The US/Israeli foreign policy

Israel's conservatives must be proud of her
Nuland is spokesperson for the US Department of State. She said the US won't give money to Unesco as Unesco has accepted Palestine as full member. Her background is Jewish, which may be interpreted as a religious property, an ethnic property or anything in between. Is that completely unrelated? Let's imagine it is.

I wonder when the US is going to have spokespersons for the US Department of State who would be able to say the same thing and be of Muslim Arab background. Wouldn't she? Why?

Would the US had a Muslim Arab doing the work Ari Fleischer did? You bet.

The US is further blaming itself when it comes to the Palestine-Israel conflict. It only does what Israel wants. It sometimes pretends to do otherwise...for a couple of days.

It claims it will only accept Palestine as a nation when Israel and Palestine come to a settlement. Why did it accept Israel as a nation when the Arabs were against the UN 1947 decision? What's the difference between the terrorist organisation Hamas and the terrorist organisation Irgun, a group that was very much active until Israel got all the territories it got in 1948? Irgun commanders were people like Menachem Begin, afterwards considered heroes of Israel.

Shame on the US, shame on Germany, shame on Canada and a few other countries...just a few. Bravo for France,  Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa...and 161 other countries.

And off we go for the Unidad primaries: first evaluation


With the endorsement of Pablo Perez by AD and the one today of Proyecto Venezuela to Leopoldo Lopez we can see the final pieces falling into places as next week we will have the formal signing up of candidates.  There are 10 in total though it is quite possible that a couple more may drop by then.  The last endorsement to be made of any importance is the one from COPEI.  But as it was the case with AD, their endorsement might come too late to make a big difference.  In the case of PVzl, even if a smaller party,  there is the advantage of all but delivering the state to Leopoldo something that neither AD or COPEI can do at this time for any state even if they may deliver more votes over all.  You may think this unremarkable but think about the other primaries at stake, for governors and mayors, and that way you may realize that PVzl may have decided to share Carabobo with Voluntad Popular and force out anyone else there.  Leopoldo may not win in the end but the gamble to control all of Carabobo is worth taking in their eyes.

But I digress and today the objective is to start the primary race with political analysis and graphs and predictions and what not.  Today we will limit ourselves to review briefly the candidates and speculate on the real possibilities of each one.


We have two lists, those that have a chance at more than 20% and those that do not.  Surprisingly things have not changed that much since the first survey in August, nor my September opinions on the candidates.  Steadiness is nice, the more so when compared to the increasing turmoil inside chavismo.  But I digress again.

The front runners

There are three now, confirmed by polls.  I am giving them as most polls give them, even if in at least one the order is completely different.  But at this point I would advise anyone to stay clear from electoral polls as none of them in my opinion is able to figure out how the 50% that vote in humble areas will or will not participate in the primaries.  Most polls you see around these days are, admittedly or not, based on big cities.  I personally will not give any credence to any poll until its field work is at the very least mid November.

The one that looks ahead at this writing is Capriles Radonski (HCR).  I watched on TV his Falcon/Coro visit last Friday and I was duly impressed by the turnout at his rally.  Clearly his campaign is organized, has a theme and sticks to it.  I am surprised that HCR has become the candidate of "the left" and that his message is so directed at the soft chavista electorate.  I have my doubts as to its effectiveness to win the primary and even the general election, but so far he seems to be pulling it off.

Pablo Perez (PP) has suffered a lot to gain the nod, first having to convince Rosales of 2006 to withdraw and then AD which waited until early this week to go ahead.  Thus the local side of PP has been contrasted with the more national stature of HRC and Leopoldo Lopez (LL).  PP has suffered from that comparison as HCR and LL have managed noted initial trips through Zulia which mean that PP will win there but maybe not with the landslide he needs to compensate his weaknesses elsewhere.  That is where AD comes into play and why PP and his party UNT have courted them so unabashedly.  Distracted by the ego of Rosales UNT has wasted a lot of time since 2008 in building a base outside of Zulia and the Andes.  Even an upstart like LL who had nothing but his name in 2008 seems to have bested UNT in organization in many areas of Venezuela.  Thus it is the hope of the PP camp that the political baggage of AD will be compensated by their ability to give them organization where they lack it (assuming that AD legendary organization has still embers worth rekindling).

Leopoldo Lopez is now the third one here, and climbing, but still heavily handicapped by the "uncertainty" as to whether he will be able to take office if he wins.  If it is clear for me that a victorious LL cannot be barred from entering Miraflores Palace, this is not as clear with "el pueblo".  For example the owner of the "fruteria" that I visit in San Felipe loves LL but will vote for Capriles because she genuinely thinks that LL will be barred from taking office and thus the sash will be given to Chavez even if he loses.  The woman is humble but she is not an idiot: after all she has been steadily improving her produce store over the last 10 years.  But my arguments, I sensed, failed to impress her.  Except the one that whatever they do to LL today they can do to any other tomorrow and thus she should follow her heart rather than propaganda from the state.

The wanna-be

The only one of note here is Maria Corina Machado.  You can say whatever you want about her, mock her "popular capitalism" but she moves her butt, she goes after the vote and her message is noted (whether it passes is a different affair).  She also spends almost as much on TV adds than the other guys so she is backed by some folks.  She is also willing to debate and she is becoming the non-HCR which could help her if HCR panders too much to the soft chavista side.  Right now I give her a 10% but she could still reach higher numbers. But she suffers from the original sin in politics made by 90% of independents: they believe they can manage without an organized party.

Antonio Ledezma is now toast.  After courting AD relentlessly he failed to gain their endorsement.  I think his days in the race are counted although he will valiantly post his name next week.  He should focus on Caracas where he has a chance of repeating though he may face a difficult primary.

Believe it or not, the only one that may stay until the end is Diego Arria who clearly is doing his primary campaign as a self sacrifice.  That is, the guy is offering his health, money and time to make sure that certain issues remain in discussion and are not forgotten by the other guys.  Say as you may, you need to at least acknowledge that courage.

The other candidates have no life but we will still name them one last time before we forget about them.

Eduardo Fernandez apparently will not manage the support of COPEI.  I am even wondering whether he will dare list his name next week.

Pablo Medina is a has-been whose notice never reached his mail box.  And all the left parties are already behind Capriles anyway.  I suspect he is running just to make sure he is not forgotten and given a shot at some local election such as heading a municipal council list.  Besides he may not make it this week because he needs to collect a not insignificant amount of money to sign in and he does not have moneyed backers.

Cecilia Sosa?  What the hell is she doing there??


Since I have given up on polls for the time being, what can we use for an initial evaluation?  Well, there are the results of the Latin American Parliament election of last year (Parlatino).  They give us a nice glimpse of vote spread among political parties although one must hasten to say that today it is probably quite altered.  So let's look at this numbers as merely a "potential" and we will wait to combine them with more reliable polls in December.

The first graph is the total of these votes which already is a good piece of news: the combined opposition, something that we can say now that the PPT has endorsed HCR, is ahead of chavismo.  And there is nothing that chavismo has done since fall 2010 that could have reversed that, even the sympathy for Chavez cancer.

On the left are the three lists that were not with Chavez.  As such indeed the PSUV on the right is ahead.  But now that PPT has joined the opposition to Chavez if we add up the three separate lists we get 52% of the votes cast in 2010 and that is indeed real bad news for Chavez as this is as close a predictor for a presidential election as we have right now.  True, a lot of folks did not vote for the Parlatino as they have no idea what that is for, but nevertheless that makes already 400,000 votes that Chavez needs to make up.  Though one may argue that a large portion of the PPT will go for Chavez.

I am not going to bother you with the detail of the Parlatino vote.  A graph will suffice, graph that is ordered according to the major endorsements already announced, and assuming that COPEI will go for PP.

In this graph the inner ring is the distribution of the Parlatino vote according to the CNE results of 2010.  They are not classified on ideological parameters (as if this were possible in today's Venezuela!) but on who endorsed who.

In the outer ring we sum up these endorsements.  In the blue frame we have those that went for Pablo Perez.  On paper it looks that he has a lock on it.  But in the next graph I will let you know why it is not true.

The brown and black frame gives you the endorsers of HCR.  Good, but not enough, on paper.

The light blue frame is LL.  there is only PrVzl and a small "unity" card that in 2010 LL told his supporters to vote for (I did then, though as much to support him than to support no one in particular).

And finally there is the absolute Ledezma potential with ABP which should make him withdraw any time soon.

In grey we have all the minor parties which may or may not have endorsed someone but the newspaper blips on Google news were too hard to dig for, if they exist.  Let's say that these are the vote for grabs, and on paper this advantages PP as surely he should get a portion.

Each total of votes is given and is the opportunity for me to repeat that a 3 million vote turnout for the primary can be considered a huge success and send ripples of worry in chavismo.  That is, if the opposition manages to drag half of its support for the primaries it will be already good under any international standard.  And anything above will mean that many chavista may have also gone to vote for a Unidad candidate.  I personally expect that to happen and right now I dare predict that the turnout is going to be around 4 million in February.

However this nice distribution above is very unlikely to happen and in the next graph I do my very first, gut based prediction of "potential" vote.  That is, this is what I think each candidate is really starting with.

Let's take for example OPINA, which was the vehicle for Hernan Escarra in the Parlatino vote.  Even though he has endorsed PP, does anyone believe that he can guarantee that 100% will go there?  And so on.

I did my own private speculation as to how much of an endorsement will carry.  I am not going to let you know how I did it because it was rather fast and rather gutsy.  But when I added it up I got the graph on the right which tells that I am not so far of what is going on right now.  For example I am sure that 50% of the votes of PPT will not go for HCR, nor 30% of COPEI votes, at the very least, for PP.  Thus we get a large pool of "uncommitted votes" which I conveniently put as a rainbow.

The inner circle now is the outer circle of above.  And the outer circle is my very own gut feeling prediction.  And look, HCR loses less than PP and is almost as big now.  Which is reflected in polls where he has an early lead even though PP was not campaigning yet.

LL and Ledezma I left the same because I cannot speculate yet on whether they will get those that desert PP and HCR.  But it really does not matter because the second biggest slice is now the uncommitted, fishing grounds for all of them (probably from where LL gets his current bounce).  Thus the current status in polls will vary in the coming weeks.  Do yourself a favor, in particular if you already support HCR, do not count your eggs quite yet.  The race is more volatile than what you may think, the more so if there are debates held which in this case will have quite an effect on the electorate as we have not had a real electoral debate in decades.

NOTE: let me insist again.  These are not predictions, just an evaluation of what the potential vote could be.  The most you can get from these is that it explains why PP, HCR, and LL are on top of polls right now.  PERIOD.  No ranking, no prediction, no endorsement.

UPDATE(1))  And there is one less.  As expected Eduardo Fernandez just declined which opens the door for COPEI to endorse Pablo Perez in the next few hours. They would be smarter to negotiate with HCR or LL or even MCM but they are so desperate to keep Tachira that they will offer themselves to PP.  The problem with negotiating with HCR is that Primero Justicia is not willing to give Miranda to Enrique Mendoza.  He has a national assembly seat and should stay there.....

I expect at least either Medina or Sosa to decline today or tomorrow at the latest.


Well, neither Sosa nor Medina did but Ledezma went ahead and withdrew which speaks better for him.  After all he could still have held some.  Then again the need to fork some money might have decided him to withdraw and cut his posses, spending whatever influence is left to him to retain his Caracas mayoral office.

It does not change anything to my above graph, except that you may now add the sample sliver of ABP to the rainbow ones of the uncommitted.  I suspect that the Ledezma voters are pissed at AD for not endorsing their man and thus we can count them off for PP.

Yet another bolivarian fraud in Guadalajara

One keeps counting them these days.  But there is one that must have hurt at Miraflores.  A lot. 

 There were the Panamerican games in Guadalajara the last two weeks and in the final count Colombia beat Venezuela.  24 gold medals to Venezuela's 12.  In silver Venezuela did better but not enough and the end result is 84-72 for Colombia.  So in spite of all the Cuban trainers, all the claimed help to athletes, all the "new" training facilities, etc, etc...  Venezuela cannot beat Colombia where we all know that conditions are atrocious, at least according to the chavista media.

The fact of the matter is that chavismo does not understand that sports are not just a matter of throwing money (and sponging some off in corruption).  It does not matter if you have promising athletes, if they live in a shitty country, where they are worried about their security and that of their family, if they are worried about how steady would their training conditions be, well, they cannot perform as well as they could.  In fact, if you ask me, I think the count in Guadalajara is higher than what it should be, probably benefiting from some lag of 3-4 years ago when there was still some hope that athletic facilities were on the mend in Venezuela.

But in a country of corrupt and fat military, you certainly cannot expect dashing athletes....  Meanwhile Colombia keeps demonstrating that at all levels it is a country in the mend, including today's election where even Uribe is starting to fade as the a new center holds sway since the Polo also faded a lot.

Demagoguery in Aragua: another day of economy wrecking for Chavez

Chavez needs to show that he is cured, that he is in charge.  What better than to go to next door state Aragua (short ride in copter) to expropriate a few farms and make job promises that cannot possibly held, not here, not in Brussels, not in D.C.

14.000 hectares (35.000 acres) of farmland expropriated, and Agroflora
The main concern these days is that you cannot find milk.  Even though finally the price of milk was allowed to rise (not enough) there is no milk anywhere, to the point that in some markets they die folks fingers to make sure they can buy only two pounds of milk in a given day, that is, when powder milk arrives.  As for pasteurized milk the price increase has not helped because, well, there are no cows, people stopping renewal of the flock since they cannot recover their investments.  In San Felipe my dairy shop has told me that the INTI is on their case because they are not "productive enough", even though they are about the last ones in the area still producing....

Thus Chavez decides to blame the current agricultural problems on the few people that still manage to produce some feed stuff (El Mundo calculates that we are now importing 70% of our food).  Today he expropriated 14.000 hectares in the Aragua Carabobo axis.

I do not know whether these farms were as productive as they could.  For one thing the deterioration of roads makes production more difficult and more expensive.  Also, since the sack of Agroisleña it is more difficult to find the supplies you need.  And amen of workers who find it less stressing to depend from "Mision Vaina" where they may get less money but do not need to do any work for it.  But if they indeed are not productive enough the regime should share the blame.

On paper it is of course crazy for Chavez to jeopardize even more the food supply of Venezuela, no matter how many dollars he has stashed away for next year electoral subsidized imports for el pueblo.  He cannot rely on increasingly erratic imported supplies, at increasingly higher prices.  But that is not a concern, the only thing he cares is to be reelected and then we'll see.  Hence today's show of force.

Though I suspect that part of the reason in today's expropriation is to get some land for free to build housing next year.  But I digress.

And if that were not enough Chavez announces that Agroflora, from UK Vetsey, will be expropriated outright.  See, they had the nerve to demand payment from previous expropriations (EL Charcote) in foreign currency.  So to punish them they lose everything and will be payed, partially, overtime, in state bonds and junk bolivares.  Imagine that, they did not want to receive bolivares!!!  As if Vetsey had a way, any way, to invest them in Venezuela!!!  Another measure that is going to diminish, if still possible, further private agricultural investment in Venezuela.

2 million 800 thousand jobs to be created in 8 years

And there comes the demagoguery.  Chavez today, destroying further private enterprise, as his previous nationalizations have field since we have to import much more food than when he started expropriating, announces a new Mision, pompously and idiotically titled "saber y trabajo Venezuela" knowledge and work Venezuela.  I am not making this up.

Certainly it is a hurried response to the latest survey of the Centro Gumilla (1) who went to the lower social class sectors only and discovered that even before crime, their main concern was lack of real job.  Within days a new Mision was created which cannot possibly work.  Why?

We are talking here of  +/- 350.000 jobs per year.  Let's be generous and say that the regime will try to create 300.000 jobs a year for a grand total 2.400.000 jobs.

Now let's give a little bit of perspective as to what 300.000 jobs mean in Venezuela, namely in the agricultural sector.  So let's start by getting to the largest agribusiness concern of the country: Empresas Polar (under constant threat by the way).  In 2010 we are told that the Polar group effects 1.5% of the country's work force by adding 25.000 Polar workers and 160.000 contractors and services to the business.

Roughly: CHAVEZ NEEDS TO CREATE AT LEAST TWO INDUSTRIAL GROUPS POLAR SIZE A YEAR FOR THE NEXT 8 YEARS. This for a regime that has been unable to create even a single self sustaining arepera in Venezuela, which consumes Polar products, by the way.

Leonardo Raymond, colonel
And if he thinks that he can count with wanna-be corrupt military to make it, like the one he named today to direct the 14.000 expropriated hectares, he is in for a rude awakening.  Hold tight, he named an infantry colonel, a certain Leonardo Raymond, to administer stolen land.  I would like to know what score did this colonel got in his science project in school, you know, the one where you grew beans over wet cotton.....  At least from the pic I found, we know he is good at giving stuff that does not belong to him.  He will be a smash hit in the valleys of Aragua!


1) post coming soon on that fascinating Gumilla survey.

The mock doctors in Venezuela under Chávez

The president of the Academy of Medicine in Venezuela, Aoun Soulie, felt compelled to tell us for the nth time about a very worrying development: the education given to the so-called physicians of "Integral Medicine for Communities" is a farce.

This month 8300 people will get their title as "médicos integrales comunitarios" after having spent 6 years following an outdated study model based on Cuba's experience, which is based more on a myth than anything else. They spent all those years to become health experts and yet they have no training whatsoever in laboratory work, in tropical medicine (remember Cuba's not Venezuela), in radiology, biochemistry, parasitology, pharmacology, histology or anatomy (hard to believe but I got the same report from many good sources). They follow their courses by videoconference and have no training in the emergency rooms of public hospitals as was a must before Chávez came to power. Unlike physicians pre-Chávez, they have never been to operating theatres. Until now the law stated a surgeon had to first do one year of rural work and one in city hospitals. That's gone now: from the video-conferencing to the OR. When I arrived in Europe and had to visit a couple of physicians I immediately felt Venezuelan physicians were at least as good if not better than many German or British doctors. That will never be the case with these "Bolivarian" physicians produced by the Cuban-Venezuelan regime.

Only 225 of their 7215 teachers have actually a degree in medicine. That is weird, to say the least. Soulie also repeated what I have heard from two of the few real physicians who are working at the Bolivarian universities: teachers are told they cannot allow students to fail, all have to pass.

The health of the poor is more at risk than ever with these thousands and thousands of workers without proper training and no solid education dealing with emergencies of all kinds. Venezuela's so-called "revolution" is proving once more than it is nothing more than a pretense, a fairy tell for the gullible at home and abroad. Venezuela as a whole is also getting a new time bomb: how are we going to tell these mock doctors they were cheated by the Chávez-Cuban government for six full years and they would need to take some form of retraining to become real doctors once Chávez is gone?

Shame on Venezuelans: women getting killed

Spain has been very openly discussing about violence against women for many years now. There have been many lots of discussions, marches and new laws. There have been films focused on this terrible topic and newspapers treat this subject on a permanent basis. There is a sense of urgency and there is reason for that: 51 women have been murdered in Spain by partners or relatives this year. Spain has 48 million inhabitants.

And what about Venezuela? Well: At least 501 women have been murdered by their partners or close relatives in Venezuela in the first nine months of this year. Venezuela has 16 million less people than Spain.
In Venezuela women are 15 times more likely than in Spain to get murdered by the people closest to them. If machismo and particularly violence against women is a serious problem in Spain, it is a national tragedy  and a complete shame for Venezuela.

Even poorer countries in Spanish America, like the Dominican Republic, seem to be taking the issue more seriously than Venezuela. My country? It spends its time obsessed with Beauty Contests.

Venezuela has the highest murder rate of South America, by far. Still, this is part of a bigger problem: violence in general, widespread psychotic behaviour, repression. Late psychiatrist and writer Francisco Herrera Luque often discussed about certain psychotic traits in Venezuelans as part of their historical and genetic heritage: a nation particularly born from rape and myth. His hypothesis was highly controversial and yet I ask myself: isn't my country particularly sick? What's going on? Why do people keep such a terrible silence regarding this problem? Why don't politicians have the balls to speak up and speak out about this issue?

I am so sorry.

In the Dominican Republic they discuss about it

Aristobulo Isturiz: currency exchange control (CADIVI) is a political decision

Some times we can rely on loud mouthed chavista to candidly confirm what we were all saying but they were denying.  Today we got representative of Caracas, the very erratic Aristobulo Isturiz, who told us from the National Assembly the following:
El control de cambio se lo van a calar hasta construir el socialismo, el control de cambio para nosotros es político, si lo quitamos, nos tumban
Currency exchange controls you are going to get screwed with them until we build socialism. Currency control is for us political, if we remove it, we are ousted.
Most of the vulgar colloquialism is lost in translation but I trust you get the idea.

A few days ago there was a vivacious debate between my two esteemed competition, on one side Miguel abrogating the immediate removal of currency controls on February 2013, and on the other side  Juan Cristobal defending the position of his candidate to keep them.  I participated briefly in both threads because I was not in full agreement with either one.  But briefly also because my point was different and I had to wait for today's Aristobulo's tirade to find my final words on the subject.

See, Miguel comes from the financial world, and Juan Cristobal from the consulting one, but neither one is busy in the debilitating everyday battle of form filling to obtain precious dollars at the preferential rate.

In my business we depend for 80% on imported raw material to be able to manufacture whatever we may have in our order books.  We do not have 5 products that can be made 100% with raw materials found in Venezuela.  Thus, CADIVI fights are an essential part of our daily routine to an extent that is hard to imagine.  As a political control I can assure you that it is a very effective tool although somewhat overrated and by now overused.  The basic reason is that instead of spending time conspiring I have to spend it in the myriad of permits that are required for me to ask for dollars, even before I know whether they will be granted.

Things can be pretty bad sometimes.  We almost went bankrupt last year because they did not sign our "solvencia laboral" for four months.  They were not refusing it, we had all the requirement, there was just no one around to sign it, allegedly.  But when finally they came around and started signing, ours was rejected because by then some of our required permits had expired!  Luckily we were ready and they had already been renovated but we had to rebuild the dossier and to have it signed required an extra month. For five months we could not import anything and at the end we were working less than half speed.  A couple of month more and we were out of anything to sell, closing down.  Just because of some incompetent and/or malevolent bureaucrat somewhere.  And stop me from starting of the bundles we lost to corruption because a comma was ill placed according to CADIVI, or the custom agent, or the Nazional Guard signing the port exit paper, etc...  All made possible because of the strict CADIVI requirements.

Thus CADIVI has become an enormous source of graft, from shady financial transaction worth millions of USD to petty corruption in Venezuelan entry points.  It is not that CADIVI is particularly bad, Venezuela had other experiences before, it is becasue CADIVI has now lasted 8 years and a whole "economic" system has developed around it.  Too many people, chavistas or not but all pretending to be fanatics, live out of that and they are certainly not going to willingly give it up.  Confronting these people outright could bring down to a halt all import activity of Venezuela as they cannot be replaced from one day to the other unless you simply decree free entry to any goods, something that will not fly even with your anti Chavez electoral base support.  But then again you cannot leave the system in place because those people who stay quiet in the first weeks of your presidency will get ready to sabotage you if they sense your desire to dispose of their major income source.  Amen of your credibility shot for allowing such corruption.

True, the financial aspects of CADIVI can be dealt from day one as they involve big sums but relatively few people (who are already rich enough), but the corruption of CADIVI and the harbors is not something you can tackle just like that. There are two reasons for this.

First, CADIVI has affected and penetrated economic decision to such an extent that removing CADIVI at a single stroke will affect the most the people least connected with international financing. The paradox of CADIVI is that for many small business like mine it has been the perfect excuse not to depend on credit lines or paying in advance for the goods we buy. Our providers must accept CADIVI terms or give up their sales in Venezuela. In fact the delays of CADIVI have been sometimes long enough that when the time comes around for us to pay our foreign bills as much as half of our imports are already processed or sold and we have the money in the bank to pay. Suppression of CADIVI will favor immediately foreign companies who already have a foot hold in Venezuela and who will be able to immediately flood the market while local folks like us will require to set up a credit system to stay in business. A fast removal of CADIVI could wipe out the remains of Venezuelan industry except for the big ones like Polar who have managed to have some reserves outside.

Does a new administration want to take such a risk?

Second, there is the historical fact that lack of real justice and property rights has made Venezuelans a race of business people who take out of the country all that they can take out. Judicial insecurity at all levels has gone much, much worse under Chavez but it always existed, trust me on that one. Thus the tradition in Venezuela is for people who have access to a significant amount of money to send enough abroad so as to be able to retire outside of Venezuela if needed, and if you really have a lot of money, set up your kids outside, just in case. Chavistas have followed that tradition and plus, because they have much less problems than us to access the financial deals existing as a consequence of CADIVI (Miguel has a blog almost devoted to the different schemes).  And you may note that even those who have not much money still manage to have a checking account in the US with a few thousands of dollars, just in case.

Removing CADIVI controls implies liberating the exchange and I can guarantee you that if you add the chavistas out of office and expecting to go to jail for corruption to the anti chavistas that are afraid of a prompt and violent return of chavismo, the run on the Bolivar will be epochal.

Needless to say that the regime is well aware of all of that, that it set up itself in such an impossible situation, such as it happened with the gas price, to cite another example of chavismo paralysis.  They use CADIVI as a political tool for survival alright.

What is the way out?  Because we need a way out as the corruption is simply unbearable for the country, blocking any real economic growth.

My plan would be for the opposition candidate to announce that CADIVI would be removed ASAP, in a delay no greater than one year, once measures to protect the poor are set in place (promising Mercal subsidies only in poor areas?).  However from day one there is one thing that the eventual winner can do: devaluate, let the currency float, free it for travelers and make CADIVI a mere clearing house.  That is, you need to avoid a run on the Bolivar and only a prompt devaluation and some controls may avoid that.

In this scheme CADIVI does not approve for imports anymore, anyone can have access to dollars, but you only get them once your importations have cleared customs in Venezuela.  That is, buying dollars will remain limited to people who travel and to those who need to pay their bills for legally received goods.  PERIOD.

As time passes, as the macroeconomic imbalances of the country start resolving, as subsidies for the people really affected by devaluation and adjustment take hold, then you can start lifting other restrictions until you have a free economy again. I personally think that some mild controls, as they exist in many a prosperous country, are necessary because it will take years to reinvent the Venezuelan judicial system well enough so that people want to consider retiring in Venezuela.....

This, my friends, is the view from ground zero, for those who depend on CADIVI today and know it is easier to get worse than better.

Cara'e palo Saltrón

La verdad es que hay que ser bien cara dura para defender el régimen de Caracas ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, y cara de palo para hacerlo como Germán Saltrón.  Es que el hombre no suelta, arremete, y se pierde en paranoia.  No se sabe si está molesto porque perdió estrepitosamente su caso contra Leopoldo ante la Corte o si se trata unicamente de paranoia en necesidad de tratamiento, pero el tipo se lució esta semana.  Hasta uno tiene que preguntarse si el tipo vive en Venezuela.

La reunión de esta semana se centraba sobre la libertad de prensa en el hemisferio, particularmente sobre el caso Ecuatoriano (otro que copia y mejora el guion original chavista).  El caso es que el Germán se puso bravo, acuso la CIDH de no ser imparcial y ademas soltó esta perla:

"Tenemos una Constitución que va más allá de la democracia representativa, es participativa y protagónica. En Venezuela, todos los ciudadanos pueden defender todos los derechos humanos, no tienen que fundar una ONG. Pero queremos que las organizaciones de derechos humanos sean objetivas e imparciales"
Veamos por partes.

¿A que defensoría del pueblo va uno a presentar una queja que no le guste al gobierno?  ¿Sera que el tiene alguna dirección a darle a Carlos Correa para que el pueda por fin reportar la difamación de la cual fue objeto en los medios oficiales?  ¿Por que sera que es imposible obtener de VTV y el MinCi la razón de los tipos que "financiaron" esas cuñas?  Pongo financiar entre comillas porque todos sabemos que la plata la puso el gobierno. En otras palabras ¿Si eso se lo hacen a una sola ONG, cual sera el total de todos los taques a todas las ONG venezolanas?

Pero es que el caso Venezoelano esta empezando a crear ronchas de ambos lados.  No solamente la agenda de abusos es larga, pero ya Venezuela asiste a menos reuniones que antes.  Es verdad, tiene todas las de perder, ¡para que asistir pues!

Pero también hay que decir que la criada le salio respondona a Saltrón, lo que de seguro lo destemplo aun mas, por cara dura que sea.  El comisionado brasileño,Pinheiro, un país cada vez menos amigo sea dicho de paso porque ellos si van mejorando sus derechos humanos y su democracia,  le dijo unas cuantas verdades a Saltrón (mis énfasis):

Pinheiro refutó las aseveraciones venezolanas, demostrando con cifras que Venezuela no está en ningún caso encabezando las listas de demandas, casos admitidos ante la CIDH o de la concesión de medidas cautelares.

"La gente de Saltrón cree que la Comisión está siempre conspirando contra Venezuela", lamentó y calificó las acusaciones de "espectáculo de conspiración" del gobierno de Caracas. Y, subrayó, "ningún otro Estado se comporta de esa manera (...) ninguno tiene teorías conspirativas sobre la Comisión".

lamentó que Saltrón hubiera aprovechado el encuentro para repetir "la misma música sin ningún diálogo" que ha caracterizado la relación entre el organismo y Venezuela. Asimismo, recordó que en sus ocho años como relator para Venezuela no ha logrado visitar oficialmente el país ni una sola vez.

En nombre de sus compañeros de la CIDH, Pinheiro pidió un "reconocimiento formal de la objetividad, imparcialidad e independencia en todo el tratamiento que la Comisión y la secretaría ejecutiva concedieron al Estado de Venezuela y, por supuesto, a las peticiones que fueron trabajadas".
Por mas que haga Saltrón hay un obstáculo que no puede saltrar saltar: Venezuela no ha permitido visita de la CIDH en una década.  De las Luisas al Germán, podrán cantar misa en griego, nadie les va a creer hasta que no autoricen una visita.  Si ellos reclaman que la comission esta desinformada ¿por que no recibirla en Caracas y hablarles de frente con pruebas en mano?

¿O es que no las tienen?

Pobrecito Germán, lo único que demostró esta semana, o mas bien re-confirmo, es que la democracia participativa y la justicia no existen en Venezuela, por mas paranoia que el pobre sufra.


Nota: uno de los problemas de Germán es que aparentemente no lee El Universal ni ve Globovision, aunque sea por asomo.  Pero yo si leo las vainas chavistas y le puedo decir que el no esta solo en su mundo, si obviamente Granma lo acompaña, también lo apoya EFE que se ha convertido recién en un baluarte propagandístico chavista impresionante.  ¿Sera que Telesur el afloja algo a la gente de EFE?

More weapons, banks, Russians, Venezuelans and FARC

I wrote something about Viktor Bout, weapons, FARC and Venezuela in my Spanish blog.

"Invest in Venezuela's banks if you want to shoot from the hips"

If Chavez ruled as the Kirchners...

He would be reelected without trouble.....

One has to be impressed by the performance of Cristina Kirchner getting her second term with more than 53% of the votes and no one else even close to 20%.  Two years ago one did not give her much of a chance.  Her party and husband  had just lost a congressional majority after her fiasco with the agricultural sector taxes.  In fact some even went on speculating about a traditional early presidential exit...

But her husband died, she became a widow that had to be respected, she played it well, the opposition did nothing out of its majority in congress as too many were only too willing to reach agreements with the executive.  The the opposotion imploded really bad, sent multiple candidates and she was one to one of the most stunning results in Argentina history.  As I type this it is not clear whether she will recover the majority in congress but after such a victory she should have no trouble in finding junior partners.

Why should a country supposedly as sophisticated as Argentina give such a resounding victory to a corrupt administration?  Has cynicism reached such socially acceptable status?

The first thing is that Argentina is not that sophisticated and since Peron never really had a chance to establish a truly democratic system.  Peronism, divided or not, in crisis or not, never got less than around 40%.  It is a religion and today if you add the dissident peronistas we are talking more than 60%.As we see in Venezuela, the three richest districts, the three most educated ones, Cristina wins but fail to reach the majority (35 in Buenos Aires, 37 in Cordoba and 42 in Santa Fe).  And what is perhaps the dumpster of Argentina, Santiago del Estero, she gets more than her home state even, 82%.

Still, a more united opposition could have well got more than 40%, perhaps even forced a second round.  But no, it has been a battle of has-beens and wanna-bes and the most promising candidates such as Macri, mayor of Buenos Aires, bailed out early enough not to be tainted by these unseeming internecine battles.

The hard fact here is that the regime of Crisitna, even if as abusive as the Chavez one in many aspects, has been able to deliver some, corruption and all while her pretense at institutionalism rung truer than the one in the bolibanana republic.  After the horrendous crisis of the turn of the century Argentina has reached a fragile but real recovery and the people, well, they do not see anywhere in the opposition someone that can offer better than Crisitna, una chica peronista as any.  Now Argentina gets 4 years of Cristina mandate, a large majority of governors, and possibly a congressional majority.  But she also gets a worsening world crisis, a possible drop in her exports prices while people want to consume more.  We'll see.

The lesson for Venezuela is clear: 1) the opposition needs to keep its unity at all costs, 2) even a small artificial economic rebound could be enough to return Chavez to office, the more so if he manages to solve partially at least one of the pressing problems of the country, 3) Chavez will play on his disease like mad and 4) the opposition needs to understand that it is facing the birth of a Venezuelan peronism in chavismo; the sooner it gets it, the sooner we may avoid that fate.

Bolivar as a native terrorist Jesus

Words fail me....

Via Gustavo Coronel.

I have to tell you something...

I know. It’s been a while. Are you still here? I hope so. I have no logical explanation of my absence, except for the lack of stories and inspiration. Also, work and life got in the way. Still, I had to come here again, because I want to tell you something

You must know that for a while, I didn’t thought of me as that kind of girl. After one serious and a few not so serious sort of relationships, I focused on my career, my writings, my piano, my family and politics; and made my life meaningful from there. I liked to think of myself as a free soul, going from one place to another, engaged on different projects. I was going to return home as the typical “cool aunt” with exotic gifts from the places I visited. I didn’t wanted to admit that I created all this “story” to comfort myself with the fact that there wasn’t anyone promising for me to be with.

I didn’t wanted to go there. To the place I met him. It was a common friend’ graduation almost on the same date it should have been my own graduation (I graduated almost two years later, due to thesis issues). I knew exactly who I was going to meet and how the party was going to flow. All my colleagues, most already graduated and doing “interesting” things, involved in a lot of political organizations, movements and projects, changing the world. Most involved on serious relationships and for those single, they had no interest in me (and I had no interest in them). They already knew I’m a terrible dancer, so no one was going to ask me to dance. In best case scenario I was going to sit on a corner, all night long, drinking cuba libre and watching all UCAB (my alma mater), Student Movement leaders enjoying themselves.

I still went there, against all my common sense. Because, after all, I’m a hopeless dreamer. I put on a dress my mom made for me, which was, well, a bit awkward but nice. I added a fuxia ribbon to my waist and let lose my hair. I did not look beautiful. But it was me. It was me telling the world I did not graduate on time, I did not become a political leader and I wasn’t – nor I’m now – involved in a lot of organizations. But I still could do something or say something. Or at least celebrate that somebody else was no longer a student, but a journalist.

He was there. There are many versions of this story. Of who introduce who, who started talking, etc. The only true version is that he was a guy I have never seen before, who did not belong to my university group and who seemed to be a great talker (or more likely, a great listener, because I have to admit I do talk a lot). We talked all night long. We also danced, he didn’t seemed to care how bad dancer I am. He only cared of how much I enjoy dancing. And smiling.

We haven’t stopped talking (dancing, smiling) ever since. And somewhere in the mist of this long conversation, I forgot all the story of a “free soul”. I wanted to share everything with him. All those things that made my life meaningful including my writings, my piano, my career, my family and politics – had not sense unless shared with him.

So I never thought of me as this kind of girl. The kind of girl who gets married. Until we meet and talked. And once he popped out the question, just a few weeks ago, he already knew my answer.

I know this blog is about politics, about being a witness of a very particular situation. About giving you glimpses of a life inside a country nor even I can understand. I know I should be talking about the upcoming presidential elections. About a president who is sick, but we don’t know how much. About the possibilities of a change bigger than ourselves, about a transition period. I should be complaining on the constant shortages and government abuses. On all those small and big difficulties we face on a daily basis. About disappointments and hopes. Human Rights, brain drain and crime. I know this blog is about all that. But this blog is also about me.

Against all odds, this is my moment. I’m getting married in just a few months. I’m marrying the love of my life, my most loyal companion, the person who embrace my craziness and supports it. I can’t think on anything else. I had to blog about this. And I have the right to.

PS: Image was taken from here.

Special request: when Facebook is an a-hole

My sentiments toward Facebook were never very strong (I even scheduled permanent erasing of the page associated to my blog).  However there is no denying that it is a source of info for many people.  But also a source of grief.

Some of you might remember La Gringa in Honduras, a US resident there that holds a blog which was courageously supporting the guys that ousted Zelaya, and who now is criticizing the violence in Honduras and the drug trafficking (something that the guys in charge do not seem that concerned with as they are more interested in getting back on the summitry circuit).  In other words she is doing her conscientious blogger job, telling it as she sees it, may her chips fall wherever they please.  Well, it seems that some people are already trying to shut her up and managed to have Facebook shut her page because she does not want to reveal her identity to them, even if that woudl put her at risk.  Bloggers and twitterers have found death in Northern Mexico and that thing is creeping down south, maybe reaching Venezuela any time soon.

I must thus plead with you to sign this petition that is addressed to Facebook so they are not these ass-holes that they seem to become more and more.  Bloggers and their readers UNITE!.  Note: La Gringa assures me that she is not even the one who started that petition but one of her readers.

Chávez und der Arzt

Spiegel hat einen Artikel über den Arzt geschrieben, der über Chávez' Gesundheit so ausgiebig geplaudert hat. Leider gibt es kaum Informationen, die man nicht aus den venezolanischen Zeitungen hätte herausnehmen können.

Nun kommen die venezolanischen Ärzte, die Chávez kaum zu sehen bekommen (denn er lässt sich lieber von kubanischen Ärzten behandeln), und behaupten, die Gesundheit des Präsidenten sei "unverbesserlich".

Sie sagen, Navarrete sei nie Vertrauensarzt des Chávez und wäre kein Arzt des Chávez-Clans gewesen. Navarrete hätte einem der Ärzte zufolge nur 20 Minuten lang mit Chávez gesprochen, ohne Tests. Sie bestreiten auch, dass Chávez psychiatrische Behandlung gehabt hätte. Ein anderer Arzt des Teams, Rafael Vargas, sagte, dass Navarrete über die psychologische Lage des Chávez nicht hätte sprechen sollen, denn er ist dazu nicht geeignet. Was soll dies aber heissen? Dass Vargas erkennt, Chávez hätte psychologische Probleme, die aber nicht öffentlicht diskutiert werden sollten? Ein anderer Arzt sagte, Chávez wäre extrem vernünftig, "sogar überdurschnittlich".

Ist dies alles Seifenoper, um die Popularität des Caudillos zu erhöhen? Das werden wir bald erfahren.

And makes that three plus scores for Leopoldo Lopez today

I had not read the NYT yet and just before going to bed there is yet another great article about the fight of Leopoldo Lopez, by Simon Romero. 

So let's see, the business is covered by The Economist, the political intellectual side by the NYT, the diplomatic by the Carter Center. Next?

The fallout of Luisa Estella idiotic ruling and chavismo inability to come to grips with international reality is costing much more than I was myself expecting....  Someone inside chavismo gotta get fired on that mess.  How clueless can one be and how blinded by personal hatred to commit such a mistake?

Leopoldo Lopez scores two big points today

Home late tonight I finally can catch up and I am pleasantly surprised by two big wins for Leopoldo Lopez showing that the ruling of Luisa Estella is not holding water outside of Venezuela (not that it is holding much inside the country for that matter).

The first win might not be that big a priori because it is an article in The Economist.  Besides the magazine taking the points I wrote (not that they read me, I would not be so pretentious, but they are the ones that make the most sense, including their appreciation on Leopoldo's chances) it also speculates on the possibility that dissension within chavismo might be reaching the TSJ who is thinking that maybe they better start getting ready for a transition as peaceful as possible.

Now, this is a great piece and of great importance because The Economist is an important opinion maker and reaches people that would never read on Leopoldo Lopez travails at this point in the campaign if it were not for The Economist.  That The Economist has published such a piece is a witness on how the screwed up judicial system of Venezuela is finally impressing people outside, and investors.  Bad economic days ahead of Venezuela is the immediate forecast as even fewer people will be willing to invest scarce money now that Europe is about to forget about a big chunk of the Greek debt (and other debts as a consequence).

The second piece seems big but in my point of view is not necessarily as foretelling as the piece on The Economist.  It is a communique posted by the Carter Center.  Remember, the people that screwed up Venezuelan democracy in 2002-2003?  And this is where this communique fails somewhat as it is signed by too many people that should have known better years ago and that seem to suddenly realize that a transition is unavoidable in Venezuela and maybe it is time to start posturing in front of the world, and the Venezuelan opposition.  Now, I do not want to give any demerit to Leopoldo: it is quite a feat for him to force some of these people to almost confess that they have been wrong all along on Chavez.  But the fact of the matter is that The Economist article might go further to help Leopoldo, if anything at convincing a few wanna be investors to find creative ways to finance his campaign through local Venezuelan donors.

Still, it is an impressive list of signatories, all "friends of the IACHR".  And that these people compare Chavez regime as the only regime with Fujimori not to respect IACHR tells us quite a yarn of a tale of how discredited Chavez's Venezuela is today. Let's look at a few names.  The "bad" ones first and the good ones after.

I would call the "bad" ones because one of their intentions is to find forgiveness for letting down Venezuela in the past and be thus members of the group of people that bear direct responsibility on what Venezuela has become.  Still, their name on the list is worthwhile and does not take away merits that they have acquired elsewhere.

Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States of America
César Gaviria
Former President of Colombia

These two can be put in the same lot as the ones that botched completely the referendum results of 2004.  But adding injury to that, after having convinced the opposition to "dialogue" with Chavez and almost forced them to sign the agreement, they abandoned the commission members to their fate when they should have been protecting them.  Many of them have been harassed since, and some had to find the road of exile because Chavez  never forgave them from standing up to him. Still, Gaviria being currently vice president of the Madrid Club may give him further chances to redeem himself if he convicnes them to sign up a similar letter.

John Maisto
Former U.S. Ambassador to the OAS (and ambassador to Venezuela)

He will be remembered as "do not pay attention to what Chavez says but only to what he does".  With that single sentence he castrated any US initiative for the best part of a decade.

Jorge Castañeda
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico

He is not a "bad" one really, arriving into office after Chavez election.  But his mangling of inner Mexican affairs killed Mexico as a potential player in the Venezuelan crisis.

The "good" ones are either good per se, or good because they can cause some trouble in their countries where sympathies for Chavez may run deeper than you may think.  The best case is former Uruguay president Lacalle who lost to Mujica last year but who by signing that communique will cause Mujica to think better before going out to support Chaevz, as is his natural tendency.

Alejandro Toledo
Former President of Peru
Joaquín Villalobos
Founder of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), Signatory of the Peace Agreements of El Salvador in 1992

These are definitively the two best names on that list because their democratic credentials are today among the best ones even if in the past Villalobos might not have been the best example. Also during his tenure Toledo made no concession to Chavez even when this one was at the height of his influence in Latin America.  Toledo had no problem risking isolation within South America so much already Chavez reminded him of Fujimori. Toledo will also be of great help to avoid Humala to get too comfy with Chavez.

Of martyrs and burning bridges

Casually surfing during my breakfast I stopped at Spain's state TV, TVE.  They may have been focused on the latest announcement of ETA deposing its armed struggle unilaterally but they still had time to trash Chavez.  In Spain the state TV always has round tables of 3-4 journalists coming from both sides of the political spectra.  This morning they were all considering Chavez words on Qaddafi yesterday a disgrace.  Even though they had debated before whether Qaddafi should have been sent to trial or shot outright.  TVE puts a video of Chavez.

Indeed one must wonder about Chavez yesterday at Church stating that Qaddafi had been murdered by the empire and its European allies, that he was a martyr, that he will long be revered, that it was not over because there a "pueblo" in Libya with dignity.  I suppose that no one showed Chavez the video I put in my blog yesterday about said dignity.

We must wonder about the why of such a decision to support Qaddafi to such an extent (without ever sending any concrete help that we know of, not even an offer of safe exile).  But we also must note that Chavez language now places Europe and the US on the same imperialist footing.  It is too simplistic to see this a a reaction from Europeans not willing to receive him anymore, so toxic he has become in recent months, just as he last ally, the PSOE of Spain is about to leave office.  Venezuela can only lose from such politicking, and we can hardly see what Chavez can expect to really gain when we see how easily China and Russia ditched Qaddafi at the end.

And we can also dismiss the friendship between the two creeps.  After all, it bears repeating, Chavez support was only hot air as far as I can see (at least he sent Maduro to Syria, more than what eh did for Qaddafi). Even if El Nacional recounts the main accords between Libya and Chavez, that is not where the link is.  True, now that Qaddafi is gone the new Libyan regime will have time to dig through the rubble and reveal some of the not very kosher agreements between Chavez and Qaddafi.

But personally I think that the whole support is a joint effort between the Castros and Chavez who know that revelations are coming and who are already setting the stage to dismiss them just like they tried to do with the FARC computers in the last couple of years.  Amen of perceiving their eventual fate in the Sirte mirror.  The Castros who know that they will be toast in Europe once the PSOE is gone are willing to burn bridges with Europe, and Chavez is letting himself be dragged in that silliness.

Unfortunately for Chavez Libya has no common frontiers with Venezuela and if they find stuff they will have no reason to hide it as a blackmailing tool.  Or will they?

The anti Lopez campaign in state media (or think about that as Globovision is threatened with closing)

In a fit of duty I do visit on occasion the very uninformative pages of the Chavez media.  That is, the state media that is paid a tax payer expense to promote only the point of view of the state, that is Chavez and his personality cult.  But one needs to look at those pages on occasion because one needs to be reminded regularly on how the sick mind of these people work.  My objective was to find a good example on how Chavez defended today Qaddafi (some people never learn).  But I found better, a note from the National Radio of Venezuela (our BBC if you will) with this outrageous attack on Leopoldo Lopez, as far from any journalistic ethos as you may ever find in the genre.  In fact it is so bad, such a hack job in an official site that I felt compelled to take a screen shot to save it in case someone realizes what a disgrace that is and erase it..

Click to enlarge and enjoy the full effect
I have circled in red (of course) the choice items described below:

  • RNV assumes proudly its association with the government of the country (top left).  There goes any pretense at objective journalism
  • Not to mention that they claim to use truth as a shield
  • Then Leopoldo is called a corrupt supported by the Empire.  Beyond the cliche it is noteworthy to remind readers that there is no trial against Lopez for pocketing personally any money (although finally the republic prosecutor has claimed this week that there was an investigation going on even though the Lopez people never heard of it)
  • On the right column you may read some of the other titles of the day such an offering of a video on the birth of the media latufundia, whatever that may mean (Murdoch, here we come); something about the "ultra right" in Mexico, whatever that may mean also; and journalists supporting that other journalists lose their jobs (Globovision), so much for the solidarity
  • The body of the article, if one can call that an article, has all sorts of cliches and reminiscences of things past, while oblivious whether these "accusations" could not apply to Chavez himself.  In short Leopoldo is an ultra right politician (apparently in Venezuela there is only Chavez and the ultra right, whatever that means again); he is protected by international organizations (which one day chavista may want to protection from once they are on the run); he is not a democrat because he was involved in the 2002 coup (chavistas having decided once and for all that 1992 was not a coup, just a popular movement led exclusively and secretly by a faction of the army); and of course Leopoldo is a manipulator (because Chavez is not one, and certainly not today at La Grita praying and thanking the Christ for his recovery). PS: the picture is of Leopoldo fleeing tear gas of the regime in 2002, not charging the cops.
  • For good effect notice the last paragraph in bold characters as if RNV were not any better than a blog (even Aporrea is moderate in its use of bold letters).
Now, I am not trying to defend Leopoldo Lopez here, at all,  he does not need me.  Such garbage has long ago stopped being effective, and today it only serves to stimulate, if they bother reading it, the radical fringe of chavismo.

My point in this analysis is in view of the recent real threats in closing Globovision through bankruptcy.  The regime wants to close Globovision and any independent media because they want you to read and listen exclusively to a garbage that makes the Cuban one look better becasue they have learned to write the stuff with a vague patina of credibility.

Think that about 20% of Venezuelans today get on the radio ONLY state media and probably 50% do not get on the radio anything that may be significantly critical of the regime, only chavista rantings or music.  That is the kind of crap they get everyday, uninformative, vengeful, calumniating, and all at tax payer expense.

And also think if RNV is like that at one year of the general election, what can we expect in a few months .....

Chávez, Gaddafis Kumpel

Und wie erwartet sagte der venezolanische Caudillo nun, Gaddafi sei wie ein Martyrer gestorben. Chávez wisse nichts über Menschenrechtsverletzungen des Gaddafiregimes.

Der ehemalige Putschist und jetzige Präsident Venezuelas erklärte auch, er sei vom Krebs völlig geheilt. Ob er wirklich so krank war sei dahingestellt. Seit 1999 behauptete die Regierung zumindest 3 mal im Jahr, man wolle ihn töten. Seit Ende 2010 kursierten immer mehr Witze über die angeblichen Mordanschläge, von denen es keine Beweise gab und Chávez empörte sich darüber.

Na ja...
Vom Aussterben bedrohte Wildesel

Another friend of Chavez in trouble

Welcome to La Paz!
Finally the march of the natives from the Amazon protesting capitalists roads across their land has reached La Paz and the alleged bastion of Evo Morales gave them a hero's welcome.  Poor Evo, he cannot increase the price of gas, he cannot have his judges ratified as he wishes and now his base, the native people of Boliva are abandoning him.  I wonder what curse he suffers from.....

Chávez's best friend in Africa is dead

Gaddafi, one of Africa's many dictators, has been killed. Unlike Daniel, I think it would have been better to have him go to trial. Chávez was more likely to keep talking in defence of the African dictator thereby provoking even more rejection. Now Chávez will mention Gaddafi a couple of times, but that will be it, just like he did when he mourned FARC terrorist Reyes. Daniel Duquenal says trial in Den Haag hasn't brought peace to the countries of those dictators, probably referring to such cases as Serbia's and Liberia's. But then: war in both Serbia and Liberia was over way before those criminals were captured. Gaddafi was a mass murderer, but I think having him on trial and then behind bars would have been a better warning for others. Dictators behind bars are the exception. But that is all a guess. I am happy the war in Libya is finally getting to an end and I wish  the country gets onto the path of stability and sustainable development.

It is quite revealing that at this hour, hours after Gaddafi's death, the Chávez state media hasn't said much about it. There is only one piece stating it is unclear whether Gaddafi has died. In Venezuelan newspapers you have already a lot of information on it all. Why is the Chávez state media so slow? Because they are waiting for the Venezuelan caudillo to say something.

Finally, I have to say this: I wish Western leaders were from now on a little bit more consistent...but I reckon that's too much to ask...oil and weapon deals trump human rights.

One less tyrant: Qaddafi dead

Or so it seems even though Reuters keep posting that he has been captured.  But the consensus seems that he is dead; and good riddance.  Yes, good riddance because in his case a trial would have been nearly useless.  After all the violence he created in Libya through his stubbornness no "peaceful" outcome was possible anymore.  Where would have the trial been held?  In Tripoli?  The Hague?  Where would "objectivity" been possible?  Trials of war criminals in the Hague do not seem to bring much peace to their country of origin.

The issue here is that there is an imaginary line of violence and sectarianism that cannot be crossed.  If it is crossed then peaceful resolution becomes useless and execution becomes the only option.  Period.  True, it is worth to send to trial those who "followed orders" because such Nuremberg like trials do serve a pedagogic purpose in their country of origin as they illustrate the different tools the regime used to rule and oppress.  But for the supreme evil, the one that started it all, there is no trial worthwhile pushing because support for that person had become an act of faith.  Does anyone thinks that a Hitler trial would have avoided skin heads and assorted neo-nazi movements?  Saddam legal hanging brought peace to Iraq?

Now, in the case of Chavez a trial would be excellent!  Because Chavez reached his position courtesy of high oil prices more than any peculiar evil talent like those named above (OK, so Qaddafi also benefited from oil prices but early in his tenure he showed a willingness for evil and a megalomania that even Chavez has not reached in spite of his best efforts).  Thus I am very sorry that cancer may deprive us of a Chavez trial.  I mean it, because a trial of Chavez and his minions, a real trial, is the only way we may have to avoid the creation of a neo-peronism that will doom the country for decades.

Special note for any stupid pro Chavez pro Qaddafi creep that may still be reading this blog: Qaddafi would still be alive had he bailed out, say, 4 months ago.  Why did he not do it?  Why did he not take refuge in Sudan or Venezuela?  Ask yourself that because his extended survival was not due to any love of his country as he was almost overthrown from Tripoli early in the revolt before his mercenaries recovered control for him.  At best Sirte for tribal reasons wanted him.  Now they are in ruins.

Qaddafi's dernier quart d'heure.  NOT FOR THE WEAK.

When atheists pray

Oh dear....  We learned that Chavez is coming back from Cuba tomorrow after a check up of sorts.  If it were not bad enough that once again we are told that Venezuelan doctors are not good enough for Chavez and that he alone benefits from free care in Cuba at our tax payer expenses, including flights and feed of his numerous suite, he let us know that he is going to a local sanctuary for prayers and to "pagar una promesa" pay a promise.  This is more interesting than what you may think at first glance.

- First, today was a swirl of news, going as far as saying that the guy has a metastasis in his liver and that he is toast.  Whether this is true is still as irrelevant as it used to be, except that now we may be about to be officially revealed succession plans.  Big announcements are promised this week upon Chavez return, maybe starting at him praying in front of El Santo Cristo de La Grita (the Holy Christ of La Grita).

- The political interest comes that it is in Tachira, the state that chavismo lost heavily after an initial hold, the state that maybe Chaevz is making a point of honor to recover before he croaks.  Maybe they think that a little bit of crucifix holding could do the trick now that the local governor was distracted from the state affairs because of his silly personal ambitions.  Prayers to recover Tachira, I have seen it all.  And people are asked to come from all over to pray with Chavez.

- But there is more political interest here.  Some of the most "atheist voices" of chavismo are the ones announcing this visit of Chavez to the sanctuary where he promised to come back if he were doing better (is he?).  First, we read a loving note to that effect in AVN who more than once has "bouffé du curé" (feasted on priests, sounds much better in French).  Even the most atheistic Cubans at Prensa Latina pick up the prayer ritual.  And to crown this all it is none else but Rafael Ramirez of the "rojo, rojito" infamous fame that let's us know.  I mean, the guy is as heathen as they come!

The degree of hypocrisy the regime is reaching makes it harder and harder to follow........  One thing is certain, one prayers is all that is left for a regime, you know that things are circling down the drain.

When FTA hurt you smack in your plexus

If you have any doubt that Colombia's perseverance in finally getting its FTA with the US you just need to read some of the words of a delirious Fidel today, quoted here in AFP.
"Veo con claridad, Hugo -le dije- que la Revolución Bolivariana en brevísimo tiempo puede crear empleo, no solo para los venezolanos sino también para sus hermanos colombianos, un pueblo laborioso, que junto a ustedes luchó por la independencia de América, un 40% del cual vive en la pobreza y una parte importante en estado de pobreza crítica"
I see with clarity, Hugo -I told him- that the Bolivarian Revolution in the briefest of time can create jobs, not only for Venezuelans but also for their Colombian brothers, a hard working people, who together with you fought for the independence of America, a 40%  that still live in poverty and a big chunk in critical poverty.
Let's not get carried away by comments on the obvious such as the bolibanana revolution sinking fast to the point of employment beating insecurity as the concern of Venezuelan people.  No, what is interesting here is Fidel trying to revive the troubles between Colombia and Venezuela (via FARC?), Fidel upset at the FTA and pressing for the reunification of Colombia and Venezuela presumably under the leadership of a mummified Chavez...

I am sure that the Casa de Nariño wince was actually audible....

Reppressingly yours

[UPDATED] Really, the Venezuelan government is panicking.  To say the least these past weeks have brought only bad news besides the succession war inside chavismo.  The IACHR ruling, the criticism at the UN HR assembly in Geneva, the bad economic news, the protests and more protests from a very dissatisfied el pueblo, the jail situation that seems to be getting worse in spite of a special ministry created for that, etc, etc....  So like a spoiled brat it is starting to kick the table and say that it will not play anymore.  And at the same time the said brat starts kicking the house pets just to show that it can still do some harm, albeit useless if not altogether counterproductive.

Yesterday it was Leopoldo Lopez who got screwed.  Today it is Globovision who is fined for, hold tight, 7.5% of its gross income for 2010.

Why?  Because the regime did not like at all the coverage of Globovision in June of the jail riots.  And even though all sorts of media were next to Globovision in covering exactly the same events and interviewing exactly the same people it is Globovision that needs to be shut down because, well, just because he said it.

We can read in official governmental agencies such as AVN that Globovision was fined because "delitos de incitación al desconocimiento del ordenamiento jurídico, apología del delito, fomento a la zozobra de la ciudadanía y odio por razones políticas" which is exactly waht happens EVERY NIGHT in VTV through their talk shows in particular the most infamous late night one, La Hojilla.  But of course, the regime can say what it pleases when it pleases but Globovision cannot inform of the reality.

Magnanimously the regime states that Globo can keep transmitting its news, just pay right now about 2 million dollars and we will all be happy.  That Globo will go bankrupt is not a notion that crossed the regime hired guns, in this case CONATEL.  And certainly if Globovision goes bankrupt and closes the regime will claim that this has nothing to do with freedom of expression and information.

Ah!  The sweet taste of planned hypocrisy......

UPDATE:  well, after watchign the legal eagle of Globovision tonight I learned some interesting factoids.

First, the decision is based on an "expert" opinion that shall remain nameless.  Huh?  You can fine someone 2 million dollars in a case that involves no murder or thing of the sort on an anonymous "expert"?  Ah!  The joys of bolivarian expertise....

Globovision is so good that it directed from its head quarters the whole live show of El Rodeo jail that lasted about 4 weeks in a gigantic conspiracy that included all, maybe even the cleaning ladies at Globovision.  Boy!  They are good!

Better, Globovision editing team is so good that they are able to put rapid fire gun shot sound tracks so as to confuse chavista officials who actually live on the site thought that there were gunshots.  Or some inanity along those lines.

I mean, the whole argumentation is so ludicrous that only the hardest core chavista nincompoop might actually buy it.  It is not a matter of defending Globovision here who sometimes uses inadequate stressing music and loves a little bit of sensationalism here and there (anyone watches Anderson on occasion?) but CONATEL is quite pushing the envelope here.  So much so that I am almost tempted to believe the ruling is some form of inner chavista sabotage to make someone look bad inside the regime.

The day Leopoldo Lopez lost his presidential bid?

UPDATED Leopoldo Lopez has, in my very humble opinion, made a major mistake today.  His reply to yesterday TSJ sentence plays straight into Chavez hands.  Leopoldo simply states that the TSJ has validated his rights to run and he will do so, ignoring the second part that he may not be able to take office if he wins.

Leopoldo López 
Ayer el TSJ tambien ratifico mis derechos politicos. Asi que voy a presentarme como candidato a la Presidencia de la Republica

I think his timing is wrong and could cost him the primaries making his fight irrelevant in the end.

If he indeed wants to do that and if it is indeed the best political response to the TSJ disgrace, such an announcement should be made with representing members of La Unidad, as a joint decision to confront the TSJ.  I do know personally that Leopoldo will not wreck the Unidad and that he will step back if he does not win, so that is not my concern.  What should be concerning him is that today he comes across as a prima donna and that will cost him support for February.  This is not about him alone, something he has kept saying all the time and that for some reason (momentary bitterness I hope) he seems to have forgotten today.


Tuesday night Leopoldo was a guest at Alo Ciudadano where he could explain his position better.  That is, since the TSJ ruled that he could run for office, he was going to do so.  He stated, justifiably in a way, that this was the reason he went to the IACHR, to get the right to run for office and the TSJ implicitly acknowledged that the IACHR.  That he may take office is another question which was not in the docket at the IACHR.

Thus is strategy is call the the bluff of the TSJ and see if they will dare refuse to hand him the presidential sash were he to win the election.  In other words, he decided to confront the system.

I am in agreement basically with that position except that I would have felt much better had he expressed his strategy from the Unidad headquarters rather than on his own.  The image would have been strong because 1) the thrown gauntlet would have been from all opposition and 2) he would have stressed that he was doing his own challenge but respecting the eventual unity of the opposition at the end, around him or not.