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Venezuela News And Views

A blog about life under, and resisting, a dictatorship


Happy T-day USofA

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 01:32:41 PST

To US readers still haunting this page I wish them a happy, loving Thanksgiving,

I have been out of Venezuela for urgent major family matters and blogging on what I cannot properly follow seemed pointless. That the dollar is worth ten times more today than 6 months ago summarized it all perfectly.

So, I will not have turkey today but where I am staying they are starting to try out that "black friday" thing. Except that it is an all week event, where everyday there are deals of the day. I am not complaining, I got an S6 for less than 300. With still an extra 10% when I return to Venezuela and go through customs. That duty free thing, you know....

Do not overeat, no food to waste, think about those Venezuelans who have no thanks to give as they cannot properly feed their families. Otherwise enjoy for me my favorite of T-day, caramelized sweet potatoes and corn bread.

I do not want to want to restructure the debt

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 21:04:21 PDT

This is pretty much what Maduro has in mind when he talks of restructuring the huge Venezuelan debt, huge enough that a default would at the very least send shudders through the markets (though it has been previsible enough that I am sure many have taken their precautions long ago).I'll be as brief as possible.The real problem of Maduro is that electoral cheating is not enough to get reelected next year. For this he needs to distribute some goodies to his hard core shrinking base so that they will be able to make effective the necessary electoral blackmail and cheating.  You just cannot say that a given polling center has 90% participation when there is no picture of at least half a dozen people loitering in front.Unfortunately Maduro &CO. misjudged badly the effect of the rather moderate US sanctions.  What they do is to block access to new loans to pay old ones. Oh, Wall Street is full of sharks willing to issue new debt at exorbitant interests to pay some of the old ones and still leave a little bit of electoral cash for Maduro (I am looking at you Goldman Sachs).  But US loan sharks are pretty much tied down, as well as those elsewhere who have no qualms in dealing with loan sharks.For some reason Maduro thought that Russia had deep pockets but apparently not. Or he run out of collateral for Russia, which we must remember is a mafia economy and thus they make loan sharks look tame.  China will only do as much as they need to do to guarantee payment of their own loans, but they had it with Venezuelan thieves and laziness and misrule. Corruption in China is kid's play compared to the one in Venezuela; and yet they are starting to crack down.The reason to risk electing an unconstitutional constituent assembly (CA) was in part due to the need to have someone to vouch for new loans since the mean National Assembly (NA) would not approve them unless the regime allowed for the parliamentary supervision of how those new funds would be spent. Imagine that!  Civilians monitoring corrupt generals and drug traffickers!  ¿Habrase visto? But then again a new problem arose for Maduro. The conditions under which the CA was "elected" and the massive fraud exposed within hours made that no serious country with serious cash in hand would recognize it, and even less any decisions that this garbage would make.It seems that the recent October 15 "success" came at a prize and the regime will not be able to make its scheduled payments for the rest of the year.  See, it is not enough to buy votes, you also need to pay those that commit electoral crimes.  Expensive business all of that....What is a hard working narko-korrupt autocrat to do?Blackmail comes to mind.First a series of wild declarations, including the stunning statement that the debt is not Maduro's. So it had gotta be from Chavez, no?  The narko-revolution starting to liquidate Chavez and his heirs? The potential makes the mind reel. (1)Then came  the order to convoke to Venezuela the bond holders to discuss things.  Summoned would be a better word.  And the vice president Tareck El-Aissami would be in charge of the negotiation. Well, the summons does make sense: Tareck is on the shit list of DEA and more so he cannot travel outside the country.However it is predictable, even to the regime, that attendance will be sparse and that at any rate they will try to gently explain to the narko-dictatorship that, well, "you need to put a little bit of order in your house before we even consider risking the wrath of the SEC" (translation: we will need to be more than loan sharks to shoulder the legal risks if you really want more money).So, to bring the blackmail in full force the regime is now openly talking of not paying, adding real threats against the NA for its final dismissal or "so you negotiate with us and the CA or we will not pay you a penny".How this all will pan out is too early to say, but it is not going to end well.  And the first victims are already in the list, start[...]

"esos son los que se quedaron"

Sun, 29 Oct 2017 20:20:56 PDT

On the evening of Chavez 2006 reelection I did write a wistful note that somehow made it to the Wall Street Journal.  Then this blog was in the news as the other news were not yet on all of Chavez horrors.  Years went by, the news caught up and thus I could become again an amateur blog, more a stream of consciousness than a true need to inform the world.I remembered that note and felt like I should read it before I wrote what last October 15 meant for me.  Oh! I was not devastated by the expected result. The only surprise was the extent to which the regime dared to go into its naked outrageous electoral fraud.  The mind simply reels at watching a system which is condemned by the world to the point that in the latest gathering of electoral authorities of the hemisphere the CNE delegation was not welcome.  Imagine that, what Carter called once the best electoral system in the world is now excluded from normal gatherings.The past two weeks have been a small epiphany for me.  I was not surprised enough to have an emotional shock or anything of the like. But somehow certain things fell into place. In 2006 I wrote that the country was not my country anymore. It was some strange land into which I should learn to carve a safe space. Blogging should be less intense, other type of texts should be written. But the everyday life was such that I needed to keep writing, the more so that soon Chavez started its final attack on freedom of expression, followed by the referendum of 2007 that he lost.  The blog kept advancing, now describing the descent into dictatorship, one that was formalized the way Maduro was put at the helm of the country in 2013. It was a dictatorship before, since 2010, but for me that was the moment in which it became unarguably official. Some, interestingly, still reject the D word, like some of the shitty parasitic Caribbean islands. But I digress...Since then my despondency on Venezuela combined with my new personal situation with the long drawn condition of my S.O. nearly stopped my blog. It survived because it became some sort of moral stream of consciousness. Or something like that.It is not a matter of stopping to write. It is just that my outlook has changed in the last two weeks. On one hand the regime has shown such a vileness in its allowing the country going to hell, people starve and die for lack of medicine. The damned electoral cheating is all that matters. For the rest, the regime has turned genocidal.On the other hand the collapse of the opposition, though not unexpected, and actually wished for in a way, came to pass. What was the shock, for lack of a better word, was the way it did happen; not that it happened. It has been cleared of all doubt that a large part of the opposition has given up on dislodging the regime and that they will be very happy to negotiate for scraps. The capitulation and negotiation had started long ago. The infernal 4 revealed it all, in all its vileness. Political prisoners?  Dead freedom protesters? In the end, who cares.Hence my current despondency. There are too many still willing to vote for the regime, even if forced to do so. They starve, they die, but a little bit of pressure and that is that.  The spinelessness, or vileness, I do not know, is now too much for me to bear.  But on the other side the lack of clear resolve, the lack of a true moral and ethical compass cannot be ignored anymore. Of course I never believed in politicians, and this blog had often criticism for the opposition leadership.  Of course I know that eventually a real negotiation will have to take place otherwise civil war will come. But this....As for those who disagree with the regime, or those who have inside the opposition some moral compass, they are too few and worse, are unable to propose something coherent. In fact, they cannot even discuss a liberation alliance.  All are victims of too many years of hate preaching Chavez. All seem unable to go beyond the hoped for foreign [...]

Can Sakharov save the Venezuelan opposition?

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 21:47:16 PDT

No.At least not in its current form.The day started in a stupendous note: the European parliament awarded its Sakharov prize to the Venezuelan opposition, namely the National Assembly that the regime has voided, the political prisoners, and the youth killed during the first half of 2017.The rest of today's news was not so good. The regime of course dismissed the award as a direct attempt by these nasty Europeans to rekindle violence in Venezuela. The cynicism to even say such a thing goes beyond the Cuban training of these people. They are thoroughly rottenly vile.But the regime also advanced the district mayor election to December 10, taking advantage of the opposition disarray, in a tight schedule that leaves no chance for the opposition to even name its candidates or blurb out some campaign. The regime, we know now, had long ago decided who was going to be mayor and where.  They might as well proceed to name them so we can save ourselves the anguish of an election. That the rest of the world is not going to recognize these elections is the least of the regime's worries.And for good measure the victor of Zulia, Guanipa, who refused to swear in his job in front of the illegal and unrecognized constituent assembly has been stripped of his victory and a new election is called for Zulia. He will not be allowed to run again.It is now clear that the refusal to hold any election last year was due to the surprise of the regime loss in December 2015. They needed to regroup and reorganize the control of the populace and the electoral system. So we had CLAP food program, and Tarjeta de La Patria which allowed the regime to label the said populace with home address and all.  Then it would be much easier to manipulate electoral rolls, etc, etc.  Once ready they went ahead and since it worked so well they are now in a rush to organize all sorts of elections before the opposition recovers. Make no mistake, the goal of the regime is 90% at the very least of all elective office. The few point are just a pretense number for propaganda purposes.And the opposition is obliging. Let's look at today snippets.Henri Falcon loser of Lara, blaming the abstention without wondering why there was such an abstention in Lara, went ahead to say that he would worry if Capriles were to be president of Venezuela.  I would worry too, but the detail here is that he was Capriles campaign manager three years ago. So now he tells us...  Credibility gap anyone?  For good measure he also said that the young folks that run Voluntad Popular, and allegedly Primero Justicia, are immature.  Me thinks he is ready to go back to chavismo for good.Newest punching ball Ramos Allup made an elaborate press conference where he told among other things that Capriles has "glandular responses" to what he does not like. He tried to convince us that the had nothing to do with the 4 AD governors swearing in and that they "self-expelled themselves" from AD according to article X, alinea Z.  And some unnecessary gossip to hide, I presume, the gossip about his own relatives finance activities.  The fact of the matter is that he is not going to take sanctions against the gang of 4, meaning that he is going to let the dust settle some and then reconcile with them.  In short, he finished off the opposition alliance MUD.Meanwhile a group of losers, of people that have not been able to make any significant mark in Venezuelan politics for the last 20 years signed an outrageous document basically approving of the gang of 4.  So there you have it, the regime surefootedly establishing its "loyal" opposition. Communist countries have done that, a famous example being Poland with "opposition" parties that voted 99% of the time for the commies.  I have also read analysts that I know are not chavistas entertaining the thought that the regime did win the election. Forgetting that the polling stations remained open illegally for up to three hours and Jorge Ro[...]

Live! The implosion of the opposition alliance

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:26:32 PDT

Well, that was faster than expected.

So the day started with the sworn AD governors at a press conference.  They said it had to be cut short becasue they had to take a plane. But lo' and behold!  The woman went to TV for some interview (I think) and the 3 guys went to Miraflores Palace to have a nice and pleasant chat with Maduro, and the real power behind the throne, Cilia Flores.

While this was taking place Ramos Allup was preparing his press conference. A monument of cynicism and lies or a vile attempt at justifying something that cannot be justified.  There he said that the 4 governors "self-excluded" themselves from AD (saving Ramos from "excluding" them himself?)  He spoke like a chavista, claiming it was all a conspiracy against him and his party AD. 

Somewhere else the 5th governor who refused to go to the illegal constitutional assembly, Guanipa, said that Ramos called him to convince him to go to the swear him. Ramos denied that.  There is a liar. I pick Ramos but what do I know....

And to close the morning Capriles went to his own press conference where he said all sorts of nasty things (replying to the nastiness of Ramos). More Importantly he announced that he was leaving the MUD alliance as long as Ramos was in it.  Note: he said that it was a personal decision, not involving his party PJ. Yeah, right....

[Some other background noises from assorted figures]

By then I had decided to quit for the day......

The day Ramos Allup drove the stake at the heart of the MUD

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:33:12 PDT

The July 16th vote, annulled todayToday's events remind me a little bit of that type of horror movie which starts with some bloody body(ies) and a mysterious shadow drifting away. Heck, sometime the alleged assassin is shown knife in hand. No matter, after this initial screen you read something like "2 weeks/days/hours earlier" over a background of happy cheerful people that you cannot warn about what is to befall on them. Thus you need to wait until the end of the movie to figure out who was the shadow or if the alleged assassin was just set up to look so.Today Accion Democratica (AD) secretary Henry Ramos Allup (HRA) decided to have his 4 elected governors swear in front of the unconstitutional constitutional assembly (AC) and thus within a single hour he 1) legitimizes the AC 2) voids years of opposition (MUD) efforts 3) wrecks its unity and 4) creates an image overseas that there is no need to worry about Venezuela anymore, either it is a democracy after all, or the opposition is not worthy of rescue so let them deal with their own mess.How did we come upon that political horror scene?Back to early July 2017.An opposition that had resisted months of protests and repression against the regime decided to hold a paper/pencil vote on July 16th to refuse to recognize the AC to be "elected" July 30th. The result was a resounding 6.5 million, with the discovery that there were, in addition, 700K voting age Venezuelans in exile.At that time international pressure, spurred by the body count, was heavy on the regime. And yet the regime forged ahead with its election, and a massive election fraud it was where anywhere between 1 to 3 million votes were added to reach 8M, the holy grail of defeating the opposition July 16th ballot.  But it came to naught for the regime as no serious country recognized the AC and sanctions started to be applied on Venezuela.The regime needing to vent the pressure decided to call for regional elections and advance them from their scheduled December vote. That is, the regime needed to take advantage of the disarray of the opposition to maximize the use of its new electoral fraud platform before anyone truly understood its workings. Suddenly on August 2 Ramos Allup announced that he would go to governor's elections, without previous consultation with his "allies" at the MUD. The others could do as they pleased. We should have known much better already. But no, only a few like yours truly seem to have smelled a possible rat.Meanwhile a new tentative of "dialogue" in Santo Domingo was proposed. It came to naught too. But with alarming rumors that may have been confirmed. Basically in Santo Domingo some in the opposition were open to the idea to let Maduro serve the end of his term unarmed as long as he allowed a progressive transfer of powers through regional and municipal elections.  The bait used by the regime was, allegedly, that some in the regime wanted to go into smooth transition so that people would have time to forget about their crimes; the problem being Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami, unrecoverable, unforgivable.Under this cloud the MUD primaries took place. With the leadership of Voluntad Popular (VP) beheaded and part of the Orimero Justicia (PJ) one, AD rivals, this last one won most primaries even though with far from the 50% vote mark. I was doubtful already that the primaries of the MUD were harbingers of better days. But heck, as the links of this post will be showing if you read them, Cassandra is my nickname.The campaign came without much incident. The overconfidence of the opposition after months of protests and a great July 16th made it underestimate the power of the regime electoral-cum-fraud machinery and the result is as you know: egg, lots of egg on MUD faces.  Not that it mattered much since there was no possible good outcome. But there was a possible worst outcome and this one happened today.It all started early last [...]

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="" 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 s[...]