Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Maduro sends mixed messages about U.S.-Venezuela relations

Published on Feb 25, 2014
The State Department expelled three Venezuelan officials from the U.S. after President Nicolas Maduro ordered three American diplomats leave his country. Now Maduro is proposing a new Venezuelan ambassador to the U.S. after years without an official representative. Meanwhile, 15 people have died in recent street clashes between protesters and police. Gwen Ifill talks to Girish Gupta of Reuters.

Latin America’s Next Revolutions - Latino Rebels: A country with a population smaller than Canada’s has more murders than the United States. Inflation exceeds 56%. Goods from toilet paper to sacramental wine have vanished from shops. A regime that calls itself ‘socialist’ has massively enriched the former president’s family and friends. Street lights dim at night because a country with some of the world’s largest energy reserves cannot provide enough electricity.

Latin America’s Next Revolutions

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Five days after Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro charged him with a list of things —“conspiring to commit a crime, arson of a public building, instigating a crime, severe injury, public intimidation, damage to public property, terrorism and homicide”— Leopoldo López emerged from hiding last Tuesday to lead thousands of anti-government protesters through the Chacaíto neighborhood in eastern Caracas, climbing a statue of José Martí to address his supporters.
“The options I had were to leave the country, and I will never leave Venezuela!” declared the 42-year-old former mayor-turned-enemy-of-the-state, who now finds himself in a contest for the leadership of the anti-Chavista movement with Henrique Capriles, the man who ran against Maduro in 2013.
López’s voice boomed at the crowd through a bullhorn, the yellow, blue and red of the Venezuelan flag draped over his shoulders, Martí’s outstretched hand seemingly guiding the people toward a freer future: “They want to jail Venezuelans who want peaceful, democratic change. … In the name of all the children of Venezuela, I swear that we will win, and we will have a Venezuela free and democratic!”
When the speech was over, the crowd cheered their leader as he climbed down from the statue and promptly turned himself in to armed members of the national guard.
It’s been a little over 20 years since the late Hugo Chávez’s failed coup attempt, and 15 years since his Bolivarian Revolution came to power in Venezuela, and yet some in Venezuela are again taking to the streets demanding the ouster of their democratically-elected president.
Hugo Chávez in 2003 (Foto: Victor Soares/ABr – hor-57)
They’re not opposed to many of the socioeconomic changes initiated by Chávez. They like that poverty has fallen dramatically and increased access to a decent education makes illiteracy practically nonexistent. And the government selling oil to the people at five cents a gallon means, as a staff writer at Forbes recently put it, “you can fill up an SUV for less than the price of a candy bar.”
What the protesters resent is the vast amount of authority exercised by the government, which has also failed to properly address the country’s economic and security issues. The current unofficial death count since the protests took a violent turn on February 12 is 11 people dead.
In the past few years Venezuela has seen its murder rate skyrocket to become the second-highest in the world. But rather than improving the existing civilian agencies so they could tackle the wave of violence and crime bearing down on Venezuela, Pres. Maduro took steps to turn the country into amilitarized police state.
While Venezuela sits on one of the largest oil reserves in the world —producing about 2.5 barrels a day, as much as Iraq— the Venezuelan economy is on the verge of collapse.
That’s because the government offers it to the people virtually free of charge, as well as supplying countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic in exchange for doctors, black beans and IOUs.
As David Frum writes for CNN:
A country with a population smaller than Canada’s has more murders than the United States. Inflation exceeds 56%. Goods from toilet paper to sacramental wine have vanished from shops. A regime that calls itself ‘socialist’ has massively enriched the former president’s family and friends. Street lights dim at night because a country with some of the world’s largest energy reserves cannot provide enough electricity.
Corruption and economic mismanagement by the government, coupled with its charity at home and abroad and its anti-imperialist stance, has led to something freakish in South America: a failed state that’s still widely popular among its people.
The Beatles famously sang, “money can’t buy me love. They couldn’t say the same for oil in Venezuela.
Because the reforms brought about by the Bolivarian movement have done a lot to better the lives of the Venezuelan people, and because Maduro won the presidency last April in a seemingly fair election, some Americans on the left are warning the U.S. government not to side with the protesters in their effort to remove Maduro from office. But if George Bush had set the price of gasoline at $1.50, the GOP would control both chambers of Congress today and a Republican would be sitting behind the president’s desk.
It’s also definitely true that some people calling for the overthrow of the government aren’t looking to create the “free and democratic” Venezuela López described in his apologia. Wealthy elites who supported Capriles in last year’s election are likely salivating at the thought of transforming oil-rich Venezuela from a 21st-century socialist experiment and into a neoliberal oligarchy.
Though López and many of the other protesters may be fighting to make the government more responsive to the needs of the people, that doesn’t mean —at least I hope it doesn’t mean— they want to give up the goals of the Bolivarian Revolution. Their demands —a free and open Venezuela that returns to civilian policing and respects freedom of the press and the freedom to oppose the ruling party— are only the next step in establishing a truly socialist and democratic nation.
And speaking of next steps, the unrest boiling up in Venezuela must be worrying the Castro brothers, who are undoubtedly keeping a close eye on the events from Cuba. It must feel like staring into a crystal ball and seeing the future, though Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura seems sure that what’s happening in the streets of Caracas would never happen in Havana.
“The conditions [for protest] haven’t come about,” he said in an interview last week:
Here is the full quote:
The conditions haven’t been allowed to come about. There isn’t a political project in Cuba that could oppose the government. The dissident movement itself is divided and has been deeply penetrated by Cuban intelligence. Levels of violence in Cuban society have never been too high. The fact that things have never gone past a given point has, I think, prevented protests of this kind, even though there are people who are more or less unhappy. I believe the Cuban project resulted in a true revolution. In the 60s, a different society was created, and it enjoyed the support of the majority at the time. Perhaps it doesn’t enjoy the same levels of support and acceptance today, but it created its own legitimacy. That makes it different from Venezuela.
Of course, the reasons Padura gives for why massive protests will never break out on the island are the same reasons why they very well might.
The Castro regime has gone from being revolutionary back in the early days to being an old and wrinkly institution. It remains in power mainly for two reasons: because it’s old and, therefore, just the way things are; and because Fidel is still around to supply the system with his glow.
Plus the Bay of Pigs Invasion and a decades-long embargo allowed the Cuban government to create a foreign threat more menacing to the people than anything at home, like food shortages and a lack of basic freedoms. In fact, in the minds of many Cubans, the risk of a capitalist takeover actually legitimizes the sacrifice of such rights and excuses the government’s broad authority.
The Chávez glow and the failed coup attempt by right-wing elites in 2002 are what kept the Bolivarian movement going strong up until Chávez’s death last year. That’s why his handpicked successor, Maduro, chose to hold elections only a month afterward, to bank off of some of that glow.
Now that the glow’s gone, some in Venezuela are beginning to demand changes, which seems bound to happen in Cuba after the Castros, especially Fidel, finally croak. Like in Venezuela, I hope the people of Cuba don’t abandon the dreams of the revolution, delivered by the Castros and other Cuban hands so many years ago.
Hopefully Latin America’s next revolutions are simply fulfillments of the old ones.
Hector Luis Alamos, Jr. is a Chicago-based writer. You can connect with him @HectorLuisAlamo.
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US agents, Puerto Rico police seize cocaine haul

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La Reserva federal le pone el ojo a la Isla

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Indica que tendrá bajo examen la situación financiera del gobierno de Puerto Rico
WASHINGTON – Al divulgar hoy las minutas de su más reciente reunión, la Reserva Federal ha revelado que va a ponerle el ojo a la situación financiera de Puerto Rico.
En momentos en que pasaban revista a la volatilidad de los mercados emergentes y advertían que su efecto en los mercados de Estados Unidos había sido limitados, los participantes de la reunión coincidieron en mantener bajo examen nuevos desarrollos, incluida “la situación financiera del gobierno de Puerto Rico”.
La reunión de la Junta de Gobernadores de la Reserva Federal tuvo lugar los días 28 y 29 de enero, pero las minutas fueron publicadas esta tarde.
Mira la minuta de la reunión. En la página 14 hacen mención de Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico: Light at the End of the Tunnel: Puerto Rico the state would gain the presidential vote, two seats in the US Senate and five in the House of Representatives — a major upgrade from the one non-voting delegate that currently represents the territory. Real political power...

Hay que romper la botella...

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Rivera Schatz habla sobre #ChatarrazoPPD

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Thomas Rivera Schatz dijo: "Fue a este gobierno incompetente del PPD y Alejandro Garcia Padilla, a quien le degradaron su crédito a CHATARRA, no fue a los demás gobernadores de Puerto Rico.
Pero a Garcia Padilla "LE VALE" TU Bolsillo, solo piensa en sus #AmigosDelAlma #FamiliasDelAlma PPD! A ROBAR, A ROBAR POPULAR!!
El partido popular lleva 44 años en la Gobernación de Puerto Rico administrando el presupuesto, y Destruyendo la Economía de los puertorriqueños. Y el Partido Nuevo PROGRESISTA solo 24 años de OBRAS, PROGRESO, Mas dinero en tu bolsillo y Arreglando los DESASTRES del PPD!
¡Ya es hora de aprender a votar Puerto Rico!! ¡Qué Barbaridad!
¡El ELA NO PARE MAS, QUE VIVA LA ESTADIDAD!! #ChatarraPPD #GobiernoPandilla #PuertoRico Se los dije!!! Aguanten la Pesadilla de la Pandilla de Padilla.

Last Update: Feb, 21-23 2014

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Last Update: Feb, 21-23 2014



A Generally Encouraged Fed Has Puerto Rico on Its Radar

Opposition Leader Faces Charges In Tense Venezuela

NPP Proposes Cutting Gov’t Spending by 10%, Freezing 20,000 Jobs

Amid Toxic Waste, a Navajo Village Could Lose Its Land

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Last Update: Feb, 25 2014

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Last Update: Feb, 25 2014


Comcast and Netfl ix Reach Deal on Service

A Hot Debate Over E-Cigarettes as a Path to Tobacco, or From It

How a Kingpin Above the Law Fell, Incredibly, Without a Shot

Border’s New Sentinels Are Robots, Penetrating Deepest Drug Routes

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Jailed leader channels Venezuelans’ ire

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CARACAS, Venezuela — Leopoldo López, the defiant Venezuelan opposition leader taken into custody Tuesday in front of thousands of anti-government protesters, spent last night in a prison on a military base.
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World’s top drug trafficker arrested in Mexico, U.S. official says

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MEXICO CITY — Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the man who supplied more illegal drugs to the United States than anyone else on Earth, was captured by Mexican Navy commandos without a shot early Saturday morning in the Pacific coast resort town of Mazatlan, according to U.S. and Mexican
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U.S. and Mexican authorities detail coordinated effort to capture drug lord 

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MEXICO CITY — The half-dozen Mexican commandos who burst into
Room 401 of the Miramar condominium building in the beach town of Mazatlan found the world’s
most wanted drug lord not armed to the
teeth but shirtless and curled up in bed with his
beauty-queen wife. An assault rifle was at his side, but he didn’t try to grab it.
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After drug lord’s arrest, Mexico braces for fallout

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MEXICO CITY — The Sinaloa drug cartel lost its leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, at the height of its power, when the organization had won bloody battles for supremacy over its rivals and established shipping routes around the globe.
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Former world champion boxer found fatally shot in native Venezuela

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CARACAS, Venezuela —Former world champion boxer Antonio Cerme ño was kidnapped and killed in his native Venezuela, police said Tuesday.
Cermeño, a WBA super bantam­weight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found fatally shot Tuesday on a road in the central state of Miranda, the local police chief, Eliseo Guzmán, said.
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Four Soldiers from Puerto Rico, Including a Member of the Famed 65th Infantry Regiment, Will Be Posthumously Awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama 

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Washington, DC—Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi today expressed his gratitude to President Obama, who will award the Medal of Honor posthumously to four soldiers from Puerto Rico for actions taken in the Korean War and in the Vietnam War.  The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for bravery. On March 18th, President Obama will officially award the medals to the families of the four deceased soldiers—Staff Sergeant Félix M. Conde Falcón, Master Sergeant Juan Negrón, Private First Class Demensio Rivera, and Private Miguel Vera—at a White House ceremony.  These four Puerto Ricans are among 24 soldiers who were originally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military decoration, which is now being upgraded to the Medal of Honor after an extensive review by the federal government authorized by Congress. “The Medal of Honor is reserved for those members of the armed forces who exhibit personal bravery or self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty.  I want to thank President Obama and senior military leaders for recognizing the actions of these four soldiers from Puerto Rico, who are a source of tremendous pride for our island,” said Pierluisi.  Staff Sergeant Félix Conde Falcón, originally from Juncos, Puerto Rico, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for courageous actions performed on April 4, 1969 in Vietnam.  Those actions resulted in Mr. Conde Falcón’s death.   Master Sergeant Juan E. Negrón, originally from Corozal, Puerto Rico, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for courageous actions taken on April 28, 1951, in the Republic of Korea.  Mr. Negrón passed away in 1996.  He will be the first member of the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, to receive this award.  The Regiment was composed mostly of soldiers from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and its toughness, courage and loyalty earned the admiration of many people who had previously harbored reservations about Puerto Rican soldiers based on stereotypes. Private First Class Demensio Rivera, originally from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for courageous actions performed on May 23, 1951, in the Republic Korea.   Mr. Rivera died as a result of those actions. Private Miguel A. Vera, originally from Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for courageous actions taken on September 21, 1952, in the Republic of Korea.  Mr. Vera lost his life during these combat operations.  “I am so proud that these American soldiers from Puerto Rico are being recognized for their extraordinary heroism.  Although many years have passed since the actions that have now earned them this award, their service and sacrifice should never recede from our nation’s collective memory,” said Pierluisi. Meanwhile, the Resident Commissioner has been leading the effort, along with Congressman Bill Posey of Florida and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, to award the Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor awarded by Congress, in recognition of the Regiment’s pioneering military service, dedication to duty, and many acts of valor in the face of adversity.  The House bill, authored by Reps. Pierluisi and Posey, has 273 cosponsors, and requires 290 cosponsors in order to proceed in the legislative process.  The Senate companion bill, introduced by Sen. Blumenthal, has 35 of the 67 required cosponsors.     “As evidenced by the heroism of men like Master Sergeant Juan Negrón, the 65th Infantry Regiment has served our nation with great skill and tremendous grace, and we believe it is time that Congress pay tribute to the unit’s remarkable legacy through the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Pierluisi.   
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Puerto Rico prosecutors investigating 5 additional cases of alleged sex abuse in archdiocese

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... Vancouver designer Jason Matlo from first sketch to final fitting in a new four-part video series. SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The archbishop of Puerto Rico's capital has revealed that government prosecutors are investigating five additional cases of ...

VIDEO: Venezuela barricades empty streets

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Venezuela has been paralysed by weeks of protests with more than a dozen people killed in clashes with security forces.
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Puerto Rico authorities detain 19 undocumented migrants over long weekend

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AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico -- US Customs and Border Protection border patrol agents detained 19 undocumented immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Haiti during separate incidents on Saturday and Monday.

Puerto Rico diocese opposes criminal probe

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Attorneys for a Puerto Rico diocese that defrocked six priests facing sex abuse allegations said Friday in court that they oppose a criminal investigation into the cases because the majority involved consensual sex.

US agents, Puerto Rico police seize cocaine haul

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Puerto Rican police and federal U.S. law enforcement agents have seized 600 kilograms of cocaine in a central town on the Caribbean island.

Puerto Rico archbishop: 5 abuse cases being probed -

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Al Jazeera America

Puerto Rico archbishop: 5 abuse cases being probed
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The archbishop of Puerto Rico's capital has revealed that government prosecutors are investigating five additional cases of alleged sex abuse within the San Juan Archdiocese. Roberto Gonzalez Nieves told reporters Tuesday that...
Puerto Rico Going From Bad to Worse Lowers CDS Risk: Muni CreditBloomberg
How is debt affecting Puerto Rico?Al Jazeera America
Puerto Rico's Bonds Pose Unique RisksFox Business (press release) 

all 58
 VOXXI-PanAm Post (blog)
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U.S. senator presents Puerto Rico statehood bill 

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San Juan, Feb 12 (EFE).- The U.S. Senate received Wednesday for the first time a bill to make Puerto Rico the 51st state amid an economic crisis that many here blame in part on contention over the island's political status.
The bill, submitted by Sen. Martin Heinrich, establishes the mechanisms whereby the United States would admit Puerto Rico as a state, assuming the island's citizens votes approve the idea in a binding referendum.

Billionaire Paulson Said in Talks to Buy Puerto Rico Resort - San Francisco Chronicle

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Billionaire Paulson Said in Talks to Buy Puerto Rico Resort
San Francisco Chronicle
The New York- based firm, which took a stake in the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort and the Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club in September, plans to invest $1 billion in Puerto Rican projects over the next two years, according to island officials. Paulson & Co.

and more »
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US Senator Presents Puerto Rico Statehood Bill - Latin American Herald Tribune

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US Senator Presents Puerto Rico Statehood Bill
Latin American Herald Tribune
SAN JUAN – The U.S. Senate received Wednesday for the first time a bill to make Puerto Ricothe 51st state amid an economic crisis that many blame in part on contention over the island'spolitical status. The bill, submitted by Sen. Martin Heinrich ...

Puerto Rico: Light at the End of the Tunnel - PanAm Post (blog)

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Latin Post

Puerto Rico: Light at the End of the Tunnel
PanAm Post (blog)
Puerto Rico the state would gain the presidential vote, two seats in the US Senate and five in the House of Representatives — a major upgrade from the one non-voting delegate that currently represents the territory. Real political power is what Puerto ...

$70 Billion in Debt: Puerto Rico's Detroit-Like Economic TurmoilLatin Post

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US Senators Propose Statehood Vote Bill; Gov's Aide Attacks, Says ... 

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Two members of the U.S. Senate — including the senator with the greatest influence on U.S. territory issues — today proposed legislation committing to statehood for Puerto Rico if Puerto Ricans vote for the status a second time. ... officials of both national political parties have repeatedly said is impossible for constitutional and other reasons, members who want nationhood in an association with the U.S., and members who accept Puerto Rico's status as a territory.

Latin American Herald Tribune - U.S. Senator Presents Puerto Rico ... 

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SAN JUAN – The U.S. Senate received Wednesday for the first time a bill to make Puerto Rico the 51st state amid an economic crisis that many blame in part on contention over the island's political status. The bill, submitted by Sen.

Senate bill defines a path to statehood for Puerto Rico | Voxxi

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Heinrich is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over Puerto Rico's political status. His bill comes as Puerto Rico faces economic woes. Its economy has been in ...

Parting Glance: Frank Espada 

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Frank Espada, a photographer, community activist and teacher, died this week. He left behind the masterwork “The Puerto Rican Diaspora” and many grateful friends.
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Puerto Rico Wants to Incur More Debt to Regain Financial Footing 

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Puerto Rico wants to sell billions in bonds to raise money to pay its debts, but some are concerned that
it may be overstepping its ability to repay.

Governor of Puerto Rico Promises Economic Overhaul

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Gov. Alejandro García Padilla said that he planned to boost the island’s economy after two credit-rating agencies slapped the island with downgrades last week.