US Senate Extends Sanctions against Venezuelan Officials through 2019

By: Pedro García Otero - May 2, 2016, 9:49 am
sanctions Venezuela
Senator Marco Rubio lifted his blockade to the appointment of Roberta Jacobson as ambassador in Mexico after the US Senate agreed to extend the sanction against Venezuelan officials for three more years. (Observa Cuba)

EspañolWith little fanfare, the US Senate’s Committee of Foreign Relations and the Senate floor approved on Thursday, April 28, an extension of economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government through 2019.

The original mandate by Executive Order, set to expire at the end of 2016, sought to punish seven senior Venezuelan officials who violated human rights during a 2014 protest in which 43 people died. The law allows US officials to freeze their assets and deny them entry to the United States.

The legislators passed the bill after Senator Marco Rubio promised to lift a blockade to the appointment of Subsecretary of State Roberta Jacobson as ambassador in Mexico, according to the Miami Herald. After the senators unanimously agreed to extend the sanction for three more years, the Senate then confirmed Jacobson on Friday.

“Given that the democratic deterioration of Venezuela continues on a path toward economic ruin, rampant crime and increasingly dangerous political polarization, the United States must continue to press the regime of (Nicolás) Maduro,”said Sen. Bob Menéndez, co-author of the sanction.

“Maduro controls the Supreme Court and uses it to overturn laws passed by the National Assembly. These abuses of power and human rights violations are an affront to freedom around the world, so the United States has a responsibility to support extending its sanctions against Venezuela,” Rubio said after the extension was approved.

The extension bill still needs the signature of President Barack Obama.

Jacobson will proceed to become the next US ambassador in Mexico, 10 months after being put in charge of the post by the president.

Source: Caraota Digital, Miami Herald.

Pedro García Otero Pedro García Otero

Pedro García is the Spanish managing editor of the PanAm Post. He is a Venezuelan journalist with over 25 years of experience in local newspapers, radio, television, and online media. Follow him @PedroGarciaO.

Anti-Layoffs Bill in Argentina Spells Disaster for Workers

By: Antonella Marty - @AntonellaMarty - May 1, 2016, 9:37 pm
layoffs in Argentina

EspañolIn Argentina, the populist ideology known as Peronism is so paradoxical and inconsistent that its latest support of the so-called "anti-layoffs law" is no longer surprising. The bill spearheaded by the Peronist opposition, which has already passed the Argentinean Senate, seeks to suspend layoffs in the public and private sectors for 180 days and force employers to give a double severance pay. Peronists call themselves the upholders of progress and work, but all they do is create barriers for economic growth and productive jobs. The founder of the movement, former President Juan Domingo Perón, famously said that "to govern is to give jobs" — but at whose expense? At what cost? Read more: Mauricio Macri Vetoes Anti-firing Law in Argentina Read more: Argentina Succumbs to Taxi Lobby, Sends Uber Packing One must be somewhat thick not to realize, after abundant examples in Latin America and across the world, that prohibitionist policies just lead to undesired consequences, often achieving the exact opposite of the intended goal. If all it takes to solve a problem is legislation, why not promote a bill against hunger, cold, poverty, heat, accumulation or scarcity? Prohibition is a self-destructive path has never achieved its purpose. By prohibiting layoffs, companies will be destroyed. The employer will be restricted, unemployment will increase, and at some point accumulated layoffs will come. The result? The law will not benefit those who are already employed, let alone those who are unemployed. Moreover, companies will avoid risk and think twice before hiring someone. When the burden becomes too large, they will stop hiring and overall unemployment will increase. The anti-layoffs bill may be one more botched magical solutions peddled by the Peronists over the last decade under the Kirchner administration, disguising a problem they created and that they now want the current administration to bear the burden for. It is worth recalling one of Perón's first economic measures in 1945, when he got a law passed freezing rents and banning evictions. This caused a fall in the construction of rental housing. The owners and potential lessees went bankrupt. Those who had savings invested in real estate were impoverished, future investment in rental housing disappeared, and nobody wanted to accept a new tenant for fear of not being able to evict them. // Everyone in the business was harmed, as you can always expect to happen with this kind of prohibitionist approach. In Venezuela's Chavista model, anti-layoffs rules produce the same effect. The law establishes that "work stability is guaranteed and all forms of unjustified dismissal are restricted." Today you have the Venezuelan government reducing working hours because they have destroyed the country's economy with similar interventionism. Shortages, insecurity, expropriations, prohibitions, price controls and thousands of arbitrary policies have destroyed private inventiveness, and have filled the country with inefficient public employees. In the meanwhile, ordinary citizens focus all their waking time on how to survive, where to find food or medicine, and how to dry out their hair without a hairdryer, a suggestion of President Nicolás Maduro on how to save energy. In Argentina, the hypocrisy about this measure is so blatant that it is baffling. Héctor Recalde, a congressman for the Peronist Front for Victory movement, expressed in 2014 — when Peronist Cristina Kirchner was in power — that "we must be careful" about any anti-layoffs legislation "because these issues may hinder job hiring". Read more: 7 Reasons Why Latin American Populists Are On the Retreat Fast-forward to 2016 and a new administration. Recalde now states that "all blocks of the opposition signed this project. It has the intention to help SMEs and workers” and "we must not continue with policies for the rich. " Recalde's overflowing inconsistency is just another example of Peronism's modus operandi. It suggests that what the opposition is after is not helping workers but to sabotage the economic recovery. The worst part is that this measure will directly harm common Argentineans and not only the business-friendly environment that the Mauricio Macri administration is trying to show the world. For SMEs, which make up more than 90 percent of private firms in Argentina, it will be really difficult to afford the double severance pay mandated by this bill. They may well end up in bankruptcy, generating more and more unemployment. No one will invest in a country where rules change overnight, and without investment there is no way out of the problems inherited by the long and terrible Peronist era.

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