Chilean Entrepreneurs Must Know Thy Enemy

Speak Up Now or Kiss the Favorable Market Goodbye

Sebastián Dávalos, son of President Michele Bachelet, was forced to resign as sociocultural director amid allegations of influence peddling.

Sebastián Dávalos, son of President Michelle Bachelet, was forced to resign as sociocultural director amid allegations of influence peddling. (@Cooperativa)

EspañolThe recent “Nueragate” scandal has generated a great deal of public outrage and distrust within Chile. President Michelle Bachelet’s son, Sebastián Dávalos, and his wife, Natalia Compagnon, allegedly received a CHL$6.5 billion (US$10 million) loan in exchange for political influence.

Curiously, Natalia Compagnon’s company received this hefty loan even though it only possessed slightly under $10,000 in capital. Dávalos resigned from his sociocultural director position shortly after the news broke.

Chile may be a model for the rest of Latin America to follow, but it is not completely exempt from the populism that has afflicted the region since its independence from Spain. The peddling of influence, vote buying, intimidation, cronyism, and demagoguery have all been fixtures of the Latin-American political experience for nearly two centuries.

Chile is, unfortunately, no exception, and this could be a sneak preview of the populist future that is to come.

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Price Volatility No Match for Bitcoin’s Potential

Fluctuations Have Little Bearing on Pertinent Transfers, Remittances

Bitcoin can reach places where traditional payment systems are unavailable or blocked

Bitcoin can reach places where traditional payment systems are unavailable or blocked. (Flickr)

EnglishBitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology have been out on the market for six years. Given all the potential, it’s still early days.

No one knows for sure how successful bitcoin will be: it could be supplanted by superior technology, remain limited to certain groups and niches, become the world’s financial clearing system, or descend to the masses as an everyday currency. Bitcoin is so versatile it could find a place in many sectors beyond money and finance. [Read more…]

Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell Dine with Despotism

Cuban-Regime Love for Yankee Millionaires

EspañolBy Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Paris Hilton, de visita en la fábrica de habanos "Montecristo" durante su visita a Cuba. (Instagram)

Paris Hilton visited the renowned Montecristo cigar producer during her trip to Havana, Cuba. (Instagram)

Where will US millionaires rush to as soon as they can reconquer Cuba economically? Where do they go now when they sneak through the embargo’s cracks?

The answer is so simple, it may very well disappoint us. Millionaires are like that: ordinary and predictable, their heaps of money notwithstanding. Yankee millionaires will go where they have always been: where they can flirt with power and rub shoulders with the powerful.

Money rules. Freedom for the Cuban people can wait another 56 years.

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Castro’s Demands Do Not Pass Go

Mad Dash to Embrace Military Dictatorship Ignores Predictable Consequences

EspañolEditor’s note: José Azel presented his original testimony, “What Would Cuba Do?” to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on February 26. Watch the full video of the hearing at the bottom of this article, with Azel at 27:58.

Mr. chairman, ranking member, distinguished members of the committee, I am honored to have this opportunity to share my analysis on the US national security implications of the administration’s new Cuba policy, and I commend you on calling this hearing on what is often a misunderstood threat to our national interests.

Last year, when the New York Times editorial board and others intensified their campaign for a unilateral-unconditional change in US-Cuba policy, I published an essay titled: WWCD; that is, What Would Castro Do if the United States were to unilaterally and unconditionally end economic sanctions?

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Venezuela’s Night of the Long Knives

Maduro's Regime Is Stronger than Ever: It Eliminates Opponents at Will

EspañolVenezuela’s Ramo Verde military prison has become a symbol of oppression, a dungeon for freedom. It’s no exaggeration to say that democracy has been kidnapped and thrown in Ramo Verde.

Just like the infamous Rotunda in the days of Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gómez, or South Africa’s Robben Island where Nelson Mandela served the greater part of his 27-year sentence, today the prison facility is used as a cage for anyone who dares raise their voice against the creeping tyranny seeking to cement its grip over Venezuela.

On Thursday, February 19, the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) arbitrarily arrested Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma, to later send him to Ramo Verde. He joins opposition leader Leopoldo López, among others.

Dozens of officers subjected the elected official to physical and verbal abuse as they dragged him from his office, as if he were a common criminal. Ledezma was kidnapped without a warrant and without ceremony.

El secuestro de Antonio Ledezma, alcalde de Caracas, no es un hecho que sorprenda, sino que responde a lógica del Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro.

The kidnap of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma isn’t surprising: it fits the authoritarian logic of President Nicolás Maduro. (Diario Crítico)

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10 Ways to Get Latin America Out of Poverty

Steps to Release a Fountain of Untapped Potential

Español José Piñera once said, “Latin America is not poor, it is impoverished.” Truer words have never been spoken, especially by a man that played a pivotal role in the Chilean Miracle, one of the most successful economic turnarounds in the 20th century. But this success doesn’t need to be confined to just Chile: it can be transported to just about anywhere in the region. Latin America is oozing with potential.

Unfortunately, populist governments have shackled this potential through burdensome regulation and government overreach. Here are 10 ways Latin America can get back on its feet and defeat poverty once and for all.

1. Rule of Law

Often taken for granted, rule of law is the bedrock of a free society. (Wikimedia)

Often taken for granted, rule of law is the bedrock of a free society. (Wikimedia)

An institution that is often taken for granted by many westerners, rule of law has been the bedrock of western civilization since the signing of the Magna Carta 800 years ago.

This entails limited government, an independent judiciary, respect for private property, and the enforcement of contracts. Ultimately, laws govern societies, not the whims of politicians.

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Xenophobia Not Welcome in Panama

Political Cheap Shots at Foreigners Will Backfire, Kill Investment

EspañolSeveral things about Panama worry me, but nothing like the inflamed debate nowadays about immigrants and the role of foreign residents in the country. Nationalist and populist legislators’ rants have been rightfully called xenophobic in local media, and have become dangerous fodder for economic and social conflicts.

Panama’s National Assembly is currently studying Bill 62, which modifies portions of the National Migration Service law. It would do away with the Crisol de Razas program (Melting Pot of Races), which allows for the legalization of unauthorized immigrants who have resided in the country for over a year or overstayed their permitted entry.

It is true that the Crisol de Razas policy doesn’t attempt to plan for the needs of the internal labor market, by filtering people on the basis of profession or career path, but the reform has nothing to do with this alleged shortcoming.

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Airports: Your Dose of State Violence Just around the Corner

A Trans-Continental Trip Brings Home Fallacies of Political Borders

EspañolThis is what a border looks like:

Of course, if I didn’t mention that it’s the frontier between two countries (and if there were no limits showed by Google) it would go unnoticed. The earth doesn’t stop, doesn’t break, or change its color. Crops that grow on one side generally grow smoothly on the other. It’s the artificial boundary itself that is often host to absurdity.

In the face of the peaceful atmosphere that reigns in the state of nature, governments — the example of the unnatural par excellence — allocate countless resources to counter that balance, hence customs, “security checks,” tariff measures, passports, and visas. All these tools are backed by violence, their ultimate sanction the police baton and the soldier’s rifle.

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There Can Be Transition in Venezuela: Here’s How

Dialogue Essential for Exit from Political, Economic Crisis

La coalición que sostiene a Nicolás Maduro en el poder deberá percibir los beneficios de abandonarlo para abrir la puerta a la transición en Venezuela.

Nicolás Maduro’s coalition will have to see that the benefits of abandoning him outweigh the risks. (@DiarioMirador)

EspañolThe economic crisis in Venezuela has deepened the country’s political crisis, prompting many to ponder an eventual transition, and the popularity of President Nicolás Maduro has abruptly fallen to around 20 percent. According to the latest surveys by consulting firm Datanálisis, the opposition enjoys for the first time in the history of Chavismo a lead that almost triples the number of those planning to vote for the government (59.6 percent versus 22.5 percent).

But it’s important to remember that Maduro doesn’t stand alone. He counts on the support of a coalition that includes all public institutions, such as the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the National Assembly, the National Electoral Council, and above all, the National Armed Forces. And as if that weren’t enough, up until now he’s enjoyed the support of almost every country in Latin America, UNASUR, and Petrocaribe countries.

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Colombia Must Fight the Drug War, Not “Culture of Violence”

Judicial Failures, Narco Profits to Blame for Homicide Rates

EspañolBy Julio César Mejía

In recent weeks, former Mayor of Bogotá Antanas Mockus has made headlines in Colombia over the March for Life, which he’s convened for March 8. The demonstration seeks to unite different political groups to promote the message that “life is sacred.” But suspicion about the movement has risen following allegations of shady dealings between a foundation owned by Mockus and the government.

En Facebook, Mockus hace una activa promoción de la marcha del 8 de marzo. (Facebook)

Former Mayor of Bogotá Antanus Mockus has called for a March for Life. (Facebook)

Yet leaving this debate aside, it’s important to reflect on the message sent by this kind of initiative. The former mayor has backed the thesis that homicide and gang violence have cultural roots in Colombia. He argues that violence is widespread, impulsive, and could appear at any moment or in any place. Killing, he suggests, is part of Colombia’s environment.

In the face of this grim diagnosis, Mockus has a solution: the state must shoulder the burden of teaching the general public the error of their ways, and re-culture its errant citizens to set them on the path to peace.

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