Thursday, February 13, 2003


TODAY IN EL UNIVERSAL

I was particularly struck today with the contents of one of Venezuela two main papers. I will give just some snippets of what you could read in today’s issue.

Front Page

The news is “11 917 fired in PDVSA”. This out of 37 942 workers on payroll December 1. {How can the government aspire at restarting the company when the best and brightest are out?}

Dental work will be limited to fillings. No more crowns for a while, not only because dollars might not be available but because prices will double and salaries will not {dentist assume that people will not be able to afford crowns}.

CIA: political violence likely to increase in Venezuela

220 products will have their price fixed.

Electoral council threatens to ignore decisions from the high court. {This would seem unthinkable in the US or Europe, but since the high court here made such an obviously political decision, why be surprised?}

And others such as the Oscar nominations. {Unreal}.

Inside

Many articles are about the proposed code of information content, using children schedule to determine what goes on TV. In other words a way to stop private networks to inform most of the day. In particular on riots against Chavez since they will not be able to show “violence”.

Other snippets relate the legal fights between the government and the companies that had their storehouses seized early in January (the burping general). Apparently, the consumer protection office was supposed to give them the proceeds of the merchandise taken and sold. The monies have not been paid, and, in addition, when the companies were allowed back into their warehouses a few days later, a lot of items were missing.

Travel agencies are closing, apparently credit cards will not be valid anymore outside Venezuela and people are likely to stop travel for a while.

Because the Metropolitan Police has been intervened by Chavez, it has lost its muscle, that is, its anti riot gear and specialized weaponry against crime have been taken away “for investigation”. The consequences is that Caracas has reached its higher murder rate for the week end in a year (the army is supposed to supply the police while the conflict lasts). Another consequence is that the Ateneo, Caracas downtown cultural center, cannot be supervised anymore by the Metro Police. The result? The cashier has been attacked 6 times in three weeks. In addition, some of the light and sound equipment of the main concert hall has been stolen. By the way, some of the seized weapon have been offered for sale recently in the parallel market, “stolen” from the army safe deposit…

And I pass on sports events that are going to be cancelled, and other “trivial” stuff consequence of the crisis on us.

It is a little bit unsettling to read the papers these days, and I am not talking of Iraq.

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