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Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks.

Source: Miami Herald
Cuba prepares for Venezuela disruptions

As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation.

Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.

“If something ugly happens in Venezuela, we are fried like in the Special Period,” said Havana teacher Yadiel Ramirez.

The end of Soviet subsidies in 1991 plunged Cuba into a brutal crisis, shrinking the economy by 33 percent and sparking widespread hunger.

Former top Cuban government economist Jesús “Marzo” Fernandez said close Cuban friends working in Venezuela for that country’s state-owned PDVSA oil company have told him Havana has prepared for a sudden stop in Venezuelan oil imports.

The friends said all oil storage facilities on the island, including those set aside for military, government and strategic reserves, were full to the top as of March 4, Fernandez said. Caracas sends Cuba abour 115,000 barrels per day, two-thirds of its consumption.

“They are preparing? No. They are prepared,” added Fernandez, who now lives in Miami. “They won’t be surprised. The Cubans work with a long-distance view.”

Most analysts remain skeptical of claims by the Venezuelan opposition of Cuban troops arriving in the country in recent weeks to defend President Nicolas Maduro and quell the anti-government protests that have left 25 dead and more than 300 injured.

Opposition activists have published long-distance photos of unidentified soldiers landing in a military airport, and reports of people with Cuban accents beating up anti-Maduro protesters.

Read More @ Source

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks

Cuba prepares for Venezuela energy disruptions | StratRisks.

Source: Miami Herald
Cuba prepares for Venezuela disruptions

As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation.

Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.

“If something ugly happens in Venezuela, we are fried like in the Special Period,” said Havana teacher Yadiel Ramirez.

The end of Soviet subsidies in 1991 plunged Cuba into a brutal crisis, shrinking the economy by 33 percent and sparking widespread hunger.

Former top Cuban government economist Jesús “Marzo” Fernandez said close Cuban friends working in Venezuela for that country’s state-owned PDVSA oil company have told him Havana has prepared for a sudden stop in Venezuelan oil imports.

The friends said all oil storage facilities on the island, including those set aside for military, government and strategic reserves, were full to the top as of March 4, Fernandez said. Caracas sends Cuba abour 115,000 barrels per day, two-thirds of its consumption.

“They are preparing? No. They are prepared,” added Fernandez, who now lives in Miami. “They won’t be surprised. The Cubans work with a long-distance view.”

Most analysts remain skeptical of claims by the Venezuelan opposition of Cuban troops arriving in the country in recent weeks to defend President Nicolas Maduro and quell the anti-government protests that have left 25 dead and more than 300 injured.

Opposition activists have published long-distance photos of unidentified soldiers landing in a military airport, and reports of people with Cuban accents beating up anti-Maduro protesters.

Read More @ Source

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters "We Are Coming For You"; Calls John Kerry A "Murderer" | Zero Hedge

Maduro Warns Venezuelan Protesters “We Are Coming For You”; Calls John Kerry A “Murderer” | Zero Hedge.

As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he “won’t be bullied,” and warning “prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” if protesters don’t “go home within hours.”

  • *VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE ‘HOURS’ TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO
  • *MADURO SAYS HE’LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO ‘LIBERATE’ PROTEST AREAS

With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor – as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soonJohn Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him “a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests.

As Bloomberg reports,

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he will send armed forces to clear barricaded areas if “protesters don’t go home within hours.”

“Prepare yourself, we are coming for you,” Maduro tells soldiers at army event in Caracas

Plaza Altamira in eastern Caracas, the center of the protests, first to be “liberated,” Maduro says

As tensions with the US continue to rise:

The United States on Friday brushed aside “absurd” accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that it was meddling in the country’s internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua had earlier called top US diplomat John Kerry a “murderer of the Venezuelan people,” accusing him of encouraging the protests that have killed 28 people in five weeks.

“The solution to Venezuela’s problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States,” a state department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Venezuela’s government needs to focus on solving its growing economic and social problems, not on making absurd allegations against the United States.”

Maduro, however, charged that “the desperate government interventionism of the United States is clear.”

“There’s a slew of statements, threats of sanctions, threats of intervention. There has been lobbying by the highest officials in the US government,” he said.

As Stratfor notesthese protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quoPerhaps things could be changing for Maduro…

Relatively large student-led opposition protests convened in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and many other cities throughout the country. Rough Stratfor estimates put the crowd in Caracas at between 15,000-20,000 people based on aerial photos posted on social media. Venezuela’s students are very politically active and protests are frequent. However, the relatively large turnout and widespread geographic distribution of this week’s protests indicate that the movement may be gaining traction.

The challenge that the student movement will face is in finding a way to include Venezuela’s laboring class, which for the most part still supports the government, and relies on its redistributive policies. Their inability to rouse broad support across Venezuela’s social and economic classes was in part why previous student uprisings, including significant protests in 2007, failed to generate enough momentum to trigger a significant political shift.

But the situation has changed in Venezuela, and as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo. President Nicolas Maduro has been in office for less than a year, and in that time the inflation rate has surged to over 50 percent and food shortages are a daily problem. Though firmly in power, the Chavista government is still struggling to address massive social and economic challenges. Massive government spending, years of nationalization and an overreliance on imports for basic consumer goods have radically deteriorated inflation levels, and undermined industrial production.

How the government responds will play a key role in the development of these protests going forward. The government cannot afford to crack down too hard without risking even worse unrest in the future. For its part, the mainstream opposition must walk a careful line between supporting the sentiment behind open unrest and being seen as destabilizing the country. Maduro retains the power to punish opposition politicians, and reaffirmed that Feb. 11 when he stated on national television that he intends to renew the law allowing him to outlaw political candidates who threaten the peace of the country. The statement was a clear shot over the bow of opposition leaders, and may foreshadow a more aggressive government policy designed to limit political opposition.

Perhaps it is the use of armed forces directly and aggressively that will roil the “poor”‘s perspective – we will see

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Dear Readers, now that US Secretary of State John Kerry has issued an ultimatum to Russia, telling Putin that he has until Monday to follow Washington’s orders or else,
hopefully everyone can see the repeat of the March of Folly that produced World War 1.
In my last column, “Merkel Whores For Washington,” I mistakenly attributed to Khrushchev all transfers of Russian territory to Ukraine. The first gifts of Russian territories to Ukraine were made by Lenin, and the last was Sevastopol in the early 1990s. I have posted today Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s account of how Russian territory was given to Ukraine. In the meantime, Washington’s puppet regime in Kiev has sent in thugs to commit violence against protesting Russians who want nothing to do with Washington’s stooges in Kiev, prompting Russia to issue another warning that the Russian military will protect Russians. Clearly, Washington is doing everything it can to provoke Putin into sending the Russian Army into eastern Ukraine. Now that Merkel has sold out Europe, the course of Ukrainian events seems clear, which provides an opportunity for me to address Washington’s coup-in-the-making against Venezuela.

Venezuela Also Is Being Overthrown By The Criminal Regime In Washington

Paul Craig Roberts

The Washington orchestrated coup in Ukraine has kept Venezuela out of the headlines.
A confrontation with nuclear armed Russia is more dangerous than with Venezuela. But the violence that Washington has unleashed on Venezuela almost simultaneously with Ukraine is testimony to Washington’s stark criminality.

South America has always consisted of a tiny Spanish elite with all the money and power ruling over large majority populations of indigenous peoples who have not had political representation. In Venezuela, Chavez broke this pattern. An indigenous president was elected who represented the people and worked in their behalf instead of looting the country. Chavez became a role model, and indigenous presidents were elected in Ecuador and Bolivia.

Chavez was hated by Washington and demonized by American presstitutes. When Chavez died of cancer, Washington celebrated.

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, was inclined in favor of granting asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Consequently, Washington ordered its European puppet states to deny overflight permission to President Morales’ airplane on its return to Bolivia from Russia. Morales’ airplane, in violation of every diplomatic protocol, was forced down and searched. Morales has since suffered other indignities at the hands of the Washington criminals.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, made himself a target of Washington by granting political asylum to Julian Assange. On Washington’s orders, Washington’s British puppet state has refused to grant free passage to Assange, and Assange is spending his life in the London Embassy of Ecuador, just as Cardinal Mindszenty spent his life in the US Embassy in Communist Hungary.

With Chavez’s death, indigenous Venezuelan Nicolas Maduro became president. Maduro does not have Chavez’s charisma, which makes him an easier target for the tiny Spanish elite that owns the media.

Washington began the attack on Maduro by attacking the Venezuelan currency and driving down its value in currency markets. Then university students, many of whom are the children of the rich Spanish elites, were sent out to protest. The falling Venezuelan currency raised prices and spread dissatisfaction among Maduro’s poor indigenous base. To put down the rioting, property damage, and unrest that Washington is using to launch a coup, Maduro had to turn to the police. Secretary of State John Kerry has labeled the government’s effort to reestablish public order and forestall a coup a “terror campaign against its own citizens.”

Having orchestrated the protests and plotted a coup, Kerry blamed Maduro for the violence that Kerry unleashed and called on Maduro “to respect human rights.”

For Washington, it is always the same script. Commit a crime and blame the victim.

If Washington can overthrow Maduro, the next target will be Correa. If Washington can get rid of Correa and re-empower a puppet government of rich Spanish elites, Washington can have the Ecuadoran government revoke the political asylum that Correa granted to Julian Assange. The Ecuadoran Embassy in London will be ordered to kick Assange out into the waiting arms of the British police who will send him to Sweden who will send him to Washington to be tortured until he confesses to whatever Washington demands.

The poor gullible dupes demonstrating in Venezuelan streets have no more idea of the damage they are doing to themselves and others than their counterparts in Ukraine had. Venezuelans have already forgot what life for them was like under the rule of the Spanish elites. It appears that Venezuelans are determined to help Washington to return them to their servitude.

If Washington reconquers Venezuela and Ecuador, Bolivia will be next. Then Brazil. Washington has its sights on Brazil, because the country is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), and Washington intends to destroy this organization before the countries can establish a trading bloc that does not use the US
dollar.

Not long ago a US official said that as soon as we (Washington) get Russia in a bind, we will deal with the upstarts in South America.

The program is on schedule.

Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast Next Month | Zero Hedge

Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast Next Month | Zero Hedge.

Over the past three years there has been endless debate over whether the Fukushima radioactive fallout is hitting the US west coast, or if, as the media spin would have it, it is largely isolated, and best to just take their word for it for the simple reason that no federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation. The answer may finally be in sight, and it is not a pleasant one: USA Today reports that “very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster likely will reach ocean waters along the U.S. West Coast next month, scientists are reporting. Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won’t harm humans or the environment, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who presented research on the issue last week.

Hopefully these “models” are better at forecasting than the Fed’s (which are operated by three supercomputers), and the definition of “minimum” hasn’t undergone the same material revisions as did “maximum” in the context of the maximum permitted radiation dose falling on Tepco workers in the days when Japan desperately was lying every day about the magnitude of the radioactive disaster. Obviously, it is one thing to make up predictions for the sake of avoiding a panic, it is something entirely different to have empirical data: “I’m not trying to be alarmist,” Buesseler said. “We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it’s safe?”

As if Buesseler doesn’t know that any actual data that reveals alarming results will be seasonally adjusted, and then all excess radiation will be blamed on the “harsh winter weather.”

Mockery of economists and other idiots aside, here are the facts on the prevailing models:

There are three competing models of the Fukushima radiation plume, differing in amount and timing. But all predict that the plume will reach the West Coast this summer, and the most commonly cited one estimates an April arrival, Buesseler said.

 

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

 

Cesium 134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima, Buesseler said.

 

“The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast,” Buesseler said.

The good news:

By the time it gets here, the material will be so diluted as to be almost negligible, the models predict. Radiation also decays. Cesium 134, for example, has a half-life of two years, meaning it will have half its original intensity after that period.

Or rather, make that the spin: after all as the paper notes, West Coast states are winding down their tsunami debris response efforts. “Oregon’s coastline is seeing less debris from the tsunami this winter than in the past two years, Oregon State Parks spokesman Chris Havel said. If that doesn’t change, officials likely will disband a task force that was mobilized to deal with the debris. Last year, Washington suspended its marine debris reporting hotline.”

One can be certain that no amount of reality, or radioactivity, will be allowed to spoil the budgeted plans that involve a return to normalcy even as the Fukushima power plant is nowhere near contained today, than it was the day after the historic catastrophe from March 2011.

And in case that is not yet clear, here is exhibit A: aReuters report on Fukushima children that assigns increasingly abnormal pathologies not on the fallout from the Fukushima explosion but, get this, on their staying indoors!

Some of the smallest children in Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, barely know what it’s like to play outside — fear of radiation has kept them in doors for much of their short lives.  Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained habit mean many children still stay inside.

 

And the impact is now starting to show, with children experiencing falling strength, lack of coordination, some cannot even ride a bicycle, and emotional issues like shorter tempers, officials and educators say.

 

“There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, ‘does this have radiation in it?’ and we have to tell them it’s okay to eat,” said Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55 km (35 miles) west of the Fukushima nuclear plant. “But some really, really want to play outside. They say they want to play in the sandbox and make mud pies. We have to tell them no, I’m sorry. Play in the sandbox inside instead.”

You see, the falling strength, the lack of coordination, and the behavioral changes three years after the explosion, are all due to children not being allowed to play in Fukushima’s spilling over radioactive cooling water, where as of a month ago, record amounts of Cesium were recorded. Nothing to do at all with slightly “abnormal” levels of alpha, beta and gamma radiation in the air.

This continues:

“Compared to before the disaster, you can certainly see a fall in the results of physical strength and ability tests – things like grip strength, running and throwing balls,” said Toshiaki Yabe, an official with the Koriyama city government.

 

Hiraguri said that stress was showing up in an increase of scuffles, arguments and even sudden nosebleeds among the children, as well as more subtle effects.

 

“There’s a lot more children who aren’t all that alert in their response to things. They aren’t motivated to do anything,” he said.

Yes: the nosebleeds and the lack of alertness too are not due to the radiation, but all entirely due to being keptaway from it. We suppose the proper advice here is: to avoid sudden nosebleeds, short tempers, and falling strength, let you children run like the wind, if possible into the Third reactor’s cooling tanks.

One really can’t make this pathetic, deadly BS up.

So keeping in the theme of this lunacy, and coming soon to a Orwellian banana dictatorship near you: the poor will be taxed more, because it is their fault they did not invest the money they don’t have, in Glorious Bernank’s attempt to make everything better for everyone. Remember: the Chairsatan was just paid in one hour more than in one full year at the Fed to reveal that “his natural inclination would be to try to help the average person.”

Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast Next Month | Zero Hedge

Fukushima Radiation To Reach West Coast Next Month | Zero Hedge.

Over the past three years there has been endless debate over whether the Fukushima radioactive fallout is hitting the US west coast, or if, as the media spin would have it, it is largely isolated, and best to just take their word for it for the simple reason that no federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation. The answer may finally be in sight, and it is not a pleasant one: USA Today reports that “very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster likely will reach ocean waters along the U.S. West Coast next month, scientists are reporting. Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won’t harm humans or the environment, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who presented research on the issue last week.

Hopefully these “models” are better at forecasting than the Fed’s (which are operated by three supercomputers), and the definition of “minimum” hasn’t undergone the same material revisions as did “maximum” in the context of the maximum permitted radiation dose falling on Tepco workers in the days when Japan desperately was lying every day about the magnitude of the radioactive disaster. Obviously, it is one thing to make up predictions for the sake of avoiding a panic, it is something entirely different to have empirical data: “I’m not trying to be alarmist,” Buesseler said. “We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it’s safe?”

As if Buesseler doesn’t know that any actual data that reveals alarming results will be seasonally adjusted, and then all excess radiation will be blamed on the “harsh winter weather.”

Mockery of economists and other idiots aside, here are the facts on the prevailing models:

There are three competing models of the Fukushima radiation plume, differing in amount and timing. But all predict that the plume will reach the West Coast this summer, and the most commonly cited one estimates an April arrival, Buesseler said.

 

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

 

Cesium 134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima, Buesseler said.

 

“The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast,” Buesseler said.

The good news:

By the time it gets here, the material will be so diluted as to be almost negligible, the models predict. Radiation also decays. Cesium 134, for example, has a half-life of two years, meaning it will have half its original intensity after that period.

Or rather, make that the spin: after all as the paper notes, West Coast states are winding down their tsunami debris response efforts. “Oregon’s coastline is seeing less debris from the tsunami this winter than in the past two years, Oregon State Parks spokesman Chris Havel said. If that doesn’t change, officials likely will disband a task force that was mobilized to deal with the debris. Last year, Washington suspended its marine debris reporting hotline.”

One can be certain that no amount of reality, or radioactivity, will be allowed to spoil the budgeted plans that involve a return to normalcy even as the Fukushima power plant is nowhere near contained today, than it was the day after the historic catastrophe from March 2011.

And in case that is not yet clear, here is exhibit A: aReuters report on Fukushima children that assigns increasingly abnormal pathologies not on the fallout from the Fukushima explosion but, get this, on their staying indoors!

Some of the smallest children in Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, barely know what it’s like to play outside — fear of radiation has kept them in doors for much of their short lives.  Though the strict safety limits for outdoor activity set after multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in 2011 have now been eased, parental worries and ingrained habit mean many children still stay inside.

 

And the impact is now starting to show, with children experiencing falling strength, lack of coordination, some cannot even ride a bicycle, and emotional issues like shorter tempers, officials and educators say.

 

“There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, ‘does this have radiation in it?’ and we have to tell them it’s okay to eat,” said Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55 km (35 miles) west of the Fukushima nuclear plant. “But some really, really want to play outside. They say they want to play in the sandbox and make mud pies. We have to tell them no, I’m sorry. Play in the sandbox inside instead.”

You see, the falling strength, the lack of coordination, and the behavioral changes three years after the explosion, are all due to children not being allowed to play in Fukushima’s spilling over radioactive cooling water, where as of a month ago, record amounts of Cesium were recorded. Nothing to do at all with slightly “abnormal” levels of alpha, beta and gamma radiation in the air.

This continues:

“Compared to before the disaster, you can certainly see a fall in the results of physical strength and ability tests – things like grip strength, running and throwing balls,” said Toshiaki Yabe, an official with the Koriyama city government.

 

Hiraguri said that stress was showing up in an increase of scuffles, arguments and even sudden nosebleeds among the children, as well as more subtle effects.

 

“There’s a lot more children who aren’t all that alert in their response to things. They aren’t motivated to do anything,” he said.

Yes: the nosebleeds and the lack of alertness too are not due to the radiation, but all entirely due to being keptaway from it. We suppose the proper advice here is: to avoid sudden nosebleeds, short tempers, and falling strength, let you children run like the wind, if possible into the Third reactor’s cooling tanks.

One really can’t make this pathetic, deadly BS up.

So keeping in the theme of this lunacy, and coming soon to a Orwellian banana dictatorship near you: the poor will be taxed more, because it is their fault they did not invest the money they don’t have, in Glorious Bernank’s attempt to make everything better for everyone. Remember: the Chairsatan was just paid in one hour more than in one full year at the Fed to reveal that “his natural inclination would be to try to help the average person.”

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |.

March 6, 2014 | Author 

Happy Death of Chavez Day

Venezuela  commemorated the late ‘Commandante’ Hugo Chavez on Wednesday – as is so often the case, the fact that the dear leader of the revolution is no longer among the quick probably helped with a good bit of nostalgic transmogrification.

One feels reminded of the many crying babushkas in the streets of Moscow when news of Stalin’s departure from this earthly plane hit, even while his former colleagues in the party probably got ready for a week of vodka-drenched partying to celebrate the psychopathic tyrant’s demise. No longer did they have to worry about who was going to be purged next.

Chavez was of course no Stalin (not by a long shot), we merely want to highlight that no matter how bad a ruler, once he goes to his eternal reward, many of those left behind begin to see him in a better light than he probably deserves. Chavez did of course shower some of Venezuela’s oil riches on the poor, and they loved him for it. However, he incidentally ran the country’s oil industry into the ground, so it was a decidedly mixed blessing, by dint of being completely unsustainable and leaving everybody poorer in the end.

Anyway, there may be a subtle subconscious message in the fact that the rulers of Venezuela have decided to commemorate Chavez’s death rather than his birth. Just saying.

As it happens, the timing was fortuitous from president Maduro’s perspective, as he has an ongoing counter-revolution problem on his hands. He used the opportunity to try to imitate the dear departed “Commandante” by declaring Panama a lapdog of the capitalist enemy deserving to be banned from polite socialist company. Chavez’ cousin meanwhile spontaneously dispensed some valuable advice to Maduro.

Reuters reports:

“Followers of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez flooded the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday for the anniversary of his death, an emotional but welcome distraction for his successor from violent protests raging for the last month.

A year after Chavez succumbed to cancer, his self-proclaimed “son,” President Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his rule from an explosion of anti-government demonstrations that have led to 18 deaths since February.

Though the protests do not appear likely to topple Maduro, neither do they seem to be going away. A hard core of students are determined to maintain street barricades and militant opposition leaders organize daily rallies around Venezuela. Wednesday’s military parade and other events to honor “El Comandante” gave Maduro, 51, an opportunity to reclaim the streets and show that he too can mobilize his supporters.

“This anniversary is enormously sad. There’s not a single day I don’t remember Hugo,” Chavez’s cousin, Guillermo Frias, 60, said from Los Rastrojos village in rural Barinas state, where the pair used to play baseball as kids.

“He changed Venezuela forever, and we cannot go back. Maduro also is a poor man, like us. He’s handling things fine. Perhaps he just needs a stronger hand,” he told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of red-clad “Chavistas” gathered for rallies in Caracas and elsewhere in honor of Chavez, whose 14-year rule won him the adoration of many of Venezuela’s poorest, while alienating the middle and upper classes. Cannon-shots marked the precise time of his death, 4:25 p.m.

Maduro used the occasion to announce the breaking of diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama, whose conservative government he accused of joining the United States in “open conspiracy” against him.

“We’re not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama,” Maduro said in fiery language reminiscent of Chavez.”

(emphasis added)

Poor Maduro just ‘needs a stronger hand’. Doesn’t every good leader? Well, he sure showed that ‘despicable lackey’, the president of Panama. We have no idea what the latter actually did to become the target of such opprobrium. However, Panama reportedly has a great deal more economic freedom than either Venezuela or the US. You may therefore regard us as part of the despicable lackey’s fan club.

Meanwhile, although there seems to be widespread agreement that Maduro cannot be toppled by the protests, the demonstrations actually seem bigger than those seen in Kiev recently (judging just from a quick glance at the pictures, mind). The Kiev protests were probably only more visually arresting due to the constant Molotov cocktail throwing. Here is a picture from an anti-government march in Caracas last Saturday:

Venezuela Protests

A tiny handful of counter-revolutionary malcontents disturbs traffic in Caracas last Saturday. Yes,  Maduro may need a ‘stronger hand’.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

Elsewhere, currency traders on the black market seemed to celebrate Chavez’ death day as well, by temporarily pushing the bolivar’s true exchange rate higher:

black market bolivar

The ‘parallel’ bolivar strengthens to 79,50 to the dollar from its recent record low of about 90.

We have little doubt it is a selling opportunity, given that Maduro is demonstrably utterly clueless about matters economic.

For all its faults, Venezuela still has a stock market though, which gives those with assets to protect a chance to escape the effects of the inflation of the currency. Recently, the index was subject of a cosmetic 1000:1 split (an index value of 2,700 looks more credible than one of 2,700,000):


 

caracas, decade, log

A bubbly decade on the Caracas Stock Exchange. A similar stock market boom occurred in Zimbabwe, in spite of the economy imploding completely, with formal economy unemployment reportedly soaring to 80%. As Kyle Bass remarked about that particular boom: ‘In the end, you could buy three eggs with your gains’ – click to enlarge.


El Commandante Didn’t Die – He ‘Multiplied’

The celebrations were apparently not exactly lacking in unintentional comedy either:

“Maduro presided over a parade in the capital before leading crowds up to the hilltop military museum where Chavez led a 1992 coup attempt that launched his political career. His remains have been laid to rest in a marble sarcophagus there.

“Hugo Chavez passed into history as the redeemer of the poor,” the president said, comparing his mentor to both Jesus and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Prominent leftist allies including Cuban President Raul Castro joined the lavish ceremonies in Caracas.

[…]

State media have rolled out round-the-clock hagiographical coverage of the late president. Some Chavez loyalists seem barely able to use the word “death,” preferring euphemisms such as his “physical disappearance” or “sowing in the sky.”

“Chavez didn’t die; he multiplied!” said state TV.

(emphasis added)

Well, if he is comparable to Jesus, then it is presumably no wonder that he ‘multiplied’. Look at it as a kind of Chavista selfie version of the luxury miracle at the Wedding of Cana.

What is less funny is that so far, 18 people have died in the protests. The government meanwhile tried to take the edge off the demonstrations by declaring a 6 day-long carnival holiday. As one protester remarked:

“A long six-day national holiday for Carnival and now the anniversary of Chavez’s death have taken some wind out of the protests, but a rump of demonstrators stay out daily.

“Various presidents are here and we want to show them that Venezuela is sick,” said Silvana Lezama, a 20-year-old student, standing in front of a Venezuelan flag as she stood guard at a barricade in the upscale El Cafetal district of Caracas.

“We’re not insulting Chavez, but when he died last year there was a week of mourning. Now we have 18 people dead from protests and they declared five days of Carnival holiday.”

(emphasis added)

Evidently, not everybody feels like there is a good reason for celebrations at this time.

A Chicken in Every Pot Becomes a Plasma TV in Every Home

One wonders what the malcontents are complaining about. After all, Maduro promises the provision of endless material delights, the establishment of the long promised socialist Land of Cockaigne in our lifetime:

In order to combat the country’s massive inflation of over 50 percent, Maduro has introduced price controls. Shops that demand prices that he believes are too high are simply occupied. “We will guarantee everyone has a plasma television,” the president has said, and has forced stores to sell them cheaply.

“It is plundering under the aegis of the state,” says Diego Arriaformerly Venezuela’s UN ambassador. “Maduro is destroying the private sector.”

Many shops are empty, with even corn flour, milk and toilet paper subject to shortages. Lines like those seen in Cuba have become common and people are desperately trying to get their hands on dollars. “A perfect storm is brewing in Venezuela,” says Arria.

The government has been having difficulties supplying even the basics in the slums of Caracas. In the vast quarter of “23 de enero,” people stand in long lines in front of the state-run supermarket; they are issued numbers on strips of cardboard. Chavistas control entry to the store and glorify Maduro and the revolution to shoppers. Most of those waiting remain silent. Every three days, they mumble quietly when the guards aren’t paying attention, their food coupons will get them chicken from Brazil and two kilograms of flour, but nothing more.

(emphasis added)

No wonder Arria is a ‘former’ ambassador, he obviously doesn’t properly grasp the  wisdom of supplying everybody with a Plasma TV with a wave of the presidential magic wand (but not, apparently, with toilet paper and other staples). Those silent shoppers who only “mumble quietly when their guards aren’t paying attention” would make us nervous if we were a guard…

Here is a recent photograph of a store in Maracaibo:

store-empty-shelves

Maracaibo, Super Lider store. Image via @orlandobuesomir: Empty shelves in a PDVAL store in Venezuela.


Maracaibo! In the early days of personal computing we regularly conquered its fortress as one of the freebooters in Sid Meyer’s ‘Pirates’ game. Don’t worry, it was all legal, we had a letter of marque. Moreover, we managed to win the hand of the governor’s daughter after convincing her of our dancing prowess (it was a simple, but really funny game).

For some reason not all Venezuelans seem equipped with Plasma TVs yet, so something has apparently gone wrong. Could it be the fault of global warming? After all, it was just identified as being responsible for the budding ‘guacamole crisis‘, among approximately 5,000 other things it is held to be the cause of. So why not the appalling lack of Plasma TV saturation in Venezuela? Makes more sense than the old ‘socialism just doesn’t work’ canard, right?

We can however confidently state that Maduro is not completely without cunning. He sure knows whom he needs to keep on his side, even it that is allegedly not really working out the way it was supposed to either:

“Venezuela’s military has more power under Maduro, a civilian, than it did under the former officer Chávez. Maduro has handed out senior jobs to some 2,000 soldiers and the military now occupies key positions in business and controls entire companies. Late last week, Maduro sent a parachute battalion to Táchira to curtail the protests there.

But even in the military, dissatisfaction is spreading. “The soldiers just haven’t yet had the courage to open their mouths,” says one administrative employee who works in Fuerte Tiuna, a military base on the outskirts of Caracas.

Even Chávez had begun to realize that the enemy was within. He had officers and a former defense minister who had been critical of him arrested and imprisoned on charges of corruption. Some of them remain locked up in the Ramo Verde military prison not far from Caracas — just a few cells away from Leopoldo López.”

(emphasis added)

Still, buying off the military by handing its leaders ‘senior jobs’ and letting them occupy key positions in business is a strategy that has e.g. worked extremely well in Egypt, where the military controls 40% of the economy and in spite of a temporary setback continues to rule as if Mubarak had never gone away.

venezuela-0218-horizontal-galleryPolicemen during protests in Caracas. So far, they are being hit with stuff that looks a lot more harmless than the Molotov cocktails thrown in Kiev.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

As one Chavista told reporters (also dispensing advice to the hapless Maduro, so that he may ‘find his own voice’ one day):

Maduro’s had it tough. He has to find his own path, his own ideas, his own speech. He’s not Chavez. The commander is gone; we can’t mourn him permanently. There’s so much work to do, errors to correct,” said Marisol Aponte, a diehard “Chavista” and community activist from a poor zone of west Caracas.

She urged Maduro to purge his cabinet and modernize Chavez-era social programs.”

(emphasis added)

There you go! A good, old-fashioned purge! Even if Chavez failed at this task,  Maduro has an opportunity to one-up him that he only needs to firmly grasp, by ruthlessly employing that ‘strong hand’ Chavez’ cousin is pining for. Can he perhaps become like Stalin?

Naah. Not with that attire:

 


 

maduro-bird-hat

Nicolas Maduro, wearing a landing pad for errant birds.

(Photo via Reuters)

 


 

 

Charts by: BigCharts, dolares.eu

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |

Meanwhile, in Venezuela … |.

March 6, 2014 | Author 

Happy Death of Chavez Day

Venezuela  commemorated the late ‘Commandante’ Hugo Chavez on Wednesday – as is so often the case, the fact that the dear leader of the revolution is no longer among the quick probably helped with a good bit of nostalgic transmogrification.

One feels reminded of the many crying babushkas in the streets of Moscow when news of Stalin’s departure from this earthly plane hit, even while his former colleagues in the party probably got ready for a week of vodka-drenched partying to celebrate the psychopathic tyrant’s demise. No longer did they have to worry about who was going to be purged next.

Chavez was of course no Stalin (not by a long shot), we merely want to highlight that no matter how bad a ruler, once he goes to his eternal reward, many of those left behind begin to see him in a better light than he probably deserves. Chavez did of course shower some of Venezuela’s oil riches on the poor, and they loved him for it. However, he incidentally ran the country’s oil industry into the ground, so it was a decidedly mixed blessing, by dint of being completely unsustainable and leaving everybody poorer in the end.

Anyway, there may be a subtle subconscious message in the fact that the rulers of Venezuela have decided to commemorate Chavez’s death rather than his birth. Just saying.

As it happens, the timing was fortuitous from president Maduro’s perspective, as he has an ongoing counter-revolution problem on his hands. He used the opportunity to try to imitate the dear departed “Commandante” by declaring Panama a lapdog of the capitalist enemy deserving to be banned from polite socialist company. Chavez’ cousin meanwhile spontaneously dispensed some valuable advice to Maduro.

Reuters reports:

“Followers of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez flooded the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday for the anniversary of his death, an emotional but welcome distraction for his successor from violent protests raging for the last month.

A year after Chavez succumbed to cancer, his self-proclaimed “son,” President Nicolas Maduro, faces the biggest challenge to his rule from an explosion of anti-government demonstrations that have led to 18 deaths since February.

Though the protests do not appear likely to topple Maduro, neither do they seem to be going away. A hard core of students are determined to maintain street barricades and militant opposition leaders organize daily rallies around Venezuela. Wednesday’s military parade and other events to honor “El Comandante” gave Maduro, 51, an opportunity to reclaim the streets and show that he too can mobilize his supporters.

“This anniversary is enormously sad. There’s not a single day I don’t remember Hugo,” Chavez’s cousin, Guillermo Frias, 60, said from Los Rastrojos village in rural Barinas state, where the pair used to play baseball as kids.

“He changed Venezuela forever, and we cannot go back. Maduro also is a poor man, like us. He’s handling things fine. Perhaps he just needs a stronger hand,” he told Reuters.

Tens of thousands of red-clad “Chavistas” gathered for rallies in Caracas and elsewhere in honor of Chavez, whose 14-year rule won him the adoration of many of Venezuela’s poorest, while alienating the middle and upper classes. Cannon-shots marked the precise time of his death, 4:25 p.m.

Maduro used the occasion to announce the breaking of diplomatic and commercial ties with Panama, whose conservative government he accused of joining the United States in “open conspiracy” against him.

“We’re not going to let anyone get away with interfering with our fatherland, you despicable lackey, president of Panama,” Maduro said in fiery language reminiscent of Chavez.”

(emphasis added)

Poor Maduro just ‘needs a stronger hand’. Doesn’t every good leader? Well, he sure showed that ‘despicable lackey’, the president of Panama. We have no idea what the latter actually did to become the target of such opprobrium. However, Panama reportedly has a great deal more economic freedom than either Venezuela or the US. You may therefore regard us as part of the despicable lackey’s fan club.

Meanwhile, although there seems to be widespread agreement that Maduro cannot be toppled by the protests, the demonstrations actually seem bigger than those seen in Kiev recently (judging just from a quick glance at the pictures, mind). The Kiev protests were probably only more visually arresting due to the constant Molotov cocktail throwing. Here is a picture from an anti-government march in Caracas last Saturday:

Venezuela Protests

A tiny handful of counter-revolutionary malcontents disturbs traffic in Caracas last Saturday. Yes,  Maduro may need a ‘stronger hand’.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

Elsewhere, currency traders on the black market seemed to celebrate Chavez’ death day as well, by temporarily pushing the bolivar’s true exchange rate higher:

black market bolivar

The ‘parallel’ bolivar strengthens to 79,50 to the dollar from its recent record low of about 90.

We have little doubt it is a selling opportunity, given that Maduro is demonstrably utterly clueless about matters economic.

For all its faults, Venezuela still has a stock market though, which gives those with assets to protect a chance to escape the effects of the inflation of the currency. Recently, the index was subject of a cosmetic 1000:1 split (an index value of 2,700 looks more credible than one of 2,700,000):


 

caracas, decade, log

A bubbly decade on the Caracas Stock Exchange. A similar stock market boom occurred in Zimbabwe, in spite of the economy imploding completely, with formal economy unemployment reportedly soaring to 80%. As Kyle Bass remarked about that particular boom: ‘In the end, you could buy three eggs with your gains’ – click to enlarge.


El Commandante Didn’t Die – He ‘Multiplied’

The celebrations were apparently not exactly lacking in unintentional comedy either:

“Maduro presided over a parade in the capital before leading crowds up to the hilltop military museum where Chavez led a 1992 coup attempt that launched his political career. His remains have been laid to rest in a marble sarcophagus there.

“Hugo Chavez passed into history as the redeemer of the poor,” the president said, comparing his mentor to both Jesus and South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

Prominent leftist allies including Cuban President Raul Castro joined the lavish ceremonies in Caracas.

[…]

State media have rolled out round-the-clock hagiographical coverage of the late president. Some Chavez loyalists seem barely able to use the word “death,” preferring euphemisms such as his “physical disappearance” or “sowing in the sky.”

“Chavez didn’t die; he multiplied!” said state TV.

(emphasis added)

Well, if he is comparable to Jesus, then it is presumably no wonder that he ‘multiplied’. Look at it as a kind of Chavista selfie version of the luxury miracle at the Wedding of Cana.

What is less funny is that so far, 18 people have died in the protests. The government meanwhile tried to take the edge off the demonstrations by declaring a 6 day-long carnival holiday. As one protester remarked:

“A long six-day national holiday for Carnival and now the anniversary of Chavez’s death have taken some wind out of the protests, but a rump of demonstrators stay out daily.

“Various presidents are here and we want to show them that Venezuela is sick,” said Silvana Lezama, a 20-year-old student, standing in front of a Venezuelan flag as she stood guard at a barricade in the upscale El Cafetal district of Caracas.

“We’re not insulting Chavez, but when he died last year there was a week of mourning. Now we have 18 people dead from protests and they declared five days of Carnival holiday.”

(emphasis added)

Evidently, not everybody feels like there is a good reason for celebrations at this time.

A Chicken in Every Pot Becomes a Plasma TV in Every Home

One wonders what the malcontents are complaining about. After all, Maduro promises the provision of endless material delights, the establishment of the long promised socialist Land of Cockaigne in our lifetime:

In order to combat the country’s massive inflation of over 50 percent, Maduro has introduced price controls. Shops that demand prices that he believes are too high are simply occupied. “We will guarantee everyone has a plasma television,” the president has said, and has forced stores to sell them cheaply.

“It is plundering under the aegis of the state,” says Diego Arriaformerly Venezuela’s UN ambassador. “Maduro is destroying the private sector.”

Many shops are empty, with even corn flour, milk and toilet paper subject to shortages. Lines like those seen in Cuba have become common and people are desperately trying to get their hands on dollars. “A perfect storm is brewing in Venezuela,” says Arria.

The government has been having difficulties supplying even the basics in the slums of Caracas. In the vast quarter of “23 de enero,” people stand in long lines in front of the state-run supermarket; they are issued numbers on strips of cardboard. Chavistas control entry to the store and glorify Maduro and the revolution to shoppers. Most of those waiting remain silent. Every three days, they mumble quietly when the guards aren’t paying attention, their food coupons will get them chicken from Brazil and two kilograms of flour, but nothing more.

(emphasis added)

No wonder Arria is a ‘former’ ambassador, he obviously doesn’t properly grasp the  wisdom of supplying everybody with a Plasma TV with a wave of the presidential magic wand (but not, apparently, with toilet paper and other staples). Those silent shoppers who only “mumble quietly when their guards aren’t paying attention” would make us nervous if we were a guard…

Here is a recent photograph of a store in Maracaibo:

store-empty-shelves

Maracaibo, Super Lider store. Image via @orlandobuesomir: Empty shelves in a PDVAL store in Venezuela.


Maracaibo! In the early days of personal computing we regularly conquered its fortress as one of the freebooters in Sid Meyer’s ‘Pirates’ game. Don’t worry, it was all legal, we had a letter of marque. Moreover, we managed to win the hand of the governor’s daughter after convincing her of our dancing prowess (it was a simple, but really funny game).

For some reason not all Venezuelans seem equipped with Plasma TVs yet, so something has apparently gone wrong. Could it be the fault of global warming? After all, it was just identified as being responsible for the budding ‘guacamole crisis‘, among approximately 5,000 other things it is held to be the cause of. So why not the appalling lack of Plasma TV saturation in Venezuela? Makes more sense than the old ‘socialism just doesn’t work’ canard, right?

We can however confidently state that Maduro is not completely without cunning. He sure knows whom he needs to keep on his side, even it that is allegedly not really working out the way it was supposed to either:

“Venezuela’s military has more power under Maduro, a civilian, than it did under the former officer Chávez. Maduro has handed out senior jobs to some 2,000 soldiers and the military now occupies key positions in business and controls entire companies. Late last week, Maduro sent a parachute battalion to Táchira to curtail the protests there.

But even in the military, dissatisfaction is spreading. “The soldiers just haven’t yet had the courage to open their mouths,” says one administrative employee who works in Fuerte Tiuna, a military base on the outskirts of Caracas.

Even Chávez had begun to realize that the enemy was within. He had officers and a former defense minister who had been critical of him arrested and imprisoned on charges of corruption. Some of them remain locked up in the Ramo Verde military prison not far from Caracas — just a few cells away from Leopoldo López.”

(emphasis added)

Still, buying off the military by handing its leaders ‘senior jobs’ and letting them occupy key positions in business is a strategy that has e.g. worked extremely well in Egypt, where the military controls 40% of the economy and in spite of a temporary setback continues to rule as if Mubarak had never gone away.

venezuela-0218-horizontal-galleryPolicemen during protests in Caracas. So far, they are being hit with stuff that looks a lot more harmless than the Molotov cocktails thrown in Kiev.

(Photo by Juan Barretto / Getty Images)

As one Chavista told reporters (also dispensing advice to the hapless Maduro, so that he may ‘find his own voice’ one day):

Maduro’s had it tough. He has to find his own path, his own ideas, his own speech. He’s not Chavez. The commander is gone; we can’t mourn him permanently. There’s so much work to do, errors to correct,” said Marisol Aponte, a diehard “Chavista” and community activist from a poor zone of west Caracas.

She urged Maduro to purge his cabinet and modernize Chavez-era social programs.”

(emphasis added)

There you go! A good, old-fashioned purge! Even if Chavez failed at this task,  Maduro has an opportunity to one-up him that he only needs to firmly grasp, by ruthlessly employing that ‘strong hand’ Chavez’ cousin is pining for. Can he perhaps become like Stalin?

Naah. Not with that attire:

 


 

maduro-bird-hat

Nicolas Maduro, wearing a landing pad for errant birds.

(Photo via Reuters)

 


 

 

Charts by: BigCharts, dolares.eu

Opinion: Why oil drilling in Ecuador is 'ticking time bomb' for planet – CNN.com

Opinion: Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet – CNN.com.

By Antonia Juhasz, oil industry analyst, special to CNN
March 1, 2014 — Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
Alicia Cahuilla's Waorani tribe has lived on the edge of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park for thousands of years. But they're worried about new oil exploration in the area. Alicia Cahuilla’s Waorani tribe has lived on the edge of Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park for thousands of years. But they’re worried about new oil exploration in the area.
 STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park is one of world’s most biologically diverse areas
  • Last year the government cleared the way for oil exploration in the park’s most pristine area
  • Villagers say oil exploration in Yasuni will dramatically affect their way of life
  • Oil firms say they are complying with environmental regulations

Editor’s note: Antonia Juhasz, an oil industry analyst, is author of several books, including “Black Tide” and “The Tyranny of Oil.”Juhasz’s investigation is supported by a grant from the Max and Anna Levinson Foundation, which makes grants to nonprofits committed to “developing a more just, caring, ecological and resilient world.” Her work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, and The Atlantic’s website.The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

(CNN) — Alicia Cahuilla doesn’t try to hide her anger. The native Waorani tribal leader stands in front of an exposed, thickly black crude oil pit, as two gas flares burn violently overhead, the stinging stench of crude heavy in the air. Until about 50 years ago, this area, like most of the central Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest in which it sits, was Waorani land, a pristine expanse filled with nothing but trees and streams.

Antonia Juhasz

Antonia Juhasz

The Waorani have lived here, on the northwestern edge of one of the most biologically rich places on Earth, for thousands of years. But today their land is also home to hundreds of operations seeking to extract the vast oil reserves buried deep below the forest floor.

Experts believe that in order to avoid the worst of a future climate change catastrophe, most of the planet’s fossil fuels must be left in the ground. Ecuador’s ambitious Yasuni-ITT Initiative, launched in 2007, was hailed as a landmark plan to keep oil exploration out of the country’s most pristine forest and to preserve the homes of indigenous tribes living there. ButEcuador abandoned the plan last year, and drilling could now begin any time.

Leila Salazar of the U.S.-based NGO Amazon Watch equates oil exploration in Ecuador’s rainforests with “ignoring a ticking time bomb for the entire planet.” But the once global struggle to secure the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has now largely fallen on the shoulders of a few indigenous tribal communities who have pledged to fight, some to the death, to keep oil companies out of their communities and their oil in the ground.

Activists Killed in the Amazon

African rainforest fights for survival

Will the world back them up? It is a question with significance far beyond Yasuni National Park. The age of “easy oil,” if it ever existed, is over. What is left is in places like the Yasuni, previously deemed too sensitive, valuable, or risky to drill. The cost to both the planet and local people of pursuing such oil grows in tandem with the difficulty of extracting it. The Yasuni presents a critical opportunity to demonstrate that a different path is possible, though fortunately it is not the only place where the effort to leave our “oil in the soil” has taken root.

Yasuni: Biological and ethnic diversity worth saving

In November I travelled to the Yasuni National Park in northeastern Ecuador and marveled at its beauty, diversity, and bounty. It alone sits at the intersection of the Amazon, the Andes Mountains, and the Equator. It is a biological hot spot for mammals, birds, insects, plants, and more. One hectare of the Yasuni contains not only more tree species than are native to the whole of North America, but also 100,000 insect species, the highest diversity per unit area in the world for any plant or animal group, according to one estimate. The United Nations declared the Yasuni a World Biosphere Reserve in 1989.

READ MORE: Rainforest’s vast treasury of life

Within the park lies the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini (ITT) area, home to one of the most intact sections remaining in the Amazon River Basin. Its natural bounty allows the ITT to support the only remaining uncontacted tribes left in Ecuador—two groups of Waorani who have remained in isolation from the outside world for thousands of years — the Taromenane and Tagaeri. It is also perched atop Ecuador’s largest untapped oil reserves.

Ecuador currently gets about half its national revenue from oil. President Rafael Correa hopes to increase this amount — and in so doing reduce rampant poverty — by carving up much of his country’s share of the Amazon into oil blocks.

Yet, in response to the global climate movement’s call for nations to leave their “oil in the soil,” in 2007 Correa made a bold proposal. If the global community agreed to put up $3.6 billion — roughly half the value of the 850 million barrels of crude estimated to be under the ITT area of Yasuni — Ecuador would leave the oil untouched indefinitely. World leaders failed to pay up, however, and Ecuadorpronounced the death of the deal last year.

Drilling in the ITT will come at a steep price, explains Dr. Matt Finer, a research biologist with the Amazon Conservation Association. “You’re basically talking about the only spot on earth where you get this maximum diversity for everything, in addition to being one of the last places on earth where people can still live without any contact with civilization,” he said. “You have a national park created to protect that super mega diversity, and you will now have drilling [there]. It represents a serious incursion into what should be a refuge.”

Lives in the balance?

Cahuilla was born in the Yasuni but today lives in the tiny hamlet of Noneno wedged between two oil fields, the Cononaco and Armadillo, where President Correa is trying to expand oil production.

Her community considers it their responsibility to protect and speak on behalf of the uncontacted Waorani still living in the ITT and Yasuni, but this is not just out of loyalty. Oil operations are already pushing the Taromenani into contacted Waorani land, resulting in escalating violence, including murder, kidnapping, and territorial conflict.

ITT is one of the last places on earth where people can still live without any contact with civilization.
Dr. Matt Finer, research biologist

As we talk, Cahuilla says she wishes she had her spear so she can “kill someone.” Though she is nonviolent, it is not a hollow threat. It is how the male elders of her village have pledged to deal with any oil firm that dares come near their home.

The Waorani leader argues that regardless of how they’re perceived, her people are not poor. “We have the richness of the forest and the river. We need for nothing, except what the oil companies destroy.” As for the rest of Ecuador, she adds, “All the people need clean air to live. Clean water. With this oil development, what kind of life is the government actually hoping to give its people?”

An estimated 1,500 people call the Yasuni and ITT home. In addition to the uncontacted tribes, there are Waorani and Kichwa who, just like Cahuilla’s community, are in contact with the outside world but still primarily lead lifestyles that are not far removed from the traditions followed by their ancestors. Though I saw the odd television and radio on my way through the forest, the majority of the peoples’ needs are still met directly from the land and water.

As I hiked in the ITT, I was shown trees used to build houses, blowguns for hunting, and canoes; plants used to make jewelry and plates, and to cure ailments; and a bounty of seeds, fruits and even a pack of wild boar comprising the majority of the communities’ diet. In return, the tribes treat the forest with deep respect.

“Cutting a tree is like cutting a person,” Kichwa tribal leader Holmer Machoa of the community of Llanchama in the ITT, told me. “If the oil companies come, they will cut and they will kill. They will be the destruction of the forest. They will kill the water and poison the land.”

Environmental concerns

The Napo region, including the Yasuni, is now one of the 14 major deforested areas in the world. Ecuador has the highest deforestation rate of any Latin American country, in part because oil is located so deep within the forest that extensive systems of roads must be built to reach it. The roads also fragment the Yasuni, harming already threatened animal species that require large intact forest areas to survive, and opening the park to new settlers andincreased and illegal hunting.

This threat reaches beyond the Yasuni, as the two principal causes of global warming are the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

There are also other concerns. The Ministry of the Environment reported 539 oil spills in Ecuador between 2000 and 2010, a rate of nearly two a month. But INREDH, an Ecuador-based human rights group, says the rate is more than two a week, citing nearly 500 recorded spills from 2003 through 2005 alone.

Last June, Petroecuador’s Trans-Ecuadorian Oil Pipeline burstunder the weight of a landslide caused by heavy rains. Some 420,000 gallons of oil was dumped into the Coca River, which then spread into the larger Napo River. The oil polluted the drinking water of Coca, a city of 80,000 people, and at least thirteen smaller communities.

The waterways of rural Ecuador are filled with people bathing, washing dishes and clothes, playing, and drinking from the water. As oil operations expand, so too do the dangers of this way of life. The Napo River, which marks the entire northern edge of the Yasuni, is now a major industrial highway with a constant flow of giant barges carrying equipment to support oil operations leaving black clouds of pollution in their wake.

We are not aware that any adverse health effects occurred due to our operations [in Ecuador].
Melissa Schoeb, Vice President of Occidental

2002 study in the International Journal of Epidemiologyconcluded that the prevalence of cancer was significantly elevated in those counties in Ecuador where oil firms operated versus non-oil-producing regions. The study found significantly elevated rates for “cancers of the stomach, rectum, skin melanoma, soft tissue and kidney in men and for cancers of the cervix and lymph nodes in women,” and an increase in haematopoietic cancers in children under age 10.

Cahuilla also points to Texaco’s legacy in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region. In November Ecuador’s highest court ruled that California-based Chevron (which purchased Texaco in 2000) owes locally-impacted communities $9.51 billion for decades of substandard practices that severely polluted land and waterways and which continue to harm human health and the environment today. Chevron has appealed the court judgment, calling it “a manifest denial of justice.”

Others point to California-based Occidental’s (Oxy) operation in Ecuador from 1985 to 2006.Oxy settled a court case filed in 2006 in which Ecuadorian plaintiffs charged it with “unauthorized drilling, expropriation of tribal lands, utilizing child labor, and polluting the local water supply” in Oil Block 15. People protesting against Oxy’s operations there, they argue, were “attacked on or near Block 15, tortured, and illegally detained by the [government] Special Forces” acting for Oxy. Oxy has denied each such allegation in the case, which was settled under a strict gag order.

In response to a request for comment, Melissa Schoeb, Vice President of Occidental, said in a written statement: “We are not aware that any adverse health effects occurred due to our operations. During the company’s tenure [in Ecuador], Occidental had an exemplary record of environmental and safety performance, both in complying with laws and regulations and in pursuing numerous voluntary initiatives.”

The Ecuadorian government did not respond to multiple requests for comments for this story.

On my visit to the Kichwa community of Sani Isla situated on land in the Yasuni and across the Napo River in Oil Block 15, schoolteacher Maximo Grefa told me: “For decades, oil companies have been causing environmental damage to the water and air. I think it is the reason why we have so many kids with special needs, mental and physical disorders. The children drink the water without any treatment. That affects their health.”

Fighting back with ecotourism

Within virtually every community in and near the Yasuni, I am told that tourists, not oil companies, are the preferred outsiders. I am then pointed to Sani Isla, renowned for the Sani Lodge, a highly successful ecotourism venture catering to wealthy Western clientele.

At Sani Isla, Kichwa tribal leader Blanca Lourdes Tapuy Grefa says that oil development is incongruous with a healthy environment, including that desired by tourists, and is in direct conflict with the success of her community. Without Sani Lodge she asks: “What are we going to leave our children?”

With this oil development, what kind of life is the government actually hoping to give its people?
Alicia Cahuilla, Waorani tribal leader

In May, her brother, Leonardo Tapui president of the community, told President Correa that Sani Isla opposed new oil operations and warned that if the army came, they would respond with war. It is a war that Blanca and her fellow Kichwa, just like Alicia Cahuilla and the Waorani, intend to fight with spears, blowguns and machetes.

“It doesn’t matter what the government says,” Blanca told me, “because I have my machete and I have my spear, and I’m going to defend this place. I’m not afraid. No matter what.”

A fight of global significance

Local organizations such as Quito-based Accion Ecologica have gathered more than half of the requisite signatures needed by April to hold a national referendum on halting drilling in the Yasuni. That President Correa still proudly displays the UN Visionary 2012 trophy he received for the Initiative may be evidence that he and his government can yet be convinced to change course, particularly if the global community finally commits to the $3.6 billion.

Moreover, the effort that led Correa to propose the Yasuni-ITT Initiative is not limited to this proposal or to Ecuador. Last month, an international gathering of indigenous groups, NGOs, and others convened in Ecuador under the auspices of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, members of which came up with the original idea for the Initiative in 1997. They declared their commitment to fight not only for the Yasuni, but also for continued success elsewhere.

In April, for example, Mora County, New Mexico became the first U.S. county to permanently ban all oil and natural gas development (Shell Oil company has sued, claiming its rights as a “person” to those minerals), while in November three cities in Colorado joined dozens of others U.S. cities and town in voting to ban hydraulic fracking (a technique used for both oil and natural gas).

These efforts come from a growing realization that with the end of “easy oil” and the intensification of climate change, we are all now ultimately on the front lines of the battle over what is to be done with the world’s remaining fossil fuels.

Guide/Translators: Jose Proano from Land is Life and Yury Guerra from Altruvistas.

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