Monday, December 22, 2008

Chavismo with time on its hands: expropriating shops

You would think that with a an inflation rate edging 30%, with a crime rate offering no relief, with oil prices for the Venezuela variety looking to 20 USD as a goal, with worries about how to pay for all the food that needs to be imported next year, and more, much more worries, chavismo would be very busy to have time for sensationalism. Think again.

Apparently chavismo has time on its hands to do or say stupid things.

The mall that would not be.

Chavez in his Alo Presidente decided to expropriate a soon to be inaugurated mall not too far from downtown Caracas. The San Bernardino Sambil was designed in the hope of revitalizing a depressed area and in the hope of bringing much needed safe retail space to the Western area of Caracas. It is all built on private capital and in such a location it has got to have had all the legally required building permits. It has absolutely no strategic value for the country, and even the lame excuse of Chavez to stop the growth of traffic downtown is ridiculous because in fact it could actually help by allowing denizens of the West not to trek to the malls of the East anymore. Besides the mall is already built, it has been under construction for two years and it is a little bit hypocrite that suddenly Chavez cares about these urbanism issues when he has been unable to force his underlings to even pick up the trash of Caracas on time.

That it was a whim of Chavez is clear in that he does not know what he will be do with the San Bernardino mall "a hospital, an university or a school". As if retail space could easily be transformed in the type of space that such organizations require. The San Bernardino mall could only be transformed in office space if you really wanted to void its original function. It is probably cheaper to tear down most of the mall and build a hospital than to condition the mall into a hospital.

But I am not going to go into the whims of Chavez desperately trying to get attention to garner his voters for his latest referendum (he announces that he should get at least the total he got in 2006, as if the last two years of his rule had been that stellar with inflation and crime! Unbelievable!) What I can tell you for sure is that this is a very serious blow to private investment in Venezuela. No one anymore will undertake a major building project, from mall, to housing, to factories, knowing now that a single presidential whim can void years of effort. Or does anyone thing that with oil at 30 USD Chavez is going to pay the investors of the Sambil a just compensation?

With such stupid moves the economic crisis next year is suddenly appearing at getting much worse than expected.

The seditious editorial.

In my preceding post I commented on the latest Washington Post editorial on Venezuela. Apparently that editorial is bringing enough unease in the government that it brought foreign minister Maduro to make one of the most stupid declarations of his career, already rich in nincompooperies. According to Maduro the Washington Post is the organism that transmits to Venezuelan opposition the lines it should use during the campaign against the in vita aeternam reelection.

That is right, the Washington Post, the paper of Watergate, is now the chosen conduit of a Republican administration to give orders to the Venezuelan opposition. Apparently this blogger is not the only one who every morning reads the Post to make sure he knows what to write in his blog.

One does not know if we should cry or laugh at this.

Apparently the portion that irked Maduro so much is this one which I reproduce in full:
The problem is that elections in Venezuela are no longer free and fair. Mr. Chávez has turned national television into a state propaganda outlet, and the Miami Herald reported Sunday that the government spent tens of millions of dollars to buy votes in the recent state and local elections. The state election authority, which is controlled by Mr. Chávez's loyalists, delayed the announcement of his defeat in last year's referendum; reliable sources say the president conceded only after he was told by military commanders that they would not put down protests against a falsified result. The official results, showing the margin of Mr. Chávez's loss, have not been released.

Now, what part of the above is untrue?

I know that Maduro is paid to make a fool of himself, but if there was an occasion to remain silent it was that one. Now more people than ever are going to read that editorial and learn more than what they wanted to learn about Venezuela. I love it!!!! I do not know who advises Maduro (I am not sure his English is good enough to read the WaPo himself) but that person ill advised poor Nicolas who would have been better off doing his late Xmas shopping.

-The end-

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