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Venezuela News And Views

A blog about life under, and resisting, a dictatorship


We are going somewhere

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 20:15:15 PDT

But we do not where, nor do we/I care much, to tell you the truth.Yes, it is time for a quickie survey on how close to the abyss we stand. I shall be brief. Promise.Chavismo is trying to make the coronation of Maduro palatable.They did everything they could, but nothing that actually could help. They tried to postpone by a month so that the Opposition would have more time. They asked for the UN to send an observation mission (knowing that the delays made it impossible even if the UN were so inclined). They even pulled out of the opposition a pliable candidate that could make the case of being the lone option for a peaceful transition. But it all came crashing this week with the suicidal photo op of Henri Falcon in NY with Moncada  And yet there are some that beg us to consider Henri Falcon more seriously. After all, he is even mentioning the D word, dollarisation of the economy, as if that was easy to do, as if the US did not want guarantees before they flew you plane loads of greenbacks.  An example of this forgiveness toward Falcon was this tweet from Kejal Viyas, who should know better, saying that the picture did not show up in Guarico so it would have little impact. True, but Falcon cannot win in Guarico, a state too indentured to chavismo. Falcon, to win, needs to carry massively where the photo has been seen, Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and, gasp, Barquisimeto.So chavismo is cruising toward victory even as it is falling apart.  The international sanctions seem to bear their first fruits as chavismo is now arresting military officers at soon a daily rate.  What can speak louder in a narco military regime than the military unable to hide its inner conflict?  Just as more sanctions are on the making we also see the sanction givers stopping considering what goes on inside Venezuela to calibrate the extent and timing of sanctions.  The point here, that apparently even too many inside the opposition are failing to grasp, is that the free world cannot accept the first formal narco state and all the consequences that goes with such a monstrosity.  The British in the opium war would come to be seen as child's play.Which brings us to the opposition.It may be bottoming out at last. The best think that could have happened for the opposition is for Falcon to run on his own accompanied by some of the worst losers in our history. True, Maduro will win by a CNE sponsored landslide (they will not resit the temptation to inflate numbers, mark my words) but we may finally see the rise of a cleaner, leaner, more meaningful opposition. Though the creation of that "Frente Amplio" may abort once again the emergence of a real opposition.The crudest acknowledgment of this came from the clear headed OAS secretary Almagro who is now hated all across the political board in Venezuela since he dares to be more concerned about Venezuela's freedom than Venezuelan themselves. In Spain he said the following today in Madrid:“We all knew that Henri Falcon was going to be an instrument of the bolivarian government to divide the opposition and his bid proved it so".“The candidate Henri Falcon profits to chavismo. We had asked the Venezuelan opposition to separate the wheat from chaff and Falcon is the chaff that went of its own"Pretty strong damning condamnation of Falcon if you ask me.So we are left to see if these people of the Frente Amplio Nacional Venezuela Libre are going to get something done by May 20 to make boycott of elections worth its salt.Hasbeens to wannabes with a sprinkling of the real thing.If you ask my opinion I doubt it. The problem here is not of cure but of diagnostic. If you do not have the right diagnostic then you are likely going to apply the wrong cure. As long as the whole opposition does not scream out dictatorship in unison and is not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, well, you know----   watch the last two decades.....[...]

Idiots in NYC: or how Falcon sunk his presidencial run

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:21:25 PDT

Last post was hard to write, and the whirlwind of political news too hard to write about comprehensively. Thankfully procrastination does pay and today's picture from the UN plaza in NYC was worth the wait.  An epic photo-fail if ever.

From left to right, a kebab from hell:
Samuel Moncada, regime's ambassador to the UN and vice minister for foreign affairs;
Henri Falcon wanna-be Maduro successor; Felipe Mujica head of the near extinct weather vane MAS;
some hired help; and Pedro Pablo Fernandez, son of wanna-be foreign secretary to Falcon Eduardo Fernandez,
and probably aiming himself for some crumbs somewhere as no one in the MUD would be caught dead with him.
In this historic pose you can see how Henri Falcon sunk any chance he may have had to be elected president next May 20. By posing in front of the United Nations accompanied by the ambassador of Venezuela there, the much reviled and insufferable Samuel Moncada, Henri Falcon admits that his presidential candidature is wanted by the regime, and that he is in agreement with it.  That is, Henri Falcon and the scattered losers that support him are complicit with the regime in the fraudulent elections coming May 20.


These people had the chutzpah to try to get a meeting with high members of the UN so as to force this one to send an observation team to validate the election of May 20.  That a serious observation requires at the very least 3 months of observation and more before for mere preparation is not computing with them.  Then again whoever low key UN member that received them ("the UN is under obligation to help Venezuela" was said by the traveling show)  had probably already read that.

There are some damage controls that are beyond reach.  A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

It is all about humiliation

Sun, 04 Mar 2018 16:09:56 PST

The world is starting to notice how Venezuela is collapsing. What did the trick is the flow of refugees crossing the borders, travelling by bus all the way to Argentina, drowning in front of Curazao, or simply picking up their one way ticket at the airport.There are so many reasons to leave the country and yet the one that I growing is our daily humiliations, something that is, no doubt, a welcome side effect for the regime.  Like any totalitarian system, the more so if tutored by Cuba, one way to control people is to humiliate them so they get grateful when the level of humiliation relents.  Leaving because you are hungry, or your health is threatened, or because you know that you are in the list for an upcoming middle of the night arrest is a clear decision. Leaving because you are humiliated is not a clear decision. Leaving because you are humiliated is what the dictator wants. When you leave your country because you cannot endure humiliation anymore becomes your own acknowledgement of failure. You lost, the dictator won. For the dictator it is the sweeter because the memories of your humiliation may haunt you forever and bar you from returning home, not wanting to walk where so many perceived personal failings will taunt you back.I live daily such small failures, mine or the ones I see.The other day I realized that I was passing my finger on the corners of my veggie lunch box.  I do put a few drops of olive oil on my raw veggies, dieting obliges.  I cannot afford olive oil anymore but I have been wise in making a significant stock when I could still afford it.  My veggies are fresh, my olive oil is good. There is nothing left inside really. And yet I pass carefully my finger in the corners where some nectar may remain. I cannot let any of it go to waste.  Ere I would do it out of delight, now out of misery.But it gets worse. Seeing people ransacking trash is now a daily occurrence.  I still cannot think about a scene I saw without getting nauseous, badly nauseous.  Even as I type this. I cannot control it. I saw a kid, no more than 12-13, passing his finger in some plate he took out of the trash and licking it. Just as I lick my precious droplet of olive oil. Vicarious humiliations...The lines for cash at the bank are endless. Now people stand early in the morning in front of the bank to see if the local agency will be supplied with cash during the day. They will not get much but they need it because that is the only way to pay for bus fare, or the tip to the kid that loads your grocery bags.  Or your parking.There was that old lady the other day telling me that she must go everyday of the week to the bank, get whatever she could, because her humble cleaning lady is unable to open a savings account and thus she needs to pay her in cash and food.  Food is what she gave when she did not make it early enough tot he bank.But cash is not enough. As I cannot keep up with how fast tips should go I now ask point blank the kids that help me carry my grocery bags to the car if the tip is enough.  My tips are sort of shrinking because there is less and less cash so I cannot be the splendid tipper I used to be (0.5-1 % of my purchases, very, very high by Venezuelan standards). Yesterday the kid asked me not to give cash anymore but rather a food item.....  I was humiliated that I had not thought of this earlier.  And the kid was in big discomfort for asking me that.The S.O. is in no conditions to stand in line for food, or cash. I have to do all his shopping.  He does not know what it is to fight for a pound of sugar. I take him every week end to do his shopping and carry his bags. For some mysterious reason there was a delivery of rice and sugar just a the moment we arrived at X store. There are no deliveries on week ends anymore, there are already so few deliveries on week days....  But that surprise did not dull my reflexes, nor those of everyone else at the store. In seconds I was fighting my way [...]

Something shifted somewhere under someone's feet

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 18:44:04 PST

Three things happened today that tells us something is brewing inside chavismo.

My important/favorite is defense minister Padrino announcing  that he is against armed colectivos.  You know, those colectivos which are nothing else but paramilitary thugs wearing red shirts and working for the regime. Chavismo version of storm troopers.

The reason was certainly the damaging video out of this weekend maneuvers that went viral and that I tweeted below (I am more active on Twitter than on Blog, the more so that it is easier now to make micro posts in Twitter)

On epiphany day I went to get some vegetables and I saw what I filmed above. That is right, people stacked their carts of items that they wanted to pay for, but later, once the infamous price control SUNDDEE would rewire cash registers.  Thus these people waited for who knows how many hours to pay and meanwhile folks like me, that refused to partake on such shame, did not have to wait in line and just went through in one fo the fastest shopping errand of my life. My life is full of paradoxes.

I was so upset by the whole shameful experience that the SO had to berate me to recover my cool.

Note that in the end the press scandal was, for once, exaggerated. If the measure was scandalous the fact of the matter was that only a minority of items were scaled back. And they remained expensive enough that you could see people with only very few items in their carts standing in line for hours to pay, anyway.  I call it the fast impoverishment of the middle class.  Where you had looting it was in areas where people could not afford anything anyway and just looted taking the SUUNDE as an excuse. Which is not reassuring at all on its own.....

So there you are. Just wish me to survive 2018 😕

(and do follow me on Instagram, for modest but unfiltered real life moments in an age of censorship. And I do not post that often so I will not fill up your in box).

2017 round up: chavismo has not changed, and can't

Tue, 26 Dec 2017 15:46:16 PST

It is necessary to repeat this over and over: the current Venezuelan regime CANNOT yield to a democratic transition. Its leadership is way too compromised in particularly obscene corruption to which you add drug trafficking big scale.  If they lose power these people will end up in jail, in Venezuela or outside.  Even if some sort of amnesty is pronounced as they know only too well that amnesties only last so long: see Pinochet, the Argentine army, etc...In short there is about a couple of hundred "officials" that  are perfectly aware that there is no future for them outside of holding to power for dear life.  A peaceful democratic exit is not possible with such a crowd. We tried already 3 times and it failed the three times. They will kill as needed and with today shock media they do not need to kill that many to browbeat down irate crowds.  At this point the only way out for Venezuela crisis is considerably accrued international pressure and creation of an international safe haven for the top tier of the regime.If you do not agree with this then you are either a chavista/commie or an idiot, though admittedly one does not exclude the other. In any case you have nothing to do in this blog and you can stop reading right here. Have a nice day!Now back to those who understand what is truly going on in Venezuela.The state of this top tier is rather dire in spite of all appearances and alleged political victories as reported by idiotic journos in search of a headline, any headline before they move elsewhere for the next one.  You know who you/they are even though most of them have stopped reading real blogs that know better.Thus nothing has changed on that regime hold.  Except perhaps the description of the groups inside chavismo.  There are only two now, even though there may be complicated inner divisions inside each group.  But even though there may be two, or more, groups inside of chavismo we must grant them something: their disciplined public outreach. We know that some would not mind a nice and nasty bloody purge, but from their public declarations you would not know it.  That is the strength of the dictatorship today, as things worsen even the inner dissidence is willfully planned and included in the message. All mirrors. On the opposition side you have cacophony and the ensuing collapse.  The will of power of these people cannot be underestimated. For example, while the country tries to find some solace through the holidays the illegal constituent assembly is hard at work, while some of the opposition leadership is nowhere to be seen, having discreetly left on vacation........The two groups within chavismo struggling to impose over each other are the know-nothing and the somewhat scared ones.The know-nothing are those that want no negotiation, no compromise. Nothing, regardless of the international consequences. The consequences at home do not matter for them: they will kill/jail/maim/send-into-exile whomever they need to get rid of. Period.In this group we can include Diosdado Cabello reputed as a top capo.  And many of the military that carried the repression and murders of earlier this year.  They know their fate is sealed: they need to retain office for as long as possible until they have at least time to place into safety their relatives and friends.  The recent guilty verdict against the nephews of Maduro in New York with quite a few guaranteed years of jail did not mellow them. Their crimes are much worse than those of these two idiots.The other group is the one that thinks that perhaps some negotiation is advisable. They do not have the guts to murder what it takes to retain power (but a few crimes do not scare them, mind you).  What motivates them is elsewhere. They know who the know-nothing are. They know that one day they will strike.  They know that the day will come when the hunger riots become real business and real [...]

2017 roundup: intro

Mon, 25 Dec 2017 09:22:45 PST

It seems that this year I will have more time for myself than usual.

Starvation shopping done? Check!
S.O. sort of stable? Check!
Nowhere to go to spend time and money? Check!
No way I can be productive at work? Check!
Forced holiday until January 15? Check!
Lots of things to catch up at home? Check!

So we'll be catching up with the surrealist news of neo-totalitarian Venezuela.

In the next installments you will read all about a constitutional assembly that has been sitting for 5 months and has yet to write the first article of a new constitution.

You will be awed by a government that is unfazed by hyper inflation and increasing hunger and diseases problems.

You will be shown the myriad of self destructive ways the Venezuelan opposition has displayed.

You will be taught of a whole lot of new shades of meaning for the word dialogue.

And many more wondrous tales from the grave to be.

A Christmas from hell

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 15:56:25 PST

I know, I know, I should be wishing all of you a merry Christmas...  Good for you if you can, my heartfelt wishes. But here, it is hell.I am not going to bother you with summaries from around the country. Just among one of many I received, one from the Washington Post awful enough to spoil your eggnog, about how even Caracas Santa is skinny.My travails shall suffice.I have not written anything since December 10 because I am too tired to even think about writing anything. I have spent all of my time after returning from France looking for food and trying to close the office for the Xmas holiday (used to be one month in Venezuela, now up to two months with some since they have nothing to work with and reopen shop mid January). Never mind side incidences like a trip to my dentist or starting again, after 6 months, quimo for the S.O.The fact of the matter is that I have been trying to spend all of my Xmas bonus and more on food (and an advance on the quimo). And I still have some money left.  Good for you you may say, but bad in an era of hyperinflation: I simply could not buy all that I planned to buy because I could not find it.  After all there is only so many cases of U.H.T. milk I can pile up in a kitchen corner so I cannot spend leftover cash on yet more milk.Why so much milk you may ask?  When I left early November I had two cases of a given brand at 10.000 a liter. When I came back I needed to give one to the SO and buy a new one at 13K a liter. Once I reviewed my end of year finances I decided to buy 2 more and they were at 29K. I did and two days later it was at 35. I did get one more and another for the SO.  I did well, that brand was last Tuesday at 40K.  But by then I had enough milk to tie me up all the way to February.  A good thing because this week end new arrivals of the brand at 10K in early November are now at 63K......That is hyperinflation for you.My goal has been to spend all that I could on food, regardless of its costs as long as it was a storable essential item.  And to pile up enough to be able to hold me, the SO and his mom, helping the cleaning lady, bring some stuff to San Felipe to my ex cleaning lady there, etc, until early February at the very least. My freezer is packed. My kitchen cabinets are packed. My fridge is packed. Because in the tropics you cannot have unrefrigerated stocks of rice or pasta since within weeks they can get infested with bugs.  Even imported Italian pasta.....I am lucky. I am very lucky. Not having children allows me to reach Xmas with two months supply ahead. My only near future shopping will be vegetables and fruits, at awful prices of course but at least available. There is no certainty that some food items will return mid January, in particular flour or UHT milk (there is only low fat available for now, no whole milk at any price and I need that one to make my own yogurt as yogurt has disappeared).You need to understand that a case of 12 milk at 63K each liter represents more than the minimal wage in Venezuela.  For me it is expensive but then again who cares about credit card debts when inflation is passing the 2000% annual.....  But for those without a credit card? Those on fixed income like state pensioners who have to spend whatever meager resources they have on medicine (which are also lacking but that is another story)?You can imagine the mood in the country for Xmas. My cleaning lady almost kissed my hands when her Xmas bag had two packs of ready to make cakes, 1 pack of powdered "chicha", 4 bars of margarine, 1 kilo of flour, 1 frozen bread loaf ready to cook, 1 small jar of strawberry syrup for pancakes, just so that she could bake stuff for her kid during the holidays, stuff that she could not even dream of buying these days. Note: this whole package is almost equal to a minimum monthly wage.There is sadness everywhere. How can you pl[...]

Hoy no voté

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 07:13:56 PST

Hoy por primera vez en mi vida decidí deliberadamente, sin consigna de nadie, no ir a votar.  Si tienen paciencia me permitirán explicarles.No votaré porque los abstencionistas me convencieron. De hecho, ellos han sido un fracaso total. Desde julio proponen abstención y no han hecho nada. Eso si, permitieron que Ocariz pierda, y por lo menos otros dos mas.  Hubiese side diferente si en vez de solo 4 adecos hubiésemos tenido ademas a 4 de otra tolda  rechazando juramentarse ante la constituyente.  ¿Se habría atrevido el regimen a tumbar 8 gobernadores a la vez? No lo sabremos nunca pero creo que no. Pero si sabemos que la maniobra sucia de Ramos Allup no hubiese resultado tan fácilmente.Empezando por Maria Corina, los abstencionistas profesionales resultaron ser un fraude. Son, ¡paradoja!, los que mas han ayudado al regimen.  Una cosa es condenar el voto, otra cosa es quedarse en la condena.No voy a votar por chavista alguno, obviamente. Es que solo la idea de averiguar cual es el candidato chavista da un profundo asco.No iré a votar porque me pareció bien que VP o PJ o AD decidieran no presentar candidatos. De hecho fue un error, pero no por lo que los que dicen que siempre hay votar dicen, los encandilados que juran que "no se pueden perder espacios" que ya hace años están perdidos. ¿O es que los alcaldes están en capacidad de hacer un coño?No, el error de VP PJ y AD es al no presentar candidatos quedarse en casa. Ya. Tranquilos. Eso de ir a Santo Domingo o decretar que el nombramiento de Moncada a las ONU es invalido no compensa la falta de estrategia de una gente que cree que le van a ganar a Maduro el año que viene y que creen que la constituyente no lo va a impedir.  Estoy bravo porque ellos no me dan razón alguna de ir a votar, o no votar.No iré a votar porque no lo puedo hacer por oportunistas, arrimados y bates quebrados. Es una vergüenza ver a tantos que creen aprovechar la oportunidad que los partidos serios con candidatos serios decidieron no presentarse. ¿Como voy a votar por alguien que ni siquiera llegaría a concejal por méritos propios?No puedo votar por partidos que no tienen norte ético ni moral.  ¿Como podría votar por alguien como Manuel Rosales, cuya gente bloqueó el nombramiento de un nuevo CNE, que apoyó de lejitos las protestas de este año, que traicionó sin problema a Guanipa, que está listo a sentarse con la constituyente? ¿Como voy a votar por la gente de Henry Falcon que tiene cero capacidad de auto-critica, que no entiende que la gente que se abstuvo en Lara fue por culpa de su mal desempeño durante las protestas de este año, alguien tan dispuesto a echarle la culpa a otros, tan chavista al fin y al cabo?  A medida que el regimen empieza a retirar algunas de las gigantografías de Chavez, pues se ira borrando la linea entre esa gente y el regimen, se creará la oposición oficial.No voy a votar porque estoy empezando a creer que muchos necesitan "perder espacios" para empezar a reaccionar, para ponerse serios de una buena vez.  Los que lloran en Chacao porque tienen miedo de perder lo poco de bueno que hay allí, ¿fueron todos a votar por Ocariz?  Me parece bien que se caguen ahora cuando es muy tarde, cuando el imbécil y malvado gobernador de Miranda les va a caer encima de todas maneras. Que metan de alcalde al que sea con tal de que no sea chavista y vemos como les va.  Y en otros municipios también pasará, de paso.No voy a votar porque me parece bien que los nariceados sigan votando por Maduro. Si a estas alturas siguen votando por Maduro para una caja de Clap, si en las ultimas encuestas el tipo subió 7% por saquear unas tiendas y otras cosas por el estilo, pues hay que darles cuerda a esa gente para que vean de verdad lo que les pasará cuando ya la narco dictadura militar tenga la riendas bien sueltas[...]