Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:38:16 PDTEl régimen chavista ha trabajado mucho en alterar nuestro idioma para poder imponer sus ideas, debilitar nuestro pensamiento y afectar nuestra ética. Ya George Orwell nos explicaba ese fenómeno totalitario en "1984" o "Rebelión en la Granja".
Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:09:11 PDTI am happy about yesterday annulment of the Recall Election. I know, it is perverse but I have my reasons.First, there is no need to discuss anymore the dictatorial nature of the regime. Under Chavez there were elections at any turn. Now, there will not be elections, not even for dog catcher. The last argument that chavismo could use internationally "we never lost the boatload of elections we do" only works if you have regular elections.The consequence of this is that any opposition group that does not call the regime for its true nature will lose quickly its supporters. These simply will fail to understand how faced with the truth their "leaders" do not react more assertively. I agree that increased polarization is dangerous, but at this point, what else can we lose?Second, as a consequence from the above, the opposition alliance MUD needs to purge itself of its wishy washy elements. Either you support the regime (silence counts), or you oppose it. Again, dictatorial regimes can only be dethroned through unity (or foreign disaster like invasion). See the examples of Chile where all allied against Pinochet. Or even Mexico when all rallied behind the right wing PAN to kick out the eternal PRI and its "perfect" dictatorship. Never mind the exit of Fujimori where the unity of the opposition behind Toledo allowed international sanctions to be effective.Third, and surprising, any negotiation to get out of the crisis is now more likely to be successful if the opposition unifies better, becomes more assertive. By blocking any election the regime in fact traps itself into a repression must that is not acceptable today in Latin America, at a time where even the Castros are starting to be questioned. Through negotiation we may not get quick regime change but a true negotiation which includes a real progressive release of the tools of power by the narco regime may be a better outcome for the country than ousting suddenly a corrupt elite that will immediately sabotage whatever the incoming administration will try. One reason why some inside the opposition are not as assertive as others is that they simply do not want to deal with the mess.[NOTE: I am painfully aware that Venezuela is a neutered country. The sacrifices seen in Chile or Peru are not going to happen here. There are too many of us that can only be deranged for a looting party. There is a perfect French word without direct translation to characterize what I think of the bulk of the Venezuelan population: veule. a mix of spineless and coward. And I include there those that are keyboard warriors, calling for all sorts of action from the MUD that they have little intentions to lead themselves. Never mind the chavista colectivos who only attack under pay and military protection. Certainly there are steel soul heroes like Lopez but the indignation only goes so far.]In front of all this what are the options?It is time for the MUD to put its neck forward. It has been 24 hours since the CNE did what was foretold. Last night the only minimally acceptable answer for the MUD was "We are not accepting this. We knew it was coming and we have plans. We will not reveal them now because we needed first the details to complete them. Tomorrow we will tell you".We had to wait a couple of hours until finally someone said something without any further immediate perspective. In short, the MUD is not sure what to do. I assume, hope, they have an idea, that the delay is part of a strategy.Clearly, if the MUD does not react we are in for a full Maduro term with utter destruction of the country. Never mind that the regime will use the two years left to destroy physically the opposition and plan for a totally fraudulent presidential election in December 2018. Or later, as the crisis is an open door for all sort of excuses.Today, for good measure the high court TSJ annulled yet another key vote from the National Assembly. And yet this is where the resistance comes from. The National Assembly needs to vote the illegality of the regime, just as the regime decreed its[...]
Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:39:55 PDTThere will be a lot of brouhaha in the next days about the ignominious decision of the CNE to do its utmost to violate the constitution in order to block the Recall Election against Maduro. Let me try to make it clear for readers still hanging around here.1) The motivation in any case is to annul the Recall Election, or in the very worst case push it to 2017 which means that the regime remains in office until January 2019 at the very least.In fact, the regime has announced today through one of its formal provocateurs, Pedro Carroña Carreño, that voting was not a fundamental right, that there was more pressing needs like food or medicine than elections. The provocation is, of course, the public knowledge that the crisis is the regime fault and thus it will never win an election again, and it knows it. Never mind that there might not be money for elections but there was cash for the useless NOAL summit in Margarita last week that could have easily paid for an election. Nevermind on how much medicine could have been bought out of the food given, say, to Mugabe.In short, before I go into details, as I already wrote in previous entries, the regime does not want elections. Period.2) The constitution states clearly that any recall election must be asked by 20% of the voters in the district that elected the said person. The electoral board CNE today announced that even though Maduro was elected nation wide the opposition will need to collect 20% in each and every state. So, even if, say, 30% nationwide signed for the recall election it is enough that in a single state there is ONE VOTE missing for the 20% to annul the whole experience. The article 72 is clear and precise, there is a need for a 20% nation wide and it is irrelevant if that number is reached through 100% of voters in state X while state Y has 0% signatures.Thus we have right there a flagrant violation of the constitution. If they do that so bluntly what can we expect for the "details" next?3) The CNE said that it would give the opposition only 3 weekdays, 7 hour week day, with one hour for lunch for the CNE workers. That is there will be a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday allocated, from 8 AM to noon and from 1 PM to 4 PM. That is, unless your boss gives you the time to stand in line for hours you will not be able to sign up for the recall election. Never mind public workers who will be tightly controlled those days and fired on the spot if they are out of office during that timetable.4) And to make sure that this timetable is even more difficult to fulfill the CNE has allocated only 5,392 finger printing machines. Let's do some simple arithmetic.If all goes well, no electric outage, no sabotage, no violence, etc, etc... we have 21 hours per machine. Let's assume that each machine can collect one signature per minute in such perfect conditions. The maximum signatures that can be thus collected in those three days are:5,392 X 21 X 60 = 6,793,920 signatures.We need, besides the per state quota difficulty, 3,893,129 signatures. That is not bad you may say. Think again. I have assumed that the 21 hours will be indeed perfect 21 hours. Also, there are always imponderables and we know from experience that the CNE has a proclivity to annul signatures at will, even if collected by themselves. The "safe number" is not 20% per state, it is 25% per state, which is above 5 million nationwide.A couple of rainstorms across the country is enough to already make you lose half a million. A few well designed power outages and there you have another half a million gone. Since it is to be collected state by state all those that cannot return to their home state will not be able to sign. Etc.....Not collecting on a week end makes it, just becasue of logistics, very difficult to get that 4 million signatures. Since elections are on Sundays, you can appreciate in full the hypocrisy and cynicism of the CNE in deciding on working days and working hours for signature collection.5) And at this point we do not know yet other details[...]
Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:38:37 PDTLong time I did not write a summary of what is going on. As usual there is a big yawn along as everything changes fast but everything is, in the end, the same: a gang of thugs will do whatever it is possible to retain power because they know what awaits them once they lose. Nevermind the culture of violence that goes with such mentality where only brute force is the argument. Negotiation? Only to gain time until I finally find a way to screw you once and for all.This been said things are not going any better for the regime. True, the vice president and the communist minister of economy are saying that lines are lesser, that we are turning around a corner, that imports are on the rise since January, etc. The reality is that indeed lines are lesser. See, supplies are lesser so there is no need to stand in line for stuff that will not come in. Shopping on weekends for groceries is great: since there are no deliveries anymore on Saturdays then what is left is for the people that have money enough to buy what the hoi polloi cannot afford. For the first time in years I am hitting again grocery stores on Saturdays (Sundays are, well, empty no matter what). As for the commie minister (he used to be a PCV member before jumping ship to Chavez), someone in his office should point to him that historically January has always been the lowest month for importation since the country is out of business until mid January. No dockers....Politically the big fight remains the Recall Election before January 10 2017 since after that date a chased Maduro can name his successor, no election needed for the next two years. As I suspected long ago, it is not going to happen no matter what the opposition does. Too much at stake for the regime. Yet the good fight must be done in the off chance that a division inside chavismo allows in the end for the recall election; or, better, we have Maduro resign before January 10 (which I think is what will happen if chavismo decides not to go full metal jacket on repression).The strategy of the "legal" chavismo (and institutional military?) is to wait as long as possible in the vain hope that oil prices go up just enough to resupply a little bit food shelves and thus make electoral defeat not a fact. Since production is not promoted and that economic repression is getting worse, I do not see how can this happen even if within one year oil were to go back to, say, 80 a barrel. But chavismo is entitled to dream too.Meanwhile the "illegal" chavismo (and narko military?), the one that does not give a crap about appearances and that wants not only to get rid of the opposition but also of timorate chavistas, is forging ahead. The packed high court (never a dissenting opinion in the TSJ) has annulled anything the National Assembly does. The problem is that we need to vote next year budget and the constitution is quite clear in that it can only be approved through a National Assembly vote. We are sure that the TSJ will write something to annul yet a new sector of the constitution which for all practical purposes is only good enough to replace scarce toilet paper. The final head-on conflict must happen in the next weeks as the to-do list of TSJ before the end of the year is 1) annul the recall election proceeding 2) decide the budget 3) bar the nomination of a new electoral board 4) support legally repression and, why not, 5) disolve parliament without electing a new one.While chavismo is desperately establishing a dictatorship without any popular support things outside are not improving for them either. The non aligned summit of last week was a fiasco as only a dozen of the 100+ head of state showed up. And we are talking here of Mugabe, Castro and other undesirable ones that have zero credentials on democracy. No luster from the summit except perhaps for some lumpen chavismo, part of it being carried to a refuge like tent city nearby the luxury hotels to provide Maduro with the adoring crowds he needs to prove his alleg[...]
Sun, 05 Jun 2016 11:27:50 PDTWarning: absolutely non politically correct post follows (á la Trump?)But real.---------------------------------------------------------------------I am coming up from the airport. Reaching the curb from a grocery store not too far away from home I notice the food line that reaches a crossing that it never reached before. Think 6 blocks.Since there is traffic I can observe the line. Not only these people are not from the area, but they look like goons and thugs. They are, to tell you the truth, scary. I grab the camera to film but the light goes green.Down the hill I arrive at the store. No line there. There are plenty of cops and the line has been in fact pushed back by them two blocks away. Which explains why I found it so long. The explanation? There was a looting attempt by people who come from far away from the neighborhood.I suppose it is just a matter of time the locals decide to loot first least these "bachaqueros" take all of their food quota first?Welcome home Kotter.----------------------------------------In my first few days at home I notice a dramatic change. There are now lines ALWAYS at any of the grocery stores of the area. Whether things arrive is irrelevant, there is a crowd, always the same type of crowd from some far starved/bachaquero lumpen that have put the area under siege. They leave around 5 PM so they can make it back to their homes before night fall.After all, they are equally victims of crime, the more so if they back home in the dark with some food.Oh, and yes! These unfortunate people look as wretched, as lumpen as they looked 17 years ago when Chavez was elected. There you go with your XXI century socialism.------------------------------------My cleaning lady is upset and scared, and near tears when she tells me the stories.In the past three weeks the area has become very unsafe in day time. People that walk the streets are now getting mugged broad daylight. And she has more trouble than ever to get food. Why?The invasion of bachaqueros in the area follows a clear modus operandi.They arrive in "busetas", those worn down mini vans or mini bus that can carry up to 20 people, more if necessary... These unload the bachaqueros in front of a given store. The group arrives and breaks to the front of the line threatening as needed the locals, who terrified give them sway, the more so when home made weaponry is shown (chuzos like those made in Venezuelan jails). Sometimes more busetas arrive when from some magical knowledge they learn that this particular store will get more supplies than usual. There is indeed deep internal corruption links with some of the employees of these grocery stores. They get their cut of the loot.Remember that what bachaqueros buy is for resale at bloated prices. That is their job, stand in line every day and find more than what they need so as to make their income out of black market prices. there are no other jobs available for them in chavista Venezuela.So you may have different groups of bachaqueros holding the line (there are inter bachaquero fights reported by the locals who flee the scene). But all within a group need not to stand in line. After all with an SMS they can quickly come back as soon as a delivery truck is spotted. So what do these do? They scour the neighborhood to track down solitary walkers, isolated cars, and the like. Crime rises. No way around it since the scarce cops that Baruta town hall can afford as budgets shrink are not enough to keep order at the front of the line.My cleaning lady tells me that know she leaves at 4AM to get on line in the vain hope sometimes that she will beat the bachaqueros. And sometimes, if she got significant stuff she is forced to take a cab back home. A cab, needless to say, that is a heavy burden on her budget.Poor people stealing from poor people since people like me either do not consume much of the basic price controlled staples (starch/oil) or can afford black market (up to a point tha[...]