Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another thoroughly wasted year in Venezuela

The title, now that I think of it, is misleading. 2014 has not only being wasted, but it has also been destructive. We failed to advance on any aspect, and we went back quite a lot on others.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Venezuela criminals are appointed to the High Court, TSJ (UPDATED)

Maikel Moreno salad days
The current cycle of the regime tight hold on ALL levers of power and decision is finally over: the high court has been packed solid red. As I wrote in a previous post, nothing is to be surprising there: the regime knows it has lost the majority in the country and since it is a mere band of thugs it is preparing itself to find ways to remain in control no matter what. This is the way thugs/mafia/criminals operate.

The only surprise here, whatsoever, is the brazenness of the whole thing. And today takes the top price as a criminal is one of the newly appointed 12 "justices". One would have hoped that the regime would have found some tiny fig leaf to hide the impudence of its actions. But no. For example, two of the "justices" appointed are directly involved in flagrant irregularities of Simonovis case, Marjorie Calderon and Maikel Moreno. This last one was already a legal creep in the Puente Llaguno and Danilo Anderson affairs.

Zeitgeist at Arapito

This holiday period had to provide us rich evidence on the country's degradation, none as telling as the mass robbery at Arapito beach.

Arapito used to be one of the paradise beach Venezuela had decades ago, even featuring in European tourism posters. I still remember going there as a kid as a stop over on the road to Cumana, our annual vacation outing then. Since then mass tourism has come, but not of the good type. Thinning coconut trees, greasy spoon stands, noisy crowd on holidays. I certainly will not spoil my fond memories by going back there, the more so after the mass robbery that took place yesterday.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Amused by the latest "coup" in Venezuela

So, I start my day with this:

The main leaders of the opposition must express themselves [condemn?] nationally and internationally as to the coup from the government. 

Oh my, oh my!  Kind of late, no?

There is no doubt that the recent appointment of the "poder moral", the CNE and the high court (in a few hours) have been done against the constitution, never mind its spirit. No doubt whatsoever, even for chavismo whose brazen hurry in the whole thing is as perfect a confession as you could hope for.

So, why am I amused?

2015 has already started in Venezuela

And no, it is not that we have an obscure date line that we cross on our own. It is that the obscure power struggle inside chavismo is already in full swing, not waiting to be a 2015 crisis fall out.

Today Rafael Ramirez, once upon a time under Chavez the tsar of the wallet, has been demoted once more. A very few months ago having been pushed from holder of the oil purse to Foreign Minister, he is now mere ambassador to the UN. This confirms that a second group inside chavismo has lost its position and that the battle among the remaining surviving factions to occupy that space is in full swing. And the substitute to Ramirez indicates which are the factions on the rise: the lunatic left.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Leopoldo Lopez versus Diosdado Cabello

Two major newspapers have published letters as OpEd from the two sides of the Venezuelan spectrum. I will let you judge by yourself comparing them. I also re-publish them integrally so you do not need to seek the the links.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Christmas 2014 post

Dear readers, it is time to wish you a merry Christmas. At least, if you have the luck to reside outside of Venezuela the odds that your Christmas will be at least decent are good. Here in Venezuela it is going to be one the saddest Christmas in a long time, with significant odds of getting even worse in December 2015.

@dcabellor blocks me! A Twitter consecration!

Contrary to many people I make a point to put the Twitter account of those that I do criticize on Twitter. It is just fair, it gives them a chance to reply back if they wish, it proves that I am not a hypocrite. Well, Diosdado Cabello, a frequent target of my tweets, does indeed read my tweets and does not like them (or whoever manages his account, the more likely possibility!) So I have been blocked! I am tickled pink!
Some democrat! does the NYT knows about that?
Which is totally stupid anyway as I can open another account and read his tweets, criticize him, until I am blocked again. But such idiots can only get so much of my time...  thin skin....

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014: the year all and nothing changed

In Venezuelan history books, when the real ones will be written, it is possible that 2014 will be qualified as the year as all changed and yet nothing changed. 2014 will be framed between 2013 the year chavismo became an outright dictatorship and 2015 the year when all went to hell.

I suppose that a long time blogger must cave in to the routine of writing a year in review post. So might as well get over with it, even before writing a Merry Xmas post. And yet 2014 may still be full of surprise in Venezuela like the regime shutting out the opposition from any of the administrative post it deserves in a normal democracy (1). But the essential has been done: short of a major earthquake, tsunami or meteor crash, the deed that matters is done for Venezuela for 2014.

The year started after the infamous "dakazo" of November 2013, where allowing "legal" looting the regime ensured a municipal electoral victory the following December.  The stage was set for a regime ready for any trickery to flatter the bulk of a populace just out to grab anything regardless of the consequences. The first consequence was that the regime entered paralysis in doing anything that was not a give away, without cash for it. The second consequence was a division inside the opposition, between those that were not going to keep taking abuse from the regime and those who, well, may be talked into tolerating such abuses.

January woke up with empty shelves in all electronic, hardware, furniture stores and the like. These shelves never got replenished.  Some stores on occasion got some shipments that usually were tightly controlled by the Nazional Guard, if anything for them to have first pick. Thus started the constant item of this year, random scarcity of goods. Paper toilet did come back on a regular basis but never did milk while toiletries and laundry detergent are now treasure troves.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cubazuela officials in turmoil as Cuba regains its own name (UPDATED with rats)

There is great confusion in Caracas.

On one hand the regime had been preparing for a major anti US offensive, rooted in a sanction bill that Obama finally signed. On the other hand, a day earlier Obama was for all purposes giving a free pass to over 5 decades of Castro's tyranny and their crimes. The local potentates, not trained at all in the world finesses are all in a major state of confusion. And contradictions galore.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Venezuela is done for; it is not me saying it, it is Raul Castro

The news today is of course Obama deciding to renew ties with Cuba after about 50 years of embargo and what not. I will not even bother to put up a link, just open your Google News section.

I am not going to argue the pros and cons. One thing is clear and it is that the embargo has not worked, has furnished the odious Castro criminals with an excuse that they have milked beyond the udder. Yet the failure of the embargo was not the idea per se, but the way successive weaklings applied it, speaking tough when the Miami Cuban vote was needed, forgetting about it as soon as they were sworn into some elected office. Clearly something had to be done and I am too busy, too overwhelmed by my own life and home problems to give you the opinion of my crystal ball about the well founded of that initiative of Obama, or any other possible one.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mas idioteces de Arreaza, una vergüenza de vice presidente

Ya tuve que narrar unas cuantas imbecilidades del vice presidente que nos gastamos en Venezuela estos días. Pero el tipo insiste. Ahora va a amarrar la pata a los mesones de trabajo de los investigadores para evitar la fuga de cerebros.

En la cumbre Iberoamericana de Veracruz hace unos días Arreaza se quejo de la fuga de cerebros de América Latina, llegando a decir palabras destinadas al inmortal diccionario de los perfectos idiotas (expresión ya vieja en cuanto se refiere a cierta izquierda latinoamericana).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Phantom of Miraflores

There is no doubt about it, not only Maduro is in denial but he has a plan. That the plan is written by Cubans willing to gamble on outright repression is inconsequential. That the plan has any chance of success is beyond the point. That chavismo itself will not support it is the least of his worries.

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication

Right now all indicators are in free fall.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A small commentary on the exaggeration of the Bolivar collapse

For readers of this blog and other keen observers of Venezuelan reality, it has not passed without notice that the black market rate of the Venezuelan Bolivar (VEB) has taken a major dive in front of the America Dollar (USD).

The last time the VEB was below 100 to an USD was October 21, at 98,09. Thus we can calculate that the depreciation of the Venezuelan currency has been of (174.03-98.09)/174.03=43.6% in 51 days. That is, the currency has lost 43.6/51=0.7% per day. A staggering number by any mean.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

When dictatorships have nothing left to lose: Machado on the spike

What is more surprising today is in fact that the regime did not jail Maria Corina Machado, when it could have done it exactly as it did with Leopoldo Lopez.  Why?

That tweet shows her leaving the prosecutor office after having been charged with conspiracy, which means that if she were to be found guilty after a trial she would get at the very least 8 years in jail. So, why is she, apparently, going to be tried "in liberty" while the same trial for Leopoldo Lopez is going nowhere, leaving him to languish in jail since February 18 in rather abject conditions? After all, there is no doubt about her being guilty by association with Lopez, as you can see by yourself next as she accompanied closely Leopoldo Lopez the day he was taken by the regime.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

La imbecilidad del vicepresidente que tenemos que calarnos

Me van a perdonar si empiezo una entrada con un insulto pero no tengo otra palabra para cualificar a Jorge Arreaza, el vicepresidente de Venezuela. El es un imbécil.
Operación colchón 

¿Por que lo digo? Pues si usted no lo sabia todavía sus palabras en un congreso de "ciencia" lo confirman sobradamente. Lo que voy a escribir a continuación es un comentario sobre su participación en la clausura del III Congreso de Ciencia Tecnología e Innovación. Uno podría pensar que frente a una audiencia que no tengo razones para presumir de una pobre formación científica Arreaza hubiese medido algo sus palabras. Pero no, picó adelante y reveló más sobre los objetivos reales de la "revolución".

Primero dijo que la caída del precio del petroleo es una conspiración de Obama y la derecha apátrida de Venezuela:
"Si esos factores políticos, si el imperialismo cree que con la guerra del petróleo va a poder con la revolución bolivariana sepan que el látigo de la contrarrevolución nos da más fuerza que nunca para desatar nuestra creatividad, nuestra inventiva, nuestros conocimientos para superar todas las crisis que se presenten; no podrán con la patria de (Hugo) Chávez, ni con los poderes creadores del pueblo"

Mao's Beijing on the Güaire: the Grand Chavez ballet company

It looks like chavismo will never run out of idiotic ideas. Yesterday we saw how we paid for them with oil prices plummeting. Today journalist Andreina Marquez (@mintina)  attended a ballet performance.  Words fail common sense....  Here are some of her tweets.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The road from Deadend to Rockbottom passes through Deadbeat & Co. Caracas'offices

Well, my friends, it seems that this time we got what we saw coming. Well, some of us saw it coming long ago but that is a small consolation.  I am going to give you a few of tweets from The Telegraph covering the latest OPEC meeting.

First, Ramirez reaction to the meeting's results.

Why? There, in two tweets.

La propia arepera socialista.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Got a local problem? Hide it by jailing a Venezuelan opposition leader

So let's review the regime's problems just this week,

What if there were internal elections and nobody came? It is exactly what happened this Sunday. The regime's political facade, PSUV, held internal elections. Some inside PSUV dare to claim something like 7 million members (more than the votes they get at general elections). Cooler heads inside the PSUV satisfy themselves with 5 millions. More realistic observers do not go much further than 2 millions.  Whatever it is, the participation may have not reached the half a million. That the regime refuses to give numbers "because we do not want the enemy to know exactly how many we are" is a true confession of the paucity of enthusiasm inside the PSUV.  In fact, even Telesur manages a triumphant article without giving a single number of votes. They say there were more than 400,000 candidates, really, which would allow us to believe that there must have been at least the same number of votes. No?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mensaje al chavismo anti democrático y torturador

Veo eso en Twitter, proviniendo de una reunión del Grupo de Madrid, conformado por ex presidentes de cualquier país democrático.

Los presidentes al lado de Carlos Vecchio son, de izquierda a derecha: Pastrana, Quiroga, Toledo, Hurtado, Calderon, Lagos y Lacalle (no aparecen pero si firman la carta Arias y Cardoso). Si bien algunos son de la derecha democrática, Lagos es socialista chileno y ni Hurtado ni Toledo ni Cardoso se pueden colocar en la derecha. Ademas, sea cual sea sus preferencias políticas, TODOS han sabido entregar el poder a sucesores democraticamente electos, después de elecciones de verdad. Y sin los abusos electorales ni las trampas que ustedes convirtieron en rutina del CNE.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Venezuela reaches the limits of procrastination

It has been now two years that the post Chavez era has started and nothing has been done to correct the obvious. It is true that there are many explanations, ranging from the inner divisions of chavismo to their absolute ignorance of how the world really works, not forgetting that Cuban masters have come to the realization that Venezuela is lost and that they need to loot as much as possible before the inevitable bankruptcy. The point I am trying to make here is that the regime does not take any serious decision outside of repression while the opposition is doldrumier than ever, apparently waiting for things to fall of their own weight. But such procrastination has consequences.

It's the economy, stupid!

The problem here is that under Chavez Venezuela has become more dependent on oil than at any time in its history. That this income reached astronomical highs is only part of the explanation, there was also a deliberate and continuing attempt at destroying the private production sector to weaken opposition financing, beyond ideology, of course.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Alek Boyd tells us how he was robbed of his lap tops, and only them

Two days ago Alek Boyd, well know to our readers, suffered a break in at his home in London. Interestingly the only thing they took away was his lap tops. Money, cash, passports, remained behind. Just the lap tops. Since he has been a long time investigator of the Chavez regime corruption this blog asked him a few questions.

We have been surprised to learn that even in London methods like those used in Venezuela to harass opposition are applied. Could you briefly tell us what happened?

Basically, one and/or a group of subjects of my investigations must have felt that breaking and entering into my flat, and stealing a couple of laptops would send a chill down my spine, and I would be silenced, or blackmailed with the information potentially retrieved. For years chavistas and their associates have been sending death threats, have launched smear campaigns to tarnish my reputation, have tried to hack my website and email accounts, have initiated ridiculously spurious legal cases against me, have attacked my family, all with the purpose of shutting me down. In their infinite ineptitude, they truly believe that the methods they use in Caracas can be extrapolated to any other place, without consequences. But they keep miscalculating, and erring.

28 new laws are going to solve all of our problems

Maduro is finishing his week the enabling law period. So, as it has always been the case since Chavez reached office, every hitlerian enabling law lasts one to two years but 90% of the "laws" decreed are published in the very final couple of weeks. One truly wonders why the urgency of an enabling law if the future alleged positive effects of such dictatorial measure will be announced at the very end of the period. Of course, for those new to this sick game, the whole point of the regime during these months of wait is to test political waters and announce political laws in bulk so that opposition will be drown under the flood. Remember: this is ALL about control, NOTHING about sound economics.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why the cruelty against Leopoldo Lopez?

The current Venezuelan dictatorship is unusual in that it has, relatively, few political prisoners. However this is amply compensated by the notorious cruelty that the regime has against such prisoners. The case of Afiuni has defrayed the chronicles. Simonovis had to be in a near death situation for the regime to give him home arrest so he could be treated. And "smaller" cases are also the target of human rights violations such as students raped or threatened with rape while arrested early this year. In addition to physical cruelty there is also a purposeful mental cruelty from all sorts of verbal abuses to trials that are postponed constantly so not even the illusion of justice is offered. But what is happening to Leopoldo Lopez is truly baffling, even by the regime "standards".

Before I get into this story let me add a comment. The current violence and almost randomness of torture, the abuse of power, the deliberate cruelty are alien to Venezuelan political "tradition". And it is a tradition with quite a story for itself, from the troubled civil wars of the XIX century to the longest of dictatorships with Gomez, to the anti AD expediency of Perez Jimenez. Whichever the case was in general the power in place tried to dispatch political enemies as fast as possible, be them killed quickly or interned in a camp after a fast trial of sorts. So why this totally novel form of crushing political dissent? I will advance two reasons.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A broke Venezuela splits its finances in two

To add more complexity to an already complicated situation Maduro went a big step ahead in creating a parallel administration for the country. That is, a parallel system for many activities of the state, a system that he can finance (if he has money) as he pleases, outside of any legislative control. Why is he doing that? Two reasons. Because he does not have enough money for all so he must find a "legal" way to give the money to only a few. Because he may be losing next year legislative election by a margin wide enough that no amount of electoral fraud will be able to disguise the fact (after all, we are in an elected dictatorship, are we not?)

To nail down the whole scheme he even dares making these new laws he decreed "organicas" which means that the laws can only be changed by a 2/3 vote in the national Assembly, something he trusts the opposition will not be able to reach. For those that still think Venezuela is a democracy (mercifully a dwindling small number) let me remind you that Maduro decrees these law through an "enabling law", Hitler style, that he got barely with a 3/5 majority (having expelled/blackmailed/bought enough opposition representatives on the flimsiest of charges to reach the magical number). And yet these laws can only be abrogated or modified by a 2/3 majority. 3/5 become 2/3. Explain to me where is representation and democracy in that....

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Regime's finely honed art of lying: Marcos Torres and the non-devaluation news

Look, indicators are in deep red but we are groovy!
One must be in awe at the news this morning, reflecting an interview of our top economic minister to the the top chavista talk show.  General Marcos Torres who is now the one in charge of all the money in Venezuela has given a gravity defying performance, helped by Jose Vicente Rangel, the worst courtier of the regime. But there is already a clear interpretation beyond the words of the General. One, the regime is already hard into an electoral campaign that may come sooner than expected and two, as a General we can only by charitable by supposing he thinks the economy is just like the barracks; he gives orders, people obey, results are predictable.

To make sure you do not think I am making up what follows then, I will take my sources from two pro Chavez papers, Ultimas Noticias and El Universal. Also I am not going to comment on this as a financier which I am not but as a business person at ground zero.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Las viudas de Berlín

Hoy celebramos la libertad del pueblo alemán, el día cuando cayeron los primeros pedazos del muro de Berlín, el infame muro que separó las democracias occidentales de la tiranía comunista. Que los resultados no hayan sido todos los esperados no es el punto: nadie discute que Europa y el mundo no hayan mejorado en estos últimos 25 años. Pero si Europa es más rica y prospera que en ningún momento de su historia, pese a una crisis coyuntural que afecta a algunos, no todos se han podido librar todavía del yugo comunista, yugo que ha adquirido otros nombres pero que sigue teniendo el mismo objetivo final.

Monday, November 03, 2014

A brief history of "colectivos"

Colectivos can be this tacky...
With the recent murder of representative Serra and the summary dismissal of Interior Minister Rodriguez Torres "colectivos" have assumed durable front news status. Heck, there is even a Wikipedia page on them, which is curiously critical considering the constant work that the regime propaganda machine does to edit permanently unfavorable comments in the people's encyclopedia page.

Still, that page is lacking on significant background and historical development, and could be neutered soon. Thus a blog post may be of help (1).

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hyperinflation as a gateway to dollarization (or eurozization if you wish)

Printing bolivares
There is no need now to argue against the disastrous economic situation of Venezuela, all of Chavez making (Maduro is a mere idiot managed by his Cuban puppeteers who are merely making things worse than what they should be). The results are for all to see. From an oil exporting country we have done our first importation of oil. More than at any time in our history we depend on oil, at a time where the oil barrel has lost around 25% of its value. We import at the very least 60% of our food (some estimates reach 75% of our total needs in whatever). Our international reserves have reached a decades low. The "official" yearly inflation is now 63% when the real one, outside of a failed price control system, hovers probably around 100%. And this, my friends, when all your neighbors have a yearly inflation average below 4% means hyperinflation, in XXI century parameters. The more so when there is a nasty trend in many advanced countries towards deflation...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Returning home for Dummies

What can I say? Never did I see so many changes in Venezuela after a mere three weeks absence. In fact, the shock of the first few days was so big that I refused to update my database on politics and the like. Even today as I type I am far behind the details. And yet they do not matter: the big picture has become bigger for me after four weeks outside.

My first shock was the grocery store when I went to refurbish my refrigerator. The prices went noticeably up in one month for the stuff I buy. There was no imported goods. Of course, among the goods available there is all sorts of imported stuff re-processed in Venezuela. After all we are importing now at the very least 60% of our food (estimates vary, I am giving you the bottom line). What I mean is that you could still find an occasional treat, like some average Italian pasta, or an overpriced jar of raspberry jam. This is now all gone. And it has not been replaced, even by sub-par Venezuelan production.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The pernicious Foro politics

There were elections yesterday in Uruguay and Brasil, and friends of the Sao Paulo Forum have reasons to cheer. Not because they won but because their system of social division and class hatred prospers ensuring them meager but consistent electoral victories.  Let's look at Brasil.

Friday, October 24, 2014

News of the day

Venezuelan oil barrel reaches down to 75 USD a barrel. We are broke.

Rodriguez Torres, ferocious minister of security who had dozens of students killed and hundreds jailed is fired, when he tried to rein in the "colectivos", chavismo storm troopers. Yet, military balance in government remains unchanged.

Draw your own conclusions.

Dakazo 2 and Technocrats

The advantage of distance is that one has no time to follow closely what happens in Venezuela nor the ability to self drown in useless details. Thus the mind clears up and one starts seeing "things". I see a "dakazo 2" in play and I see an avid embrace of technocratic managed inflation by the regime. The poor guys do not have much of a choice: the drop in oil prices is not a mere circumstantial affair and something must be done even though as it is always the way in Venezuela the decisions are not the right ones.

The "dakazo 2"

Saturday, October 18, 2014

MariGabi does New York

Do not count me among those ones totally upset about Chavez daughter gaining a Security Council seat at the UN for two years with basically zero qualifications for the job. The problem is not her, the problem is the UN and assorted organizations which in the last decade have descended fast into a tolerated irrelevance.

The starting point in that race to nothingness could be traced to many starting blocks: I choose the decision of Bush to invade Iraq without any permit from the UN. It has all gone downhill since, sped up along by China and Russia voting strictly along their basic interests, forfeiting their global role and responsabilities whatsoever. Or have you forgotten their disgraceful performances during the Arab brief Spring? Syria?

Same thing for the OAS in the Americas already quite weak when Chavez came in. The problem is not that Chavez, guided by Fidel, reduced it to mulch, the problem is that people let him get away with it.  The near sightness of countries like Chile or Brazil in this disaster will come back soon enough to haunt them the day they will need support of international groups.

That Chavez daughter, who probaly has already a criminal record on her own, makes it to the UN, be it to be promoted as an eventual puppet successor to Chavez by her Cuban mentors, or because it was the only way to have her vacate the presidential home premises (soon two years after Chavez croaking) is a mere insult from Cuba to the UN, amazingly undetected by half of European countries, that I know. Maybe abstention is not allowed in the UN?  Whatever the reasons are, there is no beter proof that the UN has become a mere bureaucracy, a place where politicians can serve vacation time or suffer a comfy exile. 

If I were Ban, I would resign. Then again, I was named as a bureaucrat to that post, anyway.....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waldoniel special 2014

Here are 4 pictures of 4 places I have visited these last few days. That way you will understand better the low posting rate. Note: it is 80% business trip and I am exhausted, but I still manage a day out on occasion. Bonus points if you guess more than the mere place or country.

City one: (hint: NOT Venezuela)

 Country 2: guess the fruit for free bonus. And no, it is not litchi or Asia.

City 2:

City 3: and a marvelous concert to boot, nobody coughing, no cel phones.

Further hints if you follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Postales de Paris para Maduro

Hola Nicolas

Estoy aquí en París. Sufrí mucho para conseguir pasaje. Y ahora sufro más porque CADVI me negó los dolares. Disque las fechas de mi pasaje no coincidían con los plazos "días hábiles" para pedir CADIVI. O sea que yo quien nunca me propase en mi cupo, yo que nunca me metí en tracalas con CADIVI, por güevon me quedé sin dolares y tengo que viajar con mis ahorros y dolares prestados esperando que por suerte saque algo en SICAD 2 para devolver esa plata... Y lo tengo que hacer para tratar de salvar el negocio y los empleos, cosa que los chaburros que todavía lo son en la empresa no me lo agradecen. ¿Pero que se hace?  Supe que tu en el Bronx no tuviste peos y que los dolares a ti sí te los aprobaron para payasear, porque para trabajar no fue que fuiste a Nueva York. Que yo sepa no salvaste nada allí...

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Danilo Anderson, Eliecer Otaiza and Robert Serra

Even though I am far away, in a country where there is medicine and food, where there are no power outages and where I can sleep on a ground floor room with my window open, waves of bad news keep reaching me even if I avoid my computer as much as possible.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Evidence of a wrecked economy: Daniel shops

There are of course those that still think the regime has a plan. A plan it does: to hold on to power forever. But a plan to improve Venezuela economy, social situation, health care, etc.?  Dream on...

Between yesterday and today I visited two stores that speak volumes on how degraded the economic situation since Maduro destroyed any confidence that the business may have harbored. Not much to begin with... In short, since the "dakazo" of last November when Maduro organized official looting to empty all the stores from electronic goods to win the municipal election, these stores have simply not renewed their stock. And if on occasion something comes through it is because the regime has given them official dollars so they avoid again the high armed robbery the regime did against them last year.

We will start with the book store in Caracas that I tended to use. I had not been there in 6 months. Well, there is nothing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The New York Times and the Washington Post trash Maduro

This week end two majors newspapers of the world have come out with harsh to blistering editorials. They are worth putting in full in this blog as for once, editorials sound almost as stringent as this blog.  I have taken the liberty to highlight a few words in both editorials, to show how degraded the image of Venezuela is. For two papers and this blog to use almost the same language is quite striking, unless, of course, chavista will claim it a conspiracy and yours truly advising the editorial boards of both papers.....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fake temporizing in Venezuela

This week end caught us with two pieces of good news. Well, sort of. Two political prisoners got better jail terms, that is, home arrest for a while. One is a police chief of 2002 that the regime has tried to scapegoat as the lone guilty party of the deaths of April 2002, Ivan Simonovis. The other one was an activist from the protest earlier this year, Sairam Rivas.

Should we read something into this? I am afraid not.

To begin with, those two cases had become a problem for the regime's international image. Not that it cares much at this point, but with an expected trip of Maduro at the UN in the coming days, a mere gesture could only help.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Venezuela se termino de joder

Yo no se si la gente se da cuenta pero la caricatura que llevó  El Universal a botar a Rayma después de 19 años es una poderosa suma de símbolos que se cristalizan en un instante para decirnos en la cara lo jodido que está nuestro país con esa cuerda de maleantes y narcos que gobiernan.

Empecemos por la caricatura.

Se puede argumentar que tal vez sea algo fuerte. Lo que no se puede negar es que el sistema de salud venezolano esta padeciendo una profunda crisis y eso después de 15 años de chavismo. La culpa la tiene el gobierno de Chávez. No hay excusas.

Por lo tanto es mi opinión que lo máximo que podía hacer El Universal era no publicar la caricatura. Botar a Rayma es una denegación de la verdad, es censura. Es un crimen.

Por lo tanto prosigamos con El Universal.

El periódico de mi infancia se vendió. No voy a discutir si la familia Mata tenia razones o no de venderlo. Total, no vi a nadie saliendo a defenderlos con poderosas marchas de apoyo. Aquí los periódicos se están muriendo de mengua, sin propaganda y sin papel y la gente feliz en su cola del bicentenario para cuatro migajas, o mas preocupada por el cupo de CADIVI que por la libertad de información. Tenemos lo que nos merecemos.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Now what? Venezuela on static noise

I have convinced myself that all political players still out there have decided to wait and see what happens though its own gravitational pull. Maduro has decided that the solution to all the regime failed control system is yet more controls. Capriles goes to the beach and gives us a set of vulgar to pictures from Playa Parguito which in Venezuelan slang is much fodder for chavista homophobia. Meanwhile, even though the regime hides official statistics such as inflation and scarcity index, it cannot be hidden that the country has more than likely entered into a recession.

Even though Ramirez has been evicted/promoted, the regime is strictly unable to take any significant economical measure. Not even to increase the price of gas, a measure that may not be able to help much in the foreign currency balance of the country but that would raise at least some local currency cash to pay the regime's local obligations. In fact it is quite possible that the gas price increase has become such a big bugaboo for the regime that this one has simply paralyzed on any reform, or so Maxim Ross thinks in an interview in La Razon.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

"Worse than a crime, a mistake"

We just learned that Lorent Saleh, a vociferous student activist against the Chavez regime has been expelled from Colombia to Venezuela. I have no doubt that Lorent Saleh crossed the line in Colombia on what political activities a foreigner can undertake there. I am certain that there might be justified reasons for the Colombian government to ask him to leave the country.

But there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for the Santos government to expel him to Venezuela where Lorent Saleh is subjected to political persecution.

El arcaísmo chavista versus el resto del mundo

Uno nunca se cansa de repetir que el chavismo es un movimiento reaccionario que como meta se inventó un socialismo militarista que no es si no una versión actualizada de las montoneras bandidas que azotaron nuestro pobre país en el siglo XIX. A eso se le aderezó con tribalismo primitivo de un imaginario buen salvaje pre colonial del cual no se consiguen evidencias concretas, por más que escarben. Pero a veces hasta de los países mas socialmente conservadores nos llegan evidencias de que el mundo avanza, evoluciona, mientras que aquí nos hundimos cada día mas en una ignorancia, un desdén de los hechos reales y las teorías establecidas, para dar rienda suelta a un lambucianismo devastador. Ni siquiera le podemos echar la culpa al chavismo: al fin y al cabo el grueso del chavismo de hoy son los adecos de tercera categoria que solo lograron encaramarse siguiendo a Chávez, con una técnica impecable de jaladura que desarrollaron durante 40 años de esfuerzos. El chavismo no es sino el paroxismo sexual de adecos retozando con ñangaras.

Lo que me hace escribir esto viene de unas reflexiones que tuve pensando en la actual crisis política de Francia. El origine profundo de esta crisis es que el partido socialista francés siempre ha sido un matrimonio inestable entre los de ideología izquierdoza (pero democráticos) y los propiamente social demócratas pragmáticos. Pues bien, la crisis reventó ya que el nuevo primer ministro Emanuel Valls, de origen catalán sin lugar a duda, se cansó de los ideologos de buche y pluma y reorganizó el gobierno a la manera social demócrata como en los otros países europeos. O sea gente seria, de esos que gastan con gusto plata en programa sociales pero que saben que uno solo se puede arropar hasta donde alcanza la cobija.

No como los de aquí que te piden "el millardito" porque les da la gana y ya. Otros pagarán.

Claro, después de décadas de peleas ideológicas controladas se alborotó el avispero dentro de la izquierda francesa y no sabemos todavía si el renovado gobierno de Valls mantendrá su mayoría parlamentaria. Pero esto no ha impedido las encuestadoras hacer su trabajo, en particular pidiendo a la gente si ellos pensaban que el gobierno ayudaba a las empresas privadas lo suficiente. O sea, en los términos del debate en Francia, si el gobierno da suficiente ayudas concretas para que las empresas puedan trabajar y ser competitivas internacionalmente de manera a que puedan producir, generar puestos de trabajo, pagar sus impuestos con mas facilidad y en mayores monto con el objetivo que el estado pueda cumplir sus funciones sin tener que endeudarse ni comprometer la salud económica del país.

Les presento dos tweets de la encuestadora CSA

En este primer gráfico 63% de los franceses piensan que el gobierno NO HACE lo suficiente para ayudar a las empresas. Solamente un 15% piensa lo contrario, que demasiada ayuda reciben las empresas.

En este segundo gráfico se detalla POR PARTIDO POLITICO quienes piensan que no se ayuda suficiente al gobierno. Sorprende ver por ejemplo que "Front de Gauche", lo mas de izquierda en la política francesa con amigos del chavismo como Ramonet y Melanchon, 45% dicen que no, que no se ayuda suficientemente. Claro, el 47% de ellos peinan que se hace demasiado pero nos quedaremos con una sorprendente cifra de donde vemos que un 45% piensa que no se hace lo suficiente, superando inclusive los propios socialistas que contestan no suficiente en un 41%.

No es el punto de esta bitácora explicar lo que pasa en Francia. Nos limitaremos a imaginar cual seria la respuesta a un sondeo parecido en Venezuela. ¿Podríamos tener "un 63% piensa que todavía no se jode lo suficiente a las empresas"?

El nivel de cargas que tienen que soportar las empresas se ha vuelta casi intolerable y en todo caso a frenado considerablemente la economía venezolana. No es solamente la ley de trabajo LOTT pero es todo un conjunto de reglas que van desde la seguridad e higiene hasta tener que proveer a los trabajadores con distracciones. El hecho es que una empresa venezolana hoy en día no puede crecer, no puede general los puestos de trabajos que necesita el país porque sencillamente no puede atender la carga financiera de los trabajadores, ni los dolores de cabeza que hoy tiene que sufrir los departamentos de manejo de personal. Amen de los otros problemas que vuelven la producción casi imposible.

Si bien es cierto que hemos visto muchos casos de trabajadores defendiendo su empresa frente a los ataques del gobierno, también hemos visto demasiado trabajadores apoyando el robo de las empresas a sus dueños. Que se arrepientan amargamente después cuando descubren que el estado es el peor de los patrones, como pasa ahora en Guayana, no es un consuelo.

Me temo que en Venezuela a demasiados trabajadores les queda todavía mucho por aprender, y mas si son chavistas. Todavía estamos en el siglo XIX mental de Marx donde el chavismo nos quiere mantener. Es mas fácil controlar la pobreza y el resentimiento que la clase media y la responsabilidad individual.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Maduro's "El Sacudón" or the fine art of doing nothing

So Maduro had a "cadena" tonight to announce his new cabinet, new measures, etc...  As usual since he is legally but not legitimately president I have not followed it. Through Tweeter and a few articles I get all what I really need. See, once you have understood that the regime cannot change because it would collapse, then there is nothing to expect anymore but more repression, more controls, more intervention. All becomes very predictable and tonight was no exception.
The real game in town?

For example he announced the usual Castro like slogan of now 5 revolutions inside the revolution because apparently after 15 years of Chavez public administration is still controlled by bourgeoisie. He is right on that last one except that it is the chavista corrupt bourgeoisie carefully nurtured over the last decade so as to have a body of public servants corrupt and henceforth subject blackmail. That helps insure the survival of the regime. Thus the 5 new revolutions are nothing more but yet a new attempt at a parallel control system of government such as it was the case for the Misiones, the comunas, the milicia, the colectivos, etc..

No economic measures of significance were announced. Things keep getting worse, oil price fail to increase to save the regime in spite of multiple wars, so this one has decided to light a candle, pray to lord Chavez and hope for a miracle rather than devaluate, increase the price of oil, free at least some sectors of the economy to lower scarcity of at least a couple of basic items.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Nothing better to start the week but a little bit of chavista blasphemy

In the "believe it or not" series. We learn today that chavismo has created its own prayer to Chavez. Let's start with the crossing.

In the name of Chavez, Maduro, and the sovereign "pueblo", we shall live and win

And then with a new and improved prayer to the Lord, the lord Chavez that is.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chavismo promoting CITGO sale tells us more than what we care to know

Of course, I could regale you with further tales of corruption and economic failure. But this blog is not that much about information these days, rather about the wonderment of being the deer in the headlights while been aware of it. My personal and my work situations are such that adequate information search is a luxurious time element I cannot afford anymore. Besides, where to look for reliable information, numbers? With El Universal gone, Tal Cual with resources too limited for investigative journalism and EL Nacional a near paperless semi shrill...

Then again Miguel has published two superb posts, one about the $$$$ magnitude of the racket of gasoline at the border which explains why so many are "against" a gasoline price increase; and another one about how the regime is unable to decide anything, not even starting to print paper money with numbers according to inflation.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gas smuggling to Colombia. Contrabando de gasolina a Colombia

For those who are still not aware of the smuggling business of gasoline to Colombia

Even if one is aware of the traffic, even if one does not understand Spanish, you cannot fail to be impressed by the visuals. Clearly, smuggling to such an extent is only possible because the Venezuelan authorities have allowed it because they benefit from it. And the cancer of corruption spreads evenly everywhere as the local Colombian authorities have found it safer to join in than trying to stop it. In short, the gains from getting gas for free in Venezuela and selling it at international prices in Colombia is so profitable that everyone along the way cashes in, from the natives whose lands are crossed and who demand a toll, to the guerrilla groups that work hand in hand with the Venezuelan guard. (hat tip Charly, video from Caracol TV Colombia, impossible to pass on TV in Venezuela today).

Viva Chavez, carajo!

The bolivarian revolutionary army goes to war!

In a feat unseen since the first two decades of the XIX century the Venezuelan Bolivarian Chavista Army has gone on the offensive and decided to dispose of this major threat to our nation: smugglers. No expense should be spared as these people have been able to smuggle away 40% of our food without no one noticing for months of "economic war". But guided by Maduro and Fidel, the glorious revolutionary army has opened its eyes and from the twitter of the commander in chief himself we get accounts from the glorious battles fought. Next, choice tweets from Vladimir Padrino account with my most admiring appreciation.

Of course, we need to start from the field command, on top of a hill as it should. Apparently from this exquisitely chosen strategic position many smugglers path are visible and are being destroyed under the keen supervision of the fat robust generals, a wonder to all. You may appreciate the latest fashion in bullet proof jackets which I am sure were an urgent necessity on top of that hill as we can see from the very anxious facial expressions.

And what are they catching?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nuevo récord de Maduro en burradas por discurso

Lo de Maduro hoy fue todo un récord de burradas, digno del más maburro de todos. Antes, permítanme hacer una acotación. Maduro es un ignorante. Lo único que hace es repetir sin entender lo que le preparan, desde la Habana lo mas seguro. No es que el sea estúpido, no. El es vivo e intrigante si no como llegaba hasta donde llegó. Pero viveza no es inteligencia ni raciocinio. Viveza es un agudo instinto de supervivencia ligado a ambición, falta de escrúpulos e ignorancia de lo básico. Pero, repito, inteligencia no es. Es por eso que un bruto puede ser vivo.

No se si fue en cadena o en discurso, pero lo que Maduro dijo hoy fue de lo último. (1). Sin mayor orden de importancia porque en verdad, como escoger dentro de lo peor... (2)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Maduro in Cuba, mutual ass kissing with Fidel Castro, orders clearly implied

It is kind of impressive that as I was writing on the start of rationing in Venezuela Maduro had a surprise quick trip to Cuba, our colonial master. So many messages...  Let's start with the picture.

What is wrong here?

Could it be the first lady a.k.a. the "first fighter" sitting attentively demure in front whereas we would have expected either Fidel or Nicolas?

Could it be that all attendants are wearing the de rigueur white shirt of Cuban higher ranking officials?

Could it be that the house of a "revolutionary" seems rather well appointed, in the style of cozy Latin Bourgeoisie? And with modern finishes to boot.

Let's look now at the information available.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Maduro's regime announces official rationing for Venezuela

The economic news keep getting worse. The regime cranks up propaganda.

WORK SHOP: Maximum Socialist Efficacy (New economic Order)
Nice workshop but the results are against any efficiency: rationing is announced. And we can announce fearlessly right now that the unavoidable black market will come with it.

Things must be really bad, and prospects for improvement almost nil for the regime to make it finally official that by the end of the year all supermarkets and food stores will have a finger print system to restrict what you can purchase. In short, if we are to believe the regime, if I buy 2 pounds of corn flour at store X, any other store will know about it and I will not be allowed to buy more corn flour for that week.

That from the view over here the logistics seem unworkable is irrelevant. I do not even know where the regime is going to get the currency to buy all the material it needs to equip all the stores it wishes to control.

No, what truly natters here is that the regime has taken finally an economic decision: controls will not be eased on the economy, real long term market solutions will not take place. As a consequence utmost centralization and control will proceed, with the poverty spread that comes along. Forget about devaluation, increase the price of gas, release some exchange controls to improve at least production of food. Here, we are going to use the few dollars available to buy a subsistence food system for all. After all if you cannot buy a car why should you worry about the price of gas? If you cannot afford travel, why should you care about which airlines fly to Venezuela?  If you cannot afford Foie Gras and Salmon, why worry about corn flour being rationed to you?

And if you have any doubts about my words look at other bits of news.

The health sector is demanding a humanitarian emergency because medical supplies are not arriving and stocks are now depleted. The regime merely replies that they are overreacting even though you only need to visit the nearest pharmacy and listen to attendants tell a third of patrons "we do not have this one". But of course, one thing is to ration food, another thing is to ration medicine...

If food scarcity is a problem, other items are also missing. Toilet paper may be back, but look for shampoo or deodorant. Tooth paste is also back but gone is soap.

But even if you do not look at "material" issues as the ones described above, you will also observe that services are decreasing fast across the country. The main responsibility for this is the labor law decreed to help Chavez reelection in 2012. The law already nonviable in times of normally dysfunctional economy is now simply inapplicable in service sectors. As such a lot of business are reducing hours, reducing services and thus making our already hard lives more miserable.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

I cannot possibly care less about Ferguson

I would not have heard about Ferguson if it were not for the 24/24 CNN coverage after the 24/24 coverage of the Malaysia plane shot down.  CNN needs such stuff to free itself regularly from coverage that ensnares it and makes it sound ridiculous.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Citgo se va a convertir en mierda

Me van a tener que disculpar la intensa vulgaridad de este escrito pero es que no creo que haya otra manera de que la gente entienda.

Si el gobierno logra vender Citgo esto es lo que pasará.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why is the Venezuelan regime so intent in making the trial of Leopoldo Lopez such a travesty?

It is common knowledge in Venezuela AND now overseas that the judicial system of Venezuela is a farce, a mere tool of the executive to get away with whatever it needs to get done. In Venezuela all political cases and all cases against the state are decided at the convenience of the executive branch which will allow only an extremely rare "victory" of third parties when that one may serve a given side within the regime apparatus against other factions.

In short, when you fall into the hands of the regime judicial machinery you know that the final verdict, if it ever comes, will be a political decision. We are ALL potential political prisoners to be disposed of at will. This is the most powerful tool chavismo has to try to control opposition: those who do not have the nerve flee the country; those who dare to resist end up like Judge Afiuni or Leopoldo Lopez, poster victims to scare away potential protesters.

And yet, in spite of the gloomy assessment written above, the Lopez "show trial" is reaching new and unnecessary levels. Why?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Since I have a hard time discussing Venezuelan stuff, I might as well take the opportunity to discuss current world issues so I can get into way more trouble than I am already in.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maduro, the self proclaimed "worker workers's president" represses harshly workers

Chalk a new point for the repression of the regime. Today it took its gloves off to repress the steel workers of SIDOR in Puerto Ordaz who are getting tired of the government delaying tactics for a labor pact. So the Nazional Guard, well trained from its repression against civilians and students attacked the steel workers, injured a couple, destroyed several of their cars, etc...  Just to prove who is the head honcho here. Nowhere better to go for details but Aporrea, the chavista portal, the last place where the radical left has still a voice and where Marea Socialista criticizes the event better than what I could possibly do.

This being said, I have no sympathy for the steel workers though I condemn the repression they were subjected to. Why? You may ask. In short:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Carta económica a Nicolás Maburro Maduro (segunda)

Hola Nicolás

Soy yo otra vez. Como la ultima vez fui duro contigo esta vez te escribo para ayudarte porque lo necesitas. Es que mira, no logras decidir un carajo, sea aumentar el precio de la gasolina, sea ajustar el cambio, y entonces amenazas empresas y para rematar cierras la frontera con Colombia disque para parar el contrabando. Mira esos dos Tweets abajo:

Carta económica a Nicolás Maburro Maduro (primera)

Hola Nicolás

Yo nunca te escribo porque es perder tiempo. Pero a veces tus rebuznos discursos son tan, pero tan fuera de tus propios cabales que tengo que hacerlo hoy, aunque sea para que nunca puedas decir en los juicios que te llegarán "no estaba escrito en ninguna parte".  Y escusa no tendrás porque se sabe muy bien que en la sala situacional se la pasan leyendo todo lo que la gente dice de ti. Es más, te voy a tuitear esta carta para que no digan que tiro la piedra y escondo la mano.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Venezuelan weather vanes

I suppose that I should start with an apology: a lot of important stuff has been happening in the political country and I have not covered it. The only excuse is that things are changing so fast, and so nowhere, that I was vainly hoping for a weather lull to try to figure out the direction things were taking.  Alas, it'aint not happening.

The heavy sense of being adrift is permanent. Both sides of the political spectrum are at a loss as to what to do with themselves. And this is aggravated for the regime as it needs to find a way to keep ruling the country while maintaining it viable enough so that looting can go unabated. All measures, from both sides, are piece meal, expedient, often amoral, improvised, even politically rudimentary as the country is regressing not only in technology but also in political language and ideas. A home made weather vane would be more effective to give us direction.

This being said, let me take a shot at writing a rather long piece that some of you may find entertaining to read this week end if you are bored.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Open letter to Senator Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana

Dear Senator Landrieu

I am writing to you in respect of you accepting lobbying money to defend CITGO refineries in Louisiana. You have in an ill advised way blocked a US Senate bill that only aimed at putting some personal sanctions over some of the main culprits of human rights violations and drug traffic in Venezuela. Allow me to straighten you up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aveledo resigns as chair of MUD: my heartfelt thanks for his hard work

No break even for lunch. Turning on I learn that Ramon Guillermo Aveledo has resigned his chair at the head of the MUD.

The Venezuelan narco-state kicks open its closet door

Long time readers of this blog know it: Venezuela suffers under a dictatorship where drug traffic has played a major role, promoting corruption and the over all break up of the constitutional state. Yet, as long as Chavez was alive a fiction of democracy was maintained, a fiction where someone that was not a direct drug dealer was in charge. This week end events about how the Venezuelan regime used some of the worst thuggish ways to get back one of its capo taken away in Aruba prove beyond doubt that we are not into dissimulation anymore, this is an out and proud narco-state.

This post is not a translation of the preceding one even though the title are the same. Instead let's do an exercise in how to define a narcostate. Indeed, we are past the labels of XXI century fascism, neo-totalitarian or dictatorship regime. A narco-state requires an additional set of descriptions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

La narco Venezuela salió del closet/armario

Vamos a estar claros: hace mucho tiempo que los que observamos Venezuela de cerca sabíamos que su régimen era militarizado, sufriendo las consecuencias que ello implica, corrupto y narcotraficante, que es lo que hay desde las ultimas décadas del siglo XX. Antes esos regímenes traficaban en esclavos, oro, trata de blancas y otras cosas, pero desde que el norte le sacó gusto a empolvarse las fosas nasales de blanco, evolucionó el sector.
Narco-chusma: 4 en las listas de la DEA y 3
a quien le falta poco para ingresarlas

Pero al mismo tiempo que empezó el norte a drogarse, apareció en el sur una ideología anti norteamericana, o mas bien, anti valores occidentales. El objetivo de las pandillas que van de los Castro hasta el foro de Sao Paulo es minimizar a los Estados Unidos. Eliminarlo seria mejor pero para eso esperarán que la migración desde el sur haga el trabajo. Es mas, esos sistemas políticos anti norte americanos favorecen aun mas la migración.

Una herramienta clave, promocionada por los hermanos Castro, ha sido el trafico de droga a los Estados Unidos y a Europa. En su amargura de fracasados y resentidos se adueñaron de un portaaviones en el Caribe desde el cual han hecho toda clase de fechorías para tratar de destruir los valores occidentales, sin ofrecer nada a cambio. O ofertas transitorias dependientes de los caudillos o guerrillas de turno. Y mientras que sus discípulos hacían esos tráficos, los de Colombia siendo los mas aventajados alumnos, los Castro cobraban su tajada por ayudar, por guardar el botín, por recoger los heridos y esconderlos.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Carvajal 1, Welfare State 0, US of A offside, El Nacional -1

So, as I was afraid, Carvajal was released, and faster than I expected.  I must confess that for a while I thought the Dutch would be firmer, and at least negotiate something solid back for them. Why, the infamous plane blasting would have put enough outrage in its leaders to show resolve! And yet in my first two entries on the subject I was careful to note that there was still a stretch to see Carvajal rot in an US jail.

The Netherlands King visits the naked emperor of chavismo
But the Dutch are the Dutch, they are not principled like Scandinavians, they are not reckless like Latins. Business is ALWAYS business with them, nothing personal. At home they are paragon of civic attitudes and virtue. They will save Anne Frank while in Indonesia the natives did not miss them when the Japanese invaded. In the end they lost both but that is another story.

And let's face it, why would the Netherlands go to war with Venezuela over Aruba? Over what looks now like a botched DEA job? Did they not send Willem and Maxima to see Maduro last November? The only European head of states in a long time willing to breathe the foul air of Caracas.....

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Carvajal affair fallout starts: Aruba flights banned

UPDATED Well, the least we can say is that the arrest of Carvajal in Aruba Wednesday has tied in knots the Venezuelan regime the way a downing of a flight by the Russian has not affected the Dutch, the way Gaza bombings have not created retaliations against Israel (yet, for both).  For us, mere mortals, the arrest of an accused drug lord cannot compare to the victims of a plane crash or with the victims on both side of the border in the middle East; but for the rulers of Thuggistan Venezuela, arresting one of theirs is a capital offense of unspeakable proportions. While the country gets ready to go to war, flights to Aruba are already annulled and threats of all kinds are uttered by people that should know better (but probably have been designated as sort of sicko designated hitter).

Tweet from Laser Airlines announcing the suspension of its flights to Aruba.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another "Oh Dear!" moment: Hugo Carvajal is arrested in Aruba

UPDATED AGAIN. Scant reports yet, little official confirmation but it seems that indeed Hugo Carvajal has been arrested in Aruba while he was awaiting his diplomatic placet from Dutch authorities to become Venezuela's consul in Aruba. This, my friends, can be a turning moment!

Things you may not wonder about Leopoldo Lopez trial, a mere "Caracas Trial"

The real thugs/goons are not on the stand: two Nazional
Guards are not amused by this anti political prisoner
poster on the high court, TSJ, walls.
Today the long awaited trial of Leopoldo Lopez (together with 4 students that should be tried separately, if at all) has started. I am not going to bother the reader with the sordid details.

For one, we all know what the verdict will be: guilty. The only thing that remains to be seen is how long the trial will be and to which extent the regime will dare apply punishment. We already have a hint as the second session is already scheduled for August 6, and since judicial holidays are coming the third session may be pushed all the way to September. As it has been the case for all political trials (judge Afiuni anyone?) the regime loves to linger on those trials, even if it does not have the facts, even if it is an open masquerade. The point here is to inspire fear in future opponents so they await for public lynching if they dare oppose the regime. Totalitarianism of the XXI century, my friends, deal with it.

So what is left to wonder, to come to the title of this post.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

¿Marea socialista? ¿Salto atrás? ¿Despecho rojo?

No soy PSUVologo ni pretendo serlo. Seria pésimo en eso ya que no puedo entender la mentalidad de la gente dispuesta a entregarle todo a un líder aunque este diga burradas pasmosas (capitalismo en marte, el hombre tiene 4000 años, etc...). Y aun menos cuando esa gente es abiertamente caudillista y patotera militar. Pero en fin, el domingo tuvimos "elecciones" dentro del PSUV y nos toca a nosotros, pobres libres pensadores de la oposición, tratar de entender un poco lo que pasa en ese antro del PSUV (con todo el respeto para los que están dentro el PSUV de buena fe que me sospecho no son tantos hoy en día).

Aparentemente hay dos bandos.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Can Venezuelan "ruling" party PSUV avoid division?

Red tide coming?
I suppose that one week ago writing about the opposition MUD trying not to fall in the sinkhole was going to bring karma to hit me with writing a post about the PSUV fate. Indeed one week without writing brought me today in front of the PSUV holding internal "elections" for its political congress starting in a very few days (July 26) (1).

I am not going to go into the diatribe of obvious low electoral participation (the PSUV has only itself to blame for reporting unrealistic high membership numbers, far higher than its actual average voting record). I am not going to go into all the electoral propaganda to make the country believe these elections are meaningful (Globovision looked today like a more behaved state TV propaganda). No, the true meaning of these elections is what it is trying to hide outside of the electoral contest.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Can the Venezuelan opposition MUD recover?

The question is not idle: two of its "major" directors are forcing us to question thoughtfully not only whether the MUD can renew itself or if it has any strategy against the regime, but if its actually intending to fight the regime, amen of being able to understand what is going on in the country. As for its alleged leader, Capriles Radonski, by now I am afraid I am through with him.

Ramon Jose Medina cynical callousness (redundancy of sorts intended)

This happened:

In this video Ramon Jose Medina says that the MUD has no plans to bring out of jail Leopoldo Lopez, that he put himself into that mess, and we assume from his amused, scornful look, that this is not MUD 's problem. You do not need to understand Spanish, just look at his facial expressions. And now he is trying to back track, but it'aint flying and Voluntad Popular, Lopez's party, has demanded his resignation as second secretary of the MUD, which means second in charge after Aveledo. The communique of VP goes as far as suggesting that Medina is in fact collaborating with the regime (1).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Unificación cambiaria" for dummies

I have been meaning for a few days to write up a simple way for people to understand why the country seems to have been frozen the last few weeks, even though Giordani is out, Lopez still in, and Capriles remains deaf mute. You may think that it seems a lot of stuff is going on but this is not the case, no matter what glaring headline stares at you. The reason is quite simple; the country is waiting at three real questions that need answers. The first one is will the regime increase gas prices. The second one is will the regime devaluate at around 15 or at around 25 for the USD. And the third question, maybe the more important one, but that NO ONE dares to touch politically, will the regime amend the labor law of 2012, a regulation that is choking all, ALL business in the country, be they state or private owned.

As long as these questions are not answered neither chavismo can plan for its post Maduro nor the opposition find again some form of political coherence. We are all silenced by the catastrophe about to fall on us.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Normal Heart

I watched last night on HBO the film version of the famous Larry Kramer play of 1984 about the AIDS crisis in New York. That sent me for a time warp spin.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Empty hospitals, empty airports

While Capriles and the MUD keep gazing at their navel and while chavismo tries to find a novel idea, the country keeps sinking at a steady pace. Today we had two gems that speak volumes about what await us.

Monday, July 07, 2014

A noisy silence upon our corruption

Silence like a cancer grows.

For the last time maybe I read my Sunday edition of El Universal.  I suppose that the new owners still did not have time to change the contains significantly but I am more than certain that within weeks major journalists will be leaving the paper, that the editorial line will go from confrontational to bland if not outright supportive of the regime. It happened with Ultimas Noticias, it happened with Globovision, it was such since day one at Tves.  And more minor examples that I could list. Today we are left with only two national papers that publish it all, El Nacional and Tal Cual; some local papers like El Carabobeño and El Impulso; some AM radio here and there. Period.  If you live in Yaracuy State, you need to make a significant effort to get news that are not filtered to support the regime in its main points (even though the red page cannot hide the whole truth). The hoi poloi cannot be bothered.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Tourism in Venezuela, uncomfortable and tacky, with the occasional glimpse of past splendors

So, I decided that I had to use my resort week now because I risked not been able to use it later this year.  The S.O. being stable, work crisis being their chronic self, I left for Margarita, alone, for exercise and "me" time. A chronicle of sorts follow.

Fading paradise...

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The first thing is that my plane fare was cheaper than the cab ride between Caracas and its airport. I know, I use a safe taxi system which is somewhat more expensive. But even if I used an airport taxi or teletaxi , it would have been almost the same and when I add the cab fare in Margarita, I do spend 1.6 times in cab fares than air fare. That tells you about the distortions in prices in Venezuela.

Today's quiz: Which is the Venezuelan flag?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Requiem for El Universal?

UPDATE: It has been confirmed.

The rumors on the sale of El Universal are intensifying again. Not only Bocaranada's Runrunes inside El Universal today mention them, but in his web page he gives more details. But as it is usual in Venezuela gossipmongering, they always fall short of spitting out the beans in full. Which of course creates even more uncertainties.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Chavismo and Maduro have their version of "La Salida"

Something funny happened with my last post in Spanish: it got more hits than an English written post and more G+ than usual (note: I have no idea what G+ truly is good for, it just appears with the posts). Yet few comments, as it happens with my Spanish written posts. Still, since a reader asked me to translate it, I am forced to reply that no, it cannot be translated because it has portions that are really designed to humor a Venezuelan audience (like the Flores family placement system), not to mention that humor, even if diffident, is not easy to translate. But I can post a rewrite, an English summary of sorts.

The point of that post was that the Giordani letter and its consequences highlighted that chavismo was possibly considering an exit out of a situation that they cannot control. Thus "the exit / la salida" to copy ironically the failed program of Lopez and Machado. Failed for the time being, but that is another story.

Why would chavismo consider an exit? Several reasons: they cannot control the economic crisis; they know their coalition of interests is unraveling; they know that too many of them will go to jail for their crimes (and there may be a need to select a few scapegoats); many of them would like to enjoy their loot, and would pay a reasonable price to be allowed to do so; and more. Clearly, this is impossible to tie it all up neatly and some changes will have to occur.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Versión de "La Salida" para los chavistas

La manera en que Giordani fue botado nos pone a pensar. Y pensándolo bien uno entiende que más allá de cualquier diferencia ideológica o de cualquier ilusión de cambio económico, lo que se esta gestando dentro del chavismo es "La Salida", pero de algunos de ellos, a disfrutar de lo que se han robado. Si algo ha sido confirmado estos días, aunque sea parcialmente, es lo que escribe Rafael Poleo desde hace ya bastante tiempo. Según Poleo un grupo dentro del chavismo ha decidido ir a la posición pragmática de negociar una salida. En este caso lo "pragmático" no significa un cambio de modelo, no significa mas democracia. No. Significa hacer los cambios necesarios para que los altos jerarcas puedan salir del poder de una manera "soft", y entregar el coroto a unos sucesores que cargarán con casi toda seguridad con las culpas. El cambio de Maduro de comunista barato a neo liberal de pacotilla solo puede explicarse con la decisión de Cuba de entregar Venezuela a intereses transnacionales a cambio de que él, y los Castro y unos cuantos más salgan ilesos, con una porción suficiente del botín acumulado para un retiro cómodo.

Para poder explicar y entender esto hay que entender primero cual es la situación del chavismo y de Venezuela.