Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Of Torture and the Bond Market in Venezuela

As an occasional cellist myself, I have to mention a story by veteran reporter Phil Gunson in Friday's Miami Herald about a cellist (and director of the Venezuelan National Symphony) who accidentally found himself in the middle of a demonstration last week against the Chavez administration's dubious resistance to accepting some 800,000 signatures as part of a recall referendum. As a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Carlos Eduardo Izcaray was picked up by the National Guard, who proceeded to subject him to 20 hours of brutal beating and torture. (I'll spare you the details.) When asked about the case, the Defense Minister responded, "Torture? No, chico!"

Last Thursday, the day after this happened, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, a 34-year career diplomat, resigned. In his resignation letter, he noted that such repression "closely resembles those totalitarian or authoritarian regimes rejected by the peoples of Latin America in the 1980s.''

Ni modo. Also on Thursday, a columnist for Bloomberg.com noted that the stable value of the Venezuelan "DCB dollar-denominated floating rate bond" (no, I don't know what that means)... "means investors are remarkably sanguine about the current political situation. Bond prices tell us the prospect that investors have of getting paid interest and principal in full and on time. And for all his bluster, Chavez appears to have a not-so-terrible reputation as a debtor in the capital market."

Boy, that's a relief!

Comments to dlholiday@yahoo.com

No comments: