usa-china

By John Ruberry

Building upon Peter Ingemi’s RH’s spectacular Trump’s China Call is a Deliberate Overreach from yesterday, it’s my turn to add my two yuan into the discusssion.

The media loves to dismiss Donald Trump as a showman–as if there was no showmanship with Barack Obama–but those under 45 first encountered our next president as a real estate developer, albeit a flashy one. Developers are many things, including, yes, deal makers, as well as a negotiators. In regards to that last one, when you are sitting across someone you are negotiating with, or as it usually turns out, haggling with, a strategy that has worked since the Babylonian era is to get the person sitting on the other side of the table from you off of his script and on to yours. One tactic is known as “getting-yourself-inside-their-heads.”

And that’s something that Trump may have accomplished by accepting a telephone call last week from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, which has caused a kerfuffle. Because the United States recognizes communist China as the legitimate government off all of China, including Taiwan, a president hasn’t spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. Of course we still have extensive trade relations with the island nation–oops, breakaway province–and we still sell Taiwan weapons. If they are ever fired in defense it would very likely be against the Chicomms.

Oh, Taiwan and China are major trading partners.

Trying to understand international relations is a descent into madness.

Trump made the re-negotiation of what he calls bad trade deals a central campaign promise. Of course those bad deals with China, if they really are awful, are good ones for the Chinese. If Hillary Clinton won last month’s presidential election China could look forward to at least four more years of crony socialism from the former secretary of state. Since then China has been bracing itself for a return to the bargaining table, preparing for difficult deal making with this New York capitalist.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

But Trump, who was a very good baseball player when he was young, threw a curve ball at the Chinese.

He accepted a phone call.

He got inside their heads.

Trump knows what he’s doing.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG): I’d like to take credit for the piece that John is referring to but that one was written by RH (NG36B) one of the newest additions to our magnificent 7 writers. I’m delighted to have both John & RH on the team

by baldilocks

Miamians "mourn" the death of Castro. Palm Beach Post
Miami responds to the news of Castro’s death. Palm Beach Post

Below Florida, that is. Michael Totten documents his visit to Castro’s Cuba:

I had to lie to get into the country. Customs and immigration officials at Havana’s tiny, dreary José Martí International Airport would have evicted me had they known I was a journalist. But not even a total-surveillance police state can keep track of everything and everyone all the time, so I slipped through. It felt like a victory. Havana, the capital, is clean and safe, but there’s nothing to buy. It feels less natural and organic than any city I’ve ever visited. Initially, I found Havana pleasant, partly because I wasn’t supposed to be there and partly because I felt as though I had journeyed backward in time. But the city wasn’t pleasant for long, and it certainly isn’t pleasant for the people living there. It hasn’t been so for decades.

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.

It’s one of those “read the whole thing” kind of essays and now I feel whiny for complaining about my landlords.

After I finished Michael’s superlative travelogue, I got down on my knees and thanked God for the United States of America. Descriptions of totalitarian feces holes, especially one so near, tend to remind this first-generation American of her blessings.

Also, don’t forget this.

One more thing: pray for the people in Tennessee.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter.

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baldilocks

All over TV today we saw Walmart declaring they were pulling the confederate flag because it was a symbol of hate, slavery and many were offended by it.

eBay, Sears, and Amazon quickly followed suit in pulling items with the rebel battle flag.

Now while no honest person will deny what the Reb flag meant to black Americans (and not just during the Civil War but during the years of Jim Crow & the civil rights battle) and can understand why these companies would want to remove a symbol involved with slavery & Murder Imagine my surprise when I went online & found this:

ussr1

and this:

che1

and this at WalMart’s site:

soviet2

and Amazon

soviet3

 

Now there are millions of people who were slain under these banners, and hundreds of millions in many countries enslaved under them.  There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of Americans alive today who escaped the bearers of these flags and those who operated in their name.  In my first job out of college I worked with a man who escaped the Soviet Union and even today people in Ukraine are suffering thank to a Russian Leader who once proudly served under these flags.

So this begs two questions one of which I already asked:

#1.  Given that Walmart & others have removed the Confederate Flag from their sites because of its historic connection to slavery that gives offense, how do they justify continuing to carry these products when hundreds of thousands have living memory of the atrocities committed in their name including the deaths of tens of millions?

#2  Given the media publicity concerning the removal of the Confederate Flag items from these stores will the MSM,  particularly CNN directly question if WalMart, Sears, Amazon and eBay will be as diligent in removing these offensive items, and if the companies equivocate in any way will they ask why the tens of millions who died and the hundreds of millions who were enslaved IN LIVING MEMORY these things do not demand their removal?

Or must we wait until the 21st century when the Cold War has been over for 150 years for their removal?

Update: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit:

“I wouldn’t put Confederate kitsch up in my house, but mainstream media figure Claire Shipman and former Obama press secretary Jay Carney put up Communist kitsch in their house. There is something intriguing about how the elite left tolerates art celebrating those who killed 100 million people in the last century, but seeks the erasure of anything associated with the Confederacy.”

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Two headlines at Real Clear World today:

Desperate Chinese Turn to Mass Suicide – Robert Hunwick, Global Post
Why Cubans Are Still Fleeing to America – The Economist

The common thread between the two stories is that both countries live under stifling Communist systems.

Communism crushes the individual and the human spirit; indeed, it could be said that the word itself, communism, describes the erasing of the individual. Nowhere is this more simply and starkly explained than in the words of one of the Chinese workers who committed mass suicide:

“Our use of death is simply to testify that we were ever alive at all.”

The incidents of mass suicide in China, a closed society, are now frequent enough that they are making the international news.

Cubans in the island-prison at least can find easier means to escape. The Economist explains (emphasis added),

. . . in fact it is the Castro regime that bears final responsibility for the flood of migrants, because its policies—though admittedly exacerbated by the embargo—have produced the poverty and crippling lack of opportunity in Cuba that motivates many migrants in the first place. A series of reforms adopted since 2011 have allowed limited private enterprise on the island, and have sought to spur foreign investment. Yet a gap between the haves and have-nots is growing. As few as one-tenth of the labour force have their own businesses; the rest work in state-owned firms earning pitiful wages. State rations of basic staples like rice and beans add a meagre supplement to incomes, leaving remittances as the only meaningful option for households hoping to increase their earnings. Remittances from abroad are currently estimated at about $3 billion a year. Cubans who make the perilous journey to America are often on a survival mission for their families back home.

Scott Rae and Austin Hill, in their book, The Virtues of Capitalism: A Moral Case for Free Markets explain that the societies whose economic systems have helped a large percentage of its citizenry to enjoy social and economic success are those societies founded on classic Judeo-Christian virtues.

In the absence of those classic Judeo-Christian virtues, and lacking any other alternative, the individual’s only way out is death. In the words of Patrick Henry,

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.

UPDATE:

Linked to by NewsZing. Thank you!

Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Evan Sayet points out that

The Modern Liberal will invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success.

Sayet has summarized in 25 words why Liberals love the Cuban Communist dictatorship. The latest manifestation of that love has been to invite Raul Castro and his thugs to the VII Summit of the Americas, a.k.a. the circus.

What could possibly go wrong? Watch this video and see:
Cuban dissidents, their American supporters brutally attacked in Panama.

Capitol Hill Cubans:

A half-dozen Cuban dissident leaders and American citizens were attacked this afternoon by a group of Castro regime agents in Panama City.

The activists were placing flowers at the statue of Cuban independence hero, Jose Marti, when approached by a group of Castro regime agents, who began to violently beat them.

Among those attacked were a group of American citizens, including Orlando Gutierrez of the Democratic Directorate, Silvia Iriondo of Mothers Against Repression and Gus Monge.

The Cuban dissidents include former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez,” his wife Yris Perez Aguilera and Leticia Ramos Herreria of The Ladies in White.

The Panamanian police watched as the attack took place.  Then, it detained the Cuban dissident leaders and American citizens. Meanwhile, the Castro regime agents were allowed to walk.

As it turns out, one of the attackers has been identified as the head of Cuban intelligence in Venezuela, Col. Alexis Frutos Weeden.

In another incident, Cuban operatives staged an “act of repudiation” on dissidents and U.S. citizens:

About 100 supporters of Cuba’s government aggressively heckled dissidents from the communist-run island attending a civil society forum Wednesday at the start of the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Opponents of President Raul Castro were greeted to shouts of “imperialist” and “mercenaries” as they filed into a hotel auditorium to attend speeches by summit host Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The Communist regime regularly conducts these “acts of repudiation” to intimidate its citizenry into submitting to the dictatorship.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will share the same stage today. Don’t expect Obama to mention Wednesday’s incidents.

Pres. Obama, upon announcing easing restrictions on Cuba, declared that by Charting a New Course on Cuba (emphasis added),

Our travel and remittance policies are helping Cubans by providing alternative sources of information and opportunities for self-employment and private property ownership, and by strengthening independent civil society.

The Cuban dictatorship, which announced that it was not going to change immediately following the White House declaration, is making sure we all see that it’s “Not Ready For Prime Time Civil Society.”

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s blog.

The opinions of those of us who strongly oppose easing up restrictions on Cuba are dismissed as “an outdated Cold War perspective” (the link I use here is typical but not alone).

The implication is that the Cuban Communist regime has evolved, and we have not.

Let’s take a brief glance at four points of the Cuban Revolution evolution, then.

1. Commitment to the status quo:
Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter and member of the Cuban parliament, when asked about Obama’s new concessions,

“If the U.S. thinks these changes will bring Cuba back to capitalism and return to being a servile country to the interests of the most powerful financial groups in the U.S., they must be dreaming.”

“I don’t know what my father plans to do. What I can see at least, as a Member of Parliament is that there’s big concerns about how to do things the best way possible to obtain funds for the many problems we are discussing now.”

You can listen to Mariela’s “outdated Cold War perspective” yourself.

2. Persecution:
Political repression in Cuba has quadrupled since 2010 — and 2014 isn’t over yet

As of Nov. 30, there have been at least 8,410 politically motivated arrests in Cuba this year, compared to 6,424 in all of 2013 and more than four times the 2,074 arrests in 2010, according to the Cuban National Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

3. Labor conditions:
Cuba is an enslaved society. Those who apparently have evolved beyond “outdated Cold War perspectives” cite China – hugely dependent on slave labor – as a reason why the US should grant Cuba credit (which dozens of countries have granted Cuba and lost money) to purchase American goods.

Yesterday I posted at my blog (emphasis added)

comparisons with China policy fall short on a vital aspect:
I have friends who have operated profitable businesses in China in the past 20 years. Their corporations paid their Chinese employees directly. However, anyone employing Cuban citizens does not pay the employee; they pay the Cuban government a stipulated (by the government) amount per person. The communist regime then pays the employee an amount no higher than the maximum salary (yes, Cuba has maximum salary laws), which is approximately 10% of the amount the communist regime received from the business.

That is the case with any of the hundreds of multinationals that have done business with Cuba in the country, and with the thousands of “doctors” Cuba sends to places like Venezuela and Brazil.

I was mistaken, though (emphasis added):

Cubans working for firms with foreign capital on the island received a bucket of cold water Tuesday when a new resolution published in the official Gazette fixes their salaries at only 8% of what the joint venture or foreign companies must pay the government in hard currency for their services.

The announcement published by Granma daily quotes Vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, Zamira Marín Triana, as saying the new wage involves a “significant increase” for workers.

Additionally, foreign businessmen who have tried to collect monies due by Cuba have been thrown in jail, most recently Alejandro Abood, Cy Tokmakjian, Krikor Bayassalian, Nessin Abadi, Sarkis Yacoubian, and Stephen Purvis.

4. Human rights:
In Wednesday’s speech, Obama stated,

we welcome Cuba’s decision to release a substantial number of prisoners whose cases were directly raised with the Cuban government by my team.

I have been researching for three days trying to find a list of names of the “substantial number of prisoners” who purportedly are to be released, and so far have found none.

Indeed, the Communist regime need not do anything. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson:

“I do not necessarily think that we are talking about direct human rights conditionality in the restoration of diplomatic relations part.”

What do Cuban dissident leaders, who are risking their lives, have to say about President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Castro’s dictatorship? Read it at Capitol Hill Cubans.

Four items, briefly looked at.

But let’s go full-Cold War on Cuba’s

harboring of U.S.-designated terrorists; subversion of democracy in Venezuela; support of rogue regimes in Syria and Iran; and illegal trafficking of weapons to North Korea

Mary O’Grady has more on the Cuba-Venezuela-Iran nexus.

Just this week, Cuba Leads Opposition to UN Resolutions on Human Rights in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

And how’s this for Cold War deja-vu? Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared early this year that Russia is planning to expand its permanent military presence outside its borders by placing military bases in a number of foreign countries, among them Cuba.

“Cold War perspective”? Hell yeah.

Outdated? You decide.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Eureka Berlin Wall
Berlin wall segment, Eureka College

By John Ruberry

When President Obama give a public speech before a large crowd, his operatives pack the house with loyalists and sycophants. Such was the case in Kansas City with an Obama address last week that was in all effects a political rally, as are most of the president’s speeches.

But one woman who didn’t fit the Obama-lover profile somehow made it into the crowd at the KC event and she shouted, possibly in relation to his administration’s veiled hostility to the Jewish state, “Jesus is the Lord of Israel.”

Obama replied that he believed in God. Meanwhile, the Obama-bots that made up the rest of the audience chanted, “We love you, we love you!”

I don’t believe they where speaking of Jesus.

Hecklers at a  political speech are usually rude jerks, but once in a while they are spot-on right, as East Berlin factory worker Kurt Wismach was in 1961, days before East Germany began construction of the Berlin Wall.

The nation’s dictator Walter Ulbricht was giving a speech at a cable factory where he criticized the flow of refugees from his country into free West Berlin as well as calls for free elections.

Berlin Wall replica  segment, Dixon, IL
Berlin Wall replica
segment, Dixon, IL

Sitting on a row of cable above the man the head of the Soviet secret police called “the greatest idiot” he ever encountered was Wismach, who belted out, “Even if I am the only one to say it: Free elections!”  Ulbricht, as all demagogues do, expanded the issue to a ludicrous level, mentioning that prior the rise of Hitler, Germany had free elections; while on the other hand, the personality cult leader failed to add that West Germany successfully rose out of rubble of World War II because it was a democratic and capitalist nation.

Undaunted, Wismach shouted back at Ulbricht, “Have you the slightest idea what the people really think?”

Of course Ulbricht didn’t.

Wismach was of course interrogated by communist officials and forced to recant his statements, but he and his family quickly escaped to West Berlin.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Does, as Wismach asked of Ulbricht, President Obama have the slightest idea what the people really think?

A majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare, they oppose what Obama calls “comprehensive immigration reform” but in effect is really amnesty for illegal immigrants, and they oppose Obama’s hostility to fossil fuels, which is best exemplified by his refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Does Obama know what Americans think?

Does he even care?

Kurt Wismach where are you?

 John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Communism is all about control. Nothing the individual does can be allowed;  everything is done for the purpose of consolidating power around the ruling elite and no one else.

Of course, things like guns and automobiles are anathema to the Communist. Both grant the individual a degree of independence and self-reliance that can actively be used against the whims of the powerful.

I’ll leave the discussion on guns for another time. Let’s talk about cars now.

Cars would not have been possible without capitalism: Competition, creativity, invention, technology, artistry, craftsmanship, all are brought together from free enterprise creating the monetary means to develop, purchase, deliver – and, for the consumer – buy the car.

Cars speak of freedom: freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom to hit the road when you best feel like it, freedom to buy, lease, keep, sell, or trade up your car.

Cars speak of individualism: You can personalize your car, or not, as you best see fit.

No wonder Communists hate having the hoi-polloi own cars.

Real Communists want to be the only ones in the cars, not the great unwashed tying up traffic and polluting the air. For decades we’ve been subjected to hogwash about “Cuba’s classic, beautiful cars,” i.e., the remaining 1950s jalopies the Cuban populace must make do with since, a. the Communists keep people poor, and b. the country’s broke. The useful idiots praising the jalopies can admire classic vintage cars any time they want from the comfort of their prosperous societies (since none of them actually have to scrounge in Havana for parts with which they may keep their own jalopies running), while simultaneously ignoring that Fidel Castro owned dozens of limos, some of which are now being used as taxis in Havana. To add insult to injury, one of the articles talking about Fidel’s old limos says,

The new fleet will give tourists a quirky and lighthearted look at Cuba’s history.

I leave it to you, gentle reader to decide whether half a century of misery in the island-prison deserves “a quirky and lighthearted look.”

Venezuela’s Cuba-appointed dictator, Nicolas Maduro, is hell-bent on following Fidel’s footsteps, so, of course, the country is a wreck as chavismo continues to rip off the private economy for well over a decade.

While the ruling chavistas enrich themselves, the country went begging to the Chinese for a bailout. Like the rest of the country, the auto industry – in a country where gasoline is six cents per gallon – is brought to a standstill:
Venezuela’s Car Culture Fades
Production is drying up as big auto makers can’t obtain dollars to pay parts suppliers and sky-high inflation turns older cars into investment vehicles.

The car industry this year began on a particularly dire note, with only Toyota and Volvo AB’s Mack de Venezuela powering up their assembly lines. By March, Toyota halted production for three months, followed by Italian truck maker Iveco SpA in April. Ford, GM and Chrysler rolled back production amid big losses due to currency devaluations as President Nicolás Maduro’s government tried to address a shortage of dollars by weakening the value of the bolívar.

Behold, the assembly line:

But fear not: chavistas ride on, in bullet-proof cars.

LINKED TO by Babalu Blog. Thank you!

LINKED TO by The Lonely Conservative. Thank you!

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

By John Ruberry

The effects of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea are being felt in the Baltic States–Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The three states were part of Czarist Russia, but they won their independence from the Bolsheviks after World War I. It was not to last–the tiny nations were seized by the Soviet Union in 1940. My wife, who was born in Latvia, was told that the three nations “requested” to join the USSR by her teachers.

Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia

Shortly before the collapse of the Evil Empire, the Baltic States regained their independence.

Despite being hit hard by the economic crisis of 2008, the Baltic States are the wealthiest of the former Soviet Republics. The democratic nations are members of NATO and the European Union.

But not all well in what was known in imperial Russia as “our West.” Thousands of Balts were deported to Siberia in the 1940s, Russian speakers took their place. It was an essential part of Josef Stalin’s policy of Russification–one people, one language. Over two decades after the collapse of the USSR, ethnic Russians comprise roughly one-quarter the population of Latvia and Estonia. Lithuania has a tiny Russian population but it borders the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia.

Needless to say, some people are nervous in the Baltics about the Ukraine crisis and Russia. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the former president of Latvia, told NPR earlier this month, “We have to worry every minute of every day.” Latvia and Lithuania suspended the broadcasts of the international service of a Russian government-owned television network for three months because of what they deemed inflammatory broadcasts.

An ethnic Russian member of the European Parliament from Latvia is under investigation by Latvian authorities for being a Russian Federation agent.

I’ve been to Latvia twice. When walking the streets of its capital, Riga, one is just a likely to hear Russian spoken as Latvian.

The most tense situation is in Estonia. Its third largest city, Narva, sits on the border of the Russian Federation. Just four percent of the residents are Narva are Estonian. The two nations have an unresolved border dispute. Estonia was the victim of a 2007 Russian cyber attack.

Pro independence rally in Latvia, 1990.
Pro independence rally
in Latvia, 1990.

To become a citizen of Estonia or Latvia, Russians and their descendants who emigrated there after 1940 have to pass a difficult language test, which is significant challenge for the elderly. Russians born there after 1991 can choose citizenship. In Lithuania Russians were offered citizenship upon independence.

In response to the Crimea crisis, NATO dispatched some F-16 jets to Lithuania and President Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden there. I’m sure the Balts appreciated the former more than the latter.

But if Vladimir Putin uses the same reasoning–the protection of Russians–to seize Narva as he did with Crimea, will President Obama and NATO have the stomach to view such a move as a violation of Article V of the charter of the alliance, “An attack on one is an attack on all?”

Or will Obama simply draw another of his meaningless red lines, as he did in Syria?

Putin has called the collapse of the USSR a “geopolitical tragedy.” 

But now he has Crimea. Is there a next move?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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Olimometer 2.52

The time has come to ditch the weekly goal to focus on the monthly figure, that’s where the real action is at.

In order for this to be a viable full-time business this blog has to take in enough to make the mortgage/tax payment for the house (Currently $1210 monthly) and cover the costs of the writers writing here (another $255)

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Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

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by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Embedded image permalink

“He who tires, loses.”

Venezuela is at a crossroads.

For over two weeks, the people have been protesting against the government. What started as a students’ protest has spread throughout the country – even the beauty queens are protesting. Why?

The protests accompany inflation officially at 56% (but likely much, much higher); the third-highest murder rate of any country in the world; and, according to an official index, scarce supplies of one out of four staple items needed in every home, such as cooking oil, corn flour, and toilet paper.

Nationalization and expropriation of private businesses, price controls, huge corruption, government printing money to finance itself (including having to pay bond yields higher than all 55 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg) are all part and parcel of a ruined economy. The scarce benefits that may have accrued under Chavez are being eaten away fast by the crisis.

One of the causes for the rampant criminality is due to the multiple times when, urging his “Bolivarian Revolution,” Hugo Chavez  encouraged the poor to steal while he created a favored class, instead of directing his regime towards the rule of law. Chavez armed gangs that repressed opposition demonstrations (and, make no mistake, they’re on the attack now). He named to his cabinet men who were designated as “Tier II Kingpins”  by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. To worsen things, as part of his “war of all the peoples”, Chavez forged close ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

Add to how socialism has destroyed Venezuela, the regime’s suppression of the media:

  • international networks have been blocked from cable and satellite TV,
  • TV and radio stations had their licenses revoked,
  • newspapers are denied the hard currency they need to buy paper,
  • news websites are taken down,
  • the government blocked Twitter images and digital walkie-talkie apps like Zello.
  • president Maduro calls CNN “fascists”, throws them out of the country, and them changes his mind, allowing them to stay if they toe the line,
  • all while the government continues to assert that Venezuela is a free democracy.

YouTube, Twitter and other social media carry the opposition’s message as the international media has ignored until this week the Venezuela story. Worryingly,

influential news outlets have started describing students protests in the country as the domain of “conservative” kids (here’s looking at you BBC). To those who discovered Venezuela only a couple of weeks ago, and are bent on projecting racial and cultural prejudices on the situation, let me just leave with this little factoid to ponder on: chavismo has never won a general election in Venezuelan universities. Ever. Since 1998. In other words, where the voting is manual (rather than with Smartmatic / official electoral body), chavismo is yet to win one election, of either authorities or students bodies in universities across Venezuela.

Much to their credit, CNN en Español sent correspondent Fernando del Rincón to interview retired Brigadier General Ángel Vivas, who had armed and barricaded himself in his home when the National Guard came to seize him for denouncing that Cuba’s giving the orders to the military.

There’s even a photo claiming to show Cuban General Leopoldo Cinta dictating his orders to the Venezuelan army.

Senator Marco Rubio explained Cuba’s influence on Venezuelan affairs:

Like its Cuban overlords, the Venezuelan regime’s human rights violations are egregious:

the human rights abuses taking place every day with government oversight. In the past 14 days, Venezuelan protesters, comprised mostly of students and the middle class, have been shot; tear-gassed, beaten and arrested by National Police. Fifteen people have died as a result of the protests, seven of them were shot in the head. In addition, two local human rights organizations, Provea and the Venezuelan Penal Forum, have also called for investigations on the ongoing torture of detainees.

Here are two tragic (and very graphic) stories that haven’t made their way into American headlines: Geraldine Moreno, a student, died this past Saturday after troops shot numerous plastic bullets at her eyes. Juan Manuel Carrasco, 21, y Jorge Luis León, 25 – two male students detained in the city of Valencia – were allegedly raped with long guns by military troops and handcuffed for 48 hours. There is has been no word of an official investigation, and the two are only being helped by an NGO, Venezuelan Penal Forum.

Today there’s a women’s demonstration taking place. Tomorrow the Organization of American States will be meeting on Venezuela – I doubt they will denounce the regime’s abuses. Jimmy Carter wants to go to Venezuela, Next week Carnival celebrations are scheduled but the opposition has already said no to the Carnival.

Venezuela’s regime has no ace-in-the-hole monetary allies; there are signs that some of the military may side with the protestors. Yet, things will have to get a lot worse before they get better.

Venezuela’s opposition, in order to be effective, must continue its struggle. Their motto, so far, is “He who tires, loses.” As Jay Nordlinger said,

The Castros and the Chávezes and the Maduros and their apologists never tire — ever. Their opponents must not either, if they can possibly help it.

Let this be their anthem, then:

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes at Fausta’s blog on Latin American and US politics and culture.