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[RD] News Thread of the Americas

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by ReindeerThistle, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    c'mon wim, start a ‘Fora Temer, wim presidenchi’ campaign.
     
  2. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    Riots have started in earnest in Venezuela now. A pregnant woman and two men are reported dead by the local authorities in El Callao. It seems that declaring money worthless does not help the people, it simply takes away all their wealth.

    Some people have begun to burn banks as well. New banknotes were supposed to arrive yesterday but they didn't. They haven't, as of today (Friday). Some legislators have been arrested, bypassing parliamentary immunity. At some point Maduro will abolish elections, but there might not be a Venezuela left.
     
  3. chijohnaok

    chijohnaok King

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  4. OldBoomer

    OldBoomer Warlord

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    Let them eat empanada!
     
  5. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    Can't be. Venezuela's in great shape. The Great Leader is saying so himself.
     
  6. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Venezuela is taking an awfully long time to starve... Whatever the exaggeration, the current election seems very much sabotaged with too many candidates barred from running. Maduro can now be called a dictator.

    Meanwhile, Argentina's current president has managed to increase by 50% the foreign debt in dollars in just two years in power. As interest rates on the dollar started to rise, the country seems about to go broke again, with the government running to the IMF. Redo of the late 1990s?
     
  7. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    There's officially over a million Venezuelan refugees/escapees in Colombia and enough of them in Peru to have made the Peruvian government waive payment of fees for work visas and permits for Venezuelans.
    I don't think so. It will be bad, but anything after over a quarter-century of Peronism was going to be. So… there's no law officially fixing or pegging the exchange rates. Also, Peronism isn't in power and people might just want to vote against them again next year.

    The foreign debt… I don't know, depends on the conditions the IMF tries to impose. Even so Argentina's already been getting ~5% interest rates rather than the ~15% they got from comrade Chávez… one of the main problems Macri and his government have is that they underestimated how bad the situation would be after the Peronists left, so they thought gradualism and a lot of good cheer and feel-good messages would do most of the trick. While the country is undoubtedly better than it would be if yet another Peronist had been elected (especially such a combination of buffoons such as the Scioli-Zannini ticket), ‘not being as bad as the others’ cannot and should not be the standard to which they are held.
     
  8. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    You keep saying that the former administration was bad, yet the former administration actually reduced foreign debt by half. They imposed capital controls to achieve that, so what? This one is doing a Menem again...

    You also keep talking about Peronists, but Kirchner was an opponent of Menem, defended a different policy back in the 90s, and once president conducted a totally different economic policy. Which seems to have been far more successful than either Menem's or Macri's. They did benefit briefly from a rise in commodity prices, but to their credit used that cycle to reduce debt and attempt to create some isolation between Argentina and the swings of international financial centers.

    Latrin America has a sad history whenever it depends on foreign borrowing. And it has an infuriating history of its own wealthy people taking much of their capital out of the countries and speculating with dollars from abroad rather than risking it at home. When they do invest they do it through foreign vehicles, in an attempt to insulate themselves from political changes, probably because they are aware of how dangerously unequal their societies are. The other method they use to protect their wealth and standing is political patronage. But that happens worldwide, is not an exclusive of Latin America.

    However, corruption is so hard to fight in Latin America because any incoming government that is perceived as threatening to the wealthy class playing this game of "insiders investing from outside" will have to face them as enemies in a position where the government cannot really threaten most of their assets. Their having assets abroad gives them more leverage, more staying power, that the government has. They will continue to own media (which has a global reach now), they can threaten financial strangulation (draining or withholding capital), they can paralyze the businesses they own within the country, if their interests are threatened. Because they know that they'll only risk a portion of their wealth, not all of it. Any government getting in a fight with this caste knows this. This scares any reformist politicians into seeking deals, "playing within the system", rather than attempting deep changes. That was how Lula ended up playing the corruption game in Brazil, that was how ultimately a president (Dilma) that could not personally be charged of any corruption ended up being overthrown in a coup and replaced with one of the most corrupt politicians in the county, whom she had herself enabled as part of that strategy of playing within the system.

    As for Venezuela... Chavez got an early lesson on this reality in the coup against him, so he went for confrontation. But it would take an extraordinary strategist to win such a confrontation. I don't know if he might have pulled it of, probably not with the warped, oil-dependent economy Venezuela had. But then he died and power fell into the hands of an idiot there anyway.

    Currently, everything is aligning for a rise in interest rates and another crushing blow against the "emerging markets" as investors (speculators) "flee to safety" and paralyze the economies of weaker countries with more open economies. Don't get too smug on seeing Venezuela failing. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina will all go down the drain soon enough if interest rates rise. This time there won't be a commodity boom anytime soon because we'll probably be going through a long crisis in the "developed world" also, with the wars and trade wars looming.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
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  9. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    It all happens worldwide.

    I bet this won't stop people from sharing memes like "you're a socialist? Explain Venezuela then"
     
  10. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    OK, innonimatu, I could go the snarky way and paraphrase Luke Skywalker to the effect that every word you posted is wrong but instead I'm going to answer in detail and show where I agree and where I disagree with you. In order to do that I am going to break down that post of yours to deal with the tree countries you mention.

    Brazil - the easiest. Yes, technically Lula and Dilma were (are) guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. But so is over half the total amount of legislators at all levels, the current president (who was Dilma's VP but ‘somehow’ wasn't caught in any of the tangle of responsibility) and most if not all of his cabinet. So, yes, in that case there was an obvious use of the public outcry against corruption to just shunt the lefties out of the way once they were no longer useful. After all, you can make just as much money from running a business down as you can from building it (back) up. Or was that the wrong order?
    --------​
    Venezuela: Chávez showed his democratic credentials in the early '90s when he trie dto stage a coup and again when
    And I take personal offence at that bit where you say I am smug about Venezuela failing. Oh no, I bloody don't. I told the US posters what they'd get if they voted for Donald Trump and they are getting it, and it does not make happy. I am definitely not happy either that Venezuelans are getting the results I predicted from Maduro's illegal government retaining power. There's thousands upon thousands of them here. I don't wish an inflationary crisis, rampant unemployment, state-sponsored armed gangs, drug trafficking, or anything else on anyone.
    --------​
    Argentina (walltext time!): how much do you know about Peronism? Don't you know that it was founded by (and is named after) a former military attaché to Italy who aimed explicitly to crush leftwing policies, was a self-proclaimed corporatist and removed limits on the reelection of presidents, just to start with? Don't you know that he and his ilk actually got power through a military coup in 1943 to prevent Argentina's civilian government from joining the Allies in WWII together with Brazil, and after the war was lost (Argentina declared war on Germany a couple weeks before it surrendered just to get a seat at the UN) helped Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Ante Pavelić et al. to escape and settle here (indeed, Ante Pavelić and other Nazi and Ustaša members were part of Eva Perón's circle of friendly European gentlement who ran security companies). Then, in 1946, they ran a campaign to get elected.
    That's how Peronism started and they have continued on the same vein throughout their existence. In the 1960s Perón encouraged leftwing militias (well, terrorists) to perpetrate various attacks just to bring down the existing governments. Then he disowned them. His was the only government not brought down in the early 1970s by Kissinger's affiliates and operatives precisely because he was on board with exterminating the disease of the mind known as ‘socialism’ (Perón and his personal secretary were P2 members, please).
    Fast forward to the time when he died and his widow proved incapable of reining in the non-Peronist leftist insurgency other P2 members (General Suárez Mason, Admiral Massera, etc.) staged the 1976 coup and promptly reached an agreement with the Peronist ‘left’ wing (inasmuch as a pro-Catholic band of corporatists can be called ‘leftwing) guerilla leaders in Paris (read up on the murder/forced disappearance of Elena Holmberg).
    After the military left with three-digit inflation and the defeat in the insane war in the Falklands the now Perón-less Peronists ran on a platform of amnesty for all the military officers involved in torture, kidnappings, etc. They lost and the famous trials against the military were carried out in the 1980s. In 1989 Alfonsín was ousted from power and Carlos Menem took power, promptly issuing an amnesty for all military and security officers and -after taking the odd million dollar or two in campaign contributions from former guerillas who dipped into their illegal proceeds- also the guerillas.
    Now, Néstor Kirchner… (and his wife, of course). During the military dictatorship they were too busy making money off insolvent debtors by taking advantage of the military's ‘1050’ regulation from 1981. Eventually they got him to the post of governor of Santa Cruz and her
    Totally not. Kirchner was a beloved friend of ‘mi amigo el presidente’ who called him ‘mi amigo el gobernador’ and they cooperated in the devastation of the province's oil industry (Kirchner personally oversaw the transfer of USD 400,000,000 from the province's funds to a Swiss bank account whence they've never returned).
    Hmmm, no. He kept the peso's price artificially high as Menem had done, favouring importers and financial speculators over the local industry and agriculture, to the point that both sectors verge on inviability.
    He paid all public debts by a) seizing the same pension funds Menem had ‘privatised’ (as I said, you can make as much money from running a business down as you can from building it back up), printing money like crazy (also, over a decade of double-digit inflation can only help the rich) and contracting debts both with Chávez and with the state's own banks.
    The poor are triply screwed: the slow task of destroying the lower-income sectors' hopes for the future by destroying education (see the PISA evaluation results for Argentina, compare with Menem's minister Cavallo actively working to destroy not only education but also science and technology), healthcare and the pension system was all but completed after the 1989-2015 period of Peronism (during De La Rua's brief interregnum the Peronists retained the vice-presidency, Congress and most governorships).
    The problem of having stolen all the money from the pension funds was solved by not allowing retirement pensions to keep up with inflation rates (not only the real one, >20%, but also the official single-digit ones), i.e. discontinuing automatic updates and fighting them in court (naturally, paying with state resources). Currently they are at 1/3 of the estimated minimum living wage.

    Also, you haven't lived through the personality cult. Shoes, clothing and school materials paid for with state money and bearing the name of the respective president, governor or mayor. State employees and students (including, memorably, myself) forced to attend demonstrations, conferences and so on and chant party slogans. Mandatory random interruptions of all TV and radio broadcasts to make place for ‘important’ announcements from the President. Party membership required for access to state offices. Military leaders required to instil personal loyalty to the President into both officers and enlisted men. Newspapers not being published because Peronist trade unions (ruled by the same boss for up to half a century). Forced attendance and mourning at his funeral. Sports broadcasters on the state TV system praising the dead man's actions and virtues throughout football matches rather than following the events of said matches.
    Add to it explicit vocal support (during the above mandatory broadcasts, no less) for organised football hooligan gangs who have long ago diversified into cocaine smuggling, gunrunning and slave trafficking. Complete inaction against the penetration of the northern border by Hezbollah (also in the drug trade). Complete immunity given to their former boss Carlos Menem who has, in exchange for his many sentences not being enforced, voted for the Kirchners' bills once and again.

    Incidentally - Menem: did you know he illegally supplied arms to Croatia during the Balkan wars and to Ecuador during its war with Peru? In the former case he actually sent a P2 member as ambassador to Yugoslavia and in the latter Argentina was officially one of the backers of the previous peace treaty. He later had the Rio Tercero armaments factory blown up to destroy the evidence.
    The bombings in 1992 and 1994 of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA community centre in Buenos Aires remain unsolved. Menem remained (remains) free, by virtue of having official protection.

    That is my life experience under the Kirchners, abridged for the sake of readability. Xenforo ate one of my first drafts so I'll stop now. I can expand on any points.

    Macri is not a nice person, he's not in ideological agreement with me (except, vaguely, on the concept of representative democracy) but the biggest problem was that in 2015 his opponents more or less admitted they'd do everything he would do (I actually heard this off the record and had a ‘Nixon goes to China’ moment).

    We're really screwed here, aren't we?
     
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  11. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Sadly it seems you are.

    I do believe you are, how shall I say, no Luiz. It's too bad you did not had a major candidate to vote on with a better plan going forward in the last election.

    And I do roughly knew the history of Peronism. He was a more unsavory character that even Vargas in Brazil, whose negatives I can somewhat excuse. Perón, it seems to me, had no redeeming qualities, his abuses failed to advance Argentina's position in the world and the living standards of its population. What he did of "populist" was strictly in a cynical way to keep power, I don't think the man even had any principles - a total opportunist.
    My relatively good opinion of the recent past government in Argentina is that they managed to stabilize the country after the absolute disaster that was Menem's time. It's unfortunate that the Kirchners, still products of the previous era, were the ones available and who proved capable of fixing some things after all that wrongdoing blew. For that they deserve credit. Just as am I not particularly fond of the current prime-minister of my own country but can recognize that they guy is smart at managing a difficult situation.

    The Kirchners were corrupt, or connivant with corruption all around during the Menem days? Probably, I cannot tell and I won't argue with you. I don't know exactly what Nestor Kirchner was accused of during the 90s, but to be a minor shark in the tank I'm guessing he played along with the game. However, he was not Menem's friend, nor a supporter. They have applied some portions of the neoliberal rulebook while in power? yes. But destruction of pensions has also been on the agenda of the European Commission, don't think it is an exclusive of Argentina. And to save more of those pensions (or rather, to move to provide better and sounder pensions) would have demanded a much more interventionist state policy that what they practiced, which already got them branded as dangerous leftists and targeted with international economic pressures. You can't invest on development, or repay debt, or undo ruinous privatizations, and maintain a neutral current account balance (avoid borrowing abroad), and keep up generous social transfers. Something has to give to make these changes. Kirchner's governments initially sought to reduce foreign debt and undo privatizations that were themselves drains on national capital, which was sound policy given the constrains upon the country. Certainly better that "austerity" per IMF prescription, which involves further fire sales of state assets (leading to capital outflows from repatriated foreign investment and dividends later, plus loss of continued revenues to the state) while also curring on social services, and slavishly serving all current foreign debt obligations. Argentina instead defaulted on some of the debt, mostly froze (in real terms, discounting inflation) overall social spending, and reinvested what it could to reduce financial outflows (reversing privatizations, subsidizing some local industry). Industrial investment programs were hampered by disputes related to privatized resources and services but this too was not that government's fault, they were unpicking the mess they took over.

    That agenda or reducing foreign debt and obligations seems to have been successful. And at the time it was necessary. If you want to blame someone for the devastation of the old pensions, blame the ideologies applied throughout the 1990s, not the ones of the 2000s.

    He kept the peso high and printed money like crazy? These are mutually exclusive. They did impose capital controls, a wise decision but also one that naturally followed from the default on foreign debt. But if "printing like crazy" were done devaluation well above the official exchange rates would have been inevitable (as that idiot Maduro demonstrated, if any demonstration was necessary). Divergence between official rates and market rates in Argentina was low. There was inflation, but it was under control. A cynical could complain about it being a political ploy, but I suspect that the government's printing resulted in a transfer of resources towards the poorer sections of the population, financing some social programs that otherwise simply would not have been possible. While poverty remained a problem, it would have been a worse problem absent this expedient.

    What happened was more complex, the handling of the toxic legacy of the debt bust. Argentina had to impose capital controls, but the government only did so after the wealthy had taken most of their dollar-denominated wealth out of the country. It seems to have been politically impossible to do it timely, judging by the violent reaction when it got done anyway.
    That is on the previous government's heads. I don't know the specifics of what you mean by seizing privatized pensions. But I do know that private pension schemes have always had a problem: when there is a severe financial crisis, they get severely hit. This applies to whatever funds: a debt bust cuts the value of the typical assets held by these funds, mostly government or corporate bonds, as any crisis approaches. That is the reason why private pension funds are a terrible idea. No argentinian government could possibly "save" such funds after the crisis erupted. During the run-up to the crisis there was a choice of what assets were allowed to "flee", but even that choice was a matter of degree: how honest to be, whether to anticipate or delay the run... In any case foreign creditors might very well have ended up seizing or freezing assets of pension funds held abroad, they were too official not to be targeted: anything government connected or managed by the major financial institutions of Argentina was potentially liable. The time to avoid that problem is before the mistake is made.

    I do remain curious about the specific history of those funds you mentioned. If you have the time, please tell here what happened.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
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  12. ReindeerThistle

    ReindeerThistle Zimmerwald Left

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    My wife will be unbelievably happy to hear this news:

    First Cretaceous period starfish fossil found in Rodas, Cuba

    A starfish fossil from the Cretaceous period was recently discovered in the municipality of Rodas, Cienfuegos, the oldest to be found on the island
    Author: Julio Martínez Molina | internet@granma.cu

    may 29, 2018 10:05:54

    http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2018-05-29/first-cretaceous-period-starfish-fossil-found-in-rodas-cuba
     
  13. plarq

    plarq Crazy forever

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    There are cuban websites? That is so cool!
     
  14. chijohnaok

    chijohnaok King

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    Things seem to be deteriorating in Venezuela even further:

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/seniors-block-venezuela-streets-demanding-pension-checks-213439933.html

    So Pres. Maduro increased the retiree benefits....but if all they can get for that amount is a banana and a plantain, what good does it do?
     
  15. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    @innonimatu this thread slipped under my radar because your last post happened to be at midterms/finals time last term. I'll try to answer your post and dig you some info on Kirchnner's early years of embezzlement. How good's your Spanish?

    -------------------------------------------

    Anyway, news! news! news! (links in Españish)
    Steve Bannon has been hired as Jair Bolsonaro's new head strategy for the elections that are to take place this October. (Infobae)

    Argentina's bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy was defeated in the Senate after it was passed by the Lower House; instead, the executive's proposed reform of the penal code will remove punishments for the mother in the same circumstance (I don't know about how it will go for the doctors). Frankly, the debate was a clownfest with increasingly moronic arguments and theatrics on both sides. But at least the current President did not say ‘don't do it because I'll veto it’, and indeed his ministers are preparing the penal code reform bill anyway.

    And the big one for Argentina! Last January, by a bizarre chain of events, a federal prosecutor came into possession of eight notebooks. These notebooks contained a diary-like series of entries made by a former driver for the Planning Ministry headed by Julio De Vido, Néstor and Cristina Kirchner's right-hand man. These entries detailed absolutely everything. Late-night ice-cream runs, picking up kickbacks and other bribes for the Kirchner family from captains of industry and other public-works contractors, and a whole plethora of other insanities. After six months of patient, secret investigation, on the first of August (last Wednesday!) there was a wave of arrests. The Macri administration has finally enacted legislation allowing for plea bargaining and turning state's evidence in cases of corruption, so many of the businessmen are copping out.
    So far, the Kirchners' former cabinet chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina has admitted to taking illegal financing for the 2013 midterm legislative elections and also former federal judged Norberto Oyarbide has broken down and admitted to having been blackmailed and bribed by Néstor Kirchner (in 2009) into hastily closing down an investigation on how NK's net worth had increased by 158% in just one year while in office. The federal anti-corruption agencies are now seeking to undo most of his rulings alleging res iudicata irrita. I.e. that the case has been closed and precedent set in a fraudulent manner.
    CFK herself is currently only protected by the privileges extended by the constitution to legislators and judges. Privileges which the senate, still dominated by the various branches of Peronism, refuses to lift from both CFC and her on-off ally Carlos Menem, actually convicted for illegally arming Ecuador and Croatia in the 1990s and then committing various murders to cover it up.
    Today, arrest warrants for some other former Ministry officials have been issued.

    Colombia has formally withdrawn from UNASUR; Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Paraguay are expected to follow. (Infobae)

    Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati, accused of masterminding the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 (which left 85 dead), took a trip to Russia. Russia decided not to arrest him even though there's an international warrant for his capture, claiming that the official notification from Argentina's embassy arrived only after he left, when in fact it had arrived before he did. Russia's new ambassador to Argentina has had the gall to offer cooperation in security and the fight against terrorism, as well as investments in the petroleum industry and cooperation in the G20 forum, right at a time when Donald Trump is moronically insisting on his Americs Fürst policy and alternates between insulting and ignoring the entire continent -this includes his own country IMHO but we have threads galore for that. (again, Infobae, I'm trying to find sources without paywalls)
     
  16. west india man

    west india man Immortal

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    Brazilian Presidential-candidates debate happened last night, and involved such phrases as ''fifty shades of temer'', ''lost it, playboy'' (from the moderator) and ''you want to unify the whole of south america under a totalitarian communist dictatorship involving the New World Order''
     
  17. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I can read it. And I will if you post it here, I'm curious about that history. Thanks.

    That is not good news.
     
  18. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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  19. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    up yours!
    This definitely sounds like the US' 2015-16 Republican primary so Bannon should be right in his element.
    Go onto the highly volatile Taringa.net before it's deleted. That's a rough version of the story.

    Right now getting links on Kirchner + corrupción + Santa Cruz is a bit difficult as it's swamped by the current scandal.
    It is certain that if Néstor Kirchner were alive he'd be under custody right now and that if the Senate (which showed up in full last week to reject the abortion bill) hadn't refused to allow discussion of Cristina Kirchner's parliamentary immunity (the senators remained within their offices rather than actually coming down into the Senate chamber) she would also be under pre-emptive custody. Businessmen and former officials are now testifying to having paid Néstor and Cristina Kirchner both protection and kickbacks. In cash and in person.

    Also, CFK's last vice-president, Amado Boudou, is now in jail, convicted for the fraudulent acquisition of the one private printing house that made Argentina's currency (more on that later when I get around to the inflation, etc. issue), together with one ‘testaferro’ (does that word still exist in Portuguese?) and one of the former owners. Other trials against him are still being carried out, but on this count alone he's gotten nearly 6 years; in addition, he's been barred from holding any public office for life.

    It might sound a bit like a conspiracy theory, but some parts of the government really might be speculating on whether Cristina Kirchner's influence on her party and politics in general is better with her in prison or outside.

    After all, last week there was a search in a flat in the same building as one where she owns a flat and her lawyer showed up to scream about unconstitutionality and political persecution before being told he was wrong and would he please stop making a fool of himself.
    The NYT reports that Bannon sees himself as the cultural regenerator (and redeemer) of this western world. So he wants everyone to join under the Orbán banner in Europe against the European Union and, presumably, he'll want to do the same here. Let's hope that the demented Bolsonaro does not make it.
     
  20. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    A very rough one. He placed funds from the province outside the country. Something which everyone in Argentina was attempting to do at the time. There is a copy of a bank statement showing that, apparently they were placed there on behalf of the provincial governemnt. So?
     

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