Before leaving Caracas to return to San Felipe today a customer told me this vote buying scheme from a small, really small village in the boondocks where he has his farm, the only steady source of paid jobs in that village besides, maybe, the liquor store, often the only store around. Once a week since last year there comes a governmental trucks labelled "Carnes Venezuela " or something to that effect. They park in the main square and they "sell" a 5 kilograms set of meat in 5 distinct containers of 1 kilo each. One is ground beef, one is stew meat, etc... No prime cut, of course.
I wrote sell in between quotes because they do ask a price to the villagers, of 100, Bs, which at 6,3 is a mere 16 bucks, for 12 pounds of meat. Now, even if you are jobless, you can always do an odd job for a day and get 100 Bs. If to this you add that some member of the family gets enough Mision cash grant to buy corn flour (when available) and cooking gas (when available), the family is set for a week with at least one main course a day.
What is wrong with this picture? We are not going to go into the meat quality, which is more than likely low grade. Nor will we go into how subsidized that meat is (a third of what you could get in a popular Caracas market? controlled prices since June 2011 here, and inflation about 35% since). No, not at all. We are going into my client problem in hiring people even though he is not a bad boss, fulfilling all the legal requirements, paying above minimal wage, etc, etc... Why would people work? To make maybe twice what they can gather from the government while sweating it? Maybe they can barely eat this way, but they do it for nearly free and no work except an occasional rally where beer of clear cheap rum is served.
I ask you: is this a social program, designed to get people out of poverty, or a mere vote buying program? Because let's make something clear, there are no jobs available in the area, only a few farm jobs or clerk jobs in the next town, about half an hour away. Even the land given to the locals have remained idle, while private farms faded, unable to resit personal insecurity and routine thievery of their products.
The second story is mine n full. I got stuck into an awful traffic jam this afternoon reaching the infamous La Cabrera tunnels in the highway between Caracas and Valencia. An hour an a half, with my car exterior thermometer indicating a 38ºC. Why?
Well, the regime finished a long overdue re-coating of the viaduct that exits the tunnel. That re-coating should be done on a two to three year basis at most but it has been done only once since Chavez was elected in 1999, with a couple of quick touches when some potholes became too threatening. Of course the re-coating has been deadly inefficient and since last year we have been plagued with huge traffic lines forcing me too chose whenever possible to go through it on week ends (sacrificing a day out of them) or between noon and 2 PM as the time with least traffic.
Well, the reason of today's demented jam was that they decided to close the highway, the major highway of Venezuela for a little bit over an hour because they wanted to have an official reopening with the official speeches like "we have rescued the highway when in fact it is only the routine maintenance that they would not have spent that much time doing if they had been doing it when expected. But we are at election time and the reopening should look for the idiots that vote for the regime as if a brand new highway had just been built.
What is at stake on April 14 vote is to chose between democracy an a regime turning fast into plain fascism. It is as simple as that. Do not expect me to retain any pretense at objectivity The people that are in charge now have absolutely no intention of taking the country out of the gutter, have no intention of creating wealth. They have all the intentions in the world of increasing dependency to the the state of the poorest segment of the population instilling into them the knowledge that their salvation can only come from the state and not form their effort. Indentured Mision, if you wish.
And while they do that, while they loot the state treasury either to enrich themselves of to buy votes, they throw parties at themselves without the vaguest regard on may inconvenience the people. Of course all the Nazional Guards and cops that are supposedly ensuring the safety of the drivers were at the party to we could have been robbed at gun point while parked on the highway.
This is a regime that has clearly lost any sense of purpose, that is on automatic people in order to ensure its survival at any cost. It has to be removed from office.
NOTITARDE, a Valencia paper took up the story, though they have started self censoring. They did not mention the huge traffic line but they did show some pictures so you can figure it out anyway. I picked some for your enjoyment:
|Idiot Ameliach, Carabobo governor, doing his press thing and certainly taking all the credit for a work that his predecessor would have completed long ago if credits arrived on time.|
|This was taken by a stuck car in the opposite lanes. It is the moment when finally the traffic was released and we could start driving again.|