Saturday, November 18, 2006

Is Chavez losing his marbles?

I mean, this is not a rhetoric question: this week Chavez has given us evidence that he might not be quite together. Blame it on campaign stress, blame it on uppers to keep the pace, blame it on whatever but at least start considering that something is not quite right in the high spheres of power.

A social service center in Chuao

It all started in Chuao a couple of days ago when Chavez decided to inaugurate a Barrio Adentro 3 facility. Or was that 2? I get lost sometime as Barrio Adentro 4 is about to be launched, as a code word for new hospitals (while the old ones keep crumbling, but you know they are hospitals from the hated 4th republic and they deserve to crumble). The new facility also got the name of Salvador Allende.

What is wrong with this picture? In a country in need of so much help for its paupers, Chavez for political reasons is giving the more affluent districts of Caracas a Barrio Adentro. Anyone in Chuao (or El Cafetal, Macaracuay also served by that area newest BA), no matter how down on their luck they might be, can afford the bus drive to a public facility if they wish it so. There is absolutely no urgency in putting a Barrio Adentro in Chuao unless some ulterior motive is sought (rallying point for local chavistas? Spying center? Demagoguery?). I cannot even think of it as a ploy to gain Chavez votes in an area which votes at least 80% against him, an area which has two of the finest medical centers of Venezuela already. And when he gives it the Salvador Allende name, I cannot even conceive how this can be considered as a vote gaining scheme. See, Salvador Allende has never been very popular in Venezuela since he caused us to go through two waves of Chilean exiles. And since we have Chavez on our back, we are always thinking about him as our next Salvador Allende in that his errors might force upon us a Pinochet like bloody dictatorship.

I wonder who came up with this nincompoopery. Meanwhile those who will really need to use the Salvador A. to save their lives will have to pay even more bus fare to get out of their way to Chuao, a traffic nightmare these days in Caracas.

A second floor for Caracas highways

There is a video running today where Chavez offers as a solution to Caracas traffic to build a second floor on Caracas highways. I do not know if he said that in the heat of the moment in Chuao, or if it is part of an even nicompoopier campaign to gain votes in the middle class. But let me say right here that it is a terrible idea, a catastrophic idea even!!!

The traffic problem in Caracas is an inherited factor due to overcrowding, cheap gas and deficient public transportation. Chavez has added to this problem by letting the street situation degrade with potholes big enough to swallow cars and drive traffic to a near standstill. In addition the flow of money that reaches public workers of the chavista persuasion has allowed for a car sales boom which has finally made Caracas traffic collapse once and for all.

Caracas highway basic problem is that they are operating above capacity on three lanes out of the initial two with emergency lane. The emergency lane is long gone and became a third lane, and the highways became gigantic parking at rush hour. All specialists that have studied the case have agreed on one thing: building a second story of highway would be a big mistake because the now 12 lanes highway will exit in two lanes already traffic chocked streets. The end result will be a 12 lanes parking area.

That Chavez has offered such a proposal is beyond belief. Does any one ever tell him things? Have the chavista nouveau riche, that now have luxurious cars, no idea about Caracas traffic woes? Did they go too fast from the buseta to the Lexus?

The only solution for Caracas is much more expensive gas, taxes on vehicles, expensive parking (chavismo has blocked parking rates, by the way, an incentive for folks to drive everywhere), a new subway line to El Cafetal, Prados (and through Chuao, by the way), and others. But a second floor for highways will be useless, an eye sore, an ecological disaster. Then again Chavez travels by helicopter and has never shown any serious concern for environmental issues. If his minions ask for a second tier highway, he’ll oblige…

Let’s close TV networks

And today we got more evidence. Now, as polls are not as bright as expected, chavismo enters a conniption stage. So the usual rake strategy comes out: if I am not elected trouble will come. Or another good one, the opposition will not accept defeat so if they come on TV to promote violence we will close TV stations. The classical conspiracy theory.

Now, Venezuela has to be the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD where the government controls everything, in particular the army. And even the electoral system. And yet the opposition is strong enough to cheat on elections and sabotage the army. How they manage that is a mystery as we are always waiting for the evidence of past sabotages. But Chavez screams that he will close TV stations and what is more worrisome, the crowd in attendance screams hysterically in unison, watching with glee as their freedom of expression will be cut. Amazing!!!! The willingness of the people to cut their nose to spite their faces seems to have no upper limit.

What drives Chavez crazy?

Well, when you look at the pictures of the Maracay Avalancha today you can understand how
Chavez is getting nervous. Maracay and Aragua, according to yours truly own predictions, is a bastion of chavismo. When you see the Maracay Avalancha, Rosales can be allowed to expect at least a 40% vote there. The problem for Chavez is of course that any reelection with less than 60% of the votes would be seen as a defeat, would cost him his LatAm leadership. If he cannot even be sure of 60% in Aragua, how can he expect a 60% nation wide? so he is starting to lose his nerve.

But he is not the only one as Diosdado Cabello declared gleefully that the electoral base of Chavez is the same one as the Recall Election. That is, Chavez can ONLY get more than the what he got in 2004, 59%. The only glitch is that Cabello did not say 59%, but 70%. La surenchère. Panic soon? Don't they have polls saying that they are 25% ahead? When will they start acting like it?

Meanwhile the coup de grace came from Chacao mayor who said that to close his Caracas campaign Rosales will hold a rally on the main Caracas highway "the Bolivar and Libertador avenues are too small for us".

Will Chavez dare to match Rosales on the Francisco Fajardo Highway? Without a second floor yet?

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