As Podemos continue to impress in polls, Venezuela has become a key talking point in the lead up to Sunday’s General Election in Spain.

In the lead up to Sunday’s Spanish election, the left wing Podemos have continued to have a good showing in polls, and thus their opponents have made their links to socialist Venezuela a hot topic in debates, and on the campaign trail. Leaders of the left wing party were advisers to the Chavez government, and have also had to publicly deny funding links from the socialist republic, leading rivals to bring the links to light, and insinuate if in power they could take the recovering Spanish recovery towards something like the ever-failing Venezuela.

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(Image- La Razon)

The link has been highlighted in particular from rival progressive parties PSOE, and Ciudadanos, with the latter’s leader Alberto Rivera frequently denouncing Podemos suspect relationship with Caracas. Bringing to light the left wing party’s financial dealings with the Venezuelan government Rivera said “It is immoral that a foreign regime finances a party,”when speaking to the international press a few weeks ago.

Of course Venezuela should not eclipse the Spanish election campaign, and the Spanish electorate should look at other issues when deciding which way to vote on Sunday. However, Rivera and others are right to bring Podemos’ relationship with Venezuela to the attention of the Spanish electorate, as the current situation there is a cause for concern, and offers a terrible alternative to Rajoy’s Spain. Venezuela, currently under the presidency of Nicolas Maduro is in crisis. The Bolivarian Republic currently has the highest inflation in the world, has a shortage of food and medicines, with daily demonstrations against President Maduro, who has called for a nationwide state of emergency to curb plots to oust him and his government.

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(Photo – BBC)

Sunday’s election in Spain will be the country’s second in just six months, after no party could form a majority government. Incumbent or “caretaker” President Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular current lead polls, with Podemos in second as mentioned, PSOE (traditional one of Spain’s big two parties) and Ciudadanos are trailing in third and fourth respectively. Despite Partido Popular’s lead in opinion polls, it again looks likely that it will not be enough for the party to form a majority government (see below). So Sunday’s vote could give Spain the same outcome as December’s, with the country in a state of deja-vu, unable to name its government.

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(Source – El Periodic)

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Brexit may pave the way for Prime Minister Corbyn, and a more progressive Britain / Remain could see the country go backwards with Boris, Gove, & Farage:

Two weeks ago I read an opinion piece in the Guardian by Natalie Nougayrede that painted a picture of what Britain and Europe may look like in a post-Brexit world. In her scenario it’s 2026, Britain is in crisis, in isolation from Europe and the US, and is being governed by a Nigel Farage-led UKIP government. This scenario sounds dreadful indeed, but as a post-Brexit hypothesis its illogical, as it assumes UKIP and the far right would be able to win successive elections after Thursday’s referendum. These elections under the current UK Parliamentary Act would take place in 2020, and 2025, and to assume UKIP would win them, assumes they would have approval from the majority of the nation, and thus assumes Brexit would have been a success in its first decade, and thus why I see Nougayrede’s scenario implausible.

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(Photo – ITV)

I believe what would be more likely to happen is Britain becoming a more progressive nation than it is today. I believe this based on economic experts opinions that the initial months/years after Brexit would be a disaster for Britain, and assuming a Boris Johnson/Michael Gove government takes power after the referendum, they would fall out of favour with the nation sharply. Jobs would be lost, foreign investment would decrease, the value of the Pound would decline, trade with Europe would be more expensive, and travel to Europe would be more expensive if economists prophecies are anything to go by. There is also the added assumption from foreign affairs academics that Britain would have less influence in the world, and would be seemingly ignored by the other big players like China, and the US, and would be relegated in terms of its global importance. If this is the case just a year or two after Thursday’s referendum, Brexit would widely be regretted by the British public – how likely then, would it be for UKIP to win an election in 2020, having advocated Brexit to the public – like they’ve done for the past 20-25 years? My answer not likely at all, and in 2020 would be overwhelmingly rejected by the British electorate.

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(Photo – University of Liverpool)

Step forward Jeremy Corbyn: As the Boris/Gove led government continues to fight economic and foreign affairs fires caused by leaving the EU, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour will gain even more support, and by 2020 the UK public will be ready to elect them into government – after seeing the country fall off an economic cliff, and into an abyss of international isolation. So, Corbyn wins in 2020, and he can start implementing his more social and “fairer” economic policies, and further would be able to do so with even more freedom as 1) he would be unshackled from the neoliberal EU, and 2) conversatism would be at its lowest point in UK politics since May 1997, when Blair came to power. This would make Britain even more progressive than it is today, whereas a vote for Remain could actually tip Britain even further right.

I say staying in the EU could tip Britain further right, as a slim Remain victory is probably just as bad as a defeat for progressives in the long term. Unless it’s a double-digit win on Thursday for Remain, I believe David Cameron will be gone from power – his leadership of the Tories may be damaged beyond repair (he would probably be replaced by Teresa May or someone else closer to his wing of the Tory party, rather than someone from the Brexit wing), and let’s hope the country can recover from the division the referendum has caused. A marginal loss for Leave would also give Boris, Gove, and Farage a big mandate with the British public, and could claim they are now speaking for “half of the population” – this would be an influential platform for them, especially when further European/EU crises take place, or the EU makes unpopular decisions. The refugee crisis is still ongoing, there’s further financial difficulties with Greece looming, the ever- present  terrorist threat , and also Jean-Claude Juncker seems to be specialist in making remarks that are not popular with the British public. All of these issues would give weight to the Brexit politicians, who would be able to gloat “we told you so” to the British public, and worse without being accountable – they’d simply just be those annoying commentators that pop up every time there’s a crisis to rub it in that the Remainers got it wrong. However, they may not stay annoying commentators for long, as in 2020 they may be able to galvanise the “half of the population” they represent and others into voting for them into government, and thus paving the way for a second EU referendum in the 2020’s, only this time they may win, as they would be the establishment in this scenario.

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(Photo – Telegraph)

I think Remain will win on Thursday, and scarily (in regard to my scenario that sees a Boris/Gove government) I think it will be a marginal victory, probably somewhere in the region of 53-47% – if this is the case, the reaction to the referendum needs to be managed well by progressives, or else the Boris/Gove/UKIP government scenario and an even more right wing Britain may be on the cards at the start of the next decade.

Peru’s presidential run off between Keiko & PPK is going down to every last vote

Two days on from election day and votes are still being counted in Peru to determine the country’s next president, where Pedro Pablo Kucyznski’s lead over Keiko Fujimori has narrowed to just 0.2%.  So far 95% of the electorate’s votes have been processed, however election officials have advised that it may take a few more days to determine a winner while the votes of Peruvians living overseas are gathered.

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(Data – ONPE)

In the lead up to the election Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in jail for human rights abuses and corruption was the front runner, however Sunday’s exit poll gave Kucyznski a 1% lead. Both candidates offer centre-right policies and its widely seen in Peru that economically they would be like-for-like candidates, however Fujimori divides opinion, mostly due to her father’s bloody history and this election feels more like a “Keiko referendum”in that people are voting for whether they like or dislike her.  PPK is not free from criticism however, and his links to Peru’s financial elite have been scrutinised.

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(Photo – Reuters)

Keiko’s main election pledge is to be tough on crime, and with there still being people in the country who support her father’s defeat of the Shining Path terrorist group in the 1990’s, there are many who have faith in this promise. PPK’s policies centre on the economy, and he has offered that his financial nous in Wall Street and the World Bank gives Peru a greater chance to continue its sustained growth.

Most Peruvian’s living abroad are in the United States and though they backed Keiko in 2011 over leftist Ollanta Humala, it is suggested the 500,000 plus community favour the US-born PPK this time. There’s still plenty of drama to come in this one – lets hope we have a new president in place by the weekend!

In Diego we trust? Introducing Iglesia Maradoniana (Church of Maradona)

Many argue that until Lionel Messi wins a World Cup with Argentina he cannot be compared to or be considered better than the legendary Diego Maradona, however maybe it goes further than that? Maybe the Barcelona forward cannot be placed on the same stage as El Diez because he does not have a religion dedicated to him? You read that correctly – a religion.

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(Photo – the18.com)

Cue Iglesia Maradoniana, in English the Church of Maradona, which is in the year 55 AD – After Diego. The church devoted to Maradona was set up on his birthday (now regarded as their Christmas) in the city of Rosario, and according to Wikipedia boasts 120,000 – 200,00 members worshipping the man they say is the greatest to have ever lived. Christmas’s are celebrated at the “Hand of God” chapel, and there is even a “Our Diego” prayer, as well as ten commandments that should be honoured…

  1. The ball is never soiled.
  2. Love football above all else.
  3. Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football.
  4. Defend the Argentina shirt.
  5. Spread the news of Diego’s miracles throughout the universe.
  6. Honour the temples where he played and his sacred shirts.
  7. Don’t proclaim Diego as a member of any single team.
  8. Preach and spread the principles of the Church of Maradona.
  9. Make Diego your middle name.
  10. Name your first son Diego.

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(Photo – Wikipedia)

The existence of a religion worshipping him is a reflection of Maradona’s God-like status in Argentina, mainly for his heroics during the 1986 World Cup, where many say he won the trophy on his own for the country. In 2008, Jonathan Franklin of Britain’s Guardian newspaper paid the Diegorians a visit, and even got baptised – check it out here.

Argentina begin their Copa America campaign tonight against last year’s tournament winners Chile, and will be hoping for something Maradona-esque from Messi as they look to end a 23 year trophy drought. Read our Copa America preview and predictions here

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Nuestro amigo El Viajero Peligro visita Peru: ve su Video Travel Blog de Lima aqui

En su último episodio de su Travel Blogger serie, El Viajero Peligro visita Peru! En este video muestra que algunas ideas preconcebidas sobre Peru sonincorrectas y que el país tiene mucho que ofrecer. Aquí él muestra las diferentes vistas y sonidos de Lima, y lo más importante prueba la diferente comida que le ofrecen – Por supuesto esto es de gran importancia porque Perú tiene la mejor cocina del mundo!

 

Ve el video abajo, y siga El Viajero Peligro en Facebook y Twitter  para mas videos de sus viajes!

Chile: An example as to why the UK should leave & remain in the European Union? Or that the referendum doesn’t really matter at all?

A few weeks ago a question was posed on my Facebook feed by a staunchly pro-EU campaigner “Can anyone name any nation state, country, overseas territory anywhere in the world in the last 40 years that has voluntarily left a trade bloc of any description (USSR not included)? ” Immediately Chile came to my mind, which left the Andean Community in the 1970’s.

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(Photo – Pan American World)

The Andean Community was formed in 1969 upon agreement between founding members Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru, and has similar characteristics to the European Union; the main resemblance relevant to Britain’s EU debate is that it’s a customs union, which allows free movement of labour between member countries. However, in 1976 Chile under General Pinochet withdrew from the bloc, suggesting that the economics of all member countries were incompatible.

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(Photo – Comunidad Andina)

After leaving the Andean Community, Chile’s economy went from strength to strength throughout the 1980`s with GDP seeing steady growth above the South American average, thanks to the reforms put in place by economist Milton Freedman and his team the Chicago boys.  Taking this into account, Leave campaigners could use Chile as an example of how a country can prosper economically by leaving a trade bloc and going it alone. However, Chile could also provide Remain campaigners with an example to point to.

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(Source – The World Bank)

In 1996, Chile became an associate member of Mercosur, the trade bloc founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela in 1991 (Mercosur is more or less an “Andean Community of the southern South American countries”, and too shares many characteristics with the European Union) – further to this the “land of poets” once again joined the Andean Community also as an associate member in 2007. Chile’s economic success continued beyond the Pinochet dictatorship, throughout the 1990’s and up to present day – and is now regarded as a major regional power, all the while maintaining associate memberships  in South America’s two trading bloc´s. Remain campaigners may point to these associate memberships as bolstering Chilean economic success, however Leave campaigners may be dismissive and claim Chile’s impressive economic performance has been inevitable, and cite that associate membership is by no means full membership.

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(Source – The World Bank)

So if it is the case that membership of trade blocs has a direct impact on the economic success of individual countries, then Chile is there and waiting to be used by either the Leave or Remain side as the EU referendum debate intensifies. However, in my view it’s clear to see in the case of Chlie that there has not been a correlation between its success and its memberships/non-memberships of the Andean Community/Mercusur, and its economic history probably wouldn’t be much different either way, and that’s pretty much the view I take towards the UK’s EU referendum. I simply don’t really see the point of the EU referendum in Britain as I don’t think either result will change things much – I think even if the UK did vote to leave it would end up with a watered down version of the deal it currently has with the EU, it would just be branded something different – the UK and EU have no choice but to trade together regardless of the outcome on June 23rd, to not do so would be costly and madness for both.

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(Image – Leeds University)

The EU referendum takes place three weeks from today on Thursday 23rd June and is a UK-wide vote – if you are British how will you be voting? If you are not British how do you think they should vote? Whatever the outcome, this referendum is intriguing to say the least.

Saludos.

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Copa America 2016 preview & predictions

If you feel like it’s not been four years since the last Copa America then you are right – it’s only been a year, however due to a special agreement between CONMEBOL (South American Football Association) and CONCACAF (North & Central American Football Association) we will be entertained this summer (winter for Southern hemisphere readers) by a special centenary edition of the tournament.  The 45th edition of the tournament, celebrating its 100th anniversary will be hosted by the United States from this Friday to 26th June, and will be an enlarged version with 16 teams vying for the trophy.  See below Savio’s preview of the competition and predictions (I’ve been very bold!).

Group A:

Group A is without doubt the most competitive of the four groups, featuring two World Cup quarter finalists from Brazil 2014, and tournament hosts the United States. As hosts, the United States under Jurgen Klinsmann will be determined to make an impact on the tournament and have targeted reaching the semi-finals as a minimum target – Klinsmann is still trying to find his perfect starting eleven, and finds himself under pressure following a poor 2015 and a stuttering start to World Cup qualification, which has seen his side lose to Guatemala. The 23-man US squad is a blend of youth and experience as they look to pass through a tough group, made all the tougher with the injury of striker Jozy Altidore, who misses the competition.

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(Photo – CBS Sports)

Colombia are favourites to top this group and their depth in talent is illustrated in the exclusion of both Falcao and Jackson Martinez. With the likes of James Rodrigeuz, Juan Cuadrado, and Carlos Bacca, the Colombians have plenty of fire power that can take them far in the tournament, however they are prone to conceding goals as proven so far in their World Cup qualifying campaign – so Colombian progression may hinge on outscoring opponents.

Breakout performers from the 2014 World Cup Costa Rica are also in Group A, and as shown in Brazil two years ago should not be underestimated – The Costa Ricans with Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz leading the line have recently defeated the hosts in a friendly, and will be going to this tournament again to make a statement.

Paraguay make up group A but will be there to do more than just make up the numbers – recent good form in South American qualifying saw them denied victory at home to Brazil but for a last minute equaliser from Dani Alves, and showed they can turn it on when they want it to.

Group B:

Brazil will catch the eye as favourites in group B, however with success at the upcoming Rio Olympics on their minds have decided to sacrifice this Copa America, and have left out key players including Barcelona’s Neymar – that said they should still get through and win the group.

Ecuador with the likes of Enner Valencia, Michael Arroyo, and Jefferson Montero will be fancied to join Brazil in the quarter-finals, however a new-look and youthful Peru will look to upset the apple cart – the Peruvians recent performances in the Copa America have been impressive, reaching the semi-finals in the last two.  Shock qualifiers Haiti with 10 players playing for clubs in top European leagues shouldn’t be taken lightly, however all three of their group opponents will be disappointed not to grab three points over them.

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(Photo – Esto en Linea)

Group C:

Mexico are the form team going into the tournament, and are on an eleven game unbeaten run, and with an-almost home advantage may see this as their best chance ever to capture a major football trophy, which has somehow alluded their history.  The Mexican’s have not conceded a goal under manager Carlos Osorio, showing their defensive qualities, and with the firepower of Javier Hernandez up front should ease through this group, and fancy their chances in going all the way for the first time.

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(Photo – Daily Mail)

Uruguay will be without injury-hit Luis Suarez; however La Celeste will have too much for Jamaica and Venezuela with the attacking quality of Edison Cavani, and Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin in defence.

Venezuela have forever been the “whipping boys” in South American football  and while this tournament may come too soon, there are signs of improvement with a new generation of talent coming through that includes West Brom’s Salomon Rondon, and Malaga’s Mikel Villanueva.  Jamaica, like Venezuela will be underdogs in this group and will likely not be able to overcome Mexico or Uruguay, however this is the Reggae boys’ second Copa America in a row, and as Gold Cup finalists last year should not be considered a walkover.

Group D:

Group D looks a foregone conclusion with both of last year’s finalists Argentina and Chile looking certain to progress over Bolivia and Panama; however that was not nearly the case as the Argentinians nearly withdrew due to a dispute between the AFA (Argentinian Football Association) and authorities in Argentina concerning financial irregularities. The AFA confirmed yesterday that Argentina will take part however, and will be looking to end their 23 year run of not winning the trophy. Lionel Messi is included in Argentina’s 23 man side and will once again look to win an major international title for the first time in his career, an honour that has escaped him so far, and for some is the reason why he is not better than Diego Maradona, who for many won Argentina the World Cup in 1986 on his own.  La Albiceleste had a slow start to South American qualifying, but recent form has seen a stark improvement, winning the last three on the trot, including away wins in Chile and Colombia – Gabriel Mercado and Angel Di Maria will both add to the Messi threat, and if the individual talents click there is no reason why Argentina cannot win the tournament.

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(Photo – Getty)

2015 winners Chile are also in this group, and will be keen to hold on to their trophy. The Chileans however have slipped up a few times since winning last year’s tournament in World Cup qualifying (losing to Uruguay and Argentina respectfully), and recently lost in a friendly against Jamaica, raising questions on whether 2015’s success was the peak for La Roja’s current squad.

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(Photo – CTV)

Bolivia will be unfancied particularly as they have only managed to win one in the last ten, and first time entrants Panama are likely to struggle against the pedigree of Argentina or Chile also.

Predictions: 

Group A qualifiers

1) Colombia 2) Paraguay

I’ve gone for Colombia to win the group – I think they’ll draw with the US and Paraguay and defeat Costa Rica. Paraguay for second joint on 4 points with the US, but I fancy the Paraguayans to stun the US in Philadelphia and go through on the head-to-head.

Group B qualifiers

1) Brazil 2) Peru

I’ve gone with my heart here and backed my current home Peru – I think they will edge out Ecuador on goals scored.

Group C qualifiers

1) Mexico 2) Uruguay

I cant see past these two qualifying, for me its just a question of who finishes top , and with Mexico’s form and Uruguay’s lack of Suarez I think the Mexicans will win the group.

Group D qualifiers

1) Argentina 2) Chile

The same as group C as I cannot see past the favourites and it just comes down to who is topping the group – I think since winning the tournament last year Chile have gone off the boil, and Argentina will win the group.

Quarter finals

Colombia 2-0 Peru

A strong Colombian side will prove too much for a youthful Peru, Colombia to the semi’s

Argentina 2-0 Uruguay

A comfortable victory for the Argentinian’s over a Uruguay side lacking Suarez

Brazil 1-2 Paraguay

Paraguay I guess are my dark horses for this tournament and will shock Brazil again as they did last year with another quarter final victory over them. I think the experienced Paraguayan side will defeat a Brazilian side not taking this tournament as seriously as they could.

Mexico 2-1 Chile

An on form Mexico will end Chile’s short year-long reign of being Copa America champions with a win here – I think Mexico will be the more hungry and this will prove the difference.

Semi –finals

Colombia 1-1 Argentina (Colombia win on penalties)

I think this will be a tightly contested match that will see the Colombians win on penalties and extend the Argentinians trophy drought for two more years.

Paraguay 0-2 Mexico

Mexico will comfortably beat Paraguay here and soar into the final.

3rd place play off

Argentina 3-2 Paraguay

Another 4th place finish for Paraguay against an Argentina side bitter from a penalty defeat in the semis.

Final

Colombia 0-1 Mexico

Finally Mexico will win a major tournament with a 0-1 over Colombia in the final.

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(Photo – Sports Illustrated)

Mexico are 11/1 to win the trophy at the moment – I might put some money on them, which team is your money on? let us know!