Mercosur Opens the Doors to Socialism

The MERCOSUR alliance officially welcomed Venezuela as a permanent member.


On his first foreign trip since undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba earlier this year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hailed his country’s welcome by fellow South American leaders into a troubled regional trade bloc on Tuesday.

Ignoring criticism that Venezuela’s entry could eventually cause greater dysfunction among the Mercosur trade bloc’s members, Chavez cast the event as a continuation of his self-styled revolution and a sign of greater ascendance for South America as a whole.

“Our north is the south,” the Venezuelan president said, evoking Simon Bolivar and other revolutionaries who wrested the continent from colonial rule. “Mercosur is, without a doubt, the most powerful engine that exists to preserve our independence.”

Chavez, who recently declared himself cancer-free, stood at a podium throughout his 20-minute speech in Brazil’s capital and spoke in a clear, strong voice. Later, after a meeting at Brazil’s foreign ministry, he jigged and declared that his health “is very good, as you can see.”

The meeting was overshadowed by controversial events that enabled Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur, which also includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The grouping now accounts for about $3.3 trillion in combined gross domestic product, and the leaders said it would be the world’s fifth-largest economy if it were a single nation.

The expansion of Mercosur was criticized by many who see a paradox in the protectionist policies and leftist slant that increasingly have come to dominate a bloc originally created to liberalize trade.

After years of stalled negotiations with Caracas, the group hastily accepted Venezuela despite the objections of Paraguay, a marked absence at Tuesday’s meeting. The other three countries made their invitation to Chavez after suspending Paraguay in June because of the controversial impeachment there by conservative legislators of leftist president Fernando Lugo.

That move troubled critics, who said it was emblematic of the decline of a bloc that was founded in 1995, at a time when a group of free-market reformers was dominant in the region.

“What was once an economic bloc has now been reduced to a political sideshow,” said Mario Marconini, a former Brazilian trade secretary who is now a business consultant in Sao Paulo. The inclusion of Venezuela despite the veto of a full-fledged member, “is a fatal blow to its economic credibility.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Tuesday that Paraguay’s suspension is justified until the country “normalizes” its internal politics. Brazil and other neighboring countries have argued that Paraguay must proceed with its regularly scheduled presidential elections next year before they consider its government to be stable.


Most of the other leaders present glazed over the Paraguay controversy, and focused instead on criticizing the orthodox economic policies of the developed world. They cited Mercosur as a vehicle that could further regional goals of fair trade, equitable growth and social inclusion.

Chavez said construction companies from Mercosur countries should take part in ongoing projects to build millions of subsidized homes in Venezuela. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said the region would continue to produce all-important raw materials for the global economy, but demanded “financial stability” in return from richer countries.

Mercosur, she said, could “make this new pole of power indivisible, indestructible.”

Chavez, who has spent more than 13 years in office, has pursued a personality driven government that has scared away foreign investors and crippled productivity. His acceptance by Mercosur, opponents say, will give him one more thing to boast about as he campaigns for another six-year term ahead of Venezuela’s presidential election in October.

Officially, the leaders hailed Venezuela’s strengths as a major oil producer and an important market for everything from Brazilian machinery to Argentine wheat. In practice, though, Venezuela can’t fully participate in the bloc until it agrees to accept a common tariff adopted by Mercosur, common agreements with third-party countries and other prerequisites that Chavez has failed to embrace since talks for inclusion began in 2006.

In a statement Tuesday, Brazil’s National Industry Confederation, a powerful business group, reminded Venezuela that “the new member has obligations to fulfill.” Citing the common tariff and other existing bloc conventions, the group urged Mercosur to establish a timeline by which Venezuela must comply.

Mercosur, the group added, “should focus on reinforcing the stability and predictability of the economic bloc.”


Many fear Venezuela will only complicate relations in an already dysfunctional grouping. “The bloc is a mess,” said Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian representative to Mercosur who is now a consultant.

“Just imagine if you start adding Venezuela and others,” he said, noting recent discussions to include Bolivia and Ecuador, two countries with close ties to Chavez.

Tuesday’s ceremony was accompanied by a trickle of business as Chavez and Rousseff formalized a previously disclosed plan by Conviasa, the Venezuelan airline, to purchase 100-seat jets made by Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Under the terms

of the agreement, Conviasa will pay about $270 million for six Embraer 190 jets, with an option for 14 more.

Meanwhile, Venezuela and Argentina signed an agreement for greater investment in each other’s oil sector. PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-run oil producer, will invest in Argentine petrochemicals, and YPF, its Argentine counterpart, will invest in Venezuelan oil fields, according to the agreement.

Argentina Sues British Companies over Falklands Development


Argentina declared British oil exploration off the Falklands “illegal” on Monday and immediately set about suing five companies for pursuing activities around the contested islands.

Britain responded almost immediately, saying the islanders were entitled to develop their own natural resources and it was Buenos Aires that was breaking the law with its campaign of harassment and intimidation.

“These latest attempts to damage the economic livelihoods of the Falkland Islands people regrettably reflect a pattern of behavior by the Argentine government,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

“From harassing Falklands shipping to threatening the islanders’ air links with Chile, Argentina’s efforts to intimidate the Falklands are illegal, unbecoming and wholly counter-productive.”

Argentina last month pressed Britain in a diplomatic note to let it launch direct flights to the islands.

Three decades after the Falklands War, the promise of oil reserves is inflaming tensions between Britain and Argentina while also boosting the economic hopes of the islanders — estimated to number just 3,140.

Britain has ruled the archipelago — 8,000 miles (12,900 kilometers) from its own shores and less than 300 miles off the southern coast of Argentina — since 1833 as a self-governing overseas territory.

Argentina says it acquired the windswept islands, which it calls the Malvinas, from Spain in 1816.

On April 2, 1982, Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, a smaller island governed by Britain further out in the South Atlantic.

Britain dispatched a naval task force and regained control of the islands when the Argentine forces surrendered on June 14, but not before 649 Argentine and 255 British servicemen had died.

The renewed war of words over the Falklands has intensified around the 30th anniversary of the bloody 74-day conflict.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Monday declared the British oil hunting activity “illegal and clandestine” and accused the firms of operating “in the sovereign area of the argentine nation.”

Her government said the classification formally paved the way for criminal proceedings to begin.

“The declaration of clandestineness clears the way for the immediate launch of civil and criminal action against these businesses,” said a foreign ministry statement that spoke of seeking fines and penalties.

It said the Argentine government would soon be in communication with Britain’s Treasury, its Financial Services Authority, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the New York Stock Exchange.

Argentina first announced in March that it intended to take legal action against the British oil concerns but it has never made clear how it intends to go about it or where it intends to file suit.

The companies — Desire Petroleum, Falkland Oil and Gas, Rockhopper Exploration, Borders and Southern Petroleum and Argos Resources — “are not authorized by the Argentine government under law,” read a resolution published Monday in Argentina’s Official Bulletin by Energy Secretary Daniel Cameron.

The islands’ oil reserves, which have remained untapped until now but which analysts predict could be worth tens of billions of dollars, have been a major source of tension between the countries since their discovery in 1998.

At the time, a barrel of crude sold for less than $10 — today it would fetch $125 — and firms led by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell abandoned their exploration on the grounds it was not profitable enough.

The rocketing price of oil since then has enticed the five companies back to the islands, hoping to cash in on what might be one of the world’s last new sources of fossil fuels.

To Argentina’s dismay, drilling resumed in 2010 with Rockhopper and Desire Petroleum taking the lead.

Three small companies followed suit, but until now only Rockhopper — named after one of the Falklands’ resident penguin breeds — has confirmed significant reserves, in the Sea Lion field to the north of the islands.

Rockhopper plans to start developing the field this year, and expects to pump the first of its estimated 450 million barrels in 2016, according to analysts Edison Investment Research (EIR).


Argentina: A Sociedade sem Sexo nem Gênero?

O governo liderado por Cristina Fernandez oficialmente apoia mudança de sexo e terapia hormonal para transsexuais e éfinanciará o programa com dinheiro arrecadado com impostos.


Os adultos que querem uma cirurgia de mudança de sexo ou terapia hormonal na Argentina serão capazes de fazê-lo como parte de seus planos de saúde público ou privado segundo uma nova lei de direitos de gênero que foi aprovada quarta-feira.

O projeto também dá às pessoas o direito de especificar o gênero como aparece no cartório, quando suas características físicas não correspondem à maneira como se vêem.

Os senadores aprovaram a Lei da Identidade de Gênero por uma votação de 55-0, com uma abstenção e mais de uma dúzia de senadores que se declararam ausentes – com a mesma margem aprovou-se uma lei em favor de uma “morte com dignidade”.

A presidente Cristina Fernández deu seu apoio à lei e deve assina-la em breve. Ela disse várias vezes que tem orgulho que a Argentina se tornou a primeira nação latino-americana a legalizar o casamento gay há dois anos, permitindo que milhares de casais do mesmo sexo tenham os mesmos direitos que casais heterossexuais.

Para muitos, os direitos entre os sexos era o próximo passo.

Qualquer adulto agora é capaz de mudar oficialmente seu sexo, nome de nascimento e imagem sem ter que obter a aprovação dos médicos ou juízes – e sem ter que passar por mudanças físicas com antecedência, como muitas jurisdições dos EUA exigem.

“É como dizer que você pode mudar seu sexo legal sem ter que mudar o seu corpo. Isso é ultrajante “, disse Katrina Karkazis, uma antropóloga da Universidade de Stanford, quem também é bioeticista médica e escreveu um livro intitulado” Arrumando o Sexo ”sobre os aspectos médicos e jurídicos que surgem quando as características físicas não correspondem inteiramente com sua identidade de gênero.

“Há um conjunto de critérios médicos que as pessoas devem ter antes de mudar seu sexo nos EUA, e isso dá valor e autoridade ao indivíduo sobre a maneira em que quer viver. É realmente incrível “, disse ele.

Quando os argentinos queiram mudar seus corpos, as empresas de cuidados de saúde, deveram dar a cirurgia ou terapia hormonal. Estes tratamentos estão incluídos no “Plano de saúde obrigatório”, o que significa que ambos os planos privados e públicos e os prestadores não poderão cobrar dinheiro adicional para usar esses serviços.

“Este projeto permitirá para muitos de nós ver a luz, sair da escuridão, e aparecer”, disse o senador Osvaldo Lopez de Tierra del Fuego, o único legislador abertamente gay na Argentina.

“Há muitas pessoas em nosso país que merecem existir”, disse Lopez.

As crianças também têm uma voz na lei: os jovens menores de 18 anos que querem mudar de gênero ganham o direito de fazê-lo com a aprovação de seus guardiões. Mas se os pais ou responsáveis querem uma mudança de identidade de gênero e não têm o consentimento da criança, então o juiz deve intervir para garantir que os direitos das crianças sejam protegidos.

Argentina não precisa se preocupar com um grande número de pessoas buscando mudanças de sexo, Karkazis prevê.

“Isso não vai criar uma grande demanda no sistema nacional de saúde para estes procedimentos. Eles são difíceis, dolorosos e irreversíveis. E é por isso que muitas pessoas não fazem “, disse ela.

Mas porque a lei diz que as pessoas podem mudar legalmente sua identidade sem ter que se submeter a cirurgia genital ou terapia hormonal, essas mudanças podem ser mais benignas e reversíveis, mesmo se um dia você muda a sua auto-imagem.

Outros países vizinhos como Uruguai, adotaram leis de direitos de gênero, mas a Argentina “está na vanguarda do mundo” por causa desses benefícios que ela garante, disse Cesar Cigliutti, presidente da Comunidad Homosexual Argentina.

“Este é verdadeiramente um direito humano: o direito à felicidade”, disse o senador Pichetto Miguel durante o debate “.

Argentina: La Sociedad sin Sexo ni Género

Gobierno liderado por Cristina Fernández apoya oficialmente cambios de sexo y terapia hormonal para las personas transgénero y lo financia con dinero recaudado de los impuestos.


Los adultos que quieren una cirugía de cambio de sexo o terapia hormonal en la Argentina serán capaces de hacerlo como parte de sus planes de salud públicos o privados bajo una ley de derechos de género aprobada el miércoles.

La medida también da a las personas el derecho a especificar como su género aparece en el registro civil cuando sus características físicas no coinciden con la forma en que se ven a sí mismos.

Los senadores aprobaron la ley de Identidad de Género por una votación de 55-0, con una abstención y más de una docena de senadores que se declararon ausentes – con el mismo margen se aprobó una ley en favor de una ”muerte con dignidad”.

La presidenta Cristina Fernández lanzó su apoyo a la ley y se espera que la firme pronto. Ella ha dicho a menudo lo orgullosa que está que la Argentina se convirtiera en la primera nación de América Latina en legalizar el matrimonio gay hace dos años, permitiendo a miles de parejas del mismo sexo casarse y disfrutar de los mismos derechos legales que las parejas heterosexuales casadas.

Para muchos, los derechos de género fueron el siguiente paso.

Cualquier adulto ahora será capaz de cambiar oficialmente su género, imagen y nombre de nacimiento sin tener que obtener la aprobación de los médicos o los jueces – y sin tener que someterse a cambios físicos de antemano, como muchas jurisdicciones de Estados Unidos requieren.

“Es como decir que usted puede cambiar su sexo legal sin necesidad de cambiar su cuerpo en absoluto. Eso es inaudito “, dijo Katrina Karkazis, una antropóloga de la Universidad de Stanford médica y bioeticista que escribió un libro titulado “Arreglando el Sexo “, sobre el tratamiento médico y legal de las personas cuyas características físicas no corresponden plenamente con su identidad de género.

“Hay todo un conjunto de criterios médicos que las personas  deben tener para cambiar su género en los EE.UU., y esto le da al individuo una cantidad extraordinaria de autoridad sobre la forma en que queremos vivir. Es realmente increíble “, dijo.

Cuando los argentinos quieran cambiar sus cuerpos, las compañías de cuidado de la salud tendrán que dar cirugía o terapia hormonal. Estos tratamientos se incluirán en el “Plan Médico Obligatorio”, que significa que tanto planes privados como públicos y los proveedores no podrán cobrar extra por los servicios.

“Esta ley va a permitir que muchos de nosotros veamos la luz, salgamos de la oscuridad, y aparezcamos”, dijo el senador Osvaldo López de Tierra del Fuego, el único legislador nacional abiertamente gay en la Argentina.

“Hay muchas personas en nuestro país que también merecen el poder de existir”, dijo López.

Los niños también tienen una voz en la ley: Jóvenes menores de 18 años que quieren cambiar sus géneros ganan el derecho a hacerlo con la aprobación de sus tutores legales. Pero si los padres o tutores quieren un cambio de identidad de género y no tienen el consentimiento del niño, entonces el juez debe intervenir para garantizar que los derechos del niño están protegidos.

Argentina no tiene que preocuparse de un gran número de personas que pidan cambios de sexo, Karkazis prevee.

“Esto no va a crear una gran demanda en el sistema nacional de salud para estos procedimientos. Son difíciles, dolorosos e irreversibles. Y es por eso que muchas personas no lo hacen “, dijo.

Pero debido a que la ley dice que la gente puede cambiar legalmente su identidad sin tener que someterse a una cirugía genital o la terapia hormonal, estos cambios pueden ser más benignos y reversibles, incluso, si algún día la persona cambia de autoimagen.

Otros países vecinos como Uruguay, han aprobado leyes de derechos de género, pero la Argentina “está a la vanguardia del mundo” debido a estos beneficios que garantiza, dijo César Cigliutti, presidente de la Comunidad Homosexual Argentina.

“Este es verdaderamente un derecho humano: el derecho a la felicidad”, dijo el senador Miguel Pichetto durante el debate “.

Traducido del artículo: The ‘Gender-free’ Society Sets Foot in Argentina

The ‘Gender-free’ Society Sets Foot in Argentina

Cristina Fernandez’s led government has officially endorse government-sponsored, taxpayer-financed sex changes and hormone therapy for transgender people.


Adults who want sex-change surgery or hormone therapy in Argentina will be able to get it as part of their public or private health care plans under a gender rights law approved Wednesday.

The measure also gives people the right to specify how their gender is listed at the civil registry when their physical characteristics don’t match how they see themselves.

Senators approved the Gender Identity law by a vote of 55-0, with one abstention and more than a dozen senators declaring themselves absent — the same margin that approved a “death with dignity” law earlier in the day.

President Cristina Fernandez threw her support behind the law and is expected to sign it. She has often said how proud she is that Argentina became Latin America’s first nation to legalize gay marriage two years ago, enabling thousands of same-sex couples to wed and enjoy the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples.

For many, gender rights were the next step.

Any adult will now be able to officially change his or her gender, image and birth name without having to get approval from doctors or judges — and without having to undergo physical changes beforehand, as many U.S. jurisdictions require.

“It’s saying you can change your gender legally without having to change your body at all. That’s unheard of,” said Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University medical anthropologist and bioethicst who wrote a book, “Fixing Sex,” about the medical and legal treatment of people whose physical characteristics don’t fully match their gender identity.

“There’s a whole set of medical criteria that people have to meet to change their gender in the U.S., and meanwhile this gives the individual an extraordinary amount of authority for how they want to live. It’s really incredible,” she said.

When Argentines want to change their bodies, health care companies will have to provide them with surgery or hormone therapy on demand. Such treatments will be included in the “Obligatory Medical Plan,” which means both private and public providers will not be able to charge extra for the services.

“This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear,” said Sen. Osvaldo Lopez of Tierra del Fuego, the only openly gay national lawmaker in Argentina.

“There are many people in our country who also deserve the power to exist,” Lopez said.

Children also get a voice under the law: Youths under 18 who want to change their genders gain the right to do so with the approval of their legal guardians. But if parents or guardians want a gender identity change and don’t have the child’s consent, then a judge must intervene to ensure the child’s rights are protected.

Argentina need not worry about vast numbers of people demanding sex changes, Karkazis predicted.

“This isn’t going to create a huge demand on the national health system for these procedures. They’re difficult, painful, irreversible. And this is why many people don’t do it,” she said.

But because the law says people can legally change their identities without having to undergo genital surgery or hormone therapy, these changes can be more benign and even reversible, if some day the person’s self-image changes.

Other countries, including neighboring Uruguay, have passed gender rights laws, but Argentina’s “is in the forefront of the world” because of these benefits it guarantees, said Cesar Cigliutti, president of the Homosexual Community of Argentina.

“This is truly a human right: the right to happiness,” Sen. Miguel Pichetto said during the debate.”

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