Friday, November 13, 2009

The Latin American blame game

If you have problems in Honduras, blame Venezuela and Nicaragua.

If you have problems in Venezuela, blame Colombia.

If you have problems in Peru, blame Chile.

If you have problems in the United States, blame Latin American immigrants.


Defensores de Democracia 11:39 AM  

Thanks Mr Weeks for Wonderful site and please forgive our excesses and my foolishness.

Chavez, the Blamer

How Hugo Chavez has driven Venezuela into Misery, Poverty and the Most Ridiculous Socialism - Report from Newsweek Magazine

Newsweek Magazine
Atención Deficit
Hugo Chávez looks like he's preparing for war with Colombia. Don't be fooled: he's just wagging the dog.
Newsweek Web Exclusive
By Mac Margolis
November 11, 2009

Atención Deficit - Newsweek

Some excerpts :

Instead of steering his country into combat with its neighbor, Chávez is simply wagging the dog: his popularity is plummeting precipitously, and this is little more than an act of political desperation.

But, despite Chávez's new cache of Russian tanks and fighter jets ("How can he maintain an Army if he can't maintain the economy?" former Brazilian Navy minister Mário Cesar Flores told me recently), conflict is unlikely because this isn't so much an international standoff as it is a a domestic political crisis. Chávez—whose country has been hit by economic shortages, blackouts, and water rationing—is pressed to the wall, and analysts are starting to talk not of a shooting war, but of a poor man's cold war.

The animating problem here is Venezuela's growing crisis. The steady erosion of the Venezuelan economy has turned his 21st-century socialism into a tropical version of 20th-century communism. Food shortages, power failures, spiraling prices, and speeches are the hallmark of the Bolivarian republic. Inflation is rising at 29 percent a year, the highest in the region.

The power failures are particularly glaring. Wedged between the Andes, the Amazon rainforest, and the Caribbean, and swimming in crude oil, Venezuela ought to be an energy powerhouse. It boasts one of the largest hydroelectric power matrixes in the world. But it has been plagued by electrical failures, including a half dozen nationwide blackouts since 2007. Now homes in some rural areas are dark for four hours a day, and steel mills have had to get by with reduced electricity and water.

Worse, the infrastructure failures have come as Chávez has tightened state control over the Venezuelan economy by seizing private energy and utility companies in the name of the Boliviarian cause.

Eggs and milk are hard to find. The government is scrambling to replace medicine imported from Colombia. Despite vast domestic stores of natural gas, Venezuela must pipe in gas from Colombia because it lacks infrastructure and cash to mine its own reserves.

The droughts that drained the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants—and provoking rolling blackouts in homes and factories—recently led Chávez to scold Venezuelan "elites" for such indulgences as air conditioning, switching on the lights in the bathroom, and loitering in the shower. "Some people sing in the shower for half an hour," he reportedly admonished his ministers at a cabinet meeting. "What kind of communism is that?" He went on to order his compatriots to limit bathing to three minutes, and even appeared on national television to demonstrate how to bathe with a gourd, giving cartoonists and comedians a windfall. No wonder there's been a run on water-storage tanks and electrical generators in Caracas.

The Future of Foreign Policies :

Vicente Duque

Defensores de Democracia 1:36 PM  

Miami Herald Editorial - Chavez's policies go from bad to worse - HERALD'S OPINION: Hugo Chávez's economic policies driving Venezuela to ruin

Chavez's policies go from bad to worse

Some excerpts :

Turn out the lights, shorten the shower to three minutes, buy a portable generator.

That is President Hugo Chávez's message to the citizens of energy-rich Venezuela, where the ``socialist revolution'' has brought power cuts, water shortages and collapsing public services.

In the past month, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest the lack of basic social services, from electricity to water. On Thursday, about 100 demonstrators turned out in Caracas calling for Chávez to solve the problem.

It's come to this in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela: The president is pleading with people to save water by limiting their daily cleansing routine to a 3-minute ``communist shower.''

Really. This is just the latest indication of how badly Mr. Chávez continues to mismanage the economy of energy-rich Venezuela, which should be one of the most prosperous nations in the world to judge from its vast hydrocarbon reserves.

Instead of offering Venezuela's 27 million people a better life, Mr. Chávez ``Bolivarian socialism'' has squandered the nation's wealth on military armament, populist schemes and the creation of a patronage state, a prescription for ruin and misery.

He has gone on an arms-buying spree around the world, purchasing $4 billion in weaponry from Russia alone in recent years, meanwhile neglecting maintenance of the infrastructure that provides water and electricity.

At the moment, the president seems content to vent his own frustration on the very people who are suffering from his misguided policies. ``Some people sing in the bath for half an hour,'' he told a recent cabinet session, broadcast live. ``What kind of communism is that? Three minutes is more than enough!''

The Future of Foreign Policies :

Vicente Duque

mike a,  2:24 PM  

Lou Dobbs is an easy target, but did you know his wife is Mexican? It makes some of his positions and statements even more perplexing.

Justin Delacour 4:24 AM  

If you have problems in Venezuela, blame Colombia.

Ah, yes. Never mind that most of South America considers the U.S.-Colombia base agreement to be a threat to regional security.

Greg's blame game goes something like this. If the greatest power in the world is openly hostile to you and looks to expand its military presence in a country that neighbors your own, Greg will call you a paranoid scapegoating lunatic for objecting. [Hint: It's called "blame the victim."]

If the United States ever uses Colombia as a launching pad for aggression in the region, so-called "scholars" like Greg are going to have a lot of blood on their hands.

Anonymous,  8:02 AM  

Lou Dobbs' wife is Mexican American. So what has that got to do with his idiotic views? The phony journalist and CNN actually used this as a defense that he was not a racist. The echo from the past is "some of my best friends are Jewish, black etc..." right after delivering an ethnic slur.
He was given one hour of prime time for years to rant about foreigners and Mexicans in particular because he made bank for the network.

Anonymous,  8:12 AM  

Professor Know-it-all,

There you go again. Insulting Greg's credentials as a scholar simply because he doesn't subscribe to your ideology. It is not enough to say he is wrong in his views, and why, but the pre-emptive blaming of him for any of your paranoid fantasies, that's a bit much. Obama has no intention of launching an invasion of Venezuela this week. Tell your patron to pull back the 15,000 troops and turn on the lights.

Defensores de Democracia 10:55 AM  

Latin America still needs the United States of America. Otherwise these beautiful lands would fall in disarray and chaos.

There are wonderful and beautiful things to say about Latin America and its people, in every sense, but now the Whole Western Hemisphere suffers from a Cancer of Violence, Terrorism and Imbecility.

Who are the guys that deploy troops to the borders with a lot of Blowhard Blather and Bravery Babble ??

Who are constantly talking of War and uttering threats ??

Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez

Colombia has never uttered the Word "War", and has never sent troops to the border, except with machetes to cut the coca bushes that the Guerrillas sow ( and that have sanctuary in the neighbor country : Venezuela or Ecuador, these two nations promote Terrorism, Kidnapping and Murder of Children, Women and Old Folks )

I invite you to read the Reports from American Journalists in the Miami Herald, in Newsweek, Time, U. S. News and World Report.

I have friends in Venezuela and I can talk to many travelers that come from Venezuela. And what they tell me is the same story of these prestigious American Newspapers and Magazines.

Venezuela Now : Misery, Poverty, Destitution, Crime, Muñecos ( dolls = corpses thrown out in the countryside ), mafia, narcos, scarcity of eggs, milk, flour, beans, etc ....

Price controlls and threats against supermarkets.

The free press constantly threatened and harassed in an economic way : with taxes, denying government advertising, etc ...

Disrespect for Private Property and Private Initiative.

Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA has skyrocketed in Bureaucracy and useless employees, 10 times what they had before Chavez, and it is producing less and less, less than before Chavez.

Importing tons of food from Colombia, and even natural gas ( How Ridiculous ! ... because Colombia is poor in Hydrocarbons )

OIL has been a curse for Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Lybia etc ...

And now OIL is a curse for Venezuela. Squandering riches while the people is starving.

The Future of Foreign Policy :

Vicente Duque

Justin Delacour 11:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Delacour 11:11 AM  

Obama has no intention of launching an invasion of Venezuela this week.

Indeed, genius. The problem is that this U.S. base agreement with Colombia is going to be around a lot longer than a week. It's probably going to be around long after Obama has vacated the White House.

Any public figure who has chosen to belittle others' security concerns about this agreement will share in the responsibility for its consequences. I would advise Greg to keep that in mind.

Anonymous,  4:48 PM  

"Any public figure who has chosen to belittle others' security concerns about this agreement will share in the responsibility for its consequences."

Sounds right. Except when you turn it around. Are you responsible for the obscene murder rate in Caracas? You belittle the Chavez critics and give el patron a pass. Did el patron send the troops to the border last week for a future war with a Republican president? Gimme a break, professor. No one listens to self-serving analysis like that.

Unlike your unfounded threat of the rather distant future, you have been a persistent belittler of security concerns of everyday Venezuelans who are facing a crisis now. Inflation, lack of power, lack of water and social disintegration due to corrupt populist leadership. No, is it not an invention of the right wing press.

In the end professor, you take yourself too seriously. You are just a self-important windbag.

Justin Delacour 6:28 PM  

Sounds right. Except when you turn it around. Are you responsible for the obscene murder rate in Caracas?

First, I don't defend the Chavez government's record on that score.

Second, I'm of the philosophy that we are to take responsibility for what OUR government does, not what the governments of other countries do.

You and Greg are complicit in U.S. militarism because you continue to belittle the security risks that it poses to others.

Justin Delacour 8:26 PM  

Oh, and one more thing, anonymous.

If you really believe that the U.S.-Colombia base agreement poses no security risks to Colombia's neighbors, you and Greg shouldn't hesitate to take responsibility for that position and to acknowledge that, as American citizens who hold to that position, you share in the responsibility for the consequences of that agreement.

The fact that you're trying to buck responsibility for the position you've taken suggests to me that you don't really believe your own stated position.

Anonymous,  11:21 PM  

"First, I don't defend the Chavez government's record on that score."

Tremendous news.

Second, I'm of the philosophy that we are to take responsibility for what OUR government does, not what the governments of other countries do.

OK, but as sovereign countries Colombia and US have the perfect right to form an agreement on using Colombian bases to deter drug traffickers. Venezuela presupposes that if they scream "we are under attack," that we must abandon our plans. No, the path of diplomacy is the answer. Ask questions. Get assurances. Or not. Form alliances. Even raise your military preparedness. But in that order and in a rational manner. The sheer bellicosity, the the absurd media representation by the head of state, and the disproportionate nature of the charge to (what you have agreed would be a distant threat) shows once again that foreign policy is often determined by domestic needs. Chavez is creating a distraction from the failures of his government.

Lastly, we may be citizens of the United States but we are not complicit as you suggest. We have the right and duty to participate in the political process, but we can't be responsible for whatever may come to pass in foreign affairs. There are no linear directions into the future. No inevitability to our choices. US "public opinion" is unlikely to shape US policy toward Venezuela. The Venezuela government's actions will have a greater impact than anything said on this board or in academic journals. Sadly, that responsibility is in the hands of an unstable president for life.

Justin Delacour 5:15 PM  

Lastly, we may be citizens of the United States but we are not complicit as you suggest.

As Americans citizens, we share responsibility for the consequences of the American policies that we advocate. I accept that responsibility. If the policies that I advocate come to pass and result in violence and mayhem, I accept that I will share responsibility for the results of the policies that I've advocated. That is the responsibility of citizenship.

The bottom line is that you have no business pontificating about matters for which you do not accept responsibility.

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