Thursday, August 6, 2015

Political & Economic Chaos Is Anticipated In Venezuela (August 6, 2015)


Venezuela does not seem to "be going bankrupt gradually anymore. It's going bankrupt much more suddenly," according to an explainer in the Washington Post. Alarmingly, the article suggests that "hyperinflation won't be far away, if it isn't already here." As a consequence, there seems to be a real-time version of a country's brain drain, with headhunters scouring Venezuela for low-cost highly-trained professionals, according to Reuters.  Korn/Ferry, Caldwell Partners, and Stanton Chase among others are having success in finding new recruits. 

The Carter Center has shut down its 13-year-old electoral observation office in Venezuela in order "to concentrate its limited resources in other countries that have solicited its help," according to the Associated Press.  It said it would continue to monitor events in anticipation of the December congressional elections from the center's headquarters in Atlanta. "The Organization of American States and European Union have both expressed interest in sending missions for the December vote" but so far only UNASUR has been invited. 

The Miami Herald publishes a wide-ranging piece and wonders if the evident political chaos is part of the campaign strategy. It quotes the president of the MUD opposition coalition asking, "what is Nicolás Maduro trying to achieve with this perfect storm? Is he looking for social upheaval so he doesn’t have to take on the electoral challenge?” Meanwhile, InterPress publishes a story pegged largely on last week's story about International Crisis Group's report that Venezuela may be entering "an impending humanitarian calamity."

Christian Science Monitor editorial this morning seems to be lagging behind events as it encourages Pres. Obama moves toward "reconciliation" with Venezuela and that reported "talks have come none too soon." Venezuela's Foreign Ministry responded harshly to recent U.S. State Dept. entreaties concerning the upcoming elections.

Missing from most US press are updates on the tension along the Venezuela/Guyana border. Venezuelan diplomats this week said that "US interests have exacerbated the territorial controversy between Venezuela and Guyana over the Esequibo ... The US oil company Exxon Mobil has an excellent capacity to generate territorial conflicts, disturb and worsen countries internal issues," according to Cuba's Prensa Libre.

  • Brazil's Speaker of the lower house in Congress is reviewing options with the opposition to "speed up impeachment" proceedings against Pres. Rousseff, reports Folha do Sao Paulo. Rousseff is now less popular than former Pres. Collor, according to a DataFolha poll. Ironically, the war on corruption "may prove to be the greatest positive legacy of her struggling presidency," according to the Financial Times. In her first term, she allowed a succession of members of her cabinet "to fall on their swords after they became caught up in corruption scandals. Mostly, she refused to defend them." In an interesting twist to their political environs, Brazil's parliament thought it would be timely to vote salary increases for themselves, according to Reuters
  • Netflix's next original series called 3% and is "a bleak, discomfiting look at a future where the great majority of people will never have a taste of the good life," and will be their first piece of original programming produced entirely in Brazil, according to The Verge. Directed by Cesar Charlone (City of God), the plot is that everyone is given one chance to vault themselves from extreme civil disarray into decadence — but only 3% of applicants succeed.
  • A bill that would ease Chile's strict abortion ban moved forward in a health committee in Chile's Congress, according to Reuters. "To become law, the bill will still need to win simple majorities in both the Chamber and the Senate, which could be difficult as the project faces significant opposition in both houses."
  • Mexico’s 2018 presidential campaign is already underway, according to McClatchy.  "Recent midterm elections show that major opposition parties are weak" and high-profile politicians are announcing candidacies including Margarita Zavala, wife of former Pres. Calderon who posted a video offering herself as a consensus candidate.  Current Pres. Peña Nieto is almost halfway through his six-year term.
  • The investigation surrounding the death of Mexican journalist Rubén Espinosa, Nadia Vera and four other women has quickly become politicized with the PRI and their erstwhile partners the Green Party defending the government prosecutors and the PRD, PAN and PT asking for a more independent analysis, according to Proceso. (Late yesterday an arrest had been made, according to the AP and the Guardian.) The Daily Beast offers further details of the crime scene as well as deeper profiles into the victims including human rights activist Nadia Vera.  She had been filmed several months ago by RompeViento TV in which she called women and boys the raw material for organized crime and accused the current governor of the PRI as "privy to what is happening because he is in league with el narco." In a separate story, Proceso reports that journalists are also questioning the legitimacy of the investigation. Colombia's Semana a blogger on Animal Politico continue to press for details on the Colombian national killed in this crime. Mexican police and the Colombian Embassy have identified her but have not yet made her name public (although the Daily Beast story does say her name is Nicole).
  • Mexicans don't believe the official account of 'El Chapo's' tunnel escape, according to the NY Times, and the newspaper offers alternate versions bandied about of Mr. Guzmán’s epic escape. The DEA offered a press release of their own which offered not only a tip-line but also a $5 million reward - and their belief that 'El Chapo' is still in Mexico. Colombia is providing help in Mexico's search for the fugitive after they offered to share the techniques they used to capture drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, according to El Proceso
  • Today, a general labor strike challenges Uruguayan Pres. Tabaré Vázquez for the first time, as labor unions seek higher wages, among other things, according to InfoLatam.
  • The NY Times reports on the general skepticism Cuban youth have about any significant changes in their lives as a result of rapprochement with the U.S. "You asked me what change do I see? Nothing. Just because there’s an embassy over there, it doesn’t change anything." Separately, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen proposes an 'Americans of Conscience' to continue a personal boycott of Cuba while the Washington Times editorial board holds steadfast in favor of a complete boycott of the island nation.
  • The New York Times features ¡Cuba, Cuba!, "an ambitious" exhibit from the International Center of Photography that shows how photography in Cuba has changed over time. The curator says that, “Cuba is perceived as a place of nostalgia in the American imagination. ... We do not want that image anymore. What this show is trying to do is to make clear for the American audience that Cuba is much more complex."
  • Human Rights Watch says that Bolivia is interfering with their work, according to a press release.
  • A U.S. federal appeals court upheld a ruling that handed Chevron a $96 million award from Ecuador in a decade-long lawsuit, according to The Hill.   

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