Archive for December, 2002

Phrase of the month by Hugo Chavez

December 30, 2002

“We will bankrupt the oligarchs before they bankrupt Venezuela” –Hugo Chavez in Alo Presidente on Sunday

Now what a great strategy for prosperity……


From Caracas Chronicles: The Government’s view of return to normal

December 30, 2002

From Caracas Chronicles a blow by blow account of statements by the Government about the oil Industry going back to normal:

Credibility Gap
…or: the broken record defense

December 5th
Inter-Press Service
In a nationally broadcast message Thursday, Chavez stated emphatically that “I will not allow our leading industry to be brought to a halt.”

December 8th
“They are not going to break PDVSA, they are not going to stop it,” the president said on Sunday, threatening to replace striking staff and use troops to run oil operations

December 11th
EFE (Spanish news agency)
“The dispatch of crude to the world, especially to the
United States has resumed,” Energy and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez announced during a news conference at Miraflores presidential palace in downtown Caracas. “We already broke the blockade they forced on us in the east and in the west and we’re now dispatching crude to the world,” the minister reiterated.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
“This violent strike is being defeated,” Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said. “We are breaking the blockade and are exporting oil to the whole world.”

December 12th
El Nacional
Energy Minister Rafael Ramírez assured that the government has “long ago managed to stop the planned sabotage, which has been planned for violence and a coup.”

Venezuela’s embattled President Hugo Chavez has declared that oil production and distribution are restarting as a general strike prepared to go into its 11th day. “The most important thing is we are getting out of this crisis,” he said. “The situation is progressively impoving. The supply of petrol is flowing.”

December 14th
BBC Monitoring
PDVSA president Ali Rodriguez stressed that “we are taking all necessary steps to resume production”. When asked about
Venezuela‘s foreign customers, Ali Rodriguez Araque said: “We are in a situation of force majeure”, and added, “we are already restoring production and we are already able to meet commitments.”

December 16th
El Nacional
Ali Rodriguez said that “difficulties are being overcome”, that production has recouperated, and that soon Venezuela will be able to meet its trade obligations.

December 18th
BBC Monitoring
In statements to a radio and television station, Ali Rodriguez Araque, the president of PDVSA said that as from
midnight on 17 December, he is taking the necessary measures to regain control of the company and to guarantee the supply of fuel for the country.

December 21st
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
State oil company president Ali Rodrmguez insists the government is working to guarantee gasoline supplies for “many days.”

December 23rd
“Now we are in the process of returning to normal.”
Energy and Mines Minister Rafael Ramírez.

December 25th
Dow Jones Business News
PDVSA president Alí Rodríguez said he expects export operations should be back to normal by Jan. 15. “We’ve had difficulties, but we are overcoming them,” he said.

December 28th
Union Radio
“The situation is excessively normal.”
Vicepresident J.V. Rangel

“We are over the most critical situation and, today, things are frankly improving.”
Hugo Chávez.

Ricardo Haussman on Brazil, Venezuela, Lula and Chavez

December 30, 2002

Ricardo Hausmann, Economist and former Venezuelan Minister of Planning and Professor of of the School
of Government at Harvard University on Lula and Chavez, in today’s interview
in El Nacional, page B-2:

“I think the backing Lula has just given to Chávez will be costly for
Brazil. I am sure that his economic and foreign relations team is going to
complain to him”


“Brazil’s economic situation is very fragile. If good things don´t happen ,
even those that nonbody is expecting, Brazil is going to explode in the
sense that the exchange rate and interest rates will stay where they are,
thus they are going towards a financial crisis. Financial markets see Lula
and they perceive that he has all the incentives of the world to say what
they all want to hear, but they don’t belive what he says and are awaiting
his actions. Nevertheless, the lackluster mission of his international
advisor, Marco Aurelio García, in Venezuela, and the reaction when he
arrived in Brazil, indicate to international  financial markets that perhaps
Lula is more like Chávez than what he claims to be and what he has said
abroad. I think that Lula’s association with Chávez will be costly to his
Government in term of loss of confidence, at a time of financial fragility
in Brazil. Moreover, if Chávez ends up not being sustainable in Venezuela,
Lula will leave a vacuum in its bilateral relations with Venezuela, which is
not in the national interest of Brazil.”

Alberto Quiros Corradi and the foreign press in today’s El Nacional

December 29, 2002


From today’s El Nacional Alberto Quiros Corradi, former oil industry execituve,  his vision of the coverage by the foreign press of what is going on in Venezuela (El Nacional, page, B4, link not possible due to new “horrible” format), liberally translated by me:


-A very special “view” that Anglo-Saxons have of political societies in South America


They are imperfect democracies in which in each corner there is a conspirator waiting and stimulating the military to overthrow a legitimately constituted Government. The history of our coup de etats, together with the events of April 11th. helps to ratify that perception.

Especially when many of the civilians of that “incident” have a significant presence in the current process.

-Despite the above, and it is not a contradiction, Anglo-Saxons tend to subconsciously extrapolate the majesty and strength of their public institutions to those here and hope that citizens will respect them the same way they do it there. As an example it would be unthinkable for somebody to pretend to disobey a sentence from the Supreme Court which-to them- is the United Sates Supreme Court. (It isn’t)


-They do not understand the definite bias that the media, TV, radio and written press have in favor of the opposition.

Nevertheless, marking differences, it would be useful to remember, that when people have seen threatened their way of life, the media-in those places too-has taken strong positions.


In the American Civil War, those in the north and in the south took positions. During the two world wars, they took positions. During the tragic events of September 11th. 2001, they took position. Moreover, in presidential elections, some newspapers, editorialize about the candidate of their preference and encourage citizens to vote for them. Even more, in the view of these correspondents, Chavez is nothing more than a political trend which needs to be defeated with the regular mechanisms that democracy provides.  

For many of us, Chavez constitutes-if he continues strengthening his autocratic regimen- a real danger that is attempting to substitute democratic institutions that we have given ourselves, for a regimen of clear totalitarian nature. For those that have always lived under the rule of law and with the subordination of military power to civilian power, perhaps it is difficult to “see” this type of danger. But I am sure that if they tried to put themselves in our position, they would see it.

-Correspondents, senators, deputies and Anglo-Saxon opinion groups take clear position in favor of a Government which, because it was elected democratically, has legitimacy and any attempt to remove it from power, by means which are clearly unconstitutional, would be unacceptable.

We think the same thing, but we would like to remind these foreign friends that the Democratic Charter, subscribed by all our countries, includes an article that a democratically elected Government may lose its legitimacy, if during its term it strays from the constitutional precepts that it agreed to respect. The British and others, whose countries are ruled by a parliamentary system, know quite well how the will of the people changes Governments when they deem them inappropriate and in the majority of these cases, it is not even related to Governments that have violated constitutional mandates.


These transgressions took place in the case of one President of the United States which was impeached for lying to his people. If we could apply that same criteria here to get rid of our President we would not be in the dangerous sociopolitical situation we are in today.


(See my notes on Impeachment, Elections, referenda below)


More pictures from today’s march

December 29, 2002

Even buildings are covered with flags in protest      March from the East

Whole family party

Subway station: Balance going East (middle Class) and West (lower middle class and poor)

Posters, Lula and Brasil were quite unpopular today

December 29, 2002

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez insults…….

Accusing Lula of being a scab

Lula : SCAB                                                                        100% PDVSA

Chavez says : I may never leave

December 29, 2002

Today in his weekly program Hugo Chavez said he will not resign, then he gained his  composure and said “I may never leave”

I would like his supporters who always invoke the law to criticize the opposition, to criticize the President for saying this which is obviously against the Constitution. But they will not, for the same reason you don’t criticize Christ.

Another day, another huge march, the standoff continues.

December 29, 2002

One of the many marches to the West of Caracas –Now, which side of the rich versus poor battle are these nuns in?

More pictures in the Pictures section

Protest in Maturin

December 29, 2002

For those that think that marches and protest are only taking place in Caracas, like the Vice-President implied yesterday, here is a picture sent in by a former student of mine, Efrain Rivera, who lives in Maturin in the Eastern part of the country.

Tyromaniac on the New York Times article

December 28, 2002

From the Tyromaniac:

Trickle of Oil Starts Flowing in Venezuela. PUERTO LA CRUZ, Venezuela, Dec. 28 Nearly a month into Venezuela’s devastating national strike, all systems were back up and running close to normal this week at the refinery here that supplies gasoline to the eastern half of this country. Night shift workers were bursting with the pride of war heroes. By Ginger Thompson. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

I can’t confirm whether this is true or not, but I can say this: There is a General Strike in this country not just an oil strike. The government may manage to produce gasoline to fill the countries needs (though it hasn’t so far) and maybe export some, but the rest of the strike continues unabated. There is no beer in the supermarkets! Because no beer is being produced, while there are contingency plans to produce basic food (and once there is gasoline, fruits and vegetables should be plentiful), there will be no industrial production until the government negotiates. Or is a government that hasn’t been able to do the easy stuff the government has to do going to be able to do everything? I think the government is denying reality, but it is clear one side is doing just that… The truth will triumph in the end…

My commennt: I agree, the press abroad keeps talking about the oil strike, but it is a General Strike, manufacturing, commerce and food outlets are all closed. My sources indicate that the refinery the NYT’s article describes is functioning at 15-20% capacity since the beginning of the strike and less than 30% of non-executive workers are going to work. We are talking 10-15% of the country’s daily gasoline consumption. The Government  also said today oil production is at 1.5 million barrels, my sources say less than 200 thousand, gas distribution in Maracaibo is “normal” my sources say it is non-existent and the Vice-President says things are “excessively normal”, which he may be the only one that believes it. Gasoline supplies are once again, announced to be normal in 48 hours. The Attorney General finally said something about the Supreme Court decision on the oil industry and contradicted the Government saying the decision does not order people to go back to work. This is what the opposition has said from day one. For those that feel human rights are not violated in Venezuela, the Government used that decision to jail 90 crewmembers of tankers without a prosecutor being present and denying the right to due process. This violates their Human Rights and the LAW. (By the way, the LAW also says the Government or PDVSA can’t buy gasoline from Brazil at Bs. 850 per liter and sell it for Bs. 90)