Two Rayma cartoons to summarize last week

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In this first cartoon El Universal's Rayma explains us the Chavez debating method, and why as a consequence he is licking his wounds.

Governmental [Chavez] dialogue.
Questions group--------------Answers group

This second cartoon is to illustrate what are the "debates" inside of chavismo, with an allusion of Chavez ignorance of the Islam extremism inserted when he defends Iran or other assorted extremist regimes from that corner of the world.

Where are you going so smartly dressed?
To the government forum on freedom of expression.

Note: at the last minute chavismo tried to do a counter forum to CEDICE which was basically a street show.

-The end-

The marathon that roared not: Chavez suspends his 4 days "Alo Presidente"

Truly, something is rotten in the kingdom of Venezuela. Chavez with great fanfare told us (threatened might be a better word) with a four days run of Alo Presidentes, his Sunday talk show. We got two installments on Thursday, we got a long one on Friday night and that was that. Yesterday segment(s) were suspended without any reason given though we were still promised (threatened?) with the Sunday segment(s) as we were told that Evo Morales would be joining.

Today we are told that the show is suspended for technical reasons. Which is a nice code word for Chavez is so pissed at the Friday debacle that he must be trashing the full Miraflores lair and cannot be shown in public by his handlers.

There is really no excuse for such a lame explanation. VTV and other state media have enough cameras and microwave transmitters to make a show from anywhere, even if half the materiel has been damaged by one of the incessant power outages that we suffer in Venezuela. Chavez has been seen more than once giving a cadena/Alo Presidente with a cold, with an ache, with whatever. He even describes at length his problems with bodily functions going as far as to describe in loving details the day he had a bad case the runs while digging a tunnel during a cadena. If he is sick and cannot talk and make good of his promise (threat?), why not say so and postpone the show for, say, Monday? Even bitter hard core opposition like yours truly would find that normal and say nothing of it.

But the truth is that the debacle of last Friday when CEDICE and Vargas Llosa stared down a blustery Chavez had an effect. Unable to come up with a sensible and credible reply, the show dropped its curtain. The chronicle of El Universal says it all (and they also use in another article the word "arrugó"). In summary, once his bluff made Chavez and his handlers realized that they had much more to lose inside Venezuela than Mario Vargas Llosa.

Not without mentioning that international press has not been kind. In addition to amuse itself with Chavez problems they added insult to injury these days. The Washington Post came with yet another terrible editorial, terrible for Chavez that is, and for his accomplices at the OAS, namely Insulza. Though when I think of it, Obama and Clinton must also read it as a terrible editorial as to how they are quickly losing any leverage they might had in Latin America in the Port of Spain afterglow. In addition Simon Romero at the NYT made a rather damming report on the military degradation of Venezuela. There is a lot of things to reply to and we should charitably hope that for once Chavez has decided to sit down and think rather than make a fool of himself on TV for two days.

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Tales of the bizarre: the Chavez will/will not debate Vargas Llosa ends in "¡Chavez arrugó!"

These past few weeks rich in bizarre events have managed to be outdone by today's offering.

This week CEDICE (1) in Venezuela held a symposium on occasion of its 25th anniversary. So it invited intellectuals, economists and politicians of the Liberal wing of Latin America to participate. NOTE: the is NOT Liberal in the US sense but Liberal as in the rest of the world sense, that is free markets, capitalism, democracy, etc, something that does not apply even to the US GOP fully as the US is in its politics as well as its sports, unique... Let's use the term neo-liberal to simplify things, very different from neo-con, though neo-liberal does not describe the CEDICE attendance in full.

So far so good, except that chavismo quickly showed how upset it was at CEDICE being able to gather so many prominent figures of neo-liberalism, or not (Vargas Llosa, Krause and Castañeda among other luminaries). Quickly we saw an amazingly discombobulated Vanessa Davies alerting the Venezuelan people about all the lies that would be said at the CEDICE symposium. Apparently only the Latin American left is allowed to proselytize everywhere....

I will pass on the details, like the harassment at the airport of such figures as Mario Vargas Llosa, ex runner up Peruvian presidential candidate, on the short list for the next Nobel Literature Prize for Latin America, author of the "Fiesta del Chivo" about the demise of the Trujillo dictatorship and thus a "bête noire" of the Chavez regime.

Chavez in his 4 days marathon Alo Presidente challenged the intellectuals attending the CEDICE event to come to his Alo Presidente and debate ideas. CEDICE thought for a while and accepted the debate but on one condition: it will be held between Mario Vargas Llosa and Chavez himself, in equal conditions of time and responses. After all as Castañeda pointed out a day earlier, to debate underlings of Chavez he does not need to come to Venezuela, he can find them anywhere. And he is right, as the occasional appearance of a PSF brings to this blog: experience showed that debating extensively PSF is a waste of time, so for people way more involved than Castañeda I can understand that debating, say, Monedero or Ramonet is simply not worth his time while in Venezuela. Surely he will bump into them someday at home or elsewhere with more leisure.

The reply of Chavez was rather quick and I saw it almost within minutes from CEDICE announcement, live on TV. He replied from his running Alo Presidente, mocking CEDICE and eventually reaching extreme lameness by saying that he was not in the same league as Mario Vargas Llosa. I agree with Chavez, all that Mario Vargas Llosa is he owes it to his work, his mind, his intellect and his genuine life experience with the necessary evolutions included in the life of someone who has functioning neurons. Chavez is stuck in a time warp and anything that he thinks he can boast of he got it solely on one merit: getting the Venezuelan people to entrust him with the key of the vault so Chavez could spend the last ten years buying sycophantic good will.

Let's not be afraid of words: Chavez run scared and refused the debate with Vargas Llosa, not even as a private meeting at Miraflores that Vargas Llosa would have probably accepted, even posing for a picture that would have benefited more Chavez than Vargas Llosa as smartly observed by "el ciudadano".

But see, after so many years of being surrounded by sycophants that laugh at any of his stupid jokes or inane vulgarity, Chavez is simply afraid to be in a real debate, with equal opportunities for both sides. Just as the PSF here refuse to debate in a format where all participants are limited to three entries to make a single point. They prefer to write elsewhere that this blog is not worth reading, their right of course though I will observe that I do publish my ratings while they do not publish theirs in case they want to compare "leagues" as their beloved leader.

When free insults, when intimidation are not tools that can be used by chavistas, they simply back down and run as Chavez did tonight. Just as it happened a few days ago when the Presidents of the UCV and Simon Bolivar University were greeted with a heckling mob at the ministry of universities where a dialogue was supposed to be held; just as the dissident students where entrapped at the Nazional Assembly summer 2007. In each case, as well as others, the only reply was to walk out or refuse to go. Chavistas can only "discuss" when they control all and thus can drown any uncomfortable truth with crowd screams. The coward method.

PS: closing this post we find the interview that CNN did to Vargas Llosa after the Chavez put down attempt. With video included, but in Spanish, sorry. The dignity of Vargas Llosa compared to the truculence of Chavez is just amazing. Not to mention that Vargas Llosa showed that Chavez lied once again about his passport. By the way Vargas Llosa reminds us that Chavez NEVER debated anyone, that he is ALWAYS as a monologue, even an autistic one (dixit Vargas Llosa).

PS2: "arrugó" is a colloquial term in Venezuela used to describe those who launch a dare and then excuse themselves.

1) CEDICE = Center to Divulge Economical Knowledge (Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico)

-The end-

The Economist explains it clearly: Venezuela out of cash

A recipe for economic disaster, as hinted by The Economist. No comments needed.

-The end-

Facts and Fiction on Chavez reasons to close media

This week we are commemorating two years of the closing of RCTV while we are contemplating the very distinct possibility of Chavez closing Globovision at any moment. Yesterday in yet another cadena where Chavez shows increasing imbalance, he DEMANDED that the judicial power closed Globovision. That is, he does not even pretend that there is a separation of powers in Venezuela, he gives the order in public, requesting the resignation of the judicial "personnel" that is not willing to carry his orders. In English here and in Spanish here much more complete, with video included.

But let's not waste time in discussing the reasons for his latest immature and psychotic outburst (oxymoron? redundancy? intended). Let's review instead some of the facts and fiction surrounding this whole business, things lost in the hot air waves issued from the marathon Alo Presidente that is plaguing us with cadenas for the next three days.

Coup mongering in Venezuela

Fiction: the media conspired in 2002 to overthrow Chavez.

Fact: we are now 7 years and 1 month since April 2002 and not a single indictment has been issued against the owner or journalist of any of the private media that chavismo ROUTINELY accuses of being coupsters ("golpistas").

Interpretation? If in 7 years nothing has happened we must suspect one or more of the following: no hard evidence available to indict anyone for April 2002 events (let's not forget that the judicial system is FULLY in the control of Chavez since 2004); complicity between some media and Chavez (that one dedicated to mercenary Venevision and its owner, Gustavo Cisneros); incompetence and/or betrayal of people that should be indicting the media owners (which of course assume that indeed these media owners were acting in a conspiracy which send us to square 1, no evidence presented so far).

The media distort the message

Fiction: the private media are basically washing the brain of the people by emitting anti Chavez propaganda all the time and lying all the time about what is really happening in the country.

Fact: the government has in fact dominated the airborne media since 2004, and overwhelmingly dominated it since RCTV was closed in 2007. Today there is no single free air borne media espousing a critical line available nation wide. Globovision, the case presently at hand ONLY COVERS Caracas and Valencia, that is much less than a third of the Venezuelan homes. At local levels only some TV and radio stations are mildly critical and in some areas of the country, in particular rural areas, there is not a single airborne media that is critical of the government. Any criticism heard in such areas is of the intra party fighting nature, not from the opposition to the government.

Some specifics. There is ONLY one radio network allowed nation wide, RNV, and it is basically a propaganda outlet 24/24. The state controls two nation wide networks, VTV which is 24/24 propaganda and Tves which is part propaganda and part entertainment. ViVe is growing fast along Telesur and they are pro government 24/24. Only Venevision has a nationwide coverage and it is rather pro Chavez, only allowing some counted criticism of the government and only by some "selected" opposition figures. And even that is a rarer and rarer occurrence. Televen is a little bit more "independent" in its nightly news but it does not cover all the country.

In other words, unless you have access to cable TV, in some areas of the country, perhaps as much as half of it, you cannot obtain reliable information from both sides of the story. And on the other half, outside of Caracas and Valencia, objective information is limited.

Interpretation? With the overwhelming control of airborne media supplemented by the forced simultaneous broadcasts on ALL airborne media of Chavez speeches for hours every week (the infamous cadenas!), the message of the government is fully accessible everywhere, in large amounts. The problem is elsewhere.

That remote control problem or why is the "correct" information not reaching the people?

Fiction: that people are not listening to Chavez is a question of brain washing, and international media conspiracy, sabotage. Journalists are paid by the media owners to spread lies and disinformation.

Fact: If there is a media owner that pays its journalists to editorialize rather than present the real news it is the current Venezuelan government. TV shows such as La Hojilla in VTV would have been long banned in any democratic country. Besides, the sheer amount of cadenas and cadena time should have belittled any effort made by the alleged mercenary journalists in misinterpreting Chavez glorious deeds. Is Chavez not supposed to be his best publicist? Is that not the avowed objectives of cadenas and Alo Presidente? Has he not won the 2006 reelection with 60%+ vote in spite of a hard core RCTV and Globovision opposition?

Interpretation? What is happening here is that the government realizes that in spite of its best efforts people are increasingly tuning out the official message even among those who still vote for Chavez. Apparently the government has a poor understanding of a device existing in at least 90% of Venezuelan homes: the remote control of the TV set. No one so far has been able to fix such remotes so that they can only show only, say, Globovision. Chavismo simply cannot comprehend why the huge majority of the Venezuelan people at night will prefer to watch anything else but the propaganda coming out of VTV or ViVe. Watching soap operas by the chavista voter strata has long been considered subversive as Chavez more than once has admitted that his cadenas preempted the "novelas" that were bad for the people to begin with.

So now not only Globovision must be shut down but the Nazional Assembly is diligently preparing a text that will force Cable TV to pass mandatory cadenas and remove from the menu TV stations that displease the government (Cable TV is exempt of cadenas transmission and RCTV with soon Globovision have only cable as a refuge). How long until National Geographic or Animal Planet are judged subversive, anti revolutionaries?

A word to end

I know, I know, this is yet again a repeat on things that I have extensively written on and on in the past. But I thought a nice, simple text in clear format would be useful for people who need to explain what is going on really in Venezuela these days: as the going is getting tough, Chavez does not want the people to know what is really going on inside Venezuela. Repression and economic crisis do not make for a good Chavez image on TV.

Or, the only freedom of choice that chavismo understands is their freedom to tell you what to watch.

-The end-

Where are we headed for?

A fabulous cartoon by El Universal's Rayma.

-The end-

Chavez Eternal Talk to the Nation

Every week Chavez has his talkshow. He talks for hours. He never goes to cabinet meetings. He does government through talkshow. All his ministers have to sit there in front of him. He talks to people from some place in Venezuela, he discusses all kinds of projects, he insults people present and not, he talks to journalists (although he does not allow real interviews), he sings, he tells stories about his childhood.

This time he announced he would celebrate the 10 years of his president-show by making an extra long one. He started yesterday Thursday and he will finish late on Sunday. Some Venezuelans who don't watch the show have asked themselves when he will do number 1 and number 2. Those who have seen a bit of it know that is what some folkloric dances are for.

Anyway, in the present show Chávez has already asked his versatile Minister of Information , Diosdado Cabello, when this is going to close down the only regime-critical TV station there is now, Globovisión (with a reach of 30% at most as it can only be seen in Caracas or via cable). So, expect that to be happening soon. Even a lot of Chavistas are having it hard to swallow that one, but then they don't dare to contradict the Jefe.

It would be a tragedy for Globovisión workers and yet I think the closing of this TV station would be good for us oppos in the long run: it would make many Venezuelans get out of their houses. Right now they are glued to the "oppo channel". Globo talks to the already converted.
And the opposition needs to go out and do something Chavez doesn't do in his eternal talk to the Nation: debate with it and actually listen to it.

Brazil's take over of Venezuela is starting, as previously reported here

I have been a little bit busy this week but I cannot resit a quick post to pat myself in the back. Commenting on an interview on Lula by Zakaria I wrote at the end:
...Venezuela is fast becoming a failed state while Brazil is threatening to become a world power. In a way a take over of Venezuela by Brazil would not be such a bad thing, you know.... I wonder how much of that subconscious thinking might have operated in Brazilian ruling class as they contributed to the demise of Venezuela (they will put the blame on Lula but too many went along this complacency toward Venezuela). Meanwhile woe is us in Venezuela because while Chavez squandered our possibly last historical opportunity Colombia and Brazil grew in strength. In a post Chavez Venezuela Bogota and Brasilia will fight over taking Venezuela under their area of influence.

Remember, ten years from now, you read it here first.
Now read what Miguel wrote yesterday about Chavez going hat in hand to ask Brazilian banks to bail him out.
Venezuela will get a loan from Brazil’s development bank Bndes in the amount of US$ 4.3 billion, guaranteed by Venezuela by fields from the Orinoco Oil Belt.

Even more clever for the Brazilians, the money will be used to finance projects (and pay debts!) being built by Brazilian companies in Venezuela and the first beneficiary will be Odebrecht, the Brazilian firm building subways systems around the country and which is owed a lot of money by the Chavez Government.
Right Miguel, you should read my blog with greater attention :) I am kidding of course about Miguel not reading. What I am not kidding about is that Chavez is mortgaging our future to Brazil and to Colombia. Maybe Colombia does not have an Odebrecht to weigh in but it is selling a lot of the ESSENTIAL food for Venezuelans, food we used to produce and do not produce anymore. As such Uribe holds Chavez by the balls, not to mention the content of certain laptops still not all public...... True, as some might argue Colombia could be left without the payment due, but I will still rather be a Colombian to whom money is owed than a Venezuelan looking at empty Mercal shelves.

See, we do not even have to wait for ten years to see it happening: right now, under our own eyes!

PS: Heck, and while I am patting myself on the back, let me also add that Elizabeth Burgos in Zeta said that Brazil and Colombia would split among themselves the left overs of Venezuela. She wrote that about 3 weeks ago. Sorry, no link available.

-The end-

Venezuela's Alpha and Omega II

Here you see another of my lousy charts where you see oil prices per month since 1983.
Venezuela's oil is usually cheaper than the average OPEC, WTI or Brent. The first bar indicates 1990. During most of that decade the average oil price was below $20 per barrel. Chavez got there when oil prices were the lowest for over a decade. Chavez still has a lot of resources at his disposal, but he cannot afford for long prices under 40. Venezuela's population has increased since 1998 in at least 6 million people and Chavez has to pay loyalties to many more in Venezuela and above all abroad.

Venezuela's Alpha and Omega

Thanks to a friend, here you have a graph on month-by-month oil prices from October 1998 to last month. I made the graph. I will try to make a better one when I get some time. You see OPEC, Venezuela and Brent prices for most of the time but there is some data mining for Venezuela's prices for some years. Still, the price can be deduce as it is usually just a little bit below OPEC prices and these a little bit below Brent ones (not always).

Chávez was elected in December of 1998. Before that oil prices had been around 12-15 dollars per barrel for almost one decade. 91% of Venezuela's foreign currency comes from oil exports and Venezuela imports almost all the rest.

The first red spot you see in the graph is the moment when former military coupster Chávez was elected. The second spot is when massive marches took place against Chavez. An extremist group used the 11 April march to stage a coup and Carmona became dictator for 2 days. Shortly after that the opposition tried for a long time to call for a referendum but the government did everything legal and illegal to prevent it and then to put it off while oil prices kept increasing. The referendum took place under international pressure at the moment you see marked with the third spot. Chavez's last referendum took place just two months ago. You see the last spot there. Notice oil prices today are for sales to be payed approximately in three months, so in March Venezuela was just "feeling" the prices of December.

Venezuela's average oil price is still several times higher than in the last decade before Chavez came to power. Still, now the Venezuelan government has been forced to start looking for loans abroad under very bad conditions.

A new blog

I 've just started a new blog in Spanish. This blog will be what I consider a "light blog", a blog that touches many personal life (but not private life) topics and that it will try, as possible, to not be related with my political side (since I have this blog for my political side). So HERE is the URL if you are interested and if you speak spanish of course. Enjoy it! and regards... Julia
PS: Don't click at the "click here to see the rest" option, there is no rest.

Iran blocks Facebook, shutting down political discussion

And you think that Chavez will not follow that example? Already chavismo is busy at work changing electoral laws to make it even more difficult for the opposition to challenge him. If you think closing Globovision will be enough, think again. IF Iran can close Facebook because too much electoral debate takes place there against Ahmadinejerk, wait for Chavez to close Noticiero Digital and other such political outlets as needed.

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United Nations and OAS complain

I usually don't refer to CNN as a reference, but this time it does have an article with a good review of things.

United Nations and OAS have produced a joined statement complaining about the Venezuelan government's threats to close down Globovisión, TV news station critical of the Chavez regime.

Venezuela's U.N. ambassador, Jorge Valero declared "we reject and condemn use of the name of such institutions as the U.N. and the O.A.S to attack member states while defending private monopolies that are accustomed to abuse of power and violating human rights". This statement by Valero is despicable. The "monopoly" means Globovisión is the only critical of Chávez nowadays on Venezuelan TV. Most people abroad ignore Globovisión can only be seen via open airwaves only in Caracas (and not all) and via cable in main cities. 70% of Venezuela's population has no way to watch Globovisión. The couple of newspapers where there is open criticism to Chávez also give the floor to Chavistas and anyway, they are read by few people in a country where people don't read even if they can. I wonder what human rights Valero wanted to defend.

The Washington Post Corners Obama and Clinton on Chavez

I am certainly willing to give President Obama some slack on his handling of the Venezuelan situation, but I am also on record that wishing Chavez away will not do. The honey moon period is over and the handshake with no aftermath at Port of Spain is now allowing Chavez to increase the pressure at home.

That is, after an initial good will at the Americas summit of Port of Spain, the lack of follow up is starting to have an effect and cause very justly the Washington Post to call on the policies of Obama and Clinton toward Chavez and Venezuela. I am posting below the complete editorial because I felt the need to highlight some of the important points, but the original is here. The editorial is so crystal clear that no further comments are needed.

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Is Silence Consent?

The Obama administration's 'engagement' policy is convenient for Hugo Chavez's latest crackdown. [There is no way around, the WaPo sets the blame straight]

WHILE THE United States and Venezuela's neighbors silently stand by, Hugo Chavez's campaign to destroy his remaining domestic opposition continues. On Thursday night state intelligence police raided the Caracas offices of Guillermo Zuloaga, the president of the country's last independent broadcast network, Globovision. They claimed to be looking for evidence of irregularities in the car dealership that Mr. Zuloaga also runs. In fact this was a thinly disguised escalation of an attack that Mr. Chavez launched this month against Globovision. The channel has been officially accused of "inciting panic," based on its accurate reporting of a mild May 4 earthquake in Caracas; under the regime's draconian media control law it could be shut down. Few doubt that that is Mr. Chavez's intent: Two years ago he revoked the license of the country's most popular television network after a similarly trumped-up campaign.

To recap: In February Mr. Chavez eliminated the limit on his tenure as president after a one-sided referendum campaign that included ugly attacks on Venezuela's Jewish community. Since then he has imprisoned or orchestrated investigations against most of the country's leading opposition figures, including three of the five opposition governors elected last year. The elected mayor of Maracaibo, who was the leading opposition candidate when Mr. Chavez last ran for president, was granted asylum in Peru last month after authorities sought his arrest on dubious tax charges. The National Assembly, controlled by Mr. Chavez, is considering legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining and replace independent trade unions with "worker's councils" controlled by the ruling party. Another new law would eliminate foreign financing for independent non-government groups.

This is hardly the first time that a Latin American caudillo has tried to eliminate peaceful opponents: Mr. Chavez is following a path well worn by the likes of Juan Peron and Alberto Fujimori -- not to mention his mentor, Fidel Castro. But this may be the first time that the United States has watched the systematic destruction of a Latin American democracy in silence. As Mr. Chavez has implemented the "third phase" of his self-styled revolution, the Obama administration has persisted with the policy of quiet engagement that the president promised before taking office.

"We need to find a space in which we can actually have a conversation, and we need to find ways to enhance our levels of confidence," Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. said two weeks ago, echoing earlier remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. We have no objection to dialogue with Mr. Chavez. But isn't it time to start talking about preserving independent television stations, opposition political leaders, trade unions and human rights groups -- before it is too late?

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Correa sees, Correa does

The fruit never falls too far from the tree.

Chavez is visiting this week end Ecuador. His arrival speech was worthy of the ones with see in cadenas lately, attacking freedom of expression, blasting the OAS and what not. All accompanied with copious lies and calumnies.

Correa emboldened by his new constitution and reelection is determined not to waste time and avoid "errors" made by Chavez. He announced that he will deal effectively with the Ecuadorean media and review any license, regardless of what the SIP, OAS or Human Rights organizations will say.

In other words the two donkeys are scratching each other getting ready to muzzle freedom of information AND freedom of expression, covering each other's back in front of the international criticism that will come.

Correa has been a good student, and more effective as he has guarded a certain distance with Chavez (he did keep the USD as Ecuador currency for example) to look a little bit more palatable than his master on the international arena. Then again he is better educated than Chavez which does not stop him from being of the same rotten fruit origin.

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It is not about the poor, it is about power (letter to a reader)

Dear Julian: Since you wrote your comment in Spanish, I'm starting the response with a rough translation of your comment (hope it is accurate enough) so that the rest of the readers can catch up with our talk:

“Well, I’m curious to know why you don’t like Chavez. In particular, which ones of his policies do you disagree with? We must remember that Chavez arrival to the national scene and his great political ascend comes in a context of decades of frustration with a ruling class that always acted in the name of the interests of the great business man, at the working class expense. For example, what Pérez did in 1989 with all the economical liberations and the change of the Bolívar price which made 80% of the population fell in an extreme poverty situation. We can speak about democracy and human rights but deep inside what’s happening is a war between classes on which the poor seem to be winning at the moment. And, how are you going to support an opposition that constantly closes hospitals and social missions that only serve the most vulnerable people? That doesn’t make any sense except that you don’t care about the poor...That the great Revolution continues!”

I’m sorry for the delay on answering to your comment. But I’ll start now, and I’ll go straight to the point.

You asked me why I don’t agree with Chavez. When Chavez aroused to the political scene by leading a failed coup d’ etat in 1992, I was 7 years old and lived nearby a military airport. The experiences I had that day were responsible of the political opinions I develop later. In that day I learned that a war is simply a painful, scary and a non desirable event; no matter the causes, no matter the reasons, its consequences are enough to drop the idea of a war. So when you speak about a war between classes and also cheer such thing I don’t have other choice but to be against. Please understand: it is not because I am against the poor. It is because I am against war, of all kinds under all excuses, no matter who wins and who loses.

But this, my blog, my stances, my life in Venezuela 17 years after that failed coup, is not all about Chavez. Chavez is just a man, and to be honest he’s not that important. What matters are the views and ideas sold carrying Chavez’ face in the cover. I think that those views are not suitable to provide a fair and stable political system that can bring some progress in my country.

In reality, there is no such thing as social classes. People make up different tags to categorize people, mostly according to their convenience and those categories are flexible enough to go beyond their original definition. Take the poor people for example. We all understand what “poor people” really means: people who lack something: economical resources, opportunities, you name it. But Chavez uses this worldwide known category and change slightly its definition. For Chavez the poor are not just the poor as we know it, the poor are also the “people”, the “Venezuelan people”, the only citizens of the country and the most important of all: the ones who agree with the Revolution.

The ones whose don’t agree with him, despite our incomes, are immediately tagged in the “enemies” class: “the rich people” who are not all really rich, but for sure there’s not even one revolutionary inside that group. And the Bolivarian Revolution has repressed in many ways the ideas, expectations, and civil rights of the ones tagged as “rich” (they can be students, politicians, reporters, employees) and I have to say this again: despite our incomes.

So this is not about being “poor” or “rich” or about being against the poor. This is not about taking sides. This is about what is fair, this about respecting everyone despite their ideas, their ethnicity and their incomes as well. I would rather have a political system that promotes inclusion instead of exclusion (doesn’t matter which is the group excluded), that doesn’t promotes hate or resentment and that simply looks forward to the future, to a future of more opportunities so that any Venezuelan can develop its life in the way we deserve: a way that is free enough to respect our desires and expectations but not free enough to disrespect others. I would rather have a system who is respectful of everyone’s ideas and that does not lose time categorizing someone as the “people” and another as the “enemy”.

As for Chavez’ programs in particular I’m not against Chavez because I’m against his social programs. I’m against Chavez because of his exclusion policy and his attempts against a democratic system. You should check this blog archives so you can read many first hand examples of that policy and of those attempts. I don’t have anything against any program that can systematically improve life conditions, as long as it is applied in a fair way, without discrimination of any kind and as long as it doesn’t force anyone to compromise himself with the revolutionary ideology. Chavez’ social programs pretend that is possible to buy a person, and turning it into a “revolutionary” individual by giving the bread he so desperately needs. But we, human beings are more than bread, and I hope not all of us can be bought. Plus, it is the government’ duty to guarantee a minimum of decent life conditions for all its citizens, we shouldn’t cheer a government so much for doing what he must do. We don’t cheer the bakery man for making the bread. It’s his job.

Last but not least, I wish you could tell me your source for the information you gave in your comment. The historical events are simplified and not quite accurate. Plus, the last paragraph when you blame the opposition of closing Chavez’ social programs it is simply far from being true. The opposition can be blamed for many things, but not for this matter.

Your comment ends cheering the Revolution, and in that way, it shows what it was truly obvious: that your comment is filled with an ideology. An ideology I don’t agree with, but even more: an ideology that the Bolivarian Revolution has spread worldwide, selling it as it were the truth. And that ideology has been sold as something beautiful, as something created to help the most vulnerable people. But it isn’t about that, it just about holding more power to the expenses of the ones who are against the Revolutionary System, again despite their incomes. It is not about the poor, it is about the power.

By writing this blog, I believe I’m making a contribution to the hard task of showing what it’s behind the Bolivarian Revolution ideology and events. I hope I can open some people eyes, according to my life experiences and perspectives. But it doesn’t matter if you can’t see what I’m seeing, you already read this. And that’s enough for me.

South Korean President kills himself

This will never happen to a Venezuelan president.

-The end-

100 years of Venezuelan presidents

Here I put the list of Venezuelan presidents of the past 100 years. Those with "M" were military by profession. Those with "C'" were basically civilians. Gómez used a couple of puppet presidents but I don't bother to write their names as Gómez was very much the one who controlled everything. Dictator Pérez Jiménez (a hero of Chávez) also used a puppet president firstly. I decided to write next to each year the name of the head of state who had ruled during all or most of that year.

From 2003 I could find the price of the OPEC oil barrel. I added that at the end. Notice Chávez has had higher oil prices every year with one exception, in 2001. That and his mismanagement triggered the events of early 2002. Oil prices have dropped since the end of 2008 and that is causing a lot of problems to the government, problems that are making it become more repressive. As the government is rapidly running out of money, it has been negotiating very bad deals for Venezuela. It has, for instance, accepted a Chinese "investment" which in reality means Venezuela gets several billion dollars now for it to give away oil for many decades to come. Notice Venezuela's government is now getting into these bad deals even though oil prices now are several times higher than in 1998, when Chávez was elected.

1909 M Gómez
1910 M Gómez
1911 M Gómez
1912 M Gómez
1913 M Gómez
1914 M Gómez
1915 M Gómez
1916 M Gómez
1917 M Gómez
1918 M Gómez
1919 M Gómez
1920 M Gómez
1921 M Gómez
1922 M Gómez
1923 M Gómez
1924 M Gómez
1925 M Gómez
1926 M Gómez
1927 M Gómez
1928 M Gómez
1929 M Gómez
1930 M Gómez
1931 M Gómez
1932 M Gómez
1933 M Gómez
1934 M Gómez
1935 M Gómez
1936 M López Contreras
1937 M López Contreras
1938 M López Contreras
1939 M López Contreras
1940 M López Contreras
1941 M Medina Angarita
1942 M Medina Angarita
1942 M Medina Angarita
1943 M Medina Angarita
1944 M Medina Angarita
1945 M Medina Angarita
1946 C Betancourt
1947 C Betancourt
1948 C Gallegos
1949 M Chalbaud
1950 M Pérez Jiménez
1951 M Pérez Jiménez

1952 M Pérez Jiménez

1953 M Pérez Jiménez
1954 M Pérez Jiménez
1955 M Pérez Jiménez
1956 M Pérez Jiménez
1957 M Pérez Jiménez
1958 M Larrazábal/Sanabria
1959 C Betancourt
1960 C Betancourt
1961 C Betancourt
1962 C Betancourt
1963 C Betancourt
1964 C Leoni
1965 C Leoni
1966 C Leoni
1967 C Leoni
1968 C Leoni
1969 C Caldera
1970 C Caldera
1971 C Caldera
1972 C Caldera
1973 C Caldera
1974 C Pérez
1975 C Pérez
1976 C Pérez
1977 C Pérez
1978 C Pérez
1979 C Herrera
1980 C Herrera
1981 C Herrera
1982 C Herrera
1983 C Herrera
1984 C Lusinchi
1985 C Lusinchi
1986 C Lusinchi
1987 C Lusinchi
1988 C Lusinchi
1989 C Pérez
1990 C Pérez
1991 C Pérez
1992 C Pérez
1993 C Lepage/Velásquez
1994 C Caldera
1995 C Caldera
1996 C Caldera $20,29 OPEC oil barrel average
1997 C Caldera $18,68
1998 C Caldera $12,28
1999 M Chávez $17,48

2000 M Chávez $27,6
2001 M Chávez $23,12
2002 M Chávez $24,36
2003 M Chávez $28,1
2004 M Chávez $36,05
2005 M Chávez $50,64
2006 M Chávez $61,08
2007 M Chávez $69,08
2008 M Chávez $94,45

2009 M Chávez $46,43 (currently $58,32)

Do you know how many Norwegian heads of state were military? None but for this.

Globber is not working properly and I have little time, so I post the comment to J. here:

I have no problem with posting your comment, on the contrary. I have deleted comments from people of different tendencies (pro or against Chavez) if they 1) have a blog that promotes hatred towards any religion, ethnic group or belief or 2) are promoting hatred themselves here.

To your questions:

"What is the point of detailing which presidents had a military background? Only about a dozen U.S. presidents did not have military backgrounds."

Firstly: one thing is "military background" and another "military background and nothing else".
I think most US presidents can be defined as having a different background than military. They could have served in the military, but most were before that lawyers, editors, there was even a mathematician (Washington). Washington was more than just a military become he went to arms.

Being a military is not a point to exclude a president nor having studied for engineering/law/etc a guarantee for being any good at all, but I do see a certain trend in Venezuela: the military has played an excessive role and once they are in, they hardly leave.

Even those in the US like Eisenhower and the like were surrounded by a whole bunch of people with a much firmer level of education than military matters.
In a country with a much lower level of education, having military leaders (specially those who planned a coup) with nothing else for education and who came to power via non-kosher methods (or became known because of that) is no good.

"As for the price of oil, it is not Venezuela that is solely responsible for its increase. I believe it has more to do with a current military conflict elsewhere in the world."

Oh, I perfectly agree. I just put the price of oil to explain how the popularity of any one president has greatly depended on the easy petrodollars he has had at his disposal. I will add more data on that later on.
Basically, all of Chavez's popularity is based on external factors, the corruption already present before him and Chavez TALK.

"As for president Perez Jimenez, under what conditions did he become president?
How is he remembered by many pre-Chavez Venezuelan politicians and Venezuelan citizens?

Many people saw him as a bloody dictator, which he was. Others saw in him "a man who ruled a Venezuela where one could leave doors open and there was law and order and prosperity and big construction works took place".

In reality those who saw Perez Jiménez positively don't realize Venezuela had less than 5 million people back then
and that problems that affect petro-states grow exponentially ceteris paribus. Pérez Jiménez, like many other presidents, also forgot the countryside and robbed a lot. Besides, he murdered and tortured quite some people.

"I lived in Venezuela for several years, I am also a Venezuelan citizen, I have no allegiance to Chavez or to anyone else, but I have witnessed the poverty that so many of the poor masses of Venezuela have been subjected to for decades and I do not understand why one would choose to malign a president who has taken it upon himself and his government to try to rectify that problem. I am not a communist, nor am I a socialist, it just seems that it is about time that something was done down there to change the status quo. "

I may be seen in the US sometimes as a communist, sometimes as a liberal or socialist, I have no allegiance with any political party and I come from a family that has always been critical and independent but at the same time people who have tried to give proposals.

I greatly criticized the governments that came before Chavez (there was basically no blogs back then, let's remember Chavez is in power since 1998). The fact they were very bad, very corrupt and oblivious of the poor does not mean I should praise this government. I am old enough to remember a bit the decade of the seventies and what oil booms in Venezuela do.
Chavez has been riding on the biggest oil boom in several decades and he has just given crumbles to the poor and a lot of resources have been wasted.

I am not a seer. When Carlos Andres Perez was elected in 1988 I was very sad and almost cried. I knew there were going to be riots very soon as people were thinking he would repeat the conditions of the seventies, which he couldn't. I also predicted very much the bloody coup of Chavez to the week.
I did not know Chavez at all, I could "read the signs on the wall".

Chavez still had no justification to carry out that coup, CAP was going out anyway and Chavez later did nothing to prosecute the military who organized the massive shootings of poor people.

"The only Venezuelans that I have heard complain about the current government are the "haves"; the "have-nots", or the poor if you prefer, love this man for their own reasons(education, health care, and finally, a say in their future for better or worse)."

Are you in the US? I did not check where you were coming from, but you should get around Venezuela more these days.
A couple of my relatives are still Chavez supporters, several others are very sorry they voted for him, others were always against him.

Take a look at this:
1) the poorest tend to be still with Chavez, but then +-70% of the population are considered as poor and Chavez got 55% of the votes. Not all those votes came from the poor.
2) the biggest divide is actually between the city and the countryside now, where the opposition has no reach via media . Petare is the biggest slum in Venezuela and yet it voted against Chavismo now.
Miguel Pena is a parish that is very poor, it has half a million people and 58% supported Chavez and 41% opposed him. Are those 41% haves? Not at all.

As for my relatives: half of them live in prefabricated houses with zinc ceilings, 2 of my grandparents were illiterate and my other grandmother, who could read and write, did two years of basic schools and was a single mother keeping up her children as a sewer.

My parents profited from free education and a free health system. They were, like Chavez's parents, teachers. Unlike what Chavez said to the foreign press, one did not have to go barefooted back then if one's parents were teachers.

Those systems were far from optimal but they basically collapsed when sinking oil prices and huge population growth strained the state budget.

As for education, I have written a lot in this blog. Please, browse a bit.
And specially tell me: how come a Venezuelan government can oppose the introduction of the PISA programme?
I tell you why: because it would show what a farce all those courses are and how the education in Venezuela, already very weak, has only deteriorated.
Have you analyzed the literacy numbers? The "literacy reduction" is a farce. I can go over the reasons why I say so, but please, try to see if you can find the data in the blog first.

One anecdote: once my sister had a poster of the opposition on her second-hand Fiat. A guy passing by in a brand new SUV shouted at her "capitalista de XXXX". Probably the guy would consider himself a man from the working class.

Yes, there are people from the Ancien Regime who are completely elitists, who did not care about the poor, etc, but that is not the majority in the opposition.

Chavez has been very popular because he has been able to do a Carlos-Andrés-Pérez II, with more populism still, but
1) inequality is worse (and my indicator is not so much the GINI but the corruption levels and the tripling of the murder rate, the biggest hike ever
2) education has worsened, programmes for getting some money and spending half the time learning about socialism and Chavismo is not the way to go, Venezuela stopped taking part in open evaluations of education in 1998
3) there is huge political mobbing, people who signed against Chavez have been sacked (do you want me to show you the video of Labor minister saying they should be sacked?), others
have been forced to march for Chavez
4) 10 years have been wasted without any plan for sustainable development

I have no time to go deep into all of this but if you please consider Chavez has done what he has done because he has had much more money than all the presidents in the last 20 years, then you will understand.

Expect much more repression in the coming months.


Some days ago I placed here a poll to ask your main national background. Although this blog is getting more and more visits, the vast majority are still lurkers. Anyway, in spite of that I got a response.

  • Most visitors are EU citizens
  • There are almost as many Venezuelan visitors and some of them have another nationality
  • The amount of US Americans is also important
  • There are also some Canadians, more than their share in the world's population
I can tell you from the data I have about the lurkers that:
  • The US is the major source of visitors
  • Germany is the EU country with the most visitors, followed by the UK
  • The only country in Europe from which I did not have a visitor this month was Serbia, I did have several Slovenian visitors!
  • There are visitors from most Asian countries, with exceptions in Central Asia and most Arab-speaking Middle East countries (but then hello Jordan and UAE!)
  • The continent with the least visitors is Africa, but there are some constant visitors from half a dozen countries
Now I will make another poll and I hope some more lurkers come and write what they want to read about regarding Venezuela and perhaps its European connection. If there are special requests, please write them down in the comments' section.

The home of Globovison owner searched


Mr. Zuloaga is a rich man with many business interests, besides being the main share holder of Globovision. One of his business seems to be Toyota dealer. As such he uses his own large garage as a temporary storage for cars in transit, cars with problems, cars with X. Apparently tonight he had 26 cars parked.

So the government, under the coward cover of yet another Chavez cadena, decided to search, at night what is basically a parking lot. I am not going into details or speculations as I am 99,99% sure that Mr. Zuloaga, a man targeted by chavismo for years, is very careful to avoid any personal business involvement that could be used against him. That is, long ago he has stopped doing any illegal activity that he might have ever done. To begin with he was already rich enough before Chavez came to power and he simply does not need to take additional chances for an extra buck under a regime willing to crucify him under any pretense. This is a non sequitur as already tonight all the proper documentation for the cars has been shown and he cannot be accused of hoarding 26 varied Toyota. I mean, please, give me a break.... If he were hoarding cars it would be a few hundreds in a far away parking.

No, the interesting stuff here is elsewhere.

This was done during a cadena and the cops arrived at the same time as VTV, the state propaganda TV. What a fortunate coincidence! I am sure they just happened to drive by Zuloaga house!

During the cadena Chavez announced yet a new wave of "nationalizations" which today mean basically robbery (see what happened with the oil industry contractors the last couple of weeks). Yes, that is right, for those of you that are a little bit dense Chavez was robbing folks just as he was trying to make Zuloaga look like a thief.

An extra hilarious detail for you: Marcel Granier went to court today to claim all the transmission equipment that was taken from RCTV two years ago when it was shut down. Then the government said that soon enough the equipment would be evaluated and paid to RCTV. Nothing ever happened of the sort, TVes shamelessly used the equipment free of charge and apparently did not keep it up the maintenance so there are reports of extensive damages that we can be sure will never be compensated by the thieves that run Miraflores. Mr. Granier also reminded public opinion that it had submitted ten documents to the high court and he is yet to receive a reply on any of his claim for justice 2 years after. That means in contemporary Venezuela that his claims are legit but the courts have not found a way yet to trump justice on his case, so they stall, violating the constitution by the way which requires speedy justice.

There are undoubtedly many thieves and crooks in Venezuela today, but the biggest ones are at Miraflores Palace and are protected by the harlot that presides over the High Court of Venezuela.

Update: Apparently the police took the cars away "for technical inspection". Technical inspection is unnecessary: if you have the papers it is easy to verify the serial number of the car. The police does that routinely on any Venezuelan highway on any truck or car they control in one the innumerable alcabalas (road blocks) set everywhere and which main objective is to skim the drivers' wallet. If indeed they detected something wrong, it was not necessary to get a dozen of tow trucks in the middle of the night: simply they would have taken with them the official papers, or put some seals or something. If the seals are broken Zuloaga goes to jail straight.

Now, the question is whehter Zuloaga will see the Toyoclub cars again. Judging from what happened RCTV I can bet anything that the cars he will eventually receive back will be missing something....

To its original note on the event Globovision has now added a video at the end where you can clearly see how the CICPC chief was present with VTV cameras to make a show of the event. I mean, with all the murders and other assorted crime in Caracas, the CICPC had to send its top brass to get a few cars? Gimme a break!!!!

Nationalizations: it must be bigger than what I thought at first because Miguel away on vacation found time to write an extensive post on it. Apparently it is YET another case of the government unable to fulfill is obligations that decides to take over its providers/clients. Gee, I wonder if I can take over my clients that I cannot provide with the services they require from me....

Now, what I saw last night late was the video of Chavez announcing the "nationalizations" and how the attendance danced and slapped each other hysterically as the robbery of private property was taking place in front of them, live. They might laugh today, we will see how they laugh in a few weeks from now. Ask the workers of SIDOR how they are laughing these days after having obtained the take over of Sidor..... In all fairness the room was rather small so it was easy for Chavez to pack it with hard core supporters and whip them into frenzy, even if they might be only political hacks and not actual employees of the stolen business. Still, it was extremely disturbing to see how class war was played and abetted by the regime. I will try to get that video, it is worth watching.

-The end-

The Hubble and Vietnam

Strange title, no? But my morning press review yielded two articles that I found strangely poignant as to what is happening in my poor country, and both unwillingly highlighting the Venezuelan sink hole.

Daniel Heninnger at the Wall Street Journal waxes rhapsodic over the 4th mission to fix the Hubble space telescope. And sadly the last one since it will not be worth fixing again this monument of science as Heninnger so justly calls what the Hubble has become, in particular for scientists like me.

I lived in Baltimore at the time where the Hubble was launched and when the Muller Building at the Johns Hopkins University was built. In fact, one summer I was biking almost everyday in front of the construction site one my way to lab, through sinuous and wooded San Martin Drive, wondering how nice it would be to be an astronomer and work on that project. I do have fond memories from my years at the Homewood Campus and the excitement over the Hubble is certainly one of the most elating moments. No scientist could remain immune to the magic of peering into the universe, in particular people like me peering into chromosomes, getting closer to the infinitely small if I dare to bring such a silly comparison.

But back on track. Henninger article is interesting because he contrasts one week of cheap bureaucratic infighting around such silly things as whether Pelosi knew, knew not or whether she is stalling in undignified way. While all these pettiness reigns in DC, as usual, a few miles North people were holding their breath at the true wonder of science and technology.

Here in Venezuela political infighting is way more degraded than in Washington and we have no solace in any true scientific or technological achievement as the "Venezuelan" satellite is 100% Chinese made and apparently is not working. In fact when we read that a hundred kids were food poisoned yesterday in what is supposed to give us pride, the bolivarian health cum education system, or that a chavista student says he is failing because his opposition teachers are after him, then we have to refrain our strong urge to cry. A country like that is never going to get even a small part in a project like the Hubble.

The other article is even more worrying as Roger Cohen basically espouses a mercantile splendid isolation as a way to engage the betterment of other countries. OK, he is not as crass as I put it, but in short he implies that the US should not be in a hurry in getting democratic results from other countries, just settle for them to get economic improvement for their populace. As such he looks at the Vietnamese success.

Roger Cohen might not realize it quite well, but he is advancing that periodic return of US society to an insulation of other countries woes, something understandable after the Iraq waste, but something in the end counterproductive as there is always a Pearl Harbor in the horizon, even if today the date has been shifted from December to September.

He includes Cuba and Iran in what is a possible accommodation, one that should even be easier than the one operated with Vietnam who now even sends its military to visit US military. Once we can overcome yet another evidence on how Venezuela is becoming irrelevant, we can also see how this is wrong as Venezuela is still a country where adequate pressure can go much further than in long held autocratic regimes such as Iran or Cuba. But in Cohen's mind Chavez is more of a gnat than anything else, he has no more time for us.

And can we blame him? Not only we put up with Chavez antics, but we keep voting him back in office. For the world it is quite clear: we deserve what we are getting and the world has moved on, knowing full well that eventually like Vietnam we will come back, hat in hand, but without the Vietnamese culture which has allowed the country to recover. Perhaps the most interesting comment in the whole Cohen piece is that positive Vietnamese outlook to the present and future, whereas the outlook that Chavez tries to impose on us is so strongly anchored in a past that did not even exist that we are left with an additional cultural burden that I do not see how we can get rid of it.

Cohen writes:
No, only culture, that inadequate word, can explain Vietnam’s ability to look forward. In Buddhism and Confucianism, which suffuse Vietnamese life, the present and future are prized.
What can we write on Venezuela today, free of any sloganeering, something that would reflect a core value of our people, something that might allow us to get out of the ditch we have fallen in because an oil driven drunken stupor that started half a century ago? What suffuses Venezuelan culture today is quick fixes and a love for the "send it over".

-The end-

Another day, another successful march, and a few fascist moments

Briefly. The democratic touch first.

The main campus of Venezuela decided to hold today a protest march today to protest the education cuts which probably might not even cover payroll. This in a climate where other cuts that coudl be well undertaken are not done. I think in particular about the military spending of which we have not heard any significant decrease, or the checks to the leeches of our country, namely Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Argentina. Not to mention that significant funds could be freed for education and health if Chavez were willing to sell gas at cost.

Considering that today was a week day and that as usual all sorts of threats took place, the march was a great success. BBC Mundo has a long report without qualifying the attendance but there is a telling picture.

The fascist touch now.

In an unusual move the corresponding minister, Luis Acuña, had agreed to receive the president of the Venezuelan major universities. However the march was directed to stop at X point and send a committee of 8 representatives. They accepted of course and sent such committee led by UCV president, Cecilia Garcia Arocha. UCV is the largest and oldest Venezuelan university. So far so good. But when these poor 8 souls reached the offices of Acuña they were met by a minister surrounded by a high number of chavista students allow to carry all sorts of boards insulting the march outside. Insulting boards quickly joined with insulting language.

Of course, the 8 guys quickly realized that they were wasting their time and walked out, with strong declarations against an education minister who allows himself to be a instrument of division, and ignorance I will add. Garcia Arocha had no qualm calling the meeting "a trap".

But in the deserted UCV campus there was activity. A group of hooded thugs did capture UCV buses, apparently had themselves taken to the UCV main square, started shooting and burning the buses, before they eventually withdrew, guns in open sight. Globovision has even a video amateur by some of the personnel left in campus.

The reactions? The Minister of interior, Tareck El Aissami, blamed it all on the UCV authorities. Yeah, right, he probably had not seen the video yet... Besides, one would like to see El Assaimi equally worried about the crime wave that we all suffer in Venezuela except people like him who get all sorts of bodyguards at tax payer expenses.

While all these were taking place Chavez grabbed 35 more oil industry supplier, in a move that is simple robbery, the type of robbery that an interior minister in Venezuela would be well advised to investigate.

But is it all worth it? I doubt it as today 107 students of a "bolivarian" school were intoxicated by the snack served them that morning.

As good fascists chavistas have become, their only care is to preserve their power. The rest of the country is to be mocked, to be put in jail, to be robbed or to be left alone to stare death from crime or food poisoning. The people do have a choice for their fate, don't they?

-The end-

My vote and the Venezuelan government

My vote, like the vote of thousands of other Venezuelans abroad, has not been reported yet by the CNE, the National Electoral Council. The referendum took place in March of this year and since then the government has ignored Venezuelans' petitions (even handed over by registered letter) to publish those results. In fact, the government hasn't reported on Venezuelans' votes abroad of 2007.

Why? Is it perhaps because they cannot cheat so easily with votes of Venezuelans abroad?
Is it because Minister Maduro said most Venezuelans abroad signed a petition in support of Chavez when that is just a blatant lie? Is it because they want us to become tire and stop voting?

A little walk on memory lane

Reader R.D. pointed out this little WSJ piece published April 19 of 2002, of all days! Tunku Varadarajan makes a better point than I could do myself about how useless it is to blog in Venezuela, no matter what side you blog for. Make sure you read it all the way to the end.

-The end-

The NYT and El Pais joining the fray on describing Chavez woes and turpitudes

We read Forero at the WaPo and Langellier at Le Monde. Now it is Simon Romero's turn at the New York Times to list all of Chavez foreign policy woes. Note: he really does not write on the internal woes and the repressive recent nature of the regime so we can expect a future entry on that matter any time soon.

And let's not forget the recent editorial of El Pais who criticizes sternly and strongly the latest "cultural" moves of the regime as being those of a dictatorship. El Pais knows very well what Franco did to Spain and they are not amused by such things as Chavez libraries purification and their restocking with certain type of titles only. The title of the editorial? "Caudillo Chavez". A clearer hint at the fascist nature of the chavista regime cannot be written.

With that we have 4 left of center major newspapers based in the capital of their countries, political and/or financial, who have chastised Chavez in no ambiguous terms within barely a week, and each with more or less a different angle. We just need an article by the Guardian to complete the set of the 5 biggies (no other capitals have papers with that international notoriety, though with the same quality or better, but that is another topic). And this just as Chavez is preparing to close Globovision while pursuing his other unpalatable measures and constitutional violations. You can imagine the coverage then...

Hugo, forget about help from the democratic left: they are on to you! Not that you were counting on it anymore, but now they might even be militant against you. Something about all the people all the time, you know....

-The end-

A signature for Aung San Suu Kyi

Regular readers of this blog know that I do not use it as a trampoline for my pet causes. All but one, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Even though I do not agree with all the causes that AVAAZ supports (and I have had exchanges with them, so at least they do reply to complaints), I will urge you to click here and sign a petition to support Aung San Suu Kyi who is going to go through yet another mock judicial travesty. You support victims in Venezuela, you must also support victims in Burma, a situation that could well be in our future... This also go for you the PSF pretending not to read this blog! Even if you want jail for Rosales have at least the decency to support Burma freedom.

I know, I know, maybe signing yet another petition is useless. But what else can we do? Think that the pressure of these petitions is not really on the savages that preside over Burma, but on their supporters.

-The end-

In a blog near you soon?

Enigmas Press managed by a former Chavez sympathizer signing Gandica offers to CONATEL a way to certify that blogs written in Venezuela are written according to the wishes of "el pueblo revolucionario/bolivariano/whatever suitable adjective".

You know, the way things are, let's not be surprised if someone in the government starts soon talking about blog registration and control. Let's not forget that this the government that did not dare contradict Pedro Carreño when he claimed that Direct TV had a camera in their decoders to monitor all what we did at home.

-The end-

The superficial Venezuelan voter?

Tal Cual's Weil has a killer cartoon today. Related to another cartoon that I posted a few weeks ago.

In this cartoon folks are debating the merits of PC versus Mac, in superficial terms (It is more beautiful! But it is more expensive!). No need to translate it as you all have been subjected to such ridiculous "debates". The thing is that around my daily life I hear a lot of such stupid avoidance of reality, and as such the Weil title "Debates as communism is becoming imminent" hits a chord with me.

At least in Yaracuy you would be hard pressed to find someone with a political opinion, and even less with the will to do something about it. At times I delude myself at being the lone opposition as local rags write on silly subjects such as "bolivarian councilmen to form an association". Truly? What for?. Of course if you scratch a little bit you will find that some of the workers I direct seem to be much, much less chavista than they used to be. But a worrying passivity has submerged the state as Julio Leon, our new governor starts timidly to put up his name on more billboards. The surprise is that with a slashed opposition he does not appear more prominently, I suppose a good point to grant him. Or maybe he is just too focused on a national career and is already plotting his next move.

We are harvesting in Yaracuy the results of the opposition debacle in November. Lapi and his movement are nowhere to be seen and for all practical purposes they seem to be both exiled in Peru. Capdevielle and Primero Justicia who sponsored his mortal candidature have left the state, abandoning us to our fate after having sunk us. UNT has too many problems where it already thrives to seek new grounds here.

Outside of Caracas and Zulia I do detect a general resignation. Still, you would be even harder pressed to find elation at the communist coming except for the paid professionals that "grace" any chavista rally as he takes over this or that. Right now, that is the only positive element, along Ledezma toughness, that I can report. However something is simmering.... you know, like the cliché "calm before the storm".

-The end-

From Paris: Le Monde blasts Chavez

In France they have long stopped buying it. Now they are starting to criticize it seriously, at least in the press. Of course, you can always cont on, say, Total to ignore what is in front of them, but that is another story.

Le Monde correspondent in South America, Jean-Pierre Langellier, wrote a fabulous review of what is going on in Venezuela, how Chavez is running a bankrupt country and how his only solution is to steal from people he owes to and silence criticism, either through a flow of insults or actually silencing them. If you read French do not miss it, if not try the translate tool of Google. The title by itself is so French: "la fuite en avant d'Hugo Chavez". It is one of those great political conceptual sayings like "fin de règne" which have enriched political and historical language so much.

The literal translation would "the escape forward" which would be best rendered as "fleeing forward". That is right, instead of solving existing problems Chavez prefers to create new ones in the hope that old problems are forgotten. But when the country is bankrupt without any prospect of economic prosperity anytime soon to compensate the deficit, creating new problems will not work at all and instead aggravate much faster the situation. To truly Chavez recent moves look much more like fleeing away hoping that reality does not catch up with him. By the way, Miguel tells us about this possible bankruptcy. Let's say that I am not as optimistic as he is since we do not actually know the extent of Chavez financial commitments, either at home or over seas. I see it closer.

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PISA for Venezuela, education for Venezuela

On 18 and 19 May, Mr Andreas Schleicher, head of the OECD Indicators and Analysis Division, will talk at the Universidad Central de Venezuela about the PISA programme. He is the creator and director of that programme. PISA has helped to improve education policies around the world. You can read something about it in The Economist here and there are many other articles about it in German, Dutch, Russian and Spanish out there.

I hope Venezuelans will finally dare to introduce transparency to education in Venezuela. I hope with all my heart the PISA programme sets foot in Venezuela and the Chavez government abstains from wrecking it, from interfering, from manipulating or preventing others from contributing.

The only countries in South America that still are not taking part in this programme are Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.

I had already written about this programme here and here

Please, help us distribute this idea in Venezuela. I wrote about it in Spanish here.

Surprise! Caracas gauleiter Faria acts like... a gauleiter!

Jacqueline Faria is today a very busy woman. In addition to the small task of running Caracas she must now tend to the more strategic task of securing the CANTV telecom company which controls all the phone numbers needed to be spied on by the government as well as all the data transmission that flows at election time, to make sure that results are duly filtered for the dear beloved leader scrutiny.

We thus should not be surprised that she is delegating fast her Caracas responsibilities to true and tested chavistas, preferably from the outgoing administration that was duly defeated at the polls. Of course polling results are now worthless in Venezuela: the disastrous and corrupt Barreto administration of Caracas sunk the electoral chances of Isturiz last November but that should not be an obstacle for some of its appointees to return to their job. Ledeznma attempt at putting some order in the corruption and incompetence carnival that Caracas town hall had become was just a mere short disturbance.

Friday it was the turn of the Firemen department to be placed under the control of the Revolution. Faria made no secret of it when she said in her speech to the firemen, many booing her, this classic B.S. of people of her mettle:

"We aim at getting the Firemen rid of capitalistic wishes" (Pretendemos deslastrar a los bomberos de deseos capitalistas)

"You need to abide by the disciplinarian rules, if not we will apply sanctions. We came with an order from Chavez and we are going to make it happen"(Ustedes tienen que atenerse a las normas disciplinarias, si no tendrán que someterse a sanciones. Vinimos con una orden de Chávez y la vamos a cumplir)

"We came to impose the socialism policies to the Firemen. Fatherland, socialism or death" (Vinimos a imponer la política socialista en los bomberos. Patria, socialismo o muerte)

"The tradition that a retired chief was never named [brought out of retirement to preside the corps] is a value of the capitalist world. I am sorry that I cannot consider your prayer, we came, under Chavez orders, to establish socialist policies here and everywhere else. We took an executive decision, not one that is discussed in assemblies and that is our way to do things"(La tradición de que nunca se había nombrado un comandante jubilado es un valor del mundo capitalista. Lamento no atender su súplica, nosotros vinimos, por orden de Chávez, a establecer la política socialista aquí y en todas partes. Tomamos una decisión ejecutiva, no una que se discute en asamblea y esa es nuestra forma de ser)

So there you have it, EXACTLY what a gauleiter would do/say. Interpretation of her words are totally unnecessary. This is not like the work of a communist commissar who at least speaks in the name of the party, this is a gauleiter who speaks in the name of the leader of the nazi/fascist/totalitarian system in place.

But this is not all, and there is insult added to injury. The new director of the Firemen is accused by his now subordinates to be a corrupt and a sexual harasser. Even Jacqueline Faria recognized that he is accused of sexual harassment but simply dismissed it: "I knew about that, but there is still no ruling" (Ya yo sabía de esta denuncia, pero aún no hay sentencia)

In a stunning video published by Globovision one of the Firemen Department captains narrates how the new socialist Firemen chief, Martinez, harassed his wife. He also accused him of all sorts of corruption under the Barreto regime, going as far as accusing the maneuver of Faria as a way to gain time to erase all evidence.

How can a woman like Faria simply appoint someone accused, dossier in courts, of sexual harassment? If she really wants him to serve and really thinks he is innocent, can she just announce a temporary nomination of someone else and have the courts decide on Martinez before appointing him?

The thing is that Faria is not a woman anymore. And I do not mean this in any sexist way: she is not a man either, she simply is losing her humanity. That is what serving regimes like the one of Chavez does to you, they destroy your humanity. A worthy Nazi Gauleiter indeed.

PS: What about a reader contest in describing the difference between a capitalist fireman and socialist fireman? I cannot tell you how offended I am by the amazingly crass attempt at politicizing the fire department of all civil servants! Un-f*****g beleivable!

-The end-

Winston Churchill quotes of use in today Venezuela

I was checking on the veracity of a Winston Churchill quote that I wanted to use for a post and I found a collection of them in the net. Just becasue it is Saturday, and I want to rest, I thought that after the hectic two weeks we had we can use a break of rationality. In no particular order, and not quite up to your imagination on why I selected them and why do I think them relevant for this blog.

On this blog style

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.

On Venezuelan current politics

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

On Chavez and chavismo

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

To the PSF and chavistas stuck on April 2002 and "la cuarta"

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.

To those who cannot make up their mind on Chavez

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.

Advice to Chavez

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.

We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.

For those who think help will come from elsewhere

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

On this blog and its blogger :)

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.

Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it.

I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

And for this self sufficient blogger

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

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