Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It is all smoke in Venezuela

Tonight I am watching the Avila National park, a.k.a, in chavista silly circles as Güaraira Repano without any solid historical evidence to justify such name change, go up in flames.

My view of despair tonight, circa 6:15 PM.

I think it is a true direct metaphor, oximoronic tone intended, of what the country is at tonight.

In addition of having our most precious National Park burn because as usual the regime has not taken the adequate provisions in what is one of our most dry weather season in a decade, (has anyone seen the Canadair that the regime promised to buy after last major fire?) we saw opposition representatives sent to the pyre and our currency officially go up in smoke.

Let's start with the currency in smoke. The regime finally opened what they called an open market but which is actually plagued with so many conditions that it is all but open. The result, according to official news agency, is a new exchange rate, SICAD 2, at 51.86 for one USdollar. It does not matter, let's take 50. Which is 50,000 if we forget about the "conversion" of a few years ago to the now infamous "bolivar fuerte". When these guys received in trust the country the average exchange rate was around 500. So, in 15 years we went from 500 to 50,000 for an USD.  That is a depreciation of (50,000 - 500)/50,000 X 100 = 99%. In other words chavismo has robbed from my pocket 99% of my belongings. And all for what?

A regime which has presided over our biggest economical disaster should have some discretion at the time of pointing fingers. But that does not stop them as their only option, at this point, is to try to blame someone else. So, since repression is the only way out for them, or so they think, today they had had the scum from the pro Chavez PPT (the more decent lot was kicked out from the party through judicial fiat) ask that opposition mayors be sent to trial and removed from their seats. Who needs an election when a kangaroo court can do?

For good measure they included Maria Corina Machado for betraying the nation. Apparently according to Diosdado Cabello who called for a press conference today, there is no need to go through the proceedings to remove Maria Corina Machado from her representative chair. See, by accepting the trick of becoming a spokes person for Panama she betrayed Venezuela. That is right, Venezuela did its utmost to stop one of its citizen to be heard at the OAS so by accepting the help of a third party she is a traitor to the fatherland and will be sent to the worst kind of trial.  Besides giving a new shade of meaning to "damned if you do, damned if you don't", it is simply astounding that people that have betrayed Venezuela for years by giving it away to Cubans and other assorted mercenaries have the chutzpah of blaming their own victims of the crimes they do everyday. Ah, fascism! How enthralling your contradictions!

These people are truly morally miserable.  There is nothing to salvage from that lot.


  1. Anonymous5:31 AM

    Most of the Yellowstone videos have audio tracks from hell, here's one of the more calm ones, describing how the park has for the most part returned to its beauty. I was there 2 years after the fires had burned so much of it and thought then that it would take decades to rebuild. The new trees growing here are all naturally grown, not planted by park workers.
    In these past 25 years it's regaining much of its beauty. :)


    I remember watching the fires on Tv and thinking how terrible it was that nobody seemed too serious at the beginning of that summer in putting them out. But it was overwhelming for them to try to put them out, The natural cycle of small burns and regrowth had been suppressed for a century.
    While the fires local to Caracas may seem terrible now, and rightfully so as a metaphor for the chavistas inability to manage a country to anything approaching success, it will pass.
    New grow will return.

    1. There is a major ecological difference here. El Avila is now a urban park and let it burn has consequences for the population. Also it is not a comparable biome. Yellowstone is like Serengeti while Avila upper park is rain forest that is not supposed to burn. Completely different matter.

    2. Fires can also cause erosion of the soil, making the paths more dangerous for people I would think.These fires are also a major cause of pollution.I cry every time I see the Avila burning.


    3. The erosion and large amounts of rain which is normal in that zone has caused huge mud slides in the past with the corresponding lost of human lives. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/heavy-rain-leads-to-mudslides-in-venezuela

  2. Anonymous8:45 AM

    Thanks Daniel for your courageous and ongoing coverage of this human tragedy unfolding in Venezuela...the county is ruined but I hope your testimony will be useful for future generations somewhere else in the world.

    Andrea from Italy

  3. Anonymous10:46 AM

    50 BsF = 50,000 Bs (not 500,000)

    1. Thanks. I had it right first. Then the phone rang and in proofing I made the mistake, wanting to finish fast and go to bed.

  4. Charly1:15 PM

    Re-mindful of the glory days of past, Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua. Hyperinflation is at the door. The country is in such shamble, eventually the military will step in to restore order then rule directly for umpteen time without proxy such as PSUV and LatAm will start another cycle of its glorious history; la boucle est bouclée.

    1. This is not Perez Jimenez we are talking about. This is a Cuban dictatorship, the military is never going to step in,EVER. This is not a cycle,we are bound to stay like this for decades, and the people are smiling every day more. If this is what most Venezuelans want,then good for them. For those of us trapped here...well...

    2. Charly5:33 PM

      Juan, ready to bet you the military steps in within a few months, because it is the nature of the beast, golpista to the bone marrow, otherwise what is the purpose of a LatAm military? Two hundred years of history are here to prove it from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego.

    3. Charly6:51 PM

      Juan, look at Noticias24.com and remember, it is the nature of the beast.

    4. Charly, in your sweeping generalization, you're not considering two external factors that together, have never before existed, in those 200 years of history of the Latam military: the powerful seducer of narco-traffic dollars, and the Cuban infiltration in high ranks of the military AND government.

    5. On the spot Syd.

  5. Slightly O.T. i remember the former president announcing the purchase of two firefighting planes from Rusia. The BE-200, not the Super Scooper. http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/impacto/conozca-hidroavion-ruso-b3-200-video/
    We also have three units of the biggest helicopters in the world and we don´t have the additional equipment to use them to combat fires in our parks.
    A nation in fire. Interesting figure. Have you notice that the dry season is just commencing and that the fires will continue to grow in numbers and intensity?

  6. wow
    I hate to see Avilia burn again.
    when I first started going to Venezuela in 2003 my girlfriend,now my wife, lived in an apt in Miranda on av el enlace.
    had a super view of the mountain.
    I spent hours with my binoculars just watching it.
    then there were only 1 or 2 squatter cabins.
    by 2011 there were over 40 that I could count and about 2009 it had been scorched once then as well.
    but it is a beautiful mountain.
    my first trip there a breakfast at the El Montana cost me about 3 dollars, my last trip some menu items simply were not avalible and it cost me about 10 dollars for breakfast.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Sorry Daniel but there was also a detail while writing the conclusion, the depreciation was not 99% it was 9,900 % or to use round numbers, by going from 500 to 50,000 the bolivar is worth 100 times less

    2. You cannot depreciate more than what you are worth. It is a simple principle of physics unless you are a Black Hole which is arguably the case for Venezuela. Thus you calculate what percentage of the ancient value is your value today and you get a mathematical asymptotic of sorts that tends to go to zero but never reaches it. Unless the country stops existing or the money is simply changed without conversion.

  8. Anonymous12:54 AM

    daniel i thought you might want to post this


    1. except it is by subscription....

    2. although it is by subscription, you can take the nytimes link, and go to google.com and post it, that will give u the first link that you can click on and read Leopoldo Lopez's letter.. its about time that guy uses his english skills as well to take notice.

  9. Boludo Tejano8:18 PM

    Venezuela’s Failing State

    Los Teques, Venezuela — As I compose these words from the Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas, I am struck by how much Venezuelans have suffered.

    For 15 years, the definition of “intolerable” in this country has declined by degrees until, to our dismay, we found ourselves with one of the highest murder rates in the Western Hemisphere, a 57 percent inflation rate and a scarcity of basic goods unprecedented outside of wartime.

    Our crippled economy is matched by an equally oppressive political climate. Since student protests began on Feb. 4, more than 1,500 protesters have been detained and more than 50 have reported that they were tortured while in police custody. Over 30 people, including security forces and civilians, have died in the demonstrations. What started as a peaceful march against crime on a university campus has exposed the depth of this government’s criminalization of dissent.

    I have been in prison for more than a month. On Feb. 12, I urged Venezuelans to exercise their legal rights to protest and free speech — but to do so peacefully and without violence. Three people were shot and killed that day. An analysis of video by the news organization Últimas Noticias determined that shots were fired from the direction of plainclothes military troops.

    In the aftermath of that protest, President Nicolás Maduro personally ordered my arrest on charges of murder, arson and terrorism. Amnesty International said the charges seemed like a “politically motivated attempt to silence dissent.” To this day, no evidence of any kind has been presented.

    Soon, more opposition mayors, elected by an overwhelming majority in December’s elections, will join me behind bars. Last week the government arrested the mayor of San Cristóbal, where the student protests began, as well as the mayor of San Diego, who has been accused of disobeying an order to remove protesters’ barricades. But we will not stay silent. Some believe that speaking out only antagonizes the ruling party — inviting Mr. Maduro to move more quickly to strip away rights — and provides a convenient distraction from the economic and social ruin that is taking place. In my view, this path is akin to a victim of abuse remaining silent for fear of inviting more punishment.

    More important, millions of Venezuelans do not have the luxury of playing the “long game,” of waiting for change that never comes.

    We must continue to speak, act and protest. We must never allow our nerves to become deadened to the steady abuse of rights that is taking place. And we must pursue an agenda for change.

    The opposition leadership has outlined a series of actions that are necessary in order to move forward.

    Victims of repression, abuse and torture, as well as family members of those who have died, deserve justice. Those who are responsible must resign. The pro-government paramilitary groups, or “colectivos,” that have tried to silence the protests through violence and intimidation must be disarmed.

    All political prisoners and dissenters who were forced into exile by the government, as well as students who were jailed for protesting, must be allowed to return or be released. This should be followed by restoring impartiality to important institutions that form the backbone of civil society, including the electoral commission and the judicial system.

    Due to 4,096 character limit, LL's Op-Ed in the NYT will take two postings.

  10. Boludo Tejano8:22 PM

    Venezuela’s Failing State, part 2 of NYT Op-Ed.


    In order to get our economy on the right footing, we need an investigation into fraud committed through our commission for currency exchange — at least $15 billion was funneled into phantom businesses and kickbacks last year, a move that has directly contributed to the inflationary spiral and severe shortages our country is experiencing.

    Finally, we need real engagement from the international community, particularly in Latin America. The outspoken response from human rights organizations is in sharp contrast to the shameful silence from many of Venezuela’s neighbors in Latin America. The Organization of American States, which represents nations in the Western Hemisphere, has abstained from any real leadership on the current crisis of human rights and the looming specter of a failed state, even though it was formed precisely to address issues like these.

    To be silent is to be complicit in the downward spiral of Venezuela’s political system, economy and society, not to mention in the continued misery of millions. Many current leaders in Latin America suffered similar abuses in their time and they should not be silent accomplices to the abuses of today.

    For Venezuelans, a change in leadership can be accomplished entirely within a constitutional and legal framework. We must advocate for human rights; freedom of expression; the right to property, housing, health and education; equality within the judicial system, and, of course, the right of protest. These are not radical goals. They are the basic building blocks of society."

    Leopoldo López is the former mayor of the Chacao district of Caracas and the leader of the Popular Will opposition party.
    Correction: March 26, 2014

    An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the more than 30 people killed in the political demonstrations in Venezuela since Feb. 4 were protesters. That number includes security forces and civilians, not only protesters.

    It speaks well of the NYT that it would feature an Op-ed written by LL. Give credit where credit is due.

    1. llego el lobo?12:28 AM

      A tus casas despues de que las contra marchas no te!



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