Friday, June 30, 2006

Ortega Leads Presidential Race in Nicaragua

Will he also make Bush see red?

Retro-Marxist-leader Daniel Ortega is leading the polls in the Nicaraguan presidential race. Here go the numbers produced by Gallup for La Prensa newspaper:

Daniel Ortega (FSLN): 23%
Eduardo Montealegre (NLA): 17%
Herty Lewites (MRS): 15%
Others: 13%
Undecided: 32%

Ortega could avoid a run-off if he gets 35% of the vote or a five point lead and at least 30% of the votes.

The high number of undecided voters (32%) will obviously define the outcome. Expect fierce campaigning. Election day is 5 November 2006.

Evo Closer to Castro than Chavez, Says Kirchner

Argentine newspaper Ambito Financiero documented a conversation between Nestor Kirchner and the Spanish king: “Evo’s phenomenon is closer to Castro than Chavez”, said Kirchner to the King Juan Carlos over lunch in Spain, during a recent presidential visit. Interesting insight from Kirchner about his political allies.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Chavez Buys Russian War Jets

Venezuela continues its military build-up with 24 made in Russia Sukhoi (Su-30) jets, brand new. The Russian toys come with a 700 million dollar bill.

Profits are going to Russia, to State Corporation Rosoboroneksport to be more specific.

The cost per Venezuelan citizen is of 28 dollars. If we add other recent deals like building of a local Kalashnikov factory and the buying of a Russian Helicopter fleet and a couple of Spanish patrol ships, the bill gets to 3.7 billion, increasing the cost per citizen to 146 dollars. This is excluding operating and maintenance costs.

Venezuela has a minimum wage of 150 dollars.

President Chavez is not only investing heavily in weapons, he also wants the world to know it. He wastes no oportunity to set photo ops and his new pet project is no other than a massive military parade on Venezuela’s Independence Day, July the fith. Doesn't that sound familiar?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Lopez Obrador Retakes Lead

With the finish line around the corner the PRD leftist candidate Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is sprinting a bit faster than Felipe Calderón, from the ruling conservative party PAN, 3% faster to be more specific. Here go the numbers produced by the latest Consulta Mitofsky survey:

Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, PRD: 35% (-1% variation from May)
Felipe Calderón, PAN: 32% (-2% variation from May)
Roberto Madrazo, PRI: 28% (No variation)

Get ready for a dramatic finale.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ronaldo the Fat Vs. Lula the Drunk

It is popular belief that wining football teams favor incumbent Governments. President Lula seems to share that superstition. Indeed, the Brazilian president staged a ritual public morale-booster speech to the Brazilian team in national TV, to “demand” they win the world cup and, why not, show his charisma by daring to ask if superstar player Ronaldo is overweight.

Football stars are larger than life in Brazil. Ronaldo in particular is a national treasure, and one with a respectable self-esteem, judging from his answer to Lula.

International media are quoting Ronaldo responding this: “It’s all a big lie that I’m overweight”…“as it must be false that Lula drinks too much.”

Wrong comment. Lula almost expulsed a New York Times journalist in 2004 for writing that he had a drinking problem.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Who Won Mexico’s Presidential Debate?

The question matters, considering that the latest surveys put the two leading candidates on a technical tie.

Surveys conducted by printed media say Felipe Calderón won the final presidential debate. However, these surveys come with a spin. Most media groups in Mexico tend to support Calderon’s candidacy.

I had a chance to watch the debate and didn’t see a clear winner at all. I found Calderón slightly more convincing than López Obrador, but not to the level needed to swing PRI and undecided votes. Indeed, both leading candidates did a good job. They neutralized attacks efficiently and stuck to message. I think the debate won’t make a big difference. If anything, it will reinforce already taken decisions.

Post-debate surveys published so far follow:

Reforma newspaper, Mexico’s largest circulation broadsheet, asked four hundred people who won the final presidential debate. The results of this "4.8% error margin" survey are:

-Felipe Calderón from government party PAN: 44%.
-Luis Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)from left wing PRD party: 30%
-Roberto Madrazo from PRI party: 11%.

El Economista newspaper produced a similar survey obtaining these results:
-Calderón: 66%.
-AMLO: 19%
-Madrazo: 9%

La Crónica newspaper also got Calderó leading its survey:
-Calderón: 42%.
-AMLO: 29%.

Excelsior newspaper surveyed 300 people and asked them who would they vote for after the watching the debate. The results give a slight lead to Calderón with 37% against 32 % for AMLO.

Election day is 02 July.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chavez Trumpets “Friendship” With Carlos the Jackal

Chavez’s mate, Carlos Ramírez Ilich, has been blamed for more than 80 deaths. He was declared guilty of murder by a French court and is serving a life sentence in Paris.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez doesn’t hide his admiration for notorious pre-Al-Qaeda-terrorist Carlos Ramírez Ilich, better known as the Jackal. In a recent speech to Opec ministers in Caracas Chavez offered a public remembrance of his buddy:

“I remember that tour [a presidential visit to Opec countries]; a good Venezuelan friend who is in Europe called it hair-raising; I am referring to Carlos Ilich Ramírez, nicknamed The Jackal” …“During those days he wrote to me from his Paris jail saying that the tour was hair-rising. I will never forget those words by Carlos”, Chavez said.

Ironically, Carlos the Jackal gained world notoriety after kidnapping 70 hostages precisely during an Opec ministerial meeting in 1975.

In March 1999, a recently inaugurated president Chavez responded to a letter by Ramirez with a delirious, apologetic text. Some fragments of Chavez’s letter taken from a Harper Magazine translation follow:

“Citizen Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, Distinguished Compatriot,

Swimming in the depths of your letter of solidarity I could hear the pulse of our shared insight that everything has its due time.”

“Our liberator Simon Bolivar, whose theories and example are fundamental to our doctrine of revolution, whispered briefly this question before he passed away: “How will I find the way out of this labyrinth”?"

“With profound faith in our cause and our mission, now and forever!”

They say a man is known by the company he keeps.