Meanwhile, back at San Jose, our future might be decided today

[UPDATED] There is one missing candidate for the presidential line up in Venezuela and his fate might be decided today. Or may not.

Leopoldo Lopez, ex Chacao Mayor, ex favorite candidate for Caracas Mayor at large, did not get his deserved reward because chavismo managed to bar him from running in 2008. It did not help them much as the opposition did take Caracas after all, forcing the government to further unconstitutional measures by stripping that high elected office of budget and attributes to give them to an appointed sycophant, who of course has done nothing for the city ever since.

But beyond the dirty politics of chavismo of which we are getting only too used to, the case is a violation of human rights, according to the Commission for Human Rights of the OAS. A novel case perhaps in that it addresses political rights of individuals, but a human rights case nevertheless, no matter what the Venezuelan regime thinks of. Whatever ruling the Inter American Court for Human Rights in San Jose reaches today, it is not only going to affect Leopoldo Lopez, the most visible figure in the case, but a bevy of politicians all across the continent where different governments like to use administrative tricks to ban them from political activity (including the rather distasteful FARC agent Piedad Cordoba). (1)

It seems that Lopez is going to win his day in court, but in international court because Venezuela has been consistently refusing to accept all sorts of adverse rulings against it, notably those concerning human rights abuses by the Chavez regime.  In spite of binding treaties, a prostrated and pimp-ish judicial system has declared that nothing can be above Venezuelan justice, meaning exactly that no international decision can bind the thugs that control Venezuela today with their very peculiar concept of justice.

The fact of the matter is that the regime will decide whether to allow Leopoldo Lopez to run for office at its convenience.  If it is convenient to keep Leopoldo barred from running, the regime will pay the international price.  If suddenly it is convenient for Chavez political strategy, suddenly Leopoldo will find himself allowed t run, preferably once the opposition candidate has been decided on February, with the hope of splitting the opposition vote.

But such maneuvers could backfire badly for the regime.  First, the idea of unity is so strong that even if Voluntad Popular is not allowed to nominate Leopoldo for opposition primaries, this one will support the winner no matter what and use the treachery of the regime to its advantage.  Second, the regime is weakening, Chavez is sick, and dirty tricks are perceived more and more by the chavista crowd for what they are, dirty tricks.  Once upon a time Chavez could accuse anyone of anything, demand sanctions against that person, and get them.  He might be still able to get sanctions against uncomfortable adversaries but he cannot tarnish them as easily as he used to do; and in the case of Leopoldo, the more he tries to damage him, the higher in the polls this one might rise.

O tempora, o mores...


Today, Thursday September 1, we learn the court has reached a verdict.  But it will not be published until it is typed up and translated in all languages of the OAS (5, I think).  All sorts of rumors circulate but my well informed contact on that subject has not written to me yet which can only mean that the court keeps a tight silence so far.  It is interesting to note that the court took longer than expected to deliberate and acknowledged it by saying that it was a very complicate issue involving more than one country.  I take it that positively in that the verdict must have been reached in order to emit a ruling that cannot be ignored by the sued countries.

We'll see.
Detailed information can be found here (PDF) or at the Leopoldo Lopez page Democracy on Trial.

1) The court seat is in Costa Rica, San Jose, but the deliberations of the court can take place elsewhere.  This time, it is in Bogota, Colombia.

Que degradante es seguir a Chávez.....

Aquí les recuerdo tres vídeos de algunas de las peores barbaridades que Hugo Chávez ha dicho, de esas barbaridades que reflejan lo inculto, y arrogantemente bruto que el es al fin y al cabo pese a ser un vivo.  El asunto aquí no es la brutalidad e ignorancia ya psicótica de Hugo Chávez, ambas bien conocidas e establecidas.  Aquí el asunto son las abyectos aduladores que aplauden tamañas declaraciones, en contra de toda evidencia, toda ciencia, toda verdad, toda respeto a si mismos.

En el primer vídeo Chávez declara que la especie humana tiene poco mas de 20 siglos sobre el planeta.  O sea que las pirámides de Egipto no fueron construidas por humanos, digo yo.  He aquí la ignorancia.

En el segundo vídeo, asumiendo que uno pueda perdonar el anterior achacándolo un momento de despiste, Chávez nos indica que la civilización en el planeta Marte fue destruida por el capitalismo.  Así, sin anestesia, sin decir ni siquiera algo como "si pudiésemos ir a Marte quien quita y conseguimos restos de una civilización destruida por la codicia".  He aquí la arrogancia del sabelonada.

Y en este tercer vídeo, de TeleSur, Chávez se atreve a decir que la caída de Trípoli es un montaje filmado en Qatar.  Así, no mas, él sabiendo mejor que cualquier cantidad de periodistas y testigos civiles viviendo ese infierno.  He aquí el psicópata, asustado de que los aduladores en frente a el se le volteen como se le voltearon al tirano libio después de 40 años aplaudiendo cualquier necedad y despliegue de moda beduina de Gaddafi.

Yo no se lo que piensan ustedes pero un tipo que dices barbaridades como estas ni presidente de junta de condominio debería de ser.  En cuanto a los que lo aplauden, si los veo en mi acera, cruzo a la otra, de la pena ajena que me da verle los ojos, si es que se atreviesen a mirarme.

¿Será que la capacidad de auto-envilecimiento no tiene limites?

Nota: inspirado por comentarios de mis fieles lectores

The fall of Tripoli's Green Square did not happen in Libya, but in Qatar

With paid actors, says Chavez...

Giving conspiracy theories yet a new twist... (From Miguel's)

I have been distracted by pressing work problems this past week and they are far from solved. So not much blogging for the time being. But I could not pass on this denial from Chavez, shown in TeleSur so I am not making this up.

But then again this is the man that states, unchallenged by his crowd, that capitalism destroyed life on Mars and that the human species has been around for 2,500 years...  Chavez, the man that makes Creationists look smart and objective.

Baby boom or what?

Here you see the birth distribution according to year and month for voters in the states of Miranda, Carabobo and Delta Amacuro. The "October Hump" is incredibly similar for every state I have checked out.

Mind: Miranda and Carabobo are densely populated, central states. Average voter's age is 44. Delta Amacuro is one of the most thinly populated states (after Bolívar and Amazonas) and one with a high proportion of native Americans living in very poor conditions (the Waraos). Its average voter's age is 41.

How is it possible that there is a child boom in October only for the 1966-1976 period (one year less or more)? Even if you always have trends - one month more births than in others -, the distribution should be more widespread through months and years. Journalist Stephen Bodzin had this hypothesis that parents could be reporting in October in order to give an advantage to their children, who would then be go to a class where most are younger. I somehow don't buy this, it is just too general, the pattern seems the same in every municipality I have seen and I don't think millions of parents in Venezuela were thinking like this. Do you have any idea?Do you think Stephen may be right?

Delta Amacuro

Slick as a whistle

The whistling heron is another bird you can find in Venezuelan and some other areas of South America. The one in the picture is from Uruguay, so it must whistle with a very funny accent.

Below you see its distribution in the wild:

When do Venezuelans shag? (updated)

What you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask: in what month do Venezuelans shag the most?

I checked out several municipalities and the pattern wasis absolutely clear or, as Tibisay would say: the trend is irreversible. So, it turns out that Venezuelans shagged the most in January. Or at least Venezuelan women get pregnant more often in January than at any other time of the year. And the moment when less conceptions take place is May.

Updated: this is only valid if you take into account all voters

Birth distribution for Venezuelans in two parishes of Valencia, Carabobo

For more: for those parishes in Valencia and other municipalities
Now, this IS weird. If you try to see how the birth-month distribution per year was, you see a very strange anomaly for the voters in Carabobo born between 1966 and 1974:

Apparently, there were a lot of extra people being born in October in that period.

Die einzige Regierung, die immer noch Gaddafi unterstützt:

Hier könnt Ihr direkt die Meinung der Chávez-Medien mal lesen.

Ein "Expert", der Argentinier Bueno Abad, sagt bei Telesur, die Medien im Westen und in den arabischen Ländern (lies Al-Jazeera) fokusieren sich zu sehr auf Gaddafis Familie und beachten nicht die Opfer, die durch Nato und Rebellen verursacht werden. Abad sagt nichts von den Menschenrechtsverletzungen der Gaddafi-Regierung. Ist er nicht schlimmer als FOX News oder CNN?

Ich hatte niemals, nicht mal zu Sowjetzeiten, eine so einseitige Einstellung gesehen wie die der Chávez-Anhänger.

Irgendwie wollen diese Leute sich gar nicht die Frage stellen, was die meisten Araber überhaupt darüber denken. Gaddafi ist einer der besten Freunde des Diktators Hugo Chávez. Alles ist ein Komplot des Westens.

Carabobo unplugged

The electoral data in Venezuela can be quite interesting to mine...not just for election purposes. Here I show you some data from the central state of Carabobo. In the first image you see in black the average (rounded) age of voters in each municipio (for the Valencia municipality, in the 3 largest paroquias). In red you have for some municipios the percentage of people who voted for Chávez and the percentage for the democratic alliance.

Within the Valencia municipality (in yellow) you see quite a range of average age for voters. I put in brackets the percentage of votes the democratic alliance got. Some parishes are rather small, like Candelaria and Catedral, in the city centre. A lot of elderly live there. Now, what is clear and not surprising at all is that areas with big families tend to be poorer and tend to vote more for the military regime (just as they used to vote for Acción Democrática before).

Candelaria 47 (57.25%)
Catedral 48 (60.92%)
El Socorro 50 (71.78%)
Miguel Peña 41 (46.74%)Negro Primero 41 (20.38%)
Rafael Urdaneta 42 (54.48%)
San Blas 48 (67.42%)
San José 46 (88.78%)
Santa Rosa 44 (49.78%)

Age does not correlate completely with vote preference: Rafael Urdaneta's average voter - 42 years old, rather poor, tends to be more inclined to support the democratic forces, whereas the Puerto Cabello inhabitant, with a similar age (just a tiny bit poorer) does not.

Now, let's look at the birth year distribution for the northernmost and the southernmost urban parishes of Valencia:

Miguel Peña is lower class to lower middle class and San José is lower middle class upwards, whereby most people are just middle-middle class.

Obviously, the place where the democratic forces should focus their efforts now is in Valencia's South and in the peripheral municipalities.

We would need to get uodated hard data on income and education levels, but that is very hard to get in a country as Venezuela. Still, more to come...

(I did not show those voters who still exist and were born from 1870 onwards)

The ex finance minister of Venezuela, now central bank chief, thinks that 7x7 is "around 36"

Another one for the bolibanana records.  The finance minister of Venezuela, Nelson Merentes, a once upon a time mathematician now turned president of Venezuela's central bank, does not know that 1 ton is 1000 kilos and thinks that 7 times seven is around 36.  As La Patilla points out, maybe the Chavez cadena frazzled him, but still...  can you imagine Merentes at question time in the commons?

The video edited by La Patilla replays at the end the 7X7=36. The moment when Merentes does not know the 7 tons=7000 kilos is not as obvious but around sec 22 you can hear someone whispering it to him...
They are going to steal that gold, just watch out!  Those people just want to grab it and split the loot.  They cannot even be bothered in having their facts straight!

Actualización de vocabulario: meretriz no tiene que ser puta solamente

Mi previo escrito, me doy cuenta ahora, necesita una definición mas clara para la palabra meretriz. Me disculparan mis lectores pero uso esa palabra en un sentido culto, el que me enseñaron los escritos de gente como Manuel Caballero [Q.E.P.D.]. Es decir, para mi la meretriz no es una puta aunque cobra sus servicios. Si bien la Real Academia española en su version de Internet iguala puta y meretriz, otras fuentes no son tan drásticas y nos remontan al uso histórico de la palabra merĕtrix, -īcis en tiempos romanos.  Wikipedia nos aclara el asunto con un artículo claro al respecto sobre la diferencia entre meretrices y prostitutas durante el imperio romano.  O si prefieren algo mas corto pueden leer un sitio de etimología de palabras de Chile.

Dicho todo esto, mi articulo de ayer "stands as is" como dicen en el imperio.  Y lo que hacen con 6to Poder es una barbaridad por la cual seguramente algún día pagarán esas mujeres.

How Venezuelan expats vote

We finally got the Consejo Nacional Electoral, the National Electoral Council, to publish the results of the 2010 elections at the Venezuelan embassies and consulates.

Those elections were bound to attract less expats to the voting centres. They could only vote for something called Parlatino, which  is a Latin American "Parliament" most people haven't got a clue about. The  Parlatino really has very little power, it is mostly a networking club for second-rank politicians. There are hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans abroad who could vote but for several reasons only 56031 are registered to vote. Of those, only 15434 went to vote on this occassion, less than 28%, much less than ever. This is not a trend, it is simply there was little interest to vote for the Parlatino.

Still, you can see the position of Venezuelans abroad: 74.79% of them voted for the alternative forces and against the Chávez regime.

If you check out the map below you will see a lot of red. Those are the countries where the Chávez government got more votes. How come? mostly, because the ones to vote were the embassy employees only. In places like Algeria or Poland there are hardly any Venezuelan. In places such as Belarus and Russia there are still some old commies and quite some people studying in several institutes (not least to become Chávez's "intelligence officials", as is the case for a group in Minsk).

In places such as Norway you have another picture: there are a couple of hundred Venezuelans at least and almost all of them are oppos, but most of them live in the very West of the country, far from Oslo. They are mostly workers in the oil sector and their families. Netherlands as a whole delivered more votes for Chavismo because Venezuela has quite some employees in the ABC islands. Most Venezuelans in the Netherlands proper (but for the embassy employees) vote for the alternative forces. As for Italy: I don't know.  Perhaps somebody can tell me whether the Venezuelan embassy there is so large.

There will be more Venezuelans voting abroad next year. Still, our plan should be to move as many more of our compatriots to register. We should -should- have not just 56 thousand votes but over a hundred thousand. Over 80% of them are bound to vote for the alternative forces. To do that, we nee to campaign a lot. Venezuelans abroad can help to turn the tide, to take Venezuela towards democracy and sustainable development.

Ps. The government still hasn't published the votes abroad for the 2009 referendum. Chávez's people will probably argue even 56000 votes would make no difference, but that is not the point. They have to publish it, specially after Maduro said over 50% of Venezuelans registed to vote abroad actually signed a petition supporting the referendum, which is a lie.

While military man Hugo Chávez repeats ad nauseam he wants to go on living...

While military strongman Hugo Chávez repeats ad nauseam he wants to go on living (1 2 3), humble Venezuelans get murdered every week because of the government's incompetence. The murder rate has more than tripled since the military caste came back to power, in 199.

Chávez has a 24-hour show about how he is now "living alive". He seems to have forgotten how he forced the military to repeat after him for years the slogan "Fatherland, Socialism or Death" and how he constantly says that if the alternative forces come to power blood will be shed. He parades some fans who have shaved their heads "in his  support", but he doesn't do anything real about the horrible crime scene in Venezuela.

Yesterday some thugs killed a girl who was about to finish her studies in medicine in Valencia. Today another young woman was shot dead in Catia La Mar because some thugs wanted her BlackBerry. At least 23 people were murdered in Caracas this weekend - nothing unusual in Bolivarian Venezuela. Hundreds more have been murdered all around Venezuela. Over 16000 people will get murdered this year. Mexico, in spite of going through hell now with the gang wars, has a murder rate that is a fraction of what Venezuela under Chávez has - Venezuela has just a fraction of Mexico's population.

But Chávez messages appear every minute in the pervasive state media where Chávez says how much he wants to go on living. Well: we can sympathize with that, but Chávez definitely only sympathizes with himself.
For how long will useful idiots keep defending Chávez abroad?

Ps.  Francisco Toro writes about how Chávez's media perceives the Libyan conflict. Don't miss it.

Otra carta abierta a Hugo: tu, Muammar y vuestras meretrices

6to Poder en la calle
Esta tarde estaba viendo el vocero de tu pana Muammar, un tal Mussa Ibrahim (tomo la misma ortografía de tu RNV, para que sepas de quien hablo).  Pues resulta que el tipo dice que no se puede creer, que es ilegal, que la OTAN tome bandos en una guerra civil.  Eso si, el tipo no nos dice como empezó la guerra civil en Libia, que ilegalidad tuvo que romperse para poder llevar un pueblo a tanto sufrimiento.  Menos nos habla de la supuesta legalidad de Muammar, casi 42 años en el poder sin la mas mínima activad electoral de carácter democrático que se pueda documentar.  Tu, Hugo, por lo menos ganaste en 1998 y 2000.

Pero esta noche me entero que Luisa Estela esta mandando a poner presa la gente del semanario 6to Poder.  Parece que las mujeres de tu gobierno se sienten ofendidas por la fotico que tus secuaces (féminas) pasearon hoy por Caracas.  ¿Y cual era la noticia ofensiva?  ¿Que Leocenis ponía en su justo lugar a esas mujeres que tu pusiste a cachifear para la pseudo-revolución?  Pero todo eso ya se sabia y si vas a poner Leocenis preso vas a tener que poner un montón de gente presa, incluyendo a este bloguero que ya hizo un escrito muy leído de título "las cachifas de Chávez".  Eso fue el 5 de julio del 2010, ¡Imagínate!

No es que defienda a Leocenis y su combo: nunca me gusto 6to Poder.  Lo compré dos veces y me curé de eso.  Si voy a leer cosas semi panfletarias prefiero leer cosas donde la ortografía esta mas cuidada, como Z de Poleo (que también quieres poner preso, de paso).  No sé lo que escribió que ofendió a Luisa.  ¿Será que ella esta muy vieja, muy gorda, muy fea, para vestirse de Cabaret?  ¿Será que ese montaje fotográfico de humor le dio en el alma, o lo que le queda de alma mas bien?  Pero Leocenis tiene todo el derecho del mundo a publicar su revista y si no te gusta a ti ni a Luisa, pues para eso se puede demandar sin poner gente presa.  Total, con el poder judicial corrupto y sometido que existe hoy en día aquí, esa demanda la ganarías.  ¿No?  Quien sabe, hasta la sentencia los ponga presos, perdón, privados de libertad.

Pero tu dirás lo que tu quieras Hugo, incluso podrás hacerle rezos hipócritas al pueblo libio. La triste verdad es que las Luisas, Tibi, Gabriela, la Cilia y tantas otras son igualitas a Mussa y en el fondo son todos y todas meretrices del jefe.  Apoyan, ayudan, escudan, excusan a un gobierno criminal como el libio o perverso como el tuyo que aparentemente se prepara a volverse también criminal si no gana en el 2012.

Si en Libia las meretrices son hombres ya que la religión no permite a Muammar llevarlas tan alto como tu lo has hecho, la situación no te puede ser muy ajena.  Estoy casi seguro, aunque nunca lo podremos saber, que hace 30 años Muammar hubiese todavía podido ganar una elección en Libia (¿no son 12 los que cumpliste ya Hugo?).  Pero hoy no, aunque no lo quieras admitir.  ¿Te recuerdas como hace 4 meses la Plaza Verde de Trípoli estaba llena de manifestantes anti Gaddafi?  Y llegaron los mercenarios y todos para su casa, todos a gritar a cualquier periodista extranjero que Al Gaddafi era la ultima Coca Cola del desierto.  Hasta tu embajador y tu enviado de TeleSur se enredaron.

Fíjate, Hugo, como son las cosas: los rebeldes llegan a los suburbios de Trípoli (Al-Juatire, por decir algo) y todos los Tripolitenses regresaron a la Plaza Verde, y tres hijos de Gaddafi ya son reportados presos.  No sabemos nada del paradero de Mussa, de paso.

No es que te estoy amenazando Hugo.  Yo no puedo hacer nada, no se disparar, no tengo armas a parte de mi cuchillo parillero, soy muy viejo para tirar piedras que nunca las supe tirar, y por mas que quiera ayudar a la MUD si acaso 10 palos le podré dar para la campaña.  Me puedes mandar tus Guardias Nazionales sin pistola, que nada les va a pasar.  Pero no te hagas ilusiones: lo que le pasa a Muammar, a Assad, es lo que le pasa a todos los aprendices de dictadores.  Te engañas si crees que tu lo vas a evitar, que tus secuaces y meretrices algún dia no se verán frente a una corte de justicia.

Fíjate Hugo: ¿viste quien dirige a la "oposición" Libia?  Pues muchos que antes eran "fieles" servidores de Muammar, sus militares, sus embajadores, sus ministros....  No soy yo, no va a ser Leocenis quienes te van a derrocar, van a ser tus meretrices, mujeres o militares, que un día se van a cansar de tanto abuso, de tanta humillación, de tanto cubano y ellos se te van a voltear.  Muammar nunca tuvo que cerrar periódicos porque el nunca permitió que se abran y sin embargo la gente sabía muy bien de que se trataba el asunto de la Jamhiriya: unos vulgares consejos comunales llenos de sapos.

Así que ahora que estas enfermo piénsalo bien y deja de pararle al chocho de Fidel.  Todavía estas a tiempo de dejar una imagen no demasiado perversa en los libros de historia aunque ya es muy tarde para muchos de tus secuaces que no tienen remedio y a la justicia tendrán que ir.  Pero tu y tu familia todavía pueden negociar un futuro aceptable si permites que en el 2012 la oposición cobre, si es que gana.  Porque si no lo haces, si te arriesgas a una Muamarrada bestial, entre los que te van a guindar algún día estarán las pendejas que hoy desfilaron en la foto de arriba para defender a tus meretrices.

PS: y por favor, deja de ensartarte aun mas con palabras como estas.

Eine Journalistin in Venezuela festgenommen, schon wieder

Nancy Pérez Sierra, Ministerin für "Frauenrechte", gibt das Befehl zur Festnahme einer Journalisten wegen Kritik an weiblichen Bonzen

Die Leitering der Zeitschrift Sexto Poder, Dinorah Girón, wurde heute von der SEBIN - vom venezolanischen Sicherheitsdienst - festgenommen. Der Grund? Die Ministerin "für die Volksmacht für Frauen und Gleichberechtigung", Nancy Pérez Sierra, erklärte, die Zeitschrift verletze die Ehre und die Arbeit der Frauen im öffentlichen Dienst.

Die Ministerin fügte hinzu: "Wir werden diese Angriffe nicht akzeptieren. Die [Sicherheitsdienste] müssen diejenigen festnehmen, die das Vaterland beleidigein, die Frauen angreifen". Das ist genug in Venezuela, damit die Sicherheitsagenten einen Menschen festnehmen. Die Regierung tut praktisch nichts gegen Mörder, aber vieles gegen Journalisten.

Die Zeitschrift hätte u.a. Blanck Eekhout - Vizepräsidentin der Nationalversammlung-, Luisa Estella Morales -Präsidentin des Obergerichtshof, Luisa Ortega Días - Ombundsfrau "des Volkes"- und Tibisay Lucena -Präsidentin des Wahlrates-, kritisiert. Die Sünde: im Text steht, diese Frauen wären "die Mächtigen der Revolution". Ich weiss nicht, was die Zeitschrift noch überhaupt veröffentlicht hat, ich bezweifle aber, dass es sich um mehr handeln würde, als was Titanik jede Woche Titanic schreibt.

Hitler, Stalin, Lenin and Venezuela

Going through the electoral register in Venezuela can be fascinating. One can discover a lot about Venezuela's society there.

I just looked up to see if there were voters with a couple of weird names. I just checked out data for one state, Carabobo. As expected, I found several Stalins and a lot of Lenins. I also found 3 men whose first name is Hitler. Almost all Stalins, Lenins and definitely Hitlers live in poor areas of Carabobo. Chances are those called Hitler have a darker skin colour than the average Venezuelan.

You can verify the IDs 13634680, 14171425 and 15591192, for instance.

Lenin's Red Terror
One thing is obvious: their parents didn't know much about history. They knew even less than the average Venezuelan, who doesn't know much either.

Below you can see the birth year distribution of voters called Lenin in Carabobo. Those are total numbers, so the proportion of Lenins in the whole voting population must have gone down more since the eighties. One can notice already from this: the name became popular among people influenced by extreme left tendencies in the second half of the sixties and in the seventies. Curiously, the number of Lenins dropped the year when Carlos Andrés Pérez too office as president of Venezuela for the first time, in 1974. Coincidence? I don't know.

If we are ever going to get Venezuela out of underdevelopment, we need to do something urgent about this.

Try to see how hard it is to be opposition under the "Bolivarian" regime

This used to be a beautiful city

Cocchiola is a deputy from Valencia, Venezuela's third largest city. Yesterday he went to the Municipal Council to request an inquiry on the current mayor, PSUV honcho Edgardo Parra. Cocchiola accuses Parra of corruption. Parra has been the mayor since 2008 and most people, even former Chávez supporters, are very disappointed about his work. The Chávez honcho has spent a lot of money in trips; the first one he took with a huge delegation was to China, but he kept traveling around the world. Parra has put friends and relatives to work as consultants for him. The construction of the city's subway is stalled, though, and crime is worse than ever. Streets are filthy, there hasn't been much wok on social programmes.

A group of Chávez employees shouted insults againt Cocchiola. After the opposition politician managed to deliver the petition, the situation got out of hand. Chavistas prevented journalists from taking pictures, they pushed them and threw mud at them. The municipality's police, under Parra's control, stood motionless.

After Cocchiola left the building, the Chávez employees ran after him and threw him a basket full of rubbish, they threw him stones and water.

Parra  said there was no aggression. When journalists asked Parra about the mud, the stones and the water, the Bolivarian man said: "that's something else. Here there was no physical aggression".

Apparently, for the military and the extreme left honchos, physical aggression only happens if you use a gun or you hit somebody with your fists.

This is our daily bread outside Caracas. Few foreign journalists are interested in covering this kind of events. No EU or OAS observer will have time to see this kind of action.

Shorn Goldylocks

Since the bolibanana revolution is a big fairy tale, sure enough Goldilocks ought to follow Cinderella.

The announcements on the gold policies of Venezuela have created quite a stir, giving us articles by people that actually took seriously the announcement as if some economical principle were to be of concern.  Well, it is not.  As all things chavista, it is all political.

See, things must really worse than what we think they are when the regime is quickly dispatching the remains of "management" and "democracy" that may still linger here and there.  As usual, the key to understand these is always the same : the regime cannot surrender power peacefully because too many of its "dignitaries" would find their asses pushed to jails.  As such it is already taking the necessary measures to avoid such a fate were the opposition odds of winning in 2012 to become too good for comfort.

I will not go into the politics, which include fictitious law suits against the opposition as a whole and generals announcing that they will not respect an unfavorable decision in 2012.  Those deserve a full post.  Today, let's just look at how little of management is left, and discarded.

First, it is gold week, for some reason.  Apparently the feverish mind of Chavez titillated by chemo drugs, has made him see the increased price of gold as a bonus and he seems to have decided to control all of Venezuela's gold under his bed.  Or something like that, close enough in his mind.  So he decides to nationalize the unproductive vipers nest of Venezuelan gold mines where Venezuela has already a majority interest in.  No change in gold production is thus expected, hoping that enough gold will be mined to make at least wedding bands for Venezuelans.

More promising for Chavez is to bring back to Venezuela its gold reserves in part stocked elsewhere.  That was a wise measure due to the historical instability of politics around here.  So, having, say, half your gold in a handful of countries made sense.

But this really was never an issue because the world has moved a long time ago from the gold standard and today the value of a currency is based more on the potential of a country than anything else.  In Venezuela, it has been more than a half century that our gold standard is black and runny.  Even if we were to lose suddenly all of our gold, we would suffer high inflation at first but people would still keep lending us after a while.  In exchange of black gold, of course.  A little bit of good management and productivity and we could rebuild these reserves or, well, do without them altogether.

Let's just say if you do not understand my point that is is certainly nice to have some gold to back your currency, but that countries like Switzerland need gold more than Venezuela to have a viable currency.

Thus we must understand, as more and more experts seem to understand, that the reasons to bring back gold from outside to Caracas is of another nature.

First, Venezuela is about to lose some major rulings that it does not want to pay, and cannot pay if it wanted to, anyway.  Seizing Venezuelan gold in a New York safe is an easy way to recover your loss.  Once Venezuelan gold is in Caracas, the only thing left is Citgo and that cash is not as easy to come around fast to your checking account. Let's hope that this is the real reason for the move, as it seems to be good mafia management, at least.  Cold.

Second, for an even wilder reason instead of keeping all the gold in Caracas, as it should be, there is talk to send some to Venezuela's biggest lenders: China, Russia and Brazil.  What a coincidence, ain't it?  I count at least two bears there. Warm.

In third we could point out that Chavez is aware how fast dictators have recently seen "their" gold and other financial assets frozen by more democratic countries.  A Chavez who is seriously thinking going out of the international democratic system at the latest by December 2012, having as much of Venezuela's assets at home, or in supposedly friendly hands, is now a necessity.  Hot.

Maybe someone should tell him that the Russians never returned the Spanish gold sent to them for safekeeping during the Civil War.  The more so that those Sukhois and gold mines concessions to Russians have to be paid back.

Immediate effects for Venezuela?  None as our economy is already tanking with or without gold reserves.  And no one is really investing today unless it has a contract on Venezuela's balls.  And I do not mean a notarized piece of paper.

Possible medium term effects?  If Chavez starts selling gold to pay for his campaign then inflation will get totally out of control and the country will come to crashing stop as most providers of Venezuela will refuse to work with CADIVI and demand payment upfront, in USD or Euro, your choice, before any container is loaded for Venezuela.

¡Saldremos trasquilados de verdad verdad!

Cinderella could be a chavista if she wanted to

La Patilla brings the latest rage in capitalo-revolutionary shoes.  With even models in red for when you march in the streets to support your beloved leader's fight against capitalism and consumerism.  Start at a very popular price for "el pueblo" of a mere 67.50 USD.  I suppose it is for El Pueblo in Marin County malls....  (Hat tip Caro).

The Vikings discover more oil under the sea

You can read about that here (in German). Norwegian oil reserves could go up a sixth of its current volume.

Will this have some effect on oil prices in the mid term?

What do you think Chávez told Gaddafi?

I read in Lenta some people think- again - that Gaddafi is getting ready to leave Libya. The Libyan dictator would apparently be ready to transfer power to his minister of Justice - if there is a cease fire and "NATO forces leave Libya". Fat chance. Anyway: two Airbuses came from South Africa. Some of Gaddafis relatives and government honchos may consider going to Venezuela.

There is a Venezuelan representative (or shall I say a Chávez representative) talking to Gaddafi officials in the Tunesian island of Djerba.

Is this true or yet another rumour? Or do Gaddafi's relatives reckon Venezuela may still be a good place for shopping? Stay tuned.

Should I go? How long could I stay there?

Science in a banana republic

Humberto Fernández M orán must be rolling in his grave

Researchers from the Universidad Simón Bolívar, the Universidad Central de Venezuela, IVIC and Unimet are asking the Supreme Court to declare the new Law of Science, Technology and Research inconstitutional.

This law is the kind of concoction only a military regime in a banana republic can think of. Venezuela is supposed to be a pluralistic state and yet this law is slanted towards one single ideology. The law's objective is suppossed to be "the creation of the Socialism of the 21rst Century in accordance with the National Plan for Economic and Social Development of 2007-2013". That plan, by the way, was based on the work by a Chilean communist, Marta Harnecker. The term 21 Century Socialism is a fancy name proposed by Heinz Dieterich, a rather obscure figure mostly known within the Latin American hard-core left circles who a few days ago wrote an article explaining how he fell out of love with Chavismo.

This piece of legislation would mean only those projects that have the support of the government in office - a government that wants to stay forever - will get financial resources from the State.  

The new law is also against research by the private sector: all the money for research should go to the government, which will manage it as it sees fit. This means that basically no private company can legally be working on research and development unless Chavismo approves it.

It's quite amazing no one seems to tell the military pseudo-socialist regime that the Chinese are doing exactly the contrary to what Chavismo is trying to do.

This is the kind of thing 95% of Venezuelans won't grasp but it is also the kind of things that will affect 100% of Venezuelans for many decades to come unless we react now.

Sozialismus des 21. Jahrhunderts: ade

Z*A = K   (Zeit* Arbeit = Kohle) Ein neues Gesetz der Sozialwissenschaften

Heinz Dieterich hat nun einen Artikel über seinen Bruch mit Hugo Chávez geschrieben. Viele der Chávez-Anhänger fühlen sich schon wieder verraten, wenn man die Reaktionen der Leser in sieht. Und kaum einer unter ihnen denkt darüber nach, wieso das immer wieder bei ihnen passiert: warum gibt es immer wieder diese Aussteiger?

Dieterich behauptet, wie schon viele Kommunisten vor ihm, dass seine Ideen etwas mit Wissenschaft zu tun haben. Man würde gern wissen, was Dieterich unter "Wissenschaft" versteht, ob in der Soziologie oder sonst. Wie auch immer: Dieterich denkt, seine Idee, Arbeitszeit als Mass aller Dinge für Belohnung in der Wirtschaft zu benutzen, wäre etwas Revolutionäres, etwas Neues. Dieterich weiss anscheinend nicht, was Produktivität ist, was Motivation bedeutet. Er hat wenig mit Kreativität gehabt. Zeit messen, belohnen: das ist für ihn die Lösung unserer Probleme, das Ende vom Kapitalismus, Menschen werden sich daran halten. Es ist für Dieterich egal, wenn jemand vor dem Schreibtisch 8 Stunden hinvegetiert  und wenn jemand 8 Stunden lang eine Reihe Erfindungen schafft.

Vielleicht hat der "Wissenschaftler Dieterich eine Idee, wie man "echte" Arbeitszeit messen kann? Mit einer Kamera vielleicht? Einfach genial!

Und Dieterich, der von Informatik nichts weiss, sagt uns auch: nun kann man wirklich die partizipatorische Demokratie einführen, denn nun können wir alle immer bei jeder Angelegenheit unsere Stimme bei E-Wahlen geben. Ich nehme an, der Dieterich wird das nur behaupten, solange die Programmierer auf seiner Seite stehen.

Tja...das war der Denker des 21. Sozialismus. Wenn Journalisten jemanden suchten, der endlich mal eine theoretische Basis für den "Chavismus" zur Verfügung stellen konnte, hatten sie den Dieterich.

Und nun haben sie nichts.


Dieterich sagt, er hätte "wissenschaftliche und politische Ethik" und dass er darum bei einem Kongress sagte, Venezuela hätte noch keinen Sozialismus "im historischen Sinne", dass man in Venezuela einfach dabei war, die Bedingungen für eine gerechtere Gesellschaft zu bauen. Und das war nicht gut genug für viele und das war definitiv nicht gut für Chávez. Der Caudillo war sauer. Der Caudillo sagte ein Treffen mit Dieterich ab. Dieterich hatte seinen Stolz. Chávez rief ihn dann nicht an. Liebe war weg.

Tja...schade, dass Dr Dieterich den Nobelpreis für wissenschatliche und politische Ethik nicht bekommen hat. 

Dieterich sagt dazu, Chávez benutzt dieselbe Strategie, die Deutschland nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg benutzt hat, um wieder voranzukommen: Chávez benutzt die soziale Marktwirschaft. Ich glaube, die CDU/CSUler werden wirklich baff sein, wenn sie hören, dass Chávez auf den Spuren von Alfred Müller-Armack und Ludwig Eckhard ist. Das hatten sie bestimmt nicht gewusst. Das hätte ich auch nicht geahnt. Dieterich schon. Und Dieterich ist - so steht es in Wikipedia - ein Dozent an einer mexikanischen Universität.

Wenn der alte Eckart wüsste

Dieterich erklärt, Chavez habe ihn wegen der Bürokratie nicht mehr wie das bei der Sowjetunion halt war. Man weiss schon: die Kommunisten sagen immer wieder, die sozialistischen Regierungen - die angeblich keine sozialistischen Regierungen waren, sondern "kapitalistische Staatsdiktaturen" - wären an der Bürokratie gescheitert. Wie auch immer: Chávez hat ihn nicht angerufen. Also Schluss.

Warum bekommt man den Eindruck, es handelt sich um eine Liebesgeschichte der Bravo-Zeitschrift und nicht um den Aufsatz eines politischen Denkers?

Kein Wort über die Macht der Militärs, über Korruption, über die Drohungen des Chavismus, Waffengewalt zu benutzen, wenn die Wahlen nicht günstig sind. Kein Wort über die ideologischen Widersprüche und die absolute Abwesenheit einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung. Also bleiben uns nur Dieterichs Zeilen über Verschmähter Liebe Pein.

August round up

And thus I am starting to get back into the groove of Venezuelan politics after, oh, a 1.5 month mental recess?  Now that my ranting on the 2012 reality is behind, we need to go back to the electoral coverage because no matter how weak the opposition is, we need to get rid of Chavez if we want to have any chance at improving the country.  Besides, we are still better off as an opposition than the Argentina one who got a major, MAJOR trouncing yesterday, in large part due to its put-offing divisions.

Below, in no particular order, a list of the political opposition candidates as I perceive them to be this mid August (call it an Iowa straw poll if you must...).  Also, I am not yet getting into discussion of the chavista camp who is in a mess as per Chavez ass cancer.  We need to give them some time for their return to earth.

The front runner

I am not too sure how much of a front runner Capriles Radonski is at this point.  As days pass he looks more and more like a front runner by default, meaning that the primary campaign of the opposition has still not started in earnest so he floats high by default.  The bulk of the opposition electorate has other things in mind this August, from going away on vacation for those who can, to how to get enough food and entertainment for the kids for those who cannot.  Personally I think less of him since he supported knee jerk PDVSA even though it is breaking international law.  A future president cannot make such kind of mistakes.  Also, Primero Justica, his party, seems bent in doing a neutral campaign, taking for granted the more radical opposition while trying to woo the NiNi electorate.  I think it is a mistake because there is not such a thing today as a NiNi electorate (Neither chavista Neither opposition) because we all know what is at stake and have chosen camp long ago.  NiNi are merely people too lazy too participate or to stand for the courage of their convictions.  NiNi  = sinvergüenza if you ask me.

If indeed it is true that a NiNi attracting campaign could pay off in December 2012, it might backfire badly in February where motivated and radical opposition voters will make the trip to the primaries while NiNi may stay home after all.  If Capriles is withholding too much his anti Chavez punch he could get a nasty surprise on primary day....

The wannabe front runner

The case for Pablo Perez is sad.  Once benefiting of a front runner status because of the simple fact that he has the most populous state vote locked, his constant delays in announcing his candidacy seem to have caused him some damage that he might not be able to repair anymore.  People simply do not understand whatever is going on inside UNT and why Rosales keeps insisting in being candidate from the exile (Governor Lapi debacle in 2008 anyone?).  Thus the very worst fate that can fall on a presidential candidate is falling on Pablo Perez: people are losing interest.

We are told that yes, soon, any day now, just you wait, Pablo Perez will announce.  But he will start with a self imposed handicap: not only he needs to waste time to refurbish his Zulia advantage but he has gone almost off the radar in places where he was strong a couple of months ago, such as the Andes region who got tired waiting for him and have started looking at other options.

The wannabe candidate

There is at least a candidate that is doing all the required work to build a real electoral challenge and offer a real program for the country.  Unfortunately we still do not know whehter he will be able to run for election.  I am talking of course of Leopoldo Lopez and his "inhabilitación".  And it is affecting him in the polls as he is not as high as he used to be, people losing interest in someone that may or may not run, a fate à la Jesus Perez....

But he is doing his work.  He had a reasonable successful wide open election where more than a 100,000 people went to vote for the Voluntad Popular organizers (and elected him head honcho).  You may think that 100K is not that great but no other party, PSUV included, has had as open elections as VP so at least these numbers are meaningful.  And he is also doing real proposals such as doubling oil production.  I suppose that it means he has realized that after 12 years of chavismo social peace can only be guaranteed by distributing free food with the 3 million barrels a day we supposedly produce today.  Thus we must double that if we want to have some money to actually develop the country.

Unfortunately for Leopoldo Lopez his eventual run depends solely on Chavez political calculations.  If chavismo thinks that allowing Lopez to run can divide the opposition, he will get the nod.  If chavismo thinks that a run by Lopez could unite the country effectively behind him, then he will never be allowed to run, no matter what international court says.  We must at the very least give that credit, that such considerations do not stop him, á la William of Orange.

A wannabette?

Maybe I am a little harsh on Maria Corina Machado, but I wonder whether she means it this time around or she is positioning herself for 2018 already.  Make no mistake, I think she is a good candidate, that her short stint as representative showed already her good political instincts, that her tenure at Sumate gave her enough experience to deal with chavismo in a post Chavez era.  But that is not what concerns me.

First, there is that novelty feel she brings and might explain why she has climbed significantly in some polls, if we are to believe them as they already would tie her to Lopez. We have been this road before with Irene Saez in 1998, from leading in the polls to almost dead last.  Certainly her name recognition should give her at the very least a 10% in any serious poll before a real campaign starts.  But you need more than that to win a primary election and the three candidates above have all an electoral machinery that she lacks.  True, their electoral apparatus might be rather incomplete but hers is, well, absent.

Which brings me to second, a redolence of opportunism.  It seems that MCM is looking for an electoral support and thus she seems to be shopping for a political party.  When I left on vacation the rumors were that AD would adopt her, which seemed to me preposterous.  Now that I am back in business it seems that COPEI will do, which would be a more natural fit for her.  There is even rumors that if Leopoldo Lopez is barred from running, well, VP might look into her as an option.  All this is fine and dandy but rarely has opportunism won primary elections....

The cryptic wannabe

I have in mind Lara's governor Henri Falcon who is, so far, sitting it out.  I think he is smart enough to have realized that getting with the opposition alright would kill his chances in both pro and anti Chavez front.  But not embracing the opposition vote dooms him since the PPT alone cannot win him the opposition primaries if he were to chose to run.  Besides he probably needs to spend more time defending his job in Lara as that state could be the one to decide the 2012 vote.  Chavismo is working hard at unseating him before his term ends.  But of all potential candidates he is probably the one that can afford the best to enter late in the race, and even skip the primary altogether if, say, Chavez were to drop off the election, a division within chavismo making him a sudden front runner.

The wannabe wannabees

I just put under this label all the other candidates, from Osvaldo Alvarez Paz to Diego Arria (who by the way was aggressed today by the barbaric governor of Cojedes, a piece of scum if any, proving that chavismo does not underestimate any candidate).  As far as I can tell since my return they are not making many inroads and might actually be "sabotaged" by the MUD who thinks it has enough candidates already.  Maybe, but that is OK in a way.  After all, if they manage to get up to 5% in the primary they can hope to have a role in a post Chavez government and the good lord knows we can use someone like Diego Arria as foreign minister or Alvarez part as interior ministry to deal with insecurity.  After a decade and a half of ideological improvisation some experienced politicians may be a breath of fresh air.

Making mail run on time

Mail in Venezuela has always been bad but in the last couple of years it has gone from bad to useless.  I cannot tell you how many problems I have had with some people outside of Venezuela that cannot understand why a letter will take at the very least a month to reach me.  But today was just too much...  I went to my POBox to check it out after a week absence.  And there were 5, FIVE, issues of Scientific American.  FIVE fucking issues arrived at once! For a monthly magazine!

You could tell me "Daniel, get the online subscriptions and get over it" and I will reply that my Internet has got to be wireless where I live for a variety of reasons and that it keeps crashing all the time, that I cannot use it between 5 PM and 9 PM, and that once I am done with mail and blog matters I have no stomach to deal with that shit further.....  IPad is of course out of question where I live since I will pay a bunch for a dedicated cel phone line which will be temperamental in the best of times.

Why oh why?  Because chavismo has absolutely no interest in people being informed and if it were for chavismo alone, Internet would be like in Cuba, reserved for bureaucrats.

In San Felipe today I cannot have decent Internet, I cannot receive mail on time, I depend on satellite TV for my news because there is only neutered or pro chavista TV, I stopped listening to radio a long time ago as it is either bland, chavista or salsa; and forget about local papers who are adept at self censoring and propaganda.

In Venezuela today, if you are not in a major urban area, you really need to go out of your way to remain informed, to escape chavismo propaganda.

In Mussolini days trains at least run on time, or so the legend goes.  The mess of chavista Venezuela will remain legendary, I can assure you that much.  You know what? Venezuela might become the first mail free country and not because of Internet.....

Chavez return from chemo II

So Chavez returns from Cuba after his acknowledged second session of chemotherapy.  Noticias 24 gives the gross display of that return.....  making us sympathy puke along Chavez's side effects. 

First there is a video which starts with a music that is not Venezuelan.  Goes to tell you that the propaganda ministry has to be now in the hands of Cubans who think our music is generic quena Andean concoctions...  I do not know about you but I find it insulting.  Heck, 12 years of "revolution" and Ali Primera is still the lone musical reference of revolutionary-protest music?

But fear not, in addition of all the cabinet at night on a Saturday waiting for Chavez to land (do they ever spend time at their office?), there was Mari Pili Hernandez a rather very faded youth minster (now that she failed as director of Canal i, bringing it to bankruptcy), serenading Chavez with at least a true Venezuelan song if occasionally off tune.

In chavismo there is not only Chavez who is sick......

Hat Tip Gustavo

For how long can Venezuela be a parasite nation?

$ per barrel, projection with 10% price increase: This is unlikely to remain for so long

Venezuela has experienced the longest oil boom in its history. The Chávez regime has been able to cling to power thanks to that. And yet the military regime has become so inefficient, so corrupt, that it does not only need high oil prices, but permanently higher oil prices. How sustainable is that? 

Let's imagine oil prices increase now on average 10% per year. As I have written before, that would be enough to keep Venezuela from getting back into recession. It is very doubtful that the trend can keep itself for many years: a threshold will be reached that would move us towards a definite fuel shift. This fuel shift won't be complete in a year or two but once it gets started, it will set itself forth and Venezuela will start to get less dollars for each barrel.

Unfortunately, no one in Venezuela is talking about this. This is bad. Someone within the alternative forces has to have the courage to tell the population Venezuela is not really a badly managed rich country.

The irrational US support to Israel and ethnic cleansing

Do yourself a favour and get yourself the book by Mearsheimer and Walt, the Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

Don't just read what this or that group says about the book. Get the book yourself, read it and think about it. Reality is a little bit different from what we read in that Exodus novel.

An interview with Mearsheimer in 2010

Unlike what Mearsheimer and others say, I don't think Arabs will outnumber Jews in either a one or a two-state solution. Birth rates have been leveling off.

The Israeli government approved a couple of days ago more settlements in land stolen from the Palestineans. Excuse? They claim they are more linked to the Jews of 2000 years ago than the Palestinians who have lived there.

And here you have Amin Hass, a journalist from Ha'aretz. Listen from minute 7.

The Venezuelan opposition will lose even if it wins

I am not quite concerned about the outcome of 2012.  The realization has come to me that even if the opposition were to win in December 2012, it will probably end up losing the battle anyway as I have strong doubts that it will be able to rule.  The way the campaign has been developing so far is worrisome, but not because Chavez may yet implode or because the opposition is taking desperately slow but somewhat effective steps toward creating an electoral option.  The thing, it seems, is that the opposition best shot is to be able to create an electoral option, not a ruling option.  Allow me to explain.

I wonder what kind of mandate will the opposition gain.  Will it be the necessary mandate to impose the necessary change in the country if we ever want to have a shot at stopping being a third world country with a semi fixed income?  I doubt it.  The Venezuelan opposition seems to be playing the "efficient Chavez card", that is, retain most of the chavista structure of the country but managing it with a criterion of efficiency, and less corruption.  Hearing declarations, e.g., from Petkoff to Capriles Radosnski (to name those who went knee jerk to the defense of Iran dealing PDVSA) one would think that we are actually in a democratic systems, with its problems of course, but democratic enough that one can expect reasonable elections, reasonable chance of victory, reasonable transition, reasonable challenges for the next 6 years..

Well, it is not.

The leadership of the Venezuelan opposition does not seem to comprehend to which extent 12 years of chavismo have transformed Venezuela from a dysfunctional democracy into a kleptocratic beggary.  The state country for a future non-chavista president will be a state where all have rights, none have duties, where a huge bureaucracy will be entrenched and unmovable and ruinous, ready to sabotage the actions of a regime that either goes against their interests, or for which they have little affinity to begin with. 

The other day I was having lunch with one of my business partners, one that has a certain access to some of the regime employees.  He asserted to me repeatedly that many in the directions of ministries despise Chavez and cannot wait to get rid of him.  In fact, they went as far as saying that Chavez days were numbered, that he might leave before his term end (disease effect included, I suppose).  Maybe. But does that mean that they would serve a Capriels Radosnki without misgivings, or that they much would prefer to serve a less destructive chavista such as Diosdado Cabello.  My lunch date was strangely stumped by this observation, reflecting a certain denial inside the opposition as to our reality..

I am certainly willing to accept that many in the public administration, besides the political ministers and vice minsters, are tired of the chaos that the country is sliding into and they sure would like to be less worried about crime and blackouts.  But I think the opposition is not taking in the whole picture, that these people might be tired of Chavez but might not be tired of chavismo as long as their paycheck keeps coming, with an occasional opportunity for an "extra" income which does not need be more than a bottle of 18 year old Scotch.

Maybe I am pessimistic but the example of Argentina keeps coming to mind.  When Peron was overthrown eventually it was more because of what he was himself than for what he represented.  The failure of Peron was not countered with a new model, a new type of country, the military that overthrew him preferring to act as if Peron was just another caudillo and not the society changing moment he presided, even though that might have been due more to Evita.  We know what followed and today Argentina is still suffering the consequences of Peronismo, 60 years after the fact, no one apparently having been able to offer a real alternative model besides repression of Peronism.

For better or for worse, according to your point of view (worse for me of course) Venezuela has been deeply changed over the past 12 years and the damage is simply irreversible.  People who have been mentally damaged by 12 years of state leeching are simply not going to go tomorrow as if nothing to open business where hard work is required to succeed, or the well paid jobs that may be associated with such business once they become reasonably successful after the hard work of the boss AND the employees.  It is not going to happen.  What we need is a strong proposal of a new country with new paradigms where chavistas may or may not join but where those sitting on the fence and those opposing the current system might unite in a way resistant enough to slowly but surely reverse the tide of chavismo.  It will take at least a couple of decades.  The moral compass, the political energy that is required for that cannot come alone on promising to be merely an efficient chavismo.

The opposition is afraid of such a proposal because it will more than likely cost it the election in 2012.  And  that is probably true.  But winning under such conditions, without a clear mandate for change, will simply result in a huge march starting from Catia and 23 Enero that will go to Miraflorres and burn it down.  Such a march will look nothing like the ones from the other side of Caracas in 2002....  The chavista lumpen has given ample evidence that they are not above burning up anything that stands in their way.

Great leaders or movements that have changed their country in democratic manners have had always something in common: a rather unpopular program that they stuck to until eventually one day they won the election.  Then they had no problem advancing their program.

In France we have for example de Gaulle who was not afraid to leave power in 1946 to wait his turn in 1958 when the failure of the French 4th Republic that he had foretold did happen indeed.  He was catapulted to office and today, 54 years later, be it from the right or form the left his system is still in place, with more stability and prosperity than any other constitutional system in French history.

The United States gives us a recent example of such leaders.  Reagan stuck to his guns after his 1976 defeat to come into office in 1980 to create a system that only today is finally fraying.  Same thing for England where Margaret Thatcher would have normally lost her elections had she not been helped by the economic marasm of her predecessor.  But you can be assured that she would have kept fighting as if nothing had she not won when she did.

But examples from the left also exits if not quite as clear.  Mitterrand in France had the vision of embracing the Communist party to get rid of it at the ballot box.  He was vilified and had to wait until 1981 to finally make it.  But he did and today the once mighty Communist party is mere embers.  His idea was not to change the system though he hinted at that earlier.  But he had the intelligence to understand the value of the Gaullist reforms and focused himself paradoxically  in making them viable in the long term by bringing in political alternatives, something impossible as long as the Communists were raking 20% of the votes.  Lula of Brazil, in a way, did a Mitterrand thing by losing enough elections until he made it to power not to dramatically change the country but to make it work for all.  Inasmuch as I dislike him he have to acknowledge that he has changed Brazil much more than what people think he did.

I am not saying that a preliminary electoral defeat is a must for a new system to reach power.  There are other factors such as deep economic crisis or sudden social malaise which can speed up things.  What I am saying is that the Venezuelan opposition needs to establish a plank that will not sugar coat the reality that it will be facing in 2012 if they are allowed to step in Miraflores Palace.  If they fail to do so, then they will fail at bringing the needed changes and our fate is the one of Argentina, an eternally polarized country unable to go to civil war but unable to correct its ills.  That is, if we are lucky enough to avoid civil war.

Deutschland, die Mauer und Chavismus

Berlin, Deutschland

An diesen Tagen gedenken die Deutschen den Bau der Berliner Mauer. Die Mauer war die Lösung einer totalitären Regierung gegen Transparenz, Vergleich, Debatte, echte Kommunikation. Die Mauer hat ganze Familien getrennt und viel Hass geschürt. Hunderte von Menschen wurden umgebracht, als sie aus der DDR fliehen wollten.

Einer der wenigen Menschen, die sich nie von der DDR-Diktatur und vom Bau der Mauer distanziert hat ist Sahra Wagenknecht, die nicht zufällig einer der wenigen Politiker Westeuropas ist, die Chávez unterstützen.

Venezuelas Mauer

Die meisten Menschen in Venezuela haben keinen Internetzugang. Es ist gar nicht einfach für sie, andere Länder zu besuchen. Die meisten sprechen keine andere Sprache ausser Spanisch. Chávez braucht keine Betonmauer, um sie zu isolieren. Seine Kontrolle der Medien sorgt dafür: die regierungskritische Medien sind vorwiegend Zeitungen, die nur eine kleine Minderheit las und liest in einem Land, wo kaum jemand Zeitungen liest. Es gibt noch dazu Globovision, ein schlechter Fernsehsender, der weniger als 30% der Bevölkerung erreichen kann.

Die Venezolaner müssen jetzt neue Brücken bauen und Tunnel durchbohren, um die Informationsmauer zu durchbrechen, die die Regierung und einfach die technologische und bildungspolitische Rückständigkeit gebaut haben. Wir müssen zu den Leuten jenseits dieser Mauer gehen, Debatten, Austausch von Ideen fördern. Es wird Zeit in Anspruch nehmen, diese Mauer wirklich abzubauen und seine zerstörerische Kraft verschwinden zu lassen. Wir müssen es aber ab sofort tun.

This snake won't kill you

You have to watch out for mapanares and cuaimas and a few others but most of the other snakes in Venezuela are non venomous.

The Liophis reginae is one of those that are not lethal. It eats frogs, small fish, lizards.

Die alternativen Parteien haben noch einen

Pablo Pérez ist der Kandidat für die sozialdemokratische Partei Un Nuevo Tiempo.
Diese Partei ist im westlichen Bundesstaat Zulia sehr stark. Sie ist aber anderswo kaum vertreten. Acción Democrática, eine andere sozialdemokratische Partei, wird anscheinend diesen Kandidat für die Vorwahlen vom Februar 2012 unterstützen. 

Wir haben nun folgende Präkandidaten für die Mesa de la Unidad:

  • Henrique Capriles

  • Pablo Pérez

  • María Corina Machado

  • César Pérez Vivas

  • Leopoldo López

Leopoldo López wird wahrscheinlich nicht kandidieren dürfen, weil die Cháve-Richter das halt nicht wollen. Acción Democrática könnte Pablo Pérez viel helfen, denn sie ist zwar schwach aber überall auf dem Land vertreten. Sie ist stark auf der Insel Margarita. Viele denken aber, dass Capriles eine bessere Akzeptanz überall in Venezuela - ausser in Zulia - haben kann. Zulia ist ein bisschen wie Bayern für Venezuela.

XXI century (socialists?) idiots

Even though I am rather too busy to write these days, I still follow in awe the new recession running our way.  Benefiting of a few minutes, I decided to check out what chavismo and its XXI century pals had to say.  In no particular order and for your amusement only:

Prensa Latina from Cuba suddenly starts writing about the Paris stock exchange among others, explaining to us that the AAA rating of the French debt is now threatened.  Since when does Cuba delves in such loving details on the CAC40 index (or any capitalist tool for that matter)?  Could it be because Sarkozy is a main bomber of Tripoli, Havana's twin city?

The Venezuelan AVN is certainly not going to remain behind and enlighten us about the measures that UNASUR will take to stop any speculative actions against South America.  Was not UNASUR meant as a defense tool in the military sense?  How can Kristina vice presidential candidate dares to say that UNASUR will stab the Dow Jones?  Trading generals fro traders maybe?  Or something like that.  Boudou, brilliantly, says that South American countries should use local currencies for their exchange.  Conveniently forgetting that they are all dependent on the euro or USD for their mutual exchange rates.  Or is Boudou suggesting that Brazil's Real becomes our continental currency?  Only an Argentinean politician running for office can say that and get away with it.  But of course AVN always willing to help suggests to use the SUCRE of Chavez and Correa for currency exchanges...

But AVN is always such a trove of XXI century idiocies that I cannot resist a few more.  For example Alvarez, one of the "economists of the regime, tells us, without getting red in the face I assume, that our fast increasing agricultural production is putting us at arm's length from the coming crisis effect (he also says that capitalism is collapsing in Greece, Spain, UK and the US, same difference all of them).  Well, that may be, but AVN also let us know that Nicaragua and Venezuela are planning new "intercambio de cafe".  Yes, that is right, Venezuela massive coffee importations in XXI century speak is called "exchange". When you find the strength to go through the sort note you learn that the "exchange" is because Venezuelan bureaucrats are going to Nicaragua to learn how to grow coffee in a non capitalistic way....  I suppose no one told them that once upon a time, capitalism and all, Venezuela lived off its coffee exports, when no one even talked about Juan Valdez.  Since 2006 (8th year of Chavez tenure) coffee imports have gone from 272 tons to 16,000 tons.  Need I say more?

Since I am already getting tired and depressed, a last one.  Giordani tells us that the new economic model of Venezuela is the only one growing up this year and that Europe and the US have failed because they do not care about the human factor like Chavez does.  Yes, that is right, the guy who over the last 12 years has presided over the demise of the Venezuelan currency (>90% loss of value or 1000% devaluation if you prefer headline style), the guy that has presided over the economy becoming a single product economy (oil), the guy that lost our national drink to Brazil and Nicaragua (Coffee), the guy that has presided over the largest budget deficit and corruption in our history has no shame in pretending other wise.

Idiots, all of them.