Monthly Archives: March 2015

Venezuela: President Maduro granted power to govern by decree

Maduro supporters celebrating the "anti-imperialist" law. Photo by AP

Maduro supporters celebrating the “anti-imperialist” law. Photo by AP

The Venezuelan parliament approved the proposed law on Sunday giving President Nicolás Maduro the power to legislate by decree for the rest of the year. The President requested the exception after the U.S. issued new sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

The measure is called the “anti-imperialist” law and will  be valid from the time it is published in the Venezuelan Official Gazette until December 31, 2015. Maduro’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela is in the majority in the nation’s parliament. Critics claim that this is a tactic that is meant to disturb the parliamentary elections that are due later this year and to divert attention from the economical crisis the country is facing.

After the President had received the decree thousands of Venezuelans joined him and his party on an “anti-imperialist demonstration”. Maduro declared that he was happy that they had won the people’s support and the support from neighbors.

After yet another UNASUR meeting in Quito, Ecuador, Saturday (March, 14th)  the foreign ministers of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela unanimously denounced US sanctions and military intervention. However, underlining that they look forward to accompanying the parliamentary elections scheduled for December. Cuba’s government has added that the sanctions are “arbitrary and aggressive.”

– They may have the power of the dollar, the power of the media and a murderous military force, but we have something they don’t have: the power of integrity,” said President Maduro.”This legislation gives me the power to defend peace and sovereignty.”

The seventh Summit of the Americas will be held next month in Panama. Maduro and Obama will meeting face to face. The U.S. was most certainly hoping for this event to be an opening to speak of the changes in the relationship to Cuba and consequently the possibilities of restoring economic growth across the region. But with the increasing provocations between the U.S and Venezuela in combination with the support the South American nation is getting from its neighbors, the expectations on the Summit are changing dramatically.

Brazilian Ministry investigates price of Saab Gripen

Brazil joins Sweden in becoming the launch customer for the next-generation Gripen. Photo by Saab.

Price of the Saab Gripen New Generation questioned. Photo by Saab.

The final contract that was signed by the Brazilian Air Force and the Swedish Defense company Saab was US$ 900 million dollars more expensive than the initial estimate. The Federal Public Ministry of Brazil (MPF) is now examining if there are any irregularities behind the final pricing of the Saab Gripen NG.

36 Saab Gripen NG fighters were ordered by the Brazilian Air Force at a total sum of US$ 5,4 billion and the contract was signed in mid October 2014. Brazilian congressmen questioned that the price had gone up with approximately 20 percent of the original price of US$ 4,5 billions. Since then media have continued inquiring the matter.

The press stab at the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil confirms over the telephone that a preparatory investigation was initiated on February 19th of this year:

–       We are at the first stage of the investigation process, examining if there are any irregularities involved in the pricing of the fighters. It is not yet a judicial process. We are evaluating if there are any reasons for us to initiate a proper legal process.

Since there had been many speculations on the topic an investigator at the ministry decided to initiate the process. A new investigator is to be assigned to the case next week, taking over after general inspector Eliana Pires Rocha.

 

Brazilian demands caused price elevation

Saab’s CEO Håkan Buskhe was questioned by the Brazilian TV channel Globo on the final pricing in November last year, approximately a month after the deal was closed:

– Basically the price went up because of the requirements of the client. We offered a product and they has additional claims, such as the Wide Area Display (WAD), according to Buskhe.

The alterations are the reason that the price was increased US$ 900 millions compared to the original proposal presented in 2009, according to both Saab and the Brazilian Air Force. The competitors for the deal were the American Boeing F-18 and the French Rafale, produced by French Dassault.

 

Brazilians take to the streets Sunday

On March 15th protests have been scheduled in over 200 cities all over Brazil, calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rouseff. The largest corruption scheme ever in the country, Operação Lava Jato where the state owned oil giant Petrobras is accused of laundering money to politicians at a sum of at least US$ 10 million and the overall weak economy in the country have cause the support for the President to plummet.

A Datafolha poll in February shows that 52 percent of the Brazilians believe that Dilma not only knew about the corruption scheme but that she also let it happen. Moreover, 44 percent disapprove of her administration. Thus the protesters are calling for the impeachment of the President.

The measure leans on the historic background of the country where President Fernando Collor was impeached in 1992 after involvement in a corruption scandal. The oppositional party PSDB and former presidential candidate Aécio Neves are supporting the protests planned for Sunday. However, Neves claims that he does not support the impeachment of the President.

Critics claim that the protest movement is in fact orchestrated by the opposition and the commercial media to overthrow the government. The elections were concluded by the end of last year and the will of 54 million Brazilians then was that the country remained in the power of the Worker’s Party (PT) and President Dilma.

 

Fear of Venezuela or the US?

 

Women protesting on the International Women's day in Caracas against the use of military weapon against protesters and for the resignation of President Maduro. Photo by AFP

Women protesting on the International Women’s day in Caracas against the use of military weapon against protesters and for the resignation of President Maduro. Photo by AFP

The string of a relation between Venezuela and the US is about to burst. It is a consequence of the increasingly strained economy and discontent from the population towards the Venezuelan government. Politicians of the opposition are being imprisoned and censoring of the media is increasing. As if that was not enough provoking the government has close ties to some of the US most despised enemies, other Communist states.

Venezuela and the US have both imposed sanctions against each other. They blamed each other for the economic and social problems in the Latin country. The US is now accusing Venezuela of being a threat to their national security. On the other hand Venezuela is to seek decree powers from the National Assembly to defend the country against imperialism.

The underlying reason for the increased tension between the countries is the plummeting oil price. Since oil is Venezuela’s largest industry the cut backs have been made to the extent that people are fed up. Maduro’s response to the latest US sanctions is to incriminate the Yankees of planning an invasion. The accusation might provoke unity of the Venezuelan people against the neighbor in the North or on the contrary fraction it even more.

By cartoonist Latuff.

By cartoonist Latuff.

The Union of South American Nations (USAN) condemn the US sanctions against Venezuela, insisting that the Venezuelan’s should take care of their own affairs. For over a year people have been taking to the streets, building up. The discontent is more wide spread than ever and only 20 percent of the Venezuelan’s confide in their President Nicolas Maduro, Chávez political son.

 

Nicolas Maduro

Only 1 out of 5 Venezuelans support President Nicolas Maduro. Photo: AP

It is being questioned if Maduro is trying to cause disturbance to provoke the postponing of the parliamentary elections that are to take place in Venezuela by the end of the year. The USAN has agreed to surveying the primary and general elections.

Even emptier stores, more power shortages and increasing violence against protesters intensify the sense that collapse is looming near. If the build up of the Venezuelan and US conflict continues at this speed it is only a matter of time before the other states of Latin America start positioning either as afraid of Venezuela or of a US invasion on a neighboring country.

 

Building up for the summer

This is a time of build up for the summer. The fruits I have planted are slowly ripening and I am on a roll preparing. Summer is the most opportune period to try on working in new places and I hunger for new challenges.

Work took me to Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden, and according to many the most sociable one. People are friendly in the streets and you always meet new acquaintances. That is not the norm in Sweden since most Swedes are shy. One could claim that Gothenburg is where you get the friendly Swedes a bit faster and in more unpredictable ways.

Swedish Television’s Gothenburg office is by far the best working place I have been in. The job has been fantastic, I have given of my knowledge and learned a lot. I planned and carried out a trip with stops in four different countries. Solving the unexpected situations was by far the best, it always is.

I have gotten two scholarships from The Swedish Union of Journalists. One is to study Business Journalism at Sweden’s oldest Journalism school, Poppius. The other is to attend the annual seminar of The Swedish Association of Investigative Journalism. To top it off, after so much build up, I am studying a distance course on Foreign Affairs and Globalization.

There’s a time to ponder new impressions and there’s a time to start getting back in the heat. The world is calling.

 

Have you got any interesting news or investigative tips? Send me a mail at ceciliajournalist (at) gmail.com

Walking towards Stockholm's Central Station after my first day of class at Poppius. Spring in Stockholm.

Walking towards Stockholm’s Central Station after my first class at Poppius. Spring in Stockholm.