Chávez hat tatsächlich Krebs - und noch mehr

Es war, wie die meisten Leser (und ich) dachten: der venezolanische Caudillo hat Krebs. Ich werde heute abend schreiben, was die verschiedenen Szenarien sein könnten.

Hier könnt Ihr Daniels Meinung (auf englisch) lesen.

Die Rede ist sehr seltsam. Dder Caudillo versucht penibel, jedes postvokale s als /s/ auszusprechen, während die meisten Venezolaner ausserhalb der Anden diesen Laut wie /h/artikulieren würden und er umso mehr.

Stay tuned.

And so serious rumors were right all along, Chavez has cancer

Before I enter into this post I must stress that I would never wish cancer on anyone, and that I want Hugo alive and well so some day he can face a court of justice for all the crimes he has committed.  This being said, his video tonight:

I am not going to start more speculation waves but there are a few details I do not like about that video.

First, the delivery. This was a stilted announcement that was read by Chavez, the first time I can remember him reading from a piece of paper. Coming from him who makes fun of people who prefer to read prepared statements, him the great improvisor never at a loss for words, it can mean only one of two things: he is really sick and was propped for that speech made short and sort of direct; or he did not write the speech at all and somehow was coaxed into reading it. For me it is yet more evidence that we are a Cuban colony

The second thing is that the time frame does not coincides with what the regime would have liked us to believe, that it all happened in Havana (and stayed in Havana?).  Chavez claims that it was AFTER the first surgery that they finally detected cancerous cells. Significantly after.  If we let logic carry the day that means that indeed his "knee" incident was the first surgery and that he went to Havana for the second one.  Why can't Chavez tell the whole truth and get over with it?  After all, not even myself would begrudge him his wishes to go to Havana for his second surgery and treatment to feel safer and away from paparazzi and the troubles of the country.

Which leads us into the third segment, the things that are left out and that now matter terribly.  Which cancer?  What prognosis?  as the president of Venezuela Chaevz owes it to us to inform accurately on all that ails him so that we know as soon as possible whether he will be running for reelection.  Not that it matters in a way, but it is such basic courtesy to allow the PSUV to start picking its successor....  From his looks we know that it is a bad one, likely prostate or colon, with all the physical limitations that those imply from permanent drains to colostomy bags.

What I am afraid of is that all political decisions are made to transform Chavez into some hero.  That they might not be the best decision is a point up for discussion but I have that negative vibe that what is best for Venezuela is really not what matters right now.  In fact, I have the sorry impression that decisions are not even taken into the beast health interests of Chavez....  Who takes them?

Chavez has Cancer, and this blogger, afraid

Now this change things but in what direction? As I write this, I just heard the news. Not hat I haven't heard them before, a well known journalist: Nelson Bocaranda; told us everything a few days ago. But there is something different about hearing a rumor and watching one short live speech of the president, one were he reads for the first time to address the nation. He looks pale, sort of yellow and skinny. Beyond his words there is something seriously wrong here. And we should be seriously worried.

I didn't knew. Like I told you on Twitter, I was in the movies with my boyfriend when it happened. We watched a sort of kids movie - the one about the Panda bear - and then he brought me home. We were in a sort of romantic mood and since the movie was short, once in my building, we were able to talk and kiss in the parking line. After a few "I love you", I take the elevator, open my door and my dad is reading the news. He doesn't ask me how did my date went, he just points at the computer and the headlines are pretty clear, with the words "Chavez" and "Cancer" in the same sentence. My dad is reading a serious page, a newspaper, not rumors, no gossip, no joke.

The government waited more than 20 days for tell us the truth, when our 200 independence anniversary is coming closer (next Tuesday) and his absence from such an event; including the Revolutionary Socialist Stravaganza Parade would be impossible to hide. And when it does come to give us some answers, the Revolution offer us the image of its leader looking uncannily weak; without giving much detail about his diagnosis: for how long his treatment will last, when will he be able to come back, how optimist is his diagnosis, what can we expect and where this Cancer is located exactly. This are questions whose answers are still unavailable to us Venezuelans (at least for what I have heard so far, remember I've just found out, and I'm writing this in a rush)

You might think that after a life time of literally hating the man, we would have a different mood. But at least I don't. And it is not only because I'm Catholic. But because I look at the possible outcomes of this, and I don't feel optimist. Like I said on the headline of this blog: this is both BAD news for the government and the opposition.

As a result of Chavez' disease, both Government and Opposition are facing the same risk (Isn't it ironic?): the risk of dividing themselves, on starting to fight for a power that we once thought to be strong and unbeatable. But it is as strong as a man, and as weak as him. It is Chavez' responsibility, of course. Everything is about him, he's omnipresent, he's everywhere, anytime, and influx every corner of our intimate life. No Venezuelan affect us more beyond our intimate circle as Chavez does and both government and opposition develop around him. He's everything, despite if you like him or not. He's the reason for putting a lot of people together, let it be for supporting him, or for the opposite.

With him at risk, those who are now together could start looking for their own interest. And fights could start. Between the government. Between the opposition. But even worse, between those who Chavez has supplied with arms; summed with the military.

As I write this, I honestly have no clue of what this situation can bring to my country. No one has a clue and uncertainty so far has not proved to give us any benefit. I'm just thinking on possible consequences. And tonight, I'm pretty much afraid of them.

Thugocracy in crisis: mystery disease and cancelled summits for Chavez

Whatever is going on with Hugo Chavez, it is not going very well.  The latest installment of the saga is the cancellation of the Latin American summit in Margarita Island which was to be the crowing achievement of the bicentennial celebration of Venezuela next July 5th, to the glory of our local caudillo, of course.  In fact, although most people assume that one way or the other Chavez will appear for the July 5th celebrations, if partially only, the delicate situation and dangerous implications are now unavoidable for all: the regime is in crisis.

On a day to day basis nothing changes, with or without Chavez at home: food scarcity, electric blackouts, crime, unemployment, infrastructure degradation, health care worker strikes, etc, keep their steady progression.  This is what happens in a thugocracy, this novel variant of autocracy that is been revealed to us this June.  Indeed, for all the adjectives we were applying to describe the Chavez regime the one that fitted it best was the government of thugs, by thugs, for thugs, or thugocracy.

How does a thugocracy functions?  Well, we have the extreme example at how the Rodeo jails are organized, where the "new man" created by the glorious revolution is nothing less but the "pran" (dixit Ecarri).  The "pran" if you will recall, is the top of the food chain at Venezuelan jails, the convict that establishes his power base ruling a portion or all of the prison where he is at.  Through his power he rules over drugs, sex, allocations, and more, not forgetting weaponry strong enough to keep in check the Venezuelan army for at least 2 weeks.

The system reproduces itself at the top although with less crass means but much higher financial numbers. Since Chavez is the "pran maximo", until now the situation was not as obvious for the casual observers.  Then again, hardened chavismo watchers like yours truly already knew that the multiplicity of scandals that get unpunished (Pudreval, the 800,000 USD suit case to Argentina, the Sugar mill in Barinas, the "el rey de la cabilla", etc, etc...) were in large part gang business where one gang lost against another for its influence.  The punishment was rarely jail, always loss of access to public monies.

In other words, the art of government was how to split the loot, making sure that enough did percolate to the bases so as to keep them in check, just as the jail pran satisfies the needs of all jail mates authorizing conjugal visits for those he is happy with.

But now when we see chavismo already having internecine warfare even though Chavez is not yet 6 feet under, you know that we had a bona fide thugocracy all of these years.  Right now the main contenders for new "pran supremo" are:
  • Adan Chavez, the brother, the one in charge of all the famiglia business; 
  • Diosdado Cabello, former vice president and governor of Miranda who was such a bad governor that all the cheating in the world was not able to save his chair in 2008.  Disodado is rumored to have one the largest new fortunes in Venezuela (his brother has occupied several "income producing" postions such as the Venezuelan IRS and Caracas Airport).  Yet in spite of a recent disfavor with Chavez Diosdado has been able to place enough supporters in the National Assembly last year that he can control what happens there even if has 0 charisma, 0 oratory skills but enough bitter bad blood for the resale;
  • The military.  They have benefited too much from the regime which is for all practical purposes a military regime without the coup d'etat.  That is, Chavez surrendered to the army the basic controls of the country allowing many generals and colonels to become obscenely rich.  The thing is that we do not know how divided might be the army, and we also know that apparently a not insignificant fraction is close to Diosdado.
  • The Cubans who after the army are the more ubiquitous profiteers of the regime (outside of the monthly allowance that Venezuela sends to Cuba).  Although we could speculate anything, including a fusion of Venezuela and Cuba, it is enough to know for certain that Cuba will not lose its life line from Venezuela and that the thousand of Cuban agents inside Venezuela are working full time at deciding who should be the successor of Chavez if worse comes to worse.
There are plenty of minor ambitions but they should not be ruled out as they can be used as a cover by the Cubans or the army as needed to edge out Diosdado or Adan.  This is another characteristic of thugocracies: the chosen ones can have a meteoric rise to the top if financial interests are well served.

Of course, at this point, the educated reader will have observed that in the picking of a successor for Chavez no constitutional means are seriously considered: the law of the strongest shall prevail, doing the legal adjustments as they are needed.  This is the main characteristic of a thugocracy: act first, legislate later if time allows.

Wine waterfall

The Cascada del Vino is a waterall in the beautiful national park Dinira, between the states Lara, Trujillo and Portuguesa. This park is really gorgeous, but it is under heavy pressure from humans: there is an increasing amount of squatters in the area, too many tourists and no proper control of what they do as there is hardly any trained staff and few other resources.

One of the things a future Venezuela government needs to undertake, apart from providing for more resources for national parks proper, is to make sure that all urbanizations in the country have more green areas. Right now people in a lot of areas in Venezuela have either cement and pavement or national parks. The latter end up getting too many visitors.

Alles in Butter mit Chávez?

Ein erster Gipfel der im Jahr 2010 ins Leben gerufenen Gemeinschaft der Lateinamerikanischen und Karibischen Staaten (CELAC) wurde kurzerhand abgesagt. Der Gipfel hätte am 5. und  6. Juli auf der venezolanischen Insel Margarita stattfinden müssen. Mehrere Staatsoberhäupter hatten schon ihre Teilnahme bestätigt. Der Grund: der venezolanische Caudillo ist zu krank.

Kurz davor hatte der regierungstreue Sender Venezolana de Televisión ein Video gezeigt, das beweisen sollte, alles sei in Butter mit Chávez.

Was soll all dies heissen?

Ohne den Caudillo geht nichts in der Tierra de Gracia, nada. Wenn man eine richtige Demokratie hätte, würde der Vizepräsident die Aufgaben des Präsidenten übernehmen und Venezuela auf diesem Gipfel vertreten. Der vicepresidente bolivariano Elías Jaua ist aber lediglich ein Diener des Caudillos, nicht ein Beamter, der die Interessen aller Venezolaner vertritt. Er kann und will und darf den Gipfel nicht eröffnen.

Dies heisst nicht, dass Chávez nicht am 5.7 in Caracas für den Unabhängigkeitstag sein könnte. Es ist nur weniger wahrscheinlich jetzt.

Chavez's lumpen show from Havana

Eventually the regime released a video of a Chavez chatting amiably with Castro, in some garden of Havana, kids included, mentioning the "fresh" Havana morning.  Abscess has turned the man bucolic...

And yet there is plenty wrong with that picture.  Oh no, no conspiracy theory here, the man is alive and recovering.  My objection is elsewhere.

First if Chavez is doing so well, why not make a direct link?  After all, CNN has accustomed us to Skype for many of its internal reports, and have we not recently installed (and payed for) an optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela?  I saw Chavez sitting quite well to talk to Castro, so whatever is eating his crotch would not stop him to seat for a few minutes in front of a web Cam.  No?

Second, why that need by VTV creeps to underline that they have in hand a recent edition of Granma?  I am sure it is not because Castro and Chavez read that rag for real news.  No?

Third, why all that mystery since now everybody knows that Chavez was really ill, and everybody knows really well that one does not stay away for so long from work unless one cannot help it.  Even Pepe Mujica in Uruguay chimed in saying that Castro kidnapped Chavez to make sure he would follow his "treatment".  Is Pepe mocking us from having become such a pathetic Cuban colony or does he really mean this insult to Venezuela's sovereignty?

The real reason is very simple:

1- the regime and his beloved leader have set their feet in the quicksand of misinformation and silly image protection at all cost.  The weave is now so thick that they need to hire reliable allies like ex-tupamaro Mujica to help them yarn the tale.

2- the intended audience is of course the chavista lumpen who has no idea of what Skype can do.  They are the ones that need to be reassured, herded from afar, with cheap theatrics and slow suspense, just like a telenovela.  And of course it is an insult to the intelligence of anyone else....

The pathetic "revolution"

Military man Diosdado Cabello, from the Eastern Llanos, is one of the most notorious Chavistas. Even among most Chávez supporters he is profoundly rejected...and yet he is one of the key people keeping up Chávez's regime.

You know this regime has nothing to do with a real revolution and is yet another military dictatorship when you read stuff like his tweets.

"Venezuelan, Bolivarian (only people who have no idea about history can say that), revolutionary and Chavista, on the struggle to build Socialism"

"Today we must be more united than ever around the leadership of our commandant. With Chávez everything, without him nothing".

What does this mean? My bet is he wants to show the main caudillo that he is more loyal than the others, so he needs to get some special goodies for that when Chávez returns to Venezuela.

Should we make anything out of the threats from Chavez older brother?

Adan Chavez is the oldest brother of  Hugo Chavez.  He has been put in places where he could keep an eye on the "famiglia" business, such as the embassy in Havana when the Chavez can was building its fortune.  Adan Chavez was also the "more" educated sibling, the one that made it to teach at low levels in some campus, and the one that was a communist early in life, allegedly one of the main forces in turning Chavez to "passé" ideologies.

Then, apparently his greed was too much for Chavez who dispatched him to Barinas state, their home state, to succeed his father as governor.  Of course, Barinas is now a private estate of the Chavez and there needs to be at all times one of the capo in charge: too many landed interests for the family now there!  Barinas is now a feudal land.  Curiously he barely made it at election time and his election is widely accepted as the least clean of all elections of 2008 (I personally think there was cheating there, favored by an opposition division which played right into the hands of Chavez).  Since then Barinas is reported has having active death squads....

Thus we cannot be surprised by Adan Chavez words this week end as to remind the PSUV base that there are other ways to reach power than elections.  That is, armed insurrection if necessary and to hell with democracy and elections.

Before we get all up in arms over such preposterous words we have to understand that these words come form someone who has not had any political success in life, who owes it all to Hugo, charisma (a chip on a shoulder somewhere maybe?), someone who from his communist past has reached such a corrupt present that he knows very well that under a normal situation he would be sent to court where a guilty verdict is easy to predict. 

The guy is scared, his bro might be croaking but obviously he is way more concerned by the family's survival than Hugo in Havana.  Thus he is behaving like your average capo di mafia, threatening folks even if he is likely a coward.  His words, you know, are said much more for his rivals inside chavismo than against us in the opposition.  True, there are unacceptable and extremely dangerous, but Adan Chavez will go first against, say, Jaua than this blogger.

Maria Anastasia O'Grady sees it as I do

Well, thanks to a reader, I got the English version of the WSJ today where Maria Anastasia O'Grady either intuits as I do, or reads my blog :) Since it is subscription I am posting her words below. (H.T.: A.E.)

A Get-Well Card for Hugo Chávez
Venezuela would be better off if the ailing dictator lives and is held responsible for his misdeeds.

As Venezuela's Hugo Chávez convalesces in a Havana hospital, his condition is shrouded in secrecy. The party line is that he had emergency surgery on June 10 for a pelvic abscess. But he has not been seen in public for more than two weeks and speculation is rampant that he is battling something more serious.

His critics ought to be careful what they wish for. While conventional wisdom holds that the demise of Mr. Chávez would set Venezuela free, it may instead make the country more repressive. If there is any justice in the world, he will return to Venezuela to marinate in his own stew—the economic disaster he has created over the past 12 years. A serious illness that takes him out of play would leave Venezuela haunted by the ghost of chavismo much as Peronism has haunted Argentina for the past half-century.

Some Venezuelans think they smell a rat. With living standards steadily declining in their country and popular discontent rising, these skeptics say that Mr. Chávez is looking for a way to revive his image. A triumphant return to Caracas, after he was believed to be near death in Cuba, might do the trick. If his "resurrection" coincides with the July 5 celebration of the nation's bicentennial anniversary, for which a Soviet-style military extravaganza is planned, it would be even more spectacular.

Eva Peron's untimely death in Argentina helped Peronism to live on. Could something similar happen in Venezuela?

For the half or more of the population that opposes the Venezuelan strongman, even the thought of such a comeback is unbearable. They detest his never-ending decrees and manipulation of the law. But what rankles most among those who oppose him are his theatrics, like seizing the airwaves several times a day to sing songs and deliver demagogic rants. A hero's return is likely to heighten this narcissistic behavior. It is also true that he has said he will not leave power even if he loses the election next year.

Still, it is worth considering the alternative outcome. Because Mr. Chávez has destroyed institutions in order to foster a cult of personality, his mortality implies sheer chaos—as well as opportunity for the violent and ambitious. The bloodbath for power would not be between democrats and chavistas. It would be between the many armed factions that he has nurtured. Once victorious the winner will try to inherit his power by insisting that the nation worship his memory. Since none of his likely successors shares his charisma, repression is likely to get worse.

Cuba will be ready to help. The Castro brothers have long provided the security and intelligence apparatus that Mr. Chávez uses to stifle dissent. In exchange, Mr. Chávez funnels at least $5 billion annually to the island regime. The survival of that symbiotic relationship would be a top priority for the Cuban military dictatorship.

That a recovered Mr. Chávez would organize a welcoming committee for himself there is no doubt, and he might even get a bump in the polls from it. But he will also have to take responsibility for a host of Bolivarian-made problems.

For starters, he will have to confront the heavily armed mob that has taken over the El Rodeo prison in the state of Miranda, and the families of nearly 2,000 inmates whose lives are at risk. These are his constituents and he has promised to make the prison system more just. But things have only gotten worse during his presidency.
The Americas in the News – Prisons in Venezuela

The nongovernmental organization, Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), estimates that facilities built for 14,000 inmates now hold more than 49,000. It also says that almost 46% of those detained are in "judicial limbo" and do not know "the status of their case." According to the OVP, there was a 22% increase in prison deaths in the first quarter of this year over the same period last year. Since 1999 over 4,500 inmates have died.

El Rodeo is emblematic of a wider problem for Mr. Chávez: The most vulnerable Venezuelans are still waiting for him to deliver on his promises of a better life. Until now he has bribed them with subsidies and rhetoric. But near 30% inflation is destroying their income and his words are getting old.

The 30,000 families who lost their homes in the floods last fall were supposed to be a priority for his government. But they are still without shelter, and their protests are growing louder. Mr. Chávez has pledged to build 153,000 new homes this year, but in the first quarter only 1,600 were completed.

Add to this food shortages, electricity blackouts, capital flight and one of the worst crime rates in the hemisphere, and it's not surprising that the economic outlook is so bleak. Oil and drug trafficking have kept the military satisfied until now. But the patience of the masses will one day hit its limit. When it does, they ought to have the opportunity to direct their wrath at the architect of their misery.

Chávez Bruder und der Einsatz von Gewalt

Gestern hat Adán Chávez, Gouverneur vom Bundesstaat Barinas und Bruder des venezolanischen Caudillos, folgendes gesagt (ab Minute 2:05):

"Im Rahmen der strategischen Planung gibt es die Wahltaktik, aber auch, als Teil der ideologischen Bildung, sollte es uns klar sein, dass der Wahlweg nicht der einzige Weg ist und dass wir darum unter bestimmten Umständen andere Kampfmöglichkeiten auf unserem historischen Weg nicht ausser Acht lassen sollten. Der Che Guevara hat es gut erklärt, als er in einer Schrift von 1961 betonte, dass die echte Fähigkeit eines Revolutionärs darin besteht...die geeigneten revolutionären Taktiken je nach Lage zu finden...und diese Taktiken so gut wie möglich zu erforschen...unser Bolivarischer Prozess fing beim Wahlgang an...und wir wollen weiter auf diesen Weg gehen, durch eine friedliche Art und Weise, die den Bau des bolivarischen Sozialismus vorantreibt. Wir müssen uns aber der Gefahren bewusst sein...sicher sein, dass der Feind nicht ausruht, wir können, als echte Revolutionäre, andere Kampfmethoden nicht wäre unverzichtbar, wenn wir uns auf den Wahlweg beschränken würden und die anderen Methoden, selbst den bewaffneten Kampf nicht berücksichtigen wü an die Macht zu kommen...denn wenn wir nicht an die Macht kommen - in unserem Fall, um an der Macht zu bleiben und diese Macht zu verstärken - werden alle anderen Eroberungen auf wackligen Beinen stehen."

Das sagte ein Bonze, der die Interessen seines Clans verteidigen will - gegen das Volk, gegen die Demokratie, gegen die Menschenrechte.

If someone still thinks Venezuela is a democracy

If someone still thinks Venezuela is a democracy, he should listen to Adán Chávez Frías, the president's brother and current governor of Barinas, the state were Chávez was born:

From minute 2:05
"within that strategic planning there is the electoral tactic, but also and as part of the ideological formation, it should be clear that the electoral path is not the only path and therefore we should not forget other possibilities of struggle according to the circumstances that mark our historical path. Che Guevara expressed that well when he stressed in a writing in 1961 that the real capacity of a to find find the adequate revolutionary tactics according to every change of situation...and to explore those tactics the best he or she can...our Bolivarian process started through the electoral path...and we want to go through there, through a pacific way that allows to build Bolivarian socialism (sic), but aware of the dangers that threaten us, sure (sic) that the enemy does not rest, we cannot forget, as authentic revolutionaries, other methods of would be unforgivable to limit oneself to the electoral path and not see the other methods, even the armed get to power...because if we don't get the power - and we need to say if we don't keep the power and strengthen the power...all the other conquests are unstable".

Sure, Chávez's clan and the Bolibourgeoisie would not be able to use Venezuela as their kingdom if they were to lose the elections.

This guy should go to trial. Unfortunately, Venezuelan judges are just puppets for Chávez and his clan.

Chavez sickness for Canadian readers

Here, resuming my regular writing for Troy Media (without pay, heard that Eva?).  This is where I stand right now as to the whole mess, but who knows what should I write tomorrow.....


I have to say this is a little bit weird, but it has to be a coincidence. The following were Chávez supporters. They have died in the last 11 months:

  • Luis Tascón, former Chávez deputy and later rejected by Chávez, died on 12 August 2010 (cancer)

  • William Lara, governor of Guárico, died on 10 September 2010 (car accident, drown in river)
  • Luis Ceballos Lobo, an elected deputy to the Latin American Parliament, died on 11 September 2010
  • Lina Ron, a notorious Chávez supporter and gang leader, died on 5 March 2011 (heart attack or intoxication)

Barinas city

Barinas is a city in the Western Llanos.

In Colonial times this was one of the top areas for tobacco exports to Europe. Usually, Spanish colonizers living in Merida, in the Venezuelan Andes, would get control of some area in the Barinas region, get an encomienda and in that way use the native Americans as forced labour for agriculture. Times went by and big owners changed. 

Barinas city is rather recent: it was founded at the end of the XVIII century.  It is not precisely a beautiful city, unlike other cities in the areas such as Altamira de Cáceres.

After the Independence military men took over most the lands...and that hasn't changed a little bit since then.
The Chávez clan controls Barinas very tightly: Hugo Chávez's older brother, Adan, is the governor of the Barinas state and usually lives in Barinas city. He was before the city's mayor. Now the mayor is still a PSUV man.  It would be almost inconceivable that it can get a mayor from another party as long as Chávez reigns. 

51.36% of the population in that municipality is supposed to have voted for PSUV candidates in 2010's election. The unified opposition got 46.46%. Only 4.45% of the total (thus, around 10% of the 46.46%) went to new parties Primero Justicia, 1.75% of the total went to Podemos and 1.59% went to UNT. Paleolithic party AD got 8.89% of the total. There are 201.914 voters in that map, so this is not a rural area, it is a city. In the 2008 elections for mayor, Chavismo got 45.02% of the votes. It is obvious that if the alternative forces really want to bring change to Venezuela, they will have to mind these places.

To do that national leaders of such parties as PJ and UNT have to go there. They cannot leave it just to some local caudillo. Unfortunately, the alternative forces are not aware of what efforts they need to undertake to do this. They are, admittedly, short of cash. They have to deal with Chávez's thugs attacking them any time they go to such areas. Traveling in Venezuela is not easy. Still: they need to make an extra effort and organise things in a better way so that they can, after all, get to those  areas, listen to the local interests, think about those items and come back with a national project that includes them.

Hat Chávez Krebs?

Das ist, was einige Bloggers gehört haben: der venezolanische Caudillo soll Prostatakrebs haben. Er soll seit einigen Wochen eine Operation hinter sich gebracht haben. Die Tests hätten schlechte Ergebnisse gegeben. Gegen Empfehlungen der Ärzte hätte Chávez darauf bestanden, Blitzreisen nach Ecuador und Brasilien zu machen - vor allem, um seine Krankheit zu vertuschen -. Er hätte aber dann eine postoperative Infektion gehabt. Die Infektion soll nun unter Kontrolle sein, Chávez müsste sich nun aber einer Radiotherapie unterziehen.

Was ich denke? Keine Ahnung. Alles ist möglich. Vielleicht hat er gar nichts. Vielleicht ist er kerngesund. Vielleicht schon. Man muss einfach warten. Diese Gerüchte sollten uns darüber nicht hinwegtäuschen, dass sich Venezuela - mit oder ohne den Caudillo - in einer explosiven Situation befindet. Die sozialen Spannungen sind grösser denn je.

Ich denke aber wieder wie Daniel Duquenal: ein baldiger Tod des Caudillos wäre worst case scenario für Venezuela. Es gibt nichts Schlimmeres, als einen Pseudomartyr zu haben, jemand, der stirbt, bevor er zur Rechenschaft gezogen wird. Als Mensch kann ich ihn gute Besserung wünschen. Als Venezolaner wünsche ich darüber hinaus, dass meine Landsleute besonnen bleiben und sich auf die Entminung des Landes konzentrieren, ob Chávez sehr krank ist oder nicht.

Am 5.7 feiern wir das 200. Jahrestag der Unabhängigkeitserklärung Venezuelas. Chávez ist immer noch in Cuba. Man fragt sich, ob der Militärmensch an dem Tag in Venezuela sein kann. Ich bin sicher, dass Chávez alles unternehmen wird, um dabei zu sein. Warten wir mal ab.

Chavez croaking? Well, maybe.....

UPDATED (twice).   Yesterday I was dismissing the situation of Chavez extended absence as at least part showmanship; but today I am forced, courtesy of a post from Gustavo, to rethink that things might be much, much worse than I thought.  I do not know how trustworthy is Gustavo's source, but the thing is that his "conspiracy theory" matches so many things so well that, that as Italians would say, si non e vero, e ben trovato.  And thus, even if this blogger is always reticent on reporting rumors, for once he will make an exception.

In short, Chavez would be suffering from a prostate cancer that has metastasized.

This already would explain several things: why Chavez never remarried; why he occasionally seems to get all bloated; why his ample clothing when he does an extended cadena as it could hide adult diapers better; why the mystery around the whole thing as prostate surgery for a macho man is tantamount to recognize that he is not that macho anymore.

Since the post of Gustavo is in Spanish, follows my interpretation of his text in English.

Apparently the "knee" problem was a way to hide the prostate surgery which today can be dealt well enough in a couple of weeks.  But if we are to believe Gustavo the post biopsy was not encouraging and they decided to do some advanced body scans which in Venezuela can only be done in a couple of private clinics.  Not only Chavez entourage would not trust the discretion of private clinics but it would have been also an admission that the "socialist" care was not as performing as the "capitalist" care since the regime had not been able to match the equipment of the private sector for "el pueblo".  Thus the trip to Cuba.  One caveat here: where would have Chavez got prostate surgery in full discretion?  Has he set an O.R. inside Miraflores or Fuerte Tiuna?

Before, for show, Chavez stopped in Brazil and Ecuador and that must have been a mistake because he got a post op infection.  And also some people found him walking strangely well for someone with an alleged serious knee injury.  Arriving in Cuba he got feverish soon and they had to drain the abscess.  That would  have been the real "emergency" part.  In a way that was a convenient excuse to justify Chavez stay while the real stuff was being done, namely the body scans.

He seems to have recovered well enough form his infection but apparently the scans were not good and they decided to start radiotherapy.  Another caveat: why not chemotherapy?  The more so that he has metastasized.  A explanation is that under chemo he would have had to resign temporarily since you might go bonkers during the treatment.  Chavez cannot go for an interim prez to preserve his tough image of caudillo.  Whatever it is, the lone photo of him in Havana shows him rather gaunt and leaning on both Castro brothers.  Some people said it reeked of Photoshop but then again...  it matches the symptoms.

According to Gustavo's source, the radio therapy will take 25 days twice, with a ten days rest, which explains quite well how they keep postponing the return announcement.  In fact they are trying to postpone the traditional July 5th parade to the eight which pretty much would fall in between two treatments, maybe allowing Chavez to set foot in Venezuela for a couple of days.  After all if you travel in a plane with a medical bed incorporated, well, you can manage the round trip with a minimum of damage.

The problem is that radio therapy also leaves visible sequels that must be explained (I do not think it includes loss of hair unless it is coupled with some form of chemo).  Thus the regime is faced with the unavoidable problem to have to fess up and admit Chavez sickness.  And this for sure explains all the nervousness within the grandees of the regime left behind to mind the joint.  That is, the drastic reactions to events that do not deserve such reactions, the mistakes in handling the jail crisis, etc,..  as the regime upper echelons know what is going on, or suspect it considering the shroud of silence which is worse than any serious medical communique.  In other words within chavismo there is at the same time a succession war open, probably where Cuba is trying to pick its next viceroy, AND a sauve qui peut (1) as all the corrupt fortunes are bailing out of doge before they get arrested in a post Chavez regime, even if led by a chavista.

Do I believe it?  Not yet but it is awfully tempting.  However let me make something perfectly clear: THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLY THE VERY WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR VENEZUELA.

With such an end for Chavez, he will become a hero of sorts, a mythical figure and chavismo will last for decades more.  Exactly as it happened in Argentina when after his return Peron died just before things started getting worse and as such peronism could survive Isabelita, Lopez Rega, Videla, the Falklands, etc, etc...  as it was, of course, not of Peron's making.  That Peron was at the source of all of this did not matter, he was not alive during these crisis. If Cristina is at it today it is becasue Peron died conveniently 4 decades ago.

To get a chance to be a renewed country Venezuela needs to oust Chavez in such a way that he can go to trial, alive and well to understand the charges, and collapse in nerves on the accused stand.

At any rate, there you have your conspiracy theory du jour, one that could lead us straight into a lot of conflict and economic crisis.  NOT that Chavez is indispensable, he is not, but the way he and the Cubans have handled the situation they are, willingly or not, setting the stage for a lot of trouble that could have been avoided if from the start they woudl have fessed up and name Jaua interim president for, say, three months.

Just as it was for Hitler in the end, Chavez personal agenda and glory wishes trump any consideration for the well being of the country.


1) "save who may"

UPDATE: it seems that the prostate cancer is getting credibility.  The Wall Street Journal reports it.

UPDATE2:  Chavez twitter @chavezcandanga is back to life after 20 days silent.  Unfortunately it is posted through blackberry and those in the know say there is no berry service in Cuba.  I put up a little picture of the return of Chaevz for those who wish to verify that information which wold prove that there is at least two people managing @chavezcandanga: himself and an "assistant" not in Cuba.

Chavez back on twitter?

Correction: it is not blackberry that does not work in Cuba, it is twitter (follow Yoani Sanchez on her twitting through SMS). I meant to write "twitter through Blackberry".  But then again Chaevz might have come with his own berry transmission system, no?

Industriestaaten und Öl, Öl, Öl

Spiegel berichtet, wie die Industriestaaten den Markt mit Öl 'fluten', um den Preis zu drücken. 60 Millionen werden nun verkauft.

Was wird passieren? Wie wird dies in Venezuela wirken?

Meiner Meinung nach wird dies die Preise mittelfristig kaum beeinflussen.

Verzeihung, aber ich habe keine Zeit mehr, um das heut all das zu erklären!

PDVSA needs more money

In a Russian newspaper, Kommersant, you can read how Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, is flirting with TNK-BP, a Russian oil company.

The Venezuelan company is offering TNK-BP 40% of PetroMongas's share from today's 17%. But here you have the catch: it all depends on how the ongoing litigation with ExxonMobil goes and on the share price.

The Russians think this would mean about 150,000 to 200,000 barrels a day. Setty's verdict: PDVSA is short of more time.

And you can also read in El Universal how PDVSA wants to open up the 2022 bonds for 1.5 billion dollars.  By Toutatis, this is in the middle of Venezuela's longest and largest oil boom.

This picture does NOT show the Venezuelan government. I repeat: it does not show the Venezuelan goverment. It is a representation of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Is Hugo Chávez Chernenkoing us?

I remember when I was a child going through the Soviet press - yes, I was a nerd - and trying to make sense of what was going on with Chernenko, the 5th Secretary of the Communist Party. That was between 1984 and early 85. There was almost nothing in those Pravdas and Izvestia that explicitly referred to Chernenko's health, but one could read between the lines, infer and above all combine that information from the rumours that went along. What I took was that the Siberian, who had taken over the USSR's leadership after Andropov's very short time in office, was himself in very bad shape.  And indeed he was to rule the world's largest country for just about a year before dying. At the end I was like: why did they have to keep the whole show like this? But that was the way they did it.

The Bolivarian press very often sounds like the Soviet one, although it is much more agressive and frequently rather more vulgar when it comes to insulting the others. It also has the same level of transparency the Soviet press had. And that is the way it is behaving with Chávez's health.

Adan Chávez, the governor of Barinas and the president's eldest brother, just declared the president is "recovering in a satisfactory manner". The Bolivarian press said "in this way, the regional governor and brother of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, confronted the intended (sic) and evil speculations that some publish in different media outlets about the head of state's health".

Venezuelan bloggers, like anyone else in Little Venice, have been wondering about what's going on. You can read Daniel's view here, Miguel's take here and Juan's brief reference about this soap opera here.

The situation is definitely not normal. Chávez has been outside the country for a much longer period of time than allowed according to the constitution without getting the National Assembly's approval. Vice-president Jaua should have taken the presidency for quite some time now because that is what the constitution says. He hasn't done that, which is a shameless violation of the rule of law -just another shameless violation in a million-. 

I more or less agree with Daniel Duquenal's bet. Chávez must be very sick but it is not fatal. He still needs to remain in Cuba, as he does not trust Venezuela's health system for several reasons. Chávez will come sooner than later and his honchos will organise some big event. They will talk about how the opposition could not get rid of him. The most likely scenario is that he will come back with a little bit more energy than in the last few months - which is not hard, he was in very bad shape-, perhaps with some drugs that can keep him functioning a little bit better. 

If he were to become too ill again to fully carry out a presidential campaign - something I doubt-, he will use, as Daniel said, a puppet to be presidente interino until election time while Chávez focuses on the campaign. Another possibility - worst case scenario for Chávez - would be that he remains in such a bad shape still in 2012 that he is forced to look for a puppet not for now but for the actual presidential term of 2012 onwards, just like Juan Vicente Gómez did on a couple of occassions over 70 years ago. That is much less likely.

One possibility for that extreme puppet role would be one of his daughters, Infanta María Gabriela, with whom he has been traveling quite a lot in the last year. Another could be Jaua himself, who would be also the first choice for this term. I don't believe Diosdado would do as he is hated even among large chunks of the Chávez fans' club.

In any case: Chávez's return, whenever it happens, will be orchestrated as if this were a victory for "Bolvarian Socialism" against the evil opposition, lakeys of the Empire.
Paraphrasing Remarque: nothing new in the Southern Front.

Chavez croaking? For the record I think not

With the lengthening Chavez absence all sorts of rumors are starting to fly.  So for the record I wish to state that I do not believe that Chavez is about to go to the great beyond, that there is no way Cuba is working at replacing him, etc, etc, etc...  So, take a deep breath, do not succumb to hysterical fits, and try to think about other more realistic scenarios: Chavez has been the perfect Manchurian candidate for too long to make much of a difference whether he stays in Cuba a few more weeks.

This being said, of course it is possible that Chavez is croaking but considering the current state of the country it is dicey to guess as to what outcome from Cuba would be best for us.  The more the reason to focus on what might actually be taking place.

I think that indeed Chavez has been/is sick.  In these pages I have already commented on his bloated figure, not a "natural" fat, more like kidneys failing or some endocrinology problem.  Even some weird cancer requiring massive amounts of steroids or something.  He finally could not postpone it any longer and needed a good recovery to be able to face his yet most difficult electoral campaign.  His knee is related to his ailment?  Maybe, but it really does not make much of a difference in that Chavez would campaign even if he had to hop on one leg.  Besides, long are gone the days where Chavez took big dives into the loving crowds.

Whatever it is ailing Chavez he was forced to confront it face on, and naturally with the help of his Cuban advisers tried to figure out a way to use it to his advantage, crating an outpouring of sympathy that could bring him back solidly for a while above the 50% in opinion polls, hopeful long enough to call early elections if needed.  That it might succeed is another matter but if you look carefully at the different contradictions within the regime you can tell that they always protect the image of the strong man, loved by his people, soon to come back to save us once again.

However one cannot plan for everything and even if we assume the cynical position that the regime also planned some problems that could only be solved with Chavez return, for his greater glory, there is always a catch somewhere.  The accumulation of electricity crisis and prison riots might have been more than what the regime expected and might in fact contribute to the accrued delays in Chavez return.  It would seem that there is a kind of succession war already at play within chavismo.  See, taking advantage of Chavez absence, which cannot have been public knowledge among the faithfuls, some clans must have taken the opportunity to try to grab more influence here and there and within days an internecine warfare might start looking quite a lot like a bona fide succession war.  Fueled of course by the regime cryptic announcements as Chavez with Cuban advisers suggestion probably decided to make the best of the surprise mess as a preparation for a great purge once Chavez comes back.

Or some variation of the theory as you wish it to be.

What is the opposition doing?  Well, some cannot help but fall into the speculation and wishful thinking trap but others such as Borges or Machado are stressing the legal points.  That is, it does not matter what is going on with Chaevz, the country must be kept running, laws must be respected, etc, etc...  Which is probably the best strategy as chavistas really want us to think that the country cannot be ruled by anyone else but Chavez.

To be continued........ But meanwhile I cannot fail to be amused by the pretense from both sides, but for different reasons, that the country can actually be managed as it stands today.

PS: my favorite conspiracy theory on the matter so far is the one where Chavez would resign for health reasons, but name first a dummy vice resident to finish his term in office.  Thus for the next few moths the dummy would take the brunt of the administration problems and sometime around next March Chavez is recalled as the PSUV candidate by acclamation.   The CNE obligingly calls for early elections as the dummy promises to resign as soon as these ones are held and in a year from now we can have Chavez starting a fresh new term.  Think about it if it can be managed: only good things for Chavez if he plays his cards right.  Even on the international front he can claim that his indefinite reelection president for life amendment is a democratic one since it did not stop the country from having a different president for a few months.  That the creep failed is certainly not Chavez fault, of course....

You laugh?  Think about how Peron came back in the 70ies through the election and immediate resignation of Hector Campora.

"Historia de una canción" para "Privados de inteligencia"

Las dos últimas semanas nos han mostrado cuán bajo hemos caído como país. Suponiendo que todavía sigamos siendo un país, una idea de una dureza que me ha dejado deprimido como no lo había estado en bastante tiempo. No tiene sentido discutir los detalles de los acontecimientos recientes: la red está llena de ellos para los que tenían su mente distraída por otros asuntos. Tal vez sea más útil pensar en qué significa todo esto.

Ya no estas mas a mi lado, corazón.

Supongo que el nuevo bajón empezó cuando Chávez decidió operarse en Cuba, una cirugía seguramente largamente pospuesta. No se han ofrecido informes médicos que aporten algo. Fuertes rumores de que su familia ya lo esperaba en La Habana cuando llegó de su gira por América del Sur han descartado cualquier idea de "emergencia médica", por no mencionar que convenientemente Miraflores se había "olvidado" especificar una fecha de regreso para su legal salida del país. Ni los medicamentos, ni la cirugía y ni la ausencia impidieron que Chávez pretendiese firmar una ley importante, algo que no sería tolerado en ningún país civilizado y democrático. La espuria mayoría chavista en el parlamento se arrastró cuanto pudo para justificar lo que nunca debería siquiera sugerirse en un país civilizado.

Ahora nos consta que somos una colonia cubana, y nos convertimos en eso de buen acuerdo, incluso ayudando a los invasores.

En el alma solo tengo soledad

Pero la oposición política no aprovechó la oportunidad, prefiriendo las posturas económicas y la discusión bizantina en vez de enmarcar el debate como debería haber sido: no se reconocerá ningún acto de Chávez mientras este permanezca en Cuba, pero reconoceremos los actos de un presidente interino legal. Por supuesto, se habría perdido la votación en el parlamento, pero al menos se hubiese tomado una posición legalista e integra. Si la oposición venezolana sigue estando tan sola, tan irrelevante en los escenarios internacionales e incluso nacionales, es porque sigue acompañada por la idiotez y la consiguiente falta de creatividad.

Es la historia de un amor
Como no hay otro igual......

Que le dio luz a mi vida,
Apagándola después.

Pero la oposición estaba más perdida en la oscuridad de lo que pensaba. De hecho, todos estábamos más en la oscuridad con el apagón desastroso de hasta 24 horas en algunas áreas. Eso en medio de una ola de calor que hizo que mucha gente perdiese sus alimentos, porque con tanto calor la nevera solo puede aguantar unas pocas horas.

La respuesta gubernamental, con el líder en la distancia, fue aún más despistada que de costumbre. Sólo pudieron inventar un sistema represivo de racionamiento de energía eléctrica, uno peor que el año pasado, cual no funcionó, revelando que los miles de millones gastados para resolver la crisis eléctrica se gastaron para nada, y que lo que viene es más inflación y más recesión. Como siempre, el gobierno recurrió incluso a la excusa del "saboteo", que no ha podido probar en dos años. Y aun más excusas ridículas para un régimen agotado, sin que Chávez tenga la posibilidad de hacer una cadena para por lo menos hacerlas más aceptables entre sus propios seguidores.

Hay que noche tan oscura,
sin tu amor yo viviré.

Y si ya no puedo verte,
¿porque dios me hizo quererte,
para hacerme sufrir mas?

No es que importe mucho, pero los seguidores de Chávez son los que están sufriendo más de la crisis actual, y sin embargo se parecen al venadito encandilado por los faros. Y a pesar de eso, lo que podría considerarse una base electoral crucial de Chávez estaba a punto de sufrir lo insufrible ....

La batalla de El Rodeo ha sido excesiva, y dura ya más de tres días, y se prolongará en otras cárceles. La corrupción indescriptible del régimen, y de su Guardia Nazional, ha permitido que el infierno de cárceles hacinadas pase a convertirse en una especie de Estado dentro del Estado. Si el crimen bajo Chávez se ha elevado por encima de todas las normas de América del Sur, la población carcelaria se incrementó 2, 3, 4 o más veces según la cárcel. En una avanzada colonial no se permite, por supuesto,  la construcción de cárceles o gastar en la rehabilitación de los presos, cuando la isla dominante está tan necesitada de dinero para sobrevivir.

Que me hizo comprender
Todo el bien, todo el mal

El submundo de las cárceles se ha convertido en uno de los infiernos de Dante, pero sin la poesía. Los presos (personas privadas de libertad en la jerga revolucionaria que bien fácil adopto Globovision) están organizados en bandas tribales, cuyos líderes (pranes) son capaces de comprar a la Guardia Nazional y el sistema de vigilancia. Estos chicos son capaces de establecer dentro de las cárceles un sistema de tráfico de drogas, una organización de esclavitud sexual que hace que el proverbial "no dejes caer el jabón cuando te duches" parezca una idílico juego de pre-púberes. Pero si estas actividades se ven hasta cierto punto en otros lares, los pranes han ido mucho más lejos. Ahora pueden decidir qué Privado de Libertad irá a su audiencia de tribunal, lo que significa que antes de ganar su libertad legal o merecer su condena debe ganarse el uno o el otro de su pran local. Y para asegurarse de que puedan ejercer debidamente todo este poder, los pranes han sido capaces de acumular un arsenal lo suficientemente poderoso, incluyendo armas de guerra, que ha sido eficiente en mantener en jaque a la Guardia Nazional enviada para recuperar El Rodeo.

Aquellos que han permitido que surja esta situación, ya que se llenaron de esta, no son capaces de revertir el daño y la batalla se ha estado librando durante tres días, ya que los pranes saben muy bien que su muerte es un hecho, no importa como sea la entrega final.

Pero este no es el momento de buscar a los culpables. Todos nosotros lo somos.

La falta de atrevimiento y de proyecto ha llevado la oposición ha manejar defensas inaceptables para los "Privados de libertad" (¿en respuesta a que? ¿a "Privados de vida"? ¿a "Privados de bienes"? ¿a "Retenidos"?) en lugar de concentrarse exclusivamente en porqué las cárceles se han convertido en guaridas de la pudrición. Algunos como este bloggero han escrito a menudo sobre las prisiones, pero también muchos en la oposición nunca han querido preocuparse de ese asunto, olvidando que la civilidad de una sociedad es quizás mejor juzgada por la forma en que maneja el crimen que existe en nuestra naturaleza humana.

Siempre fuiste la razón de mi existir,
Adorarte para mi, fue religión

Y, ciertamente, el gobierno es mucho más culpable que la oposición apendejeada: cuando todo está dicho, es el gobierno que permitió que el sistema eléctrico se cortocircuitée, que el sistema carcelario se convierta en una zona de guerra, que Chávez haga lo que quiera, no importa cuán estúpido sea la iniciativa , mientras que los del gobierno compiten a quien lo adula mejor.

Porque al final son los odios privados de Chávez que impulsan nuestra tragedia.

Su odio a Venezuela, ya que no respondió como el lo deseaba, por lo que le hizo entrega de sí mismo y del país a Cuba cuya naturaleza de sanguijuela se percibe enorme detrás de todos nuestros fracasos económicos, nuestros desastres financieros, eléctricos, etc...

Su odio a la gente mas preparada que él, que ha llevado a rodearse de mediocres que se revelan aun más incompetentes cuando él no está. Y seguramente se regodeará en el espectáculo de las mediocridades que nos dejó en casa.

Y allí está su odio a la Guardia Nacional. En 1992 la Guardia Nacional fue decisiva para parar al golpe de Chávez, que ya tenía un rencor con ellos desde 1989. Chávez trató de minimizar la Guardia Nacional, pero las otros componentes armados no lo permitieron. Así que Chávez hizo algo casi tan efectivo: él permitió la corrupción total de la Guardia y su transformación en una Guardia Nazional. De cualquier manera iba a ganar, ya sea porque la Guardia sería demasiado disminuida por la corrupción para voltearse contra él, o sería demasiada despreciada por el pueblo para convertirse en una amenaza. Parece que él lo ha logrado.

Por lo tanto en estas últimas dos semanas por fin empezaron los tiempos de rendición de cuentas cuando hay que empezar a pagar por nuestros errores, los de un país frívolo y algo tonto que permitió la elección de alguien tan poco calificado y tan lleno de odio como Chávez.

Venezuela's Comptroller died. Who will disqualify the opposition candidates now?

Yesterday minister for the Popular Power of Information, Andrés Izarra, aka The Jackal, (as usual, he is from a military clan, even if he is not a military himself)  tweeted about Clodosbaldo Russian's death. Russian was the General Comptroller and he was very notorious for the way he "legally" disqualified Chávez's enemies with some potential from taking part in political activities. Russian was 72 years old at the time he died (in Cuba, as Venezuelans do not seem to have the right hospitals). 

Russian was well-known, among many other things, for being the only Venezuelan citizen who could get a pension for his work as professor at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and at the same time a salary for his work as General Comptroller. This was only possible through a special law passed by the red-ver-red Supreme Tribunal. He was also known for declaring that capitalism was the cause of corruption. This means Venezuela is the most capitalist country in America.
Corruption Perception Index

Who is going to follow him and keep on disqualifying opponents? Expect another of Chávez's puppets, no matter what.
Democracy Index from The Economist


The past two weeks have shown us how low we have fallen as a country.  Assuming that there is still a country, the reality of an idea that has left me despondent as I have not been for a while. There is no point discussing the details of recent events: the web is full of them for those who had their mind elsewhere.  Perhaps it might be more helpful to think hard about what this all means.

Ya no estas mas a mi lado, corazón.

I suppose the downhill started when Chavez decided to have in Cuba a probably long postponed surgery.  No significant medical reports have been offered. Strong rumors that his family was already waiting for him in Havana when he arrived from his South American tour have killed any idea of "the medical emergency", not to mention that conveniently Miraflores Palace had "forgotten" to give a return date for his leave of absence.  Drugs and surgery and absence did not stop Chavez from pretending to sign major legislation, something that would not be tolerated in any civilized and democratic country.  The chavista spurious majority in parliament bent backward to justify what should never even be suggested in a civilized country.

We know now that we are a Cuban colony, and became one willingly, helping the invaders.

En el alma solo tengo soledad,

But the political opposition did not rise to the opportunity preferring cheap posturing and byzantine discussion instead of framing the debate as it should have been framed: we will not recognize any act of Chavez while in Cuba, but we will recognize those of an interim president.  Of course we would have lost the vote, but at least we would have taken a principled and legal position.  But if the Venezuelan opposition is still so lonely, so irrelevant on international and even national stages it is because it is accompanied by idiocy and its consequent lack of creativity.

Es la historia de un amor
Como no hay otro igual......

Que le dio luz a mi vida,
Apagándola después.

But the opposition was more in the dark than what it thought.  In fact we were all more in the dark with a disastrous power outage lasting as long as 24 hours in some areas.  In the middle of a heat wave which allowed for too many people to lose their food because in such heat a refrigerator can last only so many hours.

The governmental response, with the leader away, was even more clueless than usual.  They could only come up with a repressive rationing system for electricity, a worse one than last year, the one that did not work out, revealing that the billions spent to solve the electrical crisis were spent for nothing, and making inevitable more inflation and more recession.  As ever, the government even resorted to "sabotage" excuses, having been unable in two years to make such an accusation stand.  Plenty of ridiculous excuses from an exhausted regime, without Chavez being able to make a cadena to at least make them more palatable to his own followers.  

Hay que noche tan oscura,
sin tu amor yo viviré.

Y si ya no puedo verte,
¿porque dios me hizo quererte,
para hacerme sufrir mas?

Not that it would matter much, Chavez followers are suffering more of the current crisis than anyone else but they seem like the deer in the headlight!  And yet what could be considered a core constituency of Chavez was about to suffer the insufferable....

The El Rodeo prison battle has been just too much, lasting now over three days.  The indescribable corruption of the regime, and its Nazional Guard, had allowed the overcrowded jail hell to become a sort of state within the state.  If crime under Chavez has risen above all South American standards, so has risen the jail population, 2, 3, 4 and more times depending on the prison.  A colonial outpost is of course not allowed to build jails or think about rehab for prisoners when the Home Island is so needy of cash to survive.

Que me hizo comprender
Todo el bien, todo el mal,

Jail world has become one of Dante's hells without the poetry.  Prisoners (people deprived of liberty in the new PC jargon) are now organized in tribal gangs whose leaders (pranes) are able to buy out the Nazional Guard and warden system.  These guys are able to set inside jails a drug trafficking system, a sexual bondage organization which makes the "do not drop your soap in the shower" look like an idyllic pre-pubescent game.  But if these activities are reported to a certain degree elsewhere, the pranes have gone much further.  Now they can decide which privado de libertad will go to court for his hearing which means that before you gain your legal freedom or condemnation you must earn the one from your local pran.  And to ensure that they can duly exert all of this power, they have been able to amass an arsenal powerful enough, with actual war weapons, that has been able to keep in check the Nazional Guard sent in to retake El Rodeo.

Those who have allowed such a situation to arise because they gained from it are unable to revert the damage and the battle has been raging for three days already as the pranes know very well that their death is a given regardless of any surrendering.

But this is not the time to look for the guilty.  All of us are.

The opposition lack of gumption and project has been finding unacceptable ways to defend the "privados de libertad" (as opposed to "privado de vida"?  people deprived of life) instead of focusing exclusively on why prisons have become such dens of decay.  Not to mention that this blogger has often written about prisons but too many in the opposition have never wanted to concern themselves with that, forgetting that a society is perhaps best judged by how it handles the crime that our human nature carries within.

Siempre fuiste la razón de mi existir,
Adorarte para mi, fue religión,

And certainly the government is way more guilty than the guileless opposition: after all they are the ones that allowed the electrical grid to go on the fritz, the jail system to become a war zone, Chavez to do as he pleases, no matter how stupid, while all vie to adulate him the best.

Because in the end it is the personal hatreds of Chavez that drive our tragedy.

His hatred of Venezuela because it did not respond as he wished to do; so it made him surrender himself and the country to Cuba which leech nature looms huge behind all of our economical, financial, electrical disasters.

His hatred of people that know better than him has driven himself to surround with mediocrities that reveal themselves as more incompetent when he is away.  And he surely gloats in the spectacle of the mediocrities he left at home.

And there is his hatred of the National Guard.  In 1992 the National Guard was decisive in stopping Chavez who already held a grudge on them since 1989.  Chavez had tried to minimize the National Guard but the other armed branches did not allow for it.  So Chavez did the next best thing: he allowed its utter corruption and transformation into a Nazional Guard.  Either way he would win because either the Guard would be too corrupted to turn against him, or it would be too despised by the populace to become any threat.  He has succeeded it seems.

And thus these past two weeks we have finally entered into the time of reckoning when as a silly country we must start paying for our error in allowing for the election of someone as unqualified and hateful as Chavez.

I was a devil

When I was a child I also was a devil

And it was so cool! My mask was red and white and blue (more white and red than the mask shown here). Back then red had no bad connotation, it was just devilishly red and it was fun.

Human Rights are for all: A story on El Rodeo (our prison in conflict)

He was born and grew up in the same barrio. It was nice but he was determined to get out of there anyway, he wanted more, he wanted a better life. He started working and got some savings. With some friends, he bought a small storehouse which he use to install a motorcycle’ garage (repairshop? I don’t know the proper word in English). With the business not going as he expected, he thought of a second plan to get a better life. The plan was attending law school and, to pay for the expenses, to rent half of his storehouse; while the other half still stayed as a motorcycle’ garage, only smaller. He was 20 years old.

It was Wednesday. He was checking the repair orders at his shop and getting ready for his night classes when the police showed up. They didn’t gave much explanation, they just screamed something and took him. “You son of a bitch, you thought you could get rid with it right?” – They said. He was punched several times. He asked why and after a while, he got an answer. The other half of his shop, the one he decided to rent, was used by the tenants to hide a group they kidnapped; while they waited for the rescue. The tenants had told him they were in the clothes business, that they brought clothes from Peru to sell at the streets and they needed the space to save all their things during the nights. He did saw some Peruvian cotton pajamas and did not asked more, he believed them.

The tenants did were street sellers and they did save their things there; but as a second job, they were also part of a gang. The police never found those tenants. When they came to the storehouse they only found a regular guy, not band related, law’ student. But in Venezuela you are guilty until your prove the opposite; and there are times when you don’t even have a chance to do it. Since the police never found the tenants and they needed someone to blame in order to present results of their anti- kidnapping police; they opened a file against him. Her family got a lawyer – “A nice guy but we still owe him a lot of money” – that put together all things that proved his innocence: like he did not have a key of the space he rented nor further contact with the tenants besides the monthly payment.

Nothing seemed to work. People – from policemen to judges and lawyers – have explained to the family that in kidnapping cases there is nothing you can do about it. One of the most serious and widest crimes in Venezuela is kidnapping and the government needs to prove that they are doing something about it. When the government puts out numbers of how many people they have “caught in fraganti”; this guy is one of those numbers. But he never kidnapped anyone. He couldn’t even dare to steal a chocolate bar, his neighbors say.

He’s now in El Rodeo I. He’s been there for a year. And this story would have never touched this blog if it wasn’t for the big penitentiary’ system crisis that is hitting our souls, during this week more than ever. First, we heard of more than 30 prisoners dead in what it apparently was a fight between prisoners. But now we hear different numbers. Some people say 100. Some people say 500. And we will probably never know how many. The army has entered the prison in an attempt to calm things there but it seems that instead of bringing peace, they are probably bringing more death and sorrow.

From inside the prison, a huge column of tear gas comes out, affecting even the families who are standing outside waiting to hear some news about their sons, husbands and brothers. What they hear is gun shots from time to time. The government announced they took the “conflict leaders” to another prison. An illegal move, since you can’t move a prisoner to another place without prior judge’ approval. Plus, I heard on TV that the families don’t know which prisoners have been taken to another prison. Human Rights organizations next to many opposition figures are asking for the army to leave the prison, so a negotiated solution of the conflict can be made, that bring peace for all, without more human lives being sacrificed; including those of the army. Government figures blame the opposition as always. The opposition blames the government and they are probably right because after all, they are the ones in charge.

In a drama that repeats itself on almost every Venezuelan prison, El Rodeo was build to held about 1500 prisoners. But it has more than 6500 according to the prisoners’ families. Most prisoners sleep in the floor and they have to pay for their “space to sleep”. Many, like the guy of this story, are still expecting for a trial so they don’t know for how long they are supposed to stay in that place. They can receive food from their families only if the families pay to the guards for them to “enter the food”. And guys are killed every day in Venezuelan prisons, only that this time, too many were killed on the same day and so it got more media attention.

My office' secretary lives in the same neighborhood where the guy of this story used to live; that’s how I got access to it. She also grew up in that place and assured me, over and over again that this guy was a great person (funny, that she speaks about him in past tense, when he’s still alive but imprisoned), a man “echado pa’ lante” – not like others. Now she’s sure this guy life and future has been lost forever, even if he survives in the prison. The guy called her mom two days ago, assuring her that he’s ok but that she must be ready to pay some money because he assured some prisoners that he will pay them; so they could “protect” him. If he doesn’t pay, they will kill him.

To El Rodeo’ events, I have seen many reactions: from the ones who are as concerned as me for it is a clear violation of the prisoners’ Human Rights and also from people who seemed to have no knowledge of what a Human Right is; neither they seem to have a heart. They are against the government and seem to be very progressive people. They marched on the streets when RCTV (the biggest Venezuelan TV Channel back in 2007) was closed and they actively worked on every election hoping results turned out to our favor. And yet, when this happen, they dared to tell you that “I don’t care, those people have what they deserve, if they are in there is because they did something to end up there” – “Yes but they are still people and they still have rights…” - “They never thought of my rights when they stole/ killed/ kidnapped etc…” – “They did not. But the prison is not a place to turn them into something worse than what they were before entering, but into something better. Besides, there are many innocents imprisoned, many who still don’t have a trial…” – “Really?” – “Yes, really. If you were caught by the police by mistake and no one can take you out, would you think about your Human Right then?” –

After that, they look at me in regret and stay quiet. I CAN’T BELIEVE THOSE PEOPLE (Sorry for the caps). I tend to think our jail issue isn’t about the government, or the prisoners, or the mafias, or Human Rights organizations, or opposition figures, or the National Guard (Army).

At the end, this shameful issue is about us. Is about us saying that “criminals should pay and be treated like dogs because they did…”. It’s all in our resentment and our thirst of revenge; as it we could find any solution using revenge as a leit motiv. It’s all in our idea that prisons are for punishment, not for rehabilitation. It’s all in our ignorant and mistaken belief that Human Rights are just for some people, “good people”. No folks, Human Rights are for everyone. And if societies could measure themselves on the way the treat prisoners, we would be at the bottom line.

And there is nothing that makes me think we aren't. So shame on us.

About the image: Families cry outside El Rodeo. Image taken from here. Please go to my links below. Caracas Chronicles has a video you must see.

Venezuelas Gefängnisse im 12. Jahr der "Revolution"

El Rodeo I und II sind venezolanische Gefängnisse etwas östlich von Caracas, im Bundesstaat Miranda. Zur Zeit gibt es da etwa 4000 Gefangenen, viel mehr als geplant. Die Sicherheit wird mal von der berüchtigten Polizei, mal von der ebenfalls berüchtigten Guardia Nacional (GN) gewährleistet. Manche Mitglieder der GN liefern Waffen und Drogen an solche Gefangene, die das nötige Geld zur Verfügung haben. Hier könnt Ihr ein Video vom Monat Mai sehen, wo die Insassen in Los Morros, in Los Llanos, mit ihren Waffen protzen.

Am 12 Juni um 16:30, als die Besucher El Rodeo verlassen mussten, begann eine Schiesserei zwischen zwei Bänden. Zuerst gab es Berichte über 19 Tote und 22 Verwundete. Die Gefangenen nahmen mehrere Gebäude unter ihrer Kontrolle.

Am 15 Juni meldete die Chávez-Regierung, dass sie ein neues Ministerium einrichten würde: das Ministerium der Volksmacht für die integrale Verwaltung der Gefängnisse. Es gibt schon ein Ministerium für Justiz. Dieses neue Ministerium soll aber die Lage der Gefängnisse besser behandeln. Chávez liebt die Erfindung neuer Ministerien. So hatte er schon vor einiger Zeit ein Ministerium der Volksmacht für die elektrische Energie erschaffen, um die häufigen Stromprobleme zu bewältigen...ohne Erfolg.
Am selben Tag berichtete Tal Cual, dass es nicht 19, sondern zumindest 30 Tote gab.

Am 17 Juni wurden 5000 GN Mitglieder nach El Rodeo geschickt, um "die Situation unter Kontrolle zu bringen".

Hier könnt Ihr ein altes Video der GN sehen und selbst ein bisschen schätzen, wie diese Organisation die Lage eines vorigen Aufstands behandelt. Bei Minute 2:25 kann man folgendes hören: "Ihr werdet alle sterben, Ihr Ratten".

Die Lage in den Gefängnissen war schon ein grosses Problem, als Alexander von Humboldt Venezuela besuchte.

Da der Rechtsgang hier zu Lande solangsam ist, daß die Verhafteten, von denen die Gefängnissewimmeln, sieben, acht Jahre auf ihr Urtheil warten müssen,so hörten wir wenige Tage nach unserer Abreise von Cumana nicht ohne Befriedigung, der Zambo sey aus dem SchlosseSan Antonio entsprungen

Hier könnt Ihr ein Video von 1994 sehen, wo eine bekannte Journalistin  mit den Gefangenen sprach:

Schon damals waren die Gefängnisse eine Schande. Schon damals waren die Journalisten ein Dorn im Auge der Regierung. Die Politiker sagten aber nicht, dass diese Journalisten CIA-Agenten oder Putschisten waren. Anders verhält es sich mit der Militärregierung des Hugo Chávez Frías.

Die Chávez-Regierung hat dank viel höherer Erdölpreise über 300% mehr Geld zur Verfügung gehabt als die Regierungen in den 13 Jahren vor 1999. Dennoch haben die selbsternannten Revolutionäre seit 1999 nur ein echtes neues Gefängnis für 870 Menschen  gebaut. Jetzt gibt es aber 14000 mehr Gefangenen als 1999.

Ref. Observatorio  Venezolano de Prisiones -> (auf spanisch)