Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Is it possible to write it straight on Venezuela? Is it worth it?

UPDATE!!!  Apparently the WaPo editorial linked below was a mistake, an editorial that was not supposed to be published.  It did not make it tot he print edition and by mistake on line.  But we have a cache and contacts so I put the editorial, or at least a version of it, at the end of this post.
Although I find the Washington Post editorials to be on the mark on Venezuela, the latest one is somewhat off, as if the WaPo were to be taking itself into the anti Chavez self imposed trap, a skill that chavismo has long practiced with certain success.

On logic and factual merits the editorial is perfectly on target, chastising the weak Obama administration response to Human Rights violations in Venezuela coupled with obscene weapons purchased, the latest installment coming last Friday after Putin's brief visit to Caracas (1).

But times are changing.

Chavez really does not have the money for this latest round of weapon purchase unless he starts cutting further into the social programs that are already failing.

These purchases are really more about commissions and corruption than an actual potential attack on Colombia as these weapons, in particular the tanks, are ill suited for jungle warfare.  I can predict that commissions will be paid first, some weapons will find their way to Venezuela and that will be it all as Putin is probably well aware and does not need to antagonize Washington more than necessary (remember Georgia?).

Venezuela is collapsing.  Even if oil prices were to reach the range that Chavez would love to see, the damage he has inflicted on Venezuela economy is beyond repair with the system he tries to create.  We cannot produce the electricity that we need and we are importing as much as 3/4 of our food.  In Tal Cual editorial today Teodoro Petkoff speaks openly of a new lost decade, noting that in 1998 the foreign currency intake of the country was 68% from oil and 32% from the rest whereas today 95% comes from oil and 5% from the rest.  Never mind that one tries to correct for oil prices and counter correct with decreased oil production, the fact of the matter is that Washington has the perfect weapon against Chavez: stop paying for oil, stop importing it suddenly.  The vulnerability of Venezuela has been exposed to great grief through the latest analysis of Morgan Stanley which simply states we are running out of grocery cash.

There is a need for all of us to escape the anti Chavez trap of alleged facts.  One example on how to do it was last night interview of Manuel Villalba by CNN 's Patricia Janiot, in one of her frequent brilliant days.

Villalba is, well, sorry for remaining myself in the trap for a little bit longer, the scumbag representative from Monagas who started the proceedings that led quickly to the jailing of Oswaldo Alvarez Paz.  The educational level gap between these two individuals was painful.  Villalba cannot articulate coherent sentences, and tries to cover up for that by using the familiar "tu" against the formal "usted" of Janiot, not realizing that his insistence was becoming disrespectful, demeaning and working against him, highlighting further his inner vileness and the lies he was sent to state (though his self brain washing might make him unaware of them).

Patricia Janiot did not need to press him hard, he threw himself on the spike.  Janiot tried twice to make him understand that she had read the transcript of the Alvarez Paz interview that landed him in jail, saying that she did not see anything that was not already of public knowledge.  And yet Villalba was simply unable twice to tell her which were the accurate words that condemned Alvarez Paz, hiding behind a confused explanation of "vilipendio" (defamation) who would land Patricia Janiot in jail as soon as she would set foot in Venezuela if his words made any sense.  The unease of Villalba was painful to watch, his prerecorded mental tape fraying regularly, and Patricia Janiot was trying hard to keep her self control to refrain herself from telling him a piece of her mind as one of the best journalists alive today.  It was simply astounding to watch the low level of a man who is, after all, the head of the Nazional Assembly commission on science and technology.  And thus  it could not be made any clearer that Oswaldo Alvarez Paz is simply a political prisoner.

This is perhaps the way to go about Venezuela, forgetting about what weapons Chavez bought or what silly utterance he made.  Here we need to expose the mediocrity and lies of those who surround him, constantly, internationally.  It should be easy, there is no one any good left around Chavez, we just need to be patient and look for good moments a la Janiot.  If i am right then I should admit that the WaPo editorial that I started with is necessary as US Congress needs constant reminders that there is more than health care and tea baggers to worry about; but the news pages should describe the Villaba-like henchmen that do the dirty work of Chavez, those that one day will try to plead with us that they "were following orders".

PS: with this blog post Villaba can put me in jail for vilipendio against a public officer of the regime who deserves respect just for that appointment, him in this instance.  ¡Hechale pa'lante Manuel, ponme preso!
¡atrevete a ver que pasa!


1) The visit of Putin significance has been admirably commented in El Universal by Pedro Burelli.

The "missing" editorial:

Mr. Chavez's weapons
Editorial Washington Post
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

RUSSIAN PRIME Minister boasted after returning from a visit to Venezuela on Monday that he had sold President Hugo Chavez another $5 billion in weapons -- a huge sum for a Latin American army. Hours later State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was asked for a reaction at his public briefing. First answer: "We don't care."

Mr. Crowley went on to say that State didn't see a legitimate need for all that equipment and was concerned that it might "migrate into other parts of the hemisphere." But his initial response was all too indicative of the continued complacency with which the Obama administration regards the political, economic and human rights meltdown underway in a major U.S. oil supplier -- and where it may lead.

The last time we looked in on developments in Venezuela, in January, we pointed out that Mr. Chavez had reacted to the unravelling of his economy and his own shrinking popularity by stepping up repression of the opposition. That continues: In the last couple of weeks the government arrested and brought criminal charges against three more leading critics. One is a former state governor and presidential candidate, who said in an interview -- correctly -- that Venezuela has become a haven for drug traffickers and terrorists. A second is the owner of the last television network that dares to criticize Mr. Chavez; the third is a deputy in the National Assembly who had denounced corruption involving members of the president's family.

Mr. Chavez's move against former Gov. Oswaldo Alvarez Paz came after a Spanish judge issued an indictment accusing the government and armed forces of facilitating contacts between Colombia's leftwing FARC terrorists and those of the Basque group ETA, who were allegedly concocting plots to assassinate the Colombian president and other leading politicians. Mr. Paz's "crime" was to talk about this development. The Spanish dossier is one of several demonstrating material support for terrorism by Mr. Chavez, who has made little secret of his preference for the FARC over Colombia's democratic government.

That brings us to the latest round of arms purchases from Russia, which come on top of $4 billion in weapons Mr. Chavez already ordered from Moscow. The arsenal includes T-72 tanks, MI-17 helicopters, and advanced fighter jets -- weapons suitable for the conventional war with which Mr. Chavez has repeatedly threatened Colombia.

The Obama administration's response has been to ignore or soft-pedal most of this. Political arrests are met with perfunctory statements of concern; the extensive evidence of support for terrorism is studiously ignored, lest the United States be compelled to act on its own laws mandating sanctions in such cases. About the flood of Russian weapons, aimed at intimidating one of the closest U.S. allies in Latin America, the administration publicly says, "we don't care." Colombians -- and average Venezuelans -- can only hope such breathtaking nonchalance is justified.


  1. Putin doesn't need to realize a ruble from this "transaction" to call it successful, as the announcement itself creates waves that he finds useful. Chavez probably see it the same way, though perhaps without realizing he is a paper tiger next to the Russian bear.

    "Washington has the perfect weapon against Chavez: stop paying for oil"
    This will never happen - oil purchases are a private decision, and the USG won't step in to stop this. Not absent a Cuba-like embargo (which would take a literal act of Congress, since they regulate trade), and given the way sentiment towards that is going, I have no clue what could possibly trigger one towards Venezuela.

    I suspect the reason that WaPo took down the piece had nothing to do with Venezuela. They only use Ven as an example, and then criticize Obama's foreign policy (or lack thereof). Now that I could believe is the reason why it wasn't meant to see the light of day.

    (If this is a double post, please delete - software acting up.)

  2. AIO

    I was speculative. If the US government meant business with Venezuela, it has the ultimate weapon. Even stopping buying is enough because Venezuela cannot find enough clients fast to fork over the 70% it exports. Remember, our oil is high in sulfur and needs special processing sites.

    The fact of the matter is that as long as the US is in Iraq and Afghanistan Chavez can sleep tight.

  3. gatorgab10:32 PM

    Daniel - excellent post, but doesn't EVERYONE already know this to be the case? Who did they think they were fooling? The same with the Castros. Anyone who CHOSE to believe those liars and murderers was an accomplice to everything that subsequently happened in Cuba. Same for Venezuela, but the same idiots will line up to defend them.

    Also, I wish you would stop using the term "tea baggers". You know perfectly well it is a term used for a sexual act and as such, inappropriate for you to use in a serious post. It is also a derogatory reference to MILLIONS of Americans - quite possibly a MAJORITY of Americans at this time - who are opposed to the unconstitutional actions of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. If you want people to sympathize with your plight, then sympathize with the plight of Americans who are in the early stages of chavismo.

  4. Daniel:

    The editorial DID make it into the Post's print edition (I can send you a scanned copy if you like) but it doesn't seem to be easily accessible on the Post's website.

  5. Also, in response gatorgab, give me a break. Nothing Obama has done has been found unconstitutional by a court. Until that happens claims that any of his actions are unconstitutional are pure demagoguery. Secondly, there NO COMPARISON WHATSOEVER between Obama and Chavez. We have separation of powers in the US, if anything we have too much in that 41 Senators can overrule the will 59 (using the filibuster). If you don't like Obama's position, help the Republicans win an election, don't start whining about dictatorship just because your side is in the minority and is outvoted.

  6. consdem

    the editorial did made it to the WaPo print. the FOLLOWING DAY! after been pull off from the web for a few hours.

    what happened really? :)

  7. gatorgab

    take a chill pill. the way i mentioned it is not offensive. or are you trying to separate health care from the most visible form of protest, the "tea parties" and tea baggers that are everywhere in the press? it is a package deal now, you know.

    i am not passing any judgment on any one, just writing down a current political code word of which i bear no responsibility. if tea baggers have come to find that appellation offensive, they should start first by wondering how it came to this.

  8. Kolya7:35 AM

    Gatorgab wrote:

    "You know perfectly well it is a term used for a sexual act and as such, inappropriate for you to use in a serious post."

    I guess I live a very sheltered life, because until now I had no idea that "tea bagger" had anything to do with sex.

  9. Boludo Tejano9:21 AM

    take a chill pill. the way i mentioned it is not offensive.
    After Anderson Cooper and company got hold of the term and smirked away for an hour on national TV, the term "teabagger" is definitely offensive. Period. And you know Anderson Cooper's political orientation. He definitely meant the use to be offensive. Smirk. Smirk.

    if tea baggers have come to find that appellation offensive, they should start first by wondering how it came to this
    Anderson Cooper and such announcers gave it the sexual connotation.Not the original tea party people.

    "Teabagger" was simply one of the beginning attempts on the part of the Democrats to marginalize the Tea Party. Racist, white bread, nazi, terrorist, you name it. Daniel, by using the term "teabagger" you are taking sides, whether you realize it or not.Taking sides in a domestic US dispute will ultimately not be of benefit to the oppo.

    I find it quite a hoot that Daniel gets all up in arms when some posters express negative opinions about homosexuals, yet he has no objection to labeling certain people with certain political stances as "teabaggers," which in this context refers to an unnamed homosexual act. Once Anderson Cooper and friends got hold of it, that's precisely what it refers to. Period

    But this is just another chapter in my continued bemusement at the Veneuzuelan oppo tendency to sneer at the the US right. Not chic enough, I guess. The tendency of the Venezuelan oppo to sneer at the US right, which in effect is spitting in the face of a potential ally, shows to me why Daniel is correct in predicting a Thugo victory in September. The oppo is too concerned with the "right kind" of people to reach out to them who aren't the "right kind" of people.

    Perhaps I am going overboard. Daniel, perhaps you didn't intend the use "teabagger" to be offensive. So in that sense, you were not sneering. Lemme tell ya. The term "teabagger" applied to the Tea Party people these days is offensive. Period.

    If you don't mean to offend, then don't use it. Period.

    (Even if Daniel truly didn't mean to offend, that he wrote what he did not knowing how the term is used in US politics, I stand on what I wrote about the oppo. Just that I don't use him as evidence.)

  10. Daniel, you might as well speculate what would happen if Chavez adopted everything Adam Smith said. Neither is going to happen. While many countries in the world will certainly use that weapon - the current case that comes to mind is China blocking Argentine soy oil, though that case is commercial and not political in nature, taken as an action against Argentina's import restrictions - for the U.S. to do so on such a large scale is so unrealistic as to be not worth mentioning. It really would require Congress to effect that, and Obama to agree. It's not a high enough priority to get that many of them to care.

    Besides that, can you imagine what would happen if suddenly Americans couldn't get their gas, or price shot up to match the reduced supply? Interfere with my countrymen's God-given "right" to drive only at your own peril! You might see something similar to how the Caracazo began. I'm serious, too, though it would almost certainly end differently.

    It probably got published because they knew it was out there, and there was no taking it back.

  11. Actually Daniel, Gator is right. The term you should use is "Tea Partiers". Tea bagging involves, well, let's just say that only the male of our species has a tea bag.

    Unless your thrust, as it were, is to insult those who believe in the Tea Party credo.

    I did not coin the phrase "tu mama en pelota", but if I use it I certainly do feel responsible for it. (BTW, generic mama, not anyone's in particular, ojo!)

  12. tea baggers

    since i do not follow the US news as closely as some of you seem to do, i was not aware of anderson cooper making a number on it. since i truly cannot stand anderson cooper i have very limited exposure to CNN in english, watching more en español for US news.... direct TV carries the cnn from london, not from atlanta so day times news are more palatable than these from atlanta, and more worldly also. at night when they switch to atlanta/new york, well, i switch elsewhere.

    now, i watch even less of fox but from fox i never got the impression of tea baggers, or tea parties or anything of the sort as been pejorative.

    in a way this is a good controversy to have because yours truly is more of a newspaper/internet person than a TV one which he has learned not to trust long ago (from cnn to fox). the only news i watch is alo ciudadano because 1) there is nothing else to watch for me anymore (you are not expecting me to watch la hojilla, no?) and 2) i use it as a radio background rather than any actual watching, sitting in front the tv set only when i hear something that i am particularly interested in.

    i used to be an NPR person when i lived in the states because radio is much less toxic than tv as you can do something else while you listen to it. somehow this teaches you to filter the news. but it hypnotizes folks and they lose independent criteria soon. in san felipe i have no use of radio as all is crappy, cheaply local and Union Radio is not allowed here.... so internet an newspapers for this blogger.

    i am sorry if i have offended anyone or if it looks that tea bagging is now an insult but i was not aware of that shift. you know, since i got dengue i have been watching even less US TV, totally turned off by the health care debate, as i come form europe where this issue has been settled long ago. and for the record i know that tea bagging ALSO means but i observe that none of you is able to explain it, nor respecting the discretion i had on this. talk about your minds in the gutter!!!!

  13. Boludo Tejano6:38 PM

    Thank you, Daniel.

    I guess I live a very sheltered life, because until now I had no idea that "tea bagger" had anything to do with sex.
    I had never heard of the term "teabagger" until Anderson Cooper applied it to the Tea Party people. The Anderson Cooper "teabagger" deal is nearly a year old by now.It was a BIG story. I found out about it on various news and political blogs last April. Apparently you need to increase the variety of your news sources, if you know what I mean. Or has Pony Express not reached the Green Mountain state yet? ( I have said the same to the Sheik in Oregon.)
    :)(this site does not accept smiley face code)

    My final comment on the thread.

  14. Interesting how Roger Noriega has a piece in the print version of the WSJ on the Caracas Teheran Axis.

    (I don't have access to the online version, so I can't post the link.)

    The Post pulls an editorial about paying more attention to Esteban, then publishes it the day before the WSJ piece goes to print. Were they acting in concert?

    Signs pointing towards building a case for paying more attention to LATAM? Coincidence?

  15. Aside from business reasons for Putin coming to Venezuela there is also a diplomatic one.I don't think it is a coincidence that he happens to come for the first time just when Medvedev is signing nuclear agreement with Obama.

    The message here is that even though the Russians are signing an agreement with the US they are showing their independence by poking their fingers in the eyes of US interests offering a large loan for weapons purchases which are likely to be used to confront Colombia .

    This allows Putin to bolster his tough guy image appreciated by Russian voters.After long running tensions with the US he wants to avoid any impression of caving into US interests so he lets Medvedev sign the nuclear agreement while he strengthens his alliance with a US hater in its backyard.

    You would wonder if the US should consider a 5 billion dollar weapon's purchase loan to Georgia at this moment.I don't think so because we wouldn't want to anger the Russians.

    All this brings Chavez closer to his desire to become a player in US/Russian relations and feed his illusions of grandeur of confronting the US on a global scale.

  16. Kolya8:47 PM

    Don't feel bad, Daniel. I'm not a prude and I consider myself fairly well informed, read stuff from the the American right, left and center, and yet, until now, I had no idea that "tea bagger" had a sexual connotation. Also, I don't watch much TV, neither FOX nor CNN. I know who Anderson Cooper is, but I doubt I ever saw one of his programs (at least I don't remember I ever did.) I also know who Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann are, but I don't waste my time in listening/watching them either.

  17. I hope no one takes offense at this, but if I loaned a Venezuelan the money to buy something from me I wouldn't expect to be paid unless I loaned them more money to pay me back. How is that supposed to work?

    It's all political theatre on Putin's part. If any tanks or planes are ever delivered, they will simply rust away in the tropical breezes. I can't see them ever posing a threat even to Colombia, much less the USA.

    Meanwhile Esteban shows how completely out of touch with reality he is, borrowing four billion for useless military toys while the country's economy and infrastructure crash.

    I think the "we don't care" response was perfect, a rare moment of candor from State. Why should they care?

    On another topic, the very few people that I know who were involved in the Tea Party movement were not stupid enough to care about Democrats or Republicans, Tweedledum and Tweedledee; they cared about the country and their own freedom and well-being. They have since given up on the "movement"; all one needed to see was Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker at the Tea Party "convention" to know the whole thing had been co-opted by the usual suspects.

    Meanwhile there are no oranges in the stores on Margarita; first time for that. I haven't seen black beans at the Central M near me for months. They had powdered milk two days this week, and pan arena one day, limit two per person. The lines to buy it were very long. More and more I like Sheik's idea of Margarita as its own country, but what would we eat? Sardinas have been suggested by others to whom I have posed that question.

    Political ideology isn't important to hungry people; they will vote for or follow whoever feeds them or promises them food.

  18. The suffering of a grown woman on an all boys thread is underestimated at times.

    Fear of being a prude, fear of being an unsophisticated TV watcher, fear of being thought of as not smart or cool ,or the fear of being left out-desde mi baul de recuerdos- simply takes me back to High School :)

    I know everyone wants to be popular and cool but we can't ALL be.So I'll take the rap.

    I'm a prude , I watch "Renard",I am not a "sophisticated" European who knows it all and has it all figured out- My kids call me the reincarnation of Beatrix Potter( nobody more out of the mainstream than her) and I DO waste my time watching just about anything, depending on my mood and an INVESTIGATIVE need to do so.

    This is freedom for me.

    I mean at our ages boys, usually jocks, goths, preps, and stoners all sit at the same table.


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