LatAm, Canal 26, Argentina Protests, Venezuelan Mess

I first started watching events in Argentina about a week ago. I’d discovered a channel on the Roku named “LATAM” that has a selection of Latin American news. Along with Telemundo and Brazil, it has a Venezuelan news channel and “Canal 26” from Argentina. That night, on the Argentine news, was coverage of a wage strike to be held for one day, the next day, by teachers wanting a wage hike.

Today, the Reuters channel on the Roku covered news of more wage protests and strikes in Argentina. Well, at the point where it is reaching Reuters, I suppose it is of more general interest.

Tuning in today to Canal 26, they covered the wage protests some, but then went on to more “happy talk” programs (near as I could tell it was about the actors in a romance show, but I couldn’t tell if it was a movie or TV series). The Venezuelan channel covered it a bit too, but only obliquely. Nicaraguan TV was showing a local baseball game (no team I’d ever heard of and attendance was very low, lots of empty bleachers, but the play was good…)

Now the reason I find this experience compelling is simple: You learn things NOT reported. Things like: Nicaragua doesn’t give a tinkers damn about the goings on in Venezuela and Argentina. Even Argentine news seems to see it as more of “the usual and expected” than some great crisis. Venezuelan news has that formal not-quite-stilted manner of all Communist News shows. Things carefully manicured to The Narrative.

For those who don’t know, Maduro, the present President of Venezuela, tried to do a “Me & The People!” show of popular support. It didn’t work out well:

Wed Apr 12, 2017 | 10:27 AM EDT
Venezuela’s Maduro jeered by crowd as unrest grows

Venezuelans jeer President Maduro as unrest grows

By Maria Ramirez and Alexandra Ulmer | SAN FELIX, Venezuela/CARACAS

Angry Venezuelans threw objects at President Nicolas Maduro during a rally on Tuesday, as protests mount against the unpopular leftist leader amid a brutal economic crisis and what critics say is his lurch into dictatorship.

State television footage showed a crowd mobbing the vehicle that Maduro was standing on as he waved goodbye at the end of a military event in San Felix, in the south-eastern state of Bolivar. Amid the commotion, people threw objects at Maduro, who was wearing a traditional Venezuelan suit and a yellow-blue-red presidential sash, while his bodyguards scrambled.

The state broadcaster then halted transmission.

In a separate video shared on social media, voices yelling “Damn you!” were heard as the vehicle apparently transporting Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, tried to make its way through the crowd.

Note the State broadcaster cutting transmission and yet “Social Media” gets out anyway and has the reality…

This wasn’t the first time:

Venezuelan President Is Chased by Angry Protesters


So at least 1/2 a year…

Now the protests are so large, counted in the tens of thousands officially, so likely even larger, and completely taking over whole freeways / avenues, that it can’t be ignored. So what did the Venezuelan news show?

They actually showed the marchers and the completely full major roads, with a ‘crawler’ that I’m pretty sure said something like “protesters moving freely” in the city, as though it were being allowed instead of tolerated due to inability to stop it. That itself is interesting news…

Meanwhile Maduro was on (some other USA news channel) saying how he was sure that this was all just a USA / CIA driven attempt to subvert his government and stop the revolution (or some such… hey, it was mix of him speaking Spanish and the translation being ‘free’ over the top of it and my so-so hearing has trouble unscrambling the two language at the same time…) I suppose the fact that the people of Venezuela are starving has nothing at all to do with their protests asking for a job and / or food… /sarc;

Oh, and Venezuela nationalized the GM factory there. They have not assembled any cars there since 2015 due to the political environment and government making a mess of the economy, so nobody can buy one, but hey, the Government can run it now. Of course, figuring out how to make cars with no inventory of parts will be an interesting exercise. That, and no electricity to run it, and no money for wages, and no food for the workers, and… But I’m sure The Government will realize all that in “due time”…

The bit that interested me, though, was the indirect things you can pick up from the Local News. For one, the image was much lower resolution than the Nicaraguan feed that was nice high def image. Now if Nicaragua and Argentine can managed much better equipment and bandwidth being not-so-hot economies themselves, Venezuela must be way far into the toilet. Also the Venezuela feed would run for about 2 minutes, then go to “downloading, please wait” for an indefinite period. I began to just exit and relaunch it as that restart was quicker. They are having “issues” with connectivity, IMHO.

Then the announcer was clearly well fed, and NOT going to risk anything. Perfunctorily reading news with that flat “I Know NOTHING!” presentation of a guy who could read “The USA has been bombed and subjugated by The People’s Venezuelan Victory Force. Long live Maduro.” without a hint of surprise, doubt, or incredulity, and about as much emotion as reading “Coffee futures were flat today”…

All manicured and equally dead.

Meanwhile, the Nicaraguans were clearly having a great time (at least the ones calling the game… one guy tried to bunt and popped up, flied out. The excitement by the announcer even got me interested and I didn’t even know who was playing whom…).

The Argentine news was interesting. The announcer of the news clearly was not happy about the need to have protests for wages. That vague undertone to the voice that says “I know folks who have been hurting, but all I can do is report the news”. The folks doing the “happy talk” show having a great time getting excited about the diversions that were available (and celebrity is often about that.) One unexpected bit is that I could hear a slight Italian influence / accent in the Argentine Spanish. A large number of Italians emigrated to Argentina when the Irish were headed to the USA (and after; even up to W.W.II era) and it seems to have left an imprint on the local dialect. Not much, just a bit more song and less trilled R and clipped consonants. I’m thinking I’m going to watch them a lot more and try to adopt that accent as I like it more ;-) It’s a more European sound (but NOT Castilian Spanish with the lisp…)

Basically, just the manner of the presentation and the “set dressing” and how much at liberty the various “talent” is to create their “show” comes through. You get a very real feel for the people, and that gives context to The Story.

For those wishing a bit of background on Argentine wage issues, but without the Spanish immersion:

This is from Reuters via The Guardian. I’d rather quote the Reuters article directly, but it loves to toss the R. Pi into the “mobile” version and I can’t get it to stop… so the link ends up not being exactly the one I’m quoting, or you get a ‘mobile’ link on a non-mobile device… Bolding mine.

Reuters in Buenos Aires

Thursday 6 April 2017 10.27 EDT

Police and protesters clash as worker strike paralyzes Argentina

Truck and bus drivers, teachers, government customs agents and others march on Buenos Aires as labor unions demand higher wages in line with inflation

Protesters in Argentina have clashed with police during marches over government austerity measures as labor unions challenged the president, Mauricio Macri, in the first general strike since he took office 16 months ago.

Security forces used high-powered water cannon and teargas to control picketers who had blocked the Pan-American Highway, the main road leading from the north to capital city Buenos Aires, where normally bustling streets were half-empty and businesses were closed.

“No customs officials are here, so there will be no exports or imports today,” said Guillermo Wade, manager of the maritime chamber at Argentina’s main grain hub of Rosario. The country is the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed and the third-largest supplier of soybeans.

Macri, a proponent of free markets, took office in December 2015. He eliminated currency and trade controls and cut government spending, including gas subsidies, a move that sparked steep increases in home heating bills.

Protesters are also clamoring for wage increases in line with inflation, which was clocked at 40% last year and is expected at about 20% in 2017.

“The situation is dramatic,” Julio Piumato, a spokesman for the labor umbrella group CGT, said in a telephone interview.

“Wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few at the same rate that poverty is growing,” he said. “Urgent measures are needed to create employment. One out of every three Argentinians is poor.”

A poll last month showed that for the first time since Macri took office, more Argentinians disapprove than approve of his performance.

He was elected after more than a decade of populist rule left Argentina with rampant inflation, dwindling central bank reserves and a wide fiscal deficit.

As they have an economy that was run into the ditch by “populist rule”, a sudden application of “austerity” and realizing that you not only must live within your means, but make up for prior high use of the National Credit Card, comes as a shock to those who want to have everything without necessarily producing enough profit to pay for it.

While I’m no fan of inflation, it is THE most common way to repudiate the past debts while still nominally paying them off and not being in official default. It’s the huge spending in excess of income that’s the root cause, but that is years in the past so largely forgotten by those feeling present pain.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure this scenario is what’s in store for the EU and the USA given current debt patterns. (Though who gets there first is still a bit up in the air). That, IMHO, is just why it matters to look at and watch Argentina.

When your economy is growing at 1% / year, and you have wage increases of 3% / year, that excess accumulates as a problem. Then, when it must be rebalanced, either you accept that you do NOT get any raise for years or by necessity the monetary officials will do the same thing via inflation. Often the excesses were more like 10% wage hikes and 20% benefits promises with a stagnant or shrinking economy. After a few years, you are 50% to 100% “in the hole” and it takes a couple of years of 40% inflation to re-balance. But economies don’t function well at inflation over about 5%, and are seriously broken in hyperinflation ranges like 40%+, so things just spiral down the sewer in real terms while the nominal economy comes to balance.

Then you get marches, changing the political guard, replacement of currencies, etc. etc. IF you are lucky, you avoid a ‘revolution’. If not, you end up with a destroyed country and economy (wether by economic ruin or by war often depending on which neighbors can be attacked or what DemiGod rises to power and how psychopathic he / she might be…)

What is very clear is that for the present, nobody with any real money is going to be investing it in either Argentina or Venezuela. One is in economic free fall and headed for hyperinflation and the other one is… well, the same only more so with revolution against the revolutionary in the air.

But hey, there’s a good ball game on in Nicaragua… Even if “not many” could afford to buy a ticket…

Oh, wait:

The 2014–16 Nicaraguan protests are a series of protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and actions performed by his government. The protests initiated when construction began on the Nicaraguan Canal, with several hundred protesters blocking roads and clashing with police during the groundbreaking of the canal. Since then, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans protested against President Ortega due to the canal and what they call a corrupt electoral system.

Oh Dear…

Maybe I’ll just go start the BBQ instead…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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25 Responses to LatAm, Canal 26, Argentina Protests, Venezuelan Mess

  1. erl happ says:

    You in the US will be OK mate so long as suckers elsewhere go on accepting US dollars.Or will that particular inflationary extension someday be seen for what it is?

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    In about 2030 or there abouts we will get bit by the fact that we will be spending our entire tax revenue on entitlement programs and interest on the national debt. That was the issue that spawned the Tea Party but no one would listen so the only option left is to prepare for that time when someone some how has to slam on the brakes on spending, including untouchable medicare and social security.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    This chart I posted in tips the other day says it all if you have the slightest clue about how the economy works and the fact that the FED is trying to raise interest rates so they have a lever to pull when things get tough.

    The only possible exit from that result that does not involve great pain and destruction is if Trump can uncork the genie of explosive economic growth like during the Clinton years when we briefly had a surplus. (it was not due to Clinton he was just in office when several factors came together to boom the economy [ IT bubble ] but it did no last long and it was a hollow bubble that popped.

  4. Pingback: LatAm, Canal 26, Argentina Protests, Venezuelan Mess – HiFast News Feed

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Note that Bill Clinton also harvested future tax revenue via Roth IRA conversions. Folks paid tax on their IRAs then to avoid all future taxes on withdrawls. It was a huge short term tax windfall… by design.

    Like all other fiat money deficit debtor countries, we will eventually repudiate the debt (once the folks in power during the promising are retired and gone). The only questions are the manner of the repudiation and the details of who gets fleeced. It is an intergenerational Ponzie scheme and great effort by the present crop of Politicians has gone into assuring it continues until they are comfortably gone.

    IMHO, about 2035, or 18 years on, the SHTF happens. Add 18 to your age. If you will be gone by then, no worries. If not, you are the mark at the table… I’m a tossup. The spouse will catch the tail of it. My kids will handle the restart and those born today will creat a new paradigm (again…)

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

    Historically we have actually been worse off than now (WWII), I remember the efforts of the government to save the system by selling savings bonds in school. We would buy bonds by filling a book with 10 cent savings stamps, until the value totaled 18.75 which bought a nominal $25 savings bond (10 year term). In inflation adjusted terms that $25 dollar bond would be about $200 dollar bond today. It is conceivable that such a “money drive” could also be used, big sales pitch to buy US Bonds perhaps some special program, invest for college by purchasing savings bonds or something to raise extra targeted revenue to pay down the debt. The only way to keep the runaway interest payments from killing they system would be some sort of accelerated pay down of the Federal debt.

    (png image not sure if wordpress can handle this image type)

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    That image is debt to GDP thought that would be included in the image caption information.

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    Consider the effect of forcing bond rates to zero or near it for about 20 to 25 years. Bond rollover pretty much makes the debt near zero interest in total. Then print and spend instead of borrow. In short order, the bonded debt principle is near zero real debt and you can pay it off from general revenue…

  9. John F. Hultquist says:

    This link reads like a press release, but the few comments are interesting.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F:

    In other news, Panama rumored to be invading Nicaragua, news at 11…


    Surprising that the comments didn’t realize power shovels would dredge the channels deeper and earthquakes don’t do mutch to a big ditch…

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    At this link there is an interesting discussion of Social Security;

    It is about the IOUs and the Trust Fund bonds/investments.
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    We don’t expect to make it to 2035, or be much aware of things if we are. But it is possible.
    A cousin just this month had her 99th BD, and we are impressed with modern medicine. We are not impressed with the health care system — insurance, paperwork, formularies that change, networks, and so on. Without one’s mental ability in great working order, the stress of the “system” will shorten your life.

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    Back in the 1980’s I worked with an Argentinian who had emigrated from there to Sydney, along with a share of his extended family. After some years he went back there and called on his old professor at the University to tell him that he had graduated with a science degree in Australia (in place of the one he had abandoned in Argentina). The professor was pleased, the more so as he said he only came into the University once a month to pick up his mail and salary. With roaring inflation he made more as a consultant than his frozen salary. Equally he couldn’t be dismissed as all public servant jobs were ‘frozen’ i.e. no dismissals. He was quite interested in the employment situation in Australia but decided that the present disaster couldn’t last much longer.

    At least 25 years later and how many defaults? and they still are in trouble. It must be that Italian influence.

  13. philjourdan says:

    But I’m sure The Government will realize all that in “due time”…

    I know you are not that naive. Either “due time” is the same as Hawking’s book, or you expect us to see the winky at the end. ;-)

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    In quotes, “due time” essentially means when they hit that wall at full throttle and are surprised that GM is the suppler of design and key parts…

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Just Amazing…

    On Argentine news, they were discussing their 40% inflation and prices. They used the dollar sign, but I have to think it was Argentine dollars, as meat wss running from $90 / kg at Walmart to $180 a kg at a name locsl grocer.

    Thrn they had news about Venezuela and the “riots, death, marches, and pillaging (or looting)” in the streets with “Who will slow down (or impeed?) Maduro?”

    When Argentina is complaining about your violations of free speech, high inflation, economic performance, and street violence, it must be getting pretty bad…

    (They had a lot of good video from Venezuela and it looks like imminent free fall to me)

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, my Spanish is improving as I learn words for shooting, shot, riots, looting, and more.

    From the film and comments on Argentine news it looks like Venezuela is entering social and economic collapse. 8 died by electrocution, up to 20 including some shot. Video of pokice with brass knuckles beating up folks.

    They have had about an hour of coverage so far. This isn’t just the nightly news 15 minutes of fame…

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    Well if nothing else Venezuela provides a good “map” about how modern societies collapse economically.

    Basically government holds out with authoritarian half measures until the populace runs out of patience and coping skills. Then it explodes in anger and protests quickly spiral out of control.

    Does Venezuela have an emergent leader for the opposition right now or is it just undirected riots at this point?

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    The protestors were demanding new elections. Remember that the judiciary tried to shut down the legislative, but backed off.

    I suspect there are opposition players, but they are keeping a low profile to avoid “legal issues”…

    Maduro is claiming a USA influenced coup in the protests, so visible opposition would likely mean sedition charges…

    The Argentine news, a couple of times, said “Argentina is not Venezuela”, so the notion of following their pattern is kicking around (though in denial…)

    I think Maduro is blinded by his ideology and can’t see that he is destroying the economy himself. As things get worse, they impliment more controls, that make things work worse, so things get worse…repeat until dead halt.

    Like at GM: Currency controls meant no $US which meant no parts could be bought so no cars made so no wages.. now instead of letting $ buy parts, the plant was taken over… Still no cars or jobs, but a global flag to NOT invest in Venezuela and get payment up front in $ US before shipping anything in… including any cars they want to buy… at higher $ outflow than for the parts they are not buying…

    Film of an interview of Madero had him, well fed…, playing baseball on a private field and looking unconcerned. Clearly out of touch.

    The public has decided it is time to change things, by violence if needed, and he is incompetent and out of touch. A bad mix… he can’t “fix it” and won’t hand over to those who can. Hunger is a big motivator.. The man on the street interviews they did were bleak. Lots of empty shelves, long lines for nothing in the end, and a 20 something woman asking the world for help (or asking why no one helps). When average folks enter despair, it ends soon… just don’t know how many or was this the one in 10000…

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    Well for oppressive dictators and the like there are two primary ways of retirement, one is once things get bad enough the run with the money for exile in some friendly country. The second is to set the stage for a blood bath to defend the regime at all costs. I suspect Maduro is going to go with door #2.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Gee, a failing regime with access at wholesale to oodles of munitions and needing cash foreign exchange, located where it can ship globally… what could possibly go wrong… /sarc;

  21. E.M.Smith says:


    So I decided to get an update on Latin American things via LatAm channels…. not much on the Venezuelan channel (a functionary talking with his Brazilian counterpart in a Brazillian meeting about govt relations, & a report on farmers asking for a law to assure their access to the land. Both clearly approved stories…) while Argentina was taking about Trump and the USA, with the same talking point line of lowest approval since forever I’d heard on USA stations No problemo, I think, there are other channels….

    Well, Nicaragua was running retro TV reruns… of “Full House”,

    but Telemundo was running news!!

    The local news from the Dallas area where it looks like they pick up their feed…


    Round the world and a language swap to learn a crane fell over in Dallas and one dead.

    It does look like the USA and the Latin world have a LOT of crossover… Maybe I’ll just go make a snack… I’ve got the fixings for a quesedilla or burrito…

    But at least the Roku has reported to someone that I watch Spanish TV sometimes… last night it gave me a Spanish ad for Van Husen shirts… during an English language program… sigh again…

    FWIW, I’ve taken to immediately exiting any news report that is a “get Trump” or concern trolling about Trump. If they are going to snoop on me, I can pack their stats with “Talk dirt about Trump and die!” Feedback… (every block is a strike… and every snoop is an opportunity to manipulate…)

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    The youtube live feed link for Venezuelan TV

    I compared it to the Roku and it is the same feed. About a 20 second delay on the Roku…

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like Al Jazeera and France 24 have started showing some decent video from inside Venezuela. AJ even commented that there reporter was describing events from a location outside V. due to the V. government censoring what they could broadcast from inside…

    Not really a surprise the USA sources have nothing. Vilified USA and low interest? Why do there… just to be censored and potentially arrested or shot. (24 dead at last count…)

    Does look like Venezuela is entering the end stages. Regular Folks bemoaning the lack of food an medicines (one ‘house mum’ type wailing about her 91 year old mother dying for lack of food and medicines) while El Jefe plays with chums and ignores them. The Judges tossing out the Parliament. Calls for resignations (that come just before the street protests turn into full on revolution and riot).

    “Watch this space” seems appropriate. That Argentina is watching has interesting implications for their internal “growth”…

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