A Very Interesting Weekend South of the Border...
.....in México and Venezuela.
Let's start with México. Tomorrow is the official swear in day for México's new President Felipe Calderón, the loser and Al Gore wanna-be Andrés Manuel López Obrador is getting the PRD (his party) ready take over the dais in the Mexican House of Deputies where Calderón is to be sworn in tomorrow Dec. 1st. Calederón's party, the PAN, caught wind of this, they got there early (today) to prevent them from taking over and little tussle ensued, here's a video, and Mark in México has nice post on the happenings. Tomorrow should be interesting!
For Venezuela, Sunday's election looks to be a barn burner, Thugo Chavez' opponent Manuel Rosales is totally bringing it on, finishing his campaign with an incredible turnout........(click to enlarge)
Make no mistake about it, this will be close and it will be very interesting to see how Chavez reacts should he lose.....I'm sure we'll see the lamest of all Presidents, Jimmuh Carter running to Chavez' rescue should that occur.
I've been trying to keep close tabs on this election because I think this is a very important election, I'm thinking Chavez will fix it one way or another and remain, but there's been such an upsurge for Rosales that this is hard to predict. As I have said earlier, an assassination attempt or success on either candidate is not out of the question, it's pretty heated down there. Chávez promised to purge corruption, but it has dominated his government more than any other in Venezuela's history. If the votes don't add up in his favor on Sunday, odds are he'll keep adding them until they do.
Some items that are in Chavez' favor:
• Voting machines are controlled by a company, Smartmatic, with a murky history.
• The Board of Directors of the Electoral Council is made up of Chávez's followers.
• The electoral registry is highly unreliable; 39,000 voters are more than 100 years old -- one woman appears to be 175 -- and 62 persons share the same name and birth date: José Gregorio Rodríguez González, born April 8, 1962.
Thanks to a combination of record oil income and minimal government transparency, Venezuelan corruption is at an all-time high. By incurring significant new national debt, Chávez obtained some $25 billion in fresh money to spend at his whim. That and oil sales have put more than $200 billion into government coffers, but there is very little to show for it in the way of public works or effective social programs. The bulk of the money remains unaccounted for, largely wasted or pocketed by bureaucrats and "private buccaneers".
Should Chavez remain in power, will "his" Venezuela continue its downhill spiral? Venezuela stands today at the bottom of the development ladder in Latin America. Rankings of international organizations such as Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World report, the U.N. Human Development Index and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization show the country in a declining trend.
Check this out......
Transparency International, a well-known NGO. They have rankings on transparency, which rate “more than 150 countries in terms of perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys” (TI’s words). Venezuela’s rankings (which show Venezuela’s position out of the total number of countries) and scores (high scores are good):
2006, tied for 138 of 163 (2.3)
2005, tied for 130 of 159 (2.3)
2004, tied for 114 of 145 (2.3)
2003, tied for 100 of 133 (2.4)
2002, tied for 81 of 102 (2.5)
2001, tied for 69 of 91 (2.8)
2000, tied for 71 of 90 (2.7)
1999, tied for 75 of 99 (2.6)
1998, tied for 77 of 85 (2.3)
1997, 44 of 52 (2.77)
1996, 48 of 54 (2.50)
1995, 38 of 41, (2.66)
Note that scores improved under Chavez for a few years, before turning around after 2001.
Daniel Duquenal has a very impressive list of rankings (I can't get the link to work) showing Venezuela's steady decline each year in the areas of:
Freedom of the Press, Political Rights and Civil Liberties, World Economic Growth Competitiveness, Index of Economic Freedom, Business and Investment Risk, Total Competitiveness Rankings (ranked last in 2004, 2005 and 2006), Loss of Economic Freedom...here ranked only ahead of those powerhouse countries of Zimbabwe, Myanmar and the Republic of Congo.
You can see here, Hugo Chavez is very bad for Venezuela and very bad for the rest of the world. The only thing Hugo Chavez is good for........is Hugo Chavez.
See you Monday with some sort of results!