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July 1, 2008

Posada's Vacation Plans Ruined Again

story_lampoonsvacation.jpgOh Luis Posada Carriles, where will you go now?

No, seriously. Beyond the legal aspects of Posada's terroristic ways, his past involvement in blowing up innocent civilians in the name of freedom (and while on the CIA payroll, no less) is having some practical consequences these days.

The Miami Herald is reporting today that Panama, where Posada tried to kill Fidel Castro in a crowded theater during a 2000 summit, has reversed a pardon granted to him by former President Mireya Moscoso in the closing days of her term. (It's long been rumored that she did it under a little undue influence from South Florida Republicans.) For those of you averse to legal terminology, it's the equivalent of winning a "Get Out of Jail Free!" card in Monopoly only to have someone replace it with a "Get Your Ass Back in Jail, Bitch!" card. Ok, so that card doesn't exist, but it should.

Anyhow, with Panama's recent move, Posada is crossing off one more country from his list of second honeymoon destinations. Let's review his vacation rules:

1) Cuba and Venezuela are obvious no-no's, since they both want him for the 1973 bombing of a Cuban airliner that left 76 communist-loving terrorists civilians dead.

2) Argentina, Bolivia Nicaragua and Ecuador are also out, since they have presidents that still believe in the concept of justice and would probably ship him back to Venezuela, thus breaking rule 1.

3) Mexico, El Salvador, Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala just plain don't want him, having rejected a kind offer from the U.S. to take him so they could avoid sending him to Venezuela, which, again, would break rule 1.

4) Brazil, Chile, Peru, pretty much all of Africa and a good chunk of Asia are part of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement, which in 2007 released a statement calling Posada an "international terrorist." I'm not sure about you, but I'm not spending money on fruity cocktail drinks and trinkets from a country that's going to badmouth me like that.

You get the point. And if you start to consider that he wouldn't even be able to transit through these countries, well, Posada and family are looking at another vacay at Disneyworld. And since he's living free in Miami, that's not too far a drive.

July 2, 2008

Letter from Cochina

cochina.jpg

Hola everybody, I am Alicia Cochina Ogliarquina. This is my first time writing on the blog. I heard they wanted another perspective, and trust me I can tell you many surprising things about Venezuela.

I am famous in my country as an ex-beauty queen, dramatic actress, political activista with a pioneering sense of personal style, and daughter of a beautiful prostitute and a wealthy businessman from a foreign oil company. I also have an amazing ass that you may recognize from telenovelas such as Que coño le pasa a esa mujer and Sinvergüenzas.

You can say I am something like an "expert" on Venezuela, because I have full knowledge of the pre-Chavez years when the word socialism was never heard on the lips of our leaders. They were responsible. They even made the Communist Party illegal to put a stop to the political tradition of brutal leftism, an act of bravery that inspires me.

For me, democracy is the only way. Think of it like a beauty contest. I know from experience that not everybody is as good as everybody else. Some people have amazing talents, like being able to dance the cha-cha in very high heels while doing sign language. Some people can cry on demand in a way that looks real but without making ugly faces like if they were actually crying. If you do not believe these things are possible, I welcome you to watch my Miss Venezuela performance of 1994.

Some people, on the other hand, are worthless and look horrible in a bikini. They maybe come from little money and have poor taste in clothing and foods. You see, when a democracy is properly functioning, it is impossible that these people would become president.

But it happened here, and this is why things are so bad today in Venezuela. This is why students from the finest universities must weep in the streets.

My country was a wonderful place to live until the arrival of Chavez, the one we call the monkey because he is so brown. You see, he is so corrupt he wants only to help his friends, the other poor people, ones who are lazy and do not contribute. Have you ever seen one of them in a nice shopping mall? No! They are drop-outs economically!

I often remember my father, may he rest in peace. He did not live long enough to know the tragedy that bestruck our country when the monkey came to power. If he were alive, he would never have permitted it. The memory of him gives me the passion to fight for freedom. Now, I take my message to audiences all around the world, from Miami to Washington. I tell them: the poor people have ruined our democracy in Venezuela! They are not responsible enough for to know how to vote!

I believe we must fight hard against the chains of this elected government. I will not let them silence me, nor the many newspapers and television stations owned by my family members and close friends. We must tell the gringos that our authoritarian monkey leader steals our oil money and puts it in the barrios where it does not belong. Please, I do not have much. I only have my great ass to offer. But I will continue to struggle, and I invite you to struggle with me.

Colombian Hostages Freed

So the big news is hitting the wires...a group of Colombian hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt and three American defense contractors, have been rescued by the Colombian military. This is great news! Of course, everyone who has a stake in Colombia will have some thoughts on this development...

Alvaro Uribe: Hot damn! Talk about timing. Now I can get that constitutional amendment passed for a third term no problem. Hell, they'll probably even want to just make me president for life or something. Viva Uribe!

Everyone Else in Colombia: Oh shit, now Uribe will probably try and make himself president for life or something.

Hugo Chavez: I guess that $300 million I supposedly gave the FARC sure as hell didn't help them LEARN HOW TO HIDE HOSTAGES BETTER!

George W. Bush: Does this mean we can't invade Venezuela?

John McCain: Does this mean we can't invade Venezuela?

Rafael Correa: Does this mean we can bomb Colombian territory without asking them first?

Barack Obama: How can I work "Yes, we can!" into a speech about this?

Christopher Walken in that Amazing SNL Skit: I need more cowbell! I've got a fever for more cowbell!

The FARC: Seriously, we're not very good at this guerilla warfare stuff. Che made it sound eaaaaasy...

The Right-Wing Paramilitary Death Squads: See Alvaro Uribe.

We kid. We're happy that their ordeal is over, and we imagine they're even happier.

Valijagate Update II: Defense keeps on ripping DOJ new a-holes

Parts I & II of this suitcase scandal trial update were supposed to focus on the arguments behind the "Motion to Dismiss" the charges filed by Franklin Duran on June 20. However, the first paragraph of Part I linked to a Bloomberg article that refers to a different legal document - Duran's June 24 Response to the Department of Justice (DOJ)'s absurd and hypocritical "Motion to Preclude Evidence and Argument Regarding the Foreign Policy of the United States Towards Venezuela." The misleading Bloomberg piece suggests that there is direct evidence Chavez personally sent the defendants to Miami to pressure "the Fatman" or "el Gordo," Guido Antonini Wilson, to cover-up some money-laundering. But the revelation made on pg. 4 of the defense's Response and referred to by Bloomberg was only that one of the defendants, the multi-millionaire Carlos Kauffman, told the FBI (as part of plea deal that reduces his sentence) that others told him that Chavez was "involved." That's called hearsay, and by itself, Kauffman's statements won't prove a thing in court.

A far more impressive revelation from that motion is that Duran is going to tell it like it is and argue "what appears quite obvious to everyone else": that the prosecution is POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. That starts on page 1, and on pgs. 2-3 the defense states that the DOJ intends to use evidence "having no real purpose but to embarrass the government of Hugo Chavez" at trial.

More on the weird "Foreign Policy" Motion and the defense's rational Response to it later. First, let's finish exploring the arguments found in the even more legally sound and kick-ass Motion to dismiss filed by Duran. There's only a few more, and trust me, they're good and easy to understand.

Continue reading "Valijagate Update II: Defense keeps on ripping DOJ new a-holes" »

July 5, 2008

El Catire Considers a Conspiracy...

spy.jpgThey say the devil is in the details, n'est pas? Well, it looks there might have been a big devil in that daring rescue of the Colombian hostages a few days back.

Certain European media outlets are reporting that the rescue, which freed French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans and has gotten Alvaro Uribe some much-needed good press, may not have been as brilliantly conceived as the Colombians are putting on. In fact, it may have been a staged end to a $20 million ransom payment to the FARC organized by the Colombians and the U.S. Sacrebleu!

Now, I'm not sayin' that the allegation is true, I'm just sayin' that it's interesting. And since I'm a bit of a conspiracy buff, let's flush out why it might seem plausible that the Colombians would pay such a hefty ransom.

Uribe hasn't had what we would call a good last few months. First he gets hit with that ongoing paramilitary scandal linking family members and prominent supporters to right-wing death squads. Then he briefly invades Ecuador, much to the chagrin of his regional neighbors. Afterwards, the U.S. Congress refuses to vote on a free trade agreement he's been lusting after. Then, the UN reports that coca cultivation in Colombia has actually increased, the $600 million in U.S. anti-drug aid notwithstanding. More recently, the Colombian Supreme Court questions his 2006 re-election, forcing Uribe to propose that they just re-do the whole thing and throwing into doubt his always questionable democratic credentials. For the U.S.'s favorite Latin American ally, none of this looks good, especially when they're constantly trying to villify the evil Hugo Chavez next door.

Obviously, staging a hostage rescue is something of a complicated ruse to distract from all the bad news coming out of Colombia -- but it has worked wonderfully. Uribe and the Colombian military and loving the good press, and the Washington Post has predictably used the entire affair to push for the passage of the FTA. Of course, the whole "rescue" part, with elaborate costumes and all, becomes much less incredible if it was actually part of a $20 million payoff to a group that Uribe and the U.S. constantly calls "terrorists."

All in all, that's a well spent $20 million, because Uribe would likely have spent more on PR consultants in Washington to try and brighten up his image. If it's true. Of course, if the U.S. press corps was that willing to believe the fairy tales coming out of the magic laptop that implicated Chavez in everything from trying to kill Uribe to having his hand in the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston break-up, we'll give ourselves a little room to believe the conspiracies about whether or not this hostage rescue was in fact a rescue, and not just a ransom payment. That would be quite the devil.

July 7, 2008

Je t'accuse, Monsieur!

swiss.jpgIf you though the original Colombia hostage rescue conspiracy we considered was interesting, you haven't heard anything yet.

A quick update: After last week's spectacular hostage rescue operation that freed a number of high-profile Colombian and American hostages, a Swiss broadcaster reported that the entire thing had been more or less a theatrical ransom payment to the tune of $20 million. If true, it would surely provoke some awkward questions for Alvaro Uribe, who has sworn that he doesn't negotiate with terrorists.

Never one to let these sort of accusations stand unresponded, Colombia's Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos has fired back at a Swiss interlocutor that had worked in a somewhat official capacity to negotiate with the FARC on behalf of a number of European countries. According to an interview with El Tiempo, Santos claims that Jean Pierre Gontard, who is also accused of being the source for the $20 million story, ferried almost $500,000 to the FARC. And how would Santos know this? The magic laptop, of course!

The Swiss Embassy in Bogota has responded by saying that during the time of the alleged transaction, Gontard was working on behalf of a multinational corporation to free two employees held by the FARC. The two employees were eventually freed, though no one -- not even the Colombians -- have been able to say whether or not a payment was made for them. They also noted that the alleged exchange took place during a time when the FARC were granted a large portion of Colombian territory as part of a plan to start peace negotiations.

Working through this, it doesn't seem like they have much on Gontard. The best they can say is that he helped a corporation pay to have their employees released during a period of time in which the Colombian government was in active contact with the FARC and had yet to started to address them solely as terrorists that needed to be defeated militarily. Moreover, it's the height of irony that Santos is accusing Gontard of paying ransom to the FARC as a way to distract attention from the fact that Santos himself may have played a role in paying a significantly larger ransom to the FARC, just more recently.

And really, blaming the Swiss? They're too staid and predictable to do anything this exciting. The Italians? Maybe, and they'd do it nicely dressed. The Spanish? Sure, as long as you didn't catch them during siesta time. But going after the Swiss is a tough sell, and it isn't likely to provoke much international rancor. Of course, left to his own devices, Santos will just send a few planes over to bomb Geneva.

July 8, 2008

BoRev's Award for Excellence in Journalism Goes To...

winner-win.jpg...Bloomberg News!

Yesterday, reporter James Kraus outdid himself and his competition by, well, reporting on something that the competition had already reported on. But more than just bum a story idea, Kraus simply reported on what a competitor's story said. Bravo! See for yourself:

Quietly, Brazil Eclipses an Ally - New York Times (July 7, 2008)
By Simon Romero and Alexei Barrionuevo
"...a more recent turn in Latin America that presents new opportunities for the United States: Mr. da Silva has steadily peeled himself away from Venezuela’s leader and quietly supplanted him as he nurtures Brazil into a regional powerhouse."

Brazil's Lula Nudges Venezuela Out of the Limelight, NYT Says - Bloomberg News (July 7, 2007)
By James Kraus
"Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva distanced himself from Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as he expands Brazil's regional power, the New York Times reported."

It's like a game of journalistic telephone! If we're lucky, today more and more media outlets will jump on the bandwagon and report on the already-reported story. Just imagine...

USA Today: Brazil Stronger Than Venezuela, Says Bloomberg Report on NYT Report
Wall Street Journal: Minor, Insignificant Paper Says Brazil Overpowers Venezuela
Fox News: Liberal Media Reports Communist in Brazil is Defeating Communist in Venezuela
Globovision: Lula's Victory Proves Chavez Abuses Puppies
Miami Herald: Puppy-Abusing Chavez is Loser Compared to Young, Strapping Lula

Sigh. It really says something about the state of the media when a "well-respected" media outlet pens an article about another article -- one that's not very good to begin with -- in a competing outlet. If Kraus needs to fill another few column-inches today, we've got a story for him: "Snarky Blog Shakes Head at Bloomberg Reporter."

Global South Leaders Agree: More Integration is Key

Last week, two developing country organizations, Mercosur and the Non-Aligned Movement met in Latin America. Of course the US press largely ignored the many calls for third world unity coming from the reunions, except to paint Chavez as alone in his dislike of the reactivation of the US Navy's Fourth Fleet or in his condemnation of the EU's new anti-immigrant law. But a cursory glance at the Spanish language press reveals widespread backing of both views. Brazil's Lula, among others, is also concerned as to why the US intends to send a huge naval battalion to a "region at peace" (that is if you don't count Colombian airstrikes backed by the US). Lula believes it's a little more than a coincidence the 4th's reactivation occurred "now that we have discovered oil 300 kilometers from our coasts."

Other highlights from the meetings include:

- The Margarita Declaration, an agreement to create a Non-Aligned Movement information network between African, Asian, and Latin American countries.

- A proposal for OPEC, or some of its members to subsidize oil for the 50 poorest countries.

- A proposal for Venezuela to contribute $1 of every barrel of oil sold over for $100 towards an emergency food fund for Latin America.

- There were many other proposals, but overall, the theme was more 3rd world unity. Or as Cristina de Kirchner said, "integration" is the "new independence."

Pooling resources to benefit the Global South? Man this Chavez is such a d-bag.

July 10, 2008

Valijagate Update III: Lazy Reporting & right-wing "legal experts"

As expected, the storyline the mainstream media focused on from the "Foreign Policy" Motion and Response in the suitcase scandal trial was that one of the co-defendants that agreed to a plea deal, Carlos Kauffman, told the FBI that other people told him that Chavez was "involved" in the alleged cover-up. Interesting however, that the Washington Post did not run it's small piece until Monday, July 7, a day after Reuters's, and a full week after Bloomberg ran theirs. Why the delay and half-hearted reporting? Perhaps because they know, in the end, it's a non-story. My guess is that the defense revealed this not to inculpate Chavez, but to blunt any impact that it would have if revealed during the actual trial. It also supports the defense's claim that the prosecution intends to use such hearsay and other legally suspect evidence only to embarrass the Chavez government.

These mainstream articles do recognize, sometimes explicitly, the political nature and impact of the legal proceedings, but fail to mention that the Chavez "revelation" was found in the defense's Response to the Department of Justice's attempt to exclude all evidence relating to "the Foreign Policy of the US towards Venezuela." To review the DOJ logic that the articles mostly follow: (1) It's OK and "apolitical" to link the President of Venezuela to a still unresolved case of money-laundering, which by the way was undeniably tied to the political campaign of the President of Argentina according to the prosecution. (2) It's not OK to state the "political" fact that the US hates Chavez and would like to see him die his authority in Latin America weaken due to unsubstantiated charges of influencing other countries' elections with suitcase cash. Got it?

And just in case the legal hypocrisy emanating from Miami wasn't quite Spitzer enough for you, a panel and paper presentation was recently held at the University of Miami addressing the new "lack of transparency" and "politicization of legal cases" in Venezuela and other now-leftist Latin American countries. Such impartial "legal experts" as Roger "but he's our terrorist" Noriega and former US Ambassador to Bolivia, Manuel "don't elect Evo" Rocha participated in the panel. But don't worry because the "panel was balanced and all the angles of the state of rule of law in Latin America were observed," according to Patricia "the destabilizer" Andrade.

Is it the sun? The art deco? The rabid fury caused by the sight of Cuba on the horizon? What is it about the Magic City that makes right-wingers immune to reason (and irony)?

Parts I and II

July 11, 2008

The Devil and Miss Medina

Just when you thought the circumstances around Alvaro Uribe’s attempt to go “Back to the Future” couldn’t get any weirder, the ex-Colombian congresswoman at the center of the bribery scandal that has called into question the legitimacy of Uribe’s 2006 election, Yidis Medina, has posed naked (while in jail) for the Colombian magazine SoHo.
YidisSoHo.jpgIn Colombia, or Bizarro Latin America as I like to call it, constitutional-vote- buying = non-delivery of promised political favors, 3.5 years house arrest, being called loca, and a black-and-white nudie spread for the ex-Congresswoman who admits being bribed for her deciding vote. And conveniently for the Uribe government, Ms. Medina also wins an "unrelated" set of criminal charges for kidnapping that prevents her release from detention.

But for the democratically-challenged “President” that denies the bribes took place, constitutional-vote-buying = a time-traveling referendum to affirm the dubious constitutional amendment that allowed his current term. But hey, if you've already thrown your country into a constitutional crisis, why stop there? How 'bout another constitutional change to pave the way for another presidential term + the US will throw in a John McCain and a free trade agreement for your troubles. You can almost hear Uribe cackling as he stares at Yidis's ass. He hasn't pulled it all off yet, but would you bet against this calculating little Caesar?

Crime Pays If You Own a TV Station

crime_media_thumbnail.jpgIf you haven't noticed, the concept of freedom of expression has expanded exponentially when it comes to the media in those left-wing dictatorships in Latin America that everyone in South Florida loves to hate.

Venezuela refuses to renew the broadcast license of a TV station using the public's airwaves to conspire against a democratically elected government? Violation of freedom of expression! Ecuador seizes a number of TV stations because they're owned by two brothers that are facing embezzlement charges to the tune of $661 million that basically collapsed the country's economy? Violation of freedom of expression! Colombia remains the worst country in Latin America and among the worst in the world to practice journalism? Oh, that's just bad luck. Or the FARC's fault. Or maybe because those journalists were the FARC. Yeah, that sounds right. Move along, no violation of freedom of expression here!

Ugh. The press has been in a tizzy in recent days of Ecaudor's move to seize three television stations owned by two brothers wanted for some serious financial crimes. But the story isn't much of a story, something that even the Chavez-Correa-Morales-hating Economist grudgingly seems to admit when they report that "there was little immediate sign of censorship at the TV stations" and that "the seizures may well be legal." May well be legal? Heck, that's a bit of a wet towel on the whole "Ecuador is violating freedom of expression" meme, now isn't it?

Not if you're Andres Oppenheimer, of course. To him, it's a cleverly hatched coup against freedom of expression, legality be damned! And who better to prove the point than the brother of the two guys accused of massive financial crimes? Yes, Oppenheimer actually quotes him. Because, well, he wouldn't have any vested interest in defending his family, right? This isn't even poor journalism anymore...it's an insult to freedom of expression and those that really practice it.

The lessons are clear, though. If you're a budding anti-government journalist in Venezuela, Ecaudor or Bolivia, just engage in massive crimes against the state and get yourself arrested. You'll have Oppenheimer and the rest of South Florida's finest falling over each other to scream "Violation of freedom of expression!" louder than the next.

July 14, 2008

BoRev's Quick and Dirty News Recap

FOX_News_Flash.jpgHey there loyal readers. We here at BoRev trust that you had a fantastic weekend, and that part of that weekend didn't include sorting through Venezuela-related news and sniffing out media bias and inaccuracies. It didn't for us, and we help keep this blog going. So now that Monday is upon us, let's quickly recap some of the bigger stories that you should all be talking about.

News Flash! Uribe is President: No, seriously. News coming out of the recent summit between Hugo Chavez and Alvaro Uribe is that Uribe -- who is Colombia's somewhat imperfectly elected president -- actually had to release a statement asking the ministers in his government not to seem so, you know, thirsty for Venezuelan blood. Referring specifically to Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, the statement asked "complete prudence of all spokespersons of the Government" in handling relations with Venezuela. We don't know what's more sad -- that the man entrusted with Colombia's armed forces is chomping at the bit to send them across the border or that Uribe's control of his own government is weak enough that he has to resort to carefully worded statements to tell his ministers that an invasion wouldn't be kosher.

You Call it a Bailout, I Call it State Intervention in the Economy: OK, so this isn't exactly relevant to Venezuela, but bear with us. Over the weekend the U.S. government announced that it was planning on bailing out collapsing mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The U.S. media and political class is treating this as a necessary move to save the housing market from total collapse. We're all for making sure that hundreds of thousands of families aren't thrown out of their homes and the whole mortgage market doesn't come crashing down, but just imagine what the tone of the coverage would be had this happened in Venezuela. "Government Nationalizes Housing, Children Forced to Pledge Total Allegiance to Socialist Madman Dictator" might be a common headline. It's funny how one man's bailout (read government intervention) is another man's nationalization. It's even funnier how one is seen as a necessary evil and the other just seen as evil.

Chavez is an Evil Human Rights Violator!: Oh wait, no he's not.

Chavez is a Dirty Oil Horder!: Oh wait, no he's not.

Opposition Just Can't Decide: One day they call Chavez's government corrupt, next day they march to criticize a measure that would stop corrupt people from running for public office. What gives?

Venezuela the Totalitarian Gulag...: ...that continues to allow the pesky opposition to tie up traffic with their never-ending marches. (See above.) Seriously, Chavez doesn't have this whole "crazed communist dictator" thing down if he can't think to send out the troops to mow down a few hundred opposition protestors if they march against him. (Sarcasm alert! BoRev does not endorse, support or applaud the mowing down of opposition protestors by government troops. Now if the opposition were still in power and a bunch of dirty and ugly poor people came out, well, fire away!)

July 17, 2008

Colombians Play Dress Up!

icrc-1.JPGSo the news about the hostage rescue/ransom payment in early July had all but died down...until today.

The New York Times is now reporting that one of the soldiers involved in the rescue dressed up to look like a worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Innocent enough, right? Wrong. Apparently impersonating a Red Cross worker is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Why? Because using the Red Cross as as a cover would threaten their stated neutrality, pretty much the only thing that allows them to do all the humanitarian work that they do. So in theory, next time the FARC sees someone from the Red Cross, they could well assume it's a Colombian soldier. Not good.

We shouldn't much be surprised, though, since the soldier in question could just claim they were taking orders from their superiors, right? After all, Alvaro Uribe dresses up to look like a democrat, and we know how obvious a front that is...

The U.S. Battles the Left in Central America: Will the Magic Laptop Tip the Scales?

This week, the LA Times is running a series of debates on US-Venezuela-Latin American relations between Andres Martinez, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, and Angelo Rivero Santos, the deputy chief of mission of the Venezuelan Embassy in the US. According to the article, the first debate, "Which way, Latin America?" was originally based on the question "Are Central American nations moving toward neo-liberal free markets or a 21st century form of Bolivarian socialism?" but the Times was forced to change the title because Martinez may know less about Central America than Paris Hilton. Instead of answering the original question, Martinez decided to go with something like, "Venezuela sucks and Brazil & Chile rule."

One of Martinez's few mentions of Central America refers to the "conservative pro-American [regimes] in Colombia, Mexico and much of Central America." Huh? Which Central America is he talking about? Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize all have leftist to centrist governments. Most have good relations with the US, but also pursue independent policies. In fact, all of the above mentioned countries except Costa Rica are members of Venezuela's Petrocaribe initiative, which provides low-cost oil to the Caribbean and Central America. According to Reuters, Chavez set up Petrocaribe "in 2005 to bolster his regional influence", because of course, Venezuela has no possible interest in helping prevent its smaller neighbors' economies from collapsing. And sorry Mr. Martinez, but Costa Rica is now also going to join the diabolical scheme (Cuba, the D.R., Jamaica and other smaller island nations are also members).

Baby.Saca.Bush.jpg
The only Latin American president that can hang with the pro-Americanism of Colombia's Uribe is El Salvador's Tony Saca. But El Salvador is not "much of Central America" and Saca's term ends next year. Currently, the left-wing FMLN's candidate is ahead by 20+ points in El Salvador's presidential election, and the US and the right-wing ARENA government are desperate. Not desperate enough to propose good policies, but tying Chavez to the FMLN just isn't working. Maybe there's an obscure link to the terrorist FARC. But where can this be found? Gold star if you guessed that propagandistic treasure trove of the right known as the Magic Laptop. US intervention, laptop accusations, and a right-wing media frenzy after the jump.

Continue reading "The U.S. Battles the Left in Central America: Will the Magic Laptop Tip the Scales?" »

July 18, 2008

Chavez Responds to Obama's Comments on Venezuela & Cuba

The press has been reporting on Hugo Chavez's backing away from his prior hope that relations with the US could improve under an Obama presidency – McCain and Obama are no different because they both represent “the empire.” A typical Chavez anti-American diatribe, right? The Christian Science Monitor suggests that Chavez actually prefers a McCain presidency because it would be more beneficial for him to have a war-mongering old coot in office when he rails against the US. But what did Chavez actually say, and why did he change his mind about the chosen one?

Obama, who has never been to Latin America despite McCain’s urgings, recently gave an interview to Spain’s EFE about his envisioned Latin American/Venezuelan policies. He used a lot of aggressive rhetoric, but you have to go to the Spanish language press to find out that:

- Obama will use “carrot and stick” diplomacy to strengthen US interests throughout the Western Hemisphere – Change we can believe in. Or wait, isn’t that what we’ve been doing since forever?
- He called for dialogue with Venezuela and Cuba, but proceeded to call them "enemies" of the US.
- Obama called Chavez a "destructive force in the region."
- Obama said that Chavez emailed "inappropriate" pictures of himself to his wife, Michelle.

OK, maybe not the last one, but you get the picture. So what Chavez has actually done, is not attack Obama on a whim, but simply respond to the calculated messages coming from Obama's camp as he veers to the right.

Continue reading "Chavez Responds to Obama's Comments on Venezuela & Cuba" »

July 23, 2008

The South American Defense Clusterfuck

unasur_2.gif
After being the only country to back out of the South American Defense Council (CSD) during May's founding of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Colombia has now agreed to join the fledgling initiative. President Uribe reconsidered after speaking with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Brazil's Lula during the latter's visit to Colombia. Lula was in Bogota over the weekend to sign Defense and other bilateral cooperation agreements between Colombia and Brazil.

Despite his country's reversal, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos today stated that he "still does not know what [the CSD] is for" during an event at the Center for American Progress (video). Santos is in Washington in an attempt to exploit the July 2 hostage operation and push Congress to pass the Colombian Free Trade Agreement and grant $Billions more for Plan Colombia, which is already the biggest military partnership in the Americas. (NYT Op-ed co-authored w/ US Defense Secretary Gates).

Meanwhile, much has been made about Chavez sparking a so-called "arms race" by seeking to buy air defense systems and submarines from Russia. Venezuela doesn't need those things, because it's not like US fighter jets have violated Venezuelan airspace or that the world's superpower has a huge armada conducting military exercises off its coasts. It also shouldn't be concerning that armed-to-the-teeth Colombia doesn't worry about pesky little things like international borders when executing US-coordinated airstrikes.

Chavez is in Moscow to sign Venezuela and Russia's own military and economic agreements. New Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called Venezuela-Russia relations, "one of the key factors of security in the (South American) region". He also said that Venezuela was Russia's "most important partner". Anti-US flattery? Maybe, but more believable than, "US Seeks Improved Relations w/ Venezuela." That is how the State Dep. categorized Thomas Shannon's testimony to Congress last week. But when reading all of Shannon's remarks, it is clear that the top Latin American official means "improved relations" and continued funding of "the people of Venezuela," a.k.a. the mostly affluent, non-brown opposition. The only contemplated cooperation between the US and Venezuelan governments is on anti-drug operations.

So how do all these defense collaborations and conflicting agendas co-exist?

Continue reading "The South American Defense Clusterfuck" »

July 25, 2008

In War, Colombia Uses New Form of Media Manipulation; Old Forms Will Still Be Used

telesur.logo.jpgJuan Manuel Santos, the Colombian Defense Minister, has made several surprising admissions and lies inconsistent statements as he sells Colombia's war on drugs/terror/leftists/reason to the US. Santos revealed that the Colombian military employed not one, but two unsavory types of "dress up" during "Operation Jaque". Not only did a soldier illegally wear a Red Cross emblem on his chest, but soldiers also used the Telesur logos during the hostage retrieval. But Santos has stated that there would be no apologies to Telesur.

Unlike the case of the Red Cross, there is no specific International Convention that bans military personnel from disguising themselves as journalists; however, long-established customary international law has led to a Draft Convention that would do just that. The reasoning is simple: if the military dresses up as journalists, they put the lives of legitimate media members at risk, and threaten the public's fundamental right to information during times of war.

Where's the outrage from Reporters Without Borders and other organizations that purport to protect journalistic freedom? Does the fact that TeleSur is the brainchild of Hugo Chavez have anything to do with the overall acceptance of this tactic? What if it had been CNN logos?

Santos also said that Colombia has weakened support for the FARC, "through their families, through all kinds of media propaganda, whatever, and this has been very successful.” Putting aside concerns over what type of pressure Colombia places on guerrillas' families, the admission of concerted media manipulation regarding the FARC is not surprising. But Santos better start getting better at "whatever", because he's trying to get away with all sorts of bulls#%t on the hostage operation and his government's newfound desire to negotiate with the FARC.

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July 26, 2008

Disdain In Spain Is Mainly on the Wane

Frenemies.jpgSo Hugo Chavez and the Spanish strumpet "king," Mr. Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias de la Welfare or whatever have decided to kiss and make up. The grouchy monarch welcomed the Venezuelan prez at his tax-payer-funded summer palace on the island of Mallorca. The two exchanged awkward back-pats and jokes before J.C. gifted Chavez a t-shirt reading "Shut Up," and then Chavez asked for his half of the merchandise/ring tone royalties. You wish we were making this up, but here is the Funny video proof.

Chavez then traveled to Madrid to meet with Prime Minister Zapatero and sign a trade agreement similar to the one he had just finalized with Portugal. Venezuela will ship oil at $100/barrel in exchange for Spanish medicine, infrastructure and food.

Jose Maria Aznar and the Spanish fascists right were none too pleased w/ the good relations, with one conservative paper accusing Chavez of financing terrorists or something. The crazy goes like this - Chavez finances FARC + FARC collaborates w/ ETA = Chavez finances ETA. Although this allegation has been ignored b/c of its silliness, how did the rightists connect those dots? Oh right, the Magic laptop.

July 27, 2008

In Your Dreams, Widestance

Hey look Larry Craig is afraid that Venezuela is, umm, “jerking us around by the gas nozzle.” Wow.

Hi everyone! Your editor is back from “away.” Huge thanks to our fantastic guest contributors, who are obviously better at this than I am. You may see more of their bylines on this site, too, as we can use all the help we can get around here. Hooray!

July 28, 2008

Breaking: John McCain Is Surrounded By Losers

McLoser.jpgYou may remember the International Republican Institute as the hilariously inept “democracy building group” involved in the bungled coup attempt against Venezuela’s democracy a few years back, but today a New York Times exposé informs us that its actual purpose is as “a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans,” and a funnel for the John McCain’s campaign. In other words, say hello to President Obama.

Quick and Dirty Ecuador Recap

machetero.JPGFor those of you wondering what is happening in the land of our Hunky McHotsalot, the answer is mucho:

- Outgoing US Ambassador to Ecuador, Linda Jewell, is publicly saying that the US "in no way" believes that the government of Ecuador has any links to the FARC. An implicit rejection of the Magic Laptop as she leaves post? Full interview in Spanish.

- Ecuador has a new Constitution ready for a September 28th referendum vote. The executive is especially power-hungry, b/c he could now dissolve Congress at will. Oh wait, only in the first 3 years of a term, and it would cause him/her to be up for immediate re-election as well. And Congress can also remove the president if they dissolve themselves. Dictatorial!

- The Catholic church is especially peeved at the draft Consitution, but not over executorial concerns. Ecuador's givin' the gays civil unions, and it does not condemn abortion. Fascists!

- Chevron is paying big bucks to Trent Lott and others in an effort to avoid a court judgment against them. Hey, they only spilled way more oil than the Exxon Valdez in formerly pristine indigenous lands. Will Obama stop them? Chevron wants Ecuador's trade preferences yanked because, "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this—companies that have made big investments around the world."

July 29, 2008

New Hampshire is the Latest State to Fall!

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After two years of heroically forcing its people to shiver and die on principle, this week New Hampshire became the last New England state to accept cheap heating oil from Venezuela. And so the final domino has fallen. Start learning Spanish, pussies!

Apparently at $4.68 a gallon, heating oil prices were starting to affect more than just the poor, the only segment of New Hampshire society to whom “Live Free or Die” ever actually applied. So today of course the Concord Monitor rushes to explain why the previous ban on Venezuelan assistance was a terrible idea from the get-go, some Communist argument about greedy U.S. corporations or something. Anyway the point is our new capitol is Mexico City and you’ll be getting your paycheck in ameros from here on out, crybabies.

July 30, 2008

Double Venti Half-Caf with a Twist of Awesome

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Hello! Are you a Hannity-loving Christian soldier dead-ender douchenozzle looking for the latest boycott fad? Then you will be thrilled to hear that Venezuela has decided to market its “aromatic caffeinate directly to North Americans - using Venezuelan-owned Citgo local gas stations and convenience stores as a distribution network.”

But before you break out your adorably misspelled anti-Commie protest signs, you should know that Venezuela makes a halfway decent cup. As one New England coffee fan told the Philadelphia Enquirer, "I think it's better than Colombian." Ha ha and then he was shot THE END.

July 31, 2008

NGO Will Stamp Out Colombian Violence Forever Using Passive Aggressive Letter-Writing Techniques

CPJ_logo_recent.gifTwo weeks after it was first reported that Colombian soldiers dressed up as not only Red Cross agents, but also Telesur journalists to carry out military operations, the Committee to Protect Journalists has finally weighed in. (We, like most of the media, missed it at first too, but screw you it's not our mission). In a letter to Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, the CPJ lamely "understand what was at stake and recognize that 15 people were rescued in the operation," but still see the need to like, "Protect Journalists," so they make a few other points, like:

>>> "By posing as journalists, security forces undermine the role of the free press and bring mistrust to the profession, ultimately damaging the public good," and

>>> "Colombia remains one of the most murderous countries for the press worldwide, and has the highest rate of unsolved journalist murders at the percentage of the population of any nation in Latin America;" and

>>> The whole fucking thing violates the Geneva Conventions.

Wouldn't hold my breath for a response from asshat Santos. For his part, Hugo Chavez noted that if he had done such a thing, "they would be trying me in The Hague, notice the double morality of the world." No kidding, dude. Not to mention they'd be sending one heck of a stern letter.

It’s An Inter-American Dialogue--With You!

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There is nothing that the Inter-American Dialogue likes more than dialoguery. Usually this involves two well dressed, blue-eyed Latinos dialoguing about how their poor, brown countrymen need to get a haircut and a real job and generally act more like the gringos. The great part about these dialogues is that they always end in consensus, which will inevitably lead to world peace one day maybe!

Of course budget constraints being what they are, oftentimes these dialogues get trimmed down to one well-dressed blue-eyed Latino explaining why everyone should be more like him. Linguists have a word for this type of conversation; it is known as “a very efficient dialogue.”

Anyway this is all to say that the Inter-American Dialogue has a new paper out! On Venezuela! It is a keen analysis of Venezuela’s current political situation, and it is of course written entirely by the leading voice of the Venezuelan opposition, Teodoro Petkoff, who is renowned for being fair because he was a hippie once in the 60s before turning into a right winger today. Dialogue!

But one of the drawbacks these very efficient dialogues is that nobody is around to fact check, so many retarded mistakes get made! One reader found a good one:

Petkoff says that the United States could finance Petro-Caribe [Venezuela’s hundred-million dollar oil program with Caribbean nations] with less than one billionth of its GDP. Uh, one billionth of the US GDP is about $14,000. And this isn’t just some typo--one millionth would be $14 million--still a fraction of the cost of the program.
Well that was a stupid mistake, wasn’t it? And there are probably plenty more! Hey why don’t you read the thing and tell us what they are, and then we can all send a joint letter to the InterAmerican Dialogue together and laugh and then go get a beer? That’s right, you can be part of the dialogue with Inter-America! Keep us in the loop at BoRevNet (at) Gmail (dot) com.

About July 2008

This page contains all entries posted to BoRev.Net in July 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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