sábado, enero 13, 2007

Los nombres raros en Venezuela

Venezuelan Parents Love a Famous Name

Published: January 7, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela

AS university students clashed with the police in this country last May, attention focused not just on their demands to hold elections without government meddling but also on the names of the two leaders organizing the protests: Nixon Moreno and Stalin González.

Many Venezuelans had a good laugh at the names and went on with their business. What’s so odd, after all, about the occasional Nixon or Stalin in a nation where bestowing bizarre names on newborns has become a whimsically colorful tradition?

A glance through a phone book or the government’s voter registry reveals names like Taj-Mahal Sánchez, Elvis Presley Gomez Morillo, Darwin Lenin Jimenez, even Hitler Eufemio Mayora. Other Venezuelan first names, which roll off the tongue about as easily in Spanish as in English, include Yusmairobis, Nefertitis, Yaxilany, Riubalkis, Debraska, as well as Yesaidú and Juan Jondre — transliterations of “Yes, I do” and “One hundred.”

What’s it like to have such a name? “I’m extremely proud,” said Mao Breznyer Pino Delgado, explaining how he had recently looked online at Wikipedia to read up on the men who inspired his names, Mao Zedong and the former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, when he found an example of Mao’s signature. He said he learned a bit of calligraphy so he could sign his name in Chinese.

“My father was a political moderate but he admired the military accomplishments of the Red Army,” said Mr. Pino, 26, who works in advertising for a beach clothing company. When a Fidel Castro or Mao shows up on the electoral registry, Mr. Pino said, some people accuse allies of the leftwing president, Hugo Chávez, of stuffing the registry with false names. “But my name has been Mao since before Chávez,” Mr. Pino, a supporter of Mr. Chávez, said.

Venezuela is not the only country in Latin America, or elsewhere, with a creative approach to first names. Brazil is renowned for its abundance of Washingtons, Robsons and Wellingtons, which take on a musical resonance when pronounced in Portuguese. Honduras drew attention several years ago after babies with names like Llanta de Milagro (Miracle Tire) and Bujía (Spark Plug) turned up on the public birth registry.

But Venezuela’s interest in unusual names is especially robust. Naming is related somewhat to social class, with the upper crust loyal to names like Andrés, Miguel, Carolina or Patricia. Mr. Chávez’s government has numerous officials with colorful names, reflecting how Venezuela’s traditional political elite has been upended in recent years.

Chavistas include Iroshima Bravo, a congresswoman named after the Japanese city Hiroshima, and Diosdado Cabello, the governor of Miranda State, whose first name means “God given.” The National Assembly, controlled entirely by Chávez supporters, has an Earle, an Eddy, an Elvis, a Berkis Claret and a Jhonny Owee.

Cold war ideologies offered some inspiration to Venezuelan parents in decades past. Even today, a name or a political philosophy that might result in being ostracized elsewhere is no obstacle to a warm reception in Caracas. Mr. Chávez’s government has said, for instance, that it did not view Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the Venezuelan-born assassin also known as Carlos the Jackal, as a terrorist. Mr. Chávez addressed Mr. Ramírez as “Dear Compatriot” in letters they exchanged.

Mr. Ramírez, linked to the kidnapping of 11 oil ministers at a 1975 OPEC meeting in Vienna and serving a life sentence in France for killing two French secret agents, was named in honor of Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, or Lenin. His two brothers are Vladimir and Lenin, common Marxist-inspired names in Venezuela.

“It’s as if you’re more valued than someone else in this country if you have a foreign-sounding name,” said Samuel Hurtado, an anthropologist at the Central University of Venezuela who studies family structures.

“Venezuelans believe they should have privileged access to things that are imported,” Mr. Hurtado continued, explaining how unusual sounding names, often with an American or Russian twist, climbed in popularity during the oil boom of the 1970s when Venezuela was flush with cash for imports. “This thinking extends to the names parents give their children.”

While Venezuelan names can seem perplexing to outsiders, there are rules involved. Roberto Echeto, a novelist who compiled a list of unusual names after writing a column on the subject for El Nacional newspaper, points to practices like combining the names of a father and mother to produce, for instance, a son named Nelmar whose parents are Nelson and

Some parents simply reverse the spellings of names, creating Rotceh from Hector, Nabetse from Esteban, Susej from Jesús, Aleuzenev from Venezuela, or Anierim from Mi Reina (My Queen). Some rarer names on Mr. Echeto’s list, which often have a mock-American ring to them, include Willderman, Rosaherbalaif, Owinch, Petrasmit, Georguel and Yasterliski. He can add to that list Jhon Beiker (as in John Baker, a generic American-sounding name), christened as such by his mother Dosmel García
and heralded by the local media as the first baby born in Caracas in 2007.

“Naming your child in Venezuela is an almost irresistible invitation to rebel against centuries of tradition,” Mr. Echeto said. “Politics used to influence naming, but now it’s become kind of random.”

Some parents relish the challenge. Gilberto Vargas named his daughters, ages 10, 7, 4 and 2, Yusmary Shuain, Yusmery Sailing, Yusneidi Alicia and Yureimi Klaymar. His sons, one 9 years old and the other 9 months, are Kleiderman Jesús and Kleiderson Klarth.

Mr. Vargas, 33, said the middle name Sailing was inspired by an Arab princess who appeared in a comic book. Kleiderman was named in honor of Richard Clayderman (born Philippe Pagès), a French pianist whose renditions of popular music and French chansons are beloved in Venezuela. Klarth was similar to the name of a friend in Maracaibo who moved there from Trinidad and Tobago.

“The rest of the names just came to me in my dreams,” Mr. Vargas, a street vendor who sells hot dogs, said in an interview at his home, in an area where 24 families squatted illegally two years ago to build homes from tin siding and discarded pieces of wood. “Their names will make them special in this life.”

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    jueves, enero 11, 2007

    El iPhone de Apple...que maravilla !!

    Quieren ver cómo funciona el iPhone de Apple. Esta nueva tecnología con funciones múltiples es verdaderamente una maravilla !!. IPhone es una iPot de amplia pantalla con cotroles que se tocan con un dedo y que le deja a usted gozar de todos sus contenidos como música, audio, videos , TV shows y películas, además de ser un teléfono que permite hacer conferencias, navegar en internet y ver su correo electrónico. Este aparato está conectado al iTunes Library de su PC o de su MAC.

    iPhone is a widescreen iPot with touch controls that lets you enjoy all your content, including music, audiobooks, videos, TV shows and movies, on a beautiful 3,5 inch widescreen display. It also lets you sync your content from the iTunes library on your PC or MAC. And then you can access it all with with just the touch of a finger.


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    miércoles, enero 10, 2007

    Nationalization has a high price

    Nationalization has a high price
    A high economic and social price

    Alfredo Ascanio (askain)

    The Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was reelected the 9 of January and he informed several political decisions.

    The first political alarm to the investors: the nationalization of the Telecommunication Company (Verizon Inc. Communications), the electricity Company (AES Corporation of Arlington, VA) and the investments of foreign companies that operate petroleum in Orinoco River Basin (British Petroleum PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., and Statoil to upgrade heavy crude in the Orinoco).

    These three nationalizations surely will cost more or less US$ 15 billion, said Miguel Octavio, executive director of BBO Servicios Financieros, a brokerage firm. Only 28.5% of Compania Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela (CANTV)´s shares in portfolio of the North American Company Verizon, at New York, will have a much greater value of US$ 676 million, when the company offered those shares to America Mobil and Telefonos of Mexico.

    But with a price of the petroleum barrel of 55 dollars, president Chavez would not matter to him to make that enormous cost that would be the political price to eliminate the North American companies that are “companies of the empire” as he likes in describing them. The decision is ideological and political but no economic and social.

    It is surprising that these decisions have been taken because all these companies are very efficient and they have contributed to the country with cutting edge technology.

    These policies are irrational and contradictory because the country has a social debt that that “the revolution” ethically must solve but the policies of Mr. Chavez with the ideological objective to spend this enormous amount of money in nationalizations and arms bought to Russia, are harmful to the society and in special to the poor people who need better quality of life.

    This is in short a policy Socialist-Marxist totally mistaken and populist because only responds to a desire to take revenge and to demonstrate that the president has all the power in its hands. Resentment fed his anger. Today there’s a great political ferment in the country and quite a few people they begin to discuss and to analyze these subjects.

    Venezuelan plan alarms investors

    The Herald Tribune

    Venezuelan plan alarms investors

    By Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss
    Published: January 9, 2007

    CARACAS, Venezuela: Verizon Communications had been looking to lighten its exposure to Latin America for some time when it struck a deal in April to sell investments in three properties in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

    Now, it probably wishes it had disconnected its Latin lines even sooner.

    The company could possibly lose up to several hundred million dollars, thanks to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who threatened to nationalize the country's main telephone and electricity companies.

    Investors reacted with alarm here and in markets in the United States and throughout Latin America on Tuesday as they measured the impact of the plan by Mr. Chávez to nationalize crucial areas of the economy.

    Memories of past nationalizations during another turbulent era, in places like Cuba and Chile, helped drive down the Caracas stock exchange's main index by almost 19 percent.

    Markets across Latin America declined yesterday, but the drop was modest in most other countries, with the Bovespa index in Brazil and the Bolsa index of Mexico each falling 1.9 percent. The measured reaction appears to reflect the belief of investors that Mr. Chávez, in spite of his rhetoric, has limited influence on the economic policies of other governments in the region.

    "It has not turned into a widespread contagion," said David Riedel, president of the Riedel Research Group, who follows emerging market stocks. Compared with the 1990s "you have a more sophisticated base of investors that understand that Mexico is different from Venezuela."

    Still, investors sold shares in American, Argentine and Mexican companies vulnerable to the move by Mr. Chávez to take control over entities that had been privatized by previous administrations.

    Owners of Venezuelan steel, banking, cement and hotel companies — even the cable car operator that takes tourists to the top of the Ávila mountain here — could be affected by the push toward nationalization, analysts said.

    "Chávez is deepening his revolution, but in doing so will he follow the law and compensate the companies whose assets will be nationalized?" said Miguel Octavio, executive director of BBO Servicios Financieros, a brokerage firm, who calculated the costs of taking over companies in the telecommunications, electricity and oil industries, as well assuming their debts, at more than $15 billion.

    "It doesn't seem like the government has thought this project out yet," Mr. Octavio said.

    Tony Snow, a White House spokesman, said on Tuesday, "Nationalization has a long and inglorious history of failure around the world. We support the Venezuelan people and think this is an unhappy day for them."

    Mr. Chávez further intensified worries with his request for vastly enhanced presidential authority from Congress. If successful, those new powers would allow him to decree measures into law for one year, bypassing any debate in the legislature, where in any case, all 167 deputies are his supporters. On top of that, he made a request to abolish the autonomy of Venezuela's central bank. The Venezuelan government did not immediately contact the American companies, which refused to discuss details.

    "There are many ways in which the Venezuelan government could proceed," said Peter Thonis, a spokesman for Verizon. "Since they have not discussed specific plans, it would be premature for us to comment now."

    In April, Verizon agreed to sell its 28.5 percent stake in Compañia Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela, or CANTV, to América Móvil and Teléfonos de Mexico, for $676 million; the deal has not closed, so Verizon still owns the stake, and it is unclear how much the Chavez government might be willing to pay to take control. Neither América Móvil or Teléfonos de Mexico would comment.

    Since taking power eight years ago, President Chávez has imposed stronger political control over the state oil company and has ordered the government to exert greater authority over several ventures with foreign oil firms.

    Stopping short of Mexico's nationalization of foreign oil companies in the 1930s, the Venezuelan government has aimed to reach partnership agreements with foreign oil companies while raising its tax rates and royalties on foreign oil companies.

    At the very least President Chávez's pledges Monday to nationalize companies in the telecommunications and electricity industries represented another retreat of the trend toward more private control of national economies and free market policies that swept Latin America in the 1990s.

    Mr. Chávez has led that reversal, which has taken hold to one extent or another, in Argentina, Ecuador as well as Bolivia.

    "We have said for a while that if you are operating a domestic business in Venezuela, you are chronically at risk for something like this happening," said Thierry A. Wizman, a managing director and global emerging market strategist at Bear Stearns in New York. "This is not the first time he has changed the rules for domestic businesses."

    Still, Mr. Wizman notes Mr. Chávez cannot afford to seize assets brazenly without compensating corporate owners, because Venezuela owns assets in the United States like Citgo, the energy company, that could be frozen by United States courts.

    "He is unlikely to give a fair price, but it won't be outright seizure without compensation," Mr. Wizman said. "He doesn't want to offend everybody simultaneously."

    Not all investors are as sanguine, and two American companies, Verizon and the AES Corporation of Arlington, Va., suddenly face the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars of losses. AES declined to comment Tuesday.

    The abrupt policy and market jolt in Caracas came amid surging interest in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe by investors around the world. Last year, investors in the United States poured $20.3 billion in emerging market funds, up 47 percent from 2005 and accounting for 15 percent of all the money invested in stock-based funds, according to AMG Data Services.

    Investors note that even with the recent troubles in Russia, Venezuela and Thailand, conditions remain favorable in Brazil, Chile, China and India. That may explain why stock markets did not buckle across Asia and the declines in Latin America were fairly modest outside Venezuela.

    Some investors and business experts expressed optimism that while risks and trepidations were on the rise for business in the region, Mr. Chávez had sometimes stopped short of his rhetoric in the past.

    Others even hoped he would reverse his intentions, or at least fairly pay for the announced nationalization of Compañia Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela, which is partly owned by Verizon.

    A sharp fall in the shares of Electricidad de Caracas, a utility controlled by AES, however, seemed to reflect fears that it would be nationalized.

    Mr. Chávez's pronouncements prompted expressions of awe and surprise among many of his new cabinet members at their swearing-in ceremony on Monday, suggesting that even they were taken aback. Mr. Chávez also lectured Venezuela's clergy, which has been critical of his plan to refuse a broadcast license to an outspoken television network. He recommended that they read the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, as well as the Bible, "to learn what socialism means."

    Mr. Chávez has moved forward with a revolution that seemed to unfold in slow-motion, characterized by socialist-inspired economic policies like price controls to slow inflation and the assembly of alliances with Latin American nations with leftist leaders that now include Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

    Since his re-election to the presidency in December with a 23-percentage point margin, Mr. Chávez has quickly accelerated his efforts to remake Venezuelan society. He has dismissed moderate deputies and begun speaking of the need to reform the nation's public schools to focus more on socialist ideals, and of guiding the Venezuelan consumer away from luxurious consumption.

    Few obstacles stand in Mr. Chávez's way, making his request for enhanced presidential power, as well as a request to abolish the autonomy of Venezuela's central bank, somewhat perplexing. Mr. Chávez and his economic deputies already effectively control monetary policy, for instance by capping interest rates on loans, though they have to go through the bureaucratic procedure of asking the central bank for its reserves of hard currency if they want them.

    With 80 billion barrels of conventional crude oil, or about 7 percent of the world's reserves, Venezuela remains the fourth-largest oil supplier of the United States. Much of Mr. Chávez's ambitious project to move Venezuela toward socialism will depend on petroleum revenue, with oil by far the country's leading export.

    It was no small surprise that even as Mr. Chávez announced his startling assortment of economic policies this week, his oil minister, Rafael Ramírez, was calling on OPEC to hold a special meeting to discuss falling oil prices. On Tuesday, oil traded near an 18-month low at $55.64 a barrel, down nearly 9 percent since the start of the year.

    Simon Romero reported from Caracas, Venezuela; Clifford Krauss reported from Houston; Vikas Bajaj contributed reporting from New York; and Elisabeth Malkin contributed reporting from Mexico City.

    Editorial de The Economist (London)

    [10-01-2007 10:34 ] A continuación traducción de texto editorial de The
    Economist , prestigioso semanario londinense:

    La historia de los ocho años de la presidencia de Hugo Chávez en Venezuela se podría calificar de reinvención.

    El Sr. Chávez pareciera determinado, a través de su retórica y política, a provocar enojadas reacciones de sus oponentes en casa y en el extranjero. Poco antes de su proclamación del miércoles 10 de enero, anunció que los elementos que fuesen estratégicos de la economía –telecomunicaciones, electricidad, y el petróleo pesado de la faja del Orinoco– debían ser nacionalizados o re-nacionalizados. Los precios de las acciones de algunas empresas afectadas por estas declaraciones se
    desplomaron en los mercados el 9 de enero. El Banco Central sería también despojado de su autonomía constitucional dejando al gobierno libertad de imprimir dinero para financiar programas sociales.

    Mas retórica y revelaciones se esperan para su discurso inaugural, pero algunos aspectos de los que el Sr. Chávez llama “la nueva era” ya están muy claros. La constitución será reformada para permitir que las medidas socialistas sean
    implementadas. Una Ley Habilitante dejará que el Ejecutivo decrete unas leyes más explosivas que las del paquete del 2001
    que desató una larga crisis política de tres años.

    Esta semana aconsejó con desdén a los líderes de la iglesia quienes estarían confundidos de entender sus planes que vieran a Cristo como un “autentico comunista, anti-imperialista y enemigo de la oligarquía”. El ya no habla de “mejorar el
    capitalismo”, pero de un “socialismo del siglo XXI”. Detrás de su persona, mientras hablaba, había una gran imagen de su cara y sus manos en close-up, recordando a un obispo bendiciendo a sus feligreses. La imagen refleja una nueva característica del régimen venezolano: un crecido culto a la personalidad del líder quien habla de la resurrección del socialismo.

    La empresa privada, en un fuerte entorno con control de precios y de cambio, sujeta a una competencia desleal del Estado que se ha involucrado en todos los sectores, desde agricultura hasta la banca, será aun más arrinconada. El proceso político de descentralización que comenzó en 1980 será puesto en reversa, y la restricción de la reelección presidencial consecutiva será disuelta, permitiendo al Sr. Chávez mantenerse en el poder indefinidamente.

    Las vías para disentir parecen disminuirse. Una nueva ley que esta siendo considerada limitará severamente el flujo de dinero a organizaciones no gubernamentales. Un canal independiente de televisión, RCTV, uno de los dos que se oponen abiertamente al gobierno, será sacado del aire simplemente por no renovar su licencia en mayo.

    “No habrá mas concesión para el canal golpista llamado Radio Caracas Televisión”, dijo el presidente a las fuerzas armadas a finales de diciembre, después de ganar las elecciones con un amplio margen. El presidente de RCTV Marcel Granier es un crítico abierto al gobierno y fue visto como un posible candidato de oposición.

    El Sr. Chávez también levantó críticas internacionales. El Secretario de la Organización de Estados Americanos, Jose Miguel Insulza, dijo que la decisión de cerrar una estación de televisión parecía ser una forma de censura y una “advertencia a los otros medios”. El Sr. Chávez evidentemente reventó en cólera, y respondió con insultos pidiendo la renuncia de Insulza, acusándolo de actuar como un “jinete del imperio” (queriendo decir los Estados Unidos). Así como se ha pronunciado sobre
    América en los recientes años, el presidente de Venezuela parece conciente de su búsqueda de reacciones desde el resto del continente.

    Aunque existen diferencias en las condiciones económicas y políticas en casa y en el extranjero, los ecos de la Cuba de Fidel Castro en los comienzos de los sesenta son difíciles de ignorar.

    Traducción: AmericaFinanzas.com
    By Thomas Catan,
    Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
    Wed Jan 10, 3:00 AM ET

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA - As he begins his third presidential term Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has laid the groundwork for a sharp leftward shift and launched a clampdown on dissent, in what analysts see as a broad-based effort to strengthen his grip on power.

    Emboldened by his resounding reelection victory on Dec. 3, Mr. Chávez announced plans this week to nationalize power and telecom companies as part of an accelerated move toward socialism. This comes after he had begun to act on longstanding threats to close media outlets aligned with the opposition, refusing to renew the broadcast license of Venezuela's oldest commercial television station, RCTV.

    In the past week, he has purged his cabinet of ministers deemed insufficiently radical, bringing in a new group of loyalists that includes his brother, Adan. He has begun to merge the more than 20 parties in his governing coalition into a single force under his control. And, under a controversial new law, he is set to take control of nongovernmental organizations that could oppose his government.

    "I don't think there is a lot of ambiguity about what Chávez is doing," says Michael Shifter, an analyst at Interamerican Dialogue in Washington, DC. "He wants to hold on to power for as long as possible, and even though he just won a resounding reelection, he doesn't want to take any chances of dissent building."

    Crackdown on dissent

    The Venezuelan president's decision to close RCTV, which has been broadcasting since 1953, has been met with strong criticism from the Organization of American States (OAS), the Catholic Church, and from press freedom campaigners like Reporters Without Borders. José Miguel Insulza, OAS secretary general, said the move smacked of "censorship against freedom of speech and a warning to other media, encouraging them to limit their operations so as not to face the same fate."

    But Chávez, who referred to Mr. Insulza as an "idiot," says he will defy any international criticism.

    Chávez is also moving to take control of civic groups, some of which have been critical of his government. Under a proposed law now in Congress, NGOs will have to reregister with the government, even if they have been operating legally for years. Foreign funding will have to pass through the government, and NGOs would have to open their files to anyone that requests it. Human rights campaigners say it would effectively end their work.

    "If approved, it will [effectively] outlaw all nongovernmental organizations" working in Venezuela, says Liliana Ortega of the Venezuelan human rights group, Cofavic. "There will only be groups approved by the government."

    Amnesty International has called on Chávez to revoke the bill, with a spokesperson saying it would "restrict the legitimate work of human rights defenders in Venezuela." But Chávez shows no signs of retreating.

    Chávez is also gearing up to change the constitution to allow his indefinite re-election - and has vowed to remain in power until 2021.

    Mr. Shifter believes Chávez's effort to change the constitution could meet with substantial opposition within his own coalition. That could be a reason why Chávez is moving to take control of both supporters and critical NGOs.

    "He would be in better shape to assure his power if there are no independent, critical civic organizations that could offer a channel for dissent and challenge to the regime," says Shifter.

    Chávez's defenders deny his latest moves constitute an autocratic power-play. They say the measures are needed to defend the achievements of the "Bolivarian Revolution" from its enemies, such as those who launched a failed coup against Chávez in 2002.

    The bill to regulate NGOs, for example, was introduced after Súmate, a voter education group involved in the 2004 recall drive against Chávez, was found to have received more than $30,000 from the US-funded National Endowment for Democracy. They similarly accuse RCTV and other private broadcasters of having supported the failed 2002 coup and subsequent oil strike against the government.

    "They became spokesmen for the opposition and allied themselves with the coup-plotters of 2002," says Martín Pacheco, media coordinator for the Chávez reelection campaign.

    Growing blacklist

    With political passions on the rise, Chávez's opponents say they are bracing themselves for a renewed crackdown. Some of the 3.5 million Venezuelans on a political blacklist compiled by his government two years ago say they have noticed a recent upswing in harassment by government officials.

    Rocío San Miguel, a lawyer in Caracas, appeared on the blacklist in early 2004 after signing a petition to recall the president. She was fired from her job at Venezuela's border agency a few weeks after the blacklist was posted on the Internet. Last month, her husband, a colonel in the Air Force, was barred from entering his air base.

    "Not only have they ended my career, now they are ending his," says Ms. San Miguel, adding that she is now more fearful than ever. "The day after the election, my daughter asked me, 'Is something going to happen to you now that Chávez has won?' "

    Opponents say the list is used to screen applicants for jobs, social benefits, identity cards, scholarships, and credit from state banks. Government aides deny this. "It's absurd to think there is political discrimination here," says Mr. Pacheco.

    One woman, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, says she was fired from her government job just before the Dec. 3 election, along with several others.

    "That list is used all the time," she says. "People are very scared."

    El que se fue no hace falta

    Día a día
    Martes 09 de Enero de 2007

    Día a día
    El que se fue no hace falta

    No quiero hacer leña del árbol caído pero una de las poquísimas cosas que no se puede dejar de comentar en el cambio de Gabinete es la salida de José Vicente Rangel. No propiamente ésta sino el modo como se produjo. Este hombre estuvo ocho años en el gobierno. Una despedida más considerada habría sido pensable, pero, en verdad, le dieron la que merecía. De nada le valieron su cinismo, sus provocaciones, el lenguaje grosero y brutal, la canallesca columna de “Marciano”. Fue tratado como lo que es. Desde que lo mandó a callar ( “No necesito traductor” ), y el tipo no reviró, El Supremo comprendió que JVR era pura bulla.

    Que las denuncias de antes las hacía no porque fuera valiente sino porque jugaba sobre seguro, sabía que no le iba a pasar nada, pero que apenas tropezó con un poder del cual sí podía esperar represalias, se achicopaló, y que de ahí en adelante sería su alfombra. Hasta el fin, JVR vivió en el desprecio. El penúltimo trago amargo fue el del Panteón. El último, la salida por la ventana de la cocina. Sin fanfarria ni redoblantes. Sólo lo acompañó, sarcásticamente, el versito de una vieja guaracha: “el que se fue no hace falta”.

    martes, enero 09, 2007

    US Skeptical of Chavez

    US Skeptical of Chavez Nationalization Plans
    By David Gollust
    09 January 2007

    The U.S. State Department Tuesday expressed skepticism about the industrial
    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez laughs at the swearing ceremony of new ministers in Caracas, 8 Jan 2007. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez laughs at the swearing ceremony of new ministers in Caracas, 8 Jan 2007 nationalization plans of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The Bush administration has had a difficult relationship with the populist Venezuelan leader. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

    Officials here say decisions about Venezuela's economic future are for the people of that country to make. But they say nationalizations of key industries like those announced by President Chavez have traditionally not provided the economic benefits promised by their promoters.

    The comments followed word from Mr. Chavez Monday that he plans to nationalize the country's telecommunications and electric power industries, in which investors from the United States and other countries have major interests.

    The left-leaning Venezuelan leader revealed the plan as he swore in a new cabinet in Caracas in advance of his own inauguration for a new term in office on Wednesday, declaring that Venezuela is heading toward socialism and that no one can prevent it.

    The action prompted criticism from the country's business community and sharp drops in the Venezuelan stock market and in the value its currency, the Bolivar. In a talk with reporters, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Mr. Chavez has been elected to act on behalf of his country's people but suggested the course he has embarked upon may not benefit them:

    "The proposals that he's made concerning nationalization are a well-worn path that history has shown doesn't usually benefit the population of the country in question. But those are again, Venezuela's decisions to make," he said. "At this point, if there is a follow through on nationalization, there is an accepted international practice in foreign companies being compensated at fair market value for the assets that are nationalized."

    McCormack said the United States would expect that Venezuela will follow through on all of its contractual obligations with regard to assets being taken over by the government.

    The Bush administration has had a stormy relationship with Mr. Chavez, a close friend of Cuba's ailing President Fidel Castro, who won a third term in office in a landslide election victory last month.

    The Venezuelan president delivered a bitter personal attack on President Bush in a U.N. General Assembly speech in September.

    On Monday, Mr. Chavez branded Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza as an "idiot" after he expressed concern about a decision by the Chavez government not to renew the operating license of a broadcaster, Radio Caracas Television, that had been a persistent critic of his rule.

    The O.A.S. chief, who has said he will not respond to the Chavez attack, said last week the move against the broadcast outlet, which was accused of subversion by the Venezuelan leader, had no precedent in recent years and gave the appearance of an act of censorship.

    In his comments here, spokesman McCormack said the Chavez remarks "rather unfortunate" and certainly not conducive to building greater understanding and respect in the region.

    The State Department last week criticized the move against the the Caracas broadcaster as anti-democratic.

    Chavez gets more power

    Chavez gets more power
    by nationalizing

    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez laughs at the swearing ceremony of new ministers in Caracas, Monday, Jan. 8, 2007. Chavez called the chief of the Organization of American States, OEA, Jose Miguel Insulza, an 'idiot'(Pendejo) and urged him to resign.

    By Jorge Rueda, Associated Press Writer

    CARACAS, Venezuela As Venezuela embarked on another six years under Hugo Chavez, the
    president announced plans to nationalize power and telecommunications companies and make other bold changes to increase state control as he promised a more radical push toward socialism.

    Chavez, who will be sworn in Wednesday to a third term that runs until 2013, also
    said he wanted a constitutional amendment to strip the Central Bank of its autonomy and would soon ask the National Assembly, solidly controlled by his allies, to approve "a set of revolutionary laws" by presidential decree.

    "We're moving toward a socialist republic of Venezuela, and that requires a deep reform of our national constitution," Chavez said in a televised address after swearing in his new Cabinet on Monday. "We're heading toward socialism, and nothing and no one can prevent it."

    The changes are in keeping with pledges he made after his re-election last month to take a more radical turn toward socialism. His critics have voiced concern that he would use his sweeping victory to tighten his grip on power, following in the footsteps of Fidel Castro.

    Cuba, one of Chavez's closest allies in the region, nationalized major industries shortly after Castro came to power in 1959. Bolivia's Evo Morales, another Chavez ally, moved to nationalize key sectors after taking office last year.

    "The nation should recover its ownership of strategic sectors," Chavez said. "All of that which was privatized, let it be nationalized," he added, referring to "all of those sectors in an area so important and strategic for all of us as is electricity."

    Chavez, first elected in 1998, has progressively moved to remake Venezuelan society, rewriting laws, setting up state-funded cooperatives and starting a land reform program that has turned over large swaths of ranch lands to poor farmers. Chavez calls it his Bolivarian Revolution, named after South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

    "The eight-year transition phase is ending and we're entering a new era -- the Simon Bolivar national plan, Bolivarian socialism," Chavez told his audience of cheering supporters.

    The nationalization appeared likely to affect Electricidad de Caracas, owned by Arlington, Virginia-based AES Corp., and C.A. Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela, known as CANTV, the country's largest publicly traded company and the only Venezuelan listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Verizon Communications Inc. has a 28.5 percent interest in CANTV.

    Chavez said lucrative oil projects in the Orinoco River basin involving foreign oil companies should be under national ownership. He did not spell out whether foreign investors would be compensated or simply expropriated.

    Political analyst Gloria Cuenca said the Monday's announcement was a glimpse of the next six years.

    "It seems he has decided to stoke the fire to deepen his revolution, which from my point of view aims to look a lot like Castro's Cuba," said Cuenca, a communication professor at Venezuela's Central University.

    Chavez cited the communist ideals of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin at other points in his speech.

    The nation's newspapers carried news of the announcements in banner headlines, and El Nacional, which is sharply critical of Chavez, said in an editorial that the president "surprised all Venezuelans" with his moves. The paper said there is a clear need for a national debate on the seizing of private companies.

    Chavez said that lucrative oil projects in the Orinoco River basin involving foreign oil companies should be under national ownership. He didn't spell out whether that meant a complete nationalization, but said any vestiges of private control over the energy sector should be undone.

    Chavez did not appear to rule out all private investment in the oil sector. Since last year, his government has sought to form state-controlled "mixed companies" with British Petroleum PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., Total SA and Statoil ASA to upgrade heavy crude in the Orinoco. Such joint ventures have already been formed in other parts of the country.

    The United States remains the top buyer of Venezuelan oil, which provides Chavez with billions of dollars for social programs aimed at helping Venezuela's poor as well as aid for countries around the region.

    Chavez threatened last August to nationalize CANTV, a Caracas-based former state firm that was privatized in 1991, unless it fully complied with a court ruling and adjusted its pension payments to current minimum-wage levels.

    CANTV is the dominant provider of fixed-line telephone service in Venezuela, and also has large shares of the mobile phone and Internet markets.

    Electricidad de Caracas is the largest private electricity firm in Venezuela. U.S.-based AES bought a majority stake of Electricidad de Caracas in a hostile takeover in 2000.

    After Chavez's announcement, American Depositary Receipts of CANTV -- the only Venezuelan company traded on the New York Stock Exchange -- immediately plunged 14.2 percent to $16.84 before the NYSE halted trading. An NYSE spokesman said it was not known when trading might resume.

    CANTV said it was aware of Chavez's remarks but added in a statement: "No government representatives have communicated with the company, and the company has no other information."
    © Copyright 2007 Associated Press.

    Architecture for the Poor

    Architecture for the Poor
    Cameron Sinclair offers design solutions for the marginalized
    Tuesday Gutierrez

    Published 2007-01-08 17:41 (KST)

    "Strip away all the ego in architecture and all the design theory, the hype, and the hot magazine articles, all we do is provide shelter. If you can't do that, you can't call yourself an architect." - Cameron Sinclair (Design e2 - PBS)

    This is how Cameron Sinclair describes the core of his profession, something which most architects or architecture students often forget. While most of them are trained to think of architecture in the measure of aesthetics, Cameron had a different agenda. He had always been interested in socially responsible design and "how you can make an impact" in the community.

    Turning his back from serving the often-spoiled bourgeois society, Cameron proclaimed himself as the black sheep of architecture by concentrating more on low-cost design solutions for the marginalized. "Design like you give a damn" (also the title of his book) seems to be the mantra that he personally lives by and which helps him direct the charitable organization named Architecture for Humanity.

    The beginning

    Sinclair co-founded the organization on 1999 together with New Yorker Kate Storer with only US$700 in their pockets. But this did not deter them from having the big vision. The goal of AFH is to provide architectural solutions to global, social, and humanitarian crises. This is a highly ambitious undertaking, when you think that almost one billion souls around the world today live in slums, and more are predicted by the U.N. to fall into the same predicament in the next 30 years.

    At the prestigious Ted Conference last year where he gave a talk, Cameron said, "the future is not going to be the skyscraping cities of New York but this," pointing to a picture of a bleak landscape full of slums. But AFH has a well-thought out plan to pull the snooty nose of architecture back to the ground and face up to one of the 21st century's challenges. Cameron said "where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative work can make a big difference in people's lives." Instead of offering a one-design utopic solution, the answer relies on the community. "There is no such thing as utopia. All problems are local. All solutions are local," he added.

    Since its inception, AFH has engaged architects and designers all over the world to get involved in humanitarian work, sometimes by hosting design competitions. At one point, a design project attracted as many as 200 entries. In an interview with Design Boom, Cameron said he was stunned to find out that there are thousands of designers around the world who wanted to volunteer their services and respond to humanitarian crises, only that they didn't have the platform to do that until AFH came into the picture. To show their commitment to a social cause, every designer who volunteers for AFH works on a pro-bono basis, only receiving a stipend for living costs and hard costs like material and travel expenses from AFH.

    To date, AFH has spearheaded projects for the returning refugees in Kosovo, tsunami and Hurricane Katrina victims and even for Somkhele, South Africa, an area with the highest rates of HIV-AIDS in the world. "We rely on a vast range of donors from small companies, individuals and even school children selling hot chocolate (they were one of our largest fundraisers in 2005)."

    Humanitarian rockstar and his open architecture network

    If Cameron cannot claim the crown of a rockstar designer, he at least can keep the title of a rockstar humanitarian. He has already been bestowed numerous awards, and AFH even won last year's Observer ethical awards. He, however, seems to dismiss all this attention. "I donate all my speaking honorariums and any money given from prizes," he said. In 2005, Sinclair only earned $12,000. That's certainly a pay cut compared to what other designers receive.

    What Cameron really needs is help. He said at one point he received a lot of emails from people offering their services and it had been difficult to manage. This forced him and his organization to embrace an open source network where designers will be able to start their own local chapter and get involved with local problems. "Somebody who is based in Mississippi knows more about Mississipi than I do." The open architecture network will allow designers to post their projects, browse the projects of others, exchange and collaborate with each other. AFH defines the mission of this network as simply "to generate design opportunities that will improve living standards for all."

    For a man whose ambition is to change the world, 31-year old Cameron Sinclair certainly has a way of doing things. Project locations are not revealed to protect them from media's propensity for exaggeration; AFH doesn't sign its name on its projects; designs are licensed under Creative Commons completely free and can be used by other NGOs.

    Still, the driving force of Sinclair is design. He said in a Christian Science Monitor interview, "design with pride, not pity." Beauty and aesthetics are important, no matter how humble the project, he pointed out. "What good design does is inspire people. And the people who need the most inspiration are those that have lost the most."

    "Architects can play two roles in society -- either create buildings that affect a community for the better or for the worse. Given the choice, I think as an industry we strive to improve life whether it be for a single family or an entire village. Sadly, the design media tends to focus its attention on the dozen or so 'star architects,' and in doing so strengthen the general public's view that design is only for the whims of the rich." (interview for Design Boom)

  • domingo, enero 07, 2007

    American Renaissance


  • Un enlace interesante donde aparecen los problemas y constrastes entre la pobreza y la riqueza del Pueblo de TAO en New Mexico (USA).

    Taos is part of the enchanted circle located in Northern New Mexico. The mountains, gorges and forests there are breath-takingly beautiful. You have Red River, Eagles Nest, Angel Fire and Taos. Tourism is the main industry and lots of wealthy people come there to vacation in the winter and summer.

    The class differences between the economic-haves (mainly Anglos) and have-nots (mainly Indians and Hispanics) is blatantly obvious to everyone. You will see here in this area few upwardly mobile occupations that allow hard working people a fighting chance to climb out of poverty. It does strike me and most everyone as grossly unfair but that is just the way it is in this part of the country. What is the solution ? Perhaps a Mercedes Benz manufacturing plant which employs 7000 people like the one outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Welfare is not the answer. Without manufucturing jobs that pay a decent wage say $20 to $25 an hour there are few ways to climb out of poverty. Working at Wall Mart and What-a-Burger when you’re 45 is a lot different from working there at 16 developing your life skills.

    I am very pro-american and for the great economic way that our country has developed but one cannot come here and not come away disappointed that there are going to be lots and lots of angry young people with no hope unless we find a way to create a lot of meaningful jobs that pay a decent wage in the future.

    It also doesn’t help that New Mexico has a 49 % out-of-wedlock birthrate. There is lots of despair, drug use, alchoholism and suicide in New Mexico.

    What is really scary when I vacation here and see the great disparity between the wealthy and the poor people is that I think that this is the overall way our country is headed with all the out-sourcing of manufacturing jobs. We seem to be in general getting away from having jobs that young people can raise a family on.