Venezuela: María Corina Machado Faces Charges of Treason

By: María Gabriela Díaz - Mar 19, 2014, 12:44 pm

EspañolThrough an “emergency motion,” the Venezuelan National Assembly has passed the impeachment of opposition leader María Corina Machado, in an effort to remove the lawmaker’s parliamentary immunity.

The initiative, presented by Socialist Party (PSUV) member Tania Díaz, achieved approval with a majority of the legislature’s votes. Then, once voting had concluded, the assembly called a close to the session and proceeded to the Attorney General’s Office to present impeachment documents.

“This time, those deaths will be avenged. They will pay for those deaths; they will pay according to the constitution and our laws,” proclaimed Díaz, referring to the nearly 30 deaths in Venezuela in the last month amid protests throughout the country.

The PSUV representative accused Machado of “treason” for having resorted to “seeking foreign government support and advice to sabotage Venezuelan democracy,” referring to Machado’s actions in turning to the OAS.

Díaz received support from the Speaker of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello, who stated he would also request an investigation into Machado on charges of terrorism, murder, and incitement of violence and crime. Cabello said “this congresswoman will have to face the Venezuelan justice system for her crimes, destruction, disasters, and the incitement of crime from her calls for destabilization.”

The accusations against Machado were within the framework of the “Truth Commission” within the National Assembly, chaired by the speaker of the assembly himself, Cabello. The commission intends to investigate the violent acts that occurred during anti-government protests beginning on February 12.

“We will investigate and arrive at consequences. There will be no impunity in Venezuela, and this is the message that we send to the people, to be calm and remain confident in Maduro’s leadership,” said Cabello.

In response to the accusations, the representative for the opposition said, “They wanted to eliminate us, but they have made us invincible. There are millions in the street and we will continue fighting to achieve democracy.”

Machado described the action by officials as an act of a dictatorial government, and said “It has become clear that Maduro’s goal is to silence the voice of the people. The government has removed its mask and we can call him what he is: a dictator.”

The congresswoman assures that the actions taken by the government against her were done because they are “afraid,” and urged her supporters to keep protesting.

“It’s very clear to me where these orders to attack me are coming from. This order is coming from Havana, Cuba,” she said.

Similarly, she also called on the governments of Latin America to assume their role “with fortitude and courage” and to be “loyal to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

Despite the accusations, Machado confirmed that she will accept Panama’s invitation to discuss and plead the Venezuelan case at the OAS on Friday.

In response to Machado’s participation at the international organization, Cabello commented, “she can go to the OAS, to that heavenly court, but in Venezuela she will be judged as a murderer and a terrorist. She will be tried for crimes against humanity, conspiracy, and destabilization.”

Justice or Political Persecution?

Amid the wave of protests and democratic crisis that has struck the country, Mariatrina Burgos, attorney and founder of Justice for Democracy, considers the call for the impeachment of Maria Corina Machado as “unfortunate for democracy in Venezuela.” The current situation in Venezuela and its restrictions on individual rights lead Burgos to believe that, “We are in a dictatorship and moving closer to a tyranny.”

Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, assures that he will order the investigation of the violent acts that occurred during the protests, and calls for peace and confidence in Maduro’s leadership. However, Burgos believes that this pursuit of justice by the government is only intended to punish the opposition. After the arrest of Leopoldo López, the arrest of Congresswoman Machado would be the second for the opposition leadership since demonstrations began in early February.

Burgos agrues that the accusations levied at Machago have a clear political motive, and appear to be acts of desperation from the current regime.

“Machado has demonstrated courage against the brutal onslaught of Diosdado and his acolytes, which is simply an external sign of the desperation of a regime that is lost. It is a consequence of the vertigo that eats away at their souls as they realize for the first time, after these 15 long years, the limits of their fraudulent permanency. They are aware of the cliff that they will soon fall off,” says Burgos.

The attorney perceives these actions as the beginning of a “witch hunt” to try to intimidate the opposition and put an end to the protests in the country. Burgos, who leads an international foundation, believes that, “Now more than ever, the work being done by those who decided to stay in Venezuela to fight needs external allies to become multipliers of information.”

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

María Gabriela Díaz María Gabriela Díaz

María Gabriela Díaz reported from Caracas, Venezuela, and led the PanAm Post internship program. She has a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a focus in international affairs.

A Banker Speaks the Truth About the Great Recession

By: Contributor - Mar 19, 2014, 12:08 pm

EspañolFrançais Government, with its immense coercive and regulatory powers, can (and does force) anyone to act against his self-interest. This is exactly what triggered the lingering economic downturn we have been suffering through since 2008 and the onset of the Great Recession. So unlike what most media outlets parrot, it wasn't caused by deregulation and unfettered capitalism. John Allison — chief executive of the Cato Institute and former chief of BB&T Bank — is more than familiar with financial regulations and saw this crisis coming during his BB&T tenure. Like many others in the industry, he had to make subprime loans to could avoid stiff fines from government regulators. Now, in his book — The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure — he talks about the causes of the 2008 financial and housing crisis and proposes solutions to avoid another one. The trigger of this crisis was the housing bubble that inflated during the early and mid 2000s and then popped in 2008. Like the Great Depression of the 1930s, the 2008 crisis can be linked to government intervention, namely an "easy-money policy," with abnormally low interest rates. This money was mainly channeled into the housing industry, which, according to Allison, represents the most heavily subsidized domain since the New Deal of the 1930s. These policies include tax credits for low-income housing, that benefit crony developers, and vast, crime-ridden public housing projects paid for by the federal government. These funds are meant to help every family live in a house, in spite of the fact that this type of acquisition is not for everyone, especially for people who move frequently. Also, officials forget that a house is not necessarily an investment in the economic sense of the term — a good that will be used to produce other goods. Once the construction is finished, housing can become a consumption good, just like a bag of carrots. In fact, too many houses are a diversion of resources away from more productive allocations and can hinder economic growth in the long run. Further, many jobs directly involved in construction become obsolete during the correction period, once the bubble has popped. The End of Rule of Law Beyond housing regulations, Allison shows how regulation in general affects the actions of business leaders — given its arbitrariness — wherever they may work. Some banks, for example, received bailouts while other did not. Normally, a business that is badly managed will fail in the free market, and more competent competitors buy off the assets. But when government pitches in, it can decide to bail out a bankrupted company by using "too big to fail" reasoning, as though the whole system would fall apart. Instead, they just delay and impede the market correction. For example, former Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson had a substantial investment in Goldman Sachs when it failed. He did everything he could to save his money while letting Lehman Brothers fail. The simple fact that one, though, compounds the problem, since it encourages others to take greater risks, since they may be rewarded for doing so. Aggressive but Necessary Solutions In order to avoid another crisis like the one we are still experiencing — Allison believes another major crisis looms in the next 10-15 years if nothing changes — radical-but-necessary solutions will be necessary. He contends that the majority of banking regulations, especially the Dodd-Frank Act, adopted in the midst of the crisis, must be abolished. Similarly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be liquidated and/or privatized. He also suggests, like every person knowledgeable of human action and incentives, to lower taxes in order to boost production. Indeed, when taxes are high, people spend more time and money on avoiding them rather than on innovation, keeping us from increasing our standards of living. Most important, though, Allison wants to attack the root of economic crises, which is philosophical and not economic — and he is well-placed to do so with the Cato Institute. Get Yourself a Copy! The Free Market Cure should be a part of anyone’s book collection. The author offers detailed information that explains the crisis from the point of view of the “culprits” and shows that their actions were rational in their context. Some parts become hard to follow — probably because the regulations themselves are impossible to understand — but, given that content, the book is still relatively accessible to the layman.

Weekly E-Newsletter

Get the latest from PanAm Post direct to your inbox!

We will never share your email with anyone.