Archive for March 15th, 2003

Latest revolutionary project

March 15, 2003

The Government has started planting vegetables in downtown Caracas, in the planters next to the walkways along a Boulevard called Vargas. The report says that the crops will be sold in the markets nearby. Now, in country with no follow up or maintanance and where even the expansion joint of highways get stolen at night (to sell the metal), I wonder how they plan sustain the crops or stop people from stealing them!

Prosecutor in Chavez’ case has quite a track record

March 15, 2003

The Prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office who is accusing Hugo Chavez of violating the law when he approved the oil supply agreeent with Cuba, turns out to have quite a track record being the prosecutor of cases against Carlos Andrez Perez and his wife Cecilia Matos. Despite this Chavez’ MVR is already saying that this is the opposition using its forces within the Attoney General’s office to discredit Chavez.

Government claims victory against poverty, nobody believes it

March 15, 2003

When Hugo Chavez was a candidate he always referred to the “80% of Venezuelans” who lived in poverty. The number stuck and as with so many things in the Vth. Republic, it became the “truth”, despite the fact that studies from the Catholic University of Caracas which have been going on for over two decades said that the number (nothing to be proud of!) was actually 57%. Well, today’s El Nacional newspaper (page B-1, can’t be linked) has the latest statistics from the Government which claim that the number of Venezuelans living under the poverty line has actually decreased during the four years Chavez has been in power. According to the Government’s National Institute of Statistics, the 80% number that Chavez used to quote was more like 44% and is currently 41.5%.

Now, in the last four years, GDP per capita in Bolivars (local currency) has gone down by 17%, the CPI is up over 100%, the exchange rate has gone up by over 120% (using the official, controlled value) and official unemployment is up from 11% to 17%. Thus, it is hard to belive poverty has gone down. But let’s look at the numbers from the Catholic University UCAB) studies and those of the Government (INE):

                                1998         1999        2000        2001        2002        

UCAB                       57.6%       59.2%      60.3%     61.4%      65.0%

INE                          43.9%       41.9%      40.2%     39.0%      41.5%

According to the INE, the difference is methodological and what sources of income are taken into account. That may be possible, but it will not explain the fact that the two trends are so different or what happened to the 37% of the poor that have now magically dissapeared from the numbers.

Two Brazilian Species

March 15, 2003

Cattleya Intermedia                                                      Cattleya Schilleriana

These two Brazilian species flowered this week, both are unusually large flowers for the species. The Schilleriana is 11 cms. across both vertically and horizontally.