Nachrichten über die Militärregierung Venezuelas

Der Caudillo Chávez hat jetzt 3 Millionen Twitter-Follower. Ein anderer Militär, Carlos Mata Figueroa, den Chávez als Kandidat für die Gouverneurstelle des Bundesstaates Nueva Esparta auserkoren hat, hat darum ein Haus an die Frau geschenkt, die diese Follower Nr 3000000 geworden ist. Die Frau ist 22 Jahre alt oder jünger...nun hat sie ein Haus...von Staatsgeldern - nicht von den Chávez-Bonzen- bezahlt. Es gibt ein paar Millionen Menschen, die immer noch auf Sozialwohnungen warten, sie müssen aber länger warten, denn die Militärs bauen trotz Recorderdöleinnahmen weniger Sozialwohnungen jährlich als zu den Zeiten vom Erdöl für $12 pro Fass (d.h. vor 14 Jahren).
Bananen, von Linke-Anhängern "Linksnationalisten" genannt

In Caracas haben zwei Polizisten der Alcaldía de Caracas - von der Opposition verwaltet- zwei Kokainhändler auf frischer Tat ertappt. Leider waren die Kokainhändler nicht nur Kokainhändler, sondern Beamte der Nationalpolizei CICPC, die von der Militärregierung kontrolliert wird. Die CICPC-Menschen haben zurückgeschossen und andere Kumpel von ihnen haben die zwei Caracas-Polizisten festgenommen.

Diese ist die Regierung, die der in der DDR geborene Professor Michael Zeuske - Berater für den DAAD - in seinen Büchern lobt.

Später werde ich über Zeuske Bücher zur "Geschichte" Venezuelas.

Did they meet? Church and tHUGOcracy meeting?

I alsmot posted on it last night but it was too late and too many hours on the road.  But the news was the unconfirmed report that the higher echelons of chavismo met with the higher echelons of the catholic church of Venezuela.

Globovision seems to stand by that scoop today, at 10:23 AM at least, while no one else around says so, and twitter gossip cannot make up its mind on the subject.

So let's assume they did meet and let's look at what it means.

Globo tells us that it was Jaua, the Veep, Godgiven, the self anointed heir, Maduro, the wannabe Cuban promoted heir and JVR, the ever participating to all of these conclaves to shore up the sagging fortunes of Hugo, always thinking of himself as Prez for at least a few weeks before he dies.  Chavez was missing.  So was Venezuela's Cardinal.

Only one interpretation comes to mind: Chavez is really doing bad and after bashing the church for so many years they go back to it, just as the Castro's are doing in Cuba, to help them with the difficult transition.

Should we start a poll as to how many weeks are left for Chavez?  Or a poll as to how likely it is that this meeting really was held?

Then again there is always the possibility of the regime meeting with the Church is to make silly bloggers like me write on the topic...

The opposition finally condemns strongly Chavez pro Assad policies

I am pleased to announce that the Venezuelan opposition has finally condemned unambiguously the support of Chavez toward the Assad regime.  You can read the communique here.

About time!

No political trouble that cannot be solved by a tiny constitutional amendment

What to make of Chavez dernière boutade?  He simply just thought of it, an amendment to enshrine the Misiones into the Constitution.  That is right, all the social programs that he has been doing more or less legally since 2003, which have been his political lifeblood, suddenly he fells like he should put them inside the Constitution (1).  There is no need to discuss whether they should be enshrined: a mere law would suffice to make all of these Misiones legal.  The interest is elsewhere.

The circumstances

With all and diseases and all claims that he is well ahead in polls, the truth is otherwise.  Capriles has been steadily holding the political agenda and chavismo is reduced to counter react, something they are not used to and for which they have no ability.  No matter how brutal the campaign has been so far, no matter how much money has been thrown into the streets for buying votes, real pollsters give a tie of sorts and they predict it will eventually go the Capriles way as Chavez will be less and less able to pull the disease excuse to gain pity votes.

In plain text, with a Chavez that still seems unable to hit the campaign trail, his campaign has been using all its weapons already whereas Capriles campaign seems to get new weapons everyday as the disastrous record of chavismo keeps being revealed everyday (redundancy intended).  The reaction of Chavez in suggesting an amendment is a reaction to the successful proposal by Capriles to make the Misiones into a law, offered by the opposition in the National Assembly, after a signature drive.  Chavismo simply cannot refuse to discuss such a law because people, no matter how chavista they may be, would not understand it and would start wondering why did chavismo never made it earlier into a law to begin with.

Hence the amendment, to try to regain the initiative, but which looks DoA if you ask me because if the opposition supports it, then there is no political advantage for chavismo.

The real circumstance?

Me thinks that there is something else at play here.

The real, real problem of chavismo is how to make sure that the bolivarian piñata lasts longer.  The higher up nouveau riche of chavismo have a stake.  The Castro brothers have a stake.  The narco generals have a stake.  The third rate politicians have a stake. The dredges of Venezuela have a stake.

All of these people have been very busy for a year trying to find ways to survive and so far they are not even surviving the internal succession wars of chavismo.  So we are talking here more than an amendment, maybe a constitutional reform as Chavez himself mentioned today.  There are many ways in which such a constitutional change could work.  The way to be chosen will depend on the time table and the real objective pursued.  In any case, the amendment to enshrine Misiones is just the carrot accompanying what would surely be the real amendment/reform, a big stick.

Case 1: Chavez is sick and at best can hope to get reelected

That is, he knows he cannot finish his term.  The objective here is to make sure the revolution survives and to do so it is essential to avoid early elections after Chavez resigns or croaks.  The solution here is to make the vice-president permanent.  If Chavez dies then the vice finishes the mandate.  That ensures 6 years more of chavismo even if Chavez were to die a few weeks after his reelection.  The vice can remain freely appointed and removed by Chavez, but whomever is in office when he dies, he finishes the term.  I use HE because I am willing to bet anything that it will not be a SHE, unless the constitution is also changed at the same time to allow for a relative to be named vice president (his daughter?).

The problem here is the time constraint.  I think it is too late to launch an amendment to be voted BEFORE October 7 so it would have to be voted at the same time.  Not a bad idea to hold the carrot vote at the same time as Chavez vote.

Case 2: Chavez is sick but he thinks he can hold long enough to effect the definitive changes

This is really an expansion of the preceding case except that now the vote can be held after October 7 if necessary, but preferably BEFORE regional elections.  We would be talking here of a constitutional reform rather than a mere set of amendments.  The problem here is that since the 2007 reform was rejected, on paper he cannot call for a new reform until he is inaugurated in February 2013. But surely the high court would rule on his favor declaring that mere reelection is enough to allow for a new reform.

The objective of that reform, in addition to make the vice the heir for the whole term if needed, is to gut the regional powers.  As such it would seek the annulment of the governors and mayors to be elected between December and April 2013.  There are many ways to gut these functions so let's not speculate on which technicality may be preferred.    The point is that Chavez has been now challenged twice by successful governors and he needs to put a stop to it.  Period.

I have already discussed in the past such scheme, so this is not a novel idea.  What I am curious about it why now, so close to the vote, with all the implied risks.  But the reasons exist to pull what would look as a desperate measure.  Mainly, if Chavez campaign is not doing well, the campaign for regional authorities of chavismo is doing worse.  We are at barely 6 months of the regional elections and the opposition has all of its candidates up and running and chavismo is not sure of its candidates, may still pull out at least two of its top names in Carabobo and Miranda, etc....  True, a defeat of Chavez in October will make him stop caring whatsoever about what happens next.  But you would think that the PSUV would discretely try to make Chavez know that he can only be that diffident.

Of course, more could be added to it but I doubt it will,  After all, they published three weeks ago a new labor law and for Chavez to launch already an amendment proposal proves that in chavismo pollsters focus groups the labor law has not been received with the hoped for results.  Clearly the workers do not buy the candy of that new law and the regime needs to impress them further before Capriles words sink in them irreversibly.  Offering a complete and complex reform of the Constitution could in fact backfire badly.


I am not too optimistic about Chavez success on such an adventure.  I think it is too late and that too many people will see right through it.  A mere amendment for the misiones could help if held on October 7, the more so that more and more misiones are tanking; thus an amendment could reassure people that they eventually be retaken and renewed.

What Chavez needs to do to ensure his reelection he is unwilling or unable to do.  He has chosen the radical path and this time around people may believe he means business and get turned off at the perspective.  An unnecessary amendment is not going to be enough to carry the day, but that surely would not stop desperate people that have run out of fresh ideas.

1) He really said it, that he just thought, it just crossed his mind to change the Constitution:

"se me ocurre que la AN proponga una enmienda o una reforma para que las misiones estén en la Constitución"

Archetypal TV: Chavez at King's Landing

I have never been much of a ran for medieval fantasy epic.  Science Fiction I did better until I realized that taming wormholes for intergalactic travel was not compatible with my increasing knowledge of science.  But at least science fiction holds the promise that one day, maybe....  True, I did enjoy the Lord of the Rings, but then again these books were also literature. But mass market?  No thanks.  And this has not much to do with a French Cartesian approach to life: after all, we may be the ones that wrote the first drafts of La Morte d'Artur.  Nor is Gothic my cup of tea: I could not get past Interview with the Vampire.
It is thus no surprise that it took me until this weekend to finally finish to watch season one of Games of Thrones which I had dutifully recorded on my DirectTV TiVo thinggy.  Not that it was easy, Direct TV makes all sorts of mistakes so programming does not necessarily result in recording the actual episode, even after more than one attempt.  Of that first season I could not manage to record chapter 6, A Golden Crown, nor do I think I missed much.

Still, Game of Thrones is worth watching: acting is good and reconstruction done well enough (except for that dragon revival scene....).  And, wonder of wonders, it is politically relevant for third world countries.

In episode 7, You Win or You Die, Robert Baraethon on his bed of agony has the bad idea of writing a secret will to name Ned Stark the regent while his illegitimate child (unknown fact to Bob).  That is, the appointment would be read only once King Robert is dead.  "What a terrible idea!  This is never going to work!" I thought on the spot.  Yes, I know, I have a hard time letting go from reality even in the best of series but I was proven right since a couple of episodes later on Baelor square Ned's head was promptly sliced as the illegitimate king family was taking over power, and exerting it as a butchery shop.

Isn't this exactly what Chavez is doing?  Keeping secret the name of any possible successor, or regent for his daughters if he could get away with it?  Which are the chances that his succession work out with the games he is playing for the last year, pitting against each other people from his entourage?  Whatever heir he appoints in the end will lack legitimacy because he never took the care to establish that legitimacy before he dies.  Bad results may be surely expected.

Hugo I Baratheon, at Sabaneta's Landing..........

PS: yes, I finished last night season 1, and season 2 is being recorded.  It looks like it is going to be a gory blood bath and I am not looking forward to  it, but the dwarf is quite something.  Besides, maybe I will gather more TV archetypal studies on third world politics which apparently have not changed in Venezuela since our XIX century middle age fantasy.

¿Seguira el silencio de la MUD sobre la masacre Siria?

Niños y adultos en la morgue de Al Hula, Siria, ayer y hoy
Es triste en verdad ver lo bajo que está cayendo la revolución bolivariana, ahora empeñada en apoyar regímenes renegados que se dan el lujo de matar niños y echarle la culpa a al Qaeda sin aportar la mas mínima evidencia de que eso pueda ser cierto. ¿Será por eso que Chávez y Asad se entienden tan bien? Pensándolo bien, Asad aplica la metodología de magnicidios en contra de Chávez por los cuales al momento de escribir estas líneas todavía no hay ni un chinito de RECADI a juicio. Aunque tenemos que ser justos, Chávez no tenia genio para inventar ese tipo de metodología: eso es invento del otro asesino de Fidel.

La pregunta que tenemos que hacernos NO ES ¿Hasta cuando Chávez va a seguir escupiendo boberías, recordando al hermano asesinado de Gadafi y defendiendo Asad? No, la pregunta es hasta cuándo van a seguir en el chavismo callando, sin amarrar a sus locos. Otra pregunta viene al frente: ¿Sera que la Unidad democrática no va a tomar posición en el asunto y exigir el fin del apoyo de Venezuela al régimen sangriento de Siria? Ya es hora de la Unidad democrática haga una marcha de protesta sobre el apoyo de Siria y amenace al gobierno de llevar el dosier a La Haya si no paran sus ventas de diesel a Siria. ¿O es que la Unidad cree que la credibilidad internacional de un gobierno se hace después de las elecciones? ¿Quien va a defender fuera de Venezuela la Unidad por un eventual fraude electoral si esta no se solidariza desde ya con otros pueblos oprimidos?

Ya es tiempo que la Unidad empiece a actuar en ciertos asuntos como un movimiento que merece formar gobierno y no solo como una agencia de empleo para políticos desempleados.

PS: nota a los chavistas que me leen. Esa foto es de trabajadores de las Naciones Unidas investigando en Siria, en la morgue de Hula. Cualquier reporte emitido tendrá el aval de las Naciones Unidas. ¿Será que ustedes piensan ignorarlo desde ya? Les recuerdo que los crimines de lesa humanidad no prescriben y que ya Chávez tiene un dosier en La Haya y que con su apoyo público a enviar diesel a Siria Rafael Ramírez ha hecho meritos para ser juzgado como criminal. ¿Cuantos más de ustedes están dispuestos a acompañarlos en las cortes internacionales?  ¿Vale la pena asociarse a algo así?

Syrian children get murdered, Chávez sends diesel to Syrian regime

We hear about the massacre of 32 Syrian children during the latest clashes between the Assad troops and the rebels. And just a few days ago the Chávez regime shipped diesel to that Assad regime badly needed to move their tanks. The Western had applied sanctions to Syria and Chávez helps his pal to circumvent such sanctions.

The Chávez military regime has already sent three diesel shipments to the Syrian forces. A fourth one is planned.
Picture taken in Venezuela in 2006. Chávez next to Assad. "Breaking the Blockage. Venezuela  is to be respected!"

Will Brazil say nothing? Colombia? No, because they have a wonderful trade surplus with the Chávez regime.

And on the other side, we have this: US troops killed yet again another peaceful family...collateral damage, like many thousand of other cases in the last few years.

People never learn.

It's cheap, give me two: Venezuelans in El Imperio

Venezuelans were among the top visitors to the US in 2011, which is not surprising at all.

On this chart you can see the top visitors to the United States for last year. Sources come from here and here. I reordered them by tourist per inhabitant. That is: I divided the number of tourists from country X by the population of said country X.

More than half the Canadians went to the US in 2011. That is not astonishing, considering that most Canadians live less than 70 kilometres from the USA border and they can freeze to death if they travel rather to the north. Mexicans are less likely to visit their pals but almost every second Mexican city visit his gringo neighbours last year. Britons love their former colony and Australians are also have an intense relationship with the USA, so they are also among the most loyal visitors to that country. Then you see the rich Dutch, the also very rich Japanese, the still wealthy South Koreans, French, Germans...and Venezuelans.

Venezuelans are more likely to visit the US than Brazilians, even if Brazilians have a higher income per capita than Venezuelans. You can say Brazil looks rather to the South and you will have a point there. Brazilians inundated Argentina. But Brazil has also kept stronger links to Europe throughout the decades. Brazil's population hubs are mostly very far to the South. Venezuela's bigger cities all face to the Caribbean. I reckon Venezuela's government ain't happy with that.
The current Venezuelan regime imposed a strict currency control back in 2003 and it has become tighter: a Venezuelan citizen can only get so much in foreign currency per year for tourism. She has to prove her expenses by showing every single purchase bill if requested. This and many other things in Venezuela's subsidized economy have led to a huge black market. Venezuelans - the privileged revolutionaries or majunches alike - keep buying dollars and euros in that black market because they don't know when the bubble will burst but they do know it will. That is why many Venezuelan tourists also use their trip to the US to open a US account or to take with them as many dollars as they can to their old US accounts.

With a fraction of what is in Venezuelans' account in the US we could easily pay for a thousand new schools in Venezuela.

One of Chávez's honchos, former Acción Democrática, former Causa Radical politician and now PSUV leader Aristóbulo Isturiz once said the Chávez government couldn't do without the currency control because "it would fall right away". And sure it would...even if the country does need to do is this currency control that keeps a powerful elite - left and right - becoming immensely rich at the cost of María González with her 6 kids in Maturín or Guanare.

Southern Portuguesa

Portuguesa is one of our Llanos states. Portuguesa, obviously, literally means Portuguese (woman) and the first location in that region to get the name was the Portuguesa River. Legend tells us that river was named after a Portuguese lady drowned there during the Conquista. From history we know some of the first Europeans in the area were indeed Portuguese coming with the Spanish flow of conquistadores and settlers.
Before them the very first Europeans to see the place were the German Welser and their Spanish soldiers, who ventured into this area around 1530...and were very sorry to do so. It is a tough terrain with tropical diseases galore and the troops died like flies. The region is an extremely hot area, flooded during the rainy season and sun-baked in the dry months. There were few native Americans here compared to  other regions like the coast or the Andes. The ones living here were mostly Guamos and some other groups, mostly hunter-gatherers: the Llanos back then not being the best place for agriculture.

The Southernmost municipalities there are Papelón and Guanarito

Both municipios together make up about 33000 of the 17 million voters Venezuela had back in 2010. The combined area is around the size of Norfolk but with less than a tenth of Norfolk's population - the density is 6 and 11 pop/km2 for each municipality. This area is Llanos 100%: flat as it goes, with a lot of rivers - the Portuguesa being the one with the strongest flow. All rivers flow towards the Orinoco, one way or the other. 

Most of the land is owned by the State or by a few landowners. A lot of small farmers live in state land with  no property rights - sort of feudal style but with the right to move. 

Capibaras, excellent swimmers and tasty...Spaniards declared they were fish so that they could eat them on Friday and Eastern time
Collared peccary, looks like a wild boar but it belongs to a different genus
This is a cayman, a different genus from the gringo alligators and much so from the Nile crocodile

In the last parliament elections in 2010, candidates for the Chávez party got around 64.76% against 31.54% for the MUD in the first municipality and 63.88% to 32.89% in the second one. Portuguesa in general in one of the most pro-Chávez states of Venezuela. You won't find people there reading national newspapers but Últimas Noticias. Internet coverage is well below the 39% that is supposed to be the national penetration. Very few in Southern Portuguesa have access to radio or cable TV, so they won't hear any criticism on their radios or TV sets.

In the 2008 elections the candidate to the post of mayor for the MUD did not even get second or third place in Papelón, just fourth, with 3.9% of the votes. In Guanarito the candidate for the Chávez party won with 65.75% and the opposition didn't do as badly, just very bad, even if in this case it was split between different candidates. The old parties that used to dominate the area there, AD and COPEI, are  represented by dinosaurs and new parties such as PJ and UNT haven't got a presence there. The national  representatives of those parties hadn't learnt how to send customized messages to such regions. They still don't understand those regions need to hear about their specific projects for Guanarito, for Papelón, not for "Venezuela". This is curious: the new opposition parties are very keen on decentralisation but they haven't spent the time to customize their messages for each region. To do that they need knowledge about those regions. Right now they send a central message, one that is way too abstract for those regions.

This April the major of Guanarito, Villalba, was jailed for corruption. Some people in the region said the PSUV got very nervous with the level of corruption there but Villalba is just small fish. Almost no one elsewhere in Venezuela knows about this.

Das immer überraschende Venezuela

Die Gefängnisse in Venezuela sind im Jahr 14 der sogennanten "Revolution" in erbärmlicherer Lage als je zuvor.  Nun erfahren wir, dass die Gefangenen der Penitenciaria General im Bundesstaat Guárico gestern 40 Bewacher entfürten und für ihre Freilassung Motorräder, alkoholische Getränke und eine elektrische Anlage verlangten und bekamen. Die Gefangenen wollen die Motorräder benutzen, um in den Anlagen Rallyes zu organisieren.

In Venezuela gibt es wirklich keine Justizvollzugsanstalten und das seit dem 16. Jahrhundert nicht, wie der gute alte Alexander von Humboldt schon erzählte. Alle Gefangenen werden zusammengepfercht, es sei denn, sie haben viel Geld.

Das ist weiter so im 14. Jahr der Chávez-Regierung. Tatsächlich ist die Überbevölkerung in den Gefängnissen schlimmer als in den vierzig Jahren, in denen Zivilisten das Land regierten und das obwohl der Erdölpreis und darum auch die Einkommen des Landes so hoch wie nie zuvor sind.

Chavez's cadena on Tuesday night.

After more than a week's absence Chavez came back on TV for, what else, a cadena.  And an illustrative one it was.  I will not go into the details on how Chavez held for two hours ALL of TV and radio networks of Venezuela.  For that you could, if you read Spanish, read some of my tweets of May 22 as in a masochistic exercise I followed the whole thing.  But there are two aspects I would like to share.

The first one is the clear abuse of power that these cadenas have become and how dangerous to let this thing go unreported as the electoral campaign progresses.  The whole two hours in which Chavez held hostage all the radio-electric emissions of Venezuela (you can escape it only if you have cable TV or turn off your TV/radio) were for self promotion, to have his proteges speak in Orwellian terms of the glory of Chavez and his pseudo revolution, and to insult at will the opposition candidate for October.  And grossly insult him in ways that no civilized democracy would allow.  Obama versus Romney, or Sarkozy versus Hollande are mere floral games compared to the vulgarity of Chavez last Tuesday.

I think it is time to take to task foreign media to report on such abuse and how much that is tainting the electoral process under way in Venezuela.  In fact the Unidad should start attacking frontally such abuse of Chavez and hold specific press conference on the matter to foreign media.  Let the reader remember that Henrique Capriles has no platform from which to reply to Chavez massive 2 hours attack.  Let's just say that about half of the country rarely hears on TV news about the opposition campaign because of the lack of access, and certainly not about the specific replies of Capriles (who last night, by the way, gave an excellent and spirited retort to Chavez, but on Globovision only as I am sure that neither VV or Televen will dare to pass in full his speech, even in the 11 PM news).

The second aspect I wanted to underscore is that Chavez everyday is more delirious, less in touch with the reality not only of Venezuela, but of the the world.  I am not talking here of his disease or on how much morphine they set him up before starting the cadena (which, by the way, reeked of early taping and not of live transmission as there were many inconsistencies between the time of day, passing Barinas state updates in broad daylight when in fact it was already night time).

The thing is that Chavez more than ever thinks that money grows on trees.  For example at one moment he criticized the Spanish government for increasing subway fares which in Venezuela was not done (though it happened recently but Chavez forgets such inconvenient details).  He ridicules the crisis of others while he forgets that none has access to the oil spigot he has.  And certainly not admitting that his oil spigot has ruined the production capacities of Venezuela.

But the best was for the end of the cadena.  At some point a flicker of reality entered Chavez and he justified state subsidies by implying that other state sectors that could make money should do so to compensate.  The effort would have been noteworthy if it were for the example he chose: tourism.  Besides not wanting to gauge tourists, he said that during the next 6 year bolivarian plan for the country tourism should be top priority so that Los Roques and Canaima should earn enough to subsidize the rest.  Besides this being impossible in Venezuela as long as crime, infrastructure and supplies are not solved problems for tourism, it is a non solution.  Countries like Greece that rely heavily on tourism are bankrupt.  Is he not aware of that?  Has he not been ever told that inasmuch as tourism is essential for the economies of France, Italy and Spain, these are constantly making efforts to depend the least possible on such a fickle industry?

Tuesday night cadena made the perfect case on why alternation in office is a must for democracy.  What we had in front of us was a totally disconnected guy, living in his own la-la land of revolution from the past where nearly illiterate milkmaids are supposed to provide the safe milk for the coffee of generous tourists, as a sure sign of development.  Meanwhile the real world is leaving us behind.

Caracas, ciudad de despedidas

There has been a social phenomena to which I did not pay much attention, but when I saw that even Milagros Socorro felt compelled to write on it, I had to pay attention.  In short, it was a video about the angst of a certain subset of Venezuelan youth who are considering leaving Venezuela.  Apparently it went viral and the kids were cyber hate bombed on Twitter.  I suppose I was spared that disgrace because of my limited use of Twitter.  But our local blogsphere also wrote on it, from serious and thoughtful Miguel or Bruni, to Quico who wrote what can only be qualified as an undignified crass piece of mean, the more so living outside of Venezuela.

My take is very simple: whether these kids are justified or what their social standing endows them with is nearly irrelevant.  The video, technical and artistic merits put aside, is about the angst of a group of people and it is a valid statement for that group, no matter whether that groups is 0.0001% of the population or 10%.  For those who do not understand this I suggest that you brush up on the likes of Kerouac or Rimbaud before you decide to evaluate how justified these kids are in wanting to be allowed to live on their terms.  We were all young once, weren't we?

The video after the jump in case you have not seen it yet.

Verbrechen und Militär in Venezuela

Die Unruhen im Gefängnis La Plata, in Caracas, kamen zu Ende. Die Ministerin für Justizvollzugsangelegenheiten (sic), Iris Varela, hat mit den Gefangenen einen Deal gemacht. Die Details kennen wir nicht. Nach vielen Tagen Schiesserei kam es zu Ruhe und die Menschen wurden zu anderen Gefängnissen -die auch gerammelt voll sind - abtransportiert. Ein Unbeteiligter in einem Gebäude in der Umgebung war bei dieser Schiesserei getötet worden, einfach Pech.

Nun durfte die Guardia Civil, die in Venezuela auch Gefängnisse überwacht, in die Anlagen hineinkommen. Angeblich fanden sie gar keine Waffen, auch wenn sie sich mit den Menschen drinnen seit Wochen einen heftigen Schusswechsel geliefert hatten. Sie fanden 9 verbrannte Leichen. Anscheinend wurden die Abwesenheit dieser Ermordeten während des Gefangentransports nicht bemerkt. Die CICPC, die Zivilpolizei, wollte auch hineingehen und die Sache untersuchen. Die Militärs haben das aber nicht zugelassen.

Seit Jahrzehnten werden hunderte Menschen in Venezuelas Gefängnisse umgebracht. Die Zahl der Toten hat sich aber, wie ausserhalb dieser Anlagen, vervielfacht. Die Militärs sollen diese Gefangene überwachen, diese Gebäude sind aber voll Waffen. Es handelt sich nicht bloss um Messer. Es handelt sich um Maschinengewehre allerart, um jede Menge Granaten, um Schusswaffen für jeden Geschmack. Kokain und alle anderen Drogen kommen dazu. Und die Bewacher verdienen dabei.

Nun kommt der Caudillo Chávez und sagt, es gäbe ein neues Programm, eine neue Mission, A Toda Vida, Venezuela. Ich weiss nicht, wie man das übersetzen soll. "Voll am Leben, Venezuela"? Vielleicht. Diese Mission soll eine Verwandlung der Gefängnisse mit sich bringen...wir sind im Jahr 14 der sogenannten Bolivarischen Revolution. Es gibt Wahlen im Oktober in meinem Land.

Daniel schreibt mehr darüber auf Englisch, u.a. hier.

Tweets on jails and delusions of the chavista aristocracy

Looking through twitter for actual quotes is an ungrateful task, but it can pay off.  On last Friday I heard in Alo Ciudadano that the science minister, Jorge Arreaza, was congratulating Iris Valera as the "FIRST" person with the courage to tackle the jail problem.  Well, even though Globovision was wrong (it was a re-tweet) it is still a faux pas from Arreaza who of all people should have known better.

The retweet

Mi solidaridad y apoyo a la Ministra , por ser la primera con el VALOR de destapar y resolver el prob de las cárceles. VALIENTE

It says:

My solidarity and support [solidarity is a mandatory word in orwellochavista speak] to minister Iris Varela [the one for jails] who is the first one with the COURAGE to uncover and resolve the problems of jails.  COURAGEOUS.
She did not mince her words in exposing her own ignorance.

For the sake of fact checking I went to her tweet line and found it, posting it next.

Mi solidaridad y apoyo a la Ministra , por ser la primera con el VALOR de destapar y resolver el prob de las cárceles. VALIENTE

Claudia Salerno is a non-entity who has been just named vice foreign minster for North American affairs, because we are told she has experience in international agreements on ecology, something funny for a regime who has been the most ecologically disastrous of our history.  But I digress.  The point is that there is little to find on her except interviews on left wing sheets such as the ineffable Correo del Orinico.  So I am not going to blame her on such an idiotic tweet, she is just your average wide eyed leftist.  But I am going to blame Arreaza for re-tweeting it because he should know better.

See, Arreaza started his chavista rise to fame by being a bland talk show in VTV.  I used to watch him on occasion because in the early years of chavistadom he was one of the few that still pretended to be objective and non confrontational.  Although he was clearly a radical for those able to pick on hints.  Arreaza has been associated to the news from chavismo since the beginning and thus he has no excuse in ignoring that nothing was ever done to solve the problem of Venezuelan jails.  Promoting Iris Varela now, pretending that chavismo has not been in charge SINCE 1999, 13 years, is not even intellectual dishonesty: it is plain idiocy.

But I suppose that Arreaza is now above such considerations of time and responsibilities.  After all, he left VTV because he married one of Chavez daughters and he is now minister for science and technology.  That is, he belongs to the royal family that includes Chavez brothers and parents to all sorts of administrative positions, preferably through which lots of money flows.

Chavismo, after 13 years in office is really losing any sense of perspective, any attach to reality, any shame....  They really need a few years in opposition to wake up.  Not that the current opposition has awakened much but that is another story.

Wovon lebt ein Lehrer in Venezuela?

Ein Dozent mit 5 Jahren Erfahrung verdient in Venezuela ungefähr 3000 Bolívares pro Monat. Damit kann eine Familie von 5 Personen etwa 85% ihrer Nahrungsmittel einkaufen.

Ein Ehepaar von zwei Dozenten wäre gar nicht in der Lage, nur mit ihren Jobs drei Kinder und sich selbst zu ernähren, geschweige denn noch dazu eine Miete für eine Wohnung zu zahlen.

Schullehrer hatten es vor Chávez nicht leicht. Ihr Lebensniveau war aber nicht so niedrig wie jetzt.
Venezolaner haben ein Hühnchen zu rüpfen mit dem Caudillo

Wenn Chávez weniger in Waffen ausgeben würde, könnte der Staat Lehrer besser entlohnen.

La Planta as theater of the absurd: bringing out the inner criminal in the regime

The missing AR-15 of La Planta?
La Planta jail riot and eventual closure keep revealing the inner workings of the regime.  And it is not flattering.  After all, when you accept to "negotiate" with hard criminals, when you allow them to take their goodies with them, when you allow them to pick the seclusion center where they will be transferred, you only acknowledge one thing: you are of the same nature than the criminals you are "negotiating" with.  This was not a negotiation between the judicial system of the republic and inmates that may or may not have justified demands.  This was an agreement between two type of gangsters so as to diminish the public impact, in order to keep doing business.

And today the regime keeps giving evidence of being such a gang.  Not only with La Planta sequels but with the return of Loyo to office!

The latest in La Planta comes from two unbelievable news.  First, Chavez himself acknowledged that he took part in the negotiations with the inmates.

As far as I know it was not necessary for him to talk to them.  True, in any protest in Venezuela they demand that Chavez himself shows up.  He never does and when eventually someone high enough appears with a wad of banknotes or a few cans of tear gas all goes back in order, provisionally at least.  That Chavez talked with La Planta can only mean one of two things (AND/OR remaining possible, of course).  The first hypothesis is that La Planta had become such a major problem at the level of the military (after all, some of them are responsible for the situation having gone so bad) that Chavez had to intervene from his death bed.  The intervention was not for the welfare of the inmates or the neighborhood, no matter what chavismo pretends, the intervention was to avoid damaging internal bickering inside chavismo.

The second hypothesis is even worse: Chavez thought normal to negotiate with these people because after all they, with their relatives, are voters and there is nothing wrong with them besides that they got caught.  In case you do not get my above point: there are two type of criminals within chavismo, those who get caught and those who are not and thus stay in public office.

Which brings me to the second part of this post.  To highlight the above I must tell you that I am flabbergasted at the return of Juan Carlos Loyo to office.  In case you already forgot who the guy was, he was the director of the INTI which is the organized robbery branch of the government as far as agricultural lands.  There, he distinguished himself in robbing Diego Arria from his farm La Carolina.  As a promotion he became agriculture minister when Jaua was promoted from that ministry to vice president.  In that position Loyo presided over the take over of AgroIsleña and its dismemberment.  I know that in some branches of Agroisleña they even stole the bathroom fixtures.  The now "Agropatria" is so depleted of resources that the regime is negotiating to call back the ex owners, finally pay them something as long as they help Agropatria function somewhat and compensate the disaster its nationalization brought to Venezuelan agriculture.

Another high feat of Loyo was when he showed himself for the take over of prosperous farms in Sur del Lago, red shirted Che, gun at his expansive waist line.  The perfect chavista mafiosi.  Needless to say that agriculture took a nose dive in Sur del Lago, adding to the end of maintenance of flood controls bringing back flooding in recent weeks.  See, farmers used to take care of some of these controls and the new state controlled farmers are more interested in Chavez reelection campaign than maintenance.

So, a guy of proven incompetence, of public display of banditry, fired by Chavez 5 months ago, is back as nothing less than Executive Secretary of the Planning Commission, the guy in charge to coordinate and execute the planning of the country's economic and infrastructure development, or who knows what because today in Venezuela the only thing you know for sure is that all of these Comintern are there to allow for legal sacking of state resources.

The mind reels.  We are indeed in the hands of a narco-mafia.

Sometimes you need to read stuff three times to acknowledge the text

There is an article in El Universal today about the debacle of the La Planta Caracas ex-(?)-jail that defies any common sense.  Here, the excerpts:

First, a reminder.  This blog has followed the dismal situation in Venezuelan jails since ever.  But what happened in La Planta this month defies any rationality and faith in humanity.  In short: the overcrowded jail of La Planta went into some type of riot and held the regime in check.  In the end, the regime negotiated, in a negotiation that looks more like an agreement between to gangs of bandits than between mutineer in jails and the state arm of the justice.  Today we get details.

First, the minister of jails, Iris Varela admits that she does not know who, how many, are transferred where.  Please!  I am not expecting her to drive them to their new jails, but she does not know what she is supposed to be in charge of?  Nothing?  And she admits it?  She is not even able to say "you need to ask so and so who I put in charge of this particular aspect as he has not reported to me yet due to unforeseen circumstances".  this is a new low in the arrogance of Chavez appointees that have no clue that they actually are supposed to have responsibilities for which they should in theory account for.  It is not a matter that they stop any pretense, it is becoming a matter of whether they ever had even a hint about their job duties.....

But does it matter who is sent where?  We learn that the jails where the La Planta folks are dispatched  are supposedly built to house 3,000 inmates.  They are in fact housing 8,458.  ALMOST 3 TIMES as many!!!!  And with the one on their way we are crashing that barrier happily.  Surely we can expect for riots in these jails.  Is Iris Varela ready?

La Planta had, we are told, 3 leaders among its inmates.  THREE LEADERS:  Let's think about that for a second.  We are told that they negotiate their surrender as long as they were allowed to take their money and drugs with them.  I am speechless.  That is the part I read three times.....

The three leaders, or "pranes" have requested to go to the Guarico jail to be incorporated in the self government of that jail.  That is right, that jail is autonomous and the "authorities" have not passed roll call in weeks so we do not know what is going on inside.  Has Iris Varela any comment on that subject?  Is the Guarico jail the next La Planta?

The inmates were not allowed to take their belongings otherwise.  Those included microwave ovens, refrigerators and what not.  The inmates cooked their food?  Had cold beers?  What services did La Planta offer?

By the way, the inmates were evacuated taking normal buses, no handcuffs, no chains.  When Judge Afiuni goes to her trial or to see her doctor she is heavily chained and has quite an escort.  But then again she is really, really dangerous, she is a political prisoner of Chavez.

Once La Planta was evacuated they had to come in with experts and dogs to search the joint for explosives.  They found apparently a huge stash of weaponry, expired military issue.  Are we going to learn how military discontinued weaponry found its way inside La Planta in amounts enough to create an inmate militia able to keep in check the Venezuelan army and Caracas for several days?

Conclusion: for La Planta to have been able to acquire drugs and weapons in such an extent, and for the inmates to be able to negotiate their withdrawal with their "belongings" of drugs and cash (the rest they left behind, from microwaves to furniture), there is only one explanation: the Venezuelan army is a bunch of criminal thugs just as the inmates in La Planta.  What we witnessed this week was just a negotiation to end a P.R. problem, but all will continue as usual, with pranes running their drug trafficking scheme from jails while the Nazional Guard cashes in.  We are beyond narco-state status.

Venezuelan Doppelgänger


What is the difference between Maximina Guillén de Villasmil, a lady born on 15 November 1938, voting in the Sucre municipality of Mérida, and Maximina Guillén de Villasmil, a lady born on 15 November 1938 who votes in the Sucre municipality of Mérida? Nothing...only their ID: one has ID 9068611 and the other 2276514 (at least until today, the CNE may modify this after reading this post, but there are records distributed to journalists abroad). There are thousands of "Doppelgänger" in the Venezuelan registry. Sometimes there are two records with the exact name and birthday in the same voting centre, sometimes the voting centre is another, most of the time but not always in the same municipality. They are less than 40000 and yet they are just the most obvious top of the iceberg in a mess called Venezuelan national electoral registry. In any country you will find a couple of persons with a very common name such a name as José Rodríguez, our John Smith, born on the same day but not when you have 4 full names on a row and not when names are very uncommon. In many cases we have IDs that differ by a regular pattern, like with these:


or these:



SANTANA ROA YEYLIN EDIVE|1984-10-16|16609883
SANTANA ROA YEYLIN EDIVE|1984-10-16|16609882

The first field of these records is the full name of the voter, the second is the birthdate and the third the ID.

Who counts?

I have written before about Venezuela's electoral registry...basically stating it is a mess. There are many more patterns that hint at some tampering. 

In some countries you can go to vote straight away on election day without having to do anything before: the population registries are organised in such a way that if you are a national of that country and you reach voting age, you are automatically placed on the list of voters, you just need to show up when there are elections or ask for a registry change if you move.

There are other countries where you have to register once for the first time and once every time you move from location. One such case is the USA (at least some states, readers can correct me here). 

In any case: in countries where you have to do the extra step and go to register for the first time one would expect some people not doing so, specially if the registry is not compulsory. 

The current Venezuelan government tells us the percentage of adult Venezuelans not registered to vote is very low, around 3.5%. Now, they also said there are around 19 million voters now. But the government-dominated Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas also said the country has 28,9 million inhabitantsThat means - if both are right - that 9610659 persons are under age or cannot vote in national elections because they are foreigners. That is 33.25% of the population. The average age of those registered in the CNE is around 43 years old. The average age of the Venezuelan is 26 years, according to the INE.

Now: how come abstention in Venezuela can range from 26% to 36%? Why do so many people bother to register in the first place? Actually: either the late Census doesn't make sense or it is the electoral registry that doesn't...or both...and that is why we won't get any detailed information about age distribution from the last census until well after the presidential elections.

Unfortunately, once you enter some records into the electoral system, it is very hard to get that system cleaned. You can ask people who are supposed to be older than 120 years to show proof that they exist (the government does it now). You could eventually request the same from the 20% who were born in October 1976 (not done yet) and so on, but who is going to control you if you actually work for the current government and you are in charge of the electoral registry?

Only if we could get witnesses at every voting centre can we be sure there is no massive tampering with results. And tragically, we do not have that capability outside Miranda and a few other Northern-central regions.
In blue: Venezuelan adults who have apparently registered to vote. In orage: adults who haven't registered to vote

Apologies to the Syrian people

To the brave people of Syria fighting for its freedom.

Today we learned that Venezuela, has decided to send a third shipment of fuel to your government, the type of fuel that allows army tanks and trucks to run. The government of your country is massacring the people that oppose the dictatorship. Everyday we are getting new evidence of these massacres that my government seems to be among the rare ones to ignore. Such as the one in the village of Rankous. Massacres helped along by the fuel from Venezuela. The rulers of my country are associated with the devastation and the crimes of Assad and his acolytes.

I want you to know, with all my personal sentiment, that many of us in Venezuela condemn with all our heart the foul actions of our regime en Venezuela. It is our hope that some day we will bring to account the direct responsible of those shipments to Syria, Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro and Rafael Ramírez, so that they will stand trial for crimes against humanity. I personally promise you to make all possible efforts so that those crimes will never be forgotten.

Disculpas al pueblo sirio

Al pueblo alzado de Siria

Hoy, en Venezuela, nos hemos enterado que nuestro gobierno ha despachado al gobierno de su país un tercer envío de diesel, de ese diesel que sirve para mover tanques y camiones del ejército. El gobierno de su país esta masacrando a la población que se opone a la dictadura. Masacre del cual nos llegan todos los días nuevas evidencias como las del pueblo de Rankus. Ayudadas en parte por diesel de Venezuela. Los gobernantes de mi país están asociados a los estragos y crímenes de Asad y sus asesinos.

Les quiero decir con todo mi dolor personal que muchos de nosotros en Venezuela condenamos sin ambigüedad las indignas acciones de nuestro gobierno. Es nuestra esperanza que algún día los responsables directos de estos envíos a Siria, Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro y Rafael Ramírez, sean llevados a juicios por crímenes en contra de la humanidad. Este que firma esta nota hará todo lo que pueda para que los crímenes de estos sujetos no sean olvidados.

Yesterday in Caracas

We saw these:

-the main thoroughfare of Caracas was closed down because the La Planta jail was in open revolt and the regime unable to put it down.  The whole city crashed in traffic.  No information or concerted visible from the government to help the city to cope.

- journalists trying to cover were barred from doing it and their stuff confiscated

- the state phone company started blocking access to web pages.  People are starting to learn how to use proxies.

- part of the available coverage came from the neighbors running for cover at the clouds of tear gas

- El Chigüire had the nerve to joke about the whole thing by inventing a street vendor peddling life insurance to folks stuck in traffic

- a minister had actually the gumption to congratulate Iris Varela, the warden general of the country, claiming her to be finally the first one to do anything about jails, conveniently forgetting that his coreligionists have been soon 14 years in office.  And thus admitting out of his sheer stupidity and militancy that indeed the regime has run out of answers.  If it ever had them to begin with.

Repression and media blockage are becoming routine coping strategies for a government, again, out of answers.

Now, is there any doubt that the regime has entered into a state of smelly liquefaction?

Venezuelan overseas: a maracucho at the helm of MIT

What would be Venezuela today if it had managed to hold to its brain power, and the one of its immigrant children in particular?  Today, Rafael Reif, the son of Jews escaping Eastern Europe, born in Maracaibo, educated in Caracas, has been elected president of MIT  That is right, president of  THE MIT, the one and only.  On the other hand, Pastor Maldonado, quite a criollito, has won a Formula 1 this week end and that is celebrated by all, even by those who should know better.

I do not want this post to be interpreted along ethnic cliches.  There are plenty of Venezuelans of Venezuelan origin that have done well outside of Venezuela, and there are immigrant sons who also win a motor races (Johnny Cecotto anyone?).  No, the point here is that more than anywhere else perhaps, in Venezuela brain power is considered second rate, even useless.  Whereas prowess at machines, or baby making, or heavy drinking, or political bla-bla is what impresses.

The question is that after 14 years of Chavez, how many Rafael Reif (or Perez) have we lost in this past decade.

End of rant.

PS: although not mentioned in his bio, I suspect from the dates that Rafael Reif left Venezuela for his postgraduate studies with a Fundayacucho scholarship.  If many bright students of the program did not come back to Venezuela and became big successes outside of the country is not their fault.  The government then could not even pass a law that would have automatically recognized many degrees obtained through a Fundayacucho "beca".  Because of course the "criollitos" that directed all the trade associations of Venezuela could not stomach the return of people who they considered threats and whenever possibel demanded that their degree would be "revalidated".  And then you wonder how come Chavez became president and retained office for so long.....  Mediocrity rules in Venezuela and Chavez embodies it.  While ironically he does not demand "revalidation" from the Cubans of our health service, for lack of a better name.

End of PS rant.