, who has survived coup attempts, palace intrigue, a resurgent opposition, and international outrage, appears finally to be running out of luck.

And for the first time in the last decade and a half, this oil-rich, politically fevered nation that has stoked acrimony and imaginations across the map is without a clear political script to follow or a narrator to tell it.

 Whatever else can be said about Chavez’s 14-year run as president of Venezuela, the honchos of the corporate world stand humbled. Since Fidel Castro was in his prime—and that was decades ago—no other chief executive in the Western Hemisphere has managed a brand the way Chavez has.

Secular saint and clown-prince, the Venezuelan Supremo ... Read More

Colombia Arrests Bahamian for Drug Trafficking

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press

A top police official says Colombian authorities have detained a Bahamian citizen wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

Luis Alberto Perez is director of Colombia’s anti-narcotrafficking unit and said Sunday that Matthew Ian Ferguson was detained in the city of Monteria, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Bogota.

Ferguson goes by the alias Matlock and is thought to have worked with drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. Perez said Ferguson arranged the transport of Colombian drugs into Mexico via Venezuela and Central America.

Ferguson is suspected of having worked for Colombian drug lord Daniel Barrera Barrera, who was detained in Venezuela in September.

The U.S. has issued an extradition request for Ferguson.

Click here for original ... Read More

Bolivia accuses United States of plotting against Morales

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
BBC

Bolivia has “irrefutable evidence” that the US has been working to destabilise the government of President Evo Morales, a senior minister has said.

Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana said proof of improper activities involving the US embassy would be given to President Obama.

Mr Morales expelled the US ambassador in 2008 after accusing him of plotting against his government.

A charge d’affaires heads the embassy in La Paz.

‘Political ambush’

Mr Morales has had an uneasy relationship with the US, ever since he came to power in January 2006, because of tensions over drug enforcement and the nationalisation of many foreign companies.

In 2008, Mr Morales accused the US of fomenting anti-government protests in a dispute that led to the expulsion of ambassador Philip Goldberg. US officials denied any wrongdoing.

The two countries agreed in 2011 to restore full diplomatic ties but have not yet exchanged ambassadors.

The Bolivian government’s latest accusations also single out the ... Read More

Hugo Chavez remains hospitalized in Cuba as Venezuelan inauguration approaches

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

JUAN FORERO

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez’s fervent followers still assemble in the capital’s main public square, decked in the bright red of their leader’s movement, to chant revolutionary songs that envisage the president leading the country far into the future.

But Chavez, who has dominated public life here since the late 1990s, is nowhere to be seen. He no longer gives his trademark bombastic speeches, nor does he hold forth on television like a game-show host. On Sunday, he remained in Cuba, where he has been for nearly a month, presumably convalescing after undergoing surgery to remove what he called “some malignant cells” in his pelvic region, from which doctors have struggled to extricate a cancerous tumor.

To Venezuelans, it is becoming clear that Chavez may well not return by Thursday, a key day in the political calendar. The 58-year-old former paratrooper is supposed to be inaugurated that day for a fourth ... Read More

Venezuela’s endgame approaches

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

A VENEZUELAN government statement Thursday said that President Hugo Chavez, who has been secreted inside a Cuban hospital since undergoing surgery on Dec. 11, was facing “complications” from “a severe lung infection.” As has been the case throughout his nearly two-year bout with cancer, details of the strongman’s condition, treatment and prognosis are unavailable. But Venezuelans are bracing themselves for the death of the caudillo who has ruled them — and wrecked their once-prosperous country — over the past 13 years. The United States and its Latin American allies need to prepare, as well.

Mr. Chavez’s critical condition arrived at a critical moment: He is due to be sworn in next Thursday for another six-year term in office. Having won reelection in October after assuring Venezuelans that he was fully cured, the president disappeared soon afterward; in his last appearance before departing for Cuba, he appointed foreign minister Nicolas Maduro as his vice president and ... Read More

Conflict Brewing in Venezuela’s Ruling Party, Says Hugo Chavez Foe

| January 7th, 2013 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

CARACAS, Venezuela –  The conflict brewing between two of Hugo Chávez’s key political confidants is, according to one of the Venezuelan ruling party’s political opponents, the real reason the Presidential inauguration has been postponed.

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges said in a news conference on Sunday that a rivalry between Vice President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello is behind the postponement of Chávez’s swearing-in ceremony. Chávez has not been able to return to Venezuela from Cuba following a Dec. 11 operation, his fourth surgery for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.

“While the president is sick in Havana, they have a power conflict,” Borges said. “That’s why they are engendering this violation of the constitution.”

The Venezuelan Constitution states the presidential oath should be taken Jan. 10 before lawmakers in the National Assembly. But it says that the president may also take the oath of office before the Supreme Court if the ... Read More

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