Han pasado cinco meses desde que Juan Guadió asumió el papel simbólico de presidente encargado de Venezuela con la esperanza de derrocar al dictador Nicolás Maduro. Pese a que más de cincuenta países reconocieron a Guaidó como el presidente legítimo de Venezuela, a las sanciones de Estados Unidos al petróleo, a las manifestaciones ciudadanas masivas y a la peor crisis económica de la historia moderna, Maduro continúa en el poder.
La resistencia del vapuleado gobierno de Maduro ha desconcertado a la comunidad internacional, a académicos, analistas y periodistas de todo el mundo. Llamémoslo una falta de imaginación negativa: la capacidad de concebir y prepararse para los peores escenarios posibles.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s been five months since the opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó assumed the symbolic role of interim president of Venezuela, hoping to unseat the country’s strongman, Nicolás Maduro. Despite more than 50 countries recognizing Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, oil sanctions imposed by the United States, massive street protests, and the worst economic crisis in modern history, Mr. Maduro persists.
The staying power of Mr. Maduro’s embattled government has confounded the international community, academics, analysts and journalists. Call it a lack of negative imagination — the capacity to conceive of and prepare for worst-case scenarios. The inability to fathom the resilience of an authoritarian regime shows how politically naïve those in liberal democracies have become.… Seguir leyendo »
The most edifying way to look at Saturday’s capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most sought-after drug lord, is parsing who wins and who loses.
The big winner for now is Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who can boast that his strategy to deal with drug cartels is working after just a year in office. The president had his aw-shucks moment when he said in a Monday speech to celebrate Mexico’s flag day that Guzman’s capture “confirms the efficacy of the Mexican state, but in no way should this be a reason to assume a triumphalist attitude, on the contrary this institutional achievement empowers us to move forward.”
Pena Nieto’s political foes also gained a soapbox to stand on.… Seguir leyendo »
Venezuela, a country blessed by vast oil reserves, seems to have an uncanny knack for killing businesses.
At least three airlines have grounded flights to and from Venezuela so far this year, in part because the nation’s government owed the carriers $3.3 billion in foreign exchange they need to pay operating costs. The government suggested it could pay them with government bonds and cheap fuel, but precious little cash. This should do wonders for getting planes flying again.
Carmakers are also in trouble. Toyota Motor Corp. is halting production in Venezuela, while Ford Motor Co. is reducing output. A mere 722 vehicles were sold in a country of almost 29 million people last month.… Seguir leyendo »
You know there’s a problem when Dilma Rousseff, the president of perhaps the most soccer-crazed nation on Earth, has to resort to a public-relations campaign to sell Brazil on the benefits of hosting the FIFA World Cup this year.
It’s a telling response to a stunning turn of events: Since June, when thousands of middle-class Brazilians hit the streets to protest shoddy public services and overspending on soccer stadiums, the World Cup has gone from a source of pride to a political liability. The video “No, I Am Not Going to the World Cup” by Carla Dauden became the rallying cry of many angry Brazilians.… Seguir leyendo »
There’s been plenty of fussing since Argentina’s biggest currency devaluation in 12 years, with much effort being made to assign blame.
What’s missing is the government’s recognition of the role it played in bringing Argentina to this sorry state. Deficit spending has helped push inflation to an estimated 28 percent last year, the highest in more than two decades. Add to that the government’s practice of imposing price controls and nationalizing companies without compensating owners, and it’s no wonder foreign investment has been scared off.
Amid this government-induced turmoil, it should be no surprise that Argentines are going to great lengths to safeguard their money by purchasing a strong currency like the U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Protests against corruption, lavish spending on sporting events and a faltering economy roiled Brazil’s largest cities last year, a sign of rising dissatisfaction with the nation’s political status quo. Brazil’s leaders, accused of being out of touch, assured the public they would be more responsive.
Now, the country’s political class may have gone too far in the other direction in dealing with the recent spate of teenage flash mobs that have disrupted life and shopping at some of the country’s largest malls.
During the past few weeks, mobs of rowdy teens in gatherings known as rolezinhos, literally little strolls, have invaded shopping centers in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other major cities.… Seguir leyendo »
Sunday’s vigilante takeover of Nueva Italia, a town in the drug-war-ravaged state of Michoacan in west-central Mexico, says many things about the status of Latin America’s second-most-populous country — few of them good. The response suggests Mexico’s government doesn’t understand the risks, both social and economic, of letting the country descend into ungovernable lawlessness.
The day after the takeover by the so-called Self-Defense Forces of Michoacan, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and other top officials made a show of signing a security accord with Michoacan’s besieged governor, who had just asked the federal government to reestablish order in his troubled state.… Seguir leyendo »
When a former beauty queen and her husband are killed by highway robbers on a Caracas freeway in front of their 5-year-old daughter the issue inevitably becomes political.
The shooting death of Monica Spear, the 2004 Miss Venezuela, along with her husband, Thomas Henry Berry, on Monday happened in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, where the government regulates almost every facet of life, yet tolerates the social rot and corruption that breeds rampant crime.
The government’s initial response to the tragedy was illuminating. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro described the incident in a Tuesday televised appearance as “very sad” and vowed to apply “the state’s iron fist” to those responsible.… Seguir leyendo »
The far-reaching energy reform that Mexico’s Congress approved on Thursday was overdue, but it’s not enough to repair the damage caused by the state’s 75-year monopoly of the oil sector.
Politicians intent on modernizing the country’s crippled oil business will need to make the sector more transparent, strike deals with oil companies that are advantageous to Mexico, and convince leftist opponents — namely supporters of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD — of the benefits of reopening the industry to foreign investment.
They’re certainly not on board yet. The PRD has called for an energy-reform referendum. People arguing that the law is a giveaway to U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
One of the most notable aspects of Uruguay’s history-making legalization of marijuana on Tuesday is how ill-prepared the government is to handle the pot business.
First, a plug: Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica is from that rare strain of leftist politician who deserves some respect. Not only is he taking on a new approach to the U.S. government’s failed war on drugs, but he also has the political backbone to support a law that almost two-thirds of Uruguayans reject. His administration has passed several progressive laws such as legalizing gay marriage. Plus, Mujica is running manageable budget deficits and low enough debt levels to earn investment-grade credit scores from the three top rating agencies.… Seguir leyendo »
The victory of Venezuela’s left in Sunday’s municipal elections suggests that voters are comfortable with their growing dependence on the government’s generosity. Opposition leaders must help Venezuelans overcome their addiction.
As of yesterday, President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela had captured a majority of the country’s municipalities — 234 out of 337 precincts — and had taken 44.2 percent of the vote versus the opposition’s 41 percent, with ballots still being counted.
Opposition candidates may have won key cities, including the municipality of Barinas — home of the late President Hugo Chavez. But for those who expected a major defeat for Maduro and his allies, the election should serve as an eye-opening experience.… Seguir leyendo »
Politicians in Honduras have been cementing the Central American country’s reputation for dysfunction. Four and half years ago, the Honduran military — with a nod from Congress and the Supreme Court — staged a coup against leftist President Manuel Zelaya in order to halt his plans for populist constitutional reform. The repercussions of that decision have made a mess of the country’s recent presidential election.
Xiomara Castro, a leftist presidential candidate who also happens to be Zelaya’s wife, has so far refused to accept defeat in the Nov. 24 election, despite having apparently received about 28.8 percent of the vote, 8 percentage points fewer than the winner, Juan Hernandez of the conservative National Party.… Seguir leyendo »
To understand Brazil’s economic woes, one should consider how politics has ruined the country’s most venerated sport.
It’s no secret that the economics of the Brazilian soccer world are dysfunctional. For the most part, teams are poorly run, member-controlled organizations with histories of financial mismanagement, run by overpaid managers with little accountability. For years, soccer clubs stopped paying taxes and evaded social security obligations. And the government often rescued them from financial failure — as it may be about to do again.
According to an October piece in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Brazil’s soccer clubs have run up a 4.8 billion reais ($2.1 billion) tab with the federal government.… Seguir leyendo »
Brazil’s recent indignation over news that the U.S. spied on President Dilma Rousseff turned to embarrassment on Monday when the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo revealed that Brazil spied on Iranian, Iraqi, Russian and U.S. diplomats from 2003 to 2004.
Agents for Brazil’s intelligence agency, known as Abin, reportedly followed and photographed Russian diplomats involved in military-equipment negotiations and tracked the movements of diplomats from Iran and Iraq in their embassies and homes. Abin operatives also kept under surveillance office locations where U.S. Embassy personnel stored communications equipment that Brazilians feared was used for espionage. (The U.S. Embassy told Folha the equipment is not meant for spying but for basic emergency communication, and it was previously approved by Brazil’s telecom authority.)
Rousseff’s collaborators acknowledged the operations — which were conducted under a previous administration — in a four-point statement that described the spying as “counterintelligence operations” meant to “protect national interests” and in “absolute adherence to the law.” The government also warned that “the leaking of reports classified as secret constitutes a crime and those responsible will be processed according to the law.”
The irony of it all is overwhelming.… Seguir leyendo »
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s health breakdown, and her surgery this week to remove a blood clot near her brain, offered a glimpse of how dependent on her populist leadership the country has become. It wasn’t flattering.
After almost six years of Cristinismo — the nickname for all things related to the president and her policies — Fernandez is at the center of almost all government decisions in a place with clear economic maladies. Her country is fighting a protracted battle with investors who own billions in unpaid Argentine debt. Costly fuel imports are unsustainable and have helped deplete foreign reserves at a rate of $1 billion a month this year, according to Bloomberg News.… Seguir leyendo »
An unlikely political voice recently reminded Argentines of the economic difficulties they face due to President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s bankrupt economic policies: the president’s own 23-year-old daughter.
Florencia Kirchner told reporters on Sept. 15 at the government-sponsored Unasur International Film Festival: “I like visiting slums, and I believe everyone should have access to the same things the middle and upper class have.” The young Kirchner was at the festival to unveil her film project “La Propia Mirada” (One’s Own View), a series of short stories told from the perspective of Argentina’s poor. Her work “goes beyond politics. That’s because it’s social inclusion, which is the duty of every citizen,» not just those in politics, she said.… Seguir leyendo »
One almost feels sorry for Brazil’s central bank President Alexandre Tombini these days. The man charged with steering the monetary policy of the world’s sixth largest economy has a lot to handle.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has signaled it will finally reduce its quantitative-easing policy, a move that spells the end of the easy money that has helped Brazil’s economy coast for years. This has contributed to an initial blow to the Brazilian real, which last week dropped to its lowest level in 4 1/2 years. The currency is now down about 11 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months according to Bloomberg data.… Seguir leyendo »
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has lately been accused of hypocrisy for seeking enhanced powers to rule by decree so that he can tackle the corruption that rots Venezuela’s political institutions.
The accusation is fitting. Maduro is finally admitting that the Venezuela he inherited from the late Hugo Chavez is wracked by corruption, just five months after he famously claimed, “There is no corruption, for the first time in the history of Venezuela, in 180 years.” Plus, after 14 years in power, Maduro’s own Chavistas — as Chavez’s political allies are known — have a well-documented struggle with graft.
An Aug. 20 editorial in Tal Cual, an opposition-leaning newspaper, discussed the outrage: “How can Maduro demand an enabling law?… Seguir leyendo »
With his three-year anniversary in office this week, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos runs a country torn by his decision to hold peace talks with the Marxist guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. After decades of armed conflict, many Colombians don’t know what peace means anymore, or what additional sacrifices they must endure to achieve it.
They do know the enemy. So when Ivan Marquez, the top negotiator for the FARC, announced in Havana last week that the rebels would seek guaranteed congressional seats in a signed peace deal, it didn’t sit well. Andres Julian Rendon, a former government secretary for the department of Antioquia lambasted the idea on the Colombian politics blog La Silla Vacia: “Congressional seats of state corporations (Congress, Assemblies and Councils) and government power in general, are won through votes, not bullets.… Seguir leyendo »