Thursday, June 26, 2014

Of planes and clouds, debacle and loyalty, outdated lefties and pragmatist delusions

It seems that suddenly things are speeding up.  On one side the government keeps proving that it cannot produce a single fresh, novel idea, on the other side rats are having trouble abandoning ship. But they are trying hard.

To amuse you let's start with the regime, once again, caught pants down on something that it should know better by now. I mention here this year "El Niño" and how the expected, predictable drought will catch the country as unexpectedly as it caught it already twice under Chavez tenure. Electrical plants are not finished to supply a possible lack of hydro power. The electrical grid seems as chaotic as it was 4 and 8 years ago. There are now small but significant power outages in Caracas, and in Margarita we had two outages of more than an hour the week I was there, in spite of the hotel' own generators...

But also the drought will affect agriculture and water supply to cities. So, what does a foolish government do when it trips for the third time on the same stone? Promote seeding clouds, with the help of Cuba, of course. The remedy is promptly decried by people who know best, that accuse the regime of distraction for not having done what it was supposed to have done years ago, from building new dams to stop the illegal stealing of water that happens all around (and that is by definition wasteful as poorly executed). But "Mision Vivienda" to build sub par housing does win elections whereas "repression" in forcing people to pay for water and electricity does not bring in votes.

Amusingly that we are speaking of planes to seed clouds, there will be less planes in the skies of Venezuela. The reason is that the government owes billions of dollars to airlines and these ones are tired of waiting. And nobody will come to replace the departing airlines because no one is going to risk it, because the companies that left will pressure their governments to block new routes toward Venezuela, etc. I read and hear in some sectors that airlines did make a mint during the fixed currency period, but what good it does them if they cannot repatriate their benefits. And besides, it is not their fault that the regime set up such devastating policies... Airlines are willing to negotiate to cut down their profits, but not to transform them in losses.

But does this matter anyway? Today I learned that after July 1 when the travel currency will go up to 50 Bs for a single USD, my planned trip to Europe this fall for work will cost me two month basic pay check. Two months. Off season. Plus my expenses there of course.  If it were not a travel for business purposes, I could not travel. Period. Truly, it does not really matter that there are less flights, people are going to travel less anyway and the regime knows that and plays with it. Drought and travel are just two markers of the economic crisis.

Which brings us to the economy which some still try to point at the root of the Girodani affair illustrated in the last two posts.  Well, in all fairness there is chance of some improvement now, but all for the wrong reasons, and thus it will be short term improvement if anything.

Today we had yet another minister of Chavez coming out in support for Giordani and another for Navarro, same difference. Plenty for Maduro too, strictly on obedience lines, on loyalty excuses. For me all should go to jail together but that is another story. Whatever it is, the debacle inside chavismo seems to go crescendo, forcing Maduro to pitifully demand loyalty to the army and to his followers, and come out as the sole decision maker in economical matters when we all know he knows nothing on economy and does not take any decision without the permission of at the very least Cuba. Yet, he went as far as stating that it was an outdated left attacking him. Say what?
Bien desconsiderados son algunos de estos trasnochados de izquierda, atacando en el momento en que el enemigo busca cortarnos la cabeza y destruirnos.
Very ungrateful are some of the old fashioned lefties, attacking at the moment in which the enemy is trying to chop off our heads and destroy us.
Truly, the cliché "all revolutions eat their children" is alive an well.

But this of course forces us to evaluate a little bit more closely the Giordani effect inside chavismo. We have a few factors that cannot be dismissed, food sales in volume have been going down for 5 months in a row; Cuba/Castro are still the masters of chavismo; the military are realizing that the levels of repression that will be needed are not acceptable for their own future. How does this fit together?

First you must remember that whatever passes as an "economic system" in Venezuela is ANY system that will allow the perpetuation of an elite in power. Any. As such one cannot be surprised to suddenly hear Maduro toss out Giordani as a retard lefty.

Second, the bolibourgeois nouveau riche are wondering where to hide. You may have followed the crusade of Alek Boyd unmasking a particularly nasty gang of corrupt "businessmen"at Derwick, but today an item from Miami speaks volumes. It turns out that the new owner of Globovision, Gorrin, wants a new manse in Miami. They all want at least a pied a terre in Miami... One would think that fresh from the purchase of Globovision who is not flourishing since that purchase, a wise businessman would think before investing 12 millions ONLY for the land. That is right, he supposedly spent 12 to buy a house and plans to tear it down so as to build one more according to his tastes, for a final bill of who knows what. Well, the local owners association has decided to ban him as unsuitable for the neighborhood. See, since February 12 chavista higher ups are becoming unacceptable, and worse in the fancy neighborhoods they crave to spend their golden years. Amen of the probable need for many of them to escape justice.

I am absolutely certain that this reality is seeping into many chavista minds that realize that after a few scores of protesters murdered, jailed, tortured and what not, they may need to remain forever in Venezuela. As such they need to turn Venezuela more livable, and not only for their own comfort but in the hope that once things are not as bad they may have time to wash their faces before leaving for good into the sunset.

It is of course a delusion, they have committed too many crimes and too many of them will not go unscathed. But that will not stop them for trying, hence the first step to kick out the ones that wanted a economic system to make the populace dependent of the regime for its longevity. The consequential created misery now does not compensate anymore the dependency syndrome and we are over a powder keg with fuse and all, just waiting for someone to find the way to light the fuse.

Rumors abound that the regime is negotiating a financial deal to avoid the IMF, along with its Cuban masters who are also in a dire predicament as Raul and Fidel days are numbered by the Parcae. Many people are pushing for it, from the Chinese who want their money back to oil companies willing to invest under better conditions, and other assorted vultures. But first the Chavez revolutionary system had to be put to rest and this required booting Girodani and getting ready for a major purge which will probably result in a new leftist party creation like Front de Gauche in France or Podemos in Spain. The first true division of chavismo if you will.

On May 31 2007 I was writing that morally the revolution had died that week. I had to wait 7 years to be able to write that the economic revolution died last week (well, it has been in a zombie state for quite a while but economies cannot have clean deaths as ideas can). The only problem is that we do not know what is coming. One thing we can be certain is that the regime is aiming at finding new ways to be able to control the economy that are less damaging to its poll numbers. However, as long as it feels that it cannot release control, no substantial change will happen. Whatever we may see at first will be cosmetic partial liberalization since the exhausted private sector is in no position to offer a political challenge. But like it was the case for NEP like policies in history, such equilibrium are short lived, China being perhaps the sole exception of an economic liberalization that was not accompanied by a political one. At some point liberalization triumphs and goes to democracy (Korea) or repression comes back with a vengeance, as awful as Stalin if needed.

But we can always hope that the unraveling of the regime may be going suddenly faster than expected...


  1. Charly7:58 AM

    Daniel, this writing of yours is great stuff. I particularly like your last sentence. Let us hope not only that the revolution will eat its children but also that they will start eating each others. This world can do away with a few cannibals.

    As for the bolibourgeois not being able to set foot in the USA, unfortunately it may be possible in Miami because the neighbors are aware of and do not want stinking newcomers but elsewhere in the US, they will be welcome. You see, a Venezuelan can get near instant immigrant status if he is willing to invest at least USD one million. I personally checked with an immigration lawyer. For the Yankee Government as for old Vespasdian "Pecunia non olet".

    For those who like a bit more news cum malicious gossip on the state of the nation:

  2. I read in that "Carta Desgraciada" opinion piece that PDVSA is trying to sell CITGO. So I wonder if ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips may not seek the sale be put on hold until they have a decision in the arbitration cases they filed against Venezuela/PDVSA?

  3. Anonymous4:59 PM

    If Castro passes from the scene, a peaceful transition in Venezuela is possible. If not, then violence is inevitable.

  4. Boludo Tejano5:11 PM

    Bien desconsiderados son algunos de estos trasnochados de izquierda, atacando en el momento en que el enemigo busca cortarnos la cabeza y destruirnos....
    Very ungrateful are some of the old fashioned lefties, attacking at the moment in which the enemy is trying to chop off our heads and destroy us.

    Rather amusing for Maduro to attack "old fashioned lefties" considering that from the viewpoint of the Castro brothers, who are poster godfathers ["poster children" for octogenarians ?] for trasnochado/old fashioned lefties, Maduro is Our Man in Caracas. Like you point out, the revo eating their children.

    OTOH, we can be back into Alice in Wonderland territory: a good lefty is what I say it is. And only Maduro and the Castro bros can define it.

    It turns out that the new owner of Globovision, Gorrin, wants a new manse in Miami. They all want at least a pied a terre in Miami..
    We are again back in Alice in Wonderland territory. The bolibourgeois nouveau riche, who made their money off a regime that preaches hatred of the Yanquis, want to have mansions in the land of the hated Yanquis.

    But this is nothing new. What is new is your pointing out that " the local owners association has decided to ban him as unsuitable for the neighborhood" in Miami. But then, would Cuban nomenklatura members be welcome in Miami?

    China being perhaps the sole exception of an economic liberalization that was not accompanied by a political one.
    In one sense there has been a political "liberalization" in China. The old Maoist regime wouldn't let you alone. For example, the old Maoist regime broadcast propaganda from street corner loudspeakers. It wanted to make sure not only that citizens behaved properly, but that they had the correct thoughts. Today, citizens are permitted more of a private life- as long as they don't make waves politically.

    But this is a trivial correction. Your essay is most informative and entertaining. Why read Venezuela News and Views? For the same reason that jazz great Charlie Parker would listen to country music : “Listen! Listen to the stories!”

    1. I am kind of pleased to have this blog qualified as a country music feel blog.

      I am not a fan of country music yet I see its appeal and I happen to have over a couple of dozens CD of the genre. I brought them with me when I came back to Venezuela. I have a friend who did her thesis on how to use Country Music for therapy and thus I had a good guide for to sort through the stuff. But she retired and now she does not even listen to the stuff anymore. So I guess my collection will remain a "classic" assortment of the late 80ies early 90ies era.

    2. Modern country music I can't stand,but the oldies are amazing.
      I've wanted to buy a guitar since i started listening to it.

    3. "Of ships and shoes, of sealing wax, of cabbages and kings".... there are narratives to be written on anything really, from a product you are selling, to the coffee you drink, to a poem about an old pick- up truck painted with mud.We can't just reserve the narrative for the sky and a great love.The ordinary has an extraordinary narrative as well if we look.firepigette

  5. As always: informative, well written, and factual.

  6. What if they seeded the clouds with the ground up bones of Bolivar?

  7. Boludo Tejano6:18 PM

    Of the various types of C+W music, I have a passion for Western Swing. The King of Western swing is universally acknowledged to be Bob Wills, who played most of his career with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Even the Rolling Stones acknowlege that In Texas, Bob Wills Is Still The King.

    While randomly expressing my appreciation of Bob Wills's music, I found out that the father of a student of mine had gone to high school with Al Striklin's son. Al Striklin played piano with the Playboys before WW2- Bob Wills referred to Al as his "piano pounder." I similarly found out from a neighbor of mine, an octegenarian saxaphone player who still plays in a dance band, that Al Striklin had played occasionally as a backup piano player with his dance band in the '50s and '60s.

    Granted, Western Swing doesn't have the "stories" that Charlie Parker was talking about.

    1. Boludo Tejano6:19 PM

      Intended to get this in the reply section. Oh well.


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