You guys probably TiVo the 700 Club already, so this may not be news to you, but Pat Robertson brought his keen analysis of Venezuelan politics to his enthusiastic fan base again last week. In this latest installment, our hero takes credit for turning Chavez from “California grape picker” into the internationally renowned celebrity he is today—sort of a demented Jesus freak Henry Higgins. Of course, ol’ Pat would also be happy to strangle the Venezuelan prez with the super strength endowed to him by the awesome power of his Age-Defying Protein Shake™, too, so it’s sort of a love/hate thing.
But even Robertson’s hard-core fans—mostly elderly shut-ins who believe he actually lives inside their teeevee—must be weirded out hearing him accuse Chavez of buying arms from “the Soviet Union.”
This link includes video, which is cool because you get to watch him drool and sputter as he struggles to remember what continent Venezuela is on. Enjoy!
Psyche. That was Bush.
Venezuela celebrated gay pride this weekend, and everyone looks like Maria Conchita—only younger and hotter. More pictures at Oil Wars and Noticias 24. If you read Spanish & want to get a good sense of the homophobic opposition, check out the comments section on the second link. Have your barf bag handy.
Remember last week how we’d noted that the National Press Club had scheduled a over-the-top one-sided “discussion” on Venezuela in Washington, DC? Well the club ended up canceling…oops “postponing” it, indefinite-like…when they realized that the students who organized it had lied to them about the guest list.
Predictably, the little princes are responding in the only way they know how: accusing the Press Club of colluding with Chavez. One organizer “saw no reason that her group should be required to provide equal time” to the other side. Natch.
As Press Club President Jerry Zremski noted, “the forum would have violated fundamental journalistic principles of fairness.” Of course, in their defense, the students grew up with Venezuelan TV news, so they probably wouldn’t get the concept of “journalistic principles” if it plotted a coup against their mama.
Maria Conchita Alonzo is officially the poster child for plastic surgery gone bad. I believe that is displaced cellulite on her chin. Thanks to the reader who sent us the most tragic photo we've seen all year. I’ve got nothing to add to Perez Hilton's comments:
Dios mio!Coño, indeed.
What the hell happened to her face?
Tomorrow’s the Fourth of July. You know what that means: just one more day till Venezuelan Independence Day! Yes, Venezuelans sort of almost co-opted the most American week of all by asserting their national birthday on the fifth. Just to piss Bush off, probably. But their tentacles are only beginning to coil.
Today Wonkette posted this seemingly-kitschy patriotic video on behalf of Our Great Nation. But it’s also imbued with subversive pro-Chavez agit-prop! Skip the boring cock-Rockwelling icons of Americana. If you scroll straight to minute mark 1:00, you get: the giant Citgo sign outside Fenway Park! Suck it, gringos.
Well hammer me down. We actually get some scoop in the New York Times’ Venezuela coverage today. Latin America’s laziest little correspondent comes in with a “rare interview” with Latin America’s richest man. Simon Romero doesn’t specify whether it was “rare” to land an interview with media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, or just “rare” that he was actually quoting someone other than his vacation porter or those random Cubans who show up on his doorstep. But we’ll keep the snark to a min here, because we can all learn something from his piece.
Cisneros, aside from being a Bush (senior) fishing buddy, a right-wing ideologue and a mockable caricature of fat cat jackassery, also runs one of Venezuela’s national private opposition TV networks. You may not have read lately, but yeah, they exist, and thrive, and oppose, and contort. All that U.S. press blather about RCTV being the “last independent broadcast station,” shockingly, turns out to be talking points from the American Enterprise Institute! But Cisneros’ Venevision, the all “news” Globovision, alongside untold local and regional opposition press, keeps on truckin’, a convoy of contemptibility.
Of course, you have to read between the lines figure it all out. Romero, in character, mocks Cisneros and his “reconciliation with Chavez,” even as the old tycoon tries to explain that his only strategy shift has been to criticize Chavez without calling for his assassination. He pokes at Chavez, describing the president’s comment that he respects journalists who respect Constitutional, rather than violent, political change as “boast[ing] of Mr. Cisneros’s acquiescence to his authority.” But whatevs. We also get good scoop, like:
>>> Cisneros is related by marriage to RCTV owner Marcel Granier--something I never knew before.
>>> Granier disses his own cousin by comparing him references to…Nazi sympathizers! Of course; and
>>> Granier no longer lives in Venezuela, preferring to divide his time between estates “in New York, Spain and the Dominican Republic.”
You know, like Anne Frank.
Venezuela bid adieu this week to William Brownfield, the U.S. ambassador cum one-man Coalition Provisional Authority who pretty much single-handedly set back U.S. Venezuelan relations a generation. Naturally, he’s a hero to the Bush Administration, and naturally, he’s being transferred to Colombia.
Brownfield was simply known as “The Texan” in the Venezuelan press, mainly because it’s polite shorthand for “arrogant prick.” The New York Times gives us a rundown on his zany “taste for irony” that made him a fave on Venezuelan oppo TV talk show circuit but sort of a tragic embarrassment to anyone concerned with old fashioned concepts of “diplomacy” or “not starting another war right now, please.” Don’t miss this video of the Venezuelan masses greeting his motorcade as a gas-guzzling mobile liberator.
So Chao, Señor Texan. And good luck with that sense of humor in Bogotá, where all sides love a good-natured ribbing from effete representatives of Gringolandia. They’re sure to throw rose petals at your feet! Or throw something, at least. Tick tick tick.
In soccer. And event planning.
As we mentioned a couple weeks back, that tyrannical Venezuelan government reacted to opposition student protesters in Caracas by…inviting them to address the National Assembly and vent their concerns in a nationwide televised broadcast.
This week, the Oil Wars blog has provided another fantastic public service by subtitling the broadcast into English so’s you all can see exactly what went down. Grab a beer and give it a look, it’s filled with fascinating moments, including:
>>>Oppo student Douglass Barrios reads a rousing, well-written piece about—irony alert—the silencing of voices of dissent in Venezuela. Again, this was broadcast nationally on state TV.Seriously, you can’t script shit like this. It’s Legally Blonde with hot lefty Latin hunks. Watch it.
>>> At the end of his schpeel, Barrios takes his shirt off to make a point (I know, but he’s got another one on underneath) and his buddies all walk out of the chamber, so none of the other opposition students get to speak, but they’ve made their point, right?
>>>On their way out, the ding dong leaves his printed speech behind, which turns out to have been written by a big-money PR firm.
>>>Chavista student Hector Rodriguez finds the sheet, and opens up his own commentary by reading from the left behind script, including the stage directions from the firm (“Take Off Shirt,” etc.)
>>>Rodriguez gives a startlingly cogent unscripted talk on free speech, class, and the role of the U.S. State Department in the world, which immediately and forever burns his image into the minds and sexual fantasies of his countrymen.
America has always had a special relationship with Russia. Sure, there was that whole bloody cold war thing, and some whacked out force field we once tried to build around the entire country. But in times of national soul searching, Americans always seek guidance from the sober commentary of our Russian compatriots. Lenin. Dostoevsky. Tolstoy. This is a land of great ideas! During the surreal 1980s, when our kind-but-stern grampa figure of a president turned out to be a lobotomized John Bircher with a fetishistic disgust for “the poor,” who among us did not seek comfort in the puckish commentary of Yakov Smirnov in his short lived sitcom What A Country!? And that mouse! That mouse that just wanted to reunite with his family! We could go on...
Well, wake up America, because national conscience is back, and he’s a guest commentator at UPI! None too soon, too, because this whole Bush thing is really getting out of hand.
So this guy, Andrei Vasilyev, has a two-parter on U.S.-Venezuela relations that ran today (See part Одинь and part Два). Like Gorky before him, Vasilyev rips the veil off conventional wisdom, laying bare a reality so starkly, startlingly obvious that readers actually gasp a collective “duh.” Fer instance:
>>> Did you know that the United States always thinks it’s the boss of the entire fucking world? It’s true, and they’ve turned against Venezuela because they want the oil;Common sense and vodka shots. What’s not to love?
>>> And: Venezuela is going to need a stepped up military soon for the day our brilliant leaders decide its time to liberate the crap out of their country;
>>> And: U.S. petroleum companies can stop bitching and moaning about having to cooperate and pay taxes for the billions they make off of Venezuelan oil fields because every other oil company in the world sucks it up because they are still making billions;
>>> And: You want energy independence, smart guys? How ‘bout growing yourself some freaking oil or maybe using a little bit less? How bout that?
Gee. Who could’ve predicted that the U.S. Navy’s effort to win over stupid Latins by launching a floating triage unit around the Caribbean would turn into an embarrassing mess? I mean we did, of course, a few months ago, but we’re all snotty and cynical.
Maybe it’s because the idea was mind-bogglingly lame. Or maybe it’s because their motivations are clearly out of whack (the Financial Times refers to it as a crucial “competition” with med-providing arch-enemy Venezuela). But already the US doctors are bitching that “the mission is too much like a Band-aid,” what with having to set sail for other far away lands before the first group is treated, in order to keep up.
Today, the FT follows up with an editorial underscoring the grave importance of the U.S. mission. Apparently we need to fix these sick poor people before the Venezuelans do, or else the radical socialists will have won. You’ve got to hand it to Chavez for making this Cold War a million times better than the last one. The Love Sputnik is officially in orbit!
Your friends think that there’s got to be something wrong in Venezuela because otherwise the press wouldn’t be paying so much attention to every detail, right? A government-sponsored smear campaign could never turn public opinion and the press around so much so quickly, right?
Just look at the case of France. Literally, our nation’s oldest ally. And here they were barely even trying. My but we're awfully impressionable.
So just how sketchy is polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland, the company notoriously sent to Venezuela to set up phony exit polls ? Pretty freaking sketchy. Check out this HuffingtonPost rundown on the “spying, double-crosses, back-biting, broken promises, and bitter legal accusations,” that go on behind the scenes. And that’s just between the partners themselves.
The World Bank is so close to dead that even Shaha Riza wouldn’t fuck it these days. Today the Christian Science Monitor published a nice piece on the hey-hey-hey-goodbye party that Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay arranged for it.
But the old Bank still finds a reason to wake up in the morning, sort of. Yesterday it released its annual report on “world governance” or something, and guess who comes in with low rankings? Just about every country that doesn’t support U.S. foreign policy: Venezuela, natch, but now Spain too, because they pulled their troops out of whatever the hell we’re doing in Iraq. And Italy, because they they’re taking on the CIA. It’s all so deeply weak.
This time around, nobody in Venezuela is even bothering to get worked up about it. The “data,” such as it is, comes largely from the State Department or fake NGOs set up by the National Endowment for Democracy. Christ, even one of the report’s lead authors admits that it’s probably not "the final word" on the subject.
They’re not even trying anymore. This time next year they’ll be downscaling it to a curmudgeonly letter to the editor.
>>> Miami Herald trashes Venezuela’s economy with the most loaded headline ever.
>>> Of course, Venezuela still on track to being the fastest-growing economy in Latin America for the fourth year in a row.
>>> Hey! It’s not just Uribe’s cabinet that is funding the death squads; it’s also his family.
Writing for Bloomberg, Theresa Bradley reports today on the sorta-newsworthy story that the Venezuelan Assembly is working on a new law to allow the country to intercept hostile aircraft coming into the country. Sounds reasonable, and I’m sure her first draft was all very humdrum, but then she put it through the Magic Venezuela Headline Machine™ and we get this:
“Venezuela May Shoot Down Unidentified Aircraft”Other parts of the story get hilariously altered for effect, too. Although the bill will be written and voted on by the legislative branch, it becomes a “decree,” and the National Assembly’s Committee on National Defense becomes, oddly, “a Ministry of Defense legislative committee Ministry of Defense” (sic squared).
Anyway, It’s relatively early on a Friday evening, so while we’re waiting for the par-tay to roll, we thought it would be fun to run some more of today’s stories through the MVHM™ so you can try and guess what they’re really about:
>>> "Patriots Thwart Terrorist Attack with Quick Thinking, Gay Cheese”Ok, that last one was real. Fucking Republicans…
>>> "British Strongman Bans ‘Anti-American’ Speech”
>>> "John Travolta Seriously Considered Sex Change Operation for 1.2 Years”
>>> "Brother-Sister Fiddle Duo Succumb to Early Alzheimer’s Onset”
>>> "Terrorist Leader Develops Wide Ranging Infrastructure Capacity”
>>> "Pacific Northwest Backwater Rallies to Become Next Big Freewheeling Homosexual Resort”
>>> "Homeland Security Chief Covers Up Threat of Ongoing Terrorist Activity”
>>> "Republican Rep. Exposed Himself to Female Employee, Chased Her Screaming, ‘Suck It’”
BoingBoing has uncovered secret documents pinpointing the moment in history when U.S. oil policy took a disastrous turn and put us on our present course. We have reprinted them below. I think the implications on current U.S.-Venezuelan relations are obvious. A few thoughts here:
>>> Dick Cheney was surprisingly dashing back in 1952, but he seems to have always been an asshole.
>>> Growth hormones have seriously altered pork production in recent years, and it worries me.
>>> For reals, just what exactly is Henry Paulson up to in Latin America this week?
Personally, I long for the day that I get a phone call from Zogby asking “do you support your fucktard President and his deranged attempt to take over Iraqi oil fields by blowing up women and children?” Sigh. But sadly, that’s just not how polling firms operate.
Just kidding! This is a Venezuela blog, so of course they work exactly like that. Venezuelan polling firm Hinterlaces unleashed the super shocking results of their recent poll of Venezuelans Who Own Telephones (read: not the poor ones) over the weekend. Some sample questions:
* Do you support your president’s “violent and rude” tone with Bush?
* Do you want your home to be taken away by the state?
* Do you think it’s ok that Chavez wants to be in office forever and ever?
From a distance, it’s sort of amusing and third world-ily quaint. Lucky us, we live in a society where mainstream journalists would never take a poll like that and imply it was an actual referendum on a country’s leadership. Kidding again! Here’s the Miami Herald write-up on the whole thing (Headline: “Chávez popularity cools amid push for socialism”)
Just as an aside, another Venezuelan firm released results of a slightly more straightforward poll over the weekend: Do You Approve of the Job President Chavez Has Done? Approval ratings: 71%. The Herald hasn’t written a big splashy story on it yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time. (Sorry, sometimes I just can’t stop with the joking).
Giiiiiiirl! Did you hear about Bolivia's latest beauty queen? Miss thing was disqualified when it turned out she was competing with false....you know.
Look, we like Canada, we really do. But seriously, this Harper dude is turning out to be sort of a prick. Whatever happened to that Prime Minister that used to write Doonesbury? Or the Frenchy with the funny mouth? They were about a thousand times more Canada Cool than P.M. BlahBlah McBombsalot here.
Anyway, homeboy is in Latin America this week, telling the natives how to run their own countries, setting up trade deals with terrorist states and meeting up with his banker buddies, who helpfully explain the “two major forces” at play in the region. “We have the forces of free markets and democracies and then we have other forces you see coming out of other countries.” In case you didn’t get it, there’s “us,” you see, and then there’s “them.”
It’s all a little simple and disappointing and Bush-like for our taste. I mean, it’s not like we’d ever really do it (probably), but it’s always been nice having that “That’s It, I’m Moving to Canada” option on the table. I mean the beers are cold and the Mounties are hot and everything.
The Houston Chronicle thought they were channeling Aretha yesterday, but it came off a whole lot more like Trent Reznor. Their ed page reacted to Venezuela’s request that the U.S. respect its sovereignty with this lame little rejoinder:
If Venezuela's government wants respect, it should set an example by respecting Americans' good will and contracts it made with U.S. companies.Snap! Zing! It’s cute, and I’m sure Houston would be thrilled if Venezuela went back to the days of 1% taxes for U.S. oil conglomerates while actual Venezuelans begged for food in the streets, but you know, that arrangement wasn’t exactly respectful to all parties involved.
They also had a good time mocking “Chavez's ridiculous claim that the United States is getting ready to invade Venezuela,” because, of course, respectable people know that could never happen, aside from that little incident 5 years ago when, as the Department of Defense notes, they “provided training, institution building, and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chávez government.” (you can read the DoD report in PDF here).
Fortunately, Venezuela was permitted to respond with a balls-to-the-wall comeback response in an Op-Ed today. Unfortunately, they took the opportunity to talk about “energy security” instead. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Tightly wound Colombian mob boss/president Alvaro Uribe’s popularity has taken a blow in light of recent revelations that he is a fucking psychopathic killing machine, according to pollsters. But wait! We exaggerate. According to a soon-to-be-executed government spokesman, Uribe was never all that popular to being with. It was all “a trick” by scheming polling firms to artificially inflate his numbers so that this week’s crash would make him look like a jackass.
Um, did everybody notice that Bush just gave himself the power to seize the assets of anybody who "undermin[es] efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq”?
But don’t you worry too too much over it, because although it’s not spelled out or defined at all, they’re only going to use it to combat terrorists. Like with the wiretapping.
But if you want to really fret out over our nation’s march to Authoritania, check out the lobotomized headline that AP slapped on the story. If you’re looking for actual details, you can find them here. Additional useful advice may be found here.
You know how C-Span sometimes used to play the tapes of the British Parliament raking Tony Blair over the coals in a rough and tumble debate over Iraq or something and they would scream out that he was a poodle or a fascist and you would think, wow, if they would lose the dorky wigs I could really get behind this system of government?
Apparently the difference is that there is actually a “left” left in the British government, which may explain why they aren’t arguing over torture techniques or habeas corpus or evolution like the douchebags who "represent" us ‘mericans.
Anyway, can you imagine any member of the U.S. Congress making sense like this in an article on Venezuela policy? From the New Statesman:
>>> “Recent demonstrations against Chávez have been policed without repression or brutality. Venezuela is a more stable nation now than probably ever before.”And on and on. Read it.
>>> “…the Bush administration has been fully complicit in the elimination of any neutral voices [in Venezuela], financing the main opposition parties and, via its National Endowment for Democracy, openly and secretly funding civil society, so undermining organisations that should be respected as neutral actors.”
>>> “Where lobbying, sanctions, direct interference, armed coup attempts and threats have failed, the pro-US, invariably corporate sponsored, anti-Chávez network hopes that international criticism on human rights and freedom may succeed in establishing the climate for civil unrest and the replacement of a democratically elected government.”
>>> “There are also strong indications that the anti-government student rebellion is being externally orchestrated. When students were offered the opportunity to speak in the National Assembly by the Venezuelan government, an event televised nationally, they left behind their notes; it transpired they had been provided by a well-known PR agency.”
Finally, the Miami Herald writes, Alfredo Romero is getting his day in court. For five years now, the Chavez foe has been trying to bring criminal charges against Hugo Chavez for failing to protect opponents while they kidnapped the president and violently overthrew his government.
Shockingly, Romero’s case had been turned down by the Venezuelan courts on the grounds that it was “batshit crazy,” so he’s been forced to bring his case to Washington, where the proceedings will be double-super fair. “'Finally, you can hear the facts,'' he says, ``or our version of the facts.'' Hey, whatevs!
If found guilty, Chavez will be kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for two days while the U.S. hand selects an interim dictator to dissolve the Venezuelan constitution, supreme court and national assembly, and of course, to re-privatize the oil sector and hand them over to U.S. firms. Hooray!
Argentine First Lady Cristina Kirchner has enlisted a top-drawer set of advisers for her own presidential bid. As Bloomberg reports, she “kicked off her campaign last night before a crowd of 2,000 supporters who watched a video of her featuring U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and the Colombian pop star Shakira.”
I mean, aside from the Hillary thing, I’d totally vote for her.
>>> Source of Venezuela’s “food shortages” revealed: porky consumers, crappy reporters.
>>> ConocoPhilips: we don’t pay no stinkin’ taxes. That’s why we left Venezuela; that’s why we’ll leave U.S.
>>> Venezuelan media mogul explains why he betrayed the Bush administration, embraced constitutional democracy (pdf).
>>> George McGovern is super sane, super old.
>>> Negroponte: outsource American jobs to Colombia or the commies will win.
"President (Alvaro) Uribe said he would consider having Colombian workers have microchips implanted into their bodies before they are permitted to enter the United States to work on a seasonal basis. I doubted whether the implantation of microchips would be effective since the immigrant worker might be able to remove them." — Sen. Arlen Specter, Republican, April 26, 2006, after returning from an official visit to Colombia.Eek.
Ever since the mid-80’s, when the Reagan Administration notoriously conspired to sell off plucky cocktail waitress Goldie Hawn to the harem of a powerful emir in exchange for a military presence in his country, Americans have been justifiably cynical about the democratic underpinnings of our foreign policy apparatus. But man, these days, it’s getting downright silly.
This week the International Relations Center gives us a rundown of recent interventionist hijinx in Venezuela, and if history is any indicator, it’s all going to backfire once Tom Shannon gets his ass kicked by a motorcycle gang in a D.C.-area gay-Arab-biker-sushi bar and Hugo Chavez gains a seat in the U.S. Senate. You’ve been warned.
In case you were keeping score, here’s one more Venezuelan celeb who's maybe kind of down with the BoRev. The L.A. Times today profiles hunked out Edgar Ramirez, who just happens to speak a bunch of languages, observe elections as a hobby, and be one all around hot little MoFo.
They start talking politics, but naturally when Ramirez starts going off against the opposition role during the coup [“My country was divided in two, and one half was trying to take the other out"], the Times cuts the print equivalent of his mic, changing the subject to “making out with twins” or something. But we know where he was headed.
So take that, other Venezuelan celebrity with the scary botox-gone-bad chin!
The internets have really really democratized campaign ’08! Now, instead of the big fat cats getting the ear of the candidates, any homeless guy off the street with a video camera, a home computer, some snazzy editing software, a DSL connection and, um, access to electricity gets to ask retarded questions the way our founding fathers intended.
Anyway, a shout out to Barack Obama, who took the only halfway intelligent foreign policy position last night. Hillary, of course, believes that having a conversation with Chavez would be a victory for the terrorists unless, of course, you’re talking about Cristina Kirchner’s presidential planning committee, which they co-chair.
Hi. Just thought you might want to know that on average, Venezuelans have moved from a “middle” level standard of living to “high,” according to some index that tracks this kind of thing.
The great news was covered by El Universal, so of course you’ll have to sort of hunt for it (paragraph seven). The article, naturally, opens with this sentence: “A survey conducted by the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) in Venezuelan households as of 2005 found slight deterioration of income distribution, compared with 2000,” because, although everyone is getting richer in Venezuela these days, the rich are doing so at a slightly higher rate. So expect so see a follow up in the Miami Herald about how Chavez is increasing income disparities.
So as you know, the United States pours tens of millions of dollars into Venezuela each year to support organizations working to bring down the president who is, of course, “democratically elected” and “working within the constitutional framework” and “popular” and all that other things that go against our way of life.
And if irony applied at all to U.S.-Venezuelan relations, it would be worth noting that in the name of “improving Venezuela’s transparency,” our government refuses to disclose exactly where this money goes. But it doesn’t. So we won’t.
One thing we do know: it’s not going toward graphic designers. You can rest easy knowing that your tax dollars aren’t being funneled to tech geeks, or for that matter any effort to disguise the finely manicured hand of the U.S. government in setting up these fake social movements.
Did we say “hand”? Make that: “fist.” As this nice little side-by-side shows, the fist-logo that has become the emblem of the Venezuelan “student movements” you may have seen on Fox News recently is the same freaking logo they used when they created the “student movements” in Belgrade in 1998, just before airstrikes took out Slobodon Milošević, in Georgia in 2000, which set the stage for the U.S.-funded “Rose Revolution,” and currently in use by Russian students opposed to Vladimir Putin.
The conclusion is obvious: The U.S. government isn’t even trying these days. It’s a logo, people! We’re talking 2 hours in Photoshop tops to come up with something halfway unique. Really. Try it! Send your creations to BoRevNet (at) Gmail (dot) com, and we’ll pass them on to the State Department for you.
The Heritage Foundation would totally be over there Killing Arabs for Freedom right now if it weren’t for, you know, the asthma. Instead, their patriotic staff will settle for whipping up honor and glory for other people’s kids, God bless ‘em.
This month, HF’s resident Patriot-In-Chief Peter Brookes came really close to ensuring greatness for another generation of noble American
paraplegics heroes, but was tragically outflanked by a cunning communist cell D.C. think tank. We’ll get to that. But first! Brookes writes:
One of the most eye-popping elements of Chavismo is Venezuela's arms purchases. Flush with oil profits, Chavez, a former army lieutenant colonel, has been buying as much shiny military hardware as possible.So let’s roll, right? Chavez clearly wants to invade your mama and everything she represents. But, lo: it’s bullshit, and unfortunately-timed bullshit at that. Just at print time, the dastardly Center for International Policy unleashed a secret weapon: facts. Their report takes a sinister big-picture look at the region, and we find:
Since 2005, he's spent more than $4 billion on foreign weapons, making tiny Venezuela one of the world's most aggressive arms purchasers. In 2006 alone, arms spending was up 13 percent, according to some estimates.
Some analysts project that if oil prices remain high, say, at more than $50 a barrel, Venezuela could spend as much as $30 billion on arms by 2012, the end of Chavez's third term in office. Caracas is already the largest arms buyer in the region — and is expected to be so for the foreseeable future.
>>> In the region, Venezuela “continues to lag a considerable distance behind the most powerful countries militarily”Curse you CIP! You’ve won this battle, but you haven’t won the (never ending) war. Peter Brookes and the Heritage Foundation can find a patriot’s solace in this point, though: Argentina has undergone a “’steady but gradual process’ of rearming in the last 15 years.” Dude, let’s invade the Falklands and see what happens!
>>> Chile is the top arms spender in recent years in both total and per capita numbers. Number two, as if you needed to ask, is Colombia.
>>>And oh, yeah, Venezuelan arms strategy is pretty understandable given all those U.S. military “exercises” off its coast and, y’know, that “Iraq experience.”
Yesterday, we asked readers to help the State Department come up with a new logo to inspire insurrection in Venezuela, since the old one was, um, used. Big thanks to this reader! We’ll send it on to Condi. Send yours to BoRevNet (at) gmail (dot) Com.
Did you hear? The DEMOCRATS are back in power! And you know what that means: the troops are coming back (from lunch) and universal health care is just around the corner (in Canada)!
Ok, so if you’re like, “suffering from some curable-but-pricey disease” or “working three jobs to make ends meet,” you may not be feeling the big woop of it all, but there are some things that have changed in the not-Post-9/11 sense.
Like! Five years after the fact, Congress is finally getting around to investigating the role that the International Monetary Fund played in the coup against Venezuela’s democracy. You may remember that within hours of Chavez’s kidnapping, the IMF spokesman was already on the teevee pledging full support for Latin America’s shortest dictatorship ever, which sort of made people wonder. You can read Robert Naiman’s piece on it over at HuffingtonPost, or get your own “member” involved here.
Sure, it’s not going to replace those failing kidneys, but it sort of makes your soul feel happy until the day we hear those magic but relatively unpronounceable words, “Speaker Grijalva.”
"There's no obvious end in sight for Venezuela's current economic expansion."
Gotta love those lolcats. “Thanks” to the reader who submitted this possible new icon for the fakey Veno-student oppositionists. You iz de shitz, or whatever.
Brace yourself: the Houston Chronicle runs an Op-Ed that’s both pro-oil conglomerates and anti-Venezuela, at the same time! Because those two concepts run… “opposite” their “editorial” line or something.
Actually, the headline from Bloomberg reads “Latin Americans Favor Free Markets in Poll,” but you’d be forgiven for getting the opposite opinion if you condescended to actually like, read the poll results.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when the Pew Global Attitudes project sends around press releases reflecting the exact opposite of what their research finds in order to assure Americans that the world is moving closer to Out Way of Life. To summarize:
>>>86 percent of the region believes that the state should play a strong role in redistributing wealth to the poor. Sure 56%, favor market-based economies too, but really—that becomes the headline?All this is true even though, as usual, Pew admittedly skews away from interviewing rural populations in countries with lefty governments. This time, their methodological stats show that they “overrepresented urban populations” in only three Latin American countries: Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil. To be fair, we should note that right wing gun-nut country Colombia was not included in this survey, what with Uribe administration so willing to shoot on sight.
>>>Venezuelans are more satisfied with the “state of their nation” than any other country in Latin America.
>>>Venezuelans are, of course, happier than any other country in Latin America with the impact their government is having on world policy (ok, they actually tie with Argentina here, but still).
>>>They are also significantly more satisfied with their “national government” than Brits, Canadians, Brazilians and, of course, the Americans, and far more likely than any of these to be optimistic for the next generation.
>>>And for what its worth, Venezuelans are the least likely to cite “conflict” as major national problem. Peace, hippies!
Oh! Almost forgot the link to the full report. Here ‘tis, as a pdf.
Venezuela is rich rich rich! Stop smiling, jackass. Only America can be rich rich rich. And all that money? Turns out, it comes from taxes. The awful truth, as brought to you by NPR’s Marketplace and the Cato Institute.
Be sure to click on the "listen" link to hear Dan Grech's audible sneer at the mention of Venezuela's "Big State health and education programs."
And Bloomberg’s coverage doesn’t exactly come out smelling like a rose in all this either. They extensively interviewed one “Chris Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Council of the Americas.” As one reader writes:
“Hey, that's odd. Didn't there used to be a Chris Sabatini at the National Endowment for Democracy? Common name, I guess.”Yes, Mr. Sabatini—or an analogously agnomened fellow—used to head up the entire Undermining Inconvenient Democracies in Latin America department for the U.S. Bloomberg might could’ve mentioned that.
UPDATE: Ok, so it’s technically the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Whatever.