Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Chávez’

Have U.S. Sanctions Against Venezuela Actually Helped Maduro?

| March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Jose Cardenas

When President Obama announced human rights sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials on March 9, a number of Latin Americanists and others criticized the measure, arguing that the president just handed beleaguered Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro a huge propaganda victory. The thinking went that Washington’s heavy-handed interference in Venezuela would allow Maduro to rally his base, deflect attention away from their dire economic predicament, and otherwise strengthen his teetering government.

Today, three weeks later, is as good a time as any to see whether Maduro has benefited in any way from U.S. sanctions. According to recent polls, the answer is a resounding no.

According to a recent poll by the Venezuelan firm Datanalisis, for all Maduro’s bombast since the sanctions were announced, his already low popularity barely budged from 23 percent to 25 percent, likely within the margin for error; in other words, there hasn’t been any measurable improvement. This is all the more ... Read More

Peru Is Chavismo’s Next American Target

| March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY For the citizens of a nation that boasts one of the world’s most spectacular long-run growth spurts since the 1990s, Peruvians are amazingly short on confidence. This country has so far repelled the authoritarian populism that has swept the South American continent since Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela in 1999. Its reward has been an average annual economic expansion of 5.1% for 15 years through 2014—including only 1% in 2009, when global growth collapsed, and a mediocre performance last year of just 2.4%.

Fast growth has produced a vibrant consumer class that is entrepreneurial and creative. Shopping malls, modern supermarkets and pharmacies now span this city, which is also marked by shiny office towers and small businesses. Demand for private-school education among aspirational middle-class parents is soaring as they reject the failing government system.

Credit has been expanding quickly yet with commodity prices falling and the global economy slowing, growth ... Read More

Guest Opinion: Beware of investing in Cuba

| March 30th, 2015 | No Comments »
Brainer Dispatch

Minnesota farmers and business owners should beware of investing in Cuba. Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, have been the only communist dictators of Cuba, all while the U.S. elected presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama to the office of U.S. President. The Castro dictators have never stopped working to spread communism and socialism into South and Central America. Particularly in Venezuela, Fidel Castro has mentored Hugo Chavez and his designated successor Nicolas Maduro in the methods of “nationalizing” western businesses. In the 1960s Fidel Castro nationalized 382 U.S. businesses, including banks and factories, under communism in Cuba.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Fidel Castro actually urged the Soviet leader, Khrushchev,, to launch a nuclear weapon strike against the U.S. using Soviet missiles based in Cuba. As Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara revealed many years later, the U.S. did ... Read More

The left must speak out about the horror in Venezuela

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
New Statesman

Venezuela is a mess. Inflation is running at 70 per cent or higher and in the capital Caracas citizens have to stand in queues for hours just to pick up the basics from increasingly empty shops. This comes on the back of a decade-long oil boom in which Venezuela earned over $800 billion in oil revenues. Accusing the government of profligacy somehow doesn’t cut it.

But Venezuela isn’t just a crumbling mess teetering on the brink of economic and social collapse. It also happens to be a country in which many western leftists have over the past decade invested their hopes for a better future.

The governments of the late Hugo Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro certainly have achievements to their name. Between 1998 and 2012 there was a reduction in the poverty rate from 50 per cent to approximately 30 per cent. The closeness of the Venezuelan government’s ties to Cuba, and the ... Read More

Washington’s $1 Billion Central America Challenge

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Foreign Policy

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is holding a series of timely hearings this week revisiting the summer 2014 border crisis to ensure that, should there be a next time, the Obama administration won’t get caught napping again. That crisis saw thousands of illegal Central American immigrants, including many unaccompanied minors, surging across the United States’ southern border, overwhelming local authorities and inflaming the broader debate over immigration.

Wednesday’s hearing, focused on understanding and addressing the root causes of the crisis — the so-called “push” factors — is particularly important, as it gives lawmakers an opportunity to flesh out details of the administration’s proposed $1 billion Central America assistance plan. Vice President Joe Biden has been the administration’s point man on pitching the plan, writing recently in The Hill, “The president and I are determined to address conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and help these countries on their path to economic ... Read More

Iran and Argentina: The Defectors’ Tale

| March 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Did Hugo Chávez act as a bagman for Iran in its effort to get nuclear technology from Argentina? That’s the claim made by three former members of the Venezuelan dictatorship’s inner circle cited anonymously in a March 14 story in the Brazilian magazine Veja.

The magazine says it didn’t name the defectors, interviewed in Washington, to protect their family members back in Venezuela. But it reported that they were questioned separately and each said there was a deal in January 2007 between Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas. Venezuela would deliver Iranian money to Argentine officials in exchange for two favors for Tehran.

The first favor they described, according to Veja, was that Argentina would cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist attack on a Jewish community center (known by its Spanish initials as AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The second favor was that Argentina would “share their long experience in [a] ... Read More

Venezuela’s military exercises put spotlight on its MANPADS missiles

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

When Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered a 10-day military exercise over the weekend, soldiers and civilian loyalists deployed countrywide in a show of strength. Since then, the exercise has showcased the force’s inventory of jets, armored trucks and other weaponry. It has also made a conspicuous display of something else in Venezuela’s arsenal: shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

According to U.N. arms control data, Venezuela has imported at least 1,800 of the anti-aircraft weapons since 2008, when Hugo Chavez, then the country’s fiery anti-American leader, crowed that the missiles could “deter whatever aerial aggression against our country.”

In the intervening years, the spread of the missiles, known as MANPADS – short for Man Portable Air Defense Systems – has become a subject of increasing concern in the Middle East and North Africa, with claims that the Islamic State and other Islamist militants have acquired the weapons. Those fears have largely overshadowed scrutiny of the ... Read More

New photos reveal expanding reach of Iran in Venezuela and other parts of Latin America

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Catherine Herridge

As the Obama administration seeks a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, new congressional testimony, documents and photos show Tehran is expanding its reach into South America by advising rogue regimes on suppressing anti-government protests and financing secretive military facilities.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina, cited this evidence when questioning the notion that Iran has changed its ways as President Barack Obama and his team advance negotiations which may include dropping Iran from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

“We have a negotiation going on with Iran,” Duncan told Fox News. “We don’t want anything to interfere with that.”

“And so we’re going to say their influence in this hemisphere is waning,”  Duncan said, referring to the administration’s argument. “The narrative doesn’t work when you start looking at all the pieces of the puzzle that fit together of Iran’s ... Read More

Rubio, others push more White House action on Venezuela

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Chris Adams

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan panel of the U.S. Senate applauded a recent move by the White House to sanction the Venezuelans cracking down on protesters in that country, but they said much more could be done.

Members of a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a Tuesday hearing that the action last week to apply sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials – including the heads of military intelligence and the police – was promising. Still, they urged more names be added to the sanctions list, and said the U.S. should do a better job explaining to Latin American countries why the move was necessary.

The executive order freezes the assets of officials implicated in the crack-down on protests last year that left more than 40 people dead on both sides and sparked the jailing of prominent opposition figures.

Led by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, as well as Democrats Barbara Boxer ... Read More

The Teheran-Caracas-Buenos Aires Connection

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
By Rodrigo Rangel VEJA Brazil

By Leonardo Coutinho

Argentinians have been wondering for the last two months what happened on January 18, the day in which federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in the bathroom of his apartment in Buenos Aires. Only four days previously, he had presented the justice ministry with an indictment against president Cristina Kirchner and another four people he accused of covering up Iran´s participation in the terrorist attack which resulted in 85 deaths and 300 wounded in the headquarters of the Israeli Argentina Mutual Association (Amia) in 1994. Nisman explained in his document that, besides the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow Iran to interfere in the investigation of the case, the Islamic Republic wanted the Argentinians to remove the names of five Iranians and one Lebanese from the list of people wanted by Interpol. The Argentinian government went out of its way to disparage his ... Read More

Why Venezuela is the world’s worst performing economy, in three charts

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Jason Karaian

There is a roaring trade in Venezuelan goods along the country’s border with Colombia. That is in stark contrast to the general malaise of the economy in the rest of the country.

By many measures, Venezuela’s economy is the most sickly in the world. From the value of its currency (sinking), to its inflation (scorching) and GDP (shrinking), Venezuela ranks at or near the bottom of just about every important financial indicator out there, performing worse even than Argentina, Greece, or Ukraine.

The battered bolívar

The most striking sign of the country’s financial crisis is its rapidly weakening currency, which has lost more than 60% of its value against the dollar on the black market over the past six months. This is not immediately apparent in official figures. Venezuela’s convoluted three-tier exchange system suggests that the bolívar is much stronger than this, thanks ... Read More

Kicking it with Hezbollah

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Center for Security Policy

By Sebastian De Luca

In the coming weeks, Tareck el Aissami will make his professional debut for Aragua FC, a Venezuelan soccer team located roughly sixty miles southwest of the capital city of Caracas.

At 40 years old, it is hard to believe that any individual would be making a professional sports debut; however, thus is the case of this one part Chavista, one part Hezbollah operative, and current Governor of the state of Aragua.

Tareck el Aissami was born in Venezuela to Syrian-Lebanese parents. While attending the Universidad de los Andes, Tareck studied criminology and law, graduating magna cum laude for his class.

El Aissami was very active in the school community, serving as President of the student body, a position that gave him control over the student dormitory operations. Thus begins Tareck el Aissami’s journey from star student to Hezbollah agent.

It has been reported that under Tareck’s supervision, the student dorms turned into ... Read More

Venezuela’s chickens come home to roost as falling oil prices expose socialist country’s economic weakness

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Post-01


Standing at the tail end of a long lineup to buy a few kilograms of sugar, the 66-year-old pensioner shouted Venezuelans had once been slaves to Spain but were now slaves to the Venezuelans who governed them.

“Our rulers have been mugging us,” he said. “They hide food and medicine from us. Armed groups won’t let us be in the streets after 6 p.m. It is horrifying what we live through in this country.”

Mr. Hernandez was giving voice to what millions of Venezuelans think as they wait for hours to buy meagre amounts of staples such as toilet paper, corn flour and cooking oil. Runaway inflation has driven the price of other products beyond the means of many.

The grave economic problems that have confronted Russia and Iran since global oil prices were sliced in half over the past year have received a lot of international attention. Far less has ... Read More

The Left’s Mess in Venezuela

| March 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
National Review

BY KEVIN D. WILLIAMSONVenezuela had a good run of it for about five minutes there, at least in public-relations terms. When petroleum prices were booming, all it took was a few gallons of heating oil from Hugo Chávez to buy the extravagant praise of House members, with Representative Chaka Fattah (D., Philadelphia) issuing statements praising Venezuela’s state-run oil company “and the Venezuelan people for their benevolence.” Lest anybody feel creeped out by running political errands for a brutal and repressive caudillo, Joseph Kennedy — son of Senator Robert Kennedy — proclaimed that refusing the strongman’s patronage would be “a crime against humanity.” Kennedy was at the time the director of Citizens Energy, which had a contract to help distribute that Venezuelan heating oil — Boss Hugo was a brute, but he understood American politics.

Celebrities came to sit at his feet, with Sean Penn calling him a “champion” of the ... Read More

Amid deteriorating relations, Washington turns screws on Venezuela

| March 10th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


President Barack Obama on Monday slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials, including the heads of military intelligence and the police, and said the situation in the South American country posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The executive order freezes the assets and denies visas to the officials for their role in cracking down on last year’s protests, when clashes between demonstrators and police left more than 40 dead on both sides and sparked the jailing of prominent opposition figures.

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here,” the White House said in a statement, “and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

In a nationally televised address, President Nicolás Maduro called ... Read More

Obama sanctions 7 government officials in Venezuela

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »
US News & World Report

By David Jackson and Gregory Korte

WASHINGTON — President Obama slapped economic sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials Monday, accusing them of human rights violations and declaring their government a threat to U.S. national security.

“Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

The administration is “deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents,” Earnest said, and the nation’s economic problems “cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent.”

The sanctions target seven specific Venezuelan government officials who are involved in “violence against anti-government protesters,” or the “arrest or prosecution of individuals for their legitimate exercise of free speech,” said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The United States is not seeking to punish the people ... Read More

Why Venezuela’s Neighbors Keep Quiet

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Mac Margolis

South American foreign ministers gathered in Caracas on March 6 to address the poisoned relations between Venezuela’s government and its opposition, a rolling political crisis that has roiled the Venezuelan streets and besieged President Nicolas Maduro.

The ministers’ mission — to “depolarize Venezuela,” according to Ernesto Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations — is a noble one. But don’t hold your breath.

Unasur called an emergency meeting a year ago in an attempt to build a bridge between the Palacio Miraflores and the opposition. The truce didn’t last, and now Maduro has answered renewed protests with the Bolivarian boot and sometimes deadly force.

Some Latin leaders have publicly cooled to Maduro’s belief there is a yanqui cabal in every shadow, which may be one reason the Caracas parley was convened without the usual Bolivarian fanfare.

“They are speaking of foreign interference,” ... Read More

Chavez’s Legacy: Venezuela in Shambles

| March 5th, 2015 | No Comments »
The National Interest


Nobody has lobbied Saudi Arabia to cut its oil output more intensely in recent weeks than Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chavez’s successor as Venezuela’s dictator. Maduro already had major fiscal problems with the price of crude when it was at $107 per barrel back in June; it doesn’t take a brilliant mathematician to calculate the effect a 45 percent drop is having on the regime’s finances and popularity.

Maduro’s brand of Latin American populism rests on four legs: government control of the country’s vast oil resources; clientelism (the system by which Maduro maintains the “support” of the public by keeping them dependent on government handouts); a Cuban-designed police state and a geopolitical oil-exchange program in which Venezuelan oil is used to buy support from foreign governments in the region.

Underpinning the entire edifice is the ability to generate sufficient amounts of oil revenue. After ... Read More

Is Venezuela losing faith in Hugo Chavez’s successor?

| March 5th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Will Grant

It was clear from the very start that many Chavez supporters weren’t so sure about Nicolas Maduro.Shortly after his untimely death from cancer on 5 March 2013 – and just days before the presidential election that saw Mr Maduro elected by the narrowest of margins – I visited the charismatic socialist leader’s stronghold of 23 de Enero in Caracas.

Inside her government-built apartment, local Socialist Party (PSUV) women’s cooperative leader Judith Vegas fought back the tears at the mere mention of Hugo Chavez.

His death was as raw to her as the loss of a member of her own family.

But when it came to his chosen successor, her attitude noticeably hardened.

She would vote for Mr Maduro as Mr Chavez had asked, she said, but he wasn’t guaranteed her unflinching support simply because he had been by Chavez’s side.

Fast-forward two years, and even committed “Chavistas” like Judith are losing the faith.

In a recent ... Read More

A timeline of Venezuela’s slide toward disaster

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Global Post


LIMA, Peru — How did it all go so horribly wrong?

Back in 1998, when Hugo Chavez was first elected president, many Venezuelans’ expectations could not have been higher.

The burly former paratrooper vowed to end the politics that had allowed corruption to thrive and vast oil wealth to fritter away. More than anything else, Chavez gave a voice — arguably for the first time in the South American nation’s history — to the poor majority.

Seventeen years later, the economy is in shambles, and Chavez’s handpicked successor, President Nicolas Maduro, is locking up store owners and opposition leaders, drawing angry protesters into the streets. The death toll increased again last week when a 14-year-old schoolboy was shot in the head, reportedly by police.

The mayor of the capital Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was detained Feb. 19 and charged the next day for ... Read More

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