Sunday, April 23, 2017

Update on French elections

Yesterday I went to vote at the Caracas French embassy. I smelled tear gases wafting around us.  On one side democracy, on the other democracy's assassins.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

And the next stop is....

OK, a lot has been going on. I cannot catch up with everything. So here follows a summary of sorts mixed with my conclusions. Sort it out if you can, I can't.

The recent crude facts

Friday, April 21, 2017

My April 19

I know, this is almost two days late but this was such a personal experience that I can indulge this post.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Terror in Caracas

What we have experienced today in Caracas is terror. Even yours truly got gassed, not much but truly. But I am not the one who suffered the most, by far. So I will start this entry with pictures that show clearly the terror the regime deliberately forced upon us, at an enormous risk of lives lost. Four pictures to say it all.

This picture truly represents terror. On the right what are goons of the worst kind. On the left kids, teenagers 20 something, girls, hiding for dear life away from these goons, trying not to fall in the river. Look at the picture, look at the details!!!

Unfortunately some of them had to go down and wade through one of the most contaminated streams of the world, the rive Guaire that crosses Caracas, an open air sewer. I let you imagine the consequences...

How did that happen? The repression deliberately set a trap that could have caused hundreds of death.

The main highway through Caracas was taken by the march. That highway, Autopista Francisco Fajardo, AFF, splits at the level of Chacaito in an upper road West-East and a lower road East-West. Since the march was so huge (in a post later) the two decks were densely packed. Then the regime decided to strike. In the first picture you will see the upper deck and how packed it was. Had the wind gone East West, or had there being no breeze, the suffocation would have created a stampede and people would have been trampled upon, or maybe even jumped! I suppose the regime bet on the wind so that the smell would not be so bad to avoid a stampede. But the risk was enormous, ENORMOUS!

The next picture is the view West East where you can appreciate more what I just wrote. You can also see the amount of tear/pepper gas used and that the breeze was not that strong. You can also see that the lower deck battle was strong and that the crush forced people to jump into the sewer. The crossing shown above is further down river and not seen in this picture in particular, or at least it had not started yet as people may not have been aware yet of what was happening.

Now you understand better the terror in the first picture above.

All of these are worthy of Crime Against Humanity pursuits...

For the record, while I prepare the next post with my own personal experience of the day.

About ten minutes before the gassing started I was where the cell phone add was (white, black sash), at the end of the curve. That is where we decided to go back as it was becoming impossible to go further and people were already going back. Within minutes the police was bombing the area and and a few minutes after we had to take refuge in the street on the right in an eatery that shall remain nameless because they have already been in trouble.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The dictator's hour

So we are in a dictatorship. And this one has made new progress these past days to prove to the world it is so.  We had Sunday a totally infamous presentation by the president Nicolas Maduro where live on TV he decided who is guilty of what and how.  This based on torture.  Yesterday he went further on that path convoking the militia to Caracas to stop the massive opposition protest planned for tomorrow and forcing the army to repeat once again their indefectible oath to the revolution and its heir, the dictator.  As a bonus he promised to arm the militia, which one needs to be recalled , is not constitutional. But details are not the regime's forte.

The army today is controlling all the streets it can and all the entries to Caracas to make sure protesters do not come to fill in Caracas protests. Useless as the opposition is convoking protests in all major cities of Venezuela. You need not go to Caracas to state that Maduro is a piece of shit: you can do it in the comfort of your own city where repression awaits for you all the same than in Caracas. Decentralization at its best.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Maundy Thursday to remember

What is remarkable today, more than the actual events, some horrific enough, is that they actually took place. For those not familiar with Venezuelan holiday habits, the Holy Week, from the Friday before Palm Sunday (viernes de concilio) until Easter is the biggest vacation time of the year. Whoever can get the week off leaves Caracas (or any provincial capital) to visit relatives, go to the beach, etc. When I was a kid there was not even a bakery open on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Not even movies!  TV only showed old biblical cheesy movies. Things have changed since but Good Friday still remains mostly closed. And the rest of the week still is in slow motion, but effervescent on any Venezuelan beach.

This year the regime tried to revive these habits out of political expediency: public employees got the week off. The idea was to have as many people leave Caracas as protests kept mounting. It has not worked.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: assorted pelting

The sensation yesterday was Maduro in San Felix receiving egg on his face, literally. Though I doubt it was egg considering their price and the lack of food.  Make that rotten eggs and stones and dog shit as the more likely projectiles.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The 2017 French ElectionS

We make a welcome pause in the covering of the Venezuelan protest to discuss the coming French elections where yours truly has a very hard time to decide who he is going to vote for.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: notching up the repression

I will be brief tonight. It will be all about how repression increases.

That is right, watch the video, now the regime drops over protesters tear gas cans, which may kill someone if hit directly. Think about that for a second. This is material for The Hague, of the best quality.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Week 2 of the dictatorship: Elections now? That ship has sailed!

Yesterday show of strength by the opposition, in numbers and determination, has shaken the regime, and in particular Maduro who does not have the intellectual heft to understand what is truly going on in the country. His evilness and street smarts can only go so far, no matter how much the Cubans are trying to direct him. And they took him way farther than anyone expected! I am not saying that he is done with, one should never underestimate people who think along mafia lines or feel like cornered dogs. What I am saying is that when people have as their lone strategy violence, cynicism and bald faced lies, then they are at their wit's end.

Today Maduro did his Sunday show and announced that he could not wait for elections so as to trounce the opposition and radicalize the revolution. Oh my! Where do I start?

Week 2 of the dictatorship: tensing more and more

The protest was huge today. HUUGE...  Chacao filled up like in its best days.

An air of "Venezuelan Spring"

And thus was the reaction of the regime, repression more brutal tan before, a rain of tear gas but also direct shots with tear gas canisters which I understand is forbidden internationally.  Whatever it is, the regime has sent its troops not only to repress but also in too many cases to rob the people they catch taking away their cellular phones, at least.

In the evening when all was supposedly done, the regime managed to slip in a tear gas bomb in the offices of Capriles in Caracas, setting them on fire. At midnight the army with heavy weaponry presented itself at the site "for inquiry". Scare tactics everywhere, whenever.  The worry is what will we do with all those corrupt security personnel when this is over. From denazification to dechavistation.

But perhaps the main message of the day, besides the radicalization of the protest and repression, is that the opposition, without newspapers and without TV or radio is managing to pass its message very successfully. Internet will have to go.  And there is another message: outside of Caracas protest are also crescendo. And rallies in support of the regime are weak and in Caracas only.

Only repression is left for Maduro. The only questions are how far and how long.

Friday, April 07, 2017

On to week 2 of dictatorship: getting rid of nuisances

Today was calm compared to yesterday but equally important.

The news of course is the annulation of political rights for Capriles. When his term as governor of Miranda ends, then for 15 years he will not be able to run for any office, not even for dog catcher. Inasmuch as this is the flashy headline, that Capriles is barred from future office is not quite the main news of the day: this one we will have to piece it together.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Week 1 of dictatorship: article 333 and 350 against 337 and 338

What happened today?  Much more than a simple protest march.

Chavismo was unable to put up a counter march worth its name. Apparently a mere couple of blocks sort of filled up, a salsa band and some very dangerous speeches. Today's words of Aristobulo Isturiz, Freddy Bernal and Diosdado Cabello are enough to be added as definitive evidence on their dossier for The Hague. And furthermore, if the opposition had a huge march in Caracas, it also had many significant marches in the provinces. None that I know of from chavismo. And the opposition did all that in 24 hour notice.

Week 1 of the dictatorship: protests are mounting in spite of brutal repression



Today the opposition is taken the streets again, and this time around there is national move for that. The regime replies in the only way it knows, unable to update its modus operandi. For example they blocked early all access to Caracas, and closed 16 subway stations for good measure. That way protest marchers will not be able to make it to Caracas or to the rallying points. That workers cannot do so is of no concern, even though Caracas will look like a dead city today.

But the regime is cornered so here anything is good to stop the opposition.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Day 6 of the dictatorship: back to the streets

I  will be brief because today I could not follow events and only learned about the mess driving around El Recreo/Av. Libertador mid afternoon. The show was over but I crossed many an attempt at barricade, burning trash bags, rocks strewn over the streets...  It clearly had been rough and back at a computer at 5 PM I could watch some of the videos that were a hit, so to speak, today.

And yet this morning I should have got the warning. The regime not only monitored and blocked access to Caracas as much as it could, but the subway stations that could carry opposition marchers to the meeting point were closed "to protect the integrity of the stations and its workers" as if Caracas subway had ever been a battle field. What the regime was afraid is that the opposition would show the world it was back in the streets like in September when the regime felt on the edge of the cliff. Anything was good enough to lower attendance.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Day 2 of the dictatorship: an evening of NO

The bomb of Luisa Ortega stating that the high court decisions are unconstitutional has gone around the world. Really, even French TV talked about it tonight. This means that the world KNOWS perfectly well that in Venezuela there is no separation of power, that all are mere employees of the executive branch. What would have been a mere judicial dissenting opinion in a normal country, making it or not to the nightly local news, becomes in Venezuela world news.

Day 2 of dictatorship: just the morning and a bang

This is moving folks.

Day first of dictatorship: the local fate

Well, folks, I never thought in my already long life that I would live in a country that has been officially declared a dictatorship.

And those are not my words, there those of many newspapers, countries and foreign dignitaries. As far as the civilized world is concerned Venezuela is now a dictatorship. Only creeps like Bolivia pretend it to be otherwise. But then again Bolivia is about to annul the referendum that Morales lost, so what would one expect...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What can the opposition do now?

As an appendix to the preceding blog entry this short post. Short because there is not much the opposition can do.

And thus it came to pass: Venezuela's high court ends National Assembly's functions

Of course, this is not a surprise. The regime has been diligently eroding all functions of the Venezuelan National Assembly (NA). For this it has used the packing of the Venezuelan High Court (TSJ) in December 2015, just in the days between the election of a 2/3 dominated opposition NA, and its swearing in of January 2016. Since then a bevy of decisions without a single dissenting vote have been pronounced that ended up this Wednesday when a final decision declared that the TSJ will from now on assume all the duties of the NA while they refuse to obey the TSJ dictates.  This thus adds a new shade of meaning to "Damned if you do and dammed if you don´t".

For good measure last Tuesday the TSJ voided the parliamentary immunity of the NA, allowing the the regime to send representatives to military courts under accusation of high treason for supporting the OAS latest moves.

So that is that. What is next?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Actually, is a split in Venezuelan opposition unavoidable?

I was musing about the opposition divisions becoming more intractable. And they are.

What makes me think the opposition alliance, MUD, will divide is paradoxically, in a way, an editorial of Rafael Poleo in his magazine Zeta where he attacks Diego Arria (not available on line). Whether Poleo is right in his assessment is irrelevant to our discussion. What is relevant is his vehemence against Diego Arria and what he supposedly represents.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

In praise of the two MUD solution: 2- Solutions? Really?

Let's see.

What a difference a "revolution"
makes! Maikel from truant to boss.
The president of Venezuela, his excellency Nicolas Maduro Moros, has two of his nephews in jail in the US of A because they were found guilty of drug trafficking. This after a trial where the defense lawyers used were the best money can buy.

The vice president of Venezuela, albeit a by-appointment office but second in charge nevertheless, his worthiness Tareck El Aissami, was put a few weeks ago on the OFAC list by the Treasury Department of the US of A for drug trafficking, capital laundering, terrorism abetting through fake passports or what not. I cannot keep up.

The newly sworn head of the TSJ, the high cum supreme court of Venezuela, Maikel Moreno has a police mug shot from previous criminal offenses for which he was declared guilty. I mean, one may believe in second chances but there are limits.

So, what can a democratic opposition do when it has in front of it a publicly recognized criminal state? A state that has no intention whatsoever of relinquishing the faintest parcel of the power it accumulated? A state that does not blanch at the sight of the extensive misery it has created? A state which now wallows in gratuitous cruelty, by the way.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

In praise of the two MUD solution: 1- a new realitity

Let's be frank about it: when Obama and the Pope imposed a dialogue on the Venezuelan opposition MUD alliance they screwed us bad. But at least there is a tiny silver lining: the contradictions inside the MUD are now apparent and must be dealt with.

The recap is simple and at this point in this blog seems redundant. Obama did not want any trouble in the Caribbean while he was trying to bring out of the cold the Cuban dictatorship. In the failed hope that it would favor Hillary electoral prospects when the political situation in Venezuela became tense last summer State sent Thomas Shannon several times to Venezuela to promote a "dialogue". To add weight to the pressure the Vatican was recklessly brought in; a Vatican, need I say, led by a Pope with what we could call more socially liberal ideas, rarely adapted to real politic when you deal with dictatorships.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tareck does the New York Times

Everyday brings a new outrage with the Bolibanana revolution.  Today it was Venezuela’s vice-president the Tareck El Aissami publishing an open letter in the New York Times. Before I get into the outrage let's look briefly at said letter.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

La terrible semana de Nicolas Maduro

Hay momentos politicos que son explícitos en cuanto a la descomposición de un regimen. Si bien no vemos la fecha de expiración sabemos por el olor que el producto esta venciéndose. Esta semana a sido una de esas, donde se agregan mas letras a lo escrito en la pared.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In praise of the Trump-Tintori meeting

The meeting between Leopoldo Lopez wife, Lilian Tintori and the US president Donald Trump has not found favor among many people, many of them that should have known better. Thus the need for this brief post that I am sure will please no one.

Let's start with an artistic comment of the shot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tarecking CNN

This week has been a spinning nausea and we are only Wednesday evening. As of today we have a vice president accused of drug trafficking and fake passport emission, resulting not in an investigation but in closing CNN Spanish version.

Let me start with the obvious: when the Department of the Treasury of the United States indicates that your vice president is under investigation for MANY acts of drug trafficking there are only two options left for the president (of Venezuela or any other country). For Option one you fire, or at the very least suspend, your vice-president/prime-minister while investigations are undertaken. In Option two you break relations with the US, close the embassy of the US, call back all your staff in the US because obviously the US are liars and you cannot tolerate such a slandering of your principal politician.

Neither one took place. Instead the messenger was shot and the Spanish version of CNN was forced out of its cable broadcasts in Venezuela.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Becoming a failed state (3): reversible?

We seem to agree that Venezuela is either already a failed state, or about to become one. It has a rather wretched populace. It has loss of institutions. It is unable to agree on anything. It is pretty much bankrupt, bankrupt as in getting out of the hole will take a generation or more.

The question is thus the way out of a failed state. From the reasons discussed before it seems unlikely that there is an easy way out of the dire straits we are in. And the prospect for things to get worse is not a prospect, it is a reality. Why?

Friday, February 03, 2017

Becoming a failed state (2): the people

Excruciating cattle line for a white plastic rectangle
Last week end the regime was organization a census of sorts for people to sign up for “carnet de la patria”. The operation was on many Bolivar Squares of cities and villages, which are 90% of the time in areas of lower income status. That is, on Eastern Caracas, to give you an example, one would not see those lines. The objective is to codify under a single object all the now defunct social Misiones of Chavez. Defunct because there is no money and/or, they failed. But did the people signing up for the latest avatar knew what they were signing up for?

I was listening to an interview made to several people in the lines. One thought that it was some kind of census and people were required to sign up regardless. Another one did not know either but had heard that it would bring some material advantages “beneficios” so he had to sign up just in case. There was the one that wondered whether it was a new social program. Not forgetting the naïve one stating that the new card would stop abuse and corruption. Etc… Nobody knew exactly what the thing was about. All had an interpretation according to their need or wishes. And there had to be of course the chavista to the bone that said that this was the very last line that el pueblo had to stand in for, that thanks to the revolution and Maduro this was the final solution to all our woes. Or something of the kind, I am trying very hard to forget that after 17 there are still people like that.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Becoming a failed state (1): the parameters

There is actually the concern that Venezuela may become a failed state, if it has not become one already. After all, there is no way to get real numbers and thus for all that we know we may be already bankrupt with no way out as long until there is a sudden rise in oil price. Like to 90USD per barrel.
Being failed

So, are we becoming a failed state? Is there a way to avoid it? Do we have the people for that? Before going into the last point, a highly un-PC examination of the populace, let’s set the parameters that would qualify us as a failed state to be.

Let’s start with Wikipedia, as reliable a source as any other on this one since it is a relatively subjective notion.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An unacceptable proposal

Comments to the mediators' proposal has been included. I also include an additional conclusion next.

Commenting the proposal makes it even worse than what I thought it was at first. One wonders whether the regime wants any dialogue, of any type. It all seems to point to the regime looking for an excuse to dissolve the National Assembly since this one cannot stay in a dialogue under such conditions. One is left to consider how come the Vatican was drafted into such a scam. Or even if international pressure actually wants Maduro a couple of year more in office because other problems are more important. The money part of the proposal would indicate that, a goal to reach any sort of agreement so that the National Assembly votes the funds to pay Venezuela's commercial debts without it supervising the corruption of many of those. Truly a gross and amoral proposal.

The mediators of the Venezuelan crisis, appointed basically by the regime, have been accused with just reason of taking the regime side. That the late comer Vatican has been embroiled in the mess comes from Obama's decision to avoid any trouble in Venezuela until the November election. Little good it did to him, and lots of damage for Venezuela. Meanwhile the Vatican is in deep doodoo losing its credibility for nothing to the point of threatening to withdraw. One wonders what pushed the Vatican to get involved so easily in such a mess, apparently against the own opinion of the local clergy authorities (we do have two cardinals now, you know).

Medical assistance required

Last October I posted a plea for help. The basic idea was to find medicine for my S.O. cancer, medicine that is not available in Venezuela anymore and that will not be available for the foreseeable future.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The maelstrom is forming

For readers of this blog it should not be a surprise that the regime has chosen naked repression. The nomination of Tareck El Aissami as vice president was a clear indication of that. The man is a born killer, in search of a vengeance as early as his days in college.

It is not that Tareck IS the man, he is just the willing agent, the front of the "civilian" radical wing of chavismo, the one closely tied to Cuban interests to which Maduro, Jaua and some other belong. They may or may not be die hard communists, some do not have the intellectual baggage to know what Marxism is truly about. But they all have a mean anti system streak and if they have joined totalitarian regimes from the left side it is strictly a matter of historical moment.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2017 perspectives

Certainly it is a fool's errand to make any predictions for 2017, even if it is this time of the year when pundits dust off their crystal balls. Yet, this week has seen enough action that we can confidently describe the engines that will drive the political year. With a 97,63% odds for the country to crash in a wall.

The regime is cornered. So Maduro, trying to rise above chavismo divisions and his fears that the military may not be fully behind him, did his ultimate provocation: to name a radical cabinet where the intentions are clear. Those are to break anything that is not already fully controlled by the regime. The short list is the opposition leadership, the rump private sector still existing (least they would fund a political campaign for dog catcher), universities and private education. That is all I think, there is nothing else left.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

And the year starts with a bang

Today the National Assembly sessions for 2017 started, without the regime dissolving it. Actually chavismo representatives attended though they denounced that the Assembly was illegal, and that they would not even bother naming their whip. The chair for this year sessions is Julio Borges, replacing Ramos Allup. In his inaugural speech he took no gloves. He said that the objective of the Assembly was to find a way to get rid of the terrible government of Nicolas Maduro. And he demanded that the army faced up to its responsibilities: either support Maduro and its narco state, going down with him in infamy, or force him to accept elections and restore constitutional rule. Borges could have not been any clearer, and challenged the regime just as this one named the most leftist, castroite, communist narko cabinet since 1998.

So let's see what this all means.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Maduro names the cabinet from hell

The news came as a surprise. Not that a new cabinet was unexpected: around January 10 everyone expected Maduro to name a new Vice President, the one that would succeed him as president if he resigns, or is resigned. But no one expected Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah to become that vice-president. This is truly awful. And if you look at who is being named along to some key portfolios it gets worse.

So let's start with our Tareck boy.

Monday, January 02, 2017

A vision of 2017

While Diosdado Cabello was scheming to dismiss once and for all the National Assembly, on January 3 while on a flight to Punto Fijo a plane mechanical problem forced him into emergency landing in Curaçao. During the protocolar routine registry of the plane weapons and money were found, forcing Curaçao gouvernement to hold Cabello in the island and giving time to the US to officially demand extradition on January 5, with a duly request to the Netherlands. On December 6 the Venezuelan Navy decided to blockade Curaçao but as the first ship arrived in view of Willemstad a US fighter dropped a charge a few hundred meters ahead showing that they were determined to get their man this time around. This coupled, of course, with the US Navy receiving orders to protect the shipping lanes to and from Curaçao. On December 10 Cabello was flown to the US as relations were totally severed between Venezuela and Canada, USA and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile in Caracas the MUD opposition broke over supporting Diosdado Cabello since the US had released evidence against Cabello and by a one vote majority installed as a new chair to the National Assembly that refused to support Cabello. The regime declared the National Assembly in treason to the fatherland and on December 19 the TSJ high court dissolved it while the army seized the National Assembly at night.