April 2015 – RIO DE JANEIRO – Anti-government demonstrators began streaming into the streets of cities throughout Brazil on Sunday to demand the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. It was the second such day of protests in less than a month and comes as polls show Rousseff entering the fourth month of her second term in office with historically low approval ratings amid a massive corruption scandal at the state-run oil company, Petrobras, as well as a spluttering economy, a rapidly depreciating currency and political infighting.
Helicopter television images showed demonstrators, many of them dressed in the yellow and green colors of the Brazilian flag and brandishing placards reading “Dilma Out,” congregating in the capital, Brasilia, in the northeastern cities of Salvador and Belem and in Belo Horizonte in central Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro, a protest along the golden sands of Copacabana drew several hundred people, a far cry from the several thousand-strong turnout here last month. Demonstrations were expected later in Brazil’s economic capital, Sao Paulo, where more than 200,000 people turned out for the last round of protests. The March 15 rally was among the biggest in Sao Paulo since demonstrations in 1984 demanding the end of the military dictatorship.
The protest movement has been organized, mostly via social media, by a motley assortment of groups. Most call for Rousseff’s impeachment, but they are joined by others with demands ranging from a military coup to looser gun control laws. The groups say demonstrations were expected in as many as 400 towns and cities across this continent-sized nation. –HP
Venezuelan Meltdown: Considering a trip to the socialist asylum of Lieutenant Colonel Lunatic, aka Hugo Chávez? Just make sure you’re topped up on economic Kool-Aid. Now led by President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela is rotting. The statistics speak volumes. Inflation in Venezuela is around 65 percent — perhaps higher. According to an in-country NGO, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the 2014 murder rate was the second-highest globally, war zones included. Venezuelans now struggle to access the most basic necessities. Suffering from chronic shortages of coffee, toilet paper, and just about every good Venezuela imports (most goods are imported, thanks to Chávez’s idiocy), citizens must line up for hours to scrounge whatever they can.
They struggle for sustenance and also basic survival. As Juan Forero reports at the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela’s health-care system now requires patients to scavenge replacement heart valves. But Maduro isn’t worried. His power insulates him from the icy waters of socialism. And he’s happy to blame the United States for his country’s ills. In recent days, Maduro has been threatening with military exercises and fiery rhetoric. And while the most vulnerable are left to rot, the Chávezville elite live in splendor. George Orwell reminds us why: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. Still, some — many Western liberals included — believe that Venezuela’s suffering, while regrettable, is not an indictment of the regime. Instead, they celebrate Chávez’s success in reducing poverty, claiming that this vindicates his economic policies.
This overlooks that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves of any nation and that Venezuela’s natural beauty could lead to a huge increase in tourism. The problem is that Chávez, Maduro, and company have only ever wanted personal power. They see themselves as reincarnations of Simón Bolívar. But where Bolívar opposed the tyranny of the Spanish empire, Maduro opposes the “tyranny” of free enterprise. The Chávistas have always been crackpots, but, until recently, high oil prices enabled them to paper over their failings. No longer. Plummeting oil prices have eviscerated government budgets. –National Review