Friday, December 30, 2011

Red page special: when populism sends people up in flames

And thus we end the year with tragedy upon tragedy.  Not only we are apparently now the country in LatAm with the highest crime index but we are also one of the worse ones as far as security on the road.  Today a gas carrying truck fell on the road side, overturned, released gasoline which quickly found a spark.  Apparently at least one kilometer of the Panamerican highway between Los Teques and Caracas burst into flames killing 12 passengers in a bus and a driver in a car,  16 to 20 people were hurt and a few survived because they threw themselves into the bushes down hill until they reached help.  Apparently the public services from cops to fireman were on site as early as possible.  All the Los Teques to Salias area was cut off from Caracas for several hours.

I am not writing to comment on the accident but to wonder how come such disasters are not more frequent.  Surely we must be a country of exceptional drivers to be able to deal with all the obstacles that exist today in Venezuelan roads:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

He didn't say that! Did he? Your Christmas idiot on the loose

Holding a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, as a published scientist of things such as hot springs dwellers, having heard lectures by quite a few Nobel Prizes (received or received post conference), even if I am long retired from the field I get easily infuriated by the like of creationist idiots or totally unscientifically aberrant characters like Chavez today.  They both do the same thing, twist science out of recognition to sponsor their political agenda.  Today Chavez "suggested" that the odds were too high for 4 South American presidents to be stricken with cancer in the same span of time.  Must we believe that the CIA now stands for Cancer Inducing Agency?

In the video below Chavez does indeed do more than merely suggesting that the cancers of Lula, Roussef, Lugo, his own and as of this week Kirchner have no real natural cause and that maybe in 50 years from now we will find out that they were caused by Obama of all people.

First, as a Molecular Biologist by trade I wish we had reached such capabilities of some mystery targeted cancer producing agent (Bruni has an excellent post on how much BS is that Chavez accusation so I am not getting onto the details).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Grinch that keeps trying to steal Christmas

The more time passes, the more Chavez looks like the Grinch (even some would say in his green complexion).  Usually as the holidays approach Chavez tries some media stunt to make sure people do not forget about him, but this year he reached a new level.  It is not that what he did benefited him much, I think it will be counterproductive, but it is worth  reporting because it describes perfectly the advanced degree of mental decomposition that an obsessively narcissistic personality reaches over time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas post 2011

Well, it is this time of year again, to wish everyone a happy Christmas to Hanukkah or Kwanzaa as the case may be.  But no vacation again as politics will keep coming our way in Venezuela.  True, it will slow down some as Chavez will use the holidays to get more secretive therapy, the opposition knowing that nobody reads papers (when published as some stop publication altogether until mid January 9, including El Pais for the comment section I participate!) will prefer to do door to door activities and be seen at any live nativity scene available, though sitting governors will be giving stuff away as if they were Chavez, but a live one.

Thus it will be a good time to take stock and write less often but on more general stuff, trying to get some of the perspective that may have been lost in recent weeks of a stressful end of year.  For news junkies, I probably will be posting more of the eventual newsy stuff  on the Facebook pendant of this blog, Interpretando Venezuela (though I will watch for any political Christmas Miracle for here).  Facebook is quicker in holiday mood as the link is up there fast (if I can mange to make it work on my Berry), and there is only need for a short comment from my part while you can add all the comments you can possibly wish to write, without moderation.  Thus even if you do not read Spanish check it out and point it out to your Spanish speaking friends.

As I will be travelling I probably will not show up until the 25th so have a good Christmas eve in Venezuela and most of Europe and LatAm, and an excellent Christmas day in the UK and North America.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Medina at El Ciudadano

And to close the cycle of El Ciudadano interviews the old warrior came to the show.  As I was watching Pablo Medina, the sixth Unidad presidential candidate I was thinking about Diego Arria.  In a way they are very similar, and I am not referring to their desire of calling for a constituent assembly.  No, they come from other times and both are reminding us of what was good in the decried "4th Republic".  Maybe Arria had all the options, maybe he made a success of himself, but Pablo Medina, trade Union warrior before Chavez came to wreck it all, is also a product of those days, where for many core ethics and personal responsibility did not depend on how successful you were.

Pablo Medina has made many errors in his political life, something he freely and refreshingly acknowledged tonight.  But yet his message surprised me by a renewed freshness and candor from his part.  Watching him and knowing that there is no chance in a frozen day at hell that he will win next February (he may not be last, though) I still was drawn in his arguments.  After all he is admirable in that he is able to learn from his errors, that even though he belonged to the Constituent Assembly of 1999, he was one of the first ones to break up completely with the chavista system (he admitted never having liked Chavez but following at first in the perceived need for an initial collaboration to change the system, another one of his errors).  The man tonight, from all fights in the Guyana labor struggle, CausaR, PPT and what not has learned that free enterprise is the only way to create real prosperity, that in spite of all of its excesses it is still much better than whatever crap Chavez is trying to do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama gives an interview to Caracas El Universal

President Obama has given an interview to nothing less than El Universal of Caracas.  Possibly because it is the lone Venezuelan paper with an English Venezuelan section, so the guys at the White House would be sure that the message came free of interference.  No need to comment on the interview, it is self explanatory in that Chavez international standing is, well, lowest than ever (and his support to recently croaked Kimmy is not going to help).  He is an annoyance, maybe dangerous, but Chavez will never be respectable, never worthy of a deal since he cannot be trusted on anything.  I mean if a Liberal Democrat thinks so lowly of Chavez.......
English version.
Spanish version.

Lopez at El Ciudadano

[UPDATED]  The good thing about this post is that it will be short.  Lopez did what he had to do, be firm, focused, with a vision.  No matter how hard the Ciudadano tried (I do not think he tried that hard), Leopoldo remained focused.

In short Lopez went on a lengthy explanation on his "security" proposal, trying to make it not to sound too right wing by including, adequately, that increased security of all will also pour its benefits in other sections of the economy and society.  Since the interview started with the Ciudadano questioning his trip to Colombia to meet Uribe, Lopez pointed out that the "economic miracle" of Colombia in the recent years could not have been possible if Uribe had not put some order int he country.  Thus brilliantly dodging the issue, including an idiotic attack by Diosdado Cabello today.

Otherwise there were two highlights in the presentation.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Electoral stunts

Uribe and Lopez
One funny thing about primary electoral campaigns is that they tend to be full of stunts, more than general elections who need a little bit more of composure.  But when you trail in the polls and you have nothing to lose anymore, you either go to The Hague, or closer and cheaper, meet with Uribe in Bogota.

These stunts need not be a bad thing and actually do help focus the issues sometimes.  If going to The Hague was, for Venezuela today, useless, it was a good way to remind folks that the Chavez administration is a criminal one that has committed enough felonies to deserve at least a judicial investigation.  No poll yet has published whether Diego Arria benefited from that trip but he sure made a few headlines and forced the PSUV to reply even if it were to dismiss the stunt.  In other words, the stunt did anger chavismo which is not a bad thing in politics.

Juan Carlos Monedero, otra joya del chavismo

Miguel en su blog nos informa de una entrevista publicada en ABC de España de Juan Carlos Monedero, esa joya del chavismo, uno de los "intelectuales" que dirigen el Centro Internacional Miranda, esa cosa que trata de darle algo de sentido al socialismo del siglo XXI y que a decir verdad ha sido de lo mas discreto en estos ultimos dos años, a medida que ahora unicamente la opinion del Supremo cuenta.  En fin, las respuestas que dio Miguel me dejaron algo insastisfecho, y ademas con la necesidad de poner tambien algo en español para que nadie se lo pierda, señalando a ese farsante chupa dolares (o euros?).  ¡Ah!  Se me olvidaba, como la Golinger en el New York Times, el tipo en los comentarios de la entrevista escribe que la entrevista fue mal editada.  ¡Es que creen que uno es bolsa!

Puse un texto en ABC pero aqui abajo me permito ponerlo otra vez para que ustedes lo puedan disfrutar tambien:

A Juan Carlos Monedero

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shake it, baby! Shake that PSUV tree!

I have lost much interest in following the inner works of chavismo.  I do not mean to say by that that what happens inside chavismo is not important but it is now so clouded in mystery, so dependent on Chavez whims, so perturbed by his disease that there is just too much speculation and garbage to sort out before one can begin to understand what is going on.  Besides, we already know anyway: rule1, Chavez is the boss; rule 2, Chavez is the only boss, rule 3, Chavez is way above anyone else; rule 4 you better stay quiet and rule 5, if you do not stay quiet, if you bring the slightest of a hint of a shade on the bright glory of Chavez, expect the worst and be thankful for it.  The list of people that were tossed to the garbage since Chavez is in office is now too tedious to count, only the list of the few ones that were dug out from the trash is worth any interest.

You will thus be forgiving of my slight coverage on these issues in the past few months, much preferring to write on the dynamics of the opposition primaries.  But on occasion I have to come back to it and even ride Miguel's approach, as good as any speculation you may find around, and probably much better as way less hysterical.  Because, let's face it, are you not tired sick of the constant waves of rumors about Chavez health, more than likely now totally orchestrated from Miraflores Palace so we discuss that rather the myriad of problems harassing our daily existence?  At the top of Chavez disease I barely participated in them and now I simply erase any mail or tweet on that.  Call me when he finally croaks.

But this week shake up was a tad too much to ignore.  So, no speculation from me but rather a tentative explanation of why such things are happening and why they will keep happening, at least until next March.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Arria at El Ciudadano

It is more difficult to evaluate the interview of tonight as we were clearly playing in a different league.  Not major or minor league, just a league next country, almost.  First, El Ciudadano was interviewing a candidate more to his generational standard: the conversation was almost intimate, between two pals commenting on the state of the country behind a cup of coffee.  Second, it was much more about a diagnosis of the country than an actual government plan.  And third, Arria has been around the globe several times.

I suppose that the versatility of the Ciudadano, his desire not to appear to endorse anyone made him find a way, for the fourth time in a week, to allow the interview to play on the strength (or alleged weakness) of a given candidate.  On this respect, kudos for the man as he is indeed a better journalist (or manipulator as some would say) than I knew him already to be.  And yet, for all of this coziness the interview had a few telling highlights as Diego Arria managed clearly to cast a doubt on the other candidates vision.  Without naming a single one he successfully exposed their basic weakness: the pretense that all will be fine and that chavismo will let them serve their 6 year term.  Well, rather Perez and Capriles I should say though I should say that Machado seems quite sure to serve her own full term.....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dudamel versus Serenata Guyanesa

A very nasty comment by "anonymous" in my post on Xmas music make me take the unusual step or publicly replying as an excellent opportunity to measure the survival of artists in fascist regimes like our own today.

Machado at El Ciudadano

Well, what can I say? If the only three candidates were HCR, PP and Maria Corina Machado and the vote tomorrow I would vote for her without batting an eye.  Trailing in the polls, really hard pressed by an unusually aggressive Ciudadano in the first part of her visit, she put all of that on the side and was able to draw her vision of the country.  You may agree with her, or not, but you cannot deny that the woman knows what she wants and that at this stage she does not care whether people think she is right.  She knows she is and she knows her mission goes beyond the current electoral context.  I  have always been a sucker for Cassandra like politicians and let's say it: she was thatcherian tonight.

But one better, actually, because she has some genuine compassion to go with it.  Her best moment may have been when the Ciudadano told her dismissively that all candidates promised such stuff and she looked straight at him and said " but they believe it when it comes from me".
Ciudadano: Eso se lo dicen todo el mundo, Maria Corina [dismissive hand gesture follows]
Machado: Nooo, eso es verdad; pero a mi me lo creen

That is what you call aplomb.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Christmas present to yourself

I have a suggestion for your Christmas this year, at least if you live in Venezuela.  Do yourself a favor and get this strange compilation "Navidades Venezolanas".  Apparently somebody had the good idea to get the copyrights (buy? steal? we are in Venezuela after all) of some of the best known Venezuelan Christmas music.  The real stuff for us, no Silent Night or Jingle bells here!  The version chosen might not be the best ones (I question at least one medley) but the overall result is very, very satisfying (including the Nancy Ramos version of Guanaguanare).

You get Burrito Sabanero, El Niño Jesus Llanero, Corre Caballito (one of the greatest Xmas song ever if you ask me, by the unmatched and unmatchable Serenata Guayanesa), the now classical Niño Lindo, etc...

And of course, as you shop get the Christmas album El Cuarteto en NocheBuena of a few years ago.  THE BEST Xmas album in any country.  OK, I am prejudiced but try to prove me wrong. (already reviewed here in 2004).

Ref: ICRecords PALACIO, 2011, CD-66720, FD-260-2011-648 Aeromusica barcode 7 591476 113224

Perez at El Ciudadano

Tonight the second Unidad candidate, Pablo Perez, took the stand at El Ciudadano.  Takign the stand may be a tad strong since both El Ciudadano and Pablo Perez are from Zulia state and no matter how hard they tried the atmosphere was more relaxed than during the first of the series, the visit of Capriles last Monday.  this caveat being advanced it still was a real interview, a one hour chance to say to the country why Perez wants to be president.

The good news is that the format is definitely better and that hard questioning by El Ciudadano (making us try to forget the usually inane question of his side kick Peñaloza) gave us a better image of Perez than this blogger had.  A much better image actually.  The bad news is that I still cannot erase from my mind that him like Capriles would benefit of another 4 years at the head of their state before becoming president.  There is that je ne sais quoi missing still.  And yet that cannot stop me from writing that the opposition has the luxury to be able to pick between several great candidates, unlike the GOP in the US who seems unable to embrace the lone serious candidate they have as Moises Naïm has reported in El Pais.  But I digress.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brazilian Imperialism at play: Marco Aurelio Garcia is at it again

Chavez's man in Brazilia?
Marco Aurelio Garcia is a shadowy figure that intermittently occupies the forefront of Brazilian politics since Lula was elected 9 years ago.  He comes from the left but that has not stopped him from embracing Brazilian imperialism, the more so if that one will secure his vision of the world.  His role in supporting Chavez no matter what and making Venezuela a Brazilian dependency needs no further detail.  And with great courtesy he reminds us today that this is still his plan, that Chavez is good for Brazil even if he is not good for Venezuelans.  But Marco Aurelio Garcia is not well known for his democratic initiatives, unless someone is willing to prove me wrong.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

UCV: the results are in

In spite of all the trouble of last Friday the Central University of Venezuela finished counting the student votes.  And chavismo was trashed, TRASHED!  Amusing details next.

Chavez in heavens/paradise (lapsus brutis from the Nazional Guard?)

This one will have to be listed in the chapter of "truth is stranger than fiction".  Click for full effect.

Tal Cual regales us with this recent painting that has been hung in the Nazional Guard headquarters of the Andes region (San Cristobal).  Besides the obvious, that we do not know exactly whether Chavez is in heavens or paradise (same difference for many), we cannot help wonder if it is not a classical betrayal from the sub-conscious of the Nazional Guard in charge as to the coming demise of Chavez.  Still, for fun, let's do a little art criticism, or deconstructionism if you will, to try to understand whatever is going inside the strange neuronal connections of these people.

Capriles at El Ciudadano

El Ciudadano is the flagship talk show of Globovision, from 5PM to 8 PM.  The political who'swho of Venezuela has to go through its demands, like it or not.  Chavistas have stopped going there years ago because, see, the guests receive unfiltered phone calls from the audience which can be quite nasty on occasion.  Yet, the strength of the show is in its anchor, Leopoldo Castillo, who is tough but fair, not tolerating nonsese or "guabineo" (dodging the issue, failing to give at least a partial answer to a given question).  Hate it or love it, it is the one and it has privileges that no other talk show has.  Such as organizing a one hour for each candidate of the Unidad starting tonight with Henrique Capriles Radonski (HCR).  None will miss the date (then again all have gone there at some point so they are used to it and not afraid anymore).

I am not promising to watch all of them but I'll try to do so and give as brief a possible a comment on that because, well, there are bound to be better to know the candidates than the stupid debates we have been subjected to so far.  Unfortunately at best a 20% of the population may end up watching the shows because of the hour and because of Globovision limited to cable TV outside of Caracas and Valencia.

Without further ado, let's comment on HCR tonight (remember, I am not even pretending to be objective, but I will try fairness).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why they want to be president

Not to bring a discordant note but with now more than month of primary campaign there are only three candidates that came out clearly as to why they want to be president.  Interestingly they are still the same three that were clear on that matter in October and still my three favorites: Maria Corina Machado, Diego Arria and Leopoldo Lopez.  You may disagree with their vision of the country and the future but you cannot deny them that they have at least a vision for something greater.

There are at least two other candidates that I would love to hear from them something as clear and concise as the three named above.  You know who you are.


Guanaguanare es un extraño villancico, lleno de la tristeza de la separacion si escuchan la exquisita sobriedad de Jesús Ávila, o el consuelo algo mentiroso de la versión navideña de Nancy Ramos. Y sin embargo es delicadamente evocador de la calma de las mañanas en Sucre, si han tenido la suerte de disfrutarlas, una calma como no la he sentido nunca en otro mar.


Guanaguanare is an odd Christmas song, full of the pathos of longing if you listen to the exquisite sobriety of Jesus Avila, or fake merry Christmas spirit, but consoling, if you consider the Nancy Ramos version. And yet it is exquisitely atmospheric if you have had the luck to wake up more than once in Sucre where the morning calm is the calm I have never felt elsewhere.

I have to admit that this week end, as I am dusting off my Christmas music, it is hitting a raw nerve.  Thus work strange associations who make a single song suddenly embody all that is wrong with your surroundings.  Of course, it is a sad coincidence that this magic tune includes the name of the city Guanare where this week the most ugly aspects of misery came up as flotsam. But that flotsam was brought upon us by a regime that has really done nothing to protect children rights, gay rights, property rights, basic rights....  We certainly cannot blame the regime of the machismo, homophobia, disregard for the weak that are the sad heritage of our history.  But we can blame it from having paid lip service at best while it made it all the worse in its pursuit of power, and money, and materialism, which now reign supreme.

And to finish it all up last night the fascist thugs set aflame the "house that defeats the shadow" while today in yet another obscene cadena the tyrant of our spirit played with a little boy in military drag.

But Jesús Ávila leaves us a consolation:

Tenue es la luz y alegre la alborada

Friday, December 09, 2011

Leopoldo Lopez and the reality

Two days ago I did not think that I was getting the idea of a theme: how politicians deal with reality in Venezuela.  But today, with a High Court (TSJ) idiotic, unfair, unconstitutional ruling and the coincidence of a new ad launched by the team of Leopoldo Lopez we get a new opportunity to discuss what is really at stake.

Globovision has been fined for doing its job during the jail revolt at El Rodeo last June.  Besides noting that no one else of the media that was covering the event was fined or even questioned, Globovision not only got a fine that will put in the Chapter 11 bench, but also its workers were rather copiously accused of all sorts of things on the state media, without any right of reply whatsoever.  Not only Globovision refuses to pay the deadly fine and is using all of the means to appeal, but its workers signed on their own a recourse that they submitted to the TSJ as to their victim status in all of this mess.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

VN&V en Facebook: Interpretando Venezuela

Pues bien, me rendí a Facebook y abrí una página alli para el blog. Pero hay razones.

Para empezar mucha gente le gusta Facebook, algo que no entiendo muy bien pero algo que es verdad (todavía me cuesta digerir Twitter aunque estoy avanzando algo en ese asunto, a pesar mio).

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pollster Keller throws a big stone in everybody's pond

My favorite pollster (which is not saying much), and apparently Globovison's official one now, has just published his latest findings, from the first two weeks of November field work.  In other words, we can call that one the first significant poll since the primary campaign of the Unidad started though it certainly will not asses the impact of the first debate, and even less the second one.

The good news is that there is no surprise.  The end of the "I am sick" effect of Chavez is coming and people are getting back to their everyday misery.  As such Chavez numbers are starting to go south again.  The bad news, if you will, is that there is still that 30%+ hard core chavista that will vote for him no matter what depraved action he may commit.  But so do work cults and chavismo today is a cult whose high priests are the ones gaining wealth through corruption.  Or something like that, I am stopping to care as the effect is the same: a destroyed country.  But I digress, let's get back to the poll highlights.

Arria and the reality

I feel sorry for us as a country when I hear Diego Arria and the non-response he gets.  Last night for example Alo Ciudadano took great pains to explain that we needed to make a campaign plan of solutions, inclusion and what not, from El Ciudadano himself to Ramon Guillermo Aveledo as his main guest.  I do not mean to defend Arria here, he does go overboard in his anti Chavez campaign even if he is quite justified in doing so.  What concerns me here is that we are having two sides opposing each other more and more inside the Unidad and that if the situation is not controlled adequately we could lose it all.  If according to the Unidad spokespersons the solution is not to follow Arria, it certainly is not the one offered by Capriles and Perez, pretending all is fine and easily fixable.  All is not fine.

Yes, I know, I have been ranting about that a lot, but the more the campaign advances, the more the country spirals into final decomposition, the more I think that Arria is closer from the truth than Capriles.  Or rather that both are wrong.

Monday, December 05, 2011

What to look for in a debate: a cold eyed perspective

I have an urge to yet again revisit this subject because last night I noticed quite a little bit of partisanship.  Even though I have low activity in Twitter-land I still get enough re-tweets and stuff to observe that for example Maria Corina Machado generates all sorts of passions, from the bitterly negative approach of Jose Guerra who makes his own support of Capriles look the support from Caracas Chronicles almost an objective one, to the near ringing endorsement of whatever she says by Garcia Mendoza of the BVC.

The second debate non debate

Since I twitted it live (@danielduquenal) I have no desire to go overboard on comment.  A quick item by item to let you know why I think Leopoldo Lopez won tonight.

Two polls for fun

On the right I put up two polls for fun.

One pre debate that closes at 9:30 PM as to whom you think will "win".  And the other open longer as to who do you think did "win" after all.

AGAIN: this is for fun, as the nature of the show is really not to destroy each other, not a real debate to the kill.  We just want to express who do we think accounted for hismelf or her the best.

Debate tonight

The Unidad candidates are holding their second debate tonight.  And of all places at Venevision who is either sensing the wind shifting or is goign to sabotage the event for Chavez.  After all, let's face it, Venevision has been working for chavismo more or less directly since 2007.  But let's give them the benefit of the doubt tonight, hoping that they finally found their way to Damascus.  And thank them for taking the risk, becasue in Venezuela ti is a risk, to show nation wide 2 hours of opposition talk to a country where at lest 40% of the people have not heard anything straight and live from an anti Chaevz point of view.  Enjoy it becasue it may well be your only chance if the debates head back to the Globovision cableTV ghetto.

There will be two novelties compared to last time.  It will be more professional from a major network and it will be coming from journalists that will this time around ask the questions instead of the students.  Somehow I am doubtful that the chosen journalists will do a better job.  But gain, let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

And there will be one major change as this time around we will have 6 guys since Pablo Medina will be allowed to join the other five, Arria, Perez, Lopez, Radonski and Machado.

I do not know how good I can be at that but I will try to do a live twitter following so if you have no access to Venevision you may always try me at @danielduquenal .  I promise not to tweet more than every ten minutes average, when and if something significant happens.  Starts at 9 PM Venezuela time.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Raul at the summit?
Sometimes stuff is still born, no matter how desperately the parents of the creature try to breathe life in it.  We saw such another sad spectacle this week-end in Caracas where, minus Lula, Chavez alone could not manage to give life to that silliness that was "born" a couple of years ago in Cancun: the CELAC or in English, the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean States.

All was not wasted for Chavez, he got an ego boost, he repeated N+1 times that he was cured, he put up a show for the 30% of us that are congenitally unable to see any fault in him.  This being said the rest of Venezuela made fun of the whole thing, when not outraged not only at the expense but at the inconvenience for Caracas to hold such an event.  After all, Chavez went to the extent to cancel Baseball Venezuelan League games and give public workers the day off Friday in a desperate effort to unclog somewhat the streets of Caracas.  That did not stop a pot banging event of some resonance to take place in Caracas Friday at 8 PM.  Certainly he did not fool any foreign visitor because, you know, they get reports from the embassies including Consuls shot in the crime wave to scarcity of food and the hours lost in a car for any errand.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Foreign Policy top 100 thinkers of the year

What better way to start commemoration and list month (December) than noting the magazine Foreign Policy top 100 thinkers.  Only two Latino Americans made it, and a well deserved choice: Yoani Sanchez and our very own Teodoro Petkoff.  Two anti Castro and anti Chavez thinkers.  And in the list try to find one who seriously would consider defend Chavez or Castro.
ERRATA: although I scanned the list twice I missed Dilma Roussef in it.  So I suppose that I was wrong in assuming that no one in that list would defend Castro or Chavez.  Not that she will necessarily be willing to do so since she is less keen on be seen with Chavez than Lula was, but she will defend Brazil big business in Venezuela and if it means hugging Chavez publicly once a year as she did yesterday, so be it.  Yet, considering her rather significant reversal on Lula support to Iran, I have still hope that she will dump Chavez when necessary.