Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Maduro’

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

Venezuelan leader’s popularity inches up to 25 percent – poll

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
Swiss Info

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity inched up to 25 percent in March, according to leading local pollster Datanalisis, after the United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials.

The measures from Washington provided an unlikely helping hand to the socialist leader at one of the worst moments for the ruling “Chavismo” movement.

Maduro has cranked up revolutionary rhetoric against so-called “imperialist” aggression to fire up supporters and unite his disparate coalition ahead of parliamentary elections, a strategy that seems to have triggered a modest popularity bounce.

“Maduro has a 25 percent popularity level,” Datanalisis said in a tweet on Tuesday, citing its president Luis Vicente Leon.

That’s up from the low 20s, though Leon suggested the difference was within the margin of error. He did not provide the poll’s margin of error or sample size.

... Read More

The Maduro Smokescreen

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
The London Economic

By Max Bluer

The sweeping presidential powers, the detention of political opponents, even the troop mobilisations are empty gestures. President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela’s main goal is now to distract his people, and the world, from his country’s problems.  

Highly dangerous. A power grab. A smokescreen. The response from internal opponents and the international community to the Venezuelan Congress’ decision to grant President Nicolás Maduro new decree powers has been overwhelmingly critical. The law, which in its preamble specifies its objective as ‘protecting national sovereignty from foreign interventions’, allows the executive to bypass Congress in areas of ‘freedom, equality, justice and international peace, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national self-determination’.

The vague wording of the new legislation – freedom, equality and independence are terms that can mean just about anything – has scared many both within and outside Venezuela. The fear is that Maduro will go beyond the law’s ... Read More

Venezuela: Lack of justice for protest abuses gives green light to more violence

| March 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
Amnesty International

Venezuela’s failure to effectively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people and the injury and torture of hundreds during protests in 2014, is effectively giving a green light to more abuses and violence, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

The faces of impunity: A year after the protests, victims still await justice examines the stories of those who died or were arbitrarily arrested and tortured in detention during and after the protests that rocked the country between February and July 2014. Amongst the dead and injured were protesters, passers-by and members of the security forces. Some are still behind bars pending trial.

“Every day that passes without addressing the catalogue of human rights abuses that took place during the protests is another day of heart-breaking injustice for the victims and their families. This must stop.”

During the protests 3,351 people were detained, ... 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

Opinion: Obama’s policy toward Venezuela – The sanctions and the real threats

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

By Leopoldo Martínez Nucete

The burning issue of the moment in Venezuela is the set of sanctions announced by the government of the United States against seven senior officials from the President Nicolás Maduro administration who have been accused of human rights violations. This has given rise to a week of inflamed nationalist rhetoric, calls for military manoeuvres and screaming denunciations of supposed plans of invasion and other violations of sovereignty.

This week Maduro wrote an Open Letter to the People of the United States in the New York Times, in which he calls for action demanding: 1) The U.S. government immediately cease hostile actions against Venezuelan people and democracy; 2) President Obama abolish the Executive Order that declares Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security, as has been requested by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); and, 3) the U.S. Government retract its libelous and defamatory statements ... Read More

Communiqué from the Venezuelan Student Movement

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Dear representatives of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR),

The Venezuelan Student Movement takes this opportunity to address the UNASUR and express our rejection to the resolutions issued on Saturday March 14 by this organization regarding the sanctions implemented by the United States against officials from the government of Nicolas Maduro, and the classification of our nation as a threat to the national security of the United States.

These biased resolutions make us question the assumption that UNASUR is a privileged mechanism for dialogue. In the resolutions the systematic violations of our rights are not recognized, which include repression, persecution, imprisonment and unfortunately the loss of 44 lives so far, adding to the latter the death of the student Kluiberth Roa, who was murdered by state security forces protected by Decree 8610. Isn’t this precisely the sort of political persecution that UNASUR should condemn? Isn’t the mission ... Read More

Venezuela: Comunicado del Movimiento Estudiantil

| March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Estimados Representantes de los Estados Miembros de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR),

En esta oportunidad el Movimiento Estudiantil venezolano vuelve a dirigirse a ustedes para pronunciarse en rechazo a las resoluciones emitidas el sábado 14 de marzo del presente año, respecto a las sanciones aplicadas por los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica contra funcionarios pertenecientes al gobierno de Nicolás Maduro Moros, así como el señalamiento de esa misma decisión de colocar a nuestra nación como un riesgo para la seguridad interna de Estados Unidos.

Estas resoluciones, parcializadas con un solo factor de la realidad venezolana, cuestionan seriamente el postulado de que UNASUR es un mecanismo privilegiado para el diálogo. En las resoluciones no se reconocen las violaciones sistemáticas a nuestros derechos, a través de la represión, persecución, encarcelamiento y desgraciadamente la pérdida de 44 vidas, hasta la fecha, sumando el último caso del joven bachiller Kluiberth Roa, asesinado por fuerzas de seguridad ... 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

Obama’s Wake-Up Call to Venezuela’s Neighbors

| March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

The White House’s executive order on Monday authorizing sanctions on Venezuelan officials names only seven people. Its real target may be Venezuela’s neighbors, whose tacit acceptance of the Bolivarian Republic’s bad behavior undermines U.S. efforts to change it.

No one can accuse the U.S. of acting hastily. Even as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cracked down on anti-government protesters and opposition members last year, U.S. President Barack Obama let other Latin American nations take the lead in trying to ease tensions, with nugatory results. Only in July, as Congress considered sanctions legislation, did the State Department restrict travel to the U.S. by Venezuelan officials it deemed complicit in human-rights abuses. In February, it expanded that list to 56. Monday’s executive order comes three months after Congress passed a law calling for sanctions, and goes beyond it by also taking aim at those involved in corruption.

Predictably, Maduro has responded to escalating U.S. pressure by blaming it for ... 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

Venezuela’s Maduro Sees Only Plots As His Economy Crumbles

| March 9th, 2015 | No Comments »

As the U.S. prepares to reopen its embassy in communist Cuba, relations with another Latin American nation — oil-rich Venezuela — are crumbling.

President Nicolas Maduro accuses the U.S. of plotting a coup against him, and is expelling most U.S. diplomats from Venezuela. He is also demanding that Americans secure visas to enter the country.

The visa requirement is still so new that upon my arrival in Caracas this week without one, the immigration official doesn’t even notice. She stamps my U.S. passport and says, “Welcome.”

I’m here in time for the second anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez, who led Venezuela’s socialist revolution until he succumbed to cancer. The events include military parades and a modern dance performance about Chavez, whom many Venezuelans still adore.

By contrast, Maduro is struggling. He has failed to tame one of the world’s highest inflation rates, food shortages are getting worse and the economy last year ... 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

Venezuela’s Currency Circus

| March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
The New York Times


In a faraway land, an eccentric king nailed an edict to the door of his palace that said: “Henceforth, $20 bills will be sold here for $1.”

Within minutes, his subjects were clamoring for those cut-rate twenties. So the king posted a second edict: “Each $20 bill shall be used only to buy things abroad.” Then a third: “Whatever you buy abroad with your $20 you must sell in our kingdom for $2.”

“This will make me beloved!” he thought. “Foreign goods will be cheap for all.”

But it didn’t work out that way. Soon, the lines for $20 bills were matched by lines at every store that sold foreign goods.

Since nobody saw much point in buying anything abroad to sell for just $2, people mostly pocketed the twenties and ... 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

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