Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday morning chavista moment: the NYT flushes Weisbrot

The latest opus of NYT's Simon Romero could just be another run of the mill set of observations of all that is wrong in Chavez's Venezuela, as we are now getting used to see everywhere: the world knows and it is catching up, so we can be pleased, those of us who have been writing such criticism for half a decade. However what makes this article worth noting is that it writes straight that all in Venezuela is about Chavez amassing more power, not about the country long term interests. With the added bonus that even some high profile Chavez sycophants agree with it.

The title of the article says it all: "Chávez Seizes Greater Economic Power". Mas claro no canta un gallo. This complemented with a lapidary single sentence paragraph:
One significant measure is foreign investment, which has hit record levels in several other Latin American countries but has fallen in Venezuela.
Next we can read these numbers that Romero refers too, where we learn that Peru, with a comparable population and not much oil receives TEN times more foreign investment than Venezuela. Not to mention that now many studies rank Venezuela close to last, if not last, in parameters such as transparency and climate for business. Whatever Chavez is doing he is not attracting real business investors, the real ones, those that do create real jobs. The only investors Chavez attracts are folks that want to have a colonial type access to raw materials, such as China Cuba and Iran. Tanto nadar para ahogarse a la orilla.

There is thus no need to discuss further this article, the sustained point is clear. But there is another very nice moment in it. See, Simom Romero, God bless him, is still trying to find some objective way to present his articles (as I noted in my previous "press review" on the Reyes laptop.) I do not know why he bothers at this point but it does pay some dividends though, not necessarily those that chavismo will expect.

His "balance" here was presenting Mark Weisbrot point of view. Mark Weisbrot is a paid lobbyist of Chavez in the US, which is an OK job over there. Sometimes when I get tired of blogging I just wish that I could find a sponsor myself to at least treat me to a couple of days at the beach :)
Mark Weisbrot, a Washington-based economist who is broadly supportive of Mr. Chávez’s economic policies, estimates that the public sector accounts for less than a third of the economy even after the latest nationalization wave. “The present government is so far mainly just reversing some of the privatization that took place in the 1990s,” Mr. Weisbrot said.
Let's see. First, how come that Mr. Romero does not quote some minister to defend such policies? That answer I know: the government ONLY speaks to supportive media, in Venezuela and abroad, the type of media that leave their declarations up without any "balance" from somebody else included. Thus poor Simon must resort to paid Chavez lobbyist for an "official" point of view.

Second, considering that Weisbrot is talking to the NYT and not to some local rag, look at his argument, or rather lack of argument: the government is mainly reversing previous privatizations; the public sector accounts of less than a third.

Either Mr. Weisbrot is an ignoramus, or he is a liar, your choice. The "both" is also allowed in the poll.

I am not going to offend the intelligence of the reader by rebating the painfully obvious silliness and lies of Weisbrot. Pena ajena. No, it is much more interesting to observe the very lameness of the Weisbrot argument, that even a long term noted supporter of Chavez cannot come up with a better argument such as "comprehensive energy policy" "comprehensive means to allow for subsidized housing" "the comprehensive tools to ensure access to food to the lowest population sectors".

See, even Mr. Weisbrot knows very well what the truth is: Chavez need to control EVERYTHING and he needs desperately new patronage systems to shore up his popularity, such as doubling or trebling the payroll of the newly nationalized industries, and the hell with notions of competence and competitiveness. He knows that so well that he does not have the heart to come up with a better justification which he knows will be trashed soon by Chavez next actions. So Mr. Weisbrot cut his losses and went straight to the lameness that he knows will be his lot from now on. After all, he is paid the same for brilliance or for stupidity.

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PS: translation of Venezuela saying used in this article: clearer does not sing the rooster; so much swimming just to drown reaching shore; embarrassed for others missteps.

-The end-

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