Via Venezuela News & Views:
The Venezuelan narco-state kicks open its closet door
Long time readers of this blog know it: Venezuela suffers under a dictatorship where drug traffic has played a major role, promoting corruption and the over all break up of the constitutional state. Yet, as long as Chavez was alive a fiction of democracy was maintained, a fiction where someone that was not a direct drug dealer was in charge. This week end events about how the Venezuelan regime used some of the worst thuggish ways to get back one of its capo taken away in Aruba prove beyond doubt that we are not into dissimulation anymore, this is an out and proud narco-state.
This post is not a translation of the preceding one even though the title are the same. Instead let's do an exercise in how to define a narcostate. Indeed, we are past the labels of XXI century fascism, neo-totalitarian or dictatorship regime. A narco-state requires an additional set of descriptions.
Historically in the Americas Venezuela may be the second official narco-state, the first one having been Panama under Noriega. We must note that heavy drug traffic influence in politics does not make a country a narco-state. For example the rule of law, as weak as that one may be, still holds sway in Mexico, Colombia, and even Honduras to name some of the potential candidates. A narco-state is the one where the upper hand in decision making is to protect drug traffic and its personnel. That does not mean traffickers rule directly: they are too busy making money to partake in the day to day matters of state. Their objective is that this state does not trouble their system, besides the occasional drug catch to quiet down international outrage, something duly taken as normal loss/expenses in accounting.
There is also a difference between narco-states in the Americas and those in Asia. There greed was the basic drive in Asia, though opium was used against imperial China. In the Americas greed is supplemented by anti US, or even anti Occidental values. The radical left here has embraced drug traffic as a way to get at the United States. And they have been helped along by the Cuban regime of the criminal Castro brothers. The longest tyranny in the Americas has been the one in Cuba which has offered haven for all sorts of defeated guerrillas and narco-guerrillas on the run. Including hiding the booty as long as the Castros got a take. The poster group has been the Colombian FARC who know pushes the chutzpah at negotiating a supposed peace deal with the Colombian government from Havana itself.
With the arrival of Chavez in Venezuela the Castro got the ideal student. A military coup monger, an abundant hot air producer, sitting on an oil stash that allowed a fake populist democracy, there was no need to rely on the unpalatable drugs for political financing. Unfortunately Chavez hanging around the FARC and harboring Bolivarian continental delirium brought inside Venezuela drug traffic. First to help the FARC and then as a bona fide local business where the Venezuelan armed forces took the lion's share.
It is too early to know when the transit to narco-state caught on in earnest. I personally think it started before Chavez was reelected in 2006. And it sped up fast after that. In 2007 a constitutional referendum that failed was designed to put all power into the hands of Chavez, making controls irrelevant. But that failure just postponed the changes through unconstitutional laws. By the time a dying Chavez was reelected in 2012 Venezuela had ceased to be a democracy. This blog is one of the many witnesses.
Continue reading HERE.
By Ivan Garcia:
What the Soviet Union Left Cubans
Pro-Soviet books by the English Dean Hewlett Johnson (1874-1966). Photo from Havana, 1945.
To this day, in the universal history books in junior high or high schools in Cuba, the Soviet theme is handled with kid gloves.
They recall its founding father Vladimir Illych Lenin, the epic of the Second World War with its 20 million dead (old data, it was 27 million and more than a few died from a bullet in the neck from their own comrade, or in a dark Gulag), and the selfless help of the USSR in the first years of the olive green revolution.
To Zoraida, a third year high school student and a lover of history, when I ask her about that nation made up of fifteen European and Asian republics, without hardly taking a breath, let loose with a tirade right out of the school books.
“The October Revolution was founded in 1917 by Lenin, and despite the aggression of the western nations, it established itself as a great world power. It was the country with the most deaths in World War II, 20 million (the error persists), and it had to fight alone against the fascist hordes. The United States and its allies were forced to open the Second Front in Normandy, faced with the rapid advance of the Red Army,” she responds with the usual pride of a student who applies herself.
She doesn’t know what her future vocation will be. But, in he,r the Party has a good prospect of a political commissar. Wanting to investigate other aspects less publicized in the national media, I posed the following questions.
What could you tell me about Stalin’s brutal purges, that cost the Soviet people millions of lives? Did you know that the application of agricultural collectivization caused a famine and between 7 and 10 million deaths in Ukraine, the so-called Holodomor? Have you read about the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact where in a secret clause Hitler and Stalin shared out the Baltic republics and the Eastern European zone?
Have you read or heard about the Katyn Forest massacre of Polish soldiers by elite Soviet troops. Did you know that the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, like many other intellectuals, was imprisoned in the Gulag just for thinking differently?
Don’t you think that the Soviet Union was an imperialistic nation, because it occupied a part of Eastern Europe as a trophy of war and installed puppet governments? Have you studied the Soviet aggression in Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Afghanistan in 1970?
Did they ever tell you that by the decision by Nikita Kruschhev and Fidel Castro, 42 medium-range atomic missiles that would have provoked a nuclear war were installed in Cuba? Did you know that, just like the United States has a military base against the will of the Cuban people, Fidel Castro without consulting the people authorized a military training center with Soviet troops and an electronic espionage base on the outskirts of Havana?
To each of the questions, the young woman answered evasively, “No, I don’t know that. No, I haven’t read that or they didn’t teach us that in school?”
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: What the Soviet Union left Cubans
Roger Noriega in Foreign Policy:
Dozing U.S. Diplomats Let Venezuelan Narco-General Slip Away
Although a retired Venezuelan general and confidante of President Nicolás Maduro just managed to evade U.S. extradition to face drug smuggling charges, the unsealed indictment in his case reveals that U.S. prosecutors have gathered compelling evidence of widespread criminality at the highest levels of the Maduro government. Dozing U.S. diplomats let Major General Hugo Carvajal slip away this past weekend, but the fact that Caracas pulled out the stops to keep him from facing U.S. justice has exposed a regime with a very guilty conscience.
U.S. diplomats were caught off-guard on Sunday when the Netherlands decided to recognize the dubious claims of "diplomatic immunity" by Carvajal, who was being held in Aruba since his arrest last Wednesday at the request of U.S. law enforcement authorities. In court proceedings last Friday, Aruban authorities dismissed Carvajal's claims of immunity, arguing that he had never been accredited as Venezuela's consul general on the island.
After the Dutch government reversed this position after entreaties by the Venezuelan government, Aruba released Carvajal and declared him persona non grata. He returned early Sunday evening to a hero's welcome in Caracas, received by First Lady Cilia Flores.
After Carvajal's release on Sunday, Aruban and U.S. authorities told the Miami Herald and the New York Times that the Venezuelan government threatened economic reprisals and rattled sabers to prevent him from ending up in U.S. custody.
For the time being, U.S. prosecutors will have to wait for a public trial to present the damning evidence they are gathering against numerous Venezuelan officials. According to a 2013 U.S. indictment in the U.S. Southern District of Florida that was unsealed after the arrest, Carvajal "and other high-ranking Venezuelan law enforcement and military officials" helped Colombia's Cartel del Norte del Valle (NVC), which traffics "thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to countries such as Mexico," bound for the United States. The indictment alleges that Carvajal actually sold cocaine to an NVC trafficker, allowed the NVC to export drugs and import cash, helped the cartel operatives evade capture, provided information on Venezuelan law enforcement activities, and invested in cocaine shipments.
Carvajal's alleged support for the Colombian narcoguerrillas known as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) is notorious. The U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted him in 2008 for having "armed, abetted, and funded the FARC." Along with Carvajal, Treasury also implicated Henry Rangel Silva, former Venezuelan minister of defense and current governor of Trujillo state, and Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, former minister of interior and justice and current governor of Guárico state.
Continue reading HERE.
"Fidel Castro looked into my eyes and told me I was a man of great courage....Maybe he (Castro) saw a little of him in me.” >(Jesse Ventura)
“What has (Fidel Castro) done that’s inhumane? They have the highest health care of any Latin American country....Castro never lied to me. My government has.” Jesse Ventura
South Florida journalist and blogger Elaine de Valle takes on the hypocritical and shamelessly duplicitous U.S. Representative Joe Garcia (D-FL), South Florida's 26th district's earwax eating, communism celebrating, clown of a congressman.
Via Political Cortadito:
What hypocrite Joe Garcia didn’t tell Cuban dissident he met
Que cara mas dura tiene Congressman Joe Garcia.
Loosely translated, it means he is two-faced. But I like the Cuban version of “hard face” better. Because Garcia’s has to be made of stone to face a true Cuban dissident, the wife of a man who was held in Cuban prisons for 20 years, and pretend to admire her.
Garcia and the other four Cuban-American House members (who knew?) met Tuesday with Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera, wife of Cuba’s best known political activist, Jorge Luis Garcia Pérez. Also known as “Antunez,” Garcia Pérez spent almost two decades in prison for working against the improved U.S.-Cuba relations Garcia promotes.
The Garcia press release with the photo opp below attached says Antunez was imprisoned for “actions and activities against the Cuban regime.”
But the truth is Antunez was imprisoned, beaten, choked into unconsciousness and injected with an unknown substance by security agents who warned him to stop working against warmer U.S.-Cuba relations.
“It is an honor to welcome Ms. Pérez Aguilera to Washington today and help her continue the quest for freedom in Cuba” Garcia said in his statement. “Having dedicated much of my career to promoting human rights and democracy in Cuba, I am truly inspired by this couple’s untiring commitment to the Cuban people and their courage and bravery in the face of continuing abuses by the Cuban regime.”
Really? Really? Haven’t you dedicated your career, Joe, to taking contributions from the very people here whose companies do business with the tyrant brothers’ monopoly on the island and benefit from the Cuban regime’s forced separation of Cuban families?
Prof. Dominguez (left) and Castrogonia's Minister of Ecclesial Affairs
Nothing new here. This is but another example of the bias of the vast majority of articles on Cuba and of the "expert" opinions constantly cited by the mainstream media.
The interview appears in Fareed Zakaria's GPS web site and was conducted by one of his interns, Kevin O'Donnell.
CNN's interview with Professor Jorge Dominguez of Harvard is lengthy. If you're interested in seeing the front-loaded questions and predictable answers for yourself, go HERE.
If you're interested in seeing a small sample of the obvious slant of this interview, here's one for you.
Call it exhibit A :
So what’s the risk of setting up a situation much like the inequality in the 1950s that led to the Cuban Revolution?
The particular risk is less that, and more that it might end up like Chinese investments in Africa where the Chinese have gone without thinking through in sufficient detail about the social side effects of some of their investments, resulting in some nasty episodes. Cuba does have significant mining resources, principally nickel, some others as well, so that would be perfectly attractive for China.
Oh, and let's not leave out the heavily loaded title of the article.
Call this exhibit B:
How to View a Changing Cuba
The face of "changing" Cuba
Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
Today, Cuban democracy leader, Yris Perez Aguilera, wife of former political prisoner, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," was received by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Senator Menendez' crony Dr Salomon Melgen schmoozing at a Democratic fundraiser
"When women kiss it always reminds me of prize fighters shaking hands." (H. L. Mencken)
Or maybe Democrats shaking hands...
"The true goal was to knock down Senator Menéndez,” Melgen told Oscar Haza. “First, that he not be re-elected, and second that he not be appointed chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.” Actually, there are economic groups behind this. But what has really amazed me most is that Attorney General Holder, knowing about the Cuban intelligence service (involvement), hasn’t gotten to the bottom of this investigation. In my view, it is very important that he get to the bottom, you know why? Because it can be done to you, it can be done to me, it can be done to any government official, any congressman, any senator, any governor. " (Senator Menendez' Dominican running buddy, Dr Salomon Melgen, on Oscar Haza's show yesterday.)
Given that the U.S. President and Menendez' smearers have the same goal regarding Cuba,(lifting the so-called embargo) might Holder's Justice Dept. see no upside to a serious investigation of the smears?
Mike Gonzalez in The Daily Signal:
Cuban Dissident to Congressional Black Caucus: Stop Helping the Dictatorship
Cuban dissident Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera personifies courage. The petite Afro-Cuban dissident has suffered beatings, imprisonment and sexual harassment at the hands of Raul Castro’s goons in Cuba. And yet she was in Washington Wednesdaycalling for world support for the Cuban people, knowing full well that, as she said, “I will pay for this once I go back.”
The president of Cuba’s Rosa Parks Civil Rights Movement had a clear message for the Congressional Black Caucus, which has always shown a strange soft side for the 55-year communist dictatorship of the Castro brothers: quit giving comfort to Cuba’s racist leadership.
“They should look closely at Cuba’s Council of State, and see how many black Cubans they find there,” Perez said at a small meeting with journalists, think tankers and former diplomats.
And of course, she’s right. A quick glance at the pictures of Cuba’s top government body on their own website reveals that only eight out of 31 are black, and there’s only one black Cuban in the top echelon constituted by seven vice presidents and President Raul Castro.
While racial figures are hard to come by, mainly because Castro’s own figures distort the island’s ethnic makeup (its latest claim that the black population was 10 percent and the white population 65 percent is risible), visitors report that the population that is black or mixed is now a majority. The Economist put it this way in 2008: “Mr Castro’s Cuba is a sad place. Although the population is now mainly black or mulatto and young, its rulers form a mainly white gerontocracy.”
This white gerontocracy oppresses black dissidents with fury. “Around 75 percent of the people in prison are black,” said Perez. “Black Cubans have no rights.”
Perez would like to meet with members of the CBC while she’s here in Washington to explain to them Cuba’s realities. She’s not holding her breath, however. Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.,, Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., all CBC members, were in Cuba in May, but refused to meet Perez.
“While I was languishing in prison, they paraded around Havana. My sister tried to deliver a petition asking them to come and visit me. They didn’t even accept it,” said Perez, who’s married to Cuba’s best known dissident, Jorge Luís García Perez, known as Antúnez and also as Cuba’s Nelson Mandela. Jorge Perez also constantly suffers imprisonment and beatings at the hands of the regime.
Perez would also like to have an audience with Michelle Obama while here, but she told me that she would not meet with her husband, President Barack Obama. “If it were up to him the embargo would already have been lifted,” she said.
On this Perez is very clear: the moves Obama has made since he took office to have a rapprochement with Cuba’s dictators will end as well as the Russian “reset.” “Lifting the embargo would be dreadful for the Cuban people,” as it would legitimize Cuba’s lawless government, warns Perez. Rather than try to lift the embargo, Obama should “be concerned with the plight of the Cuban people, with the opposition. He’s blinded by the regime!”
Continue reading HERE.
Every night on the 1950's Cuban radio show "La tremenda corte" the character of Tres Patines would cry out "A la reja!" (Goin' behind bars!) .
Tres Patines knew he was guilty as hell and that he deserved imprisonment, and even though he always argued for his innocence, he only did so to irk the judge.
Cristina Fernandez Kirchner should join Tres Patines behind bars, but she won't.
Instead, she'll cry out "We're broke! And it's not my fault!" And she will blame her country's default on "capitalist vultures."
The sad truth is that her socialist policies and those of her late husband and predecessor in the Pink House have wrecked a once prosperous nation, which once welcomed hordes of opportunity-starved European immigrants.
She is an avatar of the Latrine American spirit, and --sadly -- not the only one.
Queen of Latrines, your throne reeks of Castrolatry, and your subjects should toss you in the river, with an inner-tube "rustic vessel" so you can "migrate" to Castrogonia.
But they won't, of course.
Instead, they'll just keep going down the tubes, and thank you for it.
Oye, espera, fotografo de mierda... nos hace falta otra bruja chancletera pa'l conjunto!
From the masters of the stiff upper lip at the BBC:
Argentina has defaulted on its debt - for the second time in 13 years - after last-minute talks in New York with a group of bond-holders ended in failure.
So-called "vulture fund" investors were demanding a full pay-out of $1.3bn (£766m) on bonds they hold.
Argentina has said it cannot afford to do so, and has accused them of using its debt problems to make a big profit.
A US judge had set a deadline of 04:00 GMT on Thursday for a deal. The crisis stems from Argentina's 2001 default.
Late on Wednesday evening, Argentina's Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said the investors had rejected the government's latest offer.
"Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and the Republic of Argentina will imminently be in default," Daniel Pollack, the court-appointed mediator in the case, said in a statement on Wednesday evening....
...."The full consequences of default are not predictable, but they certainly are not positive," Mr Pollack said.
Speaking at a news conference in New York, Mr Kicillof said Argentina would not do anything illegal.
The investors, also known as "hold-outs", are US hedge funds that bought debt cheaply after Argentina's economic crisis.
They never agreed to the restructuring accepted by the majority of bond-holders.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has described as vultures the minority bond-holders - including Aurelius Capital Management and NML Capital.
She accuses them of taking advantage of Argentina's debt problems to make large profits.
Whole story HERE
No worries, Cristina: I eat vultures and send leftovers in dog bag to Obama.
Juan Tamayo in The Miami Herald:
Independent Cuban journalists in Miami for training
The independent journalists are learning how to use smart phones and social media to do their work.
The nine independent Cuban journalists said that authorities have detained them a total of more than 400 times, usually for reporting news that the Cuban government tries to hide from the island nation’s 11 million people.
One said he uses eight home printers to publish his newsletter, but only two are currently working because ink cartridges are so expensive. Another said he boldly delivers his newsletter to his local Communist Party and government authorities.
They are part of a group of 12 independent Cuban journalists in Miami for three weeks of training on multimedia journalism and the use of smart phones to add quality photos and videos to their reporting. On Wednesday, the nine visited El Nuevo Herald.
With the Cuban government controlling all mass media, including newspapers, television and radio stations, independent or dissident journalists are technically working illegally and are regularly detained and harassed by State Security officers.
Among the nine were a dentist, a man who studied law, a nurse, a chemist, a former worker at a printing plant and even a former lieutenant colonel in the Interior Ministry, in charge of domestic security.
They publish newsletters on paper or digital memories such as USB flash drives, or send their reports to webpages based abroad, where island residents can read them. Supporters also can send the reports back to Cuba on flash drives, CDs and DVDs.
Roberto de Jesus Guerra, 35, said he spent three years in prison and has been detained more than 180 times for his work as founder and director of the Hablemos Press news agency in Havana, which focuses on denouncing government abuses.
The agency also prints 400-600 copies of a newsletter with four to eight pages twice a month, and distributes them around Havana. Three of his contributors also have spent time in prison, added Guerra, who said he milked cows before turning to journalism.
Raul Luis Risco Perez said he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Interior Ministry and fought in Angola before joining the opposition Alianza Democrática in Pinar del Rio province. He has been briefly detained about 200 times, Risco said.
His newsletter focuses more on “social journalism,” he said, and he delivers it to Communist Party and government officials in the province to show that he is working above-board, if illegally.
Cuba’s government has alleged that all such programs are designed to undermine its communist system and branded dissidents as “mercenaries” hired to attack the Castro revolution.
Surreal enough for you yet, NBC ???.... or should we up the dose ????
Via The Devil's Excrement:
And One More Thing…On The Carvajal Affair
So, The Netherlands invoked an article nobody had referred to in the whole affair, to release Hugo Carvajal on Sunday evening. Basically what the Netherlands said was that Art. 13 of the Vienna Convention allows for a Consul named but not accepted to temporarily assume his or her duties. Thus, according to this, Carvajal’s arrest was valid and his release was valid.
It was somewhat sneaky of the Dutch to release Carvajal on a Sunday, without going to the Judge that originally said Carvajal did not have immunity. You would have thought that in a country with Law and Order, the proper procedure and place would have been to go to Court on Monday and request Carvajal’s release.
Most likely, the Dutch Government did not want the US to show up in Court on Monday with the extradition papers, creating a conflict. The Prosecutor in Aruba had said that the extradition was now just a formality and the US just had to provide the required documentation for it to take place.
Clearly, everyone applied pressure, but the weak link did not turn out to be Aruba as I suggested on my first post, but rather The Netherlands, as reportedly even Russia played a role, exchanging concessions on the Ucraine plane for helping release Carvajal. No matter what anyone says or how this is interpreted, it was a severe blow to the US, who would have loved to get Carvajal onshore. The indictments are a doozy, they are sealed indictments in Miami and New York, accusing Carvajal in Miami of helping drug dealers and in the Carvajal Indictment Southern District of NY of :
This is not aiding or helping, this is coordinating the transportation of “only” 5.6 Tons of cocaine to the US, quite a strong accusation, charged by the Grand Jury, no?
Meanwhile, Carvajal is welcomed in Venezuela as a hero and there are few mentions of the fact that The Netherlands declared him persona non grata. What is true according to reports is that Carvajal had been going to Aruba for months and unlikely that he was going to act as a Consul. We will never know what he was doing there, but one can suspect.
The most likely threat by Maduro on the Dutch? That Venezuela would withdraw from the Isla refinery in Aruba. The Netherlands already spends more money that it wants on the ABC islands to have to spend even more.
This story likely ends here for now. Carvajal and his buddies will likely stay away from jurisdictions with a US extradition treaty for quite a long time.
And, of course, no more Disney for you, high ranking Chavistas!