Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dialogue? Schmuckalogue!

I am not too surprised to see this morning "cafe CNNe" has a rather negative view on the refusal of the opposition assist the improvised "dailogue" offered by Maduro yesterday.  CNNE of all people should know better, they should remember all the "dialogue" offers in the last decade in Venezuela that never amounted to anything and that were ALWAYS a ploy by the regime to gain a few weeks until it could come down slamming again.

But let's not be chavista and delve in the past, let's look at this peace gimmick at face value. Let's start with the picture of the podium. Does this look as a peace conference or some Inquisition-light tribunal? From the tacky flower arrangements so prized in totalitarian states to the three giant Bolivar, two false, this is not a welcoming set up. This is a set up where the regime reminds that they are "bolivarian" and thus holder of the truth. Maduro by himself may not be that bad, but flanked on his right by Cabello who ordered the public beating up of representatives in Parliament and on the left by the vice president who has tried to break down private sector at every turn, there is zero credibility from the start. I let's not go into the attendance which was overwhelming pro Chavez just in case one of the few non regime guests would stray too far and could thus be easily drown in jeers.  There was of course a significant sprinkling of olive garb, just in case.

Open letter to Jimmy Carter: Don't you have any shame?

President Carter,
somewhere Quixotic I want to forget in Georgia

I have just read that you are planning a trip to Venezuela sometime in April, depending how the rioting goes. Right...  I also learned that you have written to Maduro and Capriles, arguably the leaders in Venezuela. In particular I note this sentence to Capriles that was picked up by newspapers: "send signals of their willingness to alleviate the present state of tension"; though in all justice you also wrote the following: "It is difficult for elected officials from opposition parties to resolve differences when they feel threatened and persecuted".  However, that you assume that in Venezuela today the opposition has concessions it can make do betrays an extremely poor understanding of the situation. Or utter cynicism, your choice.

Please, desist from your trip: you have absolutely no credibility in Venezuela. Here is why.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In France someone is crystal clear about Venezuela

Reader Syd sent me that link to interview yesterday of Renée Fregosi. The interview is in French but in case some of you can understand I am putting it up anyway because she is the best, more coherent, more rational, more subtle "specialists" on Venezuela I have heard (and I have watched a lot of CNN notable guests....).  As I was watching the interview I was my usual on edge, ready to find fault as I am doing every time these days. I did not find a mistake.  Then again basically all what she says has been written through the posts of this blog in recent days, from electoral fraud to the abandonment by Latin America. So maybe I am biased  :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let's ask Occam to come shave Venezuela

I am bewildered by the amount of analysis coming on Venezuela's situation, some reviving old canards such that it is only a handful of rich kids, to other turning Caracas as a Kiev upon El Güaire. Amen of the emotional debate that range form a secession by Tachira state to silly non violence extremes that would have us believe that freedom  is not worth the death of a single soul. There are all more or less wrong because they all are getting drowned in the details of the horror and/or provocations that have invaded Twitter as the only communication we have left in Venezuela. What makes things worse is that not only Venezuelans have to rely on Twitter, but journalists too.

I think it is time to go back to some basics, away from unnecessary complexity.

Gabriela Montero homage to Venezuelan resistance

Exquisite and terrifying amateur video made on the fast.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Remembering the Revolutionary Tourist

I am pleased to welcome back for what I hope will be a few posts Alex Beech who once upon a time was arguably the best English language blogger on Venezuela, until she decided to take her writing skills elsewhere. Too long ago she did write a few posts until time and New York absorbed her. But she has never been far from her people and I asked her to let us know what does it feel to watch with the impotence that comes with the afar what goes on here.


“There was a whiff of Ozymandias to it all, but foreign supporters applauded the fantasy. Oliver Stone, visiting Caracas to make a documentary, looked blank when I asked about the distortions and corruption haemorrhaging the economy. Shrewder observers – writers and academics – would visit and confide over rum that, yes, it all seemed a bit chaotic, then return home and publicly laud the revolution's progress.” - Rory Carroll, The Guardian

Had foreigners who profited from the revolution not ignored signs that Venezuela was in free fall, had they lived and worked there, enduring horrific violence, food shortages, and the sheer exhaustion of listening to a government spew hatred, perhaps their consciences wouldn't have allowed them to make films and write books that confused the world to this day.

Some tweets of the day, 24F

This one claims that in that official vehicle came these goons to set fire to a private building garage door.

Toward insurrection? Do we still know what this is all about?

The country has awakened a mess. A delivery I was sending was returned because it could not pass through the Moron area. I have no details yet, waiting for the driver to return to San Felipe but that area which never voted less than 75% Chavez is able to see a barricade speaks volumes. And this is the problem the regime is facing, even chavista areas are starting to get upset as food is more and more absent. Even PDVAL, the state food distribution system, announced that people will be limited to one day shopping a week. Food ration card surely must be next.

The week Venezuela awoke to its ruin

February is for some reason a rather agitated month in Venezuelan history. In the last 25 years we have three memorable Februaries, the first one with el Caracazo, the second one with Chavez failed coup and now this one with a mix of Caracazo and coup, but a coup given by the regime against democracy, an "autogolpe" if you wish, self-coup. And let's not forget other fateful Februaries like the one Chavez got reelected for life, or another one with major floods.

The video on the mother of the raped boy....

One of the horrendous events of past days was the rape at gun barrel of one of the arrested protesters. Her mother declared and the video has been translated by Alex Beech.  Here it is. No comments needed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Apotheosis in Caracas El Marques

Some want picture?  Here a couple fresh from Twitter plus a surprise bonus.

The one at El Marques in Caracas is one for the history books.  One "close up" and one long range view. You need to imagine the 5th Avenue or the Champs Elysées filled up to have a comparison..... Sometime between noon and 1 PM. Never, ever was a Chavez rally be able to come close to half of it.

Brief summary and getting ready for tomorrow

Well, it is already past midnight but I need to leave a summary.

CNN unwillingly reveals how decayed chavismo is

I do not know whether CNNE was the hero, or anti-hero of this week, but one thing is certain, it revealed how fucked up is the chavista mindset. Sorry for the vulgarity but no other word describes it.

Two events.

The real crisis in Venezuela lies ahead

In spite of all the excitement I have had to pry myself away from the key board except for a couple of Twitter checks. See, I had a busy day at work today because things are getting real iffy, back in the real world where people are starting to plan about closing their business for lack of supplies. That is right, I work in supplies for food producers and we are running low, dramatically low in the supplies we need.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is any one surprised?

There is no telling the funk I am this morning. Never in my life I thought that I would have to live in a declared dictatorship. But after last night, this is what it is, a bona fide fascist dictatorship.

The long night starts, but the end is near

I cannot sleep, events unfold.

The regime has started the militarization of Tachira and Caracas. First it sent the Nazional Guard to support the "colectivos" in a shooting spree after night fall, during the Maduro cadena where he praised the "colectivos". Basically giving them carte blanche.

Tweeter has been flooded with pictures, videos of aggression, even murders. The goons went as far as chasing protesters inside private buildings and do all sorts of things, from arrests, to break ins. When you think that even a formal complaint of rape by gun cylinder has been deposed you can imagine what awaits a few.

Sliding to Venezuelan hell, with a video from hellish Nazional Guard, and one from a reader

The mind reels.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Before the day after

Sorry, I have no creativity tonight for a title. Tomorrow Lopez may or may not be arraigned, meanwhile he is spending this night in jail.  Someone released a video he made before being arrested, just in case he would indeed be arrested. I suppose he thought that the regime would realize the mistake it was about to make. So, he gives instructions as to how carry on the fight under a dictatorship that has sequestered all media: we all must become a media.

Details about his arrest are becoming clearer. There is this compilation of shorts from El Nacional.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The deed is done: with Lopez in regime's hands, it is worse for them

Troubled morning in Caracas (and Venezuela for that matter). The regime finally got its hands on Leopoldo Lopez about 1 hour before I type this lines. But I guess that soon it will wish it had not done so. Then again, with the psychopath faced folks that run the show like Cabello, it is to be doubted they understand their error, probably sickly celebrating in some quarters while, I am sure, a large chunk of chavismo itself is watching in horror at the monster they have created. Because yes, I have the feel that Cabello is behind that arrest as Lopez is all that he is not nor can he ever be. He may have forced Maduro's hand on that opus to weaken Maduro but in the end he will be swept away in infamy all the same.

Briefly the events. The regime made an extraordinary deployment of police and troops around the gathering point of the march called by the opposition. NOTE: I say the opposition as a whole because the cause is now well beyond Voluntad Popular or AD or Capriles, or... The objective was to block access, in the silly idea that people would simply turn back and go home or work. It did not work out. The regime even had closed nearby subway stations. People came anyway and the result is in the two pictures around, one of the police circle, and one of the people filling up, all in white, the Francisco de Miranda avenue. Note: there are gazzillions of pictures on the Tweet, better than those I picked earlier this morning. But the ones I pick will do.

VN&V and Leopoldo Lopez

Before this historical day gets rolling I though I should share the extent of my contacts, through this blog, with Leopoldo Lopez and Voluntad Popular.

A little summary

I just cannot keep going to bed past 1 AM. So I am closing early tonight with a quick summary of another tough day.

Monday, February 17, 2014


The question here is who is most adrift in Venezuela today, the regime or the opposition?  The crisis that started late January in Tachira has spread as no other crisis has spread in Venezuela since "el caracazo" when looting happened in all major cities, to varied extent for sure, but enough to leave a memory.

This time around is not about looting, is not about kicking Chavez out, it is about a country that sees a devastating economic crisis ahead and the implied final loss of hope.  Failure to understand that is a major handicap in trying to speculate on "what next?".

Leopoldo Lopez date with destiny

Leopoldo Lopez has released a video filmed from his hiding place where even a painting in the wall was blurred.

What Lopez is saying is that next Tuesday (the 18) he will be leading a march to the interior ministry to submit a claim. Then, a few dozen yards before the door he will stop the march and walk alone, letting the regime assume its responsibility in arresting him, in front of gazillions cameras posted in front. To make the moment more dramatic he has asked to all that are willing to accompany him to dress in white, and takes as peaceful an attitude as they can come up with.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Scenarios for the post apocalypses

OK, now that I got your attention I got nothing. No one can. But it is time to state a few points that cannot be avoided in case anyone has a script to propose. In no particular order.

Day 5: the Venezuelan spring seeks organization


OK, so my title is a little bit wishful thinking at this time, but we are on our way there: anyone following Twitter accounts from Venezuela will realize that today, at day 5 of the first official protest of February 12 in Caracas that there are more than half a dozen flash points across the country. Of variable sizes for sure but what is remarkable is that they persist. What is more remarkable is that even as I chose February 12 at the start, we should not forget that these protests started a few days earlier in Tachira and Merida before spreading across the country: this is not, it bears repeating, a caprice from Caracas Eastern suburbs inhabitants, this is the expression of a national malaise, like it or not.

Homage to the Venezuelan student

I have no credits for it, in case someone can send them please!

Altamira then and now: a Venezuelan spring?

Condemned to immobility in my little Podunk I decided to rest most of the day rather than anguish. After all Maduro was trying to do his counter offensive with a big rally in bolivar Avenue (which was not a success no matter how many public employees were forced to attend). So there would be cadenas, Saturday morning shopping, etc, until action started, if any, late afternoon.  It did, in Altamira square, again.
Altamira around the world now 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fascist tweets

There are some tweets that illustrate the fascist nature of the Venezuelan regime.

Troubled dictatorships are predictable, Maduro's goes that way

I am on CNNE (en Español) because there is no news on Venezuelan TV worth watching, or a cadena by Maduro even less worthy. Besides, these days CNNE transmits a lot of the Maduro stuff, least they get cut off from the cable grid like it happened to NTN24 from Colombia last Wednesday. At least, if they cut the protests report from CNNE they will also shut down the only outlet for Maduro ramblings outside Venezuela (does anyone outside of the chavismo international lumpen watch Telesur?). Thus CNNE just transmitted about 10 minutes of Maduro expose of his new plan for peace. And the only thing I can come up with is that dictatorships in trouble are ever so predictable.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Following the revolution from Podunk

San Felipe?
I live in San Felipe, Yaracuy state, probably the most apathetic state of Venezuela outside Delta Amacuro. that is, there are protests everywhere in Venezuela but in San Felipe outside of a few dozens Wednesday, there is peace and quiet, the lone colleges working as if nothing. This has always been the case, no matter what party held the state house, no matter what fire burned in Caracas. In fact, the only time I saw a true stirring was the "cacerolazos" that followed the April 2013 election. For such a thing to happen in Yaracuy you needed truly a fed up spirit of high proportion. Which goes to tell you what a wasted chance Capriles had then, when he refused to do what it took to claim his prize. But I digress.

The point here is that I cannot participate, I can only watch, and as such this blog is of limited value unless you appreciate that someone filters for you the news, trying to separate the hysteria from the relevant.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Being forthcoming with readers

This morning I had a slight encounter with Juan Nagel which is more a matter of him not representing accurately my position than any real disagreement.  But thinking about it he indirectly implied that maybe I should be clearer about my position on this current mess. After all, he did in his portal (yes, it is his now :-) ) Thus the need of this entry to summarize what I have been saying all along, before the events unfolding as I type drag me into more emotional turmoil.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Black market value today

The regime has decided to strike: is this a mark of strength?

Well, it seems the regime is not satisfied with at least three deaths, dozens of injured, X arrests and a few "disappeared". It has decided to take the opportunity to start removing opposition leaders that are bothersome. Leopoldo Lopez is the first one, accused even of throwing the baby's water today.

A new landmark date for repression in Venezuela: confirming the dictatorship

I was on my way back to San Felipe today so I could not follow events live (nor could I have attended the protests today for a variety of reasons). But in the end it did not matter much because censorship was heavy and tonight I can catch up through the net, Cable TV and Twitter, our only information these days.

The only thing I could see was at "Paramacay" my lunch stop on my way to Valencia where they had Globovision on. Maria Corina Machado was speaking at the rally and it was well attended (something confirmed by the pictures I saw tonight). Interestingly Globo was not showing anything this morning when I left home so that they decided to briefly show MCM was telling, they could not hide the success of the convocation. Also Paramacay had not on VTV, the state TV propaganda. Usually they show nothing or sports but to show Globo shows that, well, you know....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No rest for the wicked inflationers

Not going back on the delays and manipulation of the November and December inflation number but the regime published the January one. It is 3.3%. Most countries have annual inflation below that monthly number. But that was not really the worse news, if you assume that 3.3 to be genuine. The worst item was the scarcity item, at 28%. That means that if you go to your local grocery store with a list of 10 items the odds that 3 of them will be missing are very high. And missing not in brand or quality, just missing. I know, I was caught almost in the mid of a food riot this afternoon when Brazilian chicken arrived at my local store, and it was taken over by people not from the area (I heard them, one even giving directions to the store) carrying ONLY cases of chicken in their carts, waiting for their pals to arrive before they reached the cashier (4 chicken per person it was). Good thing I do not eat chicken, and even less the Brazilian variety we get here, waterlogged and fat.

Think about that, 3 common household items out of 10 in your shopping list are going to be missing on any day. And maybe having to fight for the other 7.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Venezuela's opposition inner trouble

The casual observer may think that the opposition is about to collapse, that it has lost unity, that they are not serious, etc.  So as a public service I would like to remind some stuff and bring some constructive speculation, I hope, on some other stuff.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tachira heats up

As I said earlier, there is little I can tell, but today there are reliable tweets that are eloquent about what is going on in San Cristobal right now.

Berlin Diaries for Caracas

I have been for a few days in Caracas and I have been reminded a lot of a book that I read long ago, Berlin Diaries.  Not that the situation of Caracas in 2014 is like the one of Berlin 70 years ago.  But there is a certain zeitgeist that we may want to explore as a gedanken experiment.

One of the images that I retained form that book is that war torn Berlin lacked food and amenities but some of the stuff that was not on ration cards could be found with some unexpected ease provided you could afford it. The diaries author found herself with her fiends of the foreign ministry, one of the last areas of German bureaucracy not taken totally over by the Nazis, partying with Champagne and oysters when not otherwise planning the demise of the Fuhrer. And that was all they could get for their parties, Champagne and oysters.

Protests in Venezuela

Later in past week there has been a series of student protests in Tachira and Merida mainly. I have not written on them because 1) I had no time and 2) more importantly I lack accurate information now that Globovision is gone and does not report much on such things. Or down reports on them. Outside of the pages of El Universal and El Nacional there is little you can now find, except by following the twitters of some politicians (though there is plenty of pictures going around without one being able to verify anything).

Whatever the case may be I suspect that these protest may end up being counter productive as the regime has been cracking down severely on them with the sole objective to stare down any possible protest of those tiered to stand in line for corn flour. Not that I believe they will riot, they stand for hours but they get it for nearly free so I doubt there is any political awakening coming that way just yet.  But February has always been a good month for political trouble in Venezuela and Lopez and others are calling for a first test of strength on February 12. We shall see.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

The fascists in charge of Venezuela want to kill the press, while banging students

UPDATED with scene of panic food distribution

Maduro yesterday said that he was willing to risk being called dictator but that he was going to restrict press reporting on stuff he does not like it to be reported on.  Let's start with clearing up something: Maduro is ALREADY a dictator because he claims he has won an election that he has refused to verify as the opposition demanded then last April. That the rest of Latin America has decided to screw the opposition (and democracy and human rights) and recognize Maduro anyway does not detract from that fact: the opposition has documented extensively the electoral fraud of last April and the judicial system of Venezuela has simply decided NOT to review the case. The complaint was simply not received. Henceforth, as far as I am concerned Maduro is an illegitimate president, hence a dictator.

This being cleared let's look at the reasoning of Maduro.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Public service announcement: get ready to starve in Venezuela

This is a public service announcement for readers living in Venezuela: you may be running out of food within a month. I know that because I have heard through my clients and business partners that the regime has been holding reunions frantically to try to negotiate, at least with the food sectors, a minimum package so some basic stuff is produced while the regime comes up with some new cockamamie plan. The common feeling from those I spoke to is that the regime has little idea of what to do. The regime spokescreeps, in a wonderful case of military self sufficiency, went as far as suggesting casually that we should negotiate (blackmail?) with our providers to accept a cut in our debt... and have them keep sending us stuff anyway (sigh!)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Rafael Poleo is ever so irritating, but maybe quite right

Rafael Poleo is a journalists already mentioned in this blog who has a long trajectory as a pro AD operative, which has eventually landed him into exile about three years ago when he said on TV that Chavez's end would resemble the one of Mussolini. He was wrong, but in an unexpected way. Still, from Miami he does what he can to keep abreast of Venezuelan politics, but I suspect that he relies more on his historical knowledge than what actually transpires. Whether you love or loathe him, his columns are considered by some as a must read in El Nuevo Pais or Zeta.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Toward post 4000

Ephemerides keep coming. Early January this blog crossed the 11 years mark of continuous posting, with no more than a couple of weeks break for travel or sickness. In about 5 posts we may reach post #4000. And times have changed.  What you are looking out today is one of the very last times that the scheme inaugurated years ago will appear. Enjoy the format presentation last days if you liked it, rejoice if you hated it. This has been the Venezuelan blog with the longest serving format theme. I am willing to bet!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

My recipe for the Venezuelan opposition (for what good it does...)

So tomorrow Lopez and Machado and, rather unexpectedly, Ledezma are planning to gather for the the first formal street activity to force the regime to do....  whatever. The regime will of course do as it pleases since its directions come now from Havana, military barracks and drug cartels. None of them have much use for any proposal from the opposition, finding increasing creative ways to silence it before guns start talking in earnest. But that is not really the issue discussed here.