Lessons from George Washington for Rafael Correa

That You Can Stay in Power Doesn't Mean You Should

George Washington firmly believed in the need for new leadership. After 10 years in power, President Rafael Correa should follow his example and humbly step aside. (<a href="https://flic.kr/p/tvFw6t" target="_blank">Ecuadorian Presidency</a>)

George Washington firmly believed in the need for new leadership. After 10 years in power, President Rafael Correa should follow his example and humbly step aside. (Ecuadorian Presidency)

By: David Wolverton

There was turmoil throughout the country, as it had recently undergone a people’s revolution like no other before it. This revolution liberated the country from the tyrannical powers of an elitist ruling class that had subjugated the populace into a form of serfdom for generations.

Throughout the process, a rapidly changing political landscape and the pressures of external interference by the world’s leading powers threatened to destabilize the small country. Yet, through it all there was a larger-than-life personality who managed to consolidate power and earn the trust of a nation.

[Read more…]

Telesur Gets It Right: Kirchner’s Argentina Is All About Her

Socialist State Broadcaster Departs from Script to Tell the Truth

EspañolPresident Cristina Kirchner used Argentina’s May Revolution celebrations to convene yet another taxpayer-funded party in front of the presidential palace. Its sole aim was to boost her prestige, and that of deceased former President Néstor Kirchner, to the level of Argentina’s founding fathers.

Rather than commemorate the culmination of the emblematic 1810 revolution of May 25, Cristina was celebrating the same date but in a different year. On May 25, 2003, her late husband took office, and Kirchnerista historiography marks that day as a refounding of the country. “We have built the Motherland again,” she told the crowds, hardly mincing her words.

However, the best description of the event held on Monday at the historic Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires was issued inadvertently by TeleSUR, a broadcaster largely owned by the Venezuelan government, an ally of the Kirchner administration:


“Caption: Argentina celebrates 12 years since the coming of Kirchnerism. Tweet: Telesur understood today’s celebration at the Plaza better than anyone. Nobody spoke of May 25, 1810.”

[Read more…]

What’s Really Behind the WSJ’s Narco Exposé on Diosdado Cabello

Drug Trafficking Accusations Could Give Opposition Vital Leverage

En apariencia cercanos, se desconoce la verdadera relación entre Cabello y Maduro (Notihoy)

The true extent of the power struggle between President Maduro and Diosdado Cabello remains a mystery. (Notihoy)

EspañolLast week, the Wall Street Journal surprised everyone with a story reporting that US prosecutors are investigating none other than the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello. WSJ reporter Juan Forero claims the South American nation has become a global hub for the illicit drug trade.

The allegations are nothing new, though. For years, Washington has placed Venezuelan officials on its Specially Designated Nationals List, also known as the Clinton list. But this is the first time the links between the senior ranks of Chavismo and drug-trafficking have been featured in influential international outlets such as the WSJ and Spain’s ABC.

This story is particularly interesting because it’s not the usual tubazo, as Venezuelan journalists call an explosive scoop. It’s too much of a coincidence that it broke out when the Venezuelan economy is at its worst shape ever and just months shy of this year’s legislative elections, with the opposition leading in voting intention polls.

[Read more…]

Brazilian Student Faces US$15,700 Fine for “Racist” Meme

Undefined Crime Opens the Door for Prosecution on a Whim

Scholars of constitutional law … will not find lessons on institutional architecture in the new text [of the Brazilian constitution]. Instead, they will find plenty of anecdotal material. What constitution in the world formalizes negligence, ensures immortality of the elderly, nationalizes disease, and, at the same time, gives the 16-year-old the right to vote and criminal immunity? Our claim to originality created a new constitutional theory: the “archaic progressivism.”
~Roberto Campos, 1988.

Local Brazilian news sources report that Santa Catarina Federal University student Igor Westphal could be ordered to pay over R$50,000 (US$15,700) for “collective moral damage” triggered by a Facebook post.

[Read more…]

Kirchner’s Critics Can’t See the Statist Forest for the Trees

Buenos Aires Boondoggle Gets Off Too Easy

El espacio, inaugurado recientemente en Buenos Aires, ha sido criticado por su alto costo. (Centro Cultural Néstor Kirchner)

The recently inaugurated cultural center has come under attack over elevated costs. (Centro Cultural Néstor Kirchner)

EspañolBy Alejandro Sala

Independent media in Argentina have lashed out at President Cristina Kirchner’s recent inauguration of the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, named after her late husband and predecessor.

While the political opposition remain silent, Argentinean daily La Nación writes: “The current cost almost triples the initial budget: in six years it went from AR$926 million to $2.469 billion,” while Clarín reports that “some 30 percent of the construction remains to be done. Private calculations put the final price tag at AR$4 billion,” some US$320 million all told.

Some have resorted to the same old comparison between the center’s total cost and what else the government could have done with the money. La Nación pointed out the Kirchner administration could have built instead “between 123 and 224 schools.” The underlying theme in these kinds of analysis is that if only the cultural center had been cheaper and the project had remained within budget, then it would have been okay for the government to do it.

This approach omits dealing with the substantive aspect of the whole enterprise. It remains stuck within the statist paradigm that reigns supreme over social planning considerations and intellectual criteria in Argentina, and indeed the rest of the western world. Those who criticize the scale of spending, the inefficient management of resources, and the lousy prioritizing, never stop to think whether the state should in fact be financing cultural activities or not.

[Read more…]

Is the Dubai of the Americas Running Out of Gas?

Panama's Varela Must Embrace Free-Market Ideals to Get Economy Back on Track

Panama, the Dubai of the Americas, has seen significant economic growth in the last few years, but the party may soon be over.

Panama, the Dubai of the Americas, has seen significant economic growth in the last few years, but the party may soon be over. (Flickr/Thibault Houspic)

EspañolPanama, the “Dubai of the Americas,” as it is sometimes called, seemingly has it all. Boasting one of the most important free-trade zones in the world, along with an enviable regional financial center, this Central American country has had years of incredible GDP growth, a relatively good ranking on the Social Progress Index, and significant advances in the expansion of one of its key assets, the Panama Canal.

Yet, Panamanians, by and large, feel something is amiss.

What could possibly be going wrong in a country that weathered the Great Recession almost unharmed, and that has one of the lowest unemployment figures in the world? To quote James Carville: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

[Read more…]

Pérez Molina Has No One Left to Lean On

Spate of Resignations Leaves Guatemalan President Adrift

Perez Molina

Interior Minister López Bonilla and President Otto Pérez Molina in happier times.  (Soy502)

EspañolGuatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina is facing the worst crisis of his administration since he took power in January 2012. Seemingly surrounded by corruption scandals, he told a press conference on Thursday that his cabinet “isn’t collapsing” and insisted that he will not resign his office.

Various groups have called for his removal since the customs corruption scandal known as The Line emerged, and several officials have even jumped ship from his administration, including members of his Patriotic Party (PP).

The resignations began on Friday, May 8, when Pérez Molina announced the resignation of Vice President Roxana Baldetti. Soon after followed the departure of Mining and Energy Minister Erick Archila, claiming that he was being blackmailed by the Renewed Democratic Liberty party (LIDER).

On Thursday, Guatemalan politics took an even more unexpected turn. Mauricio López Bonilla, one of the closest allies of Pérez Molina, resigned his position as interior minister, despite repeated denials in recent days that he was considering such a move. Also exiting the cabinet where Environment Minister Michelle Martínez and Vice Minister of Security Edy Juárez.

[Read more…]

Rand Paul All Alone in the Senate

Zuri Davis Delivers the Painful Truth about the Uphill Battle in Congress

US Senator Rand Paul continues on his quest to block renewal of the Patriot Act, and Zuri Davis was there to watch this evening’s standoff in Washington, DC. The liberty activist, who has made waves with her support for the elder Paul, posted a revealing and candid reflection.

This entire night was dedicated to whether or not the Senate would have a discussion to pass the Patriot Act. How sad that having a discussion before actions isn’t the norm. A discussion allows we the people to hear both sides of an argument and gives us time to contact our representatives and senators in order to ask them to vote one way or another.

[Read more…]

Correa’s Price Controls Disguise Tariff Tax Hike

Delay Tactic Pulls the Wool over Constituent Eyes

(Mauricio Torres)

Ecuadorian President Correa should come clean with his constituents and say outright that he believes the tariffs are fiscally necessary, rather than distract attention with divisive rhetoric. (Mauricio Torres)

EspañolBy David Wolverton

With the precipitous fall in oil prices that started during the latter half of 2014, many oil-producing countries are experiencing fiscal challenges. Ecuador is no exception, as oil revenue accounts for almost 40 percent of public revenues, not to mention a solid chunk of forex earnings.

In the first semester of 2015, the government of President Rafael Correa has been taking measures to counter the effects of the fiscal pinch. Some of these measures, such as curtailing the 2015 budget by 4 percent, have been necessary (and some might argue, insufficient). Other measures, on the contrary, are controversial and carry undertones of populist rhetoric that seeks to pit social classes against each other.

[Read more…]

Honduras: Victory for Human Rights, Defeat for the Rule of Law

Scrapping Reelection Ban Disregards Popular Sovereignty

Presidential term limits in Honduras should be decided by the people, not by a court.

Presidential term limits in Honduras should be decided by the people, not by a court. (El Diario)

EspañolThe recent ruling of the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) regarding presidential reelection sparked joy among the ruling party and its supporters, and indignation on the part of opposition parties and many citizens.

However, the vast majority of Hondurans, whose only interest is to improve their economic situation and that of their children, received the ruling with an unperturbed apathy.

Without doubt, it takes only a brief analysis to see that much of the legislation on presidential reelection violates the right to free expression and dissemination of ideas, contradicting other constitutional articles along the way.

Moreover, it goes against international human-rights instruments, as the 15 congressmen who filed the appeal of unconstitutionality argued forcefully.

The appeal presented by former President Rafael Callejas, who argued that the ban on reelection is a violation of the right to elect and be elected, is somewhat less convincing.

[Read more…]