Via The Devil's Excrement:
How Chavismo Has Ripped Off The Private Sector For Years
There is an article today in the New York Times, which while factually correct, seems to me to be a little late to the game in explaining to its readers how Chavismo has “vanished” the profits (And equity too) of private companies, whether they are Venezuelan or not.
Chavismo has never played by the rules, whether international or national. It has ripped off the Venezuelan people by claiming to care for them, while allowing inflation to soar and wasting the oil windfall of the last decade on propaganda, incurring in new debt and simply doing whatever was necessary to preserve Chavismo in power. And it continues to do so.
But to pretend this is a new phenomenon, or that it only has to do with the most recent devaluation in Venezuela, is to ignore fifteen years of Chavismo as well as eleven years of exchange controls. Not to mention the total lack of scruples by Chavismo to steal, lie, bully, ripoff and deceive multinational and national companies, accustomed to people being honest and respecting the laws and customs of business and trade.
When Chavismo imposed foreign exchange controls in February 2003, the Bs. 1.59 per US$ rate was established as a way of protecting international reserves and the Government promised to make that rate available to bona fide companies in import and manufacturing, as well as allowing people to buy at the controlled rate for some of their needs. The system and the controls allowed companies to repatriate profits and even capital, if required, you just had to follow certain procedures to make sure your needs and requests were real.
Since the Government imposed certain limitations, a parallel “swap” market developed immediately, as people realized that the Government had not banned exchanging two properties, such as a security denominated in Bs. for one denominated in US$. This market took a while to develop, as people discussed its legality, some companies were afraid to use it and the Government and the Government kept talking about issuing a Bill that would make it a crime to exchange money outside of the official controls.
But about two years after imposing exchange controls, the Venezuelan National Assembly approved the so called “Foreign Exchange Illicits Bill” which did penalize buying or selling dollars, but actually exempted “securities” from the Bill, essentially saying that it was healthy for a parallel market to exist.
This was a critical step in the development of the swap market (mid-2005 or so), as most companies started trading in the swap market to solve temporary foreign currency (or Bolivar!) needs and even to speculate with the currency.
But few companies use the swap mechanism to repatriate dividends. The argument was that why bother doing this, when the Government, via Cadivi, was going to give them the foreign currency for repatriation at the official rate of exchange.
By the time this happened, the official exchange rate was around Bs. 2.1 per US$, while the swap rate was maybe 20-30% higher.
But then things got complicated. Just as Chávez began using reserves for parallel funds, squeezed PDVSA for social spending and issuing debt to cover shortfalls, the international financial crisis of 2007-2009 hit and oil prices went down. Since Chavez needed more and more funding for his exploits, Cadivi became stingy, giving less and less for dividend repatriation which mostly ended by 2007.
Continue reading HERE.
El Putín y el Putón, in days of yore
Yikes! It's a set up for a new series of Marvel Comics, but what should the new characters be called?
Vlad the Impaler and Nosferatu? or The Hulk and the Mummy? or The Terminator and the Crypt Keeper? or, for a Spanish-language version: El Putín y el Putón? or El Putín y el Cabrón?
Rumor has it that both men are very busy preening before they meet, making sure they look sharp.
Official press releases confirm that the leader of Grand Putinia will meet with both kings of Castrogonia, Raul and Fidel, and that one of the key topics for discussion will be the new international airport that Grand Putinia is going to build near Havana, about ten miles from the ancient relic of Jose Marti Airport, formerly known as Rancho Boyeros.
This visit to Castrogonia kicks off Putin's Latrine-Palooza tour. As the U.S. keeps dissolving at a breakneck pace, Vladimir Putin sweeps in to fill the vacuum.
Rumor has it that Nicolas Maduro is also preening for his meeting with the strongest strong man ever to issue orders from the Kremlin.
And rumor also has it that Vlad has been practicing his favorite sport in anticipation of his visit to Varadero beach. Intrepid paparazzi caught sight of him recently at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Take close look, balseros..... practice makes perfect! And eat your heart out Diana Nyad....I ride this baby all the way to Key West....then I eat him when I get there...and take leftovers in dog bag to Obama.
Whole story HERE, in Spanish, from ABC Spain
By Angel Santiesteban in Translating Cuba:
Remnants of History: Cubans in the Independence of the United States
Many Cubans are unaware, although living in the United States, that we were participants in the independence of the Thirteen American Colonies.
When in 1776 the conditions were given for the confrontation with England, commercial relations between Cuban and the North had already reached a mutual development and interest, independent of their cities. In 1764, England cut off commerce with the Spanish and French Antilles which affected thirty distilleries that produced the coveted “Anitillean Rum.” This was one of the reasons for the separatist movement, recognized by John Adams, second president of the United States.
After that event, Havana became a supplier for the independence army. A commercial fleet was in charge of bringing resources while in Havana shipyards and arsenals American ships were repaired and mounted with cannon.
Part of the rebel force was made up of Cuban Creoles and brown and moreno battallions. On the Pensacola Site, April of 1781, the Havana forces that had arrived as reinforcement were the first to enter the city.
In revenge, England attacked Havana, attempting another capture like that of 1762 but — this time — they found different circumstances. Twenty years later, the defenses were impregnable and their forces were strategically positioned. The harassed Admiral Rodney, then, beat a retreat. The Cuban forces continued their contribution to the American cause and managed to evict the English from control of the Mississippi River, guaranteeing the provisioning of the rebels through that route.
Continue reading Reports from Cuba: Remnants of History: Cubans in the Independence of the United States
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo on his blog Post-Revolution Mondays:
It’s called Street Sense, which is sort of like El Sentido de la Calle in Spanish, which is a much better title than any Cuban magazine or newspaper has got; and that obviously includes the ones published abroad.
It comes out fortnightly in Washington D.C., which isn’t just the capital of the empire, but it’s also North America’s Homelessness Central. I have never seen so many homeless as I have here. Mostly, they are in the subway stations, where they take up residence according to some kind of timetable, and where, according to Wikipedia, they have the world’s longest escalators. But I also see them out in the open, exposed to the dreadfully cold springtime rain. And, before that, out in the worst of this city’s infinite winter.
You never come across the same homeless people, not even if you pass by the same place two thousand times. They have either moved, or they have died. No other possibility.
Many of these humble homeless guys get published in Street Sense. Those of them who have not been eaten up by hate, crime or illness. Those who have retained enough mental clarity and nobility of spirit. Those who are trying, as best they can, to get back into the machine that once vomited them out, or who were crushed by it, possibly because they tried to resist the hypocritical mediocrity which comes with any kind of success.
Now I am someone without a home. And, more than that, without a country. I know that one day I am going to decide to sell these sheets to strangers going into or out of railway stations. El sentido de la calle in the United States of Nothing America.
I came from Cuba without wanting to, swept away by too many people being bumped off while the world looked on, and consumed, in secret, by love. The academy of the left filled me with friendly disgust. I was bored by earning money. The right wing is a delusion of the academy. But I am never going to go back to my island, the island that we love, which is intact in our most personal and most aggressive imagination.
My dear Cubans, I am not going to return, even in the event of God or Google restoring democracy there, whether it is with or without the destruction of the corpses of the dictators. I would find it impossible to see my home without me in it, or my mother left to die alone on the hundred year old boards of 125 Fonts and Beales, or my loves dying of my indifference and desperation, although never because I have forgotten, to realise back in Cuba that the United States was an acceptable nightmare and that Cuban exile is an evanescent eternity, and to then live in my ever-present homelessness, in my arrogant foolishness as a free healthy man in the only city I understood while I was alive, and also after that, when I died spitting fuck-words in the face of the tyranny in power: Havana.
Read it all HERE.
Attorney General Eric Holder could hardly contain his tears when he explained his program titled “Justice AmeriCorps” to provide emergency legal representation for the tens of thousands of Central American minors illegally swarming through our southern border.
“How we treat those in need, particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings, many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse or trafficking – goes to the core of who we are as a nation,” Holder said while detailing his program to provide 100 lawyers and paralegals for the minors.
And yet it was (then) Deputy Attorney General Holder who concocted the “legal” cover for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to mace, kick, stomp, and gun-butt their way into the home of Elian Gonzalez’s legal custodians (legal U.S. citizens, all) on the morning of April 22, 2000, wrench a bawling 6-year-old child from his family at machine gun point and bundle him off to Fidel Castro’s terror-sponsoring fiefdom, leaving 102 people (all of them legal U.S. citizens and residents) injured, some seriously.
Our friends at The Blaze remind folks outside the minuscule Cuban-American informational ghetto how Democrats handle Hispanic minors who probably would not grow up to register as Democrats.
Via 14yMedio in Translating Cuba:
El Sexto Facing Trial
14ymedio, Havana, 9 July 2014 – The graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto” (The Sixth), has been in custody for five days charged with “violation of domicile and injury” and will be prosecuted, according to several friends and Cuban activists. Interviewed by the newspaper just two weeks ago, the artist is being held incommunicado and will be tried this week, according to reports from his family on Wednesday.
This newspaper was able to contact the photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo who, in speaking of El Sexto, said, “he has no attorney, no money, no one left free in Cuba who is able to help him.” The young man has spent several years in the sights of the Cuban political police for a series of graffiti and expositions where he questions the powers-that-be and gives voice to outlawed civil society. His friends believe this could be a “settling of accounts.”
Several witnesses say that a domestic incident and a complaint from the father of El Sexto’s wife have “served as a reason for the police to charge his and to remove him from the streets where he realizes his art.” There is still no official version of events and the authorities are not providing clear answers to the several phone calls made to investigate the situation of the detainee.
In late 2012, the writer Angel Santiesteban Prats was convicted on similar charges and still remains an inmate of a forced work center on the outskirts of Havana. As a general rule, people critical of the government are not judged on political grounds but rather for “common crimes” with the objective of reducing solidarity and international pressure.
Brazil's Odebrecht, a business partner to despotic and murderous regimes all over the world including Cuba's apartheid Castro regime, is threatening Miami-Dade County with a lawsuit for allegedly delaying the start of a construction project inexplicably and scandalously awarded to the unscrupulous international construction company.
Via Miami Today:
Odebrecht pressures county on Airport City
The US subsidiary of Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht is asking Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to push a proposed Airport City at Miami International Airport ahead, saying airport administrators have stymied the project that had been ticketed for Odebrecht “for no apparent justifiable reason.”
In a letter Monday, Odebrecht USA President and CEO Gilberto Neves told the mayor the firm has “worked tirelessly and in good faith” on the plan for six years but the Aviation Department, which manages the county-owned airport, has stalled the job.
Mr. Neves suggested Odebrecht may seek reimbursement of $11 million it has spent on planning, as well as damages, due to “the continually changing and oddly timed articulated reasons for not moving the project forward.”
Mr. Neves vaguely suggested officials may be distancing themselves from the Coral Gables-based firm for political reasons due to work an Odebrecht subsidiary did in Cuba. In 2012, Odebrecht America Latina expanded Mariel Port, 1980’s exit point for 125,000 fleeing Cubans.
His letter noted that last year a federal appeals court in Miami upheld a ruling that Florida’s anti-Cuba law was unconstitutional. The 2012 law banned agencies in Florida from awarding contracts of $1 million and up to firms dealing with Cuba or Syria.
Although the law would have affected dozens of companies, it was viewed as targeting Odebrecht, which sued to overturn it.
In February, Mr. Neves wrote, commissioners discussed the project and “confirmed publicly that there was much more to the issue of Airport City than simply finding the best real estate solution for the parcels.”
As of Tuesday, Odebrecht said the mayor’s office had not responded to its request to bring the project to commissioners with the Aviation Department’s support and approval. A spokeswoman said the mayor was not able to comment.
Continue reading HERE.
On the one hand, it is completely understandable that Tucker Carlson would be reluctant to admit being duped by Cuban intelligence agents when his publication, The Daily Caller, supposedly broke the story of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez hiring underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. No one likes to admit not doing their homework and falling for an old but very salacious ruse. On the other hand, Tucker is not doing himself or his publication any favors by doubling down on his mistakes. It appears he is still in complete denial, which will only make it worse for him and his credibility as the evidence of Cuba's intelligence involvement becomes even more obvious and incontrovertible.
Apparently, Tucker is unfamiliar with the Castro regime's half-century long history of doing this very thing to their enemies abroad and duping journalists into becoming propagandists and attack dogs at their service. There are plenty of people who would have been happy to fill him in, but I guess he is going to have to learn that lesson on his own. Nadie aprende en cabeza ajena.
Via the Columbia Journalism Review:
Daily Caller editor doubles down on Menendez ‘scoop’
Until The Washington Post’s story that it was a Cuban plot is proven true, Tucker Carlson says, there is nothing to correct
When Tucker Carlson launched The Daily Caller in 2010, he told CJR that the site would produce serious journalism without fear or partisan favor—and that if it got something wrong, it would correct the mistake. “Our view is that people want reliable information they’re not getting other places,” he said at the time. “If that’s right-wing, the world has turned upside down. Moreover, you can assess the site by its content. If you think our news stories are inaccurate or unfair, say so and we’ll change it.”
On Tuesday, Carlson’s journalistic scruples were put to the test. The Washington Postreported that the Caller’s 2012 “scoop” about Democratic Senator Robert Menendez allegedly cavorting with Cuban prostitutes—a story that had been largely discredited already (even the New York Postpassed on the rumors)—may actually have been part of a plot by the Cuban government to smear Menendez, a longtime critic of the Castro regime. In other words, the Post story suggested, the Caller had been duped.
Carlson’s response? In a phone interview late Tuesday, the Caller’s editor in chief said that until someone could prove that what the Post reported was true, he would stand by his story. “We make plenty of mistakes and we cop to them,” Carlson said. “If it’s shown that we were wrong, I’d say it right away. It’d save me a lot of time. If [Menendez] can show that we are somehow agents of the Cuban government, then damn it, I’ll apologize.” He added that his reporters had attempted to verify the Cuban-plot claim.
Juan Tamayo in The Miami Herald:
Cuban ‘dissident’ says he was really an infiltrator
Lawyer Ernesto Vera said his main task was to attack and sow discord within two key Cuban opposition groups on the island.
A Cuban lawyer has confessed that he was a State Security collaborator for the four years he spent portraying himself as a dissident and harshly attacking two of the country’s most active opposition groups.
Ernesto Vera, 34, had been accused of being a collaborator last year, but his confession cast a rare spotlight on how State Security agents recruit informants and pay them thousands of dollars to discredit dissidents and generate rivalries among them.
Vera also pointed a finger at five other Cubans who in his view have been suspiciously critical of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) and the Ladies in White, the largest and most aggressive dissident groups on the communist-ruled island.
“My mission within State Security was to disparage and discredit UNPACU, especially its leader, José Daniel Ferrer, and the Ladies in White,” Vera told el Nuevo Herald by phone Wednesday from his home in the eastern city of Santiago De Cuba.
But he said he sat for a 44-minute video taped confession to Ferrer earlier this month because he was “disgusted with so many lies, the double life and faking a friendly relationship with people I hated so much.”
The two men shook hands at the end of the video.
State Security began the slow work of recruiting him as “Agent Jorge” after he was fired as a law professor at a medical school in Santiago, he said. Until then, he had been only on the periphery of dissident groups.
People who identified themselves as dissidents arranged to meet him in public places. But they were State Security agents and their meetings were videotaped — recordings then used to blackmail him into becoming an informant in 2010, Vera said. They also threatened to kill his mother and make it look like an accident unless he cooperated.
“I am ashamed to say I was a coward,” he told el Nuevo Herald, confirming that he had recorded the talk with Ferrer and written a three-page confession dated July 5 and published Tuesday by UNPACU.
“All of my attacks on José Daniel Ferrer and the Ladies in White were ordered by State Security,” he said. They were part of a one-two punch, “to discredit the dissidents and lessen the impact of the repression when it came.”
Continue reading HERE.
From the offices of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):
Migration Talks Between U.S. and Cuba Another Fool’s Errand Legitimizing the Castro Regime, Says Ros-Lehtinen
“To think that the Castro regime will abide by any migration accord or agreement is a folly and these migration talks only serve to legitimize the regime while it arrests countless human rights activists on the island.”
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement regarding migration talks between the United States and the tyrannical Castro regime. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Having another round of migration talks while Alan Gross unjustly sits in Castro’s gulag and the people of Cuba remain oppressed is a fool’s errand. To think that the Castro regime will abide by any migration accord or agreement is a folly and these migration talks only serve to legitimize the regime while it arrests countless human rights activists on the island. Instead of sitting down with regime emissaries, the Obama administration should stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and stop providing concessions to the Castro regime such as these worthless exercises that do nothing to help the cause for freedom and democracy in Cuba.”
Josefina Vidal: Cuban spy previously kicked out of the U.S. for espionage
Back in May of 2003, the U.S. government expelled fourteen Castro intelligence agents disguised as diplomats at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. who were caught engaging in espionage. Among that group of Cuban spooks was Josefina Vidal, an agent with the Castro regime's infamous DI (Directorate of Intelligence) and a career spy. Nonetheless, despite the fact Vidal was caught spying and had to be kicked out of the U.S., she continues to receive authorization from the U.S. State Department to enter the country and engage in "talks" as if she were a diplomat and the whole spy thing never happened.
Via the AP in ABC News:
US, Cuba Hold Migration Talks in Washington
U.S. and Cuban officials discussed efforts to combat illegal migration, human smuggling and migratory document fraud in Washington on Wednesday, a rare moment of dialogue between countries that cut ties more than five decades ago.
The latest round of biannual migration talks was carried out in a "respectful environment," Cuba's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It added that Havana was pleased the two nations agreed in early July to enforce a search-and-rescue protocol for distressed persons on the high seas.
There were also points of contention. Cuba aired concerns about banking difficulties for its diplomatic missions in the United States that have led it to cut consular services at the two outposts. It also complained again about policies letting Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil stay and apply for residency after a year.
"The Cuban delegation insisted that alien smuggling and illegal migration would not be eradicated, nor could there be a legal, safe and orderly migration between the two countries, as long as the 'wet foot/dry foot' policy and the Cuban Adjustment Act remain in force," the statement said.
The talks are supposed to be held every six months to monitor the implementation of 1990s migration accords, and often touch on other areas of mutual concern.
They were suspended in 2011, the same year Cuba sentenced U.S. government development subcontractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison after he was detained with restricted communications equipment while working to set up Internet networks for Jewish groups on the island.
Talks resumed two years later, along with separate discussions on re-establishing direct mail service between the two countries.
A U.S. State Department statement called the talks routine and said they did not indicate a change in policy toward Cuba. It added that they were consistent with U.S. interest in ensuring safe, legal and orderly migration between the countries, and an opportunity to talk about things such as civil liberties.
"In our interactions with the Cubans, the United States also regularly raises our concerns about the continued detention of Alan Gross, the poor state of human rights in Cuba and fugitives from U.S. justice," the statement said.
Havana has said it is willing to talk about Gross' case and any other matter, but it also wants to negotiate the fate of three Cuban intelligence agents serving long prison terms in the United States.
The U.S. statement said the delegations at the one-day migration talks were headed by Alex Lee, deputy assistant secretary at the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Josefina Vidal, the top official for North American affairs at Cuba's Foreign Ministry.
U.S.-Cuba relations were severed in 1961 at the height of Cold War tensions. Since the late 1970s, however, Washington and Havana have maintained diplomatic missions in each other's capitals that are technically "interests sections" of the respective Swiss embassies.
The U.S. economic and financial embargo against Cuba has been in effect since 1962.