Archive for May 10th, 2006

Tough times for Latin America as integration efforts falter due to ideology

May 10, 2006

When the Summit at Iguaçu last week was over, a talkative Hugo
Chavez, (what else is new?) hailed the meeting, said it was wonderful and that
the pharanoic mega pipeline would now include Bolivia.

somehow that is not what apparently happened, as press reports tell us that Lula
told Chavez
not to meddle so much in South American affairs and that he was
endangering the gas pipeline project with his intromissions.  The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry claims
to be surprised
by this reaction, while none other than Evo Morales says
that he will try to save the Andean trade pact while in Europe.
Morales meanwhile is now being accused of being himself a puppet of Chavez, as he
is criticized
for flying in a Venezuelan plane to Europe and Morales tries
to distance himself from the Venezuelan President. But it is hard to do as his
Minister of Energy confirms that PDVSA employees helped with the
nationalization decree, Morales says expropriation of large states is next,
then a Constituent Assembly and you bring Chavez to a Summit where he has
little role to play other than defend you from the ire of Lula and Kirchner.

Of course,
all of these problems are supposedly being caused by the “right wing” Brazilian oligarchs
like Celso Amorin and Marco Aurelio Garcia, Chavez’ allies two yaers ago, who are now at the center stage of criticism
in their own countries because essentially Lula had his thunder and leadership stolen
by Chavez.

The result
of all this is that Lula is looking North more than ever, as he realizes he can
not count on his supposedly ideological partners to go along with him, Uruguay is mad at Argentina, Peruvian candidates
now all attack Chavez, Lopez Obrador seems to be losing not first place but
now even second place in the Mexican Presidential race tahnks to Chavez and the President of Guatemala tells
not to meddle, even before he has.

All in all
not a very good week for someone that wants to be the leader of this southern
hemisphere. A lot of the work Chavez had done regionally to integrate was lost
this week because of the style Venezuelans have seen in the last seven years: confrontation,
intolerance and ignoring others opinions.

This is in
the end bad for the whole region. The world is becoming highly connected and if
we can not connect with our most natural trading partners, we all lose in the
end. Chavez’ difficulty is that he truly believes that free trade is bad, while
the rest of the region has come to recognize that free trade is the way out of
poverty for many of these countries. Moreover, he wants to impose his point of
view, the way he did on the CAN, later on Mercosur, then with the G-3 and
helping Morales make decisions that have created a rift between his country and
his natural (and only!) clients.

So far
only Argentinean President Kirchner has yet to distance himself publicly from
Chavez. Maybe he can not yet afford to, given the largesse of the Chavez
Government in purchasing that country’s debt in the last year, no questions

The only
question is what will be the next step. Lula is facing an election, while his
own country is beginning to doubt his ability to lead the country
internationally. Mexican, Peruvian and Colombian politicians distance
themselves from the Venezuelan President, who has an election in eight months
that will likely push him into radical positions that many neighbors will not like. The
seems to have no clue as to how to play this game, other than do little or fumble even when they try to do something.  

all of these countries continue to benefit from the world commodities boom,
which hides many of their structural problems and lack of competitiveness. Decisions are delayed, conflicts are avoided and important opportunities
are being missed as the more radical left interferes with the traditional one
to slow down progress in trade within then region. Integration efforst falter simply because of ideology, the same ill that has affected the region for decades.  In the end, the people are hurt as the economies if their countries d not grow as fast as they need to, while other areas of the world, such as Asia and Eastern Europe continue to make strides in solving those same problems with pragmatism.

Washington Post on crime in Venezuela

May 10, 2006

And the Washinton post has somehow discovered that the revolution has flaws, such as the tripling of the crime rate in the last seven and a half years. It really does not make me feel very good to think that Caracas has the worst crime rate of the planet, but hey, that is what revolutions are all about, achieving new milestones, no?

We are all the trail (trocha) by Elides Rojas in El Universal

May 10, 2006

With his characteritics acid wit, Elides Rojas sings his praise for the trocha and what it means

We are all the trail (trocha) by Elides Rojas in El

Almost eight years of revolution. Between pushes and shoves,
the process advances and, to the general joy of all, it leaves a long trail of
achievements that will be the fundamental endorsement to go way over the ten
million votes and insure the reign until 2031, as is the wish of the
undisputable leader of the continent.

And thanks God it
will be like that. The announced referendum to establish the monarchy will have
the same features that frame the process of December 4th.: unfair advantages,
excess money and a CNE ready, transparent and dignified in these times of
democratic modernity. Besides having a luxurious candidate for eternal chief
and, as it corresponds, ready to compete face to face, with fears and in
equality of conditions with the best there is. That’s the way it is. A man who
wants to battle with the most powerful nation in the world, followed by a bunch
of fat and out of shape military officers and backed by popular forces which
are poorer and older and which have been called to be part of the reserves, is
, without any doubt, brave, a hero, an illustrious person. So much cold blood
and disposition for a war with clear disadvantages, makes us think that the
candidate for perpetual mandate will have not inconvenients in carrying out the
electoral task and in reaffirmation of that warrior nobility, he will fight
with fairness. It is the least you can expect from a figure of so much temple
and vocation for justice.

But, besides that invincible personal inner strength, almost
epical, of which he has too much of, there are accomplishments, public works,
legacy. Worldly stuff, it is true, but we are talking about a leader whose
perspective is way above cement buildings or roads. His vision is, as in effect
he has shown, cosmic, interplanetary.

Nevertheless, despite his high level of experience, something
filters down to our humble and earthly levels.

The list of accomplishments is as long as the battles fought against powerful
dragons and terrible conspirators.

We have beautiful vertical chicken coops, thousands and thousands
of homes for the poor of the process. So many new roofs that there is even
enough for Cuba, Jamaica
or anyone that asks. Jobs even for the Iranians. A strong and respected
currency. The most modern road network of the whole galaxy. Reliable water and
electricity. A shielded judicial system. Zero Corruption. Full social harmony.
The most capable invaders of buildings and land of the whole galaxy. The most accurate
and heartless criminal’s of the whole solar system. The most effective schemes
in history for the cleaning and maintenance of cities that have been developed.
The international center for welfare with the largest world reach was created,
with Cuba
as its principal objective and as a target of the most sublime generosity. We have
entered the elite of international squabblers. We are leaders, by far, in the emotional
wear and of screwing with people’s patience, both internally and externally.

But the pinnacle on the matter of public works is taken by the Trocha of the Americas, with all
of the sabotage of the CIA, Carmona Estanga and the coups of the opposition. The
trocha, you should know, is also made with the fiber of heroes, even if it can
not take even a small sprinkle of water. It is the reflection of the master designs
of the revolution for the country: inefficiency, shoddiness, improvisation, all
those stones and a lot of fibbing propaganda.

We are all the trail!