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More Fallout From the Venezuelan Election Print
Written by Mark Weisbrot   
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 16:20

As I have noted previously, fake polling and other suspicious activities in previous Venezuelan elections had helped those with a political agenda, including some journalists, advance their interests.  There was less of this in Venezuela’s October 7 election than in some previous elections, but still plenty to go around.  The dubious achievement awards for this election go to:

  1. Barclays, one of the world’s biggest banks:  put out a report two days before the election stating that “an opposition victory looks likely,” and recommending to its investors that they buy Venezuelan bonds.  Two days later Chavez won by 11 percentage points, and Venezuelan bonds fell by about 5 percent, although they have since recovered much of this loss.  (As an intermediate to long term investment, Venezuelan dollar-denominated bonds are most likely a good buy, since the return is quite high and the risk of default is low.  But those who took Barclays’ advice were betting on the election, and they lost.)
  2. Varianzas, a major Venezuelan polling firm, published an exit poll on the day of the election showing Chavez losing by a margin of 3.2 percentage points.  A result this far off the mark has an extremely small probability of occurring by random error.

So, what I want to know: was anybody fired for these mistakes?  Bloomberg noted that the lead analyst for the Barclays report was a Venezuelan who had “run unsuccessfully for public office as a member of Capriles’s Primero Justicia party.”  Was it incompetence or just a desire to help the cause of the opposition that led to this gross error?  You make the call. Polling firm Consultores 21 predicted a Chavez loss by 4.6 percentage points before the election.  Consultores 21 had a track record of significant bias toward the opposition, but it was used by many media outlets to say that the election would be close.  Will any of these people be taken seriously in other forecasts?  If they made these enormous errors in the U.S. presidential race, the answer would be an obvious no.  But there are special standards for sources on Venezuela  . . .

Seven polling houses in September showed an average lead for Chavez of 11.7 percentage points.  (The Wilson Center reported this as “Though major polling firms differ on where the race stands, they seem to agree that the final outcome is almost impossible to predict.”)  So just taking the average would have gotten you within 0.7 points of the actual result.  CEPR’s statistical analysis of the polling, correcting for past bias, estimated a 13.7 percent lead for Chavez, and gave Capriles a 5.7 percent chance of winning.

Some of the pre-election analysis was not dishonest but still difficult to understand.  Political scientist Iñaki Sagarzazu analyzed past and current polling data and concluded on Oct. 2 that “As it stands the race is extremely close.”  An 11 point margin is not extremely close, in the sense that pollsters with reasonable skill should to be able to predict the winner of such and election in advance.  

_______

As bad as the major English-language media coverage was, the Spanish-language media coverage was worse.  ABC in Spain reported wild stories of a Chavez government “plan” to take over the country by military force if they lost the election – stories that were completely ignored in the major English-language media, but picked up in major Latin American newspapers.  The Latin American media is the main reason that most people in Latin America have a view of Venezuela that is as distorted as, or worse than that of most U.S. residents.

Peru’s La Republica ran a piece this week by political scientist Steven Levitsky, who invented a new label for Venezuela under Chavez, “Competitive Authoritarianism.”  For him, the Chavez government is “equally authoritarian” as the Fujimori government in Peru.  Fujimori carried out a presidential coup in 1992, dissolving the Congress and suspending the constitution; the legitimacy of his government was widely questioned internationally throughout most of his tenure.  He is currently serving a prison sentence for murder, kidnapping, and corruption that he was found to be personally responsible for during his presidency.   Venezuela, by contrast, has had 15 elections or referenda under the Chavez administration, without any serious question of legitimacy; it has vastly increased voter registration and participation (more than 96 percent and 80 percent, respectively in the most recent election, which Jimmy Carter called the best electoral process of 92 countries that he had observed).  

But for Levitsky, “there is not democracy in Venezuela,” but rather a form of authoritarianism like Fujimori’s Peru.   This is a bit like asserting that the United States and Saudi Arabia have the same political systems, since in both countries the vast majority of the people have little or no input into the most important national policy decisions that affect their lives.  Probably no political scientist could get away with such an exaggeration.  But hey, this is about Venezuela – exaggeration is the norm, and anything goes.

 
Daily Headlines – October 17, 2012 Print
Written by Jake Johnston   
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 10:29

Ecuadorian plaintiffs, seeking to collect $19 billion in damages from Chevron, will be able to seize some $200 million of the company’s assets in Ecuador, a court ruled Monday. Reuters reports that the court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador ruled that assets, including money in Chevron bank accounts in Ecuador and money the Ecuadorian government owes to Chevron, be turned over to the plaintiffs. Just last week the U.S. Supreme Court dealt Chevron another blow, rejecting an attempt to block enforcement of the $19 billion ruling in the U.S. The plaintiffs have filed suits in Brazil and Canada to try and enforce the ruling. On the victory Monday, Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the affected Ecuadorian communities, told Reuters, “This is a huge first step for the rainforest villagers on the road to collecting the entire $19bn judgement.”

Chilean student leaders, Camila Vallejo and Noam Titelman, are in the United States this week where they will receive the 2012 International Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award presented by the Institute for Policy Studies. Democracy NOW! speaks with the two student leaders, who have helped organize some of the largest protests in Chile since the Pinochet dictatorship. Titelman said, “our public education is dying, we have only 36 percent of students going to public schools. Here in the States, it’s almost 90 percent. It’s really a very special example of how privatized can a state become.” Meanwhile, back in Chile, thousands of students took to the streets in Valparaiso to demand urgent action on education reform, reports the Associated Press.

State intervention is back in Latin America, and helping to create social policies and reduce inequalities, according to the regional director of the UN Development Program, Herlado Muñoz reports Mercopress. As opposed to the 90s when the Washington Consensus dictated that the government was the problem, Muñoz notes that, “For the first time in many decades the State is back in Latin America.” CEPR research has shown that there is a relationship between moving away from the Washington Consensus and reducing inequality. Juan Montecino, using econometric techniques to look at the data, determined that left-of-center governments have on average decreased inequality more than their counterparts. 

As Colombian government and FARC negotiators head to Norway to begin peace talks, a judge in Colombia ordered the return of some 160 acres of land to 14 families in the country’s first land restitution ruling.  President Santos enacted the Victims and Land Restitution law last year, yet since then progress has stagnated and violence against those seeking restitution has continued. The issue of land reform is one of the main demands being sought by the FARC in peace negotiations.

To get all of the day’s headlines straight to your inbox, sign up for the Latin America News Round-up here. You can also view the archives of past round-ups here.

 
“Free Trade” and the Presidential Debate Print
Written by Jake Johnston   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:38

The second presidential debate will take place tonight at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The topics will range from domestic to foreign policy, meaning the issue of “free” trade* is sure to come up. On this topic, there is little daylight between the two candidates. In 2008, candidates from both the Republican and Democratic Party participated in an “anti-NAFTA off”, competing in Rust Belt states that have lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), stated clearly after the election that the “results demonstrated Americans’ continued rejection of NAFTA style trade agreements."

Nevertheless, the last four years have seen a series of “NAFTA-style trade agreements” passed despite significant opposition from within the Democratic Party. President Obama has signed trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea and is now negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal with at least 10 countries that Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach describes as “NAFTA-on-steroids with the world.” During the last debate, President Obama touted the trade deals as boosting exports while Romney said he would push for even more “free trade.” Wallach writes:

In an election dominated by the urgent agenda of U.S. job creation, it is a sorry statement about the domination of corporate money in American elections that both presidential candidates tout these NAFTA-style "free trade" deals. Repeated polls show that opposition to these NAFTA-style deals is one of the only issues that unites Democratic, Republican and Independent voters. 
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Daily Headlines – October 16, 2012 Print
Written by Jake Johnston   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 10:41

Reforms to Mexico’s labor law have faced growing resistance, writes David Bacon for In These Times. The law, which Benedicto Martinez Orozco, president of the Authentic Labor Front (FAT), calls “a monstrous law,” would allow for greater flexibility on the part of owners to hire and fire workers. It would replace daily wages with hourly wages, allow for hiring through labor contractors, and limit employer’s liability for back pay, among other changes. One aspect of the reform that unions had fought for, the right to a secret ballot, seen as key to diminishing the power of the PRI-backed non-democratic unions, was stripped from the bill. Over the past weeks, a broad sector of groups have protested the bill, going so far as blocking the doors of congress last week to prevent them from considering the labor reform.

Paraguay’s foreign minister, Jose Felix Fernandez Estigarribia, confirmed that he traveled to the US last week to meet with a South American ambassador about Paraguay’s reincorporation into UNASUR and Mercosur, regional groups which Paraguay was suspended from following the ouster of Fernando Lugo. Mercopress also reports that two ambassadors will be returning to Paraguay, expected to be from Colombia and Panama. Following the 2009 coup in Honduras, both Panama and Colombia sided with the US and supported the electoral process under the coup government, while the rest of the region refused to recognize the results.

What place will the FARC have in Colombian politics if the peace negotiations are successful, asks Chris Kraul in the Los Angeles Times. While a main plank of the negotiations will be ensuring a political voice for the rebels, they will try and avoid the fate of Union Patriotica a former party with ties to the rebels. Over 1,100 members of the party were killed during the 80s and 90s by right wing paramilitaries. Some analysts believe the FARC will try to enter the political debate through Marcha Patriotica, an agrarian reform movement that has launched large demonstrations throughout Colombia recently.

News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate, is expected to add Alvaro Uribe, the former President of Colombia to their board today, reports Roque Planas for The Huffington Post. Free press advocates note that it seems like an odd choice given the wiretapping scandals that both News Corp. and Alvaro Uribe have been embroiled in. Many ex-aids to Uribe are facing criminal probes into the illegal wiretapping of supreme court judges, human rights workers and journalists by the Colombian intelligence agency. News Corp., for their part, is still dealing with the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal at News of the World last year. Political scientist Claudia Lopez notes one difference, “News Corp., as far as I know, never threatened anyone with death…Institutions that answered directly to Alvaro Uribe did.”

To get all of the day’s headlines straight to your inbox, sign up for the Latin America News Round-up here. You can also view the archives of past round-ups here.

 
Daily Headlines – October 15, 2012 Print
Written by Jake Johnston   
Monday, 15 October 2012 11:53

The New York Times reported Saturday on U.S. drug efforts in Honduras. Following a series of bungled raids and downed airplanes, the Times reports that “All joint operations in Honduras are now suspended,” while U.S. officials develop a new plan which will encompass other areas of reform. On the deadly raid in Ahuas, which CEPR policy analyst Alexander Main and Annie Bird of Rights Action documented in detail here, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told the Times, “This operation was bungled in its conception, in its implementation and in its aftermath.”

Many former recipients of IMF loans spoke out at the annual meetings this week against the conditionalities imposed by the IMF, Reuters reports. The IMF released new research last week showing that the austerity policies they imposed as lending conditions caused up to three times more economic damage than they had previously estimated. Argentina, which defaulted on their debt after an economic crisis triggered in part by IMF austerity policies in the early 2000s, noted the IMF’s admission was a “first step”, but Finance Minister Hernán Lorenzino added, “Once again... the IMF is endorsing policy conditionalities and reform strategies that are bound to fail, worsening recession and unemployment levels in programme countries and leading to unsustainable debt paths and social failure.” A CEPR report in 2009 looked at all the IMF’s borrowing agreements, finding that 31 of 41 contained pro-cyclical policies that could lower economic growth.

At the annual IMF meetings in Tokyo, Colombia announced it would leave the voting bloc aligned with Brazil in favor of Mexico, reports Bloomberg. Brazil, a member of the BRICS countries, has been one of the most vocal advocates of IMF reform. An agreement to shift more voting rights to developing countries has been held up for years as the traditionally dominant European countries have resisted moving their voting shares more in line with their share of world economic output. Colombia’s Central Bank chief Dario Uribe commented on the move to Mexico’s voting  constituency, “It’s a group where there’s a receptivity toward a country like Colombia, where there are great historical and commercial ties.”

Last week a “vulture fund” belonging to American Task Force Argentina, a lobbying group seeking to recoup the “full” value of Argentina’s defaulted bonds which were bought for cents on the dollar, detained an Argentine naval ship in Ghana to try and force repayment. The lobbying group lists some 40 members of their organization on their website, including many farmers associations, yet this weekend the Wall Street Journal reported that many of them had no idea how they became affiliated with the group. "We don't have anything to do with Argentina's debt,” Larry Matlack president of the American Agriculture Movement told the Journal.

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Vulture Turns to Pirate: Blocks Argentine Ship from Leaving Ghana Print
Written by Jake Johnston   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 15:07

The long-running dispute between Argentina and the “vulture funds” took a turn to the bizarre this week.  “Vulture funds” buy up defaulted debt of developing countries for pennies on the dollar then use lawsuits and other means to attempt to force repayment of the full face value. Now, the vultures have become pirates, holding an Argentine naval ship for a $20 million ransom, Reuters reports:

A court in Ghana upheld as legal on Thursday the detention of an Argentine naval vessel seized under a court order by creditors pursuing the South American nation over its 2002 debt default.

Argentina declared a sovereign default a decade ago and now faces a raft of lawsuits in U.S. courts by bondholders seeking state asset freezes to recover the value of defaulted bonds.

The Libertad, a navy frigate with 200 crew, was detained in Ghana's eastern port of Tema on October 2 under a court order sought by NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of the investment firm Elliott Management.

Elliot Management is run by billionaire Paul Singer, who has a long history of this sort of action. Singer took both Peru and Congo to court, eventually receiving at least $140 million for debt which he paid just a fraction of that for. Even the former head of Goldman Sachs called the vulture funds’ investment strategy of targeting poor countries immoral: “I deplore what the vulture funds are doing,” said Former Treasury Secretary Paulson to the House Financial Services Committee in 2007.

The backstory: in 2001 Argentina defaulted on some $81 billion (plus interest) of debt as a result of a severe economic collapse. Argentina has since reached agreement with holders of some 95 percent of this debt.  Yet some “vulture funds” have refused to make a deal, seeking instead to use legal recourse to try to recoup the debt’s “full value”. Of course, these funds bought the debt for extremely low prices – in the case of NML, Bloomberg reported that they bought at least $182 million in debt for just 20-30 cents on the dollar. Of 15 bondholders who hold at least $25 million, nine of them are based in the Cayman Islands, including NML.

Nevertheless, they have enlisted the help of the U.S. congress to fight Argentina. The American Task Force Argentina, made up of many of the vultures, has spent over $3 million since 2007 lobbying against Argentina, while Singer himself has given over $1 million to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A “Stop VULTURE Funds Act” introduced in the 111th Congress by Rep. Maxine Waters never made it off the ground, and was not even introduced this legislative cycle. Meanwhile, Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Chair Connie Mack (R-FL) is the main sponsor of a bill designed to get Argentina to pay NML nearly $2 billion. While it is highly unusual for a bill to focus on a single country, it is not a surprise given that NML is Mack’s largest contributor. Fortunately, FiveThirtyEight gives Mack a 3 percent chance of winning the race for Bill Nelson’s Senate seat.

If the U.S. government wants to root out pirates in Africa, it should start with our own.

 

 
Public Sector Employment in Venezuela Is Not So Large as the Associated Press Suggests Print
Written by Mark Weisbrot   
Thursday, 11 October 2012 11:25

An Associated Press article dated October 9 states that Venezuela has

“ at least 2.4 million national government employees, making up 8 percent of the country's population. By comparison, the United States, with tenfold the population, has almost the same number of federal employees, at 2.7 million.”

If Venezuela really had 10 times as many public employees as the U.S., relative to its labor force, this would be amazing.  However it is not true.

Venezuela actually has, according to the latest statistics, 2.49 million public employees – including all levels of government.  With a labor force of about 13.5 million, this is about 18.4 percent of the labor force. (Labor force is a better denominator than total population because of different demographics between countries). 

The U.S. as of September 2012 had 22 million public employees, or 14.2 percent of the labor force.  Thus the difference in public employment between Venezuela and the U.S. is therefore about 4 percentage points.

One reason for the AP’s misleading comparison is that it does not take into account that most public employees in the U.S. (19.2 million of 22 million) are employed at the state and local level.  In most other countries, including Venezuela, the reverse is true.

Of course the U.S. has a relatively low level of public employment compared to other high-income countries.  France, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway all have public sector employment percentages in the 20s, with France at 22 percent and Norway at 29 percent.

In this article, the author is using Venezuela’s public employment to argue that Chávez had a big advantage over his opponent in the recent election.  However this is not clear.  Most of the wealth and income of the country still belongs to people who oppose the government, and several studies show that the majority of the media (pdf) was biased in favor of Capriles. Whether Chávez’s speeches on television could compensate for this overall media bias against him is not at all clear.

Political scientist Justin Delacour, who has studied media coverage of Venezuela for many years, argues that this article shows a considerable double standard on the part of AP.  He writes:  “I cannot recall one time in all my years of reading AP reports that these sorts of electoral advantages have ever been discussed by your newswire.  It is only when a left-wing party acquires significant PR resources that your newswire is suddenly so concerned about fairness on the PR front in a country's electoral process.” He notes that most media in Latin America are biased in favor of right-wing or center-right parties, but that has not been an issue in AP reporting.

 
New York Times Can’t Seem To Understand How Their Side Lost In Venezuela Print
Written by Mark Weisbrot   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 08:09

The New York Times coverage of Venezuela’s election must have been a disappointment to anyone who, even if they don’t like President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, wanted to find out how he managed to win yet another election, this time by an 11 percentage point margin.  In the two articles following the election, there was almost nothing about how people’s living standards had improved, or how that might have affected the election result.  As I mentioned in this op-ed yesterday in the International Herald Tribune and New York Times, the election result is similar to the re-election of left governments throughout South America.  In Venezuela, since the Chávez government got control over the oil industry, poverty and extreme poverty have been sharply reduced (see below), access to health care and education greatly increased (with college enrollment doubling and free tuition for many students), and four times as many people eligible for public pensions.  (For a first hand view from the ground on what some of these things look like, see Lisa Sullivan’s report here; and for a nice review of some of the awful media reporting on the elections, see Keane Bhatt’s blog here ).

But the Times articles on the election result are about an “ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared.” (In most countries an 11 point margin would be considered a landslide).  And it’s about how disaster must strike the economy soon. Hope springs eternal.  I have challenged the “unsustainability” thesis in detail here. As is customary, yesterday’s article relies heavily on opposition sources, such as economist Ricardo Hausmann, for predictions of doom and gloom ahead.  It is worth noting that Hausmann co-authored a paper claiming that the 2004 presidential recall referendum that Chavez won by a margin of 58-41 percent was actually stolen through fraud. Since the Venezuelan election process is one of the most secure in the world, he offered an unbelievable conspiracy theory as well as statistical evidence that turned out to be worthless. (See here, and links in here).

Hausmann also recommended a NYT op-ed published on Saturday, by the Venezuelan opposition blogger Francisco Toro. This is truly an opinion piece, as there are few facts; but unfortunately some of those facts are wrong. The author asserts that the Venezuelan government has been “less effective at reducing poverty than the Brazilian alternative.” But as can be seen in the table below, although the Workers’ Party government in Brazil has done very well in reducing poverty, Venezuela has done better during the same period. And these poverty rates measure only cash income; they do not count the value of free health care to the poor, which if included would show even more poverty reduction in Venezuela.

The author also asserts that “Venezuela’s child mortality and adult literacy statistics have not improved any faster under his government than they did over the several decades before he rose to power.”  Leaving aside literacy, which is poorly measured, the second table below shows infant mortality for the 12 years before Chavez, compared with the 12 years of his administration. As can be seen, infant mortality declined somewhat faster during the Chavez years.

Read more...

 

 
Gaga for Freedom of the Press? Print
Written by Dan Beeton   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 15:39

Pop star Lady Gaga visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange this week at the Ecuadorean embassy while in London, meeting with him for a reported five hours.

Gaga and Assange

Perhaps Lady Gaga understands some things that seem to elude the majority of the media: Assange's importance as a defender of freedom of the press and freedom of information.

Assange remains at the embassy while the Ecuadorean government attempts to negotiate a solution to the stand off with Swedish authorities - who refuse to guarantee Assange would not be extradited from Sweden to the U.S., to face possible charges under the Espionage Act, despite appeals from the likes of Amnesty International - and the U.K. - which refuses to guarantee Assange safe passage.

Gaga dressed as a witch, in a possible reference to the "witch-hunt" against Assange, which Assange denounced in an August speech from the embassy.

 
Venezuelan Elections: Live Blog Print
Written by CEPR   
Sunday, 07 October 2012 06:10

UPDATE 11:21: CEPR press release:

Chávez Re-Election Continues Trend of Left Governments Re-elected in South America

Economic Growth, Expansion of Welfare State Likely to Continue for Many Years

For Immediate Release: October 7, 2012

 

Washington, D.C.- Hugo Chávez’ re-election to another 6-year term shows that Venezuela, like the rest of South America, prefers governments of the left that have improved living standards and greatly reduced poverty and inequality, said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, D.C.

“Chávez is often portrayed as though he were from Mars, but really the similarities between what he has done and what his neighboring left governments have done are much greater than the differences,” said Weisbrot. 

Contrary to many press reports, the vote was not close, as CEPR had predicted it would not be.

[More here.]

UPDATE 11:04: Henrique Capriles now making concession speech.

UPDATE 10:41: Official results: With 81 percent voter participation, Chavez - 54.43 percent; Capriles - 44.47 percent of the vote. (Remaining going to minor candidates.)

UPDATE 10:34 PM: RESULTS BEING ANNOUNCED NOW, HERE.

UPDATE 10:00 PM: Election monitors await the announcement of official results:

CNE

UPDATE 9:55 PM: An election monitor in Tachira state reports:

turnout here approached 90%, a tribute both to the CNE's preparation and organization, the dedication of the civil servants who spent long hours at the stations and, most important, to the Venezuelan people who are actively engaged in who leads their government. Despite the huge numbers, and the early difficulties with long lines and a couple of malfunctioning machines, no one reported any significant problems or concerns about the security of the process.

UPDATE 9:49 PM: An election monitor in Zulia state reports:

in Maracaibo [at] Unidad Educativa Nacional Privada Nuestra Senora del Pilar with 14 mesas and 7482 voters.  This is our largest voting place. ...but was almost empty with vote at 70- 84%. Only minor problems with one machine eating paper receipts; one could be read the other one could not. All quiet.

X vs x with 4 null were results 388 voters 433 entitled to vote. They are now doing paperwork. The null votes were because people pressed the vote button without first pressing the candidate button. Pulling ballots out one at a time and reading them off while another woman is writing results on large form.

UPDATE 9:27 PM: An election monitor reports:

Just spent almost 2 hours at a school in Pq Altagracia, a few blocks from the Presidential palace, witnessing the closing of two mesas and audit (citizens' verification) of one. To ensure all the electronic votes exactly match the paper receipts reviewed by the voters and deposited in the boxes, a random selection of 54% of the 39,000 machines are audited in an open process with witnesses from both parties and, in our case, a group of 15-20 international acompañantes.

Venezuela has "fusion" voting, where a single candidate can run for any number of parties. Chavez is running for 12 parties, Capriles for 19. When you vote you press a picture of your candidate in the box of the party you support.
...

Right now our bus is taking us down streets packed w Chavistas blowing horns, setting off firecrackers and shouting.

We're on our way the CNE headquarters to hear Tibisay Lucena announce the results. Probably we'll be there for several hours.

UPDATE 9:20 PM: Some Venezuela observers are noting that Chavez campaign head Jorge Rodriguez apparently predicted the early release of an exit poll, via the ABC newspaper in Spain, that would show Capriles in the lead, and thereby give the opposition the pretext to claim fraud if the results do not turn out that way. As we have already noted, ABC ran such a story earlier today.

Deutsche Press Agentur reported Rodriguez's prediction on October 2. (H/T to Lee Brown of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign).

 

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The Americas Blog seeks to present a more accurate perspective on economic and political developments in the Western Hemisphere than is often presented in the United States. It will provide information that is often ignored, buried, and sometimes misreported in the major U.S. media.

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