Where is Chavez?

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Weekend at Hugo’s
Last month Hugo Chavez returned to Cuba for more cancer treatments. The Venezuelan President’s cancer has spread and his future isn’t looking good. Last week a rush of family and friends flew to Cuba to be with the ailing leader. Since that time, there hasn’t been any news about Chavez’s condition. It’s apparent the man will not be in Venezuela for his re-election swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.  Is he alive? Is he dead? Will the people around him pull “a Bernie?” Ya’ never know.

In case you don’t know what “a Bernie” is, you have to see the movie Weekend at Bernie’s. It’s a story about two employees of an insurance company who go to the owner of the company to inform him that they’ve uncovered some insurance fraud. When the two arrive at Bernie’s beach house they find their boss dead. Afraid they’ll be accused of the murder the two employees manipulate Bernie’s dead body to appear as though he is still alive. It’s a very funny movie.

Here’s the trailer for Weekend at Bernie’s:

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No Visa Required

Left: Hugo Chavez – President Venezuela  * Right: Rafael Correa – President Ecuador

The Immigrant Problem
They’re easy to pick out: new white tennis shoes, dark jeans, and brand-names on T-shirts. Some flood into the country seeking jobs. Some are waiting for smugglers to take them to other destinations.

Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, dropped all requirements for entry visas from 130 countries on June, 20, 2008. Since then, Quito has become the world staging area for for human smuggling.

Most immigrants come from Cuba, China, Iran, and African. Once they reach Ecuador, many continue on to Panama, Columbia or Peru – eventually arriving in Mexico. From there, they hook up with coyotes who guide them across the border into the US.

Since 2008, “Chinese tourism” to Ecuador has increased by more than 500 percent. The objective of those “tourists” is to use Ecuador as a stopover to the United States.

According to an article in El Universo, Chinese organized crime networks were the first to take advantage of the open door to South America. They charge each individual up to US$70,000 for the trip from China to the US.

The Chinese may have the foothold at the moment, but smugglers from 129 other countries will follow. At that point Ecuador may try to rescind the visa policy – but then, the law of unintended consequences may not allow that to happen.

In the meantime, enjoy Ecuadorian jazz guitarist, Fabian Carrera, play Vetas de Caoba: