• Latin America

    US recognizes opposition leader as interim Venezuelan president

    President Trump made the right decision here. Francisco Toro writes in The Washington Post: Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets on Wednesday to confront Nicolás Maduro and the Western Hemisphere’s most wantonly destructive regime. A resurgent opposition — under the leadership of Juan Guaidó, the until-recently unknown 35-year-old leader of Congress and now the self-declared president of Venezuela — has mobilized its supporters to try to dislodge what’s now a no-doubts-about-it dictatorship. On Wednesday afternoon Guaidó claimed to be the legitimate leader of Venezuela, directly challenging Maduro’s authority. President Trump promptly recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. “In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected…

  • Latin America,  The Left

    RIP Teodoro Petkoff

    I just found out that Teodoro Petkoff, a former Communist guerilla in Venezuela turned democratic socialist and a brave opponent of the regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, died in October at the age of 86. Petkoff, editor of the opposition newspaper Tal Cual, was kind enough to answer some questions from me back in 2005. The same year he published a book contrasting the kind of democratic Left he believed in with what he considered the reactionary, caudillo-style Left embodied by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. In 2015 Petkoff was unable to travel to Madrid to receive an award from the Spanish newspaper El Pais; he had been…

  • Latin America,  The Left

    Venezuelan political prisoners urge vote in Sunday election

    A few days before regime-sponsored gubernatorial elections on Sunday, 18 Venezuelan political prisoners being held at the notorious El Helicoide prison– a former futuristic shopping mall— released an open letter to the people of Venezuela. The prisoners did not call for a boycott. Instead they urged people to do what they themselves cannot– vote. We’re taking the risk of writing this statement from El Helicoide’s dungeons, where Nicolás Maduro keeps us imprisoned for the crime of exercising our freedom of thought. We do it in the hope that the people of Venezuela will rise up and express their will on behalf of all us who are being silenced. The democracy…

  • Iran,  Latin America

    Alberto Nisman was indeed murdered

    It’s not a surprise, but it’s good news that after two-and-a-half years of lies and coverups (some of which we documented here), the truth has finally come out. A team of forensic analysts has determined that Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who claimed that the president of Argentina [Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner] covered up Iran’s role in the deadly bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center, was murdered and did not commit suicide, the South American nation’s media are reporting. A new toxicology report on Nisman’s body found traces of the drug ketamine, an anesthetic used on animals, and posited that at least one other person forcefully held him down…

  • Latin America

    Maduro extinguishes democracy in Venezuela

    As the Maduro regime snuffs out the last embers of democracy in Venezuela, I appreciate President Trump’s forthright demand for the release of political prisoners, especially opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma. Trump to Maduro: "We reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners." #Venezuela pic.twitter.com/x2tCotO5bS — Joshua Hoyos (@JoshuaHoyos) August 2, 2017 After an opposition-boycotted election on Sunday that would replace the opposition-controlled National Assembly with a regime-controlled “Constitutional Assembly,” the US imposed sanctions on Maduro. (Ken Livingstone, being Ken Livingstone, stands by Maduro and blames the Venezuelan calamity on Hugo Chavez’s failure to “execute the establishment elite”.) The sanctions against Maduro are…

  • Latin America,  Trump

    Maduro regime helped fund Trump’s inaugural

    As shortages of food and other basic commodities continue, and angry and desperate Venezuelans from formerly pro-chavista neighborhoods rioted, looted and clashed with government forces, resulting in at least 12 deaths, The Guardian reported on one of the Maduro regime’s recent expenditures: A Venezuelan state-owned oil company, heavily indebted to the Russian oil giant Rosneft, made a $500,000 donation to Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, it has emerged. Foreign donations are banned under US law, but the Venezuelan company, PdVSA, made the donation through a US affiliate, Citgo Petrol, soon after offering a nearly 50% stake in Citgo to Rosneft as collateral for a $1.5bn loan. These transactions come at a…

  • Latin America

    Venezuela on the edge

    There have been a lot of turbulent moments in Venezuela recently, but the latest events seem to be on a whole new level. It started last week when opposition leader Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate, was banned from public office for 15 years. Another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has been in prison on phony charges since 2014. Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor as president, Nicolas Maduro, has meanwhile presided over the utter collapse of the Venezuelan economy. Angry demonstrations have erupted throughout the country and met with a brutal response by the government. According to an observer at the indispensable Caracas Chronicles website: State forces no longer want to dissuade…

  • Labour Party,  Latin America

    Venezuela: The left’s giant forgetting

    This is a cross-post by Paul Canning “Malnourished children who faint in class. Children who, in the worst cases, die from hunger, their bodies nothing but skin and bones, the outlines of their ribs visible. Images like those have become common in Venezuela, where critical food shortages are pushing hundreds of thousands of children under a blanket of misery and hunger more often seen in the poorest countries in Africa.” Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children, Miami Herald, August 5, 2016. For months images of starving Venezuelan children, reports of food riots, of the very poorest banging pots on the streets demanding food and desperate parents hunting for medicine for…

  • Latin America

    Venezuela sinks into the abyss

    I haven’t posted about the chavista regime in Venezuela recently, but that’s not because things there have got any better. I’ve just run out of ways to describe how abysmal the political and economic situation in that benighted country has become. The collapse of oil prices and the failure to plan for that likelihood, combined with the utter incompetence and corruption of the regimes of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, have resulted in near-apocalyptic shortages and misery for the vast majority of the population. Continuing in the tradition of Chavez, Maduro robotically blames the US for all of Venezuela’s problems. (Chavez himself wisely died in 2013, when things…

  • Iran,  Latin America

    Argentine prosecutor: Nisman was murdered

    Now that Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is no longer president of Argentina, and her chosen successor was defeated in last November’s election, we may get closer to the truth about the death of Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor who turned up evidence that Kirchner and others helped cover up Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people. Prosecutor Ricardo Sáenz has confirmed that Nisman was murdered in January 2015, the day before he was scheduled to present evidence against Kirchner and other government officials before a parliamentary commission. Sáenz thus rejected the finding of a previous prosecutor in the Nisman…