Happy New Year!

My blog readers already know I have no reason to celebrate. But I'm not the kind of person who carries a sad face all the time. This blog might tell you different, but I'm generally a happy person. So I put on a short black dress (because I will always be in love with classical black dresses), my favorite not-so- high but quite comfortable heels, and used more make up than usual. We prepared the table with grapes and all kinds of entries. After midnight, my boyfriend will come for a short visit. I will be watching an endless repeat of an old three tenors Christmas concert, I'll raise my glass for all the good things we have and make a check up list of New Years Wish. Might this New Year bring us more patience, trust in others, serenity, wisdom and love. Happy New Year to you reader, thanks for keep following my stories, thought and complaints. I will be back in 2011 with this blog' fourth year, bringing you what I have: an insiders perspective from Venezuelan Revolution written in a not so perfect English. See you all next year, best!

Oil addiction, Venezuela 2011 and growth

The first chart shows growth rate for Venezuela's oil and for Venezuela's economy since 1996. I did a little trick: I placed oil growth rate of year X in the column for year X + 1., where the GDP growth for year X is. The reason is that petrodollars take some time to have their effect - all things being equal. In reality, petrodollars don't take a full year to start "doing magic". Their effect depends on several factors, from contract details to a million other things.

You also have to consider oil price increases do not have the same impact when you have just enough oil to pay state employees or when you have enough oil to pay those and more state employees and Cuban dictators and Russian or Spanish weapons dealers.

Now: that chart 1 is about rates. In 1998, when Chávez was elected, the country was suffering from a meaningful drop in oil prices for 2007. Worse still: the actual oil prices had been at record low levels for quite some years already. In chart 2 (which I have used in earlier posts) you can see actual OPEC price evolution since 1996. Oil prices started to climb in 1998 big time and this should have lead to a boom already in 1999, but that was not to happen because the military were just "getting to know how things work". In 2003 there was the big oil strike and Chávez sacked 20 000 PDVSA employees. All in all, after that GPD has grown at a rate that is a bit under oil price rise.

The problem with Venezuela under the pseudo-revolution is that its oil addiction has become so rabid that growth started to shrink actually in 2009 due to the exceptional oil price drop at the end of 2008 and even if oil prices for the whole of 2008 were still higher than expected. This year we still were in red numbers even when the rest of Latin America was doing very well.

The Chávez government predicts growth for next year. Concecomercio, a chamber for independent and small companies, predicts recession will continue. I am no economist, but my bet is Venezuela will have pro forma a very small positive growth. Oil prices for 2010 were about 26% higher than in 2009. In view of such hikes Venezuela should actually have a very strong boom next year. That won't be the case. Why? Because of corruption, because of sheer incompetence, because of waste. The government will have a lot of extra cash, as it has devalued the currency once more -by eliminating one of the two exchange rates-. Those Bolívares the government will get from the devaluation and will use for some projects won't lead to more than a small growth if anything. Even so, I am sure Chávez apologists abroad and the propaganda machine in Venezuela will announce any growth as a triumph for the pseudo-revolution over capitalism. Never mind most other Latin American countries will keep growing faster and beyond population growth and a couple of them will even be moving towards sustainable development.

Venezuela? It is absolutely addict to ever higher doses of petrodollars. The tragedy is that no one has the cojones to tell Venezuelans the truth.

Dreams in Jeopardy (about the latest Bolivar' devaluation)

Our currency has been devaluated once more. The way our exchange rate works can be a bit difficult to understand to the foreigner. But in short words let me just say that during this year we had access to dollars at the rate of 2,60 Bolívares for “primary need products” and for students studying abroad; while there was another, far more expensive rate (4,3 Bolívares per dollar), for travelers and the rest of the products. Now the preferential rate has disappeared and the official dollar cost 4,3 Bolívares for everything.

Some people consider this irrelevant since the preferential 2,60 rate was hardly accessible. Some others consider this necessary since too many exchange rates obviously create an economical distortion. But necessary or not, this devaluation is another punch to our economy, which has arrived as a New Years’ eve gift.

First, we can expect all prices to rise even more since even more people will be forced to look in the black market for expensive dollars to pay for their imported goods. We are expecting most rises in the food and health market. The “black market” rate doubles the official one. But also this comes as another excuse for speculation . Opposition might say speculation is only a government’ idea but outrageous prices for not so outrageous goods are a reality in Venezuela. A pair of US’ shoes can cost almost a quarter of my salary: anywhere from 500 – 800 Bs and when you do the math, you realized they are priced with a dollar that doubles even the black market rate. I’m not an economist and I’m totally ignorant of most economic issues, so I’m probably complaining for something that should be like that; but for us common costumers it is just abusive and weird.

Second, and most important, it is true that the preferential 2,60 rate was rarely given to anyone. But it is also true that as far as I have heard, it was given to everyone studying abroad. I’m applying to scholarships and all sorts of financial aid because there is not way for me to pay for my entire graduate education at any Bolivar per dollar rate. But with my savings, I could at least pay the fees and my living expenses for a few months which always helps. From one day to another, my dream education cost’ has doubled; and my road to grad school seems farther than ever. I would have to get a scholarship that could cover virtually every expense I have expect for the plane ticket; and if you are on this page you know how hard it is for an average student.

From one side this could be the beginning of the end of preferential rates and exchange controls; I hope one day dollars can be legal and fully available for those who wants to buy them for whatever they need. Because we will always need of others outside our boarders (which is something that our nationalist Revolutionaries will never understand) and we should have the right to access everything not only the country, but the world has to offer us.

From other side, I realize now that CADIVI was not only an endless chain of paperwork and bureaucratic steps to get a limited and ridiculous amount of dollars. It should have never been created but now that it was, it represented a help for me to pay for my education. And many others who are already studying abroad and could find themselves in trouble to pay now that the exchange rate has changed.

In a country where there is no respect for the citizen and key decisions and announcement are made on midnight, on vacations without warn or consult; everything gets more difficult than what it should be. Applying to grad school is difficult already, for anyone, anywhere. But under this circumstances, is not only difficult but almost impossible, a constant heartbreaking process.

I had a dream of going to grad school next year. When you turn 26 years old you have to admit to your friends that you will never be the endless party girl, and you will rather spend your money on books than on clothes. You have to look at them and tell them what they already know: “I’m a nerd”. I loved and constantly miss my undergraduate years. Not only because of the parties, or the friends or our naïve political struggle.

I miss discussions. I miss being up at 2:00 am finishing a paper I should have done two weeks ago. I miss the place where my own criteria was respect and valued. Something different happens in a work environment when they ask you to do “what the client wants” which is rarely what you want. I don’t like to “write a quick report, this is not a thesis, don’t pay attention to every detail because we need it now…” – I like to have time to think because the liberty of thinking is the most valuable of all liberties; and the most enjoyable. I like to think on apparently useless topics. I like to answer questions by asking more questions. And I think that for a while, somewhere outside Venezuela with people all over the world; the experience will be far more rich and productive.

Once I do that, once I go to graduate school abroad, once I officially become what I am inside: an academic; I can come back here. I can give shape to the graduate program I could not find inside Venezuela and had to look for somewhere else. Or I can be hidden while waiting for things to change. Or I can be prosecuted not because I’m rebel but because my dreams and expectations do not fit with impositions. But whatever happens, I will always have those years in my mind. They can seize my properties, limit my movements or my speech; but I haven’t heard of any political system able to erase my memories, guess my thoughts or erase my education.

That is the reason for me to pursue a graduate school career instead of taking another path. This is my bet and my purpose. Which is now in jeopardy, just as everything else in a normal life inside a never normal revolution.

PS: For more info on how this change in the exchange rate works for us Venezuelans, read a brilliant entry on Caracas Chronicles: Happy new taxes, human beings!. You should also look at Daniel' version of this story, which same as me but in a different way, has touched a personal side. Do not miss it.

After a legislative coup, a sort of economy coup: massive devaluation in Venezuela

And yet you would not believe that there was such a massive devaluation if you read only the headlines of Google news.  Words like "unification" pop up to hide the fact that about half of the imports of Venezuela will now cost 65% more in USD than they did today.

The government has unusually well planned such a dramatic measure.  First, it is in the least newsy day of the year, December 30, when even the Nazional Assembly in overdrive is taking a couple of days off while Chavez goes to Brazil for Dilma swearing in.  Second, the newsy impact was the suppression of one of the exchange rates to "unify" the exchange rates around a single value.  The D word never being pronounced!

Last January we went from 2.15 to two exchange rates, one at 2.6 and one at 4.3 to the USD.  That is, the second one, 4.3, reflected crudely a 100% devaluation for common goods while the regime reserved for itself the 2.6 rate to which a few people, those involved in food or medicine production, could access to.  And yet the January devaluation did not bring any relief to the Venezuelan economy, exports kept going down, inflation remained at an official 27% and we end the year with a second consecutive year of economic drop, a bona fide recession, the LONE country in South America with negative growth!!!!  And high inflation to boot.  The Dutch disease is transmogrified into the Venezuelan gangrene!

I am not going to go back on the reasons for such a disastrous economic result: it is all political, Chavez wanting to control everything at any price, literally.  What I am going to tell you is the effect on next year, and why Chavez is willing to pay that new price.

My business was one of the lucky ones that could access to mostly 2.6 exchange because we sell most of our products to people that sell in turn at controlled food prices.  In other words, my costs will increase as of January 1 by at least 50% when everything is taken into account (without including poor services such as continuous electric outages during working hours). That is, I am OBLIGED to increase my prices by 50% because as it turns out my storeroom is almost empty (I cannot use the stock at the "old price" since I do not have it, while I will need to replenish it at 4.3, requiring an expensive bank loan to afford the new import costs).  The question is which clients will be willing to accept my new prices, the more so if the regime does not accept an increase in the price of foodstuff like chicken and pork products.

In other words I am in serious danger of bankruptcy next year as in 2010 our earnings were minimal, below inflation so we are losing capital, work capital that is!  Like most small and medium business in Venezuela, in particular those linked to medicine and agriculture, we are very low in our reserves and this 60% devaluation will be a major blow.

The food chain production of Venezuela is heavily dependent on imports (from corn to agricultural implements).  Most were at 2.6.  It is simply impossible that the cost of food in Venezuela will not rise by at least 50% when 2011 is done.  In fact, I am willing to bet right now that the cost of food will rise by at least 30% in the first semester, no matter how many subsidies the regime throw at Mercal and PDVAL and whatever other scheme it comes up with, allowing for an oil price remaining around 90 USD for that semester!

This is the recipe for an aggravated recession as the regime is not only considering increasing by two points our sales tax, but also ready to impose a banking tax of maybe 0.5% per written check!  Plus, of course, the effect on the nationalization of Agroisleña that is becoming to be felt, and miscellaneous disastrous take overs like the farms in Sur del Lago.  We are in real danger to have food riots by mid year!!!!!!  Because after the disaster of Pudreval when hundreds of thousand of tons of food were lost to sheer incompetence and unspeakable corruption for which we are still waiting for a real accounting we must observe that the people who screwed Venezuela in 2009 and 2010 are still the ones in charge in 2011 to manage the aggravated crisis.

So why is Chavez taking such an extreme measure when he could have settled for a more logical shortening of the gap between the two exchanges rate to, say, 3.2 and 4.8?  For two reasons.

First, Venezuela is getting too close of bankruptcy for comfort.  So Chavez cannot escape devaluation.  Were he to take a more moderate and rational approach he still will not take the necessary economic and political measures to avoid further decline and so  we would be facing again by the end of 2011 a new devaluation, just as the electoral year starts.  Thus he does the brutal devaluation now hoping that with an increased oil price, maybe crossing durably the 100 USD line by the end of 2011, he can wiggle his way out to 2013 and then let it all go once he is sitting securely back in Miraflores.  I do not think it will work, personally, but that is probably the calculation for these people who need desperately to hold on for at least two more years until they hope to erase the political opposition of Venezuela once and for all.

Second, what I could call the paradox of plenty in recession.  That is, recession will not be for all.  With this brutal devaluation Chavez has some political moves open, all distasteful but all almost necessary for him.  For example, he can bankrupt a further chunk of the private sector.  That is, less funding for the political opposition available.  By 2012 maybe a much weakened Polar will be all that is left and thus in 2013 he can finally eliminate the private sector except for little shopkeepers and the like.  Another example of making good use of this disaster is to finally create an apartheid system where only the faithful to Chavez will have access to ration cards for cheap food at Mercal, PDVAL and the like.  The excuse will be the fake "emergency" which required an enabling law that will allow Chavez to rule on such measures.  What will be important there is to mark the populace with the idea that their only salvation is through Chavez, as they watch the anti Chavez group go bankrupt, into exile, denied ration cards, whatever.  Or even better, chavistas offered the spectacle of the degradation of the middle class forced into food lines like they do.

That is why I also call today's devaluation an economic coup because Chavez is going to use the new circumstances to screw as many people as he can.  Even the banks are a sure target now because, you know, the people need cash.  Doubt me?  Watch on cable TV those weird official ads running in channels that are seeing in non Venezuelan countries.  One of these ads would have you believe that the mass of Venezuelans never had access to banks before Chavez, that it was Chavez who finally forced the banks to allow the middle class to open at least a saving account.  Who is that propaganda destined to?  Venezuelans that have no access to cable TV?  Or opinion makers outside of Venezuela?

The "Chucho Melean" saga

I do not know how the invasion and organized land robbery of the Sur del Lago farms by the regime will end up, but one thing we are going to get is a fabulous saga by Milagros Socorro.  In Codigo Venezuela, the e-zine she is now editing, she has started to tell the tale in a series of installments.  The first one is up, in Spanish unfortunately but do not miss it and try the Google translation tool if you must.  It is more, much more than just the narrative of the last couple weeks: it is a slice of Venezuelan social history and mores!

No more ambassadors for the US and Venezuela

Thus the other shoe dropeth.  After the vehement refusal of Chavez to receive the new ambassador, Larry Palmer, the US decided to reply in kind by revoking the diplomatic visa of Alvarez in Washington.

There are two ways to look at this: the serious way or the ridiculous a la Golinger.  Since we are still so close from Venezuela's fool day (December 28) I will write it both ways.

First, seriously, it is a non issue.  Chavez does not want to receive Palmer because his confirmation hearings were leaked and we all learned that he said what we all knew already about Venezuela.  I suppose that such a well informed ambassador was not something that Chavez wanted.  Or perhaps it was a set up to corner Chavez into breaking up a relationship with the US?

The thing is that the US and Venezuela are past the need for ambassadors.  The USof A  in Caracas was not received by anyone from the regime for any serious discussion and was probably spending his time reading Venezuelan newspapers to be able to make reports.  Visa people at the embassy apparently got more actions as we learned from wikileaks.

As for the Venezuelan one in Washington, well, he was not Venezuela's ambassador but Chavez one.  Why you may ask?  Because he spent all of his time doing pro Chavez propaganda or countering anti Chavez articles, something that the US one in Caracas could not dream to do, no matter the ridiculous accusations of Eva Golinger that everyone opposing Chavez is financed by the US (my check, Eva, I am still waiting, please, do ask your embassy to forward it to me).  In other words, the US ambassador wanted to do his job but could not whereas the Venezuela ambassador could do his job but would not. Hence my original statement that withdrawing ambassadors are a savings each country can use as the rest of the personnel remain sin place, working as usual.  Meanwhile oil will keep going to the US and dollars to Venezuela.

Which brings us to the Golinger tart new idiocy.  Apparently we learned of the official visa revocation through a tweet of la Golinger.  I kid you not, I even heard it in Alo Ciudadano.  So I went and sure enough I found her tweet which I gladly reproduce below [sic]:

US revokes "visa" for Venezuelan ambassador who has been oin DC for 7 years, provoking a rupture in relations

Now, the poor thing has no idea what she is writing about, something confirmed by the string of tweets she did before and after that one: more than a dozen in English and Spanish, repetitive, putting all the blame in the US.  Just on this tweet we can already perceive that she finds it normal that an ambassador spends 7 years in a position.   When an ambassador spends more than three years in a position that means s/he has stopped representing the country and is now representing something else.  Usually the precedents are not flattering such as the Cuban ambassador that stayed with Chavez a decade or the Soviet one in Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, on the job for 26 years!  I can assure you one thing: Alvarez is no Dobrynin!

And of course, I will pass on the poor thing considering this as a break in relationship.   Eva, who are we going to sell the oil that pays for your paycheck?  Sweetie, get a grip!

End of years petitions

Well, I am busy with end of year stuff and too depressed to write significant posts.  So for you two petitions to sign.  The first one is from a group of academics and the second one heavily sponsored by Diego Arria.  So there, you have two type of petitions to sign with very different tones but all designed to protest Chavez Advent dictatorship.  Sign one or two but do sign, will you?

A coup against the Constitution

I know my blog usually lacks of context. It is because I'm more focused on how life is personally lived in the Venezuelan' Revolution rather than the events that usually make big headlines. The article I'm linking to, from the Economist', provide a quick summary in English of the latest even that have made me write many blog post lately. You could say this diary is very "right oriented" but its possible political orientation is not a valid argument. What the article says is the true, nothing less and nothing more. If you like it or not, is truly your trouble how you face it. Here is the link. I would say "enjoy" to be polite, but the contents of what you will read are not what we call "enjoyable". There is no rest.

A delayed Christmas message

This was a weird Christmas. It rained and as a far as I can remember, it has never rained on Christmas before. Christmas here feels a bit colder than usual but not too much, and the sky is perfect blue without a single cloud. But this year it rained. It rained outside and it rained inside too.

Even with all hard times we have had in the past, including one Christmas we spent in the middle of a General Strike; we have always felt happy during this particular day. Is not that this year we didn’t do what we usually do, we did gather with our large family and gave away presents. But, unlike previous years, we could not raise a white flag to our constant worries. This year the threat and the war that goes inside our heads, drowns in the media, and its constantly talked in the streets; could not have its well deserved Christmas’ white flag. Almost everything we have long feared of, became reality in a matter of just a few weeks before Christmas.

Months before this Christmas I was planning to go to grad school abroad with my boyfriend next year. We thought that for this Christmas we would be more certain of our plans, as we would both be sending off our applications to the same schools. But things turned out differently and for reasons I won’t explain here; he couldn’t apply and I did. Thus I spend Christmas seeing myself in a huge dilemma I never wanted to put myself into.

I don’t want to live somewhere else forever, I want to raise a family here, where I belong. But is quite obvious that right now, I should seriously consider spending some time somewhere else. Due to the political and economical situation; the place I work at is in serious jeopardy of closing so I could lose my job next year or the year after. I could say no to grad school, or save my seat for 2012 but a jobless girl can’t give much help to a boy when they are both thinking on starting something. Therefore, If I get in, and have the possibility to go to grad school abroad, I should do it but; at least in the beginning, I will have to do it on my own. Sometimes I want to get a positive answer from the universities and sometimes I don’t.

“What is going to happen to us next year?”, “How long we’ll have to wait till circumstances let us be together as we want to? “, What is going to happen to us now?”, “Who’s going to keep its job?”, “Who’s going to lose it?”, “Which person sitting in this table will be the next to leave it?”- we all asked to each other. Each one of us looked at each other during Christmas dinner like expecting an answer but no one knew what to say.

We talked briefly the Coup the government launched this month; disrespecting people’s will and installing (finally) a dictatorship. We usually have trouble defining what’s going on in Venezuela and I have always been cautious when using the word “dictatorship”. A part of me thought that maybe, if I didn’t use the world, it won’t come true. But it did. This is not “an autocracy disguised as a democracy”, “a military democracy” or whatever odd name you can come up with. As heartbreaking it is, another part of me feel relieved of finally being able to call things by its name, without having the need to give explanations. The facts speak for themselves.

We spend the rest of the dinner talking about anything else. We turned on Skype to speak with those who already left and couldn’t make it for Christmas. We talked about this new haircut, those wedding plans, how much this baby is growing and that lady who recently got a plastic surgery and now looks older than ever. But I know them well, I know no one could make the necessary Christmas disconnection from reality.

And as rain was pouring and wine being served; I knew I will always remember this Christmas with a bittersweet feeling.

So this was a Christmas message and it turned into a long whine. I thought this was going to be a short post wishing everybody a Merry Christmas but as I kept typing, it became something… quite different.

I hope you all have had the same Christmas I had, and a very different Christmas from the one I spent; all at the same time. I wish you all had the opportunity to look at your family to realize that no matter how crazy, odd, irrational, particular they might are; they are there. They are there for you; they are made to spend good and bad times together at the same table and that’s a relieve. For me; a family is always a table, always a meeting, always a company.

I hope you had the opportunity to presence the kids’ excitement for Child Jesus or Santa, unaware of their parents’ complicated and awful world. I hope you shared their stories of bells and presents suddenly appearing under Christmas tree. I hope you woke up at 4 am, quietly without bothering their dreams, to eat the cookies and keep contributing to their fantasy. A fantasy so beautiful, that shouldn’t be touched or destroyed before is the right time.

I hope you spent Christmas with the ones who love, with that less than perfect man or woman who visited every single shopping mall in the city to find you the perfect present even if they couldn’t afford it. And you opened it with a million dollar smile; gave him/her a hug and promised that despite hard times; even with the panorama of a temporal geographic separation; there is always a light, there is always a way…that we will search for it constantly, until we find it.

I hope you had the opportunity I had, to look at him and say you are not afraid of the future, because don’t know how or under what circumstances; he will be a part of it.

A part of a Christmas without a rain; with a plain blue sky outside and inside us.

Civic-military dictatorship in Venezuela

First military districts to be created..."to give security to the people" and "use the potential of the area"

How is the Venezuelan strongman and his team preparing Venezuela for a long-time dictatorship? They are doing it in many ways: creating laws that are completely against the constitution, taking away from the elected governors and mayors to give them to "councils" they claim are the people but will become in reality PSUV tools, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in permanent propaganda and attacking the very few media outlets that are still critical of the regime (I will go back to this last point in another post, specially on a "paper" written by long-time Chávez apologist Weisbrot).

One of the key points now is to make sure Venezuelans get used to the concept of "civico militar". They are repeating that more and more. If you google a bit, you will find most "civico militar" refer to Venezuela's military regime.

"Military is good.
Military men save Venezuela.
Venezuela without the military is lost.
Chávez is the jefe supremo.
Chávez's friends are the ones to help you."

So it goes. This is not so difficult to put through as Venezuelans, spite of the 40 years between 1958 and 1998, was ruled in the XX century only by military strongmen. In the XIX century Venezuelans were ruled by civilians only for 7 years. Venezuelans don't even know how much the military have taken hold of their country. A third of all 350+ municipios are called after military caudillos and many of the states.

Take the irrational idolatry many Venezuelans feel towards a mythological Simón Bolívar. Take the century-long use of that Bolívar image by Venezuela's military. Add to that the fact Chávez is a military man and almost all the big jobs he has are occupied by military men or by guys from the extreme left plus a couple of younger gun-totting men as minister of agriculture.

And now Chávez announced the creation of 10 military districts in "border areas". More will be created close to urban areas. The regime claims it is to help the people...always the people...Of course, the regime is going to say now "look, the opposition does not want us to help the people". Well: how come the military need to do this in Venezuela? What has happened after 12 years of Chávez's rule that we need this? Only in Cuba and in Burma do they have such a role...and in China before it abandoned its dictatorial attempts to become socialist during Mao's time for just fake socialist dictatorship with one-party system.

In the last map you see in dark green the states with a governor who is also a military man, mostly a coup monger. The only one with the yellow spot has passed over to the opposition, sort of. The ones in light green are ruled by governors with a very close relative being a military coup monger (Barinas' governor is Chávez's brother, Falcón's governor's relatives are military). The state with the green G is ruled by a man who was a guerrilla during democratic times. The states in yellow are the ones "ruled" by the opposition (even if the regime has taken away almost all competences).

The alternative parties have to go out, not tweet from their cozy homes, but actually go out to places all around Venezuela and tell people this is not normal, that the military are taking over Venezuela's future. The military should never take a bigger role than any other sector of society. Otherwise, a country is lost.

Pluralism, Venezuela and Chávez's regime


"Socialist government of Venezuela"

If that poster is not a joke against political pluralism and a violation of the constitution, what is it?

What is it nobody asks publicly to all high Chávez officials and to Chávez himself what they think about pluralism, about multiparty democracy and about the time Chavismo becomes the opposition?

Today the puppet National Assembly is introducing new laws to use soviets (councils or consejos in Spanish) pretending to be "the people" to take away further competences from the elected governors and mayors.

Venezuela's economy, update

GDP growth according to The Economist, 2010

I wrote a post about economic growth in Venezuela. I put up a chart above. You can read the post here.

Below you have the OPEC basket price evolution since 1999. As you can see, the pseudo-revolution in Venezuela is based on nothing but oil price increases in the international market. Prices have been going up year after year but for a light fall in 2001 (which contributed to the 2002 crisis) and a fall on the second half of 2008 and start of 2009 (which were mitigated because Chávez managed to get some quick cash from the Chinese for cheap oil for a decade). The economy takes several months to feel increases or decreases in oil prices. Still, Venezuela should have got out of recession in 2010. It did not. Venezuela will probably show GDP growth in 2011 at last, as oil prices keep going up again. Still, we keep getting farther away from sustainable development.

GDP growth

Ps.1 The huge hikes between 2001 and 2003 in GDP were due to the oil strike and Chávez later sacking 20000 people who took part in that strike.

Ps2. There is an old German troll who promotes Chávez's regime and hates her country and Europe and everything that rejects the military regime in Venezuela like nothing I had seen so far. As she hasn't got a life, she keeps scoring "boring" on all posts of mine now as she keeps trolling in all blogs and forums of Venezuela without bringing in arguments, just writing stuff like "hasta la victoria siempre" and "socialismo o muerte". Be it. You won't see any scoring possibility in the blogs of the last useful idiots supporting the military regime...oh, you can see a scoring among one of the boliburgueses: Jesse Chacón had a blog where he once asked readers to choose whether
"Chacón's electoral campaign is better than that of others" or
"Chacón is the only one who really has an answer for the Sucre municipality".

For your "dia de los inocentes" entertainment

There is a little podcast that we did Fausta and yours truly about the dictatorship set in Venezuela.  Even someone informed like Fausta was speechless on occasion.  Have fun with it.

On CAP and more

Miguel wrote an outstanding post about former president Carlos Andrés Pérez. If you want to know a bit about Venezuelan history of the last decades, you have to read that.

Meanwhile: what did Chávez manage to say about the deceased politician? The military man said Pérez's family was allowed to bury Pérez in Venezuela, as if he -the current president- were the king of Venezuela and not just an employee of the people who has no business in deciding whether someone can or not be buried in his native soil. The military strongman also kept nagging about Pérez, even if he himself is getting the country into much more trouble than Pérez managed to do (which was a lot).

Miguel said almost everything I could say about Pérez, but I will just add here a couple of points:
I disliked and rejected very much Carlos Andrés Pérez's policies. I marched as a student - peacefully - against Pérez's policies. I wrote in newspapers criticizing those policies. Pérez did not know about economics one way or the other and he lost track of the social impacts in Venezuela. Pérez did not take Venezuela towards sustainable development. He was co-responsible for the crimes during the 1989 riots of El Caracazo. Still:

- The Chávez military men killed in the 1992 bloody coups many more people than what the military killed in the Caracazo when Pérez was president
- Much more has been stolen since the pseudo-revolution came to power than during the two separate terms of extremely corruption led by Carlos Andrés. Think Pudreval, think Jesse Chacón's brother, Arne Chacón (apparently Jesse did not know anything).
- Now Venezuela is much farther away from sustainable development than 12 years ago.

I hope one day soon Venezuelan pupils will get to read history books written by real historians, not by brain washers with one or the other (pseudo-)ideology in mind.

Una de las razones por la cual Chavez y sus focas no respetan la navidad

Si, es verdad, una de las razones por la cual Hugo Chavez siempre sale con vainas en diciembre es que sabe que la gente de bien, la gente de tradiciones, la gente de familia, la gente seria, deja un poco de lado sus menesteres cotidianos ese mes para dedicarse a su familia, sus amigos, y hasta a materias espirituales para algunos.  Por lo tanto el sinvergüenza ese aprovecha el descuido para cerrar televisoras y hasta imponer dictaduras, sabiendo que no recibirá la respuesta que se amerita e impondrá su odio.

Pero también hay otra razón y esa nos la describe Yoani Sánchez de una manera sobria y al punto: esa gente, los chavistas de poder, no creen en nada, y menos en los hombres.  No se pierdan su escrito de como el pueblo poco a poco logra recuperar la navidad en Cuba.

Carlos Andres Perez dies

After Chavez, Carlos Andres Perez has been the most controversial president in the last century (twice elected, in 1973 and 1988).  And he also was the first populist president of Venezuela even though with Chavez we had to redefine the populist terminology....

Four men have marked Venezuelan politics in the last century of our republican or not so republican existence.  The first one was of course the long dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez who at least had the virtue of ending the never ending succession of local caudillo revolts that made Venezuela a chaos all through the XIX century.

The second one was Romulo Betancourt who for all his faults had always a clear goal in mind: transform Venezuela into an elective political system where social justice would be a compass.  The third one was Rafael Caldera who demonstrated that political alternativeness was a possibility in Venezuela even though he managed to do that espousing some of the vices of the Adecos of Romulo Betancourt.  The fourth one was Carlos Andres Perez, CAP in his campaigns (for his death on Christmas day El Universal has a photo gallery of some of his main political moments).

It is very easy to speak ill of CAP.  It is certainly true that populism became the political modus operandi during his first tenure.  But it is also true that in his second tenure he tried to get away of that corrosion.

It is very easy to accuse him of all sorts of corruption, but it should also go along with some of modern ideas he brought to the country such as new and large national parks, or sending thousand of kids overseas to soak in new technologies and new ways of thinking.

For all the criticism we can throw at him it remains that he is vindicated today because whatever corruption happened under his tenure it has been dwarfed, by orders of magnitude, by the corruption we see today.  And if his tenures were corrupt they also were productive in many aspects, something that still needs to be achieved with any, ANY of Chavez programs.

It is not that I am trying to defend CAP: I did like him at first, specially when he created new National Parks rescuing areas that were all but doomed.  I also was one of the Fundayacucho kids.  But I was bitterly opposed to his reelection sensing that this was not the way Venezuelan democracy had to go, something confirmed when the subsequent reelection of Caldera paved the way for Chavez.  The political culture of the masses in Venezuela has remained rather primitive and loves a good caudillo; thus reelections IMO should be banned because with such a culture the populist temptation is always too strong to resist, the more so if oil prices are high.

But when everything is said and done the regime of Hugo Chavez will have been the great rehabilitation of CAP even though CAP was Chavez demon.  Because you know what?  When CAP was put on trial he left power without anything more than the legal fight.  CAP was a democrat.  And Chavez has demonstrated that he is not, and thus Chavez will always be the lesser man to CAP, no matter hate crazed chavistas may scream.

Letting kidnappings go up as a strategy to get rid of the opposition?

What do you think?

I hear more and more reports about kidnappings...and the government does nothing real and people cannot report anything less their loved ones get killed.

The Boliburguesía? People like supreme court "judge" Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño? The one with threats to journalists? (don't mess up with me as I have my "thorns"). They have enough bodyguards, they don't have to worry as "non Revolutionaries".

Ps. Daniel has a good post in Spanish about Ms Morales (what a family name!)

Feliz Navidad

I want to wish my readers a very nice Christmas time. Venezuela has gone through a tough time for quite some time now and things will be tough again next year. Still, let's hope for and try to contribute to a peaceful return to democracy and let's hope Venezuela finally gets on the path of sustainable development soon.

If you haven't tried hallacas, you have to do that before you die. You may even want to postpone dying just to eat more hallacas.

The Christmas 2010 post

Sorry guys, I am like the country, the Xmas spirit is totally missing this year.  Drive through Caracas streets or even most of Venezuela streets and there is almost no lights, no cheers, no nothing.  Everyday we look more and more like a XXI century socialist barrack.

With electricity rationing, the expensive imported ornaments, the lack of money which makes focus your priorities for the Hallaca and a few toys for the kids, well, what is left there to cheer?  Add to this a Xmas Advent coup d'etat and what do you get?  A few chavistas left to celebrate something that they should know better than celebrate because they might be at the end of the repression line, but they are in it even if they are not aware of that fact.  Then again, if they knew a little bit about historical precedent they would have dumped Chavez long ago.  Ah!  Ignorance can be bliss indeed!

And for many families there is also separation anxiety.  One sister in law, for example , has now ALL of her immediate family living outside the country.  They moved over the last two years and her old mother went to spend Xmas with one of her exiled kids.  My in law is thus alone this year, for the first time, for Xmas and Año Nuevo, more important even than Xmas for native Venezuelans.  Of course, she is not alone, she also belongs now to our family, but there is no more that sweet sorrow of which holiday I spend with which side......

And believe me, that "missing relative syndrome" reaches now deep in our society.  There is today hardly a family who in its mist has not at least someone that prefers to be, say, a maid in Madrid than put up with Caracas.  Chavismo will neither hold and even less publish such statistics but when you see that Australia promotes in newspapers and Internet information days to apply for immigration down under you can only take for real some statistics that would claim more than 1 million Venezuelans gone since Chavez came to power.  Think about it, maybe 1 Venezuelan in 25 is gone.....  How fast is this now going to rise that we are in a hopeless dictatorship?  And let's not go into the portion of the country who has had a relative murdered in the last few years......

But I do not want to be the Grinch, Chavez does too good a job of it.  For the readers outside of Venezuela, it is not your fault that we are so screwed up here at home.  So to you my very best Xmas wishes.

And for those still here, we are in it together and tomorrow will be a good day to start seriously thinking about the solidarity networks we need to create to hold together so that future Christmas will not be as bleak as this one.

Guarimba versus Protest

Bolivarische Militärs verteidigen sich und ihren "Kommandant-Präsident"

Als ich an der Universidad Central de Venezuela Student war, hielten wir ab und zu unsere Proteste. Sie waren fast immer sehr friedlich. Sie wurden aber fast immer von Linksextremisten infiltriert: sie mischten sich trotzt unserer Aufrufe unter uns und fingen an, LKWs und selbst PKW ganz normaler Menschen an der Plaza Venezuela zu verbrennen bzw Geschäfte zu randalieren und Molotovs an Polizisten zu werfen. Wir, die Studenten, mussten unsere Protesten aufgeben und uns entfernen. Weil die Polizisten in die Universidad Central de Venezuela nicht reinkommen durften, haben die Extremisten sich hinter den Toren unserer Uni verschanzt und lieferten sich eine wahre Schlacht mit der Polizei. Es war sehr frustrierend für uns, denn wir wollten mit Gewaltaktionen nichts zu tun haben und diese Aktionen hatten die entgegengesetzte Wirkung. Und so ging es immer wieder, diese Schlacht zwischen Linksextremisten und die Polizei, die auch gar nicht koscher waren.

Im Jahr 1989 kam der Caracazo: Carlos Andrés Pérez hat eine Reihe von Massnahmen angekündigt, die von der IWF angeordnet waren und das ohne Aufklärungsarbeit und ohne Vorbereitung. Mein sehr naives Volk hatte ihn ein paar Monate davor gewählt, weil es der Meinung war, Pérez konnte die Boomjahre von 1973 zurückbringen, als Pérez der Präsident war. Der Erdölpreis lag aber 1988 (und bis 1999) sehr niedrig und es kam kein Petrodollarstrom wie 1973 oder jetzt, sondern Spassmassnahmen. Den Plünderungen, die am 27.2.1989 stattfanden, erfolgte eine brutale Repression von Polizisten und vor allem von Militärs, die schnell aufgerufen wurden.

Paradoxerweise hat der Militär Chávez diese Ereignisse benutzt, um seinen blutigen Coup 1992 zu rechtfertigen. Tatsache ist, dass Pérez mitverantwortlich für die Todesopfer und Repression war. Tatsache ist aber auch, dass viele Militärs auch schuldig sind und man hat bis jetzt keine unabhängige Untersuchung durchgeführt hat. Die inoffiziellen Daten sprechen von bis zu 3000 Tote (manchmal mehr). Ein Mord ist zu viel, aber diese Schwankungen zeigen, wie unseriös man mit diesem Thema umgegangen hat. Fast alle Venezolaner haben einen Identitätsnummer. Fast alle haben Familien. Die Gewalt fand vor allem in Vargas, in Caracas und anderen grösseren Städten statt, nicht im Urwald. Man kann im Norden Venezuelas - im Gegensatz zu Kolumbien- nicht einfach so in einigen Tagen 3000 Menschen verschwinden lassen. Die jetztige Militärregierung gibt die Schuld nur an Pérez und an seine Freunde, obwohl die meisten Gewaltanwender Militärs waren.

Was man im Ausland kaum weiss, ist dass diese Proteste von 1989 keine spontane Aktionen waren. Sie wurden von Linksextremisten organisiert. Sie dachten, das wäre ihre Möglichkeit. Sie hatten auch jahrelang die Militärs infiltriert. Bestimmte Gruppen der Militärs wiederum haben diese Gelegenheit benutzt, um mehrere dieser Linksextremisten zu liquidieren.

Wie ich in einigen Posts auf Spanisch geschrieben habe, haben die Linksextremisten viel Erfahrung mit Infiltration, Sabotage und Vorbereitung "spontaner Volksaufstände". Und deswegen denken sie, dass die Opposition auch dasselbe tun wird. Deswegen sprechen die Militärs ständig von "guarimbas" (venezolanisch für chaotische Aktion) der Opposition.

Es gibt sicher bei jeder grösseren Gruppe der Bevölkerung Menschen, die Gewalt anwenden wollen. Die allermeisten Vertreter der Opposition sind aber -im Gegensatz zum blutigen Putschist Hugo Chávez und zu den Linksextremisten, die zu meiner Unizeiten LKWs verbranten und nun Minister der Pseudorevolution sind- nicht daran interessiert, Gewalt auszuüben.

AFP journalist hurt while taking pictures of brutal police repression in Venezuela

Codigo Venezuela publishes the pictures of the brutal police repression of students denouncing the new unconstitutional university law.  Apparently the journalist was attacked.  Also published in La Patilla, here, here, here and here.  and an ex general pro Chavez and now anti Chavez, Rivero, was also hurt.

Los culpables de la dictadura: Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño

Su dilatada carrera como alcahueta del régimen castrista de Hugo Chávez ya la hace merecedora del desfavorable juicio de la historia, y, esperamos que mas temprano que tarde, del juicio terrenal.  Considerándolo bien, hoy tenemos la esperanzadora noticia de Jorge Videla siendo condenado, poco tiempo antes de su muerte, a cadena perpetua.

Por lo tanto no vale la pena recodar hoy los detalles de sus diversas barbaridades tales como la negación de la separación de poderes o cuanto caso de sólido soporte constitucional usted se negó a oír porque simplemente no le daba la gana, o se lo prohibían desde Miraflores.

No, usted anotó esta semana méritos particulares al haber permitido el desarrollo del juicio de un tal Mazuco.  Vamos a estar claros: yo, personalmente, no creo que exista ningún policía "inocente" en Venezuela.  Es mas, dudo que haya muchos países donde haya un numero significativo de policías "inocentes".  El trabajo lo dificulta y lo que se juzga en un policía son sus intenciones y las circunstancias.  Se lo digo para que usted vea el significado de la palabra objetividad que parece usted haber olvidado hace mucho, si es que jamas lo supo.

No, el asunto es que usted permitió que el juicio se desarrollara como se desarrollo.  Después de años de atraso, llegó una premura obscena, con testigos de última hora sin identificar, y encapuchados, resultando una condena entre gallos y media noche, a pocas hora de la Noche Buena.  En otras palabras, sea inocente o no, el señor Mazuco, diputado electo de la república que es un honor que posiblemente usted nunca tendrá, no merecía un juicio que solamente se puede calificar de castro-estalinista, al mejor estilo de las infames purgas de aquellos días.

Por tolerar que se desarrolle un sistema judicial de tiranía usted se merece ampliamente pertenecer a esta lista de las personas del régimen actual que algún día tendrán que rendir cuentas ante una verdadera justicia.  Y su caso se agravará porque usted tiene la potestad de anular ese juicio infame desde ya, sin ni siquiera esperar tramites engorrosos.  Porque si hay una persona que nunca podrá alegar "yo no sabia" o el clásico  "yo seguía ordenes" es usted.  ¿O es que usted tampoco sabe lo que es ser presidente de un poder judicial?  El drama suyo es y será que usted no solamente no tiene escusas pero al momento de la publicación de esta condena usted tiene el potencial de redimirse.

Díganos pues lo que piensa hacer.

¡No me ayudes tanto, pana!

With friends like this who needs enemies?  That Washington Times article is offensive on so many levels that I would prefer them NEVER to write about Venezuela.  As for HACER to reprint this as it, well....

The National Empty Eggshell is Born

The National Assemby from 5.1.2011 onwards

Chávez's deputies approved yesterday a new rule for the National Assembly that will turn it, as we said many months ago, into an empty eggshell.

Chávez's deputies had already approved an Enabling Law for 18 months for Chávez with the excuse of "handling the consequences of the flooding" that lead to the death of 40 people last month. Chávez had already used a similar law after the much worse flooding of 1999 and on a couple of other occassions.

The regime approved an unconstitutional law that forces deputies to vote only for what their party says. If they do not do that, they are expelled. This has no parallel in any democratic country.

And now there is the new regulation, approved yesterday: as they are giving power to the "legislative people" (i.e. the Soviets or Councils which will turn out not to be the people but the thugs threatening the people), they are taking power from the elected deputies.

Until now the Assembly was working usually twice a week. Now it will work once a week. They also reduced the time speakers can talk and they will reduce the permanent commissions (now 15).

The thing now for the democratic forces is: how to prevent the Councils becoming what they became in Russia in the early XX century? Not by tweeting.

The coup d'etat in Venezuela is more than just a notion, and forget about X-mas

Chavez and his acolytes keep going at a dizzying speed in their legislative coup d'etat.  If there is no point in going over the details as the end goal is clear, no more challenges to Chavez powers, ever, it is more interesting to observe some reactions that are becoming stronger and stronger.

Let's start with Human Rights Watch that might not use the word coup d'etat explicitly but that has read carefully three of the new laws specific for the elimination of freedom of expression, and information along the way.

The opposition is finally taking stock of the situation and now denounces outright the coup d'etat in progress.  That means X-mas is over and Chavez Grinch managed to steal it completely.  The bastard, every year it seems manages to steal Christmas from us.

Today, Maria Corina Machado, the Representative elected with the most votes on September 26, read a damning communique, which I am sure will be translated soon in the English section of El Universal.  It was read in front of all the new opposition Representatives which did not leave for vacation holiday and will be there, I hope, all through the holidays organizing resistance.

Meanwhile Chavez announces that the holiday plate at the arepera socialista will be only 18 Bs. (somewhere between 4 and 2 USD according to the currency exchange you believe in).  That is fine and dandy except that these areperas socialistas are very scarce, 11 country wide, and probably will be closed for Xmas.  But when has naked totalitarian populism bothered with such details?  by the way, if you were trying to reproduce the "plato navideño" for 18 Bs at home, even shopping at Mercal you could not manage it.  Why the A.S. can do that?  You guessed it, for the same reason our gas is at a few cents a gallon, pure demagoguery.

Recordar es vivir: Un caudillo con la cara pintada

En estos días tan álgidos cuando el regimen del golpista del 92, Hugo Chávez, ensambla una dictadura que pronto pudiese ser ferrea, es bueno recordar que ya en 1998 habían mentes lucidas que predijeron lo que iba a pasar en Venezuela.  Uno de ellos fue Carlos Alberto Montaner cuyo articulo para Cambio 16 (¿creo?) fue publicado tambien en El Universal el domingo 9 de agosto de 1998.  Mi Papá, arreglando viejos archivos, me enseño hoy aquel artículo que ambos habíamos tomados en serio en aquel entonces, aunque ya estábamos resignados a la inevitable frivolidad de un electorado que iba a votar por Chávez porque le daba la gana, con animo de venganza difusa, sin mas motivación real que como se dice en inglés to cut your nose to spite your face, cortarse la nariz para que se arréche la cara.

Por su importancia en aquel momento aunque ignorado por la clase política venezolana, y por lo relevante hoy en día me permito reproducirlo en su integridad aquí abajo.


Carlos Alberto Montaner

A Venezuela le está saliendo un caudillo. Los caudillos le salen a las sociedades como los golondrinos le salen a la gente en los sobacos. Y salen por las mismas razones: una severa infección que aflora en un punto del cuerpo cuando las defensas están bajas. El caudillo venezolano se llama Hugo Chávez y se hizo muy famoso en 1992 cuando organizó un golpe militar contra el gobierno legítimo de Carlos Andrés Pérez. El golpe fracasó, pero el intento bastó para hacerlo tremendamente popular entre muchos venezolanos.

A las 72 horas de la asonada castrense, de acuerdo con las encuestas de la época, 65 por ciento de la población adulta decía respaldar al golpista. Hoy, a los seis años de aquella sangrienta aventura, Hugo Chávez amenaza con convertirse en el próximo presidente de Venezuela, pero no para mantener las instituciones del país, sino para llevar a cabo la mítica revolución radical de izquierda, utilizando para ello los recursos del Estado de Derecho. Algo parecido a lo que Hitler y Mussolini hicieron en los años treinta en sus respectivas naciones. Se servirá de los procedimientos democráticos para disolver el Parlamento y gobernar a su antojo por decreto.

Naturalmente, hundirá al país en el horror y la violencia, pero eso es algo que la mayor parte de los venezolanos hoy son totalmente incapaces de percibir. Están demasiado entretenidos en luchar contra la inflación, el desempleo y la inseguridad ciudadana para preocuparse por la defensa de las libertades. Sufren -y con razón- la nostalgia de aquellos tiempos gloriosos en que un dólar valía cuatro bolívares, mientras ahora les cuesta quinientos. Tienen demasiada rabia contra los políticos y funcionarios corruptos, y demasiada indignación contra la ineptitud de la burocracia estatal, para detenerse a pensar en que Chávez, lejos de resolver los problemas del país, los agravará cruel e irresponsablemente, aunque sólo sea porque en su cabeza violenta y cuartelera no hay otra cosa que ideas insensatas extraídas de la mitología revolucionaria latinoamericana de mediados de siglo.

En un país que se muere de estatismo, Chávez aumentará el perímetro del Estado. En una sociedad agredida durante décadas por absurdos controles económicos, Chávez multiplicará los cerrojos y limitará aún más las libertades políticas. En una nación en la que el Estado de Derecho es casi una ficción, este presidente carapintada sustituirá cualquier vestigio de constitucionalismo que quede en pie por su omnímoda voluntad. "Cuál es nuestra Constitución?", se preguntaba en los años treinta el doctor Hans Frank, nazi notorio. Y enseguida se contestaba: "Nuestra Constitución es la voluntad del Führer". La Constitución de los venezolanos será la voluntad de Chávez. El caudillismo es eso: una abdicación de la soberanía popular, una transferencia de poderes.

Cómo saldrán los venezolanos de este atolladero? Por supuesto, muy magullados. Basta leer cuidadosamente los discursos de Chávez en La Habana, publicados en el periódico Granma, y los elogios que Castro le propina, para comprobar que este hombre no tiene la menor idea sobre cómo los pueblos crean riqueza y cómo la destruyen. Si gana las elecciones, una vez instalado en Miraflores, en el mejor de los casos se comportará como Salvador Allende -un caotizador de izquierda- y en el peor, intentará hacer una revolución de corte estalinista semejante a la de su admirado vecino cubano. En ambas situaciones movilizará a sus partidarios y los encuadrará en formaciones cuasi militares para defender la revolución, arriesgándose a un peligroso enfrentamiento con el Ejército, donde siempre habrá algún Pinochet dispuesto a sacar los tanques a la calle para liquidar violentamente a quienes pongan en peligro la hegemonía de las Fuerzas Armadas.

Esto es gravísimo. Los militares venezolanos pueden ser devastadores si se disponen a matar. Hace años le pregunté a un general de ese país cómo habían controlado el "caracazo" -los motines callejeros de la capital- y todavía recuerdo con cierto escalofrío su respuesta torva y sin emociones: "raspamos a mil c.d.m. en una noche", dijo mientras aplastaba su cigarrillo en el cenicero con un gesto displicente.

Así, innecesariamente, puede acabar este absurdo drama: millares de venezolanos "raspados", extirpados como verrugas por personas violentas de uno y otro bando que han sido incapaces de encontrar fórmulas para solucionar pacíficamente sus conflictos. Hay maneras, todavía, de impedir esta catástrofe? Sí, si las fuerzas democráticas fuera capaces de pactar la gran coalición de la libertad, pero no sería honrado forjar esa alianza sólo para derrotar a Chávez en las urnas. Eso sería mezquino. Habría que proponer un plan realista y serio que les demuestre a los venezolanos que la respuesta a sus males está en la democracia y en el Estado de Derecho, y no en la acción de los caudillos fascistoides. No sólo se trata de salvar a Venezuela del daño que en el futuro puede hacerle Hugo Chávez. El objetivo también es salvar a Venezuela del daño que le han hecho en el pasado otros venezolanos que llegaron al poder sin la cara pintada.

Carlos Alberto Montaner/Agencia Internacional de Prensa

Welche Auswege gibt es?

Blogger Francisco hat es auf den Punkt gebracht. Ich versuche es kurz auf Deutsch zu erklären.

Die gegenwärtige Nationalversammlung oder Asamblea Nacional Venezuelas, die fast nur aus Chávez-treuen Abgeordneten -der Opposition von 2005 sei schuld- besteht und die nur bis zum 4. Januar im Amt ist, hat ein verfassungswidriges Gesetz verabschiedet, das ein Verfahren gegen den Abgeordneten oder die Abgeordnete und vor allem seinen/ihren Ausschluss aus jeder politischen Position vorsieht, wenn er/sie

"1) gegen die Grundsätze des Regierungsprograms abstimmt, im Sinne des programmatischen Inhaltes (sic) und der politisch-ideologischen Orientierung
2) Inhalte und politische Positionen unterstützt, die gegen das Angebot des Regierungsprograms stehen, das dem Nationalen Wahlrat vorgelegt und den Wählern und Wählerinnen während der Wahlkampgane vorgestellt wurden.
3) die Seite von politischen Kräften nimmt, die den sozialen Bewegungen und politischen Organisationen konträr sind, welche das vor dem Nationalen Wahlrat vorgelegte Regierungsprogram unterstützt haben.
4) sich von der Parlamentsgruppe der politischen oder sozialen Organisation trennt, die ihn oder sie nominiert hat, um sich einer anderen Gruppe anzuschliessen oder eine neue Parlamentsgruppe zu gründen, die eine Meinung vertritt, die konträr ist zum Regierungsprogram, das dem Wahlrat vorgelegt wurde."

Das ist völlig verfassungswidrig und zwar nach Artikel 201 der Verfassung:

Die Abgeordneten der Nationalversammlung sind Vertreter des ganzen Volkes und der Bundesstaaten als Ganzes. Sie sind keinen Befehlen oder Weisungen gebunden und nur ihrem Gewissen unterworfen. Ihre Abstimmung in der Nationalversammlung ist persönlich.

Der Obergerichtshof Venezuelas ist zur Zeit in den Händen der Chávez-treuen Richter.

Was bleibt uns übrig?


26 September 2010

Alle Abgeordneten der Nationalversammlung ab 2011
Wahlbet. 66.45%

PSUV logo.jpg
Vorige Wahlen
139 6 5
Abg. nun
98 67 2
decrease41 increase61 decrease3
5,451,422 5,334,309 354,677
48.20% 47.17% 3.14%

Chucho Hernandez Melean is negotiating, and some are unhappy

There was a turn of events in Sur del Lago that have left a few people confused, but not your blogger.  Chucho Melean, the hero du jour, has decided that it was not time to immolate himself yet, that he should try to negotiate with the regime first.

"minister" Loyo in Chucho's kitchen!!!!!!!
See, Chucho Hernandez Melean is going to be 94 next February;  he has been around.  When he was 10 Gomez held all power and Venezuela was at peace.  Roads did not reach Sur del Lago.  When he was 20 he saw the madness of oil prospecting while he was digging his trenches in the lands he could take over for free because no one wanted them.  He survived the "revolucion de Octubre" and all of its failed promises while the original Venezuelan social contract started to fray.  During his most productive years Perez Jimenez was ruling.  When he thought he could plan his retirement, roads, electricity, health care arrived Sur del Lago, but also agrarian reform and, later, FARC banditry.  He thus went along quietly completing one of the most successful farm complex in Venezuela while the country slowly sunk.  He treated right everyone, from the military leeches seeking gifts to, we suppose, less wholesome parasites.

Today Chucho cannot remember all the broken promises but he certainly can remember all that he had to do for himself, to transform swamps in rich grasslands.  Or maybe he remembers them too well and knows full well that for all of his recent media exposure he is on his own, that all will immolate him gladly no matter what side they stand.  So, in all simplicity he received the minister and the vice president and told them that no problem, they can have the land tomorrow as long as they pay him what is on top of the land.  They agreed, for the time being, to save face, Loyo appearing less Komissar-like today, aware that he lost the first media battle out of his own stupidity and arrogance, a lethal combination when you deal with old land cronies who have seen it all.

Imagine that, the minister and the vice-president had to go to Chucho's own little Canossa!

And yet he is certainly not going to let the opposition benefit from it and I agree with him: tonight they could find nothing else but to call for a nation wide "caserolazo", a nation wide pot banging at 8 PM, which was of course a failure.  At least here in San Felipe.

Chucho Hernandez Melean knows his fellows citizens only too well, and they have been leeching off him for too long.  He is cutting his losses, pissing all sides at the same time.  I am impressed.

Our Shrink and other things

As I write this, I'm hearing a Cacerolazo. For the newbies, a Cacerolazo is a way of protest which consists on hitting (empty, of course) kitchen tools, specially saucepans. The empty kitchen tools symbolizes the lack of something: there is no food to put on them (and/or freedom, rights...), therefore we hit them. The noise a Cacerolazo makes is a sound of disagreement. As a form of protests, the Cacerolazo is an extremely comfortable one: you generally protest safe at home or no farther than your street, using kitchen tools near you. I have also come to realize that Cacerolazos are a therapeutic way of protesting.

Seriously, there is something quite relieving about hitting a spoon against a saucepan when you are overly mad or sad due to any controversial Revolutionary move. You might not able to take part on streets protests, due to work or more likely fear; or because your family is afraid and won't let you. You might are not even involved on any political task because is not your thing. But you are angry, and feel how Revolution has taken over your life, as deep as anyone. And when you hit a saucepan using a spoon, and hear this strange percussion in your neighborhood composed of your neighbors doing the same; you feel safe doing it. Most importantly, a Cacerolazo probably won't make much difference but you feel like at least you are doing something.

A Cacerolazo also reminds me of the country I want, of the type of society I want to live. A Cacerolazo is a disturbing symphony composed by all kinds of percussive sounds. Each person from its own window, using its own kitchen tools in its own way: maybe hitting a saucepan against another saucepan, or using a metal spoon or a wood one... produces a different sound that goes through its own rhythm. A Cacerolazo is uncoordinated by nature.

The only time I presence a coordinated Cacerolazo was during the General Strike in 2002 when my neighborhood date' brought a huge drummer to the streets and played it. I was 17 years old, and his attempt called my attention so we dated a couple of times but turned out that he wasn't as interesting as his drummer. Back to our story, since the sound of the drummer was far superior than that of our saucepans, we all decided to follow him.

Exceptions like that aside, the fact is that the Cacerolazo makes our differences, our particularities, our inability to be coordinated obvious. But still it shows that it is possible to do something together no matter how different we are; and even better: each one of us can do it in its own way.

I love differences. I love when every individual has its right to act as an individual.

The Revolution (nothing unexpected) disagrees. Today, they approved a law on which no depute can't change its vote or its criteria. Under this new law, the parliament seats will belong to a political party and not to a particular depute. No coalitions will be legal and each depute will be forced to vote on any issue as its political party does. If a depute doesn't follow this law, the risk for him is to be expelled off his charge, and unable to run for any political charge again.

So from January, new deputies will be forced to think like the party does. Inside the Assembly, we are going to find a drummer boy to make sure everyone hits a tool at the exact same time. But out there, in the streets and inside our homes, each one of us is still free to hit a saucepan in the way and with the rhythm we like.

Los culpables de la dictadura: Maria de Queipo

Al escribir sobre usted debo reconocer que los méritos legales para ponerla presa el día en que la justicia regrese a Venezuela no son tan obvios como los de sus colegas ya descritos. Pero sus des-méritos éticos son posiblemente mayores.

Lo que usted ha hecho con la ley de educación, y lo que se propone hacer con la ley de universidades es destruir la educación critica en Venezuela, criterio indispensable para poder formar los científicos y creadores necesarios para desarrollar un país y sustentar la democracia.

Lo que usted propone es establecer un sistema donde lo único verdadero es lo que diga el gran líder, aunque sean las mas atroces burradas, que las dice.  En su sistema el barrendero tiene la misma autoridad para decidir que se enseña y que se investiga que el que dedicó su vida a entender las inquietudes universales.  El problema verdadero de su modelo es que ese barrendero mítico no existe ni existirá, porque los barrenderos de verdad son gente honorable. El barrendero o barrendera que usted tiene en mente es un delegado o delegada del poder central para desprestigiar al que tenga que ser desprestigiado, a desnudar lo que había en la papelera del científico no conforme cuando venga el día de su juicio público por la comuna popular.

En el mundo que usted propone no se podrán hacer méritos académicos, ni serán necesarios ya que el único mérito será la lealtad al sistema.  Ya lo vemos con la llegada de su hija al tribunal supremo que por méritos académicos superiores no parece haber sido.  Ustedes se pagan y se dan el vuelto.

Si bien es posible que usted nunca vaya a juicio, el juicio al cual usted no escapará es el de la historia donde usted terminará junto a todos esos farsantes que acompañan a Trofim Lysenko y otros aduladores que pudieron trastocar impunemente el porvenir de su país porque nunca tuvieron que demostrar que sus teorías tenían sentido científico alguno, ni las apoyaba la realidad experimental.

Pero en el país de Pudreval todo es posible, incluido la putrefacción mental que usted propone a las universidades, abono indispensable al florecimiento de dictaduras.

On Internet censorship

The law which officially establishes Internet censorship in Venezuela was approved a few days ago. We are still unaware of the consequences it might have; as always it is not about the law but how others apply it. The terms in the law are vague, giving Revolutionary functionaries freedom to act at its discretion. As Daniel' clearly put it, this is not about blocking sites; it is about prosecuting the ones who write them. Honestly, I can't possible know what will happen to my blog under this new law. I have no idea where I stand.

My blog is, unfortunately, nothing important: it gets no more than 50 visitors a day so is not really a threat; however, Twitters that had less than followers were prosecuted early this year due to what they posted. Also, due to the fact that this is a blog written in English, has limited influence on a Venezuelan audience (and that's OK since it was designed for a foreign one). I read somewhere in the law draft that all contents made in Venezuela should be done in Spanish language or indigenous thong; but I don't know if this article was approved (If it was, this blog is already illegal then).

Still, I got the sense that if they want to silence dissidence on Internet, they will go first after the big broadly visited Spanish language sites and specially, their writers and/or owners. Examples of those sites now endangered are:
- Noticias24
- Noticiero Digital
- La Patilla
- Chiguire Bipolar (A brilliant political humored blog)

Daniel has translated an article of this controversial law, that lists a series of "crimes" under Bloggers, columnists, politicians etc etc etc could be prosecuted under this new law. I deeply recommend reading it. It seems like if you don't want to be prosecuted, you better don't write anything at all because anything could be interpreted as "crime".

The dictatorship has begun. And under it, could us Bloggers resists the temptation to write against it? I think not

The Military Going Bananas

I'm busy now. Daniel Duquenal and Miguel are covering the latest events in Venezuela pretty well.

What I will say here:

  • The outgoing deputies of the National Assembly, almost all pro-military junta, are shamelessly approving all kinds of laws that are anything but constitutional. They are making the work of the democratic forces as difficult as possible, approving several laws a day without any consultation or real discussion. They have up to 4th January to do that.
  • Among other things, there is a weird law approving a one-entry point for Internet in order to "protect against pornography" and other things, but in reality to try to control the information flowing to the big public, just like in China and Belarus now. The "vice president for Science and Technology" of the Military Regime, an old communist with an extremely good salary not just for Venezuelan standards but for Europe, declared, among other things, that "there is not only Internet, Internet is just one means, there is also Mozilla and..." This is the kind of preparation military and former guerrillas (against democratic governments, mind, not like in Brazil or Argentina against dictatorships) have. No wonder the Finance minister, as Miguel wrote, is an fan of the North Korean model.
  • Some of the key "opposition" leaders seem to be - as usual - on vacation, even though we expected the regime to go into offensive mode during Christmas time, as it usually does.
  • The military are taking over some of the most fertile lands in the Banana Republic of Venezuela...supposedly to give it to homeless people but apparently to build fincas to grow bananas for the Russians! If you read Russian or want to use a machine translation software on it, go to the Ria page. I have no time to go into all the details, many of which are about projects that will never take place or that make no sense. I will just mention this: apparently, Medvedev told Hugo the Coupster that the banana plantations could produce up to 20 000 jobs. Medvedev also told Hugo that Russia could invest millions of dollars there. And Hugo goes for it. The guy speaks for hours a week about how previous governments sold off Venezuela, but the way he plans and negotiates everything seems worse than the way our Indian ancestors negotiated gold for broken glass. Of course, the regime won't touch the lands of the Chávez clan, the lands of the Ramirez Chacín clan or the lands of many other boliburgueses.

Sorry, no more time. Bet on this: Chavismo will try to keep tension so high that National Assembly sessions will become a show. And most of Latin America is overtaking Venezuela and Venezuela is sinking in its self-inflicted "Bolivarian" nightmare.

In Venezuela they restrict Internet access but in the US they make sure access is complete!!!

Where is the real democracy in Internet usage?  In Venezuela where today this blogger has become a potential criminal or in the US where the FCC is voting on making sure that no Internet provider can block sites from competing services?

You decide!

The time has arrived!

Dear readers

Censorship on Internet has just been voted. There is one article that lists all the prohibitions on any media including Internet. There is a translation with a mention of appropriate past posts that could be considered violations according to the censors, such as the Golinger tart. (1)  Let's start first with the offenses this blog has and will make again.

1. To start or promote hate and intolerance for religious reasons, political or sexual differences, for racism or xenofobia.

Am I to understand that criticizing Iran fundamentalism, their stoning of women, their hanging of gays is a demonstration of religious intolerance on my part?

2.  Incite or promote the apology to delinquency.

Are historical comparisons, frequent in this blog, to be questioned?  Criticizing the delinquency of the regime is included?  Because let's be clear about this: if you support a noted corrupt official you are violating that item.  Heard that Aporrea?

3.  Constitute pro war propaganda

So, if I congratulate the Colombian government on their operations against the FARC I could find myself in jail?  If I support operations against the Taliban I am promoting war?

4. Create restlessness in society or perturb public order

If the opposition organizes a march and that I support it and that I defend the, say, students that defended themselves against police brutality, am I promoting the perturbation of public order?  If I report that there is no milk or flour on the shelves, am I promoting perturbation of public order?  The newspapers can report food scarcity but can a blog say so?  Can a tweet report where food is available and thus generate a stampede through massive retweeting?

5.  Do not recognize the authorities legitimately constituted

When I list three representatives as accusing them of promoting a legal coup d'etat, am I violating that item?  When I say that Rafael Ramirez is a crook, am I attempting against the security of the nation?

6.  Lead to homicide

Even that one I cannot escape because if I write that I wish that Chavez or Cilia Flores end up in jail to rot for their sins I am actually exposing them to homicide!  at least in notoriously infamous Venezuelan jails.

7.  Lead to or promote the non-compliance of the current legal order

This is perhaps the worst one because promoting a mere boycott becomes already a crime!!!!!!  Even suggesting the call for a constitutional assembly becomes as of today a crime!!!!!!!!!  This is the catch 22 because if calling for a constitutional assembly happens and such an assembly is elected then it would subvert the current order and as such is a thought in the future crime, or something of the sort.  You can be sure that the Cuban advisors will find a way to use this item #7 widely against web pages, blogs et al.

Thus the time has arrived, censorship of Internet is here.  Now, needless to say that I have not the vaguest intention to abide by these illegal rules that I do not recognize (which as of now makes me already a criminal).   However I need to start seriously to think about proxies, codes etc...  and I will need help from readers.  More on that later, but this post for the time being to let you know that censorship has arrived in Internet, and the worse kind because before I am punished it will be the net provider that will be punished first and thus the regime forces the providers to become censors, a hallmark of totalitarian regimes, forced informing.....  The cowardice of this regime is for all to see.

1) The Spanish version in the voted draft unless some last minute changes were made.

1. Inciten o promuevan el odio y la intolerancia por razones religiosas, políticas,por diferencia de género, por racismo o xenofobia.
2. Inciten o promuevan y/o hagan apología al delito.
3. Constituyan propaganda de Guerra
4. Fomenten zozobra en la ciudadanía o alteren el orden público.
5. Desconozcan a las autoridades legítimamente constituidas.
6. Induzcan al homicidio.
7. Inciten o promuevan el incumplimiento del ordenamiento jurídico vigente