Sunday, September 4, 2011

Compilation of Folk Tales Shares Guyanese Culture to the World

Compilation of Folk Tales Shares Guyanese Culture to the World
Ambassador Gathers and Puts into Writing the Myths and Legends of His People

BOSTON – Guyana Legends: Folk Tales of the Indigenous Amerindians is a collection of 50 folktales of the first people to inhabit Guyana and the contiguous regions of the north coast of the South American continent. It is compiled and written by author Dr. Odeen Ishmael.

Very little is known of Amerindian history in Guyana before the arrival of European settlers in the early 17th century and, actually, no written form of their languages existed until about 70 years ago. Indeed, much of the history of the Amerindian people is based on oral traditions which are not quite clear because the periods when important events occurred are difficult to place. Still, native oral traditions are very rich in folk stories of the ancestral heroes and heroines of these indigenous people.

These stories which interweave in the realms of mystery, romance, humor, superstition, magic and fantasy, are part of the rich oral traditions of these people. Above all, they tell of their closeness to their natural environment and this is reflected in the roles of the forest animals in many of the stories in this collection. Undoubtedly, these folktales, and the lessons they impart, add to the rich cultural blend of the people of Guyana and the wider Caribbean region.

This present collection of Amerindian legends was compiled over a lengthy period of many years during which the author listened to and collected versions of these tales from elderly Amerindians in various regions of Guyana, and more recently from Amerindian residents of the Delta Amacuro region of Venezuela, on the frontier with Guyana.

Readers will find these legends of the original inhabitants of Guyana informative in the anthropological sense, in addition to being interesting and entertaining at the same time.

For more information on this book, interested parties may log on to .

About the Author
Dr. Odeen Ishmael, a veteran Guyanese diplomat, is currently the ambassador of Guyana to the State of Kuwait. He previously served as ambassador to Venezuela (2003-2011) and to the United States (1993-2003) where, simultaneously, he was his country's Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States. Since the 1970s, he has been a premier writer on the problems and perspectives of education in Guyana and the wider Caribbean region. He has also written extensively on Guyanese history and culture as well as political developments in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Guyana Legends * by Odeen Ishmael
Folk Tales of the Indigenous Amerindians
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 212 pages; 978-1-4653-5668-0
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 212 pages; 978-1-4653-5669-7
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To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.  To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879.

For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at .

Friday, September 2, 2011

Venezuela could have Cuban-style system

Venezuela could have Cuban-style system
The last Venezuelan legislature gave President Hugo Chávez power to create a Cuban-style political system in the country.
President Hugo Chávez has the legal framework to finish implementing Cuban-style socialism in Venezuela with the introduction of a series of laws that redesign the country's political and economic architecture, analysts said.
The experts added that a Chávez victory in next year's presidential elections could seal the process.
 Experts consulted by El Nuevo Herald said that a package of measures approved in a hurry in December by the previous National Assembly set up the basis for a profound transformation of the of the country.

"This is all about five pieces of legislation establishing a socialist state parallel to the constitutional, democratic and lawful current government and which would, in general, introduce a new social and economic regime in which private property would be subject to the rules set up by Communal power," said Leonardo Palacios, tax professor at the University of Venezuela, who has been analyzing the reach of the new legislation.
 Though these laws are designed to create a model parallel to the existing democratic order, Palacios said that those structures would eventually replace it, following a similar scheme used by Cuba and the former Soviet Union.
 "In Cuba it was an extremely important strategy for many years, following the essential policy of Democratic Centralism in the Soviet Union, which establishes that absolutely everything is under a government plan," Palacios said.
 "Absolutely everything would be run by the government, everything having to do with production, distribution and even the way of consuming. That is what is being incorporated here in Venezuela," he said.
 The laws introduce the concept of Communal State and Communal Economy, under which the means of production as well as the country's power structure would reside.
 Venezuelans have already rejected that concept in the Chávez-sponsored referendum in 2007 to reform the Constitution. Introducing it now through the National Assembly raises questions about its legality, the experts said.
 "President Chávez, in spite of having lost the 2007 referendum to incorporate that constitutional amendment, paid no attention to that vote's mandate and simply went on with the process of 'communizing' Venezuela Cuban-style with a legislation package that is obviously unconstitutional," said Pedro Palma, president of Venezuela's National Academy of Economic Sciences.
 "But this doesn't matter here," he added. "What matters here is the will of the president, period."
 The laws have not been applied yet and they have not been brought up again after the public attention has been focusing on Chávez's cancer. But, Palacios said, that could change very quickly.
 "It will all depend on the developments of the next few months," he said. "I believe that an election loss to the democratic alternative would be really disastrous."
 "A new term by Chávez could compromise the country's democratic stability, because having the Assembly and the government on his side, and now these laws, could lead to the acceleration of the revolutionary process," he said.
 The group of laws, which the Venezuelan media call the Cuban Package, include the Organic Law of Social Audit, the Organic Law of Popular Power, the Organic Law of Public and Popular Planning, the Organic Law of the Communes and the Organic Law of the Communal Economic System.
 Some of these laws make clear reference to socialism as a concept of economic order, defining it as "a model of social relations in central production in common solidarity, and the satisfaction of material and intangible needs of the society as a whole."

IACHR Court rules on the case of Venezuelan ex mayor

IACHR Court rules on the case of Venezuelan ex mayor

It is unknown whether the ruling favors the coordinator of opposition political Voluntad Popular party. None of the judges disclosed anything and promised to release the decision in the next few weeks

After almost 20 hours of deliberations, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court) finally settled a complaint that was filed against Venezuela by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for alleged violation of the rights to elect and be elected of ex Chacao municipality mayor Leopoldo López, barred from public office by the Venezuelan Comptroller General until 2014.

Justices Diego García-Sayán (president), Manuel Ventura, Margarette May Macaulay, Rhadys Abreu, Alberto Pérez and Eduardo Vio Grossi unanimously approved in Bogotá, Colombia, the 12th ruling of the hemispheric court against Venezuela. However, it is uncertain whether the ruling favors the coordinator of opposition political Voluntad Popular party, as none of the judges revealed anything at all. They promised to release the content over the next few weeks.

Venezuela gears up for offshore oil exploitation

Venezuela gears up for offshore oil exploitation

Ricardo Rojas, Press TV, Caracas

Venezuela's state oil company, Pdvsa, is considering developing offshore exploitation of hydrocarbons with equipment produced locally.

Although many have criticised that the gas industry has taken a lot of time to kick off, the government seems determined to overcome obstacles to fulfil the enterprise
Pdvsa is currently moving the first platform assembled in Venezuela to the Corocoro Field, its final destination in the Gulf of Paria, where oil and gas production are expected to be increased from 30,000 to 70,000 barrels per day.
With an investment of $800 million, the construction of the 7,500-ton structure began in 2006 thanks to an offshore joint venture formed by Pdvsa's subsidiary Petrosucre, and Italian state company ENI.
ENI has a 26% stake in the offshore block Gulf of Paria West, and PDVSA holds the remaining 74%. Corocoro is just one of the fields that make up the block and has an estimated reserve of 430 million barrels of crude oil.
The future offshore natural gas industry is also expected to optimise the electric energy sector which currently falls into costly expenses for the use of diesel, as well as improve the life of communities making a living near production centres.

Turkey reopens embassy in Tripoli, Chavez urges talks

Turkey reopens embassy in Tripoli, Chavez urges talks

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday reopened its embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli which it closed in May due to the deteriorating security situation in the north African country, the foreign ministry said.

A diplomatic team led by Ali Kemal Aydin, the ministry's deputy director responsible for general and bilateral relations, flew from Ankara to Tunisia on Thursday and was expected to arrive in Tripoli on Friday by land, said the ministry in a statement.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is in the process of moving its fledgling government to the capital from its previous base in Benghazi.

World leaders agreed on Thursday to free up billions of dollars worth of frozen Libyan assets to help the country's interim rulers restore vital services and start rebuilding after a six-month war that ended Muammar Qadhafi's 42-year rule.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called for talks on his "peace proposal" for Libya, saying it could "stop the madness" in the country.

Chavez, seen as the main ally of ousted strongman Muammar Qadhafi, said he expected a continued conflict following the Libyan leader's call for further resistance.

"The peace proposal of Venezuela and the African Union and many other countries can stop this madness of the (US) empire and its allies," Chavez said during a telephone call to state television channel VTV.

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba Still Support Gaddafi

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba Still Support Gaddafi

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba continue to be the staunchest supporters of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega have both declared that they w ill not abandon Gaddafi in this time of crisis.. Chavez has actually stated that he will continue to recognize only his friend Gaddafi as the legitimate leader of Libya, whereas Ortega has already offered him asylum.
On August 23, soon after the Libyan rebels entered Gaddafi's main stronghold of the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, Chavez declared that for Venezuela, there is "only one government, the one led by Muammar Gaddafi." He then criticized NATO's bombardment by saying that the West has not respected international law: "This is kicking, spitting ... on the most basic elements of international law […] Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era. […] Now [U.S. President Barack] Obama said he will collaborate economically with the new [Libyan] government, which of course we do not recognize. […] It's harsh but true ... They [the U.S.] arranged this war. They provided the arms, the mercenaries. They had better not attempt to apply the Libyan formula to Venezuela or we'll have to show them our power," he said.
According to the Venezuelan paper, El Universal, the fall of Gaddafi's mean the defeat of Chavez. "At a time when even the Arab League has expressed its full support to the Libyan Transitional National Council, the Venezuelan government is the only administration that has publicly deplored the fall of Muammar Gaddafi regime," El Universal writes. Professor Demetrio Boersner, an expert in foreign affairs and former Venezuelan ambassador, told the Venezuelan paper that Chavez has been supporting Gaddafi so feverishly that his fall will be a "political defeat for him vis-à-vis the country and the international opinion." In Boersner's view, the toppling of Gaddafi is therefore a "geopolitical blow" for Chavez and for his political ambitions, "because Chavezism pursued the goal of creating a global alliance of nationalist socialism in Third World countries under the rule of autocrats."
As a consequence of the friendship between Chavez and Gaddafi, the Venezuelan embassy in Libya was sacked by the rebels. On the 25th of August, the Venezuelan President informed that the Embassy in Tripoli "was assaulted and totally looted." After the uprising, the stadium in Benghazi that was named after Chavez was given the new name of "Martyrs of February Stadium."
At the beginning of August, Gaddafi sent a letter to Chavez to thank him for his support: "I highly value your noble position in support of the Libyan people, as well as the leaders and revolutionaries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope to count on that support continuing," Gaddafi wrote. In response, Chavez sent Gaddafi a letter praising his courage: "May the Almighty, clement and merciful one bless you and take care of you; may He bless and protect the heroic and honorable Libyan people; a strong embrace shall go to you, Muammar, with the top, endless feeling of brotherhood. Long live the Libyan people; long live you, my combatant brother. Libya shall live and shall win!" he wrote.
The economic adviser to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Bayardo Arce, said that his government would give asylum to Gaddafi if he asked for it. However, the AP reported that Arce was rather pessimistic that Gaddafi would go to Nicaragua. "I do not know how Gaddafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya," Arce said during a TV interview.
Costa Rica seems to be quite scared and disappointed by the possibility that Nicaragua would host Gaddafi. The website Inside Costa Rica reports that a statement by Costa Rica's Foreign Ministry asked Nicaragua to close any possibility of giving him political asylum. The Foreign Ministry has also asked Central American countries to join in the call for the sake of peace and security in Latin America. In the same statement, the Ministry stresses that the government of Costa Rica hopes that the Libyan uprising succeed in defeating Gaddafi and taking the "necessary actions to ensure the transformation of an authoritarian regime to a fully democratic one, with strong and solid institutions, respect for human rights; and to promote the development of Libya in the framework of freedom and justice."
Nicaragua, however, remains loyal to its support for the Libyan Colonel. During a recent speech, the Sandinista President Ortega qualified the NATO intervention in Libya as terrorism, and stressed his support for Gaddafi. In February, when the uprising in Libya started, Ortega said he called Gaddafi on the phone to offer him support.
On August 4, the media reported that Cuban President Raul Castro met with Gaddafi's special envoy, Abdulhafid M. Zlitni, secretary of the People's General Planning and Finance Committee of Libya. Zlitni brought Raul Castro a message from Gaddafi, and also informed him about "the international campaign to isolate Libya orchestrated by Western powers." Raul Castro, for his part, condemned the NATO intervention in Libya.
Gaddafi will not go into exile in Latin America
Despite support from Latin America, it is too late for Gaddafi to ask for exile. The International Court wants to prosecute the Libyan dictator and put him on trial for crimes against humanity. If Gaddafi had surrendered in the beginning of the uprising, the international community might have accepted the possibility of his going to exile. But after the atrocities he has committed against his people in the last months, the Libyan leader might have to face a war crimes trial unless an exile can still be negotiated between the NATO forces and Gaddafi -- a plan that no one seem to be considering any more -- the Libyan leader has no way out of Libya. Col. Gaddafi's former right-hand man, Abdel-Salam Jalloud, who has recently defected to Italy, confirmed to the media that Gaddafi has no chance of leaving the capital, Tripoli, where he is allegedly hiding. "He has no way of leaving Tripoli. All the roads are blocked. He can only leave with an international agreement, and I think that door is closed," Jalloud said. Further, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini stated that, "The offers of exile were made in increasingly explicit ways many times. The deadline by now has passed, the only path left is that of justice - the justice of the ICC."

Three ETA suspects arrested in Venezuela

Three ETA suspects arrested in Venezuela

The three suspects have been identified as Elena Barcena, José Ignacio Etxarte Urbieta and Francisco Javier Pérez Lekue. They reportedly attempted to escape from Cuba to Venezuela by boat.

Authorities in Venezuela have arrested three veteran members of armed Basque group ETA. They are Elena Bárcena Argüelles, known as 'Neska', José Ignacio Etxarte and Javier Pérez Lekue, antiterrorist sources reported on Friday.

The three were arrested by Venezuelan authorities after the boat in which they were attempting to escape from Cuba ran aground in an area knownas Los Roques, antiterrorist sources reported.
Along with Barcena, Etxarte and Pérez Lekue, Venezuelan authorities also arrested an Haitian citizen who was helping them to escape.

Some months ago, Elena Bárcena and Javier Pérez Lekue wrote a harsh letter of complaint to the Cuban authorities for refusing to allow them to leave the island. After being refused permission by the authorities in Havana, the three decided to leave the country of their own accord.

The three suspects are currently being held by authorities charged with trying to enter the South American country illegally, sources have reported, adding that the area where the boat ran aground is popular with tourists.

Although Cuba was once an ideal destination for 'retired' top-ranking members of ETA, it would seem that for the three people arrested on Thursday, their stay in Cuba became intolerable.

On February 8th this year, they wrote a letter to the island's Government complaining about their treatment at the hands of the Cuban authorities. The letter in question was signed by Bárcenas and Pérez Lekue ('Niko'), who had been trying to leave the country for some time claiming that, for them, it had turned into "a prison" in which they did not want to spend "even one day more".

The pair described the government in Havana as "jailers" and accused them of failing to comply with the terms of a 1994 agreement in which Cuba agreed to grant ETA members permission to leave the island.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Gold, Politics and Venezuela

Gold, Politics and Venezuela

[] by Alasdair Macleod

Markets were abuzz last week with Chavez�s recall of Venezuela�s gold reserves not currently held in Caracas. Bulls are excited by the thought that withdrawing some 150-200 tonnes from the Bank of England and the bullion banks will force a bear squeeze on the LBMA, where gearing between the physical and paper markets are assumed to be 100 to 1. This stretches the relationship between paper gold and physical gold even further. They are also excited by the possibility that others might follow Venezuela�s example.

These concerns are real and should not be dismissed lightly, and the announcement could not have come at a worse time for LBMA members, who also face being caught up in a European banking crisis. Fear dominates, but the real trigger for this market emotion, and therefore its outcome, is global politics. Chavez is not just recalling his country�s gold to protect its integrity, he is waging an idealist�s war against the capitalist system and the US in particular. This is why he has threatened to move gold and foreign reserves to the countries he says he trusts, principally Russia and China, and why he is proposing to nationalise Venezuela�s gold mines.

He has picked the capitalist system�s weakest point. He has been told by his central bank that the Fed, the BoE and the Bank for International Settlements hold gold for the whole central banking community in the main trading centres, and that much of this gold exists only as a ledger entry and is not backed by physical metal. Whether or not Venezuela�s gold is held in these fractionally-backed sight accounts, or in earmarked accounts where the gold is held separately, we do not actually know; but there is little doubt that this move is designed to encourage other central banks to demand that their gold is also repatriated.

Chavez has a point. It is a fair bet that the International Monetary Fund�s 2009 sales of 212 tonnes of gold to other central banks are held in sight accounts as a condition of sale. India, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, who bought this gold, must be very nervous. Interestingly, India and Sri Lanka are also associated with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was set up by China and Russia with the eventual goal of establishing an Asian supranational state.

Chavez says speed up takeover of Irish company's land

Chavez says speed up takeover of Irish company's land
 CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged his agriculture minister on Wednesday to speed up the government takeover of land owned by Ireland's Smurfit Kappa in Venezuela.
 In 2009, Chavez ordered the seizure of a eucalyptus tree farm owned by Smurfit Kappa, a major cardboard packaging company, vowing to clear the trees and use the land for crops. He said the plantation and its water-hungry trees were drying out local rivers.
 "We have to take the last square meter of land from Smurfit. ... Let's move more quickly, that's an order," Chavez said in a telephone call to state TV where he spoke with Agriculture Minister Juan Carlos Loyo.
 It was not immediately clear if Chavez's comments suggested he planned to seize more land belonging to Smurfit Kappa or accelerate the takeover of the tree farm.
 The land seizure ordered two years ago involved 3,700 acres, which analysts said represented a small part of the company's landholdings.
 Loyo said Smurfit Kappa still owned 29,650 acres.
 Chavez has nationalized large swaths of Venezuela's economy, including much of its vital oil sector.
 He has sought to double the amount of land under cultivation in the South American country.
 In the past, Chavez has taken over big farms deemed idle and given them to small farmers to stimulate farming in an effort to combat poverty in the countryside.
 Chavez made the comments from a military hospital in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, where he is having a third round of chemotherapy for cancer.

Editor of Venezuelan Weekly Newspaper Surrenders

Editor of Venezuelan Weekly Newspaper Surrenders

The editor of a Venezuelan weekly newspaper has turned himself in to authorities in connection with a controversial photomontage that recently led to the temporary shutdown of the paper.

Media reports say Leocenis Garcia, the editor of 6to Poder surrendered Tuesday at a military post in Venezuela's Zulia state.

The move comes one day after a court lifted an order that had prevented the paper from being published. The lawyer representing the publication said the court forbade the paper from publishing any images insulting women or public officials.

The court's initial decision came after the paper published an article suggesting that some high-ranking women officials were part of a cabaret directed by President Hugo Chavez. A photomontage depicted those women as cabaret dancers.

The paper's top executive, Dinorah Giron, was arrested but subsequently released. Giron and Garcia are charged with incitement to hatred, insulting a public official, and publicly offending women.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said that under Venezuela's criminal code, the charges of incitement to hatred and insulting a public official carry prison sentences and high fines. The CPJ also says the Chavez administration has used all the tools of power to silence critical news media.

Venezuelan Economy Grows, but Unpredictable Government, Inflation Fears Keep Investors at Bay

Venezuelan Economy Grows, but Unpredictable Government, Inflation Fears Keep Investors at Bay

By Girish Gupta Sep 01, 2011 9:15 am

High oil prices and new public spending helped growth in the second quarter. But 25.1% inflation over the last year is not to be scoffed at.

Second-quarter growth in Venezuela hit 2.5% compared to the same period last year, according to the country's Central Bank. The news brings first-half growth to 3.6% after 4.8% growth during the first quarter, in promising figures for the maverick nation.

The news signals recovery following a long recession. GDP was down 1.4% in 2010, after a 3.3% drop the previous year. The recovery is thanks in part to an increase in public spending by President Hugo Chávez as he builds up support in time for elections in 2012. For example, the president recently announced the formation of a state public works company.

Armando Leon, the director of the country's Central Bank, expects growth to continue in the second half of 2011. Chávez has said he expects year-end figures of between 2% and 4%.

However, even high oil prices have not done too much to boost GDP. Second-quarter oil growth was only 0.8%. "(State oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, known as PDVSA) has a problem because it is unable to increase its oil output, as shown in the GDP. Oil activity is narrower; the state-run oil company has a production problem and also is getting absurdly into debt." Luis Oliveros, a professor of Petroleum Economics at the Central University of Venezuela, told Caracas-based El Universal.

While at least positive, the figures are not quite as high as some predictions. Goldman Sachs expected the country's economy to grow 3.5% in the second quarter. With regular expropriations and the recent reorganization of reserves, the government is still unpredictable and 25.1% inflation over the last year is not to be scoffed at.

Steel tube-maker Tenaris begins proceedings before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes ("ICSID") against Venezuela for its expropriation of Tenaris's subsidiary Matesi this week. It will be the country's 18th pending case at the World Bank, writes Benedict Mander in the Financial Times. Only Argentina has more, with 26 pending cases.

The disputes are putting a lot of pressure on the Venezuelan economy. ExxonMobil (XOM) alone is demanding $7 billion after a 2007 expropriation. The billions of dollars at stake are seen as the reason behind Chávez's recent reorganization of his cash reserves into countries such as China and Russia, where the assets cannot be seized so easily. More than 400 companies have been expropriated this year alone in Venezuela.

Gold Nationalization Pays Off
News that Venezuela's Guayana region in the south could hold up to 140 million ounces of gold, worth around $250 billion, will please the government following its nationalization of the industry. PDVSA will join forces with state miner Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, or CVG, to develop mines throughout the country.

PDVSA will hold 40% of the new company, with CVG taking control of the major stake. The joint venture will develop the Las Cristinas mine, which is thought to hold up to 27 million ounces of gold reserves. The license for Las Cristinas was originally held by Crystallex, but was cancelled, leaving the Toronto-based company demanding $3.8 billion in compensation.

Rusoro, the country's only publicly traded gold miner, has agreed to transfer its own assets to a venture with state oil (and now gold) firm PDVSA. The Canadian company will own 45% of the new company, leaving the remainder in the hands of PDVSA.

"We will be compensated, and the formula for compensation will be identical to the way they compensated the petroleum companies in 2006 and 2007. It's basically book value with some premium," Rusoro's Chief Executive Officer Andre Agapov told Bloomberg.

It is hoped that an agreement will be reached before the end of this year. Agapov hopes the new venture will allow an increase in production from 100,000 ounces to 500,000 ounces per year before 2013. Still, the company's shares fell 7% in Toronto with the news, having fallen 68% this year. Second-quarter production fell 37% from the same period in 2010 leading to a net loss of $9.8 million, compared to net income of $3.3 million in the same period last year.

President's Reassures on Health
Chávez himself is, despite entering his third bout of chemotherapy, in good form. "I'm determined to continue living," he said as he entered a hospital, this time in Venezuela rather than Cuba. "It's not time to die."