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[LINK] “The beginning of the end of Venecuba was in 2007″

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Over at The Power and the Money, Noel Maurer analyzes the failure of radical-left Venezuela and Cuba to federate. The possibility was widely discussed at the time; I made mention of it back in 2006. It turns out that the high-water mark was in 2007.

The more qualitative reports of Cuban officials operating inside the Venezuelan state are harder to measure. But it should be noted that the U.S. was worried about Cuban influence in the foreign ministry and the Cuban presence in Venezuelan ports in 2008. Juan José Rabilero, the coordinator of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, boasted, “We have over 30,000 members of Cuba’s Committees for the Defence of the Revolution in Venezuela” … in 2007.

In short, the Cuban-Venezuelan relationship reached its peak around 2007-08. That is not to say that the relationship isn’t an astoundingly tight one. It is. It is to say that it hasn’t gotten much tighter since ‘08.

The second thing to note about Venecuba is that there was a lot of talk of deeper union in 2007. The State Department noted this in an internal cable. The political benefits of greater institutionalization were obvious. It would secure Cuba’s access to Venezuelan resources and make it easier for President Chávez to call on Cuban support to help him cement his control over Venezuela.

[. . .]

So what happened? One possibility is that plans to institutionalize the Venecuban links were just hot air. That was true of a lot of Hugo Chávez’s initiatives.

But that isn’t what happened. What happened was that Chávez put the possibility of a federation before the Venezuelan people in 2007 and got beat at the ballot box. Here’s the story. Chávez proposed a series of constitutional amendments to the National Assembly in 2007. In the Assembly, his party added a series of additional amendments. (This almost certainly occured under the supervision of the executive branch.) Among them were reforms to Articles 152 and 153.

The reforms failed to promote a Latin American federalism. I would note that, since then, Venezuela has seemed to focus on other Caribbean and South American integration productions, joining the Brazil-dominated Mercosur and aligning with smaller middle American states as a patron.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • At The Dragon’s Tales, Will Baird reports that Sweden and Finland, spooked by Crimea, are now contemplating NATO membership.
  • On a very different note, The Dragon’s Tales also notes that Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus, with a Europa-like ocean underneath, is perfectly suited for a space mission.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers are dying on World Cup construction sites in Brazil as well as in Qatar.
  • At the Planetary Society Blog, Emily Lakdawalla notes the very recent discovery of Kuiper belt object 2013 FY27, big enough to be a dwarf planet.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy links to a profile of the blog and its blogger in Tablet magazine.
  • Window on Eurasia has a series of links. One argues that Russia’s weakness not its strength motivated the move into Crimea, another argues that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a catastrophe and that the Russian government knows it, another observes Belarus’ alienation from federation with Russia.

[NEWS] Some Friday links

  • Al Jazeera follows the story of the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians deported from Saudi Arabia and observes that Russia is competing for influence in Central Asia with a rising China.
  • Businessweek suggests that, coffee notwithstanding, McDonald’s still has significant troubles business-wise. As well, the secession of Crimea may undermine Ukraine’s potential for offshore oil, while Israeli migration to Germany–especially Berlin–in search for a better standard of living is a problem for Israelis.
  • CBC notes that Ontario car manufacturers are worried by the new free trade agreement signed by Canada with South Korea, and presents Canadian doctor Danielle Martin’s defense of medicare in front of a questioning American congressional committee.
  • Der Spiegel‘s English edition notes that crystal meth use is taking off in Germany.
  • The Inter Press Service notes the sufferings of African migrants to Europe and observes that a railroad in a poor north Brazilian state has not brought riches to the locals.
  • Wired examines the evolution of extinct aquatic sloths and notes weirdness in the centre of our galaxy that may indicate dark matter is somehow being annihilated there.

[LINK] “From Syria to São Paulo”

Monique Sochaczewski‘s recent article published at The Cairo Review of Global Affairs takes a look at the presence of Syrians of whatever religious background (and Arabs more generally) in Brazil. Brazil’s large populations of Arab and Jewish background dates back to the 1880s, and have seen interesting fluxes in identity, political behaviour, and relationships with other groups.

Middle Eastern immigrants began trickling into Brazil as early as the 1850s, and Arab descendants mark 1885 as the official beginning of their immigration from Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. The 1890s witnessed the first large-scale arrival. The Rio newspaper Gazeta de Notícias reported that crowds of “strange tanned and bearded men” attracted much “admiration and distrust” on the part of Brazilians. Those first immigrants largely became peddlers, initially selling objects brought from the Holy Land, such as amulets, rosaries, and small religious images. They later began to sell matches, clothes, and haberdashery in remote places that did not have established trade, such as in the suburbs and regions far from urban centers. Arab peddlers spread throughout the country.

About 4.5 million immigrants entered Brazil between 1872 and 1949. Approximately 400,000 of these were Asians, Arabs, and Jews. Europeans, who made up the majority of the immigrants, were welcomed and could rely on large private or public programs to help them settle. The Brazilian government and the elites believed that Europeans were the “ideal immigrants,” able to work as farmers, settlers, and craftsmen; and they also assisted in “whitening” society after centuries of African slavery. Asians, Arabs, and Jews on the other hand, were considered by the government and elites as non-white or “imperfect white” and, with the exception of the Japanese arrivals in 1908, could not rely on official immigration programs at all.

The Arabs were Ottoman subjects leaving an empire that did not officially allow their departure, as they were needed for cultivating the land and serving in the army. The Sublime Porte also feared the poor image that some immigrants projected of the Ottoman Empire—as they begged on the streets of European cities such as Marseille and Genoa to afford passage to the Americas. The Brazilian government showed little interest in encouraging immigrants who had no intention of working in agriculture and were not seen as white and Western.

[. . .]

Over time, these immigrants and their descendants began to project varying identities. Some 85 percent of the Arabs in all the waves of immigration to Brazil were predominantly Christian; they included Roman Catholics, Maronites, Antiochene Orthodox, Melkites, and Protestants. As the anthropologist Paulo Pinto points out, some immigrants focused on ethnic issues, using the generic term “Arab” or the term “Syrian-Lebanese” common in Brazil. Others gave more importance to their places of origin, such as Beirut, Zahle, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Homs, Aleppo, or Damascus. There was still an emphasis on “national” origin, including by Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians. Among the Muslim immigrants, membership in one of the various sects, such as Sunni, Shiite, Druze, and Alawite, also shaped their self-designation. Jews immigrating from the Middle East could have an Arab or Sephardic identity, as well as a deep connection to their hometowns, such as Sidon, Safed, Beirut, Istanbul, or Smyrna.

Until the 1940s, a relatively close relationship existed among Arab Christians, Arab Muslims, and Arab Jews in Brazil. In a series of popular essays on the religions of Rio de Janeiro published in 1904, the Brazilian writer João do Rio noted that the Arab Jews of the city center were more integrated with the rest of the Arab immigrants than with the Ashkenazi Jews of European background, who also had begun to settle in what was then capital of the country. The historian Rachel Mizrahi, in her 2003 book Jewish Immigrants of the Middle East: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, highlights that the area of Rio where Arab Muslim, Christian and Jewish families lived was called Little Turkey—a reference to the Ottoman Arab territories—and that it was a space of “respect and cordiality.” There are some published memoirs and photographs that evoke the rounds of hookah and backgammon games that united the Arabs of different religions in downtown Rio in the first decades of the twentieth century. Something quite similar happened in São Paulo’s Mooca district.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2014 at 2:37 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links (1)

I accumulated quite a few links over the long weekend just past in Canada, Monday having been Canada Day. That volume will make for two [BLOG] posts today.

(Feedly, thankfully, seems to be working well.)

  • Bag News Notes compares coverage of the protests in Brazil and Turkey, arguing that although the photos from the two countries convey similar images of violence, in actual fact the Brazilian protests are encountering less violence and are getting substantially more response from the national government than their Turkish counterparts.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a recent study suggesting that gas giants–heavy planets like Jupiter and Saturn, not their smaller ice giant kin like Uranus and Neptune–seem to form, on the relatively rare occasions they do form, close to their sun.
  • Daniel Drezner considers the ethics of institutions of higher education receiving very large grants from foreign governments. Does it compromise them and/or can it engage them with the wider world?
  • Eastern Approaches notes the likely dire consequences on press freedom in Ukraine of a gas magnate’s purchase of Forbes‘ Ukrainian edition.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at what, if anything, the inability of Trayvon Martin witness Rachel Jeantel to read a handwritten note says about social capital.
  • Far Outliers’ Joel describes the medieval Venetian empire, the stato da mar, at its peak.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh makes the case that the Czech economy is bound for stagnation.
  • Geocurrents maps the regional and ethnic dimensions of the recent Iranian presidential election.
  • Joe. My. God. links to Nate Silver’s chart showing the progression of same-sex marriage rights across the world, by population and by continent.
  • Language Hat examines the question of what exactly is Aranese (the Gascon Occitan dialect spoken in northwestern Catalonia, for starters).
  • New APPS Blog analyses a secular French feminism that is nonetheless anti-gay.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell argues that Slovenia is caught in an unusually intense form of stagnation stemming from its managed transition from Communism.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • BlogTO asks what Kensington Market’s future is. The consensus in the comments seems to be that it really needs to shake up and clean up.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the cleanish elections in Albania, a country seeking eventual European Union membership.
  • Guest blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money Colin Snider observes that one interesting thing about the recent mass protests in Brazil is the way that they have mobilized society generally.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes that the growth in divorce rates in China is more rapid than the growth in marriage rates.
  • At Maximos Web, the author considers how Bali has been transformed by progress and development.
  • New APPS Blog’s Mohan Matthen considers the philosophy and the history of the restaurant.
  • Registan considers the roles of first Russia then a more pragmatic China in helping the United States deal with Afghanistan.
  • Zero Geography’s Mark Graham points and links to a new paper of his mapping the appearances of geotagged zombie outbreaks as a marker of social change.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora points to articles discussing Germany’s ongoing demographic issues.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin meditates on the rapid urbanization of China.
  • Daniel Drezner expects somewhat more out of the recent Iranian election of a moderate president than of North Korea’s latest diplomatic moves.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird shares the news that none of the planets discovered orbiting Tau Ceti are likely to be habitable, e being Venus-like and f closer to Mars. There’s still space for a low-mass planet orbiting between e and f, though, right?
  • Geocurrents criticizes the recently publicized linguistics thesis claiming that languages which have ejective consonants are likely to have evolved in mountainous areas, where these sharp sounds are suited to area with low air pressure.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen agrees now with Dani Rodrik’s long-staning critique of Turkish politics this past decade as undemocratic.
  • The New APPS Blog notes the blemishing of Erdogan’s record in Turkey and mass protests in Brazil’s Sao Paulo over public transit.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders if the Colombian-American alliance might worsen Colombia’s insurgencies.
  • Peter Rukavina shares the GIS numbers of Prince Edward Island, the geographical coordinates of a box encompassing the island province.
  • Torontoist notes that Toronto saw the first pay-TV show, a 1961 Bob Newhart special.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the imprisonment in Egypt of a Muslim cleric convicted of offending Christians.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Acts of Minor Treason’s Andrew Barton photographs the ever-changing and increasingly condo-ized intersection of Queen Street West with Dufferin.
  • James Bow points to a McDonald’s in Scarborough that appears for all the world to be abandoned. (Suburbia can be a wasteland.)
  • Centauri Dreams notes that astronomers have ingeniously managed to determine the characteristics of the atmosphere of exoplanet GJ3470b, a hot Neptune closely orbiting a red dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that South Asia was repopulated by migrants from Africa after the Toba volcanic explosion.
  • GNXP takes a look at some interesting genetic analysis of Caribbean populations.
  • Joe. My. God. notes, with others, the irony of anti-Castro Cuban-American Marco Rubio defending the same homophobic policies that Castro would have advanced.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not think that internships can be defended.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen and The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer both note that Honduras seems interested in charter cities. The latter doesn’t think much will come of it.
  • Elsewhere at The Power and the Money, Noel Maurer observes that Colombia is actually a very close ally of the United States and sees, in the relationship of Brazil with an Ecuador that has tried to harass Brazilian companies, the birth of a Brazilian hegemony in South America.
  • Torontoist notes that ambitious plans for expanding St. Lawrence Market North have been sharply downgraded.
  • Window on Eurasia notes an Uzbek writer who argues that the death of the Aral Sea will affect even upstream countries in Central Asia like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, whether directly through environmental catastrophe or indirectly through regional tensions.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bag News Notes’ Michael Shaw takes a look at the pictures indicating extensive use of tear gas against protesters in Istanbul.
  • In a guest post at Centauri Dreams, Larry Klaes takes a look at a 2011 anthology of papers examining the dynamics of spacefaring societies (ours and others’), Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society.
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram, visiting Brazil’s preplanned capital of Brasilia, starts a discussion about planned cities.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the breakdown of the current coalition government in the Czech Republic.
  • Geocurrents examines two Stalin Second World War-era ethnic cleansings, the first of the Volga Germans (now largely resettled in Germany) and the second of the Crimean Tatars (now largely returned to their Crimean homeland within Ukraine).
  • Normblog’s Norman Geras wonders why many elements of Communist culture remain cool, despite its linkages with oppression.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer takes a look at mass transit in Colombia’s capital of Bogotá, noting that the current light rail system isn’t the best imaginable but is the best possible given the politics.
  • Gideon Rachman notes the politics of green space, including parks, as exemplified by the Istanbul protests.
  • Technosociology’s Zeynep Tufekci argues that online-driven protests do all fit a certain style.

[LINK] “Brazil judicial decision paves way for gay marriage”

I first came across this via Joe. My. God., and now the BBC has caught up to that august blog.

The authorities in Brazil have ruled that marriage licenses should not be denied to same-sex couples.

The council that oversees the country’s judiciary said it was wrong for some offices just to issue civil union documents when the couple wanted full marriage certificates.

Correspondents say the decision in effect authorises gay marriage.

However full legalisation depends on approval of a bill being examined by the Congress.

Tuesday’s resolution by Brazil’s National Council of Justice was based on a 2011 Supreme Court ruling that recognised same-sex civil unions.

However, notaries public were not legally bound to converting such union into marriage when asked by gay couples.

This led to some being denied marriage certificates at certain places, but being granted the document at others. That would be illegal, according to the new resolution.

“If a notary public officer rejects a gay marriage, he could eventually face disciplinary sanctions”, NCJ judge Guilherme Calmon told BBC Brasil.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 14, 2013 at 11:44 pm

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