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Venezuela News And Views



A blog about life under, and resisting, a dictatorship



 



In praise of "escrache"

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:15:26 PDT

There are so many things to write about that as usual I freeze. That is, until I come across something that summarizes the situation so well that it goes beyond belief. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/29KIcOic4bI?rel=0" width="560">It was Jorge Rodriguez turn to get insulted in public while in Mexico city.  Let me see if I can have the non-Venezuelan reader understand how momentous that silly video is. And it is momentous, trust me.What we see in this video is our new national sport of "escrache", that Argentinean coined term which means public shaming of people who abuse the law or their position. In Venezuela repression stops us from practicing it, but overseas, with over 2 million Venezuelans exiled across the word it is indeed a fair game sport.In this simple video, on an early Sunday morning when streets are empty and stores closed in Mexico City, the mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez is walking with his kid(s). He is recognized by a Venezuelan happening to walk around and he is taken up for being in Mexico as if nothing while, because of his political actions, Venezuela is collapsing.  Before we discuss the morality of public heckling, lets look at the simple questions this video raised on Jorge Rodriguez (note, no need to translate the video, it is self explanatory).Why is Jorge Rodriguez on vacation in Mexico when Caracas is a disaster and there is a major political crisis going on? Since Jorge Rodriguez is a public employee, how does he get the dollars needed not only to go and visit his kid (who I understand goes to Medical School in Mexico), but to pay for his kid studies?  The reader should remember that 1) there is a currency control exchange 2) a city mayor paycheck cannot account this life style. Note that his daughter is also out of the country, in Australia, and suffered an escrache of her own while accompanied at Bondi beach by a body guard. So Jorge Rodriguez can support TWO kids overseas. And yet know not of any personal fortune he inherited or made through due diligence.Why did he run away instead of trying to talk sense to the heckler or finding some cop? Does he go out this early to avoid possible unpredictable encounters? There is short video where Rodriguez tried earlier to hit the heckler.How come he had no compulsion leaving behind what may have been his mother/aunt/cousin?Also important, how come Rodriguez (and many in the regime) have their kids studying in foreign universities?  Is Venezuela not a socialist paradise of education and peace?You may say, fine, heckle Rodriguez, but respect his kids. And I will report that until a few months ago I thought it was not right to bestow the parents guilt on their children but that I have changed my mind on that.See, contrary to, say, nazi kids, there is no way on earth that the children of chavista corrupt/abusive official cannot know that their parents are accused of all sorts of suspicious deals.  This is the XXI century and the political tension has existed in Venezuela in high mode since at least 2007 when Chavez lost his constitutional reform referendum.It is public knowledge that there are hundred of thousands of Venezuelan exiles. It is public knowledge that the regime tries to ex filtrate all of their kids to study overseas. It is public knowledge that many of these kids do flaunt their riches.What I am trying to say that there is no need to defend these "kids". If you are old enough to go to med school you are old enough to wonder how come your dad has the money to pay for that. Period.If these kids enjoy their parents cash, well, they might as well share their parents blame. (1)But I digress. My point lays elsewhere.In Caracas Jorge Rodriguez is shielded by body guards. The press cannot approach him freely. If the question is tough he dismisses the journalists and there cannot be follow up. In short, there is no way you can see on live TV Jorge Rodriguez taken into account for his lies and actions, as he utters one infamy after another.  And this has [...]



Mirada descarnada a la invasión gringa

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 09:25:09 PDT

Esto lo escribo en cristiano porque los gringos saben muy bien que Trump es un bocón. No que en un futuro más bien lejano no nos suelten 4 drones encima, pero simplemente ellos tienen otros asuntos más urgentes que atender en este momento. Aquí les estoy escribiendo a unos cuantos venezolanos que se retuercen en agonía y jolgorio (de ambos bandos) ante un putativo desembarco de Marines.Antes que todo, cualesquiera sean los fundamentos de una invasión a mi patria, eso significa guerra, poder arbitrario para los dos ejércitos, daños materiales y psicológicos inconmensurables. Siendo profundamente anti-militarista no puedo suscribir a cualquier guerra aunque desafortunadamente hay que aceptar que en ciertos casos no hay opción. Ejemplo, contra ISIS.Pero cualquier guerra siempre empieza con un propósito que puede ser o no la justificación publica de dicha guerra. La invasión a Polonia era para unir Prusia a Alemania cuando el propósito real era controlar Europa y los judíos.Pero a veces una guerra tiene intereses nacionales inescapables: te tengo que joder antes de que me jodas a mí. El peor ejemplo es tal vez Pearl Harbor donde, injustificadamente, los japoneses atacaron primero. Lo hicieron porque ya estaban en guerra y sabían que tarde o temprano los americanos iban a atacarlos.Pues veamos cuales serían los motivos de los gringos para invadir a Venezuela.El petróleo no es. Siento desilusionar a muchos, en particular a los chaburristas rajados, pero el petróleo venezolano si bien es importante para la economía mundial NO ES INDISPENSABLE. Los EE.UU dañarían a Venezuela mucho más dejando de comprar su petróleo que invadiéndola para controlarlo. Y sin derramar una sola gota de sangre Marine. Me explico. Si de repente los gringos paran en seco las compras de petróleo venezolano les causaría un problema. Les faltaría tal vez un 10% de sus importaciones y eso implicaría un aumento mundial del precio del petróleo, pero no tanto. Al volverse más rentable fracking y equivalentes en pocos meses la producción americana subiría lo suficiente y problema resuelto.Mientras tanto Venezuela se las vería negras viendo a quien le vende su petróleo pesado y contaminante ya que no tiene dinero para construir refinerías y mató la orimulsión que era un apoyo para preparar petróleo pesado. Chávez nos volvió vulnerable, no es culpa de los gringos. Métanse eso en la cabeza.La minería no es. Dos razones muy sencillas. Una es que los gringos no van a invertir en un país forajido sin seguridad jurídica. Ese "arco minero" nunca termina de arrancar porque, en gran parte, hay demasiados militares y enchufados que quieren su tajada, y si es posible por adelantado. La otra es que con las leyes laborales de Venezuela es simplemente imposible tener la eficiencia requerida en los negocios de commodities. De hecho los chinos traen sus trabajadores cuando pueden.Otros no son. EL turismo no se puede desarrollar por el desastre de la infraestructura, la inseguridad y la contaminación de muchas playas. La agricultura ni hablar. Entre los saqueos, las invasiones y los secuestros ni de vaina los gringos que duermen en sus campos con su puerta sin pasar la llave van a invertir un piche dólar. Y agrego que la ética laboral del venezolano después de 18 años de chavismo impide que tanto el turismo como la agricultura puedan desarrollarse y ser rentables rápidamente... Ese problema no se arregla ni con 100.000 marines en Venezuela.¿Pues entonces que queda? Si los gringos no nos invaden por razones económicas, por cual razón lo harían. Veo tres.Por interés geopolítico. Si China y Rusia se quieren afincar demasiado en Venezuela eso podría ser inaceptable para los gringos. La pregunta aquí es si en verdad le conviene a los rusos y a los chinos instalar una base militar en Venezuela. ¿Para qué? ¿Les darán Turiamo o Mochima así sin chistar? ¿Se calarán tener que traer TODO, desde central eléctrica hasta tratamiento de agua? ¿Trabajarán con venezolanos rateros y bachaqueros qu[...]



It is easy and fun to troll the Left

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 11:39:10 PDT

Sometimes it is good to have fun writing. Bitching at the Left would do it.



Trashed at Lima: Maduro goes from PR fail to PR fail

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 21:20:45 PDT

This is so whirlwind that I am going to write fast.That is democracy for youIn the middle of the night the nazional guard and the constituent assembly chair took over the old senate chamber of Venezuelan Congress which had been transformed into a ceremonial room. The problem is that the hall is not big enough for the 550 constituents as it can hold barely 450.  But the point here is to piss off the National Assembly and slowly but surely edge them out of existence.For good measure the National Assembly was barred to enter its chambers for its scheduled session, least the couple of dozens that did make it into congress house would attack the 500+ constitutionals.  Nice to see the nazional guard deployed in a legislative room. Nothing militaristic or repressive in the regime. No serreee...The constituent is above allThat they are overcrowded sitting on party pliable and uncomfortable chairs did not stop the constituents to declare themselves as of today of being above any of the existing powers and institutions. For our own good, apparently. (1)Note that the complete results are not yet out and these creeps are already ruling as if nothing, fraud declarations remaining investigated, of course.To make sure that we know who is in charge truly (besides Cuba, of course) we even had the visit of the defense minister in full drag, as a guest of honor. That is right, a constituent assembly of the people starts by bowing to a general.Today was thus quite a democratic display. And right on time as the Lima reunion was taking place, to make sure to confort them in their soon to come decisions.In Lima the s... hit the fanMany countries were invited to a meeting outside of any international organization to discuss what to do about Venezuela. That is, the countries that are decided to do something about it, without the bothers that sell out countries do to stop any measure against the dictatorship (2). They met today at Lima.  Of those who met, 12 decided to sign a declaration which is as strong as you will ever see any. And apparently Jamaica was about to add its name though they did not. Nobody understands why Uruguay did not go along since last week end they agreed to kick out Venezuela from Mercosur. At any rate, the 12 signatories have agreed to further meetings as sanctions are implemented and that anyone wanting to join the principled positions could so so.The WSJ has a summary in English, though if you can read Spanish I urge you to read the short and drastic declaration.  The important points to be drawn from it are:Venezuela is a dictatorship (written in diplomatese, but that is the exact translation)They will not recognize the constituent assembly nor any decision that this one takes.For any future legal/financial contact between those countries (the largest in the Americas, the rest counts for nothing anyway) these will only be accepted if the legal and legitimate National Assembly approves them. That is, there is no possible contracts to be made state to state, and business to business/state unless the NA approves them. Also, Venezuela cannot send new ambassadors unless voted by the NA. And other consequences.Ban any weapon shipment to Venezuela, in particular of repressive nature.These countries will actively seek that Venezuela will be removed from any international organization that pretends to be democratic.In short, Venezuela is declared a pariah state.Meanwhile in Caracas the dictatorship could only gather the ALBA (Cuba and Caracas client states) and emit a long and ridiculous declaration that even included the wall.  Maybe feel good, but totally out of step with the moment, which shows you that even the sophisticated Cuban diplomacy is losing its footing.It is to be noted that the US was not, on purpose, in Lima and so it cannot be accused of remote directing the whole thing. As a matter of fact, if you read the Lima declaration you will be stricken by its novelty and creativity. Venezuela is truly seen as a c[...]



Regime caused floods

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 12:55:45 PDT

The supreme idiocy cum absolute incompetence of the regime is on display again today in Bolivar state, and with tragic consequences. The ill management of the Caroni river dams is causing floods in the lower course with perhaps thousands of people losing their homes. ALL caused by ideology and incompetence. I know, it is redundant but I write it on purpose.

This La Llovizna park in Puerto Ordaz today. I hope it is closed to the public.






France mourns one of her greatest

Wed, 05 Jul 2017 21:40:59 PDT

Sometimes we are not aware that we live in the times of heroes. And they die and we remember.When she faced a 95% male audienceto regulate abortion in FranceSimone Veil was probably the lone France hero alive.  She died last week and the outpouring came from all fronts, except as expected from the far right Front National who could not forgive her among other things that Simone Veil was one of the 2.500 survivors of the 75.000 French Jews sent to Nazi concentration camps. Or rather, that she answered only too well to what Le Pen and daughter are all about.Her career was truly admirable even though she was never president nor prime minister (though often in the short lists). She did not win a Nobel prize (though her work for Europe would have been more than enough merits). She did not discover any miracle cure (but she faced one of the worst hidden epidemics of our times). She was feminist through her mere authority in a country long used to political favorites mistresses threads to power.In short, she became a national hero because she did her duty, she worked hard at it, her ideas and goals were clear, she never stopped being a woman and a mother, she never let her past get the best of her.Her milestones have been incredible.She was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, which she survived with a sister, but lost her mother, father and brother.She was one of the first French woman reaching high levels in the judicial power, and a  prison inspector where one of her goals was to improve the fate of Algerian women in jail during Algeria's independence war.She was plucked almost out of nowhere by then President Giscard d'Estaing who thought it was about time women got real jobs in government. And to have her pass a law to regulate abortion in France, until then a crime deserving the death penalty if your performed them.She indeed faced a 97% male Assembly to present a law that would give equality to women in the face of abortion, an evil that could not be hidden anymore, and that affected mostly the poor who could not pay for travel overseas.  She collected stunning abuses from many representatives who even qualified her of Nazi sympathizer, ignoring a past of which she had been delicate about.But she became a hero that day.Her career would not stop here. She was tapped by Giscard to run the center right list for the first European Parliament open elections. Her list won in France and days later she was elected as the first president of Europe's elected parliament, its first woman.Late in life she was again minister, she reached the French constitutional court and she even got what is perhaps the very most coveted honor in France, one of the 40 seats at the French Academy.And all of this she did, which surprises many, from the right, proving that social reform is not a matter of politics but of ethics and social coherence. I was young when all of these achievements took place, but I clearly remember her role in the 1974 abortion law, the beginning of my interests in politics. I do not know whether I saw that picture then, but it is her lifetime picture, when she started her speech and when we all knew that France was turning a new page of history, that things would never be the same. It bears noting that the right was bitterly divided and that the law passed because the left voted for it. Which is perhaps why the left could never bring itself not to admire her.If I write such an un-Venezuelan text it is because I cannot fail to compare the rich life of a woman like Simone Veil with the one of all the feminine heroines that Chavez has tried to make us believe existed when all of them have been mere errand girls to do his dirty work. And cashed for it, by the way, matching men in corruption without much trouble.And also I write because I have always admired Veil and shamefully I had to wait for her death to realize that the time of heroes is not over. Fortunately i[...]



From official terror to article 350 - 5) taking off Ortega before 350

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 20:06:15 PDT

Writing this series of articles with long delays in between actually helped me a lot, proving that procrastination pays: the events of today establish beyond doubt that civil rebellion is the lone thing left for the Venezuelan population at large. I say "at large" in all confidence as there is no serious pollsters, even among those who predicted Chavez victories years ago, that gives the regime and Maduro much more that 20%.  And this assuming that they can correct for the fear factor in their polling. The evidence is clear: even in a bad day the opposition drags quickly to the streets, in almost any Venezuelan city, more people to protest than the regime as a whole can do just in Caracas for support, after days of preparation. We are not discussing anymore the regime "rights" to remain in office: that ship has sailed long ago even though it is still trying to find the shipping lane between Saint Vincent and Mustique. But that is another story; today not even Salvador and Ecuador are unconditional alliesBefore we get into the application of article 350 let me summarize briefly what has happened in the recent days. The whole show has been around the regime trying to eliminate Luisa Ortega, the nation's general prosecutor, the head of the lone organization allowed to investigate any civilian criminal conduct. Clearly, that she has separated from the regime is unacceptable because, well, the regime has too much to hide, and will have much more to hide as criminal repression progresses.So, when she became unreliable in April the regime decided, violating once again the 1999 constitution, to send protesting civilians to military courts because they supposedly committed treason. Never mind that even treason has to be tried in civilian courts when civilians commit this, the whole point was to sow terror in protesters, and browbeat Ortega, taking away from her competencies. Let's note that no matter her role as regime enforcer in the past she would still make a more just prosecutor than any military court in Venezuela....  But let's not digress.Since then the escalation was on, from both sides.Ortega from mild discreet criticism went to address the opposition controlled National Assembly on Monday July 3. Her prudence was good as the opposition could not digest too fast the woman that had offered the rigged evidence for the rigged trial of Leopoldo Lopez. But the opposition, at least the thinking one, realizes that today we cannot be picky about our allies, be it Trump taking a selfie with Leopoldo's wife, be it Ortega jailing Lilian's husband. We are all growing up.The regime cannot make a solid case against Luisa Ortega. After all trying to make a rational case against her in seeking her removal from office would be akin to a political hara-kiri from nearly two decades of injustice in Venezuela. So in true form the regime decided that she was a liar and possibly mad. For that the regime got its worst piece of garbage, representative Carroña Carreño to present a petition of destitution against Ortega which details are irrelevant for you to know since the result is already known: within hours she will be removed from office even though the constitution does not allow it the way the regime is operating against her.  But who's counting?So today we had Ortega refusing to go to her accusation hearing on the grounds that she did not recognize the court as illegitimate and out of constitution, Carroña Carreño outperforming himself and the two sad sacks of the "citizen power" demanding to pass a lie detector. A useless performance since both of them have been liars for so long that I bet their body has ceased to recognize whether they are lying.I will leave at that. The point is made, the regime will do anything, ANYTHING to retain power.  You have on one side the AC shows in courts like today but you have on the other side the paramilitary colectivos[...]



July 4 meet July 5

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 18:57:22 PDT

I was reading the US Declaration of Independence again, this most formidable piece of literature, to begin with. Without changing a word this section can apply EXACTLY as is as to the opposition revolt against a colonial regime directed from Cuba. I shuddered!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. 

We should use it tomorrow for the much needed second independence of Venezuela.



Sostenemos como evidentes estas verdades: que los hombres son creados iguales; que son dotados por su Creador de ciertos derechos inalienables; que entre éstos están la vida, la libertad y la búsqueda de la felicidad.
Que para garantizar estos derechos se instituyen entre los hombres los gobiernos, que derivan sus poderes legítimos del consentimiento de los gobernados; que cuando quiera que una forma de gobierno se haga destructora de estos principios, el pueblo tiene el derecho a reformarla o abolirla e instituir un nuevo gobierno que se funde en dichos principios, y a organizar sus poderes en la forma que a su juicio ofrecerá las mayores probabilidades de alcanzar su seguridad y felicidad. La prudencia, claro está, aconsejará que no se cambie por motivos leves y transitorios gobiernos de antiguo establecidos; y, en efecto, toda la experiencia ha demostrado que la humanidad está más dispuesta a padecer, mientras los males sean tolerables, que a hacerse justicia aboliendo las formas a que está acostumbrada. Pero cuando una larga serie de abusos y usurpaciones, dirigida invariablemente al mismo objetivo, evidencia en designio de someter al pueblo a un despotismo absoluto, es su derecho, es su deber, derrocar ese gobierno y proveer de nuevas salvaguardas para su futura seguridad.

It does sound better in English than this Spanish Wiki version but I am too tired to improve on it. You got the point anyway.

Happy Birthday North of the Border lands!



From official terror to article 350 - 4) that hamletian moment

Sun, 02 Jul 2017 12:31:16 PDT

The opposition MUD is subjected to tremendous challenges, all coming from the fact that they need to face off a criminal narco-state without any help from the outside police.Why the world is not acting on Venezuela knowing very well that it risks receiving a refugee wave of millions is the subject of another text. Never mind that if the regime manages to hold power at the cost of a dictatorial communist "constitution" and thousands of deaths this will set a bad precedent for regimes dreaming of such a perpetuation outcome, like Bolivia, the FARC in Colombia, Nicaragua, to name a few of the wanna-.be rogue systems in Latin America.  The fact of the matter is that the latest failure of the OAS to even come up with a mild declaration is the confession of a world that has lost the notions of good and evil, navel gazing, worried about how to sustain a welfare state that will reward them politically. Times have changed.Unfortunately for the opposition the hope that the world will act after 3 full months of repression forces the MUD to keep their protest clean in that the gouvernement needs to come across as aggressor all the time. Because of the world cowardice the opposition has footed, so far, a much higher bill than the regime.The violence of the regime has gone up one notch this week. Now it is not a death a day, it is more than one. Now the paramilitary colectivos are playing their deathly game in the open, even ferried around in state transport. It hardly can get anymore fascist/communist than that. And let's not talk about the deliberate humiliation of the prisoners, the exposed tortures, the illegal attribution of military courts against civilians.This is already bad enough if the opposition would not have to also deal with enemies from inside. We have the crazies, often inspired from Miami, that want the MUD leadership to storm without weapons Miraflores Palace, or would put everyone to starve until the regime falls. We have those who want to find a way to "dialogue" with the regime even though the ungrateful regime blows up to their face. Ask Henri Falcon, governor of Lara, one fo the milder critics inside the opposition why Lara has become a horrible battlefield last week. As for Rosales, a choreographed outing once in a while is all we see from him while his underlings seem to be one of the main sources of blockade inside the decision processes of the MUD.If these were not enough for the MUD, there is a new problem with the need to find a way to associate with the newly minted dissent of chavismo. There are enough of them now to not only create a problem for chavismo but also for the opposition.   Let's take the example of Luisa Ortega, the nation's general prosecutor of the nation.Luisa Ortega has always been a leftist, always been a chavista. As such in 2014 she thought it was OK to jail and condemn on trumped charges Leopoldo Lopez. She could probably make her own case that the chavista new man had not risen yet and so it was OK to violate on the edges the constitution so as to ensure that the real legacy of Chavez would survive. But then, she realized that true legacy of Chavez was a corrupt narco-regime. The only way to salvage something from the Chavez ideals she shared was to defend the Constitution he wrote himself when those narco-thugs decided to rewrite it to their own needs.What do we do with Luisa Ortega? Do we let her hang high and dry and let chavismo defenestrate her from her office? Or do we try to find an agreement with her where the price may be a transition government that will not be presided by the opposition?Meanwhile as the opposition tries to put its house in order the cruelty of the regime increases, the death toll along and the cowardice of the world worsens.But before we look at what the opposition will be obliged to do let's leave this entry with a note of hope:[...]