Archive for January, 2003

Chavez on economics and politics from Porto Alegre

January 27, 2003

Some quotes with comments on things Hugo Chavez said this weekend during his vacation in Porto Alegre, Brazil:

On economics:

-What is happening in Venezuela is only an advance of the great battles that we will have this century which are beginning, between neoliberalism and alternative currents which are surging, because the venezuelan is an alternative to neoliberalism.

Well, Venezuela was never or ever  much of a “neoliberal” country to begin with. The State controls everything and owns most of the wealth. As an example, Venezuela has very few gas stations because the number is decided by the PDVSA. The exchange rate has always been determined by the Government, which seldom has allowed the rate to float. Finally, what is the economic alternative that is being developed? Economic Amateurism?

-Exchange Controls are indefinite

There is an honest one! However, he should have told his Minister of Finance who said they would be on for only six months or the Central Bank Director who said they would be on only for as long as oil production was down. (Maybe that is indefinite!)

-He is considering applying a tax to “speculative capital”, explicitly mentioning the so called “Tobin tax”.

Well, there is very little speculative capital in Venezuela. The Stock Market has been dead since Chavez has been in power and there is a debit tax for each financial transaction of any size of 1%, which makes speculation quite difficult, if not impossible.  Second the Tobin tax proposal was to establish a worldwide cross-currency transaction tax to reduce speculation in markets that trade billions with trades that last seconds. Reportedly Chavez is considering the tax to be 10% versus 0.1%-1% of the Tobin tax proposal. If such a tax is established, the black and gray markets will be the real winners. You can buy stocks or bonds in local currency that trade in NY in dollars, thus this becomes a synthetic exchange mechanism. (It has been on since last Wenesday, only hours after the exchange market was suspended). Then there are the tehories that speculators reduce volatility, but I will not get into that.

-We will establish price controls

Don’t need to comment on that one.

On politics (page A-2, El Nacional):

-The only alternative to get me out is a recall referendum. The solution to the crisis is not elections now..this violates the Constitution

Not quite. As a matter of fact it is legal for him to resign and one of the two Carter porposals is an amendment which is very expedient if 15% of the voters petition it, there could be elections in June via this mechanism and defuse the crisis.

-I put away my rifle…but I keep it and if the oligarchas do not accept changes in peace, like Che Guevara said, noises of combat and machine gun fire will thunder.

Nice guy, what a democrat!

-I may close some TV stations



Adding good blogs I like to my links

January 27, 2003

I am adding links on the left to my favorite blogs which I not only read regularly because I enjoy them (They are good, but I am sure there are many good blogs I don’y enjoy), but also  their owners appear to be very nice people. (The world needs a lot of those!). So here they are in no particular order:  Secular Blashemy, Radio Free Blogistan, Fried Green AlQaeda’s, The Raven and Andrew Bayer is Dreaming of China.

Chavez’ amigos are not so friendly

January 26, 2003

When Hugo Chavez accepted the idea from Brazil’s President to create a “Grupo de Amigos” to help in the negotiations with the opposition, what he thought he was doing was finding a respectable way of by-passing the pesky Secretary Genral of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria. In this way, a group of diplomtas friendly to his “revolucion” with a sprinkle of respresentatives from respectable countries, would come to Caracas and replace Gaviria in brokering the negotiations. But it was not to be, when Chavez showed up for the inauguration of the new President of Ecuador, what he found was that a Group of Amigos had already been formed without his input and, not only were they not as friendly as he expected, but appeared to be a Club de Amigos of Cesar Gaviria and not of Hugo Chavez. Chavez pannicked, went to talk to Koffi Ana at the UN, but made no progress. Then he went to talk to Lula Da Silva who not only refused to expand the group, but when Chavez said it may be expanded in the future, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Amorin simply replied “Only God knows the future”.

What Chavez did not know is how similar groups have functioned in Nicaragua and El Salvador. But now he does. After the Friday meeting in Washington, the “amigos” picked the Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorin, probably the “friendliest” Government to Chavez’ as their Coordinator. Amorin announced that the Vice-Ministers of all six countries would be in Caracas by today or tomorrow, much like what happened in in the Central American cases. Moreover, Amorin said that this was an urgent problem, not of months, but of a week at most. Thus, The Vice-Chancellors will arrive, together with the teams of advisors, negotiators and diplomats to apply a full court press on the Venezuelan Government. This is not the friendship that Hugo Chavez was looking for. He wanted to gain time, only time. This ahs been Chavez’ strategy all long since he began losing his popularity, gain time, divide the opposition, change subjects and begin gaining time again.

The question is what will happen when he starts feeling the international pressure right in his own backyard. To some, he will negotiate, to others he will just leave the negotiations and declare himself above the law. In either case, both scenarios appear to indicate that a resolution of the crisis is close at hand. In the first case, there will be peace. In the second, is anybody’s guess. But we shall soon find out.

From Caracas Chronicles on Chavez’ thugs

January 26, 2003

Francisco Toro writes today about Chavez’ plan to shut out the media and has this paragraph that I thought was quite eloquent:

Of course, the government has become so thuggish that that’s not particularly hard. The proliferation of amateur videos showing chavista activists attacking opposition gatherings, often shooting guns into opposition crowds, is the most striking example. Those videos are for real, as are the reams of self-destructive presidential statements, the burping generals, the footage of soldiers beating on opposition activsts, or any of the long list of moronic own-goals the government has been scoring in plain view of the TV cameras. You don’t need some sort of sophisticated media dirty tricks lab to make the government look thuggish on TV, as the chavistas would have it. No, you just have to put a camera in front of them and hit record.

As I tell everyone that is so critical of the opposition, there is no equivalent footage that you can blame on the opposition……

Some more posters, night and daily ones.

January 26, 2003

Military hens do not cackle, they belch                  Long live the revolution, in hell!

The stree is ours, not a step back!

Protest continues past the 24 hours plan

January 26, 2003

Well, the twenty four hours are up, but the people are still out there en force. What now? I think it will be dangerous to extend it as an act of Civil Disobedience indefinetly, the effort and resources required are simply huge. They are talking about five more hours, what if people don’t leave?

(Permit has been extended to 11 PM tonight)

Zonageek has a very good set of pictures from the New York march today

January 25, 2003

zonageek posted tonight a very nice set of pictures from the New York protest from 1st. Ave. with 47th. St. to Bolivar’s statue in Central Park. It was cold there! At least we do it in the warmth of Caracas!

Hugo Chavez going to the Social Forum in Porto Alegre

January 25, 2003

Hugo Chavez will be travelling to Porto Alegre, Brazil, tomorrow to attend the World Social Forum. Interestingly, friends in Brazil (thanks David!) tell me that Chavez was not invited. The Social Forum is essentially a meeting of non-Government organizations that deal with social issues and they do not want famous political leaders to attend. In fact, most of these organizations in Venezuela are anti-Chavez….but he enjoys the travelling!!!

The 24 hour protest

January 25, 2003

When I first heard of the plan to hold a 24 hour protest I was dubious. The idea of filling 4 Kms. of a ten lane highway seemed too diffuse to work, thus I was pleseantly surprised to see how many people showed up this afternoon (top left), ready to protest, ready to stay till tomorrow sleeping in the highway (top right). (More photos inside in the Pictures section on your left)

The 24 hour protest: Some shots

January 25, 2003

There were dogs……                   ……and nuns…..                                     …..and pretty women….

they came early………………..                                and were still there late……..

some prayed                                                    others played

for some sleep came easy                            others were split