Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘Chavez’ Category

Dumb Choices: Why Hillary should not be president

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2014

I had five minutes to read Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, so I skimmed 10 pages on Latin America. Although I knew where she stood on Honduras, reading her explanation about that and the ongoing Cuban embargo made me realize how much contempt she has for Latin America.

I’m not a fan of Fidel Castro. Read Havana Nocturne (T.J. English) and see if it doesn’t raise questions in your mind about his character. I do recognize that he has done some good things, both in ending extreme poverty in Cuba and in terms of opposing apartheid and elevating world health. But I recognize that he’s done it through undemocratic means. That’s Realpolitik: understanding why leaders can be bad people yet popular, or at least more popular than the alternative.

But the embargo against Cuba–which was just extended for a year–is not just a “relic of the Cold War.” It is a flagrantly and increasingly illegal act, condemned by the entire world. Not even the U.K., not even Japan, not even Poland stands with us (Israel does). But Hillary Clinton goes along with the US line that we have to continue to isolate ourselves in order to force the Cuban government to democratize.

Even though it hasn’t worked for 52 years.

Even though the only people really hurt by it are the Cuban people.

And, according to Hillary, any Latin American country that sees the embargo not as a quaint “relic”, one that we can keep around out of fondness for the death and misery it causes, but as U.S. bullying (not to mention arrogance and stupidity) must be a commie creep like that Chaaavez fellow.

That is not leadership, Madame Secretary. That is contempt for Latin America and for the intelligence of your readers.

And then there’s Honduras. And Nicaragua. And Venezuela. And Brazil (!) All of whom are/were run by “strongmen.” Manuel Zelaya of Honduras is even the “caricature of a strongman.”

No, Madame Secretary. You’re a caricature of American arrogance and blindness. And your justification for your actions during the Honduran coup is transparently dishonest. You tell us that Oscar Arias (correctly) told you that a military coup against a democratically-elected leader could have a “domino effect” throughout a region that had been plagued by coups and dictatorship. You were most entertained by this “novel interpretation” (if I recall your phrase correctly) of the domino theory.

FFFFFFF. If this is the sort of contempt for Latin America that you display in public, what you must feel in your heart!

No more fake Democrats, please.

Posted in Brazil, Chavez, Cuba, Honduras, impunity, Latin America, Venezuela | 6 Comments »

Screeeeeech Screeeech Screeeech

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 9, 2010

Hoo boy. There are no Red-baiters like the folks who cater to the sons and daughters of exiled Cuban mobsters. Get a load:

Citing “overwhelming” evidence and recent federal reports that confirm growing ties between Venezuela and international drug trafficking networks, Republican members of Congress have this week asked the Obama administration to put the oil-producing country on the list of nations that require monitoring because they pose a security risk.

In separate statements, Florida’s Reps. Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen cited, among other reasons, the relationship between Caracas and the Islamic regime in Iran and with the FARC rebels in Colombia, both considered by the United States as entities that sponsor global terrorism.

Who is Connie Mack? Just another rich trustafarian kid whose daddy was a congressman and who is himself married to a congresswoman, but one from another state: Sonny Bono’s widow, Mary Bono Mack.

Who is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen? This should be a clue as to what makes her tick. As should this. In other words, she’s the Cuban exile version of Michele Bachmann.

Posted in Chavez, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, Silly Republicans, Venezuela, WTF? | 2 Comments »

Obama Meets Chavez

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 20, 2009

And it is good.

How do I know? For one thing, several prominent Republicans are going into Full-On Hissy Kabuki Mode over it.

Meanwhile, back at the grown-ups’ table:

The overall “feeling” one gets from the Summit is that Latin American presidents are a bit taken aback – but pleasantly so – at what is a strange and new situation for them: a United States government that arrives at the meeting not to impose decrees or dictate other nation’s policies with blackmail tactics, but, rather, one that many have noted is really trying to listen and learn from its long neglected neighbors.

It’s a block association meeting, basically, one with a new community organizer in the neighborhood, and a very different approach to how things get done.

I can relate, as one who has been reporting on these regional meetings for a dozen years now. I’m almost too familiar with so many of the protagonists: Lula of Brazil, Chávez of Venezuela, Morales of Bolivia (who was a professor in the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, class of ’04), Ortega of Nicaragua (whose 1985 inauguration I attended in Managua), and others like the narco-presidents Uribe of Colombia and Calderon of Mexico who have been the subject of years of investigative reports from this corner. I reported all of their elections. And each of them – including Obama of the USA – look like they feel a little out of place, but in a good way; like, who thought that a Summit of the Americas might ever be this fun and fearless all at once?

What is happening in Port of Spain is almost unrecognizable. It’s going to take some getting used to. But I don’t think there is a single participant or careful observer from any country in the hemisphere that isn’t pinching himself right now wondering, “can this really be happening?”

Posted in Chavez, Latin America, President Obama, Republicans, Republicans acting badly | Comments Off on Obama Meets Chavez

That Hugo Chavez Guy

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 24, 2008

When last we left Hugo Chavez, constitutional changes backed by him had just been shot down by the voters, and the TradMed’s Usual Suspects were chortling over what they saw as the beginning of the end for him, confidently predicting that the next round of elections would see his power evaporate for good. Meanwhile, lonely voices like Mark Weisbrot’s at The Nation were saying that the failure of the referendums didn’t much hurt Chavez’ long-term hold on power.

And so what actually has happened in the latest round of elections?

Hugo Chavez’s candidates leading in Venezuela elections

The president’s allies are ahead in 17 of 22 governor races, reflecting his continuing popularity among voters.

Heh. Chalk one up for Weisbrot.

Posted in Chavez, Latin America, media, Venezuela | 2 Comments »

If, Could, Might, May

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 19, 2008

Sounds like somebody really wants Hugo Chavez’ flipping off of the Shock Doctrinists to fail:

The price of a barrel of oil has fallen from $147 in July to less than $70, and analysts say the drop is a blow to Chávez’s free-spending administration, which depends on oil for 50 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of its export earnings. Other oil-producing countries, which like Venezuela ramped up spending as the price of oil rose to historic highs in recent years, also face serious economic problems, analysts say.

Robert Bottome, editor of Veneconomia, a Caracas business newsletter, said that if the price continues to fall, Chávez’s populist government will face economic turmoil.

“The common perception is that the Venezuelan government goes bankrupt,” he said, “that they cannot meet their obligations.”

The article goes on to relate, in loving detail, the harsh fate that allegedly awaits Chavez and his evil socialist programs. One can just feel the glee in certain billionaires’ palaces at the thought. But there’s one small problem with all of that:

Chávez has said that such prognostications are wishful thinking generated by his foes and that Venezuela, with $40 billion in Central Bank reserves, will ride out the storm. He is among the leaders in OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who will attend an emergency meeting Friday that could lead to a production cut to boost prices.

Which will probably happen, if for no other reason than that oil prices are pegged to the dollar, which has been taking a beating over the past few years thanks to Bush’s loading it up with debt. This is why many if not most OPEC nations are clamoring for a switch to the Euro, a switch that would have happened years ago if not for the power wielded by Bush ally Saudi Arabia. As this Financial Times piece notes, even the Saudis are now favoring a 500,000-barrel-per-day production cut — and since most other OPEC states have already significantly scaled back production to keep a pricing floor, it’s going to have to be the Saudis that do most of the scaling back this time around.

Going back to the WaPo article, it admits that Venezuela has enough of a cushion in cash reserves to ride out the current lower prices for a year. Oil prices will be back around $100 a barrel by then. OPEC won’t let them near $150, but they won’t let them stay below $100 for very long, either.

And once again, Hugo Chavez will have failed to roll over and die, and his social programs will continue, and poor illiterate peasants in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America will be increasingly less poor and more literate, and more resistant to Shock Doctrinists.

Posted in big money, capitalism as cancer, Chavez, economy, Oil, Venezuela | 4 Comments »

Dishonest scales

Posted by Charles II on September 21, 2008

Am I still to forget, O wicked house,
your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed?
Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales,
with a bag of false weights?
(Micah 6:10-11)
[an ephah is a unit of measure]

It’s the kind of thing that makes one want to tear up one’s membership in any human rights organization. Human Rights Watch has issued a strongly critical report of Venezuela. Their basic points:

  • discrimination on political grounds (unlike the US, with its long history of political blacklisting, dating to as recently as the K Street project)
  • disregard for the principle of separation of powers, especially in the takeover of the Supreme Court by pro-Chavez people (unlike the US with its 7:2 right-wing majority on the Supreme Court and politically-stacked courts)
  • undercut journalists’ freedom of expression, workers’ freedom of association, and civil society’s ability to promote human rights (unlike the mass arrest of reporters in the Twin Cities, the Administration’s attacks on labor unions, and mass wiretapping focused at peace activists and other dissenters)

    Readers of Mercury Rising know that I have had my criticisms of Chavez. But as a central, guiding principle, one has to look at the context in which events occur. There have been coup attempts against Chavez, one of which nearly cost him his life and a second of which almost destroyed the Venezuelan economy. Yes, the government has been firmly in the saddle since ca. 2003, but just recently several of Venezuela’s neighbors (Bolivia and Honduras) have severed or downgraded their diplomatic ties with the U.S. over interference; in Bolivia’s case, that interference involves seizure of a large part of the country by US-encouraged separatists.

    Now Paraguay reports a coup effort.

    Indeed, Venezuela itself claims a recent coup attempt. If South Americans are nervous, well, who can blame them? The US is one of the few nations in modern history to have actually invaded a country.

    Past coup attempts don’t absolve Venezuela for the complaints that Human Rights Watch has. But the state of siege created by the United States is the context in which Venezuelan human rights abuses occur. Most countries would have declared martial law under those conditions. Indeed, the United States, with far smaller reason to fear foreign attack, is close to a state of martial law, if not actually under a Cheney Dicktat.

    And so this 230 page long report by HRW, whose publications about the United States in the last six months are thin indeed, seems disproportionate.

    Just judge even-handedly.

    Posted in Chavez, hypocrites, international, Venezuela, world news | 2 Comments »

    Wednesday Morning News Roundup

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 20, 2008

    — MI5, the UK’s domestic spying agency (their version of the FBI, as opposed to MI6, which is their version of the CIA) has realized that being gay isn’t a security risk when you’re open about it.

    — Want an easy way to save both energy and money while reducing your carbon footprint? Wash your clothes in cold water. (It’s better for your woolens anyway.) Want to save even more? Use a clothesline or (if clotheslines aren’t a feasible option) a drying rack instead of a dryer. If you have the space for it, drying racks help provide indoor humidity during the winter. Another option is to use the dryer’s lowest heat setting for the minimum amount of time and to air-dry those clothes that aren’t fully dried at the end of the cycle. Your towels might not be as fluffy, but they’ll last longer, as will everything else you launder.

    Thomas Schaller explains why the populism card won’t win and hasn’t won back Dixie for the Democrats (and why Webb’s squeaker of a victory in Virginia is in fact a demonstration of how difficult it is for Democrats to win even in the bluer parts of the old Confederacy). There’s a reason why the GOP’s main tool for electoral dominance over the last four decades is called “The Southern Strategy”.

    Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez met with leaders of the World Jewish Congress last week as part of efforts to boost his country’s relations with the international Jewish community. These relations had been strained by his willingness to criticize Israel for its bombing campaign against Lebanon and his refusal to treat Iran as a pariah state.

    Posted in 2008, Chavez, civil rights, climate change, conservativism, Democrats, energy, environment, gay rights, international, Southern Strategy, Venezuela | Comments Off on Wednesday Morning News Roundup

    The Hostages Speak

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 8, 2008

    A story that’s currently getting big play in the US media is this condemnation of FARC by Marc Gonsalves, one of the two military contractors who had been held by FARC up until last week.

    Interestingly, fellow former hostage Ingrid Betancourt’s publicly thanking Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez for his long-standing efforts on the hostages’ behalf is not getting any US media play that I know of. In fact, the only place I’ve seen it is here:

    As Ingrid Betancourt emerged after six-and-a-half years – sunken and shrivelled but radiant with courage – one of the first people she thanked was Hugo Chavez. What? If you follow the news coverage, you have been told that the Venezuelan President supports the Farc thugs who have been holding her hostage. He paid them $300m to keep killing and to buy uranium for a dirty bomb, in a rare break from dismantling democracy at home and dealing drugs. So how can this moment of dissonance be explained?

    Yes: you have been lied to – about one of the most exciting and original experiments in economic redistribution and direct democracy anywhere on earth. And the reason is crude: crude oil. The ability of democracy and freedom to spread to poor countries may depend on whether we can unscramble these propaganda fictions.


    On 1 March, the Colombian government invaded Ecuador and blew up a Farc training camp. A few hours later, it announced it had found a pristine laptop in the rubble, and had already rummaged through the 39.5 million pages of Microsoft Word documents it contained to find cast-iron “proof” that Chavez was backing the Farc. Ingrid’s sister, Astrid Betancourt, says it is plainly fake. The camp had been totally burned to pieces and the computers had clearly, she says, been “in the hands of the Colombian government for a very long time”. Far from fuelling the guerrillas, Chavez has repeatedly pleaded with the Farc to disarm. He managed to negotiate the release of two high-profile hostages – hence Betancourt’s swift thanks. He said: “The time of guns has passed. Guerilla warfare is history.”

    So what now? Now they claim he is a drug dealer, he funds Hezbollah, he is insane. Sometimes they even stumble on some of the real non-fiction reasons to criticise Chavez and use them as propaganda tools. (See our Open House blog later today for a discussion of this). As the world’s oil supplies dry up, the desire to control Venezuela’s pools will only increase. The US government is already funding separatist movements in Zulia province, along the border with Colombia, where Venezuela’s largest oilfields lie. They hope they can break away this whiter-skinned, anti-Chavez province and then drink deep of the petrol there.

    By the way, Greg Palast debunked the “$300 million” nonsense back in March, yet I haven’t seen any US mainstream corporate media acknowledgement of this.

    Posted in anti-truth, Chavez, Colombia, GOP/Media Complex, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, Oil, terrorism, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

    Fog Versus Facts

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 23, 2008

    If you accept the premise of this article, you’d have to think that Venezuela’s on the verge of collapse due to allegedly dropping light-oil output.

    But if you see the hard facts set out in this article (showing Nigeria purchasing Venezuelan heavy crude) or this one (discussing the Venezuelan victory over Exxon), or this oldie from over a year ago (back when oil was still under $60 a barrel most of the time), you’ll see that Venezuela’s oil industry is doing better than the first article would have you believe.

    Posted in Chavez, economy, energy, environment, Oil, propaganda, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

    The Story They Won’t Tell You

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 10, 2008

    Really, for all the US press’ focus on FARC — and the corresponding pretense that Colombian president and right-wing Bush buddy Alvaro Uribe is some sort of saint even as he goes out of his way to try to destablize to the government of neighboring Ecuador, which is what he says the FARC is trying to do to him — it’s rather interesting that in fact Uribe and his crowd make FARC look like choir boys:

    I mean, sure, back in the day Senator Uribe was considered to be one of the world’s top drug dealers, working for the Medellin cartel and being—how did U.S. intelligence put it?— “a close personal friend of Pablo Escobar.” But that was 1991, this is now, and surely we couldn’t hold a grudge going back to the early 90s (sorry just a little laptop humor!)


    For the record, Colombian paramilitaries are also listed as a terrorist group in the US and Europe. With that in mind, Uribe’s political allies alone make the FARC look like boy scouts. Por ejemplo:

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Busheviks, Chavez, Colombia, conservativism, corruption, cronies, GOP/Media Complex, Latin America, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, projection, propaganda, rightwing moral cripples, totalitarianism, Venezuela | 1 Comment »