Sunday, December 27, 2020

Defeated, and so far away from Ithaka

These last few months have been hard on the soul. You may have noticed if you were a regular reader: writing was scarce.  Perhaps it was my subconscious dealing with the reality of exile.  I had written that discussing Venezuela from afar was somewhat a hypocrite exercice. It is up to journalists to visit Venezuela for a few days and then bomb us back with supposedly knowledgeable articles from their safe desks at home. But a blogger who made his name writing in situ, from some Podunk like place in Venezuela?

There was something else at work, the grief of having lost home and memories. I suppose that grieving in a span of 6 months the loss of my life partner, the loss of my father and the loss of my health distracted me from grieving the loss of my country. Oh! I knew Venezuela was lost for a while, but as long as I was there it did not hit home the way it does now that I have left and start realizing there may be no return.

Two recent articles, unfortunately in Spanish and too long to translate, helped in my efforts to come to terms with my new reality.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The 2020 Xmas post

 It is late, like everything in this year.

But I hope that in spite of all those reading this will have the best possible Xmas they could have.

Here in exile a Tweet posted a few weeks ago will have to do.

Despues de 3 años de duelos, enfermedad y exilio es hora de recomponer un poquito la vida. La Navidad más nunca será normal pero haremos algo de ella.
Empezaremos con algo que no podía hacer en Venezuela, un arbolito en matero que sembraré en enero.

— daniel duquenal (@danielduquenal) December 7, 2020 

Although it does not look too happy I think it may survive. We'll plant it on New Year's day. Let's take it as a good omen if it grows.

Friday, December 18, 2020

No negotiation, never

 So Maduro/regime/Cuba have everything: total control of the executive, legislative and judiciary; decisive support of the army; they count the votes; no private sector able to finance an opposition; decided support of all sorts of tyrants/strong men here and there; the acquiescent silence of a few; semi free propaganda from lefties a.k.a tankies.  Just a few democracies against and a few damning reports on human rights violations.  But who cares: any insubordination at home will be quickly snuffed now that new repressive laws will be easily enacted.

But there is one thing that the regime has that is a problem: international sanctions. I am not talking about the sanctions against PDVSA which is seen as diminishing the income on corruption schemes (the income for el pueblo is sill enough to fudge elections, and if they want more they can emigrate least they die from Covid before_1_&_2_).  The sanctions that the regime fears are those that are an hindrance to enjoy the loot in glamorous parts of the world. That is, it is becoming more difficult to hide the money or buy nice manses in the US or Spain. Never mind the risk of being arrested in doing so.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

No results, just data

 The opposition held this week its parallel election called "consulta popular". Whatever its result their weigh will be limited because the regime has embarked in a new course which includes not only  elimination of a real opposition but even of normal elements of civil society it cannot control (1).  This is Cuba in waiting for you. You doubt me? Let's look at the "result" of Sunday 6.

You were the one who count the votes?
You got this.

With almost 70% of the vote the regime gets around 92% of the seats (the undecided in the graph next have mostly gone PSUV).

Nobody with a minimum of knowledge on electoral system, and how "elections" take place in Venezuela was surprised. The only ones surprised were the collection of pseudo-opposition parties who as "Mesa de Negociacion" were the caution used by the regime to change the electoral system and call for the illegal elections. That MdN did not expect to be so laminated. They "thought" that what had been agreed with the regime would improve the proportional representation. It made it worse, with close to zero minority representation! And note that the regime twisted some of the counting "electoral coalitions" post election to give them two more seats since not all major "leaders" were elected (2). That added more illegality but who's counting?

Monday, December 07, 2020

Not a victory

The first "results" have fallen but I did not follow. It was nice to spend an evening without worrying about elections results, for a change.  Instead we did the Christmas tree at home, with a live tree to be planted in the yard in January. After 3 years of grief, sickness and exile it was nice to set a small christmas decoration....

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Not at a cross roads

The election that is held today in Venezuela is not bringing the country at a crossroads, it is the end of a long and painful involution. 

Saturday, December 05, 2020

The 2020 election post: the vote funeral

For those still aware of the existence of this blog you may remember that I had a post or posts about Venezuelan elections since 2003. Sometimes with quite a good prediction success.  This time I can guarantee you that tomorrow the Maduro regime will get a landslide.

In fact, the only question is how far the regime will go into tweaking the results to make sure that the"opposition" gets a credible number of seats.....

Monday, June 15, 2020

Iran gasoline in Venezuela: tragedy or bad joke

This nice PDVSA worker, all dressed in red of course, cheers and waves the flag as Iranian tankers reach Venezuela to deliver gasoline.

What is wrong with this picture?

To begin with, the worker is a fraud, he represents a state oil company which once upon a time was a world class company and that the chavista revolution has run to the ground. It went exporting oil and gasoline eons ago to now being unable to supply the Venezuelan market, resorting to the lone country willing to sell gas to Venezuela: sanctioned Iran.

Let's continue. The bolivarian revolution, liberator of minds and spirit has sunk so low that it now glorifies a theocracy which among other things holds the death penalty, separates genders, prosecutes minorities and and tramples varied human rights. All is ABSOLUTELY against the original purposes of chavismo.  But then again, the "revolution" is long been gone, whatever that was. 

But they all wear masks and gloves, which I hear are missing in public hospitals. But I digress.

What matters beyond this cheap show of avowed failure is that the Iranian gasoline has been a failed show: nobody really cared.  No tanker was pirated or sunk in high seas. No problem. The US was coherent with its sanctions: food, medicine and stuff like gas can pass. period. End of propaganda.

In Venezuela the regime hoped for a confrontation, and so did part of the opposition desperate for the Marines to land. But on May 22 I was tweeting, in Spanish, sorry, that nothing would happen, no matter the cheap escort show the Venezuelan army planned and did when the tankers reached Venezuelan waters. Nobody apparently thought that if the US of A was going to sink a tanker it would have done so in high seas. But I digress again.

So gasoline from Iran made it.  Nobody knows how it will be paid for, though we all suspect it will be from the scarce gold reserves left and the Blood Gold from the devastated Bolivar state.

The opposition could not do a thing but at least it announced that were they in charge, the would find the credits to buy 40+  tankers a month, regularize gas supply within two weeks and fix in a short time whatever can be fixed of the Venezuelan refineries.  

Of course, this way the opposition did score a point indicating that 5 Iranian tankers are not enough to cover the needs, which we can see from day one of the tankers arrival. Corruption and extended gas lines were kept. The price of gas was jacked up from 0,00000... USD to 50 a cents a liter, little bit less than 2 $ a gallon. Plus of course what you pay the Nazional Guard to let you access the gas station and other miscellaneous expenses.

Because yes, without a doubt, the gas distribution scheme was designed to favor corruption, directed mostly to the army that can get pretty much what it wants and resell it at any price it wants (I was told by some friends that they paid as much as 4$ a liter at the peak crisis time).

When we will be able to write real history books, t4his Iran gas thing will mark one of the low points. But a high point in corruption, certainl.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The end arriveth

Milton Friedman said something of the kind that were the Sahara to be ruled by communist the desert would run out of sand within a few years.

Well, it just happened in Venezuela, perhaps the first mega oil producer in history that has run out of gasoline.

And at the very possible worst time as we ran out of money, when Coronavirus stroke, when an ailing production is least able to suffer such a disaster.

Admittedly, referring to Friedman we are not sure anymore what is ruling in Venezuela. Communists? Socialists? Fascists of the XXI century?  For sure narcos. For that matter, we do not even know if someone is in charge, besides those organizing repression of course.

The political consequences were quickly seen.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Coronavirus a.k.a COVID 19 : the Venezuelan story

No need to soften the blow. If the first case of Coronavirus in Venezuela is not yet confirmed, it is just a matter of time until a verifiable one is reported.  In fact, the Pan American Health Organization has announced that it is sending missions to vulnerable countries. That is, vulnerable in their health system, including in the list Venezuela, Haiti, Nicaragua. The implications are obvious.

Venezuela is highly vulnerable to such an epidemy. The public health system is in shambles, unable to deal with such an epidemic, justifying the worries of the PAHO.  The private system has become terribly expensive, and it is certainly not designed to substitute the public health system. At all.

Never mind that elemental precautions such as washing your hands with soap are often daunting as soap is of poor quality, very expensive, and running water way too often not available. Using long stored buckets of water will not cut it.

More worrisome is the nature of the regime bound to hide what could be a major catastrophe.  I am going to pass on the usual accusations of conspiracy that the US would have created the Coronavirus to destroy China (and the world? including the US?). Some chavista was bold enough to mention 1989 as the date when the inoculation started.....

The idiocy of chavismo, its absolute lack of understanding and interest for science and objective data is well documented. What is more dangerous is its denial. Already the government of Zulia, where that possible case has been reported, said that it was all a farce, a simulation.  Imagine what will happen when it will not be possible to hide cases of COVID 19 in Caracas....

Let me remind the reader that the regime has made its strong suit to kill statistics and hide the extent on which old epidemics returned. We have again tuberculosis and rubeola. Paludism, Dengue and Yellow Fever are all back even though they do barely appear in official statistics.  And this has been happening for a long time. Ten years ago I was hospitalized for hemorrhagic Dengue and already doctors told me that they stopped reporting cases as the health ministry simply refused to confirm the cases coming to them daily.  Imagine today.....

Woe is us.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

A whirlwind start of year

Over a month and a half without writing...

Then again I learned the limitations of writing from outside of Venezuela. January and February have been so eventful that just thinking seriously about the implications of the events was not possible: something came right along to cancel any prediction or conclusion one may have had (or at the very least to force a review). I like to think about things because I like to have a reasonably definite opinion. Over the years I think this served me well. This January I would have had to change more than once..... And I observed that many journalists did not bother correcting themselves (I am looking at you NYT, among others but you were a repeat offender).

Then again I was very active on twitter, the only way to follow the cascade of events.

So perhaps it is time for a summary of sorts now that things flow at a more normal pace.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

What mattered in 2019

For yours truly, of course, no objectivity here. (1)

I pick as the marking moment of 2019 the burning down of Notre Dame in Paris. Why? Because it was infinitely more than a Church going down in flames, it was a hit on one of the main symbols of Western civilization. Period.

On the right the newspaper cover that is my "cover of the year", by Liberation, a progressive newspaper that was able to put aside any religious content to convey all the meaning on the moment. Notre Drame means our drama.  A truly national drama in France.

Other marking moments.