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.

First, the premises that existed two months ago are still there. The post Chavez regime is a difficult coalition between radicals, corrupt bureaucrats, narco trafficking military and the like, to which we learned recently that even the Russian mafia is involved more and more. Fascist regimes are always led by what are nothing more than mobsters, so there is no surprise at the turn things have taken since Chavez left the scene: at least Chavez was egotistic enough and thought himself enough of a leftist to hide his corruption under a leftist ideology. The thin varnish has peeled.

The opposition is aware of this, that in front of them they have killers.  That accounts for a lot in its inability to offer a true challenge to the electoral fraud of last April. The whole country now thinks there has been a fraud. The difference is that many approve of it. A mafia never gives up power in a good way, unless there is no way it can hold to it anymore, and still, they tend to grasp until the last minute.  Capriles may have gotten as much as 55% last April but that is not enough.  Between those who really not care, and those who for the first time switched, there is too large a chunk of people that voted for him but are certainly not yet ready to expose their life to have him become president.  The MUD and Capriles know that: there are more people willing to kill them than to defend them. The time for violence has not come yet. Not that fascist regimes are overturned through internal violence at any rate: they are either ousted from outside or they collapse. Such an eventual collapse may be what the opposition has opted for which leaves poor Capriles left out to dry.

The question becomes thus how fast the regime is collapsing.  I think it is, but I am also afraid that it may take longer than what the opposition hopes, no matter what dire economic disaster is lurking for the next months. One thing is certain, it is that the succession wars are far from over and that everyday the radicals seem to score a point while the military bolibourgeois corrupted wing also scores one. Maduro, in the middle, looks more and more helpless. Such as spectacle distracts the masses from everyday concerns and helps the regime to survive longer than it should.

The radicals seem able to stop any economic change. They remain truly oblivious of the catastrophic consequences of their policies. Since last December the regime has been postponing any real economic decision, satisfying itself with a devaluation that was not enough, that was not accompanied with measure to avoid further degradation. As such inflation reached 6% last May and there is speculation that June may bring us 8%. The only response to this is to bring back one of the worst radicals in the regime, one that had been disgraced by Chavez himself. Thus Eduardo Saman is back at the agency that controls prices, proving that in front of the price debacle the only thing the regime can think of is yet more controls, putting the blame anywhere else but their obviously failed policies of the last decade. Giving a new meaning to slow learner, I suppose.

On the other hand, the more pragmatic wing, the one that wonders if the country will be able to import enough food to feed its base in a not so distant future keeps trying to engage the private sector. Many of my clients have been called to "mesas de trabajo" where supposedly they were to expose what they need to produce more and the regime would try to oblige. My clients report all the same, no matter where they attend: the regime is simply unable to understand the mess they are in, are unable to connect the dots as to why production keeps sinking and are trying desperately to find other solutions than the obvious ones: spending control, real devaluation accompanied with easier access to foreign currency through dual change if necessary, more flexibility in the labor market. In all fairness it is not that they cannot understand the reasons why productivity is so low, it is more that they are unable to make a U-turn. Deers in headlights.

And thus it all comes back to the internal power struggle where Diosdado Cabello looks more like the Schrodinger cat than anything else.  His recent visit to Cuba, picture with Fidel included, something he had avoided during the Chavez tenure, is interpreted on all extremes: Fidel wants to negotiate with him, or Fidel wants to silence him personally. There is no way to know for sure whether Cabello is winning, though I tend to think he is slowly edging Maduro out, or at least forcing him to follow his lead.

It is under this struggle for power and the need to gain a desperate legitimacy that we must understand moments like the release of judge Afiuni. Or why Maduro, a Sai Baba follower and commie atheist is so keen on meeting with Pope Francis before the opposition does.

So there we are. Keep expecting irregular postings but be assured that I will be there when it is important.


  1. Anonymous9:22 PM

    I come here every day to keep up with what it happening in VZ.

  2. As always, I'm looking forward to where this blog will go in the near future.

  3. plob5009:58 PM

    I always enjoy reading your blog and your view on things in Venezuela. Thanks.

  4. margareth11:13 PM

    Daniel por favor HANG IN THERE! Capriles won't give up, its in his genes....just like you and me....;)
    I always go to your blog to read, so don't take it away from me (us) okay? The day will come that this regime will fall....when? We just have to wait how it unfolds to distruction.

  5. Anonymous11:14 PM

    This is one of the intellectually most honest blogs around in Spanish or English. Hopefully you would not strip the readers of this informational and analytical oasis.

  6. Your blog is the first place I check for the latest info on Vzla. I then check out the English translation of el Universal ... but your blogs come across as much more professional and well informed! You are keeping this gent, who is married to a Vzlan beauty, on the pulse when the wife is tired of translating everything. Of course I am learning Spanish but being based in London makes me lazy. I need Capriles to take over as soon as possible so my wife and I can move to Vzla and join her family ... the one thing she has been so desperate to do for almost 6 years.

  7. Hey!

    I did not say I was quitting whatsoever. I am studying different ways to keep the blog open and challenging. This is no time to quit, it is a time for resistance.

    By the way, I am just remaking what I was pondering already last October. Except that after the coup of January and the croaking of Hugo, some of the considerations I had them must be revisited.

    This being said it is nice to read notes of appreciation.

    1. Anonymous4:35 AM

      Hey Daniel,
      Good to hear that you're in for the long haul. Your blog makes the situation in Vzla so understandable and is treasured here in Trinidad, next door...

      Courage compadre,

      Wonton O'Meara

  8. Charly1:15 AM

    Daniel, one question: does anybody around this circus knows the (very) approximate percentage of food imported and what sort of food is imported. BTW, a constant search to find toilet paper but a few weeks ago the local CM was loaded with all kinds of "Maille" mustard, Dijon, honey, provençale, tarragon, etc. Not a few jars but several cases right in the middle of the alley. Yesterday my wife goes to CM, still no toilet paper but she comes back with one of those Lagostina detergents that make the steel pots so but sooo shiny. Definitely this place is for the rich, viva la revolucion socialista. As for the others, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche".

    AS for your blog, please keep it alive, it is a breeze of fresh air after reading the moronic articles from the Noticiero Digital pundits.

    1. conservative estimates put it AT LEAST at 40%. that means, that either through raw materials or direct eating items we import at least 40% of what we eat. some put that at 60% but i think it is a matter to look at the cost or the volume.

    2. William4:58 AM

      As to why there are plenty of luxury items but a scarcity of basic items, keep in mind that plenty of the basic items are price controlled while the luxury items are not. By now, I'm sure all are familiar with the reasons why price controls often lead to shortages, so no need to rehash that here.

      Glad to see you are keeping up the fight Daniel. I always enjoy your writing and the comments here. My three daily staples are this place, the Chronicles, and the Devil's Excrement. Like you, Miguel seems to be writing less frequently, and while I enjoy the Chronicles, too often the discussion often spirals into how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      Somehow I hope this country can find a peaceful solution to this mess. People like you help keep hope alive, so thank you very much.

  9. Anonymous2:02 AM

    Well Daniel, firstly, like the others above I also do appreciate your insights and writings. You provide a unique view and your analysis, both electoral and of the day to day nuttiness is A+1.

    Given that we are now in a sort of eye of the hurricane period I can see how hard it is to come up with interesting posts. You can only write so much about the state of things today and the near future.

    Interestingly, after reading this post I went to, just to look and I landed on an ad, of those they usually have before you get to the site itself.

    It was interesting to find out that if I have 74,999 BsF I can get any car re-inforced against bullets and other nasty things. In a space that in a normal country would be reserved for advertising about selling a car, or real estate or any other service that might interest a visitor we get one about "servicios de blindaje de carros".

    Anon 242

    1. What sort of "blindaje" can they do for a little over $2K? Depending on the Classification of armoring, this can cost up to $120k.

  10. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Daniel, thank you for blogging the truth about Venezuela. The truth, only an intelligent, politically well versed person with a broad spectrum of international knowledge is able to distill from all the craziness around.
    My sister lived over 34 years in your beautiful country, succumbing to its charms and the warmth of its ordinary people in everyday life. Despite being mugged, robbed, once at gunpoint having to give up her car, she still adores the basic beauty and vibrancy of Venezuela.
    What a shame ! Whatever happened? Lol, this is a rhetorical question of course ...
    So, please keep us informed in your inimitable way. We need you !
    Anonymous in Canada

  11. Anonymous7:12 AM

    Your the Best Daniel.

    Viva Venezuela, Viva President Caprilles.

  12. Daniel
    Thank you so much for all the great writing and posting that you been doing over the years. I always enjoy reading what you have to say about the current situation in Venezuela. Your insight and perspective is always interesting and refreshing. Keep up the great work.

  13. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Patience is a virtue. Keep blogging, keep the record. They will fall, they always do. History.

  14. Anonymous9:55 AM

    This blog and my mother in law are the only two intuitive sources on the Venezuelan situation.

  15. Part of the problem with this and the other Venezuelan Opposition blogs is that the original mission, which was to combat the Chavista propaganda and inform the world of what was really going on in Venezuela has been accomplished. Other than a few socialist tabloids, such as the Guardian, no one is touting the "successes of the Chavista Revolution" any longer. So, the blogs have devolved into generalized complaints, ridicule, and "I told you so"s. They serve to let us vent, but not for much else. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to chronicle the final demise of Chavismo. The record should be complete.

    1. Roy, too much venting can backfire in my opinion which is why I prefer this blog to some others , there is less of that tendency here.I agree about the need to chronicle/


  16. Yngvar12:17 PM

    Any chance of a military coup like in Portugal in '74?

    I can see it in my minds eye: A 'carnation revolution', only with rolls of toilet paper over the gun barrels. /joke

    1. OMG, the "paper" revolution!

  17. Anonymous1:19 PM

    Apparently you can buy recycled toilet paper in Porlamar.

  18. Anonymous8:06 PM

    "Tuesday June 18, 2013 12:38 PM
    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met on Tuesday with Portuguese President Aníbal Cavano Silva in Lisbon.

    The Venezuelan leader was expected to hold other meetings during his six-hour stay, including one with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho. He would also participate in the adjournment meeting of the Eighth Portugal-Venezuela Joint Committee before heading to Paris, EFE reported."

    Maduro is going to Paris? Daniel, can't you do something?

  19. Anonymous6:02 AM

    The rumors of Venezuela's death have been greatly exaggerated.


  20. But, the prognosis is not good.


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