“Another Casualty of Venezuela’s Revolution: Work Ethic | Transitions“ is a somewhat bizarre stream of consciousness piece by Juan Nagel for Foreign Policy Magazine. The argument is that Chavismo put a ceiling on the benefits that could be reaped from a strong work ethic by stifling competition through a series of government interventions into the economy. Nothing new. Really. Nothing at all. Except perhaps for the mental gymnastics and metaphorical pilates necessary to frame the Miss Venezuela pageant as the country’s last bastion of free market competition and merit based rewards. Interesting to note that Nagel is not calling his compatriots lazy – just saying they lack incentive or legitimate outlets for competition. Nagel suggests that the lack of opportunity in Venezuela has actually had the effect of re-channeling any residual work ethic into criminal, corrupt, or grossly manipulative exploitation of the various black market opportunities that have emerged as a result of Venezuela’s socialist policies. There’s plenty of free-market enterprise, it’s just that most of it is criminal. There are certainly far more coherent critiques of Chavismo but leveraging the uncanny dominance of Venezuelans on the world beauty pageant circuit was a nice gimmick to boost web traffic (almost as shameless as me reblogging the link …with photo). While I generally agree that Chavismo is a highly unstable house of cards built more on empty rhetoric than effective policy, I find the most worthwhile part of Nagel’s blog post to be the revelation that the Miss Venezuela pageant is sponsored by none other than Diet Bimbo …er, “Bimbo Diet”.
Actually, if we’re gonna sell out, let’s go the distance and throw in another shot of Irene Esser: a beacon of hope for neoliberal values in Venezuela.
A recent article in Foreign Policy outlines the rapid proliferation of drug trafficking in Argentina – a problem compounded by the geography of exposed borders, a strong European market, a strong domestic market, and the displacement of northern cartels from the continuation of militarized crackdowns in Mexico and Colombia. And as HELA discussed last month, the continued insistence of the US to stick to a painfully outdated and counterproductive drug policy that refuses to consider legalization has created breakdowns in cross-border cooperation between Argentine and US enforcement agencies.
The new chorizo.
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Busts over the past two years suggest that Spain is an especially popular entry point for drugs dispatched from Argentina. In April 2010, Spanish officials seized 800 kilograms of cocaine from a truck disguised as an official support vehicle for the Dakar Rally off-road race, later affirming that the drugs were loaded in Argentina. Last January, anexecutive jet piloted by two sons of Argentine dictatorship-era air force generalsarrived in Barcelona from Argentina laden with 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, with the ties to the military piquing concern about institutional corruption. These busts suggest a clear transit route between the two countries and raise questions as to how such a high volume of drugs are exiting Argentina undetected. According to an official report compiled by Martin Verrier, a security advisor for Argentine congressman Francisco de Narvaez, 95 percent of the cocaine shipped from Argentina safely arrives at its destination. “In Argentina, the situation is such that narcotraffickers enter and exit without inconvenience,” laments Claudio Izaguirre, president of the Argentine Anti-Drugs Association, a Buenos Aires-based NGO.
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