Cuba today, Brazil update, Ecuador, Venezuela and other Latin America stories

Guests:  Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, the edtitor of Fausta’s Blog… Orestes Matacena, filmmaker and Cuban American activist……we will hear Orestes’ reaction to President Obama’s trip to Cuba as well as efforts to increase travel to the island………Fausta will update us on the impeachment proceedings in Brazil and the deterioration of Brazilian politics…..Venezuela the land of shortages and more shortages……Ecuador and the aftermath of the earthquake…..Puerto Rico and bankruptcy..…and other stories of the week……… to listen:

Drama in Buenos Aires and it’s not about ‘futbol’ or tango


(My new American Thinker post)

Former President Cristina Fernandez was back in the news this week.

She is under investigation, as we see in the New York Times:

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner testified in a Buenos Aires court on Wednesday as part of an investigation into allegations of misdeeds at Argentina’s Central Bank during the last months of her administration.
But the court hearing and Mrs. Kirchner’s return to the public eye quickly turned into a display of political theater as she claimed that she was being persecuted by her foes and reignited a debate about the independence of the country’s judges and prosecutors.
“I am not scared of you,” Mrs. Kirchner wrote in a statement she filed to the court. Even as her political capital has been ebbing, Mrs. Kirchner turned the hearing into a show of strength, speaking afterward to a large crowd of supporters outside the downtown courthouse. “We will return,” they chanted.

Frankly, there was indeed a lot of corruption in the last administration. It is the kind of corruption that happens when government has its fingers in everything. We call it crony capitalism. In Latin America, specially Argentina and Brazil, it is the corrupt relationship between a centralized government, public sector unions and big companies happy to go along to protect market share.

My guess is that nothing will happen to ex-President Fernandez. I think that President Mauricio Macri, a good guy, knows that this is a “lose-lose” game. It will turn Cristina into a victim and energized the left after the December defeat.

Here is my suggestion to my friends in Argentina: Get over Cristina and do something about a political system infected with crony capitalism. The answer is to blow up the system not put Cristina in jail.

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


Brazil in the middle of a mess to say the least



(My new American Thinker post)

Can I take you back to the Clinton impeachment of 1998-99? What if President Clinton had accused VP Gore of pushing for his impeachment?

Well, something like that is happening in Brazil, the world 7th largest GDP and host of the Olympics later this year.

According to news reports, there is a lot of “he said, she said” going on down in Brazil:

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said on Tuesday that her vice president was orchestrating a conspiracy to topple her, as efforts to impeach her gained momentum in the National Congress.
Aided by her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Ms. Rousseff scrambled to secure enough support from a dwindling array of allies to block impeachment in a lower-house vote set for Sunday that analysts predicted she would lose.
A congressional committee voted on Monday by a larger-than-expected margin to recommend that she be impeached for breaking budget laws to support her re-election in 2014, a charge Ms. Rousseff says was trumped up to remove her from office.

It may be true that VP Michel Temer wants her out. Frankly, he is not alone. President Rousseff has become one of the most unpopular politicians in Brazilian history.

Back in 2014, our friend Monica Showalter wrote an amazing analysis of how the left had bought reelection with dependency programs. It got President Rousseff reelected but it set the table for the party’s current mess. They threw so much money around that it backfired.

Impeachment is compounded by the nation’s economic problems. The collapse of oil and commodity prices mean low growth for the region’s biggest economy. As they say in Argentina and other neighbors, whatever happens to the Brazil economy affects all of us.

Finally, the corrupt leftist government has simply run out of luck. The corruption is so rampant that even Brazilians can’t put up with it anymore, from colossal bribes to back room deals from a party that came into office promising transparency. (A party with a new face promising transparency sounds a bit familiar to what we saw up here in 2008?)

As a Brazilian friend told me, we overlook the politicians and live around their corruption.

Unfortunately, the economy is now so bad that even Brazilians are complaining about crony capitalism.

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

Maybe a little ‘capitalismo’ is what Latin America really needs

(My new American Thinker post)

We just had two important elections in Latin America.

In Venezuela, the center-right opposition took over the legislature. They plan to challenge, and perhaps, reverse President Nicolas Maduro’s populism. To be fair, there was more to that election than ideology. In other words, corruption, crime, chaos and simple bureaucratic arrogance were behind the anger in Venezuela.

In Argentina, newly-elected President Mauricio Macri is committed to moving the country to the right and improving the damage that left-wing policies have done to Argentina.

Will the trend continue? Yes and my guess is that “king of crony capitalism” Brazil is next! How can the 8th largest GPD in the world be so inefficient and corrupt? More and more Brazilians are asking that question!

I think that the Latin America middle class is finally figuring out that “populismo” is a scam and not a good economic development policy. It benefits three groups: big business, corrupt public sector unions and the politicians who carry their water!

Maybe the time has arrived to give “capitalismo” a chance, as James Pethokoukis reminds us.

The bad news is that there are entrenched interests from Mexico to Argentina to protect “crony capitalism”. We saw the left’s reaction in Mexico when President Enrique Pena-Nieto tried to reform PEMEX and the teachers’ union. We saw in Mexico the same kind of childish demonstrations that Governor Scott Walker faced in Wisconsin.

The good news is that voters in Venezuela and Venezuela turned the ships of state. In Peru, President Ollanta Humala, a former leftist, is talking sense with economic reforms intended to invite more foreign investment.

We see small steps but steps in the right direction.

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