Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

Massive Internet problems at the homestead.  I has been quite a struggle to open the page long enough for this note.  Think about my friends and colleagues who at this time must think I am the rudest  person.  Believe it or not, but I cannot even open Gmail in normal frame, and HTLM version was dicey enough that I could get out one single mail today....

Apparently the gods wanted me to be able to write only to my readers today!  Thus best wishes for 2012 and may we start in earnest the end of chavismo.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red page special: when populism sends people up in flames

And thus we end the year with tragedy upon tragedy.  Not only we are apparently now the country in LatAm with the highest crime index but we are also one of the worse ones as far as security on the road.  Today a gas carrying truck fell on the road side, overturned, released gasoline which quickly found a spark.  Apparently at least one kilometer of the Panamerican highway between Los Teques and Caracas burst into flames killing 12 passengers in a bus and a driver in a car,  16 to 20 people were hurt and a few survived because they threw themselves into the bushes down hill until they reached help.  Apparently the public services from cops to fireman were on site as early as possible.  All the Los Teques to Salias area was cut off from Caracas for several hours.

I am not writing to comment on the accident but to wonder how come such disasters are not more frequent.  Surely we must be a country of exceptional drivers to be able to deal with all the obstacles that exist today in Venezuelan roads:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

He didn't say that! Did he? Your Christmas idiot on the loose

Holding a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, as a published scientist of things such as hot springs dwellers, having heard lectures by quite a few Nobel Prizes (received or received post conference), even if I am long retired from the field I get easily infuriated by the like of creationist idiots or totally unscientifically aberrant characters like Chavez today.  They both do the same thing, twist science out of recognition to sponsor their political agenda.  Today Chavez "suggested" that the odds were too high for 4 South American presidents to be stricken with cancer in the same span of time.  Must we believe that the CIA now stands for Cancer Inducing Agency?

In the video below Chavez does indeed do more than merely suggesting that the cancers of Lula, Roussef, Lugo, his own and as of this week Kirchner have no real natural cause and that maybe in 50 years from now we will find out that they were caused by Obama of all people.



First, as a Molecular Biologist by trade I wish we had reached such capabilities of some mystery targeted cancer producing agent (Bruni has an excellent post on how much BS is that Chavez accusation so I am not getting onto the details).

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Grinch that keeps trying to steal Christmas

The more time passes, the more Chavez looks like the Grinch (even some would say in his green complexion).  Usually as the holidays approach Chavez tries some media stunt to make sure people do not forget about him, but this year he reached a new level.  It is not that what he did benefited him much, I think it will be counterproductive, but it is worth  reporting because it describes perfectly the advanced degree of mental decomposition that an obsessively narcissistic personality reaches over time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas post 2011

Well, it is this time of year again, to wish everyone a happy Christmas to Hanukkah or Kwanzaa as the case may be.  But no vacation again as politics will keep coming our way in Venezuela.  True, it will slow down some as Chavez will use the holidays to get more secretive therapy, the opposition knowing that nobody reads papers (when published as some stop publication altogether until mid January 9, including El Pais for the comment section I participate!) will prefer to do door to door activities and be seen at any live nativity scene available, though sitting governors will be giving stuff away as if they were Chavez, but a live one.

Thus it will be a good time to take stock and write less often but on more general stuff, trying to get some of the perspective that may have been lost in recent weeks of a stressful end of year.  For news junkies, I probably will be posting more of the eventual newsy stuff  on the Facebook pendant of this blog, Interpretando Venezuela (though I will watch for any political Christmas Miracle for here).  Facebook is quicker in holiday mood as the link is up there fast (if I can mange to make it work on my Berry), and there is only need for a short comment from my part while you can add all the comments you can possibly wish to write, without moderation.  Thus even if you do not read Spanish check it out and point it out to your Spanish speaking friends.

As I will be travelling I probably will not show up until the 25th so have a good Christmas eve in Venezuela and most of Europe and LatAm, and an excellent Christmas day in the UK and North America.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Medina at El Ciudadano

And to close the cycle of El Ciudadano interviews the old warrior came to the show.  As I was watching Pablo Medina, the sixth Unidad presidential candidate I was thinking about Diego Arria.  In a way they are very similar, and I am not referring to their desire of calling for a constituent assembly.  No, they come from other times and both are reminding us of what was good in the decried "4th Republic".  Maybe Arria had all the options, maybe he made a success of himself, but Pablo Medina, trade Union warrior before Chavez came to wreck it all, is also a product of those days, where for many core ethics and personal responsibility did not depend on how successful you were.

Pablo Medina has made many errors in his political life, something he freely and refreshingly acknowledged tonight.  But yet his message surprised me by a renewed freshness and candor from his part.  Watching him and knowing that there is no chance in a frozen day at hell that he will win next February (he may not be last, though) I still was drawn in his arguments.  After all he is admirable in that he is able to learn from his errors, that even though he belonged to the Constituent Assembly of 1999, he was one of the first ones to break up completely with the chavista system (he admitted never having liked Chavez but following at first in the perceived need for an initial collaboration to change the system, another one of his errors).  The man tonight, from all fights in the Guyana labor struggle, CausaR, PPT and what not has learned that free enterprise is the only way to create real prosperity, that in spite of all of its excesses it is still much better than whatever crap Chavez is trying to do.

Obama gives an interview to Caracas El Universal

President Obama has given an interview to nothing less than El Universal of Caracas.  Possibly because it is the lone Venezuelan paper with an English Venezuelan section, so the guys at the White House would be sure that the message came free of interference.  No need to comment on the interview, it is self explanatory in that Chavez international standing is, well, lowest than ever (and his support to recently croaked Kimmy is not going to help).  He is an annoyance, maybe dangerous, but Chavez will never be respectable, never worthy of a deal since he cannot be trusted on anything.  I mean if a Liberal Democrat thinks so lowly of Chavez.......
English version.
Spanish version.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lopez at El Ciudadano

[UPDATED]  The good thing about this post is that it will be short.  Lopez did what he had to do, be firm, focused, with a vision.  No matter how hard the Ciudadano tried (I do not think he tried that hard), Leopoldo remained focused.

In short Lopez went on a lengthy explanation on his "security" proposal, trying to make it not to sound too right wing by including, adequately, that increased security of all will also pour its benefits in other sections of the economy and society.  Since the interview started with the Ciudadano questioning his trip to Colombia to meet Uribe, Lopez pointed out that the "economic miracle" of Colombia in the recent years could not have been possible if Uribe had not put some order int he country.  Thus brilliantly dodging the issue, including an idiotic attack by Diosdado Cabello today.

Otherwise there were two highlights in the presentation.

Electoral stunts

Uribe and Lopez
One funny thing about primary electoral campaigns is that they tend to be full of stunts, more than general elections who need a little bit more of composure.  But when you trail in the polls and you have nothing to lose anymore, you either go to The Hague, or closer and cheaper, meet with Uribe in Bogota.

These stunts need not be a bad thing and actually do help focus the issues sometimes.  If going to The Hague was, for Venezuela today, useless, it was a good way to remind folks that the Chavez administration is a criminal one that has committed enough felonies to deserve at least a judicial investigation.  No poll yet has published whether Diego Arria benefited from that trip but he sure made a few headlines and forced the PSUV to reply even if it were to dismiss the stunt.  In other words, the stunt did anger chavismo which is not a bad thing in politics.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Juan Carlos Monedero, otra joya del chavismo

Miguel en su blog nos informa de una entrevista publicada en ABC de España de Juan Carlos Monedero, esa joya del chavismo, uno de los "intelectuales" que dirigen el Centro Internacional Miranda, esa cosa que trata de darle algo de sentido al socialismo del siglo XXI y que a decir verdad ha sido de lo mas discreto en estos ultimos dos años, a medida que ahora unicamente la opinion del Supremo cuenta.  En fin, las respuestas que dio Miguel me dejaron algo insastisfecho, y ademas con la necesidad de poner tambien algo en español para que nadie se lo pierda, señalando a ese farsante chupa dolares (o euros?).  ¡Ah!  Se me olvidaba, como la Golinger en el New York Times, el tipo en los comentarios de la entrevista escribe que la entrevista fue mal editada.  ¡Es que creen que uno es bolsa!

Puse un texto en ABC pero aqui abajo me permito ponerlo otra vez para que ustedes lo puedan disfrutar tambien:


A Juan Carlos Monedero

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shake it, baby! Shake that PSUV tree!

I have lost much interest in following the inner works of chavismo.  I do not mean to say by that that what happens inside chavismo is not important but it is now so clouded in mystery, so dependent on Chavez whims, so perturbed by his disease that there is just too much speculation and garbage to sort out before one can begin to understand what is going on.  Besides, we already know anyway: rule1, Chavez is the boss; rule 2, Chavez is the only boss, rule 3, Chavez is way above anyone else; rule 4 you better stay quiet and rule 5, if you do not stay quiet, if you bring the slightest of a hint of a shade on the bright glory of Chavez, expect the worst and be thankful for it.  The list of people that were tossed to the garbage since Chavez is in office is now too tedious to count, only the list of the few ones that were dug out from the trash is worth any interest.

You will thus be forgiving of my slight coverage on these issues in the past few months, much preferring to write on the dynamics of the opposition primaries.  But on occasion I have to come back to it and even ride Miguel's approach, as good as any speculation you may find around, and probably much better as way less hysterical.  Because, let's face it, are you not tired sick of the constant waves of rumors about Chavez health, more than likely now totally orchestrated from Miraflores Palace so we discuss that rather the myriad of problems harassing our daily existence?  At the top of Chavez disease I barely participated in them and now I simply erase any mail or tweet on that.  Call me when he finally croaks.

But this week shake up was a tad too much to ignore.  So, no speculation from me but rather a tentative explanation of why such things are happening and why they will keep happening, at least until next March.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Arria at El Ciudadano

It is more difficult to evaluate the interview of tonight as we were clearly playing in a different league.  Not major or minor league, just a league next country, almost.  First, El Ciudadano was interviewing a candidate more to his generational standard: the conversation was almost intimate, between two pals commenting on the state of the country behind a cup of coffee.  Second, it was much more about a diagnosis of the country than an actual government plan.  And third, Arria has been around the globe several times.

I suppose that the versatility of the Ciudadano, his desire not to appear to endorse anyone made him find a way, for the fourth time in a week, to allow the interview to play on the strength (or alleged weakness) of a given candidate.  On this respect, kudos for the man as he is indeed a better journalist (or manipulator as some would say) than I knew him already to be.  And yet, for all of this coziness the interview had a few telling highlights as Diego Arria managed clearly to cast a doubt on the other candidates vision.  Without naming a single one he successfully exposed their basic weakness: the pretense that all will be fine and that chavismo will let them serve their 6 year term.  Well, rather Perez and Capriles I should say though I should say that Machado seems quite sure to serve her own full term.....

Dudamel versus Serenata Guyanesa

A very nasty comment by "anonymous" in my post on Xmas music make me take the unusual step or publicly replying as an excellent opportunity to measure the survival of artists in fascist regimes like our own today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Machado at El Ciudadano

Well, what can I say? If the only three candidates were HCR, PP and Maria Corina Machado and the vote tomorrow I would vote for her without batting an eye.  Trailing in the polls, really hard pressed by an unusually aggressive Ciudadano in the first part of her visit, she put all of that on the side and was able to draw her vision of the country.  You may agree with her, or not, but you cannot deny that the woman knows what she wants and that at this stage she does not care whether people think she is right.  She knows she is and she knows her mission goes beyond the current electoral context.  I  have always been a sucker for Cassandra like politicians and let's say it: she was thatcherian tonight.

But one better, actually, because she has some genuine compassion to go with it.  Her best moment may have been when the Ciudadano told her dismissively that all candidates promised such stuff and she looked straight at him and said " but they believe it when it comes from me".
Ciudadano: Eso se lo dicen todo el mundo, Maria Corina [dismissive hand gesture follows]
Machado: Nooo, eso es verdad; pero a mi me lo creen

That is what you call aplomb.

Your Christmas present to yourself

I have a suggestion for your Christmas this year, at least if you live in Venezuela.  Do yourself a favor and get this strange compilation "Navidades Venezolanas".  Apparently somebody had the good idea to get the copyrights (buy? steal? we are in Venezuela after all) of some of the best known Venezuelan Christmas music.  The real stuff for us, no Silent Night or Jingle bells here!  The version chosen might not be the best ones (I question at least one medley) but the overall result is very, very satisfying (including the Nancy Ramos version of Guanaguanare).

You get Burrito Sabanero, El Niño Jesus Llanero, Corre Caballito (one of the greatest Xmas song ever if you ask me, by the unmatched and unmatchable Serenata Guayanesa), the now classical Niño Lindo, etc...

And of course, as you shop get the Christmas album El Cuarteto en NocheBuena of a few years ago.  THE BEST Xmas album in any country.  OK, I am prejudiced but try to prove me wrong. (already reviewed here in 2004).

Ref: ICRecords PALACIO, 2011, CD-66720, FD-260-2011-648 Aeromusica barcode 7 591476 113224

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Perez at El Ciudadano

Tonight the second Unidad candidate, Pablo Perez, took the stand at El Ciudadano.  Takign the stand may be a tad strong since both El Ciudadano and Pablo Perez are from Zulia state and no matter how hard they tried the atmosphere was more relaxed than during the first of the series, the visit of Capriles last Monday.  this caveat being advanced it still was a real interview, a one hour chance to say to the country why Perez wants to be president.

The good news is that the format is definitely better and that hard questioning by El Ciudadano (making us try to forget the usually inane question of his side kick Peñaloza) gave us a better image of Perez than this blogger had.  A much better image actually.  The bad news is that I still cannot erase from my mind that him like Capriles would benefit of another 4 years at the head of their state before becoming president.  There is that je ne sais quoi missing still.  And yet that cannot stop me from writing that the opposition has the luxury to be able to pick between several great candidates, unlike the GOP in the US who seems unable to embrace the lone serious candidate they have as Moises Naïm has reported in El Pais.  But I digress.

Brazilian Imperialism at play: Marco Aurelio Garcia is at it again

Chavez's man in Brazilia?
Marco Aurelio Garcia is a shadowy figure that intermittently occupies the forefront of Brazilian politics since Lula was elected 9 years ago.  He comes from the left but that has not stopped him from embracing Brazilian imperialism, the more so if that one will secure his vision of the world.  His role in supporting Chavez no matter what and making Venezuela a Brazilian dependency needs no further detail.  And with great courtesy he reminds us today that this is still his plan, that Chavez is good for Brazil even if he is not good for Venezuelans.  But Marco Aurelio Garcia is not well known for his democratic initiatives, unless someone is willing to prove me wrong.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

UCV: the results are in

In spite of all the trouble of last Friday the Central University of Venezuela finished counting the student votes.  And chavismo was trashed, TRASHED!  Amusing details next.

Chavez in heavens/paradise (lapsus brutis from the Nazional Guard?)


This one will have to be listed in the chapter of "truth is stranger than fiction".  Click for full effect.

Tal Cual regales us with this recent painting that has been hung in the Nazional Guard headquarters of the Andes region (San Cristobal).  Besides the obvious, that we do not know exactly whether Chavez is in heavens or paradise (same difference for many), we cannot help wonder if it is not a classical betrayal from the sub-conscious of the Nazional Guard in charge as to the coming demise of Chavez.  Still, for fun, let's do a little art criticism, or deconstructionism if you will, to try to understand whatever is going inside the strange neuronal connections of these people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Capriles at El Ciudadano

El Ciudadano is the flagship talk show of Globovision, from 5PM to 8 PM.  The political who'swho of Venezuela has to go through its demands, like it or not.  Chavistas have stopped going there years ago because, see, the guests receive unfiltered phone calls from the audience which can be quite nasty on occasion.  Yet, the strength of the show is in its anchor, Leopoldo Castillo, who is tough but fair, not tolerating nonsese or "guabineo" (dodging the issue, failing to give at least a partial answer to a given question).  Hate it or love it, it is the one and it has privileges that no other talk show has.  Such as organizing a one hour for each candidate of the Unidad starting tonight with Henrique Capriles Radonski (HCR).  None will miss the date (then again all have gone there at some point so they are used to it and not afraid anymore).

I am not promising to watch all of them but I'll try to do so and give as brief a possible a comment on that because, well, there are bound to be better to know the candidates than the stupid debates we have been subjected to so far.  Unfortunately at best a 20% of the population may end up watching the shows because of the hour and because of Globovision limited to cable TV outside of Caracas and Valencia.

Without further ado, let's comment on HCR tonight (remember, I am not even pretending to be objective, but I will try fairness).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why they want to be president

Not to bring a discordant note but with now more than month of primary campaign there are only three candidates that came out clearly as to why they want to be president.  Interestingly they are still the same three that were clear on that matter in October and still my three favorites: Maria Corina Machado, Diego Arria and Leopoldo Lopez.  You may disagree with their vision of the country and the future but you cannot deny them that they have at least a vision for something greater.

There are at least two other candidates that I would love to hear from them something as clear and concise as the three named above.  You know who you are.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guanaguanare

Guanaguanare
Guanaguanare es un extraño villancico, lleno de la tristeza de la separacion si escuchan la exquisita sobriedad de Jesús Ávila, o el consuelo algo mentiroso de la versión navideña de Nancy Ramos. Y sin embargo es delicadamente evocador de la calma de las mañanas en Sucre, si han tenido la suerte de disfrutarlas, una calma como no la he sentido nunca en otro mar.

Guanaguanare

Guanaguanare
Guanaguanare is an odd Christmas song, full of the pathos of longing if you listen to the exquisite sobriety of Jesus Avila, or fake merry Christmas spirit, but consoling, if you consider the Nancy Ramos version. And yet it is exquisitely atmospheric if you have had the luck to wake up more than once in Sucre where the morning calm is the calm I have never felt elsewhere.

I have to admit that this week end, as I am dusting off my Christmas music, it is hitting a raw nerve.  Thus work strange associations who make a single song suddenly embody all that is wrong with your surroundings.  Of course, it is a sad coincidence that this magic tune includes the name of the city Guanare where this week the most ugly aspects of misery came up as flotsam. But that flotsam was brought upon us by a regime that has really done nothing to protect children rights, gay rights, property rights, basic rights....  We certainly cannot blame the regime of the machismo, homophobia, disregard for the weak that are the sad heritage of our history.  But we can blame it from having paid lip service at best while it made it all the worse in its pursuit of power, and money, and materialism, which now reign supreme.

And to finish it all up last night the fascist thugs set aflame the "house that defeats the shadow" while today in yet another obscene cadena the tyrant of our spirit played with a little boy in military drag.

But Jesús Ávila leaves us a consolation:

Tenue es la luz y alegre la alborada

A preview of October 7, 2012 (or how fascism does not lose elections)

This was the entrance tonight of the Aula Magna, the major auditorium of the Central University of Venezuela, UCV, a World Heritage site of the UNESCO since 2000 (and for how long now?):



Thursday, December 08, 2011

Leopoldo Lopez and the reality

Two days ago I did not think that I was getting the idea of a theme: how politicians deal with reality in Venezuela.  But today, with a High Court (TSJ) idiotic, unfair, unconstitutional ruling and the coincidence of a new ad launched by the team of Leopoldo Lopez we get a new opportunity to discuss what is really at stake.

Globovision has been fined for doing its job during the jail revolt at El Rodeo last June.  Besides noting that no one else of the media that was covering the event was fined or even questioned, Globovision not only got a fine that will put in the Chapter 11 bench, but also its workers were rather copiously accused of all sorts of things on the state media, without any right of reply whatsoever.  Not only Globovision refuses to pay the deadly fine and is using all of the means to appeal, but its workers signed on their own a recourse that they submitted to the TSJ as to their victim status in all of this mess.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

VN&V en Facebook: Interpretando Venezuela

Pues bien, me rendí a Facebook y abrí una página alli para el blog. Pero hay razones.

Para empezar mucha gente le gusta Facebook, algo que no entiendo muy bien pero algo que es verdad (todavía me cuesta digerir Twitter aunque estoy avanzando algo en ese asunto, a pesar mio).

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pollster Keller throws a big stone in everybody's pond

My favorite pollster (which is not saying much), and apparently Globovison's official one now, has just published his latest findings, from the first two weeks of November field work.  In other words, we can call that one the first significant poll since the primary campaign of the Unidad started though it certainly will not asses the impact of the first debate, and even less the second one.

The good news is that there is no surprise.  The end of the "I am sick" effect of Chavez is coming and people are getting back to their everyday misery.  As such Chavez numbers are starting to go south again.  The bad news, if you will, is that there is still that 30%+ hard core chavista that will vote for him no matter what depraved action he may commit.  But so do work cults and chavismo today is a cult whose high priests are the ones gaining wealth through corruption.  Or something like that, I am stopping to care as the effect is the same: a destroyed country.  But I digress, let's get back to the poll highlights.

Arria and the reality

I feel sorry for us as a country when I hear Diego Arria and the non-response he gets.  Last night for example Alo Ciudadano took great pains to explain that we needed to make a campaign plan of solutions, inclusion and what not, from El Ciudadano himself to Ramon Guillermo Aveledo as his main guest.  I do not mean to defend Arria here, he does go overboard in his anti Chavez campaign even if he is quite justified in doing so.  What concerns me here is that we are having two sides opposing each other more and more inside the Unidad and that if the situation is not controlled adequately we could lose it all.  If according to the Unidad spokespersons the solution is not to follow Arria, it certainly is not the one offered by Capriles and Perez, pretending all is fine and easily fixable.  All is not fine.

Yes, I know, I have been ranting about that a lot, but the more the campaign advances, the more the country spirals into final decomposition, the more I think that Arria is closer from the truth than Capriles.  Or rather that both are wrong.

Monday, December 05, 2011

What to look for in a debate: a cold eyed perspective

I have an urge to yet again revisit this subject because last night I noticed quite a little bit of partisanship.  Even though I have low activity in Twitter-land I still get enough re-tweets and stuff to observe that for example Maria Corina Machado generates all sorts of passions, from the bitterly negative approach of Jose Guerra who makes his own support of Capriles look the support from Caracas Chronicles almost an objective one, to the near ringing endorsement of whatever she says by Garcia Mendoza of the BVC.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The second debate non debate

Since I twitted it live (@danielduquenal) I have no desire to go overboard on comment.  A quick item by item to let you know why I think Leopoldo Lopez won tonight.

Two polls for fun

On the right I put up two polls for fun.

One pre debate that closes at 9:30 PM as to whom you think will "win".  And the other open longer as to who do you think did "win" after all.

AGAIN: this is for fun, as the nature of the show is really not to destroy each other, not a real debate to the kill.  We just want to express who do we think accounted for hismelf or her the best.

Debate tonight

The Unidad candidates are holding their second debate tonight.  And of all places at Venevision who is either sensing the wind shifting or is goign to sabotage the event for Chavez.  After all, let's face it, Venevision has been working for chavismo more or less directly since 2007.  But let's give them the benefit of the doubt tonight, hoping that they finally found their way to Damascus.  And thank them for taking the risk, becasue in Venezuela ti is a risk, to show nation wide 2 hours of opposition talk to a country where at lest 40% of the people have not heard anything straight and live from an anti Chaevz point of view.  Enjoy it becasue it may well be your only chance if the debates head back to the Globovision cableTV ghetto.

There will be two novelties compared to last time.  It will be more professional from a major network and it will be coming from journalists that will this time around ask the questions instead of the students.  Somehow I am doubtful that the chosen journalists will do a better job.  But gain, let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

And there will be one major change as this time around we will have 6 guys since Pablo Medina will be allowed to join the other five, Arria, Perez, Lopez, Radonski and Machado.

I do not know how good I can be at that but I will try to do a live twitter following so if you have no access to Venevision you may always try me at @danielduquenal .  I promise not to tweet more than every ten minutes average, when and if something significant happens.  Starts at 9 PM Venezuela time.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

CELAC-anthus

Raul at the summit?
Sometimes stuff is still born, no matter how desperately the parents of the creature try to breathe life in it.  We saw such another sad spectacle this week-end in Caracas where, minus Lula, Chavez alone could not manage to give life to that silliness that was "born" a couple of years ago in Cancun: the CELAC or in English, the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean States.

All was not wasted for Chavez, he got an ego boost, he repeated N+1 times that he was cured, he put up a show for the 30% of us that are congenitally unable to see any fault in him.  This being said the rest of Venezuela made fun of the whole thing, when not outraged not only at the expense but at the inconvenience for Caracas to hold such an event.  After all, Chavez went to the extent to cancel Baseball Venezuelan League games and give public workers the day off Friday in a desperate effort to unclog somewhat the streets of Caracas.  That did not stop a pot banging event of some resonance to take place in Caracas Friday at 8 PM.  Certainly he did not fool any foreign visitor because, you know, they get reports from the embassies including Consuls shot in the crime wave to scarcity of food and the hours lost in a car for any errand.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Foreign Policy top 100 thinkers of the year

What better way to start commemoration and list month (December) than noting the magazine Foreign Policy top 100 thinkers.  Only two Latino Americans made it, and a well deserved choice: Yoani Sanchez and our very own Teodoro Petkoff.  Two anti Castro and anti Chavez thinkers.  And in the list try to find one who seriously would consider defend Chavez or Castro.
ERRATA: although I scanned the list twice I missed Dilma Roussef in it.  So I suppose that I was wrong in assuming that no one in that list would defend Castro or Chavez.  Not that she will necessarily be willing to do so since she is less keen on be seen with Chavez than Lula was, but she will defend Brazil big business in Venezuela and if it means hugging Chavez publicly once a year as she did yesterday, so be it.  Yet, considering her rather significant reversal on Lula support to Iran, I have still hope that she will dump Chavez when necessary.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PPT, PPT and ppt

Yesterday the High Court (TSJ) ruled on a matter where they should not be ruling: they decided that the PPT direction was not kosher, dismissed it, allowed for three "groups" and barred all of them from supporting any candidate until they sorted matters out. That is, if one of the fractions has enough money to block the other two they could manage to make sure that the PPT cannot present Henri Falcon for reelection in Lara. That other parties can sponsor him is irrelevant, in a perverse way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Primaries shenanigans (+ new feature)

It is time for a short update before the next primary presidential debate of the Unidad rolls around next week end, if confirmed.  Nothing really major has happened, except that the number of candidates has gone up from 5 to 6 with the inclusion of Pablo Medina.  This is not expected to change anything as Medina at best would have some influence in Bolivar, Caracas, Zulia and Aragua.

It is too early to make any evaluation of sorts although I have the feeling at this point that the only regions still up for grabs is Oriente and Guyana, and thus the primary will be decided there.  But we will discuss that when the time comes.  Otherwise, for the rest of this update we will discuss the potential crisis that could fall on the Unidad anytime, all of its own making if you ask me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Venezuelans overseas with trouble for voting may be getting help soon

Carlos Suaréz
It should not be difficult to understand why the Venezuelan Electoral Board (CNE) creates so many difficulties for Venezuelan to vote overseas.  Except for a very few counted places (such as Havana) the anti Chavez vote overseas is o-ver-whel-ming-ly anti Chavez.  This is so lopsided that the CNE still has not reported on certain international results such as the 2007 referendum that Chavez lost (with what margin he lost overseas must have been quite a whooop!).  So today reports abound on all sorts of hassles in Venezuelan consulates if you try to register there to vote (no mail ballots for us!, if you live in, say, Atlanta, you need to fly to Miami to vote).

But courtesy of activists of Voluntad Popular this may start to change some.  The first item is reported in El Universal today is an interview with Carlos Suaréz who, tired of all the troubles he and others experienced to register, decided to take actions.  It took form as a law suit, and unbelievably it worked.  Well, half way, as the regime owned justice accepted to at least study the issue, ruling on it eventually.

The issue is quite simple on a legal point of view:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When everything else fails try a little bit of class war

HOARDING!
Chavez's drugs must be working, at least good enough to give him the energy to remind us that he is the big honcho around.  But what to do?  No governmental plan is working, unless you believe the propaganda claims that 100,000 houses have been built and that the jobless rate of Venezuela dropped nothing less than 0,8%.  Take that capitalism!

Fortunately there is something that always tickles the lumpen hoi polloi: confiscate goods and give them away at "popular markets".  The hoi polloi does not care whether these are state stolen goods, they are now used to help themselves by ransacking trucks stopped in traffic jams.  The hoi polloi does not care whether these seized goods are a retribution to hoarders: the hoi polloi has learned long ago to pillage and hoard their loot to resell it at good price to their neighbors.  After all, we have no news of anyone looting a truck of goods being punished for that. Why should they not keep pillaging, or even better, applaud Chavez when he does that for them?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Shorn Goldilocks: the Sequel

So Chavez completed his threat and started bringing back the Venezuelan gold reserves safely stored in several banks so as to put all of them together in a Venezuelan location where he will be able to dip as needed, without any control or record.  Safety is now gone. There is nothing new on this topic on what we already discussed when announced.  However I will invite you to visit the link of the mains state VTV on the procession today when the first shipment arrived.  Even if you do not read Spanish the pictures will tell you it all "people's jubilee  for the return to the fatherland of the first shipment of gold to the coffers of the BCV".  I kid you not, this is the translated title.  Nobody in the VTV article seems to find it odd that the liberated gold was actually available for repatriation without any trouble.  That is, it was Venezuelan......  the manipulation of the whole story apparently even missed the unself-conscious Chavez sycophants.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Yet another commie law: now it is Chavez regime which tells you how much to sell

Controlled substance
There has been quite an effervescence around the "ley de precio justo" or "ley de escasez" as its opponents call it.  To the point that I have readers (in plural) complaining that I had not discussed it yet.  I will not, at least not in the details because that law intended to fix how much a margin you are allowed to include in your final price is NOT an economical measure but 99% a political one.  Thus I will start by the 1%.

Certainly, in time of great crisis, you may decree that for a few weeks or even months you may forbid people to increase prices (same thing as telling them how much they can make).  When the crisis is over, we are all back to normal.  This bears no discussion: there have been so many such schemes through history, 99% of them having failed, and 1% having worked up to a limited point at best, that there is no need to revisit an issue that has been settled long ago.  Markets rule.  You can restrain them somewhat, avoid excesses, but markets rule.  Otherwise there is no more market, no more choice, single products when you can find them.  It is called communism, war economy and such similar names.  Even chavistas know that (with the possible exception of Giordani who at this stage I am seriously starting to question any sanity or any sense of shame left in him).

It has thus to be a political law.  Let's see why.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

To all our US friends, have a greeat Thanksgiving!

But this year I shall not be as jealous as for the first time in over a decade I will attend a real home made Thanksgiving in Caracas instead of the now lousy dinner at Lee Hamilton where they do not even bother to whip somewhat the canned cranberries to remove at least the imprint of the can.....  I shudder at what new low they will descend this year with the excuse of "escasez" and the irrepressible will of Venezuelans with money to be fashionable and put up with a pretend Thanksgiving feast.  Still, we all have to work tomorrow and Thanksgiving will be a dinner date and not a mid afternoon gastronomic saturnalia.  Friday morning we'll be a little bit heavy to head back to work.  And since I am driving, that I can do few things besides suggesting menus and recipes (I am the one with "experience" and in charge of the speech), my job is bringing wine.  What do you think?  Good Merlot is the best able to take care of the Turkey Day variety?  Or maybe Argentinian Malbec?

Confronting Chavez?

There has been some heated discussion as to whether Diego Arria should attack Chavez the way he does. I personally think that he has the right to do so and that it is a valid strategy at primary level. How he does his attack is on the other hand something fair to discuss because there are useful and useless ways to critic/attack. But that is another post. At any rate, one thing certain is that Arria has been receiving press, rather good, in most newspapers (the governmental papers are mere propaganda and useless to evaluate). Today this OpEd in Tal Cual from a certain Gonzalez that I am not familiar with makes a good stab at evaluating how pertinent it is to confront Chavez. In Spanish but Google translator works better and better, use it!

¿Confrontar con Chávez?

GONZALO GONZÁLEZ

En la recién comenzada campaña de los precandidatos de la oposición a medirse con Chávez en los comicios presidenciales del 7 de octubre del 2012 se perciben varias diferencias sustanciales entre ellos y no podía ser de otra manera puesto que la coalición democrática es bastante plural, amén de las diferencias de estilo y personalidad propios de cada uno.

Really, did we give away 2 billion dollars?

Following up the fishy story exposed by Alek, examined by Miguel and reported by yours truly and Gustavo (with the adequate doubts), there is nothing but a note in El Universal today where Merentes denies everything.  Unfortunately even if Merentes is fully innocent (that would be a first), someone had access to enough info to get such a scheme set up.  And part of that info ought to come from the BCV.  To be continued.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Corrupt charity in the Caribbean

A mere 75 million USD, airplane not included
CAVEAT EMPTOR

One does not know what to really make of Alek's latest findings.  In a time of financial crisis the Venezuelan government through its Central Bank (BCV) makes available to a third party in Britain of 2 billion dollars in bonds for charity purposes in the Caribbean.  What a sweet gesture you may say, but take a closer look....

The bond seems to be processed through an Isle of Man firm (tax heaven, by the way) whose declared values are a mere 2,000 pounds.  One pound supports 1 million dollars.  Surely there is something legal somewhere to justify that but at the very least the ethics are to be questioned.  I mean, a 2,000L company could well serve to finance, say, an industrial project worth a couple million dollars.  But a 2 billion bond issue?  Do 2,000L even manage to pay the computer and desk required to control the financing?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Diego Arria has a point, and he makes it

Diego Arria
UPDATED

The Unidad candidates debate of last Monday seems to have given us a new darling through Diego Arria.  We must admit that he is operating quite a remarkable comeback, if you ask me.  Not that he may win the primary votes next February though he seems very confident; and indeed three months is a long time in politics.  But I suspect that he is now in a position to influence the debate in such a way that he may just become a king maker of sorts.  

His first and most beneficial offering to the current political debate is to remind the Venezuelan public that after 13 years of propaganda and denial from the chavista regime that nothing pre-1998 was worth discussing, and even less saving, there is something worth retrieving.  For example Diego Arria started his modest campaign by walking as a mere citizen in Caricuao visiting places he had inaugurated when he was Caracas governor in the 70ies.  Needless to say that many of them today are semi destroyed because nobody paid attention to them, places which with a little bit of care could still be very helpful to a very battered community.

Carta abierta a Socorro Hernández, la malandra del CNE

Muy querida Socorro Hernández, del directorio del CNE

Estoy siguiendo en directo el escrutinio de los votos en España. Todo manual. Una hora después del cierre de las urnas en España (y cerraron todas) cierran las de las islas Canarias. A penas cierran en las Canarias y ya el ministerio del interior, cuyo ministro es un socialista que coordina el acto electoral, nada de CNE por esos lares, da el primer parte con 13% escrutado con ya amplia ventaja al partido de oposición. Media hora más y ya los votos escrutados pasan del 20%. A las 9:35 PM, 1.5 horas después de cerrar en Madrid ya son 64% escrutados. ¡Ha! Se me olvidaba mencionar que a las 8 PM al cerrar las urnas, sin que cierren todavía las de Canarias, se autorizaba a publicar los sondeos de boca de urnas, a pesar de unos cuantos todavía estaban esperando dentro de los centros de votación su turno.

¿Les suena esto como conocido?

Leemos en la BBC el canciller de Siria diciendo que el envío de observadores por la liga Árabe seria una violación de la soberanía Siria.

Todos esos hampones dictatorzuelos son lo mismo, y la hora de las chiquitas se escudan detrás de un nacionalismo ramplón.  Aquí en Caracas o allá en Damasco.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The vote in Spain falls mainly in the plain center

The vote tomorrow in Spain is quite remarkable although not for the reasons that your average pundit will advance.  The result is well known, the only question remaining for tomorrow is whether the Partido Popular will get a majority of its own in the Cortes.  No, the remarkable in that election is elsewhere.

First, when we see the disasters in Italy and Greece, disasters that not only Spain seems to have escaped so far (the political disaster, not the economic crisis, mind you) we get the tale of a country where democracy and institutions seem much better entrenched than what one would have predicted not even a couple of decades ago.  And this election seems to confirm that the Spanish political system is not ready yet to give itself up to the first Berlusconi that shows up, or to your average Greek-like pimp leadership.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Even driving you cannot reach the boundaries of Venezuelan corruption

Once upon a time, when there were still real intellectuals in Venezuela, when we thought democracy was coming, we used to say of Gomez that he was a ferocious dictator and that he managed the country as if it were its own rural estate.  We must say that after 13 years of Chavez if one Venezuelan caudillo will be rehabilitated it is Gomez.  Sure, Gomez stole a lot of public funds but he did not steal more than other caudillos, just for a longer time.  And still, Venezuela was better off when he died than when he took charge.  Let's just imagine for a minute how good would Venezuela had been if Gomez had stolen less than he did....

With Chavez we cannot even give him the benefit of the doubt since he steals money for the most useless causes.  At least Gomez invested most of what he stole in Venezuela, buying cattle ranches and paying off Venezuelans to get peace.  Chavez just grabs money and throws it out the window.  Indeed, if there are mega scandals of fraud or corruption like the millions of  tons of food that rotted, there are also "lesser" scandals such as the millions given to the F1 Williams team for no return to the country whatsoever.  Our own Alek Boyd has it all, this time around working with Representative Ramos.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

And yet another idiocy at EFE

I am going to have to really, really consider that EFE news agency is financed by Chavez because there is no other way to explain its idiocies.  Today they just take at face value the words of Chavez in yet another cadena as to the opposition not recognizing its victories and planning a coup.  As their usual willful refusal to learn about Venezuela they seem to ignore that the opposition did recognize the victory of Chavez in 2006 but that Chavez did not recognize the opposition victory in Caracas in 2008 and in parliament in 2010.

Debating the debate

UPDATED
Among the fall out of last Monday presidential debate, I am bewildered about the lack of understanding of the event by the general populace, and even more befuddled by the wish to design a winner/loser at all cost by pundits that should know better.  To the point that I am having serious doubts about whether it was all worth it if people are going to misinterpret it all.  Not that I hold the truth, mind you, I am just pointing out at the overheated hyper-ventilation that I heard here and there.  Thus a few points, as usual in no particular order.

Winners versus losers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Nazional Guard of Venezuela is opening private correspondence

rigid small envelope
UPDATED

A friend coming back from France after a stay of several months showed me the following envelopes that he received while there.  These envelopes had been opened by the Nazional Guard of Venezuela as you can read on the resealing tape if you click on the pictures to enlarge.

 These envelopes carried business items that required signatures: contracts, loans, sales, etc.. Just normal stuff that he is required to sign as he is one of the owners of the business but not working there anymore. The envelopes used were standard Federal Express ones: that is either the larger plastic fiber ones to ship single books or dossiers, and the flat thin rigid cardboard ones to ship letters of no more than a dozen pages. In other words envelopes that can not be used for drug trafficking, or in small amounts for personal use so to speak, or that any dog can sniff by simply clipping an edge of the envelope if the border police wished it so. In other words, there is no justification to open these envelopes, and even less justification to open so many of them.

But that is not all, it happens with the other international carrier too, DHL (he receives about 3 envelopes a month between both of them, all of them opened by the Nazional Guard in the last three months).

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Unidad presidential debate, for 66% of the country only

The five candidates who want to hold the unity banner against Hugo Chavez gathered tonight for their first debate (first, I write optimistically as there is no certainty that further debates will be held).

The good news is that there was no clear loser or winner. That is, all accounted for themselves, more or less felicitously, but all demonstrating that they can be a better president than Chavez. The debate had a clear amateurish feel because it was organized by student movement. As such every student union of the major universities that oppose Chavez was allowed to send a representative to ask on the subjects of education, personal security and employment. We are talking a dozen universities here, which contain among themselves 90% of the best and brightest. That was good.  What was amateurish is the set up and the moderator. But still, it all worked out in the end.

The individual performances, in no particular order.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ideas estúpidas que afortunadamente no prosperan

El Salto Angel no será una de las siete maravillas naturales del mundo, y el que suscribe se alegra.  Cuando salio el concursito ese del suizo Weber recibí no se cuantos e-mails pidiendo mi voto, que lo promocione en mi blog y otras cosas que por supuesto no cumplí.  La primera pregunta es ¿Que puede aportar un concurso tan estúpido a nuestro Salto Angel?  Nada bueno.  Imagínense este régimen vanagloriándose de una victoria allí y creando un sistema "popular" de turismo al Salto Angel que termine en una venta de chicharrón "con pelo" donde desembarcan las curiaras al Salto.  No es que el Salto se haya salvado, por ahora.  Es que este des-gobierno ha jodido cualquier encanto natural que Venezuela tiene, desde invasiones a parques nacionales hasta los invasores salvajes en Juangriego, sin hablar de el desastre del entorno que cultiva fervorosamente desde la lemma en el Zulia hasta lo que botan por las ventanas las busetas en la vía.  Así que nos toca alegrarnos porque el turismo internacional palurdo se interesará por esas nuevas 7 maravillas y nos olvidará por un tiempos mas, sin darle mas ideas nocivas al régimen.

Total, todos los que han ido a Canaima, y pujaron hasta el Salto Angel saben muy bien que Churun Meru es un sitio fuera de cualquier categoría humana.

Workers of Venezuela, divide!

THIS POST IS GOING TO BE A TWO PART POST
-------------------------------------------------------------------
The regime must be reaching some sort of paroxysm.  This one might be due to a croaking Chavez, to bad polls, or simply Chavez ego unable to stand that headlines are regularly about the Unidad primaries and programs and not his own ego burps.  There is really no other explanation to his latest rant at the formation of yet a new Labor Confederation, "central obrera" and the promises that came with it.

First, let me make something clear: from personal experience I have a dismal view of Venezuelan trade unions, even before Chavez.  They are particularly corrupt and strictly interested in sucking dry business so the trade union leaders can live well.  Why workers vote for such unions has baffled me, unless they put up with their union bosses in the hope that one day they can become union bosses in turn.  Though as always there are some reasonably honorable exceptions where union bosses establish a collaboration with direction so that all benefit. At any rate, you can certainly imagine that a new trade union organization dedicated to Chavez, the boss of most of them to begin with, is certainly going to reach heights that the old CTV could not dream of.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nurse practitioner they ain't

One of the latest scandals that I have been meaning to write about is the case of the "medicina integral comunitaria".   They are folks that are about to be unleashed as full doctors in the Venezuelan public health system without the knowledge to take care of the people that go to such hospitals.  But before I get into the subject indulge me a personal reminiscence.

One of my very close friends is a Nurse Practitioner (and a PhD in public health).  She is close enough to have visited me 4 times in Venezuela since I left the States which is quite something if you think of it for a US citizen in an academic career.  I met her while she was supporting her PhD expenses working as a NP and I gained then a considerable respect for that degree, thinking it an essential part of the US medical system, a part sorely missing in either the European system (I think) and certainly in Venezuela.  In brief, had I remained in the US she would have got my power of health to make sure that I would be unplugged if worse came to worse.  That much I trusted her medical knowledge.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

DC's Nationals catcher kidnapped in Venezuela

Well, there are news that you cannot escape even in vacation, even if you do not care much about baseball.   Home for the winter Venezuelan league, Wilson Ramos catcher of the DC team, has been spectacularly kidnapped in his own Venezuelan home in the middle of his family and friends!

Talk about a way to bring out the reality of Venezuela crime in the US, even if we are talking of a rookie player!

El Debate Internacional en El País de España

Agradeciendo a una hada madrina que quedará anónima he ingresado hace unas semanas como comentarista en una sección de El País de España.  Es obvio que cualquier colaboración solicitada por El País es un gran honor y una gran responsabilidad.

El País ha abierto hace un tiempo unos foros moderados donde se participa por invitación (aunque lectores pueden dejar mensajes si se unen a la red social de el Pais, ESKUP).  Esos foros enfocados hacia la política y quehacer de España han sido un éxito y El País esta tratando de reeditar ese éxito con un nuevo foro internacional al cual hemos sido invitados unas 80 personas desde académicos a periodistas, incluyendo analistas como su servidor.  Así lo describen:
Los primeros análisis de las últimas noticias. El debate es un espacio dedicado a analizar diariamente los asuntos internacionales más controvertidos. De lunes a viernes, El País aporta las opiniones y críticas de un selecto pero amplio grupo de especialistas sobre las informaciones de mayor calado.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Round up of governor primary candidates

This is kind of a useless post but since I am on vacation, and drinking wine as I type, I thought I could indulge in commenting about the guys who signed up to run for governor in December 2012.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Breaks which are not breaks, news which are not news

Peñeros on mainland across Margarita
I was looking forward a short break in Margarita, after a particularly stressful third trimester.  But of course, such things are impossible in Venezuela.  To begin with, travel troubles make sure that you make it to your destination only if you have an abundant supply of pain relievers in your travel kit: in short order I had a travel agency mistake, a change of schedule in airline that was unknown by the agency anyway, a waiting list that did not take names, normal delays, normal stampede to the plane as if the last people would not be able to board, etc, etc...  And then arriving in Margarita we had ID checks with fingerprinting as if we were arriving to the US!!!!  That is due, I was told, to the crime wave of Margarita which has for lone solution, it seems, stopping registered criminals from landing at Porlamar.  Yeah, right, as if peñeros did not exist....

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Maria Corina Machado and COPEI set a milestone

Something old
No, this post is not about COPEI endorsing Maria Corina Machado.  They did not do it, instead going the way to endorse Pablo Perez as expected.  And we can even read in Entorno Inteligente that this places Pablo Perez with 2.940.440 votes.  Mind you, not "around 3 million" or almost 3 million" or "a solid 2.5 million".  No, in all confidence PP has 2.940.440, in sharp contrast with yours truly that gives him a potential of 2 million at best....  Entorno does not seem that Inteligente if you ask me.

The big news in today's Unidad politics is that the race has become "old time politics" versus "renewal".  The old time politics come form that final endorsement of PP by COPEI, rounding up around him all the old parties, and presumably all the old ways to settle scores.  We cannot wait for the small last dinosaur, MAS, to endorse PP and make the caricature whole (after all, Petkoff and Tal Cual seem to have endorsed PP).  For the other candidates all the new parties (PrVzl is, after all, barely a decade older than PJ already almost a decade older than VP...).  Suddenly and unexpectedly  the primary election is becoming truly a generational change.  Either it is the last chance for COPEI and AD to revive or for the new political world will emerge once and for all (including chavista transfuges like PODEMOS).  Let's note that this is fraught with danger because a trashing of PP could make many AD and COPEI stay home in October 2012, if you ask me.

If the support to PP of COPEI was today THE symbol of one side of the race, the interview of Maria Corina Machado on Globovision was the other side of the coin, the new language that the other candidates are fermenting slowly, but already bubbling in MCM.  She came across as forceful, precise, with a message of a clarity that we have not heard in years in this country.  In fact, I do not recall any politician being as clear as she was tonight.  Maybe it will cost her votes because she might scare people expecting promises as usual, maybe she will start climbing in polls (I think she will), but that is not the point.  Tonight MCM was the expression of a new Venezuela emerging, with Leopoldo and Enrique.  And apparently not with Pablo.

What do you know folks?  The primary election has become way more important than we already expected.


Something new por Globovision

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Venezuelans are idiots

So pollster Oscar Shemmel of Hinterlaces made a rare appearance in VTV to expose his latest poll findings, with a twist in their interpretation.  My conclusion?  If what he says is true then we are a country of idiots and we deserve what is happening.

Greek tragedy to kill Euro, and more

UPDATE: do yourself a favor and read the Economist article on Greece, including corrupt trade unions that are confident that Europe will keep bailing them out and thus why make sacrifices.  I sure hope that Greece votes itself out of Europe.  So Venezuela like, also, in that mentality of worry not, we will always be able to loot the state/Europe/the rich/[insert constituency of your choice].
 --------------------------------------
I have had very little sympathy for the Greek tragedy playing now.  It has been at least two decades that people in the know were aware that the Greeks were taking Europe for a ride, chuleandosela, as we would say in Venezuela.  The father of the current Greek prime minster is the one who taught the Greeks to use European development funds to buy votes by spending them in populist measures in lieu of hard investment.  The New Democracy simply followed suit and it became a competition as to which side knew best to milk Europe.  Why Brussels allowed it is one of the interesting chapters to be written about the European Union history books.

The idiots at Correo del Orinoco

Today Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado registered their names officially for the primaries.  That meant hey brought a big fat check and for MCM who has no party behind her, 200,000 signatures.  Looking through the news tonight I run into the account by Correo del Orinoco, one of the chavista rags that self qualifies as "artilleria del pensamiento" (gunnery of the thinking?).  To bring you up to speed, this is the newspaper that has an English section edited by Eva Golinger.  Now you know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Playing dirty at the MUD

We should always remember that the MUD is first and foremost a collection of interests including people far from winning anything getting a chance at a back seat.  Today the MUD decided that Miranda State will have primaries for governor the same day than the presidential primaries.  This had as an immediate effect in forcing Capriles Radonski to chose for which primary he wants to run, just as he is on top of polls.  But curiously Zulia is not asked to hold a primary which smooths the way for either Pablo Perez or Manuel Rosales to get the nod as they please.  Primero Justicia of course complained loudly, through the voice of the guy that would replace Capriles on the Miranda ticket, establishing that it was more about fairness than anything else.

Conspiracy theory 102

UPDATED

Since many of you have been reading on the bolibanana revolution for so long I presume that by now you have approved conspiracy theory 101 and we can move on to the next stage.  There a few ones floating around these days, induced by the uncertainty of Chavez croaking.  Thus I am going to list some in no order of importance.

Splitting the voting dates to change the constitution in between

UPDATE AT END OF THIS SECTION
This is the one that Milagros Socorro offered in her El Nacional column this week end.  According to her the latest rise in military paycheck is to tie them down with Chavez.  He would be needing their support so that after election day on October 7 a victorious Chavez could ask for a constitutional referendum to remove the rank of governor and mayor.  And thus the December governor elections would have no point being held anymore.

Monday, October 31, 2011

And off we go for the Unidad primaries: first evaluation

UPDATED twice

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.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yet another bolivarian fraud in Guadalajara

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

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.

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).

Friday, October 21, 2011

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.

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:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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.....

One less tyrant: Qaddafi dead

UPDATED WITH VIDEO OF QADDAFI LAST MOMENTS
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?

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