Venezuelans: Take Up Arms for Democracy?

Ignore General Vivas: Eliminating the Opposition Is No Path to a Free Society

EspañolA recent video made by General Ángel Vivas, a well-known opposition figure in Venezuela, eliminates any hope that one might still have about democracy returning to Venezuela. Instead, it reveals the profound authoritarian tendencies that have become embedded in our national psyche.

In the video, Vivas calls for citizens to take arms to defend themselves against the “Castro-Communist” invasion suffocating the Venezuelan state. The general fails to take into account the dangers of beginning a civil war in Venezuela, still less the vicious precedent that would be set by a “civil-military” coup.

His proposal is a direct attack on the diversity of political opinion and freedom of Venezuelans. To hear him, it may as well have been Hugo Chávez speaking.

For Vivas, the proof that the Cuban dictatorship has taken complete control over Venezuela is the resolution taken on January 27 that permits the armed forces to use firearms and lethal force against demonstrations.

But what is the general’s solution? “Everyone that has a weapon had better prepare to use it, exercising their right to self-defense, not only for themselves but for their country.” Words like these make me wonder whether Vivas is on the government’s payroll. For what could be better proof of the regime’s long-standing claims of “attacks from the far right” against the government? Vivas’s speech plays right into their hands.

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Freedom of Speech: Rafael Correa Doesn’t Get It

Ecuadorian President's Social Media Crackdown Manifests Fear of Ridicule

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On the night of Wednesday, 28 January, the Twitter account of popular satirical Facebook group Crudo Ecuador was suspended. At a stroke, President Rafael Correa proved beyond doubt that censorship rules in his so-called Citizens’ Revolutionary Government.

For many, myself included, the mysterious disappearance of the account was hardly a surprise. Just a few days previously, Correa had threatened to unmask Crudo Ecuador’s anonymous curator, whose targets include politicians of all stripes, as well as everyday topics.

Under the hashtag #YoCerréACrudo (#IClosedCrudo) members of the government and its sympathizers soon expressed their support for the page’s closure. Nevertheless, critics of government censorship weren’t far behind. A mass movement of supporters of the page soon hijacked the hashtag to voice their anger.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's asault against opposition tweeters denying them their right of freedom of expression.

The Twitter account of satirical Facebook page Crudo Ecuador was suspended soon after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa threatened to unmask its anonymous curator. (Diario1)

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Puerto Rico’s Missing Ambulances

Overregulation Is Strangling Our Life-Saving Services, Again

Back in September 2014, I wrote about how the failure of Puerto Rico’s government to pay its bills led to the closure of the island’s last air-ambulance service. The commonwealth authorities eventually forged a temporary fix to keep the vital service running.

But now, barely five months later, local news source El Vocero reports that we’re running short of all ambulances — aerial and otherwise. Money, or the lack of it, is again the issue, but there’s more to it than that.

Onerous government regulations are forcing private ambulance companies to shut down in Puerto Rico.

Onerous government regulations are forcing private ambulance companies to shut down in Puerto Rico. (Wikimedia)

Public service contracts in Puerto Rico require ambulance companies to replace their vehicles every ten years. On the face of it, that’s not such a bad idea: the job, and the state of our road network, take a heavy toll on the vehicles. In the course of each replacement, on-board equipment is also updated.

The problem is that each new ambulance can cost over US$100,000 per unit: a cost that could be avoided by installing new equipment without buying an entirely new vehicle.

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Remembering Richard Gordon: Libertarian Mineral Economist

Energy Policy Pioneer Shaped Free-Market Understanding of Natural Resources

I recently learned that Richard Gordon, emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University and one of the most influential free-market energy economists of all time, passed away last month at the age of 80.

Richard Gordon was unquestionably one of the greatest thinkers from the first generation of modern energy economists.

Richard Gordon was unquestionably one of the greatest thinkers from the first generation of modern energy economists. (Cato)

For those who are unfamiliar, Gordon was the epitome of a career economist. He continued writing for nearly two decades after his retirement from Penn State, with his final piece, a book review, appearing posthumously in Regulation

The man had a profound understanding of natural resources, and the government’s role — or lack thereof — in reaping their benefits. He gained accolades from everyone and anyone, from the International Association for Energy Economics to the government of Venezuela.

Gordon stands as one of two of the greatest thinkers from the first generation of modern energy economists. He held a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the same school where eminent, free-market, petrochemical economist M.A. Adelman taught for many years.

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Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Chickens Out in Costa Rica

Chavista Stooges Resort to Threats after Presidential No-Show

Protesters march against Nicolás Maduro, who decided not to show up at UCR. (David Rodríguez)

Around 80 protesters marched against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who decided not to show up at UCR. (David Rodríguez)

EspañolVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was due to speak at University of Costa Rica’s (UCR) Rodrigo Facio campus on Wednesday, January 28. UCR’s Student Federation and university authorities had confirmed his acceptance of an invitation, but — to the disappointment of many — he failed to show up.

Instead, the audience at UCR’s law school auditorium had to make do with the altogether less A-List Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. Prior to the event, a group of some 80 protesters, myself among them, gathered outside campus and marched to the building.

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7 Key Facts to Understanding Chile’s Mapuche Conflict

History of Violence Shows Peaceful Integration the Only Way Forward

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By Ernesto Medalla

In the past two weeks alone, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has received no less than 160 reports of fires in Chile’s southern regions — to farms, property, cars — of which only 15 were formally linked to the so-called Mapuche conflict, the long-running dispute between Chile’s largest indigenous group and local landholders.

Interior Subsecretary, Mahmud Aleuy, told press that it is important to “identify with close scrutiny which fires correspond with the Mapuche conflict and which ones do not.… It is a task that is extremely relevant, as we need to be able to address real events rather than imagined ones.”

However, some are suspicious of the Bachelet administration’s willingness to address the problem. Senator Alberto Espina of the conservative National Renewal party has accused the government of failing to deliver “any definitive response.” Meanwhile, the violence in the Araucanía department and nearby has only worsened, adversely affecting the property and liberty of its victims, and in the worst cases, taking their lives.

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The Dalai Lama’s Limousine Marxism

Tibetan Leader Embraces Statist Ideology, Ignores Bloody History

Español During a lecture on world peace in Kolkata, India, on January 13, the Dalai Lama publicly identified himself as a Marxist. Though he denied belonging to the Leninist variety, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader did blame capitalism in part for global inequality, and decried the “increasing gap between the rich and poor” in capitalist countries.

The Dalai Lama has joined the list of international figures espousing Marxist ideology. (Wikimedia)

The Dalai Lama has joined the list of international figures espousing Marxist ideology. (Wikimedia)

One would think that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, China’s economic liberalization since the 1970s, and the crisis of collectivist models in Latin America, the days of this 19th-century European ideology would be numbered. But the ghost of Marxism continues to haunt the corridors of international power. [Read more…]

Miss Universe: Where Are the Clever Women?

Obsession with Physical Beauty Distracts from Landmark Achievements

EspañolBy Daniela Vargas

The vote for women, women’s participation in politics, the struggle for gender equality, pay inequality between men and women, gender-related violence… let’s forget all this for a night. A night in which a group of women from all corners of the earth are valued not by what they think, by their work, their achievements in science, the arts, sports, or business, but for their physical beauty. I’m talking, of course, about the Miss Universe contest.

La joven Paulina Vega, representante de Colombia, alcanzó el galardón como la más bella del Universo el pasado 25 de enero (Wikimedia)

Paulina Vega, representing Colombia, wins the Miss Universe crown on January 25. (Wikimedia)

While we all agree that there’s an inherent subjectivity in the concept of beauty, it would seem that it’s possible — against all logic — to decide that one of these women is the most beautiful in the universe.

The world is paralyzed by the struggle for this title, or at least on this side of it, in Latin America. We laugh, cry, and sing for the women. But not for anything to do with their intellect — for evidence, we need only look at the question-and-answer segment of the competition.

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The Beginning of the End for Venezuela’s Al Capone

As Diosdado Cabello's Bodyguard Talks, Opportunity Beckons

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has secured a security official close to Diosdado Cabello to provide evidence of his criminal network. (Opinologos)

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has secured a security official close to Diosdado Cabello to provide evidence of his criminal network. (Opinologos)

EspañolAn economy crippled by inefficiency and streets flooded with crime have long marred Caracas and the rest of Venezuela. Over the years, corruption has paved the way for organized crime to overrun the Bolivarian Republic, and as the rule by law became the rule by men, one man has stood atop the racket: Diosdado Cabello Rondón.

Cabello is best known as the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, but has also earned his reputation as the “Al Capone” of Venezuela and one of the top kingpins in Latin America.

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University of Costa Rica Must Not Host Nicolás Maduro

We Cannot Condone Venezuelan President's Bloody Record on Student Rights

EspañolTo mark the forthcoming Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Costa Rica, the University of Costa Rica (UCR) Student Federation and university authorities have decided to invite three South American presidents to speak at the Rodrigo Facio campus on January 28.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has no business visiting the UCR, given his violation of students' rights.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has no business visiting the UCR, given his violation of students’ rights. (Operation Transparency)

The student union reached out to three potential speakers: outgoing Uruguayan head of state José Mujica, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. The conference purports to focus on “the integration of Latin-American countries,” and while the nonsense Evo Morales has uttered is no secret to anyone, the possible visit of Nicolás Maduro to Costa Rica is highly concerning.

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