ISIS and the missing Gitmo guy targeting Rio Olympics for terror?

(My new American Thinker post)

Brazil has enough problems these days, from a lousy economy to a political crisis to zika and a “futbol” team that can’t win anymore.

Let’s add another one and this one (via Fausta’s Blog) may be the most unpleasant of all:

A new Telegram channel, Ansar al-Khilafah Brazil, appeared today, declaring itself an ISIS cell in Brazil that had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “If French police couldn’t stop France attacks, then their training Brazil’s police will serve no use,” said a message on the new channel. But the administrator later posted that it was just a messaging channel with one person reposting ISIS news in several languages.
ISIS has been offering its regular propaganda channel in Portuguese along with English, French, German, Russian and other languages in target areas.

We add the crazy story of the GITMO alumnus living in Uruguay who is suddenly missing.  It is believed that he crossed illegally into Brazil.  We don’t believe that he went to Rio to learn how to “samba” or to tell Sergio Mendes that he loved his “Fool on the Hill” arrangement.

Let’s safely assume that he is up to no good with thousands coming to Rio for the Olympics.  After all, he is a terrorist!

In the past, we may have overlooked these threats, but you can’t anymore, after Nice, Orlando, San Bernardino and Paris.

Brazilian authorities assure us that there is no specific threat.   Frankly, I can understand that they may be trying to downplay it.    At the same time, the aforementioned article reminds us that French ISIS fighter Maxime Hauchard tweeted, “Brazil, you are our next target.”

We know that ISIS loves soft targets.   What could be “softer” than thousands of people moving around a major city during an Olympic event?  It’s scary!

So let’s hope that the entire world has their eyes open because these threats have to be taken very seriously.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Meet Hugo’s daughter (‘La chica rica’)

maria-money chavez daughter
Maria Chavez

(My new American Thinker post)

Let me introduce you to the richest young woman in Venezuela, or “la chica rica”, i.e. the rich girl.

Her name is María Gabriela Chávez, or the daughter of the socialist Hugo Chavez.

According to Ezequiel Spector, a lawyer, PhD candidate, professor at the University Torcuato Di Tella and contributor at PanAm Post, this is one lucky Maria:

The alleged fortune of María Gabriela Chávez, daughter of the late Hugo Chávez, has recently stirred up controversy in Venezuela. Media reports suggest that Chávez’s daughter has US$4.2 billion stored in bank accounts in the United States and Andorra, which might make her the wealthiest person in Venezuela.

Critics have pointed to a supposed inconsistency: how can one support the so-called Bolivarian Revolution while enjoying such enormous riches? However, the premise of this critique is flawed, because it assumes that Chavismo emerged to uphold rights and equality.

How did the Chavez family get so filthy rich? Did they create great industries and hire thousands of people?   Did they contribute to the economy?    They did it because they stole it in the name of income inequality:

They are rich because the government has awarded them privileges and subsidies, at the expense of the average citizen. That’s 21st-century socialism’s social mobility. They don’t want capitalism, since their socialist system has already made them quite comfortable.

They also do it because the Western media doesn’t ask them about their wealth.

For example, Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, recently visited the US.   She was given a total pass by US journalists who were fascinated by the Cuban health care system rather than Castro, Inc, the empire that has made her family fifthly rich too.

Maria Gabriela in Caracas and Mariela in Havana, a couple of lucky girls who preach socialism and live like Maria Antoniette!

As Hall & Oates sang many years ago:

“You can rely on the old man’s money

You can rely on the old man’s money….”

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Going shopping in Venezuela is a border crosser

(My new American Thinker post)

What else can you say about Venezuela?  It is a mess!

Years ago, I went to Caracas, and I remember having to buy some things for my trip.  I walked over to a small shopping center near the hotel, purchased some things, and that was it.  It was like any U.S. city, from the availability of products to number of stores.  To say the least, Caracas was a modern city with nice people.

Well, things have changed, and not for the better.  In the last couple of days, I saw a report of people crossing into Colombia to purchase groceries:

In just 12 hours, more than 35,000 Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Sunday to buy food and medicines in the city of Cucuta, when the Venezuelan government agreed to opened border crossings for one day only.

People began crossing the Simon Bolivar international bridge at 5:00 a.m. to purchase products that are scarce in Venezuela.

“We’re from here in San Antonio (and), honestly, we don’t have any food to give our children, so I don’t think it’s fair that the border is still closed,” a Venezuelan woman told EFE in Cucuta.

The woman, who preferred to not give her name, crossed the international bridge with her husband and children ages 5 and 2.

The border crossings between Tachira state and Norte de Santander province were closed on Aug. 19, 2015, by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who said he took the measure to fight smuggling and prevent members of paramilitary groups from entering Venezuela.

What is the definition of a failed state?  In my mind, a failed state is one where people have to cross a border to buy milk and other groceries because their stores are empty.

Sooner rather than later, the U.S. and the OAS will come to terms with the reality that Venezuela is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis previously unseen in Latin America.  What else can you say about shelves without foodstuffs, gas stations without gasoline, drug stores without aspirin, and hospitals without medical supplies?

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The Governor of Rio fears that Olympics could be a big failure



(My new American Thinker post)

Anybody out there planning to go to the Olympics? This is not a good headline:

Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor warned Monday that the Olympic Games could be a “big failure,” because of budget shortfalls that threaten to compromise security and mobility during the games.

In an interview with Rio’s O Globo daily, Francisco Dornelles said the state is still awaiting a 2.9 billion Brazilian real ($860 million) payout from the federal government aimed at shoring up state coffers ahead of the Aug. 5-21 event. The funds were allocated last week but have not yet reached the state, and Dornelles warned that without them, police patrols may grind to a halt by the end of the week, for lack of gas money.

“How are people going to feel protected in a city without security,” Dornelles was quoted as asking.

“I’m optimistic about the games, but I have to show reality,” he said. “We can have a great Olympics, but if some steps aren’t taken, it can be a big failure.”

And this guy wants tourists to get on a plane and visit Rio?

On top of everything, from a really juicy political crisis to the zika virus, the police are protesting against the late payment of salaries and a lack of equipment ranging from car fuel to toilet paper.

And these are the police officers that will provide security in Rio?

It is a terrible shame that things have deteriorated like this. However, this is more than bad luck. Brazil probably wasn’t ready to do World Cup and Olympics in 2014 and 2016. Add to all of this the country’s penchant for corruption and toilet paper may be the last thing that we will have to worry about.

Finally, security is even more critical now than ever because of terrorism. We saw what happened at the Boston Marathon in 2013 where a couple of guys with bombs killed and injured many.

It’s probably too late to pull the plug but a lot of people, and even some athletes, won’t go. It’s just too much of a risk for people to take.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Will Spain be next?



(My new American Thinker post)

A few years ago, I was talking to a Spanish friend from Madrid who exports to the U.S. He complained then about the “euro”. He said that the euro was killing Spanish exports or making them more expensive in the U.S.

He longed for the days when Spain had its own currency (“la peseta”) and could manage its own economy.

Wonder what he is thinking today? My guess is that he is happy with the UK vote.

My sense is that the EU has been good to Germany but not to those smaller countries who depend on trade or tourists, such as Spain.

Exports to the U.S. are a major portion of the Spanish economy:

Exports from Spain amounted to US$283.3 billion in 2015, down by -5% since 2011 and down -11.1% from 2014 to 2015.

Spain’s top 10 exports accounted for 57% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Spain’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.636 trillion in 2015.

Therefore, exports accounted for about 17.3% of total Spanish economic output.

My friend wold argue that the “euro” is the reason that exports to the U.S. are down.

He is not alone, as we can see in this 2015 BBC report that I read  last year:

As Spain emerged, under-developed and economically weak, from the isolation of the Franco dictatorship, the EU was seen as its benevolent benefactor.

Now, six years into an economic crisis which has left 27% of the population unemployed, it is viewed as the belligerent bully which is forcing Spain to its knees with austerity measures.

Since 2007, Spanish approval of the EU has almost halved.

It’s fair to say that the benefits of the EU were oversold to a Spanish nation yearning for modernity a decade ago.

During the Franco years, the trains ran on time and the streets were extremely safe. At the same time, he isolated Spain from globalism and progress.

Will Spain be next? Time will tell but don’t be surprised if it does. The Brits have a lit a fire and it will spread quickly.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Very bad weekend for the left in Caracas, Buenos Aires and Brasilia



(My new American Thinker post)

All of a sudden, the lefties of South America are running for cover.

Let’s start in Argentina, where ex-President Fernandez has just been indicted:

A judge in Argentina on Friday indicted former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other officials on charges of manipulating the nation’s Central Bank during the final months of her administration.
Mrs. Kirchner and the officials are accused of entering into contracts to sell the Central Bank’s dollars at below-market rates during her presidency in order to shore up the Argentine peso.
The judge, Claudio Bonadio, said that it was “unthinkable that a financial operation of this magnitude” could have been carried out without the explicit approval of “the highest political and economic decision makers of government.”
Judge Bonadio will now deepen his investigation, legal experts said, to decide whether the case goes to trial or is dismissed. Mrs. Kirchner can appeal her indictment.

Mrs. Fernandez followed her late husband Mr. Kirchner in the presidency.  I guess that corruption finally caught up with them.  At the same time, the couple has a lot of supporters in the public bureaucracy so don’t count your chickens yet.

By the way, Nestor and Christina Kirchner remind me a lot of the Clintons.

Over in Brazil, President Rauseff will be watching the Olympics from home rather than presiding over the opening ceremony as head of state.  A trial has begun that could remove her permanently from the office.  In the meantime, there will be an interim president.

Over in Venezuela, the situation has now hit the “expletive deleted” fan.  President Maduro has declared a 60-day emergency because of what he defines as threats from the US government.

These 3 crises have a few things in common beyond the fact that the leaders where once the darlings of the left.

First, corruption is rampant, a natural consequence of concentration of power or using state resources to win elections.  It worked great in Venezuela and Brazil as long as commodities and oil prices supported the inefficient state operations.

Second, the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are basket cases.

Brazil, one of the top 10 GDPs in the world, is mired in a deep recession.

Argentina is a better off but still paying the price of the Kirchner-Fernandez disregard for the rule of law.

And Venezuela is such a disaster that we won’t cite numbers because the country is indeed falling apart.

Argentina will be the first to improve because President Macri is already correcting the excesses of his predecessors.

Brazil and Venezuela could descend into chaos.

As my late father used to say, socialism is great as long as the subsidized get their subsidies.  If not, the subsidized turn on the ones who made the promises, as is the case in Venezuela and Brazil.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.