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Monday, May 21, 2018

Cuba: Ignored Warnings

CUBA

Ignored Warnings

The Mexican plane company involved in the worst Cuban air disaster in 30 years over the weekend had received prior safety complaints for poor maintenance of its machines, two ex-pilots told the BBC.
The Mexican company Damojh leased both the crew and the Boeing 737 that crashed on Friday about 12 miles south of Havana to Cuba’s state-run airliner, Cubana. Over the weekend, however, it emerged that the leased plane was nearly 40 years old and was barred from being used in Guyana’s airspace due to crews overloading the cabin with luggage, the BBC reported.
Pilots who had previously worked for Damojh also complained about a lack of proper maintenance, and some crewmembers refused to fly with the company out of safety concerns.
Meanwhile, Cuba’s transportation minister announced Saturdaythat five children, as well as 10 evangelical priests and their spouses, were among the victims of the crash, bringing the official total to 110.
Cuban authorities are still combing through the wreckage, but they announced that one of the plane’s “black boxes” that recorded flight data was salvaged in good condition.

Venezuela: Plight of the Weary

VENEZUELA

Plight of the Weary

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro won a second term Sundayin a vote boycotted by the opposition, and one condemned by the international community as heavily rigged as a worsening political, economic and humanitarian crisis grips the country.
Turnout was anemic – less than half of all eligible voters went to the polls – delivering Maduro a win with 68 percent of the vote. In the past two presidential elections, turnout topped 80 percent.
President Maduro was quick to celebrate the win, but the vote symbolized just how jaded Venezuelans have become with political change in their country, the New York Times reported.
In the five years since Maduro took office, inflation in one of the world’s most resource-rich nations has ballooned to 13,000 percent and a small portion of meat now costs a monthly salary. Hunger is widespread, and medicine and other necessities are scarce.
The United States and other countries have already indicated they won’t recognize the results of the elections because Venezuelan electoral authorities had barred the nation’s largest opposition party from competing, jailed activists and politicians and moved up the campaign season by seven months to ensure that other candidates had little time to prepare.
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Venezuela: Force And Change

VENEZUELA

Force and Change

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro learned politics under Hugo Chavez, the socialist firebrand who served as the South American country’s leader from 1999 until his death in 2013. Chavez was democratically elected, but Canada’s Globe and Mail described him as an authoritarian who brooked little dissent in the media, the courts or elsewhere.
Today, as Maduro faces re-election on Sunday, Chavez’s legacy lives on.
It turns out Maduro has a good chance of winning a second term, but not because of his policies.
The Venezuelan economy is a mess. Famine stalks the nation – a needless tragedy in a resource-rich country. Last year, Maduro abolished the opposition-led Congress with the blessing of his allies on the Supreme Court, but reversed his decision after civil unrest exploded in response to his brazen move to consolidate power. Three-million Venezuelans have emigrated rather than live under a strongman who rules a collapsing country.
“It’s a story of epic mismanagement,” said John Oliver accuratelyon his weekly HBO news-satire show.
Maduro is competitive in an election where he should lose in a landslide for two reasons.
First, he’s rigged the electoral system, argued Washington Post opinion writer Francisco Toro. “Virtually everyone expects him to ‘win’ on Sunday through a combination of vote buying, coercion, blackmail and ballot-stuffing,” Toro wrote.
Second, because the system is rigged, opposition parties are boycotting the election, Reuters reported.
The news agency quoted college student Ana Romano, who saw campaign workers in Maduro’s Socialist Party “assisting” voters in polling booths – allegedly a form of voter intimidation – and Socialist government officials keeping polling places open long after closing time to help their party’s get-out-the-vote efforts.
“I don’t want to have anything to do with this upcoming election,” Romano said.
As a result, Maduro’s main rival, former solider and provincial governor Henri Falcón – also a former Chavez devotee – is working hard to court his own supporters as well as those of Maduro and other candidates. Falcón’s pitch is hopeful: The system is corrupt, but the people will prevail.
“If an avalanche of votes is produced it could swamp any electoral condition,” Vicente Díaz, a government opponent, told the Wall Street Journal.
Amherst College professor Javier Corrales agreed in a New York Times op-ed. “By failing to vote, the opposition will waste the only chance in years to break this dictatorship,” he wrote.
Still, anticipating the worst, the US is already preparing new sanctions on Venezuela’s crucial oil industry, said CNBC. Those would be on top of sanctions that Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama already imposed on the country.
New sanctions may or may not hurt the already hurting Venezuelan people. They would certainly exert even more pressure to force change.
At what cost, is an open question.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Colombia: FARC And Cocaine Dealing

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/drug-trafficking-threatens-colombias-peace-deal-farc

Friday, May 4, 2018

Venezuela: Seizing Assets

VENEZUELA

Seizing Assets

Venezuela arrested 11 banking executives and announced it would temporarily take control of the country’s leading private bank on Thursday, echoing last month’s sudden arrests of two Venezuelan executives working in the country for US oil major Chevron Corp.
The arrests of the Banesco executives and seizure of the bank’s operations are intended to stop “attacks” against the country’s plunging currency, the bolivar, Reuters cited the government as saying.
President Nicolas Maduro has blamed an “economic war” marshaled by his enemies for hyperinflation and the collapse of the bolivar, but his critics say the problems stem from his incompetence and failed socialist policies.
“We have determined the (executives’) presumed responsibility for a series of irregularities, for aiding and concealing attacks against the Venezuelan currency with the aim of demolishing the Venezuelan currency,” Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab said in a televised press conference where he announced the arrests.
Banesco’s President Juan Carlos Escotet, who lives in Spain, called the arrests “disproportionate,” while Maduro’s political opponents said they were another sign of his turn to authoritarianism.

An Unforgettable Boss In Sao Paulo

An Unforgettable Boss In Sao Paulo
From 1979 to 1980 I was very lucky to work for an Italian man named Eduardo Dielli. He was a great boss who ran a most-successful company. I learned so much working for this incredible man. He was born in Italy. When World War II broke out, he joined the Italian Partisans. He fought bravely against the Nazis. US General Dwight Eisenhower was impressed with his bravery. He gave him a US citizenship. Mr. Dielli could have lived anywhere in the USA. Instead he moved to Sao Paulo and spent the rest of his life there. His favorite saying to employees was:
"If we have a big disagreement on policy, we will still be good friends. But we won't work at the same company."