Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From our correspondent in South Africa

Reader Armando Tirado sends us these pictures from Johannesburg, during the Brazil Chile.  Apparently he was surprised at the amount of Venezuelan flags or color themed avataras (although in all justice a Venezuelan avatara is not easy to differentiate from an Ecuadoran or Colombian one).

Painted faces to protect the innocent......
This first picture is from a "see you in the Hague" banner, referring to recent leitmotiv launched by Diego Arria hinting at the final destination of Chavez: the International Court of The Hague.  That 50% of the boats seized with drugs in the Atlantic come from Venezuela is not helping his case (UN report).  Armando informs me that that banner was removed after a while, the other banners remaining in place...  You may draw your very own conspiration theory.

The  next one is taken from a banner hanging from the "deluxe" suites, and a very optimist one at that.
Venezuela in Brazil in 2014?  Yeah, right, sure....

And this last one, from Falconianos probably frozen stiff in Johannesburg.  

We shall be looking forwards more pictures from the final games.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An exciting USA Ghana match!

So I relented and I finally watched most of a game.  This afternoon Ghana was playing the USA.  If it was not the greatest soccer around it was still an exciting match, for all the reasons that were missing in, say, the French team games.  That is, both teams put their hearts out, until the very last second of the game, even though the US was visibly exhausted for the prolongation.  Briefly, even though I rooted for the US it was clear that the Ghana team had better control of the situation and deserved to win.  Sorry for the US fans!

And yet, this will be for me a memorable game because it gave us one of those moments when you feel all that is great about soccer-football, all that makes it worth watching it, at least at the World Cup level.

Aerial Goalies
It was the end of the game, the end of the prolongation and the US was trailing 2 to 1.  In the last minutes even the goalie of the US, Howard, abandoned his gate and joined his team in the attack to the Ghana gate.  After all, losing 2 to 1 or 10 to 1 does not make any difference at that level.


And thus we got this stunning image of the two goalies of each team, fighting an aerial battle for the ball.  Awesome!  A spine chilling moment if any!  That is, if you like soccer and understand it, and what was at stake.  Maybe it is becasue I sort of ignored most of this Cup but this moment will be for me the memory of 2010 in South Africa.

Friday, June 25, 2010

France and Italy ignominiously out of the World Cup

From the first set of matches there was a clear indication that there would be a rude battle for the worst team.  People in the know always trusted France to take the un-coveted award, which it did brilliantly.  But the Italians put a good fight for it and deserve clearly the runner up award of worst team of the World Cup, without even the excuses that teams such as North Korea or New Zealand could offer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Letter from Diego Arria to Hugo Chavez

I have no time to translate this letter but it deserves to be widely published.  In it Diego Arria accuses Chavez of being a criminal and tells him he is waiting for him in the International Tribunal at The Hague, the fitting end to any international thug that supports the FARC, the ETA, attacks and robs its own fellow citizens and so many more crimes again Human Rights.  You have to appreciate and admire the courage of Diego Arria because for less, much less than that, people in Venezuela are today sent to jail. (PS: a translation can be found here)
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Teniente Coronel Hugo Chávez Frías
Presidente de la República
Fuerte Tiuna. Caracas

Presidente Chávez

Nuevamente y por ordenes suyas tropas de asalto del INTI y de la Guardia Nacional arremetieron contra mujeres y hombres trabajadores de una finquita naranjera de mi propiedad de apenas 40 hectáreas totalmente desarrollada con ocho mil matas de naranjas y pastos de corte a donde los había trasladado después que usted personalmente hiciera asaltar y saquear La Carolina y dejara en la calle a estos trabajadores-que a pesar de no ser cubanos deberían merecer de usted una mínima consideración.

Le Monde criticizes the selling out of Venezuela to Cuba, Chavez gets revenge by taking away a minor farm of Diego Arria

The grand tour of Diego Arria has certainly infuriated chavismo.  Among other things Diego Arria, ex ambassador to the UN and ex president of the Security Council was received by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and got published in Le Monde, the newspaper of record in France.  In this article French readers will find out how Venezuela has become a neo-colony of Cuba, something that readers of this blog have learned long ago.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Santos gets a mandate

A mandate for what exactly might still be the question, but the 9 million plus votes that Santos got yesterday, better than Uribe in 2006, is a dramatic acceptance of Uribe policies and a desire to keep Colombia in the general road of progress and development that it has experienced in the last 8 years.  Not to mention that the 3 million plus votes of Mockus cannot be qualified at all as an anti Uribe vote.  In fact, the anti Uribe fringes who at the last minute called for abstention cannot claim any success since the abstention grew by barely 4 points, easily attributable to a Sunday where 3 World cup games kept more than a few people at home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why France lost

I am confirmed in my studied ignorance of the World Cup, if anything by the dismal role that France had in its first two games. Even German star Beckenbauer said that the performance of France was unbecoming of a world cup, that there was no team to speak of. That implies no team spirit, no coordination, no skills, every player in their own little corner.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Viva Santos?

Venezuela is so depressing to write about that I prefer to finish up with a brief note my follow up of the Colombian election.

Three weeks ago Santos, the Uribe candidate, confounded all polls and missed to be elected at the first round by not even 4 points.  Antanas Mockus, the darling of the intellectuals, who was riding high in the polls faced a stunning set back when his massive advantaged dwindled fast to barely 21 points.  Why the polls got it so wrong and why Mockus managed so many errors to cost him so much will remain for the history books.  What is more interesting now is to comment on what happened in between the two rounds, about to be done next Sunday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Juangriego news and views

Juangriego, North Margarita Island
I have been away for a needed vacation but unfortunately I cannot really bring back anything that could distract my dear readers from the woes of Zuloaga arrest warrant, the seizure of Banco Federal, the continuing discovery of rotten food, the expired medical supplies found here and there, the rotten food that was sent to Haiti as humanitarian help forcing Dominican Republic to send back, etc, etc…. The stench of a rotting government and the havoc it is bringing to the country can even be seen in Margarita today which had been somewhat preserved from the worst of chavismo.

A trip to Margarita starts with dodging countless potholes between Caracas and Puerto La Cruz, a couple of hours in line under a inclement sun at the ferry terminal (the waiting area is “under renovation” since the Puerto La Cruz chavista mayor recovered it for “le pueblo”), a delayed departure because the Nazional guard searches you for drugs, starting that search only a few minutes before the scheduled departure , and an uncomfortable ride as you must start by looking for a seat that is not too soiled to put your rear end for the trip duration. I do not know how many international tourists still bother with Margarita, but I sure hope for them they take the plane.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Irregular posting for the next two weeks

I will have some time to write but not much time to post it.  We'll see.  And no, I am not watching the world cup.  As I type this late I have not even bothered to figure out whether France beat Uruguay.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An economic debacle picture is worth a 1000 word treatise

Believe it or not, the government published this graph among the diverse excuses it published to justify the end of the swap market [including the lapsus (?) of 4,3 instead of the "official" 2.6.  I suppose it would not have been as aesthetically looking at 2.6...]. And yet, as an indictment of how the Venezuelan economy went awry as oil went down and spending went it up, it cannot be matched.... No comments needed.  Received in my mail box a few minutes ago.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A new definition for paganism

This image of Chavez this Sunday is offensive on so different levels that treatises could be written on it.  And I am not a believer, Roman Catholic or not.

Oh Dear Lord!
Briefly.

World Cup coming, spirits down

Spain?  Nooooo ...... (miserable whimper follows)
The World Cup that matters, the one with a handful of guys running behind a ball to kick it, the game the US of A is unable to understand because it likes scores of 6784 versus 3462 ...

But I am not excited this year, not at all.

First, my team, France, should not have qualified. And I really mean it as I write it. Making it barely against Ireland through a hand foul is less than glamorous. And been defeated by China a few days before the cup starts, well, you know... And being coached by a guy who looks at astrological charts for his players decision is beyond words.  How can you find the heart to root for such a lousy team?

A French man travels to Venezuela

Courtesy of reader NP, this article in French about what you see when you travel to Venezuela today.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another one for the annals of Chavista idiocy

Leaving Buenos Aires
Some of you if not in Venezuela might have noted that most South America countries are celebrating in 2010 our bicentennial.  All have had great plans, prepared long in advance, except of course Venezuela who at the last moment repainted the few avenues through; which the official guest would travel the week of April 19.  We did get a major, and majorly silly, military parade while other countries got new avenues, museums, parks, cultural centers and what not.  Unless of course the 60,000 tons of food rotting in at least three locations were part of the ceremonies.  But I digress.....

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Magical realism" in Venezuela, Chavez talks to his base, Arria talks to the world

Today we got examples of what is effective long term action and what is a mere silly rant.  Let's us start with the later.

Weil's best cartoon ever? A new meaning for "reactionary"

Cartoonist in general are gifted people, able to resume the most complex situations in a devastating drawing with a short caption.  But today Weil goes one step further: he summarizes 11 years of Chavez tenure!


Long time readers of this blog must remember that more than once I have qualified the Chavez regime as a reactionary one, a throw back to the caudillo regimes of the XIX century that Chavez admires so much, secretly wishing that he participated in one of the many "montoneras", the small battles of the time.  We should not be surprised of the result, a country falling backward in time, suffering a massive brain drain.  But Chavez cannot see that: besides being gifted with an overblown ego and cheap charisma, his education is limited, and his understanding of the modern world the more so.  His inability (more than unwillingness) to surround himself with the brightest comes from this lack of real worldly education coupled with his intolerable narcissism: no one can outshine him.  As such he leads the country toward an entity he can understand and think he can manage, an archaic society ruled by outdated principles.

Franklin Brito

You might think whatever you want about Franklin Brito, and you would be right that he is in a way slightly deranged.  But you cannot take from him that he has the courage of his opinions and is willing to die for them.  His case is the case of a citizen that is standing for his rights in spite of all odds.  His farm was seized unjustly, and it was a rather samallish one.  He protested and went in hunger strike at the time when lots of figures did that at the Caracas OAS seat.  Eventually the government offered him an indemnification but Brito wanted justice, not pay off.  The strike was resumed.  The regime pissed at him declared him mentally incompetent (without independent evaluation) and committed him in the Military hospital of Caracas, where even his family had trouble visiting him.  And yet Brito managed to resume his hunger strike and now he is near death, refusing even to take liquids.

There is little we can do for Mr. Brito, though today you can join a protest in front of the Military Hospital in Caracas.  BUT we can at least one of the numerous petitions circulating around.  There is one for you.  Even if the title is ambitious, "one million", let's see if we can get 100 readers of this blog signing up.  That petition is rather complete, even if in Spanish only.  There you have even videos to let you meet Mr. Brito

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