Friday, December 28, 2012

A happy new year for the military in Venezuela?

I am facing a complicated week end and I may not be able to write much until next year. OK, next Tuesday....  Thus, just in case, I wanted to write with some leisure right now to wish you all a Happy New Year and to write some about what is in store for Venezuela.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Prosperity in the Maduro era

As usual the regime tries to throw cosmic dust at us to make us believe everything is coming up roses.  The more so now that we are in the electoral campaign of Maduro which is going to be a harder sell than the one of Chavez for October. See, in the Caribbean we did not know that Zombie voting was not only reserved for Haiti. Though admittedly Maduro has also Zombie like qualities.

On one hand the Central Bank assures us that the economy GDP last year grew by 5,5%, 0,5% BETTER than expected. Apparently without gagging Merentes assures us that the negative numbers are a thing of the past and that Venezuela has entered a phase of prosperity, the top 5 within Latin America.  He does acknowledge though that the growth is due to massive electoral public spending vote buying although he does not call it that way, just social investment or something like that. Of course, even though the year is not over and we have already the GDP 2012, we do not have the inflation 2012, and even less how that one contributed to the inflated GDP growth...  But I am such a nitpicker, sorry.

Now, today, Maduro, freshly invested with the power over the purse's strings, announces that it will be forbidden to fire people for another year.  This changes nothing, we have not been able to fire anyone for soon a decade. Not only that, but the new labor law announced last summer in great fanfare for Chavez reelection purposes made firing people awfully expensive so we thought that maybe we could start firing people legally even if we risked going bankrupt along the way (it is roughly about 2 years pay check penalty depending conditions).  But no, it is still forbidden to fire folks for another year (though for years we have been negotiating discrete firing with the workers for significant amounts of money, a true racket).

My question, and forgive my naivete, if central bank chair Merentes is right and we are booming at 5,5%, how come we cannot fire workers? Aren't we supposed after all to be hiring like crazy to satisfy the economic growth?  Why is there a need to protect workers against unjustified layoffs?  Am I the only one seeing contradictions in that?

I am sorry, I was not going to write this week but when I am at work in spite of the holidays and I read such idiotic contradictions of a regime in populist overdrive, I find out that I still have not lost my ability to wince.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

El Chávez multifacetico

Preparando el día de los Inocentes, me imagino

Según usted lea esta es la situación de Hugo Chávez hoy:

Se murió
Está gravísimo
Está estable
Presento leve mejoría
Su familia lo visitó en Navidad
Está ejercitándose y discutiendo asuntos de estado con el Vice

Escoja usted.

Lo único que si es cierto: el saco de ratas que es el gobierno está tan enrollado que no son ni capaces de tener una linea informativa consecuente, aunque sea de puras mentiras.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas letter to readers

I will be busier next following days and I may not be able to post a Christmas post on the 24. But also it is time for me to come out from an October 7 post as to the future of this blog. As anything in Venezuela, the clean cut scenario of a Chavez victory did not come quite true. Then I wrote that I had no interest in spending more years writing to the world why Chavez was bad and that the blog would not close but evolve into something else, something I care enough to write about, involving Venezuela up to a point.

Then again, under PTSSS on October 8 I wrote that I would try to follow the state elections but after that all bets were open. I did not cover much but I did cover it. Thus my contract with the devoted readers that followed until today has been fulfilled. Yet....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The recovery of the opposition is far from starting

If you think that after Sunday 16 the drubbing of the opposition is over, think again.  Some of its past decisions are going to come to haunt the MUD. Actually, it is already starting.

The scenario right now, at least if we interpret the cryptic messages from chavismo, is that Chavez may recover but not for January 10. There is already in preparation yet another constitutional coup where the limit date for swearing in of January 10 may be pushed over. Or said swearing be held in a Havana hospital. Then again we are a Cuban colony and this does not trouble me at all, it is logical.

Pobre hijita de Papi...

Es que hay cosas....  La ultima nos viene de La Habana donde nada más y nada menos Maria Gabriela Chávez nos pide respeto a través de su cuenta twitter.

Respeto a la familia y sobre todo respeto a mi pueblo.Basta d mentiras! Estamos junto a papá,VIVOS,luchando y recuperando la salud.CON DIOS


Primero, si de mentiras se trata entonces es muy sencillo: digan lo que está pasando con Hugo Chávez. El será el Papa de Maria Gabriela pero como presidente de Venezuela perdió todo derecho a su privacidad en cuanto este se refiere al interés público. Un presidente enfermo tiene la obligación de informar, de garantizarnos que en verdad la enfermedad no está afectando su capacidad de gobernar. Los rumores terminan donde empieza la verdad.

Segundo, si hay un país respetuoso es Venezuela porque no puedo imaginar ninguna democracia donde las instituciones y los ciudadanos se calarían la grosería de la viajadera a Cuba de centenares de acompañantes pagados por el erario publico. La falta de respeto aquí viene de esa niña que cree que su cuenta de ahorro esta en el Banco Central de Venezuela.

Tercero, no hay tercero porque me parece un insulto a la inteligencia exigir respeto a la gente más irrespetada en Venezuela, desde los que padecieron por la lista de Tascón hasta Luis Brito. Los irrespetuosos son el clan abusador de Hugo Chávez que ni siquiera respetan a sus seguidores.

Escrito esto, le desamos una pronta recuperación al presidente para que pueda enfrentar las consecuencias de sus acciones destructoras del país. No te preocupes M.Gabriela, estamos contigo aunque sea por otras razones.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's next for the Venezuelan opposition?

OK, we have been defeated in October 7 and trashed last Sunday. That those defeats are incomprehensible when one considers the state of the country makes the whole thing harder to stomach. Thus, the first thing the opposition needs to do is to try to understand why is it that the blackmail of the regime was so effective in coaxing people to vote again for them in spite of crime, inflation, constant power outages, lack of real jobs, etc, etc...  It is crystal clear, I hope, that satisfying ourselves by saying we will be more efficient than Chavez is not going to work out, ever. Well, not before the country collapses but do we want to be in charge then? Can anyone even be in charge then when we return to African like political "culture" which is where chavismo is taking us. Guinea Equatorial anyone? Or Guinea Bissau if you prefer?  Congo will do if you go for bigger countries.

Unfortunately we do not have much time to craft a new message that combines the few successful themes of the campaign that ended in October with a more assertive language where we start putting it down clearly that voting voting for Chavez is voting for your doom.  Still, there is quite a few things that should be done ASAP.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Afiuni judicial story

Still in its wrapping.
Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was put into jail on Chavez orders and is still waiting for a fair trial even though the regime has been unable to put forward a sustainable proof of a misdeed from her. It is still in the memory of the decent Venezuelans and of all serious international Human Rights organizations the infamous moment when Chavez asked in cadena for her to be put in jail for 30 years, just after she was arrested, without even being officially indicted of any putative crime.  Since then, December 10 2009, judge Afiuni has been languishing in jail and eventually in home arrest when her medical condition and international pressure forced the regime to pull back some of its rage at her.

I bought a couple of weeks ago the journalistic account of the whole ordeal, not only of Judge Afiuni, but also of the other victim, Eligio Cedeño, whose freedom cost Afiuni hers. Freedom of course being a very relative term in Venezuela since Cedeño, informed that Afiuni had been arrested not even within hours of his release went into hiding immediately and now lives in Miami  in an exile that shall be permanent as long as Chavez is alive. No trial for him either, pure vendetta from Chavez  pure totalitarian working of the Venezuelan judicial body.

Is there something worth rescuing from yesterday's debacle?

I think there is really no point in discussing yesterday's results in detail. Eventually in a few days I may write an additional post about it, but whether PJ did well here and bad there, or whether AD resisted better than expected in Tucusiapon is totally irrelevant. The game has changed dramatically:  we are all waiting for Chavez demise and that is the game in town for the next 6 months. Unless of course Cuban medicine is finally shown to be all that is cracked up to be. One sure thing, the Chavez example is not going to be Cuba best medical advertisement...

The bad is overwhelming  no matter what punditry you can read or see on TV today. The opposition will be in a very diminished situation if elections come in a few weeks from now. No states to rely on for basic campaign logistics, no income, no reserves left after two expensive campaign and a regime that has shown yesterday that the times of nice Chavez are over: frontal electoral cheating is going to be the norm for the next elections if we base ourselves on what we saw Sunday. Diosdado Cabello is not about the niceties of Chavez.

Can we possibly see something positive?

The short answer is NO, but the longer answer points to some stuff that is not that negative.

Monday, December 17, 2012

No mas cuentos: perdimos, y feo

Estuve leyendo y oyendo toda clase de cuentos y veo otra vez toda una maniobra tratando de minimizar la derrota de ayer. Supongo que la mayoría de los comentadores de oficio, o por lo menos a los que se le paga o invita por sus comentarios, no quieren quedar mal. Pero la verdad es otra: salimos mal, muy mal, peor que en octubre.

Empecemos por un cuadro sencillo que acabo de hacer, con las cifras del CNE publicadas hasta el momento. En la primera columna los votos del chavismo de Chávez. En la segundo los chavistas disidentes, pero con Chávez. La tercera son los candidatos de la MUD y la última los disidentes de la MUD que son dos en verdad, el Gato y le gafo en Tachira cuya disidencia no costo nada, Cesar Pérez Vivas necesitando otra escusa para justificar su derrota. No cuento votos muy minoritarios de candidatos evangélicos y otros, polvo cósmico esta vez.

El total porcentual del chavismo y su disidencia sobrepasa el de Chávez en octubre. Por poco, pero lo sobrepasa. El oficialismo sin Chávez no salió perjudicado por su ausencia, no salió perjudicado por la división. Esos son 5 millones de votos super sólidos que tiene ya a su favor Maduro o Diosdado a partir de Febrero, cuando Chávez decida llamar las próximas elecciones.

Digámoslo en otras palabras: la oposición no perdió solamente por la abstención y el ventajismo del oficialismo. Hay también otras razones que explican su derrota y mientras esas no se analicen debidamente nuestro lado no va a ganar nunca, o por lo menos mientras los cobres del petróleo sigan llegando y los chinos prestando.

Adelanto algunas de las causas que hay que analizar y que casi seguro no se harán por temor a ofender a no sé quien, como si eso hubiese resultado en el pasado.

¿Es el mensaje de al oposición suficientemente contundente? Me refiero, por ejemplo, a eso de perdonarle demasiadas marramucias al CNE o rezar por el bien de Chávez cuando el PSUV usa esa enfermedad al máximo, y exitosamente. O eso de no hablarle claro al país sobre la realidad aunque eso resulte desagradable para algunos. Churchill y de Gaulle no ganaron por endulzar el mensaje.

¿Cómo es posible que en algunos estados los electores chavistas sean tan ruines? Me refiero por ejemplo a Monagas donde la mujer que salió a defender a PDVSA contra el Gato, tratando de obligar la gente de Maturín a tomar agua envenenada salió elegida y con la pelusa de 55%. Hay que explicar como delincuentes de renombre internacional tal como Rodríguez Chacin o Rangel Silva arrasaron en sus estados. Quisiera saber si la oposición piensa que se derrota a esa gente con buenos modales, sin mencionar las fechorías registradas que han hecho.

Let the postmortem-s begin, idiocy, wretchedness and primaries

I was going to wait until tomorrow but three things made find the way back to the key board.  First, the CNE did publish at least the governor result (the legislative results are another thing, not all up and complete enough for a few more hours). Second, the response of the opposition through Capriles and Aveledo was a little bit more combative than last time. Apparently they have learned something from October 7. And third, idiocies like this one need to be addressed ASAP.

Coincido: pasar de ganar dos estados el 7O a cuatro es un logro, en estas condiciones tan adversas. Felicitaciones a la Unidad. A trabajar.

"I agree: coming from winning 2 states to 4 is an achievement, in such contrary conditions".

I will start by 3 if you forgive me. That someone who has such a high opinion of herself as frequent Globovision guest writes such an idiocy is dangerous  Besides comparing apples and oranges she is failing to read the result of today. We LOST states from 2008, and not insignificant ones: Zulia and Carabobo which Lara is far from compensating. The result of today is the result of 6 years of deliberate social dependency creation in the Venezuelan electorate. That Chavez disease was milked for all its worth by chavismo who survived massive abstention compounds the problem. I am aghast that already such self complacency has started!!!!

Electoral note 3: the results are truly awful

The results are in.  I did spend actually a rather relaxing day, no TV, little computer.  But I semi tuned in this evening and the wait with the CNE on TV, the general mess, the armed civilians as if it were for war, remind me that we are becoming ever more of  the 4th world. That sort of did me in a little bit before any result was published.  Oh well....

Around 7 PM from the chavista headquarters here in San Felipe we could hear quite a few fireworks so I knew that as expected Yaracuy was a loss for the opposition.  No surprise whatsoever.  The surprise will come if Biagio Pilieri makes it to 45%.

I did not watch CNE's head Tibisay on TV again: I cannot stomach her anymore so I waited for the thing to pop up on the net to write this. I even kept Twitter in cool mode ...  So there we go: an unmitigated disaster for the opposition. Abstention was worse for our side than for chavismo as I expected since the electoral machinery of chavismo would give it an edge in this scenario.  The little bit of extra voting in late afternoon was too little  too late.

My "opposition defeat" 3+1 scenario was actually not good enough: we lost even Tachira, due to opposition divisions even though we won it against Chavez.  Mendez in Tachira has some serious accounting to do. We also lost Monagas were we went divided and the MUD would have to explain why the primaries of Monagas were iron clad but why in Miranda Capriles was allowed to push away Ocariz to get a very, very meager 4% margin. At least, since we must find silver linings wherever we can, for better or for worse the leaders of the opposition are now Henri Falcon and Henrique Capriles. Good thing it seems they get along fine.

I was very pessimistic in my forecast but this is even worse...  What happened?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Electoral note 2: cheating and less abstention

Did I not tell you that electoral cheating would be brought up a notch today?  Coming back from voting I learned through twitter and the web that the vicious Vice held a "press conference" which had to be condemned by the lone CNE ranger still with some ethical positions.  Maduro stopped his TV apparition but we are told that maybe there will be a communique from Havana in a few minutes.  Now the dead not only vote but call to vote for them....

On other matters. I went to vote, THE LAST one of my close family, including those who are now in Maiquetia waiting for their flight and went early this morning to vote. Then again I wanted to go late to see what was up with the local participation  I am pleased to tell you that in my voting center, perhaps the most anti Chavez of Yaracuy, participation was reaching 50% and people were still trickling in. This is actually "normal" and proven that the abstention talk is mostly a parlor game of the idiots in Caracas.  Let's hope I am proved right.

Electoral note 1: abstention galore

As promised, no election day post, no continuous coverage in deep. But still, an occasional electoral note like this first one.

The news so far is a massive abstention at least in urban centers allegedly favorable to the opposition. There is also abstention in chavista areas but let's not forget that they have a "bring in the vote machinery" that should allow them to bring in more voters than the opposition. In other words, at noon we are in a 3+1 scenario for the opposition (see previous post).

So right now we have twitter filled with people begging oppo folks to go an vote. I do not know how many chavista twitterers of doom are there since I do not follow that garbage and no one has retwitted them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The December 16 electoral post

I suppose I should write about the Sunday elections. After all, this blog has probably written some of the most comprehensive coverage of Venezuelan recent elections. Maybe not the best but certainly most comprehensive, from pre-electoral numbers to detailed analysis. But times have changed and after realizing how wretched a country we were on October 7, I really had little stomach for more.  For those new here I suggest that they review, for example and corresponding to next Sunday, past work on the 2008 regional elections and the analysis of their results. I know how to do it, if I wanted to or if I thought it important or necessary.

And it did not get better. In addition of the 55% of Chavez we must add a good chunk of opposition idiots, true idiots, who think that we should not vote anymore until the CNE does not guarantee us clean elections. That is, in my current mood no more than 20% of Venezuelans should have the right to vote, and this after passing a test where in, say, 5 simple questions they should be able to say something about each major candidate and the issues they cover (1). But I should stop myself before I get even more accusations of elitism, anti democracy, etc, etc... thrown at me. Those critics, many by the way who are ready to swear that Venezuela is a democracy (just wait for my review on the Afiuni book soon to come in these pages).  But I digress and I should write about Sunday's vote.

December 17

Simon Bolivar and allegedly Juan Vicente Gomez died on a December 17. Will El Supremo and his sycophants push that far?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Post Chavez scenarios

It is merely impossible to attempt a likely scenario for the outcome of the current situation.  There are too many factors playing against each other and it is too early to honestly decide if any parameter is destined to become the game throwing item. Besides of course the expiration date for Chavez which I understand did not pass to a better world yesterday. Thus I have designed this little slide, cut to the bone, which summarizes very roughly what a rational mind can make of the current situation. As you click to expand a read keep in mind that Tarot card reading is as probably as reliable.....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who is Nicolas Maduro?

I suppose we should talk a little bit about the heir apparent. He deserves his 15 minutes of fame or whatever time Chavez agony lasts.

Besides this fabulous cartoon of Rayma which says everything about how Maduro reached the summit (?) I can say that Maduro has been making occasional appearances in this blog.

There was a post dedicated to him in 2006, a rather scathing one if I dare say so. But reading it again today there is little that I would add or even change. I suppose that 6 years as a foreign minster must have taught him a thing or two and maybe he could be an improvement from the current quandary. I also would like to pat myself for some of the prescience that I wrote then. But then again I should not congratulate myself too much because,  well, such regimes are in fact so predictable.

The other noteworthy thing about Maduro is his wife/companion, currently the republic main lawyer, a former chair of the National Assembly herself. Together they form the perfect "power couple" of chavismo, those willing to say anything, do anything to please their master.

We should also not forget the accusations from the ex justices on the run that would indicate that Maduro was actively involved in giving orders to the judicial power so as to put in jail given individuals regardless of their guilty status.

To finish this brief  we can note that Maduro has been one of the longest serving ministers of Chavez, probably the second longest serving one after Giordani. As such Maduro is responsible for such crimes as the alliances with Qaddafi,  Assad and other unappealing potentates who have become quite dear to Chavez since 2006.  His latest mission was to try to convince the military in Paraguay to make a coup to bring back Lugo from his defenestration.  In short, Maduro has been an international thug and the only interesting thing to solve is how much of the initiative was in the hands of Maduro.  In other words, was Maduro a simple executor of Chavez and Castro's initiatives or was he also a truly active ideological participant. That answer is the perhaps the biggest key to understand what is in store for us if Maduro indeed replaces Chavez.

Maduro is quite a piece of work and reading comments these days such as he could be more "polite" or "democratic" or "affable" than Chavez leave me quite cold.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Worsening of economical instability in Venezuela

We must cover the economic problems coming for Venezuela separately from the renewed political instability.  Usually these go together but in a system based on autocracy and personality cult they somehow can be treated separately.

If Chavez indeed leaves power sometime in January there will be elections no later than April. That the Constitution says 30 days is irrelevant since there is no way to organize and run a campaign in 30 days unless we already know an official date of "resignation" by Chavez. April is thus a realistic goal that all will agree on even if it violates the Constitution.

Renewed political instability in Venezuela

The departure of Chavez for Cuba yesterday in what could well be a no return trip is sending Venezuela into a probable tail spin of political unrest. The reason is very simple: not only Chavez death is not a certainty and that by itself is already a majorly perturbing element, but both sides of the political spectrum are deeply divided.

Chavez left, hinting that he may not be back and naming a successor in the person of Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Had Nicolas Maduro  been an elected vice president then there would be no questions asked: we would be waiting for the demise of Chavez and Maduro could finish the term. But in the now well proven deficient Constitution of 1999 the Vice president is appointed and thus the only legitimacy it has is Chavez blessing. Granted, in what is become a religious movement this is a lot but it is not enough. To compound this it is clear that as long as Chavez is conscious he could well replace the vice president. The consequence is that all inside chavismo will pay a lip service allegiance to Maduro until Chavez passes. Then the real show begins. Let's keep in mind that inside chavismo we have powerful factions that are only herded together through Chavez ferule.  I will mention the main ones: the narco traffickers, the obscenely rich bolibourgeois, the talibanic left, the liberals who think that it is time to be more realistic, and Giordani.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Towards the end of Chavez, and the beginning of the Maduro era?

Tonight we learned one thing: Maduro is the apparent winner of the succession war. That Chavez was sick and that his coming end was a reality we already knew.  When he tells us that it is only a "few malignant cells to be removed" but adds in the same speech that if worse comes to pass people should vote for Maduro we are confirmed in our strong suspicions that it is a metastatic condition that ails him and the prognosis sucks. A few preliminary comments while we await for the new show to unfold.

First we should sue Chavez for the fraudulent elections he had the country go through. Metastases do not appear out of the blue. Signs were all along. If Chavez real debilitating sickness had not been extreme narcissism he would have had Maduro run for last October vote and campaigned for him. With Chavez actively behind he may have won.

Believe it or not but Maduro is not a bad option to replace Chavez for chavismo. For the other side all are bad but for chavismo Maduro is vulgar, radical and from "el pueblo".  In addition he is the live embodiment of "social promotion" possible under Chavez. From bus driver trade union to foreign minister and vice president the message is clear: it pays to be an amoral chavista. Who needs a real degree and a productive career?

And since it is late and I just got the news coming back from a night out I will just add that it is not all over for Diosdado and that Maduro should not be planning redecorating Miraflores palace just yet. Even if Chavez has all but admitted that he will not be available January 10 for his swearing in the day he finally croaks is not the true date for Maduro ascent. First we need to see the results of next Sunday vote and see which side of chavismo can claim victory. Second, if I have a feel that the "civilian" and radical branches are indeed behind Maduro (and our colonial masters Cuba), the military is the real elector. For the time being I am sure that they said yes to Chavez naming Nicolas Maduro his heir. After all, why rock the boat while Chavez is alive? Trump cards are always played as late as possible, preferably once the strong players have been brought down.

My only regret is that it seems that Chavez will never find his way to a court of justice to account for his crimes though I have no doubt as to the harsh judgment history has in store for him. I certainly would never wish his death and even less in his current option but I have to say that his departure will be a relief for a country that has been in downward spiral for at least 5 years. His passing will not solve anything but his departure is a must as no side or country could prosper as long as he was allegedly in charge. For better or for worse we need him gone.

Friday, December 07, 2012

A Chávez lo volvieron vampiro

Dibujo bajado de Flicker, perteneciendo, creo, a
Tarlos Luz Martos Majenye
Con el regreso sorpresivo entre gallos y medianoche se van acumulando la evidencias que a Hugo Chávez los babalaos vudú de Cuba lo han vuelto un vampiro.  Veamos.

¿Cuando fue la ultima vez que usted vio al presidente a pleno día?  Ni siquiera durante la campaña presidencial donde la mayoría de sus pocas apariciones eran nocturnas.

¿Tiene usted evidencia de que Hugo come comida normal? ¿Cuando fue al ultima vez que lo vieron tomando café?

Observe que sus apariciones se están sincronizando con los menguantes de la luna.

Ahora viaja a Cuba solo de noche y sin que nadie lo vea. Es mas, este regreso tuvo una transmisión diferida porque en VTV querían estar seguro de poder ver la imagen de Chávez en la vídeo. A veces las imágenes vampiricas no salen en espejos o películas y hay que calibrar bien el lente.

¿No se parece la cámara hiperbarica a un féretro?

Y ya ni hablemos de su inmensa capacidad a chuparle la vida a nuestra pobre nación....

PD: El "coven" lo empezó Fidel. Le está gestionando un papel a Hugo para la próxima película de la serie Twilight donde se tratarán gaitas y amaneceres, con La Sayona de artista invitada.

And he is back....

He came back at 2:30 AM.  Again, in the middle of the night.  Is that the only flying corridor time between Havana and Caracas?

And why is Chavez back? For electoral purposes of course. In his comments, according to El Universal, Chavez worried about whether end of year bonus had been paid (yeah, right), commented about the coincidental dates with previous elections (imagine that!), and had Diosdado say that the regime had a chance at the 23 governor seats (might as well).

I have only one comment: chavismo must feel in trouble to drag Chavez to Caracas in the middle of the night for an impromptu campaign stop.

Does it matter? Probably not much unless all morphine-d up Chavez manages a couple of campaign appearances this week. Personally I have always been split between two scenarios where the opposition gets as little as 3 seats and as much as 6. Thus Chavez return pushes it toward 3. Big deal. The only real saddening thing in all of this is that there are so many idiots that are going to be manipulated once again with such cheap theater. Because that is what it is, theater, all arranged, nothing spontaneous, all under strict control, away of free press, no verification of info.

PS: Tal Cual seems as nonplussed as yours truly: it titles its report "El Cuento repetido", again the same story, Fidel talk included.

Why Chavez succession has to be such a mystery?

Since October 7 Chavez has made only one single public appearance to receive his election certificate. He has done a half a dozen TV/radio appearances where he is either sitting or just in voice. He has been totally absent of the regional election campaign except for the decision process as to who is going to be candidate where. And since last week he is in Cuba where we do not know what is going on while the trip was made in the dark of the night. Amen of all the signs of pain pre October 7. Only one explanation can make sense for someone who never saw a camera he did not like to pose for: Chavez is either really on his death throes or he is so sick that recovery will be long and incomplete, at best. The end result is the same: there is a power vacuum and a struggle to fill it up.

If this is so obvious, why is there such mystery around it? Let ask a few questions.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

From the 1999 constitution to the exit of Norway and Chavez

There is a maxim that I have grown tired repeating over and over: "constitutions are only as good as the people who apply them". Venezuela is the perfect example of bad to really bad people applying a constitution already quite deficient in its elaboration. As a direct consequence we can read, for example, this week that Norway will close its embassy in Caracas and move its regional representation to Bogota.

Why would Norway maintain an embassy in a country that has become economically irrelevant and which does not even bother having a residing president? Colombia next door is booming, is politically relevant and offers continuously improved security.

There is one culprit for all that: Venezuela may have a new Constitution since 1999 but for all practical purposes it is not applied, or applied at convenience while all real power has been vested in the army which has gained more power than in an outright dictatorship without ever bothering to make a coup.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

"el voto entubado" or how irrelevant our political system has become

Days keep passing and my pessimism does not lift much. In fact, even if the opposition were to manage about 10 states next December, I doubt it would cheer me up much.  To give you an idea why I remain so despondent let's talk today about "voto entubado", the latest gimmick of the electoral board, CNE, to favor Chavez camp.

Capriles asking all for Primero Justicia
In the US elections are complicated and the political culture is deliberately oriented towards a two party system, tempered through a vigorous primary activity. Since in some counties even the dog catcher is up for election so it makes sense that complex voting machines have a lever which pulls the votes for all the nominees of a given political party. Not that I approve of the measure but it sorts of forces the voters to assume their responsibility to either make their educated choice for all spots on the ballot, or support their party through and through, or just decide the top of the ticket is alone worth their care.

But in Venezuela this does not apply because the political aim is for diversity and thus the electoral system is supposedly designed to introduce a dose of proportional representation.  This constitutional provision like so many others has been undone. I am not going to go into the details on how this was achieved, plenty of posts exist on this respect. One, for example, was to have a proportion of Representatives at state level elected on a proportional basis guaranteeing that any group with, say, 20% of the vote, will get at least one seat. Furthermore the winner of the district seats were penalized at the level of state wide list seats to make sure minor groups would get a vote in the elected assembly. This has, again, all been undone, the CNE allowing fake political parties and alliances by majority groups to squeeze out minority groups, amen of extensive gerrymandering and what not.  Thus now, the opposition has been forced into alliances to make sure that they would at least get a few guys elected while Chavez party PSUV is constantly trying to absorb the fringe left into this fold, through good will or electoral shutting up.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Chavez and the December 16 elections

It is certain that the sudden departure of Chavez for Cuba (on a stretcher?) has to have implications for the regional elections of December 16. So many parameters are affected that these elections are perhaps more unpredictable than ever.  And also the hoped for demise of Chavez makes me realize that I should pay more attention to things and that maybe my writing days are not over. But I digress.

First things first. Let's look at what factors are affecting the current campaign and then let's make an educated guess at possible scenarios.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Diego Arria's memoir

Diego Arria published a little bit before the October presidential vote a memoir of his life, past and recent, which also doubles as a memorandum about Venezuela's today. I was asked to review it but there was so much to write before October 7 and so much depression since that I did not read the book even though it had been sent to me courteously on a PDF form before it was released. Eventually I preferred to go and buy it and I am glad I did because reading this book this week is more profitable than at any reading I could have done before October 7.

Reading memoirs, and reviewing them, is always a little bit dicey. After all no one writes a memoir to delve on past mistakes. And when such mistakes must be faced, usually there are self serving motives or detailed explanations on how the other aspect of that person's life amply compensate the wrongs. In short, the real reason why one reads memoirs if for the gossipy aspect inevitably linked to them. It is thus fair to warn the reader: there is little gossip in Mr. Arria's memoir "La hora de la verdad". His life has certainly provided him with a wealth of gossip but we will have to wait for his real memoirs: this is a book from a man still determined to work as long as he can to bring something to his country.

Certainly, Diego Arria must start his book with a summary of his life, conveniently forgotten by the Chavez regime but also by most inside the opposition. His was a stellar career  in politics and international diplomacy and Mr. Arria has the merit to summarize it as briefly as possible in the first third of the book, a little bit like an extensive visiting card that gives him the credentials to write about the current situation of Venezuela. Yet we gather the "Arria Formula" used often in UN conflict resolution; or more importantly for today's Venezuela, we are remembered that in 1998 there were plenty of people that already saw the potential Chavez election as an oncoming catastrophe for Venezuela. Diego Arria reminds us that there were plenty of now forgotten debates then, such as the one he participated with Hiram Gaviria, then promoting Chavez election and now one of his opponents. Diego Arria had already enough experiences to know better but those were the days of Cassandras and he was one, ignored if not ridiculed but now so bitterly proven right. Still, we should note that Mr. Arria insists that his book is not a "I told you so".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The signs are piling, the end is near (?)


I know, I know, wishful thinking of the demise of Chavez has made me step ahead of myself in the past. But this time around there is a different quality in the latest departure of Chavez for Cuba. Apparently he will be leaving for a short while to receive hyperbaric treatment. No explanation of course why he must receive such treatment, and no explanation as to why such treatment cannot be received in Venezuela. There is enough money in Chavez 2013 budget for his own personal expenses to build whatever hyperbaric chamber he wants wherever he wants it.

Of course, as usual I am not going to speculate what is his latest pain in the ass. What is noteworthy this time around are the circumstances.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The state races heat up

In spite of my stinky mood about upcoming local elections there was a silly poll, but by DATOS, that lifted a little bit my heavy heart. After all it was to be expected that the poor choice of chavista candidates and its ever reluctance to talk issues preferring to go towards a new "constituyente" had to exact a toll on chavismo.  I thus went back to an October 23 speculation/gut feeling table to which I added the Datos polls and a poll for Aragua, then I came up with a new gut feeling.  Explanations follow.

But before we survey let's remember that the opposition is going with a great handicap: the recent reelection of Chavez which in theory should benefit his side. To this we must add the debilitating settling of scores for the defeat and the knowledge that chavismo has a more powerful electoral machinery than we suspected it had. In this regard, any prediction for December 16 is hazardous and whatever you read below (or elsewhere for that matter) is equal parts reality and wishful thinking.

Let's start with the red states October 23, those that there is no doubt will go for Chavez though we are eagerly waiting to see if he repeats his October % there. Note: order of states is from the one with the most abstention on October 7 to the one with the least abstention, Merida.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since about half of the hits to this blog come form the US of A I would be remiss not wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.

Over the years since I left the US Thanksgiving has become one of my most cherished memories. I have considered many times to go back there for that week and enjoy it with my friends but the logistics of living here and the work calendar have made this simply impossible.  Nor can I ask my friends now to come and spend one thanksgiving of their lives with me here as I have stopped willingly to entertain any foreign friend or relative for the last 4 years. Too much trouble,  too much danger for them, to shameful for me to show them what a deteriorated country I live in.

Please, be thankful that no matter what you may think happens in the US, you have way more things to be thankful for than what we do in Venezuela. I, for one, will be thankful that there are still readers that care about Venezuela's fate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The building up of a FARC/drug corridor in Venezuela

Miguel's text on Rodriguez Chacin candidacy for Guarico state forces me to finish this post I was pondering for a while. Miguel certainly describes well the character but he seems to have missed the bigger picture that is emerging.  For this I have drawn this very amateur map of what will Venezuela drug routes look like soon, and where the FARC will take temporarily refuge once the Havana talks between the Colombian government and the FARC conclude (1).
How chavismo plans to offer refuge to FARC.
In light mauve the zones in Colombia where FARC and ELN concentrate before crossing over to Venezuela.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Great Republican Hope...not

7 days or 7 eras, who's counting?

Oh dear....  Marco Rubio is one of the great Republican hopes for 2016 and yet he made a major blunder that basically bars him from ever receiving votes from people like me. Not that I vote in the US, mind you, but there are a lot of folks there who would love less taxes and a little bit more austerity in the US budget but could never entrust that task to someone that does not know the difference between 7 days and 7 eras, whatever "eras" mean....

Let's look at the actual quote from GQ who interviewed Marco Rubio, junior Florida Senator, already on any Veep GOP list.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Resetting the political counters

Writing has been erratic since October 7, besides the duty felt to try to analyze the results from my corner of the woods.  I do not seem to be able to get back on track, just as I expected it would happen on that nasty evening. But as weeks went by I realized also that my approach to many things was changing and that as long as I did not process it all I was not going to get any purpose in writing, except for the obvious incident such as the last post on how the mafiosi regime is plundering honest workers.  In other words, there is still stuff to write about but I have trouble to get motivated, or even to decide that what happens in the news is worth my time even to read about it, much less comment.

One thing that is becoming a pressing issue for me is to settle my accounts with the opposition leadership. In fact, I feel that as long as I do not make a clean break and explain clearly where I stand I will not be able to write again properly, not even if by January I decide what is the future of this blog.  It looks like the lack of integrity in others is forcing me to review my own ethical parameters, I suppose.

I suspect that many of us either writing blogs or staying at home or participating in political activities have this similar indecision about what to do next, at a personal level.  Nationally the objective remains clear for all of us: as long as Chavez is president of Venezuela there is no hope for either side. We will be vexed at every point, when not prosecuted, but the chavistas will not fare much better as the abject submission demanded on them will carry in the end a bigger price tag.

Today I have to write that I am breaking up with the current opposition platform,  that I will support no one in particular and that I will wait for a modern right wing movement to emerge until I decide to participate again. Accounting for these words will take a while to write up and this long post will not be enough.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The GREAT devaluation robbery coming to Venezuela

Devaluation of currency is acknowledged to be in general a way that governments have to pay their debts at the expense of the working people, from the big entrepreneur to the common man. Through a devaluation the government depreciates the holdings (savings, properties, etc,) of the people and use that depreciation to pay back the debt the government made due to its bad to irresponsible economic decisions. In the best of cases the government makes one single devaluation and pays as much of the debt as possible while it takes measures to make sure it does not happen again. But in the worst cases, like the Chavez regime, a devaluation is simply a stop gap measure to be used again and again so that the Venezuelan people, from the barrios to the Country Club pay the mismanagement and the corruption of the country.

As usual the ones who pay the most are the lower classes because the wealthier classes, those who have property, in general have the means to wait long enough until their property reevaluates and returns to its international prices. For example if you have a nice condo worth 100 units and is devaluated to 80 units, maybe in a couple of years you are back to 100 units or even more. But if you are the one renting the condo the only thing that will go up is your rent.

This time around the Chavez regime is introducing a new modality that we can only call a pre-devaluation procedure where it extortionates people who have significant amounts in "debts" overseas.  This has been looming in a rather terrifying way over most Venezuelan business in recent weeks.

¡Hagamos Patria! o ¿Hagamos Listas?

Hay que reconocer que en eso de hacer campañas electorales, trampas, destruir reputaciones, etc, el chavismo es de lo mas eficiente. No le pidan luz, agua o trabajo, que pa'eso ni en broma.

Resulta que para "motivar" su base, el chavismo se lanzó en eso de ¡Hagamos Patria! que presuntamente es para nutrir una especie de constituyente disfrazada. Hay pagina web y hasta un twitter, @HagamosPATRIAve, bien activo con un logo interesante y creativo, reconozcamos.

Pero también hay una planilla que delata, desafortunadamente, todo lo que esta detrás de ese plan "constituyente". Es que al chavismo siempre se le ven las costuras....

Hagan click sobre la imagen y observen lo siguiente:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Como fue que Chávez perdió nuestro petroleo

Las noticias desde los EE.UU, el odiado imperio de los chavistas, no son buenas para Venezuela. Si siguen las cosas como van, de aquí a pocos años el petroleo venezolano podría volver a ser de uso médico como lo era en el siglo XVIII, para lavativas y purgantes.

Tomemos un articulo de prensa cualquiera estos días, como hoy en el Washington Post. Hay un gráfico que con mucho gusto me voy a tomar la molestia de traducir y explicar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Preposterous pre constitutional pre posturing

The few faithful readers left to this blog would certainly not have been surprised last week when chavismo decided to start "talks" on constitutional programming for the 2013-2019 program of government which must undoubtedly lead to a new attempt at modifying the constitution of 1999.

In a text published on October 21 I explained as clearly as I could that chavismo had to seek a constitutional modification in order to avoid an election were Chavez going to croak before January 2017. amen of seeking to make the presidency hereditary within the Chavez family so as to avoid unpleasant succession wars. I really do not need to add anything to that previous post, except to make limited comments as to the timing and methods chosen by chavismo.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

4 more years! At the very least?

Well, there was an election with no surprise for me. Yes, truly, I never doubted Obama would be reelected, that the Senate would remain Democrat (well, I had some doubts 6 months ago about the senate but after the rape idiocies that was that), and that the house would remain Republican. yet I followed part of election night because I was wondering about how divided the US of A had become. Looking at the congressional map from the Washington Post, it is actually staggering: Democrats are basically pushed over the periphery and Republicans get all the in between. You cannot make up such stuff.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

¿Donde están los demócratas? (sugerencia: en el CNE no es)

Vice presidente de EE.UU. en la cola del voto
Aquí en Venezuela se nos quiere hacer creer que somos demócratas, que vivimos en una democracia. Pero este que escribe tiene cada día más dudas. Y esas dudas no han mejorado al ver como el vicepresidente de los infames Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, el Imperio mesmo, votó hoy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The oncoming food crisis in Venezuela

Two hair raising articles in El Universal this week.

The joyless October 8, today

I was trying to figure a way to end the series on the October results and the new panorama for Venezuela. To understand some of the stuff that is going on these days in both sides of the spectrum, I do not know why but I started thinking about the sad Monday morning of October 8. And I got my ending.

That morning was sad for the Capriles voters, but it was not very joyful for the other crowd. Besides a few 10PM  fireworks from city hall in San Felipe, chavismo had no celebration except for a quick parade late in the afternoon.  And that was not an impromptu affair: I saw it when government vehicles bedecked in red Chavez paraphernalia were gathering at the entry of San Felipe. The caravan went around for maybe 15 minutes, blaring, honking, and that was that.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Some days I want to cover the elections and most days I do not want to

I wrote a single post on the December regional elections hinting that I may not want to cover further than what I did, silly arithmetic prediction included. But the debacle in the chavistas candidate "nomination" process is so tempting...  then again the ongoing slow motion suicide of the opposition keeps apace so why bother covering what may be the final set up of the totalitarian regime of Chavez whose end can only come through open rebellion? Started by chavistas themselves, mind you!

Let's start with the chavista mess.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Electoral garbage in Venezuela

I am not an electoral prude but what happened in Venezuela last week is really worrying, almost beyond words.

By not being an electoral prude I mean that for political reasons some concessions can be made when someone decides to run for office in a district that it is not the one they live in. You may have been born there, you may live next door to it, your children go to school there, you may have a special connection there for X, Y or Z reason. Thus even if you are not registered there there may be a reason, a valid reason, for you to run there.

Érika Farías, otra chavista farsante y cara dura

Otra con los retratos pero sin la moral
Entre todos los insultos a la inteligencia a los cuales nos sometió la rectora Socorro Hernández desde el CNE la semana pasada existe un elemento que deja bien, pero bien mal parada a la ex ministra de la presidencia, Érika Farías.

No solamente ella aparece en la lista de "migrados" del CNE porque no votaba en el estado al cual la mando Chávez para ganarse la gobernación, pero ademas nos enteramos que pese a ser diputada de Cojedes, la tipa no se ha molestado en quedarse como electora en el estado que ella representa.

Socorro Hernandez, otra excepcional carta abierta

Retratos de Bolívar por doquier, pero ¿se honra su moralidad?
Otra vez tengo que escribirte una carta abierta a la cual no tengo la mas mínima duda no contestarás. Total, a estas alturas está claro que mientras más explicas más cara dura, y ridícula, apareces. El silencio que guardas en general detrás de todas tus travesuras te sirve mejor.

Pero tengo que escribirte porque tienes mucha suerte a pesar de todo. En tu  debacle de la semana pasada parece que todos se olvidaron de tus travesuras en el 2010 cuando se la clavaste bien feo a la oposición  robando por lo menos 6 diputados a través de tus trampas electorales. Yo no me olvidé. ¡Chica! Es que eres una experta, una robo-lucionaria a carta cabal. El día que me visites tendré que esconder hasta la billetera.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Del abstencionismo, el "no hubo fraude" y otras estupideces

Primero permitanme aclarar mi propia actitud: si bien estoy decepcionado con muchas cosas, NO VOY A DEJAR DE VOTAR. Dejar de votar es una estupidez. Punto.

Now what? Maybe I should look into the vaults of this blog...

Last night I stumbled on a post published December 29 2008. At the time I thought it worth a translation on December 30. That post was an end of year introspection, in between the results of the regional elections which negative results Chavez was busy undoing while campaigning hard for the eternal election amendment about to be voted on in February. Needless to say that the lack of response of the opposition then was rather debilitating as it seems the confused reply of the MUD and Capriles himself to the obvious electoral fraud is going to cost. Though I could add that many opposition politicians were actually not opposed to the amendment as they thought it would benefit them too. Look at the recent Ojeda-Paraqueima scandals and you will know that Venezuela has a particularly sorry lot of politicos.

Coming back to that old post I want to paste below one paragraph:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now what? The 2013 crisis

Having seen the main political consequences of the October 7 result, we may indulge in a little bit of forecasting.

There is a crisis coming and it is unavoidable. The only way the crisis impact could be softened is if chavismo accepted to recognize the existence of the opposition and a return to a more democratic state, by relinquishing at lease a couple of the 5 powers that it currently hold in a tight fisted hand. Once the opposition understands that its basic civil , and human, rights will be respected, only then the regime will become a government again and co-opt the opposition into taking the hard measures that cannot be avoided any longer. But Chavez been the scorpion to the swimming toad, such concessions simply will not occur as he is alive. No NEP for the Narcissistic-Leninist regime.

Thus an economical and political crisis is in the works, with a scenario like the one described below.

Now what? December troubles

Properly this post should not be included in this series but since the December result will impinge on some of the stuff discussed earlier, it is best to put it here. In two parts, that is: one part about the importance of the election and the second part as the only prediction I will do on that matter.

The first thing we need to understand is that the opposition needs a good score because it needs at least 8-10 governors to be able to launch a counter attack against any of the measures that chavismo is preparing. If you doubt it, this week already the regime has decided that "communal councils" will be allowed into the class room to see whether the teacher teaches what they like, and, well, substitute parents if they must. This is just a test balloon of things to come. Evil knows no rest.....

Unfortunately I do not see it happening.  Below I describe the most optimist scenario I could come up with.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Now what? The future of the opposition and the MUD/Unidad

Let's summarize the situation: the Unidad and Capriles run an excellent campaign and were prepared as ever. And yet they lost. What makes this result worst is that it seems that as long as Chavez will be directly on the ballot the opposition will never win an election.  It was a defeat. We may want to pretty it up, it will remain a defeat and lessons must be taken no matter how harsh these maybe. Because if we keep the way we are, no matter what leaders say, from Petkoff to Capriles, in December we will win few, if any states. And if we cannot retain Zulia and Miranda, even if Chavez croaks soon, chavismo will remain.

Desde la verdadera izquierda francesa le dán duro a Chávez

Una lectora me manda un articulo publicado en Le Monde, el periódico de referencia en Francia, y nunca muy amigo de las derechas que digamos (Le Figaro es para estas).

Pues bien, el autor de este articulo de opinión es un tal Marc Saint-Upéry, y pertenece al electorado del "Front de Gauche", Frente de Izquierdas, a la izquierda del partido socialista francés, partido que hoy en día posee la presidencia y el parlamento francés. Este artículo esta escrito por alguien de izquierda de verdad, verdad. Pero eso si, una izquierda que todavía comparte valores democráticos aunque a veces algo cuestionables, no como esa izquierda fascista y chambona del PSUV.  Antes de pasar a este articulo me permito recordar al lector sobre unos cuantos emisarios enviados por el Front de Gauche para ayudar a la reciente campaña para la reelección de Chávez. Obviamente queda claro que hay diferencias muy importantes dentro del Front de Gauche con respecto a Chávez. Quien tienen ojos, vé.

La traducción del articulo que me mando A.D. sigue.

So many questions......

Fidel decides (we assume he did) to prove he is alive by appearing in a picture with Elias Jaua.  So much is wrong in that picture......

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Now what? Capriles (and others) fate

Henrique Capriles has decided to run again for Miranda state. As such he deserves an entry of his own in this series because it is an opportunity to discuss the nature of the opposition voter.

Capriles was elected in 2008 governor of Miranda state. On October 7 he added almost 200,000 votes to his 2008 result but still lost the state. Chavez managed to add 76K votes over his 2006 score and barely won. But he won.

Now what? Chavez and chavismo constitutional options

Yes, Chavez won, but with a victory that is not as glamorous as he was needing.  In short, he had to buy at lest 10% of the electorate which means only one thing: they love you for your money. Also, he went as far as starting to sell the gold of intentional reserves so the campaign overall cost a fortune. And today he admitted that he is not the same, that he was inconvenienced during the campaign (I suppose that in his mind it means that it justified vote buying since he could not go and meet voters). So there you have it, a Chavez sick, not truly popular and with money issues. Without forgetting that behind him there is a crowd of hanger-on with financial appetites bigger than ever.

Had Chavez won with 60% I am certain that right now we would be talking referendum for a constitutional assembly, or at least a major reform of the constitutions. The people behind Chavez are the first ones to realize that if all the abuses committed during these past 6 years Chavez only gets 55% of the vote, once he is dead they are toast. Now it is not a matter of preparing a soon to come succession, it is a matter of making sure that chavismo never leaves office.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Now what? The Venezuela that Chavez inherit

Fortunately this post is short because I just need to redirect you to a great article of Moisés Naím in El País of Spain. Spanish version here and English version there.

This article is remarkable not for its style, it is a list, nor for its writing, it is a list, but for the precision, concision and the "to the point-ness" you sense when you read it. Clearly Mr. Naím is past any illusion as to the future of Venezuela and what is actually scary in his article is that there is nothing that you can nitpick.

What I would like to underline is the last paragraph where Mr. Naím puts clearly part of the blame for the situation on Brazil who had no qualms in letting Venezuela deteriorate as long as it became its bigger provider of everything. I will add that Brazil has behaved towards Venezuela as any imperial colonial power had, using the weakness of the natives for its own selfish benefit. It is remarkable, for me at least, that such a notable intellectual from the center left in all of its modern meaning takes down Lula AND Rousseff the way he does, just after a campaign where Capriles failed even though they tried to embrace Brazil current model if it were the last life jacket available.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Now what? The society we have

Now that we have gone through all the electoral analysis that was needed, it is time to measure the consequences for Venezuela of Sunday 7 result. What country are we left with? What can the opposition do? What are chavismo next steps? What if...? What about...?

I think we may as well start with the social consequence for the country since we will all suffer from that.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: elections in Venezuela were neither free, fair nor democratic

We keep playing the democratic game, we keep improving ourselves, we keep finding adequate retorts to the treachery of chavismo and yet we keep falling on our faces because chavismo is reckless in its pursuit to retain power at all cost and creates ever more outrageous ways to cheat for which not only we are not prepared, but for which, after Sunday 7, we may never be able to get prepared.

The elections were not free

It is clear now that there were a lot of people that voted under duress. They were scared to find out at 3 PM that that the chavista electoral steam roller knew they had not voted yet. They got scared when they were hauled unto a van with other people that had not voted yet and were also found out. They were scared when they arrived at the voting center and saw strange machines and realized the privacy of vote was compromised. And thus they truly thought that chavismo would know whether they voted for Chavez or not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: the substance of the raw numbers

This is, I hope, the one before last of this series. After having looked at some of the details that allow us to understand the enormity of what happened last October 7, we are, I hope, more prepared to consider the bigger picture. I know, it is kind of taking things in reverse order, but sometimes it pays to look at details from the periphery before tacking the big problem. I did it all the time when I used to be a researcher.

Post mortems from other people

I want to accuse that we have been for months
without water, electricity, security, hospitals...
BUT WE WON!!!!!!!!
Yesterday and Sunday there were a few OpEd on what went wrong in the Capriles campaign. Some go as far as putting some of the blame on Capriles which I think is somewhat unfair since the organization asked him to campaign while they took care of everything else. As far as I am concerned, even though I did not agree with some of the improvisations Capriles did, I will say that he did the best he could, which is more than what can be said for a lot of people inside the Unidad.  Two of these pieces are going to be enough to show you that the aggiornamento of the opposition ain't gonna happen any time soon.

I do not have major quips with Carlos Blanco Sunday piece. However there is a part that raised my eyebrows.

A deeper issue which has reared in the post electoral hangover is the profoundly reactionary and misguided notion that chavistas are assholes who sell for three thousand bolivars. It is not noticed that the politicization of the poor, the creation of a new elite, even the existence of a chavismo of suit and tie, are part of a new social and political reality. Insulting Nicolas Maduro because he was Metrobus driver and then became Foreign Minister is to fail to understand that in a real democracy, it is to be wished for that drivers of whatever can reach the highest positions. That's what AD did in its time and, say, a humble cobbler such as Augusto Malave Villalba, not gifted for oratory, who became a major union leader and politician, was teased likewise.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Killing Anonymous?

Blogger keeps offering more services. Thus a new comment policy.

Ministros sin menester

Creo que los gringos inventaron esa tradición de la "luna de miel" política, ese tiempo que se le da a un político recién electo para que tome sus primeros pasos sin ser juzgado con severidad. Obviamente, políticos reelectos no tienen tal beneficio aunque por lo menos se les permite unos días para saborear su nuevo triunfo. Ni siquiera esto está pasando hoy en Venezuela y no es culpa de la oposición: con sus primeros nombramientos al gabinete no solamente Chávez nos reta, pero da al traste con cualquiera buena intención que habría de parte de la oposición no para un dialogo pero, digamos, para un chat, aunque sea por Facebook.

Your totalitarian moment of the week

The totalitarian moment of the week comes to you courtesy of the Guardian. Argentine journalist Lanata was detained and harassed at Caracas airport,  threatened, and finally released but with his cell phone and computer banks all erased. The reason? among other things he was in possession of SEBIN documents that detailed the illegal spying that the regime did of Capriles, his family and close collaborators during the campaign.

The situation about privacy rights has become so bad in Venezuela that Capriles told us that he does not even own a cell phone because he does not want his private conversations broadcast at night in La Hojilla. any communication with Caprles had to go through one of his collaborators.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: electoral fraud galore in Venezuela

There is outright electoral fraud and there is indirect electoral fraud. However, which one is the most effective depends on the situation. The big difference between the forms of electoral fraud is that the direct electoral fraud is usually cheaper, you just need to stuff the ballot box with the desired count. However, when found out, the consequences may be harsh for the cheating side. On the other hand  indirect fraud is considerably more expensive but it has the advantage that when everything is said and done those who sold their vote for any or other reason, did vote for the winner in the end. El Universal today carries some interesting information showing that both forms of fraud were at play one week ago.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The 2012 Prez result: your little friends at the ballot box

UPDATED In Venezuela there is that long running tradition that no matter how insignificant your political movement is you still want it to appear in the ballot box, hoping that with 0,2% of the votes cast you will be able to demonstrate that without your help the winner would not be so. 14 years of Chavez have not dented that deleterious habit, not even inside the chavista hegemony where Chavez has given up for the time being to preside over a unique party outside of any coalition. In fact Chavez has started stealing away other people's political party to refurbish a coalition of the naive. Let's look at the mosaic of political groups.

The 2012 Prez results: leadership and that uncaring voter

Two results did surprise me a lot and made me think about leadership qualities and how careless are voters in Venezuela. Not that this last one was a surprise....  Whatever you may think, it led me to think about the future of Capriles as a leader of the opposition that many are going to hate me for.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: examining the chavista voting world

We need to face it, to look at Chavez numbers. Luckily I found a way to make it less painful.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FLASH INFORMATIVO: Resultados de las primarias del PSUV

En senda rueda de prensa el Presidente del PSUV, Don Diosdado Cabello, anuncio los esperados resultados de la primarias del PSUV para cargos a gobernador a disputarse con los majunches electos en sus primarias el mes de febrero, que todos sabemos fueron manipuladas y con una falta de tramparencia total. No dejó de sorprender a la prensa invitada lo acertado de las decisiones soberanas de los 10 millones de miembros del PSUV en esta gloriosa jornada democrática electoral del PSUV, asombrosa por su eficiencia y rapidez.

Entre los elevados a tan gran honor se destacan algunos próceres de la revolución:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: as Caucagüita votes, so does the country

Enough of you seem to have forgiven me. And so let's get started with the Sunday results. And what better place than to start with Caucagüita which has been a long running monitor in this blog, the latest entry being when I started getting ready for the 2012 speculations.  Not only it will serve as the best way to understand what happened last Sunday but it will also serve as a detailed explanation while so many people got it all wrong last Sunday. We will start with a summary table.

The CNE is accused of a lot of things so for once I decided to go back on my data to include even the null votes.  And it is interesting even if it does not give a smoking gun to blame the CNE for the evils that we, the  opposition, suffer.

Cuando la gente se deja seducir por la mediocridad y el resentimiento

Una lectora de Florida, Luisa Ramos, ha hecho un magnifico trabajo en traducir el texto que compuse en la noche del 7 de octubre y que llegó hasta las columnas de un conocido periodico. Solo tuve que hacer unos muy menores ajustes porque es verdad que mi pensamiento es a veces algo toruoso, lo que le da aun mas meritos a Luisa. Aquí lo tienen en castellano, para su disfrute y para los amigos que no lean en inglés.

¿Ustedes quieren hablar de fraude? Pues hablemos…

El fraude estaba montado en el mismo tarjetón, con todas las tarjetas de Chávez arriba. Por lo tanto para votar para Chávez había que inclinarse algo hacia adelante y con los parabanes demasiados bajos eso se podía ver muy fácil.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The 2012 Prez results: Crystal ball gazers' Waterloo

Certainly before I write anything analytic on Sunday's numbers I need to make my mea culpa if I want to rescue any shred of credibility I may have left.

VN&V in the Romney 47% debate, via WSJ

Thanks to WSJ columnist Bret Stephens for appreciating what little contribution this blog may offer.

Hat tip Juan Cristobal.  Article posted here for those with no access to the WSJ, in case the above link does not work.

Monday, October 08, 2012

When mediocrity and resentimiento win all over

I remember when I arrived to the US, decades ago to do my MS-PhD, I met several Iranians. They were reasonably fresh from leaving their country, maybe a year or two before the Ayatollahs took over, maybe a year or two after. It did not matter, they all shared two things, a cosmopolitan worldly view of the world and a deep reluctance to talk about their country besides the ritual “yes, it is bad”, “we still have family there” and the ever coming “No, I think that I am staying here because, you know, an US degree is more marketable here than there”. Clearly, none of them wanted to get into details, none wanted to admit that they were never returning home.

Tonight out of the blue I recalled some of these scenes, when I chose to walk my dog for her midnight pee rather than listen to the high pinched, almost bratty voice of Tibisay. What for? Whatever edge Chavez had, I would read it on tweeter as soon as I plugged back in.

While I was working at the Election Day coverage I was urged to write about what would happen to this blog depending on the result. I really wanted to do it before the results came, thus in a hurry this afternoon I wrote that post. Now in hindsight I realize that deep inside me I knew what was going to happen, how for all appearances something was missing. That is what pushed me to write so crudely about what I would do if Chavez were to win, because I knew deep down that there was that possibility.

And it was walking my dog in the cooler night air, with all of my neighbors inside in silence while from downtown the fireworks were starting, that I went back to my Iran friends from long, long ago. I am not going to keep blogging as I have been doing because like them, I am ashamed of my country. I understand that now, why they always tried to avoid talking about their country and why they tried so hard to become as American as they could get away with. They were embarrassed that their kinsmen had surrendered to an obscurantist cult, a return to the middle ages, or whatever passes as middle age obscurantism in Iran’s history.

I am certainly upset and somewhat depressed at Chavez victory. But to tell you the real truth, I am strangely relieved because a few decisions have been made for me and now I just need to refocus my life. To understand this you need to recall that I am a scientist and that no matter how hard it is for us, there is no such a thing as bad data. Data is data, period. It is up to one to figure out its true implication.

When I predicted a Capriles victory by 500K, refusing, note, to get carried away by those who said 1 million or more, starting by Capriles himself, I never forgot to mention that abstention was the key, if not of victory at least on the margin of victory. My mistake in the end was to see that abstention was not going to be that high and then fooling myself into the capacity of Capriles to peel out directly votes away from Chavez as compensation. It did not happen, half of the people that abstained in 2007 and 2010 went back to chavismo in what we are told is the biggest turnout in a couple of decades.

During the day I was seeing all of these people voting, and the first reports of the mini CNE here did indeed worry me although I never let it show, though I resisted the natural urge of exit polls, remembering how those flopped in 2004. The lack of abstention propelled Chavez to his third term.  It is thus necessary to look at the data and interpret it.

The people who reelected Chavez today know exactly what they voted for. They know about crime and violence. They know about inflation and scarcity. They know about vulgarity as a way of life. They know about political prisoners while the most corrupt cast of our history roams the streets free. They know about power outages that will never be solved, about public services getting worse everyday, starting with the vaunted governmental misiones. So, why did they vote for Chavez? For a free washer? For the promise of a cheap and low quality housing for which they will not have good utilities and no job to keep it up?

People who voted for Chavez voted for him because of Capriles (it would have been the same with Leopoldo Lopez and even Pablo Perez for that matter). They voted against Capriles because they were reminded that education matters, that to get ahead in life you needed to improve yourself, respect some rules, respect thy neighbor. And they cannot do so or are unwilling to do so, same difference in my book. Chavez in 14 years has transformed into virtue what were the vices of Venezuelan society and thus, as I wrote more than once, Chavez was the true conservative, reactionary, candidate that you vote for because you are afraid of change. People vote for Chavez because even if they have no running water or electricity, they feel good about themselves because the president of the country is as flawed as they are, and in the mean version of flawed. He is the one that will insure that you may remain a sinvergüenza.

Chavez did not create them, they existed already when he became president. He just reinforced their beliefs in a worthy self loathing transformed into a weird arrogance: el resentimiento social. That is why invasiones are OK as long as they do not happen with your property. That is why you put up with the harsh life conditions we suffer now because whenever you feel like abusing society you need not feel guilty about it. True, not all chavistas are like that and some still, for some strange reason, believe that their salvation will only come from the state. But every day more and more are becoming resentidos.

The harsh fact we are facing now, with a result so clear of 54% out of 80% voting, is that 43% of Venezuelans hate people like me. Maybe not to the point of killing me but to the point of trying to screw me in any which way they can. And many of them indeed have no problem to kill me if given a chance. Now in Venezuela you will have all the trouble in the world to manage employees, to be served according to what you are willing to pay for, to demand that public servant do the job they are appointed to do. Because if you feel that you have rights then they will see this as a direct impingement on their comfort.

Do you want me to keep writing about such people?

When I started writing this blog in December 2002 the world thought that Chavez was the real thing. Now, outside of fringe creeps, the whole world knows that Chavez is a thug. I like to think that I contributed to this greatly. After all, in a mere three years I went from obscure blogger to writing a piece for the BBC for the presidential election of 2006 where I hinted at all that was going to happen in front of Chavez imminent reelection. Then came the 2009 referendum and I never quite recovered, my blogging changed to a certain bitter self indulgence, heralding the inevitable outcome of today.

Now outside they know that after 6 disastrous years Chavez still managed to be reelected as if nothing. Their question now is going to become why that is possible. We are a country entering international ridicule. And I want no part of it; I am too embarrassed to explain that 40% of the people that live around me are sinvergüenzas and that most of the 60% else are rather spineless. I cannot justify that I am still hanging out with them. Just as my Iranian friends were embarrassed that women at home gladly wore back the Chador just to make a point, even if it demeaned them immensely. They may regret it today but it is too late as it will be too late for that chunk of maybe 10% of the electorate that may have voted for chavismo for fear of losing their job or some other cowardly excuse. They are doomed to a mental Chador and they do not know it.

To finish this I do not want to put any blame on Capriles. He believed in what he did and he did it well, too well surely. His problem was that with most politicians of Venezuela they did not have the courage to lose an election based on true principles, to force the sinvergüenzas to vote for Chavez in full knowledge of the situation. Instead they pretended that by promising a better chavismo, a Brazilian Lulaesque approach, they would convince people. As I anticipated already in the primaries discussions, they failed because when everything is said a sinvergüenza is not going to try an ersatz when he already has the real thing.

Need I remind you that I voted for Maria Corina Machado in February? Sure enough she would have done less well than Capriles, much less maybe, but at least she would have educated the people, forced them to consider the real option to get us out of our mediocrity. People would have known of a true different project so at least when chavismo fails, as it will do sooner or later, cancer or not, all such regimes meet their demise, people would have a clear idea on where to go, what the option is, even if they do not care much for that option. Now, after the Capriles' campaign the country as a whole thinks that chavismo light or hard are the only valid options and thus our agony will be unnecessarily prolonged, even if Chavez were to croak tomorrow. Once again, we have missed our option to a real education. Along those lines if there is one thing where I truly failed is to let the absolute need to get rid of Chavez force me to go along and pretend to agree with at least some parts of the MUD proposals.

I am not going to stop writing on what will happen next in Venezuela, not immediately. I will continue to blog for a while, trying to reach December with electoral analysis, scenarios and what not because like any good experiment a scientist makes, he writes a paper about it even if he is going to change his research interest. In December the blog will reach its ten years mark so I am aiming at that.

But when January rolls in things will be different. I do not know yet what it will be for sure, but one of the goals will be to create a more private and civilized sphere, away from the chavismo mental lumpen. A private refuge for those who want to discuss literature, history, art, music, tourism, related to Venezuela, perhaps. Political articles about Latin America instead? Too much blogging over the years has delayed too much reading and it has to stop. I need to refresh my mind. To survive the next years in Venezuela, there is a need for a classy place where few are welcome. As a start I have restored the full moderation policy so that as of now I will not have chavistas and assorted anonymous write whatever they feel like writing. Posting in the comment section will be a privilege and too bad if maybe I get zero comment in the end. I am now beyond all of that, beyond blog competition, beyond google analytics who beat all blog records tonight, beyond the possible glory of a black out by CANTV, beyond citation by JVR, beyond interviews, beyond.... And mostly beyond saving those that do not want to be saved.

And believe it or not, tonight coexist in me two feelings, depression and relief. The problems of my country are not mine anymore even if I have to suffer from them.