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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 03:32 AM
Original message
Dead Polo Ponies Belonged to Chavez's "Right-Hand Man"
Business leader cries as horses die in his arms

By CHARLES ELMORE

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_ne...

Monday, April 20, 2009


For most of his life, polo team owner Victor Vargas has managed to steer through turbulence as nimbly as one of his private planes. He owns half a dozen homes including a $68.5 million Palm Beach mansion. He calls himself "an intuitive guy."

The Venezuelan banker has managed to thrive despite inflationary gusts in his home country and the declared intent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to build a classless society. Vargas was reelected this month as president of Venezuela's banking association.

"Either he is incredibly entrepreneurial and politically astute to be able to stay out of the line of fire, or he actively collaborates with the Chavez regime," said Jerry Haar, professor of management and international business at Florida International University in Miami.

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His horses began dying, one after another. With tears in his eyes, Vargas, 57, tried to comfort them, colleagues said.

Vargas was "devastated" as he held the horses in his arms, said John Wash, president of operations for the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

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In that interview, he waved off whispers that he is Chavez's "right-hand man," saying he has tried to focus on business and stay out of politics as much as he can.

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In 2002, the Journal noted, he helped persuade bankers not to join strikes led by business groups that wanted Chavez out.

"I am a socialist in the real sense of the word," Vargas said, speaking in the context of taking care of his employees.

Vargas oversees 6,500 employees and maintains banking and oil holdings in the United States, Venezuela, Panama and Dominican Republic, according to his biography on the polo league Web site. His Banco Occidental de Descuento has flourished by cultivating clients in the oil business.

One rocky patch came when he bought part of New York-based CapitalBanc Corp, only to have banking authorities prosecute other executives in the venture for fraud in the early 1990s. He was fined $1.15 million and agreed not to invest in U.S. banks without permission from authorities, but was not charged, according to published reports. He later told the Journal he had been "naive."

In other instances, he has maneuvered carefully around potential trouble. The son of a doctor and Venezuela's first female Supreme Court justice, Vargas invited senior Chavez officials and opposition leaders to the 2004 marriage of his daughter to the great-grandson of longtime Spanish strongman Francisco Franco, the Journal reported.

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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 03:37 AM
Response to Original message
1. And This:
The Dead Polo Ponies and Their Millionaire Owner

By Tim Padgett / Miami Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1893280,...



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Still, unless the vitamin was corrupted with something especially toxic, many veterinarians doubt Biodyl alone could have caused the equine die-off. Investigators, including those examining many of the dead horses at the University of Florida's veterinary school, say it could be days before they unravel the toxicological mystery. Florida's state Agriculture Department announced late Wednesday afternoon that almost all the horses suffered from hemorrhaging of the lungs before they collapsed.

Franck's, an Ocala, Fla., pharmacy, admitted in a statement Thursday that it had incorrectly mixed a medication administered to the Lechuza horses before the Sunday match. The pharmacy, citing the ongoing state investigation, would not specify what medication. But a knowledgeable source close to Lechuza tells TIME it was Biodyl, or at least a copy of it made from the same components of the vitamin. One Wellington horse veterinarian also told TIME that Biodyl, or "a compound a little off-label," is widely used in the U.S. "You don't know how many times Franck's has compounded this and never had a problem," says the vet. But he predicted its use would drop off sharply now. State investigators have yet to comment.

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Vargas, 57, is a hemispheric jetsetter who has successfully navigated between the often contentious relationship of Venezuela and the United States, though hardly without controversy. As a young lawyer he married into one of Venezuela's cogollo (lite) families and then, as one of the country's smartest bankers, learned to swim in its prodigious and often corrupt oil industry. But while many of Venezuela's business and financial titans have chafed under the left-wing revolution Hugo Chvez began a decade ago, Vargas and his Banco Occidental de Descuento (Venezuela's fifth largest) have thrived. (See a video clip of Barack Obama meeting Hugo Chvez.)

Critics say Vargas made a backroom deal with Chvez's government to handle some of the revolution's murkier financial transactions, such as more than $1 billion in Argentine bond swaps, or the handling of hard currency between Venezuela's official exchange rate of about 2.15 bolivares to the U.S. dollar and the quasi-legal black-market rate of almost six to the dollar. Vargas has long denied the accusation, insisting he's not part of the "boli-bourgeoisie" (named for Chvez's Bolivarian Revolution) that got rich cozying up to Chvez while oil prices skyrocketed in recent years. He and his friends say instead that he's simply a banker Chvez officials have found trustworthy, a man who can deal in capitalist circles but who funds three foundations for the poor and deep down sympathizes with the revolution's social agenda.

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But although Vargas enjoys conspicuous wealth in the U.S., his banking career in the country has met obstacles. In 1993 he paid the Federal Reserve Bank of New York $1.5 million in fines after it determined Vargas had lied about his knowledge of fraud that executives had committed at a bank he was in the process of acquiring. (As part of his settlement with the Reserve Bank, he didn't have to admit guilt.) Today, Vargas cannot invest in U.S. banks without government permission. Still, the incident doesn't seem to have put much of a dent in his personal worth (which he declines to divulge).

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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 05:44 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. Ah, the old "Critics say..."--signature of the Associated Pukes on Chavez 'news' articles.
"Critics say Vargas made a backroom deal with Chvez's government to handle some of the revolution's murkier financial transactions, such as more than $1 billion in Argentine bond swaps, or the handling of hard currency between Venezuela's official exchange rate of about 2.15 bolivares to the U.S. dollar and the quasi-legal black-market rate of almost six to the dollar. Vargas has long denied the accusation..." --Time

No quotation marks. No citation. No names. Anonymous "critics" say. I've seen this, time and again, in Associated Pukes articles on Chavez. I once tracked one of their "his critics say," as to Chavez becoming "increasingly authoritarian," to a fascist Catholic cardinal who had spent his career in the Vatican finance office and got fired by the Pope in the fascist banking scandals of the 1980s. I couldn't find anybody else associated with this accusation--just this frothing-at-the-mouth, anti-Chavez Venezuelan Cardinal. So, is AP getting its "talking points" from fascist clergy? Is Time? Who said that Vargas "made a backroom deal with Chavez's government, etc."?! We will not likely ever find out.

And ain't it ironical that a banker who respects the legitimate government of Venezuela, and refuses to go along with Bushwhack destabilization plots, gets called "Chavez's right-hand man"? What a screwed up view of the world that represents! The truth is that Vargas represents living proof that the Chavez government respects the Venezuelan Constitutional protection of private property, and is not seizing anybody's Jaguars, mansions or bank accounts. You play by the rules, you are perfectly okay in Venezuela. You don't pay your taxes? You are a corrupt bastard? You try to overthrow the government? They will come after you, as any legitimate, democratic, elected government would do, and as they should do.

The implication that, because Vargas obeys the law, is not a scofflaw, and does not engage in fascist scheming, he must be corrupt somehow--he must be making dirty deals with Chavez--is coming entirely from "Critics say...". This is shit journalism. And, clearly, it is aimed at sullying this example of the complete freedom to engage in legitimate business that exists in Venezuela. It's not possible to say, at this point, that the Miami mafia poisoned Vargas' ponies, to make this point in AP and Time and other corpo/fascist propaganda organs, but it is the sort of thing they do. And, given the absolute fuckwads running the banking/finance system in this country, there may be other motives as well, for a hit on this man who didn't bankrupt his country with vast, unfriggingbelievable ponzi schemes, as we have suffered. Stanford (of Stanford Bank) was running fascist money through his bank in Caracas--likely coup plot money and drug money. Did Vargas refuse to do that? Wouldn't play ball with Rumsfeld and brethren? And this is his punishment?
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Daveparts Donating Member (854 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 06:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. You dont have to step in it to know it when you see it!
Well, the horses may be gone but the horse shit continues the article tries to imply something dark and sinister is at work. Tying Mr. Vargas to Hugo Chavez. Anyone who has read or listened to the interviews of Mr. Chavez would know that Mr. Chavez only wants the United States to stop interfering with the internal affairs of Venezuela.

So here is Mr. Vargas, Critics say Vargas made a backroom deal with Chvez's government to handle some of the revolution's murkier financial transactions, such as more than $1 billion in Argentine bond swaps, or the handling of hard currency between Venezuela's official exchange rate of about 2.15 bolivares to the U.S. dollar and the quasi-legal black-market rate of almost six to the dollar.

Those critics didnt appreciate Mr. Chavez helping Argentina to get out from under the thumb of the IMF. These critics dont like the idea of a South American common market that is not dependent on the Amero/European bankers. This Murky transaction amounted to Venezuela refinancing Argentinas debt at a lower interest rates. Chavez incorporates real trade deals rather than neo-liberal free trade.

Chavez trades oil for beef and oil for doctors and oil for expertise but his transactions are called quasi-legal black-market because they exclude the IMF.
Chavez has call for Latin America to created its own International bank because of the odious terms offered which impinge on sovereignty by the IMF.

The article depicts Mr. Vargas as a collaborator making back room deals with quasi-legal black-marketers. He paid a fine in 1993 to the Federal Reserve without admitting guilt, this makes him less culpable than the former Presidents brother Neil Bush but the article is about vilifying a man whose horses died because we dont like the president of his country.

We dont like this President because he wont crawl and knuckle under to Neo-liberalism. Just more American propaganda poured out into a bowl for the kitties to lick up. You dont have to step in it to know it when you see it!
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. I posted the information because I'm curious if someone had Mr. Vargas' horses.killed.
I agree he and Chavez are vilified by the U.S. media.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 03:47 AM
Response to Original message
2. Your Palm Beach Post link seems to be broken, for some reason.
Edited on Fri Apr-24-09 03:48 AM by bemildred
The headline seems a bit over the top. He just sounds like a rich successful guy that plays ball with the government, which is the prudent thing to do, if you are a rich successful guy with a lot to lose.
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 03:52 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The link worked awhile ago.
I used words from the first article for my "over the top" headline.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 03:56 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Sometimes they change them.
Does it still work for you?

I assumed you used the original headline and was not meaning to criticize you. I was grateful for the information about this fellow. He just does not seem to rise to the level of a "right-hand man".
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. Here's the link again.
Edited on Fri Apr-24-09 09:27 AM by balantz
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_ne...

O.K., I grabbed it from my search history and pulled up the article without a hitch, but clicking on it here I get the missing topic message. I don't know what that's all about.

I put "right-hand man" in quotes because that is what he has been called. He himself says it's not true.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. I still gives me a "Can I help you?" page, and I don't see anything like it on PBP. nt
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 09:37 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Yeah, that's the page I get when I click the link from D.U..
Edited on Fri Apr-24-09 09:37 AM by balantz
When I click it from my search history I get the article. I don't know what the reason is for that. All I can say is it is a real article I found and somehow can still access from the link in my search history, But transfering that link here doesn't work.
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #9
12.  Scroll down lst for the article. titled "Business leader cries as horses die in his arms"
Edited on Fri Apr-24-09 10:38 AM by balantz
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Ah, thanks. nt
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 06:16 AM
Response to Original message
6. Chinese made ingredients?
They've screwed up human drugs (heparin). I don't put selling contaminated equine supplements past them.
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balantz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-24-09 08:20 PM
Response to Original message
14. Kick
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