Monday, November 24, 2008

Nov 24/08 | Chiseling Away at a Fatally Flawed "Revolution": It is Possible!


New Mayor of Caracas, left, and Governor of Miranda
(with "inhabilitado" Leopoldo Lopez on the right):
To win they chiseled Chavez's popular base
Courtesy of REUTERS

PMBComment: November 23rd (23N) has brought another electoral setback for a thuggish autocrat too smart to do away with the last vestiges of democracy and too obtuse to understand the rumblings and messages from the electorate. After making a regional election all about himself and the renewal of his "XXI century socialism" mandate, Hugo Chávez cannot elude the glaring consequences of these latest contests. Winning the majority of state governorships -17 of 22 contested (with likely challenges in the works) - but losing the key ones - Zulia, Miranda, Carabobo, plus Tachira, Nueva Esparta and the greater Caracas and Sucre municipal districts - cannot be spun as a victory by a man who campaigned as if his life depended on it.

It was in Zulia State that he promised to jail the outgoing governor whose hand picked pupil won, and in Carabobo he threatened "to pull out the tanks" if the opposition won and they did. In Miranda, he campaigned arduously for his perennial sidekick and former VP Diosdado Cabello only to see him lose to Cuban-foe Henrique Capriles, and in Caracas, his close ally Aristobulo Isturiz was defeated by a symbolic representative of the old guard, a former AD militant that only joined the race after Chávez forced his Supreme Court to disqualify the sure landslide bound and Harvard educated Leopoldo Lopez.

The main issue now is how is Venezuela going to function going forward. Hugo Chávez is a mid-level-mediocre-military-man whose sees the world in stark black and white: for him there are only glorious victories or ignominious defeats. He is lousy at sharing power and incompetent as an administrator. Dialogue with opponents is not his forte and I doubt it will come easily to him. Furthermore, a meltdown of public finances has already occurred in Venezuela but was covered-up in the run up to elections. Hiding the truth will only make the remedy and its purveyor all that much more intolerable in the uncertain days to come. We should expect the next few weeks to be tension filled as reality dawns on this uncouth coupster that his power base has be resoundly chiseled by an electorate exhausted of years of confrontation and certain that ruin is around the corner (if not already here).

Those around the world that continue to proclaim that Chávez is popular because of this - or that - should dig into the results of these elections. People can only be fooled part of the time, and only a few can be fooled all of the time. Those leaders in Latin America who have been cowered into complicity and silence should take a page from the defiant and valiant actions of millions of poor Venezuelans who have voted against the will of a ruthless blackmailer. Treating Hugo Chávez as anything but a seriously dangerous and increasingly unpopular leader would be a mistake. If he chooses to ignore the constitutional consequences of this trouncing I have no doubt that he will squander what little remains of his mandate and a power vacuum will materialize.

For the opposition, and more so for those who wrestled control from the chavismo, the main challenge will be to grab control of unaudited public apparatuses that need to be institutionalized in the midst of what will certainly be a period of fiscal scarcity and dangerous maneuvering by a chastened "revolution".

Venezuela must be congratulated for this against all odds show of faith in democracy. PMB


NOTE: These elections where not observed by that fatuous monstrosity called the Organization of American States and we did not miss them. For all the talk about their prowess in electoral missions it is clear that in kowtowing to Hugo Chavez the member states have negated its reason for existing and made a mockery of its Charter and the much celebrated Democratic Charter.


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nov 22/08 | Entrevista: Pedro Mario Burelli (PMB) sobre Rusia, América Latina, EEUU y China

Apoyame Vlad que estoy mal y toma lo que quieras hermano!

Sin comentarios adicionales. PMB



EL UNIVERSAL
Internacional
Caracas, sábado 22 de noviembre, 2008


Pilar Díaz | El Universal

Latinoamérica se perfila como un gran atractivo para Rusia

"Es absurdo pedirle a Moscú o a China que se acoplen a las formas capitalistas pero que se limiten a su territorio".

Rusia está incrementando su presencia a escala internacional, en particular en América Latina, terreno considerado históricamente satélite de Estados Unidos.

Para Pedro Mario Burelli, ex director de Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), este incremento se debe a la recuperación a nivel económico e industrial que tiene ese país desde 2000.

-¿Cuáles son las causas del incremento de la influencia de Rusia en América Latina?

-América Latina presenta un mercado atractivo para ciertos rubros en los cuales los rusos tienen algo que ofrecer: metalmecánica, generación eléctrica, minería, petróleo y gas. El interés es lógico y no despertaría tanta sospecha si no fuese porque muchas veces las empresas rusas buscan apoyo gubernamental para transacciones que bien pudieran ser de carácter privado. Quizás una costumbre de los tiempos cuando el Estado lo era todo. Y en el caso de la relación comercial con Venezuela el Estado es todo. Lo que sería absurdo es pedirle a Rusia, o a China, que se acoplen a las formas del capitalismo pero que se queden tranquilitos en los límites de su territorio. Una cosa viene con lo otro.

-¿Están dando Estados Unidos y Rusia pasos para reeditar la Guerra Fría?

-La relación entre ambos será complicada mientras no haya cierta paridad duradera. En la Guerra Fría se operaba bajo la noción de que esta paridad existía aun lo fuese sólo en cuanto a la capacidad mutua de destrucción. Hoy, en paz y en el ámbito comercial y financiero, esa paridad es imposible. Es difícil para los rusos aceptar y profundizar su sentido de inferioridad y desconfianza respecto a Europa, China y sobre todo EEUU. Por su lado, Estados Unidos y Europa están comprometidos tanto a la expansión de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) como a la intensificación de relaciones de todo tipo con los países que un día vivieron tras la llamada "Cortina de Hierro".

-¿Qué consecuencias tienen para América Latina la propuesta estadounidense de colocar un sistema de antimisiles en Polonia y la respuesta de Rusia de colocar los suyos en Kaliningrado?

-La batería de misiles en Polonia es quizás el irritante más visible, aun cuando quizás tenga menos carga emocional que la pérdida de influencia de Moscú en Kiev y Tbilisi. Lo que pasa con el sistema antimisiles es que Moscú no termina de estar convencido de que no está dirigido contra Rusia y EEUU no ha podido convencer a muchos, inclusive fuera de Rusia, de la lógica y efectividad de este sistema defensivo. Veremos cómo afronta este tema la administración de Obama. El retruque ruso de instalar misiles en Kaliningrado es una forma algo tosca de poner este tema de primero en la compleja agenda bilateral Rusia-EEUU.

-¿En qué países de América Latina se observan rezagos de la herencia soviética?

-Diría que filosóficamente solamente en Cuba y con sus matices. La caída de la URSS fue humillante para muchos de sus acólitos en la región y realmente sería un poco cuesta arriba ir por la vida pregonando las bondades del sistema soviético. Eso por cierto no ocurre ni siquiera en la muy capitalista Rusia. Lo que sorprende es que sea en Venezuela donde se intente resucitar ese fiambre. El petróleo da excesivo poder al Estado y por lo tanto los modelos estatistas tienen algo de resonancia por más absurdos que hayan demostrado ser. Al no tener ningún otro país de la región la estructura económica de Venezuela, lo que sí se está reeditando es la noción de un Estado que intenta rodearse de satélites que le son fieles y dependientes. Sin embargo, se requiere mucha más destreza y un discurso mucho más equilibrado para lograr un objetivo tan desfasado.

-¿Cómo ha evolucionado la relación Venezuela-Rusia?

-Es una relación fascinante. Hasta los incidentes del Cáucaso en agosto yo me hubiese atrevido a decir que la relación estaba bastante alicaída. La penúltima visita de Chávez a Moscú, que ocurrió justo antes del conflicto en Osetia del Sur, no fue muy productiva. El punto principal de la agenda impuesta por Moscú a un Presidente que por quinta vez se autoinvitaba era la firma de un tratado de cooperación militar que daría mejor cobertura a Rusia en el tema de sus ventas de armas a Venezuela. Ambos países son signatarios de tratados de no proliferación en el tema de armas de guerra y los rusos claramente se preocuparán de las consecuencias de la relación nada santa entre Chávez y las FARC. Chávez no quiso firmar unos acuerdos que le darían a Rusia elementos importantes de control sobre el destino de los sistemas comprados por Venezuela. La posición rusa fue firme en esto y Chávez, quien temía la reacción pública en Venezuela a dicho tratado, sintió la frialdad de los rusos en pleno verano.

-¿Y qué pasó entonces?

-Vino lo de Georgia y Rusia se vio aislada como consecuencia del repudio global ante el pobre manejo que dieron a lo que claramente fue una provocación de Saakashvili. Venezuela aprovechó la oportunidad para demostrar su "fidelidad" a Moscú, y ahí se produjo el giro. A su regreso de China el presidente Chávez pide visitar Rusia de nuevo y ahí se entrega de pies juntitos a los rusos, que no podían creer lo que oían. No sólo estaba dispuesto a firmar el "humillante" acuerdo militar que le ataba las manos, sino que estaba dispuesto a endeudar a Venezuela para seguir comprando armas que antes se jactaba de comprar en efectivo y, más importante, se comprometió a abrir múltiples áreas de inversión para empresas estatales y privadas que llevaban años dándose contra la pared en áreas estratégicas como el gas, el petróleo, bauxita y oro. En un período increíblemente corto, Chávez pasó de ser un irritante para Putin a ser un tonto muy útil para Dmitri Medvedev. En el camino, Venezuela puede haber pasado de ser un clavo que los rusos ponían en el zapato gringo, a una casi colonia rusa. Me imagino que en el lenguaje displicente del chavismo esto hace de Chávez un soberano pitirruso.

-¿Cómo cambiará el presidente electo de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, la relación de fuerzas en América Latina? ¿Se apoyará en socios como la Unión Europea?

-Hay mucha expectativa de cambio en el mundo con la Presidencia de Barack Obama. Sin embargo, no creo que la política de Obama para la región sea muy diferente que lo que vimos en los últimos cuatro años de la administración de George W. Bush. La primera razón es porque no hay un céntimo en el presupuesto estadounidense para financiar ninguna iniciativa importante en la región. La segunda es que la política cambió entre el primer período y el segundo de Bush. De un continuismo irreflexivo en el tema del Libre Tratado de las Américas a un enfoque más bilateral y más enfocado en temas de justicia social, con múltiples países de tendencias muy distintas. Para esto hay que ver la relación de Brasil con Estados Unidos. De hecho, en su conversación con Obama el presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva se despidió diciéndole que esperaba tener una relación con él tan buena como la que tiene con George W, Bush. Eso dice mucho y debería ser ponderado por Miraflores.

-¿Cómo se vislumbra el poderío de China ante una Rusia que pretende levantarse como potencia competidora de EEUU?

-Aun cuando la relación entre Rusia y Estados Unidos es la que captura la mayoría de los titulares, para Rusia el verdadero reto lo representa China. Cuando estoy en Rusia siento que hay verdadera envidia y frustración con el éxito que ha tenido la China pos-Mao Zedong. La abundancia de recursos naturales hace muy difícil un modelo racional de mercado y por lo tanto terminamos en un modelo donde lo que prevalece es el autoritarismo y no el brazo coordinador del Estado. Los chinos han sido también más hábiles en entender cómo lograr la paridad sin amenazas ni chantajes. Los vínculos comerciales y financieros entre Estados Unidos y China los condenan a una relación de respeto y beneficio mutuo, y no al sube y baja emocional que es lo que caracteriza la relación infantil de Washington y Moscú.

http://www.eluniversal.com/2008/11/22/int_art_latinoamerica-se-per_.shtml


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nov 05/08 President Obama: Meaning and Opportunity

President Elect Obama: The Look of the Future?

PMBComment: A masterfully run Presidential campaign - including the memorable defeat of the Clinton machine - obliterated the doubts many of us had about the ability of Barack Obama to stay on course, win and lead. The US voters responded across all sorts of divides to the calm style of this young and temperate man. The world, as was expected, cannot believe what they are seeing (read below). The U.S. has once again shown its ability to re-invent itself while remaining firmly loyal to the enduring principles envisioned by its Founding Fathers. Social mobility, political tolerance and fair play are indeed, and beyond doubt, the defining features of a long-tested democratic model that continues to be the center of attention and envy of friend and rational foe.

The same country (and in some cases the same voters) that reelected George W. Bush now opts to change course and bring down many recalcitrant myths in one single blow. Those around the world who have made a habit of propelling their failed models on the basis of the purported ills of a "crumbling Empire" will be forced to retool their spent harangues and focus on solving the incremental problems they have brought upon their impoverished and hoodwinked citizens. Charlatans like Chávez, the Castro brothers, Morales, Correa, Ortega, the Kirchner couple and Ahmadinejad might rejoice at the end of the Bush Presidency, but they will make a big mistake if they think the U.S. voters and the new President-elect will be more inclined to accept their shenanigans. Human rights abusers and reckless populists are prone to miscalculation and I do not see President Obama betraying the principles that underpinned his rise to power by turning a blind eye to the undemocratic deeds of these incompetent and intolerant zealots and autocrats.


President-elect Obama literally has the expectations and hopes of billions on his soon to be occupied desk, may he lead and command with the same skill with which he ran. PMB


Note:
this election was one in which the winner won due to his merits and skillful campaigning, and the loser cannot blame anyone but himself for one of the most disheartening, uninspired and divisive campaigns in recent electoral history. While it is hard to attack a man that has suffered and toiled so hard, it is nevertheless essential to reconnect conservative values to more tolerant political discourse and action. Senator McCain lost an election that could have been his because he chose to pander to a narrow constituency that defies the new look and vibe of this amazing country.

Obama victory sparks cheers around the globe

Published: 11/5/08, 11:46 AM EDT
By JOHN LEICESTER
PARIS (AP) - Barack Obama's election as America's first black president unleashed a renewed love for the United States after years of dwindling goodwill, and many said Wednesday that U.S. voters had blazed a trail that minorities elsewhere could follow.

People across Africa stayed up all night or woke before dawn to watch U.S. history being made, while the president of Kenya - where Obama's father was born - declared a public holiday.

In Indonesia, where Obama lived as child, hundreds of students at his former elementary school erupted in cheers when he was declared winner and poured into the courtyard where they hugged each other, danced in the rain and chanted "Obama! Obama!"

"Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place," South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela, said in a letter of congratulations to Obama.

Many expressed amazement and satisfaction that the United States could overcome centuries of racial strife and elect an African-American as president.

"This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten," Rama Yade, France's black junior minister for human rights, told French radio. "America is rebecoming a New World.

"On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes," she said.

In Britain, The Sun newspaper borrowed from Neil Armstrong's 1969 moon landing in describing Obama's election as "one giant leap for mankind."

Yet celebrations were often tempered by sobering concerns that Obama faces global challenges as momentous as the hopes his campaign inspired - wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the elusive hunt for peace in the Middle East and a global economy in turmoil.

The huge weight of responsibilities on Obama's shoulders was also a concern for some. French former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Obama's biggest challenge would be managing a punishing agenda of various crises in the United States and the world. "He will need to fight on every front," he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped the incoming administration will take steps to improve badly damaged U.S. ties with Russia. Tensions have been driven to a post-Cold War high by Moscow's war with U.S. ally Georgia.

"I stress that we have no problem with the American people, no inborn anti-Americanism. And we hope that our partners, the U.S. administration, will make a choice in favor of full-fledged relations with Russia," Medvedev said.

Europe, where Obama is overwhelmingly popular, is one region that looked eagerly to an Obama administration for a revival in warm relations after the Bush government's chilly rift with the continent over the Iraq war.

"At a time when we have to confront immense challenges together, your election raises great hopes in France, in Europe and in the rest of the world," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a congratulations letter to Obama.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski spoke of "a new America with a new credit of trust in the world."

Skepticism, however, was high in the Muslim world. The Bush administration alienated those in the Middle East by mistreating prisoners at its detention center for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison - human rights violations also condemned worldwide.

Some Iraqis, who have suffered through five years of a war ignited by the United States and its allies, said they would believe positive change when they saw it.

"Obama's victory will do nothing for the Iraqi issue nor for the Palestinian issue," said Muneer Jamal, a Baghdad resident. "I think all the promises Obama made during the campaign will remain mere promises."

In Pakistan, a country vital to the U.S.-led war on the al-Qaida terrorist network and neighbor to Afghanistan, many hoped Obama would bring some respite from rising militant violence that many blame on Bush.

Still, Mohammed Arshad, a 28-year-old schoolteacher in the capital, Islamabad, doubted Obama's ability to change U.S. foreign policy dramatically.

"It is true that Bush gave America a very bad name. He has become a symbol of hate. But I don't think the change of face will suddenly make any big difference," he said.

Obama's victory was greeted with cheers across Latin America, a region that has shifted sharply to the left during the Bush years. From Mexico to Chile, leaders expressed hope for warmer relations based on mutual respect - a quality many felt has been missing from U.S. foreign policy.

Venezuela and Bolivia, which booted out the U.S. ambassadors after accusing the Bush administration of meddling in their internal politics, said they were ready to reestablish diplomatic relations, and Brazil's president was among several leaders urging Obama to be more flexible toward Cuba.

On the streets of Rio de Janeiro, people expressed a mixture of joy, disbelief, and hope for the future.

"It's the beginning of a different era," police officer Emmanuel Miranda said. "The United States is a country to dream about, and for us black Brazilians, it is even easier to do so now."

Many around the world found Obama's international roots - his father was Kenyan, and he lived four years in Indonesia as a child - compelling and attractive.

"What an inspiration. He is the first truly global U.S. president the world has ever had," said Pracha Kanjananont, a 29-year-old Thai sitting at a Starbuck's in Bangkok. "He had an Asian childhood, African parentage and has a Middle Eastern name. He is a truly global president."

___

AP correspondents worldwide contributed to this report.


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