Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bombing the CNE but getting PDVSA erased from the map

Two little unrelated (?) events show again how low Venezuela is falling. These days the difficulty when writing a post is to chose which of the different symbolic events of the day illustrate better the corruption and inefficiency of the regime. But I digress...

A non-bomb at the CNE office of Carabobo

Well, not really a bomb, a small hand grenade that did not even manage to explode and was found by surveillance at day break. Still, the ineffable and totally sold out head of the Venezuelan Electoral Board, CNE, flew to the CNE headquarters of Valencia and made a dramatic show of it. I will pass on the bombastic words of one of the most ridiculous personages of the regime and rather go to the out of proportion reaction of Maduro, another one of those nullities that the regime is so richly endowed with..

Right on cue, and hysterically as usual, the president of the National Assembly Maduro accused the US to be behind that bombing. I am sure that it was a honest mistake Maduro, they meant it to drop over some Baghdad neighborhood and well, you know, UPS makes mistakes.... And while he was at it, he also linked Sumate to the bombings, might as well. Some of his words (or was that ramblings?) in no particular order (with apologies for being unable to convey the revolutionary fervor of Maduro):

"terrorists groups financed by the US government [nth time accusation to be put together to the nth time pseudo-assassination on Chavez, for the nth time without NO EVIDENCE whatsoever advanced]" "We have no doubt that the terrorism inside Venezuela is promoted by the US government [OK, I'll buy. So, who is promoting the terrorism against the Venezuelan opposition? Cuba? Yourself?]"
"Sumate, with its politics, its financing and its permanent campaign, together with its internal lackeys, simply responds to the internal interests of the empire to take over [our] the natural wealth through obstruction and political destruction against the country [the only permanent campaign I have seen in the last 6 years is Chavez one as I keep wondering when does he find time to rule the country]"
"...this Sumate campaign, financed from the US, has for supreme objective to try to destroy the democratic institutions of Venezuela [Any left?]" "What bothers Venezuelans is that group of people born in the country, in stateless [no good translation for apatrida], put themselves at the service of a foreign nation [I could not agree more Maduro! what about them Venezuelans asking Cubans to invade us and you voting the credits for such an invasion?].

Yes folks, this is the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, someone who would still be sweeping subway stations of Caracas if it were not for Chavez, and Chavez only. Somebody should tell him that the day the US wants to take out the CNE, this one will be blasted into oblivion with a real bomb in the Caracas seat directly, and not a silly low impact grenade in Valencia. Does he not watch war footage on TV?

But let's go back to the "attack" and try to see what is really going on here. The real problem of Rodriguez and the CNE chavista tight hold, is that people are starting to notice it. That is why we are expecting a record abstention on August 7, not really because there is a campaign to that effect by some political opposition leader trying to take credit for it (B.S. big time, of course), but because people, from both sides of the divide, see less and less a point in voting. Just look at the 20 something regional delegations of the CNE: not a single one is controlled by an independent appointee, and even less by someone close to the opposition.

The pressure is mounting as overseas publications keep reporting these electoral anomalies of Venezuela (The Economist, the Inter American Dialogue), the OAS and other folks show obvious reluctances at monitoring Venezuelan elections, but inside the country more and more NGO and non directly politician people are complaining and organizing, making it harder and harder to only point the finger at Sumate. Indeed, no matter how willing to fudge numbers is the CNE, after the August 15 2004 incredible lines, it would be nearly impossible to justify overseas empty polling stations one year after.

Thus I will go on a limb here and dare to speculate that the little Valencia show was just that, a show set up by someone within chavismo trying to stir some excitation for these elections where the only chavistas that will go to vote will be the relatives of the candidates and those ferried over by chavista rented buses...

The nuking of PDVSA

While the above described comics were taking place, another much sadder show was taking place as the once mighty PDVSA, figuring in the top section of any large company list has disappeared from the Fortune 500 list (last year it had already dropped to 76 from previous years). No word to the reason of this sudden drop. Really under 500 with oil at 60? Or is it that since 2003 PDVSA has not filed any SEC report nobody knows really how much PDVSA is selling, and earning?

But there is abundant evidence of the downward trend of PDVSA under the more than incompetent management of Ramirez, and the seemingly unstoppable looting of its revenues and assets. One is the change in tax rules to try to milk every penny of the foreign oil companies working inside Venezuela. Chevron was a recent target of SENIAT, Venezuela's tax collection agency cum avenging arm of chavismo. However the pickings must be still good at near 50 USD the Venezuelan barrel as they are all accepting the new tax regulations. And more analysis of the demential oil policies of Venezuela keep coming up, casting serious doubts as to the long term well being of the country, no matter how much chavismo uses CNE and misiones to remain in office.

The only real bomb that has been thrown in Venezuela is the nuking of PDVSA structure. It does not matter that the government slogan of "Now PDVSA belongs to all" when in a few years from now there will be not much to own there...


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