Archive for January, 2003

Once again Chavistas shoot at a peaceful march tonight

January 28, 2003

Tonight, in a march in Vargas State, a candlelight march by the opposition was met by the chavistas, forcing the use of tear gas once again. The Chavistas shot at the marchers with real bullets a cop has been shot.


Why PDVSA is in trouble

January 28, 2003

Since all PDVSA workers that work in comercialization of oil are on strike, have been fired or have been replaced by those in favor of the Government, PDVSA was forced to hire Pepex to sell oil for the company. Now, this is the announcement made at the Pepex website today, which appears to indiacte that PDVSA has no idea who its clients are, what financial obligations it has and what contracts it has signed. Way to go!

Head of Electoral Hall call referendum decision political

January 28, 2003

The Head of the Electoral Hall of the National Assembly said today that the decision to suspend the referendum had political motives as the decision violates fundamental rights of the Constitution, violates the rights to a defense and does not recognize the right of the citizens to participate in elctoral processes. Calling the decision to recuse him “temerary and unjust” and called for teh Constitutional Hall to evaluate it “with rigor”. The Justice also said that the Hall had gone beyond its mandate when it decided to order that no electoral process may take place, which was not requested by those that asked for the injunction. He said the sentence shuts down any possibility of an electoral solution.

Venezuelans keep their sense of humor

January 28, 2003

Proof that Venezuelans don’t lose their sense of humor is this billboard parodying the Johny Walker ads: ” I have been walking for over a month and this a…….. doesn’t leave……”. Keep Walking. Note the Venezuelan flag in Johny Walker’s hand.

In the Pictures section more photos of what the National Guard did in Valencia

January 28, 2003

Inside the Pictures section I placed new photos of what the National Guard did two weeks ago in Valencia. I have uglier ones, but these give the idea.

More pictures of what the National Guard did to the Coke workers and women in Valencia

January 28, 2003

Posters from the 24-hour protest

January 28, 2003

                                                                        Military underwear

Great poster sent by Oscar Sabater

January 28, 2003

Oscar Sabater sent photos from the 24 hour protest, had to put this one up, even the Beatles are involved now!. More in the Pictures section.

The sign says “not a step back” the protest cry of the opposition.

January 27, 2003


I wanted to talk about the possible effects of exchange controls, people always think they are milder that they eventually end up being. Then I received this (in Spanish) from Roberto Rigobon, a Venezuelan who is a Professor at the Sloan School at MIT. He defintely can do it better and is more qualified.


What’s the big deal with foreign exchange controls?

By Roberto Rigobon




I do not understand why we Venezuelans have to get so worked up about foreign exchange controls. After all, since when do they last more than three months?


It is customary for authorities to say:” In the past the controls were not implemented correctly, we- who know how to control- will do it well”. I understand that today’s authorities are different. But a great friend once told me something that is absolutely true: “Countries that impose capital controls always claim they are different, -but surprisingly, they look identical at the end-they all collapse in the same way”
Foreign exchange controls is only a reflection of the ignorance of the economic authorities to handle a situation that is escaping their hands. It is exactly what a scolded kid does when he throws a temper tantrum on the floor. Since when is this an act that deserves our minimal attention? The question is not if the exchange control will last, it is knowing what will happen during and after it.

Today the Venezuelan Government is desperate for financing, and its only alternative is the Central Bank and the domestic financial system. I know that the Central Bank law says that it is prohibited to lend to the Government, but this was not really designed to be followed. It will be one of a gazillion laws that has been violated. And to be sincere, it is not as if the reputation of the Government will be drastically damaged for such an event-it has done worse things.

Thus the Government will expropriate the savers and the Venezuelan Central Bank. The typical mechanism is: the Government goes into debt through the financial system-issuing bonds that banks are forced to purchase. Whether it is because the Central Bank increases legal reserves and allows them to use such instruments as part of reserves, or simply because they open a desk where you can discount them at a sufficiently juicy price. In this transaction two things occur: The implicit indebtedness of the Government increases so much, both in the Central Bank and in the banking system- and since the monetary base increases, in a country with free mobility of capital, there is capital flight and reserves fall.

Let’s look at this in more detail. Forcing the banking system to accept Government bonds implies that savers have implicitly lent money to the Government. Of course, nobody sane would lend money to this Government if they knew what they were doing. In these circumstances, before depositing in the banking system, account holders would take their money out. Ah!! But that is what capital controls are good for-to stop savers, that do not want to lend the Government money and that have excess liquidity, from having any recourse.

Unfortunately, for the Government, capital flight can only be stopped for a limited time-in general, very limited (three to six months maximum). What ends up happening is that Governments are forced to freeze bank accounts-which implies a massive devaluation and expropriation of the account holders.

Now, expropriating account holders has never been a good idea. This has happened a few times in Latin America in 1989 and 2002 in Argentina, in 1990 in Brazil, in 2000 in Ecuador (To mention only a few) By the way, in each of these occasions (i) depositors lost between 60 and 70 percent of their savings, (ii) the Governments devalued the currency at least a factor of three (let’s see, today it is at Bs 1800 per US$, mmmmm….Bs. 5400 could be a good number, if history repeats), (iii) and even more important, each Government ended up leaving through the back door because the economy turned unmanageable-I don’t want to think what will happen in Venezuela where things are already unmanageable

Foreign exchange controls are not the problem, they are the symptom of the inability, of the ignorance, of the incredulity, and of the arrogance of those Governments that think they know more than savers. And certainly the savers do not have a graduate degree in economics, nor a Ph.D. from
Chicago, but dummies they are not.

Only someone with one neuron (which it obviously needs to breathe) will think that controls are an alternative for the Venezuelan situation. Thus, to the mono-neuronic economists that thought of this terrible idea, tighten your belts because what is coming is a stampede.

Best blog day pictures

January 27, 2003

I have taken many pictures of the girl on the left, but this one by radcap is certainly much better than any that I have taken and the best proof that “Blog Day for Venezuela” worked well. I don’t know the source of it, unless radcap is Venezuelan. She actually just stands on a truck that sells bottled water to marchers. Some will call her a capitalist pig, I call her delightful, thus I post it for posterity as another important document of our political crisis.