Sunday, November 28, 2021

There was an election a week ago

 After years of covering in detail Venezuelan elections I would be remiss not to mention last Sunday regional "elections" in Venezuela. Then again, as I put in a tweet, the same day Chilean elections seemed more important to follow. At least for me.

Once upon a time, say before 2015, one could still find enough information, enough semi reliable data to look for trends in Venezuelan voting results. I did not do too bad in my analysis predictions. But after the debacle of 2015 the regime made sure no vote meant anything anymore. I am not going to go into tiresome details. Remember, they are mostly pre electoral fraud, from happily banning candidates the regime dislikes to go all out and take over political parties. Amen of all the treachery in voter registration, excessive use of state means for chavista campaign, etc, etc. On election day you keep having all the unfair interventions from the army forcing people to vote, holding results, etc, etc.

All very commie banana republic.

Thus since 2015 I stopped wasting time in electoral analysis. The more so that in addition to the great heights in election treachery we have a large abstention movement and probably up to 4 million Venezuelan voters in exile, and thus with no option.

This being said, there are a few details worth commenting.

First, there was after many years the return of serious electoral observers. Namely proven and tested teams. There are only three sources of reliable electoral observation today: teams set up by the UN, the OAS or EU. Some countries I suppose would also do serious electoral observation, democratic countries like Japan or Canada. Maybe even the Carter Center. But that is all, and certainly not the countries that the regime invited previously for what is at best electoral tourism (Russia or Bolivia, for example).

Why did the regime accepted the European Union to send an observing team? This is the question, the more so that as expected the preliminary report under diplomatic language indicated that the vote of last Sunday was shit.  I suppose that the regime having survived three years of sanctions and pressures and general exhaustion about Venezuela assumed that the world would recognize Maduro if this one held semi palatable elections with a selected few handouts to the opposition, preferably to the opposition that it has tried to build through payoffs. Well, if that was the reason, it did not work out.

Another reason is the need for the regime to reach some form of agreement with the US so that some sanctions are lifted.  But the regime, to begin with, is incapable of seriousness when it is negotiation time. Whether the regime offers decent elections is not really an issue there, though it could help. But as the scorpion crossing the stream on the back of the toad, the regime cannot help itself and it will sabotage any opening, be it formal negotiations or semi fair elections.

This new PR failure behind us, what else can we rescue from last Sunday?  As expected the regime won handily but not that great. Abstention was here and with a copious dose of opposition division it still lost on the total vote but carried all states but 3, while loosing a bunch of town halls.  In fact that townhall fall back should be worrisome for the regime: for once the regime did better in big cities than in the country side towns where the opposition struck a few interesting wins. The provinces, apparently, are starting to be tired of being taken for granted.

Thus, in spite of all the treachery, the regime vote count keeps sliding down, fast enough that it cannot be hidden.

What else is worth noting? The opposition division. This one is basically 4 fold, believe it or not.

First, the 4 million + overseas. Where would those go were presidential elections carried tomorrow?

Second, the chronic abstention. Their number look good if you count in the 4 million abroad. But the fact of the matter is that some are starting to vote again. Why? Because the abstention promoters offer nothing in exchange, and people want solutions, not speeches on morality.

In third we have the pro Chavez opposition. Those are a set of individuals that came from the opposition but decided to try to reach political deals with the regime. All for naught of course, nobody is fooled. In last year parliamentary election the regime had to fudge some dubious vote count to make sure a handful of them would get elected! But they are very useful for the opposition in a way I am surprised people do not talk about. Last week they got more votes than what we could have expected. Me thinks that many chavistas voted for them as a protest vote against Maduro! And remember: when you have been attached for two decades to a political idea, the first vote against is the more difficult; it gets easier after. And those fake opposition parties are a good stepping stone for transitioning.

Finally we have the remains of the real opposition, those that did jail, were tortured, are in exile, whatever. They did not do too good, though they took 1/6 of townhalls and two states. That is, a little bit more than last time and in spite of abstention exile and divisions. For better or for worse, the so called G4 remains the true opposition and is still recognized as such after last Sunday show.

That is all.  We'll see what's next.

Friday, May 14, 2021

No need to hold your breath on oppo/regime negotiations

 A few days ago I was writing about the regime apparent willingness to consider that maybe, it was an hypothetical hypothesis that well, you know, we may talk to someone in Guaido's office to see if we could borrow the pencil sharpener.....

And then we got Guaido making a rather dramatic statement as to be willing to ask for lifting a few sanctions AFTER the regime shows positive concrete signs of serious negotiations with preliminary results. In a Tweeter thread I posted on that:

And then we have Maduro accepting to negotiate through the EU and Norway intermediaries, though adding a suitable set of insults towards Guaido. It is to be noted that according to Ultimas Noticias, a pro regime newspaper, he cited a misleading Tweet from EFE, the Spanish press agency where it says that Guaido has proposed to eliminate sanctions. Guaido never said that, and at any case he would ask for a partial suspension of sanctions AFTER the regime makes concessions first. Then again EFE has not much credibility when reporting on Venezuela, only too often to burnish the image of the regime.

While we are discussing pro regime news outlets, Ultimas noticias writes that Jorge Rodriguez, head of the "novel" national assembly will negotiate once the opposition has beaten its mea culpa. That is, he wants the opposition to acknowledge its mistakes and crimes, that there should be no amnesia __ and then we negotiate. One has to admire the ability of chavismo to commit all sorts of crimes, including those against humanity, and pretend that the real criminals are others. The chutzpah of these guys will never cease to surprise.

Lets pass on the fact that the regime is the one most interested into lifting sanctions since those ones are largely directed at people inside the regime hierarchy, where their ill acquired riches are often blocked on off shore accounts. They want the loot back....

Maduro and Rodriguez are contradicting each other? The regime has not made up its mind? Can it make up its mind?

Whatever it is we must understand that the only ones willing to do a serious negotiation are those in the opposition. This one has not only something to gain out of successful negotiations, but it also cares about the humanitarian crisis inside the country. Or at least it cares way more than the regime who is still unwilling to establish a coherent vaccination plan against Covid, for a burning example. Yes, that is right, Venezuela is now dead last in the number of vaccines applied. Any time soon a Venezuelan variant is about to appear!!!!!

For the regime on the other hand the lone objective of negotiation is to give in as little as possible so that its leadership gets to recover its funds and travel outside to spend them in "la vida alegre". Period.

Needless to say that I am not holding my breath whatsoever.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

A kleptocracy starts facing reality?

In the past few weeks a few strange signs have been happening for a regime that supposedly has all controls in hands. A regime that has made a point to sabotage any negotiation, to deny the existence of its political opposition, a regime ready to do anything for its survival has given timid signs of negotiating. Before you get your hopes up keep in mind that until now the small concessions made are easily reversible without much damage toward the inner base of the regime.

These first sign was related with Covid, in spite of the heartless approach of the regime towards its victims. Namely it was about agreements to obtain help for Covid testing and vaccines. This is still a work in progress but that the regime accepted to hold discrete talks with the opposition was already something.

Then a couple of days ago some US citizens, directors at Citgo, were released from their Caracas jail to be held in their homes.  These men were held as hostages against the Trump sanctions. But it did not work. Sanctions held.

And a greater surprise was the acknowledgement by the regime of some of its crimes. Selected few of course, but those that had quite an echo outside of Venezuela. Though these admissions were limited on context, just as "worthy of further examination". But that the regime accepts to even talk about these crimes is progress.

The biggest surprise may have been the agreement between the World Food Program and Venezuela. See, both Maduro and Guaido appeared with its chair, David Beasley. BOTH had their tweet pic. And thousand of Venezuelan children may soon receive lunch at school, hopefully lowering the dropout rate.

And then today's surprise, a new electoral board CNE has been named . Even though the regime could have had a 5 out of 5 names in it, it will be 3 chavistas and 2 opposition (well, we will see how much of an opposition they are). Clearly the regime is accepting to open up to elections that may have some meaning, though do not think that 2 out of 5 at the CNE is enough to ensure free and fair elections, far from it...

What gives? Rather than discussing the details of these developments let's look at the reasons why the regime is begrudgingly making marginal concessions.  Certainly there is the Covid crisis, the bankrut country, its economy in shambles, the loss of territorial control in large swaths of the country, sanctions and what not to force the Maduro gang to the table. But the regime has shown once and again its disregard for the well being of the Venezuelan people. The kleptocracy cum drug traffickers are strictly on survival mode in order to retain power at all cost. 

What gives in my opinion is Biden holding on the Trump line over China and doubling down on Putin. See, the regime has no notion on what state interests are: since Chavez all foreign policy was guided by the interests of Chavez.  But in spite of all its bravado, Trump expressed a bipartisan policy of confronting Russia and China. In his first 100 days Biden has talked tough on China and even called Putin a killer, pushing further that bipartisan agreement. The table has been set, the rivalry between China and the US is now #1 priority, with Putin close behind.

How does this affect Venezuela? Look at a world map and figure out how far from Beijing and Moscow Caracas is. And how close are Syria and Crimea to Moscow and how close the Indian and Pacific Oceans to essential Chinese trade routes. Neither China nor Russia will go to the front to defend Venezuela. In a real confrontation these countries have much more important priorities than Venezuela, a bankrupt and corrupt country whose only interest today is to be used to goad the US. Any LatAm country on the Pacific is way more important to China than Venezuela, and Venezuela simply too expensive for Russia to support non stop. This one, by the way, turns out to be not such a great ally of Maduro according to the limited supply of Sputnik V vaccine it is sending. But I digress.

Thus it is quite possible that someone inside the regime has realized that now automatic support from Russia or China is not guaranteed. Even Iran and Turkey may not be such reliable friends anymore. Time to shift gears? Maybe it is time to be serious about discussing some sort of arrangement with the US?

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Epic lies, epic Covid in Venezuela

As weeks go by the situation in Venezuela gets worse. Reports that reach me are frightening.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a long tweet thread in Spanish and with new updates I think it is a time to make it a text in english.

The thread was taken and retaken as a matryoshka doll as new stuff occurred; so I'll try to give the linear story below.


In what has probably been the only good measure taken against the Covid19 pandemia, the regime locked its border like no one else. I suppose that the regime knew it could not face the pandemia and thus its only weapon was to lock up every body so as to have the lowest possible spread. And yet two despicable acts accompanied it. First, it was made an unnecessarily stringent lock up as there was a major gas shortage. Confinement made that shortage less obvious. But what was truly despicable was the regime talking of "imported" cases. In its daily notes the regime mentioned something like this "today we have detected 5 new cases, 4 of them being imported". The meta message was that Covid was sent to us from overseas, that the good Venezuelan people could possibly not have anything to do with it. In the first weeks the number of "imported" cases tended to be the highest of the two. Until eventually the charade had to stop: with airports closed for weeks how could you still talk of "imported cases"?


There is well over a million Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. As Colombia was struck down with Covid, many considered coming back to Venezuela either because doors were shutting in Colombia or because they needed to go back to Venezuela to take care of those left behind: namely the grand parents and the grand kids they were taking care of while the adults tried their luck away. On their return at the border they were mercilessly put in concentration camps, with little food or hygiene to quarantine. And they were subjected to scorn for having left the homeland, and whatnot.


The end of 2020 came with the promise of vaccines, in particular the COVAX program from the WHO to provide dosis at reasonable prices or even free to poor countries so they could at least vaccinate medical personnel; teachers, etc....  But there was a problem with that program: you had to be up to date on your WHO membership and that meant Venezuela would have to pay 11 million dollars late fees/dues dollars to have access. Chavismo is now a constant dead beat, and the WHO is no exception. Instead of sending a check (the regime was at the time talking of buying new army weaponry) the regime tried to use the excuse of the US sanctions as to why they could not pay. Then started the leitmotiv "we cannot vaccinate because the US will not let us do it". Which is of course total despicable bull shit.

CARVATIVIR: whitcraft?

In January came the Carvativir fiasco. As Covid cases kept growing the government was in need to show some initiative. What did they do? Another great business opportunity. Through two unknown guys, with no CV in the hard sciences needed for that, and a brand new company, Maduro announced on TV some mysterious drops bases on plant oils that prevented and cured Covid. The world was soon going to be told about the virtues of Carvativir! And yet here we are still awaiting for the data with bated breath.


The regime excuse for no money was countered by the opposition who offered to ask the US to unfreeze some assets so that vaccines could be bought. An initial agreement was reached with over 300,000 test kits that would be distributed to a list of centers. The kits arrived, the regime took over them, decided to distribute them wherever they liked and....  we never heard of them anymore. Why? Because the regime does not want to publish any real numbers of any medical sistation, and this has happened for many years already. More importantly, they took the tests to be used for the higher up of the regime. Privatized so to speak. Bloomberg reports that only 3,000 or so results were reported. No word on the 300,000 other tests. This will have grave consequences on the willingness of donors in the future since trust is lost to unrefrained cronyism and absolute irresponsibility.


Before I go on it is important to understand what is going on with the regime on Covid matters

  • Denial. Numbers can never be published. It is not happening to us. The US invented it.
  • All must be controlled by the regime. Thus any help from any donor has to be given to regime personnel to do as it pleases, namely distribution as pro regime propaganda.
  • The opposition is the great villain: any initiative0 or offer of collaboration by the opposition must be refused, sabotaged and what not.
  • And greed, so much greed. One recent example is that a new laboratory without any track record on medical analisis and less on Covid got the exclusive privilege to offer mandatory COVID PCR test to incoming travellers who must pay 60$ IN CASH at arrival at the airport, regardless if they did a test before boarding, if they have been vaccinated, etc. 60 USD in cash, no credit card, no local currency, greenbacks or nothing.

So it should not come as a surprise that we have the first reports of blackmarket vials of vaccines who can come only out of the doses already entering the country under strict regime control.


The vaccine era finally arrived and started with the Russians testing their Sputnik vaccine on Venezuelans. Nothing has been published about the results, that I know of. But I also know first hand that some testing was seriously made from a scientist friend that received a dose. OK, so lets give the benefit of the doubt here. What is not to be doubted is that when the first lot of Sputnik came for actual vaccination the priorities were clearly announced by the regime: security personnel AND medical personnel, named in second. There was a brief scandal when we learned that the representatives of the illegal national assembly elected in December 2020 were among the first ones to be vaccinated. Some were dumb enough to show their selfies of the moment until told to remove them from social media fast.  But Maduro was dumb and crass enough to brag on TV that he did get his shots... Meanwhile doctors and nurses were left without vaccine, scavenging for soap and masks.

Ah! I was forgetting! 95% of Cuban personnel in Venezuela is already vaccinated, ahead of Venezuelan doctors. That is what happens to you when you accept to become a colony..... Note: vaccinated NOT by the alleged Cuban vaccines in development but by the regime purchased ones.


Eventually the regime felt the need to vaccinate some besides the generals and Maduro's entourage. So we were treated to the first videos of elderly being called to get vaccinated. And propaganda it was......

In this thread I explained how 529 doses of Sputnik were distributed only to those who owned a "carnet de la patria". That is, if you are not chavista or have not surrendered to chavismo, you get no vaccine. Think about this for a minute.....


Russian and dubious Chinese vaccines are arriving dropwise. COVAX worked out and agreement between the regime and the opposition to bring in Astra Zeneca AND equipment for the logistic process in distributing the vaccines. Yes, that is right, the current situation of Venezuela requires that in addition of bringing in vaccines donors should also bring in refrigerators, power plants and what not since Venezuela cannot even guarantee enough electrical power. No Pfizer ever here. Well, Venezuela was going to receive over 10 million doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine, the easiest one to handle and that could cover at least the main cities, ALL medical and teaching personnel and the elderly. At the last minute Maduro used the excuse of the troubles with AstraZeneca to ban it outright and announce that it would be substituted by the Cuban ones, not even in Phase III testing, that is, improper to massive vaccination (amen on whether Cuba can produce enough of them).

The opposition was prompt in denouncing the regime who prefers to see thousand more die of the virus than to accept that the opposition gets any credit in the fight against the pandemia.


Meanwhile as vaccines are delayed, the pandemia advances. A creative chavista mayor decided to make it public and notorious to identify the homes of those who had a Covid case inside....  Words fail me on that one.......


The lies of the regime are so linked that you need new ones daily to try to escape being exposed as a liar yesterday. The latest atrocious lie comes from Vice Delcy who tells on national TV that only Venezuela gives vaccines for free while infamous capitalist countries like the US demand payment. Once again, in front of such blatant lies I remain speechless....  Though I can point out that it does not matter whether vaccines are free in Venezuela since there are none to be found.....


I need to end this entry. There is so much more to say. El Pais of Spain has an excellent summary of recent problems which should tell the regime that the world is watching the crimes it is committing.  Among those:

  • The private business organization FEDECAMARAS offered the regime to pay and bring in vaccines for its own workers. It even accepted a fee of 20% cut of these vaccines for the regime at its discretionary use. Yes, that is right, private enterprise would pay for the vaccines of its employees and their family and pay for an extra big chunk of vaccines for a regime that should be vaccinating all for free. The regime refused.
  • El Pais is worried about the sudden desperate search for oxygen in Venezuela. Social media is awash with people looking for oxygen tanks anywhere at any cost. That is a sure sigh that the Covid economic is now out of control in Venezuela. And the lack of oxygen supplies is simply impossible to solve. Even less by the regime.
  • El Pais also wonders how come that since Russia and China are supposedly close allies they are not sending as many vaccine doses as they are sending elsewhere.


Time to stop for today. Just a few thoughts about the nastiness and why the regime is handling so badly the epidemic in Venezuela.

The first thing that strikes us is the secrecy about it all, the great length the regime takes to hide the tragedy. Not only numbers now come from independent medical observers, and well, well above those of the regime, but we are not told about the mass burials in unmarked graves, the near impossibility that crematorium have in processing all the demands they receive as Covid death are cremated, not buried. I know of two cases from people relatively close who had loved ones die and all the travails they had to endure to recover the bodies (and I will spare you the illness stories and how they ended up in public hospitals or the Poliedro which are now little more that thanatoriums). 

The second striking thing is that the pandemia is all about politics. The regime absolute refusal to get help from the opposition and international donors is simply put genocidal. The regime pretends that all be given to them, all sanctions lifted, etc. while at the same time it demonstrates once and again its incompetence, its sectarism, the waste it would be if by chance donors would be foolish enough to cave in their demands. That is, give in or not to the regime, it is clear that the death toll will be similar.

Another damning thing is the extremely poor scientific and medical means of the regime. From inventing Carvativir to ban Astra Zeneca for problems irrelevant for the current Venezuelan health system YOU KNOW that those in charge of the pandemia have fucking no idea of what they are doing. Explanation? Those in charge are political hacks who would not know if an astrazeneca beast from an oxygen diving gear.

These are crimes against humanity that need to be documented for future use.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The sysiphean Venezuelan opposition

 Now that we covered in last post the real problem in Venezuela, the economy, and that we have examined the situation of the opposition since December 2020, we can finally look at what can the Venezuelan opposition do. If you are busy and do not want to read it all, here is the executive summary: precious little.

What is that previous little, which as we shall see is already quite herculean?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The economy: road block to transition

Time is running out before Venezuela becomes a failed state. It is true that a failed/war-destroyed state can be rebuilt, but it takes a long time, it takes a powerful political center, it takes outside help, or at the very least no more meddling. Before writing about any possible political solution we need to discuss the distressed economy and how difficult it would be to restart it.

When Maduro was elected in 2013 he could have taken a few token measures that would have avoided the extent of the crisis today. He did not, and took even additional wrong steps. Then this mismanagement was magnified through a nasty political crisis and recently US sanctions.

The root of the economical crisis comes way back. Even before Chavez. In a way we could say that Chavez invented no new deleterious practice: he just magnified them to unsuspected levels. It is too long to review that descent into economical hell, books have already been written about it. Let's just look at today's situation. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

The end of the Venezuelan opposition, as we knew it

It is time to write that dreaded post, the funeral eulogy of the Venezuelan opposition as we knew it. Something else will come someday for sure but at this point in my life I wonder whether I should care, to tell you the truth.

Going through the catalogue of all of its failures is rather useless: the political conditions of the country have so changed that there are few lessons we could gain from spreading the blame around. Instead let's focus on the losers (there are no winners, before you ask).

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Chavismo reshifting roles

 Now that we have a novel National Assembly, who is speaking for chavismo? (1)

One "surprise" is that Jorge Rodriguez is the new chair of the nNA. Well, not that much of a surprise since he was sent to run while he was occupying high positions inside the chavista nomenklatura. He has been mentioned enough in this blog so I will not review his extended life serving chavismo. From an alleged impartial electoral umpire in the early 2000 elections he ended up as Vice President of Chavez in the many positions he occupied. He, and his sister currently the vice president (2), are now the main operators of Maduro, sort of representing the civilian side of chavismo.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Carvativir as the symbol of Covid Maduro's failure

It is now common knowledge that Venezuela's dealings with Covid19 have been a failure. The best that can be said is that the regime has bet secretly on herd immunity because, well, there is nothing else the regime can do.

And yet in the midst of this abject failure to preserve the health of Venezuelans, the regime manages to outdo itself in its abjectness. Now Maduro on TV has revealed himself a snake oil promoter. Rarely I have been as angry at the regime than after seeing the clip below.

What is behind all of that charade?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Biden's administration will have to face Maduro's regime

 As I type Biden is about to be sworn in and of course I am planning to watch it if French TV broadcasts it. One of the reasons that motivates me is that in the first hearings for his cabinet positions his nominees without a fault are quite willing to continue some of Trump's policies. Sure, the means and ways will differ here and there but on important questions such as the enmity of China or the Middle East moves, nothing much will change. And best of all Secretary of state nominee Blinken has said in his hearing that the incoming administration will recognize the interim government of Guaido and the remains of the National Assembly elected in 2015, considered the last democratically elected branch of government.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Same old, same old for chavismo?

 So, chavo/madurismo has all in its hands (1). No Venezuelan government in history had so many levers of power in its hands. All the formal state institutions are now controlled by the regime except a handful of state houses and town halls. But those are restricted on their means, heavily supervised and thus almost insignificant in their potential actions. What makes this one more of a dictatorship than any past one is the complete control on press and media, and the economic control that no government in Venezuela ever had. That these controls broke the country is another matter, though it happened because of these controls.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

The NO posts

I was planning to write more negative entries to detail the consequences of the dreadful process that culminated on the December 6 vote. But it would require a few more and I want to move on some more interesting and pressing matters.

These entries did lay down the conditions that will rule now the immediate future. And boy, do they already rule it!  We had this first week of January the closing of internet media (the open air media and written press have been closed or censored long ago). The novel assembly seated the chairpersons from hell and hurried to take as first measure create  a commission to prosecute the ex representatives of the outgoing assembly. (1)  This commission, to add insult to injury, will be presided by Jose Brito, a corrupt traitor from the Primero Justicia party. He was booted out and went over officially to chavismo who through judicial fiat gave him the direction of Primero Justicia.  Now from his new position he will be able to take revenge, and at the same time spare chavismo the technical responsibility of yet a new totalitarian act. Totalitarian regimes of the XX century should be envious to see how easy it is for chavismo to recruit folks for their dirty work. (2)

Monday, January 04, 2021

No way ahead

 On January 5 the opposition loses its last legal toe. The constitutional mandate of 5 years for the National Assembly elected in 2015 expires and as of that day all the opposition representatives will lose their seat and immunity. Not that it makes much difference, the list of those already in exile or in jail is quite extensive. The difference now is that a ruthless and vengeful regime will have no need to make up charges to arrest those still free.

The regime by itself has stopped worrying about its legality long ago. Maduro and those elected last December have not been recognized by democratic countries for quite a while. They are used to it. But at least the opposition in its quixotic quest could pretend to represent the lone legal and democratic institution left. Now in Venezuela everyone is out of legality. Quite a feat it is.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

A new year

Wishing readers the best possible year 2021. It is going tough this time around.  And if you are in Venezuela just making it through the year will be quite the achievement. Not that it will be much easier for those of us forced to leave the country but at least most of us will have access to food and running water 24/24.

If you are not Venezuelan and read this blog, do something good this year: help an exiled Venezuelan.

Love to all.