Saturday, June 29, 2013

Brinkmanship and fatherland: will Maduro charge against students tomorrow?

One thing quite remarkable, in a perverse way, is that since we are told that Maduro has assumed power last December, no major decision has been taken by the regime, outside of a devaluation that came without any de rigueur measures to try to make the best of it. If it is clear that the regime is practicing some form of macroeconomic adjustment while trying to hide it, and thus we know little of its details, less of its scope while on any regards it is not working. The reason behind that secrecy is that the power struggle to replace Chavez is far from resolved so no one among his heirs wants to be seen as responsible from the bad news even though by not taking charge or attempting some form of coherence they are making things worse.

And thus violence seems the last option for the regime.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Majoritarianism is not true democracy

A remarkable, for its simplicity and to the point article from The Economist.  The core quote:

... this is a matter of rules and institutions to constrain a leader’s power and to allow the aggrieved to find redress. These should include a robust account of citizens’ basic rights, independent courts to enforce them and free media to monitor them. From a democratic perspective, these are the areas where Mr Erdogan has most seriously erred: not in introducing controversial or wrong-headed policies (that is his prerogative), but in capturing the courts, silencing media critics and attacking peaceful protesters. His talk of tinkering with the constitution to perpetuate his own rule, as both Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Russia’s Vladimir Putin did, is another warning sign.

And then you get a "zombie democracy". Venezuela was the first one and indeed when I look around waht I see are zombies.

Maria Corina Machado victim of a Cuban character assassination technique (counts as XXI century fascism too)

Today the fascisto-communist regime of Venezuela (your pick!) has crossed a new line.  Maria Corina Machado, noted Venezuelan National Assembly representative, former primary candidate, one of the main members of the opposition international outreach, and the one of the broken nose during her line of duty at the Nazional Assembly has had her private conversations taped, edited and passed as if it were a conspiracy phone call. Cuban G2 modus operandi.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

El descenso de los Trabajos de Ascenso

No he escrito nada todavía sobre la crisis de la educación superior que atraviesa Venezuela estos días. Para empezar es la misma crisis que se vive desde hace una década, solo exacerbada por la inflación que padecemos todos. Ademas, los origines de la crisis pre-datan el chavismo. Las universidades autónomas no se reformaron cuando tuvieron chance de hacerlo. Ahora no importa si se reforman porque la inflación y la re-conducción automática de presupuesto han hecho fenecer los alegados privilegios de los cuales gozaban las universidades autónomas.

DOMA doom

For my US friends! A day to rejoice, infamous DOMA has been killed by the Supreme Court. And states can now have valid marriage for all. Only about 30 something more states to go and you will catch up with France ;-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dreams of constitutional repression

That ever self serving pseudo panacea of our sub continent, calling for a constitutional assembly to solve problems that politicians have no resolve to deal with directly, is being invoked all around. After all, the brilliant example of Chavez who called for a constitutional assembly to solve Venezuelan problems is there for all: not only he did not solve any of his country problems, but he made them worse, and he certainly did solve the financial future of his relatives and friends, ending himself as a president for life.

These weeks we heard from different points a call for some form of constitutional assembly, and in all cases it comes from a group of people that are unable of unwilling to have their way and thus want to use the mechanism.  Let's not be afraid of words here, what they all want really is a soft, legal repression, that will silence down those that are not allowing them to get their way.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why there is no "latino american spring", and certainly not in Venezuela

When you watch all that had happened in Arabic countries and what happened in Turkey recently, amen of the diverse "take" groups from NewYork to Puerta del Sol, you may wonder why is it that in Latin America there is no such collective feel. After all, there is a list of candidates: Venezuela, Argentina, and Cuba at the very least.  Not to mention that the tension exists such as the instability of certain countries can bear witness (Bolivia, Guatemala, and even Chile).

Not holding my breath over corruption

socialist coruption
Today we read that Maduro gloated yesterday on his fight against corruption by having arrested the custom tax collector of La Guaira. We are told they found 4 millions in cash in his condo, or around 600K USD at the official rate, or 130K USD at the real street value today. Certainly, no matter the exchange rate, those are large sums to have in cash in your apartment considering the crime rate in Venezuela, but nothing that big if you ask me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are there simple measures to stop provisionally Venezuela's slide into major recession?

I was thinking that after my post yesterday on how the regime has no clue as to what to do to boost exports, it would be fair for the readers of this blog to list what could be the bare, minimal measures that seen from ground zero could help Venezuelan producers to stay in business and perhaps increase production.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Please! Export something! Anything!

The good thing about having "contacts" and clients in the real world is that they are sometimes invited to real meetings with the representatives of the regimes where neither economists nor journalists have access. But, even if not on the very same day, bloggers do get the scoop :)

The rest of the entry is under no real name to protect not only the participants, clients of mine, but also the participating officers who could get in trouble if some folks in the regime would hear them admitting some of the flaws of the "proceso".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Assessing the non-assessable (word?)

I am having a hard time to return to regular blogging. One of the reasons is what to write about. Certainly themes are abundant but the big problem here is what for? Do I have at this time still to write over and over about why chavismo is bad? That ship has sailed, all know about that, they just have decided to put up with it for a variety of reasons.  Thus, as some still do in other blogs, covering the day to day events in Venezuela as if we were just a quirky country is in my view a waste of time.

I suppose having come out long ago that this regime had become a dictatorship in 2010 when the will of the people was mocked at the last parliamentary elections has its advantages. First, clarity. No need to pretend, no need to make excuses for either the regime or the opposition occasional ill advised choices. That the regime veered into a neo-fascist ersatz as Chavez got sick and died is simply a logical continuation. Thus now there is really the need only to write about what illustrates the fascist nature of the regime: the rest is merely material anecdotes, far away of what truly matters, at least for me.

Having painted myself in that corner, and enjoying it in a perverse fashion, there is still the need to deal with the writing bug inside. Away from regular blogging for almost two months, starting to recover from minor ailments, it is time to go back and decide what to do from now on with the blog.  I will, for example, change the format for a simpler, to the core format. So this is probably one of the last times you will see the background that has been so distinctive of this blog to the point that I was not able to change it...  But times have changed, now it is a resistance against a neo fascist narco state and boxes, and colors, and stuff are not appropriate anymore to the gravity of the situation.

Thus, before entering in earnest in a new phase of this blog let's have an entry as brief as possible trying to make sense a little bit on where is the country at today.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Erdogan, Assad and Aung San Suu Kyi in Caracas

The news these days offer many a temptation to draw cheap parallelisms to Venezuela situation. But those in the title of this entry are far from being a parallel though they could help explain some of the "aspects" of the Venezuelan current debacle.


Monday, June 10, 2013

18 aviones, una plasta

La ultima intervención televisiva de  Jose Vicente Rangel nos dice mas sobre el poco respeto que tiene el régimen hacia sus seguidores que sobre amenaza alguna del régimen. El tipo se le ocurrió decir el domingo que la oposición compró 18 aviones para atacar a Venezuela y que esos aviones estarán listos en Colombia en noviembre.  Lo único que le faltó indicar es el numero de cuenta de ahorro de la operación para que podamos depositar dinero y ayudar ese esfuerzo opositor en el presunto ataque.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

NATO nattering nags Brazil

I could have never wished for a post to be validated so fast, a week later.  Last Saturday I was wondering about what part of the Capriles visit in Bogota may have been linked to Colombia sending a message to UNASUR, and Brazil its puppeteer. This week Colombia added more, much more, by its renewed desire to associate itself with the North Atlantic defense organization, NATO.  This of course sent the Venezuelan regime in an uproar and its associate in Bolivia to call for a UNASUR meeting against the danger of NATO invading our subcontinent I presume. When in fact all of this is further proof of a very deficient Brazilian foreign policy.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Do you want to know how XXI century fascism work? Listen to Diego Arria on Bayly

What is most interesting about the interview of Diego Aria at the Jaime Bayly talk show off Miami is not what he says: we all know these things. What is fascinating is that he says it and he can return tomorrow to Caracas and walk free (well, growing out a third eye in the back). That is, until the regime thinks it otherwise and any excuse will suffice to put him in jail.

That is how XXI century fascism works: you control all of the judicial system, all of the state income and then you do not need to care much about what people say about you. It does not matter what they accuse you of, they have no recourse, they cannot sue you, but you can put them in jail whenever the buzz gets annoying. The trick here, for the holders of power, is not to go so far that other countries do not feel compelled to call you a dictatorship outright.  Fortunately for us, Chavez knew how to sort of not cross in full that line but the guys in charge now are doing it. We'll see what the international consequences will be.

This being said, if you understand Spanish I hope you appreciate the courage of Diego Arria, as well as his political skill.

Can the Venezuelan parliamentary opposition resist fascism pressure?

Heliodoro in his credibility salad days
We treated yesterday to yet another vaudeville scene from the Venezuelan parliament. Juan Carlos Caldera, a Primero Justicia representative that was chastised last year for accepting some campaign money from a pro Chavez "businessman", a.k.a. bolibourgeois, came out with yet a new recording of an inner chavismo conversation. Is anyone left without a bugged room or phone in the country?

Since I did not comment in detail the tapes from the Mario Silvagate, I certainly will not get into this one. Who knows, maybe Alma Guillermoprieto will do us the favor.  As usual what we heard was a mafia like talk about how to corrupt opposition politician.  But there was a twist in it: besides a state security agent and one of chavismo more prominent bolibourgeois, William Ruperti, there was an opposition representative! Heliodoro Quintero in the lists of Un Nuevo Tiempo, Zulia's state local party, was the participating in inciting Ruperti to give money to Caldera (which does not excuse him, by the way, since Ruperti money is toxic under any circumstances).

Mario Silva viewed by Alma Guillermoprieto

You know that a Venezuelan "miscellaneous" has made it big when Alma Guillermoprieto has taken the time to listen and dissect it.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The big inflation mystery: 6% or worse?

So, we are on June 5th and May inflation numbers are not out. It is not idle to remind the reader that when Chavez was alive sometimes, when convenient, the Central Bank was able to post inflation numbers for the month BEFORE that month was over....

Thus we need to read foreign outlets to know what is really going on. El Clarin reports on a Barclay's study that says that May inflation is 6%, the annual rate becoming thus 35,1% while the economic contraction may reach 9,7%.

Why? Because the regime through Mision Vivienda to reelect Chavez spent all its income and borrowed heavily and now it is out of dollars for production and the economy is collapsing. That simple.  The massive expenditures for a spectacular, and spectacularly inefficient, housing program has all but bankrupted the country and now we cannot even wipe our asses.

And you know what is really scary? The regime seems not to understand. Since they had to call for municipal elections in December, there are already signs of increasing spending for electoral purposes...  You may start speculating on next year inflation.....

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Media shopping and its future use

We are in an economic crisis of increasing dramatic proportions and yet "groups of investors" are buying media groups....

Food card rationing, XXI century style

The mind reels.

The government of Zulia state has announced that a new system to control purchases will be set in place sometime in June. Although full details are not available yet, we must assume that through an electronic ID system the state will know who buys what and where out of a list of 20 "monitored" items.  That is, maybe through some form of finger printing as for the voting system, or though presentation of your ID card to the cashier, you will be allowed to buy, say, 2 sticks of margarine and a tube of toothpaste, every so often, no matter what store you go.  That is right, you will need an ID to shop. No ration cards, Windows 7 or Linux will take care of the rest once your ID is shown. Forget leaving home in a rush to the corner store for a last minute purchase of a pound of corn flour: no shoes, no shirts, no ID, no service.

Now, the terrifying thing in this is that once the system is set, it opens itself to include all forms of electronic discrimination, which will have the advantage of not being as easily traceable as if they were printed on a ration card.  The picture attached will give you the idea.

And of course forget about the contraband it is supposed to stop as subsidized food items leave Venezuela for resale in Colombia. Those that do and control that traffic are in the army and you can bet anything that the electronic system will fail to detect them....

Monday, June 03, 2013

Back home and it got worse

The strangest thing upon my return home is that things visibly deteriorated in a mere 3 weeks. I am not talking about the physical degradation of the country, I am talking about the general mood, the political exchanges, the perspectives of a somber future. Maybe it is the lack of toilet paper, of basic food items, or the impression that the regime is doing nothing to solve our problems, but I am surprised at how noticeable the general degradation has been. Clearly, we are entering into the real crisis as people realized that the last election solved nothing.  In fact since 2006 no election has settled any issue and maybe this is what is driving the negativity that we can almost touch.

Sweet and Sour France

A chapel for fishermen (click to enlarge)
There is sweet living in France, in spite of the crisis. And yet I have more mixed feelings this time around.

The stay is in a fancy resort area of France where relatives happened to live way before it became a famous resort area. Living is cool, for the rich, the casual visitor or the native still hanging there. They all go to the same market two days a week, carrying all their grocery bag as there is no more the "paper or plastic" dreadful question in France: you bring your bags now, almost everywhere.  All mix, whether they come from the fancy villa hidden in the pine forest or the fisherman shack.  There is something about relentless sand and pines and rain that brings up a notch humility in all.

Civility in France is a welcome relief from the unbending vulgarity here, one that this time around I appreciated more than ever.   In Paris we saw Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet walk in front of us while we had diner at a brasserie. What is noteworthy here is that the woman is the top challenger for Paris mayor election next year and she was walking alone in a busy street, no one stopping here, no body guards accompanying her, and yet recognized.  This is simply inconceivable in Venezuela where one year ago I saw Ismael Garcia attend the same pedicure as I do, accompanied with two body guards in a closed mall....

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Capriles in Bogota, or yet more evidence of a failed Brazilian imperialist policy

There is no need to expand on the diplomatic fiasco that Maduro's "new" team has suffered from Bogota this week. What is more interesting to note is that were Brazilian foreign policy a success, it probably would have never happened. True, there is always some small room left to suspect that the whole thing was a Machiavellian manipulation of Itamaraty to have Santos do the deed, but how unlikely an explanation....

First, a short summary of the events.