It is raining, a lot.....

We are starting to face an emergency.  Not as bad by far as the one in 1999, but impressive nevertheless. 

The difference with 1999 is that it might be raining more, significantly more in some areas, than in 1999, but the rain is somewhat more even, more like a continuous never ending strong drizzle to outright rain but no real monsoon as 1999 was at times.  Here in San Felipe it has been raining at least 8 hours a day since last Saturday when I came back from a local trip (it was raining already when I was away, everyday, for several hours).  Last night it started raining at 6 PM and never let go until dawn.  I had to wait for a slight lull to walk the dog and we still managed to get both wet.  Tonight it has started again at around 8 PM.  But that is at home, in Caracas it has been pouring and elsewhere in Yaracuy rains were strong enough that the highway between San Felipe and Barquisimeto is closed as a bridge went down.  Today I saw some old trees down with the weight of the water!

Miranda Governor, Capriles Radonski, on the disaster sites.
Of course the regime has been caught again unprepared.  And pissed off at being caught once again they find nothing else to do but to rob a relief convoy to Falcon state, North of here, where the damage has been the worst so far.  The convoy of food and clothes was organized by opposition charities cordianted by Leopoldo Lopez of Voluntad Popular, imagine that!!!  But of course we all know that only the bolibanana revolution is allowed to have solidarity thoughts.  It is a disgrace to watch how the regime is trying to turn this into a political contest with outright lies.

Unfortunately the pictures of hands down, and wet pants, are with opposition governors, Elias Jaua, the infamous vice president, seems to be quite dry as he attacks the opposition.  A new low...........

Caught red-faced

That's the only way you can catch it: red-faced. The Ateles Paniscus, Red-Faced Spider monkey or mono araña negro is a threatened South American species. It lives in the Amazonas jungle and can be found also in the jungles of Southern Venezuela, close to the Río Negro.

The one in the picture speaks Brazilian Portuguese, but it is basically the same.

Venezuela on wikileaks

As expected, wikileaks is not going to be good news for Chavez.  So far there is one cable that addresses Venezuela, at the very end of that cable.  It is a French assistant to Sarkozy and he says earlier that Iran is a Fascist regime (Duh!) and that:

13. (C) Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "crazy" and said that even Brazil wasn't able to support him anymore. Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into another Zimbabwe.
Any reader of this blog has known this for years....

And there is no surprise that the French officials also knew that even if they did not mention this in public.  Why would the French think that of Chavez, besides the obvious reasons?  Because the French have lost a lot of business and have been robbed blind and because they know very well that whatever has been taken from them is doing bad, really bad on occasion, and deteriorating fast in the other cases. A short list (note, I mention "sources" but they merely confirm what is now vox populi in papers like Tal Cual):
  • The jewel in the crown of French business in Venezuela was the once upon a time gleaming Caracas Metro system.  In spite of all the warnings made by the French the Chavez regime has not taken good care of the Caracas Metro, has refused to invest properly and has used the Metro  as a way to graft through the Brazilians who are now in charge of building the new metro stations.  Needless to say that the current catastrophic conditions are not a surprise.  Yet, wen finally the regime realized that something had to be done, early last year, it was an inexperienced Spanish company that got the deal for renovation, even though they had no access to French technology, and as far as we know, had not made any attempt at dealing with he French.  Sure enough, nothing much has been done, the Metro kept degrading and now my sources confirm that the Spaniards are trying to work out a deal with the French who are now setting their conditions (and asking for additional money to the one already spent by the Spaniards with no result on sight).
  • The French group Casino was establishing successfully a distribution network in Venezuela though hyper markets EXITO and lower sized neighborhood CADA.  When Mercal and PDVAL roved to be failures Chavez simply took over EXITO and CADA although there are efforts to retain some French management participation.  My sources told me that CASINO will not get air price, that corruption is already present, that efficiency is down, etc, etc....
  • The giant Lafarge group had cement factories in Venezuela.  Those were taken over two years ago.  Today there is a shortage of cement in Venezuela EVEN THOUGH we are in recession and construction is way down from two years ago.  You draw your own conclusions.  But another contact told me that the top of the line ovens left by the French are out of order because of reckless usage.
  • And let's not talk about all that France has lost in the oil business and how Venezuelan conditions are so bad that even the collaboration still attempted cannot prosper.  I have no sources there but we only need to read the oil entry numbers in the US and elsewhere to confirm that decline of Venezuelan oil exports.
The French, more than any other country KNOW that Venezuela is on its way to Zimbabwization.

Whistle blowers or prime donne?

Everyone seems to have a post on Wikileaks, so there is mine.

I am not impressed.  But I am impressed by a lot of idiotic reactions to the "revelations".  I think that Assange is a creep and that Wikileaks is not doing a service at all to the world with these revelations.  As for the asshole that dumped all on wiki people, may he rot in jail until the end.

What people seem to forget is that there is a significant difference between a whistle blower and someone seeking notoriety, a prima donna like Assange.  A whistle blower does its job properly.  He selects among the documents those that are truly relevant, builds a case to his best knowledge and then exposes this or that, focusing on what is important, protecting the innocent or at least the unwillingly involved.  What Assange did was to dump it all, to select a few newspapers (why not the WaPo?  why Le Monde instead of Liberation?), put their editors on the spot, and make sure his name appeared in every political blog.  The ultimate ego trip for a nerd with personality problems and a deep hatred of the USA (where are the Iran wikileaks?  Would wikileaks publish with such a fanfare the Cuba-Venezuela cables?)

What is also quite impressive is that those cables revealed so far only are only ridiculing many public officials but are not giving stuff good enough to bring down governments.  I am not surprised, and if the mountain is giving birth to a mice it is because most people have no idea how diplomacy is run, beginning with the Assange of the world.  All embassies in the world, from any country, are legal moderate spying agencies.  Period.  Thus, their bureaucrats are under the need to provide intelligence over the country they are posted at and since you need to send stuff regularly to justify your paycheck, eventually you start checking out gossip, and if such gossip has a kernel of truth it also becomes part of the daily cable to the Home office.  One must trust the Home office to pick what really matters.  The real spying takes place somewhere else.

But the worst damage that wikileaks did is that whistle blowers, the real ones, will have a much harder time in the future.  Not only the US but all foreign services will become more careful about their data and malfeasance will be much harder to expose.  What wikileaks has done is to turn diplomacy into glorified gossip and as such the real stuff will shift away from what are after all nice diplomats to more shady characters that do not feel obliged to respond for their actions.  A dangerous proposition in the best of times.

A Chavez foot note.  He is at it, hysterically demanding Hillary to resign and accusing the US of immorality, forgetting to check his own immoral foreign service.  In fact, what is probably upsetting Chavez is that he is not at the center of US concerns.  Not at all in fact.  And someone with the ego of Chavez cannot stand to be a mere irritant at best.

While the World is reading Wikileaks

I find most of the Wikileaks so far non-news. You could have inferred most from reading some alternatives sources in English plus non-English, non-Latin language press. It is just very telling so many people in the West are impressed by the "revelations". There are some concrete issues that particular organisations have to deal with. The German Liberal Party (FDP) now knows a young member of their negotiation team with the CDU is giving confidential information to the U.S. Americans. Everybody knows now that Khadaffi's blond nurse is Ukrainian. We also know now Prince Andrew was quite rude particularly during a certain visit to Central Asia. The unkosher-unhalal-un-Catholic ways of putting pressure on foreign countries? The request for DNA material, details that would allow spying on UN and all the rest? Nothing new. If you want to read a good analysis on the Wikileaks about the Middle East, read Fisk.

Some of the world events I found most interesting and which escaped the attention of most are these:

  • Haiti's elections became an absolute farce. If you speak German or even if you don't, watch this (from 16:31, Wahl stürzt Haiti ins nächste Chaos). Lots of countries and organisations are profiting from pretending to help Haiti. Some of them even believe they are helping. Few actually do something effective, like Oxfam or Doctors without Borders. Carroll wrote a good article about aid agencies in Haiti (see here).
  • Egypt's elections became a farce as well. Read again Fisk for that one here.
  • Two nuclear technology specialists in Iran were killed. Iran says they were killed by Israel (Mossad someone?). Others say they were killed by the Iranians themselves in their internal struggles.
  • I wonder how China's government will be so interested in the Koreas becoming reunified, as the US employees think. I am not so sure that is the case. If North Korea joined South Korea, China would have a pluralistic country much closer to Beijing. This could set out dynamics not so wanted by the PCP.

Libros como medida de desarrollo - Books as measure of development

Hoy leo en el periódico El Carabobeño que en Valencia se clausuró la VI Feria Internacional del Libro de Venezuela. En esa feria no solo se podían comprar libros, sino también escuchar conciertos, presenciar obras de teatro y comprar artesanía.

Today I read in newspaper El Carabobeño that the 7th International Book Fair of Venezuela just came to an end. At the Fair you could not only buy books, but also go to concerts, attend a theatre piece and buy some handicrafts.

El diario nos dice que hubo "más de 4000 visitantes". Son menos de cinco mil.

The newspaper tells us there were "more than 4000 visitors". That is less than 5 thousand.

Por otra parte, leo que en la Feria del Libro de Amberes hubo más de 184 mil visitantes. Amberes apenas tiene un tercio de la población de Gran Valencia. Es verdad que poca gente en Venezuela va a ir desde Caracas o Barquisimeto a Valencia en una visita de un día y en Bélgica la gente puede ir fácilmente en tren entre ciudades principales. Es verdad que Venezuela, pese al consumo per capita de whisky que tiene, es un país pobre. Aun así: el número de visitantes en la feria de Venezuela es irrisorio.

Somewhere else I read the International Book Fair of Antwerp had over 184000 visitors. Antwerp has just a third of the population Greater Valencia has. It is true few people in Venezuela will travel from Caracas or Barquisimeto to Valencia for a day whereas in Belgium people can easily travel between major cities. It is true Venezuela, in spite of its per capita whisky consumption, is a poor country. Even so: the number of visitors in Venezuela' fair is just laughable.

La Feria tuvo lugar en lo que fuera el Ateneo de Valencia, un centro cultural al que yo solía ir cuando era chico.

The Fair took place in the Ateneo de Valencia, a cultural centre I used to visit as a child.

El Ateneo fue tomado por el régimen chavista hace unos años y no ha vuelto a ser lo que era antes.

The Ateneo was taken over by the Chávez regime a few years ago and it isn't been what it used to be.

Hubo un concurso de lectura y los organizadores - funcionarios chavistas - dieron como premio un libro titulado "Las Mejores Cartas de Amor entre Manuela y Simón" (Bolívar).

There was a reading competition and the organizers - Chávez's functionaries - gave as prize a book with the title"the Best Love Letters between
Manuela and Simón (Bolívar)".

Supongo que los ganadores tienen que estar agradecidos por no haber recibido Cómo salir del laberinto, del militar Hugo Chávez.

I reckon the winners should be thankful they did not get "How to get out of the Labyrinth", by military Hugo Chávez.

Eva Golinger, The Hague and me

There are certain issues that will not be solved by a vote, no matter how often we vote. Watching Eva Golinger last Tuesday in cadena reminded me of a problem that we need to solve: what would we do with some chavistas if in 2012 or earlier Chavez leaves the presidency?
From the New York Times, see text

A couple of months ago I was invited to a farewell party of an official that I used to deal with, in an embassy that shall remain nameless because really, that is not the point here. The fact of the matter is that when I arrived most people were in the main rooms chatting amiably, drink in hand. And on one balcony there were two people alone, visibly standing apart. After a while, as the room was becoming a tad warm for my taste we moved closer to the balcony and there I recognized Eva Golinger talking to some guy who my companion recognized as one of these VTV folks specialize in awful micros bashing the opposition.

Once upon a time, maybe 5 years ago, I might have tried to engage Eva Golinger. After all the venue was safe enough that both of us would have to behave and still be able to tell each other a piece of our mind. There was a time, before chavismo promoted her as Caracas Rose, that Eva was not above writing to bloggers. But that night I had absolutely no wish to meet her, and even less to talk to her. And apparently no one else, except for the hosts who took turns to talk to her and her VTV co-guest. Why did I not want to talk to her? It is true that today it is more dangerous in that she could be tempted to trace me down and report me as a NED recipient or who knows what other baseless accusation she could come up with, her specialty today as last Tuesday so sickly established. As much as this might have been a consideration, it was not the most important: the fact of the matter is that really, I had no desire to talk to her. Period. No interest, nothing to say, and likely nothing I wanted to hear. If Eva had anything to tell me she has my address, she can write to me again and she knows I will not be rude. But from what I saw that night, she preferred to be in a corner on her own, a vivid representation of the social apartheid that the country has become, courtesy of people like her.

In fact at some point another guest arrived, a noted journalists that was close to the regime but who distanced himself since 2007.  He, at least, went to greet Eva and her companion but the exchange was brief, limited clearly to a hi!, how-are-you-doing nice-to-see-you-her talk-to-you-later. She was in a social ghetto, making me wonder how come she actually decided to come.

But to this scene I can add another scene reported here during the world cup. This blog correspondent there sent me that banner displayed in South Africa against Chavez, plus the tales of the local police trying to remove such displays (apparently there were chavistas in attendance and they seem to have been much busier in monitoring banners flown than any soccer playing on the grass). The censored banner read "Chavez, te espero en La Haya", Chavez, I await you at the Hague [seat of the international court of justice, the leitmotiv of Diego Arria].

My correspondent wrote to me how upset they were at the local police trying to stop those displays, though in all earnest I am sure that they were willing to stop any political display whatsoever. I probably failed to be as sympathetic as could have been because if truth be told I was torn in between the need to remind the world all the time what a fraud Chavez is, and the need to preserve the World Cup from a political arena. Objectivity is hard to come by, you know….

And thus here I am left to wonder about how we can try to bridge that political chasm that Chavez has imposed upon us. From my days as a student in France I had no problem to talk to communist students (yes, the Communist party was still something then, strong enough in campus to try to sell me subscriptions to L’Humanité). Though of course then I had little affinity to commie students, my circle of friends was an even mix of socialists and RPR and we all got along just fine, playing Tarot for hours and hiking as spring came. In my US years I was clearly on the Liberal side but I always managed to have Republican friends. Not of the fundamentalist variety to be sure, but Republicans nevertheless, even gay ones!

But in Venezuela today whenever I suspect any one from chavismo I simply let it go, try to find the necessary polite excuses not to talk to them further than the very strict necessary.

Why can’t I deal with them? Sometimes I think that it is for the same reasons that I could never deal with any religious fundamentalists, with what is for me an abhorrent mind set of submitting oneself willingly, unquestioningly to a book or a leader. But it goes further because in Venezuela the consequences of 11 years of chavismo are for all to see. We are not in Nazi Germany where quite a few people could claim with some credibility that they did not know what was going on in death camps (at least until 1940-41). There is too much media today, too much Youtube to plead such ignorance even if you are too poor to have access to Youtube or a TV set. People know in Venezuela that something is rotten and yet...  Let’ look at the fantastic report of Simon Romero about the Waraos living off the garbage in Puerto Ordaz. Eva Golinger does not know that? Is it not fit to print in her English version of “Correo del Orinoco”?

She could actually print that these Waraos are still reported as supporting Chavez no matter what. After 11 years of “revolution”, still eating people’s waste and still with “mi comandante”. The mind reels… But I could talk to these people still, I did so as much as I could when I was myself in Delta Amacuro. They are not the problem, they are permanent victims and the mere fact that Chavez acknowledges their existence better than anyone else did in the past might be enough for them, even if that is all what he does, acknowledging their existence while those who should know better like Nohemi Portocarrero fawn in Guajiro gown all over Chavez. My gripe is more toward the Golinger and Flores and Cabello and Ramirez of Venezuela who have no excuse in standing up to Chavez and denounce the incompetent programs that are still leaving so many native American eating trash. The problem here is that these are so deep in denial that they prefer to hide in corners when at some reception where the welcome flag is not red.

How many chavista are like them? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Will we need some day a dechavistation program? Psychologically people who have deluded themselves willingly and willfully for so many years must be affected in their sanity and simply cannot be recovered for society. Not even a future chavismo without Chavez, when the extraordinary abuses of this regime will finally be exposed, verified and condemn, can have use of such people.

Even reddish shoes, Dorothy!
Their road to degradation can easily be traced, and we can probably point out the moment when Chavez got them for good, once and for all. Since Eva Golinger is the most recent example we can see how it is to follow when she was a nobody, circa 2001 to now preside one of the most egregious events in Venezuelan formal history, be the center piece, all in red, including her scarf, and end up in the front page of Tal Cual with the title “payasada” ill translated as clownesque. Because of course it was nothing more than a rather tawdry performance when the once upon a time self styled defender of the oppressed and the immigrant is on her way to become the inspiration of a legislation that would put me in jail even though once upon a time we shared air time in some radio station.

The real problem I have with Eva is not that she is about to become a virtual concentration camp guard, it is her mediocrity. The woman is a crook alright, as Alek Boyd has shown clearly (here and here).  However her worse offense remains that she is a mediocrity. She lives off the Venezuelan money quite comfortably without any apparent benefit for us, or does anyone believe that her latest venture, Correo del Orinoco, is able to sustain itself like a normal newspaper? However her leechness is still not as bad as her mediocrity. You need to listen to her speech or read it, with its numbing accumulations of platitudes, clichés and useless attacks when not a single one of her “evidences” made it to some court to get some real condemnation. So what does she do? She proposes a law so that her attacks can now be assimilated to thought crimes. Goebbels would have had it that easy.

And yet even if we can laugh while we cringe at small fish like Golinger who will leave the county in the first plane to Miami the day Chavez falls, we must think already as of today of a reconciliation process with which will be able to condemn enough people for the example while opening the door for those who were true believers but finally saw the light. We do not want to fail our own Reconstruction version of history lest in 2 or 3 decades form now a new Chavez comes to destroy the country once again. We cannot forget that and thus we cannot be distracted by red flags, almost literally, such as Eva Golinger.

The ones we need to think about what to do with are the like of Cilia Flores who introduced her in that event, where a flushed up Eva did not realize how manipulated she was in doing the dirty work of Cilia and Hugo.  Maybe Cilia crimes are not worthy of The Hague like the ones of Hugo, though she keeps adding merits daily, but she, along at least a few dozens of her colleagues, will need to face prosecution.  And we must think about it already, here in Venezuela and wherever we can.

And be writing this post, you must realize that with the current winds, I am starting to expose myself seriously.  For the "me" part of the title.

Eva has a clear understanding on how much chavista propaganda the opposition blogs have cost the regime. And yet that is not why she will help prosecuting us at some point: she has been unable in all of her writing career, to give it a name, to write texts of the strength and quality that you can find routinely in any of the major anti Chavez English language blogs.  Her mediocrity will turn into jealousy and she will try to get us at some point. As I wrote above her "crossing pointt" was last Tuesday.  However we can always hope that her mediocrity will maintain her as inefficient as she has been all along.

Police Violence in Venezuela

The repressive nature of the regime can be clearly seen in the picture below.

Police brutality at a Caracas soccer game

You may wonder why I say that?  For many reasons.  One if the violent language of chavismo which eventually leads the police, tightly controlled by chavismo now, to believe that it can do as it pleases.  Think about the consequences for the future.

But also look closely at the picture: look at the fat policemen (4 are at least at or near obesity!), look at their grimaces, the scorn, the hormonal unleash.  What kind of trained police is that shit?

Look at their absolute disrespect for "property" as they have no qualm in destroying stadium seats even though I see no one around threatening them. After all chavistas tend to identify with baseball and opposition with soccer....

I have been a little remiss for now two months in the day to day accounts of Venezuela for a variety or reasons, but it does give me a certain clarity to perceive the essential, such as in this picture.  I do not know exactly the whys of the scenes and I understand that apparently the regime has been forced to at least call to order these "policemen".  But what would happen in the US or most European countries if such a scene had happened?  Think about that for a second, the more so if you are a chavista reading this post.

Sustainable development: thinking ahead (revisited)

I wish the leaders of alternative forces in Venezuela read Jared Diamond's books. Yes, Venezuela is a poor, underdeveloped country. Yes, it is now ruled by a military junta that rejects any pluralism and thinks it is the representative of the Nation and Venezuelans still do not see an end to the regime.

Still, this and this book should be food for thought for them. Now. For a future Venezuela.

Setty asked me what relevance I see for Venezuela. Well, there are many points that I could treat for ages, but here I mention some of them:

1) We Venezuelans need to learn more about world's history -not so much about which ruler did what in what year but what ideas - and not just political ideas, but general ideas - appeared where and why.
2) We Venezuelans need to understand why technologies evolved where they did.
3) We Venezuelans need to understand our society is neither a product of "inferior" societies nor just the product of "others plundering us". We need to understand the greater scope. It is neither "just our genes" nor is it "somebody's fault."
4) We need to be prepared for the Peak Oil times. Whether it is just happening or it takes place just in 70 years, it is part of reality. Oil prices will probably skyrocket at some moment we cannot predict now, but sooner than later there will be a fuel shift. Venezuela would need to prepare decades ahead if it does not want to be poorer than El Salvador.
5) Venezuelans still have a Dona Barbara mentality where Venezuela is still a huge territory to be tamed, whereas it is more fragile than most think. Venezuelans have been destroying the best fertile areas all along the coast due to the centralized way in which things evolve. Forest are destroyed, huge amounts of inhuman population centres clustered around a couple of areas. This is a social time bomb by all means.
6) Venezuelans are still not paying attention to the destruction of the most beautiful jungles and how illegal mining is destroying the societies of native Americans living in those regions. The military are in control of most of the area and they just let things happen.
7) Venezuelans are building more and more buildings without using traditional Spanish or other Southern styles that use natural cooling processes but become real ovens because of very bad ventilation. They become more and more dependent on large amounts of electricity even for making it bearable to be in a school in the middle of nowhere.
8) Venezuelans are getting rid of XXI rubbish in landfills that use XI century technology to deal with waste. The pollution there is affecting the urban centres around.
9) Venezuelans are not aware about how dependent they are from foreign evolutions in general. We cannot go to autarchy, but we should be aware of what happens to a land without at least some overview of population movements, including immigration, without any idea about how to prepared itself if its exports become less profitable, etc.
10) Venezuelans are destroying most of the best coastlines they have, urbanizing them, filling them with rubbish, and so on. This is bad for the environment, this is bad for tourism and much more.

We could go on for ages.

Happy T-day!

Since, according to my counters, at least half of my beloved readers are travelling or getting ready to entertain as their turkey finishes the defrost cycle of their microwave, I decided that you probably could not care less about Eva Golinger and other assorted creeps.  So, let me wish you all a happy holiday and review what we can give thanks for, politically that is. In no particular order.

Eva Golinger can certainly give thanks for the fat check on her way after last night performance.  But other chavistas might not have as much to thank for as their micomandantepresidente is losing his marbles and the country is going bankrupt: where will they steal from next year?

The Venezuelan opposition has very little to thank for, but then again they did not work very efficiently for that.  At least they can be thankful that Chavez is losing his marbles and thus is making their job a tad easier.

The chavista voter has little to thank for as all the misiones are tanking and inflation is killing them.

The opposition voter can be thankful for, I suppose, if s/he did not get shot yet, if the business has not been "expropriado" yet, if the kids can now study overseas, that the closest grocery store is not a Mercal or an Abasto Bicentenario, etc, etc....

Cubans are thankful that the sucker in Caracas kept sending checks through the year.

Republicans can be thankful that they got Congress.

Democrats and Liberals can be thankful that they clung to the Senate and that there is no way Obama can be impeached.

But there is one guy that cannot be thankful for anything: Chavez.  He does not even have a documented failed assassination attempt that he could use to justify his paranoia.  And things are so bad that he finally decided to forbid using his personality cult imagery everywhere because he finally realized that people are associating him with all the unfinished and abandoned projects.....

And this blogger is thankful for all the readers that stuck with him in spite of a more erratic writing and much bitter mood than years past.  I mean it.

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Ordinary heroes, and other heroes and future freedom of expression Venezuelan heroes

UPDATED.  In the Washington Post editorial today I read the name of Laureano Marquez, the Friday's editorial writer at Tal Cual.  The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, has awarded him a recognition, along other journalists from such dangerous places as Iran or Ethiopia.  In fact the CPJ entry on that subject has the picture of Laureano.  We need to congratulate the Post on deeming such awards worthy of an editorial, the more so that Chavez has this week renewed his attack on Globovision, this time probably meaning to close it once and for all.  In fact, Tal Cual today tells us that this afternoon a long cadena is expected, a cadena that Chavez might use for another series of obscene attacks against the US. (1)

Apparently Chavez is very, very miffed at a recent hearing in the US Congress (not yet in GOP hands, you know) where the anti US role of Venezuela and other ALBA countries was examined.  Whatever that event/hearing was, it showcased the attitude toward ALBA countries of the incoming GOP controlled House.

One of the witnesses attendees was Guillermo Zuloaga, the head of Globovision who must now live in exile because he has no civil rights guaranteed inside Venezuela where any opponent of the regime can be thrown in jail at Chavez wishes.  Case Afiuni anyone?  Because it does not matter that there are weird and self contradictory exceptions like Trinidad Jimenez, foreign minister of Spain, the world at large knows quite well what is going on in Venezuela and hearings like the one in the US congress on November 17 are sure to be more frequent as chavismo becomes repressive enough, even in soccer stadiums and subway stations.

Globovision owner had no qualms in replying the recent attacks of Chavez this week.  In his reply Zuloaga even noted that he wanted Chavez alive and well because like many Venezuelans, including yours truly, WE WANT CHAVEZ ALIVE SO THAT ONE DAY WE CAN SEAT HIM IN THE ACCUSED BENCH FOR ALL THE CRIMES AGAINST VENEZUELA HE HAS COMMITTED.  There, clear enough?  Zuloaga also invited Chavez to send all the evidence he has against him to the IACHR tribunal so that this one can compare it with the evidence Zuloaga offered.  That is, Zuloaga asked Chavez to stop hiding behind his goons in control of the judicial system of Venezuela.  You can read the complete reply here, in Spanish, sorry.

Objectivity having absent since almost the beginning within chavismo, needless to say that the words of Zuloaga in DC last week are interpreted as treason to the fatherland since any attack against Chavez is an attack against the fatherland.  Louis the XIV with his "l'état c'est moi" would have had it so easy!  For Chavez the words of Zuloaga are the excuse he wanted to launch an attack on the remaining semi free media, and the vigorous campaign in chavista media, almost on cue, is proof enough.  The setting and reason of the meeting are irrelevant, it was a meeting of the "ultra derecha", ultra right and that is  that.

It is essential to note, as I wrote extensively on it a few days ago, that Chavez is proceeding to a slow moving coup and that in the logic of a coup, slow of fast, closing crtical media is a must.  It seems that Globovision turn is finally around the corner.  With public protests reaching disquieting peaks, with an economy remaining tanked, with corruption crudely exposed and with Makled revealing the extensive drug trafficking inside Venezuela all but officially state sponsored it was time for Chavez to make a move.  Even if closing Globovision would be widely unpopular it would have the benefit to distract the opinion from the other scandals besotting Chavez.  As the old railway sign in French wagons said, you know, when you could still open the windows, "un train peut en cacher un autre", a train may hide another one.

Chavez is in a make or break mode and thus extremely dangerous, and not only for the US, but mostly for us, Venezuelans, who will suffer for decades the consequences of his misrule.


Someone should point to Chavez that the more media he closes the more he improves the ratings of the ones still not closed.  Closing Globovision will only make people willing to read El Nacional or El Universal, or this blog for that matter.  Chavez is not done creating more and more heroes of freedom of expression.  Zuloaga might fall but Chavez will need to go as far as tracking down opposition bloggers if he wants to hide his misdeeds.


UPDATE.  The cadena came, with lots of Chavez kissing babies on his way to the Assembly.  I am speechless: Eva Golinger is the featured speaker, rehashing all of her history of NED et al, from which SHE NEVER got any mileage and even less any inculpation, and yet, that foreign tart, demanding that the regime publishes laws that will put to silence any dissident that could be suspected of receiving any foreign help whatsoever.  After all, she has never offered any real proof that could be sustained in a court of justice so if her proposed legislation passes she just needs to say that Daniel Duquenal is paid by the US to have me in trouble.  No we are waiting for Chavez speech but I have enough.  At the end Eva went all the way, ALL THE WAY, sycophant.  She has no shame whatsoever.


1) The cadena of today will come from the Venezuelan Congress where Chavez has cited all his current clapping representatives, all chavista governors, etc, etc...  We might in fact get some major announcement besides insults against the US or Globovision.  He could demand anything, from the closing of Globovision, to breaking up with the OAS and the IACHR.

Then again, as it is more and more the case, he might chicken out and limit himself to an endless tirade of insults....  but I personally think that time is pushing him on the ropes and he will push forward, even if he looks everyday more like a mad boxer locked up in a dark room, hitting everywhere in the dark.

Venezuela auf Deutsch. Stand der Dinge: November 2010

Whisky oder Wodka immer noch preisgünstiger als Bücher und leichter zu finden als Milch

Im Flughafen: VIT, hecho en socialismo. Angeblich werden Computer in Venezuela zum ersten Mal hergestellt. In Wirklichkeit werden sie wie seit Jahrzehnten zusammengebastelt. Die Chinesen und Boliburgueses kriegen aber dazu Finanzhilfe. Von nachhaltiger Entwicklung kann nicht die Rede sein

Ich habe diesen Blog angefangen, weil ich meinen Freunden in Europa erklären wollte, was in Venezuela passiert und ich die dazugehörenden Hintergrundinformationen nicht immer wieder wiederholen wollte. Meine Freunde wohnen ja ein bisschen überall.

Es ist nicht so einfach. In den europäischen Medien kriegt man nicht viel über Venezuela zu lesen oder zu sehen. Also muss ich vieles extra erklären. Es ist nicht "Hacienda-Besitzer gegen Indianer". Es ist nicht "Kuba auf dem Festland". Es handelt sich gar nicht um eine Revolution, wie man sie in Mexiko Anfang des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts erlebt hat. Südamerika ist doppelt so gross wie Europa. Es gibt vieles, was wir Lateinamerikaner gemeinsam haben. Die Entwicklungen unserer Länder und die Ressourcen oder gesellschaftliche Gegebenheiten varieren aber stark voneinander.

Venezuela heisst Erdöl und Erdöl - das weiss Otto Normalverbraucher kaum- ist nicht gleich Erdöl. Ganz vereinfacht gesagt: Erdöl im Jahre 1998 hiess 12 Dollar pro Fass. Erdöl im Jahre 2010 heisst über $80 pro Barrel. Venezuela heisst Präsidentialsystem in einem Land mit vielen mittelalterlichen Charakterzügen. So etwas wie "Präsidentialsystem" mit diesen Merkmalen hat sehr grosse Folgen für ein Land. Venezuela heisst Westen mit Uramerika mit Afrika mit dem ganzen Rest. Meine Familie ist wie ein Benetton-Foto, wie fast alle Familien Venezuelas. Venezuela heisst, mehr über Ungarn oder über die Mongolei oder über Deutschland in einer Lokalzeitung wie El Carabobeño lesen zu können als in der Washington Post, in The Guardian, ja in der FAZ oder in der SDZ. Venezuela ist aber auch ein Land, wo Bücher Mangelware sind und wo die sozialistischen Bonzen ihre Kinder nicht zu einer öffentlichen Schule schicken würden, denn das Niveau in den öffentlichen Schulen ist sehr aber auch sehr schlecht. Ich weiss das. Ich habe in einer öffentlichen Schule in einem armen Dorf gelernt und das war zu Zeiten, als die Lehrer mehr verdienten als jetzt.

Venezuela heisst Grosszügigkeit und Zivilkourage neben Korruption und Mangel an Verantwortungsgefühl für die eigene Gesellschaft. Venezuela heisst vor allem Varianz und Überraschung.

Venezuela ist ein armes Land, das sich für reich hält, nur weil es jede Menge Erdöl und eine sehr vielfältige Natur hat. Ohne gute Bildung für den Durschnittsmenschen verwandeln sich dieses Erdöl und diese Natur aber immer wieder in El Dorado. Venezuela heisst Humor, sich über alles aber auch alles lustig zu machen. Das ist unser Potential, aber auch eins unserer grössten Probleme.

Willkommen im Bundesstaat Mérida...nun sozialistisch

Was passiert nun, was steht dann vor?

  • Der Militärführer, den wir als Präsidenten haben, hat nun wieder die "Justiz" unter Druck gesetzt, damit sie gegen Globovision, den letzten regimekritischen Fernsehsender, was tut. Der Grund ist nicht, dass Globovision - eine Art "Fox News", die eher als Potenkinsches Dorf anzusehen ist - kritischer geworden wäre. Der Grund ist halt, dass einer der Besitzer , in den USA geflüchtet, Chávez nun als Diktator bezeichnet. Chávez bezeichnet sich selbst aber als Soldat. Da hat er recht: er ist ein Soldat...und Autokrat. Diktator ist er noch nicht. So wie Putin es auch nicht ist. Oder Lukaschenko. Als die Leute von Human Rights Watch einen negativen Bericht über Pressefreiheit in Venezuela verfassten, wurden sie des Landes sofort ausgewiesen, denn dieser Bericht war Chávez zufolge Lug und Trug, in Venezuela gibt es absolute Pressefreiheit, zu viel Pressefreiheit sogar.
  • In 6 Wochen (5.1.2011) werden 65 + 2 Abgeordneten der alternativen Kräfte ihre Arbeit bei der Asamblea Nacional starten. Ein paar tausend seit Jahren archivierte Dossiers zu Korruptionsfälle bei der Regierung warten auf sie... oder auch nicht: manche Leute befürchteten, die jetzigen Regierungsabgeordneten könnten diese Dossiers irgendwann zu Weihnachtszeit verschwinden lassen.
  • Es gibt eine viel stärkere Gerhinwäsche-Kampagne als je zuvor. 1984 lässt grüssen. Das Adjektiv "sozialistisch" wird zu jedem Substantiv mit einer positiven Konnotation zusammengefügt. Überall im Land kommen neue Plakatten, damit die Leute denken, dass die Militärjunta sozialistisch ist und dieser Sozialismus gut ist. Die Regierung hat auch sehr attraktive Journalistinnen bei VTV und anderen Staatssendern angeheuert. Sie weiss, wie die meisten Venezolaner das zu schätzen wissen. Die Regierung präsentiert nun immer mehr Zahlen, die angeblich unseren Fortschritt zeigen sollen. Chávez sagt, die Zahl der Ermordeten wäre um 40% gesunken. Er sagt aber nicht wann und wo. Hauptsache, es ist gut. Er sagt auch nicht, dass die Mordrate in Venezuela 1998 19 x 100000 Einwohner betrug und sie nun auf 70 Morde pro 100000 geklettert ist. Der Finanzminister interpretiert eine Rezesion in Venezuela als Beweis für den Erfolg des Chavismus und die Ruine des Kapitalismus.
  • Viel mehr Geld wird umgeleitet: die Militärjunta will die Finanzierung der regimekritischen Lokalregierungen weiter abdrosseln. Über 10 Milliarden Bsf werden umgeleitet und vor allem an regimetreue Lokalregierungen gegeben. Damit will die Militärjunta ihre Chancen für die Bundestaats- und Gemeindewahlen von 2012 "optimieren". Diese Wahlen werden mit der Präsidentenwahl zusammenfallen.
  • Es kommen weitere Enteignungen.
  • Leider verhalten sich viele Politiker der alternativen Kräfte wie Feudalherren, oder wie Möchte-gern-Feudalherren, die nur lokal denken und nicht mit anderen Parteien zusammenarbeiten wollen. Jeder hält sich für den neuen Bolívar. Es gibt einige gute Ausnahmen und das gibt ein bisschen Hoffnung.

Irgendwie erinnert mich dies an Sowjetzeiten. Der Traktor soll dank "iranischer Technologie" produziert werden. In Wirklichkeit ist diese iranische Traktorfirma ein richtiger Misserfolg. Mehr "Technologietransfer" hatte Venezuela selbst zu Zeiten, als die Gringo-Montagefirmen Glühbirnen, Schrauben und Drähten von Lokalfirmen kauften.

Mein Dank geht an Dan für die Bilder oben.

Schliesslich ein Bild aus La Patilla. Hier wirft ein venezolanischer Ordnungshüter einen Sitz gegen einen Mann zu. Damit will er gegen Unruhen am Ende eines Spiels vorgehen.

Saturday night fun: a more accurate map of the world

Absolutely politically incorrect but, yet, too close for comfort.  Click to enlarge.

I got that form a site who did not credit it properly. If anyone knows who made this map up let me know to put credit where credit is due.

Caudillismo: a disease running amok in Venezuela

Ashurbanipal as High Priest. VII century BC. Middle East

Military coup monger Chávez in military fatigues, with red-clad Barquisimeto PSUV-mayor, XXI Century. Northern South America.

Caudillismo has been a disease in Venezuela since its very emergence as a nation. Caudillismo's origin could even be seen in the region's early recorded history.

The country was born out of a forgotten Spanish colony controlled through capitan generals. Military men settled the place and ruled as they please and controlled the flow of information into it. The region saw very little of the scarce Enlightment Spain experienced. More of the Middle Age mentality clung to Venezuela and stayed there.

Venezuela had a military independence leader obsessed with creating the myth of being "the" only Liberator. After he died, many other military strongmen reused the myth. Anything that was done in Venezuela was, according to them, thanks to their good will. When the civil governments came back in 1958, the caudillo image became weaker but still personality fixation remained strong. As the state controlled most oil revenues, the head of state played as much as oil prices permitted the role of big benefactor. When Venezuelans started to elect governors and mayors in 1988, the elected regional governments became mostly the platforms for a local caudillos. But it is only now, since the military took back control of Venezuela and oil prices more than tripled that the caudillismo started to run amok. These days, the image of the biggest caudillo has become more pervasive than images of Assyrian kings shortly before their fall.

The military junta and to a lesser but still great extent all local caudillos left and right have spent enormous resources telling people what they have is "thanks to the caudillo's work".

Like a zealous animal marking its territory with urine, Hugo Chávez and local caudillos waste people's resources in images stating only they can provide for the people as only they are "the people". Here you see military Chávez to the left - in battledress- and Mérida governor as well as local mayor to the right.

Every public work is considered now as "revolution's work". Nobody tells Venezuelans the difference between government and state.

When you arrive to Barinas, Chávez's home territory and his family's fiefdom, you are greeted by the caudillo even more often than elsewhere.

Above you see Chávez saluting in the only way he can, as a South American military caudillo. He is again to the left. To the right you see his brother and governor and then the local mayor. The brother inherited the governor position from Chávez's father.

Posters of Chávez are on every corner of the country, but in Barinas you see the images of the Chávez royal family more often than the image of Queen Elizabeth in a boring collection of British government stamps. Actually, there is a Chávez museum in the Casa de Chávez.

A wolf doing what Venezuelan caudillos do, but in nature. At least the wolf is using his own urine. Venezuelan caudillos use money from state resources to the same effect.

The caudillo's image can be seen on the walls of many shanty huts, particularly in the rural areas, where "national" party leaders of alternative forces from the urban centres almost never go.

The more the military junta strengthens its control over the country, the more shameless the personality cult will become. The alternative forces need to attack with intelligent educational efforts the caudillismo mentality. This won't be easy. Chávez is just the current caudillo máximo. Venezuelans' prejudices and education are the real origin of this disease. There is a little caudillo in most Venezuelans' heads.

My thanks go to Dan for the pictures and his observations about a recent trip he did throughout Venezuela.

China Commies and the Nobel Peace Prize: an inspiration to Chavez. Sub-title: what are you planning to do about it?

I am not too sure what our local bolibanana regime has said on this subject but after today's article in the New York Times we can be sure that support of the repressive Chinese regime cannot be far at hand.  The more so that the NYT also reports that Chinese folks, even many of those living overseas that should know better, approve of the regime not to let Mr. Liu or his relatives go to Oslo collect the Peace Prize.
Andrew J. Nathan, a political scientist at Columbia University who has been studying China for four decades, said he was struck by how many Chinese friends and associates, even those living the United States, had accepted the government’s contention that Mr. Liu was seeking to push China into chaos through writings that called for free elections and an end to single-party rule. “The Chinese people I speak to have quite readily absorbed the government’s point of view that this guy is a criminal nurtured by the West,” he said.
Indeed, China has been hard at work in its counter propaganda offensive and it has worked partially among some of its neighbors that are now in a position to be blackmailed.

China, emboldened by its rising economic might, appears to be more determined than many other authoritarian countries to confront the West’s notion that Western values are universal and to mobilize China’s citizens against what it views as an assault on its political system.

“Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo once again reflects the strong attempts of Western countries to intervene in the political process in China,” said a commentary that ran this month in the official newspaper People’s Daily. “It is a well-planned event, premeditated and long organized by Western countries, and is part of a series of actions by the U.S. and its allies and companies to undermine China.”

So far, it appears that Beijing’s diplomatic campaign has been only marginally successful. A handful of countries, among them Russia, Iraq, Cuba and Kazakhstan, have acceded to China’s plea for a boycott. But 36 other countries have said they will send ambassadors to a rump prize ceremony.
Cold comfort if you ask me because after its success in removing Tibet from the agenda and getting its most wanted Olympic games, courtesy of the infamous role of  IOC chair countlet Jacques Rogge of the suitable last name, China is going to get more and more assertive if we, in the West, do not stop taking their crap.

Admittedly confronting China is going to be more difficult than past cases of Human Rights abuse.  In a globalized economy boycott is nearly impossible since almost any electronic component has some chip or part made in China.  I personally have tried since Tien An Men to avoid anything made in China even if significantly cheaper.  But when I came to Venezuela this became impossible to do because Chinese trinkets dominate here, there is in general no option.  Thus I have resorted to buy non Chinese brands even if assembled in China (my latest computer was NOT a Lenovo) as a token gesture.

Boycotting Chinese restaurant is really not for me because I am not too fond of Chinese cuisine to begin with.  Short of calling the manager of a Chinese restaurant, AFTER your meal when you pay the bill and ask him his position over Mr. Liu (probable getting a blank stare in Venezuela) and letting know that you shall not patronize his establishment anymore as long as he supports the jail for Liu, there is little else I can do in Venezuela.

However there are associations and suddenly for the first time in years I feel the urge to support associations that defend Chinese dissidents, that confront everywhere Chinese leaders and more importantly that confront lobbyist for China.  Suggestions from readers are welcome, and I will add them at the end of this post if you send them with your own explanation on why it is worthy to support group X on its China freedom fight.

Because make no mistake, the current China political system must be confronted.  It has now the muscle to support bastard regimes like Venezuela if it wants (though the messy chavismo is fortunately a repellent for the more organized Chinese, the more so that Venezuela has become a narco country and since the Opium War in China, you know...).  If Al Qaeda is a terror based system, it has little potential in "converting" folks to its views in the West, and not that much in Arab countries actually except for the lunatics that can come from a London suburbia as well as from a Cairo slum.  But Chinese culture is a basically arrogant one, for all of its past brilliance (hit the history books if you do not believe me).  That it is now channeled through unscrupulous, corrupt, power abuse Commie leftovers makes it the more dangerous as even some Chinese in the West succumb to the defense of the regime, confusing culture and heritage with human rights and politics.

The paradox of China culture is that the Mao years have stunted a cultural aggiornamento that all other successful cultures have experienced.  For example, the West went through a wrenching XVIII century that ended in the blood bath of the French revolution and Napoleonic wars.  But after that slavery was out, Jews were in and democracy flourished to prove itself with all of its faults the system that gave a maximum of felicity to a maximum of people.  Not perfect, as colonialism and 2 world wars showed, but at least the West was on track.  Japan went through such a process too.  It started with the Meiji era and ended at Hiroshima.  But it yielded a very reasonable democracy which became for many decades the second economic power of the world.  Latin America is going through such a milder aggiornamento  these years and the most advanced countries in the process are unsurprisingly those who are performing best.

But the Arab world and China are nowhere close even though one can have high hopes for China once the extreme-capitalistocommies are out.  And thus our role, our need to support any group that helps China wake up to what are universal rights, no matter how much people in Beijing or in Caracas try to deny it.  Democracy and liberty is an everyday struggle and even if I must confront daily chavismo I must understand that I need to confront the current China regime.

To end this rant one last excerpt from the Times piece, to drive the point home:
According to the Nobel Web site, the last time no one was present to accept the peace medal was in 1936, when the German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky was not allowed to leave Nazi Germany.

Mr. Ossietzky had been held in Nazi concentration camps in the 1930s and, although the German Propaganda Ministry publicly declared that he was free to go to Norway, “secret police documents indicate that Ossietzky was refused a passport,” according to the Nobel Web site. Ill with tuberculosis, he was later sent to a hospital in Berlin, where he was kept under constant surveillance until his death in May 1938.
You are free to draw your own analogies.


One petition you can sign, for starters, from Milonga

Venezuela's justice: when you thought it could not go any lower, it does

Today we commemorate (?, what other word could one use) the murder of prosecutor Danilo Anderson.  We do not know yet who ordered that crime, and for that matter we cannot be certain of who killed him.  But there is finally a novelty: Tal Cual mini editorial of "Simon Boccanegra" has no second thoughts at accusing former general prosecutor Isaias Rodriguez of muddling the waters and making sure that innocent parties paid for the crime so as to protect the real culprits.  The more so that hyper morally corrupt Rodriguez wants to become the president of the High Court, TSJ.  So certain he is of his nomination that he even resigned his ambassador post in Spain, another job for which he demonstrated his total unfitness, by the way.

The editorial is translated below but before you go further be aware that the relatives of Danilo Anderson have asked for the investigation of former Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel as the likely head of the plot to kill Anderson to protect his corrupt banker friends, some of them are on the run today or in jail.  Eventually, shall we know the truth? The Tal Cual article includes a summary of the Anderson Case to date.


News emerged that a certain Alexis Peña has declared his intention to make known in court that he was paid by Isaias Rodriguez to be a false witness, so as to inculpate one of the Guevara brothers as the perpetrator of the murder of Danilo Anderson.

Whether this is true there would be nothing unusual. Isaias is known as a cheat, a bragging trickster. The "star witness" episode, Geovanny Vasquez, deserves the Oscar for cynicism.  From Isaias we can expect anything.

It's a case of moral degradation rarely seen in this country. This guy was a prosecutor of the Republic and apart from being a lapdog of the President, whose whims he is willing to comply bypassing any consideration of ethics and morality, he was a manufacturer of what is called in Colombia "false positives", i.e., to attribute to innocent citizens crimes prefabricated in the laboratories of the authorities, in this case, the dirty war offices of the Attorney General dispatch.

But the vileness, the gall and audacity of Isaias have no boundaries. Not only now he is aiming at joining the TSJ, but he promotes his candidacy to preside over the highest office. That it succeeds should not surprise us since the decision makers are alligators from the same cesspool [caimanes del mismo pozo].

In a country where a seditious statement, publicly uttered, like the one of Rangel Silva, is worth his promotion to commander in chief, a corrupt, with serious mental deficiency, like Isaias Rodriguez, might well be elected to the Supreme Court and, moreover, his colleagues would abide by the order, which obviously could only come but from Chacumbele [Chavez], to place him at the head the court. Time of rats, this one.

Country Human Development Rank

The Economist has an interesting thought exercise about Venezuela and Chavez lies even if none of them is mentioned.  In the chart below, using available data, The Economist has tried to imagine where would the different US states rank in the world Human Development Index if each one tomorrow became an independent nation.

Quite surprising no?  Mississippi, US 50th, above Italy, world 25th!

My point is that on occasion Chavez loves to point out how Venezuela is rising in such ranking games (with data offered by the regime, data that cannot be audited, data that international organizations accept at face value because, well, no one can conceive a government able to fraud and fudge tot he extent the Venezuelan does).   Well, The Economist does not bother taking us, Venezuela, into account, not even Chile, our top of the class.  On occasion also Chavez tells us how the US is unfair and has extensive pockets of poverty that the glorious bolivarian revolution must help rescue.  For example giving discount heating oil to misery laden Massachusetts (not in the table but certainly comparable to neighboring New York at position 6 or Connecticut at position 1).  Or bemoaning the fate of the poor in the South with Mississippi maybe at 50, is above Italy and quite close to Britain that no one in Venezuelan imaginary would consider a poor country...  Heck, even Texas is above socialist Denmark!

Maybe Chavez can arrange for me to be traded for someone equivalent, education and responsibility wise, in Jackson Mississipi.  The way things are going in Venezuela I am willing to consider the swap.

Memories of a Molecular Biologist

Yours truly used to be a hard core scientist, PhD in Molecular Biology. But life went through and I dropped the matter over a decade ago. Yet, that does not mean I forgot about it and thus I am offering you this find of stunning videos on the inner working of cells. What surprised me most is, in addition of a technology that we could not even dream on when I was a student, that I still managed to recognize on sight a lot of organelles either through their shape or function (well, after a couple of views for many, let's be honest here).

Powering the Cell: Mitochondria « XVIVO

harmit09232010 from XVIVO | Scientific Animation on Vimeo.

Still, what made me bring your attention is that the animations of these scenes is, in my opinion, more exciting that what you can find in Star Wars and the like. There you have imagination at play in interstellar combat whereas in these videos it is nature, it is what we suspected was happening 20 years ago; and in beauty and complexity it surpasses anything that intergalactic imagination has been able to come up with.

There are other videos by this company, one that I liked The Inner Life of the Cell « XVIVO. The life of an immune system killer cell.  Beats the Death Star!

Now that I think of it, my past probably explains a lot why I have little patience with fundamentalists and creationists of which chavismo is only one weird variety.... but i digress....

The intellectual future is not with Chavez

Diego Sharifker, new UCV student leader
The oldest university in Venezuela, a public one, the Universidad Central de Venezuela held its students elections last Friday.  Chavismo sensing yet another historical lost sent some of its red shirted violent to perturb the election.  But it did not help.  Saturday afternoon we learned that chavismo suffered another stinging set back.

And it was not even close, it was beyond landslide: the opposition students sent two lists, the first one getting 6,170 votes and the second one 4,860 while the pro Chavez list got a paltry 1,380 votes (results not complete yet but not expected to change much).  Roughly FOR 1 STUDENT VOTING PRO CHAVEZ 8 VOTED AGAINST HIM.

This pattern is repeated in all the best public universities, maybe not with such margins but always with ample margins for the opposition of at least 2 to 1, except for the UDO where the opposition has started winning elections but no landslides yet.  For the record the "bolivarian universities" speedy concoctions to ideologize a student base so as to fill up public administration do not hold student election, probably too afraid that the opposition could get enough vote to embarrass the regime, amen of even winning in one of these universities of rather poor educational level according to all reports I get.

In other words in any campus where you need to think independently to study and graduate the regime loses.  The intellectual, technical, scientific future of Venezuela is definitely not with Chavez.  Nowhere but in these elections can we see best the failure to inspire of a regime after 12 years.  The only thing Chavez inspire these days is rejection.

State of Obilivion revisited: First Nations dying


Many of Venezuela's First Nations are concentrated in the state of Amazonas. They are becoming a minority there due to legal and illegal immigration, due to the ecological impact from gold mining (one of the main reasons for that immigration) and due to the government's deglect.

Scientists from the Universidad de Carabobo (Northern Venezuela) went to the area and after three days of travel arrived to the Piaroa community of El Caño, in the Autana Municipality. They found native Americans there were suffering not only from turberculosis, but also from malnutrition. They also found a tiny "health centre" that has been under construction for the last 4 years...abandoned. I am sure resources used for one Aló Presidente in, say, Guárico, would be more than enough to build -actually to its real conclusion- a health centre with plenty of basic medical equipment.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little attention from politicians in the main urban centres. The area is mostly controlled by the military in Venezuela, it is of very difficult access and it is most of the time completely out of most urbanites' thoughts.

EFE had previously reported that Yanomamö have been dying by the dozens in Alto Orinoco Municipality. Malnutrition and all those other diseases are nothing new, but it is a tragedy that Venezuela's First Nations still have to go through all this in the XXI century.

Chauvinism as a way to improve popularity for Latin military

Nicaragua's regime is losing popularity. It is also causing a lot of trouble for Costa Rica as it is throwing the rubbish from dredging works of a river to the Costa Rican side (Costa Ricans say), its economic and political mess leads to a lot of illegal immigration to Costa Rica and criminals from Nicaragua keep crossing to Costa Rica for booty. Costa Rican authorities have been protesting and increased the amount of police forces at the border -Costa Rica has no military-. What does the Nicaraguan government do? It sends troops to occupy territory in Costa Rica (Isla Calero). The Organisation of American States held an emergency meeting. The vast majority of countries voted to ask Nicaragua to take away its troops. The Nicaraguan military who led his troops to occupy the Island Calcero blamed it on Google Maps, which did not show the proper border. You know...el imperio es culpa de todo.

Who voted for Costa Rica?

21 countries.

Who absteened? Ecuador, Guyana and Dominica (these last two get a lot of oil from Venezuela).

Bolivia did not even bother to vote.

Who rejected the proposal? Nicaragua and the envoys of Venezuela's military junta.

This is such a waste of resources for all Spanish Americans. It is simply stupid, stupid, stupid. You can bet the Venezuelan military will try to keep the conflict going, though.

Some background information in Spanish here and in English here.

Venezuela's future, its military junta and all the rest

Fellow bloggers and I have been recording Venezuela's path towards a total dictatorship. It took a long time and useful idiots kept clinging to the idea that elections -whether really fair or not is another matter- are all that counts to legitimize a government as democratic. Going against the rule of law and going against minorities, whether they were 2%, 10%, 20%, 48%? did not seem to matter to them. Repeating referenda on the same issue was a sign of lack of democracy in the EU, not in Venezuela. At this stage, though, there is no democrat on Earth, whether gullible or not, that may still think the government in Venezuela is a democratic one.

Yesterday Chávez forced all national radio and TV stations to broadcast his newest speech where he supported his military colleague Silva Rangel, the military honcho who had said the military would not recognise in 2012 a government lead by the opposition and the population, the military and the people would react, etc. Chávez also insulted Insulza, OAS's president and stated, as usual, that the Venezuelan military had been taken out of context.

If you want to read more on this, you can go to Miguel's, Juan's and Daniel's account of the issue. Or you can read the military junta's version on the state TV site here.

Now I will just go more into predictions, as I have done in the past. Nothing is sure, but things may evolve like this:

  • the military junta will try to escalte things through violence. They are the ones who keep saying "there will be a civil war", you won't hear that from the opposition leaders. They will infiltrate groups of the opposition, they will try to provoke violence.
  • the military junta will keep getting more support from the Chinese, the Belorussians, the Russians, the Iranians and Syrians. This support may be, among other things, like this:
  1. the Chinese will provide more support in the area of communications and spionage (finding patterns in social networks supporting the alternative forces, eavesdropping). Belorussians and Cubans may play also a role here (the latter not so much with the hardware).
  2. intelligence training from Belorussians and Cubans

  • the Venezuelan military junta will do anything, anything, to make the Colombian government hand them over Makled, the drug dealer who says he has a lot of incriminating material about the drug connections of the Venezuelan military. Expect more trade agreements favouring Colombians, threats we won't get to read about, new "liberation of kidnapped Colombian citizens".
  • some people will try to make disappear the thousands of dossiers on government corruption that the current National Assembly has kept "on hold"...or they will try to adultare them or else...that will happen before the new elected deputies come to work in January.
  • the military regime will keep expropiating, specially targeting the companies around Polar, but also others that may support the alternative forces.
  • the military regime will attack any alternative forces distributing flyers or holding meetings outside the main 4 cities.
  • the government will push for changing university laws in such a way that they can the universities with thugs - not real students - who take control of those universities.
  • the government will intimidate more people and use much more state money to influence elections in Amazonas, Guárico and Miranda.
  • the government will infiltrate more the local governments in the hand of the opposition.
  • the government will illegally divert more money from the areas where alternative forces are in governors and mayors into organisations completely managed by Chavista thugs
  • the government will keep up the soviets, the "councils", that will not tollerate pluralism and that will be controlled by PSUV members.
Dictator Lukashenko is bound to win the elections in Belarus this December. Unlike in Venezuela, the opposition does not seem to grow there. Lukashenko is a dictator, but he is definitely much more popular than Chávez in Venezuela. Pay attention to what Chávez wants to learn from there, even if things are so difficult to "translate"...Chávez will try to do it.

In the map above I drew a selection of key countries where the military junta is looking for alliances.

  1. In red you see those where there is a very close alliance at different levels. Those countries are very close because of ideological (or rather pseudo-ideological) and/or geopolitical reasons. They are mostly dictatorships or autocracies, with Ecuador and Bolivia the only ones with some democracy. Ecuador and Bolivia are heavely depending on the Chávez regime.
  2. The countries in dark yellow are a mixture of democratic countries and autocracies. They play along with Chávez primarily because that's good for their businesses. Argentina is a case I was not sure to classify as red or yellow, but as there is still a strong opposition there, I decided to put the main reason for its closeness to Chavismo on the benefits for the industries there.
  3. The countries in light yellow are countries that are flirting with Chavismo but are less close. That's the case of Spain, selling weapons and with a social democratic government that is a mixed of real social democrats and people with little sense of democracy, that is the case of Portugal, which is in a similar situation as Spain but has less money and that is the case of Mali, which is extremely poor and tries to get any help it can from somewhere. Still, the links of those governments to Chavismo are less strong than those in dark yellow or red. I forgot to add Zimbabwe, but right now relationships between Chávez and Mugabwe are rather symbolic. Some years ago Chávez was even trying to approach Birmania, but I suppose Burmese dictators did not understand Chávez's sense of "humour".

Stay tuned.

PS. Elio Di Rupo, the leader of the French-speaking Socialist Party of Belgium wrote to me and told me they were going to answer to my post How Far from Pluralism soon. I am looking forward to his response.

The current Venezuelan crisis for Dummies ®

With all that has been happening in Venezuela since September 26 the casual reader, as well as the informed reader, might have some trouble in figuring exactly what is going on.  Ever willing to help this blog will try to explain the core reasons and consequences of the current political crisis.  Yes, in case you have any doubts,  it is a political crisis that is taking place in Venezuela and the reaction of the regime in place is a not-so-slow motion coup d'état.

The basic reasons behind the regime actions

Regular readers and well informed people already know what is going on and why, but it never hurts to refresh memory and simplify the input.

Chavez wants to be president for life

This is now vox populi and has been clearly established through all the speeches of Chavez (¡hasta el 2021!  the 'til 2021! slogan).  It has also been established through actions, ranging from a failed constitutional reform in 2007, to a more successful unconstitutional amendment in 2009, including the regular destruction of any political figure that could cast a shadow over Chavez, be it opposition (Rosales in exile, e.g.) be it pro Chavez (add up all the discards of Chavez since Miquelena in 2002 until the most recent of the Chacon brothers with the current possible defenestration of Diosdado Cabello).

No need to elaborate further on that one.

The regime cannot surrender power because too many would have to face justice

The corruption of the regime and its incompetence are now vox populi.  The Chavez regime will deserve its own very special chapter in any Encyclopaedia Corruptionensis that might ever be written.  And to aggravate corruption there is stupendous incompetence as the regime has been proven unable to provide basic public services to the population in spite of record income in the past decade.  In Italy trains ran on time.

Examples abound of course, you just need to read newspapers, even the pro regime ones who on occasion narrate corruption accusations when there is some power infighting going on.  I will chose only the two glaring examples of this year, which help explain best what is going on.

Incompetence: the electricity crisis.  With the Guri dam full of water, we are having again major electric shortages and the regime simply has decided to ignore them.  In my own business in San Felipe through October we have lost four full days of work due to long  "unscheduled" power outages, accompanied by the frying of one AC and two computers that could not resist the voltage/amperage surges in spite of the expensive surge protectors we used for them.  The protectors died also and of course we will have to pay for all replacements as the utility company could not care less.  When shortages were scheduled we actually had much less overall trouble and losses than since the regime announced the end of the electricity crisis. People notice such blatant lies, you know....

Corruption (accompanied with incompetence, by the way): the PUDREVAL crisis.  Early this year we learned that over 120,000 (or much more depending f the sources) TONS of FOOD were lost, were never received even if paid for, were not adequate for human or animal consumption, etc, etc.......  You can count these disappeared stocks whichever way you may want but we are talking here, say at 2 USD per kilo average at the very least, freight and shipping included, of a national loss of 240 million dollars for which ONLY 3 people have been supposedly investigated and are to stand some form of mock trial.  Numbers vary and billion of dollars numbers have even been advanced, but even at 240 million dollars it is clear that those who are investigated are merely the fall guys.  The real guilty party, the ones that at this point should be behind bars, are still occupying high governmental positions in some cases: Elias Jaua, the vice president, and Rafael Ramirez, the oil minister, PDVAL head, to name two of them.

And of course, I am not even bothering describing the petty robbery from government "officials" who have created a sophisticated "legal" network of extortion and plain robbery that has put Venezuela at the bottom of any international survey system on corruption and transparency in governance and business.   This is a text for "dummies" after all and I need to keep it simple and obvious.

The regime cannot surrender power because too many of them will be ending up in international jails

As if local crime was not enough, the regime has been dabbling in international crime, from ETA terrorist group support to transforming Venezuela into a main go-through zone for drug trafficking.  These days that fear of ending in an international court, be it The Hague or some average bench in Florida, seems to have become the most pressing concern of the regime high ranks, including Chavez himself who at the very least can be accused of enabler.  When the "enabling" is big enough, it becomes enough to send you to jail too.

The key moment seems to have been the Uribe legacy as he was leaving office, introducing at the OAS a detailed account on how the Venezuelan regime is abetting terrorist FARC camps inside Venezuela (vox populi at least in Zulia and Tachira states).  That this charge has not gone further at the OAS for the time being is simply due to Colombia preferring to us to blackmail Chavez into staying quiet on Colombian matters and start paying up the billion of dollars Venezuela owes Colombia business.  Chavez has started paying, demonstrating that indeed he is on the spot.  Not to mention that he received in Caracas a few day ago Colombia's president Santos who he threatened of all sorts of horrors were he to be elected last summer. 

The not quite expected result of the Colombia accusation has been that previous accusations are now retaken or exposed as people find the time right for such activities.  We have for example the ETA/FARC association through Venezuela's good offices that is creating a major problem between Spain and Venezuela and eventually between Venezuela and Europe.  It would seem that Venezuela is being increasingly cornered on that matter and that in spite of all the corrupt business deals between Venezuela and Spain Chavez might have to prepare himself for an official break up like Cuba did a few years ago.  This will not stop that affair and when the investigation and trials are concluded many Venezuelans will not be able to travel to Europe anymore, amen of their seized financial accounts as it has already happened in Andorra.  Collateral damage could be the fall of the socialist government in Spain when due elections are held, thus it is difficult to see how Chavez and Zapatero are going to weasel that one out.

But the latest incident establishes beyond doubt that the regime is getting ready to never to surrender power, Myanmar style for the time being until eventually it will become Cuban style.

The US has already pointed three important names in the Chavez hierarchy as being related to drug trafficking large scale. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) those are General Silva, head of the Venezuelan Operational Strategic Command, General Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, Director General of Military Intelligence, and former official and Justice minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacin. Any one of them setting foot in a US territory will be immediately arrested, if I understand well. Needless to say that when the US states such a thing it is because it means business: they do not go for hot air effect as Chavez does routinely. And we can imagine easily that the US is probably able to expand that list at will since obviously these three men are not enough to explain how Venezuela has become a major route for drug trafficking.

Well, General Silva declared this week that the Venezuelan army would not accept an opposition victory in 2012 (ever?) because the army is married with Chavez project.  So much for free elections in Venezuela.  And, by the way, he was merely echoing earlier Chavez declarations where he said that the opposition should pray for a Chavez victory in 2012 because the people would not accept an opposition victory.  Apparently "the people" may have different meanings and descriptive parameters depending on what side of the electoral rift you place yourself and do not necessarily mean more than 50% of the inhabitants of a country.

Regardless, you cannot claim anymore ignorance anymore: the regime has declared its unwillingness to respect adverse electoral results in the future.  Additionally the prospect of a coup in 2012 or earlier, to allow for permanence of Chavez is something that is now decided in some pro Chavez circles.  The regime has started preparing public opinion.

The post September 26 political reality of Venezuela

If there is one thing that this modest blogger recognizes to Chavez is that he is the only person he is sure that knows better the Venezuelan electoral map than he does.  Much better in fact.  Like some politicians, a large chunk of his strength is to know exactly what to say at a given place and time.  We might not realize it quite well because Chavez discourse is not directed at thinking people like us, but you will observe that Chavez knows very well where not to waste electoral time, and where to invest it.  That is, one might be surprised that last election Chavez spent such a tremendous amount of time in chavista doomed Zulia for a rather lousy result.  But think about it: what would have been the total vote tally had he not campaigned there?  Chavez campaigns for one thing, and one thing only, the total national vote share he gets; the numbers of governors, representatives, mayors and what not being accessory to this.  These numbers do mater, of course, as they simplify his rule when favorable, but in a hyper-populist regime as his, what matters is to get more than 50% and thus the extraordinary energy of Chavez is spending time in hopeless districts in order to scrap the maximum votes he can.  It is not enough for him to win, he needs to win big each and every time to validate his plebiscite run regime.

Thus it is clear that Chavez understood very, very loud and clear the result of September 2010 when his combined forces, electoral cheating and all, only gave him 48%.  That in representative count he can claim to have crushed the opposition, courtesy of gerrymandering, the number that impressed him is 48%.  Chavez knows that he went down from 62% in December 2006 to 48% in September 2010 with no reason in sight on what could stop this slow but certain decay.

You can argue with me that electoral trends are bumpy affairs, and offer me all the Ifs, Buts, and Thens you want, including a few Howevers if you please, the fact of the matter is that even a messianic leadership cannot resist the effect of time when it fails to deliver on enough of its promises.  You might not agree with me on that but I am sure that Chavez does.  His actions certainly prove it.

And that reality will not fade away and Chavez numbers have no where to go but down.  Why?  Because "the economy stupid!"  Ask Obama about that!  He promised paradise with Health Care Reform and other but the jobless rate and emptier pockets did him in a few days ago for Congress.  In the last two years you cannot point at a single economy initiative that the Chavez regime has taken that could mitigate the Venezuelan recession.  In fact all measures taken could probably make things worse in the long term, such as making it difficult to raise capital for investments, assuming that any one would want to invest in Venezuela.....  today any investment decision in Venezuela, private or public sector is driven more by political reasons than economical ones.  Or why else did you think that the Polar giant announced this week that it decided to invest 100 million dollars with a Spanish partner to develop long preservation yogurt (which are horrible to taste but that is another story)?  That investment is a direct challenge of Polar to Chavez, to demonstrate to public opinion that it is not afraid of Chavez, that if Polar yogurts do not reach the public it will be because Chavez blocked the venture (through nationalization?).  The beauty of it is that these non-refrigerated yogurts/desserts are targeted to low income people who have a hard time affording the fresh products, and even more of a hard time finding them in their neighborhoods if they wish to buy them anyway.

Chavez cannot take the measures that need to be taken because they will go against all that he has done for the last decade and that is simply a No-No.  Thus his only economic plan, to give it a charitably descriptive name, consists on hoping that oil prices go back up to 100 USD by the end of 2011 and that the Venezuelan economy reaches the bottom fast.  Indeed, an economy can only drop so much as people need to eat and clothe and obtain minimal health care.  Thus at some point before 2012 the Venezuelan economy will stop dropping, will stabilize courtesy of inertia,  and might even show an occasional 1% increase which will be meaningless, due to mere good weather harvesting whatever can still be harvested or some other happy coincidence.  Meaningless perhaps but always good at electoral time.  By the time folks realize that the economy has tanked for good, it will be 2013.

Chavez is performing a slow motion coup d'état

There is one last point to consider that did not fit in the above discussion: Venezuela having willingly become a Cuban neo-colonial outpost, the Castro brothers cannot take any risk in seeing Chavez booted out of office in any way, shape or form.  Never will the Castro brothers find a sucker like Chavez and his survival is essential to their own survival, at least for the years of life they think they have left to them.

And thus Chavez, advised if not ordered by Cuban advisers/bosses, is doing the only option he has left: a slow motion coup d'etat to take control of the country in a way that any challenge to his authority will be useless.

It is not the point at this time to evaluate the chances of success of his effort, I am too much of a dummy for that. The only thing that is left to complete this text is to describe how and why the coup is taking place.

Why is the coup taking place?

The answer is disarmingly simple: Chavez and his cohorts have decided that people cannot be trusted with the ballot anymore and thus something must be done to annul the power of vote.  This being the XXI century, the age of Twitter and Picasa, where even Iran and Myanmar have all the trouble in the world keeping the lid with methods that are considerably harsher than what the Venezuelan army so far has been willing to try, the triple C alliance has to try a softer approach first, trying to postpone as long as possible the eventual blood bath. limited or river like, that will be inevitable at the end of the road.  Thus Castro + Castro + Chavez have decided in a first step to gut the institutions of any relevance left and to gut electoral results of any significance and to make sure that even that meaningless electoral results gets all the odds in favor of Chavez.

That is why we can talk of a coup since when the deed is done, if it succeeds, the opposition will not be able to gain power peacefully through elections.  The problem here is that even if the triple C maneuver fails it might be too late to avoid even a limited bloodbath.  But this is also another story.

Why is the coup allowed?

It is also important to state at this point that all what is going in Venezuela is in large part due to the blissful ignorance of the world, too busy to sign corrupt contracts with Chavez to worry about the fate of a people, a people stupid enough I will admit it, that mistakenly elected Chavez in the first place.  I will assign some blame here: the OAS at large, Brazil, Argentina and Spain as the main culprits and the ones that will have blood on their hands even if their wallets look fat.  Significant guilty parties either through their blunders or their distancing or failure to use the moral voice they owned are the US, Chile, France and Italy.  Minor players but players anyway include Uruguay, Mexico, Santo Domingo, and Portugal. Though a case can be made for Italy to go into that group.  The only important countries who might have signed an occasional deal with Chavez but always kept their distances are the UK, Germany, Peru and even Paraguay in a way.  I keep in a different section Colombia, Trinidad and the Netherlands because their neighbor status is very limiting but at least Colombia has been clear about its displeasure with Chavez.  It is certain that if the first two groups of countries had been more critical the later two groups would have been more assertive in their criticism of Chavez actions.

But the damage is done. The irony here is that the three men that most contributed to Chavez becoming today's Frankenstein, Lula, Bush and Kirchener, will not be around to clean up the mess.  Kirchner just croaked and will never face reckoning at home or outside, Bush is publishing his memoirs and claims Chavez to be evil now that he is away of the White House, and Lula walks out of office soon and could not care less about Venezuelan blood though he will remain in history books as the main enabler of Chavez, the biggest tarnish to his image.  You just wait, it might even happen before Lula croaks.

How is the coup developing?

There are two aspects: one long term and continuous and one short term, seeking the immediate crisis if necessary, a provocation if you will.

The long term actions

These have been going on for a while and will keep going on for as long as needed.  In short they consist in gutting all state institutions of real power so as to make people aware that voting will not change anything, that power resides with those close to Chavez and that if you want your share you need to find ways to get close to the flame.

Already the judicial system is in the hand of Chavez and selected political prisoners keep reminding the common folk as well as the politicians that you can only go so far into legitimate criticism of the regime.  Either you shut up or you end up in jail or in exile.

Already state houses have been gutted of most of the little power they owned.

Already business has been told that ownership is a matter of Chavez will.

Now what is left to do is to wreck town-halls by completing the set up of the comunas/poder comunal which is nothing less than an expanded Cuban CDR system where the community organizes itself so as to make sure it follows the revolutionary lines.  That is, a snitch system to spy on people.  Already there are enough reports to substantiate that: pro Chavez comunas are quite often dwindling as people refuse to participate further once they realize the system rewards the snitch and the political activist at the expense of the community that is supposed to benefit.  And it is now vox populi that when a comuna elects an opposition leadership ether it is not allowed to register legally, or does not receive any of the promised funding according to the very law of comunas.  The message is clear: organize yourself in pro Chavez groups or wither.

The comunas might risk to send the local administration into anarchy but it serves one essential purpose in a dictatorship: it removes the intermediate between Chavez and "el pueblo", these local elected officials who through hard work and dedication can develop a political base.  That is simply unacceptable.

The objective of the comunas and other mechanisms such as university intervention, ideological exposure in schools, etc, etc  have really a 2012 horizon.  If Chavez manages reelection then he will be free again to try to change the constitution and this time around, with no local power to oppose him, he could manage to enshrine dictatorship in the constitution with the forced blessing of the people.  Clever, no?  Just like in Myanmar whose last elections are praised by China alone, who takes seriously the 70% participation.

But something needs to be done short term.

The short term actions

These are designed to ensure an electoral victory in 2012 through elimination of the opposition as a political factor so as to win by default if necessary.  Myanmar style again, so as to become Cuba afterwards.

The first thing to do is to kill any important private property.  The reasons are simple and two fold.

First, since the state is forbidden to finance electoral campaigns, the opposition gets its donations strictly from the private sector.  Eliminate this one and you deprive the opposition of means, while in violation of the constitution you use all the apparatus of the state to finance your own campaign, buying votes if needed.  The financial advantage for Chavez is now orders of magnitude.

That explains why Chavez has restarted his nationalization program which will lead him inevitably to the final confrontation with the Polar Group.  It is quite possible that by June 2012 few private enterprise with more than a couple of hundred employees will remain private, or that any business that is making money through some miraculous way will keep making money as it will simply be taken over or overtaxed or forced into public support of Chavez, going as far as financing Chavez campaign.

The second fold is the choice of nationalized companies: they control the food system.  What Chavez seeks, nakedly, is to control the largest percentage of the food supply system to be able to deviate it at subsidized cost to his supporters so as to make them dependent and if possible convince the wavering to join to make sure they get at least their square meals as there soon will be very few well paid jobs left.  That is, if oil goes up enough enough Chavez will have enough money to feed half the country on a XXI century version of the dole, while the other 50% that will never vote for Chavez will suffer in full inflation and scarcity.  This is a new type of class war, with little to do with class but a lot to do with hatreds and artificial divisions.

To complete this wave of nationalizations expect additional political measures such as the closing of more media, probably even Globovision at least a year before the 2012 vote.  A few people will be jailed, maybe including this blogger.  A few people will be forced into some exile.  The objective will be to browbeat a significant chunk of the opposition if not into submission at least into despair and abstention.

Provocation is never too far in such a perverse system, as a way to speed up events, regardless of the final results: when you are a mad man like Chavez, sudden death as a martyrdom quality not unappealing even to the coward.  As I was giving some final touches to this text started a few days ago there was a cadena tonight where Chavez promoted to the highest rank General Rangel Silva, even though he is on US narco lists, even though even the OAS in a rare instant of backbone condemned his undemocratic and violent implications.

You can be sure that provocations and nationalizations will keep apace, the more so that Chavez feels weaker and the more so that economic numbers keep getting worse.  The Makled case in Colombia is such a potential breaking point, as the accusations of that narco criminal are sure to bring down quite a few people inside the regime inner circle.  The surprising thing here is that in front of the gravity of the accusations the regime refuses to investigate, implicitly acknowledging that at least part of what Makled says from his Colombia temporary seclusion post is true and no response is possible except gross provocations like promoting Rangel.

Chavez is crossing a Rubicon of sorts these days, pushed by a political crisis that no one seems to have a way to control.  The only option in his mind is to start a coup, as a reflex more than any realistic option.

Woe is Venezuela!
PS: as you may have noticed there is not a single link in this long summary post of the situation.  I wrote it as a story and if I had to substantiate everything, which I can, be assured, I would have had to put dozens and dozens of links.To save time you may want to visit my colleague blogs from Venezuela who have developed some of these points while I was away.  A search on Google with the few names I have mentioned is enough to give you more information than what you can handle.

Some of the ideas are not necessary mine as is  but all crossed my mind long ago in at least a related way.  I am saying this because I am not original here: anyone with a thinking mind, with a knowledge of what Venezuela has suffered over the past decade can only come to this type of conclusion, even if chavista, if there are still thinking chavista lefts which I increasingly doubt.  Even inside the opposition the silence on the coup taking place betrays not ignorance of the coup but haplessness.  Those who already have lost a lot like Diego Arria or are not afraid anymore like Osvaldo Alvarez Paz speak in terms such as I wrote above without the sarcasm that I used to soften the blow.  Humor is not an option anymore inside Venezuela as Chavez is leading us right into civil war if his coup is not stopped on time.